Wednesday, July 25, 2012

John Foss and Mary Berry Of Rye, New Hampshire

John "I am not from Denmark" Foss and his only wife Mary Berry 

Internet mess
The genealogy of the John Foss Family is an internet mess, and I hesitate to enter the fray but, he is in the family so I will try to sort out what is documented about him and what is not. I know that I haven't been great at documenting my own sources, other than listing them at the bottom of the page, so I will try to do a better job with this one, especially in light of all the errors out there.  

Two John Foss'
The two biggest reasons for all the mix ups are the fact that there were two men, contemporaries, named John Foss who lived within spitting distance of each other, and a genealogy of the Foss family compiled and published by Guy S. Rix.  The two John's are John Foss(t) of Dover and John Foss of Rye.  Both men were married to women named Mary.

In his books on the Foss Family, Guy Rix, a blacksmith in Concord, New Hampshire, pieced together the genealogy through correspondence.  This was done in the early 1900's.  Apparently a Foss family in then Danish Virgin Islands wrote to him and told him of their Danish ancestry. For whatever reason Guy assigned their ancestors to all Foss's in America, which is simply not the case.

Guy Rix then combined the two men, added the fake Danish ancestors gave it all a good stir and left us with a Foss fiasco. Now some people really really want the Danish Ancestry to be true, but from what I have read David L. Foss had twins born in 1638, both girls.  Rix substituted "Johan" for one of the girls names and Voila Danish Royalty added to the family.  As always, if you think that I have any of the following information wrong, please point it out, and please include your documented sources. So here is what I can piece together about John Foss of Rye and John Fost of Dover.

John Fost of Dover
In his will written 17 Dec 1699, John Fost of Dover names the following people: his wife Elizabeth and children; Humphrey, William, Mary, Jeminah, Elizabeth, and Samuel.  He also names a son in law, James Warren.  the inventory of the will was taken on January 8th. In his will he says the two youngest of his children are not yet of age.  Presumably he named the children in their birth order and the youngest two would be Elizabeth and Samuel. [1]

In an earlier probate record, that of James Goss (Goffe), the inventory of his estate was done and was then in the hands of John Foste who married the relict (widow) this was done on May 7 1688. Witnesses were Humphrey Chadbourne and Richard Paine. [2] So we know that the wife named in John Fost's will was Elizabeth Goss, widow of James Goss.  She is not, however, the mother of all of his children.

William Chadborne
In The Collection of the Dover Historical Society, Vol 1, Births and Marriages, are found the following births:  William Fost, son of John and Mary born March 11th 1673.  Mary Fost, the daughter of William and his wife Mary, born June 24 1728 and Chadbourne Fost, son of William and his wife Mary born March 26 1731. [3]  The first wife of John Fost was Mary Chadbourne. She was said to be the daughter of William Chadbourne and his wife Elizabeth. [4]

In his will proved 13 September 1667 Humphrey Chadborne of Kittery, Maine wrote a very lengthy will in which he left 5 pounds to his "cosson Mary Fosse". This confirms the link between Mary Fost and the Chadbourne family. Humphrey was likely her uncle, despite being referred to by his as his cousin. [5]

At a town meeting held March 1, 1666 Thomas Edgerly, James Coffin, John Chirch, John Fost and others were received into the Town of Dover. He is on the tax roll of Cochecho that year. At a training the 21st of June 1669 John Fost and other men took the Oath of Fidelity. He is said to have been a tailor and attorney as he represented others in court. [6]

death of mary
Mary Chadbourne was alive on 11 March 1673 when she gave birth to her son William. He had his birth recorded in the Dover records in the 1700's after the birth of two of his own children.[7] John, her husband was know to have been remarried to Elizabeth Goss by 1688 when her husbands estate was probated.  [8] Most researchers place Mary's death closer to that date. But here's an interesting item in the court records. In June 1674 John Fost and his wife were presented in court in Dover for have a child only 12 weeks after marriage. [9] As there are no other John Fosts in Dover and John Foss of Rye was still married to his wife Mary Berry, who else can this be?

So, our first John Foss/Fost should look like this:

John Fost of Dover, b. Unknown, d. 1699
Married (1) Mary Chadborne, perhaps by June of 1674  (2) Sarah (Crawford) Goss
Mary b. abt. 1666, m. James Warren
William b. 11 March 1673


John Foss of Rye
There is a story, with slight variations, told about the arrival of John Foss of Rye. It is said that he was a Midshipman or caulker, on a British Man-of-War that was anchored in Boston Harbor.  John absconded from the ship and made his way to Rye. I tend to believe that he was a caulker rather than a midshipman. Although no one knows exactly when he arrived, you can pin him down a bit based on information in town records and deeds.

english origins
Paignton Harbour
In a 1990 article in the New England Historical and Genealogical Register entitled "Two John Jacksons From Dartmouth" the author surmises that John Fosse, son of Steven Fosse and Mary Jackson, and great nephew of John Jackson immigrant to New Hampshire, was the John Foss of Rye.  The Jackson Foss families lived in Paignton, Devon, England, which is a coastal town, and adds credence to the story of John being a caulker on a ship.  Still, the article does not offer any concrete evidence that John Foss of Devon was in fact John Foss of Rye, but it sounds promising. [10]

for the record
At the June court of 1662 quite a number of men were "presented" at court for various misdeeds involving alcohol including Francis Gray, of Great Island, who was presented for excessive drinking and disturbing the peace.  One of the witnesses was John Foss.  He took the oath of fidelity with others on 2 October 1666 at an election of military officers. [11]

At a Porthsmouth town meeting in 1663 a highway was to be laid out from Nathaniel Drake's to Sander's Point which was where John Foss lived.  Nathaniel Drake was by then married to Mary Berry Foss' mother.
At an Oct 1671 meeting he was paid 100 pounds for something by the town and in 1675 John Foss, Surveyor presented his account for work done on the highway, working with him were John and James Berry. He is said to have received a deed of land in Rye in 1668.[12]

wills, deed, death
John and his wife Mary testified in 1707 about the last wishes of Mary's sister Rachel Marden. [13] On  13 September 1710, John, feeling the weight of time and infirmity, wrote a deed will. His wife Mary was not mentioned, I believe we can safely assume that she was dead. If still alive, John would have addressed her care and dower rights.  John deeded most of his property to his son Joshua. He got the house and land at Sandy Beach, all uplands, orchards, meadow, marsh and pasture, except one half an island in the pond. He was also to receive all stock, buildings and household goods. In return, he would care for his father for his natural life. To his son and namesake John, he left all his land in Greenland. The last son mentioned was Zachariah, we was to get the other one half of fresh meadow on the island. He also was left fifty acres of land between the land of James Fulton and his grandfather's (William Berry) land. Lastly he left 5s. to each son and daughter, to be paid by Joshua. [14]

Two sons named William
To keep things complicated both men had sons, born around the same time, named William. William, son of John Fost, is known to have been born on March 11, 1673.  He married first in 1692 to Margery Lord and second Sarah, widow of Nathaniel Heard of Dover. Around 1727 he married Mary Horne. William Foss, son of John Foss of Rye, married Sarah Buswell in 1700 in Hampton Falls.

John Foss of Rye should look like this:

John Foss, b. 1633 Paignton, Devon, England, d. 1710-1716
Married: Mary Berry, d. between 1707 and 1710
John b. abt. 1660
Elizabeth b. abt. 1666
Samuel b. abt. 1668
Martha b. abt. 1672
William b. 11 March 1672/72
Zachariah b. abt. 1678
Hannah b. abt. 1682

The Hampton Lane Library which is a great genealogy resource for New Hampshire Ancestors lists John Foss as the son of Steven and Mary Jackson Foss.

[1] Albert Stillman Batchellor, Otis Grant Hammond, Ezra Scollay Stearns, Probate Records of the Province of New Hampshire, vol. 1 1635-1717, State Papers Series Vol. 31, (Concord, NH: Rumford Printing Co., 1907) 450, digital images, Archive ( : accessed 26 December 2015).

[2] Batchellor, Hammond, Sterns, Probate Vol 1, 320.

[3] Dover Historical Society, The Collection of the Dover Historical Society, Vol 1, Births and Marriages,(Dover, New Hampshire: Scales and Quimby, 1894), 40, digital images, Archive ( : accessed 26 December 2015).

[4] William Richard Cutter and William Fredrick Adams, Genealogical and Personal Memoirs Relating to the Families of the State of Massachusetts,Vol 4, (New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Co., 1910) 2461, Archive ( : accessed 26 December 2015).

[5] "Maine Early Wills and Deeds," database with images, American Ancestors ( : accessed 27 December 2015), citing York County, Maine Wills, Registry of Deeds 2, 27, entry for Humphrey Chadborne, 1667.

[6] John Scales, Historical Memoranda Concerning Persons and Places in Old Dover New Hampshire, (Westminster, Maryland : Heritage Books, 2007), 381-2.

[7] Collections of the Dover New Hampshire Historical Society, Vol 1, (Dover, Scales & Quimby, 1894), 40.

[8] Albert Stillman Batchellor, Otis Grant Hammond and Ezra Scollay Sterns, Probate Records of the Province of New Hampshire, Vol. 1, 1635-1717, State Papers Series, Vol. 31, (Concord, New Hampshire : The Rumford Press, 1907), 320, digital image, Archive (

[9] Otis G. Hammond, New Hampshire Court Records, 1640-1692, Court Papers, 1652-1668, State Papers Series, Vol. 40), 304, digital images, Archive (

[10] John Plumer"Two John Jacksons from Dartmouth", The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, The New England Historic and Genealogical Society, 144 (January 1990); digital images, American Ancestors ( : accessed 26 December 2015), 33.

[11] Batchellor, Hammond, Sterns, Probate Records, Vol 1, 220

[12] Henry Cole Quinby, New England Family History, A Magazine Devoted to the Families of Maine and Massachusetts, Vol 3, New York City : H. C. Quinby, 1907), digital images, Archive ( : accessed 26 December 2015), 432.

[13] Rockingham County, New Hampshire, Land Records, Vol. 13, p. 94; digital image, Rockingham Country Register of Deeds, (, search > Foss, Jno.

[14] Rockingham County, New Hampshire, Land Records, Vol. 9, p. 419; digital image, Rockingham Country Register of Deeds, (, search > Foss, Jno. > 419> John to Joshua. This deed was written 13 September 1710 and recorded on 28 May 1716.

This blog post updated: 27 December 2015

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