BOUCHER, Thomas (c.1657-1708), of Heath Lane Lodge, Twickenham, Mdx. and Ogbourne St. George, Wilts.
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Family and Education
b. c.1657. m. (1) lic. 15 Jan. 1687 (aged about 30), Diana Hinderson of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Mdx., s.p.s.; (2) Elizabeth, s.p.s; lastly, by 1701, Elizabeth (d. 1734), da. of Anthony Morris of Devonshire Street, Mdx., 1s. 1da., 2 or 3 ch. illegit.1
?Cornet, Berkeley’s drag. 1685.
It is possible that Boucher was originally a Wiltshireman, since the regiment of dragoons into which a namesake was commissioned in 1685 had been recruited mainly from the western parts of that county. However, his address at his first marriage (when he classed himself as a ‘gentleman’) was the same as his bride’s, St. Martin-in-the-Fields. In 1694 a ‘Thomas Boucher’ was given a warrant to travel to Holland with three servants. A ‘celebrated gamester’, Boucher succeeded well enough in this profession to be able to make loans of some £8,500 to the crown in 1700, and his seat at Twickenham (on copyhold land) would, it was said, have passed in Italy for ‘a delicate palace’. He was returned as the nominee of Sir Charles Hedges* in a by-election for Malmesbury in 1702, though later he may have cultivated some interest of his own there: in 1705 he paid £17,070 to Hedges’ chief rival in the borough, Lord Wharton (Hon. Thomas*), for the manor of Christian Malford and other property in Wiltshire. Never known to have spoken in the House, he was forecast on 30 Oct. 1704 as a likely opponent of the Tack and did not vote for it on 28 Nov. He and his partner, Edward Pauncefort*, were defeated by Wharton’s candidates at Malmesbury in 1705, and again in 1708, despite petitions ascribing their defeat to bribery.2
Boucher’s fame as a gamester ensured that his misfortunes were given wide notice. In 1701 he nearly lost his sight as a result of a surgeon’s blunder in attempting to clear his throat of a lodged bone, and shortly afterwards his family’s visit to Bath was overshadowed with ‘whispers’ that he had lost a great deal of money. His death, at Bath, was reported by Luttrell on 2 Sept. 1708. The circumstances and aftermath proved a spicy item of gossip for one of his Twickenham neighbours. ‘Poor Mr Boucher’, she wrote,
went to the Bath . . . and died the week after . . . He made a great dinner for Sir John Germain [1st Bt.*] and some others, and, finding himself very ill, sent for [Dr] Garth, but when he came he told him, ‘Doctor, you can do me no good, for I am just a dying’, and so died. He was brought to this church [at Twickenham] and buried very privately under the communion table late at night. There was a paper put upon the church door in verse about his many wives: they say he has four. It’s not known what he had left. Two old women were overheard to be very witty, saying, ‘Why had he no [e]schutcheons? For he might have good arms, a pack of cards, a dice box and a quarter a pair of scissors’.
Reportedly having left a £12,000 marriage portion for his daughter, Boucher bequeathed his house and possessions in Twickenham to his wife Elizabeth, whom he referred to by her maiden name to avoid confusion with a former wife, and £1,000 to his niece Mary. He named William Clayton† and Richard Grantham* as guardians of two of his children. His son Thomas sat as MP for Chippenham 1723–7.3
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Authors: D. W. Hayton / Henry Lancaster
- 1. Wilts. N. and Q. v. 142–4; R. S. Cobbett, Memorials of Twickenham, 69, 354; Mar. Lic. Vicar-Gen. (Harl. Soc. xxx), 261; Add. 31143, f. 225.
- 2. Wilts. N. and Q. vii. 428–9; CSP Dom. 1694–5, p. 329; 1698, p. 200; Cal. Treas. Bks. xvi. 302; J. Macky, Journey through Eng. (1714–29), i. 36; Add. 27440, f. 147; 9100, f. 42; Wilts. Arch. Mag. xxviii. 43.
- 3. Add. 31443, f. 37; Herts. RO, Panshanger mss, D/EP F29, Lady Cowper’s commonplace bk. p. 167; Luttrell, Brief Relation, vi. 346; Wentworth Pprs. 63; Wilts. N. and Q. v. 142–4.