James Bolton Jr. (James Cupper Bolton) (1812 – 1907)

The Bolton Flour Mill as it would have appeared after James Bolton Jr. increased its size in 1850. Photo: McFall family collection.
The indenture of James Bolton Jr. to John Godbolt in 1829. The text is here.
  • James Cupper Bolton (James Bolton Junior) was born in Tannington, Suffolk, England in 1812 to James Charles Bolton (1781-1840) and Lucy Cupper (1784-1823) 1
  • He was educated from an early age and came to Canada with his family in 1818.  The family spent until early 1820 in Weston Ontario where James Sr. was employed building mills.  They moved to their property in Albion Township in the spring of that year 
  • At age 8, James Jr. would have been helping his older brothers Charles, George and Henry clear the land.  He was 11 when his mother died, the same year his eldest sister Harriet married John Godbolt
  • He was apprenticed to his brother-in-law John Godbolt in 1829 and was bound by an Indenture to remain in the position until his 21st birthday in 1833 2.  John and Harriet Godbolt’s farm was in the river valley to the east of the grist mill on property they had acquired from George Bolton  
  • He became George Bolton’s assistant shortly after his indenture to John Godbolt ended 3
  • He married his cousin Ellen Godbolt in 1838.  She was the daughter of Rachel Godbolt and George Godbolt 4
  • By 1842, a major flood destroyed the wooden mill dam which was re-built in the same location, but around then, George Bolton signalled that he was ready to pass on the management of the mill 5
  • Over the next three years, James took over the day-to-day operations of the mill.  One additional task was to built seasonal accommodation for mill workers.  The structure still stands, part of the larger Mill Cottage, Bolton’s oldest residence
  • In 1845, James purchased the mill, property and buildings from his uncle George Bolton 6.  He was 33 years old
  • On assuming ownership, James proceeded to construct a much larger grist mill about 300 metres downstream on the site of the 1830 log school (where Humber Lea Drive now crosses the Humber River) 7
  • The steeper hillside location provided the necessary height for three run of stone but relocating the mill was a massive undertaking which took 18 months 8The mill was grinding grain by the fall of 1846 9
  • James converted the original grist mill site on Mill Street to a saw mill which coincided with his brother Charles’s sale of building lots along the south side of King Street East 10
  • By enlarging the mill, James benefitted from the increasing local demand as well as Britain’s 1846 repeal of their corn laws which opened up the UK market to imported flour
  • James and Ellen donated the plot of land for the Methodist Cemetery in 1848 11
Mill Cottage, 97 King Street East, as seen in 1916. Margaret Duffy, wife of mill manager Ben Duffy, is sitting on the porch. The west half of the house was built c.1843 by James Bolton Jr. as mill worker accommodation. The structure was enlarged in 1882 by Andrew McFall.
View of the Humber River valley circa 1897. The mill race to the right was created in 1845-1846 by James Bolton Jr. along with the second wooden dam at the mill race entrance. The ‘island’ in the centre later contained tennis courts.
  • Through the late 1840s, demand continued to increase and in 1850 James enlarged the mill again, re-doubling its size 12 He also built additional housing for workers   
  • James also built a large cottage and stables along King Street East for his wife Ellen and their sons Martin and Lewis 13  14
  • The Crimean conflict in the early 1850s and the resulting blockade of Russian wheat from western Europe drove export demand for Canadian flour even higher
  • In 1855, James decided to sell out.  He left Bolton with his family and took up farming in the Township of Wallace, Perth County (east of Listowel)
  • He later returned to the area, probably to be near his mother-in-law Rachel Bolton Godbolt as well as his uncle George Bolton.  He farmed near Newmarket
  • He died on January 16, 1907 and is buried in the Newmarket Cemetery
An invoice from John Godbolt to James Bolton Jr. In 1845, the currency system used in Canada was pounds sterling. McFall family collection.
Monument for James Cupper Bolton, his wife Ellen and their daughter-in-law. Newmarket Cemetery

Buildings erected by James Bolton for mill workers.  All remain standing today.

122 King St. East
132 King St. East
97 King St. East
  1. Marjorie Bolton, A Family Named Bolton, A family genealogy, March 1979
  2. McFall family collection.
  3. McFall family collection.  David McFall commentary about the mill
  4. By licence at St. James Cathedral, Rev. Henry J. Grasett
  5. The position of dam across the Humber lies parallel to the ‘Founding of Bolton’ plaque in Founder’s Park on Mill Street
  6. Abstract Index to Deeds, Lot 9, Con 7, Albion Township, Reel A, Region of Peel Archives
  7. Murray Hesp, Bolton School Days, printed by The Bolton Enterprise, 1969, p.7
  8. For further details about the relocation of the mill, go to Industry Grist Mills
  9. Elizabeth Godbolt, letter written in December 1846, but not mailed. It was found in the early 1920s
  10. T.C.Prosser Map of Bolton 1854
  11. Abstract Index to Deeds, ibid., Lot 9 Con 6 Inst# 31563, Albion Township
  13. Esther Heyes, p. 312
  14. Census Records 1851, Albion Township