Place:Boston, Lincolnshire, England

Watchers
NameBoston
Alt namesBoltolfstonsource: Oxford: English Place Names (1960) p 54
Botuluestansource: Oxford: English Place Names (1960) p 54
Icanhosource: Oxford: English Place Names (1960) p 54
St. Botolph's Townsource: Webster's Geographical Dictionary (1988) p 164
TypeTown, Borough (municipal)
Coordinates52.983°N 0.017°W
Located inLincolnshire, England     (500 - )
Also located inHolland, England     (1889 - 1974)
See alsoBoston District, Lincolnshire, Englanddistrict municipality covering the area since 1974
source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
source: Family History Library Catalog


the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Boston is a town and small port in Lincolnshire, on the east coast of England, approximately 100 miles (160 km) north of London. It is the largest town of the wider Borough of Boston local government district. The town itself had a population of 35,124 at the 2001 census, while the borough had a total population of 66,900, at the ONS mid-2015 estimates. It is due north of Greenwich on the Prime Meridian.

Boston's most notable landmark is St Botolph's Church ("The Stump"), said to be the largest parish church in England, visible for miles around from the flat lands of Lincolnshire. Residents of Boston are known as Bostonians. Emigrants from Boston named several other settlements around the world after the town, most notably Boston, Massachusetts, in the United States.

Contents

History

the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Early history

The town was once held to have been a Roman settlement, but there is no evidence this is the case. Similarly, it is often linked to the monastery established by the Saxon monk Botolph at "Icanhoe" on the Witham in  654 and destroyed by the Vikings in 870, but this is now doubted by modern historians. The early medieval geography of The Fens was much more fluid than it is today and, at that time, the Witham did not flow near the site of Boston. Botolph's establishment is most likely to have been in Suffolk. However, he was a popular missionary and saint to whom many churches between Yorkshire and Sussex are dedicated.

The 1086 Domesday Book does not mention Boston by name, but nearby settlements of the tenant-in-chief Count Alan Rufus of Brittany are covered. Its present territory was probably then part of the grant of Skirbeck, part of the very wealthy manor of Drayton, which before 1066 had been owned by Ralph the Staller, Edward the Confessor's Earl of East Anglia. Skirbeck had two churches and one is likely to have been that dedicated to St Botolph, in what was consequently Botolph's town. Skirbeck is now considered part of Boston, but the name remains, as a church parish and an electoral ward.

The order of importance was the other way round, when the Boston quarter of Skirbeck developed at the head of the Haven, which lies under the present Market Place. At that stage, The Haven was the tidal part of the stream, now represented by the Stone Bridge Drain, which carried the water from the East and West Fens. The line of the road through Wide Bargate, to A52 and A16, is likely to have developed on its marine silt levees. It led, as it does now, to the relatively high ground at Sibsey, and thence to Lindsey.

The reason for the original development of the town, away from the centre of Skirbeck, was that Boston lay on the point where navigable tidal water was alongside the land route, which used the Devensian terminal moraine ridge at Sibsey, between the upland of East Lindsey and the three routes to the south of Boston:

  • The coastal route, on the marine silts, crossed the mouth of Bicker Haven towards Spalding.
  • The Sleaford route, into Kesteven, passed via Swineshead, thence following the old course of the River Slea, on its marine silt levee.
  • The Salters' Way route into Kesteven, left Holland from Donington. This route was much more thoroughly developed, in the later Medieval period, by Bridge End Priory.

The River Witham seems to have joined The Haven after the flood of September 1014, having abandoned the port of Drayton, on what subsequently became known as Bicker Haven. The predecessor of Ralph the Staller owned most of both Skirbeck and Drayton, so it was a relatively simple task to transfer his business from Drayton, but the Domesday Book of 1086 still records his source of income in Boston under the heading of Drayton, so Boston's name is famously not mentioned. The Town Bridge still maintains the pre-flood route, along the old Haven bank.

Growth

After the Norman Conquest, Ralph the Staller's property was taken over by Count Alan. It subsequently came to be attached to the Earldom of Richmond, North Yorkshire, and known as the Richmond Fee. It lay on the left bank of The Haven.

During the eleventh and twelfth centuries, Boston grew into a notable town and port. In 1204, King John vested sole control over the town in his bailiff. That year or the next, he levied a "fifteenth" tax of 6.67% on the moveable goods of merchants in the ports of England: the merchants of Boston paid £780, the highest in the kingdom after London's £836. Thus by the opening of the thirteenth century, it was already significant in trade with the continent of Europe and ranked as a port of the Hanseatic League. Edward III named it a staple port for the wool trade in 1369. Apart from wool, Boston also exported salt, produced locally on the Holland coast, grain, produced up-river, and lead, produced in Derbyshire and brought via Lincoln, up-river.

A quarrel between the local and foreign merchants led to the withdrawal of the Hansards around 1470. Around the same time, the decline of the local guilds and shift towards domestic weaving of English wool (conducted in other areas of the country) led to a near-complete collapse of the town's foreign trade. The silting of the Haven only furthered the town's decline.

At the Dissolution of the Monasteries by Henry VIII during the English Reformation, Boston's Dominican, Franciscan, Carmelite, and Augustinian friaries—erected during the boom years of the 13th and 14th centuries—were all expropriated. The refectory of the Dominican friary was eventually converted into a theatre in 1965 and now houses the Blackfriars Arts Centre.

Henry VIII granted the town its charter in 1545 and Boston had two Members of Parliament from 1552.

17th and 18th centuries

The staple trade made Boston a centre of intellectual influence from the Continent, including the teachings of John Calvin that became known as Calvinism. This, in turn, revolutionised the Christian beliefs and practices of many Bostonians and residents of the neighbouring shires of England. In 1607 a group of pilgrims from Nottinghamshire led by William Brewster and William Bradford attempted to escape pressure to conform with the teaching of the English church by going to the Netherlands from Boston. At that time unsanctioned emigration was illegal, and they were brought before the court in the Guildhall. Most of the pilgrims were released fairly soon and the following year, set sail for the Netherlands, settling in Leiden. In 1620, several of these were among the group who moved to New England in the Mayflower.

Boston remained a hotbed of religious dissent. In 1612 John Cotton became the Vicar of St Botolph's and, although viewed askance by the Church of England for his non-conformist preaching, became responsible for a large increase in Church attendance. He encouraged those who disliked the lack of religious freedom in England to join the Massachusetts Bay Company, and later helped to found the city of Boston, Massachusetts, which he was instrumental in naming. Unable to tolerate the religious situation any longer he eventually emigrated himself in 1633.

At the same time, work on draining the fens to the west of Boston was begun, a scheme which displeased many whose livelihoods were at risk. (One of the sources of livelihood obtained from the fen was fowling, supplying ducks and geese for meat and in addition the processing of their feathers and down for use in mattresses and pillows. The feathery aspect of this is still reflected in the presence of the bedding company named Fogarty, nearby in Fishtoft.) This and the religious friction put Boston into the parliamentarian camp in the Civil War which in England began in 1642. The chief backer of the drainage locally, Lord Lindsey, was shot in the first battle and the fens returned to their accustomed dampness until after 1750.

The later 18th century saw a revival when the Fens began to be effectively drained. The Act of Parliament permitting the embanking and straightening of the fenland Witham was dated 1762. A sluice, called for in the Act, was designed to help scour out The Haven. The land proved to be fertile, and Boston began exporting cereals to London. In 1774 the first financial bank was opened, and in 1776 an Act of Parliament allowed watchmen to begin patrolling the streets at night.

Modern history

In the 19th century, the names of Howden, a firm located near the Grand Sluice; and Tuxford, near the Maud Foster Sluice, were respected among engineers for their steam road locomotives, threshing engines and the like. Howden developed his business from making steam engines for river boats while Tuxford began as a miller and millwright. His mill was once prominent near Skirbeck Church, just to the east of the Maud Foster Drain.

The railway reached the town in 1848, and it was briefly on the main line from London to the North. The area between the Black Sluice and the railway station was mainly railway yard and the railway company's main depôt. The latter facility moved to Doncaster when the modern main line was opened. Boston remained something of a local railway hub well into the 20th century, moving the produce of the district and the trade of the dock, plus the excursion trade to Skegness and similar places. But it was much quieter by the time of the Beeching cuts of the 1960s.

Boston once again became a significant port in trade and fishing in 1884, when the new dock with its associated wharves on The Haven were constructed. It continued as a working port, exporting grain, fertiliser, and importing timber, although much of the fishing trade was moved out in the inter-war period.

During the First World War many of the town's trawlermen, together with those from Grimsby, were taken prisoner after their ships were sunk by German raiders in the North Sea. Their families did not know what had happened to them until late September 1914. The men were taken to Sennelager camp, then on to Ruhleben POW camp where most remained till repatriated in 1918. There is a full report of their homecoming in the Lincolnshire Standard newspaper, January 1918. Meanwhile, the port was used by hospital ships and some 4,000 sick or wounded troops passed through Boston.

The first cinema opened in 1910, and in 1913 a new Town Bridge was constructed. Central Park was purchased in 1919, and is now one of the focal points of the town. Electricity came to Boston during the early part of the century, and electrical street lighting was provided from 1924.

In the Second World War the borough lost 17 civilian dead through enemy air raids. A memorial in Boston Cemetery commemorates them.[1]

The Haven Bridge, which now carries the two trunk roads over the river, was opened in 1966, and a new dual carriageway, John Adams Way, was built in 1976-8 to take traffic away from the town centre. A shopping centre, named the Pescod Centre, opened in 2004, bringing many new shops into the town.

Research Tips

Lincolnshire is very low-lying and land had to be drained for agriculture to be successful. The larger drainage channels, many of which are parallel to each other, became boundaries between parishes. Many parishes are long and thin for this reason.

There is much fenland in Lincolnshire, particularly in the Boston and Horncastle areas. Fenlands tended to be extraparochial before the mid 1850s, and although many sections were identified with names and given the title "civil parish", little information has been found about them. Many appear to be abolished in 1906, but the parish which adopts them is not given in A Vision of Britain through Time. Note the WR category Lincolnshire Fenland Settlements which is an attempt to organize them into one list.

From 1889 until 1974 Lincolnshire was divided into three administrative counties: Parts of Holland, Parts of Kesteven and Parts of Lindsey. These formal names do not fit with modern grammatical usage, but that is what they were, nonetheless. In 1974 the northern section of Lindsey, along with the East Riding of Yorkshire, became the short-lived county of Humberside. In 1996 Humberside was abolished and the area previously in Lincolnshire was made into the two "unitary authorities" of North Lincolnshire and North East Lincolnshire. The remainder of Lincolnshire was divided into "non-metropolitan districts" or "district municipalities" in 1974. Towns, villages and parishes are all listed under Lincolnshire, but the present-day districts are also given so that places in this large county can more easily be located and linked to their wider neighbourhoods. See the WR placepage Lincolnshire, England and the smaller divisions for further explanation.

  • Maps provided online by A Vision of Britain through Time show all the parishes and many villages and hamlets. (Small local reorganization of parishes took place in the 1930s led to differences between the latter two maps.):
  • FindMyPast now has a large collection of Lincolnshire baptisms, banns, marriages and burials now available to search by name, year, place and parent's names. This is a pay website. (blog dated 16 Sep 2016)
  • GENUKI's page on Lincolnshire's Archive Service gives addresses, phone numbers, webpages for all archive offices, museums and libraries in Lincolnshire which may store old records and also presents a list entitled "Hints for the new researcher" which may include details of which you are not aware. These suggestions are becoming more and more outdated, but there's no telling what may be expected in a small library.
  • GENUKI also has pages of information on individual parishes, particularly ecclesiastical parishes. The author may just come up with morsels not supplied in other internet-available sources.
  • Deceased Online now has records for 11 cemeteries and two crematoria in Lincolnshire. This includes Grimsby's Scartho Road cemetery, Scartho Road crematorium, and Cleethorpes cemetery, council records for the City of Lincoln and Gainsborough, and older church records from The National Archives for St Michael's in Stamford, and St Mark's in Lincoln, dating back to 1707. This is a pay website.
This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original content was at Boston, Lincolnshire. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with WeRelate, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.