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Boat(w)right Family Genealogy in America

Generation 1

1. JOHN BOTWRIGHT, SR. (Not Yet Determined1) was born ca. 1607 in Fressingfield, Suffolk, England, and died Aft. 1656 in Virginia. He married (1) ELIZABETH CROPLEY December 30, 1632 in Great St. Mary's Church, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England, daughter of EDWARD CROPLEY and MARIAN SHELLEY. She was born 1606 in Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England, and died 1647 in Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England. He married (2) PHOEBE.


John Botwright Signature

John Botwright's actual signature from the 1638 Church Wardens Book of the Great St. Mary's Church.

There are several possibilites as to the parents of John Botwright. I have noted three possibilites below: Source: George Boatright

The first possibility for John's parents is Easdras and Lettice Botwright.

The second possibility for John's parents is John and Elizabeth Botwright.

The third potential parents, Robert and Elizabeth Botwright have been ruled out due to the death of their first son John, born 1609, as indicated by the naming of their second son "John' in 1616. My original guess that Robert and Elizabeth were John's parents was based on the fact that Robert and Elizabeth had a daughter Lettice, baptised 03 Mar 1613 at Thorpe Abbots church. The birth of John in 1616 indicates that John, born 1609 had died prior to 1616. John born in 1616 would be too young to be the same John that married Elizabeth Cropley in 1632.

Our John Botwright next appears in the records of the Churchwardens' Accounts of St. Mary the Great Church in Cambridge in the spring of 1632. John migrated from his birth town of Fressingfield, Suffolk to Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England prior to 1632. John wed Elizabeth Cropley on December 30, 1632 at the Great St. Mary's Church in Cambridge. John is listed in the St. Mary Churchwardens' Accounts in 1632, through 1639 and is elected one of two Churchwardens in 1635. The St. Mary Church records include the marriage of John and Elizabeth, the baptism of three of their children, Elizabeth, John and Lettice, and the burial of the two girls, both who died as toddlers. John and his family then begun attending St. Edward King and Martyr Church in Cambridge, where a son, Edward and two daughters, Elizabeth and Jane were born. All three died young and were buried at St. Edward along with their mother, Elizabeth Cropley Botwright. John remarried to Phoebe and they had one daughter, Mable, who was also baptised at St. Edward's church.

Churchwardens have a duty to represent the laity and co-operate with the incumbent (or, in cases of vacancy, the bishop). They are expected to lead the parishioners by setting a good example and encouraging unity and peace. They have a particular duty to maintain order and peace in the church and churchyard at all times, and especially during services, although this task tends to be devolved to sidesmen.

Churchwardens in some parts of the Anglican Communion are legally responsible for all the property and movable goods belonging to a parish church. They have a duty under ecclesiastical law to keep an up to date terrier of the property[1] and an inventory of the valuables, and to produce these lists for inspection in case of a visitation or other inspection.

Incumbents tend to devolve day-to-day maintenance of church buildings and contents to their churchwardens. Whenever churchwardens spend money to pay tradespeople for repairs etc., the wardens have to record this in a logbook which is inspected along with the inventory.

Source: Wikipedia


Preface - MUCH of the early history of Cambridge has centred in the church and parish of Great St Mary. The churchwardens' book, which is here printed and is the earliest now in the keeping of the parish authorities, is therefore a document of great importance to students of local history. The Council of the Antiquarian Society agreed to publish it if transcribed, and after a very long interval it now appears.

Page 454 - 1632 - According to an order made within the parish of Great St Maryes we whose names are subscribed appointed to revew and amend the Easter booke have accordingly vewed and a mended the same as followeth:

Mr Botewright - 5 shillings

Page 462 - 1633 - The Rate of the parishinars to the Eastar booke for wages and Repars of the Church and othar nesesarey belonging:

Mr Botewright - 5 shillings

Page 470 - 1634 - The Accounts of Richard Mendham and Churchwardens : for ther Resaits and Desbursments April 1634 to the 29th of March 1635:

Mr Botewright - 5 shillings

Church Warden Book St. Mary's Church - Page 474 - 1635 - The election of the Churchwardens of great St Maryes parish in Cambridge was made the one & thirty day of March 1635 for the yeare following according to the ancient custome used in the said parish. The Churchwardens have Chosen as followeth Francis Sheldrake hath chosen Mr Alderman Wickstead and Kichard Mendam hath chosen Mr John Crane and the said Mr Crane hath Chosen to him Mr Phillip woolfe, Mr Williams and Gabriell Harrison and the said Mr Alderman Wickstead hath chosen Mr Alderman Cropley, Mr Joshua Sedgwicke & Edward Dodson & these eight electors have Chosen Mr John Botewright and Mr Richard Ireland Churchwardens of the said parish for the yeare to come according to the custome anciently vsed in the said parish and the said Churchwardens haue chosen for Sidsemen Mr Williams & Mr Dodson.

The twelfth day of aprill 1635

Whereas according to the ancient custome in this parish the Churchwardens for the yeare to come were elected and after by a generall assent of the parishioners then present well approved and for that there is a sute likely to arise by the meanes and instigation of our minister and of Samuell Taylor. It is therefore this day by a generall consent concluded that if any sute shall or doe arise in upon or about the same, then the charge thereof to be borne by the generall charge of the parish and the new elected Church Wardens to follow and take care of the sute if any be and that they shall imediately take advice what is fitt to be done therein.

1635 - The Accounts of Churchwardens : for the Resaits and Desbursments April 1635 to March 1636:

Mr Botewright - 5 shillings

1636 - The Accounts of Churchwardens : for ther Resaits and Desbursments April 1636 to March 1637:

Mr Botewright - 5 shillings

1636 - The Accounts of Churchwardens : for the burial of girl child - 3 shillings.

1637 - The Accounts of Churchwardens : for ther Resaits and Desbursments April 1637 to March 1638:

Mr Botewright - 5 shillings

1638 - The Accounts of Churchwardens : for ther Resaits and Desbursments April 1638 to March 1639:

Mr Bothright - 7 shillings, 6 pence

1638 - The Accounts of Churchwardens 1638: John Botwright signature included in the summary of results and disbursements for the year.

1639 - The Accounts of Churchwardens : for the burial of girl child - 3 shillings, 4 pence.

1639 - The Accounts of Churchwardens : for ther Resaits and Desbursments April 1639 to March 1640:

Mr Boatright - 2 shillings, 6 pence (half a year)

1639 - The Accounts of Churchwardens 1639: John Botwright signature included in the summary of results and disbursements for the year.

1639 - The Accounts of Churchwardens : for the burial of girl child - 3 shillings, 4 pence.

Based on the half year payment for 1639, it appears that John and family moved to St Edward King and Martyr Church during 1639, after the death of Lettice.

The next record of John is a listing in the Royalist Composition Papers, which includes our John Botwright referenced twice; the first he gives his deposition that John Glasscock died in Nov 1646. And more importantly, the second reference includes John's signature - with the similar flourishes at the end of the signature as compared to John's signature above. In both cases John is noted as "Gentleman".

England, Extracted Parish and Court Records 
Text: Botewright, John, 1st Ser., xviii, 700, 711 
Book: Index Nominum to the Royalist Composition Papers. First and Second Series.  
Collection: England: - Index Nominum To The Royalist Composition Papers (A-F) 

"John Botewright gent deposeth that John Glascocke gent sonne of Mris Mary Glascock widow dyed in the parish of St Andrewes Holborne about November 1646. Jo: Botwright"

Royalist Composition Papers
edited by
Queen's College, Oxford.

Few classes of records are better known to the genealogist than those which are styled the Royalist Composition Papers. This is doubtless due in no small measure to the fact that they relate almost wholly to those who suffered severely for their loyalty to King Charles the First. That they are readily consulted, by means of good indexes, has also increased their popularity with those who have access to the Public Record Office. The Royalist Composition Papers are the Records of the Committee for compounding with Delinquents, as those who took the part of the King in the great rebellion, or who professed the Roman Catholic religion, were styled by the Parliamentary party. This committee continued to exist from 1644 to 1657, during which time, to quote Mrs. Everett Green, they obtained "from the delinquents themselves":
1. A confession of their delinquency.
2. A pledge of adherence to the present Government.
3. A full account on oath of their possessions, real and personal.

Whereupon a legal report was made, and they were admitted to compound in proportions, according to their guilt; half the estate was exacted from any delinquent Member of Parliament;

one-sixth from those who had taken part either in the former or later war ; two-sixths or one-third from those who had been active in both wars, etc. Those who were in cities that surrendered on articles of war compounded according to the tenor of those articles.

The fines that were thus imposed by the committee, it is said, amounted to upwards of L1,304,957 pounds. But it is to be noted that this amount, large as it was, did not represent the loss sustained by the King's supporters. Many were not allowed to even compound, and their estates were wholly forfeited, as was the case also with those who had fled the country.

The Royalist Composition Papers are of the greatest interest and value in elucidating the family history, and ascertaining the actual landed and personal property of individuals during the period of the Commonwealth. The original papers are now arranged and bound up in two series, and are referred to by manuscript Indexes. The First Series consists of 7,300 sets of papers, bound in 113 folio volumes. It comprises the correspondence and orders of the Commissioners for sequestration and sale of the estates of the royalist nobility and gentry. The first portion of this series is arranged alphabetically, under the names of the Compounders ; then come the miscellaneous Petitions and Orders; and these again are followed by the Letters and Reports in a County arrangement.

The Second Series, of 3,634 sets of papers, bound in 54 folio volumes, is especially valuable. In these will be found the original particulars given in on oath of the estates and personal property of those royalists who were permitted to compound on payment of a fine, and the amount of the Compositions so levied on them by the Commissioners.

In its original meaning, the term "Gentleman" denoted a man of the lowest rank of the English gentry, standing below an esquire and above a yeoman. By definition, this category included the younger sons of the younger sons of peers and the younger sons of baronets (after this honour's institution in 1611), knights, and esquires in perpetual succession, and thus the term captures the common denominator of gentility (and often armigerousness) shared by both constituents of the English aristocracy: the peerage and the gentry. In this sense, the word equates with the French gentilhomme ("nobleman"), which latter term has been, in Great Britain, long confined to the peerage; Maurice Keen points to the category of "gentlemen" in this context as thus constituting "the nearest contemporary English equivalent of the noblesse of France" (Origins of the English Gentleman, 2002, p. 9).

John Botwright, Jr., son of John Botwright, Sr., traveled to Virginia around 1654 as an indentured servant. Two years later he imported eight individuals including two uncles (Thomas and William Cropley - younger brothers of John Botwright, Sr.'s wife, Elizabeth Cropley) and his father, John Botwright, Sr.

John Botwright land certificate

"Cert. is granted to Mr. John Botwright for four hundred acres of land for ye importeen of William Powell, Thomas Cropley, William Cropley, John Botwright, Henry Farloe, James Cassett, Elizabeth Bridge and Anne Scarlett."

This key record, discovered by Dr. Ron Boatright, records John Botwright Jr. receiving a land certificate for 400 acres for importing eight individuals including his father (John Botwright Sr.) and two uncles (Thomas and William Cropley). There is no subsequent record of a land patent for the 400 acres by John Boatwright, so it is assumed that John sold or traded the land certificate rather than claiming the 400 acres of land. Although another posibility is that John claimed 400 acres in New Kent/Hanover county and those records were destroyed by fire.

The English surname BOTWRIGHT, and its variants BOATWRIGHT, BOTEWRIGHT and BOATRIGHT, is of occupational origin, descriptive of the trade or profession pursued by the initial bearer of this surname. The name is derived from the Old English word "bat" meaning boat, and "wyrhta" meaning wright, and thus, the original bearer would have been a boat builder or ship's carpenter. The Normans were Vikings who began to settle in northern France in the late 9th century. They soon adopted the French language and Christianity. The Normans protected the French coast from foreign attacks. In the year 1066 an army of Normans under Duke William (later called "the Conqueror") crossed the English Channel and defeated the English king Harold at the Battle of Hastings. Among the Normans were ship carpenters known as "Boatwrights". The earliest reference to this surname dates back to the fifteenth century where one John Botewright is recorded as living in Suffolk County, England in 1469. In 1524 one John Botewrighte is listed in the "Subsidy Rolls" of Suffolk.


Elizabeth was baptised 21 Sep 1606 in St. Andrews Church, Isleham, Cambridgeshire, England.

Elizabeth was buried on September 17, 1647 in St. Edward King and Martyr Church, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England.

The Church burial record for Elizabeth includes the comment: "In the South Chancell under a marbell ston that was removed out of the corner at the request of John Bootwright with the consent of Richard Gayner, churchwarden - the clerk had for the performance of his duty, 6 shillings, 8 pence."


2A. i. ELIZABETH BOTWRIGHT, b. ca. 1634 Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England;

d. 1636, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England.

2. ii. JOHN BOTWRIGHT, JR., b. ca. 1635, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England;

d. Bef. 1704, New Kent County, Virginia.

2B. iii. LETTICE BOTWRIGHT, b. ca. 1637, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England;

d. 1639, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England.

2C. iv. EDWARD BOTWRIGHT, b. ca. 1640, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England;

d. 1640, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England.

2D. v. ELIZABETH BOTWRIGHT, b. ca. 1641, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England;

d. 21 Nov 1651, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England.

2E. vi. JANE BOTWRIGHT, b. ca. 1646, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England;

d. 1646, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England.


2F. vii. MABLE BOTWRIGHT, b. ca. 1648, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England.

Boatwright/Boatright Family Genealogy Website
created by George Boatright,
Please e-mail any additions / corrections / comments.

last modified: November 25, 2014


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