Richard Dana

Richard DANA (1617 – 1690) was Alex’s 10th Grandfather; one of 2,048 in this generation of the Shaw line.

Richard Dana was born in 31 Oct 1617 in Manchester, Lancashire, England. His parents were Robert DAWNEY (DANA) and Elizabeth BARLOW.  Richard first appeared in Cambridge, Mass in 1640.  He married Ann BULLARD in 1648 in Cambridge, Mass. Richard died from a fall from a scaffold in his barn on 2 Apr 1690, Cambridge, Mass.

Richard Dana – Homestead – Built by Richard Dana in 1661, this rendition was done in 1875. The home was in South Cambridge, on the south side of the Charles River, which is now Brighton

Ann (Anna)Bullard (Buller). was born about 1630, in England. Her parents were Robert BULLARD and Ann MARTYN. Ann died 15 Jul 1711, Cambridge, Mass.

Children of Richard and Ann:

Name Born Married Departed
1. John Dana 15 Apr 1649
12 Oct 1649
2. Hannah Dana 8 Jul 1651
Samuel Oldham
5 Jan 1669/70
Cambridge, Mass.
3. Samuel Dana 13 Oct 1653
8 Nov 1653
4. Jacob Dana 3 Feb 1654
Patience Sabin
24 Dec 1698
5. Joseph Dana 21 May 1656
Mary Gobel
17 Jan 1681/82
Concord, Mass
11 Feb 1700
6. Abiah Dana 21 May 1656
8 Dec 1668
7. Benjamin Dana 20 Feb 1660
Mary Buckminster
24 May 1688
13 Aug 1738
8. Elizabeth DANA 20 Feb 1662
14 Jan 1679
Medford, Mass.
Preston, CT
9. Daniel Dana 20 Mar 1662
Naomi Croswell
1691 in Charlestown, Suffolk, Mass
10 Oct 1749
10. Deliverance Dana 5 Mar 1666
Samuel Hyde
Newton, Mass
10 May 1741
11. Sarah Dana 1 Jan 1669
11 Jan 1669

Richard Dana – Dana Houses in Cambridge The pictured homestead that was built in 1661 is #4, quite south on the Roxbury Path, past the crossroad.

The Danas are supposed to be of Italian origin. They are traced from Italy to France, among the Huguenots with whose religious views they were in sympathy. They did not remain long in France, but pushed on to England, from whence one Richard soon came to America. We learn of only one besides Richard in England. William, who seems without doubt to have been Richard’s father, and that Richard was his only son.

Rufus W. Griswold says, in his “Poets and Poetry of America,” that

“William Dana, Esquire, was sheriff of Middlesex during the reign of Queen Elizabeth. Their only descendant at that time living, Richard Dana, came to America about the middle of the seventeenth century, and settled at Cambridge, then called Newtown, near Boston.”

Richard Dana – House on the bank of the Charles River

Richard  held in turn the Offices of Constable, Surveyor of Highways, and Juror.  Richard was the father of seven sons and four daughters and was the progenitor of a very long line of descendants.  His death is recorded in Sewells well know diary under the date of April 2, 1720. He fell from a scaffold in his barn.

Another authority says he settled at what is now the town of Brighton, Mass., in 1640. The only Danas in England now are the few descendants of Rev. Edmund Dana, who went from this country about the time of the Revolution, probably because of his Tory proclivities. There are still Danas in Italy, as ascertained by Charles A. Dana, editor New York Sun. He says they possess the same characteristics of the family in this country, being of a literary and scientific turn of mind. One whom he met is a professor of some eminence in one of the Italian colleges.

English Ancestors

Richard’s father Robert DAWNEY (DANA) was born on 2 June 1571 in Kendal Parish, Westmoreland, England and was christened on 16 June 1571 in Natland, Kendal Parish.  His parents were Edward DAWNEY OR DANA and Agnes [__?__] .   He married  Elizabeth BARLOW on 10 April 1597 in Collegiate Church, Manchester, Lancaster, England.  Robert died on 24 May 1644 at the age of 72 in Manchester, Cheshire, England and was buried on 24 May 1644 in Manchester.

Richard’s mother Elizabeth Barlow was born 11 Jul 1578 in Manchester, Lancashire, England. Her parents were Alexander BARLOW and Ellen JONSON. Elizabeth died 11 Apr 1635 in Manchester.

Children of Robert and Elizabeth

i. Margaret Dana b. 19 Mar 1597 in Manchester, Lancashire, England; m. [__?__] Smythe; c. 1618 in Manchester; d. 8 Apr 1698 at the age of 101 in England.

ii. Cecily Dana b. 1598; d. 4 April 1598

iii. Edward Dana b. 24 Aug 1599 in Manchester, Lancashire, England; m. 2 Nov 1615 in Manchester, Lancashire, England to Elizabeth Charlton; d. 6 Sep 1633 at the age of 34 in Manchester.

iv. Henry Dana b. 7 Mar 1601 in Manchester. He was buried on 13 June 1602. Alternatively, he died Jun 1682 in Manchester.

v. Elline (Ellen) Dana b. 22 Feb 1604 in Manchester, Lancashire, England. She was buried on 19 June 1606. Alternatively, she married 1631 in Manchester, Lancashire, England to John Bradshaw and died in 1640 in England.

vi.  Robert Dana b. 28 Aug 1607 in Manchester, Lancashire, England. He was buried on 13 Nov 1607.

vii. Robert Dana b. 6 Feb 1609 in Manchester, Lancashire, England. He was buried on 10 April 1633 at the age of 24.

viii. James Dana b. 8 Dec 1611 in Manchester, Lancashire, England.; d.  21 March 1612 at the age of 1.

ix. Alice Dana b. 21 March 1612 in Manchester, Lancashire, England; d. 3 June 1621 at the age of 9.

x. Anne Dana b. 23 Feb 1615 in Manchester, Lancashire, England; d. 6 May 1616 at the age of 1 in Manchester.

xi. Richard DANA b. 31 Oct 1617 in Manchester. (See this page)

xii. Elizabeth Dana b. 9 Mar 1619 in Manchester, Lancashire, England. m. 1646 in Manchester to Ralph Travis.


2. Hannah Dana

Hannah’s husband Samuel Oldham was born 1651 in Cambridge, Middlesex, Mass. Her parents were Richard Oldham and Martha Eaton. Hannah died 13 Jul 1727 in Cambridge, Middlesex, Mass.

4. Jacob Dana

Jacob’s wife Patience Sabin was born 28 Feb 1655 in Rehoboth, Bristol, Mass. Her parents were William Sabin and Mary Wright. Patience died 1712 in Cambridge, Middlesex, Mass.

5. Joseph Dana

Joseph’s wife Mary Gobel was born 1660 in Concord, Middlesex, Mass. Her parents were Thomas Goble and Mary Mousall. Mary died 1699 in Concord, Middlesex, Mass.

Joseph’s twin brother Abiah died in 1668 when he was twelve years old. Abiah is both a boy’s and girl’s name and means “God is my father.” In the Old Testament the name Abijah was borne by several characters.

7. Benjamin Dana

Benjamin’s wife Mary Buckminster was born 1667 in Brookline, Middlesex, Mass. Her parents were Joseph Buckminster and Elizabeth Clark. Alternatively, her parents were Zechariah Buckminster and Sarah Webb. After Benjamin died, she married 19 Jul 1742 in Newton, Middlesex, Mass to Joshua Fuller (b. 2 Apr 1654 in Newton, Mass – d. 27 Jun 1752 in Newton) Mary died 14 Feb 1754 in Newton, Middlesex, Mass.

8. Elizabeth DANA (See Daniel WOODWARD‘s page)

9. Daniel Dana

Daniel’s wife Naomi Croswell was born 5 Dec 1670 in Charlestown, Suffolk, Mass. Her parents were Thomas Crosswell and Priscilla Upham. Naomi diod 24 Feb 1751 in Cambridge, Middlesex, Mass.

Daniel was the great great grandfather of Richard Henry Dana Jr. (Aug 1, 1815 – Jan 6, 1882) an American lawyer and politician from Massachusetts, a descendant of an eminent colonial family who gained renown as the author of the American classic, the memoir Two Years Before the Mast. Both as a writer and as a lawyer, he was a champion of the downtrodden, from seamen to fugitive slaves.

Richard Henry Dana

Famous Danas

Daniel’s son Richard Dana (wiki) was born 26 Jun 1700 in Boston, Mass. He married Lydia Trowbridge 31 May 1737 in Cambridge, Middlesex, Mass and had seven children including Francis. Richard died 17 May 1772 Boston, Suffolk, Mass

Richard graduated from Harvard College and then studied law and passed the bar. He became a prominent lawyer, was connected with the Sons of Liberty and protests against the Stamp Act. He served one term in the Massachusetts Assembly.

Daniel’s grandson Francis Dana (wiki) was born 13 Jun 1743 in Charlestown, Mass. He married Elizabeth Ellery 5 Aug 1775 in Hampton, New Hampshire and had six children including Richard Henry. Francis died 25 Apr 1811 in Cambridge, Mass.

Francis Dana

Francis was an lawyer, jurist, and statesman from Massachusetts. He served as a delegate to the Continental Congress in 1777–1778 and 1784. He signed the Articles of Confederation.

He became a leader of the Sons of Liberty, and was first elected to Massachusetts’s provincial (revolutionary) Congress in 1774. In 1775 the Continental Congress dispatched him to England in an unsuccessful attempt to reconcile the differences leading to the Revolutionary War. He returned the following year, convinced that a friendly settlement of the dispute was impossible, and was elected a delegate to the Continental Congress in 1777, where he signed the Articles of Confederation in 1778. As a member of the latter body, he became chairman in January 1778 of the committee appointed to visit Washington at Valley Forge and confer with him concerning the reorganization of the army. This committee spent about three months in camp, and assisted Washington in preparing the plan of reorganization which Congress in the main adopted. In this year, he was also a member of a committee to consider Lord North’s offer of conciliation, which he vigorously opposed.

Dana left the Congress to accompany John Adams to Paris as a secretary to the diplomatic delegation.   In 1780 he was named as American minister to Russia, and while he never gained official recognition from Catherine II, he remained in St. Petersburg until 1783. After his return, he was again elected to the national congress in 1784. In 1785 Dana was appointed to the Supreme Court of Massachusetts, and served there until 1806, as the Chief Justice after 1791. An earnest advocate of the adoption of the Federal constitution, he was a member of the state convention which ratified it in 1788, and was one of the most influential advisers of the leaders of the Federalist Party, specifically its Essex Junto.

Daniel’s great grandson Richard Henry Dana Sr. (wiki) was born 15 Nov 1787 in Cambridge, Mass. He married Ruth Charlotte Smith 11 May 1813 in St Johns Church, Providence, Rhode Island and had four children including Richard Henry Jr. Richard died 2 Feb 1879 in Boston, Mass.

Richard Henry Dana Sr.

Richard was an American poet, critic and lawyer.

He graduated from Harvard College and became a lawyer.  He was also a literary critic. Between 1817 and 1827, he was the first American to write major critiques of Romanticism, though his views were unconventional then.  In a review of the poetry of Washington Allston, he noted his belief that poetry was the highest form of art, though it should be simple and must avoid didacticism.  Some of his criticisms were controversial. Dana accused Harvard of smothering genius, and that the minds of poets were more insightful than the general community. Dana also criticized the Transcendentalism movement. He wrote, “Emerson & the other Spiritualists, or Supernaturalists, or whatever they are called, or may be pleased to call themselves… [have] madness in their hearts“.  Dana was a member of the Anthology Club; he and others in the club founded the North American Review in 1817 as an outlet for his criticism, though his opposition with standard conventions lost him his editorial control of it.  By 1850, his opinions were widely followed. As he wrote at the time, “Much that was once held to be presumptuous novelty… [became] little better than commonplace”

As a writer of fiction, Dana was an early practitioner of Gothic literature, particularly with his novel Paul Felton (1822), a tale of madness and murder.  The novel has also been called a pioneering work of psychological realism alongside works by William Gilmore Simms. Nevertheless, Dana had difficulty supporting his family through his writing, which earned him only $400 over 30 years

He lived on Chestnut Street in Boston’s Beacon Hill neighborhood, ca.1840s-1870s.

Daniel’s 2nd great grandson was Richard Henry Dana Jr. (1815 – 1882)  As a boy, he studied in Cambridgeport under a strict schoolmaster named Samuel Barrett, alongside fellow Cambridge native and future writer James Russell Lowell.  Barrett was infamous as a disciplinarian who punished his students for any infraction by flogging. He also often pulled students by their ears and, on one such occasion, nearly pulled Dana’s ear off, causing the boy’s father to protest enough that the practice was abolished

In 1825, Dana enrolled in a private school overseen by Ralph Waldo Emerson, whom Dana later mildly praised as “a very pleasant instructor”, though he lacked a “system or discipline enough to insure regular and vigorous study.”  In July 1831, Dana enrolled at Harvard College, where in his freshman year his support of a student protest cost him a six month suspension.  In his junior year, he contracted measles, which in his case led to ophthalmia.

Fatefully, the worsening vision inspired him to take a sea voyage. But rather than going on a fashionable Grand Tour of Europe, he decided to enlist as a merchant seaman, despite his high-class birth. On August 14, 1834 he departed Boston aboard the brig Pilgrim bound for Alta California, at that time still a part of Mexico.  This voyage would bring Dana to a number of settlements in California (including Monterey, San Pedro, San Juan Capistrano, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, and San Francisco). After witnessing a flogging on board the ship, he vowed that he would try to help improve the lot of the common seaman. The Pilgrim collected hides for shipment to Boston, and Dana spent much of his time in California curing hides and loading them onto the ship. To return home sooner, he was reassigned by the ship’s owners to a different ship, the Alert, and on September 22, 1836, Dana arrived back in Massachusetts.

He thereupon enrolled at Harvard Law School. He graduated from there in 1837 and was admitted to the bar in 1840. He went on to specialize in maritime law. In the October 1839 issue of a magazine, he took a local judge, one of his own instructors in law school, to task for letting off a ship’s captain and mate with a slap on the wrist for murdering the ship’s cook, beating him to death for not “laying hold” of a piece of equipment. The judge had sentenced the captain to ninety days in jail and the mate to thirty days.

In 1841 he published The Seaman’s Friend, which became a standard reference on the legal rights and responsibilities of sailors, He defended many common seamen in court.

During his voyages he had kept a diary, and in 1840 (coinciding with his admission to the bar) he published a memoir, Two Years Before the Mast. The term, “before the mast” refers to sailors’ quarters, which were located in the forecastle (the ship’s bow), officers’ quarters being near the stern. His writing evidences his later social feeling for the oppressed. With the California Gold Rush later in the decade, Two Years Before the Mast would become highly sought after as one of the few sources of information on California.

He became a prominent abolitionist, helping to found the anti-slavery Free Soil Party in 1848 and representing the fugitive slave Anthony Burns in Boston in 1854.

In 1853 he represented William T.G. Morton in Morton’s attempt to establish that he discovered the “anaesthetic properties of ether”.

In 1859, while the U.S. Senate was considering whether the United States should try to annex the Spanish possession of Cuba, Dana traveled there and visited Havana, a sugar plantation, a bullfight, and various churches, hospitals, schools, and prisons, a trip documented in his book To Cuba and Back.

During the American Civil War, Dana served as a United States Attorney, and successfully argued before the Supreme Court that the United States Government could rightfully blockade Confederate ports. During 1867–1868 Dana was a member of the Massachusetts legislature and also served as a U.S. counsel in the trial of Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

In 1876, his nomination as ambassador to Great Britain was defeated in the Senate by political enemies, partly because of a lawsuit for plagiarism brought against him for a legal textbook he had edited, Henry Wheaton‘s Elements of International Law (8th ed., 1866). Immediately after the book’s publication, Dana had been charged by the editor of two earlier editions, William Beach Lawrence, with infringing his copyright, and was involved in litigation which continued for thirteen years. In such minor matters as arrangement of notes and verification of citations the court found against Dana, but in the main Dana’s notes were vastly different from Lawrence’s.

Dana died of influenza in Rome and is buried in that city’s Protestant Cemetery.

His son, Richard Henry Dana III, married Edith Longfellow, daughter of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

10. Deliverance Dana

Deliverance’s husband Samuel Hyde was born 5 Mar 1667 in Cambridge, Middlesex, Mass. His parents were Job Hyde and Elizabeth Fuller. Samuel died 27 May 1741 in Newton, Middlesex, Mass.


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6 Responses to Richard Dana

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  4. markeminer says:

    I had wondered if our Danas were related to Richard Henry Dana of Two Years before the Mast fame and this morning I discovered they were. I had no idea Richard Henry Jr did so many interesting things after he got back to Boston or the important role his family played in the Revolution.

    Two Years Before the Mast was one of the few 19th Century books I had to read in elementary school. Perhaps in 4th grade when we studied California History. I remember the stinky hides which at that time were California’s only export and the mean merchant ship officers. I also remember thinking the writing style wasn’t very good, (get to the point already) I wonder how it would be to read today.

    • Carole Enright says:

      Hi Mark, Hope maybe you have read it again in the meantime. I am fascinated by “Two Years Before the Mast” being from NE, wanting to learn about RHD Jr’s life, the sea voyages of the time and early California. I am a relative, too, though not from his direct line. Am descended from the founder of the Dana clan in America, Richard, 1617-1690, through another son, Benjamin. We have visited Dana Point in 2010 and found the ship Pilgrim, by chance !
      Carole Dana Enright
      Acton, MA

      • markeminer says:

        Hi Carole,

        I haven’t read “Two Years Before the Mast”, since elementary school, but i still remember the image of the dried cow hides piled on the ship and how much California has changed. I had a career in shipping, but container ships, not sailing ships, lol.



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