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Editorial Preface To The New Edition


Written by TPB ...

Thomas Pownall Boultbee, the Author
     These notes are intended to serve the purpose of satisfying that affectionate curiosity which naturally arises when the mind reflects on the rapidly fleeting course of time, and begins to wonder what position in the past ages belonged to the forefathers who are gone. It will be obvious that family pride can enter into the spirit of these pages in the most moderate degree. The family whose names are recorded have held at best a modest place among English gentry. They have won no high distinctions; they have filled no prominent positions in Church or State. The record here traced is, therefore, simply one of family affection rather than family pride. As such it does not fall into the province of criticism, which it need neither fear nor deprecate. Criticism would be as much out of place in dealing with such pages, as in analysing a family letter which circulates round the breakfast table. Indeed this is so far of the character of a letter that it is addressed to those of the name of Boultbee only. Should it fall by accident into the hands of one of another name, he is warned at once that he will find nothing of the smallest interest to him, and he is recommended to lay it down. Even those who bear the name must be told that they will find but little apart from dry genealogical details. If then, it be asked why the Author should have taken the trouble to collect, and to print what he confesses to be uninteresting, he would make this reply - it is not uninteresting to him. On the contrary, it is a labour of love to search out whatever traces may yet be found of links connecting himself with the past, and with many who are still living, though perhaps personally unknown. A laborious life has left him but little time, nor has he possessed otherwise ample means for continuous investigation. But something he has done, or something he has collected, which he would not willingly have lost, and which he would like to place in the hands of his relatives far and near. The story of the origin of the family possesses some of the elements of romance and early attracted him. He began his search confidently expecting to trace the basket maker and his share in the troublous times, and to tell when and how he came from the North to the verge of Charnley Forest. It was a great disappointment to arrive at the end of a broken clue, just when the winding up of the genealogical labyrinth most needed its guidance. It may be that someone else may be more fortunate, and may be able to find the other broken end which is now missing.

     Sometimes accident, sometimes diligence or the right application of money may prevail in such research when the former investigation has failed. The Author would encourage anyone of the name, who has the time, and the means to persevere, but he has not any great expectation of much further success.

     English family history can be rarely traced back much more than two centuries, apart from the succession to landed property. Where estates have been handed down, the title deeds and inevitable records remain to testify to the several generations of owners, and their Wills speak of marriage connections and descendants; otherwise English people have been singularly careless about family records. The Grandfather (we will say) dies; his home is broken up; letters are destroyed; even the family Bible with its simple memorials is uncared for, and the grandchildren can hardly tell the name of their Grandmother. In England there is scarcely such a thing as tradition, and the names of relatives seem too familiar and trivial to be entered in a written record. So it comes to pass when some years are gone and a subsequent generation asks who were those who went before it, there is none to answer. Therefore to fix that which might yet be known, to preserve from oblivion what he himself has rescued, the Author has cared for these few pages. They will enable each one of the name into whose hands they may come, to know his own position in the line of family connection. They may reconnect some broken links of relationship, and they may encourage some younger member to take up the investigation where these chapters leave it. The Author cannot hope that the record even in its more recent portion is complete, or precisely accurate, but if his distant relations will favour him with the necessary corrections, an additional page may contain them, and bring it up to the present time.

     One more remark may be called for. To whichever member of the family the lot might fall of compiling such a document, it would seem inevitable that his own line of descent should seem to him of most importance, and that he should possess most information on all that belongs to it. This may no doubt be traced plainly enough in these pages. Nevertheless the Author would say this to his distant relatives, that he would gladly have written as fully on all that pertained to their interests had he possessed more than the dry twigs and branches of their genealogical tree. With these remarks he will now pass on to the scanty story which is all that he has to relate.

     The basis from which the Author had to work was this:- Some generations back, the representative of the family was known to have resided at Stordon Grange, an old moated house not many miles from Ashby-de-la-Zouch in the north-west of Leicestershire. It was further said that an ancestor of his came from the North in troublous times (so the phrase ran), and that he was obliged to assume a disguise and work as a basket maker. In the course of time, the danger, whatever it may have been passed away, and the basket maker surprised his neighbours by appearing as a man of some property. More than this it seemed impossible to learn on questioning the older surviving members of the family. Nor can there be much doubt that it rests on a basis of fact however tradition may have modified or disguised it. It is related in substantial agreement by members of the family who have held scarcely any intercourse for more than a century. It may fairly be asked how it could have arisen unless it had originally some truth for its foundation. It may be considered as nearly certain that the first of the family in Leicestershire came from the North whether in the way traditionally stated or some other. There is a small village in Yorkshire, near Thirsk, named BOLTEBY. [Modern spelling is BOLTBY. Ed.]In the 13th Century this gave name to a family, two generations of which attained distinction. Nicholas de Bolteby who had lands at Bolteby, (see Archbishop Gray's Register, Surtees Society '56) married Philippa the heiress of the Baron of Tindale. He left a son, Adam, who was Baron of Tindale in 1261, and had two daughters, co-heiresses, who carried the lands into other names. The estates of this de Bolteby family fill many entries in the public records of that age.

     One of their strongholds was Blenkinsop Castle, Northumberland, named in Camden's Britannia as lying in a right pleasant country which was the Baronie of Sir Nicholas of Bolteby a Baron of renowne in the time of Edward I. Blenkinsop Castle is described in Grose's Antiquities as being a square tower on an artificial mound, surrounded by a wall. It seems to have been perfect in the days of Edward VI, and is mentioned in the order for keeping ward against the Scots. But their chief seat was Langley Castle about 6 miles west of Hexham.

     The account given of this family in Dugdale's Extinct Baronage is the following:-

     Bolteby:- of this name was Nicholas de Bolteby of Bolteby, Baron of Tindale in Northumberland in the right of his wife Philippa, one of the heirs of Adam de Tindale, into which barony these lordships did then belong; namely, Wardour, Four Staynes, Alrewas, Hayden, Langley, Betherstane, Wyden and Blenkinsop. In 42 Henry III (1258) this Nicholas had summons with the rest of the Northern Barons to march into Scotland. He had also command before the end of that year to attend the King at Chester to restrain the incursions of the Welsh. Died 1 Edward I (1272), Adam his son and heir 8 Edward I (1279) gave to Thomas son of Adam de Multon with Isabel his eldest daughter the manor of Langdale in Cumberland, as also Hayden and Alrewas, and died 10 Edward I (1281). Thomas de Multon by reason that Alice his mother was one of the daughters and co-heirs of Richard de Lucie of Egremont, assumed the surname of Lucie. He married Isabell one of the daughters and coheirs of Adam de Bolteby (a great man in Northumberland) died 33 Edward I (1304), being then seized of the Manor of Langley in Northumberland, which came to him by marriage with the said Isabella.
    Henry Percie, Earl of Northumberland, married Maude, great-granddaughter of Isabel de Bolteby wife of Thomas de Lucie. He was the father of Henry Hotspur, but had no children by Maude who was his second wife. He had a large portion of his great possessions.
    [The figures immediately before the names of King Henry III and King Edward I refer to the Regnal year regnal year. For example -- In the 42nd year of the reign of Henry III the actual date of that year being 1258 as Dugdale states. Ed.]

     Such is the account given by this famous Antiquary of that ancient family of this name, whose possessions were merged in the great families of the North, notably in the illustrious house of Percy. It has been a common belief amongst us that we are descended from the Barons of Tindale. How that belief arose cannot now be known, whether tradition retained some trace of such a connection or whether some reading in Dugdale or elsewhere first originated it as a hypothesis which readily grew into a belief. But it seems clear enough that Adam de Bolteby, having left only female representatives, his line of descent was lost by being merged in other names on the marriage of its heiress as Dugdale relates. It is clear therefore that no direct descent can be claimed from him. But some other collateral branch of the Bolteby family possessed more vitality, and the name occurs not uncommonly in Yorkshire records.

     There is reason also to believe that the Bowlbys of Durham are a branch of the same race. In a letter from the Reverend H.B. Bowlby he says:- No one appears to know anything of the Bowlbys near Whitby. My father is certain our name was originally Boulby and remembers that his grandfather or great-grandfather altered the way of spelling by writing W instead of U. I have always believed that the families of Boultbee, Bowlby, Boulby, must have been originally one, though I have not at hand materials for proof. The Bowlbys have been identified with the City of Durham from the present time back to 1722 at least, for I find in that year Thomas Bowlby subscribing to the restoration of a church there. The Boulbys, on the other hand have always been associated with the neighbourhood of Whitby, where some of that name now reside, and where a hamlet and a hill bear that name.

     In a letter from Captain J. Russell Bowlby dated September 13th, 1862, it was stated that he understood that:- Sir Adam de Boultbee a Bishopric (i.e. Durham) Knight was buried about 1600 and something, at Gainford in that county. Thomas Bowlby, the Times Correspondent murdered in China, was the representative of the family and had a pedigree which is not forthcoming.

     The Author has found no trace of this Sir Adam, and imagines it must be a confusion with the ancient line mentioned above. In a letter from the Captain's father, Mr. Russell Bowlby of Whitburn, dated September 1862, he states that:- Their family was descended from Sir Adam Boltbie of Bolam near Gainford-on-Tees, one of the Knights of the Bishop of Durham between Tyne and Tees, at the battle of Lewes, Sussex, 48 Henry III (1263). He had heard his grandfather Peter Bowlby LLD, say that there was a branch of the family in the South. His grandfather had the pedigree in a family Bible but it has been torn out. His grandfather, a younger son assumed as crest, a Catherine Wheel which he changed on marrying the heiress of the Hon. Edward Russell, and he quarters the Russell arms. Between 1688 and 1750 the family suffered as non-jurors. Thomas Bowlby his grandfather was heavily fined.

     If the above statement is accurate it may probably be assumed that the Sir Adam there mentioned must be the same as the one already mentioned, who succeeded to the Barony of Tindale on the death of his father Nicholas. It will therefore be subject to the same objection as applies to our own descent, Adam left daughters only. But it must be confessed that there is a singular coincidence of the belief in the two families as to the traditional line of descent and of political sympathy. In another letter written by Commander Joseph Bage Boultbee, R.N., August 4, 1862, he states that:- On the authority of a lady from Newcastle who knew the Bowlby family that she had heard of one Thomas Bowlby who had been obliged to take refuge in the South for his attachment to Charles I.

     One other singular circumstance may be mentioned bearing upon this supposed pedigree. Somewhere about 1780 the Author's grandfather Joseph Boultbee afterwards of Bunny, being an officer in the Marines serving on board the Seaford, was present at a Ball at Newcastle-on-Tyne. Two elderly maiden ladies bearing a version of his name, claimed him as a relative. He observed that the name differed; they answered that might well be, they knew that a member of their family had to fly southward in troublous times.

     [JB provides a sidelight on this encounter from a letter to him dated 1st September, 1890, from Edwin Arthur Knight, a Durham antiquary. The general subject of the letter is on the question of a connection between the Bowlbys of Durham, Boulbys and Boultbees. Mr. Knight was of the firm opinion that the Durham Bo wlbys took their name from Boulby on the coast north of Whitby and that Bo ulbys were the same people. He then wrote -- As for the maiden ladies perhaps they were glad to claim a smart young officer, with a dash of the sailor in him, as a relative. I admit that the maiden ladies' tradition and your own is a curious coincidence. Ed.]

     Thus we have the fact that with some variations of spelling, the name Boultbee is found from early times in Yorkshire and in Durham, and that there have been vague traditional stories of the flight of someone bearing that name into a more southern district. Whether it may be possible hereafter, to arrive at any more positive information may depend upon the accidental discovery of some records as yet unknown. It may be noted here that there is a Boulby Cliff near Whitby and a Boulby or Boultby Street in that ancient fishing town. The name of Boultby also occurs in its Church Registers, and it is believed to be on a monument in its church towards the end of last century. It is possible therefore that some trace of the lost connection might be looked for in that neighbourhood.

     [JB notes -- From the Torre Manuscript reprinted in the Yorkshire Post Parish Histories, City of York, it appears that Robert Bolteby by appointment by the Archbishop by lapse on 10 February; 1410 to be "cantarist" of Ergon vel Eyrom Chantry, a chantry founded in the Chapel of St. William's Chapel upon Ouse Bridge at the Altar of St. Mary for the Souls of John de Ergon and Juliana his wife. Ed.]

     These introductory remarks may well be closed with a few Heraldic notes. The clue of heraldic bearings has often been sufficient in former times to assure a family succession, and even the inheritance of property. It would entirely fail in these days when the arms and even the name of distinguished families are boldly assumed by adventurers. It has been one of the many disappointments encountered in the course of these investigations to find no aid from this source. The arms borne by Nicholas De Bolteby, Baron of Tindale, are duly registered in all the books. In heraldic language they are -- Argent on a fess sable three garbs or that is to say, on a black band crossing horizontally a white shield there are three golden wheatsheaves. But these arms are not used by Boultbees of recent days. As far as is known they have used for many years the followings arms:- Azure two arrows argent between two bezants in pale that is, on a blue shield there are two silver arrows in the shape of the letter X, and between the upper and the lower angles of the letter there are two gold circular discs. Now the question is how, when, or why did they assume these arms? On application to the College of Heralds, the reply made was that they could not find these or indeed any arms registered in the name of Boultbee, and they recommended an immediate registration on payment of the moderate fee of 76. Those who care for it may pay this when they please. Now the absence of heraldic registration proves nothing, for the Registers are very defective and were made up of old time from voluntary representations made by families anxious to record their genealogies. Still the absence is a further difficulty in our way, or at least it deprives us of what would have been a facility. All that can be said at present is that the two lines into which the family has been divided since the middle of last century agree in using these arms which must therefore have been assumed at least as far back as that date. Whether they were then received as handed from their predecessors, or whether they were devised for the occasion is one of the matters on which further information is needed. It seems probable that the carelessness or ignorance of the engravers has gradually made an alteration in the bearings of the shield.

     In all probability the cross arrows ought to have been bolts rather than arrows. The bolt was used from the crossbow and its heraldic representation is somewhat different from the arrow used with the ordinary long bow. Whoever devised the Coat of Arms Coat of Arms arranged it on this supposition with the common heraldic trick of playing on the name. Two bolts in saltire between two bezants sufficiently suggest the family name by taking the first syllable of the latter bearing. Anyone who is in possession of an old impression of the arms would confer a favour on the Author by communicating information, and it would be very desirable to have uniformity in our usage.

     Mr. T.B. Potter of Wymeswold, Leicestershire, an Antiquarian of good repute, once stated that he had seen somewhere arms attributed to the Boultbees as follows -- Gules two bird - bolts in saltire between nine bees or, thats, on a red shield two of the kind of arrows called bolts, in the form of the letter X between nine golden bees. But this may probably have been rather an ingenious suggestion than a coat actually borne by anyone.

     The only person so far known to have used the ancient de Bolteby arms is Dr. John Boultbee Sleath, hereafter mentioned. On a piece of plate presented to him by old pupils at Repton School his arms were engraved as follows -- Quarterly 1st and 4th for Sleath, a chevron vert, on nombril point a trefoil slipped proper. 2nd and 3rd for Boultbee the ancient de Bolteby arms as above. Dr. Sleath was a firm believer in the descent from the Barons of Tindale, and he appears to have expressed his conviction in this practical mode of using their arms on his shield. The Heralds College state that they find in a funeral note book for 1720 note of a coat used at the funeral of a Mr. Boultby, 15 March, 1720 as follows - Party per pale, the first or, a crescent in fess between two mullets sable, the 2nd argent six lions rampant gules. This is entirely different from any hitherto known nor does it appear who this Mr. Boultby was, but every trace should be investigated. It appears also on the same authority, that there is or was in the chancel of Harrow Church, Middlesex, a black marble gravestone for Mrs. Elizabeth Boultby late wife of Benjamin Boultby. She was buried 26th May, 1706, and he died 25th October, 1726 aged 58 years.

     Editorial Note:A pencil note by JB and further notes by his son Walter Ernest throw more light on Benjamin and Elizabeth Boultby. A Register entry records the marriage of Benjamin Boultby of St. Giles in the Fields, Middlesex, bachelor, 25, and Elizabeth Lowe of St. Martins in the Fields, Middlesex, 25, at her own disposal, at St. Pauls Covent Garden on .... 10 August, 1693.
    The Burial Register entries at Harrow Church evidently checked in person by Walter Ernest in 1889 read:-
    1706 May 26th Buried Elizabeth wife of Benjamin Boultby in the Parish of St. Giles in the Fields Middlesex, soapmaker, in sheepswool* only, certified by John Clow, sworn by Eliza Huley, witnessed by John Holmes and David Davy.
    1726 October 31st Buried Benjamin Boultby from London in sheepswool* only, certified by James Cox and sworn by William Pshoy.
    Benjamin was therefore born in 1668. The Mr. Boultby of the Heralds' funeral note was perhaps a brother.
    Walter Ernest noted that Elizabeth's gravestone was no longer visible due to alterations to the chancel of the church in about 1860.

TPB continues ...

    It may be added that the crest and motto used with the shield which has been described as the ordinary bearings assumed by our family are respectively a Stag's head erased and Spero in Deo. The crest usually given to our name in books, is out of a ducal coronet a demi boar proper, but on what authority this is founded, and who may have used it does not appear.

     It might be as well for our family to consider on what authority they use their present arms, what is the precisely accurate mode in which they should be engraved and whether it would be right to use instead or in conjunction with them the more ancient bearings.

     How far this discussion may prove of interest to any members of the family may perhaps be doubtful. Such as it is, our introductory chapter must close here until some more diligent or more fortunate investigator may succeed in collecting further materials.

[For further notes on the origin of the family and heraldic arms see Appendices 1 and 2. Ed.]

*An act of 1678 required that everyone must be buried in a woollen shroud to encourage the wool trade.

Chapter II -- The First Leicestershire Boultbees
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