John Johnson was born about 1592 in Ware, Herts, Kent, England. He died on 30 Sept 1659 in Roxbury, Suffolk, MA. Others give his birth date as 1590. John Johnson was one of the founders of the town and church at Roxbury, Massachusetts and, with his sons Issac and Humphrey, was an original donor to the Free School in Roxbury. John Johnson's parents are unknown!!! See Gerald Garth Johnson (Heritage Books, 2000) for an excellent discussion of the various theories, none of which has been conclusively proven.
He was married three times: (1) Mary Heath, (2) Margery (possibly Scudder), (3) Grace Fawer (nee Negus). John and his first wife, Mary Heath, had six living children in England: Issac, Mary, Humphrey, Elizabeth, Sarah and Hannah. Mary Heath died a year before he emigrated to New England.
John Johnson, his wife Margery, and six children by his first wife, Mary Heath Johnson, left London in the ship Arbella on April 6, 1630 and were among 80 families in the Winthrop Fleet. The Arbella landed at Salem, June 22, 1630. The Arbella, the lead ship was named in honor of Lady Arbella Johnson who was the wife of Issac Johnson. Issac Johnson, considered to be one of the wealthiest emigrants, was instrumental in planning a company for the voyage with their families, friends, and personal property to establish a plantation in New England for permanent settlement.
As to the relationship between the financier Issac Johnson and Captain John Johnson, at least three sources speculated that Issac Johnson was a kinsmen, possibly a cousin to John Johnson. Issac Johnson and Lady Arbella Johnson were not the parents of John Johnson. Issac Johnson was born in 1601. John Johnson married Mary Heath in 1613 and was likely born c 1585 - 1593. And the will of Issac Johnson states that he and Lady Arbella had no living issue.
Gerald Garth Johnson in The Biography and Genealogy of Captain John Johnson from Roxbury, Massachusetts (Heritage Books, 2000) gives a number of competing theories about the parents of John Johnson and dismisses all of them as unproven, including: (1) Issac Johnson and Lady Arbella Johnson, (2) John Johnson of Wilmington, Kent, (3) Francis Johnson and Elizabeth Thorogood Johnson. The bottom line is that it is unknown who the parents of John Johnson were.
Children of John Johnson. There were 10 children. Only 6 lived and came to America with him. All 10 were the children of John Johnson and Mary Heath, his first wife. He did not have a surviving son named John Johnson. His son, John Johnson died at 9 years of age in England. He did not have daughters named Martha or Lydia. He did not have a surviving son named Joseph. Two infants named Joseph died in England.
A son named John is often attributed to John, although there is no historical evidence for a surviving child, John. See Gerald Garth Johnson's The Biography and Genealogy of Captain John Johnson from Roxbury, Massachusetts (Heritage Books, 2000).
The six children who were on the Arbella in the Winthrop Fleet in 1630 with John Johnson and his second wife, Margery were:
Children who died in England were: two sons named Joseph (1622, 1627), Susan (1623), and John (1618). They are buried at St. Mary the Virgin Church, Ware, Hertfordshire, England.
Our branch of the Johnson family (Humphrey Johnson)
My relationship to Captain John Johnson is
- his son Sergeant Humphrey Johnson (1620 ) married Eleanor Cheney
- their son Nathaniel Johnson (1669) married Abigail May Stansfield
- their son Joseph Johnson (1685) married Lydia Twitchell
- their son Elisha Johnson (1720) married Mary Gay
- their son Zedekiah Johnson (1751) married Ruth Perry
- their son Perry Johnson (1781) married Catherine Underwood
- their son David Lysander Johnson (1820) married Lois Wilbur, a descendant of Samuel Wildbore
- their son Moses Perry Johnson (1854) married Mary Petticrew
Moses Perry Johnson was the father of my grandmother, Hazel Johnson.
Common Issues with the Family Tree
Several of us have cleaned up the first few generations of the Captain John Johnson family tree. However, as new users join Geni, the errors may be repeated, so here are some common problems, for the records.
- Confusion about the two Abigails. Humphrey Johnson married the widow, Abigail Stansfield May. Humphrey's son, Nathaniel, married the daugter of Abigail May and her first husband, also named Abigail.
- Belief that there were three generations (at least) of John Johnsons. Some Internet genealogies have a John John I and John Johnson II. To repeat, Captain John Johnson's parents are unknown. He did not have a son named John who lived.
- Confusion about the wives of John Johnson. His first wife was Mary Heath. She bore all his children. She died shortly before he immigrated to America. He came to America with a second wife, Margery. Her last name is unknown. It is widely hypothesized that she was Margery Scudder. Gerald Garth Johnson's book and other sources disprove this. His last wife was Grace Fawer (born Grace Negus), a widow.
Notable Descendants and Relatives of Captain John Johnson
See profiles for a full list of famous descendants. Walt Disney and President Franklin Pierce are two of the direct descendants of Captain John Johnson. John Johnson is President Franklin Pierce's 5th great grandfather and Disney's 8th great grandfather. Captain John Johnson is also Franklin Delano Roosevelt's 7th great grandfather!!!
Places associated with the Johnson family
Roxbury - Early settlers of the Massachusetts Bay Colony established a series of six villages in 1630. The village of Roxbury (originally called “Rocksberry”) is noted for its hilly geography and the many large outcroppings of Roxbury puddingstone, which was quarried for many years and used in the foundations of a large number of houses in the area. The town was located where Boston connected to the mainland by a narrow isthmus called Boston Neck or Roxbury Neck. Since all land traffic to Boston had to pass through it, Roxbury became an important town. It would be home to a number of early leaders of the colony, including colonial governors Thomas Dudley, William Shirley and Increase Sumner. The Shirley-Eustis House, built at Roxbury during the period 1747–1751, is one of only four remaining Royal Colonial Governors' mansions in the United States.
Founded by English colonists in 1630, Roxbury began as an independent community, connected to Boston only by a narrow neck of land along Washington Street. Today, after massive landfill and annexation to Boston, Roxbury is at the city's geographical center. It contains buildings and landmarks that tell the story of three centuries. Even with dense urban development, Roxbury has much open, green space, a legacy of its days as a farming town and as an early suburb.
The English settlers of the Massachusetts Bay Company established a group of six villages, including Boston on the Shawmut Peninsula. Three miles south of Boston along the only land route to the peninsula, they founded Roxbury. The original boundaries of the town included the neighborhoods of Mission Hill, West Roxbury, and Jamaica Plain as well as present-day Roxbury.
Roxbury had many resources the colonists were looking for: open farmland, timber and stone for building, and the Stony Brook for water power. Additionally, its location on the only road to Boston gave the town an advantage in transportation and trade and a stategic military position. Roxbury was defined by its rocky hills, drumlins left by a prehistoric glacier. In the area of Roxbury Highlands are many outcroppings of native Roxbury puddingstone, a kind of composite rock used over the centuries in buildings throughout the Boston area.
The colonists soon began constructing buildings and roads that still define the neighborhood today. Washington, Dudley, Centre, Roxbury, and Warren streets were all laid out in the first years of settlement. The town center was located at John Eliot Square, where the first meetinghouse was built in 1632, with its burying ground nearby at the corner of Eustis and Washington streets. Other landmarks form early Roxbury are the three milestones that still mark Centre Street in Roxbury, Jamaica Plain, and West Roxbury, recording the distance to downtown Boston. An 18th-century marker, known as the parting stone, is still embedded at the fork of Roxbury and Centre streeets, pointing the ways to Brookline and Dedham.
- The Biography and Genealogy of Captain John Johnson from Roxbury, Massachusetts: An Uncommon Man in the Commonwealth of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, 1630-1659 by Gerald Garth Johnson. Heritage: 2000.
- The genealogical website of a cousin, one of Captain Johnson's descendants
- Photo of a memorial to Captain John Johnson in Old Eustis Street Burying Ground in Roxbury
- John Johnson, Mary Ramsey - Clear Pond: The Reconstruction of a Life, By Roger Mitchell