Magnus Fowle in the Sussex coroners’ inquest records

In the last post I reported my discovery that my 12 x great grandfather Magnus Fowle, who died in 1596, served as a coroner in Elizabethan Sussex. Since then, I’ve had another stroke of luck. I discovered that there exists an edited collection of Sussex coroners’ inquest reports from Elizabeth’s reign. What’s more, there is a copy of this book, which would be prohibitively expensive to buy, in my own university library – and it’s possible to take it out on loan. So I’ve spent much of the past week eagerly searching the book’s index for references to my ancestor, and collating the information it contains about his service as a county coroner.

The Old Grammar School, Lewes, founded in 1512

The Old Grammar School, Lewes, founded in 1512

Before reporting my findings, it might be useful to summarise what we already know about Magnus Fowle. We know that he was the son of Gabriel Fowle of Southover, Lewes, who was Master of the Free Grammar School there. Gabriel was the son of Nicholas Fowle of Lamberhurst and, according to some sources, the brother of Bartholomew Fowle, an Augustinian friar and the last prior of Southwark at the time of the dissolution of the monasteries. Gabriel remained a faithful Catholic through the religious revolution begun by Henry VIII and continued under Edward VI, dying in Queen Mary’s reign and asking in his will of 1554 for masses be said for him. The name of Magnus’ mother is unknown, but we know that he had a sister Agnes. It seems likely that both Magnus and Agnes (were their rhyming first names a family in-joke?) were born in the late 1520 or early 1530s, almost certainly in Lewes, where Gabriel had been living since about 1525.

Magnus’ sister Agnes was already married to John Harman, a Lewes merchant, by the time her father died in 1555. We know that they had a son and three daughters. As for Magnus, he married Alice Lucke, daughter of Richard Lucke of Mayfield, probably in the late 1550s: there is a record from 1560 describing Magnus as a yeoman of Mayfield. Magnus and Alice had one daughter who survived them, my 11 x great grandmother Agnes, but there may have been others who died in childhood. Alice Fowle predeceased her husband, but we don’t know exactly when she died. Their daughter Agnes married Edward Byne of Burwash in 1575 and their eldest son Magnus, named after his grandfather, was born in the following year. Magnus Fowle made his will at Mayfield on 30th July 1595, in the thirty-seventh year of Elizabeth’s reign, and it was proved in the following May.

Farms at Mayfield (via geograph)

Farms at Mayfield (via geograph)

Sussex Coroners’ Inquests 1558 – 1603, edited by R.F. Hunnisett and published by the Public Record Office in 1996, includes summary reports of 582 inquests that took place in the county during the reign of Elizabeth. Magnus Fowle acted as coroner in 79 of these cases. His first inquest was held on 30th April 1572 and his final inquest on 8th April 1595, a year before his death. If I’m right in my speculation about Magnus’ approximate birth date, then he would have been in his early forties when first appointed to the role of coroner, and in his sixties when he convened his last inquest. By 1572, he would have been married and settled in Mayfield for at least ten years, and within a few years of taking up the post he would become a grandfather.

In most of the inquest reports, Magnus Fowle is described as a county coroner, but a minority give him other titles: he is described as the coroner for Lewes rape in 9, for Bamber rape in 3, and for Eastbourne hundred and Dorset hundred in one each. A number of the reports give him the title ‘gent[leman]’ and one gives him the suffix ‘esq[uire]’, suggesting a rather higher social standing than ‘yeoman’.

In only one year during this period (1578) did Magnus Fowle not preside at any inquests. In other years, the number of inquests in which he was involved ranged from one during two years in the 1570s, and in his final year, to eight in 1592, with two to five inquests being the more typical range in other years. The locations covered the whole county and are too numerous to mention. In two cases Magnus presided with another county coroner, but in the vast majority of cases he presided alone.

Of the cases which Magnus investigated, the majority were deemed to be accidents or death by misadventure, the second largest category being suicides, closely followed by murders and then natural causes, with two cases being defined as killing in self defence. The reports themselves provide a fascinating glimpse of life, albeit through the lens of abnormal events, in Elizabethan England. A remarkable number of people, often women and most of them spinsters, seem to have been desperate enough to take their own lives,with hanging, drowning and cutting one’s own throat among the methods recorded. Murders were often committed in the course of breaking and entering, or as the result of fights, with a handful of women accused of killing their own babies immediately after giving birth. A number of those convicted of murder were able to plead benefit of clergy, or pregnancy, and therefore escape the noose, but many others were not so fortunate. Accidental deaths occurred when people fell into wells, or were mortally injured in the course of work, whether by scythes, ploughs or water wheels. A substantial number of Magnus’ inquests were held in gaols and investigated the deaths of those who died in custody. These were almost always deemed ‘natural’ deaths, suggesting that disease or poor conditions must have been the cause, and prompting the reflection that a prison sentence was often as sure a guarantee of death as a sentence of execution.

A public execution in 16th century Engand

A public execution in 16th century Engand

There is a suggestion in the records that Magnus Fowle took a while to get the hang of his role as coroner. Editorial footnotes to the reports on his first two inquests, which took place in 1572 in Westmeston and Preston respectively, note: ‘The coroner was summoned to King’s Bench to answer for defects in the inquest; process against him ceased when the inquest was amended, presumably by the addition of the information about the goods and chattels which is interlined’.

A later inquest report, from Lewes in November 1585, is followed by a long explanatory note by the modern editor. This was a complex case of murder and violent affray, in which questions appear to have been raised about the conduct both of Magnus Fowle, acting as coroner, and some members of the jury. It’s difficult to reconstruct exactly what happened, but it’s interesting to note that one of those involved in the case challenged the coroner’s credentials and expressed doubts that justice would be done because of Fowle’s ‘want of sufficient judgement in law’. Apparently the extensive original documentation of the case includes both the accusations against Magnus Fowle and his own answers, which offer very different versions of events.

Despite these questions about his expertise, Magnus Fowle’s twenty-three years of service as a county coroner provide clear evidence of his social status. His role as an officer of the Crown helps to explain (for example) why his will includes references to the aristocratic Ashburnham family. At the same time, it challenges my theory that Magnus was, like the Ashburnhams, a recusant or at least a recusant sympathiser. Surely open sympathy for the recusant cause would have been incompatible with holding office on behalf of the Crown?

Magnus Fowle – a county coroner in Elizabethan Sussex?

I’m grateful to Rosie Franczak for drawing my attention to an infamous murder that occurred in the village of Mayfield, Sussex, on 1st October 1594, when a husbandman named Ralph Mepham (or Deaphon, in some accounts) killed his wife by cutting her throat with a knife. What makes this case interesting as far as I’m concerned is that the coroner who investigated the death and convened the subsequent inquest was Magnus Fowle.

This, of course, was the name of my 12 x great grandfather, who lived in Mayfield and indeed died there shortly after this event. It seems unlikely that there were two men with this rather unusual name living in Sussex at the same time. The name ‘Magnus’ would become popular in later generations of my family. (Magnus Fowle’s daughter Agnes married Edward Byne. They were my 11 x great grandparents and their eldest son was Magnus Byne of Framfield, presumably named after his grandfather. Another son, Stephen Byne, was my 10 x great grandfather, and he named his son, my 9 x great grandfather, Magnus. And so the name was passed on through the generations. ) However, it appears that Magnus Fowle was the first bearer of the distinctive first name in the family, given it by his father Gabriel Fowle, who was the master of Lewes Free Grammar School during the reign of Queen Mary.

Countryside near Mayfield, Sussex (via http://media.rightmove.co.uk)

Countryside near Mayfield, Sussex (via http://media.rightmove.co.uk)

Until now, I had imagined that Magnus was simply a yeoman or gentleman farmer, living off the substantial inheritance of land in Ringmer and Glynde left to him in his father Gabriel’s will of 1555, as well as the inheritance in Mayfield of his wife Alice Lucke. However, it now seems likely that he had an additional, official role as one of the county coroners for Sussex. As I understand it, in the medieval period there were three coroners for each county, and their role was keeping the pleas of the Crown – ‘custos placitorum coronas’ – from which the title coroner or ‘crowner’ (see Shakespeare’s Hamlet) derives. Coroners were unpaid and there was a property qualification associated with the office. They were elected, but those entitled to vote were a select few: the Freemen of the county, meeting for the purpose in the county court. 

A full account of the gruesome murder of Joan Mepham can be read here. It seems that the local constable was first on the scene. He then called for the coroner (presumably my ancestor), who proceeded to interview witnesses. The fact that Magnus Fowle lived locally must have meant that he was there fairly quickly. Having interrogated the suspect, the coroner had him committed to ‘the queen’s gaol at Lewes’, some twenty miles away. One account mentions an inquest held at Mayfield on 8th October 1594 convened by Magnus Fowle, and heard before sixteen jurors. However, the murderer was eventually tried at East Grinstead Assizes on 24th February 1595 when, despite his plea of ‘not guilty’, he was found guilty and sentenced to be hanged, the execution being carried out three days later.

Sixteenth-century printing press

Sixteenth-century printing press

An additional point of interest to me, also highlighted by Rosie in her email, is that the murder was reported in a sensational pamphlet printed by John Danter of Smithfield, London. Danter was a notorious ‘pirate’ with a reputation for printing stolen texts, including (also in 1595) the first ‘bad quarto’ of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. He was both friend and landlord to Thomas Nashe, satirical pamphleteer and co-author with Ben Jonson in 1597 of the lost ‘seditious’ play, The Isle of Dogs, which was performed in July 1597 when the London theatres were ordered to be closed by Robert Cecil and the Privy Council. There is also a connection between Nashe and the actor Edward Alleyn, son-in-law of the theatrical entrepreneur Philip Henslowe. As I’ve noted before, Henslowe’s diary makes a number of references to Arthur Langworth of the Broyle, Ringmer, brother of the ‘church papist’ clergyman and poet Dr John Langworth. It is this Arthur Langworth who is referred to so disparagingly in the will of my ancestor Magnus Fowle, for reasons as yet unknown. Wheels within wheels!

The murder at Mayfield must have been one of the last cases adjudicated by Magnus Fowle. He made his will on 30th July 1595 (five months after Ralph Mepham was executed) and it was proved in the following May.

Thomas Sanders in the ‘Returns of Papists’ and Nonjurors’ estates’

In the previous post I wrote about Thomas Sanders or Saunders of Fladbury, Worcestershire, who was included in a return of ‘papists’ and nonjurors’ estates’ in 1723. I’m fairly certain this is the Thomas Sanders or Saunders who married Margaret Boulton, my first cousin 10 x removed, if Ancestry is to be believed.

The returns are held at the National Archives, and I’ve purchased a copy of the records for Worcestershire, which includes the entry for Thomas Sanders. There are 21 individual entries in total for the county, and Sanders’ is the only one for Fladbury. I wonder if it’s a complete list? One of Thomas’ neighbours, the recusant Sir Robert Throckmorton, is listed under Warwickshire, while his main address is given as Weston Underwood in Buckinghamshire.

First page of the returns for Worcestershire

First page of the returns for Worcestershire

The Worcestershire entries are introduced thus:

A Coppy of the Severall Registers made with the Clerk of the Peace for the County of Worcester by such persons who refused to take the Oaths pursuant to an Act of Parliament made in the ninth Yeare of the Reign of his present Majesty King George Entitled an Act to Oblige all persons being papist in that part of Great Brittaine called Scotland and all persons in Great Brittaine refuseing or neglecting to take the Oaths appointed for the Security of his Majesties person and Government by Severall Acts herein mentioned to Register their names and Real Estates. 

The entry for Thomas Sanders reads as follows:

A true particular of the Messuages Lands Tenements and Hereditaments of Thomas Sanders of Moore in the parish of Fladbury in the County of Worcs. Gent whereof I the s[ai]d. Thomas Sanders or any other person or persons in Trust for me or for my use are Seized or poss[ess]ed or in receipt or perception of the Rents and Proffitts thereof as followeth Vizt. – 

One Messuage One Tenement one Stable one Barne and some other Outhouseing belonging to the said Messuage or Tenement Twelve Acres of thereabouts of Meadow and pasture Ground also belonging to the said Messuage or Tenement in the poss[ess]ion of me the said Thomas Sanders of the Yearely Value of sixteen pounds. 

One other Messuage or Tenement and Garden in the poss[ess]ion of Mary Willis of the Yearely value of Twenty Shillings All other the Outhouses Lands Tenements and Hereditaments whatsoever belonging to the firstmentioned Messuage or Tenement are now in the poss[ess]ion of and Rented by John Knowles at the Yearely Rent of 54 s.[?] All which said Messuages Landes and premisses are Situate lyeing and being in Hill Moore and Wyre Piddle in the said parish of Fladbury in the said County of Worcs. In Wittness whereof I have hereunto subscribed my name the 14th Day of January Anno D[o]m[i]ni 1723. Tho: Sanders. Subscribed in Open Court at the General Quarter Sessions of the Peace for the County of Worcester the fourteenth day of January 1723. Hen: Townshend. W: Byrche.

Lower Moor viewed from Hill, Fladbury, Worcestershire (via http://e-services.worcestershire.gov.uk-

Lower Moor viewed from Hill, Fladbury, Worcestershire (via http://e-services.worcestershire.gov.uk-

Hill, Moor and Wyre Piddle were all hamlets within the parish of Fladbury. John Knowles, one of Thomas Sanders’ tenants named here, was included in the ‘list of voters from the last election in Fladbury’ appended to the letter written in July 1702 by Bishop Lloyd of Worcester to the rector of Fladbury, urging him to discourage his parishioners from voting for the High Church Tory Sir John Pakington. As for Pakington himself, he doesn’t seem to have been a nonjuror (presumably this would have prevented him for standing for election?), though he had refused to swear the ‘Assocation’ oath of loyalty to William III in 1696, was known to have sheltered nonjurors, and at the time of the 1715 Jacobite rebellion was one of nine Members of Parliament ordered into custody.

Thomas Sanders of Fladbury and the non-jurors

In the last post I summarised what I know about the Forrest family of Fladbury, Worcestershire. I have good reason to believe that my 9 x great grandfather, Thomas Forrest, a London citizen and haberdasher who died in 1678, was born in Fladbury, though I’ve yet to prove it.

As always, I’m interested in the religious and political affiliations of my ancestors, and their connection with historical events. For example, I was intrigued to discover that in 1723-5, Thomas Sanders or Saunders, a ‘gentleman’ of Moor in Fladbury, was listed in a ‘Return of papists’ and nonjurors’ estates’. I’m fairly sure that this is ‘Mr Thomas Saunders of Moore’ to whose three children William Forrest of Badsey (brother of my ancestor Thomas) left money in his will of 1698. Saunders had married one of the daughters of William’s (and Thomas’) sister Alice (the wife of William Boulton), at some point in the 1680s. As I noted in the last post, one of the children of this marriage, Hester Saunders, married Thomas Crabb, and their son Henry Crabb Boulton would serve as the Member of Parliament for Worcester and chairman of the East India Company. Thomas Saunders or Sanders was probably born in the 1660s, so he would have been in his sixties when the return of nonjurors’ estates was published. It seems unlikely that there were two men of the same name in the tiny hamlet of Hill and Moor. A Thomas Sanders was included in a list of Fladbury electors in 1702, and there’s a good chance this was the person mentioned both in William Forrest’s will four years earlier, and in the list of nonjurors twenty or so years later.

1715 rising: the 'Old Pretender' lands in Scotland

1715:  the ‘Old Pretender’ lands in Scotland

The description of the list of nonjurors at the National Archives reads as follows:

Following the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715, all catholics refusing to take oaths of loyalty to king and government were required to register their names and estates at quarter sessions. Lands not so registered would be forfeit.

This series consists of returns by clerks of the peace for most counties of England and Wales and several towns of the names and estate details of catholics and nonjurors, registered pursuant to an Act of 1722.

The returns describe the estates in detail, giving precise locations and dimensions of lands; land and building names; topographical and building details; and all privileges and appurtenances. Tenants are named, with details of tenure, and rents are sometimes given. In most instances it is not clear whether the returnees were catholics or nonjurors.

Also in this series are a few certificates of the Land Tax Commissioners, concerning the assessment of double tax on the property of catholics.

As this note explains, inclusion in the list does not necessarily mean that the person named was a Catholic. Many nonjurors were Anglicans, as explained in this Wikipedia entry:

The nonjuring schism was a split in the Anglican churches of England, Scotland and Ireland in the aftermath of the Glorious Revolution of 1688, over whether William of Orange and his wife Mary could legally be recognised as King and Queen of England, Scotland and Ireland.

The word ‘nonjuring’ means ‘not swearing [an oath]’, from the Latin word iuro or juro meaning ‘to swear an oath’.

Many of the Anglican clergy felt legally bound by their previous oaths of allegiance to James II and, though they could accept William as regent, they could not accept him as king. It was not necessarily a split on matters of religious doctrine, but more of a political issue and a matter of conscience, though most of the conjurors were high church Anglicans. Thus, latitudinarian Anglicans were handed control of the Church of England. The nonjurors thus were nominally Jacobite, although they generally did not actively support the Jacobite rebellions in 1715 or 1745.

So Thomas Sanders or Saunders might have been a high church Anglican rather than a Catholic; I’ve found no evidence of Catholic affiliation among his descendants. However, there is certainly evidence of continuing nonjuring sympathies among the population in that part of Worcestershire. Apparently Worcestershire in general was strongly royalist during the Civil War. We also know that the Throckmortons, one of the prominent landowning families in the Fladbury area, remained Catholic, supported the King in the Civil War, and suffered loss of their estates as a result. Thomas Throckmorton of Coughton was mentioned in the same legal document as Robert, William and Thomas Forrest ‘all of Hill in Fladbury, husbandmen’ in 1608.

Sir Robert Throckmorton

Sir Robert Throckmorton (via Wikipedia)

In the election of 1702, another prominent local landowner and politician, Sir John Pakington of Westwood Park, a staunch Tory and Anglican traditionalist, faced a vigorous campaign against him by William Lloyd, the Bishop of Worcester. In the words of one source:

Lloyd used the occasion of his episcopal visitation to issue veiled exhortations to the voters to eschew Pakington, and in private excoriated the baronet for debauchery and adherence to the Pretender. The dispute between Pakington and Lloyd epitomized one of the most important divisions within the Church, that between an increasingly Whiggish, Latitudinarian episcopate and a High Anglican, Tory squirearchy.

Lloyd went so far as to write to local vicars to encourage them to put pressure on their electors to vote against Pakington. One letter, ‘To the Reverend Poutney, Rector of Fladbury’ berates the local electors for voting for Pakington in the past and adds a postscript: ‘The enclosed is a list of the voters from Fladbury at the last election. I pray God direct them this time to vote better or to stay away’. The list then follows –and it’s from this list that we know that Thomas Sanders was one of those entitled to a vote in the parish, as well as one or two other familiar names, such as Thomas Horniblow and William and Richard Bushell.

Sir John Pakington

Sir John Pakington

I’ve been reading a great deal recently about the political and religious conflicts of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, including James and Ben Long’s gripping Traitor to the Crown, which describes the little-known episode in which Samuel Pepys was arrested on a charge of treason in the aftermath of the imagined ‘Popish Plot’, and Meriol Trevor’s enjoyably revisionist biography of Pepys’ erstwhile employer James Stuart, Duke of York and later (briefly) James II of England and VII of Scotland. I’m intrigued to discover on which side of these disputes my ancestors found themselves.

The Forrests of Fladbury

My maternal 9 x great grandfather Thomas Forrest was a haberdasher at Little Tower Hill, London, in the second half of the seventeenth century. What do we know about his origins?

We don’t for sure when Thomas was born, but we know that he was buried on 12th January 1678 at the church of St Botolph, Aldgate. We also know that he married a woman named Anne, and it seems likely she was the Anne Borrowes, from the parish of St Andrew, Holborn, who married a man named Thomas Forrest at the church of St Bartholomew the Great on 18th June 1650.The name ‘Burroughs’ – an alternative spelling for Borrowes? – occurs in the will of Thomas’ daughter, Alice. She married John Byne, a Sussex-born stationer who also lived at Tower Hill, in about 1675. John and Alice Byne were my 8 x great grandparents.

Tower Hill in the late 17th century

Tower Hill in the late 17th century

But where was Thomas Forrest born, and where did his family come from? My current theory is that the Forrests were from the village of Fladbury, near Evesham in Worcestershire. What evidence do we have for this?

Our starting-point for understanding the family’s Worcestershire connections is the will of William Forrest of Badsey, who died in 1700, and also the will of Thomas Forrest’s daughter Alice Byne, who died in 1738. William left money and property to ‘my Cozen Alice Bine’ and to her four children. In fact, Alice was the most favoured of the many beneficiaries of William’s will, suggesting a fairly close family connection. My current theory is that she was his niece, and that her father Thomas was William’s brother. Alice’s own will makes reference to her property in Badsey. William Forrest’s will is also the primary source for our understanding of the interwoven histories of the Forrest, Boulton and Saunders families, all of whom had their roots in Worcestershire.

Fladbury, Worcestershire

Fladbury, Worcestershire

As for the link with Fladbury, we know that William Forrest had a sister Alice who married a man named Boulton – almost certainly William – and moved to London. Their son Major Peter Boulton was married twice. His first wife, whom he married in 1691, was Elizabeth Bushell of Fladbury, Worcestershire. His second wife, Posthuma Landick, was also descended from a branch of the Bushell family in Bath. We also know that one of Peter Boulton’s sisters, possibly named Margaret, married Thomas Sanders or Saunders from the hamlet of Moor, otherwise Hill and Moor, which was in the parish of Fladbury. It was their daughter Hester, christened in Fladbury in 1688, who would marry Thomas Crabb of Whitechapel, and whose son Henry Crabb Boulton would become chairman of the East India Company and Member of Parliament for Worcester.

If we search the Fladbury parish records for the name ‘Forrest’, we find numerous family members living there throughout the seventeenth century, many of them in Hill and Moor. For example, a Thomas Forrest was baptised at Fladbury on 9th March 1633. He was the son of another William Forrest. Perhaps it was the same William Forrest who had a second son named Thomas christened at Fladbury five years later, in 1638, suggesting that the first Thomas had died in infancy. This is almost certainly the William Forrest who also had three other children christened at Fladbury: John (1631), Robert (1635) and Elizabeth (1641). All of these except for John are mentioned in William’s will of 1681, which a researcher has found for me in the Worcestershire archives. The early date of Thomas’ birth (if he was born in 1638, he couldn’t have got married in 1650), and the fact that he was still alive in 1681, means that he can’t be my ancestor, the London haberdasher.

Fladbury parish church (via geograph)

Fladbury parish church (via geograph)

A man named George Forrest (William’s brother?) had a son William baptised at Fladbury on 27th February 1626 and a daughter Alisia (Alice) christened there on 25th October 1629. Could this be the William Forrest who died in Badsey in 1700, and could this be his sister Alice who married William Boulton? Perhaps George Forrest also had a son named Thomas? If so, I’ve yet to find a record of his birth. George Forrest is probably the man of that name who married Anne Horniblow at Fladbury on 10th August 1625. He also had a daughter named Anne, baptised at Fladbury in 1632.

One of the witnesses to William Forrest’s will of 1681 was a certain Thomas Horniblow, almost certainly a relation. Like the Forrests, the Horniblows seem to have been well-established in Fladbury. A legal document from 1608, that I cited in an earlier post, mentions an earlier Thomas Horniblow, alongside ‘Robert Forrest and William Forrest, his son’, and another Thomas Forrest.

The parish register also makes mention of a certain Edward Forrest, who had four children christened at Fladbury in the early decades of the seventeenth century: Anne (1607), Joan (1608), Mary (1610) and Edward (1613). There are also records for a Richard Forrest, who had three children baptised in the second decade of the century: Richard and Thomas (both 1623), and John (1626). Then there is a John Forrest who had four children christened a couple of decades later: Elizabeth (1641), Margaret (1643), Jane (1647) and Robert (1650).

The Forrests seem to have left frustratingly few wills, so working out the relationships between these different branches of the family, and my ancestor Thomas’ place in the family tree, is not going to be easy.

Lydell, Markland, Littleton – and Pepys

Towards the end of the last post I mentioned Dennis Lydell, who is described as ‘my honoured friend’ in the 1715 will of Martin Markland, the second husband of my ancestor Elizabeth Boulton. I noted that Lydell was, like Markland, an official with the Navy Board, but it turns out that I may have underestimated his importance.

I’ve since discovered that Dennis Lydell was actually Commissioner of the Navy and a friend of Samuel Pepys, no less. Not only that, but he must also have been a wealthy man, since in 1695 he purchased Wakehurst Place in Sussex from the Culpeper family. It is now a National Trust property. In 1701 Lydell served as Member of Parliament for Harwich, Essex: the same constituency that Pepys had represented a couple of decades earlier.

Wakehurst Place, Sussex (via nationaltrust.org.uk)

Wakehurst Place, Sussex (via nationaltrust.org.uk)

Apparently West Sussex Record office holds a copy of Dennis Lydell’s will, made in 1714, the year before Martin Markland’s. From the reference at the National Archives we learn that Lydell’s wife was called Martha and that they had two sons, Richard (his executor) and Charles. We also learn that Lydell’s London address was in the parish of St Olave Hart Street, which I believe was also the parish where Martin Markland spent his childhood, as well as being the home of Captain Richard Boulton of the East India Company, the brother of Markland’s wife Elizabeth.

From other family trees at Ancestry I’ve discovered that Dennis Lydell married Martha Haddock, the daughter of Captain and later Admiral Richard Haddock, in September 1690. Their elder son Richard was born in 1680 and died in 1746. He served as Chief Secretary for Ireland and Member of Parliament for Bossiney in Cornwall. His younger brother Charles, a clergyman who served the parish of Ardingley, in which the family home of Wakehurst Place was situated, died in 1758.

I’ve also found another record that links Dennis Lydell and Martin Markland to the Littleton family, albeit in a fairly indirect way. An extract from the declared accounts of the navy for 1704-5 includes payments to both Lydell and Markland. The name at the head of the page reads as follows:

Dame Anne Littleton, widow and sole executrix of Sir Thomas Littleton, bart., late Treasurer of the Navy.

New information about the Boulton-Littleton connection

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.

Elizabeth Boulton and the Littleton family

My recent work on the life of Henry Crabb Boulton (1709 – 1773), Member of Parliament and East India Company director, has re-awakened my interest in the Boulton and Forrest families of London and Worcestershire. Henry Crabb Boulton’s great grandparents were William Boulton and Alice Forrest, the latter being the sister of my 9 x great grandfather, London citizen and haberdasher Thomas Forrest. The Forrest and Boulton families both appear to have had roots in the villages around Evesham in Worcestershire.

Early nineteenth-century map of the Evesham area in Worcestershire

Early nineteenth-century map of the Evesham area in Worcestershire

Although I’ve managed to piece together a great deal of the history of the two families, mainly drawing on family wills that I’ve found online, I’ve hit a number of brick walls in my attempt to trace their Worcestershire origins. As a consequence, I’ve recently engaged a professional researcher, based in the county, to explore the local archives for me, and I look forward to hearing what she manages to discover.

Nevertheless, I continue to make occasional new discoveries of my own. For example, yesterday I solved the mystery of the first marriage of Elizabeth Boulton, one of the daughters of William Boulton and Alice Forrest. Probably born in about 1670 and almost certainly in the parish of All Hallows Barking, in the City of London, we know that Elizabeth married Navy Board official Martin Markland in July 1694. However, the parish record gives Elizabeth’s surname as Littleton rather than Boulton, even though we know from later records that Martin Markland was definitely married to Elizabeth Boulton.

St Botolph Aldersgate today (via Wikipedia)

St Botolph Aldersgate today (via Wikipedia)

Yesterday, I finally discovered evidence of Elizabeth’s first marriage, in 1686, to John Littleton. The marriage took place on 19th June at the church of St Botolph Aldersgate, and both bride and groom were said to be of the parish of All Hallows Barking. But why choose St Botolph’s rather than their own parish church? The reason might be that the couple were married, according to the parish register, by a certain ‘Dr Littleton’.

Interestingly, it turns out that this was Dr Adam Littleton, who was (to quote one source) ‘born of an antient and genteel family…in Worcestershire’. Born in 1627, Adam’s father was Thomas Littleton, also a clergyman and vicar of Halesowen, then in Shropshire. Educated at Westminster School, Adam Littleton was elected to Christ Church, Oxford, in 1644 ,where he was a conspicuous opponent of the parliamentary visitation which purged the University of royalist sympathisers, writing a satirical Latin poem on the subject, and was expelled in November 1648. However in May 1651 he joined with three other students in a petition for the restitution of their scholarships, which seems to be have been successful. Appointed as an usher and then second master at his old school, after the Restoration Littleton taught at Chelsea where he was also appointed rector of the parish church. Besides his excursions into verse, Adam Littleton was the author of a number of theological texts and translations from Latin.

Satirical attack on the parliamentary visitation of Oxford, with contribution by Adam Littleton under the pseudonym 'Redman Westcot'

Satirical attack on the parliamentary visitation of Oxford, with contribution by Adam Littleton under the pseudonym ‘Redman Westcot’

Charles II made Littleton a royal chaplain, and he also served as a chaplain to Prince Rupert of the Rhine. In 1674 he became prebendary of Westminster Abbey, in 1683 rector of Overton in Hampshire, and in 1685 he was licensed to the church of St Botolph, Aldergate, where he served for about four years, thus confirming that he was indeed the Dr Littleton who married John Littleton and Elizabeth Boulton.

But what was Dr Adam Littleton’s relationship to John? Of course, the shared surname and the Worcestershire connection might be coincidence, but I think this unlikely. Since John Littleton must have been born by 1670 at the latest, it’s possible that he was Adam Littleton’s son. I’ve discovered that Dr Littleton was married three times. On 6th March 1655 he married Elizabeth Scudimore at the church of St Mildred Poultry. On 24th January 1667 he married Susan Rich of West Ham at St Andrew Undershaft. Finally, he married Susan Guildford, daughter of Richard Guildford of Chelsea, by which he acquired a fortune, but apparently he spent freely as a collector and, when he died in 1694, left his third wife in poor circumstances for the remaining four years of her life. It’s possible that John Littleton was the son of Adam Littleton by his first marriage, though I’ve yet to find any record of his birth or baptism.

The Littletons were an illustrious family, and they seem to have shared Adam’s royalist and High Church opinions. Adam’s father Thomas was one of five sons of Thomas Littleton of Stoke Milburgh, Shropshire, who died in 1621. The eldest son, Sir Adam Littleton, who was made a baronet by King Charles I in 1642, was the father of Sir Thomas Littleton, and the grandfather of another Sir Thomas who served as one of the lords of the treasury. Thomas Littleton of Stoke Milburgh had another son, Sir Edward Littleton, who served as Chief Justice of North Wales. His eldest son, also Edward, was Lord Keeper of the Great Seal under Charles I and was created Lord Littleton in 1640. A second son, William, was a sergeant at law, while two other sons, James and John, were Fellows of All Souls, Oxford. The latter was for a time Master of the Inner Temple, from which he was ejected in 1644. According to one source: ‘He and his family were staunch adherents to the royal cause, and in the course of 1642 he left London and joined the king’. Another Littleton brother, Nathaniel, was a gentleman in the Earl of Southampton’s company in the Low Countries, and another, Timothy, served as one of the barons of the Exchequer.

The Inner Temple

The Inner Temple

I wonder how Elizabeth Boulton came to meet her first husband, and what connections there might have been between the Boulton and the Littleton families? Did the link have its origins in their common roots in Worcestershire, or did it go deeper and touch on matters of shared political and religious opinions? We know that one branch of the Worcestershire Boulton family included a Nonjuror, whether Catholic of ‘High Church’ is unclear, who suffered deprivation of his property after the pro-Stuart 1715 uprising. This was Thomas Saunders of the hamlet of Moor near Fladbury, who married Margaret Boulton, Elizabeth’s sister, and whose grandson was Henry Crabb Boulton, with whom we began this post. Did these sympathies extend more widely in the Boulton family, and were my Worcestershire ancestors (unlike the Byne family of Sussex, with whom they would be linked by marriage) royalists rather than parliamentarians in the conflict that divided England in the seventeenth century?

The heirs of Henry Crabb Boulton (and the Jane Austen connection)

In my last post I summarised what I’ve been able to discover about Henry Crabb Boulton (1709 – 1773), the politician and leading figure of the East India Company who was a distant relative of mine. In this post, I want to explore what we can learn from Henry’s will, and to trace the lives of his heirs and descendants.

As I noted in the previous post, Henry Crabb Boulton’s brother Richard, a captain in the service of the East India Company, married Frances Heames in 1738. I’ve found records of the christenings of three children born to Richard and Frances, who sometimes went by the surname Crabb and sometimes Boulton, which can makes searching for them in the records problematic.

St Helen's Bishopsgate

St Helen’s Bishopsgate today

On 3rd December 1746 Richard Crabb the younger was baptised at the church of All Hallows Staining in the City of London. On 26th August 1752 Henry Crabb was christened at the church of St Helen Bishopsgate. On 13th October in the following year, a daughter named Frances was christened at the same church. We know from Richard Crabb Boulton’s will that, as well as his house in Crosby Square, Bishopsgate, he also owned property in Chigwell, Essex.

When Henry Crabb Boulton made his will in Agusut 1773, a few months before his death, his nephew Henry was one of the main beneficiaries. There is no mention in the will of a nephew named Richard or of a niece named Frances. One source at Ancestry claims that Frances or Fanny Crabb married Josiah Ogilvy of Datchet in Buckinghamshire but I’m not convinced this is the same person.

Other beneficiaries of Henry’s will included his brother Richard and his cousin Elizabeth Collibee née Jemblin, daughter of his mother’s sister Grace, who had been married to James Jemblin. Also benefitting from the will was a certain Captain Augustus Savage, who seems to have worked for the East India Company, and a number of Henry’s household servants.

Valentines, Ilford, in 1771

Valentines, Ilford, in 1771

Just over a year after Henry Crabb Boulton’s death, his nephew Henry was married. On 3rd November 1775, at the same church in Bishopsgate where he had been christened twenty-three years earlier, Henry Boulton Esquire, as he now styled himself, married Juliana Raymond. She was the daughter of Sir Charles Raymond of Valentines, a country house in Ilford, Essex. Charles Raymond was another retired East India Company captain who had sailed with Henry’s father Richard, becoming a wealthy man as a result of the private earnings he acquired on his many voyages for the Company. In 1754 he bought Valentines from Robert Surman, a banker with investments in the EIC.

Juliana Raymond had an older sister Sophia who married Sir William Burrell, Member of Parliament for Haslemere, and grandson of Charles Raymond’s uncle, Hugh Raymond, who had himself served as an East India Company captain earlier in the century. Juliana also had a younger sister, Anna Maria, who married Thomas Newte, a second cousin. Newte had also come up through the ranks of the EIC to become a captain, working in close association with the Raymond family. Sadly Anna Maria died in 1781, two years after they were married.

Richard Crabb Boulton died in 1777, but he had made his will in 1764, which explains why he left money to his brother Henry, who in the event would predecease him. The principal beneficiary is his wife Frances, but his sons Richard and Henry are also to inherit – so we know that Richard survived until at least 1764. However, there is no mention of his daughter Frances.

Richard Crabb inherited his brother Henry’s house at Thorncroft after the latter’s death, and I assume that on Richard’s death in 1777 his son Henry took possession of it.

After he husband’s health declined, Juliana’s sister Lady Sophia Burrell moved to Deepdene in Dorking, about five miles from Thorncroft. Sophia achieved fame as a poet and dramatist. She published two volumes of collected poems in 1793, the Thymriad from Xenophon, and Telemachus. In 1796 William Burrell died, with Lady Burrell having had two sons and two daughters by him. On 23 May 1797 she remarried to the Reverend William Clay. In 1800 Sophia produced two tragedies. The first was Maximian, the second was Theodora, dedicated by permission to Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire.

Eliza de Feullide (via Wikipedia)

Eliza de Feullide (via Wikipedia)

Some time ago I corresponded with Nicholas Ennos, the author of an intriguing book about the novels of Jane Austen, which he controversially argues were written by Austen’s cousin Eliza de Feuillide, who was also married to Jane’s brother Henry. Eliza, who was a close friend of Sophia Burrell, was widely believed to be the illegitimate daughter of Warren Hastings, the Governor General of India. Warren Hastings was a  friend of Sir Charles Raymond. Ennos claims that in Jane Austen’s novel Emma (published in 1815), the town of Highbury is based on Leatherhead and the house of the heroine’s father, ‘Hartfield’, is based on Henry Crabb Boulton’s house at Thorncroft.

Henry and Juliana baptised 10 children while living at Thorncroft. These were: Frances (1776), Richard (1777), Sophia (1778), Juliana (1779), Maria (1782), Harriet (1783), Emma (1784), Henry (1786), Charles (1788), and Louisa (17910.

I’m grateful to a contributor at Rootsweb on Ancestry for the information that follows. In 1781 Henry Boulton bought the manor of Pachenesham and built a new house at Gibbon’s Farm which was named as Gibbon’s Grove. He also bought an estate at Headley and Barnet Wood Farmhouse in Leatherhead. In 1809 he was insuring three farms: Thorncroft, Gibbons Grove and Bocketts. London directories show that he occupied town houses from at least 1792 at 5 Tavistock Square, 12 Upper Gower Street and at 9 Abingdon Street. He was  a member of Sun Fire Company as early as 1784 and was also Governor of ‘The Corporation for working Mines, Minerals and metals in Scotland’ whose office was in the Sun Fire Office in Cornhill.

Henry retired in 1825 and his son Charles succeeded him. In 1800 he was listed in the London Directory as being with the Sun Fire Office in Craig’s Court. Insurance policies show his interest in shipping also. In 1809 he insured the vessel Worcester lying in the East India Docks.

Juliana died before him on 20th December 1813. When Henry died in 1828 his property passed to his son Richard but this son died in 1859 without issue. The estates then passed to his brother Charles Boulton’s second son John Boulton who had been to Mauritius and was a Captain in the Royal Artillery with addresses in Hammersmith and Edinburgh. So he became the owner of Givons Grove, and Bocketts farm, Leatherhead, and sold Thorncroft.

Henry Crabb Boulton (1709 – 1773)

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.