Saturday, November 29, 2014

Isaac and John Foss of Chester New Hampshire

john foss and tabitha sargent 
On 11 March 1743 Tabitha Sargent, the 17 year old daughter of Jacob and Judith Harvey Sargent married John Foss in Chester, New Hampshire. Less than three years later, she was a widow.  The marriage would produce a single child, a boy, born 12 October 1744, they named David.  I have traced Tabitha's Sargent family back multiple generations, but who was John Foss of Chester.

John was probably a very young man when he died so he left very few clues as to who he was or who his parents might be. Sifting through records and other genealogical writings shows that there was another Foss in Chester at the same time, he was Isaac Foss who moved had there from Greenland, NH.  It would seem possible if not probable that the two men might be related. So who was Isaac?

Well it is probable that he was a grandson of  John Foss and Mary Berry of Rye, NH, subjects of an earlier post.  The genealogy of John Foss of Rye is a tangled mess as he is confused with John Fost of Dover. I can tell already that this is going to take a lot of picking apart of data, head scratching and possible tantrums on my part.  But here we go.  I think I'll start with the children of John Foss and Mary Berry and take it from there.

children of john foss and mary berry of rye
Okay, I already have a headache.  Looking at the internet and books on the Foss Family I have complied several lists of children for John and Mary. Here are a few  based on the best known genealogical books that include the Foss Family. The names in black are included all three lists, blue on two and red on only one.

Cutter                    Sterns                              Noyes Libby Davis_________________________
John                        John                                          John
Samuel                (Humphrey)                             Elizabeth
Joshua                  William                                      Samuel
Elizabeth               Hannah                                    Martha
Mary                     Joshua                                     Thomas
William                  Hinkson                                  William
Walter                      Mary                                       Joshua
Hannah                  Benjamin                                 Zachariah
Thomas                  Thomas                                    Hannah
Hinkson                 (Jemima)                                   Richard
(Humphrey)            Elizabeth                                
(Jemima)                Samuel

The only thing these three list seem to agree on is that John was the first born son.  In his deed/will, John Sr. named only three children: John, Joshua and Zachariah.  It is interesting that Cutter and Sterns do not even include a Zachariah on their lists. In 1699 John Fost of Dover died leaving children named: Humphrey, Jemimiah, William, Mary, Elizabeth and Samuel.  I think we can strike Humphrey and Jemima off our list of John Foss' children as they are undoubtedly the children of John Fost. Hinkson is a very unusual forename name, in fact it was the surname of at least two women who married sons of John Foss, Sr. For this reason, I doubt that he was the son of John Foss, I believe that he was rather his grandson.  I also think Walter, Benjamin and Richard were not sons of John Sr.

potential list of fathers of either isaac or john of chester
So I think we can make a list of potential fathers of either Isaac or John of Chester, NH. I would include John, Joshua, Thomas, Samuel, William and Zachariah.  A a review of genealogy books shows that Joshua did not seem to have had a son named John or Isaac, so I am ruling him out. In his book, Genealogical and Family History of New Hampshire,  Sterns believed that John of Chester was the son of John Jr., grandson of John Sr. On the internet many sites have William and Sarah (Buswell Foss) were his parents, especially on

William and Sarah Buswell did have a son named John, baptized in Greenland in 1717. William lived in Greenland for a while but it looks like he moved to Scarborough, Maine shortly before his death in 1718.  If William was indeed the father of John of Chester, how did John get there and what is his relationship to Isaac?

my beloved son
Okay, I have to tell you that I do know who John's father was.  In a deed registered Oct. 1740 Isaac Foss, of Chester, wrote that  for the "parental love and natural affection I have to bear towards my beloved son, John Foss" and deeded him lot 105 in Chester. Isaac later deeded land to other sons Timothy, Thomas and Isaac Jr. According to the book "The History of Chester", Isaac Foss was originally from Greenland.

So, now the question is, who was Isaac?  If John followed his father to Chester, did Isaac follow his father to Greenland?   The progenitor of this Foss family lived in Rye.   Greenland was a "suburb" of Rye.  In 1711 three Foss males were paying taxes: John, Samuel and William.  These are presumed to be sons of John Foss Sr.  So was one of them the father of Isaac?

two isaacs
Just to keep things interesting, there were two men named Isaac that seem to be descendants of John Foss, Sr.  One is our Isaac of Greenland and Chester and the other was Lt. Isaac Foss of Stratham. Lt. Isaac Foss is known to have died in Stratham in 1761, he is said to be the son of Thomas Foss and Abigail Cole of Greenland.

Our Isaac deeded property in 1757 to his son Timothy.  Noyes, Libby, Davis say he was still alive in
1760, and that was the last time his name was recorded. The probate records from this period have yet to be put online, so I am not sure if he wrote a will, maybe this is what NLD are referencing in their 1760 information.

so who was isaac's father
I don't know.  It was probably either John Foss Jr. or his brother Samuel. I am betting that it was John Jr. My evidence for this is circumstantial and should not be taken as anything other than a guess. That being said, Isaac named his first son John, and did not name a son Samuel. John Jr. witnessed Isaac's deed when he left Greenland.  Flimsy, yes, but that's all I got.

what do we know about isaac foss of chester
If Isaac was the son of either Samuel or John Foss Jr.  then he must have been  born by 1700.  He married Abigail Hinkson on 5 December 1717 in Greenland. The had at least five children.  John and Isaac Jr. were baptised in 1722, Abigail in 1724, Thomas in 1728, all in Greenland.   The also had a son Timothy who I believe must have been born in Chester.

On the 30th day of April 1729 Isaac bought, for 80 pounds, Jonathan Elkin's land in Chester, NH. One day prior he and Abigail sold all their property in Greenland to Thomas Berry. Isaac continued to buy and sell land in Chester.  He deeded each of his sons land.  In his last deed, dated Dec 25, 1760 he and his son Thomas sold land, their wives also had to sign the deed.  Isaac's wife was Judith, so Abigail had died some time prior to 1760 and Isaac had remarried.

Isaac was not mentioned much in the history of Chester.  He was a surveyor in 1730.  I wish there was more to tell, but that's all I have for now.

There are no dates for the death of Isaac, Abigail or Judith Foss.

lessons learned
1. never trust other trees on, do your own research
2. even the great genealogists of the past can be wrong, do your own research
3. New Hampshire registry of deeds is a great source of info

My Foss Ancestry:
John Foss and Mary Berry
John Foss Jr. and Wife or Samuel Foss and Wife
Isaac Foss and Abigail Hinkson
John Foss and Tabatha Sargent
David Foss and Anne Richardson
Anna Foss and Reuben Moore
Mary "Polly" Moore and Samuel Duncan Rowell
Enoch Rowell and Viola Rowell
Jennie Clover Rowell and John Clark Thornton

Stearns, Ezra S., William F. Whitcher, and Edward E. Parker. Genealogical and Family History of the State of New Hampshire: A Record of the Achievements of Her People in the Making of a Commonwealth and the Founding of a Nation. New York: Lewis Pub., 1908. Print.

Cutter, William Richard. New England Families, Genealogical and Memorial; a Record of the Achievements of Her People in the Making of Commonwealths and the Founding of a Nation. New York: Lewis Historical Pub., 1913. Print.

Genealogical Dictionary of Maine and New Hampshire, Noyes, Libby and Davis,

Chase, John Carroll. History of Chester, New Hampshire, including Auburn a Supplement to the History of Old Chester, Published in 1869. Derry, NH: J.C. Chase, 1926. Print.

Rockingham County Registry of Deeds, book 28 page 44 has the deed where Isaac gives land to his son John

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Jacob Sargent and Judith Harvey of Amesbury, MA and Chester, NH

Jacob and Judith Harvey Sargent were second generation New Englanders.  Their parents had all been born in Massachusetts.  The environment had improved life expectancy and child survival rates, resulting in large families.  When their grandfathers arrived their was plenty of land in Massachusetts but by 1700 fathers were struggling to provide land for their sons.  Men like Jacob began to turn inland in search of land and employment opportunities.  Jacob and many of his generation found what they were looking for in New Hampshire.

jacob and judith
Jacob Sargent was the son of William and Mary Colby Sargent.  He was born in Amesbury on 13 March 1686. He was their youngest son. Judith was the daughter of Sarah Barnes and John Harvey, she was born in Amesbury on either 26 May 1688 or 9 June 1688.  Her birth is recorded in two places with different dates, the Amesbury records say June and the County Court records say May.

Jacob and Judith married in Amesbury on 7 December 1710, she was 22 he was 24.  The marriage was performed by Rev. Thomas Wells the minister of Amesbury.

There is not much mention of Jacob in the Amesbury records, other than his birth, marriage and the birth of his children.  He was a farmer like his father before him. He had inherited land from his father.  His life seems to have been uneventful at least in any civic sense until the year 1727.

The name Jacob Sargent began appearing in the Chester town records in the year 1727, he was then about 41 years old.  He must have relocated there between the 1725 birth of his seventh child, Dorothy and the 1727 town meeting in which his name was recorded.  His daughter Tabitha was most likely born in Chester abt. 1726, her birth was not recorded in Amesbury and Chester had yet to start recording vital statistics.

Jacob really came into his own in Chester.  He was by the time of his move a man of middle age.  He was styled Ensign, so he must have been in the local militia.  At the 1727 town meeting he was named the town Surveyor of Highways. At a Dec 1735 meeting he was chosen to be a member of a committee to lay out lots for a second division of land. He was a Selectman in 1736 and he was on a committee to see about a school house. In 1739 he was again chosen to lay out lots for a third division of land. In 1741 he was on a committee to determine the size of the Kingstown grant.

Not all of the original proprietors of the town chose to live in Chester, some may have been speculators, hoping to sell their land at a later date, and for a profit no doubt. However the original charter specified that each proprietor must, within three years, build a house, settle a family, clear three acres of land and be prepared to pay taxes. In 1732 there were enough delinquent proprietors that a committee was set up to find them and make them pay up.

Not only did Jacob play a prominent role in establishing the town of Chester, but he was also trusted with the task of finding a "suitable orthodox good man" to be their minister. And, when one was found, he was on the committee to plan the ordination ceremony. Jacob and his fellow committee member's choice, the Reverend Moses Hale, was apparently not a good one, within a few years he had stopped his ministerial work and was described as "deranged". They, of course, formed a committee to get rid of him.

He was also chosen to be the town treasurer and was tasked to collect 40 shillings from every proprietor in Chester for the building of their meeting house. There was a a bit of squabbling by the towns people concerning the choice of minister, there was by that time a considerable population of Scotch-Irish, whose religious preference was Presbyterian. In 1741 it was decided that the two groups could form their own church and build separate meetinghouses to hold their services. Each had their own annual meetings to decide church matters, hired a minister of their liking and paid his salary. Jacob and his family belonged to the Congregational Church, which took it's traditions from the Puritans.

When the meetinghouse was first built, the congregation sat on benches.  In 1743 they decided to take out some of the benches and sell space for family pews. Jacob was on the committee to organize the pew sale. He and his son Winthrop both bought the right to have pews built. The pews had seats on three sides so each pew could accommodate a large family.  The family pew would be inherited by the next generation.

children of judith and jacob
Jacob and Judith had at least nine children, the first of which, a son, was born within a year or so of their marriage.

1. Winthrop b. Oct 28 1711 Amesbury, d. Dec 1787 Chester, NH
2. Jacob b. 18 Nov 1713, never married
3. Judith b. 27 Mar 1716, m. Francis Towle 1738
4. Sarah b. 8 mar 1718, m. Enoch Colby 1748
5. Elizabeth b. 23 July 1722 Amesbury
6. Dorothy b. 28 Feb 1725 Amesbury
7. Tabitha b. abt. 1726 Chester,  m. John Foss 1744, m. (2) Hezekiah Underwood, d. 23 Aug 1803
8. John bp. in Amesbury 26 Nov 1727, m. Susanna Harriman, d. 14 Nov 1797
9. Theophilus b. unknown most likely in Chester, lived in Candia Corners, married Lydia Mitchell 1753, d. 1807

Jacob Sargent died in Chester on  6 April 1749, aged 61.  Judith, his widow, was granted administration rights on 12 June 1749.  A bond of 500 pounds was posted, the actual value of the estate was 1257 pounds. Judith's death was not recorded.

Hoyt, David Webster. The Old Families of Salisbury and Amesbury, Massachusetts: With Some Related Families of Newbury, Haverhill, Ipswich, and Hampton, and of York County, Maine. Baltimore: Genealogical Pub., 1982. Print.

Chase, Benjamin. History of Old Chester from 1719 to 1869. Auburn, NH: Author, 1869. Print.

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