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Henry Boston

Birthdate: (56)
Birthplace: Northampton, Virginia, USA
Death: September 24, 1676 (52-60)
Annamessex, Somerset, MD, USA
Place of Burial: Somerset, MD, USA
Immediate Family:

Husband of Ann Boston; Judith Davis and Elizabeth Boston
Father of Rebecca Mullinix (Boston); Henry Boston, Jr.; Isaac Boston, I; Esau Boston, I; Anne Lankford and 1 other

Managed by: Dennis Harold Cloukey
Last Updated:

About Henry Boston

Of, Northampton Co., VA. as indicated by the birth of his daughter, Rebecca.

The origin of Henry Boston, immigrant to the Virginia Eastern Shore in the 1640s has not been determined. A tradition survives in the family that he was Scottish. Descendants in Missouri and Colorado of James Boston (1778-1833), who migrated to Louisville in 1805, preserve a tradition that Esau Boston (38), father of James, was "from Scotland," and Jacob Boston (61) of Baltimore posessed a volume of sermons of the Rev. Thomas Boston (1676-1732), a noted Presbyterian minister of Ettrick, Scotland, who Jacob Boston maintained was a relative. It is doubtful that Jacob knew of an exact connection, though he too may have heard that the family was of Scottish origin and inferred that the minister must be of the same family. The minister of Ettrick left an account of his family which traces the origins to 1609 in Duns, Berwickshire, but unfortunately the name Henry does not appear in his records. That the Non-conformist Henry Boston was probably a Presbyterian would lend support to the tradition of his Scottish ancestry, but by 1640 Calvinism was also widespread among the English.

An English family of Lincolnshire named Boston, which probably derives its name from the town of Boston (originally St. Botolph's town), has been assumed by some to e Henry Boston's family, but examination of the register of the parish church of St. Botolph's, at Boston, England, between 1596 and 1631, has failed to disclose anyone named Henry Boston, although the burial of a Richard Boston 1 June 1627 is recorded, nore does the name Henry appear in other English county records consulted.

Despite the lack of knowledge concerning the ancestry of Henry Boston himself, English or Scottish ancestors have been found for all his descendants through marriages. His son Isaac married Elizabeth Long, whose mother's forebears, the Minshulls, originated in Cheshire, England; the wife of Henry's son Esau is descended from a Barkley (Berkeley) family of Shropshire, England; and Levin, Boston, the grandson of Henry's youngest son, Richard, married a woman whose ancestors, the Drydens, came from Scotland.

Henry Boston came first into Virginia about 1642 as an indentured servant to the Puritan surgeon, Col. Obedience Robins, whose plantation was located at "Cherrystone" (Cheriton) Creek, just north of the present town of Cape Charles, on the Virginia Eastern Shore. The first settlement on the Shore had been made in 1614, with a notable increase in immigration after 1622. In 1634 Accomack (an Indian name meaning "Across-the-Water-Place") was formed on the Eastern Shore as one of eight original "shires" in Virginia, but after 1634 it was called the county of Northampton, which was divided in 1663, the southern portion known henceforth as Northampton, the northern as Accomack County. The region in which Henry Boston spent his first twenty years in the New World is a low-lying peninsula between the Atlantic Ocean and the Chesapeake Bay, the sandy coastline which the settlers established themselves, principally on the Bay side. Stephen Charlton, for whom Henry Boston was a headright in 1650, was granted land at Matchepungo Creek, on the seaboard side, just north of what is now Eastville. Henry Boston himself seems to have located in the northern part of (now) Accomack County, for in 1661 Anne Boston testified on behalf of the wife of William Silverthorne, whose family was in that area.

Henry Boston, a recognized Non-conformist, evidently became closely associated with others like himself, particularly the Quakers, with whom he publicly expressed sympathy in their persecution under the laws of Virginia, which the Quakers resisted and defied, suffering fines and imprisonment. For his outspokenness Boston himself in 1660 was fined a sum roughly equivalent to $200, remitted from $1000 (if we consider that raw tobacco brought 3 shillings a pound, and if a shilling is reckoned at about 16 cents). Boston may have been among those in 1661 who signed a petition (now lost) to Lord Baltimore, expressing a desire to "transplant" themselves and their families into the province of Maryland. As early as April 1651 Lord Baltimore, the Lord Proprietor of his province in Maryland, had urged upon provincial governor the necessity of encouraging permanent settlement on the Easthern Shore of Maryland, for the purpose of protecting his claims to that region as expressed in his original charter, for there was danger from Virginia's claim to the area. And again in October 1656 in instructions to his governor and council he emphasized the importance of securing the boundary line between his province and Virginia.


From the beginning Henry Boston was one of the leaders in the new colony. He was a justice of the peace as early as 1664 and as such was named in Lord Baltimore's 1666 proclamation. When the first court of Somerset County met 4 September 1666, and the first marriage banns were published on the door of the place where the court was held (the second couple on the list being Thomas Tull of Annemessex and Mary Mitchell [Minshall] of Morumsco), Henry Boston was sitting on the court with William Thorne, John Winder, and William Stevens, presiding, and Boston continued as a justice from time to time for the remaining ten years of his life. Henry Boston's descendants apparently remained out of public office until Daniel Boston (28) became a constable early in the nineteenth century.


Henry Boston, the immigrant ancestor, like so many other early settlers, came as an indentured servant to the new world, to Northampton County, on the Eastern Shore of the Virginia colony, in the early 1640s, probably a young man, born about 1620. Having worked out his indenture, in 1645 Henry Boston, "servant to Mr. Obedience Robins," secured his freedom, receiving according to custom three barrels of corn and clothing (Northampton Co. Records II: 381). It would seem that Henry soon left the colony, perhaps recrossing the Atlantic, and that he came again into Virginia, for, on 29 August 1650, when Stephen Charlton received a patent of 1000 acres in northampton County, at Matchepungo Creek, among the twenty headrights listed is the name of Henry Boston (Nugent I:253). This time he remained in Virginia. Since there are other similar duplications of names in the records, however, he may simply have been claimed as a headright though he had remained in the colony.

Henry Boston resided in Northampton County for the next twelve years. He acquired no land, but he was reportedly a cooper and sometime Burgess, on what authority is not known (Ency. of Am. Quaker Genealogy, Ann Arbor, Mich. 1950, VI:11). Probably in 1655 he took a wife, Anne, whose first name alone is known; she may have been the widow of Augustine Moore, for in 1655/56 Henry was ordered to have the child of Augustine Moore in his charge (North Co. Order Book V:74). Anne Boston was still living 7 June 1671, but she died within two years, for on 19 May 1673 in Somerset County, Maryland, Henry was married to Elizabeth Rogerson; the ceremony was performed by Mr. Robert Maddock, clerk of the court (Som. Deeds I.K.L.).

In 1660 Henry Boston first came to public attention. At the spring session of the Virginia Assembly drastic laws were enacted "for the suppressing the Quakers," providing that all Quakers in Virginia should be imprisoned and remain there until they should give security to leave the colony and never return; if they should return, they would be punished again and banished; if they should again return, they "should be proceeded against as felons," that is, they would be put to death (Spence, pp. 55, 166-68). Though there is no direct evidence to identify Henry Boston as a Quaker, he was apparently a Non-Conformist, that is, perhaps a Presbyterian, and he appears to have associated closely with the Quakers, and to have sympathized with them. He spoke disparagingly of the new laws. In "open Court ye 30th of Aprill 1660" Major John Tilney and Captain William Andrews separately testified that "when the late Acts of Assembly were reading over" they heard Henry Boston say "that the acts were simple foolish things,....whereupon," reported Andrews, "Major John Tilney reproved him and Henry Boston demanded whether he did it out of envy," that is, out of malice, perhaps toward Non-Conformists (North. Co. Order Book VIII:71). In court on 1 May a special warrant was issued against Henry Boston and others "for their personall appearance to ye next Court to answere to such things as shall bee laid to their charge" (ibid., p. 66).

At a court held 27 May 1660 before Colonel Edmund Scarburgh, Lt. Col. John Stringer, Mr. William Jones, Capt. William Andrews, and Capt. John Tilney, it was ordered that Henry Boston, "for his contempt of authority and speaking reproachfull words when ye Acts of Assembly were publishing, [shall] bee fined two thousand pounds of tobacco and remaine in ye sheriff's custody till hee enter into bonds with sufficient security for his good behavior to ye Grand Assembly and all ye free people of this county, and pay Court charges" (North. Co. Order Book VIII:70). Subsequently Boston presented "his humble petition to ye Court acknowledging his error, and requiring ye favor of ye Court"; as a result, the court, "taking ye promises into Consideration, have thought good to remitt ye fine of two thousand pounds of tobacco to four hundred pounds upon demand and his said bond to bee yielded up by ye sheriff, hee paying Court charges" (ibid.).

The following year the names of both Henry and his wife, Anne, appear in the court records. On 4 September 1661 the court heard Anne Boston's and William Wilkinson's depositions "that Thomas Boylson snatcht two gold rings from ye wife of William Silverthorne" (North Co. Order Book VIII: 109). On 29 October 1661, for what reason is not clear, it was ordered that "Thomas Selby shall forther make payment unto Henry Boston ye sum of two thousand five hundred pounds of tobacco and cask" (ibid., p. 115). And later in the year (the date is not ascertainable) Henry appears as guardian of Samuel Moore, possibly a grandson of his wife. "Whereas Henry Boston has petitioned ye Court that hee might have power to transport Samuell Moore, orphan, ye sonn of Elizabeth Moore, out of ye County, and making it appear to ye Court...that ye said Elizabeth on her death bed had by will bequeathed ye said orphan unto him, ye said Boston, the Court, having taken ye premises into consideration, have accordingly ordered that ye said Boston shall have liberty to transport the said orphan and estate, provided hee put in sufficient security according to Act of Assembly, to give ye orphan free Education out of ye Interest of ye said Elizabeth, and deliver ye said orphan his estate at lawful age as also to save ye Court harmlesse" (ibid., p. 121).

Henry Boston, then, had planned as early as the winter of 1661/62 to leave Northampton County; though there is no evidence that he had moved into Maryland before March 1663, when he was granted a patent of land, he probably moved some time in 1662. He joined Ambrose Dixon and other Quakers against whom the repressive Acts of the Virginia Assembly were being enforced and who were responding to the invitation of Lord Baltimore in the form of a "declaration of 22 September 1658 designed to encourage settlers. Desirous of strengthening the boundary between his Province of Maryland and the colony of Virginia, Lord Baltimore sought to settle the lands he claimed, with an offer of fifty acres for every person "transported" into the Province.

Henry Boston took with him into Maryland his wife Anne, his two sons Henry and Isaac, and his daughter Rebecca, as well as Samuel Moore, William and Mary Witkinson, Robert Dornewell, Thomas Moulson, and Judith Best, the last two, at least, indentured servants (Md. Land Records 9: 262). He settled first at Morumsco but took up permanent residence in the summer of 1663 a few miles west, at Annemessex. His original patent of land from Lord Baltimore is recorded in the Maryland Land Office, Annapolis (9:263-284).


Henry Boston appears to have been an independent thinker, perhaps a little contentious and impetuous, but given to second thoughts somewhat more cautious, a man of considerable force of character and personality. He had acquired some education, for unlike many of his time he could write well enough to sign his name to deeds and keep a family Bible, though there is no evidence that he owned other books.


from the privately printed book by Matthew M. Wise, PhD: "Boston Family of Maryland"

LOC # CS71.B7455 1967



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Henry Boston's Timeline

Northampton, Virginia, USA
Age 30
Northampton, Virginia, United States
August 13, 1656
Age 36
Age 40
Northampton, Virginia
Age 43
Somerset, Maryland
Age 45
Somerset, Maryland, United States
March 8, 1670
Age 50