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John MacBean

Also Known As: "Bean", "Beene", "MacBayne"
Birthdate: (84)
Birthplace: Strathdearn Inverness-Shire, Scotland
Death: circa February 1718 (80-88)
Exeter, Rockingham, New Hampshire, present United States
Place of Burial: Exeter, Rockingham, New Hampshire, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Donald McBean and Margaret Jane MacBean
Husband of Margaret Lissen and Hannah Lisson Bean
Father of Catherine (Mac)Bean; Mary Judkins; Henry MacBean; Hannah Bean; James MacBean and 6 others
Brother of William Bean

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About John MacBean

John MacBean (Bean or MacBayne), son of Donald MacBean and Margaret Jane MacGillis, was raised in Inverness, at the head of Moray Firth in northern Scotland. At the age of 18, he joined the Scottish forces of Charles Stuart, the 20-year-old claimant to the British throne (who sought to overthrow the new Puritan regime of Lord General Oliver Cromwell and avenge the beheading of his father, King Charles I). Unfortunately, Cromwell's army was superior in arms and discipline and smashed the Scottish forces in the 1651 Battle of Worcester. While the Pretender, with a bounty of £1,000 upon his head, hid for a day inside a hollow oak tree at Boscobel and escaped to France disguised as a servant, John MacBean was taken prisoner, and transported by the English Crown to New England in 1651/52 as a Scotch prisoner." From a sept of the Clan Chattan, he was about 18 years old at the time of his transport. With him were John Sinclair (Sinkler) and Henry Magoon.

In the early 1600s, settlement of the Exeter and Dover areas of New Hampshire was primarily by the English. By about 1650, however, many Scottish prisoners of war were transported to the New Hampshire and Massachusetts areas. Some of these prisoners of war, now exiled from Scotland and indentured in America, were as young as 12 and 14 years old. John MacBean (recorded as John Beene on the transport documents) arrived in this country on "the John and Sarah", which docked in Boston on 24 February 1652.

Historically, the first Scottish prisoners (about 250 of them) were sent to Hammersmith in Saugus, Massachusetts, to work in the iron mills there. From there, prisoners were sent up to Dover and Exeter and to Southern Maine, to the saw mills, two of which were owned by a Scottish expatriot, Nicholas Lissen, who had emigrated in 1637. John was among those indentured workers assigned to the sawmills of Dover, New Hampshire. Records indicate these indentured Scottish prisoners were allotted some days to work their own land and some days to work at Lissen's sawmill.

John later gained his freedom when he married the daughter of Nicholas Lissen, Hannah Lissen. They married in 1654, when he was 21 and she 19. John became a business partner with Nicholas Lissen in sawmills until 1660, when he received a land grant in Exeter, New Hampshire. He dealt in real estate development, farming, tanning; by 1708 he had acquired about 20 farms. He was town pound keeper at one time; he surveyed the boundaries between Dover and Exeter, New Hampshire to end a 25-year-old dispute.

After bearing three children, Hannah died in 1659 at the age of 24, probably in childbirth. After her death, John married a second time to Margaret Edwards, born 1640 in Scotland, who came over as a 9-year-old orphan in 1652. She was an indentured servant, free by 1660, who may have been a widow. They were married on 15 November 1660 in Exeter, Rockingham County, New Hampshire.

John settled at Exeter in 1660 and took the Oath of Allegiance in 1677. Margaret bore nine children over the next 20 years. Margaret Edwards Bean died in 1714, when John was 81. John himself died in 1718 at the age of 85. He was buried 8 February 1718/19 in the Congregational Churchyard, Exeter, New Hampshire.

Marriages and Children

  1. Hannah Lissen (c.1635 - 1659), daughter of Nicholas Lissen, married in 1654.
    1. Mary Bean
    2. Henry Bean (1657 - 5 March 1662 Exeter, New Hampshire)
    3. Hannah Bean (born 1659), married Abraham Whitaker c.1680; had five children that were all massacred by Indians at their farm at Kingston, New Hampshire on 18 July 1692.
  2. Margaret Edwards (1640 - 1714)
    1. John Bean (15 August 1661 - 18 May 1666 Exeter, New Hampshire)
    2. Daniel Bean (born 23 March 1663) married c.1684 to Mary Fifield
    3. Samuel Bean (born 23 May 1665) married Mary Severance
    4. John Bean (13 October 1668) married c.1700 to Sarah Wadleigh
    5. Margaret Bean (17 October 1670) married William Taylor
    6. James Bean (born 17 December 1672 Exeter, New Hampshire)
      1. Anna Coleman (1675 - 1696) married 1692 Exeter, New Hampshire
      2. Sarah Bradley (1677 - 1738) of Haverhill, Massachusetts, married 3 December 1697 at Exeter, New Hampshire
      3. Mary Prescott James (1677 - 6 January 1753 Kingston, New Hampshire)
    7. Jeremiah Bean (born 20 April 1675) married Ruth Johnson
    8. Elizabeth Bean (born 24 September 1678) married John Sinclair
    9. Catherine Bean (born 24 September 1680) married Richard Dolloff

From Stackpole's History of New Hampshire

"An item of some importance in the early history of New Hampshire has been overlooked by historians. This was the bringing in, as servants, of some Scotchmen, who had been taken prisoners by Oliver Cromwell in the Battle of Dunbar, September 3, 1650, and the Battle of Worcester, just one year later. One hundred and fifty from Dunbar were sent to Boston in the ship Unity and there sold to pay their passage money of twenty pounds apiece. They were forced to work as apprentices from six to eight years, after which they had their liberty and received grants of land in towns where they chose to settle. Two hundred and seventy-two more prisoners came over from the Battle of Worcester in the ship John and Sara. A score or more of these Scots were employed in the sawmills at Oyster River and Exeter, that then included Newmarket, and some became permanent settlers in those places. Among them were Walter Jackson and William Thompson's son John at Oyster River, John Hudson of Bloody Point, and John Sinclair, John Bean, Alexander Gordon and John Barber of Exeter. The descendants of these include some of the leading men in the state." (p. 76)

Stackpole's statement is corroborated by information contained in an article published in the October 1927 issue of The Journal of the Massachusetts Historical Society. The article states: "The tax lists and other sources of information show that Exeter also profited by this chattel slavery, as Nicholas Lissen of the latter place is credited with being master of some of the Worcester prisoners." (p. 28)

Bean states that an expatriate Scotsman by the name of Nicholas Lissen "was operating two lumber mills near Exeter, N.H." in 1651 (Bean 1977:5). Following Stackpole, he states that "the seven men who were indentured to Nicholas Lissen were: John Bean, John Barber, Alexander Gordon, John Sinclair (AKA Sinkler), John Hudson, John Thompson, and Walter Jackson. All were to be lifetime friends of John Bean." (Bean 1977:6)


  • John might have been born in 1634 rather than 1633; he was about 85 years old when he died.
  • A family tradition that John Bean originally came to America with a bride of a only few months, who died during the journey and was buried at sea, has been discredited by the research of Dr. Ames, reported in the "Essex Antiquarian" in 1906. John MacBean came to this country aboard the "John and Sara" which carried only prisoners of war (no wives or women).

Sources and Further Information

  • "John MacBean, 1633-1718." The Milkcan Papers., 27 Mar. 2009. Web. 07 Nov. 2013.
  • MacBean, Bernie. The Life and Family of John Bean of Exeter and His Cousins. Seattle: John Bean of Exeter Family Association, 1970. Print.
  • "Old Norfolk County Oaths of Allegiance." New England Historical and Genealogical Register 6 (1852): 202. Print.
  • Stackpole, Everett S. History of New Hampshire. New York: American Historical Soc., 1916. Open Library. Internet Archive, 1 Apr. 2008. Web. 7 Nov. 2013.
  • Scottish Prisoners of War: The John and Sarah

Children: Mary Bean, Henry Bean, Hannah Whittacre (born Bean), John Bean, Daniel Bean, Samuel Bean, John Bean, Margaret Taylor (born Bean), James Bean, Jeremiah Bean, Elizabeth Sinkler (born Bean), Catherine Dolloff (born Bean)

view all 17

John MacBean's Timeline

Strathdearn Inverness-Shire, Scotland
June 8, 1655
Age 21
Exeter, Rockingham, NH, USA
May 1657
Age 23
Exeter, NH, USA
Age 25
August 15, 1661
Age 27
Exeter, Rockingham, New Hampshire, present United States
March 23, 1663
Age 29
Exeter, Rockingham, New Hampshire, [present United States]
March 23, 1666
Age 32
Exeter, Rockingham, New Hampshire, United States
October 17, 1670
Age 36
Exeter, NH, USA