The Bolstridge surname is unusual in as far as it is quite rare and does not appear in any of it's forms until the mid 17th century at Bedworth in North Warwickshire close to the Leicestershire border. The first occurrence of the surname at Bedworth was when "James son of Thomas and Rebecca Bolstridge" was baptised on 2nd May 1669. Their three previous children were baptised William Bulstrode, Thomas Bulstrode and Francis Bulstrod and for the next 30 years there was considerable fluctuation in the spelling of the name. By 1700 it had settled down to Bolstridge or Boulstridge and was still confined to the Bedworth area. See "Origins and Variations" in the research section for a more detailed discussion on the hypothesis that the name originated solely in Bedworth
It is reasonable to assume that, in this area, the name Bolstridge was a derived from Bulstrode and that Thomas, husband of Rebecca, was possibly one of the sons of Edward Bulstrode and Margaret Chamberlain who had an estate at Sole End (Soley End) between Bedworth and Astley. The estate was part of Margaret Chamberlain's marriage portion and was purchased in 1623 on a 99 year lease. Further evidence is found in the Warwickshire Poll book of 1774 which lists Thomas and Rebecca's grandson, Francis Bolstridge, as a freeholder with property at Bedworth Woodlands which lies within or on the periphery of the Sole End estate. It is unfortunate that the parish registers of both Astley before 1670 and Bedworth before 1653 are lost as are many from this period which were destroyed during the civil war. A search for probate records to support this premise have proved fruitless, they may still be found as Edward Bulstrode, a notable lawyer, died in 1659 at the Inner Temple in London and his will may well have been proved in some obscure court.
The Bulstrode family were supporters of Cromwell and enjoyed his patronage. The exception being Sir Richard Bulstrode the eldest son of Edward and Margaret and heir to the Sole End estate. He was a catholic and ardent supporter of the Royalist cause, wounded at Edge Hill he fled to France after the defeat and execution of Charles I. The restoration was a devastating blow to many of the families who supported Cromwell and the Bulstrodes were no exception. We have no evidence of the extent of their decline in fortunes of the Bedworth family but Bulstrode Whitelocke, Edwards nephew, paid Charles II £50,000 in return for his pardon, worth in excess of £4million today. Edward's brother Henry, the head of the family, had his family seat of Chalfont Manor seized which was purchased in 1626 for a reputed £30,000 . His son Thomas was forced to sell the family estate, Horton Manor, to purchase his pardon.
What happened to Thomas Bulstrode's (Bolstridge) family after the death of his father Edward is pure speculation at this stage but later evidence indicates a substantial decline in family fortunes. There is no indication that the 99 year lease on the Sole End property was renewed in 1722, in fact Edward's father in law, Sir Richard Chamberlain, sold the Astley estate John Newdigate of Arbury Hall in 1674 and Sole End farm is today part of that Arbury Estate. According to the details of the marriage settlement the estate should have passed to Sir Richard Bulstrode, Edward and Margaret's eldest son. For the duration of the commonwealth period he had been in self imposed exile in France and after the restoration was an ambassador to Charles II court. After the glorious revolution of 1689, as a catholic and supporter to the succession of James II, he was once more forced into exile in St Germain, France were he died virtually penniless. The Sole End estate, if it survived intact, was probably held by one of his younger brothers. We do have evidence however that two sons Francis Bolstridge,( mentioned previously of Bedworth Woodlands), were ribbon weavers and as such were freemen of the City of Coventry in the 1770's. This was period of substantial prosperity for the Ribbon Weaving industry of Coventry and Bedworth before the serious decline in the first half of the 19th century. By 1813, when father's occupations were stated in baptismal registers, the Bedworth Bolstridges were generally listed as Weavers or Ribbon Weavers.
By 1712 the some of the family had begun to move out of the immediate Bedworth area and the first evidence is found at Corley and later at Meriden. The Burial register of Meriden has a number of Bolstridges listed and their residence appears to be Corley. By 1770 most of those who moved from the Bedworth area appear to be engaged as agricultural labourers, a substantial drop in status. The exception is the family who moved to London discussed in "surname variations". In early 1790 James Bolstridge and his wife Hannah and young family moved to Ratcliffe Culey as an agricultural labourer. As his family married and moved away from the village the Bolstridge families at Polesworth and Hurley Common were established. The Polesworth and Dordon line generally assumed the Boulstridge variation of the surname.
Back in Bedworth the ribbon trade was in serious decline by the 1840's and by 1846 we have the first Bolstridge recorded as a coal miner. The mines at Bedworth were now providing alternative work and in successive decades we find more Bolstridges employed as colliers. The opening of the Baxterley colliery provided additional employment for the Boulstridges of Dordon and this was the deciding factor in the Ratcliffe Culey side of the family remaining in the area. About 1862 William Bolstridge, a collier from Bedworth, and his wife Sarah Pickard, moved Basford near Nottingham to work in the fast expanding Nottingham coalfield. His descendants still live in the Nottingham area to this day.
During the 1980's and 1990's Professor Norman Dudley carried out
extensive research into the origins of the Bolstridge surname. Part of his work was
published as a small subscription volume and detailed trees and research notes
have been deposited at the Society of Genealogists library in London. See
download page for a copy of his manuscript.
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