The Twickenham Museum
People : Landowners and Gentry

Thomas Boucher
Gamester
d1708

Thomas Boucher’s origins are at best debatable. Nothing is known of his family except for a brother, described by him as “John Boucher, Gent, of London”. According to gossip of the time he appears to have been a raffish character: a gambler, married four times, possibly a bigamist and perhaps risen from humble beginnings as a footman. What is known is that he came by enough wealth to acquire from Sir William Humble the copyhold of the land occupied by Heath Lane Lodge, in 1696. There was, by 1714, a very substantial mansion on this land, certainly the largest in Twickenham, but it is not known if the mansion was already in existence or that Boucher built it for himself.

During his time in Twickenham he was the subject of comment in letters by Isabella Wentworth which offer information about the man, his life and his wife or wives. On 21 May 1805 she reported a rumour that he had lost a large sum of money: he was addicted to cards and dice. Two years later she noted that “Mr Boucher has carried his little girl to the Bath but would not lett his Wife hear goe. It is sade he has as pretty a woman and as fine children in a corner and kept in as great splendour for fyner cannot be”. He apparently maintained another establishment there.

He died in Bath in September 1708 and was brought back to Twickenham for burial. According to Isabella he was ”buirryed verry pryvitly under the Communion table lait at night”, a statement contradicted by his wife who stated in her will that they owned a vault in the north break of the (by then) rebuilt church. Perhaps he was re-interred.

Elizabeth Boucher

Boucher's acknowledged wife in Twickenham was Elizabeth, neé Morris, daughter of Anthony Morris of Devonshire Street (London).. There were two children of this marriage, both born and baptised at Twickenham: Elizabeth on 2 May 1698 and Thomas on 6 July 1701. By his will, Elizabeth was given the use of his Twickenham property until his son should have reached the age of 21 and his daughter the age of 18. She could sell the property in the meantime, for their benefit, and this is what she did. There was no acknowledgment of other wives or children in his will, although the wording suggests there was another family in existence: Elizabeth is referred to repeatedly as “the mother” of the two children, only once as his wife.

Elizabeth remained at Heath Lane Lodge until 1714 when she sold the property to Sir Robert Shirley, 1st Earl Ferrers and moved to a smaller property in Twickenham. Here she spent the rest of her life as a respected member of the community, dying in 1734, although in her will she described herself as “of Bath”. Maria Wentworth spoke of her that "she was ”a very lovly woman and has behaved her self with great prudence and never kept none but him company and was very modest in al her ways…” In 1713 she contributed to the rebuilding fund for the collapsed church and by her will she left £100 for the relief of the Poor of Twickenham. During this time she became a friend of Sir Peter Vandeput who is recorded in Twickenham between 1718 and 1723. She made him an executor of her will.

Elizabeth's will notes that her son is still living and married with a daughter, Judith and that her daughter Elizabeth has married John Upton, there being two grandchildren, John and Elizabeth.

further reading

Twickenham Society in Queen Anne's Reign, D H Simpson, Borough of Twickenham Local History Society Paper no35, 1976.
PCC Wills: Thomas Boucher, Prob11/550, folio51, Elizabeth Boucher, Prob11/668

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