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Chapter II -- The First Leicestershire Boultbees


TPB continues ....
    We tread firmer ground in approaching the history of the generation that succeeded our Patriarch. His three sons Thomas  , William and Joseph have left sufficient traces behind them to enable us to follow some general outlines of their course.
    Until these recent investigations, Thomas alone seemed to be known amongst members of the family, and to be regarded as the head and origin of them all. And, indeed, he is the common ancestor of all members of the family who are now known. For this reason his history will be taken last, and the two other lines will be first examined in the reversed order of their ages. The youngest son, Joseph, is traced in the Registers of the adjoining Parish of Whitwick as having married Rebecca Hawkins in 1705. They had several children and as scarcely anything is known of them besides their names they may conveniently be exhibited in a tabular form* which will group together the entries which appear in the Whitwick Registers in what seems the natural arrangement. Several of these lived at Swannington, a hamlet in the Parish of Whitwick.
[* This table has been set out below to include additional information not known to TPB, and some results of recent research. Ed.]

    The dates of the deaths of Joseph, father and son, are obtained from Administrations to their effects in the Probate Registry at Leicester. There is, or was in Whitwick churchyard an altar tomb with an inscription on it to James, his wife Mary, and the first two wives of John in the next generation (Elizabeth and Martha).
    It is probable that several persons of the name who have been heard of lately in Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, and Leicestershire must be descended from the above Joseph, John or James through some unknown sons.

    We now turn to the history of William, the second of the sons of the Patriarch Joseph. The materials for this must be gathered from the Registers of Whitwick and Osgathorpe, from his Will in the Leicester Probate office, and from his tombstone in Osgathorpe churchyard. His family is most clearly exhibited in the following tabular form*.
[* This table has been set out below to include additional information not known to TPB. Ed.]

    The registers show William Boultbee to have been connected with Whitwick to the year 1696. Subsequently the registers and his last Will make him a resident of Osgathorpe till his death. There he was buried on the north side of the church about 50 feet from the wall in a line with the chancel arch. The inscription on the tombstone recently reinstated by the writer [JB. Ed.] is the following:-

Lieth the body of WILLIAM BOULTBEE
Gent. who died Oct the 3rd 1757
Aged 92
And near this place lie the bodies
of Ruth his wife who died August
the 12th 1738 aged 73. And Ann
Their daughter who died September 22nd 1755 aged 49.

Click here for Osgathorpe Church (St. Mary) (written by the Editors)

    All that can be discerned of this venerable man is that he was sufficiently well off to send his second son John to Lincoln College, Oxford, where he took the degree of M.A. in 1728, and that beside legacies to his daughter he bequeathed to his eldest son William considerable property described in his Will as all and singular my messuages, cottages, closes, lands, tenements and hereditaments in Osgathorpe and elsewhere. Whether all this was simply the fruit of his personal industry, or whether marriage with Ruth brought him money, or whether there was an earlier source of some of it from times further back is now quite unknown. It is possible that some of the Title Deeds of some of the present Osgathorpe proprietors might elucidate some of these things if pains were taken for that purpose.
Editorial Note: JB incudes in his copy a transcription of a letter from Mrs. Mary Sleath to Edward Boultbee of Liverpool, not dated though in, or after, 1842, and before 1851 the year this Edward died. Mary Sleath must be the widow -- she refers to my late husband Dr. Sleath -- of Dr.William Boultbee Sleath (see Table 2). She says her husband sold his father's estate at Osgathorpe in 1835. The father, also William, was the son of Elizabeth Boultbee who married Dr. Thomas Sleath in 1737, and he had come into property left by her brother William (see above) which evidently included land. Mary Sleath continues -- I see by the Charnwood Forest and Rothley Plain Enclosure that took place in 1812 that your family were in possession of lands at Grace Dieu and Thringstone and my husband's family at Osgathorpe. The village of Thringstone, and the Grace Dieu area revolving round a manor and the remains of the Priory of that name, are near to and south of Osgathorpe and south-east of Stordon Grange. The Enclosure information she gives is shown below:-
Grace Dieu )
Thringstone )
Freehold John Boultbee 98 acres -
" Robert
5 rods
9 perches
Osgathorpe William
" William
52 acres -
    The Robert Boultbee in the chart above must be the last Boultbee tenant of Stordon Grange, second cousin of Charles and John. Charles Boultbee above is possibly the Reverend Charles Boultbee (1783 - 1833) (grandson of Joseph Boultbee of Coleorton) and John above his brother.
    It seems clear that land in the neighbourhood of Stordon Grange was actually owned by Boultbees as opposed to it being only leased from the Beaumont family. Fairly extensive land was certainly part of the estate of William Boultbee. From other family Wills already mentioned, land must have been owned by the earlier Boultbee families in the area to a greater or lesser degree. We think that TPB's remark that they were probably small farmers is, in fact, correct. Further lands may have been bought by the Stordon Grange families in their more affluent days.
  TPB continues ....

    Turning now to the children of this older William we shall find that no direct male descendant is known. His line was merged in the Sleath family to whom his property passed. It will be noticed as an additional link with the Patriarch's family that William's daughters repeat the names already noticed there excepting that one is named after Ruth her mother. Ruth and Ann died unmarried. The name of Mary's husband does not appear. [We now know that Mary married Nicholas Kiddiar in 1720 at Osgathorpe. Ed.] Elizabeth married Thomas Sleath of Dunton Bassey to whom she carried the property of her father under her brother's Will hereafter to be noticed.
    Two somewhat eminent brothers belonged to that line [Elizabeth's grandsons. Ed.] at the beginning of this century. One of them, William Boultbee Sleath, became Headmaster of Repton Grammar School, an ancient foundation of considerable repute. [He was headmaster from 1800 to 1830, initially licensed by the Bishop of Lichfield to take up that position. Ed.] He died in 1842 aged 80, Vicar of Willington and Rural Dean. He was a great believer in the ancient Bolteby descent and on a presentation cup from Repton he engraved the Sleath arms quartered with those of the old Barons of Tindale. The other brother, John Sleath, was successively Headmaster of St. Paul's Schools and Sub-Dean of the Chapel Royal.
    The three sons of William Boultbee the elder of Osgathorpe now call for notice. John became Vicar of Castle Donington, a village in the north of Leicestershire some five or six miles from Osgathorpe in 1732. In Nichol's Leicestershire it is reported that he lies under a flat stone in Castle Donington Church with this inscription: Here lies the body of the Rev. Mr. John Boultbee Vicar of this Parish, who departed this life Jan 6, 1758 aged 55. He married [in 1738. Ed.] his cousin Frances, daughter of Thomas Boultbee of Stordon Grange. His Will at Leicester dated 1755 is not of any great length; without giving it fully it will suffice to indicate its main provisions. The annual income of his estate real and personal is to go to his wife for her life, and then to his daughter Mary when she comes of age. Subject to some other conditions of no present interest his brother William is to be heir if Mary fails. No other children are mentioned and his two brothers William and Joseph are to be Mary's guardians. What amount of Property the Vicar left or what befell Mary, and whether his estate ultimately passed with the rest of that which had been his father's to the Sleath family does not appear and is now of no interest to anyone. [For further information regarding Mary, see the details on the table of descent. Ed.] Following research in September 2011 on the internet by RHB much more is now known about what happened to Mary and indeed her many descendants down to the current day. It is hoped that following some checks and verification that this will be published on this website in the near future. In the meantime the key discovery from The history of Melbourne, in the county of Derby By John Joseph Briggs is reproduced below showing the conection to the Cantrell and Hubbersty families:

    William the second son, is made heir by his father's Will already referred to, dated May 19th, 1747. He proved that Will as sole executor March 30, 1758. It has already been noticed that a considerable amount of property seems to have passed under that document. It does not appear that this William was ever married. He made his Will October 25, 1758, a year after his father's death. He there describes himself as William Boultbee, Gentleman, of Osgathorpe. This Will is a considerable affair; it first specifies certain legacies, and then proceeds to tie up very closely the succession to what appears a good property thus, first, to the children of his sister Elizabeth Sleath in succession of survivorship. His nephew William Sleath and his heirs are to inherit in the first place. If they should fail then his other nephews Thomas, John and Joseph Sleath come in turn [that is, the younger brothers of William Sleath. Ed.]. Failing all these his cousin Thomas Boultbee of Stordon Grange and all his heirs were to come in next succession. As a matter of fact it has been seen already that William Sleath and his heirs inherited the property in which therefore no further interest remains.
    William Boultbee the younger was buried at Osgathorpe May 15, 1765 at the age of 68. No memorial remains, and it does not appear that the Sleath family ever made this simple acknowledgement of him from whom they derived the property which has been named.
     Joseph the third son of William Boultbee the elder remains an enigma. He was born in 1708. He is recognized in his brother John's Will in 1755 wherein John makes him and his brother William joint guardians of his daughter Mary. John, therefore, reposed confidence in him; but all mention of Joseph is entirely omitted in his father's Will dated 1747 though every other child is named. He is in like manner ignored in the Will of his brother William, the younger, of Osgathorpe. Nothing therefore appears of him after the fact that he was living in 1755 when he would be 47 years of age. There is no information so far of marriage, posterity, or date of death.
    With this the line of William the second son of the Patriarch Joseph closes.
    We must now turn to the history of the remaining and eldest son of the Patriarch, Thomas, from whom all known members of the main line of the family have descended.
    Thomas Boultbee appears from the Breedon Registers to have resided during the latter part of the 17th century at Griffydam; but (at a date which may some day be ascertained) he entered upon a 99-year lease of Stordon Grange which he held under the ancient family of the Beaumonts of Coleorton. Stordon Grange is an old moated house, belonging before the Reformation to some religious community not stated in the County histories. The moat encloses a house with a courtyard and a garden, and during last century was accessible by a drawbridge which is now supplanted by a small brick bridge or causeway. The dwelling belongs to that class of small country house which a century or two ago were inhabited by the less wealthy landed gentry, and have now passed into the occupation of tenant farmers.
    It lies in a small hollow, entirely secluded from all other habitations, at a little distance from a high road. It realizes the idea of the lonely moated grange and might readily be passed within a short distance without suspicion of its proximity. The moat is supplied with water by the natural drainage of the slopes which surround it. Without the moat there may be noted a large orchard of ancient apple trees which were probably planted by our forefathers, and a large farmyard with improvements of the modern order which cannot date back many years. Within the moat the courtyard, bounded on two sides by the house, occupies the north-east angle of the enclosure. On the west side some fine elm trees which must have been saplings in the later time of the Boultbee occupation, overshadow the roof. On the south side an old fashioned garden has in its centre a gnarled and ancient cedar under which our forefathers must have often played in their childish years. It may be older even than our family in connection with the place. It has  been said that Thomas Boultbee built the house; this is certainly not true in the full sense, but it probably incorrectly represents a fact. An ancient stone chimney perhaps of the 15th century is an evident relic of the older house. Lying close to Charnley Forest, the original grange was most likely a half-timbered building with chimneys of freestone. It seems very likely from the appearance of the present house that Thomas Boultbee to a great extent rebuilt this in brick, of which the exterior walls are now chiefly composed. The rooms are rather small and low according to our present ideas, but are larger and higher than in many old houses. The drawing room is lined with wainscot panelling. The staircase is of a good and bold design and it leads to nests of bedrooms one within another which would not suit modern ideas. There is a tradition that in one of the rooms of a long wing now uninhabited, the Beaumont who is associated with Fletcher wrote some of his dramas. The idea, true or not, witnesses to the antiquity of the place.

Click Here For Stordon Grange Editorial and Pictures

TPB continues ....
    This house became the residence of Thomas [born in 1663. Ed.] the eldest son of the Patriarch and here he died in 1750 at the advanced age of 88. His wife's name was Mary, but we know not who she was or where they were married [We now know Mary's surname was Smith and they were married in 1687 Ed.]. She died in 1746. As far as the Registers of Breedon disclose the facts they had ten children whom we may first briefly enumerate:-
Richard buried at Breedon in 1686 was perhaps an infant son.
Thomas (baptised in 1689) became a clergyman. [The Rector of Brailsford. See Chapter IV . Ed.]
Mary (baptised in 1695) died unmarried in 1739.
Jane was baptised in 1697, is not further known.
Joseph (baptised in 1700 at Whitwick) must be noted as the ancestor of the Baxterley and Springfield Boultbees. [Joseph of Coleorton. See Chapter V . Ed.]
Ann was buried in 1700. [This is a mistake for 1710. She was born in 1708. Ed.]
Elizabeth born 1702, married Gervase Yarwood in 1739.
    [This was a late marriage to an elderly man. JB quotes from Nichol's Leicestershire -- There is, or was, in Coleorton Church a mural monument to Gervase Yarwood which says - 'Near this place lies interred the body of Gervase Yarwood (born at Sheepshed in this county [1672 Ed.] ) who departed this life April the 6th in the year of our Lord 1759 aged upward of 89 years who was servant to the family of the Beaumonts here at Staughton upwards of 57 years'.
    Surviving documents in family possession show that Gervase was involved in, and party to, land transactions with Elizabeth's brother Joseph. From this we infer that he, Gervase, was a man of some substance and not a servant of the Beaumonts in the ordinary domestic sense. It would be more likely that he was a kind of factotum or steward to them at some stage, before Joseph's appointment as their agent in 1757. Elizabeth herself died in 1778 and from her Will transcribed below it will be seen that she was quite wealthy in contemporary terms. This affluence could only have come to her from Gervase.
    Elizabeth's Will follows with the original quaint spelling - Ed.]
    In the name of God Amen I Eliz Yarwood widow of Garvis Yarwood in the Liberty of Worthington and the parish of Breedon in the County of Leicester being in sound mind and Disposing memory do make this my last Will and Testament First I give and bequeath to my Sister Fransis the some of one hundred pound, I allso give and bequeath to my Nephu Joseph Boultbee and to my Nees Fransis Harris sone and daughter of my brother Joseph Boultbee the some of Fifty pounds I allso give and bequeath to my Nees Eliz Harris the daughter of my Nees Fransis Harris the some of Fifty pounds I allso give and bequeath to my Nephu Tho: Boultbee of Stordon Grange the some of one hundred pounds, I allso give and bequeath to my Nees Jane Boultbee the wife of my Nephu Tho: Boultbee the Interest of five hundred and fifty pounds for her life and then to go amongst her Children as she shall think fitt, if not disposed of by her to be given to them share and share alike I allso give and bequeath to my Nees Jane Boultbee the wife of my Nephu Tho Boultbee the some of one hundred pounds to buy Murning for her Family as she shall think best I also give and bequeath to my servant Tho: Parker Twenty pounds, I allso give and bequeath to Old Josua Fletcher the some of five pounds I allso give and bequeath to my Nees Jane Boultbee the wife of my Nephu Tho: Boultbee all my Plate Linnin and Housall Goods and all my Waring aperril but what is disposed of in a bit of papper, not menshoned hear and when my Debts and fuineral Charges are pay'd if anything is left to be given to my Nees Eliz Harris And lastly I do make and apoint my Brother Joseph Boultbee of Colorton my Sole Executer In Witnesshearof I hearunto sett my hand and Seal the Twelft day of January one thousand seven hundred and seventy eight. Eliz Yarwood s Signed Sealed published and deleverid by the Testater Eliz Yarwood as her last Will and Testament in the preasance of us who in her preasance and at her request in the preasance of each other have subcribed our names as witness hereunto
John Vincent Thos. King
[The household goods and clothes noted on the bit of paper probably went to her women servants. Perhaps Old Josua had been Gervase's servant originally. Ed.]

Sarah died unmarried in 1732.
Ruth died unmarried in 1761.
Frances (as we have already seen) married her cousin John, the Vicar of Castle Donington, in 1738.

    The daughters of this generation do not seem to have been much given in marriage, and besides their epitaphs we shall not have anything more to say of them. It will be noticed how faithful our forefathers were to their family names. From the days of the Patriarch Joseph, and from that of Thomas who dimly and uncertainly preceded him, Joseph and Thomas recur in every generation and almost every line of each generation. Joseph is so perplexingly recurrent that it involves us in some difficulty in distinguishing one from another. Mary, Ann and Elizabeth follow us still in the nieces of the Patriarch's daughters, and it will be observed that Ruth, the wife of William, Thomas' brother, has a namesake among her nieces at Stordon Grange, as well as amongst his own children. May we also guess that she was his Godchild. Of the history of his sons Thomas and Joseph we shall speak in our next chapters.
    The Will of Thomas the Elder of Stordon Grange is dated October 21, 1750, and is brief, containing few particulars of interest. He leaves all his closes or enclosed grounds and wood grounds etc. in Osgathorpe and in Merrell Grange first to his son Thomas, Rector of Brailsford, and then to Lucy, wife of the Rector, as life tenants, without power of cutting down wood or committing waste. After their deaths all his landed property was to go absolutely to Thomas, his grandson, the Rector's son, who seems to have been already living at Stordon Grange with his grandfather. Legacies of 50 each are to be paid to his other grandson and his granddaughters, and 50 to his daughter Yarwood, she having no child. It may be assumed that Joseph had already received his portion since he leaves him no legacy and yet requests him to act as `overseer to his Will', apparently to aid his grandson Thomas (named as sole executor) in the business transactions. Indeed there is no doubt that his son Joseph, thus named, who by this time was 50 years of age, was already in possession of considerable wealth. What amount of landed property passed under this Will we do not know. It was evidently sold by his grandson Thomas as we hear no more of it after this. No personal particulars have been handed down about this first Thomas of Stordon Grange, and we have only to subjoin his Epitaph. His body lies in the middle aisle of the Church of Breedon-on-the-Hill near to the west end, and the graves of some of his daughters are at his feet. The inscription on his grave is shown below:-

Here lieth the Body of
of Stordon Grange
A member of the Church of England
Contradistinguished from Popish
Superstition & Presbyterian Fanaticism
Zealous Patriot
A Good Parent
A Sincere Friend
He died March ye 11th AD 1750 *
Aged 88
Adjoining hereto
lieth MARY, his wife
In Piety & Virtue Inferior to none
She died July ye 28th A.D. 1746
Aged 77

[ * By modern dating, he died in 1751. Ed.]

At the foot of his tomb and side by side are two other slabs with the following inscriptions:-

     Editorial Note: Neither of the two copies of the original History used by the Editors actually gives the inscriptions to the daughters Mary and Sarah. They are given below as recorded by the Leicestershire Family History Society in 1984:-

Here lyeth the Body of
MARY eldest daughter of
Stordon Grange SHE dyed
.... ye 17th Anno D.. 1739
Aged 44

Here lieth the Body of
daughter of THOMAS & M...
BOULTBEE. She died July ....
Anno Dom. 1732 Aged ....
Who was singularly Pious
Obedient and
and universall belov'd
Universally lamented died
Near to this place lieth her
Sisters sonnes who died in their ....

The children referred to in Sarah's inscription -- the missing word must be infancy -- were most likely to have been otherwise unrecorded offspring of her sister Frances. Her other married sister, Elizabeth Yarwood had no children living, according to the Will of their father Thomas. (see above).

JB notes ...
    The footsteps of four or five generations having seriously worn down and partially effaced these inscriptions, they were restored in 1876 by the care of the present writer. [JB. Ed.] It may be hoped that the piety of the following generations will keep guard against effects of time as well as over the zealous hand of the Church restorer, who has a sad propensity for destroying or removing ancient monuments, and particularly for substituting garish tiles for pavement inscriptions. [We cannot but agree most strongly with JB's comment on mid-Victorian church restorers, bearing in mind their perpetrations and lavish use of encaustic tiles at Brailsford and Osgathorpe. Ed.]

TPB continues ....
    The Epitaph, of the father Thomas , was no doubt the work of his son Thomas, Rector of Brailsford. It bears the characteristic mark of the loyalty and strong Church feeling of the country gentry and clergy of an age when Protestantism had not lost the stimulus it received from the Popish aggressions of the days of Charles II and James II, and when the great Civil War associated in men's minds with Presbyterianism was still a subject of traditional memories. Indeed Thomas Boultbee of Stordon Grange was born within five years after the Restoration. It has been a tradition in the family that they suffered for Charles I, but it has been shown already that there is no evidence bearing on this, or any means of showing that the first Thomas of Breedon (the supposable basket maker) was involved on that side. Joseph the Patriarch must have been but a child or scarcely more when Naseby was fought. If the old Rector of Brailsford had but written down the stories his father had told him, we might have now known the true bearing of the perplexing traditions and the exact line of our own ancestry. No doubt they were often told when the circle of children was yet complete round the winter fire at Stordon Grange and when Mary in piety and virtue inferior to none looked around with matronly affection on the goodly group of children, some of whom now sleep with her in the old Church at Breedon, mingling their kindred dust. But the stories, whatever they were, have passed away leaving a more and more indistinct echo to each generation.
    That the ties of kindred and the scanty recollections of past years may not suffer further loss, the Author of these pages has gathered together whatever has come to his hand when fondly searching for the fragments that yet remain.

Click Here for Breedon-On-The-Hill Church (St. Mary and St. Hardulph) (written by the Editors)

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Chapter IV -- Thomas Boultbee, Rector Of Brailsford
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