Wednesday, July 25, 2012

John Foss and Mary Berry

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 mixups 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. Guy Rix combined the two men, added some 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. New Hampshire Probate Records, Volume 3, page 161

William Chadborne
In another probate record, that of James Goss (Goffe) the inventory of his estate is done and is now in the hands of John Foste who married the relict (widow) this was done on May 7 1688. witnesses are Humphrey Chadbourne and Richard Paine. Probate Records of the Province of New Hampshire, Vol 31 p. 320. 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.  In The Collection of the Dover Historical Society, Vol 1, Births and Marriages, page 40, 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.  The first wife of John Fost was Mary Chadbourne. Genealogical and Personal Memoirs Relating to the Families of the State of Massachusetts, Cutter and Adams.Vol 4 p. 2461. In his will proved 13 September 1667 Humphrey Chadborne of Kittery Maine left 5 pounds to his "cosson Mary Fosse". Kittery Town Book. Mary is said to be the grandchild of William and Elizabeth Chadborne.

At a town meeting held March 1, 1666 Thomas Edgerly, James Coffin, John Chirch, John Fost and others were recieved into the Town of Dover. Dover Town Records.  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.

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.

John in the records
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.  Provincial Records of New Hampshire, Vol 40.

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.  New England Family History, A Magazine Devoted to the Families of Maine and Massachusetts, Henry Cole Quinby, Vol 3, page 432.
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.

John of Rye and his English background
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. John Plumer, "Two John Jacksons from Dartmouth", The New England Historic and Genealogic Register, Vol. 144

John and his wife Mary testified in 1706 about the last wishes of Mary's sister Rachel Marden.  John deeded his property in Sept. 1710 to John, Joshua and Zachariah.  If anyone has a copy of this deed I would love to see it!  He died sometime afterwards.

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.

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.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

John Marden and Elizabeth Berry of New Castle, New Hampshire


John Marden, sometimes spelled Mardin,  appears to have come out of nowhere and landed in New Castle, New Hampshire in the mid 1660's. It is not known when or where he was born, or who his parents were. In a survey of and other family history sites on the internet, his birth year is usually given as 1642. However, this is just an estimate not an exact date.  The date of his marriage to Rachael Berry, daughter of William and Jane Berry, usually given to be 1660, is also an estimated date, based on the estimated birth years of their children.  And not to be left out, the date of Rachael's birth is also unknown, estimated to be 1642.  This would make them both of them at least 18 at the time of their marriage, based on a 1660 marriage.
Anyway, John's name began appearing in various records in Rockingham County in the mid 1660's.  In 1664   he was on the Isle of Shoals and appraised the estate of one William King. The Isle of Shoals is a group of islands some 6 miles off the coast of New Hampshire, it could be that John Marden was living on one of the Islands in 1664. He took the Oath of Fidelity in 1666 in New Castle.  He also signed a petition by the inhabitants of Great Island (New Castle) to become a separate town.
New Castle, the smallest town in New Hampshire (current pop. less than 1,000) was then part of Portsmouth, it was finally incorporated in 1693. Sandy Beach remained part of New Castle until 1719 when it split off and incorporated under the new name of Rye.  According to Wikipedia the major trades at the time were tavern keeping, fishing, and agriculture. A fort was begun on the Island as early as 1632 and would in John Marden's time be known as Fort William and Mary, it is now call Fort Constitution.
 John Mardin was listed as an inhabitant of Sandy Beach in 1688. At a 1697 council meeting in New Castle it was order to pay John Marden for his 3 days of labor at the Fort (William and Mary).
location of New Castle and Ft. William and Mary
The most common error I have found concerning John Marden is his date of death usually given as 11 August 1698.  He did not die on that date, he wrote his will, he died sometime prior to Feb. 12, 1706/7 which is the date his will was proved. This will was witnessed by Judith Webster, John Foss, and John Locke. In it he left his "rite in the woods" to his son James and his wife Rachael the remainder of his estate. Rachael however did not live long after John as her family testified to her verbal will for her goods on the same day that John's will was probated.
Testifying to her wishes were her sister Mary Berry Foss and her husband John Foss.  They swore that Rachel gave to her son William Marden "the house and land where her husband John Marden in his lifetime dwelt".  To her daughter Elizabeth Rand she left her bed and bedding a small iron pot and her riding hood.  To her daughter Mary Jones she left a small table. Also testifying that day was William Wallis, he claimed that Rachel left her estate to her son William, to her son John a sheep, and to her daughter Elizabeth, the bed she lay on. 
John and Elizabeth had the following children: James, John, William, Mary and Elizabeth. Elizabeth married Nathaniel Rand.
On Sept. 7, 1745 John Marden, carpenter of Ports. & William Marden, yeoman of Rye sell to Joseph Newmarch of New Castle a piece of land on Great Island belonging unto our Honored Father John Marden late of New Castle deceased & on which he once lived it Lyes on the south side of an acre of Land formerly one Morses Land Westward and then along by the highway aforesaid as far as was possessed by our honored Farther. (from a deed of sale)

As always, if you think I have any wrong information please let me know, and if you would be so kind as to provide a source for your correct information. 

Provincial Records of the State of New Hampshire, Vol 2
Provincial Records of the State of New Hampshire, probate records
History of the Town of Rye, New Hampshire, Langdon Parsons

Sunday, July 15, 2012

William Berry of Sandy Beach, New Hampshire

Masons man or not

William Berry is yet another ancestor whose name appears on the list of stewards and servants of  Captain John Mason.  The men and women listed are commonly believed to have been sent to New Hampshire in or around 1631.  John Mason died in 1635, so it would seem that they would all have arrived by then.  However, this list was drawn up in 1824 almost two hundred years after and it is possible that not all those name arrived by 1631. William Berry's name is not found in any of the very early records, so it makes me wonder if he was in New Hampshire on or before the year 1631.


William was certainly in New Hampshire in 1640 when he signed "The Glebe Conveyance". He was described as an inhabitant of the lower end of the Piscataquack. A glebe is a parcel of land given to the benifice of a clergymen in order to generate income and offset the cost of supporting the minister. The Portsmouth glebe was 50 acres in size.   He used a seal to sign the agreement which must speak to his position, if not relative wealth. It is interesting to note that the first church in Portsmouth was not a Puritan but rather an Anglican church, unlike those in the Massachusetts Colony.
On August 14, 1646 as a signer of a grant, his home was listed as Strawbery Bank. On June 6, 1648 he gave (sold) his bourn (barn) at Strawberry Bank to Antony Ellis. In 1648/49 William was given a grant of land  on the south side of Little River in Sandy Beach, now called Rye. He was also part of the committee to lay out the land of Sandy Beach along with Anthony Brackett (of the Brackett Lane Massacre), Thomas Peavey and James Johnson.  He was also a grantee of an "out lot" of Portsmouth on January 15, 1652.
Berry's name is also found in the Court Records in the year 1650 when he served on a jury at the Courte at Strawberye. At the following court, also held in 1650, William was chosen as constable for Strawbery Bank for one year.  One last mention of him in the court records involves reimbursing him for costs that were incurred in 1645 when he was was acting  on the orders of the court, so he may have been constable then as well.
The name William Berry is also found in the records of the town of Newbury, Massachusetts.  Newbury was established in 1635 as a plantation for raising cattle and some family researchers say that he was in Newbury by 1635, however he is not on the original plat map of 1635 and his name is not in Newbury records prior to 1642.. He took the freemans oath in May of 1642  and became a freeholder on December 7th.  In 1649 Job Clement of Newbury was granted land formly owned by William Berry and in 1651 it was recorded that "William Chandler hath William Berries land".  In the records of Boston a William Berry, Gentleman, is mentioned twice, once in 1647 and again in 1648. 
Are these three William Berry's one man, two or even possibly three different men.  Most of the genealogies I have found lump William of Rye and William of Newbury as the same man.  If so, his sojourn into Massachusetts was brief, no more than a few years, maybe he found life among the Puritans difficult, who can say.  I have also seen on an internet site that William Berry was in Virginia in 1624, not sure where that came from. 
On June 28, 1654 Jane Berry was appointed administrator of her deceased husbands goods. William was dead and left no will. Many genealogy sites list Williams birth date between 1610 and 1619, his parents are unknown as is his birthplace in England. Equally unknown is the age and birthplace of his wife Jane and when the two married. Many family trees list the marriage as taking place in  1636 in Portsmouth, but I am not sure where that information comes from.

The next generation

According to Cutter in his book, the only two children that could be authenticated were Joseph and John.  He gives John's birth year as 1630 or earlier, which would mean he was born in England. John and Joseph were both given land in 1660.

1. John b. 1630-1637 England, m. Susannah, ch: (1)John b. Jan 14, 1659, (2) Elizabeth m. John Locke, (3) William m. Judith Locke on July 8, 1678, (4) James and (5) George.
2. Joseph m. Rachael ? Ch: 1. Jane m. Robert Goss 
3. Mary m. John Foss
5.James m. Eleanor Wallis
6.William ?
7. Elizabeth m. John Locke
This is not their birth order 

Jane Berry remarried to Nathaniel Drake of Rye.  She was in court in 1657, for bad behavior, 1660 and 1661 testifying about other cases.  Both Nathaniel and Jane witnesses the will of William Marston 1672. Nathaniel witnessed Anthony Brackett's will in 1691.  I cannot find a will for Nathaniel or Jane.

In the year 1810 Jonathan and David Locke certified under oath that William Berry married in July of 1678 Judith Locke.  Her father was Nathaniel Locke and her mother's maiden name was Hermins.  Her name recorded in the New Hampshire marriage records was Judith Locke Hermins.  This name Locke Hermins is seen in thousands of name attacked to Jane the wife of William Berry and grandmother of William the husband of Judith.  I find it hard to believe that both women were Locke Hermins and feel that this information was misinterpreted and attached to Jane instead of Judith. In my tree Jane will remain Jane Unknown.  There is also no way of knowing how many of William's children were from Jane if any. My ancestor is Rachael Berry, she is assumed to be the daughter of William because her name was Berry and she lived in Rye, there is no other proof.
Photo by Rusty Clark
I was recently reading a blog called Nutfield Genealogy by Heather Wilkinsen Rojo.  She wrote and article about John Locke who supposedly married an Elizabeth Berry, presumed daughter of William and Jane Berry.  She said this is in error that he did not married a Berry. A John Locke did marry Elizabeth Berry grandaughter of William and Jane Berry.  This may also be a case mismatching information. Oops, she thinks he did marry Elizabeth Berry afterall.

If you think any of this information is incorrect please let me know.

this is the web address to a great map of the Picataqua

The History of New Hampshire, Jeremy Bellnap,
New Hampshire State Papers, Volume 40
Genealogical and Personal Memoirs Relating to the Families of Boston and Eastern Massachusetts, Volume 2, edited by William Richard Cutter

Rambles about Greenland in rhyme,  By Micajah Otis Hall
Historic Homes and Institutions and Genealogical and Personal Memoirs of Worcester County Massachusetts, Volume 2, Ellery Bicknell Crane
The Magazine of history with notes and queries, Volume 5, January 1907
New Hampshire Probate Records

History of the town of Rye, New Hampshire: from its discovery and settlement, Langdon Brown Parsons
Nutfield Genealogy Blog by Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Colonial Calendar, Why Two Years Are Given For A Date

presentation of the new calendar to Pope Gregory

Often times when you are looking at dates for events in colonial times you see something like this:

Mary b. 3 Jan 1655/56  
Robert d. 5 March 1703/04
The meeting was held 26 Nov 1673, the next meeting to be held Feb 1673

Since 527 A.D. the first of the year was marked on March 25.  This was a great religious feast day; the Feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Mary Virgin.  The year was divided into quarters based on the great feast days: Annunciation, Midsummer Day or The Feast of St. John the Baptist on 24 June, Michaelmas Day or the Feast of the Birth of St. Michael on September 29,  and The Feast of the Circumcision Jesus, now know as the Octave on January 1. 
In the year 1582 the Catholic nations of Europe adopted the Gregorian Calendar which moved the beginning of the year back to Jan 1.  The protestant countries including England and it's colonies did not adopt the new calendar and continued to use the March date.  Because they were then two calendar systems the English double dated all days between January 1 and March 24th. 
In 1752 England and it's colonies finally adopted the Gregorian Calendar and the double dating stopped.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Thomas Shannon and Anne Rand of Rye and Chester

A search of available literature reveals very little about Thomas Shannon.  I was able to find the following information:

Thomas Shannon married May 31, 1753, Ann Rand.  
Lived at Chester.  
Children: Bettie b. September 18, 1753 
              William b. August 25, 1755
              John b. August 16, 1757
              Thomas b. 1759
              Samuel b. 1762
              Sarah b. 1766
History of the Town of Rye:  From it's Discovery and Settlement, Landgon Brown Parsons

Thomas Shannon came from the "Shoals", married a sister of Nathaniel Rand...

Thomas Shannon, born near Dublin, in Ireland or as some would say, near the river Shannon.  Emigrated to America about 1722, settled at the Isle of Shoals and later went to Rye where he married Mary Rand and soon after moved to lot 38 in Chester where they resided a short time. 

Harriet Eliza Noyes, A Memorial of the Town of Hampstead, New Hampshire, Vol 2, Boston

That's about it, all that is written about Thomas Shannon and his wife Anne Rand and some of it obviously cannot be correct.  Firstly and most obvious is that Thomas married Anne Rand and not Mary.  Also if he immigrated in 1722 but did not marry Anne until 1753 he would have been rather old.  Possibly it was his father that emigrated in 1722 and brought Thomas with him as a small child. 

internet errors

A search of and other internet sites gives the same basic information along with some big errors concerning the parentage of Thomas.  His parents are unknown.  His mother and father were not Nathaniel Shannon and Abigail Vaughan.  This is a different family with which our Thomas had no association.  

Abigail and Nathaniel Shannon had two children, Nathaniel Jr. and Cutts.  In her will, proved in October of 1762, Abigail left her estate to her grandchildren from Nathaniel and Cutts and to Cutts himself.  There is no mention of a son Thomas in her will. Cutts had a son named Thomas who lived in Dover, it is possible that he was the Thomas Shannon found in the Dover town records.

There is no record of a Thomas Shannon in New Hampshire until 1726 when a "Thomas Shannon" was taxed in New Castle, this would probably have been a year or so before our Thomas' birth. It is possible that the Thomas Shannon who was taxed was the father of Thomas who married Anne Rand. As Shannon is an Irish name, and given time frame, it is highly likely that his father was one of the many new immigrants coming from the north of Ireland.  These immigrants were for the most part staunch Presbyterians and were being persecuted in Ireland for not not following the Anglican faith.

Thomas and Anne were living on the cusp of an exciting and terrifying time, the American Revolution.  We do not know when they died or if they lived long enough to be a witness to history in the making.  I hope they did, although with three sons fighting in the war it must have been a harrowing time.  As is typical of the times, little mention is made of the daughters of the family. 

The date of death for both Thomas and Anne is unknown.  I have seen October 1811 as a date for Anne but am not sure what the source is for that. In the 1790 census of Chester there is listed John, Thomas and William Shannon.  Also on the list is Jeremiah Leavitt, the future husband of Sarah Shannon. 

Friday, July 6, 2012

Nathaniel Rand and Elizabeth Marden of Rye, New Hampshire

Nathaniel Rand was the first son of John and Remembrance Ault Rand.  He was born in 1669 in the Oyster Creek Plantation area of New Hampshire, now known as Durham.  His parents were killed in the Oyster Creek Massacre in July of 1694.  He and his brother John are not mentioned in any account of that day.  His brother Samuel was taken captive and as well as his sister Remembrance.  Samuel was returned but Remembrance was never seen again. Nathaniel is often confused with his uncle of the same name, he was killed at the Brackett's Lane Massacre in 1691. His brother John died a young man in 1697, leaving one child, a son also named John.

In 1701 Nathaniel married Elizabeth Marden at Queen Anne's Chapel in Newbury, MA.   She was pregnant at the time of the marriage and they had to appear in court to explain their full term baby born four months after taking their vows. He wrote his will in 1740 but it was not proved until 1759.  Elizabeth survived him. He names six children in his will, sons: John, Joshua, Amos and Nathaniel and two daughters: Sarah Jordan and Elizabeth Philbrick.

a Cordwainer at work
Amos Rand was born in 1703 in Rye. As an adult he worked as a cordwainer (shoemaker).  He married Hester (Ester) Philbrick in 1726, their first child, Anne, was born 13 August 1727. Their last child, Nathaniel was baptized in August of 1740.  A lot of websites and trees give the date of death for Amos as 15 September 1740. This date is almost certainly wrong.  His father, Nathaniel, wrote his will on 15 September 1740, and names Amos in the will.  Now if his son dropped dead on the very day he wrote his will, you would think he might change it, but he didn't, which makes me think that people are just jumbling up their dates.  

Like his father before him, not much is written about Amos, the best source I've found is the book; "The History of Rye, New Hampshire" by Landon Brown Parsons. In a town meeting in 1754 the townsmen discussed building a road from Amos Rand's house to Nehemiah Berry's, which leads me to believe that he was still alive at that time. Amos lived at the intersection of West and Washington Roads. In the 1805 map of Rye by Mr. P. Merrill Thomas Rand was living there. Amos also received some of the Glebe Lands (land that had been set aside to fund the minister) in 1750-1760.

In his book Parsons  describes life in Rye in the early 1800's.  He said there "was but little appearance here of any cultivation of any comfortable subsistence, or of any pleasing prosperity.  The inhabitants, few in number, were low, destitute, and miserable .....Where there was nothing then but a waste and dreary wilderness, there are now well fenced and well cultivated fields.  Where there was abject poverty, there now is smiling abundance and wealth.  Where there was wretchedness and misery, there now is pleasing prosperity and happiness...."  Sounds like life was pretty grim back then, of course some of the authors in the early 1900's were not to objective when they wrote some of these 'histories', it had to have been a tough life.

The Children of Amos and Hester (Ester) Rand:
Anna b. 13 Aug 1727 m. Thomas Shannon
Philbrick b. Dec 11 1729
Ester b. May 13 1732
Joseph b. March 1 1734
Elizabeth b. April 12 1736
Sarah b. Feb 12 1738
Nathaniel b. 21 May 1740

There is no will for Amos Rand, his date of death is unknown. There is no will or death date for Ester. 

for my Dad:
Francis Rand - John Rand- Nathaniel Rand - Amos Rand- (Anne Rand + Thomas Shannon) =
(Sarah Shannon + Jeremiah Leavett) = (Sally Leavitt + William Rowell) = (Viola Rowell + Enoch Rowell) = Jennie Clover

Probate records of New Hampshire
Birth records of New Hampshire
History of Rye, New Hampshire

Have a great day!