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About the study

I began collecting all occurrences of the Boustred surname in the 1970s, when I was about 15 years old. At that age, I had no money, transport or family history "know-how", so I visited my local library, extracted all the Boustreds from the collection of UK telephone directories and wrote to them all - by hand - there were no home-computers then! I received some fascinating replies, and from there I began piecing together the jig-saw. Since then, I have amassed a vast amount of data such as civil registrations for births, marriages and deaths, wills and probate records, census information and Parish Register entries. I collect any reference to the name from any date or location, worldwide, and work with one other active researcher.

I am always delighted to hear from any Boustred or descendant, and can usually explain how they fit into the family tree. My research suggests that all living Boustreds are related. The two main branches, which I was previously unable to link, have now been fitted together by new evidence. They are:

  • Those descended from John Boustred (c1690 - 1765), a farmer of Holloway in the Parish of Islington, Middlesex. The descendants of John and his wife, Mary Upton, lived in and around Hornsey, Crouch End and Stroud Green in Middlesex for generations.
  • Those descended from a William Boustred. He was born in 1825 in Southwark, London, and he and his family emigrated to South Africa, where he died in July 1899. I now know that this branch shares ancestry with the other group of Boustreds, because this William was the Great Great Grandson of the previously mentioned John Boustred (c1690-1765).

Variant names

I collect all references to Boustred, Bowstred, Boustread and Bowstread. Earlier versions also included an l after the u or w, e.g. Boulstred or Bowlstread, or a double e at the end, eg. Boulstreed or Bowstreed. In addition, there are numerous mis-transcriptions such as Bonstred, Borstred or Brustred but I only collect those if I recognise the person as "one of ours". None of these spelling variants is in use in the UK today (unless of course you can correct me on that!). One website I have seen claims that the original form of the name comes from Boga-Straet (Bow Street), but I have found no evidence for this whatsoever. I also do not believe that the family took its name from Bow Street in London, since the origins are clearly NOT from that part of the country. Bowstreet is simply one of many variants, as is Bowstreed.

I have just started to collect BOUSTEAD, BOWSTEAD, BOUSTED and BOWSTED references but this (separate) study is in its very early stages.

I believe it is possible that the Bousteads are the descendants of a very early common ancestor, one or more of whose sons moved north. My DNA study comparing samples from Boustred and Boustead males may confirm or disprove common ancestry between the two names.

Name origin

There is documentary evidence to suggest that the name is a derivative of the long-established surname Bulstrode. This comes from superb research work begun in the 1930s by Henry Wilton Bulstrode.

He discovered that many of the descendants of Richard Bulstrode (born between 1510 and 1526) carried names similar to Boustred, such as Bowsted, Bowstread, Boulstread, Boulstreed and indeed the Boustred name itself. The first known Boustred name-bearer who was a Bulstrode descendant was Richard's grandson, John Boustred, born in Toddington, Bedfordshire, before 1595.

However, the name certainly predates John Boustred of Toddington, since the registers of St. Giles' church, Totternhoe, Bedfordshire, have entries for the burials of Henry Boustred on 28th April 1559 and Margaret Boustred on 10th May the same year. We do not know the ages of Henry and Margaret when they died, but they were certainly born before John of Toddington. This discovery put a bit of a "spanner in the works" since it suggests either that the name derived from Bulstrode earlier than we thought it did, or that there are separate origins for the name. I think, since Totternhoe and Toddington are approximately 5 miles apart, the likelihood of separate origins is very low. Hopefully in years to come, DNA samples will prove or disprove the link between the Boustreds and the Bulstrodes (see below).

There is also a mention of a James Boustred of Oxford in the British Chancery Records between 1544 and 1547, and this is the earliest example of the exact Boustred name that I have found so far. However, this man is also recorded under the names Bulstrode, Boulstrod, Bulstred and Bolstred within the same series of Chancery documents, so Boustred was certainly not the variant he used consistently, and we have no way of knowing how he himself pronounced his name.

Historical occurrences of the name

The Boustreds have not produced any very famous people, but these are some who are worthy of note:

Henry and Margaret Boustred who were buried at St. Giles' church, Totternhoe, Bedfordshire in 1559 - some of the earliest known Boustreds so far.

A book published in 1906 by William Arthur Shaw had the wonderful title, 'The Knights of England. A Complete Record from the Earliest Time to the Present Day of the Knights of all the Orders of Chivalry in England, Scotland and Ireland, and of Knights Bachelors'. On page 97, listed under 'Knights Bachelors', there is a reference to 'William Boustred (Bowlstrad)' on 6th August 1599.

John Boustred of Toddington, Bedfordshire, born before 1595 - the first Boustred known to have been descended from the Bulstrode family.

John Boustred and Mary Upton who were married in 1725 at St. Mary, Hornsey, Middlesex - the first time the surname occurs in what became the "home territory" of almost all the Victorian Boustreds. However, there is a burial of Joseph, the infant son of Joseph and Mary Bowstrad also at St. Mary, Hornsey in 1727, which suggests that at least two couples with the name Boustred or a close variant were in the area at about that time.

In 1790, a Joseph Boustred appears in the United States census in Maryland. He does not appear to have had any descendants, and we do not yet know where he fits into the main family tree.

In 1795, George Boustred, farmer of Hornsey, wrote a seventeen page will!

In the 1880 USA census, we find Alice Boustred, the daughter of James Boustred from Hornsey who emigrated with her married half-sister, Eliza Glyn.

William Richard Boustred (1861 - 1921) who was Mayor of Johannesburg, South Africa in 1912 - 1913.

Roll of Honour

Harry James Boustred, born 1894, died 11th October 1917 in France in the First World War. He was Private number 234101, of the 1st/4th Bn. Gloucestershire Regiment, and he was buried at the St. Sever Cemetery Extension in Rouen, France.

Thomas Jesse Robert Boustred, born 1917, died 15th November 1944 in the Netherlands in the Second World War. He was Corporal number 6211703, of the 117th Bn. Middlesex Regiment, and he was buried in the Nederweert War Cemetery, Limburg, Netherlands.

Name frequency

In the England and Wales Census there are:

  • 20 Boustreds in 1841
  • 40 Boustreds in 1851
  • 36 Boustreds in 1861
  • 36 Boustreds in 1871
  • 46 Boustreds in 1881
  • 51 Boustreds in 1891
  • 44 Boustreds in 1901
  • 52 Boustreds in 1911
  • There are 351 Boustreds in the England and Wales civil registrations for Births between 1837 and 2005.
  • There are 182 Boustreds in the England and Wales civil registrations for Marriages 1837 - 2005.
  • There are 142 Boustreds in the England and Wales civil registrations for Deaths 1837 - 2005, and, sadly, 26 of those were deaths of children aged 5 years or younger.
  • That gives a total of 675 England and Wales Boustred birth, marriage and death records between 1837 and 2005. A small number of known Boustreds are not included in the above figures for civil registration because they were registered under a variant name such as Bowstread.

The frequency of the name in the UK can be discovered from a 2002 database produced by the Office of National Statistics. It shows that in 2002 there were 116 Boustred name-bearers and that Boustred was the 30,189th most common name in the UK. (By contrast there were 599 Boustead name-bearers, the 9860th most common name.)

Distribution of the name

As previously mentioned, the first occurrences of the name Boustred, in its present spelling, were in Bedfordshire, England, in the 16th century.

The earliest proven ancestor of most of today's living Boustreds was John Boustred (c1690 - 1765) who married Mary Upton at St. Mary, Hornsey, Middlesex on 23rd May 1725. I have not found a baptism for either John or Mary in Hornsey. We believe Mary Upton's family might have come from Hitchin in Hertfordshire, so John may have been born in that area, too. We do not know whether they met before or after arriving in Hornsey.

From the time of John and Mary, almost all the Boustreds lived in North London/Middlesex, centring round Hornsey, Highgate and Crouch End. There were also some Boustreds nearer to the centre of London who originally came from Hornsey but, with the exception of William Boustred born 1825 in Southwark, I do not believe that any of them have living Boustred descendants now.

There are now Boustreds in South Africa (the descendants of William born 1825), Australia (also mostly descendants of the South Africa branch) and New Zealand. The New Zealand Boustreds are a single branch descended from one Boustred family who emigrated in the late 1950s. There have also been Boustreds in Canada at various stages of the 20th century, but I am unsure whether they are still there now. Again, I believe these are descendants of the branch who moved to South Africa.

If you know of Boustreds anywhere else in the world, do please let me know!


I have collected a large quantity of data concerning the Boustred name such as:

  • England and Wales Civil Registration records from 1837 to 2009
  • Civil Probate Registers
  • Wills
  • International Genealogical Index entries (IGI)
  • Census records
  • Parish Register entries
  • Biographical information
  • Memorial inscriptions
  • Passenger lists
  • Military records
  • Photographs

In order to preserve them for future generations, I am trying to store digitally as many photographs of our Boustred relatives as possible. If you have any photos of your Boustred ancestors and would be prepared to send me copies in digital form, I would be delighted to hear from you.

You can search for Boustred Births, Marriages and Deaths in England and Wales by going to my Archive.


I have now set up a DNA project to try to discover whether or not the Boustreds, Bulstrodes and Bousteads share a common ancestor. We have four samples in the database already - a Boustred one and three Bulstrode ones. If you would be interested in taking part in a DNA project, please do contact me. Because the DNA test uses the male Y chromosome, only direct male line name-bearing Boustreds, Bousteads and Bulstrodes can take part. Sadly, being female, that counts me out!

There are a number of surnames which fall within the scope of the project, and they are:
Bolestridge, Bolsbridge, Bolstridge, Bolstrode, Bostridge, Bouldstridge, Boulstridge, Boulstrode, Boustead, Bousted, Boustend, Bouston, Boustread, Boustred, Bowstead, Bowsted, Bowstread, Bowstred, Bullstrode, Bulstred, Bulstrode.

Historical variants have not been included in the project, since the aim of the study is to recruit modern name-bearers to take part. If you have a similar surname but it is not listed above, and you would like to take part in the project, please contact me, as it may be possible to add more names, provided that they are not already part of another study.

More details of the project can be found at: