I’ve been taking a break from researching my Sussex Byne ancestors, and having another look at the Forrest family. My 8 x great grandfather John Byne (1651 – 1689), who was the son of Magnus Byne (1615 – 1671), rector of Clayton-cum-Keymer in Sussex, moved to London as a young man and worked as a stationer at Tower Hill. It was there, in about 1675, that he met and married Alice Forrest, the daughter of haberdasher Thomas Forrest and his wife Anne.

The Vale of Evesham, Worcestershire (via geograph.org.uk)

The Vale of Evesham, Worcestershire (via geograph.org.uk)

Last year I spent some time exploring the will of Alice Byne née Forrest, who died in 1738, and also the will of William Forrest of Badsey, near Evesham in Worcestershire, who died in 1700. William’s will had bequeathed ‘to my said cozen Alice Bine All my Lands Messuages Tenements and Hereditaments in Badsey’, property which is also mentioned in Alice’s own will. From these wills, and from other evidence, I concluded that William Forrest was almost certainly the brother of Alice’s father Thomas, and therefore her uncle, rather than her ‘cozen’ (a term that, as we have seen in many other instances, was used at this period to describe a variety of family relationships). I also came to the conclusion that the Forrest family had its roots in Worcestershire, and that my 9 x great grandfather Thomas Forrest was probably born there and moved to London as a young man (I’m almost certain that he’s the Thomas Forrest who married Anne Burrowes at St Bartholomew the Great in June 1650). In other words, the experience of the Forrest family of Worcestershire seems to have mirrored that of the Bynes of Sussex: they too were a family of yeoman farmers in the shires, one or more of whose members came to London to be apprenticed to a trade, while retaining a foothold in their county of origin.

William Forrest’s will enabled me to discover the connection between the Forrests and another family with one foot in London and another in Worcestershire: the Boultons, a number of whom would become prominent shipbuilders and members of the East India Company. Briefly, it seems that another Alice Forrest, the sister of William (and probably of my 9 x great grandfather Thomas), married a member of the Boulton family, almost certainly named William, and that they lived in the parish of All Hallows, Barking, in the City of London. William was perhaps a merchant and probably made the same kind of move from his Worcestershire home as did his brother-in-law Thomas Forrest. William and Alice Boulton had a number of children, including Captain Richard Boulton the elder, who died in 1737; Major Peter Boulton, a gunsmith, who retired to Bath and died in 1743; William Boulton junior, whose son Captain Richard Boulton the younger worked for the East India Company and retired to Perdiswell near Worcester, dying there in 1745; Elizabeth Boulton who married naval commissioner Martin Markland; Mary Boulton who married a Mr. Lewes; and another daughter, name unknown, who married Thomas Saunders of Moor, near Fladbury in Worcestershire. Thomas Saunders’ daughter Hester Saunders married Thomas Crabb and had two sons, Henry and Richard, who took the additional surname Boulton on inheriting property from Richard Boulton junior; both of them were leading lights in the East India Company and Henry served as Member of Parliament for Worcester. Another Saunders daughter, Grace, married Jersey-born salter James Jemblin: their eldest son John was described as ‘of Evesham’ in the 1745 will of his cousin, Richard Boulton the younger.

Church of All Hallows Barking, London

Church of All Hallows Barking, London

Researching the interrelated Forrest, Boulton and Saunders families of Worcestershire has often proved difficult, and at times I’ve longed for an equivalent of Walter Renshaw’s history of the Bynes of Sussex: that’s to say, an overview written by somebody who has been able to inspect the parish and other records ‘on the ground’. In the absence of that, I’ve had to search long and hard online for the odd reference to individuals who may or may not have been members of these connected families. However, returning to this branch of my family tree in the past week or so, I’ve succeeded in discovering some new records that may help to fill in the gaps in our knowledge of these families.

Firstly, I think I’ve found some new information about the Saunders family. William Forrest’s will of 1699 bequeaths ‘to William Grace and Hester children of Mr Thomas Saunders of Moore twenty shillings apiece’. We know that Hester Saunders of All Hallows Barking married Thomas Crabb in 1708, and they were the parents of Henry and Richard Crabb who are described as nephews (but were probably his great nephews) in the will of Captain Richard Boulton the elder. There is a reference in the National Archives to Thomas Saunders a ‘gent’ of Moor, whose property was included in a return of ‘papists’ and non jurors’ estates’ drawn up after the Jacobite rising of 1715. Moor is a small hamlet, often mentioned in tandem with its neighbouring settltment Hill (as in ‘Hill and Moor’) close to Fladbury, a village on the banks of the River Avon about five miles north-west of Evesham (Badsey is about three miles to the east of the town). It lies opposite the village of Cropthorne.

Via The Genealogist I managed to find a record of the baptism of Thomas Saunders of Moor, in the parish of Fladbury, on 10th March 1653. Apparently his father’s name was John. I then came across a baptismal record for Hesther Saunders, daughter of Thomas Saunders of Moor, also at Fladbury, on 1st March 1688. About four years previously, on 23rd December 1684, Thomas’ son William had been christened. This would fit with the names in William Forrest’s will, though I’ve yet to find a record of Grace Saunders’ birth or baptism. The record of William Saunders’ baptism notes that his mother’s name was Margaret. As mentioned above, I believe that Thomas Saunders married a daughter of William and Alice Bolton née Forrest. So was her first name Margaret?

Just before the bequest to the Saunders children in William Forrest’s will, there is this sentence: ‘To Richard and Ann sonne and daughter of Richard Haines of Charleton and Jane his wife five pounds apeece’. Also via The Genealogist, I’ve discovered baptismal records for Richard and Ann Haines, the children of another Richard Haines, in 1691 and 1692 respectively, in the parish of Cropthorne, about a mile from the village of Charlton.

But perhaps most significantly, using Family Search I’ve managed to locate a Forrest family living in the Fladbury area in the early seventeenth century. For example, George Forrest had a son named William baptised there on 27th February 1626 and a daughter Alisia christened on 25th October 1629. Could this be William Forrest, later of Badsey, and his sister Alice who married William Boulton? Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to discover whether George Forrest had a son named Thomas, though I did find a Thomas born to a Richard Forrest (perhaps George’s brother?) in Fladbury in 1623. All of these dates fit with what we know about the lives of William, Alice and Thomas Forrest.

Fladbury church and mill (via bbc.co.uk/history/domesday)

Fladbury church and mill (via bbc.co.uk/history/domesday)

I also found out that George Forrest had married Ann Horniblow in Fladbury on 10th August 1625. The following document, dated 1608, from the National Archives, mentions a Thomas Horniblow, as well as Robert, William and Thomas Forest ‘all of Hill in Fladbury, husbandmen’, though these are probably from an earlier generation of the Forest family:

Counterpart of a deed to declare the uses of a fine between Thomas Throckmorton of Coughton, Warws. esq. pl. and John Darby of Fladbury, yeoman, John Marshall of Bishampton, husbandman, Robert Forrest and William Forrest, his son, John Heynes, Thomas Hornyblowe, Richard Horne and Thomas Forrest, all of Hill in Fladbury, husbandmen, of a messuage and lands in Bishampton, in the tenure of John Marshall, a messuage in Hill and lands, some called Lockyers, in Hill and Moor in Fladbury, in the tenure of Robert Forrest, lands (some described) in Hill in Fladbury, in the tenure of John Darby, a messuage in Hill and lands in Hill and Moor in Fladbury, in the tenure of John Heynes, a messuage in Hill and lands in Hill and Moor in Fladbury, in the tenure of Thomas Hornyblowe, a messuage in Hill and lands in Hill and Moor in Fladbury, in the tenure of Richard Horne, and a messuage in Hill called Warrantes and lands in Hill and Moor in Fladbury, in the tenure of Thomas Forrest. To hold to the use of the respective tenants of each of the said properties.

The Thomas Throckmorton mentioned in this record was a member of a prominent Worcestershire family with roots in the village of Throckmorton five miles north-west of Evesham. Throckmorton was a staunch Catholic who had suffered persecution and loss of property during the reign of Elizabeth:

In the time of Sir Robert Throckmorton, and his son and heir Thomas, Coughton became a centre for Catholic recusants. The Tower Room of Coughton Court with its panoramic view for monitoring any approach to the house made it an ideal location for the secret celebration of the Mass, and there was also an ingenious double hiding place built by Nicholas Owen in one of the turrets for the priests in the event of a raid. The Throckmortons not only provided a relatively safe place for people to worship; they also assisted in the underground movements of the priests and established colleges abroad for training English clergy. They were a crucial part of the network of families that enabled Catholicism to remain alive throughout the Reformation.

As for William Forest of Badsey, possible brother of my 9 x great grandfather Thomas Forrest, I’ve found two contemporary documents that mention him. The first is undated:

Henry Chauntrell v. Sheldon Stephens (an infant), by Thos. Tolley his guardian, John Tolley and his wife Mary, William Forrest: Messuage and yard land (lately belonging to Cox Stephens, defendant’s late father), lying in Wyer Piddle, and elsewhere, in the parish of Fladbury (Worcester), and touching the sale of the lands in Badsey belonging to “Chrisogon,” the wife of said Cox Stephens, &c., &c.: Worcester

Secondly, in 1685 William was a witness to the will of Augustine Jarrett of Badsey. One of the other witnesses was Charles Nixon, whom William would appoint as one of the overseers of his own will nine years later. Nixon was the vicar of Badsey from 1677 to 1705.

This confirms that William Forrest was a longstanding (and probably unmarried) Worcestershire resident and did not migrate to London like his brother Thomas and his sister Alice who married William Boulton. It also suggests that the Forrest and Saunders families, and perhaps the Boultons (though their Worcestershire roots are proving more elusive) had their origins in a cluster of villages strung along the River Avon, between Evesham and Pershore.

I’ve also discovered some new records for Major Peter Boulton, the London gunsmith who was one of the sons of William Boulton and Alice Boulton née Forrest. When he died in 1743, Peter Boulton was living in Bath and was married to a woman named Posthuma. However, until this week I’d been unable to find any record of this marriage. Instead, I had located the record of what looked like an earlier marriage, on 26th June 1691 at St James, Westminster, between Peter Boulton of All Saints (i.e. All Hallows) Barking, London, and Elizabeth Bushell of Flatbury (i.e. Fladbury), Worcestershire. It was his bride’s Fladbury connection, in addition to the mention of All Hallows Barking, that made me think this was probably ‘our’ Peter Boulton. Reflecting on this first marriage, I recalled that Peter Boulton’s great niece, Elizabeth Jemblin (the daughter of his niece Grace Jemblin nee Saunders) would marry a man named Edward Bushell Collibee, an apothecary, alderman and sometime mayor of Bath. The Bushells, like the Collibees, seem to have provided a number of Bath’s leading citizens and to be one of the city’s leading families. Was there perhaps a connection between the Bushells of Bath and the Bushells of Fladbury in Worcestershire, some seventy-five miles away? And might this link help to explain how Peter Boulton, a London gun maker whose family originated in Worcestershire, came to be living in Bath in the first place? Did he inherit property there via his first wife Elizabeth Bushell, She was apparently about 21 years old when they married, which means she was born in about 1670. I’ve found records for at least two Elizabeth Bushells born in the Fladbury area, but neither is a close match in terms of chronology.

Bath in the 18th century

Bath in the 18th century

My researches in the London Metropolitan Archives last summer unearthed evidence of a Peter and Elizabeth Boulton living in the parish of All Hallows Barking in 1695, with their two daughters Alice and Elizabeth (it was one of these daughters, probably Alice, who would marry Captain Richard Gosfreight in about 1710). I had assumed that Peter’s wife Elizabeth must have died some time around 1700, but I’ve now found a record of his marriage to his second wife, Posthuma, which took place on 31st December 1699, so Elizabeth Boulton née Bushell must have died before that date, perhaps in childbirth. This second marriage took place at Bath Abbey and we learn that Posthuma’s maiden name was Landick. A child with that name (mistranscribed in the online record as ‘Fostuma’) was christened at Bath Abbey on 23rd January 1676, meaning that she was twenty-three years old when she married Peter Boulton. Posthuma was the daughter of David Landick ‘late deceased’ and his wife Elizabeth. On 24th November 1687 Mrs Elizabeth Landick, presumably Posthuma’s widowed mother, married Robert Hayward, also at Bath Abbey.

The fact that Peter Boulton’s second wife Posthuma was from Bath strengthens my theory that he already owned property there as a result of his first marriage to Elizabeth Bushell. We know that Peter continued to live in the parish of All Hallows Barking after his marriage to Posthuma, because his sons Edward and Peter were born in there in 1703 and 1709 respectively. However, Peter and Posthuma had obviously retired to Bath and regarded it as their main address by the time Peter made his will in 1741.

These new discoveries open up new lines of enquiry that may lead, perhaps indirectly, to identifying more precisely the Worcestershire origins of my Forrest ancestors.