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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Maxson Line

I come across a new line while I was researching my Becker line. What a great find.

The Maxson name traces back to the records of First Church of Boston. There, an English blacksmith named Richard Magson is recorded in 1634 as the servant of one James Everill. Subsequent records identify Richard by the Maxson name. Richard is believed to be the progenitor of all (or nearly so) the Maxsons of European descent in the USA today. The name Maxon - without the "s" - is a spelling variation that is also widely associated with Richard.

Richard signed the Portsmouth Compact in 1639, becoming a founder of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. Maxson family members dedicated a new stone commemorating Richard’s presence at the new colony. A ceremony at Founder's Brook Park in Portsmouth was held with Richard’s descendants and representatives of the Order of Founders and Patriots of America, May 24, 2009.


Plaque at Founder's Brook Park in Portsmouth
Immigrant Richard, in Boston, MA in 1634; origin of surname? from an internet posting by Duane Boggs 31 Oct 2011: Richard "Magson," servant of James Everill, was admitted as a member of the Puritan Church in Boston, Massachusetts Bay Colony, in 1634. ( Fifteen years later in 1649 when a second church was founded, the original became known as "First Church.") By 1638, Richard had migrated to Aquidneck Island, which became part of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, where he appeared in a record as Richard "Maggsen." In later records, and in later generations in the United States, the surname has generally been spelled Maxson or Maxon. What was the origin of this surname?

Most, if not all, of the English patronymic surnames that are formed with the suffix "-son" originated between about 1100 and 1500 in the northern parts of England, where the Danelaw had been influential prior to the Norman Conquest. Danes are a part of the larger Nordic culture that includes modern day Norway and Sweden. Borrowing from Latin, and perhaps influenced by Charlemagne ("Carolus Magnus"), Swedes borrowed the name "Magnus." Thus there were kings named "Magnus" in Sweden by the 1300s.

A nickname for Magnus, even today, is "Magge." Consider the character Magnus "Magge" Lundin, in Steig Larson’s novel "The Girl Who Played with Fire." Or consider Magnus "Magge" Rosen, a member of the Swedish death metal band, "Asphyxiation."

In Yorkshire, England, at a Court held at Rastrick on 18 Oct 1315, one Robert, son of Magge, was fined for failing to attend a recent tourney. Apparently Robert, Magge’s son, was AWOL. And from "Magge’s son" we get the slurred and simplified "Maggeson" and eventually pronounced simply "Magson." There are numerous baptismal records extracted from various parishes and published in the International Genealogical Index of Latter Day Saints database ( of families in England with the surname Magson as early as 1570 to 1660.

I believe that Richard Maxson of Rhode Island had ancestors from the area of Yorkshire, or possibly Lincolnshire, where the Danelaw applied centuries ago, and that his surname evolved from "Magge’s son." As the reasoning of this theory seems historically plausible, I am endorsing it as the origin of the surname MAXSON in this country.

Richard Maxson’s connection with Anne Hutchinson, "the Dissenter" 

(a person who dissents, as from an established church, political party, or majority opinion.  an English Protestant who dissents from the Church of England. Origin of dissenter.)

Richard Maxson (1) is believed to have emigrated from England in 1634 on the ship "GRIFFIN." He travelled with his "good wife" Rebecca and their young son Richard (2). The first record of him in America is that of "a blacksmith servant of James Everill by the name of Richard Magson" joining the Puritan Church in Boston that year. Many of the emigrants from England were "Puritans" seeking religious asylum from the Church of England. Among those who came over with Richard and his family were William and Anne Hutchinson ("The Dissenter") and her eleven children. "Bible study classes that she hosted for women earned her a following that later included men, notably the Colony’s then Governor Henry Vane. Up to eighty people a week were visiting her home to hear her interpretations and views of religious matters. As a follower of Cotton, she espoused a "covenant of grace" rather than a "covenant of works." But she aroused controversy with her criticism of other ministers and her interpretations of Christian doctrine, including her emphasis on personal revelation over classical church rites. In 1637 John Winthrop replaced Vane as governor and put Anne Hutchinson on trial for heresy. He charged her with the Bible’s commandment to "honor thy father and mother," arguing that Anne had undermined the fathers of the church with her preaching. Although Hutchinson ably defended herself in court, she was banished from the colony as being unfit for society." She and her family left the Massachusetts Bay Colony with other followers, including Richard Maxson and his family, and were encouraged by Roger Williams to settle in what was then called "Aquidneck" by the local natives, the island on which Portsmouth (Pocasset), RI is now located. It was here that Richard’s second son, John (2) was born in 1638, giving him the distinction of being the first "white person" born on Aquidneck.

On 7 February 1639, Richard Maxson, while a blacksmith at Portsmouth, was accused of "oppression by way of his trade" (profiteering) and promised "amendment and satisfaction." It was also here that on 30 April 1639 Richard Maxson(1) was one of fourteen men who signed their names, with fifteen others who signed their marks, to the following : " We whose names are underwritten do acknowledge legal subjects of His Majesty, King Charles, and in his name do bind ourselves into civil body politick unto his laws, according to matters of justice." These twenty-nine men were of the settlement which was later called "Aquidneck." (RI Records, Vol I, p.70). Among those signing the "Portsmouth Compact" were Anne Hutchinson’s husband, William. On 6 March 1640, 36 acres were recorded to "Richard Maxson of Aquidneck." Then in 1642 Anne Hutchinson’s husband died. With growing threats that the Massachusetts Bay Colony was going to take over Rhode Island, she decided to move her family up Long Island Sound to what is now known as Throggs Neck, in the Bronx area of NYC. (In 1642 it was yet a Dutch colony, "New Netherland." Today it is the site of Fort Schuyler, The NY Maritime College, and the Throgs Neck Bridge to Long Island.)

"We whose names are underwritten, do acknowledge ourselves the legal subjects of his Majesty, King Charles, and in his name, do hereby bind ourselves into a civil body politics unto his laws, according to matters of justice."

In 1642 Richard Maxson sold his property to a William Roulston, and before he received payment for it, left with his family, along with Anne Hutchinson and her eleven children, for Throggs Neck, to become known as Maxson’s Point, where they built several homes and traded with a local Lenape tribe. However, tensions became very high following a massacre of Wappinger villages by the Dutch, which led to a series of rampages known as "Kieft’s War", or the Wappinger War. It was in August of 1643 that 1500 natives attacked the The New Netherlands settlements of about 250 settlers. The Maxson settlement was attacked by the Lenape natives and most everyone was massacred. The story is that the natives asked the settlers to have their dogs restrained so that they felt safe to come and trade. When the "faithful sentinels" were constrained, the natives attacked. Anne Hutchinson and all of her eleven children were killed, save one daughter who was later returned to her family in Boston. Richard and his family made it to a boat and escaped onto the sound. However, when Richard and his thirteen year old son went ashore later to seek provisions and see who survived, they too were killed by the natives. Rebecca, her son John (age 5), and her daughter Rebecca (age 3) along with a few others sailed east down the sound to find sanctuary. They did not land until they arrived at Aquidneck. In 1644 Rebecca received money from William Roulston for the property he had purchased from her husband in 1642.

Squaw Sachem sells her lands to Gov. John Winthrop

In 1661, John Maxson (2), now age 23, joined with a company at Newport for purchasing and settling a tract of land called by the Narragansetts "Ascomicutt," over 20,000 acres which now comprises the towns of Westerly, Hopkinton, Richmond and Charlestown, RI. John was recorded as one of twenty-four "free inhabitants" ( "freeman") at Westerly on 18 May 1669. He served as Deputy to the General Assembly for Westerly in 1670 ,1686, 1690 and 1705. He was appointed "overseer of the poor" in 1687. The colony at Westerly had connected itself as a branch of the Newport Seventh Day Baptist Church, of which William Hiscox was pastor.

John Maxson was married to Mary Mosher and had four children; John, Joseph, Dorothy and Jonathan. In 1708 the Westerly branch was made a separate church. On 20 September of that year, John Maxson (2), now age 70, was ordained to the office of First Elder (pastor) of the congregation "in and about Westerle," now called the First Hopkinton Seventh Day Baptist Church of Ashaway, RI. His son John (3) would follow him as pastor of that same church in 1719. And his younger brother Joseph (4) would "take the lead of Hopkinton Church on 26 June 1739," according to Clarke’s "History of the Seventh Day Baptists" in 1811. The senior John Maxson (2) would die on 17 December 1720, a year after his son took the lead at the church. John Senior was buried near the Pawcatuck River, in view of the place where he preached. Later his remains were moved to the Minister’s Circle, atop the knoll, where the first "meeting House" had been erected. There are markers for four Maxsons in that circle. In this cemetery lie the remains of many of the old families of Westerly, including Maxsons, Stillmans, Babcocks, Burdicks, Clarkes, Coons and even Greenes (my family surname), who were integrated with the descendants of Richard and Rebecca Maxson. This was the early lineage of William Ellery Maxson.

A grandson of Elder John Maxson Sr., was Pastor of the Mother 
Church at Newport, organized in 1671, and the first church of this parish was at one time shared with other Baptists. During the Revolution, in which his sons were in the Continental Army, his church was closed and he preached from house to house. It is related that when the British opened the door to take possession, the officer saw the Table of Commandments, which the members had so earnestly endeavored to follow above the high old pulpit, and he thereupon reverently closed the door and locked it, thus saving it from desecration. The Church is now owned by the Newport Historical Society and is preserved as a monument of antiquity, and there are the records and memorials from which this was taken."

During the religious revival, colonists revived their mission to proselytize to both Native Americans and enslaved African Americans. About 1736, Georgia. Credit: Hulton Archive/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

When the First Great Awakening spread throughout New England and Georgia during the mid-1700s, Rev John Maxson was living in Rhode Island.

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