Saturday, November 7, 2015

Surname Saturday ~ FOSS of New Hampshire

The Piscataqua River Region of New England, 1667, by John Scott,
from the British Library


There are many misleading myths about the origins of the FOSS family in New Hampshire.  For many years I have read in books and online that John FOSS and his brother were Danish crew members of a ship to New England.  They both stayed in New Hampshire.  Another myth says that John deserted the British Navy from a warship in Boston Harbor.  Here is an excerpt from a Foss genealogy typewritten manuscript at the New Hampshire Historical Society Library [Genealogy of the Foss Family, by Guy Scoby Rix, 1917] “Johan (John) Foss, son of Lauritz Davidson Foss, (see page 3) was born in Ribe, Denmark, July 23, 1638.  He went to England with his brother Peter, and thence came to New England.  A tradition exists that he came to Boston in a British war vessel, landing in Boston by jumping overboard, swimming ashore, and escaping further service.”  This seems like very specific information, but it is all untrue.

In the New England Historic Genealogical Society Register, Volume 144, page 32, there is an article about the Jackson family, and in it Mary Jackson, born about 1615, married on 14 February 1632 in Paignton, Devonshire to Stephen Fosse.  Her son, John, born about 1633, came to Portsmouth, New Hampshire to be with his great uncle, John Jackson (there was only a 25 year age difference).  John Foss was a caulker, and Jackson was a cooper in Portsmouth.

John Foss married Mary Berry, the daughter of immigrant William Berry and his wife Jane.  They had about 12 children.  John married second to Mary Chadbourne and third to Elizabeth Crawford.  He was granted land in Portsmouth in 1657, and admitted an inhabitant of Dover on 1 January 1665/6.  He was a selectman in 1698 and died in 1699.

I descend from his daughter Elizabeth Foss, who married Nathaniel Batchelder, grandson of Rev. Stephen Bachiler, about 1685 in Hampton, New Hampshire. 

For more information on the FOSS family of New Hampshire, see The Genealogical Dictionary of Maine and New Hampshire by Noyes, Libby and Davis; “Two John Jacksons from Dartmouth, Devon” by John Plummer in the 1990 New England Historic Genealogical Register, Volume 144, page 33, Berrys by the Beach by Sylvia Fitts Getchell, 1980; and The History of the Town of Rye, by Langdon B. Parsons, 1905 [reprint 1992 by Heritage Press]

My FOSS genealogy:

Generation 1: Stephen Fosse married on 14 February 1632 in Paignton, Devonshire, England to Mary Jackson, daughter of John Jackson and Christian Furneis, baptized on 7 August 1615 in Paignton. 

Generation 2: John Foss, baptized on 25 November 1633 in Paignton, died 17 December 1699 in New Castle, New Hampshire; married first to Mary Berry, daughter of William Berry and Jane Unknown.  Married second to Mary Chadbourne, third to Elizabeth Crawford.  About 12 children with Mary Berry.

Generation 3: Elizabeth Foss, born about 1666 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, died in 1746; married about 1685 to Nathaniel Batchelder, son of Nathaniel Batchelder and Deborah Smith.  He was born 24 December 1659 in Hampton, New Hampshire and died about 1745 in Hampton Falls.  Nine children.

Generation 4: Josiah Batchelder m. Sarah Page
Generation 5: David Batchelder m. Elizabeth Swett
Generation 6: Elisha Batchelder m. Sarah Lane
Generation 7: Jonathan Batchelder m. Nancy Thompson
Generation 8: George E. Batchelder m. Abigail M. Locke
Generation 9: George E. Batchelder m. Mary Katharine Emerson
Generation 10: Carrie Maude Batchelder m. Joseph Elmer Allen
Generation 11: Stanley Elmer Allen m. Gertrude Matilda Hitchings (my grandparents)


Published under a Creative Commons License
Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Surname Saturday ~ FOSS of New Hampshire", Nutfield Genealogy, posted November 7, 2015 ( : accessed [access date]).


  1. It has been passed down through family Oral History that we're Danes. The Guy Rix book is full of mistakes that I can prove.

  2. I know who my Foss relative is that moved from New Hampshire to California in the mid-19th Century, but cannot find my way through the New Hampshire Foss mess. Anyone have an account of David Richardson Foss, who married Rebecca Ann Libby?

    1. Hopefully someone out there will see this message and leave you a reply!