TPB continues ...
Genealogical investigations are so difficult to follow that clearness of arrangement is the first necessity. To take a leap into the middle of a morass leads to nothing but hopeless floundering. To step cautiously from the solid ground to some spot which offers the best prospect of sound footing is the most hopeful course of proceeding.
The one solid ground of fact from which we
have to start is the circumstance known to the whole family that there
was a Thomas Boultbee who lived at Stordon Grange during the first half
of the 18th century, and was buried at Breedon-on-the-Hill Church in
1750 at the age of 88. It is manifest that this removed the date of his
birth back to 1661 or 1662. It was equally certain that this Thomas was
the progenitor of all known members of the family. Some were also aware
that he had a brother named William, who was buried at Osgathorpe in
1757 aged 92 and who must therefore have been born about 1665. Their
subsequent history will be the subject of the third chapter. At present
we are only concerned with their existence and the attempt to ascertain
their parentage. The only materials yet known as open to us are the
Wills preserved in the Leicester District Registry, and the Parish
Registers of Births, Deaths, and Marriages belonging to the villages of
Breedon, Osgathorpe and Whitwick, all situated in the north-west corner
of Leicestershire. To commence with an examination of two of these Wills
furnishes the only mode of taking one step forward, or rather backward
with any certainty. Afterwards the names occurring in Parochial
Registers may receive adjustment.
The following Will is copied with its variations of orthography from the original in the Leicester District Registry:-
| In the name of God, Amen. I,
Joseph Boultbee of Griffydam in ye liberty of Worthington, in ye Parish
of Breedon in ye county of Leicester, calling to mind ye uncertainty of
life, and certainty of death and being of sound mind and memory, praised
be God, do make this my last Will and testament in manner following.
First, I commend my Soul into the hands of Almighty God who gave it me,
and my Body to ye earth of which it was made, to be decently buried by
ye discretion of my Executors in hopes of a joyful Resurrection into
Eternal Life through the alone Merits of Jesus Christ, my Saviour and
Redeemer, and as for my Worldly Estate wherewith it has pleased God to
bless me, I dispose thereof as followeth, Imprimis I give unto my son
Thomas Boultbee ye sume of five pound at my decease. Item, I give unto
my son William Boultbee ye sume of five pound. Item, I give unto my son
Joseph Boultbee ye sume of five pound. Item, I give to my daughter Mary
Draper ye sume of fivety shillings. Item, I give my daughter Ann Shaxper
ye sume of five pound. Item, I give to my daughter Hannah Shaxper ye
sume of five pound. Item I give to my daughter Elizabeth Ellicock ye
sume of five pound. Item, I give to my Grandson Richard Baly ye sume of
three pound to be put to him to Prentice, but if he does not go to a
trade, then to be paid to him when he comes of ye age of eighteen years.
And ye rest of my goods and cattle quick and dead, I give to my son
Thomas Boultbee and my son Joseph Boultbee in trust for my dear and
loving wife during her life and all ye remainder at her decease to be
equally devided amongst all my grandchildren that are living, and this I
make to be my last Will and Testament.
Witness my hand and seale ye 7th day of October 1718.
The mark X of Joseph Boultbee (seal plain)
Witness Will Boultbee. Jo Boultbee.
Proved on the 26th February 1718 by the oaths of Thomas Boultbee and Joseph Boultbee.
[In modern style this would be written 26 February, 1719. The legal year then ended March 25th. Ed.]
Such is the document from which, as it seems, certain information follows. This Joseph Boultbee of Griffydam, the testator, speaks of his children thus. He acknowledges three sons, Thomas, William, and Joseph. Also five daughters Mary Draper, Ann Shaxper, Elizabeth Ellicock, Hannah Shaxper and one (apparently deceased or remarried) who had left a son Richard Baly, and further discussion of the Will must be deferred for the present. We are now regarding it for the purpose of genealogy only. We started with the knowledge that at the very time this Will was made there were two living brothers, Thomas and William Boultbee, at Stordon Grange and Osgathorpe in the immediate vicinity of Griffydam. Their children are traced during the same period in the Registers of Breedon (the Parish Church of Griffydam) and of Osgathorpe. Is it conceivable that there could be two pairs of brothers living in the immediate vicinity at the same time and bearing the same names? Is not the conclusion inevitable that this Joseph of Griffydam is our ancestor in the next degree above Thomas of Stordon Grange? And have we not thus taken one step further back with certainty? As far as yet appears we must treat this Joseph of Griffydam as our direct ancestor and to distinguish him from many others of the same name we may call him
There is yet another Will in the Leicester Registry of still earlier date which runs as follows:-
| In the name of God, Amen, I
Thomas Boultsbe of the Parish of Breedon, in the Liberty of Worthington
in ye County of Leicester, Webster, being sick in body, but of perfect
memory, Doe make and ordaine this my last Will and Testament in the
manner and form following. First, I bequeath my Soule to God that gave
it and my body to earth to be decently buried at the decreation
[discretion Ed.] of my Executrix hereafter named. Imprimis, I give unto
my well loved wife my house that I now dwell in during her naturall life
then after her decease to my granddaughter Margaret Fukes and to her
heires lawfully of her body and for want of such heires then to my
grandson Thomas Fukes and to the heires of his body lawfully to be
begotten, and for want of heires of Thomas then to my kinsman William
Boultsbe for ever, and as for my household goods, cattell and chattells I
give unto my well beloved wife Elizabeth Boultsby during her naturall
life then after my wifes decease the household goods shall goe to my
granddaughter Margaret Fukes and if she dye then the household goods
shall goe to my grandson Thomas Fukes, and as for my quick goods after
my wifes decease shall be sould and devided betweene my two
grandchildren Thomas and Margrett and the use of the money shall be used
towards bringing them up, my mind and will is that my wife shall
provide for my granddaughter Margrett Fukes until she come to the age of
eighteen yeares, but if my wife shall dye before, the quick stock shall
be sold by the overseers and be devided betweene them to bring up the
two children Thomas and Margrett my mind and will is that if my
granddaughter Margrett live to enjoy the house she shall pay unto my
grandson Thomas Fukes the sume of five pound after he shall attaine to
the age of one and twenty, and I doe make my kinsman William Boultbee
and Joseph Fukes overseers for the children and my well beloved wife
Elizabeth Boultbee holly and sole Executrix of this my last will and
testament. In witness hereof I have set my hand and seale August the
21st day 1698.
Sealed, signed, published and declared in the presence of us Samuel Moore, Joseph Sparke min., William Boultbee, Joseph Fukes his mark X.
Proved by the oath of Elizabeth Boultbee the sole executrix on the 3rd day of October 1698.
Again we omit for the present any remarks on
the mode of spelling or any other conclusions which may result from this
will. We now seek nothing but genealogical links if any are to be
traced. We gather from this Will that this Thomas Boultbee was a man old
enough to be a grandfather in August 1698 and that he died before the
next October. It will further appear from the Breedon Register that he was buried August 30th, 1698. There is no notice of any children but he had two grandchildren Thomas and Margrett
Fukes, for whom and for his wife all his care is exercised. The
inference is that other children (if there had been any) were dead, and
that he had one daughter also deceased who had married a person named
Fukes. The only other point which comes out is that William Boultbee his
reversionary legatee was a Kinsman. The only William Boultbee of whom we can find any trace at that time was the second son of the Patriarch
Joseph. He would be in that year about the age of 33 and of course it
is impossible to say why he was preferred to Thomas or Joseph the other
sons of the Patriarch. But we certainly attain this other point, this old Thomas of the Will was a kinsman of the Patriarch's son and therefore of the Patriarch himself. It is certainly possible that the Kinsman
may have been a nephew in which case the Thomas and Joseph of the two
Wills would be brothers, but this is mere surmise, and as yet no
evidence appears of the degree of relationship.
Having no other material we must next fall back upon the entries in the Registers of the Parish of Breedon-on-the-Hill in which Griffydam and Worthington were included. It is desirable to give all the entries which belong to this period in full in order that other judgements than that of the writer may fully be exercised upon them. The Breedon Registers begin in the year 1562, they are not more complete than many others unhappily are. Especially during the period of the Commonwealth [1649 - 1660. Ed.] they are lamentably defective, containing but few irregular entries. This, unfortunately, is just the time when our name has first appeared in the Registers, and when early links would be of the greatest importance.
The names occurring in the Breedon Registers apparently belonging to our family are the following during this earlier period:-
|1636||Thomas Boultby and Mary Baxter marryed the 28 of October. [see note below Ed.]|
|1640||Clement Jarram, Wayner, and Elizabeth Boultsby marryed on 26th April.
[A pencil note in JB's copy, in an unknown hand, says Might not Clement Jarram have been an owner of wagons for hauling wood in rather a large way of business and employed by T(homas) B. in hauling his trees and thence indirectly giving name to the public house still known as the "Waggon and Horses". A further hand, signed E.K.S. says The pub now at Griffydam is called the "Waggon and Horses". Wayner was the old form of waggoner. Ed.]
|1656||Agatha the wife of Thomas Boughtsby was buried the 29th day of August.|
|1656||Mary the daughter of Joseph and Jane Boughtby born 13 Feb.|
|1658||Thomas Boughtsby of Griffydam buryed the 19 October.|
|1659||An infant of Joseph Boughtesbye's of Griffydam was buryed the 28 April.|
|1659||Jane the wife of Joseph Boughtesby of Griffydam was buried the 15 of May.|
|1660||An infant of Joseph Boultsbys buryed the 27th of February.|
|1661||Ann the daughter of Ann and Joseph Boultsby sieve maker borne the first of March.|
|1662||An infant of Joseph Boultsby (buried ?) [May 4. Ed.]|
|1674||Joseph the son of Joseph Boulsbey baptised Jan 23rd.|
|1675||Elizabeth the daughter of Joseph Boulsbey buried Novemb 16th.|
|1675||Joseph sonne of Joseph Boulsbey buried Decemb 18th.|
|1677||Elizabeth daughter of Joseph Boultbey baptised Aug 12th.|
|1680||Joseph Hoding and Mary Boulsbey married Decemb 29th.|
|1686||Richard the sonne of Thomas Boulsbey buried May 30th.|
|1689||Thomas the sonne of Thomas Boulsbey baptised December 30th.|
|1695||Mary ye daughter of Thomas Boultbey baptised Feb. 4th.|
|1697||Jane ye daughter of Thomas Boultbee of Griffydam bapt.|
|1698||Thomas Boultbee of Griffydam buryed January ye 26th.|
|1704||Richard Baily of Coleorton and Hannah Boultsbee were marr at Coleorton Feb 2nd.|
|1704||Ann ye daughter of Thomas Boultsbee of Whitwick parish bur. April ye 1st.|
|1707||William Shackspear and Hannah Boultby marr:- Dec 30.|
|1710||Ann daugh of Thomas Boultsby bur. Apr. 24.|
|1718||Joseph Boulsby senr of Griffydam bur Feb 8th.|
Our next task must be to examine the entries relating to Joseph the Patriarch and his family, and to compare them with his Will. Joseph was buried February 8, 1718 [Prior to 1752, the years began on March 25, so that February 8, 1718, by modern dating, would be February 8, 1719. Ed.] . It appears from his Will that his wife survived him. His eldest son Thomas of Stordon Grange was at that date 57 years of age. It follows that the Patriarch must have been not less than from about 77 to 87 years old when he died, and that the probable date of his birth must be not far from 1640. With this idea of him we may endeavour to identify the names which occur in his Will and in the Registers. The Will furnishes us with the following account of his children in 1718: Thomas, William, Joseph, Mary Draper, Ann Shaxper, Elizabeth Ellicock, Hannah Shaxper, and his grandson Richard Baly.
The Breedon Register gives the following names apparently belonging to him:-
|1656||Mary (Draper?) the daughter of Joseph and Jane B. born (13 Feb).|
|1659||An infant child of Joseph B. buried (28 Apr).|
|1659||Jane wife of Joseph B. buried (15 May).|
|1660||An infant of Joseph B. buried 27 Feb.|
|1661||Ann daughter of Joseph and Ann B. born (1 Mar) married 1697 John Shakespeare at St. Peters Derby.|
|1662||An infant of Joseph B. buried.|
A blank of 12 years.
|1674||Joseph the son of Joseph B. baptised (23 Jan).|
|1675||Elizabeth Boulsbey daughter of Joseph B. buried Nov. 16.|
|1675||Joseph sonne of Joseph B. buried (18 Dec).|
|1677||Elizabeth (Ellicock?) daughter of Joseph B. baptised (12 Aug).|
|1704||Hannah Boulsbee Marries Richard Baily (2 Feb).|
|1707||Hannah Boultby Marries William Shackspear (30 Dec).|
The Willliam and John Shakespeare above were brothers their father, William, was a cooper of Lount not far from Staunton Harold Hall.
The very serious omissions in the Breedon Register are obvious. The three sons living in 1718 and born after 1660 are entirely absent; but the daughters' names tally with those named in the Will, and this seems sufficient to identify the Joseph of the Registers with the Joseph of the Will. A query will naturally arise whether during the interval between 1662 and 1674 Joseph may have removed from Griffydam and the missing baptisms may be hidden in other Registers, but the most probable explanation of these omissions is the following:- There is an ancient church at Worthington in the southern part of Breedon Parish which is now an independent Chapelry with a Perpetual Curate, and since about 1750 has possessed Registers of its own; but in the interval between that date and the Reformation it seems to have been a Chapel of Ease to Breedon, Griffydam and Stordon Grange, and the district where the Boultbees lived lies near to Worthington, which indeed must be passed in order to reach Breedon. It seems therefore, most likely, perhaps almost certain, that their children were frequently baptised at Worthington Church, which had no separate Registers of its own. It is not probable that in those days much care would be afterwards taken to enter in the Registers of the Parish Church at Breedon the baptisms and other rites celebrated at Worthington.
The well known carelessness of the clergy and parents in times past about the proper registration will thus furnish a very sufficient reason for the absence of those entries which is so grievous a difficulty in our way at this particular juncture of our history.
The history of the Patriarch Joseph as disclosed by the Breedon Register will run thus. He first marries his wife Jane , who has a daughter named Mary in 1656, apparently the Mary Draper of the Will. In 1659, she has another child who is buried April 25, and on May 25 following Jane is buried . Joseph then marries the same year or the spring of 1660, a second wife named Ann. From this second marriage an infant was born who was buried February 27, 1661, (as we reckon years) afterwards follow the other children already specified.
It is of course open to conjecture that the Joseph Boughtby or Boughtesby who had the wife Jane about 1656 was a different person from the Joseph Boultsby who had the wife Ann about 1661 and who has clearly been shown to be our progenitor. But the supposition is hardly likely, and in any case will make no difference in the main results of our investigations.
If we now combine the information given by the Register and the Will, we may exhibit the family of Joseph the Elder in a tabular form. The dates in first quarter of each year are changed from the old to the new style to avoid misunderstanding:-
JOSEPH BOULTBEE born 1640, died 1719, buried February 8,1719, Breedon on the Hill.
With regard to the remaining entries in the Breedon Register during the latter part of the 17th century a few notes may be added. There is no trace whatever of the parentage of Mary Boulsby who married Joseph Hoding in 1680. The entries in 1686, 1689, 1695 and 1697 belong to the family of the first Thomas Boultbee of Stordon Grange as will be afterwards seen. They will fall into place in the subsequent chapter. Thomas Boultbee of Griffydam and his widow who died in 1698 and 1700 have already been spoken of in connection with his Will.
It remains to notice the earliest entries which are yet untouched. They are four in number. The marriage of Thomas Boultby and Mary Baxter in 1636.
|[Studying of a photograph of the marriage entry has led us to the conclusion that Mary's surname was not Baxter but something like Barsey. There is indeed an 'x' -- repeated -- but it is clear from adjacent entries that the writer used 'x' for 'r' and the first three letters of her name are actually Bar. Another complication is that the lettering is partially obscured by that for the entry on the next line. Ed.]|
Also of Clement Jarram, Wayner and Elizabeth Boultsby in 1640. The deaths of Agatha the wife of Thomas Boughtby in 1656, and of Thomas Boughtsby of Griffydam in 1658. What can be said of these? It is possible that the supposition may be true. Thomas who married in 1636 may have been the Father of both Joseph the Patriarch and of Thomas of the Will of 1698 who describes one of Joseph's sons as his Kinsman. The date would suit perfectly well for we have seen that Joseph must have been born not far from 1640, and that Thomas was a grandfather with two grandchildren under age in 1698. Then it is possible that this first Thomas may have lost his first wife Mary and married Agatha as his second wife in which case she died in 1656 and he survived her two years. This certainly makes the Patriarch's first marriage an early one, but it is suggested as the best connecting the names that appear. Accordingly the hypothetical arrangement below is suggested:-
This supposition must be taken for what it is worth, but at present no earlier name appears, and no further clue has yet suggested itself. It is at this point, therefore, that we must pause and consider the probable meaning of the facts before us in connection with the family tradition of the refugee from the North and his basket making. It is possible that the first named Thomas Boultbee who is noted as being married in 1636 may have been the refugee. If so he was not alone for an Elizabeth Boultbee appears in 1640 in the same place. On all this, various suppositions may be indulged but suppositions they must for the present remain. His position, for the moment at least is that his name is the first of the family appearing in that part of the country; except indeed, that the Leicester Probate Registry contains the Will of a certain Elizabeth Boultbye or Boultbie of Caseby near Hinckley dated 1603. It is very brief and discloses no family connection. It may be that subsequent enquiries may reveal the presence in other Parishes of Leicestershire of persons bearing our name. Meanwhile we can but point to the earliest instance known to us and presume that it was he who came from the North. One further remark may be made bearing on the connection of Joseph Boultbee with the first and second Thomas Boultbee of the 17th century. The names Thomas and Joseph recur thenceforward with singular persistency in every following generation. The eldest son of the Senior line was in every case named Thomas in direct descent from the Patriarch Joseph for six generations. May this not be taken as bearing on the supposition already stated, that the first Thomas of 1636 was the father of that Joseph, and that this indirect memorial of it has been handed down to those who had lost sight of his existence.
While dwelling on these obscure beginnings of our family, and before passing on to assured genealogical descents which lie before us, it may be allowed us to dwell a little on that basket maker story, and to ask a few questions about those two Thomases, and the Joseph of the days of the Stuart dynasty. There is a sentiment of being very respectful to a grandfather with five or six Greats prefixed to his family appellation. Still there is a natural curiosity to know what manner of man he was and in what grade of social life he moved. Hereupon the enthusiastic members of the family will no doubt feel assured that whatever Thomas and Joseph may have been, they were certainly gentlemen as became those descended (as they no doubt firmly believe) from the old Barons of Tindale in the days of the Great Edward. Those more enthusiastic relatives may perhaps omit the following paragraphs in which they may find some jarring notes. For the sober historian must distinctly state his facts and argue as clearly as he may from any deductions they may suggest. Now what may be gathered or inferred from the Wills of the two men preserved in the Probate Registry at Leicester? The first thing is that they both attest their Will with a Mark instead of a signature. Is it to be inferred that they could not write, or wrote badly or seldom, or that in extreme old age or illness they were incapacitated from the effort (in any case uncommon with them) of writing their name? On the first of these what inference may be fairly drawn as to their social position? That the peasantry of those days could rarely write is well known. How far in the classes above them in remote country districts this disability extended would be for the experienced antiquary to say.
|JB quotes, in a pencil note, from Dictionary of Words, Facts and Phrases by Eliezer Edwards, (1882), as follows:-
Signing with an X -- Persons who cannot write their names are required to use as a substitute the sign of the cross (X). Anciently Kings and Nobles used the same sign but not ignorantly, as it was used by those who could, as well as by those who could not write, as a symbol that the person making it pledged himself by his Christian faith to the truth of the matter to which he affixed it. Hence although people now write or subscribe their names, they are still said to sign . Ed.]
But the matter does not rest there only. Joseph in the entry of 1661 is called sieve maker. That is just sufficiently near to basket making if it refers to sieves for winnowing etc. now made of split cane, but then probably of split osiers. Thomas in his Will of 1698 distinctly calls himself Webster that is in modern English Weaver. Hence both of these men at least during some part of their lives practised a handicraft. Moreover Joseph contemplates the possibility of his grandson Richard Baily or Baly being apprenticed to a trade. Certainly apprenticeship in those times was not regarded as it is now. It was the ordinary introduction to almost every kind of business, and the sons of country gentlemen were continually subjected to it, so that modern ideas must not be carried with us in reading these older records. On reading the Wills themselves the impression would probably be that the testators were small farmers, according to our notions. Both of the old men have cattle to dispose of, and Thomas bequeaths his house to his widow. Of money there is little. Perhaps the fact they made a Will at all may fairly be taken as indicative of notions of position and duty somewhat raised above their neighbours. The list of Wills found at Leicester for any of those years is not a long one. To make his Will certainly was not the idea of the ordinary peasant.
If we turn to the locality where the old men lived we may ask:- What manner of place was this Griffydam where they dwelt? It is retired now, although a good modern road runs through it. In those days it must have been absolutely sheltered, and very suitable for concealment. It was unenclosed until the year 1802 when Joseph Boultbee of Baxterley of that day appears as one of the owners of certain ancient messuages, or common-right houses, together with Earl Ferrers and others, and therefore entitled to receive his share in the award of Enclosure.
This may well have been a residue of the original inheritance now under consideration. Griffydam is a collection of straggling cottages and farm houses lying along the banks of a brook which flows past the village of Worthington, and joins a somewhat larger stream near Breedon, ultimately finding its way into the Trent. Doubtless some mill dam, or something of the kind, gave name to the place, and osiers would grow on the more swampy part of the banks. In this small ravine scarcely penetrated by a track in the Stuart days, and surrounded by open commons, the northern refugee would find assured concealment, and abundant material for his alleged employment. If that refugee was the first Thomas mentioned above, it was there that the stormy period of the Civil Wars found him. It has always been said in the family that they had been on the side of King Charles. If so, our investigations have as yet only lighted on that first Thomas as the one then capable of arms. There was stirring work at hand for him if he took that side. Leicester, some 15 miles to the south-east was besieged and captured by the Royalists. The palatial castle of the great Hastings family at Ashby-de-la-Zouch within a few miles of Griffydam was held for the King and surrendered to Fairfax after a siege of several months. It may well be that Thomas Boultbee was at either or both of these sieges. He saw the ruin of the King's cause and died in 1658. Cromwell had passed away but the King was not yet restored. During this disturbed period his two supposed sons Joseph and Thomas must have had what education may have been possible and that may well have been none at all, as suggested by the mode of signature to their Wills. But at Griffydam during the last 50 years of the 17th century they settled as we have seen; they acquired at least some property and were certainly in some measure distinguished by this from their peasant neighbours on the Common. But we may now ask a further question -- are we to conclude that what was named and transmitted by the Wills which we have referred to was the whole of the property possessed by those elder members of the family? We have a strong persuasion that it was not. Before that first Joseph died as we shall hereafter see, his sons Thomas and William were flourishing and each had already sent a son to Oxford. Each of them bequeathed to their descendants considerable property. We may be assured that they were men of energy who largely improved their position, and it is of course possible that they were entirely the architects of their own fortune. But it is at least equally likely, (and our estimate of the facts strongly leans to the opinion) that the Patriarch in his lifetime gave to his sons the means and property which started them in the world and which therefore does not appear specified in his Will. After much consideration the conclusion arrived at is that the family tradition may be relied upon, and that family pride has not elevated a mere basket-making peasant into a gentlemen or his petty accumulations into property derived from earlier sources. The true state of the case may very probably be that the first Thomas did live for some time among the peasants of Griffydam as one of them and as a basket maker. To a plain north country gentleman of those days with very little education there would be very little that was incongruous or mortifying in such a life. There he brought up his children with much the same ideas and probably enough with the same employment. But it was not difference of education which then made the great difference between classes. And if, as traditions says, he possessed resources which he cautiously and gradually laid out in the purchase of property which we shall see his posterity possessed, the facts which appear and the family tradition will be in harmony. If, also, he instilled into their minds the memory that they were not of the peasantry around them but of gentle blood, the position which the family seem naturally to have assumed would be fully accounted for.
In closing the chapter we can only urge members of the family who have taste and leisure for such investigations to institute further search. Leicestershire Registers and Probate Registries of York and Durham are inviting ground. Meanwhile we can only lament that our Ancestors were so reticent or so forgetful. But it has already been observed that apart from inherited estates English family history has generally perished. The deeds which transmit landed property are the chief sources from which genealogies are compiled, and as there was but little of such transmission among our earlier forefathers, there is proportionally little evidence on which we may rely.