Henry Bolton, the Victualler & Sarah Corry/Curry; Their Ancestors and Life in Medieval London – 52 Ancestors #294-301

I met my cousin Pam Bolton some years ago. She and I both descend from our common ancestors, Henry Bolton and his second wife, Nancy Mann. Pam proved to be an ace genealogist, learned to work with DNA and has made inroads using both types of tools.

Together, we administer the Bolton DNA Project at Family Tree DNA which we invite all Boltons of any line and all descendants to join. Our search endeavors using both DNA and records don’t end with that project.

Using diligent research, Pam made headway identifying the parents and neighborhood of Henry and his brother, Conrad, on the waterfront in historic London before their “kidnapping” and immigration in 1775 where they were promptly sold into indentured servitude to pay for the passage they didn’t choose.

We kept hoping for a Y DNA match to a Bolton in England, but so far, that hasn’t happened. There is an Irish match at 25 of 37 markers whose ancestor was born in 1625 spelled Bolton and a Boldan from Germany born in 1813, so maybe there is some truth to early family legends. Neither have upgraded to the Big Y test which would further refine the connection and identify how long ago the lines diverged. Both could be reflective of either happenstance surname matches or even movement, in the case of Germany, since the 1700s.

Research was then at a standstill for a few years until Pam hired Anthony, a professional genealogist in London. Feet on the ground combined with someone who knows the ropes makes an absolutely huge difference.

Pam was kind enough to share her research with me, so that I, in turn, can share it with you. Above all, we want the information about Henry, Conrad and their ancestors to be accurate, or at least as accurate as we can make it. Anthony’s work eliminates a lot of possibilities, and provides likely scenarios, but there is no smoking gun, no absolute proof. We need to be clear about that. There is, however, substantial evidence.

If you have questions, including about Anthony’s contact information, suggestions, or more information, please feel free to contact us by either commenting on this article or emailing Pam who is spearheading this research at rudywoofs@yahoo.com.

I want to say a big, huge, thank you to Pam. You’re amazing!!!

Legends

Pam was fortunate to have heard the family legends. Not only through her direct line, but through the families she contacted over the years during her research who gladly shared their stories. She found similarities in many.

Legend told us that Henry’s father, also named Henry, had owned some sort of shop along the Thames River near or on London Bridge.

London Bridge 1616

London Bridge, with houses built on it, 1616.

Another tradition was that Henry’s mother was named Sarah and there was therefore one girl so-named in every generation in her honor.

The story of the boys being lured onto the ship, which turned out to be the Culvert, on the Thames River and kidnapped in order to be sold to pay their passage descended through both her family and mine through different sons of Henry.

Yet a different version of the story involved a wicked step-mother that wished to be rid of them.

Add to that a different legend of a shipwreck in which Henry and Conrad’s parents both died.

Rumors persisted in some families that Bolton was either Dutch or German.

My family told the story of a German “valentine” from Henry’s sweetheart in “the old country” that he kept in a Bible. Of course, the area where they lived in London was a neighborhood of immigrants, and early English secretarial script could have been mistaken for another language. I certainly can’t read it.

Henry supposedly had with him a card from a Methodist church or school where he studied, but no one that I know of has ever seen that document, nor the reported valentine. Henry could definitely write though, because he signed several documents in his lifetime. Someplace along the way, he obtained some education.

I wrote about Pam’s findings in the article, Henry and Conrad Bolton, 240th Immigration Anniversary, along with the questions her newly-found information raised.

Pam had found a marriage bond between a Henry Bolton and Sarah Corry in 1754 where he is noted as a widower. The couple married at St. Botolph Aldgate, northeast of St. Katherines by the Tower church and neighborhood, a working-class, poor, immigrant, riverfront area within sight of London Bridge.

Not long after, baptisms for children including Henry and a son, Conrath were recorded in nearby churches. Were these baptisms for our Henry and Conrad, even if the dates did not align perfectly with the ages the boys had claimed to be upon arrival in 1775?

Bolton emigrants.png

The ship’s captain could have inflated their ages, hoping to get more money when he auctioned them for their 7 years of indentured servitude.

While the name Henry was fairly common, the name Conrath Ditirnick Bolton, born to one Henry and Sarah was very distinct. However, this record shows Conrath born in 1765, so only 10 years old, not 16, when they were kidnapped.

Bolton ConrathSimilarly, the births for baby Henry Bolton didn’t align with him being 15 in 1775 either.

It seemed like there might have been multiple couples by the name of Henry and Sarah Bolton living in London and having children at the same time. I know, what are the chances?

Pam found one Henry Bolton, a victualler, living in Ship Alley. Widower Henry Bolton, a victualler married Sarah Corry in 1754.

London Bolton map

To make matters even more confusing, Pam found an 1806 will for a Henry Bolton who mentioned a wife, Sarah with minor children, Sarah and Henry William.

Was this the same Henry? The same Sarah or the same Henry and a second wife named Sarah? Or neither? What was going on? We needed help.

Introducing Anthony

Pam found professional genealogist, Anthony. Almost all of this information is taken from Anthony’s report, lightly edited, with a few comments and some additions such as maps and pictures provided by me. I have added churches and cemeteries where our ancestors and their children were either baptized, lived or buried, and structures from their neighborhoods like a city gate that would have been familiar to them on a daily basis. This allows me, and you, to walk in their footsteps, at least a little bit, from afar both in terms of time, more than 250 years ago and far away.

Anthony’s report starts here:

The first step was to check the baptism of ‘Conrath Ditrick Bolten/Bolton’ on 24 February 1765 in the original parish register of the Collegiate Church of St Katherine by the Tower in the City of London.

We found:

Conrath Ditirnick Botten [or Bolten, or Botlen, if it is badly written] [son] of Henry & Sarah – 6 [days old], was baptized on 24 February 1765

We searched for, but could not find, a record of an infant burial or a later burial for Conrath or Conrad Bolten/Bolton – a promising piece of circumstantial evidence that he survived to go to America, as you had hoped.

1709er-st-katherines

St Katherine by the Tower church no longer exists today, torn down to build docks.

Marriages

We then searched for marriages between the parents, Henry Bolten (or variants) and Sarah, in the period 1740-1765 in the London area. We found two possibilities:

Clandestine Marriage Westminster, London [by Mr Deneveu]

11 February 1752
Henry Boulton Stockings Maker of St Leonard Shoreditch Widr & Sarah Bates of St Lukes Mdsex Wid.

The second marriage took place at St. Botolph Aldgate.

Bolton Aldgate church.jpg

St. Botolph Aldgate church today.

Bolton St Botolph churchyard.png

The churchyard of St. Botolph Aldgate, shown above.

St Botolph Aldgate London

Date of Marriage: 26 Sep 1754

Hen Bolten of the parish of St George Middlesex Widr and Sarah Corry of this parish Spr married in this church by licence this twenty sixth Day of September in the year One Thousand Seven Hundred and fifty four. Sarah appears to have signed in the place of the witnesses who were Wm Barnell and Mary X Denton her mark

Henry Bolton 1754 marriage 2

Note that we have both Henry Bolton and Sarah Corry’s signature on this document.

As this stated that the marriage was by licence we searched for and found the document in question in the records of the Bishop of London:

Henry Bolton 1754 marriage

He have Henry’s signature on this document as well.

Henry Bolton of the Parish of St George in the County of Middlesex Victualler and [blank]
25 September 1754
the above bounden Henry Bolton a widower and Sarah Corry spinster

This, to be clear, was the licence which allowed the couple to marry.

St. George is also known as St. George in the East, shown here in 1870.

Bolton St. George map.png

By Doc77can – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=31418742

Bolton Stepney map

By Doc77can – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=40290848

St. George in the East is beside the Tower.

Births and Baptisms

We then searched for children baptized to couples called Henry and Sarah Bolton (or variants) in London in the period 1740-1790:

Bolton Shoreditch.png

Several baptisms were in St. Leonard Shoreditch. Not terribly far, but also not in the neighborhood of St. Katherine by the Tower. St. Katherine was where the docks are today, and the iconic Tower of London is at left, beside the Tower Bridge.

Bolton tower of london

This painting is from the late 1500s and shows the Old London Bridge in the background, probably much as it looked when Henry and his ancestors lived there.

Bolton tower 1737.jpg

This 1737 engraving depicts the Tower of London from the waters of the Thames which were always busy, a river of commerce.

St Leonard, Shoreditch, Middlesex
Baptism date: 12 July 1752
Henry son of Henry & Sarah Bolton of Dunkirk Court. Born the 10th & Baptized ye
12th Inst

St Leonard Shoreditch, Middlesex
Baptism date: 9 December 1753
John S[on of] Henry & Sarah Boulton Dunker Court Born Decr 9th Baptized same day.

St Leonard, Shoreditch, Middlesex
Baptism date: 1 October 1755
Rachel D[aughter] Henry & Sarah Boulton Dunker Court Born Sepr 26th Baptized 1st instant.

The next group of baptisms took place to a Henry Bolton and Sarah who lived in Ship Alley.

Ship Alley no longer exists in its original form today, but you can still find the location by looking at the layouts of the streets.

London Ship Alley

Here’s a view of the entrance to Ship Alley from Wellclose Square in 1898.

London ship alley from wellclose.jpg

This article includes a photo of the same area today, including this tree.

The next baptisms occurred to the Henry and Sarah who lived in Ship Alley, located exactly where this red arrow is located today. Ship Alley was only 300 feet long or so and is long gone.

Bolton Ship Alley

Alleys at that time were small, often rather putrid narrow passageways where houses and people were packed like sardines. Think tenements. Remember that human sewage and horse manure covered the dirt streets and alleys which were sandwiched anyplace possible. Dirt streets turned to mud when it rained. Everything drained into the Thames River and stunk to high heavens. Personal hygiene was virtually non-existent as we know it today. Ship Alley was just a couple blocks from the riverfront.

The baptisms took place in St. George in the East Church.

Bolton St George East church.jpg

St. George in the East was located literally 100 feet away from Ship’s Alley.

St Katherine at the Tower was near Thomas More Square today, where the docks and marina are located.

Bolton St George East map

St George in the East, Middlesex
Baptism date: 14 July 1755
Henry James of Henry Bolton Victualr by Sarah – Ship All (3 D[ays] O[ld])

Bolton 1755 birth.png

This child seems to have gone early to his grave:

St George in the East, Middlesex
Baptism date: 21 Sep 1756
John of Henry Bolton Victualr by Sarah Ship All. 9 D[ays] O[ld]

Bolton 1756 birth

This baby died less than 6 months later.

St George in the East, Middlesex
Burial date: 4 March 1757

Bolton St George Churchyard.png

Baby John would have been buried here in the churchyard of St. George in the East, probably with no marker, or perhaps a wooden cross.

Henry James Bolten (burial) of Ship Alley

Bolton 1757 birth

Now, back to Shoreditch for the next baptism.

St Leonard, Shoreditch, Middlesex
Baptism date: 17 June 1757
Jane D[aughter of] Henry & Sarah Bolton Dunker Court Born 17 June and baptiz’d same day

And another two baptisms at St George in the East.

St George in the East, Middlesex
Baptism date: 23 May 1760
George of Henry Bolton Victualler by Sarah  Ship Al.   12 D[ays] O[ld]

Bolton 1760 birth.jpg

St George in the East, Middlesex
Baptism date: 8 August 1762
Henry Frederick of Henry Bolton Victualler  Ship Alley  7 D[ays] O[ld]

Bolton 1762 birth

Two Couples, Two Henrys

So, there were clearly two couples. Each Henry and Sarah had a son Henry. Not only that, but the Henry and Sarah who lived in Ship Alley had two sons named Henry, one named Henry James who died, and one named Henry Frederick born in 1762 which would have made him 13 in 1775.

The Shoreditch Henry was baptized in 1752, so could not have been 15 in 1775, (he would have been 23) and is unlikely to have been mistaken thus. But the St George in the East Henry was born in 1762, so might have pretended to be 15 (instead of 13), and of course only three years separate his baptism from Conrath’s.

These children are confusing, so let’s put them, all born to a Henry and Sarah Bolton, in a chart. Clearly, given the birth dates these children cannot be born to one couple, and the different locations indicate which children were born to which couple. I wonder if the two couples knew that there was another couple living not far away with the same names. I also wonder if the two Henry Boltons were related.

Child’s Name Baptism Location Date Residence Father Occupation
Henry St. Leonard, Shoreditch, Middlesex July 12, 1752 (born the 10th) Dunkirk Court
John St. Leonard, Shoreditch, Middlesex Dec. 9, 1753, born same day Dunker Court
Rachel St. Leonard, Shoreditch, Middlesex Oct 1., 1755, born Sept. 25th Dunker Court
Henry James St. George in the East, Middlesex July 14, 1755, born the 11th, apparently died Ship Alley Victualler
John St. George in the East, Middlesex Sept 21, 1756, born the 12th, Buried March 4, 1757 Ship Alley Victualler
Jane St. Leonard, Shoreditch, Middlesex June 17, 1757, born same day Dunker Court
George St. George in the East, Middlesex May 23, 1760 Ship Alley Victualler
Henry Frederick St. George in the East, Middlesex Aug. 8, 1762, born August 1 Ship Alley
Conrath Ditrick Collegiate Church of St. Katherine by the Tower Feb. 24, 1765, born Feb. 18

I bolded the St. George in the East baptisms, along with Conrath’s, as they appear to be “our” Henry and Sarah.

This also fits the family legends, father names Henry, mother named Sarah, lived by London Bridge and was engaged in some sort of business.

Deaths and Burials

We then searched for burials for the father(s) Henry Bolton/Bolten/Boulton between 1757 and 1810 in London area, looking for adults, discarding any born after 1738 (which seemed reasonable, as both Henry marriages above were for widowers) and we noted:

St Sepulchre, Holborn, London
Burial date: 6 Oct 1784
Henry Boulton, Chick Mx Workhouse  48 yrs

St Luke, Chelsea, Middlesex
Burial date: 12 Apr 1779
Henry Bolton

St Giles in the Fields, London
Burial date: 20 Jan 1762
Henry Bolton, Barn[–]ge Street

St Mary’s Lewisham, Kent
Burial date: 21 May 1762
Henry Boulton

None of these shows any obvious connection to the Henrys in whom we are interested.

Wills

We now searched for possible wills for our two possible Henrys, the stocking maker of Shoreditch and the victualler of St George in the East, in the Bank of England Wills Extracts, 1717-1845; the Archdeaconry Court of London Wills Index, 1700-1807; the Surrey & South London Wills & Probate Index, 1470-1856 and the Prerogative Court of Canterbury will index 1750-1800.

In the Prerogative Court of Canterbury we noted Henry Boulton ‘late of London but now of the Island of Antigua, merchant’, written on 3 September 1767, and proved in 1769. He mentioned only his wife, ‘Sarah Boulton, now of Kendal, Westmorland’ and his friends Richard Bush and Walter Wilson of London, merchants and John Shepherd of Antigua, merchant. The fact that this Henry had a wife Sarah is interesting, but he was listed here as a merchant, and this does not tie in very well  at all with the two families we have been following, so appears to be a red herring.

There was also a P.C.C. will for Henry Bolton of Lincolnshire, with no obvious links at all to London. In the Consistory Court of London, we found a will for Henry Bolton of Staines, Middlesex, victualler, proved in 1806. This is in fact the same one whose Inland Revenue abstract Pam had found. We wondered if this was the man from St George in the East, who had moved to the opposite end of the county (but still on the Thames), so we examined it. He had a wife Sarah –but only two children Sarah and Henry William, both under 21, and therefore not matching the family from St George in the East at all.

The majority of the East End falls under the Commissary Court of London, and we do not have access to these will at present due to the lockdown: the search could be made later, in the hope (it could only ever be a hope) that a will for this man could be found, and that some mention would be made in it of sons Henry and Conrath/Condery (etc). However, it would likely be quite a costly search, and the chances of success are low: there is , equally, the distinct possibility that, if a will was found for him and his sons Henry and Conrath had gone abroad, he would simply omit them from his will altogether and leave his estate to family in this country.

Unfortunately, wills were entirely unproductive and not helpful. However, if Henry Bolton, the victualler had a will, I’d LOVE to know what was in it.

Victualler

What is a victualler?

A victualler is traditionally a person who supplies food, beverages and other provisions for the crew of a vessel at sea.

Wow, just wow. This might well explain what Henry and Conrad were doing on the docks in the first place. Perhaps they were running errands for their father, taking food to a ship getting ready to depart. It also explains why Henry Bolton lived in a place called Ship Alley.

A victualler can also be a person that is a landlord of a public house or sells food and alcohol – or both. Perhaps a favorite place of sailors, glad to be ashore.

Bolton ships alley thames

Remember Pam’s family legend about Henry Bolton’s father having something to do with a shop near London Bridge? Look how close both Tower Bridge (built in 1886, so not existing then) and London Bridge are to Ship’s Alley. The ship wharves then were near where they are today, just along the banks of the Thames, not in the marina at St Katherine which didn’t exist at that time.

1746 London Map

The docks at St. Katherines on the Thames were the location in this 1746 map from which Henry and Conrad set sail.

London Bridge

A few years ago, I took this photo, standing at St. Katherine where the ships would have docked, looking at the Tower Bridge with London Bridge in the distance. This view on the water of the Thames may have been the last that Henry and Conrad ever saw of England as they looked back at London Bridge, and their home, as they sailed down the Thames for the sea.

London Bridge pano

Ok, What About a First Marriage?

Henry of St George in the East remained the favourite candidate. We knew that he was a widower when he married Sarah Corry in 1754, so now we looked for a first marriage for him, and found only one likely marriage that Pam had originally noticed, at the Collegiate Church of St Katherine by the Tower, City of London:

17 December 1752
Henry Bolten bach[elor] to Elizabeth Taylor spin[ster]

Bolton 1752 Taylor marriage.png

That is a nice fit, and of course it was at this same church that Conrath Ditrick Bolton was baptised in 1765. The marriage turns out to have been by a rather uninformative licence, issued by the Peculiar of St Katherine by the Tower:

Bolton Taylor license

However, the accompanying marriage, dated 17 December 1752, allegation shows that ‘Henry Botten’ (sic) was of ‘St George in the East, Victualler and Bachelor aged Thirty years’ (and she was 26). That was immensely helpful and helps confirm that this is the right person.

Note that spelling at the time was not standardized.

Bolton 1752 marriage return.jpg

This starts to tie the threads together very well. A search for any children to this first marriage revealed, at St George in the East, Middlesex:

1 October 1753 [baptised] Martha of Henry Bolten victuallr by Eliz. Ship All[ey]

Bolton 1753 birth

Eliz: Bolton, Ship All[ey], [buried] 21 June 1754

Bolton Elizabeth death.png

This convincingly shows Henry’s first marriage, the baptism of a daughter, and the burial of his first wife, probably as a result of childbirth. His first marriage was in the same church as the baptism of what we think was his final child, Conrad, in 1765, and this makes it more likely than ever that his son Henry Frederick Bolton, born and baptised in 1762, was your Henry.

It’s unlikely that Elizabeth died in childbirth, given that her baby was only 8 months old at the time. It’s very unlikely that she would have become immediately pregnant and had a child 8 months later, although she could have miscarried early. The most common causes of death during this time in London for adults were consumption, cough, fever which would be typhus and typhoid, measles and smallpox.

The cemetery that was at one time located by St. George in the East Church is now a garden, with the remaining stones relocated to form a barrier wall.

Bolton St George East Cemetery

There are no Bolton stones and only a couple remain from that early. This cemetery clearly held hundreds or thousands of burials over the centuries. The crypt above dates to the 1700s and was there when Henry would have baptized his daughter, then buried his wife and likely his daughter as well.

In 1752 when Henry married, his life looked bright. Ten months later, they welcomed a baby girl. Only another eight months later, Henry would bury his beloved wife. Left with an 8 month old baby, assuming the baby was still alive, what was Henry to do? How could he nurse a child? His life, bathed in grief, no longer looked rosy. We know that burial records are incomplete, but it’s likely that Henry’s daughter died too.

Regardless, Henry married three months and 5 days later to Sarah Corry. Maybe baby Martha hadn’t died after all, at least not when Henry remarried.

Did Henry, the Son, Remain in England?

We wanted now to make sure that this Henry Frederick Bolton could not be found remaining in England. Our searches, taking into account variant spellings, have not revealed any likely fate for him in England. That does not prove anything in itself, but had we found a clear sight of him after 1775, we could have said for sure that the theory was wrong – and that is not the case.

In the course of our research we found a Land Tax record in the name of Hen: Boulton, of St Katharine by the Tower dated 1765, paying 28s rent and with real estate worth £4-13-4.

Bolton 1765 tax.jpg

Henry, the father, also paid land tax there in 1764 and 1766. It is interesting that he does not appear here earlier on (though that may be a limitation of the records, which could be investigated); perhaps he had come by this property by right of his late, first wife (and perhaps on behalf of his daughter Martha) sometime around 1762/4, hence his move here.

As Henry’s last likely location was in St Katherine by the Tower in 1765, we made a search for a burial for him there in the period 1766-1800, but we could not find him. Using indexes covering many of the local burials did not result in a positive find either, so his fate remains unknown.

Baptism for Henry Bolton, the Victualler

We now sought a baptism for Henry the victualler, based on his alleged age of 30 in 1752, which suggested a birth in about 1721/2. One aim here was to see if his mother’s maiden name had been Ditrick or similar.

We found possible baptisms in the London area as follows:

St Botolph without Aldersgate, City of London
17 November 1720
Henry Boulton son of John & Elizh. Boulton

Bolton St Botolph church

The view below, from Postman Park which was the former churchyard where burials would have occurred.

Bolton Botolph postman park former churchyard.jpg

The baptism at St. Botolph without Aldergate is the closest location to where we know Henry who married Sarah Corry lived.

Bolton St Botolph map.png

The second baptism occurred at Wandsworth, Surry, not close.

1725 – 12 September baptized at Wandsworth, Surrey, Henry son of John Bolton

Both these baptisms are, at this stage, from transcripts. The 1720 baptism was likely, as ages at that stage could always be stated inaccurately, and the location was not too far from where our Henry lived.

A search for the parents’ marriage revealed:

St Paul’s Cathedral, City of London
John Boulton of St Botolph Aldersgate and Elizabeth Goaring of St Giles, Cripplegate spinster were married by a licence in thy Cathedral Church ye 3rd day of November 1713 [etc]

Bolton 1713 Goaring marriage

This plan for the floor paving at St. Paul’s Cathedral hails from 1709-1710, so they might well have been married on the new floor in 1713. Would the bride have walked up the long aisle, or would the minister have married they quietly in a private ceremony?

Bolton floor plan.jpg

Frankly, I’m stunned that they married in a Cathedral. Why did they select St. Paul’s? Is there a backstory to this? Could just anyone be married in this huge iconic structure?

Bolton St Pauls cathedral

By Ablakok – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=58117537

This view of St. Pauls Cathedral on Lord Mayor’s Day in 1746 shows what the Thames and Cathedral would have looked like not long after John Bolton and Elizabeth Goaring were married there.

Bolton St Paul nave looking to choir

The nave, looking towards the choir.

Bolton St Pauls map.png

St. Giles Cripplegate, where Elizabeth Goaring lived, wasn’t far from the Cathedral. I can’t help but wonder how this couple met.

Bolton Cripplegate

The St. Giles without Cripplegate church was outside the city gate called Cripplegate, shown above in 1650.

Bolton St. Giles church.png

St Giles without Cripplegate. “Without” means outside the city gate.

Bolton Cripplegate churchyard.png

The Cripplegate churchyard about 1830 which also included a “poor ground” where both poor and plague victims were buried, often in mass graves. Earlier, lepers begged by the city gate.

We also searched for possible siblings of the 1720 Henry in the period 1713-1733, without success. Just outside the period, though, we noted:

St George in the East, Middlesex
John S John Bolton Vict. by Bolton, Plow Alley was baptized on 10 June 1739 (18 days old)

Bolton 1739 birth

That is unlikely to be the couple who married back in 1713, but as a victualler in St George in the East this John could well have been another son of theirs.

I was unable to find Plow Alley today, but I’d love to know where it was located. It may have been one of those tiny nameless pathways we see on the maps. Given the St George of the East location, it’s undoubtedly near Ship Alley. These men would have assuredly known each other and may have been brothers. John too was a victualler.

Baptism for Sarah Corry

We repeated the same exercise for Sarah Corry, the likely mother of our pair, Henry and Conrath, to see if she had a Ditrick mother. In the period 1736-1700 in London, the best we could find was:

St Mary Whitechapel, Middlesex
Sarah Curry, dr of Thomas (Curry) & Monika in Buckle Street, poor was baptized on 16 July 1729

Bolton 1729 Curry baptism.jpg

The date and location fit well with what we know of Sarah, so this could be the correct baptism.

St. Mary Whitechapel no longer exists.

Bolton Whitechapel

The remnant footprint of the church can be seen today in Altab Ali Park.

Today, you can see the footprint of the church in what was the churchyard from a satellite view.

Bolton Mary Whitechapel aerial

Some burials were at the church, but an additional burial ground is now beneath the playground of the Davenant Schools.

In 1633, behind the burial yards, “filthie cottages” and alley extended for almost half a mile beyond Whitechapel Church into “the common field.” Fields like this were often used for plague and other mass burials. It’s worth noting that Sarah’s family is labeled as poor, so I wonder if her family lived in one of those “filthie cottages.”

Bolton Whitechapel map.png

Whitechapel is located just north of the area where Henry Bolton is found.

Bolton Buckle Street map

Buckle Street, about 200 feet long, still exists today.

A Clandestine Marriage!

A search for the marriage of Thomas and Monika Curry, Sarah’s parents revealed that ‘Thomas Corry per[ri]wigmaker & Monika Demazares of ye parish of Stepney’ were married on 6 February 1724 by Mr. Evans, one of the ministers at the time performing clandestine marriages in London.

Bolton Corry Demazares 1724 marriage.png

A clandestine marriage? Wow!

According to wiki:

“Clandestine” marriages were those that had an element of secrecy to them: perhaps they took place away from a home parish, and without either banns or marriage licence.

It is often asserted, mistakenly, that under English law of this period a marriage could be recognized as valid if each spouse had simply expressed (to each other) an unconditional consent to their marriage. While, with few local exceptions, earlier Christian marriages across Europe were by mutual consent, declaration of intention to marry and upon the subsequent physical union of the parties, in 1563 the Council of Trent, twenty-fourth session, required that a valid marriage must be performed by a priest before two witnesses. By the 18th century, the earlier form of consent-based marriages (“common-law marriages” in modern terms) were the exception. Nearly all marriages in England, including the “irregular” and “clandestine” ones, were performed by ordained clergy.

The Marriage Duty Act 1695 put an end to irregular marriages at parochial churches by penalizing clergymen who married couples without banns or licence. By a legal quirk, however, clergymen operating in the Fleet could not effectively be proceeded against, and the clandestine marriage business there carried on. In the 1740s, over half of all London weddings were taking place in the environs of the Fleet Prison. The majority of Fleet marriages were for honest purposes, when couples simply wanted to get married quickly or at low cost.

Was this marriage clandestine because one party was a Huguenot or a class difference, the parents didn’t consent, or the bride was underage? Was something else in play, and if so, what? Or maybe they just wanted to get married without any muss or fuss, quickly and cheaply.

Apparently this clandestine marriage made it into the official records, as opposed to many that did not. Mr. Evans records appear to have been from Fleet Prison or nearby.

It’s interesting to note that one of John Evans marriages was for a “boy about 18 years of age and the bride about 65.” I did not find Thomas Corry and Monika Demarazes in the Fleet records themselves, so Mr. Evans either married them elsewhere or their records are not in this set.

Bolton Fleet prison

It appears that Thomas and Monika may have married at or near the Fleet Prison. Not exactly your typical wedding destination. Maybe this was equivalent to an elopement of that timeframe.

Bolton Fleet building.jpg

Reportedly, many of the Fleet marriages were performed in the houses or shops nearby.

Periwigs

So Thomas Corry was a periwigmaker. What were periwigs and what did they look like?

Bolton periwigs

This print is titled “Five Orders of Periwigs” dated 1761.

Wig is the shortened form of periwig, which Wikipedia described thus:

After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, the use of wigs fell into disuse in the West for a thousand years until they were revived in the 16th century as a means of compensating for hair loss or improving one’s personal appearance. They also served a practical purpose: the unhygienic conditions of the time meant that hair attracted head lice, a problem that could be much reduced if natural hair were shaved and replaced with a more easily de-loused artificial hairpiece. Fur hoods were also used in a similar preventive fashion.

Perukes or periwigs for men were introduced into the English-speaking world with other French styles when Charles II was restored to the throne in 1660, following a lengthy exile in France. These wigs were shoulder-length or longer, imitating the long hair that had become fashionable among men since the 1620s. Their use soon became popular in the English court. The London diarist Samuel Pepys recorded the day in 1665 that a barber had shaved his head and that he tried on his new periwig for the first time, but in a year of plague he was uneasy about wearing it:

3rd September 1665: Up, and put on my coloured silk suit, very fine, and my new periwig, bought a good while since, but darst not wear it because the plague was in Westminster when I bought it. And it is a wonder what will be the fashion after the plague is done as to periwigs, for nobody will dare to buy any haire for fear of the infection? That it had been cut off the heads of people dead of the plague.

Wigs were not without other drawbacks, as Pepys noted on March 27, 1663:

I did go to the Swan; and there sent for Jervas my old periwig-maker and he did bring me a periwig; but it was full of nits, so as I was troubled to see it (it being his old fault) and did send him to make it clean.

With wigs virtually obligatory garb for men with social rank, wigmakers gained considerable prestige. A wigmakers’ guild was established in France in 1665, a development soon copied elsewhere in Europe. Their job was a skilled one as 17th century wigs were extraordinarily elaborate, covering the back and shoulders and flowing down the chest; not surprisingly, they were also extremely heavy and often uncomfortable to wear. Such wigs were expensive to produce. The best examples were made from natural human hair. The hair of horses and goats was often used as a cheaper alternative

Wigsmade by Thomas Corry in the 1700s would have worn by the aristocratic, probably not the wigmakers themselves.

Bolton periwigs portrait.jpg

It’s interesting that Stepney, where both bride and groom appear to have lived, wasn’t really part of London at this time. They would have had to make their way to town, several miles.

Bolton Stepney 1792

You can see the farming village of Stepney, surrounded by fields. Whitechapel borders Stepney Green and the road at the end of town is noted in this 1792 map.

Bolton fleet map.png

In Stepney, St. Dunstan’s church was built in the year 952 and is known as the “Mother Church of the East End.” This is likely the church where Thomas’s family attended. I wonder if Monika’s family lived here or elsewhere. I’d wager that they lived in the Huguenot area, not in Stepney.

Bolton Stepney church

The nursery rhyme memorializes St. Dunstan’s church in the veribage:

“When will that be? Say the bells of Stepney,” those bells cast in neighboring Whitechapel Bell Foundry.

Bolton Stepney churchyard.png

The Stepney churchyard where church parishioners are buried.

Historically, St Dunstans was long associated with the sea, registering British maritime births, marriages and deaths. They were also responsible for mitigating the poverty of the people in the area. Almshouses built in 1695 provided housing for retired sailors. This area was reached in ships sailing up the Thames before they reached London proper.

Bolton Stepney map 2

Of course, today, Stepney is simply a portion of London.

According to Anthony:

That is a likely fit, and this couple were very likely your ancestors. Further research may later prove it. But for now, it was a pity that Monika’s surname had not been Ditrick, as this would have helped to tie things together nicely.

But Ditirnick Had to Come from Someplace?

Finally in this round, we made a search for that curious combination of names, ‘Conrath Ditirnick’, and were most interested to find a burial as follows:

Whitechapel, Middlesex

Conrad Detrick was buried on 12 June 1766, aged 60.

We found a will for this man in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, of the same year date named Conrad Dieterick, in the PCC.

He was of St Mary Whitechapel and did not state an occupation. He mentioned his wife Mary and daughter Ann Kopilt. The will was written on 5 May 1764, before witnesses Solomon de Meza and Isaac de Meza, and was proved on 17 June 1766.

A search for his marriage, in case his wife was, say, a Bolton, revealed a marriage bond marriage bond from the Bishop of London for ‘Conrad Diderick of the Parish of Saint Matthew Bethnall Green … Sugar Baker, and [name not filled in] dated 11 April 1755. Further down it gives Conrad Diderick as a bachelor and names his soon-to-be spouse as Mary Copdeild, widow.

The associated marriage allegation, dated 11 April 1755, says that Conrad was ’30 years & upwards’  – and considerably upwards, in this case, but that is not unusual.

There is a likely remarriage for Conrad’s widow Mary Dieterick, widow, to John Asteroth at St Katherine by the Tower, City of London on 28 February 1767. That places the family convincingly in the very parish in which your ‘Conrath’ was baptised in 1765.

We have not found a baptism for Conrad Detrick, but there is a burial:

St John’s, Wapping, Middlesex
[died of] fever, Conrade Diederick, rode macher, Neighingale L[ane], buried 25 June 1738

That is likely the burial of the father of the 1706-1766 Conrad.

These results suggest strongly that, despite the garbled spellings, ‘Conrath Ditrick’ Bolton, who was baptised at St Katherine by the Tower in 1765, was named after Conrad Ditrick (or similar), an East End sugar baker who died the year after he was baptised, and his widow then remarried in St Katherine by the Tower in 1767. Conrad’s will was witnessed by Jews, but he seems to have been German or Dutch (and Christian) so he was presumably part of the east End immigrant community of the time, just like the witnesses, and probably just like Monika Demazares, who we think was probably Conrad Ditrick Bolton’s maternal grandmother. There may have been a blood connection and further research might reveal this – or the families may simply have been very friendly.

This very interesting article about Ship Alley includes a map of the numerous “sugar houses” in this area in the 1800s, including one just a few feet away, on the square at the end of Ship Alley.

Of course, Conrade Diederick, road maker, might be related to either Henry Bolton or Sarah Curry/Corry. Perhaps the next round of research will shed light on this question.

Pam Makes a Final Discovery

After Pam received Anthony’s research report, she went to work herself and found the baptism of Monique Demazure, a Protestant French Huguenot in London, in 1705, the daughter of Guillam, a barber, and his wife, Marie who were both Huguenots.

Bolton Demazure.pngBolton Monique Demazure 1705

Barbers at that time performed different tasks than barbers today.

Bolton barber.png

Barbers in the 1600s and 1700s didn’t just cut hair and shave people, but also performed bloodlettings, popular and believed beneficial in that era, cuppings, tooth extractions and amputations. If that just made you cringe, me too.

At that time, physicians didn’t perform much surgery. If it had to do with cutting and blades, you went to the barber. Barbers marched with soldiers into war.

Bolton bloodletting.jpg

I have to tell you, this bloodletting equipment makes me feel, well, creepy, for lack of a better word, and a big queezy. Apparently I’m not the only one.

Bolton patient

By Heikenwaelder – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=77861556

This patient looks none too happy. Im amazed that they didn’t die of blood poisoning, or maybe they did.

Come to think of it, it’s also amazing that the barber didn’t contract whatever was ailing his patients.

Huguenots

It’s likely that Guillam and Monique were either Huguenot immigrants to London or children of immigrants.

In 1550, in England, King Edward VI signed a charter granting freedom of worship to Protestant foreigners from France, Wallonia and the Netherlands. French Huguenots began to worship at the St. Anthony of Threadneedle Street church after 1560. The primary Huguenot rebellions accompanied by the French massacres of the Huguenots began in earnest in 1562 and lasted until 1598.

Beginning in 1681, 40,000 to 50,000 Huguenot refugees settled in England, although 8,000-10,000 had arrived prior to 1681.

Bolton Threadneedle.png

The church on Threadneedle Street conducted services according to the reformed Calvinist churches on the European continent.

Bolton Threadneedle Fleet.png

Collections were taken and funds created to assist the poor refugees who arrived with little or nothing. Fortunately, most Huguenots were skilled with a craft or trade that afforded them a living after getting settled in.

Bolton Huguenot church Threadneedle

The French Protestant church has been twice destroyed, once in the great fire of 1666 and again in the 1893. Today, the pastors still speak French in this church.

Bolton Threadneedle Fleet.png

It appears that the earliest Huguenot church was actually located in what is now 8 and 9 Soho Gardens.

St. Anne’s Court in Soho in the early 1900s, just a couple blocks away from the original location of the Huguenot church.

London 6 front - Copy

Unbeknownst to me, I visited Carnaby Street in the Soho area of London, now just called Soho, in 1970 – just a few blocks away from where my Huguenot ancestors lived for at least two generations. They would have walked the streets I walked, but I had no idea at the time.

Born in the “Hospital”

I found an additional record of Monique Demazure, registered as a male, clearly an error, baptized on March 25, 1704. This would have been the old style years. This baptism took place in the Chapel of the Hospital, Spitalfields, Middlesex, England, religion; Walloon and French Protestant.

Bolton Monique baptism

Spitalfield Life tells us that a hospital then didn’t mean what a hospital means today.

“Hospital: The church owned premises near Grey Eagle and Black Eagle Streets, Spitalfields, commonly known as “l’Hopital”, in fact the site of “les maisons des poures hommes et fammes” (FCL, MS 51, 4 June 1665) which were essentially homes for old people. The land on which stood the “Hospital” buildings was used for the site of a second church in 1687, “1’Eglise de l’Hopital”. One of the quartiers was also known as “l’Hopital”. Consequently the word in this context may mean one of three things, the homes, the quartier, or (from 1687) the church; the context normally makes it plain which is meant.”

The best-known church was “L’Eglise Protestant” in Threadneedle St in the City of London, it dealt with the first wave of refugees by building an annexe, “L’Eglise de l’Hôpital,” in Brick Lane on the corner of Fournier St. This opened in 1743, sixty years after a temporary wooden shack was first built there (1683,)

A “hospital” in that timeframe was more of a refuge for travelers or refugees, such as the order of the Knights Hospitaller.

Therefore, based on this information, it appears that Monique was born in a wooden shack on the corner of Brick Lane and Fournier Street, probably home to several poor refugee families.

Here’s a wonderful article about the Huguenots of Spitalfields in which we learn that many were weavers, textile or silk workers.

Today, the Brick Lane Mosque occupies the brick building build in 1743 that replaced the wooden shack where Monique was born.

Bolton Brick Lane mosque.jpg

By Bobulous – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=84470828

After being a Protestant Chapel, this building became a Jewish Synagogue, then a Mosque in the 1970s. Waves of immigrants.

Given that Monique was baptized in 1705, her mother could have been born anytime between 1660 and 1685, probably in France. If not, then this family would have been first-generation immigrants. Perhaps death or other records can be found that will provide a connection back to a location in France, and to their parents who may have immigrated with them – assuming they survived the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre in 1572 and the next 100 years in exile. Nope, records are probably very unlikely.

Bolton Huguenot

Once the massacres began in France, preservation and eventually, escape was the only thing on the minds of the Huguenots. I shudder to think about the scars on the people who survived to remember.

After 100+ years of persecution, the Huguenots were probably just relieved to be out, and alive. Most had likely lost beloved family members across many generations. Those scars assuredly ran deep and influenced their descendants for generations to come.

I’m sorry that none of their stories descend to us today. Perhaps they were too horrible to recount.

Where Are We?

Anthony tells us that at the end of this round of research, the evidence is as presented, but reminds us that there is little certainty. Likely connections are revealed, but not proof. Hopefully proof will be forthcoming in the next report in a few months, but I’d settle for a preponderance of evidence where more than 50% of the evidence points towards a specific conclusion, and nothing eliminates the possibility.

I normally don’t combine multiple ancestors into one article, but since this information is heavily suggestive but not confirmed, I have combined all of this research, for now. Anthony and Pam’s work flows together cohesively, which I felt was the best way to provide information for the following probable ancestors, in summary:

  • Henry Frederick Bolton, ancestor #45, the child born August 1, 1762 to Henry Bolton and Sarah Corry, kidnapped in 1775 and sold into indentured servitude in Maryland. It must have been devastating for the brothers, Henry and Conrad, to be separated from their parents at such a young age. I wonder if their parents ever knew what happened to them, if they were able to at least write a letter to let them know. Henry was just 13 and Conrad 10.
  • Conderith Dieterich Bolton, Henry’s brother, born February 18, 1765, kidnapped in 1775.
  • Henry Bolton, the father, a victualler, ancestor #294 – born November 17, 1729 to John Bolton and Elizabeth Goaring, died sometime after 1765/1766. Married Sarah Corry September 26, 1754 as his second wife. Had 6 children, 5 with Sarah and a daughter with his first wife, Elizabeth Taylor. These records confirm the truth of several family legends and dispell others.
  • Sarah Corry, the mother, ancestor #295 – born July 19, 1729, daughter of Thomas Curry and Monika Demazores, died after 1765. Had 5 children; 2 were kidnapped, 2 died, 1 may have still been living at age 15 when Henry and Conrad were kidnapped. Otherwise, Sarah was left with no children. Regardless, she would have been heartbroken when Henry and Conrad failed to return home.
  • John Bolton, ancestor #296, and Elizabeth Goaring, ancestor #297, parents of Henry Bolton, married on November 3, 1713. Deaths, parents and additional children unknown.
  • Thomas Curry, ancestor #298, born before 1705, father to Sarah Corry. Married on February 6, 1724 to Monique Demazares, parents and death unknown.
  • Monique Demazares, ancestor #299, mother to Sarah Curry, born March 25, 1704/1705 to Guillam and Marie Demazares. Monique/Monika married in 1724 to Thomas Curry and died unknown.
  • Guillam Demazares, ancestor #300, Huguenot born before 1685, probably in France, married Marie, ancestor #310, whose surname is unknown, sometime before 1704/1705. They were the parents of Minique Demazares. Marie could have been anyplace from about 20 to 45 when Monique was born, so Marie’s birth year could range from 1660 to 1685.

The lives of these ancestors have provided us with a fascinating glimpse into historic, immigrant London at the end of the Medieval period and the beginning of the Renaissance. For out ancestors, little about court life affected them. Their lives were center around food, survival and clearly, churches.

My Visit

Not knowing that Henry Bolton, his family and ancestors had lived in London’s east end, in particular so close to St. Katherine by the Tower, I visited this area in 2016 because by other ancestors, also impoverished refugees, several German Protestant 1709ers, lived in the equivalent of a squalid tent-city at St. Katherine’s.

Henry Bolton the child wouldn’t have yet been alive then, but his father, John Bolton lived just a few blocks away in St Botolph Aldergate and would have been quite aware of these pathetic new arrivals lodged down by the waterfront. You can read about that visit, and see pictures, here.

I realized I was walking in my ancestors footsteps, meaning the 1709ers who eventually set sail for the colonies. What I didn’t know was that the dust of my ancestors for generations was strewn throughout this land, and those ancestors had trod exactly where I stood. Perhaps their spirits were welcoming me back that day. I wish I had known then what I know now. So close, but so far away.

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18 thoughts on “Henry Bolton, the Victualler & Sarah Corry/Curry; Their Ancestors and Life in Medieval London – 52 Ancestors #294-301

    • 😁 I need yo be clear that all the heavy lifting is due to Pam and her and Anthony’s research. All I did was add the historical context and develop it into a story. Truly, that’s the part I love so we make a great team.

  1. This is a wonderful read – great work by you, Pam and Anthony. Knowing the area fairly well, I can identify with much of what you’ve written. I’ve followed your work since the beginning and just don’t understand how you find the time to do it all??!!

  2. What a wonderful Sunday morning read! You have fleshed out these ancestors stunningly. I can almost hear the sea, the racket of the docks and envision the churches, the filth, the cramped quarters the time. Thank you for the story, the rib-sticking meat of life then and thank you, Pam and Anthony for the outstanding research.

  3. I enjoy reading how you bring your ancestors to life! Maybe my relatives will finally “get it”, if they’d read one of these acccounts of amazing sleuthing and factual storytelling. It’s funny, all but one of my mother’s 4 siblings who became parents had children with people of British descent. In fact most of my maternal first cousins live in the UK still (born south of London). I have been amused to discover that I get DNA matches in the UK despite having two German born parents. They are either connecting to me through Jewish (often with a Sephardic/Dutch connection) or German ancestry it seems. But now I have to weigh in the Huguenots. I have a Moulin ancestor working as a minister in East Frisia (Wittmund). He died on September 20, 1661 (according to someone in Germany who has a very extensive tree). I get DNA matches in France sometimes but usually I can at least guess that they are through a Dutch, German, Eastern European or Jewish ancestor. But sometimes not. I wonder if the “French” DNA is still there. I recently uploaded a kit at Geanet and was surprised that I had only 4 matches. One I know about already, from the USA (21 cM which sounds right). But the other 3 all have French surnames and the 2 that have trees, show only French folks. We are sharing about 13 cM each time. This surprised even more… only French people.

    • This is fascinating. All I think we need to connect might be another generation or two. Thank you so very much.

  4. Great description of your extensive research. It is a pity that your Boltons would seem to be not related to my Boltons from Bolton in Lancashire. I would love to be able to connect.

  5. Nice to see things are progressing with this line too!

    Huguenots, now that’s something I can look around for more clues!

    I found a Louis Des Masures (1515-1574) who converted to protestantism as he met Calvin in Geneva. He had a son. His wikipedia page doesn’t have a English version, but some computer translation should do the trick:

    https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_Des_Masures

    In “The Publications of the Huguenot Society of London”, the first have records of Demasure family date starting from 1648.

    https://books.google.ca/books?id=VE44AQAAMAAJ&pg=PA326&lpg=PA326&dq=demasure+huguenot&source=bl&ots=JArJqHTwhx&sig=ACfU3U20AY-dBrgv6fvXjBsbPxp5uSzefg&hl=fr&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjwi_-zxOzqAhWEneAKHdabDwYQ6AEwAHoECAoQAQ#v=onepage&q=demasure%20huguenot&f=false

  6. It sounds like he was a really high profile humanist. Although, maybe he converted some of his family and your line really comes from one of his cousins.

    Whatever is the case, I would give a look at Huguenot Society, which seems well organised and providing a lot of ressources:

    https://www.huguenotsociety.org.uk/

  7. I wonder if Solomon de Meza and Isaac de Meza who witnessed Conrad Detrick’s will might actually have been named Demazure, and be relatives of Monique.

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