Reginald FOSTER (1595 – 1681) was Alex’s 10th Great Grandfather; one of 2,048 in this generation of the Miller line.
Reginald Forster was born 1594/1595 in Brunton Hall, Northumberland, England. His parents were Thomas FORSTER (1555) and Elizabeth CARR. His first English ancestor, Sir Richard FORESTER of Flanders was knighted at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. However, it is more likely that he came from common stock (See analysis by Walter Goodwin Davis below.) I acknowledge that my romanticism, but I’ll keep all Reginald’s supposed ancestor knights and medieval battles. In reality, knights families were probably not dissenters and didn’t have much reason to leave everything behind as our real yeoman ancestors did.
Reginald married Judith WIGNOL on 28 Sep 1619 in Theydon Garnon, Essex, England. Walter Goodwin Davis notes that “Theydon Garnon is a parish in the western part of the county of Essex. About eight miles to the north lies the parish of Harlow, where at the beginning of the seventeen century lived a Foster family which commonly used the Christian name ‘Renald’ [a variation of Reginald’s name that also appears in the records of New England to which it is highly probable that our Ipswich Reginald Foster belonged. Two miles southeast of Harlow village there is a hamlet still called Foster Street.”
Reginald immigrated in 1638 with his five sons, Abraham, Reginald, William, Isaac, and Jacob, and settled at Ipswich, Mass. After Judith died, he married “He married again, Sep 1665 to Sarah Larriford, widow of John Martin, of Ipswich. Reginald died 30 May 1681 in Ipswich, Essex, Mass.
Judith Wignol was born 1597/1602 in Essex, England. Her parents may have been Alexander WIGNALL (1578-1631) and Catherine [__?__] (1580–1615). Judith died 16 Oct 1664 in Ipswich, Essex, Mass.
Sarah Larriford first married John Martin in 1642 in Charlestown, Suffolk, Mass. John was the son of Robert Martin and Joanne Upham and the grandson of [our ancestors] Richard MARTIN Sr. and Richard UPHAM. Sarah survived Reginald, and 21 Sept. 1682, she became the second wife of William White of Haverhill, Essex, Mass. Sarah died 22 Feb 1682/83 in Haverhill, Mass.
Children of Reginald and Judith:
Exeter, Devon, England
Lt. Francis Peabody
18 May 1654 Framingham, Mass
|9 Apr 1705
|2.||Sarah FOSTER||15 Oct 1620
|1681 in Ipswich, Essex, Mass.|
7 Feb 1644
|15 Jan 1711
5 May 1658
25 Nov 1668, in Ipswich
16 Mar 1679
|29 Mar 1692
15 May 1661 Ipswich
|17 May 1713
Boxford, Essex, Mass
26 Feb 1667 in Ipswich
|9 Jul 1710
|28 Dec 1707
When he signed his will, our Ipswich ancestor wrote his name as “Renold”. Of course, consistency of spelling, even of proper names, was not considered important in seventeenth century England or colonial America. In the eight volumes of Records and Files of the County Courts of Essex County Foster is mentioned forty-eight times. In nineteen instances his name is Renold, in four Reienalld, three Reienald, in two each Reinold, Reynold and Reinald, and in one each Reienold, Reonall, Reanalld, Rainold and Renall. In two instances each he is Regnald and Reg. and in one Regnell, but, needless to say, gn is commonly sounded as n. This leaves three cases of Reginall, two of Reginald and one of Reginold, and very possibly a re-examination of the manuscript record would eliminate the i in each of these readings.
Reginald Foster was at Ipswich as early as 26 Sept. 1638 when he bought a house and lands of John Tuttell.” He brought with him his wife, Judith, fives sons and two daughters, and was one of the earliest inhabitants of that town. He lived near the ‘East Bridge,’ which stood where the stone bridge now  is. It is supposed that the remains of what is known as the ‘old Foster house, ‘ may have been the site of his residence. This seems probable, for 6 April, 1641, there was ‘granted Reginald Foster, eight acres of meadow in the west meadow, if any remain there ungranted, in consideration of a little hovel that stood at the new bridge, which was taken away for the accommodating of the passage there,’ and ‘4th 11 mo., 1646,’ he with others ‘promise carting voluntary toward the East Bridge beside the rate a day work a piece.’
“The danger from Indians in those early times was such that in the year 1645 a law was passed requiring the ‘youth from ten to sixteen years to be exercised with small guns, half pikes, bows and arrows,’ and also that ‘every town is to have a guard set a half hour after sunset, to consist of a pikeman and musketeer, and to prepare for any sudden attack from the Indians.’ Reginald on the 19 December, 1745, subscribed with others his proportin of 3 sh. towards the sum of £24. 7sh. ‘to pay their leader Major Dennison,’ who then commanded the military forces of Essex and Norfolk Counties.
He had charge of the town herd of cattle on the south side of the river in 1643: the work to be done, by permission of the authorities, by his son Abraham; in 1661 he was highway surveyor. He owned shares in both Plum and Hog Islands
“Reginald bought of Ralph Dix, of Ipswich, 8 March, 1647-8, ‘all his six acre lott he’ (Dix) ‘bought of William White, lying in the common field on the north side of the river, bounded on land of Thomas Smyth, [our ancestor] Humphrey BROADSTREET and Robert Lord.’
“We find no mention of him again until 1652, when it was ‘Granted Thomas Clark and Reginal Foster, that when they shall have cut through a passage from this river into Chebacco River o ten feet wide and soe deepe as a lighter may pass through laden, and to make a ford and footebridge over, that then the town have given unto them £10 towards said passage’
“On 3 Jun of the same year he was a witness to the will of William Averill, of Ipswich.
“He bought of Roger Preston, 11 Mar 1657/58, for £50, his dwelling house, house lot, barn and other buildings, also another house lot, with gardens, orchards, &c., which Preston bought of Robert Wallis, situated on the north side of the river, and one planting lot of three acres, on the north side of Town Hill, bounded on land of widow Rose Whipple, Andrew Hodges, John Morse and Thomas Treadwell. The houses were on ‘the High Street,’ probably at the east end—and in the vicinity of the ancient dwelling house of Rev. Mr. Norton, which yet stands. He had also a house lot near the ‘meeting-house green.’ On 29 September, 1663, he was an appraiser of the estate of Robert Roberts. Reginald Fo[r]ster
The Inventory of his estate taken May 30, 1681: the house and barne with homestead with all previoledges £150; the house Jacob foster liveth in with ye homestead & previledges £160; ten acres of land at Muddy River, £35; 4 acres and a halfe in the common field £20 ; 29 acres of salt marsh £84; 8 acres of fresh meadow, £16; 12 acres of pasture lands, £40; 20 acres of land in the common fild £76; 50 acres of upland and marsh £150; one ox, 4 cowes 2 steers 2 years old £21; one calfe 10 sheepe, three lambes £5; three swine £1 10s; a bed in the chamber with bedding…..etc.
Probate Records of Essex County, Massachusetts 1635-1681″, The Essex Institute, Salem, Massachusetts, 1916
The Last Will and Testament of Renold Foster, Sr. of Ipswich in the County of Essex in New England, made the last day of April A.D. 1680, being this day by God’s good providence of perfect understanding, though, through infirmities of body, daily mindful of my mortality. Therefore, for the setting of my house in order I make and appoint this my Last Will and Testament as follows:
In the name of God, Amen. My soul I commit into the hand of Jesus Christ, my blessed Redeemer, in hope of a joyful resurrection at the last day, my body to a decent comely burial, and for my outward estate which the Lord has graciously given me, I thus dispose of it, in manner following:
To my beloved wife Sarah, I give the use of the house I now dwell in, and the orchards and gardens, and five pounds yearly during her natural life, and two cows which she shall choose out of my stock, and the keeping of them both summer and winter yearly. Also I give her the bedstead with bedding in the parlor, and the rest of the linen and woolen yarn that she has made and provided into the house. Also the use of a brass pot, cheese press and kneading trough, with the utensils in the lean-to, and the great kettle, and two skillets, during her natural life. Also I give her three sheep to be kept winter and summer; also two pigs and what provisions shall be in the house at my decease; also the table and forme, for her natural life. Further, my will is that the household stuff, or things, that my wife brought into the house when I married her be at her disposal, in life and at death.
I give and bequeath to my son Abraham Foster my now-dwelling house, orchard, and ground about it, three acres more or less, and half the barn, and half that land in the field lying between the land of John Denison and Philip Fowlers, and ten acres on this side of the river called Muddy River by Major Denison’s and John Edward’s land, and six acres of salt marsh, all of which I give him after my wife’s decease. I give him four acres of marsh at Plumb Island and six acres at Hogs Island.
I give to and bequeath unto my son Renold Foster all the land which he possesses of mine at the Falls that he has built a house upon, both upland and marsh, be it 50 acres more or less, only to pay out of it within a year after my decease to Sarah Storey, my daughter, the sum that I have given her, except what the sheets and pillows amount to.
I give and bequeath unto my son Isaac Foster my eight acres of fresh meadow at the west meadows, joining to meadows of his, and four acres of salt marsh at Hog Island – Jacob to have the use of the salt until the decease of my wife.
I give and bequeath unto my son William Foster my six acres of land I had of Thomas Smith, and six acres of marsh at Hog Island – the marsh to Jacob until my wife’s decease.
I give and bequeath unto my son Jacob Foster the house he lives in and ground about it, and my two lots beyond Muddy River, ten acres more or less, and the remainder of salt marsh at Hog Island. Further, my will is that my son Jacob has my land at home and barn during my wife’s natural life. Further, I give him my pasture on the south side of the river, by Simon Thomson’s, and the pasture by Caleb Kimball’s. Also I give him a feather bed, only my will is that he pays what I have given my wife and keep in repairs for her yearly, what I have allowed her and given her in my will.
I give and bequeath to my daughter Sarah, William Storey’s wife, the sum of ten pounds, a pair of sheets and a pair of pillows and what they amount to, not of the sum. The rest in the hands of my son Renold which I have willed him to pay as appears above.
I give and bequeath unto my daughter Mary, wife of Francis Peabody, the sum of ten pounds, part of it to be paid in a pair of sheets, a pair of pillows and a feather bed, the bed after my wife’s decease.
I give my grandchild Hannah Storey the sum of six pounds, a bed bolster pillow and a pair of sheets and blankets, which are of my now-wife’s making, the rest to be paid by my executors, if she carries it well to my wife while she lives with her as she has done to us hitherto.
My will is that my son Jacob have the Implements of Husbandry.
My will which I desire and appoint my two sons Abraham Foster and Jacob Foster to be my executors of this, my Last Will and Testament, and request and desire my beloved friends Simon Stace and Nehemiah Jewett to be my overseers to this, my Will, fulfilled by my executors, and if any difference arise amongst my wife and children, or amongst them, about any particular in my Will, my will is that my two overseers shall end it, and they rest satisfied as they two shall agree, and if they two differ, then a third man, whom they shall choose, joining with either of them.
In witness whereof I have set my hand and seal; read, signed, sealed, and declared to be the Last Will and Testament of me, Renold Foster Sr., the day and year above written 1680, as witness my hand and seal.
Renold Foster (seal)
The things given my wife for her natural life be so except she marry again, and what debts she shall have due for labor and work shall be for her proper use and sole benefit, and that the repairs of the house be out of her estate and during her abode in it, and that my wife shall have liberty to cut and procure what wood she needs from my land at Muddy River.
This declared the fifth of March 1680/81, to be his last will.
In presence of witnesses:
Proved June 9, 1681, by the witnesses
Reginald Foster’s Ancestors:
36. Anarcher Great Forester, of Flanders, died A. D. 837, leaving a son, 35. Baldwin I (wiki), Count of Flanders, called “Iron Arm,” on account of his great strength, who married Princess Judith, daughter of Charles the Bald, and died at Arras, A. D. 877. and was succeeded by his son 34. Baldwin II (wiki), of Flanders, who married Princess Ælfthryth (Ælfthryth, Elftrude, Elfrida), daughter of Alfred the Great (wiki), king of England. The marriage was motivated by the common Flemish-English opposition to the Vikings, and was the start of an alliance that was a mainstay of Flemish policy for centuries to come. He died 919, leaving a son 33. Arnulf I (wiki), of Flanders, the Forester, who succeeded him and who in 988 was succeeded by his son, 32. Baldwin III (wiki), who briefly ruled the County of Flanders together with his father Arnulf I. In 961 Baldwin married Mathilde Billung of Saxony, daughter of Herman, Duke of Saxony. Arnulf I had made Baldwin co-ruler in 958, but Baldwin died before his father and was succeeded by his infant son 31. Arnulf II, with his father acting as regent until his own death. During his short rule, Baldwin established the weaving and fulling industry in Ghent, thus laying the basis for the economical importance of the county in the centuries to come. Baldwin III died in 962, when Arnulf was just an infant, while Arnulf’s grandfather, Arnulf I, was still alive. When Arnulf I died three years later (965), the regency was held by his kinsman Baldwin Balso. By the time Arnulf attained his majority in 976, Flanders had lost some of the southern territory acquired by Arnulf I. The latter had given some parts of Picardy to King Lothar of France to help assure his grandson’s succession, and gave Boulogne as a fief to another relative. Then early in Arnulf’s minority Lothar had taken Ponthieu and given it to Hugh Capet, and the first counts of Guînes had established themselves. He married Rozala of Lombardy, daughter of Berengar II of Italy, and was succeeded by their son, 30. Baldwin IV. of Flanders, called “of the handsome beard,” a famous warrior who defended his country against the combined forces of Emperor Henry, King Robert of France and the Duke of Normandy. He married the daughter of Count Luxemborg, and died in 1034, leaving a son who succeeded him, 29. Baldwin V (wiki), called “Le Debonaire,” who married Princess Adella, daughter of King Robert, of France, and had 28. Sir Richard Forester (wiki) of Flanders, who with his father and William the Conqueror, his brother-in-law (who had married his sister Matilda, or Maud) passed over into England and was knighted after the battle of Hastings.
Sir Richard Forester was succeeded by his son. 27. Sir Hugo Foresturious or Forster, who marched against Magnus of Norway. A. D. 1101, defeated and slew him, and died in 1121, leaving a son 26. Sir Reginald, knighted by King Stephen for valiant service at the battle of the Standard, 1138, and died in 1156, leaving as successor his son, 25. Sir William Forester, who fought with great valor in Wales in 1163 and 1165, departed to France in 1166, returned to England, and died in 1176, being then succeeded by his son, 24. Sir John Forester, who accompanied Richard I to Palestine and was knighted there. He died in 1220 and was succeeded by his son, 23. Sir Randolph Forester, who died in 1256 and was succeeded by his son, 22. Sir Alfred Forester, knighted on the battlefield of Eversham, 1265, and died 1284, and was succeeded by his son. 21. Sir Reginald Forester, who fought at Bannockburn, 1314, and died in 1328, leaving descendants who were great chieftains and closely allied to royalty in Scotland, Ireland, Wales and England.
Sir Reginald’s successor was 20. Sir Richard Forester, who fought at Crecy, 1346; Poitiers, 1356; was knighted for valor; died in 1371 ; and was succeeded by his son, 19. Sir William Forster, who fought with Henry V against the French, was knighted by his sovereign, and was succeeded by his son, 18. Sir Thomas Forster, of Etherton Castle, baronet, born 1397, married Joan Elwerden, co-heiress to the earldom of Angus, and by her had 17. Sir Thomas Forster, baronet, married the daughter of Featherstonbaugh, of Stanhope Hall, Durham, chief of the clan Featherston, and by her had 16. Sir Thomas Forster, third son, high sheriff of Northumberland, 1564 and 1572, married Dorothy, daughter of Ralph, Lord Ogle of Ogle (a family of very great antiquity), and had 15. Sir Thomas Forster, eldest son, of Etherston, baronet, married the daughter of Lord Wharton, of Wharton, and was of Adderstone, high sheriff of Northumberland, and had 14. Cuthbert Forster, who by wife Elizabeth Bradford had Sir Matthew Forster, baronet, his successor, and 13. Thomas Forster, of Brunton, Esquire, who married twice, and by second wife. Elizabeth (Carr) Forster, had three sons, the youngest of whom, 12. Reginald Forster, married Judith , and with her and their seven children came to America in 1638 and sat down at Ipswich in the colony of Massachusetts Bay.
The above list of nobles is fun, but Reginald was probably really of common stock. The noble lineage came from Frederick Clifton Pierce’s 1899 book Foster Geneology, being the record of the posterity of Reginald Foster, an early inhabitant of Ipswich, in New England, whose genealogy is traced back to Anacher, Great Forrester of Flanders, who died in 837 A.D., with wills, inventories, biographical sketches, etc., also the record of all other American Fosters (Chicago, Illinois: W.B. Conkey Company).
Regarding Pierce’s work, Walter Goodwin Davis concludes sarcastically:
“In dealing with the English origin of emigrants to America many genealogists have discarded all inhibitions and respect for evidence and have produced fantastic pedigrees. It must be said that the English practitioners of Victorian days were not behind our own in perpetuating this form of family fiction, some of which still remains to be corrected. The chapter of the English Fosters in the American Foster Genealogy is nothing short of ridiculous, so much so, in fact, that few, if any, others of its kind surpass it in this quality. Except for very few statements it can be discarded as of no value except as a horrible example.”
1. Mary Foster
Mary’s first husband Daniel Wood was born 1615 in Exeter, Devon, England. Daniel died 27 Mar 1643 in Ipswich, Essex, Mass.
Mary’s second husband Francis Peabody was born in 1614 in St Albans, Hertfordshire, England and died 19 Feb 1698 in Topsfield, Essex, Mass.
2. Abraham Foster
Abraham’s wife Lydia Burbank was born 7 Apr 1644 in Rowley, Essex, Mass. Her parents were Caleb Burbank and Martha [__?__]. Lydia died 29 Mar 1692 in Boxford, Essex, Mass.
Abraham came with his father to New England, when his age was given as sixteen years. He lived at Ipswich and joined the church there in full communion April 12, 1674. He was called yeoman on the records. He left no will but distributed his property by deed December 21, 1698.
4. Isaac Foster
Isaac’s first wife Mary Jackson was born 8 Dec 1639. Her parents were John Jackson and Katheryne [__?__]. Mary died 27 Nov 1677 at Ipswich.
Isaac’s second wife Hannah Downing was born 1656 in Ipswich, Essex, Mass. Hannah died 27 Nov 1677 in Ipswich.
Isaac’s third wife Martha Hale survived him.
Isaac lived in Ipswich, near Topsfield, at the east end of “Symond’s Farm,” the town line dividing the farm. He was sixty-two years old when he made his will; proved March 29, 1692. Isaac Foster had fourteen children; eleven by his first wife, and three by the second: Jonathan, Mehitable, Jacob, Benjamin, Elizabeth, Mary. Daniel, Martha, Ruth, Prudence, Hannah.—second wife—Hannah. Elcazer and Sarah. He d. March, 1692. Res., Ipswich, Mass.
His undated will was proved on 29 Mar 1692. To his wife Martha he left the bedding and other things she brought with her and £12 in corn (one-half in English corn and one-half in Indian corn), to be paid when she leaves his house or within four years. If she were to die before payment, his sons Jacob and Daniel were to make payment to her children. She was to have the use of the lower room at the east end of his house, a cow, firewood and £5 a year. To his three sons Jacob, Daniel and Eleazer (under age), he left all of his lands. To each of his seven daughters, he left £20 at the age of eighteen. His three little children were to be brought up by his executors, sons Jacob and Daniel. When he signed his will, he stated that the house where Jacob lived was his own, but that the house where he [the testator] lived was the one given to Daniel.
5. William Foster
William’s wife Mary Jackson was born 8 Feb 1639 in Exeter, Devon, England. Her parents were William Jackson and Katheryne Chaplin. Mary died 27 Nov 1677 in Ipswich, Essex, Mass.
6. Jacob Foster
Jacob’s wife Abigail Lord was born 1646 in Ipswich, Essex, Mass. Her parents were Robert Lord and Mary Waite. Abigail died 4 Jun 1729 in Ipswich, Essex, Mass.
7. Reginald Foster
Reginald’s wife Elizabeth Dane was born 1648 in Andover, Essex, Mass. Her parents were John Dane and Eleanor Clark. Elizabeth died 15 Apr 1722 in Andover, Essex, Mass. She was the niece of Rev. Francis Dane, a minister at Andover, Mass. who boldly denounced the witchcraft delusion. Subsequently, nearly every member of his family was arrested on suspicion of being witches. One of his daughters and granddaughter were tried and condemned to death, as was his niece Elizabeth.
On 18 Oct 1692, Francis Dane wrote a petition to the governor and to the General Court, which was signed by twenty-four others, and it was the first public condemnation of the witch trials. By being so outspoken, Dane put himself in danger. Even his pulpit offered no protection: another minister, George Burroughs, had already been hanged. Half a dozen of his relatives were ultimately accused as witches and arrested, including two daughters (Elizabeth Johnson and Abigail Faulkner) and his daughter-in-law (Deliverance Dane) were all arrested. Abigail was convicted and condemned in September 1692, but given a temporary stay of execution because she was pregnant. Although his extended family had the most accused of any other family, in the end, none of his family members were executed..
Reginald Foster and Isaac Foster (probably his son) both signed a petition in favor of John and Elizabeth Procter, stating that they did not believe them to be guilty of witchcraft. Sadly, it was to no avail – John Procter was executed anyway, and his wife’s life was spared only because she had a baby that was soon due. The signing of such a petition would have placed the signers and their families in danger of themselves being persecuted and tried.
The petition reads in part as follows:
…We must not Trouble y’r Honr’s by Being Tedious, Therefore we being Smitten with the Notice of what hath happened, we Recoon it w’thin the Duties of o’r Charitie, That Teacheth us to do, as we would be done by; to offer thus much for the Clearing of o’r Neighb’rs Inocencie; viz: That we never had the Least Knowledge of such a Nefarious wickedness in o’r said Neighbours, since they have been w’thin our acquaintance; Neither doe we remember — any such Thoughts in us Concerning them; or any Action by them or either of them Directly tending that way; no more than might be in the lives of any other p’rsons of the Clearest Reputation as to Any such Evills. What God may have Left them to, we Cannot Go into Gods pavillions Cloathed w’th Cloudes of Darknesse Round About.
But as to what we have ever seen, or heard of them — upon o’r Consciences we Judge them Innocent of the crime objected.
His Breading hath been Amongst us; and was of Religious Parents in o’r place; & by Reason of Relations, & Proprties w’thin o’r Towne hath had Constant Intercourse w’th us
We speak upon o’r p’rsonall acquaintance, & observations: & so Leave our Neighbours, & this our Testimonie on their Behalfe to the wise Thoughts of y’r Honours, & Subscribe &c….
Foster Genealogy, Being the Record of the Posterity of Reginald Foster, an Early Inhabitant of Ipswich, New England, Whose Genealogy is Traced Back to Anacher, Great Forrester of Flanders, Who Died in 837 A.D., with Wills, Inventories, Biographical Sketches, Etc., Also the Record Of All Other American Fosters”, by Franklin C. Pearce of Chicago, Printed 1899, is self published, and has been the source text for most of the websites that provide genealogical data.
Massachusetts and Maine Families in the Ancestry of Walter Goodwin Davis. Vol. III. Neal-Wright pg. 649