In the last post I revisited the life of Major Peter Boulton, a London citizen and gunsmith. He was the brother of Captain Richard Boulton of the East India Company and the son of William Boulton and Alice Forrest, the sister of my 9 x great grandfather Thomas Forrest.
In this post I want to explore further Peter Boulton’s connection with the Bushell family. In 1691, when he was about 26 years old, Peter married Elizabeth Bushell of Fladbury, Worcestershire (the marriage licence gives her name as ‘Bushwell’ and her place of birth as ‘Flatbury’, but we can dismiss these as clerical errors). Elizabeth was said to be 21 years old at the time, which means that she must have been born in about 1670. I’ve searched the parish records, via The Genealogist, for evidence of Elizabeth’s baptism, but although there are many Bushells in the Fladbury register, and a number of Elizabeth Bushells, none of them match this date.
As I noted in the last post, we know that Peter and Elizabeth Boulton had two daughters, Alice and Elizabeth, both of them born by 1695, when the young family was living in London and Peter was working there as a master gunmaker. We also know that Peter’s wife Elizabeth had died by 1699, when she would have been in her late twenties, because this was the year that Peter married his second wife, Posthuma Landick of Bath.
The only clue we have about Elizabeth Bushell’s origins comes in the will of one Samuel Bushell, a gentleman of Bath, who died in 1696. In his will Samuel leaves money to ‘my cosen Alice Boulton daughter of my brother-in-law Peter Boulton’. By ‘cosen’, I’m fairly sure that Samuel means ‘niece’ (as I’ve often noted, ‘cousin’ could mean any relative at this period). Since Peter was still married to Elizabeth at this point, it means that Samuel Bushell must have been Elizabeth Boulton née Bushell’s brother. Samuel’s will mentions his wife, also Elizabeth, but no children, suggesting that (like his sister Elizabeth Boulton) he may have died young.
So we have two Bushell siblings, Elizabeth and Samuel, both probably born in the 1670s, both married, but both dying in the 1690s when they were still young adults. However, this prompts the question as to how Elizabeth could be described as ‘of Fladbury’ at the time of her marriage, while her brother Samuel was living in Bath.
We know that the Bushell family had a branch in Bath, but the connection between them and the Bushells of Fladbury is still a mystery. We also know that the mother of Peter Boulton’s second wife Posthuma Landick was a Bushell (in fact, another Elizabeth Bushell). Born in Bath in 1676, Posthuma was the daughter of David and Elizabeth Landick. We know that Elizabeth Landick was born a Bushell, since the will of Edward Bushell the elder, who died in 1701, mentions a daughter of that name. The same will refers to Peter Boulton as a ‘cousin’ (by this time, he had been married to Posthuma for two years).
Elizabeth Landick née Bushell had a number of siblings. John Bushell died two years after his father, in 1703. Edward Bushell the younger died in 1724; his will included a bequest to Alice, daughter of Peter Boulton. Ann Bushell married William Collibee, an apothecary and mayor of Bath; in her will of 1729, Ann Collibee describes Peter Boulton as a ‘cousin’. John, Edward and Ann were the uncles and aunt of Peter’s wife Posthuma.
How does Samuel Bushell fit into this family? Was he another son of Edward Bushell the elder? And how did his sister Elizabeth, Peter Boulton’s first wife, come to be living in Fladbury, some seventy miles from Bath? These are questions that, at this stage, remain unanswered.
There’s another mystery thrown up by the Bushell wills. In his will of 1724, Edward Bushell the younger states: ‘I give Alice Boulton daughter of Peter Boulton ten pounds’. However, we know that Alice had married Captain Richard Gosfreight four years earlier. We might dismiss the use of Alice’s maiden name as an oversight, if it weren’t for another anomaly which occurs in the will of Thomas Bushell who died in 1721. I’m not entirely sure of Thomas’ connection to the other Bushells of Bath, though a Thomas Bushell, the proprietor of the Three Tunns, was described as a ‘cousin’ by Edward Bushell the elder in his will of 1701. Thomas leaves a hundred pounds to ‘Eleanor Gospright [sic] Daughter of Peter Bolton [sic] of London Gunsmith’. Is this another error, or do these two references cast doubt on the question of which daughter of Peter Boulton married Richard Gosfreight?