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The Booth Ancestors

 Rich in History and Full of Interesting Tales

Since marrying into the Booth family in 1984, I have always been fascinated by even the smallest amount of detail of Australian family history that was recorded on the Booths and their relatives.

From the early pioneering days after James Booth  first migrated to Australia from England in 1856, to listening to tales told from my dearly loved and greatly missed father in law,  Francis James Booth, known to us all as Bob,  who apart from having the gift of being a fabulous artist, and great story teller, managed to  squeeze many lives into one lifetime. His tales and life story alone could fill a book.

My beloved wife Carolyn Booth the eldest of four children of Bob Booth was given charge of an old family Bible, which had been passed down to Bob by his mother Mary Avean Booth wife of Percy Cecil Booth.

At the time little more was thought about its future significance. I  am sure that like many family Bibles or treasures passed down, the bible along with its contents, a few old photos and family details, was placed in safe keeping and only pulled out and viewed on rainy days. Every time that this occurred Carolyn would always get the impulse to explore the past.

Like many families there is usually at least one person who is fascinated by their family history, or someone yearning to find out more about some connection with a family member. There may be any number of reasons, but in our case, the desire for Carolyn, was this nagging tale of a possible Jewish family connection and also the tale of a gatekeeper from an estate in England. 

These small fragments of family curiosity and tales turned out to have only a small grain of truth to them and compared to the vast and most amazing journey of family discovery we were about to embark on became quite insignificant.

The history of the Booth Ancestors that follows is a journey through over 800 years of world history that could easily defy belief , we both couldn’t believe it when we both started our extensive research, but it is all wonderfully true and has been inspiring to us both.

Carolyn was to learn not only was she a descendant of the Ancient English Noble family of the Booths of Dunham Massey, but this family had also married into most of the neighbouring ancient aristocratic families and therefore three very prominent ancestors of Carolyns were also what is known as gateway ancestors to English & European royalty, starting with the following descendants………King Edward 1, King Charlemagne First Holy Roman Emperor, King John, King Henry II.

Along the way we find that she is also a descendant of two of Englands greatest Knights, Sir William Marshal and Guy De Beauchamp, two Archbishops of York, a descendant of  10 Magna Carta Sureties, and various Knights Order of the Garter, and also three very notable relatives , Charles William Booth Philanthropist, General William Booth founder of the Salvation Army and Sir Henry Tate, of London Tate Gallery.

The list of descendants is growing and the research will possibly be never ending but it is hugely exciting and captivating, so we have to document it the best way we can, so our children and grandchildren can tell the story.

Just maybe that is why we should all visit our ancestors one day, they all have a great story to tell.

 I hope you continue to enjoy the Booth story.

“ Quod Ero Spero ”



James Booth – 1836-1931. ( Carolyn Booth’s – Great Grandfather) 

James Booth 1836-1931 photo Courtesy Carolyn Booth

James Booth 1836-1931
photo Courtesy Carolyn Booth

Born in 1836 – James was the second son and fourth child of William and Mary Booth both living and working on the Chatsworth Estate owned by the Cavendish family, The  Duke & Duchess of Devonshire.  At age 14 James was a groom, he lived and worked in the stables caring for the estate horses.

His parents, siblings and extended family all worked on this large estate and at this period of time Edensor Village within the Chatsworth Estate had been rebuilt and was considered the model village, providing schools , churches , stores and of course a pub.

Edensor Village Chatsworth

Edensor Village Chatsworth

Chatsworth Estate circa.1880

Chatsworth Estate circa.1880

The Booths and Cavendish families had a close connection dating back over 100 years when both Henry Booth, Earl of Warrington and William Cavendish, Duke of Devonshire formed a close friendship and Parliamentary alliance and fought together to restore King William 111 to the thrown of England. Perhaps the Cavendish family and the Duke knew this history and favoured the Booths of this time and, as records show , a lot of Booths took up residence on this grand estate.

No one is quite sure what the future held for young James in the mid 1800’s. The industrial revolution was transforming cities, and people were leaving the rural towns for higher paying work opportunities.  Perhaps at age 20, possibly faced with having to find employment outside of Chatsworth Estate James may have considered finding work in the cities, or should he look further a field. Australia sounds good !!!

What influenced or possessed young James to consider migrating to Australia is still unknown but this was no doubt a carefully considered decision for young James at the time , the Booths clearly had a very strong work ethic, and history has shown that Booths stuck together and carried on the traditions of a strong and supportive family.

And so it is in 1856, aged 20, James Booth of Edensor Chatsworth boarded the Sailing Ship “Conway” and with assisted passage, sailed for Sydney, Australia, his stated occupation was “gardener”and he is accompanied by his cousin Thomas aged 35 son of Robert Booth also from Edensor – Chatsworth Estate. Interestingly Thomas returns back to Edensor some time later and we are still researching his time in Australia.

H.M Training Ship "Conway" Built In Plymouth 1827

H.M Training Ship “Conway”
Built In Plymouth 1827

After approximately 4 months at sea, James finally arrives in Sydney, Australia on the 30th Dec 1856. He settles in Camperdown where he works as a clerk at F. Lasseter & Co. Universal Providors for 10 years,during this time he meets and marries Mary Collins in 1863. The family later moves to Barraba  in the New England region of New South Wales approximatley 90kms north of Tamworth where James opens what appears to be a provisions store.

In 1880 there is a record of James applying  for the carriage of the Telegraph line to link Barraba and Bingara. However it appears tragedy strikes at this time and his wife Mary dies, after an illness of two days, leaving James and 9 children, and little more is known about the joining of the telegraph.

In 1881 James is remarried to Sarah Jane Cutmore his housekeeper on 16th February, who was some 20 years younger. They had a further 8 children together, no doubt the stepchildren were of great assistance to their stepmother.

Sarah Cutmore Booth 1858-1938 photo courtesy Carolyn Booth

Sarah Cutmore Booth 1858-1938
photo courtesy Carolyn Booth

( Carolyn Booth’s – Great Grandmother)

In June 1884 James purchases 3/4 of an acre of land for 40 pounds an acre from a Mr Adams, this land was originally going to be the site for a flour mill, perhaps the mill house in Chatsworth Edensor where he grew up had inspired him to pursue this venture. We are unsure if this Flour mill was ever built,  However the land is now the site of the Community swimming pool in Barraba.

It appears that James had a yearning to get back to the land and in the early 1890’s he gave up his store and purchased more land , approx 11 acres over the river and to the west of the township. James called his property EDENSOR.

Perhaps he had plans to build his own smaller version of Chatsworth or perhaps he knew of tales of the grand old days of his Ancient ancestors the Knights and Noble Booths and their very own grand estates such as the “Dunham Massey Estate”.

Further local records show that James became a Justice of the Peace and he also sat at the Magistrates court in 1896. James Booth died in the winter of 1931 aged 95 years .

James Booth clearly showed a strong genetic link to his ancestors demonstrating the qualities they possessed hundreds of years before , the enterprising young man started in a new country, started his own business, raised a large family, provided public service and pursued the progress and development of his community, and is regarded as member of our early Australian pioneering families.

The Australian settlement of the Booth line was a success for James and his large family. He continued the family traditions of hard work, enterprise and adventure which as the ancestoral past will show can be seen in a large number of the Booths past and present.

It is very likely the Booths of Edensor may not have been aware of the enormous richness  of their ancient ancestors long and colourful history. Many generations had passed since the medieval days and the last Noble Booth, a distant 2nd cousin had died in 1770.

Fortunately these modern times have made it possible to do extraordinary things with family research, however, if not for James and his courage to start a new life in a distant land, this story and that of Carolyn Booths ancestors could not have been told.  

It is a wonderful thing that the memory of someones life can be reproduced for future generations to enjoy and therefore every effort has been made to make these stories interesting and as accurate as possible.

Our journey of family discovery started with James Booth and the family Bible, and now the journey will take us back 800 years and beyond. 

Thank you James.




One Response to Introduction

  1. Peter Lloyd says:

    This is an absolutely fascinating site, and full of wonderful history. You should be congratulated for the extensive research, and creating a lasting monument to the Booth name.

    I too am descendant from the Booths, although from a more dubious side of the family. I have managed to trace my ancestry all the way back to Adam De Booth (1184-1235) so I guess that makes us distant cousins in some way.

    My Booth legacy in Australia originates from Charles Booth (1785-1851) who was transported to Australia as a convict in 1817. He was my 4th grt grandfather. Charles Booth is credited with the foundation of Milthorpe in central western NSW. His son and daughter (born in North Wheatly, Nottinghamshire) came to Australia as immigrants in 1842 and settled in the Perthville area, just south of Bathurst.

    If you would like to know more of the Charlie Booth story I would be happy to oblige.

    I am now going to trawl through my tree and see where it branches off to James Booth, your direct ancestor.

    Thank you for this fabulous site.
    very best regards
    Peter Lloyd, Forster, NSW

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