John Boustead was, in his day, a Friend of great reputation as a minister. He was born at Aglionby, near Carlisle, in the year 1659. We have little direct information about him, but he is mentioned in the journals of both Thomas and Christopher Story. Thomas Story's first tour as a preacher was taken in company with John Boustead. This journey took place in 1692. Boustead and Story met, by agreement, at Healy Hall, near Newcastle, and, after attending several meetings there, proceeded by Morpeth and Kelso to Edinburgh, where they fell in with one Thomas Rudd, a Leicestershire miller and a preacher of great enthusiasm, who had been traversing the streets and colleges of Edinburgh, crying out, "Woe to the sandy foundation!".
Rudd is described as "having a voice suited to the measure of his words, with an innocent boldness in his countenance, frequently lifting his right hand towards heaven as he passed along, which was with a slow and grave pace." With Rudd, Boustead and his companion went to make some farewell visits, after the conclusion of the Quarterly Meeting, which they had come to attend at Edinburgh. Rudd felt suddenly moved again to cry through the street. Boustead and Story suffered him to go alone, not feeling called upon to hazard their lives or liberties by meddling in his concerns; but, after they had waited his return for some time, they set out to seek for him. Rudd was discovered in a low shop in the old High Street of Edinburgh, where he had been thrust by the rabble.
Boustead, who was a bold, able-bodied man, not to say a fighting Quaker, pressed through the mob, and pulled Rudd out, to a stone by the town-cross, from which post Rudd began to give forth his warnings, under the protection of Boustead. Some of the crowd that soon gathered mocked the party and pelted them with a pack of old playing-cards; others were more serious and wondered what could make Rudd and his friends so daring. A report got into circulation that Rudd was "he who went through London with a message and, shortly afterwards, there was an earthquake there". So great was the excitement stirred up, that the bailies called out several companies of soldiers and drew them up over against the Tolbooth, and Rudd was taken before the chief bailie, Charles Charteris, who committed him to the Tolbooth.
In the evening, Boustead got admission into that prison, and found himself and Rudd great objects of curiosity to the prisoners, among whom there were many Episcopalians, who had been rioting on account of the suppression of their clergy. Another singular view of the prison system of the age is afforded us by the account of Rudd's imprisonment and Boustead's visit to him. We hear of the Common Hall of the prison, and of the "Quaker's High Room", an apartment of deal, which the friends had made in "time of greater persecution, for their own convenience." Here, Rudd and his visitors supped, and the Episcopalian prisoners were much gratified to note thaty they craved a blessing before their meat.
After supper, Boustead returned to his lodgings. Next day, he attacked Chief Bailie Charteris as he came out of his court and told him, with great boldness, that it would "be a great reflection on the Presbyterians in Scotland, who so lately themselves had been hardly used, as they said, by the Episcopalians," to begin persecuting the Friends. Boustead's boldness carried the day, and Rudd was released. The three, after visiting some ladies of high rank in Edinburgh, travelled round Scotland, going as far as Aberdeen and Inverness. Rudd and Boustead preached at all the towns they came to. Sometimes the people and the audience were friendly, sometimes the reverse; but at Glasgow and Hamilton, and particularly the latter place, they were mobbed and fared very badly.
We have little more to relate of Boustead. He has been mentioned, in an account of Christopher Story, as being present and having his head broke, by disturbances which arose when the Friends attempted to hold meetings in Cannonby parish; and he also visited Ireland, at some time or other, in company with George Rooke. He died in 1716 and was buried at Scotby.