Richard Foxwell - Susannah Bonython Family Group

Parents   Parents
        Capt. Richard Bonython Lucretia Leigh
        bp. 8 Apr 1580 St. Column Major, Cornwall, England b. St. Thomas by Launceton, Cornwall, England
        d. Before 1654 in York County, Maine, USA d. After 1647 in York County, Maine, USA
Richard Foxwell Immigrant Ancestor Suzanna Bonython Immigrant Ancestor
b. abt. 1604 possibly in Exeter, Devon, England bp. Feb 1614 at St. Breage, Cornwall, England
d. Late 1676 in Scarborough, Cumberland, Maine d. ?
Relationship Events
Marriage Bef. 12 Feb 1635/6 Richard Foxwell to Susannah Bonython
Richard b. say 1635; d. by 4 Jun 1664, York County
Esther b. say 1637 m. Jul 1657 Thomas Rogers (b. abt 1634 in Salem, d, 13 Oct 1675 killed by Indians in Black Point, Maine); seven children: Thomas, Lydia, Richard, John, Elizabeth, Mary, and William Rogers; Esther d. in Kittery, date unknown
John b. say 1639 m. Deborah Johnson by 1673 in Boston;two sons, Phillip and Nathaniel Foxwell; probate administered 6 Nov 1677
Lucretia say 1644 m. abt.1667 in Blue Point, York, Maine James Robinson (d. 1710 in New Castle) ; four daughters: Elizabeth, Mary, Rebecca, and Margaret Robinson; d. in New Castle, New Hampshire
Susanna b. say 1646 m. John Ashton abt, 1666 in Scarborough, Maine; six children: Mary, Susannah, Elizabeth, Phillip, Samuel and Joseph Ashton
Phillip b. say 1651 m. by 1680 Eleanor Brackett in Piscataqua; d. 20 Oct 1690 in Kittery. No living children
Mary b. say 1656 m. in 1672 in Scarborough, Maine George Norton (b. abt. 1640, d. 1 May 1717);); six children: Joseph. Shadrach, Elizabeth, Mary, Azarias, and Michael Norton; Mary died probably in Manchester-by-the-Sea after 1717
  Sarah b. say 1658 m. in 1678 in Kittery, Maine Joseph Curtis (d. 1704 -1706 in Kittery); nine children: Joseph, Sarah, Richard, Elizabeth, Thomas, Richard, Foxwell, Eunice, and Lois; d. before 1719 in Kittery

What We Know About This Family


Richard Foxwell was one of the very earliest settlers to what is now part of Scarborough, Maine. He arrived with the contingent of his future father-in-law, Captain Richard Bonython. Richard Foxwell and his wife, Susannah Bonython, spent more than 40 years developing the estate and raising their children. In 1676, the Indian hostilities drove all the European settlers in the area away, and the families of their children were dispersed in different directions.

An Overview of Their Lives

The overview of this family has been excerpted from several sources that have been included in the Documents section. Dates for births, marriages, and deaths are estimated using court records (where ages were often given), deeds, probate records, and even correspondence. The name Foxwell with first names George, Richard, Nathaniel, and Philip recurred often in southeastern Devon and adjacent Somersetshire. Richard's nephew who came came from Exeter, Devon died in Virginia, and Richard and his son John mortgaged some property with a George Foxwell in Devon. It's quite possible, therefore, that Richard also came from there. Susannah was born in Cornwall and was brought by her parents with her brother, John, and her sister, Elizabeth, to the Saco patent area by their parents Captain Richard and Lucretia Leigh Bonython.

1629. Richard Foxwell ordered Indian trading goods in Boston.

February 1630. The Council of Plymouth granted a piece of land extending four miles by the sea along the east side of the Saco River and eight miles into the main land to Thomas Lewis and Captain Richard Bonython. Part of this grant included the proviso that the grantees would bring 50 persons within seven years and settle them on that land. Richard Foxwell was one of the first brought over under that agreement.

19 Oct 1630. In Boston, he desired admission as a Freeman.

18 May 1631. Richard Foxwell was admitted as a Freeman.

6 Jan 1632. Back in London, he signed a note for the goods he bought in 1629.

1633 to 1636. Richard Foxwell ran a trading house on the west bank of St. George's River. Competing with numerous other traders, he struggled to make a profit. His post was abandoned when a land survey showed the land he thought he was on actually belonged to the French. Francis Johnson wrote a letter dated 12 Feb 1635/6 with the note "Pray remember my love to your wife," so we know that Richard and Susannah were married by this time.

07 Sep 1636.  Richard Foxwell paid £1 in the minister’s rate, marking their settlement at Black Point as noted below.

25 Jun 1640.  Richard Foxwell declared in a suit against Capt. Thomas Cammock at the York Court that “he hath for these four years or thereabouts lived at Black Point to the right of Capt. Richard Bonython, his father-in-law, who settled him there and gave him as much freedom and privilege as his patent he could, either by planting, fishing, fowling, or the like, which was the main cause of his settling there but that Cammock forbade fishing for bass and lobsters in the river at Black Point.” The jury found for Foxwell. Cammock tried to bring him back to court several times, but the case does not seem to have been heard. George Lewis deposed that “Capt. Cammock had three parts of a hundred of corn spoiled by the crows … by reason of fish scattered by Mr. Richard Foxill and others.” Nothing seems to have come of this either. Cammock soon died.

21 Oct 1645. Richard Foxwell and Henry Watts had a difference of opinion over marshlands at court.

29 Jun 1654. Richard Foxwell and Richard Cummings sued John Bonython (their brother-in- law) for “pulling down their house and laying claim to their lands.” Captain Bonython was not mentioned in the suit, the conclusion being he had either died or was absent fro home at the time of the incident.

21 Mar 1655/6.  Richard Collicutt deposed regarding the case below that about January last he heard Mr. Richard Foxwell say that many years since he bought a plantation and trading house at the eastward of Mr. Francis Johnson of Marblehead … and having no confirmation from the government which Johnson had promised him, the French had disposed him of said house and lands.

1657. Foxwell was part of the drawn-out Essex County suit described by Francis Johnson: “About 24 or 25 years ago, there was a partnership between Mr. Roger Conant, Peter Paltry, Anthony Dike and himself for a trade to the eastward, to be managed by him, both buying and selling. At the end of three years, he sold to Mr. Richard Foxwell all the interest in the house with the debts due from the Indians, and with swine, boat, skiff, canoe, household stuff and trading goods, for which he took two bills of debt. He later sold Foxwell a small parcel of goods, making three bills due. Sometime after this, Foxwell sent home some beaver and otter by boat. Two or three years later, Foxwell, making no payment, the partners had an accounting and found that £23 were due to each partner. For 20 years, Johnson had endeavored to collect the money, but Foxwell either remained silent or affirmed that he had nothing else. Foxwell came into these parts a year ago, and the partners attached him.”

05 Jul 1658. Richard Foxwell and Joseph Phippeny had to make £100 bonds “for preventing any further trouble between” them. Phippeny had twice attacked Foxwell “drawing blood” claiming that Mr. Bellingham had said that he should “beat the said Foxwell & manacle him, & carry him down to his door in a rope.”

13 Jul 1658. Richard Foxwell signed an oath to Massachusetts Bay. (Massachusetts successfully claimed ownership of Maine, a decision that was fought with heat for many years).

1658. The town of Scarborough incorporated in 1658 and was named for Scarborough, England. It included those lands formerly called Black Point, Blue Point, and Stratton´s Island and extended back eight miles from the sea.  In the 1630's, the first settlement of Black Point was the 1500-acre Cammock´s land grant; by 1650 there were 50 homes. The country between the Saco and the Spurwink rivers was originally called Black Point In 1636, Richard Foxwell built his homestead next to his father-in-law Richard Bonython a little south of where Mill Creek (Foxwell´s Brook) saunters into Dunstan River. Henry Watts built nearby the same year. This began the second settlement. The third principal settlement of the old Scarborough was Dunstan in 1651. Andrew and Arthur Alger purchased more than one thousand acres from Uphannum, daughter of Wackwarreska, Sagamore of Owascoag County.

04 Jul 1659. The Commissioners at court claimed for “want of evidence” they were incapable of making a decision in the case and referred the matter to three reliable men (the Phippeny case).

03 Jul 1664. Richard Foxwell with his son John mortgaged to George Foxwell of Exeter, Devon, England “one moiety or half of the plantation and land which the said Richard Foxwell is & hath been a long time possessed of on the western side of Black Point River, containing five hundred acres of upland & meadow … with the one half of all the housing, land, fence, & improved … also the one half of the woods, rivers, etc. they to bear equal charges in the improvement thereof until a division be made, also three hundred acres of upland meadow in land made by deed of gift by Capt. Richard Bonighton (Bonython) to his daughters Elizabeth & Susanna, also one moiety of his cattle.” (It is the known location of George Foxwell, a relative, upon which we surmise Richard most likely came from Exeter, Devon, England.

13 Nov 1666. Richard Foxwell witnessed and proved the will of Gyles Roberts of Black Point.

01 Oct 1667. Richard Foxwell was appointed one of the administrators of the estate of Phillip Griffin.

14 Nov 1668. Richard Foxwell mortgaged a meadow in Scarborough to Isaac Walker.

05 Jul 1670. Richard Foxwell and John Bonighton (Bonython) stood a bond of £10 that they would prosecute their appeal as the law required in the case against John Jackson for building on and using their land. Also on this day, Richard Foxwell was among the men who stood bond for John Bonighton when the latter had many contemptuous things to say about the Massachusetts Bay.

May 1672. Richard Foxwell and Richard Cummings took their complaint to the General Court in Boston: “The petition of Richard Foxwell & Richard Comings (Cummings) in the behalf of themselves & their posterity. Humbly sheweth that whereas your petitioners’ father-in-law, Capt. Richard Bonython, came over to New England about forty-one years since unto Saco, who had an interest with Mr. Thomas Lewes (Lewis) in a certain tract of land in those parts granted unto them by patent from the Council of Plimoth (Plymouth) in the County of Devon in the Kingdom of England, and your petitioners’ father-in-law was at great cost as is sufficient known in the transportation of himself and  his family into those parts being possessed of a part of the said land … at Black Point River … which lands your petitioners’ father-in-law sold and made over unto is two daughters Elisabeth and Susanna, wives unto your said petitioners and to their heirs forever, for and in consideration of two hundred marks … left as a legacy to the said Elisabeth and Susanna by their grandmother … and your petitioners have enjoyed their said proper rights under the two former governments vizt Gorges & Rigbyes … for the space of thirty-seven years … but of late … have been much disturbed … by one John Jackson and Andrew Augur … and … particularly by Henry Williams, one of the selectmen for the Town of Scarborough, who came upon the said land … [of] Richard Foxwell where his son Phillip Foxwell (and another) was at work did strike twice at him with an axe saying he would cleave his brains, and further said that if the said land was not laid out in lobs, blood would be spilt. (One of Andrew Alger's daughters was the first wife of Susanna Foxwell's husband, John Ashton).

The above language tells us that Susannah and Elizabeth used an inheritance from their grandmother to purchase the plantations their husbands and their families had developed.

The English and the Indians in Maine had lived in general peace and even friendship until 1675 when hostilities broke out due to several circumstances. King Philip had devised the intent and plan to wipe out all English colonies in New England. His efforts to persuade the tribes in Maine were not successful until an incident involving the family of Squanto, the Sagamore of Saco, occurred. Some reckless seamen, having heard that Indians could swim instinctively, tested the theory by upsetting the canoe that Squanto's wife and papoose were using to cross the river. She saved the baby, who unfortunately died a short time later. Squanto attributed the death of their child to the upset of the canoe and pronounced himself an enemy of the English. The Eastern Indians had been excited against the settlers on the Kennebec and joined in alliance with Squanto. The settlers in Maine were in a precarious position being scattered and vastly outnumbered by the Indians and far from the aid of the Massachusetts Bay colony. They were ordered by the government to stock garrisons for protection. One of these garrisons was at the Foxwell plantation.

29 Sep 1674. Administration of the will of Richard Foxwell's nephew, George Foxwell, merchant, of Exeter, Devon in 1664 and of Boston in 1671, who died in Virginia.

25 Sep 1675. Major Waldron wrote of events in King Philip's War that “Indians had killed an old man and woman and burnt their house, and at Foxwell’s, two young men were killed.” The old man and woman killed were the Nichols, the parents of Robert Nichols, Jr., who was the husband of Susanna Bonython Foxwell's niece, Winifred. The next attack in the area was at the garrison on the Algers' homestead. One of the men stationed at the Foxwell garrison testified several years later that he had been assigned to leave Foxwell's and go to the Algers to protect them. They helped them move grain. A few days later, the Algers with some relatives were again set upon while moving other provisions. The Indians soon gave up the attempt to capture the garrison, but venting their spite, they burned down the emptied houses of the Algers' sons in law before retreating into the woods. Unknown to them, one shot had killed Andrew and a second had mortally wounded Arthur, who died a few days later.

26 Oct 1676. Capt. John Scottow reported in a manuscript journal regarding events at Black Point during King Philip’s War that on that day and the following there was “no disturbance. I went and viewed the fortifications at several garrisons, and discharged Mr. Foxwell from his charge at Bluepoint, being a quarreling, discontented person.” Foxwell wrote a two-page letter about the failure in defense by Scottow, and added a note "Mr. Rishworth, I pray fail me not to do your endeavor to put an issue to my business for I have taken a hurt of late which I doubt will shorten my days." It's not clear what he was saying about his health or business (was he too a victim of Indian violence?), but he died late in 1676.

By October, 1676 Scarborough, a town with three settlements of more than 100 houses and 1,000 head of cattle, had been destroyed.

6 Nov 1677. George Norton, son-in-law of Mr. Foxwell, was appointed joint administrator with Richard’s son, Philip, on Richard Foxwell’s estate. The date and place of Susannah Bonython Foxwell is unknown. In contrast to her husband, there are practically no records of her life. The existence of eight known children is proof she lived at least until the birth of her last child.

After peace negotiations had been made, Richard Hunnewell, and eighteen other men including Nathaniel Foxwell, the grandson of Richard and Susannah through their son, John, were killed in 1703. The incident occurred at the Hunnewell property, and the pond was renamed "Massacre Pond." Nathaniel was the last male in the Foxwell line, and with him died the Foxwell name stemming from our Richard Foxwell. The many ancestors of the Bonythons and Foxwells come through the daughters.

The members of the Foxwell family in the locations to which they had escaped saw the end of the Indian hostilities that had killed so many in the family and upended their lives. The casualties for the Indians were horrendous, and for the English settlers, King Phillips War on a per capita basis was the deadliest in American history. Following is the list of the family members killed or thought to be killed by Indians:

  • Mr. and Mrs, Robert Nichols, parents of the husband of Winifred Bonython
  • John Bonython, Jr., his wife, and four of their children
  • John Bonython, died of injuries (sources vary)
  • Andrew Alger, John Ashton's first father-in-law and Arthur Alger
  • Richard Cummings, husband of Elizabeth Bonython (unreported)
  • Thomas Cummings, son of Richard and Elizabeth (unreported)
  • Thomas Rogers, husband of Esther Foxwell (sources vary)
  • Nathaniel Foxwell, son of John Foxwell

In 1732, fifty years after the death of John Bonython, his estate was finally settled among Patience Bonython Collins, his only surviving child by that time, and the heirs of his other four children. In the same year, the division of the Foxwell estate also occurred with half going to the Harmon heirs and the other half divided into seven parts with 2/7 going to Nathaniel's Foxwell's daughter, Deborah Foxwell Corbain, and 1/7 going to the heirs of the other children who had them (Two of the sons died without children). The significance of that document to us today is the naming of the daughters by their married names and their identification as proof of relationship. The lateness of the settlement date is no doubt due to the upheaval of the Indian wars, which destroyed all their homes and made the Saco and Scarborough areas unsafe for many years. Some of the settlers returned, others had found permanent homes elsewhere, like our ancestors, the Ashtons in Marblehead.

About the Children

  • Richard died 4 June 1664 and had carpenter tools in his inventory.

  • Esther married in 1657 Thomas Rogers originally of Salem after he settled in what is now known as Old Orchard Beach for the apple and pear orchard he planted on high land above the long beach. The orchard served as a maritime landmark for 150 years. Thomas had attested to a deed in Saco in 1636. in 1659, he was granted 165 acres beyond Goosefaire next to Richard Cummings (husband of Elizabeth Bonython). In 1662 he received a grant of 200 acres from Goosefaire to the next run of water, his house already standing on the land. One source reports that he was killed 13 Oct 1675 by Indians while going to the relief of the colonel at Black Point, and his house was burned down the next day. The family escaped to Kittery. Their homestead was abandoned for several decades. Administration of his estate was granted to his brother-in-law, James Robinsin, in 1677. Administration was granted again to John Harmon in 1682 when some of the children had reached their majority.

  • John married Deborah Johnson and had two sons, Philip and Nathaniel. His estate was administered 6 Nov 1677. Deborah subsequently on 21 Jun 1680 married Capt. John Harmon, the widower of John's cousin, Elizabeth Cummings. (Nathaniel was the Foxwell killed at the Hunnewell Massacre). His brother, Phillip, had died in Boston in 1692 without issue. (One source says it is likely that Elizabeth's husband and her son Thomas were killed in the Indian Wars about 1676. John died about the same time, and I wonder if his death was also while defending against the Indians.

  • Lucretia and her husband James Robinson married about 1668 and settled in Blue Point near Richard Foxwell's property. James was the cooper who was charged and acquitted of the murder of Collins in 1661. The jury found that Collins died by misadventure on his own part and that no past actions of Robinson were contributing. The Robinsons removed to New Castle, New Hampshire with their four daughters to escape the Indian hostilities. He served as the Portsmouth Constable 1679-80. Lucretia denied administration of his estate which was granted to their daughter in May 1710.

  • Susanna was the second wife of John Ashton, whose first wife was a daughter of Andrew Alger and died shortly after their marriage. Ashton lived for a few years at the Landing before moving to the Foxwell plantation at Blue Point. He and Susanna had six children. The family in about 1676 removed either to New Castle or to the Great Island in Piscatigua to escape the Indian hostilities, Susannah died there, after which John removed to Marblehead where in 1691 he married Mary Edgecomb Page, daughter of Nicholas of Blue Point and widow of George Page. John died in Marblehead. John and Susannah Foxwell Ashton were the grandparents of the three cousins, Joseph Libby (Libbee), Nicholas Merritt, and Philip Ashton, Jr. who were kidnapped by the infamous pirate Ned Lowe. John and Susannah Ashton are our direct ancestors and have their own Family Group page.

  • Phillip administered his father's estate in 1677, both his brothers having died. In 1690, he was the captain of six men in his garrison. He died in 1690 in Kittery and his widow remarried.

  • Mary married George Norton, a shipwright. He was in court for vain swearing, absent from a meeting, selling without a license. In 1689/90 he was carried to prison by his father's successor for an unknown offense. He owned the 50-ton-burden brigantine Beginning. Mary's cousin, Gabrigan Bonython, was apprenticed to George and drowned in a boat sinking between Piscataqua and Porpus Landing in 1682. In 1690, George was in Boston where some Foxwell and Rogers relatives visited them, and in 1696 he was "late of Boston now of Manchester." In 1696, the authorities got a hold of him again for leaving the harbor on a Sunday. He died 1 May 1717 and left his homestead in Manchester to their son Shadrach after his wife's death and 1/2 of his York property to any or all of his sons Michael, Azarius, and Joseph "who return from sea" and money to daughters Mary and Elizabeth.

  • Sarah married Joseph Curtis, who had a grant in Kittery in 1694, and was the High Sheriff of York County. They had nine children, and he had a garrison house at Spruce Creek. Joseph died between 1704 and 1706 and Sarah before 1720.

Proof of Relationship

Probate materials provide proof of relationship.

What Else We Need to Learn

The goal of this project is to trace every line of ancestry to the arrival of its first immigrant to America. The basic information of each couple is considered complete when we know the dates of birth, marriage, and death for both spouses. their parents' names (or whether they were the immigrant), and the child or children in our ancestry line.

The research on this family is complete as it can be for now, but that doesn't preclude the possibility that new or correcting information might not surface.


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