Bull family of the New Forest

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This page traces the ancestral line of the Bull family of Boldre, Hants in the early 19th century back to Ringwood in Elizabethan times.


The Bulls of Boldre

On 21 Jul 1785, Henry Thomas married Mary Bull at Beaulieu, Hants.[1] Henry and Mary are my 5× great grandparents. Three children were baptised at Beaulieu: Mary (bp 20 Nov 1785), James (bp 28 Dec 1788) and Elizabeth (bp 13 Jan 1791).[2] Henry was alive on the 1841 census, an agricultural labourer, aged 80–85, and living with a 40–45-year-old Charles Bull who was presumably a younger son, although I can find no suitable baptism. They were living in Beaulieu Rails, the part of the ancient parish of Boldre now known as East Boldre, and in the adjacent property were Henry's daughter son-in-law and daughter, William and Elizabeth Harding.[3] Henry's age in 1841 is consistent with a baptism on 25 Dec 1757 at Beaulieu, son of James and Mary Thomas.[2] I have not managed to trace the Thomas family back before this.

A Mary Thomas was buried at Beaulieu on 12 Dec 1831, aged 75.[4] This must be Henry's wife, and it nicely matches a baptism at Boldre on 22 Aug 1756 for a Mary Bull, daughter of Charles.[2] The mother's name is not given, but as a Charles Bull married a Sarah Monger at Boldre on 28 Aug 1755,[1] it seems probable that Mary was their first child. The register lists subsequent children in which the mother is given: George (bp 16 Nov 1760), Charles (bp 30 Sep 1764) and Lucy (bp 11 Dec 1774).[2]

Confusingly, there may have been several Charles Bulls having children in Boldre at this time as on 17 Apr 1763 a John son of Charles and Mary was baptised, and on 4 Oct 1767 a Martha daughter of Charles and Elizabeth was baptised.[2] I have no idea who these other two Charles are, and I can see no unexplained baptisms, marriages or burials of any other Charles Bull. My initial feeling is that Sarah Monger, Mary and Elizabeth are all the same person. It cannot be that Sarah died and Charles remarried twice, as Charles and Sarah appear as parents in 1764 and 1774 again. Probably either the person writing up the register made mistakes, or Sarah used several names. In any case, given that Mary was born a little under a year after Charles and Sarah's marriage, it seems fairly sure that they are her parents.

I hope this uncertainty might be resolved by reading the will of Charles Bull of Boldre, carpenter, proved at Winchester in 1792;[5] hopefully I'll find time to do that soon. I suspect that Charles is the Charles Bull who was buried on 6 Nov 1774 at Boldre, and his wife Sarah was buried there on 22 Jun 1791. Sadly neither burial gives an age.[4] It sometimes happened that probate was delayed until the wife's death. If this is my ancestor's will, it gives his profession and may clarify whether John and Martha are his children.

It's very tempting to assume that Charles, the husband of Sarah Monger, is the Charles Bull who was baptised on 18 Dec 1726 at Boldre, son of another Charles.[6] My only reason for not considering that certain is the possibility note above that there may have been more than one Charles Bull of a similar age: If so, the 1726 baptism could be for another Charles.

The 1726 baptism is one of two children of (the older) Charles at this time: the other is a Betty Bull on 13 Jan 1721/2.[6] (Almost certainly Betty died as an infant and was buried on 12 Apr 1722.[4]) Neither baptism gives the mother's name, but there is a marriage on 15 Jul 1717 at Boldre between Charles Bull and Margaret Barns.[7] It seems that they were the only Bull family in Boldre at the time, so on the face of it, it seems pretty likely that Charles and Margaret are the parents of the younger Charles, and the grandparents of Mary Thomas née Bull.

I have found no sign of a burial for either Charles or Margaret anywhere in the Boldre area,[4] nor a second marriage for Margaret.[7][1] That worries me a little as it suggests something is missing from my understanding of the family.

The Bulls of Beaulieu

The Charles Bull who married Margaret Barns was probably the one baptised 27 Mar 1694 at Beaulieu, the neighbouring parish to Boldre, son of Mr Charles Bull. Again, the mother is not named. He is the first of a series of eight children of Mr Charles baptised at Beaulieu: Charles (27 Mar 1694), Mary (7 Nov 1695), Elizabeth (28 Feb 1696/7), Lovell (1 Oct 1700), Mary (28 Dec 1702), John (23 May 1706), Elizabeth ([illegible] Jun 1710) and Robert (11 Oct 1713).[6] On 27 Dec 1692 a Charles Bull married Mary Braxton in Beaulieu.[7] The will of Mary's father, Robert Braxton of Milford, yeoman,[8] confirms that she was still alive and surnamed Bull in 1704, so I'm satisfied that Mary Braxton is the mother of these children — and certainly of Charles, the eldest child and my ancestor.

A 1731 Chancery suit between Charles Bull, gentleman, and Robert Braxton, executor of Charles Braxton, deceased, provides a further confirmation of these relationships.[9] The issue at question seems to have been whether Charles Bull had repaid a mortgage leant to him by Charles Braxton. Charles Braxton was the nephew of the Mary Braxton, and had graduated Bachelor of Arts from Corpus Christi College, Oxford on 31 Jan 1721/2.[10] On the seventh page of the Chancery proceedings can be found evidence given by an Aaron Rawlence [sic]. Aaron says of Charles Braxton "that he had had a great deal of trouble in his cousin Bulls (meaning the complainant) affaires and had paid a great many sumes of money for him". If the Charles Bull mentioned was the cousin of Charles Braxton, then this must be the Charles Bull baptised in 1694 (and who married Margaret Barns), and not the older Charles Bull who married Mary Braxton. Even though the term "cousin" was used loosely at the time, it is unlikely that an uncle would have been described as a cousin. This tell us that Charles Bull, husband of Margaret Barns, was still alive in 1731 and described as a gentleman.

There is a burial of a Charles Bull at Boldre on 2 Aug 1719,[4] and this is probably the Charles who married Mary Braxton.

The Bulls of Ringwood

There are no suitable baptisms for the earliest Charles Bull in Boldre, Beaulieu or any of their neighbouring parishes, but there is one at Ringwood on 28 Sep 1667 for a Charles son of Frances [sic] Bull.[6] The chancery case referred to Charles's son Charles as having property in Ringwood[9] which lends support to the older Charles having been born there. More conclusively, Charles and Mary had a son with the unusual name Lovell Bull who was baptised in 1700 in Beaulieu.[6] On 14 Dec 1656 in Ringwood, Francis Bull married Jane Lovell.[11] No doubt Charles was naming one of his younger sons after his mother. I have an interesting theory on Jane Lovell's ancestry, which if correct (and I should stress it is only a theory) gives her a distant Plantagenet descent from King Henry III.

Francis Bull died in about 1688 when his movable estate (mainly corn and livestock) was valued at £173 11s 10d; probate was granted to his widow Jane.[12] That suggests that he was a comfortably-off yeoman. I have not found record of Francis's burial, but "Jane widow of Frances" was buried on 19 Aug 1695.[4] If there was a tombstone it has not survived,[13] so there is age at death to give an indication of when Francis or Jane were born. However the only plausible baptism is on 23 Oct 1625 at Ringwood, son of Thomas.[14]

Thomas Bull was a husbandman according to his 1638 inventory which valued his movable estate at £39 15s 6d; probate went to his widow Jane.[15] He married Jane Pretchett (perhaps Pritchet?) on 14 Jun 1624 at Ringwood,[11] and three children are recorded being baptised at Ringwood: the above-mentioned Francis, Jane (26 Feb 1631/2) and Joane (19 Oct 1634).[14]

As for Francis, there's no definite indication of when Thomas was born, but a baptism on 20 Aug 1598 at Ringwood for a Thomas son of Edmond [sic] seems most likely. Seven children of Edmund Bull were baptised at Ringwood: Susanne (18 May 1595), William (18 Apr 1596), Mary (15 May 1597), Thomas (20 Aug 1598), Christopher (05 Apr 1601), Edmund (13 May 1604) and John (18 Oct 1607).[14] An Edmund Bull was buried there on 16 Aug 1632, but it's unclear whether this is the father or the son.[4]

(Many online family trees on Ancestry claim to go one generation further, by saying Edmund was born in 1575, the son of William Bull and Margaret Lyne.[16] Needless to say, none of the trees provide a source. William and Margaret were married on 4 Nov 1577 at Ringwood,[11] so if the 1575 date is accurate, Edmund was born several years before his parents' marriage. Or if 1575 was just an estimate and he was born shortly after the marriage, he was only 17½ when his first child was born in about May 1595. Either way it seems improbable, and there are no baptisms for Edmund, either with the surname Bull or Lyne at around this time.[14] Most likely, a researcher saw that William and Margaret were the only Bull family with children baptised at Ringwood before Edmund's own children, and assumed they must be his parents. Then, as often happens on Ancestry, this got copied by scores of researchers without thought. Some trees give Edmund's wife's name as Sarah Beeston,[16] while others say it was Kathryn Edmonds.[17] There seems to be no evidence supporting either of these.)

Sources consulted

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Hampshire Genealogical Society. Hampshire Marriage Index: 1754–1837, CD-ROM database. 2009.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Hampshire Genealogical Society. Hampshire Baptism Index: 1752–1812, CD-ROM database. 2011.
  3. National Archives. 1841 Census Returns for England, Hampshire, Boldre, enumeration district 8 ("Beaulieu Rails"). (HO 107/393/8), fol. 6, p. 6. Digital image. Ancestry.com : accessed 1 Nov 2012.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 Hampshire Genealogical Society. Hampshire Burial Index: 1400–1841, CD-ROM database. 2011.
  5. Hampshire Archives and Local Studies. Online catalogue entry "Will of Charles Bull of Boldre, Hampshire, carpenter" (1792B/05). http://calm.hants.gov.uk/ : accessed 31 Jul 2014.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 Hampshire Genealogical Society. Hampshire Baptism Index: 1660–1751, CD-ROM database. 2012.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Hampshire Genealogical Society. Hampshire Marriage Index: 1660–1753, CD-ROM database. 2010.
  8. National Archives. "Will of Robert Braxton, Yeoman of Milford, Hampshire" (PROB 11/477/205), Records of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury.
  9. 9.0 9.1 National Archives. "Bull v Braxton" (C 11/2778/14), Records created, acquired, and inherited by Chancery.
  10. Foster, Joseph, editor. Alumni Oxonienses: 1715–1886. Oxford: James Parker & Co., 1891; Vol 1, p 154.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Hampshire Genealogical Society. Hampshire Marriage Index: 1538–1659, CD-ROM database. 2011.
  12. Hampshire Archives and Local Studies. "Inventory of Francis Bull of Ringwood, Hampshire" (1688AD/017).
  13. Hampshire Genealogical Society. Hampshire Monumental Inscriptions: Ringwood Area, CD-ROM database. 2008.
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 Hampshire Genealogical Society. Hampshire Baptism Index: 1537–1659, CD-ROM database. 2013.
  15. Hampshire Archives and Local Studies. "Inventory of Thomas Bull of Ringwood, Hampshire, husbandman" (1638AD/033).
  16. 16.0 16.1 Gamelin, Leslie. On-line tree published on Ancestry.com : accessed 6 Sept 2014. Note: this source is quoted as an example of incorrect research.
  17. Goodfellow, Melinda. On-line tree published on Ancestry.com : accessed 6 Sept 2014. Note: this source is quoted as an example of incorrect research.
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