Analysing the will of William Fowle of Mitcham, Surrey (died 1547)

In the previous post I shared my transcription of the will of William Fowle of Mitcham, Surrey, which is dated 1547. I’m interested in William primarily because his will makes bequests to Bartholomew Fowle, a priest who had been the prior of St Mary Overy, Southwark, until its dissolution in 1539, and whose precise relationship to my own Fowle ancestors I’m seeking to clarify.

Churchyard, Mitcham, Surrey

Churchyard, Mitcham, Surrey

In this post I want to explore what William Fowle’s will can tell us about him, his family, and perhaps his connection to Bartholomew. We learn from his will that William was married to a woman named Ellyn and that they had two daughters, Eleanor and Joan, both of whom were under the age of twenty-one and unmarried when their father made his will. William also had a brother Richard, who was given a degree of responsibility for seeing that William’s wishes were fulfilled after his death. Interestingly, William entrusted Richard with ensuring that some of his money was used to maintain and repair highways in Kent, which suggests a family connection to the county, despite William’s residence in Surrey. I know that my own Fowle ancestors originated in Kent: my 13 x great grandfather Gabriel Fowle was born in Lamberhurst, on the Kent-Sussex border.

In his will William Fowle describes himself as a ‘yeoman’, but he was also something of a landowner. He mentions a farm in Mitcham, which was perhaps where he lived, but also an interest in the ‘parsonage and lordship’ of Mitcham and in the parsonage and a garden in nearby Bansted, as well as the garden in Camberwell that he bequeaths to Bartholomew Fowle. Interestingly, it seems that the priory of St Mary Overy owned land in Mitcham, knowns as the manor of Mitcham Canons. According to one source, at the time of the Dissolution the priory ‘held 6 acres of wood at 12d. an acre, 7s. rent and the rectory of Mitcham, worth £16.’ I wonder if this rectory is identical with the parsonage mentioned in William Fowle’s will?

Reconstruction of a Tudor farm (via flickr.com)

Reconstruction of a Tudor farm (via flickr.com)

William Fowle makes two bequests to ‘Sir Bartholomew Fowle’, priest. The first relates to ‘my …. gardeyn with thappurtenances at Camberwell’. Camberwell is about eight miles from Mitcham: in the sixteenth century, both were villages deep in the Surrey countryside but are now part of the urban sprawl of south London. Camberwell is also about three miles from Southwark, where Bartholomew Fowle was given a house to live after the surrender of his priory to Thomas Cromwell. The second bequest to Bartholomew consists of ‘all suche money as Sir Edward Boughton knight and his sonne do owe unto me by their obligacon with condicion’. This seems to be the Sir Edward Boughton of Woolwich who in the thirty-seventh year of Henry VIII’s reign ‘conveyed to that king two parcels of land, called Bowton’s Docks, and two parcels, called Our Lady-hill, and Sand-hill’ in Woolwich. Sir Edward died in 1550 and his son may be the Nicholas Boughton of Plumstead who died ten years later.

The page from the Tyler Index to Wills (apparently compiled by Frank Watt Tyler) which was my original source of information about William Fowle, and which I reproduced in my last post, contains the beginnings of a family tree. As I understand it, the author suggests that Willam Fowle’s widow Ellyn, also known as Eleanor, married for a second time after William’s death in 1547. Her new husband was a certain Nicholas Burton from Carshalton, about three miles to the south of Mitcham. Interestingly, Burton was the owner of the manor of Mitcham Canons, formerly the property of the priory of St Mary Overy. According to one source:

In 1545 Henry VIII sold the manor of Mitcham, described as lately belonging to St. Mary Overy and demised together with Buckwood (comprising 7 acres) to Thomas Fremonds, to Nicholas Spackman and Christopher Harbottell, citizen and haberdasher of London. Licence was given to Spackman and Harbottell in 1550 to alienate to Sir John Gresham, who again received licence the next year to alienate to Spackman and Harbottell. (fn. 12) They re-alienated to Laurence Warren, who conveyed the manor to Nicholas Burton.

The same source states that in 1589 a Richard Burton died ‘seised of the manor of Mitcham, leaving a son Henry’. Tyler’s notes suggest some confusion between Nicholas and Richard Burton. Although Nicholas is said to have married William Fowle’s widow Eleanor, William’s daughter Eleanor is described, at the time of her marriage to John Russell on 18th April 1558, as ‘Ellenor Fowle daughter of Richard Burton’. Tyler further suggests that at least one child resulted from the second marriage of William’s widow to Nicholas Burton: a daughter named Maria. In 1566 she apparently married a Robert Fowle, who presumably was a relative of her mother’s first husband William.

Old map showing Mitcham and Carshalton (via visionofbritain.org.uk)

Old map showing Mitcham and Carshalton (via visionofbritain.org.uk)

Nicholas Burton seems to have died before his wife, as Tyler has a note at the foot of the page which reads ‘3.5.1574 = Elnar Burton, w[idow].’ This could be read as the date of Eleanor’s death, but the ‘=’ sign when used elsewhere denotes a marriage, and above Eleanor’s name is the name of one Randall Hurlestone. He was the author of a virulently anti-Catholic book entitled ‘News from Rome concerning the blasphemous sacrifice of the papisticall Masse with dyvers other treatises very Godly and profitable’, published in 1549 by Edmond Campion, who was (ironically) the father of the future Catholic saint and martyr of that name.

If Eleanor Burton, formerly Fowle, did indeed marry for a third time to this man, then it seems an odd decision for the relative of a former Catholic priest. However, we now that religious loyalties were volatile during this period, and that contrasting opinions were often held within the same family (witness the example of the Campions).

A final note on this page suggests that Richard Burton married Anne Hampton in 1574. Another source gives the date as 9th November and describes Anne as ‘the daughter and sole heiress of Barnard Hampton, Clerk of the Council to Edward VI. Mary, and Elizabeth’, and Richard as ‘brother to Mabell Viscountess Bindon, and uncle to Frances Duchess of Richmond and Lennox’.

On 7th June 1576 Thomas Howard, 1st Viscount Bindon, married (for a third time) to Mabel Burton, the daughter of Nicholas Burton of Carshalton, Surrey. Howard’s will, proved in 1582/3, bequeathed ‘£2000 for the better preferment and advancement of Frances Howard my daughter, my loving sister in law Mary Fowle, wife unto Robert Fowle, gentleman, shall have the government and education of my said daughter until her marriage, etc., or if the said Mary shall happen to die or depart out of the Realm of England I will the government etc. to my loving brother in law Richard Burton of Carshalton in Surry, esq. or to mine executors until the time of her marriage unless she be preferred to her Majesty in service. And I wholly refer her advancement in marriage unto her Majesty.’ Richard Burton was also one of the executors of the will. Richard Burton of Carshalton made his own will in 1588, forgiving the debt of ‘Robert Fowle gent and brother in law’ and making him one of the overseers and beneficiaries of the will.

My analysis of William Fowle’s will, and of Tyler’s notes, has supplied some useful information about William’s family and its connections. However, I’m still no clearer about his relationship with Bartholomew Fowle. It’s odd that, despite the generosity of William’s bequests to Bartholomew, he fails to provide any information about their relationship. Further research is clearly needed, perhaps into the identities of William’s brother Richard Fowle, and the Robert Fowle who married Maria Burton.

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A new clue in the search for Bartholomew Fowle

Earlier this year I wrote about my quest for information about Bartholomew Fowle, an Augustinian canon who was the prior of St Mary Overy, Southwark, at the time of its ‘surrender’ in 1539 to Henry VIII’s enforcer Thomas Cromwell. According to some sources, Bartholomew was a close relation, and possibly the brother, of my 13 x great grandfather Gabriel Fowle, the master of the Free Grammar School in Lewes, Sussex. In that earlier post, I was able to provide some new information about Bartholomew Fowle’s life and career, though it wasn’t possible to prove the connection with my own Fowle ancestors.

St Mary Overy in the 17th century by Wenceslas Hollar

St Mary Overy  by Wenceslas Hollar

References to Bartholomew Fowle in the contemporary records are few and far between. However, this week I’ve come across a new source of information, and one that may in time help us to understand Bartholomew’s family background. In searching for Bartholomew’s name online at Ancestry, I found myself directed to a collection of documents labelled ‘Kent, England, Tyler Index to Wills, 1460 – 1882′ consisting of a large number of typed and handwritten notes that appear to have been composed in the 1930s. One of the handwritten pages refers to the 1547 will of a certain William Fowle, which apparently mentions ‘Sir Bartholomew Fowle priest’. In medieval and Tudor times ‘sir’ was a common honorific title given to priests. Could this be ‘our’ Bartholomew?

Page from Tyler Index to Wills

Page from Tyler Index to Wills (via Ancestry.co.uk)

I searched for William Fowle online and found the will of William Fowle of Mitcham, Surrey, dated 1547, in the collection of wills at the National Archives. I’ve done my best to transcribe the will (see below). There are a few indecipherable words – indicated thus [ ] – and some about which I was unsure – these are followed by a bracketed question mark thus [?]. In the next post, I’ll discuss what the will can tell us about William Fowle, his family, and the connection with Bartholomew Fowle.

In the name of god Amen The      daie of May in the first yeare of the Reign of our Soveraigne lord Edward the sixt by the grace of god kinge of England France & Ireland I William Ffowle of micham in the Countie of Surrey yeoman (although sick of body yet being of hole mynde and in good and parfitt remembrance thanks be unto Almyghtie god make devise and ordeyne this my [ ] testament conteyning herein my last will in manner and forme folowing tha tis to saye Ffirst I betake [?] and comend my soule iinto thandes of Almightie god my maker & Redemer And I will my body to be buried where I and [     ] by the discretion of myne Executor hereafter written And I bequeath to the church of mycham [   ] for tithes [   ] forgotten to be paid xx Item I bequeath to my daughter Eleanor Thirtie pounds Remayning now in my brother Richard Ffowles handes which xxxil I will shall so remayne untill she be of lawfull age of xxi yeres yf she be not in the mean tyme married, and then to be paid unto her. Item I bequeath unto Joane my daughter other Thirtie pounds to be paid unto her out of my other goodes. Item I assigne and bequeath unto my said daughter Eleanor all my right tithe Interest and termes of yeres of all my leases aswell of [   ] other concernyng the parsonage and lordship of Micham, after the decease [?] of Ellyn myne entirely beloved wyfe. And I will Sir bartholomewe ffowle preist shall enyoie all my lease and Interest of and in my [   ] and the gardeyn with thappurtenances at Camberwell in the said Countie. And after his decease I give and bequeath all my [   ] lease interest and terme of yeres of and in the same [   ] to come to my said daughter Eleanor. And I bequeath unto my said daughter Joane all myn Interest and terme of yeres of all my lease [   ] concernyng the psonage of Bansted with all thappurtenances ceonteyned within the said leases And if any of my said daughters happen to deceas before lawfull age or daie of mariage Then I [   ] thother to be hir heire in all the bequests to her befor made. And if they shall both happen to dye before any of them [       ] lawfully begotten Then I give and assyne all the right Interest and term of yeres than to com of the said leases and reversions concernying the parsonage of Bansted aforesaid with thappurtenances contayne within the same leases unto my foresaid brother Richard ffowle his heires Executors and assigned And yf it happen both my said daughters to depart this [   ] psent lyf without yssue lawfully begotten Then I will give and bequeath ffifteen pounds [ ] of the said some of xxxli remayning in my said brother Richards hands to be bestowed in maintaining and repairing of high waies within the Countie of Kent where it shall be [   ] by my said brother most     [   ] And theother fifteen pounds I give and bequath to my brother Richard And in case my wife shalbe [   ] unto my said brother Richard all the forsaid leases concernyng the messaueg and lordship of Micham And my [   ] and tithe garden with thappurtenances at Camberwell and Bansted above [   ] with their apurtnenances . And [ ] to to be [   ] to the [   ] feoffment in the Lawe unto my said wife and her assignes to make [   ] of all the said leases unto my children before named when they or either of them come to lawfull age or daie of mariage to their before [   ] as aforesaid And if my said wife shall refuse so to do and deliver the said leases than as now and now as then. I will that yt shalbe lawfull unto my said brother Richard to enter into my said [   ] and messauge Micham aforsaid there to seise upon as manner [   ] My goodes and catalles as well with the houses as upon all the lands and to cause the same to be lawfully praised [?] By indifferent [ ] And that [   ] to make equall pticion and division thereof to and arrange my said children And I will that my said brother Immediately upon the [   ] into his handes of the foresaid leases be come bounde unto my said wife for his bond feoffment in the lawe in a convenient and reasonable form, to      [   ] the said leases, so long as they shall remayne in his handes or   [ ] at [ ] tym as yt shalbe required by my said wyf for [   ] of all my said farmes And I will that my wife immediately after the probate Of this my testament be come bound unto my said brother for the payment of the [   ] and some of xxxil to my forsaid daughter Joane above bequeathed. And if my saide wife do refuse so to doe than I will it shalbe lawfull unto my said brother to enter into my said farme of Micham and there to seise upon all my goodes and to make [   ] to the said some of xxxil and [  ] he then to be come bound unto my wife for payment thereof unto my said daughter Joane at the daye of her mariage Item I bequeath graunt and assigne unto the said Ellyn my wife my newe orchard which I purchased and bought of [  ] [   ], to have and to hold the same orchard, with thappurtenances unto the same Ellyn and her asignes during her naturall lyfe. And after her decease I will the said orchard to remayne unto the foresaid Eleanor my daughter her heires and assignes for every And also I give and bequeath unto the said Eleanor my daughter yls yerely untill she come to thage of xxy yeres for her apparell. And I will my wife be bounde to paye the some out of my goodes Item I give and bequeath unto Sir Bartholomew Ffowle preist all suche money as Sir Edward Boughton knight and his sonne do owe unto me by their obligacon with condicion. The residue of all my goods Catalls and debts after my debts paide my funerall expenses pformed and these my Legacies conteyned in this my    [   ] testament fulfilled I wholy give and bequeath to my entirely beloved wife whome I make and ordeyn my soule Executrix These hereafter subscribed being present and witnesses And for more faith [  ] I have hereunder published my name the daye and yere above written and also sette my seale By me Willm Ffowle   [  ] me Johan E[   ] notary public and [ ] and [   ] by me Henry Frrimay witnes.

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Revisiting the will of Thomas Fowle of Lamberhurst (died 1525)

Nearly two years ago I posted my transcription of the last will and testament of Thomas Fowle of Lamberhurst, Kent, who died in 1525. At the time I mistakenly believed Thomas to be my 15 x great grandfather, and the father of Nicholas Fowle of Lamberhurst. However, I’ve since realised that Thomas was almost certainly Nicholas’ son, and therefore the brother of my 13 x great grandfather Gabriel Fowle, who was the master of the Free Grammar School in Lewes.

Countryside near Lamberhurst (via geograph.co.uk)

Countryside near Lamberhurst (via geograph.co.uk)

As I wrote in an earlier post, Nicholas Fowle of Lamberhurst made his own will in 1522/23, in the sixth year of the reign of Henry VIII. From Nicholas’ will we can conclude that he was married to a woman named Elizabeth and that they had three sons: Thomas, John and Gabriel. The will divides Nicholas’ lands between his wife and his three sons, with Thomas to receive a number of properties in the parish of Lamberhurst, including one called ‘the byne’ in the town itself.

Fowle family researcher Bill Green infers from Nicholas’ will that Thomas was probably the firstborn son, and that he may have been born in the 1490s. That Thomas was still a young man when he died can also be inferred from his own will: firstly from its date, soon after the death of his father, and from the fact that, though he was married by this time, his two children, a daughter named Elizabeth and a son whose name is not given, were not yet of age. It’s possible that Thomas Fowle married his wife Elizabeth in about 1515 or shortly thereafter.

Wyngaerde's 1542 panorama of London, from Southwark

Wyngaerde’s 1542 panorama of London, from Southwark

As I noted when I first wrote about Thomas’ will, one of the most intriguing things about this brief document is its references to the church of St Margaret in Southwark. Thomas’ home was in Lamberhurst, some fifty miles away. And yet not only does Thomas ask to be buried in the churchyard at St Margaret’s but he leaves money to the church and to priests associated with it. What was the connection between a young landowner with family and property in rural Kent, and a church on the southern outskirts of London?

The Southwark connection is of interest because of the theory, reproduced in a number of documents but not convincingly proven, that Bartholomew Fowle, the prior of Southwark at the time of the dissolution of the monasteries, was a close relative of Thomas’: according to some sources, he may even have been his brother. In my most recent post about Bartholomew, earlier this year, I noted that he was originally a member of the Augustinian priory of St Mary and Nicholas at Leeds, Kent (about 18 miles from Lamberhurst), before moving in 1509 to the priory of St Mary Overy in Southwark, where he was elected prior in 1513 or thereabouts, a post he held until the priory was ‘surrendered’ to Thomas Cromwell in 1539.

When I first analysed Thomas Fowle’s will, I assumed that St Margaret’s church was identical with the Augustinian priory and speculated that the ‘gostely’ or spiritual father to whom Thomas bequeaths a sum of money might actually be Bartholomew himself. Either that, or Bartholomew might be the ‘high master of Saint Margaret’ who is also left money by Thomas. However, further research has made me more cautious about leaping to such conclusions. Establishing the precise link between the various churches of Southwark is quite difficult, but I understand that St Margaret’s was the parish church for the northern part of Southwark during the Middle Ages. It was granted to the priory of St Mary Overy during the reign of Henry I, in other words before 1135 (the priory had been established in 1106), but this does not necessarily mean that it formed part of the establishment: the priory was also granted a number of other churches in the City of London and elsewhere, as well as properties in Kent and Berkshire. It was only under Henry VIII, and after the forced closure of the priory, that St Margaret’s was united with the nearby church of St Mary Magdalene and the original priory church became the parish church of St Saviour (and much later, the Anglican cathedral of Southwark).

St Mary Overy, Southwark

St Mary Overy, Southwark

So at the time of Thomas Fowle’s death, the church of St Margaret, Southwark, was a separate parish church, albeit under the general supervision of the nearby priory of St Mary Overy. However, we know that St Margaret’s, Southwark, was also home to the Perpetual Guild or Fraternity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, founded in the reign of Henry VI and later incorporated under Henry VII to manage parish affairs and charities for the people of the northern part of Southwark. In fact, at least one of the priests named in Thomas Fowle’s will appears to have been associated with the fraternity. ‘Sir Richard Dawson morowe masse priest’ was one of the witnesses to the will – a ‘morrow mass priest’ being simply one who said the morning or early mass in a parish church. The Clergy Database includes an entry in 1541, two years after the dissolution of Southwark Priory, for a stipendiary priest by the name of ‘Ricardus Dawson’ at St Saviour’s church, Southwark, where his stipend was paid by ‘the Fraternity of the Blessed Mary in St Saviour’s church’.

Sixteenth century clergy

Sixteenth century clergy

As for the other priests referred to in Thomas Fowle’s will, the only William Mychell I can find in the database was a chantry priest and chaplain in Canterbury in 1540. I’ve speculated before that he may have been a relative of the Robert Michell who was prior of Southwark not long before Bartholomew Fowle. At the dissolution, Bartholomew as provided with a house ‘within the close where Dr Michell was dwelling’. The third witness to the will, with Richard Dawson and William Mychell, was ‘Willm Carnell p[ar]ishe priest and Curet of the foresaid Saint Margaretts’. The only other reference I can find to a priest of that name, at around this time, is to a William Carnell, priest, who witnessed wills in Rye, Sussex, in 1509 and 1517. Both wills included bequests to the Augustinian friars, and it’s possible that Carnell was a member of the priory at Rye before moving to Southwark. If so, it might mean that, as well as owning the ‘temporality’ or physical property of St Margaret’s, and controlling its advowson or clerical appointments, Southwark priory was also in the habit of providing its parish priest from among its own number.

Of course, none of this gets us any nearer to understanding why Thomas Fowle of Lamberhurst should want to be buried at St Margaret’s or why he leaves money to the priests associated with the church. And then there’s the unresolved question of who he means by the ‘high master’ of St Margaret. Was this the prior of Southwark, who could be said to have overall responsibility for the church? Or was it the master of the Fraternity? I even wondered at one point if there was a school associated with the church, and whether Thomas had been a pupil there, and the reference was to a school master. But that wouldn’t necessarily explain his continuing attachment to the church and his familiarity with its clergy. It’s frustrating that Thomas fails to name the ‘high master’, but explicable if this person’s role was well known. It’s less understandable that he withholds the name of his spiritual father: would it be obvious who he meant?

I believe Thomas Fowle’s association with Southwark, and the fact that Bartholomew Fowle was prior there, cannot be mere coincidence, but determining the relationship between the two men, and the exact connection between Bartholomew and my Fowle ancestors, remains frustratingly difficult.

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My ancestors in late-seventeenth-century London

A few days ago I posted a timeline, covering the second half of the seventeenth century and the first half of the eighteenth, for the Boulton family, who were connected to my Byne and Forrest ancestors by marriage. In this post I’m doing something similar for the Bynes and the Forrests, but I’m restricting it to the later decades of the seventeenth century – broadly speaking, the years of Cromwell’s Commonwealth and of the Stuart Restoration – since there is so much more information for this branch of my maternal family.

London from Southwark, 17th century

London from Southwark, 17th century

Contemporary national events are given in italics, while my direct ancestors’ names are in bold the first time they are mentioned. A quick reminder: Magnus Byne, rector of Clayton in Sussex, and Thomas Forrest, citizen and haberdasher of London, were my 9 x great grandfathers; their children John Byne, citizen and stationer, and Alice Forrest, were my 8 x great grandparents; and John and Alice’s daughter Mary was my 7 x great grandmother. Mary Byne married my 7 x great grandfather Joseph Greene, a citizen and goldsmith, the son of another of my 8 x great grandfathers, Captain William Greene, a mariner of Ratcliffe and warden of Trinity House.

All locations are in London, unless otherwise specified. I hope this timeline gives a clearer sense of the chronology of my family’s lives in the capital in the turbulent later decades of the seventeenth century. 

1650             Thomas Forrest marries Anne Borrowes, St Bartholomew the Great

1651               Battle of Worcester

Birth of John, son of Magnus (1) and Anne Byne, Sussex

1653              Oliver Cromwell becomes Lord Protector

1655               (?) Birth of Alice, daughter of Thomas and Anne Forrest

1658               Death of Cromwell

1660              Restoration of the monarchy under King Charles II

1661               Death of Anne, wife of Magnus Byne, Clayton, Sussex 

1662               Magnus Byne marries Sarah Bartlett 

1664               Birth of Magnus Byne (2), son of Magnus and Sarah Byne, Clayton, Sussex

1665               Great Plague of London

1666               Great Fire of London

Birth of Sarah, daughter of Magnus and Sarah Byne, Clayton, Sussex

1668               (?) Stephen Byne, son of Magnus Byne (1), marries Rebecca Whiting, London

1669               Death of Sarah, wife of Magnus Byne, Sussex

1670

1671               (?) Death of Magnus Byne, Sussex

1674               Death of Stephen Byne, Tower Hill

Magnus Byne (2) at Merchant Taylors’ school

1675               (?) John Byne, stationer, son of Magnus Byne (1), marries Alice Forrest

1676               Birth of Alice, daughter of John and Alice Byne

                        William Greene marries Elizabeth Elliott, St Bartholomew the Less

1677               Birth of Joseph, son of William and Elizabeth Greene, Ratcliffe, Stepney

1678               Death of Thomas Forrest, Little Tower Hill

1679               Birth of John, son of John and Alice Byne, Tower Hill

1680

1683               Birth of Mary, daughter of John and Alice Byne

1685               Accession of King James II

Birth of Magnus Byne (3), son of John and Alice Byne

1686               Birth of Thomas, son of John and Alice Byne

Death of Captain William Greene, Ratcliffe, Stepney

1688               King James II deposed by William of Orange

1689               Death of John Byne, Tower Hill

1690              Magnus Byne (2) marries Jane Dakin, St George the Martyr, Southwark

1692               Joseph Greene apprenticed to Joseph Strong, goldsmith

1695               Thomas and Magnus Byne (3) at Merchant Taylors’ School 

1700              Death of William Forrest of Badsey, Worcestershire, brother of Thomas

1701               Joseph Greene marries Mary Byne, St Botolph, Aldgate

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The quest for William Boulton

In recent posts I’ve been revisiting what we know about Richard, Peter, Thomas and Elizabeth Boulton, four siblings who lived in London in the later decades of the seventeenth century and the early decades of the eighteenth. I’m fairly certain that their mother was Alice Boulton née Forrest, the sister of my 9 x great grandfather Thomas Forrest, a London citizen and haberdasher. As for their father, my theory is that his name was William Boulton, but until recently this has been unsubstantiated speculation. However, I’m now in a position to confirm that the theory is correct.

My initial source for understanding the complex relationships within the Boulton family was the 1698 will of William Forrest of Badsey, Worcestershire, brother of Alice Forrest and of my ancestor Thomas. The will includes the following bequests:

To William Grace and Hester children of Mr Thomas Saunders of Moore twenty shillings apeece To my Sister Alice Boulton five pounds To my Cozen Elizabeth Markland twenty shillings to buy her a ring To my Cozen Alice Bolton daughter of Peter Bolton twenty shillings.

From this, I was able to conclude that William Forrest had a sister named Alice and that she was married to a man with the surname Boulton. Putting this together with evidence from other Boulton family wills, I was also able to discover that Peter Boulton and Elizabeth Markland (née Boulton) were Alice’s son and daughter by Mr Boulton, their other children being Captain Richard Boulton, Thomas Boulton and the woman (possibly Margaret Boulton) who married Thomas Saunders of Moor, a hamlet in the parish of Fladbury, Worcestershire, where I believe the Forrest family, and perhaps the Boultons, had their roots.

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

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

Frustratingly, neither the 1737 will of Captain Richard Boulton nor that made by his brother Peter in 1743, mention their father’s Christian name. However, we know from various sources that the Boultons lived in the parish of All Hallows Barking in the City of London, and if we search the records of that parish in the second half of the seventeenth century, we find a William and Alice Boulton living there in 1695. Could these be the parents of Richard, Peter, Thomas and Elizabeth? Although the name ‘William’ does not occur among the surviving children (though it might have belonged to a son who died infancy?) it’s perhaps no coincidence that two of them – Thomas Boulton and Margaret (?) Saunders – gave this name to one of their sons.

Confirmation of William’s name comes, after a fashion, in the contemporary tax records. In 1666 we find a William Boulton paying Hearth Tax on a property in Chitterling Alley in the parish of All Hallows Barking. Nearly thirty years later, in the records for the Four Shillings in a Pound Aid of 1693/4, we find Peter Boulton living in the same place. At the same time, a William Boulton is paying tax on a property in nearby Priest Alley. He was still paying land tax in Priest Alley in 1703 and 1706, but a year later Peter Boulton began paying tax on the same property. We know that it’s the same house, since the next-door neighbour is the same person: a certain Thomas Ayliffe.

What seems to have happened is that, having originally owned a house in Chitterling Alley, William Boulton later purchased a property in neighbouring Priest Alley, while his son Peter took over the Chitterling Alley property. After William’s death, presumably in 1706 or thereabouts, Peter moved into his house in Priest Alley.

Part of Rocque's 1746 map of London.

Part of Rocque’s 1746 map of London, showing Chitterling Alley and Priest Alley, close to the church of All Hallows Barking.

Further evidence that William Boulton might have been the name of Alice’s husband comes in my recent discovery of what appears to be an apprenticeship indenture for his son Thomas. We know that Thomas Boulton married a woman named Bridget and that they had two sons, Captain Richard Boulton the younger and William. When the latter was baptised, his father Thomas was described as a goldsmith, and as I noted in a recent post, it seems likely that he was the Thomas Boulton who was apprenticed to goldsmith John Smith in 1684. Not only was this Thomas Boulton’s father called William, but he was also described as a London gunmaker: the same profession as Thomas’ brother Peter.

Coincidentally, as I was writing this post, I received an email from Brian Godwin, an expert on sixteenth- and seventeenth-century gunmaking, in answer to a query that I had sent him only a few hours earlier. Brian kindly attached a photocopied entry for Peter Boulton from H.L.Blackmore’s Dictionary of London Gunmakers (1986) which reads as follows:

Son of William, appr. to father, 1680; free of Gunmakers Co. by patrimony, 1684. Fined by Gunmakers Co. for giving ‘the Master opprobrious words with the threatening to Post him up a Coward at the Exchange if he did not fight him,’ 1700; fined again for assaulting the Master, 1702. Elected Assistant, 1710; Master, 1710. Gunmaker to Ordnance, 1688 – 1715; East India Co., 1698 – 1721. Last ref., 1741.

This is a richly informative entry. It provides confirmation that Peter Boulton’s name was indeed William and that he was, like him, a gunsmith. We learn that Peter was apprenticed to his own father in 1680, when he would have been about fifteen years old, and that he gained his freedom four years later, at the age of about nineteen. We also learn that Peter Boulton was, to say the least, a spirited youth. I assume that the master with whom he exchanged ‘opprobrious words’ and whom he challenged to a fight and later actually assaulted, was not his own father. It would be fascinating to learn the identity of the man, and the cause of their dispute.

Tower Hill in the late 17th century

Tower Hill in the late seventeenth century

The fact that, eight years after these events, Peter became a master gunsmith himself, seems to demonstrate that he got over his youthful high spirits. His belligerent reputation obviously did not prevent him serving as a gunmaker to the Office of Ordnance, which supplied arms and munitions to the Army and Navy and was based at the Tower of London, conveniently close to Peter Boulton’s premises in Tower Street. I wonder if his work for the East India Company came about as a result of his brother Richard’s role as a captain and later director for ther Company?

As for William Boulton, I’m still unable to find a will for him, or any evidence of his date or place of birth. I’m fairly sure that he was born in Worcestershire (his wife Alice was born in the county, and three of their children found marriage partners from there), but so far I’ve failed to discover any reference to him in local wills.

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The Boultons and the Bushells: connections and questions

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.

Bath in the 18th century

Bath in the 18th century

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.

Fladbury parish church (via geograph)

Fladbury parish church, Worcestershire (via geograph)

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?

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Revisiting the life of Major Peter Boulton, gunsmith (1665 – 1743)

Following on from my recent posts about Elizabeth Boulton, Thomas Boulton, and Captain Richard Boulton, I’ve decided to revisit what we know about their brother, Peter Boulton, in the hope that this might throw further light on the questions still surrounding the Boulton family.

What do we know for certain about Peter Boulton? We know from the record of his first marriage on 26th June 1691, at St James’ Westminster, to Elizabeth Bushell of Fladbury, Worcestershire, that he was born in about 1665, since he was about 26 years old when the marriage licence was issued (Elizabeth was 21). The licence gives Peter’s address as the parish of All Hallows Barking in the City of London, whose records are still not available online, so it’s difficult to find details of Peter’s birth or baptism. I thought I had made a breakthrough when I found a record of the baptism of Peter Boulton, son of William and Alice, in Putney, on 10th August 1664. Since we know that these were the names of Peter’s parents, then perhaps the family had a country home in the suburb, or perhaps they moved there to escape the Great Plague? But then I found many other Boulton records in Putney and concluded that this was a different family, and the names were just a coincidence. And anyway, the plague which forced many families to flee the city did not strike until the following year.

The Great Plague of 1665 (via the National Archives)

The Great Plague of 1665 (via the National Archives)

Peter and Elizabeth Boulton’s marriage licence also describes Peter as a gun maker. In 1687, a citizen and gunmaker by the name of Peter Boulton took on an apprentice by the name of Edmund Castle or Castell, ‘son of Robert Castle of Churchill in the County of Oxford, yeoman’. If this is ‘our’ Peter, then he would have been about 23 years old at the time, and would recently have finished his own apprenticeship and been made a freeman or citizen of London. (Edmund Castle would become a citizen and gunmaker in his own right, up until his death in the parish of St Anne, Limehouse, in 1753).

The next definite record that we have for Peter Boulton is from the list of ‘London inhabitants within the walls’ drawn up in 1695, when Peter would have been about 30 years old and had been married for four years. Under ‘Boulton’, the record includes an entry for ‘Peter; Eliz, w[ife]; Alice, d[aughter]; Eliz, d[aughter].’ We know that Peter Boulton was married to Elizabeth, and we know that they had a daughter named Alice, since Samuel Bushell of Bath, Elizabeth’s brother, leaves money in his will of 1696 to ‘my cosen Alice Boulton daughter of my brother-in-law Peter Boulton’, while in the following year William Forrest of Badsey, Worcestershire, brother of my 9 x great grandfather Thomas Forrest, makes a bequest in his will to ‘my Cozen Alice Bolton daughter of Peter Bolton’. The fact that neither Samuel nor William make any mention of Elizabeth suggests that she may have died in infancy. Thus we can conclude that Peter and Elizabeth Boulton had two daughters born between about 1692 and 1695.

Bath Abbey (via Wikipedia)

Bath Abbey (via Wikipedia)

However, we also know that Peter’s first wife Elizabeth died some time between 1695 and 1699, perhaps in childbirth, since Peter would marry for a second time on 31st December 1699. His second wife was Posthuma Landick and the wedding took place at Bath Abbey. Born in 1676, Posthuma was 23 years old when she married Peter Boulton. She was the daughter of David Landick (‘late deceased’ – hence her unusual first name?) and his wife Elizabeth, who seems to have been born a Bushell, suggesting that Peter may have met his second wife through the relatives of his first. It’s possible that it was as a result of his marriage to Posthuma that Peter Boulton came into the possession of property in Bath, or alternatively that his marriage led to him buying a second home close to his wife’s family.

Peter and Posthuma Boulton certainly retained a home in London for the first twenty years or so of their marriage. When I had a quick look through the parish register of All Hallows Barking, on my visit to the London Metropolitan Archives two years ago, I found the record of the baptism of Edward, son of Peter and Posthuma Boulton, on 5th May 1703. (It’s possible that the child was named after Edward Bushell, Posthuma’s maternal grandfather, who had died two years earlier.) We can also surmise from later records that they had a son Peter some five years later, in about 1708.

Part of Rocque's 1746 map of London.

Part of Rocque’s 1746 map of London.

It was in 1703 that Peter Boulton first appeared in the extant London land tax records, when a Captain Peter Boulton can be found living in Black Raven Court, close to Rose Court and to Chitterling Lane. He was at the same address in 1706, though by now he had risen to the rank of major. How do we account for these military titles, given that (as far as we know) Peter Boulton worked as a master gunsmith in the City of London, and did not join the army, or the East India Company like his brother Captain Richard Boulton?

One explanation is suggested by ‘A List of the Principal Officers of the Trained Bands of London’, published in 1704, in which a Peter Boulton features as one of the captains of the Blue Regiment under Colonel Sir Thomas Cooke. The latter was a London alderman and (interestingly) a governor of the East India Company, which Peter’s brother Richard would later serve as a director. The trained bands were local militia regiments organised on a county basis and membership was open to freeholders and householders.

In every year from 1707 to 1716 Major Peter Boulton could be found living in Priest Alley, which was also next to Rose Court, so it’s unclear whether this represented a change of address, or a renaming of the location. Two houses away was Martin Markland, the Navy Board official who had married Peter’s sister Elizabeth in 1691. Next to them was one Isaac Crabb, who might possibly have been a relative (perhaps the father?) of Thomas Crabb, who was married to Peter’s niece Hester Saunders. Peter was still there in 1717, but now Isaac Crabb had gone and Martin Markland had recently died, so that it was ‘Widow Markland’ (Peter’s sister Elizabeth) who was the occupant of one of the neighbouring houses.

We know that Peter Boulton was still working as a London gunsmith in 1717, because of the account given in 1747 by Samuel Hullock, a convicted murderer, shortly before his execution at Newgate, in which he states that at the age of fourteen his parents ‘bound him out to the Trade of a Gunsmith’ and that having spent short periods as an apprentice to two other masters, ‘I came to Major Peter Boulton, a Gunsmith in Tower-street, and was turned over to him in October, 1717, whom I served to his Satisfaction the Remainder of my Time, and 3 Months over; having before I became his Servant scarce served a Year.’ Hullock then relates how he began to ‘take Delight in the Female Sex, in going Abroad with them’ and how ‘some of those I was acquainted with lived in the Mint, and they wanted me to rob my Master if I cou’d lay Hands convenently on Plate, or any thing else worth while.’ Hullock claims that he refused and ‘forsook this Company’ for a time. He continues:

At this Time I took it into my Head to stay at Home with the Servants of my Master’s House, which displeased my Master and Mistress [presumably Peter and Posthuma Boulton] greatly; insomuch that they gave themselves a deal of Trouble to talk to me. But I being too fond of the Sex to listen to any Body’s Advice, took no Notice of what they said, at least it made no Impression.

For immediately upon that I went over Tower-Hill that Night, where I met a Woman for my Purpose, and being concern’d with her, she gave me the Foul Disease, of which I took proper Care in Time.

However our Foreman wrote to my Master then at Bath, who having receiv’d an Account of my Behaviour, immediately ordered me to be turned away.

But I made a great Hurry about it, and the Alderman’s Beadle was sent for to keep Peace, for fear of my being Angry, and abusing him that sent my Master Word of what I had done, and what had happen’d, so he seems always to have been a passionate and vicious Fellow.

Nevertheless having been out of my Time about a Year and a half, and being hired to work by the Year, I insisted on having a Month’s Warning.

In that Time I sent to my Master, who returned me for Answer, that I might stay as long as I pleased. But when the Month was up, I packed up my Alls, and away I went, and fixed on a Lodging where I became first acquainted with my Wife that now is, with whom I had lived some Years, and had two Children, tho’ not yet married.

This account, as well as giving us a fascinating insight into the life of the Boulton household, confirms that the family maintained a house in Bath as well as their London property. The Tower Street address need not concern us: Priest Alley may have been encompassed in the general Tower Street area, or it could be that Peter’s workshop was a short distance from the Boulton family home.

The Boultons were still in Priest Alley in 1718 and 1720, and also between 1722 and 1728, though from 1726 ‘Widow Markland’ was joined by her son-in-law William Bigglestone (and presumably his wife, Elizabeth’s daughter Alice), and in 1728 Elizabeth is no longer mentioned, suggesting that this might have been the year that she died. The land tax record for 1728 is the last that I can find for Peter Boulton, which may mean that after this he and Posthuma retired to their house in Bath. Peter would have been about 62 years old at this time.

What became of Peter Boulton’s children? I’ve already suggested that Elizabeth, Peter’s daughter from his first marriage to Elizabeth Bushell, must have died in infancy. As for Alice, his other daughter from the same marriage, we know that in 1720 she married shipowner Richard Gosfreight, another retired East India Company captain and a business partner of Peter’s brother Richard. Gosfright was a wealthy man who owned Langtons, a manor house in Hornchurch, Essex. Richard and Alice had a daughter Mary, probably born in the following year, but it seems likely that Alice died shortly aferwards, perhaps as a result of childbirth. Mary would eventually marry Walter Gibbs, an apothecary in Bath, and it seems likely that she was introduced to him by her maternal grandparents.

Magdalen Hall, Oxford

Magdalen Hall, Oxford

As for Peter’s two sons from his second marriage to Posthuma Landick, I can find no trace of Edward Boulton after his baptism in 1703, so we should probably conclude that he died in infancy. Peter Boulton the younger, on the other hand, matriculated at Magdalen Hall, Oxford in 1723 or 1724 at the age of 15, graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in 1727 and a Masters in 1730, when he would have been 21 years old. However, I’ve found no more references to him in the records and his absence from his father’s will suggests that he must have died as a young man.

Having retired to Bath, Peter Boulton made his will on 19th October 1740 and it was proved at London on 9th July 1743. Peter would have been about 78 years old when he died.

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