Promoting Boston’s links to American history

Brian Rawsthorne, Mayor of Boston Alison Austin, Frances Smith and Lydia Smith
Brian Rawsthorne, Mayor of Boston Alison Austin, Frances Smith and Lydia Smith

Two American sisters came to Boston to explore their family history... and could be the first of many attracted to the town from across the pond.

Sisters Lydia, 20, and Francis Smith, 18, were taken on a tour of Boston - including the Stump, the Pilgrim Fathers memorial, Guildhall and Fydell House - by Brian Rawsthorne.

Mr Rawsthorne is in the initial stages of setting up a small group to promote Boston as a tourist destination to Americans and to promote the history of the town in the States.

It is hoped to make it easier for those showing an interest in the town’s history to book accommodation and come over for visits.

Mr Rawsthorne has lived in Boston, Massachussetts and California andsaid friends who visited often encouraged him to take on the project.

He said: “Lydia and Frances were put in touch with me and I wanted to treat them to a real-life experience of England not a sanitised theme-park version.

“It confirmed to me what Boston has to offer, just in terms of history and heritage, it’s a very special town with a unique history.

“My American guests are always knocked out by what we have here when they arrive and in a lot of cases are completely unaware of Boston’s existence.”

Lydia is an art student at university in Houston, Texas, and received a travel grant to come to England to find out more about her ancestry – which links to the Ingalls family, who left Skirbeck in 1626 for the New World.

She said she had enjoyed the sights of Boston and said the church was ‘just breath-taking, just beautiful’.

Mr Rawsthorne is looking for anyone who is hoping to help with his project - for example as a guide, or offering a place for visitors to stay.

For details visit, or search on Facebook or Twitter.

What happened to the Ingalls?

Lydia and Francis Smith discovered that their family history stretches back to 12th great-grandfather Henry Ingalls, who lived in Skirbeck.

The family would have more than likely attended St Nicholas Church, in Skirbeck.

The Ingalls name was also present in Boston, Kirton and Heckington, however Henry’s grandchildren Edmund and Francis were the ones who travelled to Salem, Massachussetts with Governor Endicott in 1628.

They were one of the original settlers in Lynn, Massachussetts in 1629.

Their research indicates that the Ingalls family may have been quite wealthy at the time - their ancestors had kept servants and were able to make wills. Edmund and Francis between them received between them 120 acres of land and were able to pay their own way.

It is thought that the family may have travelled on a ship called the Abigail, which travelled between Weymouth and Salem at about the right time, arriving at its destination on September 6, 1628.

The line of descendents from Edmund then moved across America over time, including living in Andover, Massachussetts, Pomfret, Connecticut and including relatives who were captains and soldiers in the Revolutionary army.