Augustine Bearse

Augustine Bearse (1618 - 1686)

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Augustine "Austin" Bearse aka Bearce
Born in Southampton, Hampshire, Englandmap
Son of [father unknown] and [mother unknown]
[sibling(s) unknown]
Husband of — married about in Barnstable, Massachusettsmap [uncertain]
Descendants descendants
Died in Barnstable, Barnstable, Massachusettsmap
Profile last modified | Created 14 Sep 2010
This page has been accessed 7,496 times.

Categories: Franklin Bearce Fraud | Puritan Great Migration | Puritanism, North America | Barnstable, Massachusetts | Confidence, sailed April 1638.

The Puritan Great Migration.
Augustine Bearse migrated to New England during the Puritan Great Migration (1620-1640).
Join: Puritan Great Migration Project
Discuss: pgm

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Use a G2G topic (attaching it to this profile) to discuss these issues. Thank you.


Disputed Origins

Renowned genealogist, Colonel Charles Edward Banks, believed he had found 10 year old Augustine Bear(s)e, of Longstock, on the King's Somborne Lay Subsidy Roll, of 1628.[1] The surname and place name, Bere, goes back to the 13th century, in this area of Hampshire, and seems to originate with La Bere Forest.[2] The "Beare" spelling was in use, in the early 1600s.[3][4]

There is no confirmed documentation of the birth date, place or parents of Augustine/Austin Bearce. For example, there is no proof that they were Gauche BeArce and Princess Matchowitch. Nor is there any support for the gypsy origins in the debunked claims made by Franklyn Bearce.

Hints as to his father’s name might be found in how he named his sons— Joseph and James.

Disputed Spouse

In the 1933, Franklyn Ele-watum Bearce filed with the Library of Congress a manuscript entitled "From Out of the Past--Who Our Forefathers Really Were, a True Narrative of our White and Indian Ancestors." This Bearce claimed he was a Schaghticoke and Eastern Indian attempting to obtain benefits as an Indian from the State of Connecticut. Part of his genealogy was then published in an article, about Jacob Hamblin, claiming that Austin Bearse was of gypsy heritage, a criminal shipped off to Barnstable, and that he had married "Indian Princess" Mary "Little Dove" Hyanno.[5]

The first three generations of Mr. Bearce's claims were analyzed in a 1938 article by Donald Lines Jacobus, a renowned professional genealogist, and founder of the prestigious journal The American Genealogist.[6] See Lee Murrah's rebuttal to Donald Lines Jacobus' rebuttal to F.E. Bearce, and an analysis of his rebuttal. See the profile page for Mary Hyanno for a detailed review of the controversy.

This profile follows the argument of Donald Lines Jacobus. Therefore please do not attach Little Dove as spouse, nor any gypsy/Roman parentage.


The first Bearse in the line was Augustine Bearse, also known as Austin Bearse. What we know for sure about Augustine Bearse is that at age 20 he arrived at Plymouth from Southampton, England on April 24, 1638 aboard the "Confidence". He is listed immediately following Martha Wilder and Mary (!), her daughter (no ages given) of Shiplocke, Oxfordshire, England.[7] After a short time in Plymouth proper, he moved to Barnstable (Cape Cod) with the first company in 1639.

His house lot, contained 12 acres of very rocky land and was in the westerly part of the East Parish and bounded westerly by John Crocker's land, northerly by the meadow, easterly by Goodman Isaac Rolinson's land and "southerly into ye woods." He owned six acres of meadow adjoining his upland on the north, and two thatch islands, still known as Bearse's islands (in the 1870's). He also had six acres of land in the Calves Pasture, esteemed to be the best soil; in the town, eight acres of planting land on the north side of Shoal pond, and bounded by Goodman Cooper's, now call Huckins' Neck, and thirty acres at the Indian pond, bounded easterly by the Herring River. The Indian pond lot he sold to Thomas Allyn.

He was proposed to be admitted a freeman, 3 June 1652, and admitted 3 May 1653. Rarely found in the records, nonetheless he is shown as a grand juror in 1653 and 1662, and a surveyor of highways in 1674.

He was a farmer, lived on the produce of his land and brought up his large family to be useful members of society. His house stood on the north side of the road, and his cellar and some remains of his orchard still existed up to the beginning of the 1800's.

In 1643 he was the first to join the church of Rev. John Lothrop which had moved to Barnstable after a dispute over infant baptism, which the Lothrop Church supported. In 1652 Bearse was admitted a freeman. It is said that he was one of the few residents against whom no complaints were ever filed. He was a farmer, but in his civic role he served as surveyor of highways in 1674. He was still living in 1686 but had died by 1697.

Augustine Bearse was said to be a very pious man as shown by the following excerpt from Genealogical Notes of Barnstable Families:[8]

He appears to have been very exact in the performance of his religious duties, causing his children to be baptized on the Sabbath following the day of their birth. His son Joseph was born on Sunday, Jan'y 25, 1651, O. S., and was carried two miles to the church and baptized the same day. . . .Now such an act would be pronounced unnecessary and cruel.
The Bearse name survives on Cape Cod to this day in the short unpaved road near his former homesite in Eastham known as "Barss Lane".

Austin's wife's name is unknown. She was unidentified by both Otis and Newcomb in their pre-1875 works. Early 20th century claims that she was a Native American were soundly disputed in 1935. See the profile page for Mary Hyanno for details.

There is no record of his death nor estate settlement in the Probate records.

OR: he died 2 Jun 1686 in Barnstable, MA.[citation needed]

A road from his house to Hyannis is still known as Bearses' Way (easily located in Google Maps).


Presumably all with his wife Mary ______ (the published vital records only name the father, not the mother).[9]

  1. Mary Bearse, b. 16 Aug 1640, Barnstable, Barnstable, MA d. 1643, Yarmouth, Barnstable, Plymouth Colony.[10]
  2. Martha Bearse, b. 1642, Barnstable, Barnstable, MA, USA, d. 06 May 1643, Barnstable, Barnstable, MA
  3. Priscilla Bearse, b. 10 Mar 1643, Barnstable, Barnstable, MA, USA, d. 30 Mar 1712, Yarmouth, Barnstable, MA
  4. Sarah Bearse, b. 28 Mar 1646, Barnstable, Barnstable, MA, d. 30 Mar 1712, Barnstable, Barnstable, MA
  5. Abigail Bearse, b. 18 Dec 1647, Barnstable, Barnstable, MA, d. 12 Apr 1670, Barnstable, MA
  6. Hannah Bearse, b. 16 Nov 1649, Barnstable, Barnstable, MA, d. 1719, Barnstable, Barnstable, MA
  7. Joseph Bearse, b. 25 Jan 1651, Barnstable, Barnstable, MA, d. 27 Jan 1728, Barnstable, Barnstable, MA. There is a death for "Martha, w. Joseph, Jan. 27, 1727-8, age about 77 years," which might be this Joseph's wife.[11]
  8. Hester Bearse, b. 02 Oct 1653, Barnstable, Barnstable, MA, d. 1723, Barnstable, Barnstable, MA
  9. Lydia Bearse, b. 30 Sep 1655, Barnstable, Barnstable, MA, d. 1725, Barnstable, Barnstable, MA
  10. Rebecca Bearse, b. 26 Sep 1657, Barnstable, Barnstable, MA, d. 1727. She did NOT marry William Hunter; Hunter's wife was Rebecca, dau of Anthony Besse of Barnstable.
  11. James Bearse, b. 30 Jul 1660, Barnstable, Barnstable, Massachusetts, d. 07 Oct 1728, Plympton, Plymouth, Massachusetts


  1. Topographical Dictionary of 2885 English Emigrants to New England, 1620-1650 [1]
  2. The National Archives [2]
  3. British History Online, King's Beere (West Beare) [3]
  4. British History Online, East Beare [4]
  5. Utah Genealogical Magazine, July 1935 (vol. 26, pp. 99-100).[5]
  6. Donald Lines Jacobus, "Austin Bearse and his Alleged Indian Connections," in The American Genealogist, 15 (1938-39):113-118
  7. NEHGS Register 2 (1848):108-109
  8. Genealogical Notes of Barnstable Families, by Amos Otis [6]
  9. Unless otherwise noted, the following births are extracted from Barnstable, MA, Vital Records, vol. 2, pp 213-214
  10. Note: published records only indicate "1640", no date.
  11. Barnstable Vital Records, vol. 32, p 58

See also:

  1. Savage, Dictionary of the First Settlers of New England
  2. H. Franklin Andrews, History of the Hamlin Family, Exira, IA: George W. Quernsey (1894); available via Call Number: 919.2 H1822A at the Allen County Public Library in Ft Wayne, IN
  3. Fanny Louisa Meadows, "Genealogical Records of Austin Bearse (or Bearce) of Barnstable, Cape Cod, MA," Record Number: 929.2 B38176m; self published, Cleveland, OH, 1 Oct 1933
  4. Dale L. Burley, Bearse - Bears - Barss Family Genealogy of Augustine Bearse and Princess Mary Hyanno of Barnstable, MA, Harbor Beach, MI: Author (1979); available via Call Number: LC: CS71 at the Library of Michigan, Lansing, MI
  5. Simeon L. Deyo, editor, History of Barnstable County, MA 1620 - 1890, New York, NY: H. W. Blake & Co. (1890)
  6. Meredith B. Colket, Founders of Early American Families - Emigrants from Europe 1607-1657, Cleveland, OH: General Court of the Order of Founders and Patriots of America (1975)
  7. Cookie Crumbs Ancestry
  8. Amos Otis & C.F. Swift, Genealogical Notes of Barnstable Families, pages 52-59.
  9. William Richard Cutter, A. M., Genealogy - Boston and Eastern Massachusetts, New York, NY: Lewis Historical Publishing Company (1908)
  10. Franklyn Ele-wa-tum BeArce, From out of the Past, Who Our Forefathers Really Were -- Our White and Indian Ancestors back to 1628, (Library of Congress Manuscript) c1935. Warning: many of the claims of Native American relations in this book have subsequently been disproven.
  11. John Bearss Newcomb, A Contribution to the Genealogy of the Bearse or Bearss Family in America 1618-1871, Elgin, IL: Gazette Printing Co. (Dec. 7, 1871). NOTE: This book incorrectly claims that Austin's daughter Rebecca married William Hunter; a different Rebecca married Hunter.
  12. Laws Governing Sex and Gender in Colonial New England [7]
  13. Eyewitness History: The Price of Adultery in Puritan Massachusetts, 1641[8]
  14. The Plymouth Colony Archive Project: Sexual Misconduct in Plymouth Colony [9]


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No known carriers of Augustine's Y-chromosome or his mother's mitochondrial DNA have taken yDNA or mtDNA tests.

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Images: 4
Bearse surname spelling variations
Bearse surname spelling variations

West Bere Forest, Longstock, and King's Somborne
West Bere Forest, Longstock, and King's Somborne

Letter from the Society of Genealogists - pt 1
Letter from the Society of Genealogists - pt 1

Letter from the Society of Genealogists - pt 2
Letter from the Society of Genealogists - pt 2


On 15 Feb 2016 at 21:16 GMT Jason Clark wrote:

Why is what amounts to another Mary Hyanno attached as his wife?

On 4 Nov 2015 at 16:44 GMT M (McQueen) M wrote:

Removed duplicated ancestry trees to clean up profile.

On 4 Nov 2015 at 16:38 GMT M (McQueen) M wrote:

Bearse-316 and Bearse-3 appear to represent the same person because: same person

On 25 Jun 2014 at 18:31 GMT Jason Clark wrote:

Mike, it was illegal to make private land deals with the natives. It was illegal to have sex outside an unsanctioned marriage. There is no record of any gypsies being deported from England to Massachusetts Bay Colony, not just Augustine. There is no record of the BeArce name anywhere else. Jacobus' position falls directly in line with what is known of Puritan history, and laws, and what records are available.

Franklyn Bearce, on the other hand, can be proved to be lying about his claimed records. There are no records, where he says there are. No diary. No deportation records. Nothing, nowhere. And, if you check his profile, you can see he's lying about almost all of his "genealogy".

On 18 Jun 2014 at 22:01 GMT Jillaine Smith wrote:

Mike, I've re-read Jacobus and find no hint of jealousy. Jacobus makes a very strong case for the unlikelihood of gypsy origins or Indian princess as wife and he points out enough flaws in Franklin Bearce's claims as to doubt most of what FB writes.

On 18 Jun 2014 at 20:05 GMT Mike Walton Sr. wrote:

1) On the handwritten ship's manifest for the Confidence Austin Bearce was the very last person entered - and back then folks were listed in order of importance, wealthy first and down the line to indentured, indentured servants, and slaves. The possible reason for his position is deportation. 2) Please read the Jacobus transcripts concerning Franklyn Bearse - he never proved anything. He used words like unlikely rather than positively. If you read Jacobus you will see a bit of jealousy on his part, and he never proved Franklyn wrong - he just threw dirt on him and hoped it would stick. 3) Austin showed up penniless, and as described in the biography became a wealthy landowner in a very short time. How? It supports his marriage to Chief Hyanno's daughter.

On 3 Jun 2014 at 13:47 GMT Jillaine Smith wrote:

Ah, I see Jason's already been hard at work. Running into any resistance yet?

On 3 Jun 2014 at 13:41 GMT Jillaine Smith wrote:

Fascinating !! Didn't read all 167 pages but what I did read was very interesting. You are quite the sleuth, Jason! I will figure out a way to incorporate this into the wikitree narrative. I think it should be added to franklyn bearce's profile. I'm on the road and will work on this when I'm not tapping on an iphone. Thanks again Jason.

On 2 Jun 2014 at 21:08 GMT Jason Clark wrote:

"He first appears in the Schaghticoke narrative when, in 1933, Bearce, then a New York resident, applied to the State Park and Forest Commission to be certified as a Schaghticoke Indian. Park & Forest Comm'n Minutes, 6/26/1933, 7/19/1933, 9/13/1933 (CT Ex. 2); STN AR, at 105. An investigation followed, and the Commission declined to recognize him as a Schaghticoke. (SN-V013-D0011). Indeed, although petitioner members later would follow his leadership, they did not accept at the time, nor presently, his claim that he was a Schaghticoke or that he was a Schaghticoke chief. STN AR, at 119; STN TCA, at 71. He had a strong interest in and was involved in various Pan Indian organizations. STN TCA, at 64, 71-72."

On 2 Jun 2014 at 16:44 GMT Jillaine Smith wrote:

Narrative edited but would definitely like a citation to support Jason's comment.

more comments

Augustine is 16 degrees from Elinor Glyn, 21 degrees from Frances Weidman and 15 degrees from Victoria of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.

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