Poultney Family History

This page contains some of the early history of the Poultney family in England and the story of the move of the immediate family's ancestors to South Africa in 1820. We welcome input from fellow genealogists.


WILLIAM AND DORA (nee ORTLEPP) POULTNEY - a summary of their lives



The etymology has had many changes over the centuries. The name of the area where the family originally came from was termed Pulta Heith prior to the Doomsday Book listing. Then based on a specific island in the Swift River the name of the people became de Pultan-eye which in turn over the centuries, because of poor pronunciation and spelling, varied through Pulteneye, Pulteney, Poulteney and the most common current spelling, since about 1750, to Poultney. Pountney was also a variation.


Situation - Ordinance Survey Map 2.5 inch sheet SP 58 Lutterworth - travel 13 miles South of Leicester City on the M1, take left ramp towards Husbands Bosworth. 100 metres on take left turn and 500 metres on from there a church will come in sight on the left, behind a stone wall.

Extracts from a book on Leicestershire - title etc unknown: " Misterton: this site is now little more than a church and a hall, but was once a considerable village along the old road which runs through the park, the modern road representing a later diversion. The church (St Leonard) is mainly a l4th-century building, with good decorated window tracery. But the site is an ancient one, as the name means "minster"-tun i.e. the site of an early monasterium or mother-church for a large area around. There are some good bench-ends of Henry VIII's time, and monuments to the POULTENEYS (Sir Michael,1567, and John, l637). They derived from the now "lost village" of POULTNEY, 1.5 miles north-east of Misterton, the site being represented by the Great Poultney Farm, close to the infant river Swift. The township was probably deserted and converted to cattle and sheep pastures before 1500, and the Poulteneys took: up their residence in the hall in Misterton, which is described in the 1846 Directory as "an ancient mansion". In the small park were some lofty trees, which were said to have been standing in the time of Richard III, but on what authority I do not know. The Poulteneys died out in Misterton in 1672.

Sir John de Poulteney (1280-1349) was one of this family, a notable Lord Mayor of London in the 1300s who became wealthy enough to advance money to King Edward III. The city parish of St Lawrence Pountney takes its second name from him. Another descendant of this old Leicestershire family was Sir William Pulteney, Earl of Bath (1684-1764) the statesman after whom the Pulteney Bridge in Bath is named."


"Kimcote: the church (All Saints) is partly late l3th century, partly early l4th. Font dated 1654. Free school built 1844. Great Poultney Farm, about 1 mile south-south-west marks the site of the deserted village of Poultney, depopulated in the late 15th century. It can be reached by a footpath beginning near the church. "


A. Westminster Abbey:

1. Monument to William Pulteney, Earl of Bath, situated in a chapel on left of main entrance.
2. Plaque to Sir John de Poulteney, four times Mayor of London, in north-east corner.

B. St Lawrence Pountney Church: destroyed in the Fire of London but the site has been retained as a smallish grassed square, with a plaque telling the story. Situated in Pountney Lane in the area between Cameron Street and Upper Thames Street and between Cannon Street Station and London Bridge Station; only a couple of blocks from The Monument, where the great fire started.

C. Pulteney College: situated in the area of new Scotland Yard and named after the Earl of Bath.

D. Cold Harbour: although destroyed many, many years ago this was the town house built by Sir John and situated on the north bank of the River Thames approximately where Tower stairs now are; between Tower Bridge and Customs House. Ultimately he sold this house to the Black Prince who lived in it for quite a long time.

E. 14 Primrose Street: this address no longer exists as it is a road bridge over the rail tracks north of Liverpool St Station. Our settler ancestor - James Augustus - had his tailoring business there until the end of 1819.

SCOTLAND - Wick in the north-east corner of Scotland has a Pultney Distillery. As yet no details available as to how it got its name.

THE POULTNEY SETTLERS OF 1820- extracted from "The Story of the British Settlers of 1820 in South Africa" by H.E. Hockley.

JAMES AUGUSTUS POULTNEY and his wife ANN (nee Smith), aged 28 and 21 respectively, with their baby daughter, ANN, of four months, sailed on the ship "Ocean" from London in December 1819 or early January 1820. The River Thames had been frozen over for some weeks, so that the ships had been ice-bound. All the ships experienced very bad weather - some were nearly shipwrecked soon after leaving harbour. Several ships, including the Ocean, had to put in to Portsmouth for shelter. During the storm the Ocean broke from her moorings and collided with the "Northampton", but without any serious consequences. After the ships had passed through the Bay of Biscay the weather improved.

The party on the Ocean under the leadership of Dr N. Morgan numbered 41 - this was the Poultneys' group. There were three other parties on board - the total number of settlers being 206.

During the voyage, the Poultneys' ship called at Porto Praya, one of the Cape Verde Islands. Whilst lying at her anchorage there, in the dead of night, her passengers were rudely awakened by the booming of a cannon, followed by the tearing noise of the cannon ball through the rigging. One of the shore batteries had opened fire - this from a supposedly friendly port. While the scared passengers were wondering what was happening, a second discharge was heard, and this time the ball hit the ship, smashing through the side and entering a store-room just below one of the cabins. Excitement and consternation were intense. A third ball was fired and this one fell short, hissing as it entered the sea as if it were a red-hot shot. It turned out later that the shore batteries were "trigger happy" and had thought that the Ocean or another settler ship were the same as had fired on the port a few weeks previously. Fortunately the mistake was discovered before the Ocean was destroyed.

The ships had an uneventful voyage after this ! It took until 9th Apri1 1820 before the first ship dropped anchor in Algoa Bay - the last arrived late in June.

One of the passengers on the Poultneys' ship was Mr Bishop Burnett, a retired Royal Navy Lieutenant, who later achieved much notoriety by horse-whipping an army surgeon near Grahamstown. Lengthy legal proceedings resulted in the British 8overnment to alter its constitutional policy in the Cape.

The Morgan (Poultney) party settled on a plot of land about 4 square miles in area, situated about 7 miles East of Grahamstown, to the right of the present national road as one travels from Grahamstown to Peddie.

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