Interesting finds on Priscilla Boucher, née Coombs, George & Phoebe Boucher and the Boucher-Coombs families

These three old photographs were kindly provided by Cheryl A Lean from Australia (George Boucher was her Great Great Grandfather), along with considerable detail on many of her ancestors that she has researched so far.

Thanks also to West Dorset Research Centre (Dorset Migration Local & Family History) who also gave help.

Priscilla née Coombs,
George & Phoebe Boucher

Priscilla née Coombs,

wife of Absolom Boucher

George & Phoebe Boucher

1. Priscilla Boucher whose maiden name was Coombs had two marriages. Strangley, the second husband's name was also Coombs! They may have been related before marriage, although her second husband was born in Broadway. A William Coombs was a witness to Priscilla’s marriage to Absalom in 1825, but it is not known if there is any connection between these two William Coombs.

Priscilla was baptised in Burton Bradstock in 1806, baseborn daughter of Hesther Coombs. Hester never married Priscilla’s father (Edward STEVENS) and she (Hesther or Esther) was baptised in Burton Bradstock in 1783 and her parents were Edward Coombs (b.c. 1752), who married in Burton Bradstock in 1777 to Grace Hooper. Grace was baptised, (again in Burton Bradstock), in 1754; father John Hooper, married in BB 1745 to Barbara Russell.

Priscilla & Absalom’s first child was Priscilla Stevens Boucher (1826-1904) who married Robert Knight Chilcott in Kent in 1848. Robert was baptised in Burton in 1821, father John Chilcott & mother Elizabeth Knight. It certainly seems to have been very much a Burton Bradstock family! Robert Chilcott was a Mariner all his life and he & Priscilla had 4 children of their 6 children in Burton Bradstock up to 1857, when Robert moved the family up to Liverpool where a set of twins were born in 1860. Sadly their 1st born (Priscilla) died and was buried in Burton in 1852, their 2nd born Absalom died in Liverpool between 1861 & 1871, and one of the twins {Annie} had died prior to 1871 in Liverpool.

The origin of the name Stevens only became evident when Priscilla Senior named her father on her marriage entry to William Coombs in the Registry Office in Marylebone, Middlesex in 1849.

On the 1851 Burton Bradstock Census, Priscilla (by now Mrs Coombs), was listed with daughter Ann Boucher 16 (Flax Spinner), step-sons George & Thomas Coombs from Kensington, London, daughter Julia Coombs 5, son George Boucher 10; her Mother Hester Coombs “Visitor” 68, who was receiving Parish Relief; daughter-in-law Elizabeth Boucher (née Chilcott) – Mariner’s Wife; daughter Sabina Jane Gerrard (née Boucher) - Mariner’s wife & her daughter Sabina 1; daughter Priscilla Chilcott (née Boucher) – Mariner’s wife & her daughter Priscilla, 5 months.

Priscilla, William, his two sons from a previous marriage and baby Julia were listed on the 1861 Census living in Bermondsey, Surrey. Julia is listed on the 1851 census as "daughter-in-law", i.e. stepdaughter, with the surname COOMBS. This seems to be a mistake as she is only 5 months old and would therefore seem to be Priscilla's own child. Julia was born to William & Priscilla Coombs on 24th October 1850 in Burton Bradstock & died in Surrey in December 1852. Priscilla & William Coombs had another child named William Boucher Coombs who was born & died in March 1849 in Burton Bradstock. He was buried on 24th March 1849 in St Mary’s Churchyard, Burton Bradstock.

Priscilla snr. On 1871 census in Liverpool, widow, in household of married daughter Priscilla Chilcott.

Click here for Family Tree of Priscilla Coombs (pdf)

2. Edward Stevens Boucher is listed with wife Elizabeth (née Chilcott) & daughter Elizabeth) on census 1861. He married Elizabeth in 1850 in Burton Bradstock, had 5 children, but sadly only 2 children, Elizabeth and Sidney Boucher, survived to marry & have children of their own. Edward’s wife Elizabeth died in 1875 and is buried in St Mary’s church yard along with many of this family. He then went on to marry a Widow named Mary Jane White (née Bellamy) and together they ran the George Inn in Bridport Harbour until Edward’s death in 1891. After Mary died in 1895, Edward’s son Sidney took over the George Inn. It’s interesting to note that Elizabeth’s (née Chilcott) father was George Chilcott, a brother to Robert Knight Chilcott’s father.

3. Sabina Jane Boucher 1830-1902 married John Gerrard (1829-1861) in 1849 in BB and had two daughters born in BB, Sabina (b. Feb 1850) & Mary (b. 1852). John was a Mariner who was tragically killed** while trying to save some local fisherman on the beach in front of Burton Bradstock in 1861. Sabina Jane never remarried and her daughter Sabina (who married Frederick Morey) lived with her for many years. Sabina Morey had 5 children, 4 girls and a son named William John Morey, who died in Simonstown, South Africa during the war & is buried in St Mary’s churchyard with his grand-parents. Sabina Jane Gerrard died in April 1902 and her gravestone reads: In loving memory of a dear Grandmother Sabina Jane Gerrard died April 1902 aged 73 and John Gerrard her Husband drowned at Burton Bradstock beach November 1861 aged 36 Also Grandson William John Morey RN died January 19th 1911 at Simonstown South Africa aged 42. Daughter Mary Gerrard married the son of a Coastguard - named George Thomas Hoad, an Engine Turner- who was born in Ireland. They moved over to Poole and had 8 children, then moved up to Essex.

4. William Coombs Boucher (1832-1895). On the 1861 census, William is a mate aboard the "Lily" at Erith, Kent. Listed as married. See Absaloms Family Record (pdf). William married in 1852 in the Parish of Saint John, New Brunswick in Canada. Two daughters were born there, then he moved his family back to Burton Bradstock, where a son named James Robert was born and died, in 1859. William then moved his family down to Guernsey where 3 sons were born between 1861 and 1867. They were still living there in 1871 but by 1881 had moved over to Middlesex.

5. Ann Roberts Boucher (1835-1907) married Abel BURWOOD (1824-1900) in 1858. Ann had an illegitimate son named John Boucher (1855-1920). Abel had a son to a previous marriage named Andrew John Luck Burwood before his first wife died, then he (Abel) and Ann went on to have another 8 children. Descendents of this couple still reside in and around the Bridport-Burton Bradstock area and another in Canada.

6. George Boucher (1841-1897) married Phoebe Clark (1841-1920) - (see photo above), had one child Frances Priscilla Boucher in BB in 1864, then moved to Guernsey where another 8 children were born. The photograph of George & Phoebe was taken in Guernsey not long before George died. They married in 1863 in the Parish Church (St Mary’s) of Burton Bradstock. George was the new Captain of the barque Rose of Devon, a Plymouth built ship, when she broke in two in a fierce Force 10 storm off Cornwall in late November of 1897. His first born son, Edward “George” Boucher (1868-1961) was also a Mariner, and jumped ship in Queensland, Australia where his many descendents now continue to live.

7. Robert Boucher (1844-1849). Robert was christened on 15th January 1845 in BB and died in Marylebone in 1849.

8. In Elizabeth Buckler Gale’s book – “Farmers, Fisherman & Flax Spinners – The Story of the People of Burton Bradstock”. Chapter XXVI “Tragedy at Sea”, Page 115. It’s the story of the WHY NOT which was lost (on 9th March 1881) off the Skerry Rocks, near Peters Head, Aberdeenshire after being iced up in St. Peter Port, Guernsey harbour. Five men from Burton Bradstock were lost on this ship, namely 58 year old Joseph Gerrard & possibly his son or nephew, 25 year old Joseph Gerrard. Simeon Hutchings – a father of 5 young children, & his nephew William Hutchings (19). Reports give the Hutchings men as brothers, but the Hutchings’ family tree shows them to be uncle and nephew). A further family tie was that the elder Gerrard was the brother-in-law to Simeon Hutchings. The fifth Burton man was 52 year old Joseph Gear. Another crew member was W. Tizzard of Maiden Newton. Elizabeth tells a fascinating story about Joseph Gear in this chapter and mentions that Joseph Gear married a Burton girl named Jane COOMBS in the May of 1859 and lived at 60 Mill Street in Burton.

George Boucher served aboard the WHY NOT, having signed up on 2nd February 1863, as Able Seaman, just 6 days after his marriage on 27th January 1863. The WHY NOT sailed on the 5th February for Shields where she arrived on 11th February. On the 16th February, she sailed back to Bridport, arriving on the 4th March, when George, and who is believed to be a relative named James Boucher aged 18, left the vessel. Prior to joining the WHY NOT and in the same year, George served aboard the "TELEGRAPH" - he left this ship in January of 1863 in LONDON.

**The story below was printed in "THE WESTERN GAZETTE" - FRIDAY, 1st DECEMBER, 1961, and titled: ONE HUNDRED YEARS AGO

BURTON BRADSTOCK-On Friday evening last, five boats from this village about three miles from Bridport put to sea to drift for herrings. Shortly afterwards a ground swell came on with a stiff breeze from the north-west. Each boat was manned by four men. About 9 p.m., some of the villagers began to be apprehensive for the safety of the boats, and went to the usual place of landing at the beach accompanied by the master of the ship 'Busy' (Mr. John Gerrard) of Bridport, who resides at Burton when home. They had no sooner arrived than they perceived two boats making efforts to land. The first boat succeeded in running on shore safely, but the second was caught in the 'hole', of the surf, when poor Gerrard threw off his coat and jumped to the boat to assist in saving the crew, when it turned over on him, striking him severely in the head and side. Two young men named Henry Clarke and Chainey succeeded in saving the life of George Thomer the elder, without much injury, but George Thomer the younger was saved with much difficulty as he had likewise been struck by the boat, and a full quarter of an hour elapsed before he could be got out of the water; whilst it was full half-an-hour before poor Gerrard's body was recovered.

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