In the last post I wrote about Thomas Forrest, a haberdasher at Little Tower Hill in the second half of the seventeenth century. Thomas was my 8 x great grandfather: his daughter Alice married Sussex-born stationer John Byne, and they were my 7 x great grandparents. I believe that Thomas Forrest was born in or near the village of Fladbury in Worcestershire, and in this post I want to fill in more of the detail about his family and their connection with another Worcestershire and London family: the Boultons.
Early nineteenth-century map showing part of Worcestershire (via visionofbritain.org.uk)
As I mentioned in the previous post, it hasn’t been possible to confirm the identity of Thomas Forrest’s parents, but we know that he had at least one brother, William, and a sister named Alice. William may have been younger than Thomas, and it appears that he remained in Worcestershire, where he owned land in Badsey to the east of Evesham, while both Thomas and Alice moved to London. Nor is there any evidence that William Forrest ever married or had children, since his will bequeaths property to a variety of cousins, nephews and nieces, but makes no mention of any direct descendants. That will, made in 1698 and proved on William’s death in 1700, is a vital source of information, enabling us to reconstruct the later history of the Forrest family, and in particularly its links with the Boultons.
The connection with the Boulton family, some of whom would become prominent figures in the East India Company and in British political life, came through Alice Forrest, sister to William and to my ancestor Thomas. Some time around 1660, the year in which the monarchy was restored under Charles II, Alice married William Boulton, a gunmaker. Although I haven’t been able to trace William’s exact origins, all the evidence points to the Boultons being, like the Forrests, an old Worcestershire family. However, at some point either before or after their marriage, William and Alice Boulton moved to London, where they lived in the parish of All Hallows Barking, immediately to the west of Tower Hill. In 1666, the year of the Great Fire, they were living in Chitterling Alley, and later in nearby Priest Alley, both roads being between Tower Street and Lower Thames Street and close to the parish church of All Hallows.
Section of John Rocque’s London map of 1746, showing the church of All Hallows Barking, with Chitterling Alley and Priest Alley to the south of it, off Beer Lane
Alice Boulton née Forrest was, of course, the sister of my 9 x great grandfather Thomas Forrest, haberdasher, and the aunt of my 8 x great grandmother Alice Byne née Forrest, who lived just a few streets away from the Boultons at Tower Hill. There is evidence from family wills that the two branches of the family remained close.
William and Alice Boulton had six children who survived to adulthood, all of them born in the 1660s, the first decade of the restored monarchy, and the decade that saw both the Great Fire and the Great Plague. They had three sons, Peter, Richard and Thomas, and three daughters, Margaret, Elizabeth and Mary. Of these, we can deduce from extant records that Peter was born in 1665 and that Richard and Thomas were probably born in 1668 or 1669. We can probably infer from the dates of their marriages that Margaret was born in the early 1660s and Elizabeth later in the decade, though we have much less information for Mary, apart from brief references in the wills of her relatives.
Blackwall Yard, London, where Captain Richard Boulton (son of William and Alice) would be co-owner of a shipbuilding business (to be discussed in future posts).
The story of the family of William and Alice Boulton is a fascinating one. Two of their sons and two of their grandsons would play prominent roles in the East India Company, while one of their daughters and one of their granddaughters would marry into wealthy landed families. I plan to explore the lives of these children and grandchildren in the next few posts.