Laurence de Bostoke, the Cheshire Antiquary
Laurence Bostock, ‘the antiquary’ lived during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I and wrote much about
the history of Cheshire, its churches and monuments, the ancient families and their heraldry; his
writings are preserved in the Harleian Collection at the British Library, London. He wrote a paper in
1573 about his father’s and grandfather’s military exploits which also gives some details of his family
connections, but only covers three generations and misses the vital link with the main line of the
family.1 However, a pedigree he drafted the next year later gives the vital link by stating that his greatgrandfather, whom he calls ‘Sir John Bostoke’, was the illegitimate son of Sir Ralph de Bostock, lord
of the manor of Bostock.2 It seems that Laurence was very proud of his ancestry and his links to the
old line Bostocks of Bostock and accordingly styled himself ‘de Bostok’.3
His Ancestry
In 1573 Laurence set down something of a family history by recording the military exploits of his
father and grandfather. However there does seem to be some confusion as regards the chronology of
events and whether he means his father or grand-father. Before considering the issues let me
summarise what he writes.
He starts in 1513 by saying that his father ‘John of Bostoke Esquire’ whom he describes as being ‘Dns
ibm’ (lord of the same place) was at ‘Skotty fyld’ where King James of Scotland was slain with many
of his nobles and gentry. Mention is then made of grand-father of the same name who served in the
army of King Henry VIII at the sieges of Therouanne and Tournai. He says that his father’s ‘second
voyage or journey’ was in Scotland eight years later at a battle called ‘Bromefylde’ where King James
V ‘was slaine, father of the queen of Skotts nowe pr’oner in England’. His third journey was into
Ireland under ‘good Sir William Breareton deputie there’. His fourth journey was into the north under
George Talbot, earl of Shrewsbury against a rebellion ‘whereof the abbat of Whalley was chief’. His
fifth journey was into Scotland to the burning of Leith and Edinburgh in the company of Sir Hugh
Calveley. His sixth journey was into Scotland to Musselborough ‘which was on 15 August 1597’
where the Duke of Somerset was general and the Earl of Warwick his assistant, also with Sir William
Sneyde. The last journey was to Norwich under the Duke of Somerset, the Earl of Warwick and Sir
William Sneyde, against a rebellions, where a man named ‘Kyte’ was there chief.
His father’s first expedition clearly refers to the battle of Flodden fought on 9 September 1513.
Something like a thousand Cheshire men took part in this event which saw the death of King James
IV of Scotland. According to Laurence, his father and Sir George Holford had command of the Abbot
of Vale Royal’s contingent of 300 men: fighting with the Cheshire troops under the overall command
of Sir Edward Stanley on the left wing of the English army. He then refers to his grandfather serving
at the sieges of Therouanne and Tournai in August and September 1513. His father’s second journey
seems to refer to the battle of Solway Moss fought on 24 November 1542, not as Laurence states eight
years after Flodden. It was a few days after that battle that King James V of Scotland, father of Mary
Queen of Scots, died; he didn’t actually die at the battle as suggested by Laurence, but shortly after,
disheartened by the news. There can be little doubt that it is the battle of Solway Moss to which
Laurence refers as he mentions that the dead king’s daughter, Queen Mary of Scotland, was at the
time of writing (1573) a prisoner in England. As regards the next journey this was to Ireland, under
Brereton who became Lord Justice of Ireland and is known to have visited Ireland in 1534. So the
second and third journeys are out of order. Then he mentions the northern rebellion of 1543 and
John’s service under George Talbot, earl of Shrewsbury. John then served with Sir Hugh Calveley in
the punitive expedition that led to the burning of the cities of Leith and Edinburgh in May 1544. For
the invasion of that year Cheshire contributed a substantial company of 2,000 archers and billmen, as
well as numerous esquires and gentlemen. After Edinburgh, King Henry VIII's brother-in-law, Lord
© Tony Bostock, 2014
Hertford, dubbed nineteen new knights from the county of Cheshire and several gentlemen were
raised to the status of 'esquire', including John’s cousin, William Sneyde. In 1547, John, and Sir
William Sneyde, were again in Scotland, this time at the battle of Pinkie Cleuch, which was fought
near Musselburgh on 10 September (not as Laurence says 15 August). John's last adventure was into
East Anglia to quell the rebellion led by Robert and William Ket, in 1549, again with Sneyde.
What is particularly difficult to reconcile is that Laurence’s father had a command of troops at
Flodden in September 1513 and was still living in 1574 and even 1581.4 This cannot be correct as the
John at Flodden would have been at least twenty-one years old. What is more likely is that the first
John I, his great-grandfather, was at either Flodden or the sieges of Therouanne and Tournai, which
both occurred in the late summer of 1513, and that his son, John II, Laurence’s grandfather, was at the
other. That being so then Laurence’s father, John III, would have been at the events in the 1530s and
40s. A John Bostock of Bostock, possibly Laurence’s father, appears in the muster roll of 1548 as
being able to serve and possessing a jack, sallet, splints and a bill.5 The name of Laurence Bostock of
Bostock also appears in the roll as being able to serve but lacking any equipment.
Considering the evidence of the military adventures, and what has just been hypothetised, and giving
between twenty and twenty-five years for each generation, approximate dates may be given to the
generations. Laurence and his brothers and sister would have been born between the years 1530 and
1550. Laurence's father, John III, was probably born about 1505; John II about 1480 and John III
about 1460. This would fit with what is known of John I’s half-brother William and their father, Sir
Ralph Bostock. William was born in 1469 and his sister Anne within a year or so, almost ten years
after their father’s marriage settlement in 1460, when their mother, Elizabeth Dutton, was perhaps in
her mid-teenage years. It is likely that Sir Ralph’s illegitimate son John I was born in the early 1460s.6
After the military account Laurence then gives the 'descent and genealogy of ye said John Bostoke'.
His purpose seems to have been to show the family connection with Sir William Sneyde with whom
his father had seen military action. William Sneyde was a wealthy and powerful gentleman who had
married the heiress of Robert Barrow, a rich Chester glover, and became a justice of the peace, sheriff
of Staffordshire and the purchaser of the manor of Keele where his son built the hall there, the centre
of the modern University. Laurence’s family tree shows he had five younger brothers - Robert,
Matthew, John and Roger and a sister Alice. Their parents were John de Bostoke armiger and his
wife, Elenora, daughter of Roger Warenne esquire of Poynton. Laurence's grand-father is given as
‘John de Bostoke d'nus ib'm armiger’ and his grandmother as Mary, daughter and heir of Hugh Eaton
of Eaton esquire. This Hugh had a niece named Katherine, whose daughter married Sir William
Sneyde. William’s daughter Elizabeth married Henry Tuchet, Lord Audley, which probably gave
Laurence a good deal of pride. Information about Laurence’s maternal grandfather Roger Warren,
presumably of Poynton, and of his great-grandfather Hugh Eton of Eton, have so far eluded me.
However in another document he says that Mary Eton was daughter of Roger (Hugh is crossed
through) Eton who was descended of Sir Nicholas Eton, baron of Stockport.7
On the subject of pride in his ancestry, Laurence produced another pedigree which goes a little further
back and has some interesting connections.
According to Laurence Sir John Bostocke married a Dutch nobleman’s daughter – Dame Mary,
daughter of Henry de Borsalia, Count of Grantpré and Lord of Veere.8 But who was this man and
what do we know of him? Importantly is Laurence correct in claiming this descent or was he trying to
give himself respectability?
In official English state papers the name of Henry de Borsalia occurs only a couple of times. On 18
February 1472 Sir Henry and officials of the town of Veere issued letters to King Edward IV granting
his subjects the right to trade in the town of Veere free from any taxes: this was in return for
privileges the king had given them.9 In November the king issued instructions to the customs officials
of London and the main English ports to allow Sir Henry de
Borsalia, count of Grantpré, lord of Veere, and the
‘burgomasters, scavins, consuls and community of that town’
right to import and export goods.10 The prosperity of the port
town of Veere was based on the cloth and wool trade with
England and Scotland. Later, another branch of the family
occur as from December 1507 Henry de Borsalia became
Lord of Lauderdale in Scotland by the gift of King James IV
of Scotland, just as his father, Sir Paul de Borsalia, had
formerly held the title by gift of James III.11
It seems that the man Laurence and the contemporary
documents refer to is Henricke van Borsselen (Borsele) who
was lord of Veere and Zandeburg, Vlissingen (Flushing),
Wasschappel, Domburg and Brouwer Haven. From 1467 he
had the French title of Count, or Earl, of Grandpre (in
Chamagne) having purchased the county from its previous
owner. He was made a knight of the Order of the Golden
Fleece in 1445 and died in 1474. Henricke was son of
Wolfart V of Borsselen who died in 1409, and represented a
family, whose seat was the castle at Zandenburg, with a
history reaching back to the mid-13th century. On 26
Henricke van Borsselen, lord of
December 1429 Henricke van Borsselen married Joan of
Veere, Count of Grandpre
Halewyn, daughter of Olivier of Halewyn, Lord of
Heemsrode and they had a number of children. The eldest
was Wolfart VI who married Mary Stuart, daughter of King
James I of Scotland, and through her became Earl of Buchan: he became Marshal of France in 1464,
was Stadholder of Holland, Friesland and Zeeland, and died in 1487. Wolfart’s sister Margaret (d.
1510) married Lewis of Bruges, lord of Gruuthuse, who in 1472 was appointed as Earl of Winchester
by King Edward VI. By his second marriage to Margaret de la Clyte, Henricke had at least four
In this pedigree Laurence says that his grandfather was still living in 1574 as ‘lord of Bostock’. If this
is so he would have been of an incredible age – perhaps in his nineties. It is interesting to note the
suggestion that Laurence’s grandfather and great grandfather were regarded as ‘lords of Bostock’. A
John Bostock, senior, occurs in the late 15th century in the records of the Court of Star Chamber. Sir
Piers Dutton of Dutton accused Sir John Savage, John Bostock and others of causing a riot in Dutton.
There is every likelihood that rival claims over the Dutton inheritance were the cause of ill-feeling,
as Sir Ralph Bostock had married the heiress of the main line of the Duttons and his successors - John
Bostock and John Savage -were perhaps aggrieved at a junior Dutton family staking a claim to the
of Bostock.
Wife of Sir John
of Bostock, gent.
Occurs 1500/01
of Bostock, Esq.
Now Lord of Bostock
‘Lord of Bostock’
Mary, daughter of
Hugh Eton
Katherine wife
of Thomas
= Ellen, daughter
Dame Mary, daughter of
Henry de Borsalia, Count
of Grantpré, Lord of
Sir William Cavendish
Anne wife of
Henry Baynton
of Roger
Warrene, Esq.
‘The Antiquary’
Figure 2.4 : Laurence Bostock's Family. (Harleian MS. 2075)
William Bostock is not shown in the document but is added here for clarity
Beneath this he lists the bequests made to Henricke’s sons and sons-in-law. These include John
Bostock who he claims was lord of ‘Beance Chattell’
The next page has notes from a will which seems to be that of Frank II van Borselen, Earl of
Oostervant which was written in the town of Brielle in 1466/7. Frank died on 19 Nov 1470 in Brielle,
Zuid-Holland, Netherlands, and had married Jacoba van Beiren, Duchess of Bavaria, on Jul 1432 in
Clearly Laurence was claiming descent from an important match. One of his papers consists of
‘Certain notes taken out of the last will [and testament of] Henry van Borsalia, …...’.14 These notes
list various religious foundation established by his great-grandfather and then includes a short family
Henry Erle of
Wolphard son
Erle of Bouclan
in Skatland
mar. to
Lodowick de
S de la
Mary mar. to
Sir John of
S de beance
Henry a
a bastard
An interesting coincidence is the similarity of the coat of arms borne by the Bostock and Borselen
families. The Bostock coat was ‘Sable a fesse hummette, argent’ whereas the Dutch family bore
‘Sable a fesse, argent’.15 On one of his pedigree charts Laurence drew John Bostock’s coat of arms
but seems to have got confused. He drew an impaled shield with Bostock to the left and to the right a
coat which was Bostock quartered with the wheat sheaves of the earldom of Chester and that of
Malbank. Whereas I believe he intended to draw the arms of Borselen quartered with those of the earl
of Buchan which also bore the three wheat sheaves on a blue background - though it would have been
How John came to make such an important match is not clear – perhaps he met her whilst on military
service in Flanders.
Figure 2.5: Sir William Cavendish
Of particular interest is a lady who is shown as Laurence’s aunt.
According to the pedigree Margaret married Sir William
Cavendish, a Suffolk gentleman and courtier.16 However, most
pedigrees and genealogies of the Chadwick family state that
Margaret was a daughter to an Edward Bostock of Whatcroft
(though some say Edmund). From what is known is that she was
born about 1508, married Cavendish in 1532 and died in
Westminster in June 1540 having had five children of whom two
girls survived into adulthood. Katherine who married Thomas
Brooke, son of Lord Cobham and Ann who married Henry, son
of Sir Henry Baynton in 1561. William Cavendish had eleven
other children by two other wives. In 1542 he married Elizabeth
Parker who had three children, none of whom survived and she
died after giving birth to a stillborn daughter in 1546. He then, in
1547, married Elizabeth Talbot, Countess of Shrewsbury
(known as Bess of Hardwick). Having sold his property in
Suffolk he moved to his wife’s native county of Derbyshire and
purchased the Chatsworth estate and began to build the well
known Chatsworth House home to the Duke’s of Devonshire.
His Career
We know very little, almost nothing, about of this laborious antiquary’s education and career. It is
clear from some of the writings and those of his contemporaries or near contemporaries that he began
writing about Cheshire from a young age.17 The bulk of his papers were gathered together or
composed in the 1560s and 70s. He is noted for a noteworthy poem about the Norman earls of
Much of his work is preserved at the British Library in the Harleian Collection, particularly MSS 139.
This book of manuscripts begins: “A Book of Collections in fol. to which Sr. Simonds D'Ewes prefixed
the Title following, An Excellent Booke concerning most of the Lands, Descents, Coat- Armours, and
other passages both Legal & Historical, of the County of Chester. Collected, out of Records, Private
Evidences, Epitaphes, and divers Other Monuments, by Laurence Bostocke, or, as he calls himself,
Laurence of Bostoke.”
MSS 2059 also contains a great deal of his writings. It consists of two tracts, the first of which is
described as “A sort of oblong Pocket-book, perhaps written y the industrious Cheshire Antiquary Mr
Laurence Bostock in his youth or younger years”. The second book is a “tatter’d Volume of Mr
Laurence Bostock’s Collections, relating principally to the ancient Cheshire Families; and is in many
places adorned with tricks of Seals &tc, in like manner as the other Treatise last mentioned is; but
being much damaged by moisture, I shall say no farther of it, than that it still contains…..”. In all
between the two books there are 261 sheets of information.
He was at times commissioned by members of the gentry to research their family history and record
their pedigrees, as he did for Sir Christopher Hatton and Sir John Warburton of Arley.
Laurence’s Journey to Cheshire, 1581
In 1581 Laurence journeyed from London to Cheshire – a journey that was to take him two weeks.18
From his diary and itinerary it seems he travelled on hors-back and was accompanied by a servant
boy. He set off on Saturday 7 October and his first stop with his ‘cousin’ Nicholas Brockett of
Macerys End, Whethemstead, near St Albans – a distance, by his reckoning, of 22 miles. I presume
that he was aware of the Bostock family’s connection with this house. Thomas Mackery died in the
mid 15th century without issue leaving his sister Margaret wife of Hugh Bostock as heir. They were
parents of the celebrated abbot of St. Albans, John of Wheathampstead (alias Bostock), who then
inherited the manor at his mother's death. The abbot, by his vow of poverty, being unable to hold
property, placed his lands in the hands of trustees, who, at his death in 1465, conveyed them to a
nephew John Willey and thence to the Broketts.
Having remained with the Brocketts throughout Sunday, Laurence continued his journey by way of
Lillingstone, though he doesn’t say whether it was Lillingstone Dayrell or Liningstone Lovell, a
further 28 miles, where he stayed with ‘Parson Salisbury’. The next day, Tuesday, he reached
Nothampton, and then on Wednesday stayed at Sir Christopher Hatton’s home at Holdenby. Hatton
was at this time Queen Elizabeth’s vice chancellor and a Privy Counsellor: it was his enlargement of
the family home which almost bankrupted him. The next day he reached Warwick and the home of
‘his glazior’ Richard [Ipsler?]. From Warwick Laurence moved further north by way of
‘Killingworth’ (Kenilworth) and Coventry to Nuneaton where his riding crop was stolen: he had now
travelled a total of 98 miles.
On Saturday 14 October he rode to Drayton on the Clay (Fenny Drayton), Sibson, Ashby de la
Zouche and Ticknall, Leicestershire. He rested all day on Sunday at Mr Frances’ home. This
gentleman [owed] Laurence five shillings and his boy, Alexander Bank, four pence. Lady Stanhope
[debyed] him five shillings. This lady is presumably Margaret wife of Sir Thomas Stanhope (d.1596)
who lived at Shelford, near Nottingham. On Monday, Laurence moved on to Derby and then Bradley
where he stayed at Mr William Kniveton’s house. Laurence delivered to Kniveton and William
Cordell for £7 17s 6d which old Mrs Kniveton, William’s mother, owed him, but Kniveton answered
him by saying he would paying nothing ‘but by Lawe’. The following day he moved on some six
miles to Norbury, via Ashbourne, and stayed at the home of Thomas Fitzherbert. Here he recorded the
arms displayed in Norbury Church. During Wednesday, St Luke’s Day, Laurence visited a few
villages in the area: Ellastone, Snelston and Mayfield. The next day he travelled by way of Fenny
Bentley and ‘Buckstones’ (Buxton) to Whaley Bridge. His journey to Cheshire had totalled 165 miles.
On Friday 20 October he went west to Poynton and there stayed at the home of his cousin John
Warren. This will in all probability be a true cousin as his mother was a daughter to Roger Warren,
esquire. Next Laurence went to visit his ‘cousins’ Randall Brereton at Handforth and Thomas Legh at
Adlington before returning to Poynton on Monday to attend a wedding and then back to Adlington.
On the Tuesday he went back to Handforth by way of Poynton as the waters………… On Wednesday
he stayed at ‘cousin’ William Brereton’s house in Brereton and the following day he travelled two
miles across to Bradwall and the home of ‘cousin’ Mr Philip Oldfield. From Bradfield he went to
Warmingham and the home of his cousin Randoll Smith: Smith was indeed a distant cousin having
married Jane daughter of Ralph Bostock of Norcroft. Laurence’s father had a house at nearby
Willaston, in the parish of Coppenhall and Leighton, where Laurence stayed from Saturday 28
October for a week.
On Friday 3 November Laurence moved on to yet another ‘cousin’, this time Robert Mainwaring of
[Marton?]. The next day he went to Northwich, Bartington Heath, Acton, Crowton and Norley, a
distance of 14 miles. That Sunday he visited the Delamere area and particularly the Chamber in the
Forest, Tarvin, and Mr Bruyn’s home in Stapleford, where he stayed before going to ‘cousin’ Rafe
Calveley’s at ‘Saughton on the Hill’ (Saighton). On Tuesday he entered the City of Chester before
going on to Sir Rowland Stanley’s house at Hooton on the Wirral. Next he visited’ Kirkeby Walley’
in Wallasey and the home of Mr Randoll Meoles where he stayed for two days before going to West
Kirby to spend Friday night with Mr Glegg. On Saturday he went to Eastham and Hooton, Sutton and
Poddington where he stayed with George Massey. From there he went to ‘cousin’ Poole’s house at
On Monday 13 November Laurence lodged with ‘cousin’ Bunbury at Stanney before visiting Mr
Richard Hurleston at Picton and moving on to Sutton. The next day he again visited Chester and the
house of Mr Thomas Stoke before going to Trevalyn and his ‘cousin’ Mr Longford. This will be
Richard Longford, a man who provided Laurence with some historical material for in his book he says
he obtained in 1571 details of the descent of Llewellyn, Prince of Wales, from him along with other
old deeds and books. Longford also provided Laurence with genealogies of the Bostock, Dutton,
Savage and Longford families.19 On the Wednesday he visited the vicarage at Gresford where cousin
Mr Lancelot Bostock lived. He was a member of the Bostock family of Holt and Churton – a very
distant line of the family. The last date recorded is Thursday, 16 November when he went to Mr
Edward Pilsons before visiting cousin Longford and Mr Thomas Apswell and Sir George Calveley.
Around Cheshire and into North Wales Laurence had travelled over 160 miles, about as much as the
journey from London to Cheshire.
What was the purpose of this journey? Was it solely to visit old friends and family members? Or did it
have more to do with his researches and even as a follow up to the Visitation of Cheshire which had
been conducted in 1580.
Laurence Bostock was buried at Davenham on 31 March 1582, aged, we may presume, about fiftytwo: the Davenham parish register describes him as 'senex' - old
Harl. MS 139, fo. 123
Harl. MS 2075
Harl. MS 139
Harl. MS 2075
Muster Roll 1548
Just to add to the confusion, Piers Leycester, a seventeenth century antiquary, states that Laurence Bostock
was the great-grandson of John, an illegitimate son of Ralph’s brother William, the third son of Adam Bostock
(1412-1475): though feasible, in this I think he is mistaken. He also says that Laurence's brother Robert had a
son named George who lived at Calveley. I ascertained this information many years ago but have now mislaid
the source.
Harley 2075
Ibid; Harl. MS 2055, fo 227
Salisbury, E (ed.) Calendar of the Cecil Papers in Hatfield House, vol 13: Addenda (1915), p. 5
Calendar of Close Rolls, Edward IV: volume 2: 1468-1476 (1953), pp 232, 233
Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, volume I: 1509-1514 (1920), pp 82-97. Regist. Magni
Sigilli Reg. Sc.
Star Chamber Proceedings, 1485 - 1509.
Ibid, fo. 228
Harl. MS 2055, fo 227
J.B. Rietstap, De Wapens van den Nederlandschen Adel - (1890), p.31
Harley 2075
Harley 2059
Harley 2113
Harley MS 139, fos. 81 & 115