I’ve spent a good deal of time over the last week or so exploring the connections between a group of families living in early eighteenth-century London and Stepney. As far as I’m aware, none of the people I’ve been researching are related to me, so why have I devoted so much time and effort to them?

This latest piece of research began when I took another look at the will of John Bodington, an apothecary who lived in Ratcliff, Stepney, and who died in 1728. My interest in Bodington had originally been sparked by a reference to him in Walter Renshaw’s history of the Byne family, stating that his will included a claim to freehold lands in Badsey, Worcestershire, owned by Alice Byne. Alice was my 8thgreat grandmother, the husband of John Byne, a stationer at Tower Hill. London. She was born Alice Forrest, the daughter of Tower Hill haberdasher Thomas Forrest, who I believe was originally from Worcestershire. It was his brother William Forrest who left the property in Badsey to Alice Byne.

The hamlet of Ratcliff in 1720

According to Renshaw, John Bodington’s will also made reference to Joseph and Mary Greene. Mary was the daughter of John and Alice Byne, and her husband Joseph was a London goldsmith; they were my 7thgreat grandparents. Joseph, the son of Captain William Greene of Ratcliff, had also been born in the riverside hamlet in 1677. Analysing Bodington’s will at length, and researching the history of his family, I concluded that he was the son of another apothecary named John Bodington, and the grandson of yet another John Bodington, a barber surgeon, both of them from Ratcliff. Moreover, I discovered that the first John Bodington had married Margaret Greene, the daughter of his apprentice master, Stepney chirurgeon William Greene. The coincidence of dates and locations led me to speculate that this William Greene may have been the father of Captain William Greene, and thus the grandfather of my ancestor Joseph Greene. If so, then John Bodington and Joseph Greene were related, and Bodington was in fact a distant ancestor of mine.

However, the possibility that he might have a place in my family tree was not the only thing that intrigued me about John Bodington’s will. For one thing, the will was unusually long and detailed. Secondly, I was struck by the detailed instructions for the testator’s burial in Stepney churchyard, and his insistence that none of his relatives should have any claim to sharing his elaborate tomb. Thirdly, contrasting with this rather peremptory tone was the care and attention paid by Bodington to the needs of ‘my God daughter Miss Mary Johnson a young Gentlewoman upwards of fourteen yeares of age’. I was intrigued by the picture painted in the will of young Mary’s life, as she moved from one London dame school to another, and by the mystery her origins. Why did Bodington, who as far as we know was unmarried and childless, invest so much of his will to providing for this young woman’s future? Was she simply a goddaughter, or was she also a relative – and if so, how was she connected to him?

An eighteenth-century apothecary in his shop

Despite the fact that Bodington supplies the precise date of Mary’s birth – 23rdOctober 1713 – there is no reference in the will to her parents, nor have I been able to find a record of her birth. There are a few young women named Mary Johnson who were married in London in the decade after John Bodington’s death, but as yet I haven’t been able to confirm that any of these were the Mary mentioned his will.

Then, just recently, I came across a reference to the following document in the catalogue of the National Archives (my emphasis):

Boyse v Johnson. 

Document type: Two bills and answer. 

Plaintiffs: John Boyse, surgeon of St John Wapping, Kent (son and heir, devisee and executor of Judith Boyse, widow late of Deptford, Kent, late a complainant, who was only surviving sister and heir and administratrix of James Bundock, wine cooper deceased, late of Precinct of St Katherines near Tower of London; and your orator is also administrator of said James Bundock, of unadministered by said Judith Boyse). 

Defendants: Mary Johnson alias Mary Bodington, Richard Goodlad, senior and Richard Goodlad, junior, Thomas Dugdale, Bennet Goodlad, Rice Lloyd and Jane Lloyd his wife and Thomas Feast. 

Date of bill (or first document): 1734

Could ‘Mary Johnson alias Mary Bodington’ be the goddaughter mentioned in John Bodington’s will? If so, she would perhaps have been twenty-one years old by the time of this legal dispute. And what does that ‘alias’ mean? Does it suggest that she was actually related to John Bodington, and that her surname had changed, perhaps because of a parent’s remarriage or something similar?

I also came across an earlier legal case from two years earlier, concerning the same issue, though Mary Johnson was not mentioned in this one, possibly because she was not yet of age.

Short title: Boyce v Kingsman. 

Document type: Bill and four answers. 

Plaintiffs: Judith Boyce, widow of Deptford, Kent, (sister, heir at law and administratrix of James Bundock, wine cooper deceased of Precinct of St Catherine near Tower of London). 

Defendants: Rice Lloyd, gent and Jane Lloyd his wife, Thomas Feast, Thomas Dugdale and Bennett Goodlad, widow (acting executors of John Goodlad, deceased) and Josiah Kinsman alias Josiah Kingsman and James Foxon. 

Date of bill (or first document): 1732. 

I’ve ordered a copy of the 1734 document, and in the meantime I’ve been trying to discover as much as I can about the other individuals named in it, in the hope that their connection to Mary might become apparent.

I struggled to discover much about Judith Boyce and her husband John. We learn from the two legal documents that Judith was the sister of James Bundock, the London wine cooper whose will seems to be at the heart of this dispute. However, I haven’t yet found a birth or baptism record for either James or Judith Bundock, or indeed much about James Bundock at all. However, we know that Judith Bundock married John Boyce on 26thFebruary 1690/1 at St James, Dukes Place, in London. They had a son named Bundock Boyce baptised at  St John Wapping on 20thFebruary 1699/9, though he was buried at the same church on 27thJune 1707. At some point the Bundocks also had a son named John, who is described as a surgeon in the 1734 legal document, but as yet I’ve found no other records for John Boyce junior.

St John’s church, Wapping (demolished in 1790)

When Judith Boyce made her will in 1731, she was living in Deptford and by then was a widow, though I’ve yet to find a record of her husband’s death. Her will was proven in 1733, confirming that she died between the publication of first and second of these legal documents, leaving her son John to take over her side of the case.

Indeed, John Boyce junior was the only plaintiff, as his mother had been before him, ranged against eight defendants. The Bennet Goodlad mentioned in both documents, and said to be the widow and one of the executors of John Goodlad, seems to have been born Bennett Gage, or possibly Sarah Bennett Gage, though her mother’s surname at the time of Bennett’s first marriage was Elizabeth Collins. On 17thMarch 1690/1, Tutchen Martin, a gentleman of Stepney married Bennett Gage, of the same district, with the consent of her mother Mrs Elizabeth Collins alias Gage, at St James, Dukes Place, in London.

Parish church of St Dunstan and All Saints, Stepney, in 1755

Tutchen Abram Martin, whose unusual first name was actually his mother’s maiden name, was the son of Roger Martin (1634 – 1687) and Margaret Tutchen (b. 1640); he had been baptised at St Dunstan’s, Stepney, on 7thSeptember 1669. His father Roger was the son of another Roger Martin (b. 1597), a mariner from Limehouse, and his mother Margaret was the daughter of Anthony Tutchen (1609 – 1667) and his wife Elizabeth Willett (1606 – 1643).

Tutchen Martin was paying land tax on a property in the Tower district of London in 1703. Tutchen and Bennett Martin had a number of children before the former’s death in 1705 at the age of thirty-six. These included four sons who survived their father: Tutchen Martin (1698 – 1721); Roger Martin (1700 – 1780); Bennett Martin (1700 – 1741); and William Martin (1701 – 1756). Tutchen Martin junior was amariner who made his will on a voyage to Calcutta in 1720, from which he seems not have returned. Bennett Martin junior (who shared her mother’s first name, despite being male) was a physician who married Elizabeth Ryan, a widow, in Stepney in 1720. His brother William, another mariner, may have been the Captain William Martin mentioned here, though if so there seems to have been some confusion about his parentage.

Tutchen Martin’s widow Bennett married John Goodlad, a merchant tailor, on 4thFebruary 1718/9, at the church of St Anne and St Agnes in the City of London, despite the fact that both bride and groom were said to be from Stepney. John’s first wife Sarah had died in the previous year, and he had five children surviving from this marriage: Sarah (b.1700); Elizabeth (b. 1702); Richard (1703 – 1759); John; and Mary (b. 1700).

Elizabeth Goodlad, daughter of John Goodlad by his first marriage, married John Coker, and they had two children, Richard and Anthony, both baptised at Stepney in 1740. In 1738 John Goodlad’s son Richard married Elizabeth Martin, presumably a relative of his stepmother, at the church of St Anne and St Agnes. Their children included John Goodlad; Elizabeth Goodlad; William Martin Goodland (b. 1746); Anthony Bennett Goodlad (b. 1749); and Richard Goodlad (b. 1752).

I haven’t been able to confirm that Richard Goodlad, son of John, is either of the men of that name referred to in the legal document of 1734. Certainly his son Richard can’t be the Richard Goodlad junior mentioned, since he was not yet born.

As for the other plaintiffs in this case, Thomas Dugdale is mentioned in the will of Bennett Goodlad and was perhaps a relative. I’ve yet to identify Rice and Jane Lloyd, or to find out much more about Thomas Feast, Josiah Kingsman or James Foxon.