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The Forest of Dean by H. G. Nicholls

Boevey married Catharina in her sixteenth year


It

is said by Sir R. Atkyns that there was a monument to George Kingston in the chancel of the original church of the parish, inscribed as follows:--

"Mar. 4, 1644.

"Vixi dum vellem, moriebar tempore grato Et sic vita mihi mors quoque grata fuit."

"Kings have stones on them when they die, And here Kingstone under a stone doth lie; Nor Prince, nor Peer, nor any mortal wight, Can shun Death's dart--Death still will have his right. O then bethink to what you all must trust, At last to die, and come to judgment just."

There are no traces of any such monument now, and it was therefore probably destroyed when the church was rebuilt about 1730.

The Kingstons took no part apparently in the contests which occurred in the neighbourhood between the Royalists and Parliamentarians, but confined their attention to their own affairs and the management of their iron-works. The only member of the family who suffered was a Sir Francis Crawley, who, about the year 1642-3, was deposed for a judgment in favour of the King on the question of ship-money, or something of a similar kind. The family possess one of King Charles's rings as a memento of such a decision. Edmund died in 1621, and was father of William, who, pursuant to his father Edmund's will, made a settlement

between himself, William, and James Boevey on one part, and William Jones, of Nass, on the other. He left an only son, Anthony, who, having no issue, disposed of the estate to Abraham Clarke, Esq., who died here in 1683, as also his wife Joana, from whose son Abraham, dying in 1682, it passed, in virtue of certain complex devises, to a near relative, William Boevey, Esq. Mr. Boevey married Catharina (in her sixteenth year), daughter of John Riches, Esq., an affluent London merchant. She was left at the age of twenty-two a widow, which she inexorably remained until her death, on the 3rd January, 1726, in her fifty-seventh year, leaving a name for benevolence and ability which the neighbourhood venerates to this day. Dr. Geo. Hickes calls her, in the preface to his 'Thesaurus,' published in 1702-3, "praestantissima et honestissima matrona Catharine Bovey," and was most probably one of her personal friends, agreeably to a traditionary account in the family, that "she was very friendly to the nonjuring clergy, and that she had frequently received and protected them."

There are several pictures of clergymen at Flaxley, which have always been believed to be portraits of Mrs. Boevey's nonjuring friends. Amongst these are two in episcopal habits, one of which is ascertained to be the portrait of the deprived Dr. Frampton, Bishop of Gloucester, since an exactly similar painting exists in the Palace at Gloucester. Flaxley is mentioned as her residence by Sir R. Atkyns in 1712, where, he tells us, "she hath an handsome house and pleasant gardens, and a great estate, a furnace for casting of iron, and three forges," as also appears by Kip's view of it. In 1714 Steele dedicated to her the second volume of 'The Ladies' Library,' the frontispiece to which Mr. Kerslake describes as "representing a young lady, dressed in widow's weeds, opening a book upon a table, on which also lies a skull; her admirers, in long wigs and swords, are thronging round the door." In one of his letters to Lady Steele, dated the 17th January, 1717, he writes--"I have yours in a leaf of the widow's." Such incidents seem to prove that this highly-gifted lady was the original of the character so graphically delineated by Steele in his description of "the perverse widow." The numbers of the 'Spectator' in which she is introduced generally bear his name, and she probably was more intimate with him than with Addison (although both are said to have visited the Abbey), since he would naturally pass near Flaxley whenever he travelled between London and his house at Llangunnor, near Caermarthen. Nothing less than such a familiar acquaintance could have enabled him to give so exact and real a description of her as occurs in No. 113.


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