The legend of the basket maker is a little known oral tradition in my father’s family. It was handed down from generation to generation in the 16th and 17th centuries and seems not to have been written down until the late 19th century when the Rev. Thomas Pownall Boultbee compiled a family history.
The story is so shrouded in the fog of memory that it is not clear who the basket maker was, where he came from, why he moved from the north of England to Leicestershire, and when all this was supposed to have happened. The family history says: “an ancestor came from the North in troublous times (so the phrase ran), and that he was obliged to assume a disguise and work as a basket maker.” (Boultbee. An Account of the Family of Boultbee, p. 2)
So, where did this basket maker come from? It may be considered as nearly certain that the first of the family in Leicestershire came from the North whether in the way traditionally stated or some other, probably from a small village in Yorkshire, near Thirsk, named Boltby. What the family did there is unknown. What is known is that a Nicolas de Bolteby (1175-1205) and his son, Adam de Bolteby (1205-1291) resided in the area but the family link, if there is one, is lost until 1433.
But what were the troublous times that caused this move? One possibility was the Peasants' Revolt, a major uprising across large parts of England in 1381. The second possibility was the Pilgrimage of Grace, 1536 and 1537.