Now I am trying to find the "missing link" between the place and the first family to be given the name. While recognising that this is a very "long shot", there is no reason at this stage not to attempt it. The main thing to avoid is jumping to conclusions and assuming that one link is all you need.
Some of the books that have examined English surnames have also looked at old records to find the earliest occurrence of a particular name. This may also be a way of linking the name to a place if the record was early enough. So we can search indexes to old records and see what comes up. Obviously the first (and easiest) are the Parish Registers because they are included in the I.G.I., then as many indexes as possible covering Biographical Dictionaries, Hearth Tax Returns, Visitations, Wills and Obituaries, looking at the particular areas of interest.
Part 1 referred to the concentration of present day Boughtons in the West Norfolk/Cambridge area, so what might the I.G.I. records show for these areas?
Here are a few of the earliest dates from the CD-ROM of the 1994 I.G.I, selecting just those with the name BOUGHTON in the counties of Cambridgeshire and Norfolk. This edition is out of date now, so you will probably find earlier dates by searching online.
**Worth noting that Thomas and Mary had their children christened in Downham (Market?). This could be of interest as they had four children between 1561 and 1566 (William, Margaret, Thomas and Alexander) and Downham is only 6 miles from Boughton.
Another source was "The Dictionary of National Biography" which seems to include names from earliest times. Joan Boughton (d.1494), martyr, was an old widow of eighty years or more, who held certain of Wycliffe's opinions. (An English religious reformer, 1320-1384 whose followers, called Lollards, were suppressed partly for political reasons). She was said to be the mother of a lady named Young, who was suspected of the like doctrines. Joan was burnt at Smithfield, London 28th April 1494.
The "British Biographical Index", 1990, edited by David Bank & Antony Eposito, published by K.G.Sauer, gives a number of Boughtons in the 18th and 19th centuries in various occupations which, because they may have been wealthy and had land and property, could indicate the existence of written pedigrees. Those listed were:-
Based on these entries and looking up the original sources on the microfiches provided with the Index, I thought it was worth searching Burke's Peerage for possible pedigrees. No such luck, for the latest edition had no entries. Ah, but that's an oversight because many of the editions do not repeat the pedigrees, so you must look up the consolidated index. I did, and the Rouse-Boughton's are included in the 103rd edition, published in 1976. And, co-incidentally my searches in the UK telephone directories gave another interesting lead, for rather fortunately, it has been entered as Boughton, Lady E. Rouse.
The Visitations of Norfolk (1563, 1589 and 1613) while having no pedigrees for Boughton (now that would have been a really good find wouldn't it!), mentions in Volume 1 pg.151, "Catherine Boughton, daughter of Edward Boughton, son of Edward Boughton of Bilton in the family of Hewar and Bedingfeld". Here we have an interesting link because Bedingfeld is the surname of the family that lived in Oxborough Hall, about 2 miles E. of the village of Boughton in Norfolk. But the only Bilton within 100 miles is the one just outside Rugby, in Warwickshire. And, would you believe, there are still some Boughtons in that area.
The Visitations of Norfolk, Volume 2, pg.211 says "Sir Edward Boughton of Lawford, County (of) Warwick, 2nd Bart. married secondly, Anne daughter of Sir John Heydon, Governor of Bermuda.
Another mention is Sir William Boughton, Bart, died 28th October 1755, buried at Emneth which is about 1 mile S.E. of Wisbech. (How does this get into the Heraldic Visitations which were only from 1530-1688?)
Another good source is "Historical Manuscripts Commission: Guide to Reports 1911-1957, Part 2 Index of Persons, HMSO 1966". This gives surnames, references and dates (of death or of the referred documents). It also gives some of the alternative spellings for the names quoted. In the case of Boughton it gives Bowghton and Bughton as alternatives. Those listed were:-
Indexes of early wills and obituaries are also useful, if you can then track down the relevant sources.
The earliest actual record from all the above was Thomas Boughton, evidently holding land in Leicestershire and Northamptonshire in 1456.
Bearing in mind that hereditary surnames had been acquired by the majority of large and medium landowners in England by the middle of the 13th century and by many families belonging to various classes between the second half of the 13th Century and the first half of the 14th Century (See R.A.McKinley, A History of British Surnames 1990, pgs.29 and 32), perhaps there should be an earlier record than this.
But he also quotes for the name Boughton (pg. 56), that places for which the spelling is now different were in some cases spelt in the same or a very similar way during the 12th, 13th and 14th centuries when locative surnames were developing. For instance the place names now spelt as Bowden, Boughton and Buckden, often had much the same spelling during this period. This would again point to the need to look for different spellings of this surname.
Also, as we are certainly getting close to an early record, all occurrences of the name should be reviewed even if they do not refer to the part of the country we thought might be of greater interest.
Well, you didn't expect it to be that easy, did you?
Consulting "A Dictionary of English Surnames" by P.H.Reaney, 3rd edit. 1991 with corrections and additions by R.M.Wilson, showed that there are a number of mentions of the surnames across England from 1202. But I have yet to look up the source documents to see what were the exact locations. (Which is what I ought to do).
But here's an interesting reference that I came across,
"Richard Boughton, Sheriff of Leicestershire and Warwickshire died 20th August 1485, was killed while raising Royal Levies for King Richard III". So it's back to the history books to find out more about the events leading up to the battle of Bosworth where King Richard died a few days after Richard Boughton and Henry VII then became King.
Subsequently, on the 16th June 1487, the rebellion against King Henry VII led by John de la Pole, Earl of Lincoln, as senior male representative of the Yorkist line, lost to the King's superior forces at the battle of Stoke. Not only was John de la Pole killed, but a Thomas Boughton as well. Presumably he was a Yorkist as was Richard Boughton, but possibly Thomas had another score to settle with Henry VII if these Boughtons were related. Two down in less than two years - it looks as if things would go against any remaining Boughtons as in those days the King's retribution on family and friends was quick and usually final.
But another source, dealing with the same battle, named him as Sir Thomas Broughton and mentioned that he came from or had influence in Lancashire.
Now this confusion about the name really causes a problem as it won't be easy to get back through the current literature to the original sources. One other source, "Lambert Simnel and the Battle of Stoke", by Michael Bennett was published Gloucester, 1987 (1st edit. 1981, Alan Sutton Publishing?) included contemporary evidence translated for the first time, so that might be worth a look.
So what's the earliest possible occurrence based on the evidence I have?
I also came across further information about the village of Boughton in
Norfolk and the fact that it does have a church and that the parish records
are available. All Saints church with the exception of the 13th Century
square tower was rebuilt in 1872. In the centre of the village is a large
pool of clear water with a sign giving the name of the village at the time of
the Domesday Book. Kelly's Directory of Norfolk for 1916 gives only a few
private and commercial residents; no Boughtons are mentioned.
Fortunately the Norfolk and Norwich Genealogical Society has published a transcription and index of the Boughton Parish Registers in its Monograph Series, No.12 covering 1691-1837. This also makes reference to a booklet entitled "The Story of Boughton" written by Doris E Coates in 1982. There is a copy in the reference book section of the Local Studies department of the rebuilt Norwich Central Library. Although very interesting, it does not mention any early residents who may have had the name Boughton.
The parish register index has no entries for Boughton, Bouton, Bowton or Broughton either. So if they did take the name of the village in which they lived, presumably they moved away before 1691, the start of the register.
The results of some recent searches of the records for nearby parishes does
not show many people with these surnames, either.
But I have looked at a few other records to see if there are signs of these names in earlier years.
As given above, there is a Boughton in Nottinghamshire. I was surprised in
the telephone survey not to have found many Boughton's around it. But with
all the pointers to other areas being more interesting, ignored it.
However this particular Boughton was in existence at the time of the Domesday Book as it mentions " a manor in Bucheton which Edwin had; then Roger de Busli had it."
The Antiquities of Nottinghamshire by Robert Thoroton was republished in 1972 and makes several mentions of records naming early Boughton's:-
From this, I am not too clear if individuals were taking the name of Boughton as a surname or whether (in the earlier years) they were designated as coming from there. It looks very much as if I will have to look at the early Parish Records in the area just as I am (still) doing for Norfolk.
Index to Genealogy pages.
Part 1 Where and how did the name originate?.
Part 3 Birth's, marriages and deaths before 1837.
Part 4 Searchable online documents.
Part 5 The IGI and other comprehensive sources.
Part 6 Links to Surname Lists.
Part 7 Loose Ends.
Part 8 Trees and Tables. (First tree added 28/4/02).
Part 9 Useful References.