In the last post I promised to summarise what I’ve been able to discover about Henry Crabb Boulton, the East India Company director and Member of Parliament, who (according to Ancestry) was my 3rd cousin 8 x removed. In this post, I plan to write about Henry’s two families of origin: the Boultons and the Crabbs.

The Boulton family

As I noted in the previous post, my interest in the Boulton family derives from their connection by marriage to my Forrest ancestors. Both families appear to have had their roots in Worcestershire. I believe that the Forrest family came from the village of Fladbury on the River Avon, about five miles west of Evesham, and it’s possible that the Boultons had their origins in the same area.

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

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

Some time in the early decades of the seventeenth century, two brothers and a sister were born into the Forrest family in or around Fladbury. William Forrest appears to have stayed in Worcestershire, where he either inherited or purchased property in the village of Badsey near Evesham. Thomas Forrest, my 9 x great grandfather, moved to London, where he set up in business as a haberdasher in the Tower Hill area. Thomas’ daughter Alice married Sussex-born stationer John Byne in 1675: they were my 8 x great grandparents.

Alice Forrest, the sister of William and Thomas, married a man named William Boulton some time in the 1650s or 1660s. It’s unclear whether they were married in London or moved there soon afterwards. We know very little about William Boulton and his origins, but we do know that the couple were living in the parish of All Hallows Barking, to the west of the Tower of London, in 1666, when they were paying hearth tax there. They were also included in a list of London inhabitants in 1695, by which time their children had all left home. At this time they were living in Chitterling Alley, in a medium-sized property with a total of eight hearths. It’s possible that William Boulton was a merchant or mariner and that he had connections with the East India Company, since at least one of his sons and three of his grandsons ended up working for the company.

Church of All Hallows Barking, London

Church of All Hallows Barking, London

Piecing together the information I’ve been able to glean from parish records and wills, I’ve come to the conclusion that William and Alice Boulton had the following children:

Richard Boulton worked for the East India Company, attaining the rank of captain, then as a ship’s husband or agent, with a financial interest in Blackwall Yard to the east of London. Richard lived in Crutched Friars in the parish of St Olave Hart Street. He appears to have remained unmarried and died in 1737.

Peter Boulton must have served in the army or navy, perhaps in the East India Company like his brother, since he attained the rank of major. Peter was a gunsmith in the City of London, living near Tower Street. His first marriage was to Elizabeth Bushell of Fladbury and his second to Posthuma Landick of Bath. Peter Boulton’s daughter Alice married Captain Richard Gosfreight in 1720. Peter and Posthuma Boulton owned property in Bath, to which they retired, and where Peter died in 1743.

Another son, possibly named William, married a woman named Bridget and they had two sons – William, and Captain Richard Boulton the younger. Richard, who worked for the East India Company like his uncle and namesake, also seems to have remained unmarried. He died at his property in Perdiswell near Worcester, in 1745.

Elizabeth Boulton married naval commissioner Martin Markland .The Marklands were neighbours of Major Peter Boulton in the parish of All Hallows Barking.

Mary Boulton married a Mr Lewes, about whom nothing further is known.

Finally, we come to a Miss Boulton, whose first name is still a mystery, but may well have been Hester or Grace, since these were the names of her daughters. This Miss Boulton married Thomas Saunders, a ‘gent’ from the hamlet of Moor, near Fladbury. Saunders was included in a list of non-jurors drawn up after the Jacobite rebellion of 1745, but I’m not sure what this tells us about his religious affiliation.

Thomas and Grace Saunders had three children: William, Grace and Hester. I haven’t been able to find out anything about William. Grace Saunders married London salter James Jemblin , probably in the first decade of the 18th century, and they had a son named John and a daughter Elizabeth. Grace died, possibly giving birth to Elizabeth, and James remarried. Elizabeth Jemblin married Edward Bushell Collibee, who would later serve as mayor of Bath, and who was probably related in some way to the Bushells of Worcestershire. By 1740 John Jemblin was living in Evesham, where he may have inherited property from his father.

The Crabb family

We don’t know whether Thomas and Grace Saunders lived in Worcestershire or London: it’s possible that they owned property in both places. But we do know that their daughter Hester was living in the parish of All Hallows Barking in the City of London, close to her Boulton relatives, when she married Thomas Crabb on 12th October 1708, at the church of St Paul, Benet’s Wharf.

What do we know about Thomas Crabb? According to the marriage record, he was from Whitechapel, and he and Hester would live in that part of London for a time after their marriage. As for Thomas’ origins, to some extent they remain shrouded in uncertainty. I wonder if he was the son of Isaac Crabb who was paying tax ‘for house and vaults’ in Priest Alley in the parish of All Hallows Barking in 1715? It seems too much of a coincidence that his next door neighbour was Martin Markland, who was married to Hester Saunders’ aunt Elizabeth Boulton, and that the house after that was occupied by her uncle Major Peter Boulton.

Part of Rocque's 1746 map of London, showing the area around the church of All Hallows Barking

Part of Rocque’s 1746 map of London, showing the area around the church of All Hallows Barking

This Isaac Crabb was a merchant who had been born into a family of Quaker clothiers in Wiltshire. He was almost certainly the Isaac Crabb of All Hallows Barking, who married the delightfully named Freelove Crispe, daughter of Thomas Crispe of Wimbledon, at St Nicholas Cole Abbey in September 1685. A case recorded in the National Archives concerns a dispute between Isaac Crabb on the one hand, and on the other side Thomas Crabb, a clothier of Marlborough, Wiltshire, and Thomas Crispe, a draper of London, concerning property in Wimbledon and Savernake Forest, Wiltshire. This may have been a disagreement over a marriage settlement, and it’s possible that Thomas Crabb was Isaac’s father.

At any event, Thomas and Freelove Crabbe had a son named Thomas christened at the church of St Dunstan in the East in London in 1687: this date would fit well with what we know of the Thomas Crabb who married Hester Saunders, making him twenty-one at the time of their marriage. The parish clerk at St Dunstan’s recorded Thomas’ mother’s name as ‘Trulove’, but by the time his sister Hester was christened in the following year, Freelove had reverted to her original (and possibly Quaker-derived?) first name.

Birth and early life

St Mary's church, Whitechapel

St Mary’s church, Whitechapel

Thomas Crabb and Hester Saunders were living in Leman Street, which ran north to south between Ayliff Street and Rosemary Lane, close to Goodman fields, when Henry, their first child, was baptised at the church of St Mary, Whitechapel, on 12th September 1709. I haven’t yet found a christening record for Henry’s brother Richard, but other records lead me to believe that he was probably born in about 1710. I’ve found no evidence of any other surviving children born to Thomas and Hester Crabb.

Henry Crabb’s childhood is a blank as far as the records are concerned. The first definite date that we have for him, after his birth, is 1727, when he entered the office of the East India Company. Henry would have been about eighteen years old at the time. By this time his great uncle Richard Boulton the elder and his second cousin Richard Boulton the younger, would have been established figures in the East India Company, and no doubt their influence was of help in facilitating their young relative’s entry into the organisation.

Unlike his brother Richard, who became a sea captain like his Boulton relatives, Henry seems to have followed a purely deskbound career in the East India Company, but it was a career in which he rose rapidly through the ranks. By 1729, two years after joining, he was working as a clerk in the pay office. In the following year, he was appointed assistant paymaster and the year after that joint paymaster. By 1737, when he was still only twenty-eight years old, Henry was the East India Company’s sole paymaster and the clerk to their committee of shipping.

Heir and executor

The East India Company, by Thomas Rowlandson (1808)

The East India Company, by Thomas Rowlandson (1808)

1737 was also the year in which Richard Boulton the elder, of St Olave, Hart Street, in the City of London, made his will, appointing Henry as join executor with Richard Boulton junior and Richard Gosfright, to whom he entrusted the task of administering his various interests in the East India Company and Blackwall Yard. The elder Richard Boulton had no surviving children of his own, and had probably never married. Therefore the main beneficiaries of his will were the brothers Henry and Richard Crabb and their cousin John Jemblin, son of their mother’s sister Grace and her husband James Jemblin. However, these three were only to come into possession of their share of Richard Boulton’s estate upon taking to themselves the additional surname Boulton.

A codicil was annexed to the will, and this was witnessed by Francis Jemblin, James’ Jemblin’s son by a second marriage, and by Henry and Richard Crabb’s mother Hester, who is described in the record as a widow of All Hallows Barking, confirming that her husband Thomas Crabb had died by this date.

In the following year, 1738/9, Henry Crabb’s brother Richard got married, at the church of St Mary at Hill in the City of London, to Frances Heames. Richard was said to be of the parish of All Hallows Barking and Frances of the parish of St Peter within the Tower of London. Richard and Frances would have two sons, Richard and Henry, to whom we shall return.

Henry Crabb Boulton senior, however, seems never to have married. In 1745, the year of the Jacobite uprising, he and Richard became the beneficiaries of another will, that of their second cousin, Richard Boulton the younger, who had retired to the manor of Perdiswell on the outskirts of Worcester. Both brothers benefited from the will, and Henry was appointed sole executor: a tribute, perhaps, to the skills he had developed managing the payroll of the East India Company. Once again, we learn that Henry’s and Richard’s mother Hester was still alive, and living now at Tower Hill, London.

Member of Parliament and Company Director

From the early 1750s onwards until his death, Henry Crabb Boulton enjoyed a number of spells as a director of the East India Company. Then, in about 1754, he was first elected as Member of Parliament for Worcester, another sign of the Boulton family’s longstanding connection to that part of the country. The History of Parliament Online includes the following information about Henry’s parliamentary career:

In Dupplin’s list of 1754 he was classed as ‘doubtful’; but on 24 Dec. 1755 Sandwich informed Newcastle that Boulton had ‘attended and voted in every question in support of the measures of Government’. In 1761 Boulton was re-elected at Worcester after a contest. Bute’s list of December 1761 classes him as a supporter of Newcastle, and he voted with the Opposition on the peace preliminaries, 9 and 10 Dec. 1762; and on Wilkes, 15 Nov. 1763, and general warrants, 15 and 18 Feb. 1764.

Originally a follower of Laurence Sulivan in East India Company politics, Boulton later attached himself to Clive, and went over to Administration with him; Jenkinson reported to Grenville on 20 Apr. 1764 that Clive had said Boulton might be depended on, though ‘a great rogue’. Harris notes that during the debate of 1 Mar. 1765 on the bill to regulate splitting East India Company votes, Boulton was ‘at the head of the government party’.

In Rockingham’s list of July 1765 Boulton was classed as ‘pro’, and in that of November 1766 as ‘Whig’. When, on 9 Dec. 1766 Beckford moved for an inquiry into East India Company affairs, Boulton voted for the motion, and though he ‘said much against it, owned that the Company could not govern their servants, nor could Clive go on without the interposition of Government’.

No other votes by him are reported in this Parliament, but he spoke several times on East India affairs, and on 1 May 1767 when Beckford was again to move for an inquiry, Boulton, on behalf of the Company, informed the House that there ‘was now a prospect of accommodation with the ministry’. In Townshend’s list of January 1767 he was classed as ‘doubtful’, and in Newcastle’s of 2 Mar. as ‘doubtful or absent’. In 1768 Boulton was returned unopposed for Worcester.

For various periods in the 1760s, Henry Crabb Boulton served as chairman of the East India Company, the organisation that he had joined as a humble clerk in the pay office forty years earlier.

London and Leatherhead

Thorncroft

Thorncroft

From about 1755, Henry Crabb Boulton’s name appears in directories as a merchant living in Crosby Square, Bishopsgate, in London. His brother Richard also seems to have lived in the same area. In 1763, Henry became the owner of Thorncroft manor in Leatherhead, Surrey, where he lived for the next ten years until his death. Apparently, the manor at Thorncroft had belonged originally to Sir Richard Dalton, but after taking possession in 1763 Henry Crabb Boulton commissioned Sir Robert Taylor to build a new house on the site of the old. The date of construction has been given as 1772 with further enlargements in 1800. The house apparently remains much the same today, though with some modern additions.

Henry Crabb Boulton died in 1773. In the next post, I’ll write about what we learn from his last will and testament.

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