BODDINGTON, George (1646-1719), of Little St. Helen’s, Bishopsgate, London
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Family and Education
b. 15 Oct. 1646, 2nd but 1st surv. s. of George Boddington, Clothworker, of St. Margaret Lothbury, common councilman of London 1669, by Hannah, da. of Thomas Adams of Philpot Lane, St. Clement Eastcheap. m. (1) 19 Dec. 1671 (with £2,000), Mary (d. 1673), da. of William Steele† of Hatton Garden, Mdx., recorder of London 1649–55, ld. ch. baron of the Exchequer 1655–6, ld. chancellor [I] 1656–60, 1da. d.v.p.; (2) 2 July 1674 (with £3,000), Hannah (d. 1699), da. of John Cope, Haberdasher, of Cannon Street, 11s. (8 d.v.p.) 3da. (2 d.v.p.). suc. fa. 1671.1
Freeman, Clothworkers’ Co. 1667, master 1705; member, Levant Co. 1667, asst. 1696, 1701, 1703; member, Eastland Co. 1676; common councilman, London 1689; gov. Greenland Co. 1693; dir. Bank of England 1694–5.2
Commr. taking subscriptions to land bank 1696.3
Boddington’s grandfather ‘wasted’ a good estate at Brinklow in Warwickshire ‘by gaming and extravagant living’, and ‘was thereby constrained to sell all he had to pay his debts, being then left in mean circumstances’. He put out his sons as apprentices in London and the eldest, George, father of the Member, succeeded in his trade as a packer sufficiently to repay this investment with financial support. Assisted by a maternal uncle, he established himself in a house in St. Margaret Lothbury, and by 1666 had acquired seven other properties in the vicinity. All were destroyed in the Great Fire, and although he was able to rebuild his business and his ‘mansion house’ his health was said to have been permanently impaired in the calamity, through ‘his great exertions in removing his goods of trade’. A staunch Protestant, whose enthusiasm for the restored monarchy vanished within a year as he became convinced that the King and Duke of York were Catholics, he had married a lady of pronounced Puritan leanings. Their son recorded how his mother
was of an excellent spirit, and . . . a great reader, and worker, and took all opportunities to instruct and instil good principles of religion and morals into us her children, and would often take us singly to her apartment and pray with us.
The young George, after demonstrating his ineptitude for more scholarly pursuits, was ‘put . . . to a writing school’ and, ‘having made a small progress there in arithmetic’, embarked in his father’s business. A diligent youth, ‘always first and last up in the house’, he learnt ‘merchants’ accounts’ and in 1664 began on his own, in a very small way. The next few years proved a time of crisis for the family, and for George in particular. In 1665 he underwent an experience of religious awakening, ‘through the abounding grace of God’, as he himself put it, and within a year or so attached himself to an Independent congregation, ‘being under conviction that it was incumbent on me to be found walking in all the ordinances of God’. His career also took a new turn, as he was first apprenticed to a Flanders merchant and then, in the wake of the disaster wreaked by the Fire, set up in the Turkey trade, the initial capital of £1,000 somehow supplied by his father.4
Despite problems, as in 1681 when a consignment of ‘country dressed cloths’ that he intended for export to the Levant were seized ‘for ill workmanship’ and he was fined by the Clothworkers’ Company, Boddington prospered. He was even able to cope with serious losses in the Smyrna convoy in 1693, in which he had risked ‘the greatest part of my estate’. Happily, he wrote, ‘the Lord of his great grace gave me a frame to praise him for taking away’. Earlier that year he had easily defeated Sir William Scawen* in an election for the governorship of the Greenland Company. Chosen one of the founding directors of the Bank, he soon found that this responsibility ‘took up too much of my time’, so disqualified himself in 1695 by selling his stock. His contribution of £500 the previous January to the loan on the security of the excise had not been among the more substantial. He remained a devout Nonconformist, although transferring his allegiance after his second marriage to the church ministered by John Collins, a Congregationalist and an associate of his new wife’s stepfather Ralph Venning, also a Congregational pastor. Indeed, Boddington served as manager and treasurer of the Congregational fund. When elected to the common council of London in 1689 he lasted only two months before disqualification for refusing the Test. However, he may well have become an occasional conformist subsequently, since he acted as a churchwarden of St. Helen’s, Bishopsgate in 1696 and 1700. Returned to Parliament for Wilton in 1702 with Sir John Hawles*, in a disputed election notorious for the participation of numerous Dissenting burgesses, he was unseated on petition and did not stand again.5
Boddington’s later years were dominated by the twin preoccupations of business and family, and were marked by frequent visits to Bath, for his health. In 1704 he acquired from a bankrupt brother a house at Enfield, Middlesex, and went to live there. He died 10 May 1719, bequeathing in his will in addition to the £16,000 or so already made over to his children a further sum of more than £4,000, together with various leasehold properties in the City: his father’s house in Lothbury to one son, his own ‘mansion’ in Little St. Helen’s to another, the Sun Tavern in New Fish Street and other shops and houses.6
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Author: D. W. Hayton
- 1. Fam. Min. Gent. (Harl. Soc. xxxix), 1112–13; J. R. Woodhead, Rulers of London (London and Mdx. Arch. Soc.), pp. 33–34; Foss, Judges, vi. 489–92; DNB (Steele, William); Guildhall Lib. ms 10823/1, ff. 5–7, 26; 10823/2, ff. 8–11; Misc. Gen. et Her. n.s. ii. 547.
- 2. Guildhall Lib. ms 10823/1, ff. 11, 21–23; info. from Prof. H. Horwitz; N. and Q. clxxix. 39.
- 3. CJ, xii. 509.
- 4. Misc. Gen. et Her. 545; Fam. Min. Gent. 1112; Guildhall Lib. ms 10823/1, ff. 3, 18–21.
- 5. T. Girtin, The Golden Ram, 152; Guildhall Lib. ms 10823/1, ff. 11, 23; Cal. Treas. Bks. x. 913, 1452; xix. 294; xx. 125; info. from Prof. G. S. De Krey; J. E. Cox, Annals St. Helen’s, Bishopsgate, 114, 119.
- 6. Guildhall Lib. ms 10823, f. 23 and passim; Fam. Min. Gent. 1113; PCC 99 Browning.