By Ron Shillingford
The news that the Cayman Islands has launched an appeal to try to trace the descendants of their Cornish founding fathers with the aim of flying them to meet their distant relatives has sparked interest in Boddens living in Cayman.
Two weeks ago, Eric Bush, Cayman Islands representative to the United Kingdom, asked anyone in the U.K. to get in touch who thinks they may be the descendants of a man named either Bodden or Bawden who left Cornwall in 1654 as part of Oliver Cromwell’s army to fight in the Anglo-Spanish war. Bodden ended up living in the Cayman Islands and it is thought that all Cayman Boddens descend from him.
Clive Bodden could be one of them and the Bodden Town resident is intrigued at possibly tracing his family tree back nearly 400 years.
When he was 9 years old he had the opportunity of going to school in England and to stay with his aunt, Mary Woodward. He finished school and went on to study engineering at High Wycombe College of Technology and later to Willesden College of Technology, in London, to specialise in automotive technology.
Bodden had always wanted to visit Land’s End, the western most tip of England. Fifty years ago, he set off by car, knowing he would face long traffic delays at Exeter, a town on the way to Cornwall. The traffic was so bad, even on the newly constructed Exeter bypass, he decided to try an alternative route to the north of the town.
“I stopped at a gas station for a map and, there in tiny print, was shown a place called Bodden,” he said. “Strangely, the official Government Ordinance Survey maps did not show Bodden village at all, it was only shown on the cheap gas station map.
“Anyway, I took the opportunity of visiting and having the photo taken. When I came home from England I took the photo to the newly opened Cayman Islands Museum but there was no interest so it has languished in my files ever since.
“The village was tiny, with just farmhouses, a church and a pub. I made enquires at the church and pub but it seems there were no Boddens still living there. I guess they moved to the Cayman Islands a long time ago.”
Bodden admits not having a comprehensive knowledge of his family tree. Over the years he has collected lots of documentation but never had the time to put it all together. On his mother’s side his grandfather was a Connolly from East End and his grandmother was a Watler from Savannah. His father, Elliot Bodden’s uncle was Logan Bodden who was a vestryman and postmaster for Bodden Town and had one of the few cars on the Island which he used to bring the mail from George Town.
“The best Bodden ever was my dad, who, like many others, went away to work on ships to keep us fed during the very hard times the Island suffered after the Second World War,” he said.
He returned to Cayman in 1973 and worked for the government as the public works mechanical engineer before taking up a post as manager of, what is now, the Department Vehicles and Equipment Services. In 1983, Bodden left government service and formed his own heavy machinery service and supply company, Atlantic Supply Ltd. He remained in that business until he retired last year. The company is now run by his son Andrew. His other children are daughters, Deborah, a civil servant, and Jennifer, an accountant.
“My principal interest, after my work and family, is sailing and I hope to have the time to do a lot more of it now,” Bodden said. “I have sailed the San Juan Islands, the British Virgin Islands, from the Great Lakes to Cayman, to Cuba, to Jamaica and, of course, the other two Cayman Islands.
“Andrew has two daughters; Deborah has twin boys and Jennifer is expecting an addition very shortly so there should be a few Boddens around for some time to come.”