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Thomas Foster - Disputed Origins

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Based on F.C. Pierce's Foster Genealogy, Thomas Foster (abt.1610-1682) was previously attached as a son of Rev. Thomas Foster and Abigail Wimes.[1] As with many of Pierce's other works, he makes connections between various family lines with no evidence. Thomas Foster and his wife Abigail Wimes were residents of Boston, and there is no evidence connecting them to the Thomas Foster of Weymouth and Billerica.

There is currently no direct, primary evidence definitively linking Thomas Foster the immigrant to America ib about 1640 to a family or location in England. The strongest indications for his origins stem from two differing hypotheses which both rely on similar given names among Thomas' family and other Foster fmamiles of England and New England, and trying to connect him to Foster families that had known members living in both England and New England at the time.

In Anderson's The Great Migration Directory is the following entry:[2]

Foster, Thomas: Wendover, Buckinghamshire; 1640; Weymouth, Braintree, Billerica [TAG 68:14-22; Weymouth Hist 3:233; NEHGR 26:394-99]."

Of the three sources Anderson listed: the TAG source posits that Thomas was from Wendover; the Weymouth Hist. source gives no origins; the NEHGR believes Dorcester was Thomas' origins.

Based on research by Frederick J. Nicholson,[3] he states on p. 18: "it is reasonable to hypothesize that this Thomas Foster may have been Thomas Foster the son of Thomas Foster and Elizabeth (Seamer) Foster of Wendover who was named in his father's will." [emphasis added] Records of possible connections with relatives should be sought in Weymouth to confirm the relationship.

The NEHGR 26:394 source cited in the Great Migration Directory has Lucius Paige stating that "it is not unlikely that [Thomas] was brother to Hopestill Foster, of Dorcester...for he gave this unusual name to one of his sons, and other names were common to both families."[4] [emphasis added]

Kenneth Kinman has the following reasoning for why he believes that Thomas Foster is from Wendover:

I had Thomas Foster as brother to Hopestill Foster for a long time. However, I was always very troubled that there was no record of a brother Thomas at Biddenden. There was a fairly regular record of siblings in that family: John (1608-1608), John (1610-1610), Mary (b. 1612), Elizabeth (1615-1615), Hopestill (1620-1676), and perhaps another John (b. 1624). Therefore, I was greatly relieved that Anderson (2015) concluded our Thomas was from Wendover (and we have a 1618 record of a son Thomas there). What really finally convinced me to accept Anderson's view is that our Thomas settled in Weymouth as did his presumed siblings, Elizabeth (Foster) Doggett and half brother Jonas Humphrey. ALthough our Thomas named a child Hopestill, that was a fairly popular name among Puritans in that time period, so I concluded it was just coincidence, and a lack of a record of a Thomas at Biddenden between 1608 and 1620 argues against an origin at Biddenden (and we have a much better and real candidate for Thomas at Wendover).

Sources

  1. Pierce, Frederick Clifton. Foster Genealogy: Being the Record of the Posterity of Reginald Foster (W.B. Conkey Co., 1899) Pages 485-91. Unreliable
  2. Anderson, Robert Charles, The Great Migration Directory, Immigrants to New England, 1620-1640, (Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2015) p. 119, entry for Foster, Thomas.
  3. Frederick J. Nicholson, "The Family of Jonas Humphrey of Dorchester, Massachusetts," The American Genealogist (Barrington: The American Genealogist, 1993) Vol 68, pp. 16-17, 19 & 21; images of pp. 16-22 by subscription AmericanAncestors.org.
  4. Rev Lucius R. Paige, Family of Thomas Foster, The New England Historical & Genealogical Register (NEHGS, Boston, Mass., 1872) 26:394-99; images of pp. 394-99 at HathiTrust.org.




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