Fobes of New England
John Fobes [a] b 1612, Leiden, Holland, d 1661, Bridgewater, Plymouth, MA. He md Constant Mitchell [b] 1637, Bridgewater, Plymouth, MA. She was b 1614, d 1661, Bridgewater, Plymouth, MA.
Children of John Fobes and Constant Mitchell were:
  • Joshua Fobes b abt 1642, prob Bridgewater, Plymouth, MA, d 25 Mar 1676, Rehoboth, MA.
  • Mary Fobes b abt 1644, prob Bridgewater, Plymouth, MA.
  • John Fobes b 1646, prob Bridgewater, Plymouth, MA, d 10 Jul 1661, Sandwich, Barnstable, MA.
  • Lieut. William Fobes b 1649, prob Bridgewater, Plymouth, MA; md Elizabeth Southworth 1678, Little Compton, Newport, RI.
  • Deac. Edward Fobes b 1651.
  • Deac. Caleb Fobes b 1653, Bridgewater, Plymouth, MA, d 25 Aug 1710, Norwich, CT; md Sarah Gager 30 Jun 1681, Preston, CT.
  • Elizabeth Fobes b 6 Mar 1656/57, prob Bridgewater, Plymouth, MA, d 25 Sep 1737; md Joseph Russell.
Deac. Edward Fobes [c] b 1651, Bridgewater, Plymouth, MA, d 1732, Bridgewater, Plymouth, MA. He md Elizabeth Howard abt 1676, Bridgewater, Plymouth, MA, daughter of Lieut. John Howard [d] and Martha Hayward [e]. She was b abt 1657, Bridgewater, Plymouth, MA, d bef 1747, prob Bridgewater, Plymouth, MA.
Children of Edward Fobes and Elizabeth Howard were:
  • Elizabeth Fobes b 20 Mar 1676/77.
  • John Fobes b 1 Jul 1679, Bridgewater, Plymouth, MA, d 16 Aug 1725, Bridgewater, Plymouth, MA; md Abigail Robinson 14 Nov 1704, Bridgewater, Plymouth, MA.
  • Mary Fobes b 7 Sep 1681, Bridgewater, Plymouth, MA; unmarried.
  • Bethia Fobes b 11 Oct 1683, Bridgewater, Plymouth, MA, d 8 Jan 1770, Bridgewater, Plymouth, MA; md Samuel Keith 20 Jan 1702/03, Bridgewater, Plymouth, MA.
  • Hannah Fobes b 31 Mar 1686, Bridgewater, Plymouth, MA, d 23 May 1765, Bridgewater, Plymouth, MA; md Timothy Keith 1 Feb 1709/10, Bridgewater, Plymouth, MA.
  • Ephraim Fobes b 9 Feb 1687/88, Bridgewater, Plymouth, MA, d 11 Dec 1756, Bridgewater, Plymouth, MA; md Martha Snell 1714, Bridgewater, Plymouth, MA.
  • Joshua Fobes, Deacon, b 20 May 1689, Bridgewater, Plymouth, MA; md [1] Abigail Dunbar 3 Dec 1711, Bridgewater, Plymouth, MA, [2] Mercy Churchill 5 Jun 1754.
  • Benjamin Fobes b 24 Aug 1692, Bridgewater, Plymouth, MA, d 10 Apr 1770, Boston, Suffolk, MA; md Martha Hunt 3 May 1721, Bridgewater, Plymouth, MA.
  • William Fobes b 24 Jul 1698, Bridgewater, Plymouth, MA, d 26 Jun 1764, Bridgewater, Plymouth, MA; md Thankful Dwelly 3 Feb 1725/26, Scituate, Plymouth, MA.
Elizabeth Fobes b 20 Mar 1676/77, Bridgewater, Plymouth, MA, d 12 Feb 1759, Bridgewater, Plymouth, MA. She md Joseph Keith abt 1694, Bridgewater, Plymouth, MA, son of Rev. James Keith and Susanna Edson.

Much speculation has been made that immigrant John Fobes was the son of Rev. John Forbes of Leiden, son of William Forbes and Elizabeth Strachan, of the illustrious and ancient noble Scottish house of Forbes; this according to family tradition. Rev. John Forbes did have a son by this name, but while Rev. Forbes' other sons have been accounted for in their accomplishments and whereabouts, son John seems to have left no further record, which may account for the belief he was one and the same John who emigrated from Leiden to New England. The author has been unable to find a more contemporary reputable publication regarding these claims, nor any concrete proof that the name Fobes was indeed Forbes. It does seem a bit odd that John Fobes, if from the grand and noble Forbes line, would have allowed such a name to be corrupted. Is there any existing proof that John's name was not actually Vobes, and of Dutch origin? The traditional, ancient arms of the House of Forbes seem to have been adopted by many branches of the descendants of immigrant John Fobes, but whether this is simply in following "family tradition" or is, in fact, based on any authentic proof, remains to be discovered. It is a bit intriguing though, that Rev. James Keith, a later immigrant, had, among his children, two daughters and one son who married three Fobes siblings, offspring of Rev. Edward Fobes; one is tempted to compare these unions with the many intermarriages throughout the history of the noble Keith and Forbes families of Scotland.

a. He was one of fifteen men who landed in Duxbury, Plymouth in 1636, being identured to Isaac Allerton in order to pay for his passage. He was known to be at Powder Point, where he was granted land, living there for about five years. A tailor by trade, he appears in a list of men able to bear arms in 1643, and became an original proprietor, in 1645, of Bridgewater. He was made freeman in 1645, and was a man of standing and local influence. He served as Constable in 1651, and a juror in 1659.

b. Two years after John Fobes' death, she remarried to John Briggs, she being about 45-50 years of age at the time. While the NEHGS' Great Migration Project, lead by Charles Robert Anderson, states that Constant Mitchell is not proven to be Experience Mitchell's sister, two items found would appear to make this relationship likely:

In a 1661 letter written by George Allen, of Sandwich, Mass. to Experience Mitchell of Duxbury, he mentions the death of Mitchell's sister's son, John Fobes, who "died at his house, about 1661, 7, 10" he judged. He also says that John gave the land received from his father to his brother, William, only Edward is to have his choice when they divide the two shares, and states that John remembered his love to his mother and brothers and sisters.

The nunc. will July 31, 1662, of John Fobes (Sr.). He mentions wife, two eldest sons John and Edward; daughter Mary. His bro. Experience Mitchell to help the wife and children.

c. Propounded a freeman 1 Jun 1680, he had large landed interests in Bridgewater, and was part-owner of a saw mill. He served as Constable 1681, Juryman 1684, 1686 and 1689, Representative to the General Court of Mass. in 1702, 1711, 1715, and 1722, and also as an agent to settle the Easton, Mass. town boundary line in 1710.

d. Aged 15 years, he and his brother George, arrived in Plymouth about 1635, and both lived initially with the family of Captain Myles Standish. In 1645 he was one of the original proprietors of Bridgewater. He served there as one of the two surveyors of highways in 1656, and in 1657 he took the oath of Freeman. He was appointed Ensign in Sep 1664, and fought as an Ensign in King Philip's War. In Jun 1678, he was a deputy to the General Court of Massachusetts, as well as selectman of Bridgewater. He was, with Thomas Hayward, again a representative to the General Court in Oct 1689, when he was promoted to Lieutenant. He was a carpenter by trade, and was licensed to keep an ordinary or tavern as early as 1670. He died intestate, but the record of the division of his estate, dated 15 Oct 1701, names his eldest son, John, second surviving son, Jonathan, Ephraim, the youngest son, James Howard, only son of James Howard, deceased, Edward Fobes' wife, Zacheus Packard's wife, and Henry Kingman's wife. The latter three daughters are shown among the signatures of the witnesses, Zacheus Packard, in behalf of himself and Sarah his wife, Henry Kingman, in behalf of himself and Bethiah his wife, Edward Fobes and Elizabeth Fobes. Lieut. John Howard is said to have spelled his name "Haward", as evidently did his descendants until after 1700, when the spelling Howard became standard.

e. She was the daughter of Thomas Hayward, a tailor from Aylsford, Kent, England, who came in the Hercules in 1635, with his wife, Susanna Towne, and their five children. He settled at Duxbury before 1638, and probably at Bridgewater in 1651, being one of the first proprietors there in 1645. He was admitted a freeman in 1646. It is speculated that he may have made an earlier trip to New England, perhaps to assess his prospects before bringing his family, as one Thomas Hayward appears on the ship's list for the William and Frances in 1632.

GL: The Fobes Family in America and Descendants of John Fobes, by Lawrence Fobes, 1976, pp 1-5; Early New England Settlers, 1600s-1800s, Guide to the Early Settlers of America, p 247, ibid, Planters of the Commonwealth, Lists of Passengers and the Ships Which Brought Them, pp 96-97, ibid, Ancestral Heads of New England Families, p. 124; ibid, One Hundred and Sixty Allied Families, p 9; The Howard Genealogy, Descendants of John Howard of Bridgewater, Massachusetts from 1643 to 1903, by Heman Howard, 1903; Mayflower Source Records, Abstracts of the First Wills in the Probate Office, Plymouth, p 532; Massachusetts Genealogical Records, Pioneers of Massachusetts, p 171.
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