A few days ago I wrote about my discovery of the first marriage of Elizabeth Boulton who, according to Ancestry, was my first cousin 10 x removed: her mother, who was born Alice Forrest, was the sister of my 9 x great grandfather Thomas Forrest, a London citizen and haberdasher. Elizabeth married John Littleton in June 1686 at the church of St Botolph Aldersgate in the City of London. The Boulton and Forrest families had their roots in Worcestershire, and it appears from my research that this was also true of the Littleton family. My last post explored John Littleton’s possible connection with the illustrious Littletons, whose members included a number of eminent clergymen and courtiers, noted for their loyalty to the royalist cause.

I’ve yet to discover John Littleton’s precise relationship to the Littleton family. My current theory is that he might have been the son of the man who married John and Elizabeth at St Botolph’s: Dr Adam Littleton, the clergyman, poet, translator and lexicographer. However, I’ve now made another discovery that confirms John’s connection to the Littletons of Worcestershire.

The marriage of John Littleton and Elizabeth Boulton was short-lived, since in July 1694 Elizabeth married her second husband, Navy Board official Martin Markland. John Littleton must have died some time between 1686 and 1694, though I’ve yet to find a record of his death, or evidence of any children resulting from the marriage. Martin and Elizabeth Markland would have two children that we know of: Peter, born in 1697, and Alice, born in 1701. Elizabeth was still alive when Martin made his will in 1715.

Naunton Court

Naunton Court, Naunton Beauchamp

The National Archives includes a reference to a document dated 1697 and headed ‘Markland v Littleton’, which obviously relates to a legal dispute. The details are given as follows:

Plaintiffs: Martin Markland and Elizabeth Markland his wife.

Defendants: Margaret Oldnall, (unknown) Littleton and another.

Place of subject: personal estate of Humphrey Littleton, Naunton, Worcestershire.

Document type: answer and schedule

I’ve ordered a copy of the document and hope it will reveal something of John Littleton’s precise relationship to the Worcestershire Littletons. My assumption is that John Littleton’s will (which I’ve yet to locate) entitled his widow Elizabeth to a share in the estate of Humphrey Littleton or Lyttleton of Naunton, presumably a relative of John’s, but that this was disputed by other members of the Littleton family. The Oldnalls seem to have been another long-established Worcestershire family.

The property in question is almost certainly Naunton Court at Naunton Beauchamp, only six miles or so from Fladbury, where Elizabeth’s mother’s family, the Forrests, originated. The name ‘Humphrey Lyttleton’ is perhaps most familiar to modern ears as belonging to the much-loved jazz musician and radio presenter. However, he shared it with a number of his ancestors, including one who died in 1665 and was the owner of the manor of Naunton Beauchamp.

Naunton Court today (via Birmingham Mail)

Naunton Court today (via Birmingham Mail)

This Humphrey Littleton seems to have been descended from John Littleton or Lyttleton of Frankley (1520 – 1590), who belonged to a different branch of the Worcestershire Littletons from the Dr Adam Littleton who married John and Elizabeth in 1686. Interestingly, this branch seems to have remained Catholic during the reign of Elizabeth I and the early part of James’ reign. One member was involved in the plot by the Earl of Essex to overthrow Elizabeth, dying in prison. Another, perhaps the second most famous Humphrey Littleton, was implicated in the Gunpowder Plot, for which he was executed at Red Hill near Worcester in 1606.

Contemporary print showing Gunpowder plotters being hanged, drawn and quartered

Contemporary print showing Gunpowder plotters being hanged, drawn and quartered

From what I’ve been able to discover in the records, it seems that the ownership of Naunton Beauchamp passed from John Littleton of Frankley to his younger sons and then to a number of their cousins, including yet another Humphrey Littleton, of Groveley. The manor was eventually inherited in 1634 by the Humphrey Littleton, then only a year old, who would die in 1665.

These discoveries have also made me wonder if there was any connection between Elizabeth Boulton’s first and second husbands. It may simply be that the Boultons already knew the Markland family, who seem to have lived in the parish of St Olave Hart Street, which was close to the Boulton family home in the parish of All Hallows Barking. Or it’s possible that one of Elizabeth’s brothers, either Captain Richard Boulton or Major Peter Boulton, both of whom were associated with the East India Company, had dealings with Martin Markland when he worked at the Navy Board. However, I notice that Markland worked for the Board at the time when Sir Thomas Littleton, another member of the famous family, was Treasurer to the Navy, having previously served as Speaker of the House of Commons. Coincidence?

Incidentally, looking again at a list of Navy Board officials, I notice that as well as Martin Markland it also includes a certain Dennis Lydell, who held a number of posts with the Board and was eventually served as Controller of the Treasurer’s Accounts from 1791 to 1717. Martin Markland describes Lydell as ‘my honoured friend’ in his will of 1715.

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