A Family Tale of Exile, Affection, Subterfuge and Benevolence

The Families and Background

The year is 1676 and a man we know to be over 21 but probably about 30 walks along Fleet Street, turns into the narrow alleyway at the west end of St Dunstan’s Church, climbs a few steps into the courtyard and enters Clifford’s Inn. He finds his way into one of the 18 chambers there and Richard Pursell looks up, "How did it go, William?" "Oh, straightforward. I just had to attest that the deed they showed me was the one I witnessed and that Mr Palmer had signed it in my presence." William Badham was the young man and at this point was clerk to Richard Pursell, no doubt as part of his training to become an attorney. He had been examined as a deponent,1 that is as a witness making a deposition statement and this would have been part of his exposure to Chancery proceedings, which was the business of Clifford’s Inn at that time. Probably he would have had little expectation that the family would be embroiled in defending such proceedings some 30 years later.

At this point we are in the sixteenth year of the Restoration of the Stuart monarch, Charles II, but William was born about 1646 during the Civil War. If we are right about this, the birth date as well as the date of baptism should have been recorded under the Commonwealth Registration Act enacted the previous year. This transferred the registration of BMDs to a government-appointed Registrar and introduced a One Shilling Fee, about a day and a half of wages for a building trades craftsman and thus reduced the number of BMDs registered. It is perhaps not surprising therefore that, so far, no details of his baptism or birth have yet been found. But we can be very sure he came from the Badham family settled at Breinton, about two miles to the west of Hereford.

To understand the context in which William was training and to be aware of some of the implications in the story we are about to unfold, we need to go back to the period in which Walter Badham, our Groom of the Royal Chamber, was watching the unfolding saga of Henry VIII’s first divorce and the split with the papacy in 1534. We need to remind ourselves that Henry declared himself ‘the only supreme head on Earth of the Church in England’. This was an earthly as well as a religious decision and the issue came to a real head in the reign of Henry’s daughter Elizabeth I. The persecution of Protestants under Philip and Mary in the 1550s would have built up Protestant anger but in 1570 the Pope probably triggered the extensive long-term persecution of Roman Catholics that was to follow by declaring Queen Elizabeth a heretic and effectively encouraging her subjects to deny her authority. However, the legislative routes of this anti-Catholicism may be seen in the Restoration of the 1559 Act of Supremacy and the passing of the Act of Uniformity. Under the former Act all who maintained the spiritual or ecclesiastical authority of any foreign prelate could:

  • For the first offence, forfeit all goods, chattels real and personal and benefices but if these were worth less than £20, they would be liable to a year in jail
  • For the second offence, they would forfeit praemunire which was the sovereign’s protection for example through the use of the courts to protect their rights or property, as well as forfeiting their land and goods
  • For a third offence, be guilty of high treason for which the punishment was death by drawing, hanging and quartering, corruption of the blood, ie no one could inherit any honours or offices from them and of course the forfeit of all property.

The Act of Uniformity was primarily designed to secure outward conformity in the use of the Anglican Book of Common Prayer. This was, in effect, a penal statute as it punished all clerics who used any other service by deprivation of incumbency and imprisonment, and everyone who refused to attend the Anglican service by a fine of 12 pence for each omission. It should be remembered that the amount must be greatly multiplied to give the modern equivalent. Some decades later the Test Act of 1673 made anyone filling any office, civil or military, take the oaths of supremacy and allegiance and subscribe to a declaration against transubstantiation. They also needed to receive the sacrament within three months after admittance to office. The oath for the Test Act of 1673 was:

I, N, do declare that I do believe that there is not any transubstantiation in the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, or in the elements of the bread and wine, at or after the consecration thereof by any person whatsoever.

Walter died before the accession of Mary on 6 July 1553 and so would have little need to emulate his local vicar of Bray but he would have known at Court the Marcher cleric, Charles Booth, Treasurer of Lichfield Cathedral and according to family records the confessor of Henry VII. He and Walter were both present at the Field of the Cloth of Gold in 1520 by which time Charles Booth had been instituted as Bishop of Hereford. It is indeed a possibility that Charles Booth was the patron who introduced Walter to the royal service. Bishop Booth is reputed to have been against the divorce of Katherine in whose household he had been but he eventually toed the line and remained bishop until his death in 1535 shortly after the break with Rome. What his true feelings would have been about the status of the papacy we can’t know but his cousin descendants in Breinton were Catholic, as we shall see.

The Booth Porch at night

To divert briefly, during his episcopacy Charles Booth was an active builder, amongst other things developing the palace at Hereford and completing the building of what became called the Booth porch, the first meeting place for the founding group of the Badham One Name Society. For some reason Bishop Booth’s monument in the Cathedral is surrounded by railings, perhaps a reflection of caution built up as Treasurer at Lichfield and a sense of the pending disruption which was following the break with Rome. At his death he left money to each of its minor canons, vicars choral, choristers, and to four clerks he also left at least one tapestry, now lost, and his books.

 Bishop Booth with heavenly company

 The railed tomb at Hereford Cathedral

The first ever Booth to be settled in Breinton was George Booth who is said in family papers to have arrived with his uncle ensconced in a carry cot – sorry, cradle.2 It seems likely this would fuel a level of gossip.

Based on an engraving in The Illustrated London News, 29 March 1843, p.242
and the cradle by Pietro Cecconcelli, 1619

No doubt one of George’s uncle’s first actions would have been to see how the Treasury was working and what properties were available. The principal Booth actor in our story was another Charles who, as can be seen from the outline family tree was five generations down but still rooted in Breinton.

The first Badham settlement in Breinton we know of is recorded in a lease from the Dean and Chapter for the lives of James and Margaret Baddam and John their son. Dated 25 July 1578,3 it is for the Manor of Breinton and its chapel as parish church. It seems from the evidence in the Cathedral Archives that the over 21-year-old William in our story is the third generation from James.

We can say this with some confidence because of the survival of a series of leases to the Badham family by the Dean and Chapter. There is a break in the series for the period of the Commonwealth when many Cathedral organisational components were abolished and not renewed until the Restoration. Fortunately the probate system under the Commonwealth had been started the year before William II died and his will fills the gap. Frustratingly, he mentions children of his son James but omits to name them.

You can see from the chart that there are a few branches which may provide links for some of our orphan Badhams, such as organist, John Badham, who died in 1688 and the John who married Isabella Clarke at Eaton Bishop. Both families had, therefore, by 1676 been established in Breinton for several generations. It is not surprising then that a William Badham married the girl next door, in this case Catherine Booth, mother of the next William (IV) who was also to become an attorney. Catherine was aunt to Charles Booth central in our story. Although from an army family, Richard Booth certainly acted as attorney for the Cathedral. We do not have a baptism or birth record for nephew Charles but know from his burial record that he was born about 1667, about the same time as his cousin William who is probably the unnamed male born to William and Catherine and baptised at Breinton on 10 July 1666. At least three Badhams could therefore claim descent from the same family as Bishop Booth. The family tree in the Booths of Crump Oak records4 show a descent, appropriately enough from Adam de Booth 1245.

Given that the Act of Uniformity was in force by the time of this 1578 lease and that the grant included the chapel, it is reasonable to assume the Badhams were communicant members of the Church in England and we know that cousin William asked to be buried in ‘my father’s grave in the chancel of Breinton. On the other hand, we know that Charles, his father John and grandfather Charles were all at some stage in arms on behalf of the Stuart cause. The said grandfather of William and Charles was a recusant and had his estate sequestered during the Commonwealth. Indeed William IV’s relatives were closely involved with various Civil War tussles over the City of Hereford. At that time the City was still walled and remained so for some time as shown in these slightly cropped watercolour sketches by James (Jemmy sketch) Wathen painted in 1798 just before this particular gate was demolished.5

Widemarsh gate from inside the town, 6th June 1798

Widemarsh gate from the NE, 9th June 1798

These two Wathen pictures by courtesy of Logaston Press with acknowledgement of Herefordshire Archives which hold the originals.











Coningsby Hospital, Hereford; Courtyard and doorway

Aunt Maria née Booth was married to Fitzwilliam Coningsby from the Herefordshire Hampton Court family and he was the corporal or head of the Coningsby Hospital, almshouses in Hereford now part open as a museum. Fitzwilliam’s namesake kinsman and godparent was to become Royalist Governor of Hereford after the Parliamentarians left Hereford on the 14th December 1642. Grandfather Charles Booth is reported as riding "up and down the town informing the mayor and others that Mr Fitzwilliam Coningsby was appointed governor and all should be well".6 Another related Coningsby was Juliana, who with Charles II pretended to be an eloping couple to aid his escape after he lost the Battle of Worcester in 1651. William’s full uncle, John Booth, was a captain in 1685 and a major in the Stuart army by the time of his death in 1690.

Like many families in the Civil War there were others in the family who sided with Parliament. In the case of the Hopton family of Canon Frome there were brothers who fought on opposite sides. David Ross describes the Civil War as a national catastrophe:

Those who lived through it mourned the fact that it was happening. No place, however small or remote, escaped its impact. Tax collectors knocked on every door, and the appearance of the military press-gang was feared. Thousands were killed in battles, skirmishes and seiges, desolating families on a scale not matched until 1914-18.7

I haven’t seen any direct evidence for Badham involvement, although a "Captaine" John Badham was buried at St Clement Dane’s in April 1673 and it seems improbable the Breinton Badhams were other than Royalist in their sympathies. Cousin Charles Booth was also to be an army man and it is probably him who was promoted to Captain in 1688 in place of ‘Captain John Booth late Captain in regiment of foot under Col Henry Cornwall.8 Possibly this was when Charles’ father was promoted to major, however, there was another Captain John Booth from Kinnersley and he was the son of John Booth from Durham, relationship to the Breinton Booths unknown to me.9 This turbulence of Republican and religious loyalties is the crucial backdrop to the Badham v Booth conflict that was to sour some family relationships in Breinton. However, we get ahead of ourselves.

Having established the two families for several generations in Breinton let us have a look at this place.

Map based on original surveyor’s drawing from the Ordnance Survey 1815
© The British Library Board, Maps, Ordnance Survey, Hereford 22

As can be seen from the map the parish runs westwards from the boundary of the City parish of St Nicholas. The Court house occupied by the Booths and what is now Breinton House, occupied by the Badhams, are both within about two miles of the City and gunfire from the Civil War would doubtless have been audible. It remains to this day an incredibly tucked away and unspoilt rural area sitting on the bluff on the north bank of the Wye facing the parishes of Clehonger and Eaton Bishop. Part of the latter parish was in fact on the north side, left bank at Sugwas where the bishop had a palace and it was connected with Eaton Bishop by a ferry which can be seen from the map to be still present in 1815.

Breinton Church in its sylvan setting above the Wye, 2013.
The small triangle of lawn on the left can be seen in the Breinton House river frontage picture.

Breinton House river frontage, 2013

The present-day Breinton Court is fairly modern although some of the associated cottages may still be contemporary with our story. Breinton House is not listed as having any part dating from our period of interest but is earlier than the Court and might have vestiges of the house when in Badham occupation.





Warham Court, however, is still standing and is of the right period. It probably gives some idea of what Breinton Court looked like, although we know the latter had at least four bays since William IV knocked three of them down and repaired the kitchen part and chimney.


Warham Court, a somewhat cropped version of a picture © Richard Greenwood





Post Restoration

The Illustrated London News, 3 June 1843, p.390

In the calmer period after the 1660 Restoration unsurprisingly there were marriages to celebrate. John Badham married Isabella Clarke at Eaton Bishop and they were to baptise 10 children between 1662 and 1684:

1 Isabell 21 Aug 1662   6 Richard 29 Mar 1674
2 Mary 27 Mar 1664   7 Richard 21 May 1676
3 Erasina 29 April 1666   8 Anne 3 Nov 1678
4 Prudentia 3 June 1668   9 William 14 Feb 1680
5 John 17 Sep 1671   10 Robert 27 Apr 1684

I don’t have a marriage date for John Booth and Catherine Broughton but they were baptising children in Breinton from 1661:

Rudhall bap 1661 died 1685
Ellen bap Sep 1662  
Mary bap 30 Jan 1669 bur 11 Feb 1669
Erasina bap 27 Jun 1673  
Margaret bap 1 Dec 1680  

As we have seen they also had Charles, born about 1667, and buried abroad 15 October 1740 aged 73.

Clearly these families just across the river must have known each other and it seems possible the Eaton Bishop family was related to the Booths and the Breinton Badhams, but so far there is no evidence to support this. We note, however, the use of the Christian name Erasina in both families and this is an extremely rare forename, possibly of Italian origin but could, for example, have come from a common godparent. There were, however, known family ties across the river. Isabella Clarke seems to have been the daughter of the Vicar, George Clarke who was inducted in 1660 after the Restoration. George may have been related to John Clarke the Vicar Choral who was chased by the Cromwellian soldiers to his vicarage at Norton Canon and had his only hat stolen by them, necessitating the use of his housekeeper’s bonnet, or so the story goes. George’s successor Richard Taylor married another of George’s daughters as his first wife but after she died he married Catherine Badham, sister of William IV.

The post-Restoration period, then, is filled with the business of having children and generally recovering and dealing with the aftermath of the divisive and often violent Civil War. On the 21st January 1713 in the, no doubt, hospitable rooms of the house of Thomas Phillpotts, Innkeeper, otherwise the Ship Inn in Hereford, ffrancis Woodhouse and his fellow court officers set about taking depositions or witness statements in relation to the 20 interrogatory questions pre-prepared in the Exchequer proceedings Booth v Badham.10

The Illustrated London News - Court Heading 1843

For the moment we will simply repeat the evidence given about the quality of the relationship between the cousins, Charles Booth and William Badham. According to John Williams, "There was a great and intimate friendship between William Badham and Charles Booth they were Brother and Sisters children." Similarly Philip Monson said they were ‘schoolfellows who when came to be men had a particular acquaintance and correspondence’.

Rudhall, the Booth next heir, pursued a career in the army following family tradition. However, at about the age of two he appears in a lease of 1663 in which the Treasurer of the Cathedral grants to John Booth,  Catherine, John’s wife and Rudhall their son a life tenancy for their joint lives, of the Manor of Breinton and lands in Lugg Meadow at a yearly rent of £4 2s 4d in two instalments, two hens at Candlemass and two Capons at Easter.11 If the rent was late by 40 days and lawfully demanded in the porch at the north door of the Cathedral between the hours of one and three in the afternoon the premises could be reclaimed. John Booth is liable to maintain the premises as necessary and he is supposed to submit a terrier of the lands so devised. It does strike me as very odd that it was this way round with the tenant providing the details of the land he had been granted and not the Treasurer setting the boundaries of his grant. The surviving documents do seem to show that this was the way it was done.

We also learn from a deposition by Henry Jones in the Chancery papers12 that there were several Tenaments in the Manor of Church Withington and Breynton under the Dean which were demised by the steward Abraham S[h]eward to John Booth and Rudhall his son in about 1679. When Rudhall died Charles, presumably as next heir, was presented by his attorney William Badham and admitted to possession of them. We know from an unusual memorial that Rudhall died on the 28th October 1685 at Berwick on Tweed in 1685 when in command of the garrison on Holy Island, Lindisfarne, and as can be seen from his memorial at Breinton seems to have been buried in Berwick.

The wooden memorial to Rudhall Booth in St Michael’s Church, Breinton

The memorial is unusual because it is painted on an oak panel. I do wonder if this was because of sensitivity to the Catholic position of the family. The panel could have easily been hidden if there was a resurgence of Puritan vandalism. Rudhall was only about 24 at his death and his youngest sibling Margaret about five years old.

Up to this point we have heard of two sets of holdings by the Booths in Breynton, one from the Treasurer and one under the Dean. To further complicate matters, according to daughter Ann in 1693 John Booth’s widow Catherine had a lease from the Custos and Vicars Choral of a messuage and 40 acres which she assigned to her daughter Margaret. The evidence from other witnesses is that John Booth had a mix of holdings in Breinton by copyhold, and leasehold from the Treasurer, Dean and Vicars Choral but that no-one really knew which lands belonged to which. His daughter Ann said he also had some freehold land. The only criteria mentioned to help decide the boundaries between the lands was which land had been manured with which other land, and the leases went so far as to require manure and compost to remain on the leased lands. Undoubtedly there was a complex pattern of manorial division within the parish.

In this context the surviving Parliamentary Survey13 of the holdings of the cousins’ grandfather Charles Booth is useful as it clearly states that there were four manors in the parish, Breinton belonging to the Treasurer, a manor belonging to the Dean, a manor belonging to the Dean and Chapter and a Manor belonging to the Prebend of Aylestone and Warham. The prebendary holding can be easily identified with Warham Court which we looked at earlier. The Treasurer’s manor court estate, held by the Booths, was centred where Breinton Court now is and the holding of the five generations of Badhams is now the site of Breinton House and was held from the Dean and Chapter, both holdings in Lower Breinton. The Deanery manor seems to have been part of Upper Breinton and the lands held by the Vicars were at or near Hill Farm and possibly not a separate manor but a freeholding within one or more of the other manors which they were free to lease. The Lugg Meadow holdings belonging to the Treasurer and linked with Breinton Court were in Walney Meadow but there were also meadow allocations to the other manors. Four acres in Mill Meadow were included in the lease for lives of the Dean and Chapter’s Breinton Manor granted in a lease dated 30 November 1615, for the lives of Willam Badham I, his wife Elizabeth and son William. To give some idea of the relative importance of the holdings, the Hearth Tax returns of 1665 show George Clarke in Eaton Bishop as having 4 hearths, presumably in the Vicarage, and 2 hearths for John Badham. In Breinton, Captain John Booth has 8 and William 4 hearths. The problem with this, however, is that there may be more than one dwelling involved in each individual’s hearth count and it doesn’t tell us what state the buildings are in. As we have seen the Court was in a parlous state. In 1706 William Jones, John Booth’s son-in-law says that John had (Breinton Manor) under the Treasurer, a tenament in Upper Breynton from the Vicars Choral "lately fallen down" and copyhold lands under the Dean and during John Booth’s lifetime they were all manured together.14

It seems unsurprising that in these troubled times and with the vulnerability that went with being Catholic, John and Catherine would make provision for their children. The 1663 lease mentioned above was some protection for Rudhall up to his untimely death and it was natural that Charles would replace his brother in this arrangement. This was initiated on 1st June 1689 when Thomas Wotton the Treasurer granted John and Catherine Booth a 21-year lease of his Breinton manor and the Lugg Meadow allocation. On 20 July 1690 they transferred this lease to Thomas Buckley, Vicar of Linton and John Booth’s brother-in-law, jointly with William Badham, in trust for Charles on condition that John and Catherine had the rents and other benefits during their lifetime and afterwards to Charles and his lawful heirs.15 It seems probable that this was a way of getting round the anti-Catholic laws and natural that it would pass on the family seat to the remaining son. John Hodges in his deposition taken in October 1706 says that on the 19th April 1686 a messuage and 30 acres from the Treasurer in Church Breinton was surrendered to Thomas Buckley in trust. John didn’t see to whom but confirmed the handwriting of a letter from Thomas Buckley stating the trust was for Margaret Booth.16 According to two of Margaret’s older sisters at the 1706 hearings, their mother, after the death of their father, obtained a lease from the Custos and Vicars for a messuage and lands that their father had formerly held, which lease she assigned to Margaret. This was also confirmed by Catherine Taylor, William IV’s sister. Apart from possible freehold land the depositions identify another holding from the Dean in Church Breinton. According to Henry Jones who seems to have had a role collecting chief rents for the Cathedral, this Deanery holding was surrendered in 1679 to John Booth and son Rudhall, and after Rudhall’s death Charles Booth was presented to the holding at the manor court. A major theme in these depositions is the confusion of the boundaries between the properties we have heard about already.

To summarise, we know that the holding under the Treasurer of Breinton Court, including the Lugg Meadow lands linked to it at or near Walney together with the rest of that estate, were originally destined for the eldest son Rudhall. These were passed on, in trust for Charles, in the hands of Thomas Buckley and William Badham. A messuage and about 30 acres in Church Breinton under the Treasurer were passed on in trust to Thomas Buckley for the youngest daughter Margaret and she was also the beneficiary of a 21-year lease from the Vicars Choral which her mother had taken out following her father’s death. A further holding from the Dean in Church Breinton originally intended for Rudhall was passed on to Charles as was also, according to William Snead, a copyhold from the Vicars Choral which may have been the one mentioned by William Jones in 1706/7 where the building had lately fallen down. Of the sisters, Blanche married William Jones from Huntington, the adjoining parish, and Catherine married Thomas Tyler, Vicar of Ross and brother of the Bishop of Llandaff. The three remaining, Ann, Elizabeth, (Ellen?) and Erasina do not seem to have had any provision made for them.

After the calmer period of the earlier years of the Restoration of Charles II discontent began to build again. This was partly due to the excesses of Charles and his taxation demands and partly the strengthening of anti-Catholic feeling which was exacerbated by the Catholicism of Charles’ heir apparent, his brother James, Duke of York. Various attempts to enact legislation to exclude James from the succession failed and so James succeeded as James II of England but within four months the rebellion of Charles’ illegitimate son, the Protestant Duke of Monmouth, brought violence once again to England. After the Duke’s defeat the brutal processes of Judge Jeffrey’s "bloody assizes" and his elevation to Lord Chancellor probably didn’t help Protestant fears and so finally on 5 November 1688 William of Orange, husband of James’s Protestant daughter Mary, lands at Torbay and is in London by 18th December and James begins his exile in France at Christmas. With the exiled king is recently promoted Captain Charles Booth of Breinton and he is in the exalted position of Gentilhomme de la Manche to the Prince of Wales, a kind of Groom of the Chamber. I do not know what financial benefits accrued from this exalted position but probably not a lot. What we do know is that Charles was living in very different conditions to the Cinderella-like situation of his sister Margaret in falling-down Breinton Court.

Louis XIV of France was only too pleased to make life as difficult as possible for his English Protestant neighbours and having a spare palace at St-Germain-en-Laye made it available to the exiled James II. So let us have a tour of the surroundings in which Charles Booth was to spend the rest of his life, a tour made possible as the Chateau is now home to the National Archaeological Museum. The Chateau was much remodelled by Francis 1st. The exiled King James was, himself, not to live there much more than a decade, dying in 1701.

Principal façade of the Vieux Chateau, St-Germain-en-Laye, 2013

Fireplace in the ballroom showing the salamander device of Francis 1st

The various wall tablets would have you believe he is buried in the Eglise Parochiale de St Germain but it seems even at the time of his death he was scattered round the Paris basin and by the time of the French Revolution of 1789 the lead of the various coffers in which various bits of him were buried had more value for bullets and kings were definitely out of fashion. One story has him tipped in the town ditch.17

Body parts distributed at the time of his death:

  • A part of his entrails were placed in the parish church of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, the rest at the Jesuit College of Saint-Omer (now a military hospital).
  • His brain and the fleshy part of his skull were deposited in the Scottish College in Paris (where they can still be found).
  • His heart was placed at the Visitation Convent of Chaillot, in Paris.

However, I divert. Eventually Charles needed money so to whom would he turn but his ‘great and intimate friend’ first cousin William Badham.

The evidence from the depositions in the Chancery case of 1706/7 which took place before William’s death in 1708 and the Exchequer proceedings which took place in 1713 is hard to analyse but there is consistency about one major event and hearsay evidence of a second. The first took place in 1692, possibly on 30 September, the date of the copy court roll attested to in the Chancery proceedings. The coaches for London must have had an extra load if those present all travelled at once, since present from Breinton were Thomas Sowen, Elizabeth and Erasina Booth, Philip and George Monson, Henry Jones, William Snead and William Badham. The meeting was at the Redstrake Tree in Chancellors Alley. Hopefully, there was a good fire to fend off the autumn chill. Possibly this was Chancery Lane itself or off the same. I have been unable to locate a Chancellors Alley on contemporary maps. Also present was Richard Pursell from Clifford’s Inn, now William’s agent, and the man of the moment Charles Booth. It is difficult to know what level of risk was involved for Charles in crossing the channel to England but presumably he was vulnerable to arrest for treason. Certainly this would be a rare opportunity for his sisters to see him. At this meeting Charles surrendered all his copyhold under the Dean and as we have seen, according to William Snead a copyhold under the Vicars Choral. Henry Jones says that for this he received £200 and also signed an obligation to William for £75. William Snead says in all about £250 but as Henry seems to have provided some of the money we can probably trust his figures. At 2005 prices this would be about £25,000, perhaps £32,000 in 2014.18 Whilst we are looking at money, William Snead in his 1706/7 evidence says the Booth holdings in Upper Breinton from the Dean and Vicars Choral together yielded about £30 per annum.

In terms of the timing we note that Charles’ father was not long dead and so Charles’ title was clear. The evidence for the second transaction relies on one main witness, Elizabeth Taylor, widow of William who says in the Exchequer proceedings that her husband witnessed a bill dated 15 July 3 King William III, ie 1692, between Richard Pursell of Clifford’s Inn and a second obligation to William Badham. Both of these could have happened at the meeting at the Redstrake Tree but the date suggests this was at a different time. Also William Taylor is not mentioned in the list of people present at that September meeting, so there could have been other money passing over to Charles. Mrs William Taylor also says in 1713 that about 14 years ago her husband went abroad with William Badham and saw Charles Booth seal two documents and believed William bought Lower Breynton, ie the Treasurer’s manor, Breinton Court, adjoining William Badham’s house. William Snead also gives evidence in relation to documents sealed by Charles Booth in 11 King William III (1698/9). The interrogatory questions actually mention Calais as the destination for this meeting so possibly it was safer for William to risk the perils of the sea and go to France than for Charles to risk a visit to London. We hope his arrival was less fraught than the engraving suggests!

Calais Harbour; The Illustrated London News, 11 March 1843, p.171

This channel crossing would have been in about 1699 and could well have been occasioned by Charles needing money for his engagement to Barbara Symes whom he was to marry on 3rd February 1701, although there is no record of any amounts of money changing hands. The marriage took place "en face de notre mere Sainte Eglise" and was blessed with a first child Mary Elizabeth baptised 20 December 1701, three months after the death of James II. It is rather sad to think that even if invited William could probably not have safely gone to his cousin’s wedding. At about this time William was acting as Under Sheriff for the county and would have been liable to swear the Association Oath as a public official and also he was acting as an attorney for the Vicars Choral of the Cathedral, obviously a part of the ecclesiastical establishment of the Church in England. Mary’s godmother was Princess Louise Mary, daughter of James II by his second wife Mary of Modena and her godfather was Duke de Berwick, the illegitimate son of James II by Arabella Churchill, daughter of the then Sir Winston Churchill and sister of the first Duke of Marlborough.

Baptismal entry from the parochial records of St Germain
with acknowledgement to the Archives Yvelines

Perhaps of greater significance to our story was the birth of the next child whose baptism record, (above) like the rest of the records from St Germain, gives the French form of his names, ie as Jacques Charles Booth. He has only one godparent, perhaps because it would be an insult to think the would-be King of England needed a back-up! Said godparent signed the register Jacques R. The ceremony took place in the Chapel of the Vieux Chateau which still exists as part of the edifice.

Vieux Chapel from outside

The full compliment of Charles and Barbara’s offspring is shown in the chart below, nine children in all are recorded as being baptised at St Germain and the images may be seen on the Archives Yvelines website from microfilm copies made by the Church of Latter Day Saints.19

Vieux Chapel from courtyard

Family Conflict

So we have Charles settled in the Jacobite and Catholic community at St Germain and William equally bedded in the fabric of Protestant England, but having had a mother from a Catholic family and a first cousin high in the Jacobite court in exile. Although he was obviously close to his cousin, to take the risks he did, does make me wonder if he was a Jacobite at heart. It is about this time that Charles’ youngest sister, Margaret, starts to challenge William in the courts and possibly this was because she now knew there was a Booth heir. We know she took cases to the local assizes and in about 1705 had some sort of judgment under which the then Under Sheriff, Thomas Bayley, gave her possession of certain lands and it looks as if when William became in turn Under Sheriff he took them back! We have seen some of the evidence in the Chancery proceedings but it is not clear precisely what Margaret was complaining about. We do know that at least one of the sisters (Ann) believed the trust for Margaret was for the Breinton Court estate and it is entirely likely Margaret believed so too. This is confirmed by her disputing a small piece of land that adjoined William’s house called, according to some, the fflingate and to another, Calves close. It seems that William put a door through his court wall into this close and ripped up a quickthorn hedge which divided it from his land. Margaret’s father had turned it into a crab apple orchard but William turned it over to beans.

Margaret is also described as making it difficult for William to carry out the work needed to the court when he had three bays demolished and repaired the chimney and kitchen part of the house rendering it tenantable. It doesn’t say a great deal about the care Margaret’s father gave to the house but we need to remember the effects of the Civil War and sequestration of Margaret’s grandfather’s income.

There is one piece of evidence that William may have been cheating his cousin. At the 1713 hearings at the sign of the Shipp in Hereford, Thomas Carpenter says that he was taken prisoner whilst on service in Spain, possibly under the Duke of Berwick’s guns. He was taken to Paris and whilst there Charles Booth came to him as a Herefordshire man and told him

his own affairs having for some time kept him from England and his inheritances being such as to oblige him secretly to intrust the said kinsman Wm Badham with the care and management of his estate. Said William has for some years and ’til lately accompted him for the profits therof but this has long since ceased.

By this time, William is dead so unable to answer this accusation but apart from the inconsistency between "until lately" and "long since ceased" the idea that a Jacobite would unburden himself to a Protestant soldier stretches my credulity somewhat, but then as a Badham I am biased!
Even if the accusation is true, it doesn’t prove William was doing him down and in the long term the outcome of William’s will was that the Court went legally to Margaret and Charles’ heir James. Interestingly James was to become a lawyer and is described as the father of modern conveyancing and as "Being well versed in the knowledge of the penal statutes affecting Roman Catholics, he was singularly successful in protecting his clients from their many intricacies." 20 His "conversion" to the doctrines of the Church of England by William’s brother-in-law clearly paid off. Several deponents give evidence that William had often offered to pass over any lands that Margaret could claim a good title to without needing to go to court but he, no doubt, did so in the secure lawyer’s knowledge of the deeds and manorial records sitting in the Cathedral offices. We do not know how much of the truth Charles conveyed to his sisters about his selling off the family silver; certainly we know that Margaret and Ann were not aware that the Court had been passed on to Charles. Conceivably the revelations to Thomas Carpenter in a Paris POW prison might have been a ploy to keep Margaret off the scent.

Margaret didn’t enamour herself to the neighbours because during the dispute William kept off the disputed lands and when for about 11 years she had possession she neglected the coppicing and hedges. William Snead says the ‘Neighbours are forced to make good her fences for their owne security’ and that whilst he had possession William was a good husbandman to the land.21 Deponents also say that neither John Booth nor his daughter have honoured the requirement to present terriers of their holdings and, as we have seen, are said to have declared they couldn’t distinguish one holding from another. Amongst the details we find that two fallen Elms were worth about 15 shillings excluding the workmanship thereof. Thomas Madley, a Breinton carpenter in 1713 deposes22 that the dwelling house was part fallen and very much decayed. William had employed him to take down three timber bays and he believes William had used part of the timbers to repair the kitchen part of the house and used some for himself, value about 40 to 50 shillings. William ordered him to cut down about 10 oaks and ash trees and sapling worth about 5 shillings apiece. These were from a copse called the Hill, probably on Vicars Choral land, possibly the copyhold transferred to William at the Redstrake Tree.

We need to go back briefly to the sequence by which the Treasurer’s Breinton Court holdings were passed down. You will remember that they were put in trust for Charles by the agency of Thomas Buckley and William Badham as joint trustees. When the lease was due for renewal Thomas refused to be a part of it and the new lease granted on 12 June 169923 says as much and renews the lease solely to William. We can’t know for certain why Thomas refused but the previous year had seen the enactment of the The Popery Act 1698 (11 Will. III, c. 4). This was An act for the further preventing the growth of Popery; in which it was enacted that Catholics over 18 not taking the Oath of Supremacy and Allegiance and making the Declaration against Popery could not inherit or purchase any lands. Any lands devised to a Catholic who refused to take the oaths should pass to the next of kin who happened to be a Protestant. William made his will on 11 March 1708/9 and died before November 1709. It is against this background that we need to interpret the contents of William’s will.24 This is based on the register copy of the will in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury but there are signs that the copy is not a good one and in any case the local Herefordshire topography would be unknown to the copyist. An indication of this weakness in the copying is shown by the marginal insertions in the quotations below, shown by ^. Text repeated here is taken from that copy.

William made his will on 11 March 1708/9 and makes his claim to his Breinton heritage and holding of the chancel under the Dean by wishing to buried there in his father’s grave where, in spite of the Victorian rebuild, they may still lie. To deal with the small bequests first:

Unto all and singular my Godchildren who shall Demand the same within a Yeare after my Decease the Sume of Twenty Shillings apeice To my Cozen William Snead of the Said Parish To Richard Welsh of the City of Hereford Barber Surgeon and James Powell of the Seven Stars the summe of ffive pounds apeice To every servant ^(now) living with me ffive shillings apeice and every Such who hath lived with me above Ten Years the Sume of Tenn Shillings and to my Maid Hester attending in my Sicknesse the Sume of Thirty ^(shillings) To every Labourer in Husbandry and Workman in the House at my own Dyett Two shillings Six pence apeice.

The following bequest gives a feel of the life to be had in Breinton at that time and introduces William Elfe who will appear again in this story.

Item I give and Bequeath to the said Oswald Andrews my Lesser Grey Horse To William Elfe now living with me my Mare which I ride with a saddle and Bridle Two of my choicest Guns one Steel Bow such Books as I have at home by me And the sume of fforty pounds parte of the Sume I re?d (retained?) with him as a Clarke.

Amongst a number of other small bequests to individuals, including the requirement that his executors keep Old Thomas Hodge’s cottage in repair, 10 shillings to four named workmen and servants and the same sum each Christmas to Abraham and William Taylor and Milbrow Preece for "cloathing". In a few of these individuals we see our deponents or their relatives and get an idea of their probable loyalties and bias! William also mentions the following charitable enterprise:

Whereas I have been long possessed of a Messuage and Lands called the Red Lyon in Hereford formerly Given for the Releife and Maintenance of six poor Women in Hereford and for the Improvement of the said Charity have Directed Three Stables to be Built I desire the same may be performed by Midsummer next That old John Mathews wife now an inhabitant there may have fifty shillings per year during her life as ^(also) all others to be named and appointed to Receive the Charity the Nomination wherein I desire may continue and be Vested in the said Oswald Andrewes and Alice Shawe Unless some Just cause of their unfaire dealing shall be Given in opposition thereto.

In relation to his landholdings he says because "these nearest in Relation to the said Testator having Wasted and consumed their own Estate and the said Testator have little hopes they will preserve his", he has surrendered to his will his lands held under the Treasurer where he lives and granted them to Alice Shaw and Oswald Andrews, Clerk. Oswald doesn’t appear again in later deeds I have seen and it may be this was because at that time Alice was under age. Later in the will he goes on to deal with the property he had from cousin Charles:

Whereas my Kinsman Charles Booth hath conveyed all his Estate in the field of the Mannor of Breynton I doe hereby Give Devise and Bequeath the same to the Said Alice Shawe and Oswald Andrews with the Right of Renewall to the Same.

To this he adds all his other lands within the several parishes of Breynton, Stretton (Clemyer?) Bridge, Bodenham or Elsewhere and devises them to Alice Shawe. He then adds an important rider to the effect that if Charles either returns to his Native Country or that he and his next heirs conform to the established church, the Breinton property just mentioned goes to Alice only for her life and then to "Charles Booth and his Heires soe conforming". Given the anti-Catholic legislation of the time I can’t see that he could have legally done anything else. He rounds off the loose ends by referring to the Breinton estate from the Dean surrendered by Charles to Henry Jones (in trust for William) and saying that because of the unjust claims of the Booth sisters the said Henry was unwilling to put up the money "to supply the occasions of the said Charles", so he procured the money instead and wants the said estate resurrendered to Alice, his sole executrix.



It seems that William’s will had the desired effect because by the time of the 1717 proceedings we find that nine-year-old James Charles Booth has returned from France to live with his aunt Margaret and is receiving good Protestant instruction at the hands of William’s brother-in-law Robert Taylor, Vicar of Eaton Bishop. It is to be hoped the difference between the Vieux Chateau and, thanks to William, the now habitable tenament of Breinton Court was not too much of a shock. On 21st April 1716 Thomas Gwillym, Treasurer of the Cathedral grants to Margaret and her nephew James a 21-year lease of the Manor of Breinton and the lands in Lugg Meadow, that is, of the family seat Breinton Court. Interestingly, James’s father is described as deceased, although we know he was still producing children by 1719, died at the Vieux Chateau and was "inhumé" on 16 October 1740. There is a further twist to this tale in that Alice Shawe married the much younger William Elfe who eventually held the lands Alice inherited from William. He also became the holder of the Manor at Warham and died a rich man in 1750. Perhaps he learned his financial acumen from his master. He, too was childless, and like William, left a large proportion of his estate to his housekeeper, Mrs Mary Wenland. A further possible twist is that it is probable that Alice was a sister-in-law or niece of Frances Booth, an aunt of Charles who married Walter Shaw of the Graig.25

It is undoubtedly true, because we have been able to access such a range of records, both national and local, that William must be the earliest individual about whom we have such details of his domestic circumstances and family activity. By examining these records alongside the turbulences of the period in which he and his father lived we can have some notion of how he would be affected by them. We can picture him off hunting on his mare with best gun and steel bow, passing on work to his clerk William Elfe, looking after his estate workers and organising clandestine meetings in London. We see him taking passage across the seas to meet the "occasions" of his affectionate cousin Charles and sadly dying relatively young more than 30 years before Charles and before the future of his nephew James was sorted out. Through it all I sense an individual with a strong personal identity. We can only guess about his possible Jacobite sympathies and finally imagine him being buried in the chancel at Breinton, in a church still set in a rural idyll two miles from Hereford City centre and the ‘joys’ of Debenhams and TK Maxx. I wonder if Margaret Booth attended the funeral?

St. Michael’s Breinton, Hereford City 2 miles


© Peter Badham 2 April 2015


1 The National Archives (TNA) C 24/1013, no.14. The name may have been Richard Peeres rather than Pursell.  
2 Herefordshire Archives BC 79/17/14.  
3 Hereford Cathedral Archives (HCA) 4704 ii (I would like to acknowledge the work of Charlotte Austin in extracting from this and the other HCA references.).  
4 Herefordshire Archives BC 79/17/14.  
5 Whitehead, D. and Shoesmith, R. James Wathen’s Herefordshire 1770–1820. A collection of his sketches and paintings. Logaston Press, 1994; Widemarsh Gate, Inside view, 6th June 1798 and View from NE 9th June 1798. Reproduced by kind permission of Logaston Press. The originals are at Herefordshire Archives.  
6 British Library Harleian MS 7189 "Certain Observations", f243r.  
7 Ross, D. Royalist, but…; Herefordshire in the English Civil War, 1640-51, Logaston Press, 2012.  
8 Calendar of State Papers Domestic: James II, 1687-9 (1972), no.718.  
9 Robinson, C. A History of the Mansions and Manors of Herefordshire, Logaston Press, reprint 2001. See Kinnersley, p.186.  
10 TNA E 134/12and13Anne-Hil22; Margarett Booth and James Charles Booth Complainants; William Elfe, his wife Alice and Thomas Jones Defendants.  
11 HCA D578.  
12 TNA C 22/569/7.  
13 HCA D650.  
14 TNA C 22/569/7.  
15 HCA D567.  
16 TNA C 22/569/7, document 4, first deponent.  
17 Landru, P. Les Stuart: une dynastie en exil, Cimetières de France et dailleurs,   http://www.landrucimetieres.fr/spip/spip.php?article2642, accessed 5 June 2014.  
18 TNA Currency converter to 2005 and   www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/bills/article-1633409/Historic-inflation-calculator-value-money-changed-1900.html to 2014, accessed 4 June 2014.  
19 Registres paroissiaux de Saint-Germain-en-Laye (Seine-et-Oise), 1550-1802,   http://archives.yvelines.fr/archives  
20 Cooke, W. QC. Collections Towards the History and Antiquities of the County of Hereford in continuation of Duncomb’s history; Hundred of Grimsworth Part 1, Murray 1886, p.12.  
21 C 22/569/7, document 4, 18 October 1706.  
22 E 134/12and13Anne-Hil22.  
23 HCA D567/8 12 June 1699.  
24 TNA PROB 11/511/239.  
25 For suggestive evidence see will of James Shaw of Grossmont, Co. Monmouth. HRO F37/159, 25 April 1651.