In this latest series of posts, I’m exploring the lives of the sons and daughters of Worcestershire-born London gunmaker William Boulton and his wife Alice, who was the sister of my ancestor Thomas Forrest, a Worcestershire-born London haberdasher. The last post provided an account of the life of William and Alice Boulton’s son Major Peter Boulton, a gunsmith like his father, and in this post I’ll be relating the story of their daughter Elizabeth.

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St Botolph, Aldersgate, today

We don’t have any information about Elizabeth Boulton’s birth or baptism, but she was probably born around 1667 or 1668, a few years after her brother Peter. The first definite record we have for Elizabeth is from 19th June 1686, in the second year of the reign of James II, when she married her first husband, John Littleton, at the church of St Botolph Aldersgate. The location may seem odd, given that both bride and groom were said to be from the parish of All Hallows, Barking, but it can be explained by the fact that the officiating minister, according to the parish register, was a certain Dr Littleton.

This was Dr Adam Littleton, who was (to quote one source) ‘of an antient and genteel family…in Worcestershire’. Born in 1627, Adam was the son of Thomas Littleton, also a clergyman and vicar of Halesowen. 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 he was expelled in November 1648. However in May 1651 Littleton 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, following 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.

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Satirical attack on the parliamentary visitation of Oxford, with a 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.

The Littletons were an illustrious family, and they seem to have shared Adam’s royalist and High Church beliefs. 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. Apparently he and his family were staunch adherents of 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.

I haven’t been able to discover the precise relationship between Dr Adam Littleton and the John Littleton who married Elizabeth Boulton, but I have managed to trace John’s own family origins in Worcestershire. John Littleton was the son of Humphrey Littleton or Lyttleton of Naunton (the late British jazz trumpeter and broadcaster of the same name was descended from this family). John Littleton had at least one brother, another Humphrey, and a sister named Margaret.

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Naunton Court

The Littleton family seat was in the village of Naunton Beauchamp, which is about nine miles to the east of Worcester and seven miles north-west of Fladbury, from where Elizabeth Boulton’s mother’s family – the Forrests – originally came. The manor of Sherriff’s Naunton passed into the hands of the Littleton or Lyttleton family of Frankley, near Birmingham, in the sixteenth century. The Littletons lived at Naunton Court, to the west of the main village: in about 1600 an old moated building was replaced by the building which survives today. Apparently John Lyttleton of Frankley, who bought the manor from one Thomas Norton, died in 1532, leaving it to his sons Edward, Gilbert, Anthony and Roger. The manor eventually passed to Roger’s son George and then to the latter’s nephew William (son of his brother Francis), who inherited the property in 1600. In 1608 William settled it on his father Francis’ youngest brother Humphrey Lyttleton of Groveley and on the latter’s son and heir Edward. When William Lyttleton died in 1618, his uncle Humphrey inherited Naunton. He died intestate in 1624 and was succeeded by his son Edward, who died in 1634, his heir being his one-year-old son Humphrey. It was this Humphrey Lyttleton who was the father of Humphrey junior, John and Margaret.

As noted above, the Lyttleton or Littleton family included many prominent figures in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England. However, identifying the precise relationship between the Littletons of Naunton and the other branches of the family has proven to be a difficult task, not least because the same Christian names recur in successive generations, and in different branches of the family. What is clear, though, is that the Littletons were an old gentry family in Worcestershire, and Elizabeth Boulton’s marriage to John Littleton suggests that the Boultons and the Forrests were of a similar social status. The marriage is also further confirmation of my ancestors’ continuing connection with the county of their birth.

The marriage of Elizabeth Boulton and John Littleton was cut short by the latter’s death, which must have occurred before 1694, when Elizabeth married her second husband, Martin Markland. He was born in 1670 in the parish of St Olave, Hart Street, the son of John Markland, an apothecary, and his wife Martha Loe, who had married at the church of St Katharine by the Tower in 1664. Their other children included two daughters, Elizabeth and Sarah, born in 1667 and 1669 respectively.

A tax record for 1683-4 describes Martin Markland as a naval officer and an accounting record for 1704-5 informs us that he worked as a clerk in the Navy Office. A listing of Navy Board officials notes that he was clerk to a commissioner from 1692 to 1698 and clerk in the Ticket Office from 1699 until his death in 1717.

Three years after their marriage Martin and Elizabeth Markland made a legal claim against the personal estate of the late Humphrey Littleton of Naunton, Worcestershire. The Marklands’ complaint was addressed to ‘the Right Honourable John Lord Somers Baron of Evesham Lord High Chancellor of England’. (John Somers (1651 – 1716) was a Whig jurist who played a leading role in the secret councils plotting to overthrow King James II, and he was elected as Member for Worcester in the Convention Parliament which transferred the Crown to William of Orange. Somers became a leading figure under William and Mary, rising to the rank of Lord High Chancellor and being elevated to to the peerage in 1697.)

In the Marklands’ complaint, Elizabeth is described as ‘the widow and relict and adminstratrix of John Littleton’. The petitioners claim that John Littleton was owed the sum of one hundred pounds by his brother Humphrey. The reasons why this sum was not paid are complex, and relate to Humphrey’s lack of funds to pay the debt, and therefore becoming ‘bound’ to one Margaret Oldnall of Worcester. The compaint also notes that Humphrey Littleton senior, the father of Humphrey junior and of John, had left some of his household goods to John and his sister Margaret, ‘his younger children’, though John’s share was left in this hands of his older brother Humphrey. The document is not easy to read, but the upshot is that Humphrey Littleton’s creditor Margaret Oldnall, and his widow Elizabeth, are said to be in possession of money and goods that rightly belonged to John Littleton, and thus to his widow Elizabeth Markland.

Martin and Elizabeth Markland had a son Peter baptised at All Hallows Barking on 31st January 1697/8, a daughter Alice was born in about 1701, and a son Edward was born in about 1703. The Marklands were neighbours of Elizabeth’s brother Major Peter Boulton in Priest Alley, just off Tower Street.

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Navy Office, Seething Lane

Martin Markland died in 1717, in the third year of the reign of George I, at the age of about 47. His will includes bequests to his wife Elizabeth, son Peter and daughter Alice, but there is no mention of Edward, so perhaps he had died by this time. Markland’s will also mentions ‘my honoured friend Dennis Lydill Esq.’ Dennis Lydell was Commissioner of the Navy and a friend of Samuel Pepys, who was of course Secretary for the Affairs of the Navy. Lydall 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. Lydell’s London address was in the parish of St Olave Hart Street, where Martin Markland had spent his childhood, as well as being the home of Captain Richard Boulton, another of his brothers-in-law, and the executor of his will.

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. Interestingly, 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.

According to tax records, ‘Widow Markland’ continued to live in Priest Alley, close to her brother Peter Boulton, after her husband’s death. The Marklands’ daughter Alice married William Bigglestone, a surgeon, in 1725. We don’t have a precise date for the death of Elizabeth Markland, formerly Littleton, née Boulton, but we can deduce from the fact that her name is absent from the wills of her brothers that she probably died in about 1730.

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