I’ve been trying to understand the connections between the Bushell and Collibee families of Bath, both of whom supplied the city with mayors and aldermen in the first half of the eighteenth century. There are so many references to members of the two families in each other’s wills that working out exactly how they were related to each other can be quite taxing. However, I think I’m beginning to make some progress.

I’m interested in these families because of their connection with Major Peter Boulton, the London gunsmith who died in Bath in 1743. He was the son of William Boulton and Alice Forrest, the latter being (I believe) the sister of my 9 x great grandfather, London haberdasher Thomas Forrest. Peter was married twice: first to Elizabeth Bushell, and secondly to Posthuma Landick, whose mother Elizabeth had been born a Bushell. Peter must also have been instrumental in arranging the marriage of his great niece Elizabeth Jemblin to Edward Bushell Collibee, an apothecary and sometime mayor of Bath. So how were the Bushells and Collibees connected, and how does Edward Bushell Collibee fit into this picture?

An apothecary in his shop (early 18th century)

An apothecary in his shop (early 18th century)

Edward Bushell the elder of Bath mentions five surviving children in his will of 1701. John Bushell married Ann Matravers in 1689. They had a son named Richard. John died in 1703 and his son Richard died in 1715. Edward Bushell the younger married a woman named Mary. They appear not to have had any surviving children at the time of Edward’s death in 1724. Elizabeth Bushell married David Landick. Their daughter Posthuma, who was born in 1676, was the second wife of Peter Boulton. Frances Bushell and Ann Bushell were unmarried at the time of their father’s death.

John Bushell’s will of 1703 refers to his sister-in-law Mary Collibee, his brother-in-law William Collibee and his nephew George Collibee. John also appoints William Collibee joint guardian, with his own brother Edward Bushell the younger, of his son Richard.

The Mary Collibee mentioned in John Bushell’s will is probably the person of that name who made her own will in 1725. She certainly had a son named George, as well as other sons named Richard, Benjamin, William, Anthony and Edward, and daughters named Ann, and Mary Lewis, a widow. Mary Collibee also mentions her sister Anne Bushell, a widow: presumably she was the wife of John Bushell. If she is using the word ‘sister’ literally, to mean a sibling rather than an in-law, then it means that Anne Bushell and Mary Collibee must have had the same maiden name.

We know that Anne Bushell’s surname was Matravers when she married John Bushell in 1689. The 1717 will of William Matravers of Norton St Philip, about seven miles south of Bath, mentions ‘my cousin William Collibee apothecary’ as well as ‘my sister Mary Collibee and…her son Richard Collibee’, and ‘my sister Ann Bushell’. The clear implication here is that William Matravers, Anne Bushell and Mary Collibee were siblings, all born with the surname Matravers. I assume that the William Collibee mentioned here was Mary’s son, rather than her husband, and that therefore he was William Matravers’ nephew rather than his cousin.

To sum up: the Bushell and Collibee families were connected by virtue of the fact that two Matravers sisters, Anne and Mary, married a Bushell (John) and a Collibee (respectively).

However, this was by no means the only link between the two families. In his will of 1724, Edward Bushell the younger (John Bushell’s brother) mentions his two sisters Elizabeth Landick and Ann Collibee, the latter described in the ‘probatum’ appended to the will as the widow of William Collibee. Ann Collibee née Bushell is probably the person of that name who died in 1729, her will mentioning her son Edward Bushell Collibee. We know from other sources that Edward Bushell Collibee, who was himself an apothecary, was the son of William Collibee, also an apothecary, and that he was born in about 1707.

So Anne Bushell, daughter of Edward Bushell the elder, must have married William Collibee the younger some time between her father’s death in 1701 and the birth of her son Edward Bushell Collibee in about 1707. The will of Ann Collibee née Bushell described Peter Boulton as a cousin. By his second marriage to Posthuma Boulton, Anne’s niece (the daughter of her sister Elizabeth Landick), he was strictly speaking a nephew, or rather a nephew-in-law.