I’ve been corresponding with Deborah Kirk, who is researching the history of Langtons, a former manor house in Hornchurch, Essex. Debbie got in touch after she came across my posts about Captain Richard Gosfr(e)ight, who appears to have lived at Langtons in the early decades of the eighteenth century. However, it’s possible that Richard owned a different property in Hornchurch, and that Langtons was built after his death by one of his heirs.

Langtons, Hornchurch

Langtons, Hornchurch

My original interest in Richard Gosfright stemmed from the fact that his first wife was the daughter of Major Peter Boulton, a member of the family that was linked by marriage to my Forrest ancestors. I was first alerted to the connection between the Forrest and Boulton families by the wills of my 8 x great grandmother Alice Byne née Forrest, daughter of London haberdasher Thomas Forrest, and of Thomas’ brother William.

As well as family ties, Richard Gosfright also had business connections with the Boultons. Peter Boulton’s brother Richard was the partner, with four other former East India Company sea captains, in the ownership of Blackwall Yard, a shipyard on the Thames at London. Gosfright, a ship’s husband and former mariner like Richard Boulton, also had an interest in this concern. When Richard drew up his will in 1737, he appointed Gosfright, by then married to his niece, as one of the executors.

Blackwall Yard from the Thames, by Francis Holman (1729 - 1784)

Blackwall Yard from the Thames, by Francis Holman (1729 – 1784)

Debbie Kirk has kindly supplied me with the details of both of Richard Gosfright’s marriages, which I had been lacking. As a result, I now know that the name of Richard’s first wife, the daughter of Peter Boulton, was Alice (this was also the name of Peter’s mother, who was born Alice Forrest) and that the couple were married in Romford in 1720. Their only daughter Mary was probably born in the following year. Alice Gosfright must have died shortly afterwards, perhaps in childbirth, since in 1729 Richard married his second wife, Catherine March. Thanks to Debbie’s detective work, I now know that this marriage took place in Calcutta, which suggests that Richard Gosfright was still working as a sea captain after his marriage, and also (perhaps) that Catherine belonged to a family with East India Company connections. It’s possible that Richard and Catherine’s two daughters, Sarah and Frances, were born in India, and this may explain why records of their births have proven hard to come by.

Calcutta in 1786. From an etching by Thomas Daniel. (Via sankalpa.tripod.com)

Calcutta in 1786. From an etching by Thomas Daniel.
(Via sankalpa.tripod.com)

When Richard Gosfright made his own will in 1746, he appointed two co-executors: his wife Catherine and his ‘good friend’ Henry Crabb Boulton. Henry, by then rising through the ranks of the East India Company and soon to be elected Member of Parliament for Worcester, was the second cousin of Gosfright’s first wife Alice, and the great-nephew, and principal heir, of his former partner Richard Boulton. For some time, I’ve been meaning to write more about Henry Crabb Boulton, and my correspondence with Debbie Kirk has now prompted me to do so. In the next post, I’ll try to summarise what I’ve been able to discover about Henry’s life.

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