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Jeremy Irons’ Kent smuggling ancestor

On Saturday I watched a rerun of the episode of Who Do You Think You Are? (UK) featuring Jeremy Irons. I do this sometimes, either because I’ve forgotten the celebrity’s story, I want to revisit the research methods, or sometimes because there’s nothing better to watch!

Jeremy Irons

Jeremy Irons, actor

This episode was fairly contemporary, with Jeremy wanting to discover if his ‘coming home’ feeling of living in Ireland was due to any Irish ancestors. He also ‘liked the sea’.
Jeremy did eventually discover that his great-great grandfather, Henry Loftie RUTTON married Catherine McCREIGHT, whose family had lived in the north of Ireland since 1695. She was his Irish connection. They married on 24th August 1843. He also later discovered Catherine’s grandmother was born in County Cork, where Jeremy now lived.

However, this was not what sparked renewed interest in his story. When Jeremy discovered his great-great grandfather was Henry Loftie RUTTON, transcription records of his grave in Tullylish stated (at around 35 mins into the episode):

Here lieth the body of Henry Loftie RUTTON, formerly of Ashford in the County of Kent, who died at Warrenpoint in this county, 9th September 1864 …”

Alarm bells rang… Kent… RUTTON…

During my research into William BALDOCK (1748-1812), businessman and smuggler, I had come across the name Dr. Isaac RUTTON.
Dr. RUTTON was a physician from Ashford in Kent, and the British History Online website states:

“Near the market place, is the house of the late Dr. Isaac RUTTON, a physician of long and extensive practice in these parts, being the eldest son of Matthias RUTTON, gent of this town, by Sarah his wife, daughter of Sir N. TOKE, of Godinton. He died in 1792…” (

Godinton appears to have been a seat of the TOKE family.

William BALDOCK of Petham, near Canterbury, by T Dinsdale (painting)

William BALDOCK of Petham, near Canterbury. Believed to be the same man who took over the reigns of The Seasalter Company from Dr. Isaac RUTTON.

Double alarm bells!! Someone called Sir Nicholas Roundell TOKE was an executor of the Will of William BALDOCK! To top it all, Dr. Isaac RUTTON held the parsonage at Seasalter, which on his death in 1792 passed to William BALDOCK ( parsonage).

Seasalter Parsonage farm was used as the headquarters of “The Seasalter Company” smuggling fraternity, founded in 1740 by … Dr. Isaac RUTTON! ( For those not in the know, Seasalter adjoins Whitstable on the north Kent coast – ‘by the sea’ !

More details on these smugglers and their activities can be discovered in the book by Wallace Harvey called “The Seasalter Company: a smuggling fraternity, 1740-1854“.

Coming back to Jeremy’s line, Henry Loftie RUTTON was the son of Matthias RUTTON and Margaret LOFTIE (, and Matthias was the son of Isaac RUTTON and Judith STOKES (, whose first son was the Isaac RUTTON who became physician and smuggler:

Jeremy → Barbara SHARPE → Henry SHARPE → Katherine RUTTON → Henry Loftie RUTTON (1800-1864) → Matthias RUTTON (1748-1818), brother of (Dr.) Isaac RUTTON (1746-1792)

Thus, Jeremy is the 4 x great nephew of Dr. Isaac RUTTON, Kent smuggler.

Did William BALDOCK know Isaac? — Almost certainly, given the property and business relationships with the RUTTON family.
Did William BALDOCK know Henry Loftie RUTTON? — Possibly, but as yet unknown.

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Published in: Genealogy | on September 23rd, 2014 | No Comments »

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