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Darby Field

Birthplace: Ireland or, Boston, Lincolnshire, England
Death: after August 01, 1651
Dover, Strafford County, New Hampshire, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of John Field, Jr. and Ellen (Hutchinson) Field
Husband of Agnes Field
Father of Mary Woodman; Joseph Field; Elizabeth Jones; Lieut. Zachariah Field, Sr and Sarah Delano Drew
Brother of Henry Field; Robert Field and Richard E. Fields

Occupation: Farmer, wine seller
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Darby Field


Darby Field (1610–1649) was the first European to climb Mount Washington in New Hampshire. Of Irish ancestry, if not born in Ireland, he was in Boston, Massachusetts, by 1636, and settled in Durham, New Hampshire, by 1638, where he ran a ferry from what is now called Durham Point to the town of Newington, across Little Bay. He was known as an Indian translator.[1] Field's ascent of Mount Washington, in 1642, when he was about 32 years of age, was recorded by Gov. John Winthrop of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in his journal:

"One Darby Field, an Irishman, living about Piscataquack, being accompanied with two Indians, went to the top of the white hill. He made his journey in 18 days. His relation at his return was, that it was about one hundred miles from Saco, that after 40 miles travel, he did, for the most part, ascend; and within 12 miles of the top was neither tree nor grass, but low savins [shrubs], which they went upon the top of sometimes, but a continual ascent upon rocks, on a ridge between two valleys filled with snow, out of which came two branches of Saco river, which met at the foot of the hill where was an Indian town of some 200 people. Some of them accompanied him within 8 miles of the top, but durst go no further, telling him that no Indian ever dared to go higher, and that he would die if he went. So they staid there till his return, and his two Indians took courage by his example and went with him. They went divers times through the thick clouds for a good space, and within 4 miles of the top, they had no clouds but very cold. By the way among the rocks, there were two ponds, one a blackish water, and the other reddish [the Lakes of the Clouds]. The top of all was plain about 60 feet square. On the north side was such a precipice [the Great Gulf], as they could scarcely discern to the bottom. They had neither cloud nor wind on the top, and moderate heat. All the country about him seemed a level, except here and there a hill rising above the rest, and far beneath them. He saw to the north, a great water which he judged to be 100 miles broad, but could see no land beyond it." [2]

Darby Field was remarkably accurate in the estimated distances, though the distant bodies of water were like cloud-banks, and his description of the top of Mount Washington was likewise accurate. Field's feat would be repeated only a handful of times over the next 150 years. The account of a party of hikers in 1816 shows that they followed Darby Field's notes as a guide and simply saw him as overenthusiastic at the summit; "The relation of Darby field, may be considered as in the main correct, after making reasonable deductions for the distance, the length of the Muscovy glass, and the quantity of water in view, which it may be suspected has not been seen by any visitor since his time."[3] At that time, mica (Muscovy glass) was used in the manufacturing of stoves and was quite an expensive commodity.

Darby Field and his wife Agnes would have five children before his death in 1649 at Dover, New Hampshire. Mount Field in the Willey Range of the White Mountains is named in his honor.

  • References
  • 1.^ R.S. Dunn, James Savage, and Laetitia Yeandle, editors, The Journal of John Winthrop 1630-1649 (Cambridge and London: Harvard University Press, 1996) pp. 393n
  • 2.^ Dunn et al, pp. 393-394
  • 3.^ USGW Archives C. Norris & Co. , Exeter, NH, ©1817 (1817). "Gazetteer of the State of New Hampshire 1817". * Retrieved 2008-08-24.
  • Sources
  • Passaconaway's Realm by Russell M. Lawson, University Press of New England, Hanover NH 2002.


  • Field genealogy: being the record of all the Field family in America, whose ... By Frederick Clifton Pierce
  • Pg. 949
  • 6762. JOHN FIELD, JR. (John, William, William, Thomas, Thomas, John, Thomas, Roger), b. in Parish St. Giles, London, England, in 1579; m. in Boston, England, Aug. 13, 1609, Elen Hockinson, or Hutchinson. He signed the Exeter Combination in Boston, England, and sent his son Darby to this country to look after his interest here. He d. in England. Res. Boston, Linconshire, England.
    • 5837. i. DARBY, b. Boston, England, about 1610; m. ___ ___.
    • 5838. ii. ROBERT, b. about 1613; m. Mary Stanley.
    • 5838 1/4. iii. HENRY, b. England, about 1611; m. ___ ___.
    • 5838 1/2 iv. RICHARD, b. England; m. ___ ___.
  • 5837. DARBY FIELD (John, John, William, William, Thomas, Thomas, John, Thomas, Roger), b. Boston, Lincolnshire, England, about 1610; m ___ ___. Darby Field, called by Winthrop an "Irishman" (but born in England), is the son of John Fielde and Elen Hochinson (Hutchinson) Field, who were married in Boston, Lincolnshire, England, Aug. 18, 1609. In 1636 he came to Boston, driven by religious and political persecution, and for a short time was with his brother Robert. He removed to Exeter, N. H., in 1638, to Dover, N. H., in 1648, here he died in 1649. Tradition goes to show him to have been the brother of Robert Field, who was the son of John. Darby Field was the first European who ascended the White Mountains, which he did in 1642, in company with two Indians. The ascent occupying eighteen days, when he saw "more marvelous things than ever any one has seen since." He was one of the earliest signers of the "Execter Combination," a compact made by a voluntary association, for governmental purposes, drawn up by their pastor and signed by thirty-five adult males of the settlement of Oyster river, bearing date July 4, 1639.
  • Recent investigations by Colonel Chester have traced several signers of the Exeter Combination to Boston, Lincolnshire, and the adjoining parishes, and found that they were more or less related. A deed of April 3, 1638, to John Wheelwright, Edward Colcord and Darby Field, of Piscataquack; Samuel Hutchinson and Augustus Story, of Boston; John Compton, of Roxbury, and Nicholas Needham, of Mount Woolston, of all its rights, title and interest, from Merrimack to the patent of Piscataquick, was made by Wehanowndwit (some thirty miles square, vol. i. p, 147, New Hampshire History Collection. He had no share in the first division of land, but was a subscriber to the confirmation.
  • That Darby Field was above the average, not only in courage and daring, but in intelligence and quickness to resent what he considered impertinence, may be seen from the following story; A famous Puritan Divine from Massachusetts was addressing the people of Dover, and reproving them for departing from the good habits of the Puritans, when Mr. Field arose and corrected the minister, saying; "We are a different race from them. Instead of coming here for religious purposes, the object of our ancestors was to lumber, fish and trade, and instead of departing from their good example, we have improved on them." This anecdote is given in "New Hampshire Churches," by Hayes, p. 12, in nearly the same words, but instead of giving Mr. Field's name he is called an intelligent citizen. That he possessed more than ordinary intelligence, is shown in his account of his discovery of the "White Mountains," in 1642. (See account given by Winthrop; also History
  • Pg.950
  • of Newcastle, p. 19.) He was living at Oyster river (Durham, N. H.) in 1644, where he was licensed to sell wine. This was no doubt at Durham Point. It is recorded that "Darby Field, of Oyster river, in the river of Piscataqua, county of Norfolk, planter, sold to John Bickford, his dwelling house at Oyster river, then in the tenure of said Bickford, with a lot of five or six acres adjoining, and all the land to the creek on the road toward Little Bay, except the breadth on said creek, in possession of Thomas Willey. Upon the land sold to Bickford, stood later the Bickford garrison, where soldiers were stationed in 1694. The garrison, long since disappeared, the land where it stood (the Darby Field land), with Little Bay on one side and Oyster river on the other, directly in front the Piscataqua with its verdant isles, swiftly coursing seaward between Newington on the right and Back river district on the left, within a few years passed into the possession of Hon. Jeremiah Langley, who still owns it. On the Dover rate list, Oct. 19, 1648, Darby Field rated at L81, and to pay L1 6s. He had a case in court 1649, and by most writers is supposed to have died that year. Ambrose Gibbons was appointed to administer on his estate at the court holden in Dover, Aug. 1, 1651. His widow was taxed at Oyster river in 1650.
  • "The whites knew that far away in the north there was a cluster of very high mountains, for they had often seen them. Moreover, much mystery attached to them. The Indians said that their god dwelt high up among those lofty peaks, and told marvellous stories about great shining stones that glittered on the cliffs through the darkness of night. Naw and then they would show a piece of crystal, which they said came from the greatest mountain. So the whites at first called it the Crystal Hill. "But," said the Indians to the whites, "nobody can go to the top of Agiochook to get these glittering stones, because it is the abode of the great god of storms, famine and pestilence. Once, indeed, some foolish Indians had attempted to do so, but they had never come back, for the spirit that guarded the gems from mortal hands had raised great mists, through which the hunters wandered on like blind men until the spirit let them to the edge of some dreadful gulf, into which he cast them shrieking. There was one bold settler who was determined to go in search of the precious stones, costing what it might. His name was Darby Field. So in June, 1642, Field started to go to the Crystal Hill. When he came to the neighborhood of the present town of Fryeburg he found an Indian village there. It was the village of the Pigwackets, or as it is sometimes written, Pequawketts. (See note 1.) Here Field took some Indian guides, who led him to within a few miles of the summit, when, for fear of the evil spirit, all but two refused to go farther. So Field went on with these two. They clambered resolutely over rocks and among scrubby ravines, no higher than a man's knee, to a sort of stony plain, where there were two ponds. Above this plain, rose the great peak of shattered rocks that overlooks New England. This too they climbed. Field has said that the sight of the great wilderness land, stretched out all around him, the mountains falling away beneath his feet into dark gulfs, was "daunting terrible." It is so to-day. Field stood upon the great watershed of New England. Finding the day spent he began searching for the precious stones he had come so far to seek. He found a few crystals, which he brought away, thinking them to be diamonds. He also found a deal of "Muscovy glass," or isinglass, adhering to the rocks. Some of this he also took with him. With his treasures Field then came down the mountains to the place where he had left the Indians, whom he found drying themselves by a fire, for while he was above the clouds, a sudden storm had swept over them. As they had given up the adventurous pale face for lost, their wonder at seeing him return safe and sound was very great. All then went back to the Indian village." -"The making of New England," by Samuel Adams Drake, page 224; B 861. Chicago Public Library.
  • He d. 1649. Res. Boston, Mass.; Exeter, and Dover, N. H.
    • 5839. i. JOSEPH, b. __; taxed at Oyster River (Durham), 1657 to 1677; d. before 1694. He was a lot-layer. The county records of July, 1680, spead of Nicholas Folket's dwelling house as standing on land adjoining Joseph Field's land, near the meeting house, on the south side of Oyster River; was conveyed June 26, 1664, by John Goddard to William Williams, who sold this land to Joseph Field, June 18, 1674; and this same land Zachary Field, brother of Joseph conveyed to John Davis, son of Moses, Dec. 11, 1710. Joseph Field's name appears on a petition May 19, 1669, for their settlement (Oyster River) to be made a separate parish. His name appears on a petition to the king in 1668 also.
    • 5840. ii. ZACHARY, b. __. He gave to his son, Zachary, lands, dwelling, etc., lying east of the road from Bellamy to Oyster River, Dover, and west of John Drew's land, May 2, 1708.
    • 5841. iii. SARAH, b. __.
    • 5842. iv. ELIZABETH, b. __; m. Jan. 28, 1663, Stephen Jones, of Dover.
    • 5843. v. MARY, b. about 1631; m. July 15, 1656, Capt. John Woodman, b. 1630, of Newbury, Mass., and Oyster River, now Durham, N. H.


He is the founder of the family in NH and Maine. First to ascend White Mountains (1642), it took 18 days, then called "The Crystall Hills". One of the earliest signers of the "Exeter Combination" signed by 35 adults of Oyster River, July 4, 1639. Came to America (Boston 1636/1637 with his brother, Robert). Lived Oyster River, Durham, NH, Exeter 1638, Dover 1648. Darby Field was an Oyster River, NH, Irishman who often ventured into the wilderness in company with some of the Indians of the locality. On one of these expeditions he pursuaded them to climb up Mr. Washington. There is a deed to John Wheelwright, Edward Colcord, Darby Field- see Vol I p 147 NH Historical Collecction. See Winthrop "Account of Discovery of the White Mountain, History of New Castle, p 19. He lived in Oyster River, Durham, NH in 1644 (He sold a dwelling to John Bickford) Ref. "The Making of N.E. by Samuel Adams Drake, p224, 3861, Chicago Pub. Lib.


  • Darby Field
  • Birth: 1610 Boston, England
  • Death: 1651 Portsmouth, Rockingham County, New Hampshire, USA
  • Darby was the Immigrant Ancestor. He was born in Boston, Lincolnshire, England and married Agnes. They had five children together.
  • Darby died after Oct. 1, 1651, probably in "Strawbery Banke", now Portsmouth.


  • In 1642, DARBY FIELD became the first "European" or white man to climb to the summit of Mount Washington, New Hampshire.
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  • Family links:
  • Spouse:
  • Agnes Field Williams (1612 - 1674)*
  • Children:
    • Sarah Delano Field Drew (1650 - 1719)*
  • Burial: Unknown
  • Find A Grave Memorial# 37877942
  • Find A Grave Memorial# 37877942


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Darby Field's Timeline

Boston, Lincolnshire, England
Probably Boston, Lincolnshire, England
Durham, Strafford, New Hampshire
Oyster River, York, Maine
Age 26
To Boston, Massachusetts, America
Age 34
Oyster River, Durham, New Hampshire, America
Durham, Strafford County, NH, United States
August 1, 1651
Age 41
Dover, Strafford County, New Hampshire, United States
Dover, Strafford, New Hampshire