Felix Booth

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Map indicating the Gulf of Boothia, Nunavut, Canada.
  Northwest Territories

Sir Felix Booth, 1st Baronet, FRS (1775 Roydon, Essex – 24 January 1850 Brighton, Sussex) was a wealthy UK gin distiller, and promoter of Arctic exploration, with various places in Nunavut, Canada being named after him.[1]

Life and family[edit]

Sir Felix Booth's ancestry can be traced back to the marriage of William de Booth in abt 1250 in Branston Lancashire. Five generations later, Sir John Booth b abt 1350 wed twice, firstly to Lady Joan Trafford in abt 1378 at Barton upon Inwell and secondly to Lady Maude Savage in abt 1412 at Barton upon Inwell Lancashire, collectively producing thirteen children. There was a parting of the ways with their children when their son Thomas Booth (1395-1482) (later knighted) moved from Lancashire to Lincolnshire and married Isabella Carrington in 1431 at Killingholme,and their other son named Robert Booth (b 1384) (later knighted) married Dulcia Venabales on 3 May 1409 at Eccles Lancashire and became the start of the "Booths of Dunham Massey" dynasty in Cheshire.

Sir Thomas and Isabella Booth nee Carrington, now living in Lincolnshire, had seven offspring in Killingholme from which two Booth streams eventuated with their son Thomas Booth marrying Ann Ashton in abt 1456 at Goxhill Lincolnshire and starting the "Booths of Goxhill" dynasty, whilst their son Henry Booth married Elizabeth Gascaryk in 1460 at Killingholme Lincolnshire and started the "Booths of Killingholme" dynasty. Sir Felix Booth's ancestry has derived from the "Booths of Killingholme" dynasty.

Five generations later, John Booth of Killingholme born abt 1555 married Martha Butler in abt 1573 at Goxhill and they had four offspring, from which their son George Booth b 1582 married Elizabeth Monkton in abt 1605 at Killingholme. Their son William Booth b 1608 married Elizabeth Wright on 13 June 1631 at Market Rasen. William and Elizabeth Booth's marriage produced ten offspring, from which their son Thomas Booth b 1637 (who would become Sir Felix Booth's 2x great-grandfather) married Elizabeth Middlemore on 23 Nov 1670 at Market Rasen, producing four sons and four daughters: their first son John Booth b 1672 (who would become Sir Felix Booth's 1x great-grandfather) marrying Elizabeth Sanderson on 20 Jun 1700 at Ulceby, their third son Robert Booth b 1677 marrying Katherine Clinton, daughter of Francis Clinton 6th Earl of Lincoln and their fourth son Peniston Booth marrying Katherine Jones, daughter of Reverend Canon Dr Edward Jones.

From the marriage of John Booth and Elizabeth Sanderson on 20 Jun 1700 at Ulceby, their second son William Booth b 1703 married Alice Green on 25 July 1729 at Ulceby and they would have eight children comprising six boys and two girls. It would be their first son Richard Booth b 22 Jul 1730 who would be Sir Felix Booth's first cousin once removed. Richard married Ann Hill in 1753 at Irby upon Humber near Caistor and lived permanently in the village of Caistor. Richard and Ann had nine children comprising six sons and three daughters and their last born son Samuel Booth b 1773 married Ann (maiden name not known)in abt 1803 and had a son named Felix Booth b 1805. Richard Booth died in 1800 aged 70. It was reported in the Gentleman's Magazine in 1840 that "the late Richard Booth's daughter Miss Elizabeth Booth of Caistor Lincolnshire died on 22nd April 1840 in her 82nd year. She was a cousin to Sir Felix Booth".

From the marriage of John Booth and Elizabeth Sanderson on 20 Jun 1700 at Ulceby, their third son John Booth b 1711(who would become Sir Felix Booth's grandfather) made his way to London and became involved in the distillery business, from which a major British company would evolve. John Booth married a Mary (maiden name may possibly be Watts and the marriage date may possibly be 3 Jan 1739 at Westminster London, but not substantiated)and the couple produced at least four offspring with their son Philip Booth born during 1745 (substantiated by his obituary saying he died on 5 May 1818 aged 73). A second son John Booth was born abt 1750. It was reported in the Gentleman's Magazine in 1804 that this "John Booth's youngest daughter Jane died in her seventeenth year at Caistor Lincolnshire". She was presumably visiting or staying with her Uncle Richard Booth and Aunt Ann Booth. Nothing is known about the remaining offspring.

Philip Booth married Elisabeth Wallis in abt 1772 and they produced seven children, comprising four sons and three daughters, Elizabeth abt 1773 + William b 25 Jul 1774 + John Gillyat b 17 Mar 1776 + Mary b 15 Aug 1777 + Felix b 16 Jul 1780 + Alice b 4 Aug 1782 1770. It would be Felix who would take over the family business.

In 1832, Sir Felix Booth bought the site of the old Ophthalmic Hospital in Albany Street, Regent's Park as a site for his distillery.

In 1840, he went into partnership with William Grimble to experiment with producing vinegar from the spirits left over from the manufacturing process. The site was in the NE corner of Cumberland Market. The venture was unsuccessful so Sir Felix reverted to the more conventional method of vinegar brewing.

As of 2015, Booth's Gin remains licensed by Diageo.

Geographical expeditions[edit]

Fascinated by science, Booth financed John Ross's 1829 expedition to find the Northwest Passage. The Boothia Peninsula and Gulf of Boothia are named after him.

He provided £17,000 for the expenses of the expedition, to which Captain (later Sir John) Ross had added £3,000, and the result was an immense stride in the progress of geographical science. The grateful commander bestowed the name of his patron upon several of his discoveries on land and sea - Gulf of Boothia, Isthmus of Boothia, Continent of Boothia Felix, Felix Harbor, Cape Felix, and Sheriff's Harbor: the district with the islands, rivers, lakes, &c., extending to 74° N. latitude along the north-eastern portion of North America.

The discovery most important to geographical science was that of the magnetic pole at 96° 46' 45" W. longitude, and 70° 5' 17".[2]

Insignia of Baronet

Honours and distinctions[edit]

Having served as Alderman and Master of the Worshipful Company of Coopers, Booth was elected a Sheriff of London in 1828.

A founding Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, Booth was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society on 10 April 1834;[3] his sponsorship of the successful expedition was rewarded by King William IV with a baronetcy, on 27 March 1835,[4] with remainder to heirs male of his eldest brother.[2]

See also[edit]



 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainGibson, John Westby (1886). "Booth, Felix". In Stephen, Leslie. Dictionary of National Biography. 5. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 

External links[edit]