Friday, April 4, 2014

Family of Sophia (Bolton) Cox (1846-1934)

Sophia Bolton was born in 1846 in Market Harborough, England, the daughter of James Bolton  (1812-1886 ) and Elizabeth (Charlton) Bolton (1812-1891) my 3rd great grandparents.

James and Elizabeth were married on March 13, 1834 in Great Bowden, Leceistershire.  They raised their family and lived most of their adult lives on Middle Green in Market Harborough, Great Bowden, while James worked as an agricultural Laborer (ag lab) and a Shepherd.    Their 10 children, born from 1836 to 1857, were named, in order:  James, Emma, Thomas, Eliza, Sophia, Alice, Alfred, Stephen, Mary and Fredrick.

The first English Census that captured the personal information of families was in 1841.  Earlier censuses in England were limited to head counts for taxation purposes.  The 1841 census listed everyone in the household, but did not indicate their relationship to the head of house.  That census included a teenager, Anne Bolton, residing with the Bolton family.  She was, most likely, a relative of James living with them temporarily, perhaps as a mother's helper or servant which was common at the time.  She was too old to be their daughter and there is no record of James and Elizabeth having a daughter named Anne.

Ten years later, in 1851, the Boltons remained at Middle Green, but Sophia was no longer residing with her parents.  At 15 years old, she was living and working as a house maid for a Widow, Mary Rowlatt in Great Bowden.  Sophia probably continued to work as a maid until her marriage to John Cox in 1869.  James Bolton passed away in 1886, while his wife, Elizabeth died 5 years later in 1891.

I have not been able to identify Elizabeth (Charlton) Bolton's parents.

James Bolton was the son of George Bolton (1781-1856) and Mary Martin (1786-1865).  George and Mary were wed on Nov. 2, 1802 and had 8 children.  James was 4th oldest, born in 1812.  The other children, in order of their ages, were: Hannah, Elizabeth, Amy,  James, Edward, Anne, Thomas, Mary and Sarah.  

The 1841 Census shows George and Mary Bolton residing in Bowden Magna, Leicestershire with five of their children Elizabeth (age 30), Edward (25), Anne, (20), Thomas(19) and Mary(15) while George and his son, Thomas, worked as agricultural Laborers.  Edward listed his occupation as a Gardener.  At the time, 1841, James had been married for seven years and was living with his family in Market Harborough.  His other siblings that were not included as living with George and Mary, were probably either married or working elsewhere.  The English Census rules required documentation only of those family members present in the home on the specific day of the census.  It was conducted on a Sunday night so it was presumed most family members would be home, but some were visiting elsewhere, in hospitals or even working as maids or servants which was very common at the time, particularly for teenage girls.

St. Peter & St. Paul Church, Great Bowden - built before 1220

George Bolton(1781-1856) was baptized on July 2, 1781, the son of William Bolton (abt.1738-1827) and Mary (Bailey) Bolton (1751-1822)  at St. Peter & St. Paul Parish Church (Anglican Church of England) in Great Bowden.  He had at least one brother, William Bolton (1776-1857) also baptized at this church.  Based on the age of his parents, it is likely there were other, older siblings.  


Note: George's brother William  had 10 children.  A number of George's and William's children have the same name. Fortunately baptism records indicate the names of their parents for all of William's children and most of George's children.  It appears that after William's first wife, Kezia, died prematurely he remarried and had another family.  William  also has a son named James but he was born in 1830, 28 years after Sophia's father.

Possible, but unproven family connections

At this point the ancestory becomes murky.  The father of William Bolton (1738-1827) may be Richard Bolton (b. 1715), but I have been unable to confirm William's date of birth, place of birth or parents. There was no requirement in England in prior to 1837, to register the birth of a child and, while baptisms did have be recorded, it was done by individual church's without any uniform rules regarding what information was captured and how the records were maintained.  In the absence of any records, I don't know where the assumption originated that Richard Bolton was the father of William Bolton (1738-1827), but I am unable to confirm it.

Richard Bolton was born Nov 3, 1715 and baptized on Nov. 13, 1715 at St. John The Baptist in Croydon, Surrey the son of John and Susan Bolton.   The name of Richard Bolton's spouse as well as,the location and date of his death are unknown.  Richard Bolton is referred to, in other family trees and references, as a 'squire' although I have not found any record or basis for this.  A squire in the middle ages was the apprentice to a Knight, but in the 1700s the term squire was used to denote a "Lord of the Manor", who may have owned much of the land in a village or area, or a gentleman with a coat of arms- perhaps the descendant of a Knight- or even a village leader or Justice of the Peace. 

It may be possible to continue to trace Richard Bolton's family back further, However, I am uncertain he is William's father, and thus our ancestor.  There are a few troubling inconsistencies discussed below.  

  • Richard was born in Surrey, an affluent village south of London, approximately 125 miles from where William, his supposed son, was born.  Richard could have moved from Surrey to Great Bowden, although that seems unlikely given that he appears to have been a land owner or related to land owners in Surrey.  Whereas, Great Bowden and the county of Leicestershire consisted mostly of working class families.   
    • One possibility is that Richard's family went into debt as a result of supporting King Charles during the English Civil War from 1642-1660, forcing the family to sell their land and relocate. Though, to date, I  have not found evidence that Richard Bolton ever lived in or near Great Bowden.
  • England naming patterns of the time made it common to name the first and 2nd born sons after their grandfathers and the 3rd son after his father, etc.   It was not strictly adhered to and, given the lack of baptism records, there are certainly children I have not identified.  Yet, I have not found any children, grandchildren or great grandchildren of William Bolton (1737-1827) named Richard Bolton, which seems highly unlikely if Richard was indeed William's father and George and William Jrs grandfather. 
Bolton Surname - comes from olde english - pre 7th century 'bothl' or 'botl'- meaning dwelling house/hall with the olde englsih 'tun' meaning enclosure or settlement.  In England the original Bolton families were established in the Lancashire area, but over the centuries covered all of the country and parts of Wales.  Greatest populations remain in Lancashire and Yorkshire.

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