Fostering Information from Across the Pond

In late August, I received our first response from “Across the Pond”.  In response to our post on William H. Foster (, Anthony Derek Nowers writes:

Hi Gary
William H. Foster 1813-1893.

I have just found the Northshore Notes Web site, quite by chance when researching my own surname. What a wonderful and detailed study by the Cleveland Historical Society.

My GG Grandfather was Edward Nowers (1781-1867) the youngest of six children all born at Brambles Farm House, Wye, Kent, to Thomas Nowers (1739-1804) and Elizabeth (Sutton) Nowers (1737-1811).

One of Edwards sisters was Elizabeth born of the 4th of July 1772 and baptised at St. Gregory and St. Martin, Wye on the 27th of that month. As you know she married a John Foster on the 7th of February 1793 at Lenham, Kent. Their son William (1813-1893) was the 14th of their 15 children and is the subject of a wonderfully detailed study on the CHS Website under your name. Sometime ago I found some of the information you detail but I also have a record of both John and Elizabeth’s ancestors which I would be happy to pass on to you.

If you are interested could you advise me of yours or the CHS E-mail address which I could use.

Best wishes.
Tony Nowers

After a few short correspondences, Tony provided with a very nice history of John and Elizabeth Foster, as well as a bible transcription.  I’ve posted both below for all to enjoy.

Thank you Tony for your kind words and contributions.

—- gmsc


Elizabeth (Nowers) Foster (1772-1860)
John Foster (1757-1823)

Elizabeth NOWERS was born on the 4th of July 1772 at Brambles Farm House, Wye, Kent the third child of Thomas NOWERS (1739-1804) and Elizabeth (Sutton) NOWERS (1737-1811). She married John Foster on the 7th of February 1793 at Lenham, Kent. He was born on the 7th of April 1757 at Egerton, Kent and baptized there ten days later. His parents were John and Judith (Belcher) Foster, Judith being his second wife.

John was a farmer and he and Elizabeth subsequently had three sons and twelve daughters, one of whom died aged sixteen and another at seventeen. They also adopted three boys, two the children of a relative and one the orphan of a friend. All their children were born at Royton Manor also known as Chapel Farm at Lenham, Kent and baptised there, apart from the youngest, Charles Belcher, who was born at Priory Farm, Hastings, Sussex and baptised at All Saints, Hastings.

John’s father, also a John Foster, had inherited Royton Manor from his brother in law Peter Belcher, and he later sold it to a Thomas Best of Chilston at whose death in 1793 it passed to his nephew George Best. The Bests were relatives of the Fosters but it would appear that although John never owned Royton Manor he was probably a tenant of George Best. There is a note on the family tree compiled by Frances Jamieson in Canada in 1970 about John Nowers, born 1775 and a younger brother of Elizabeth as follows:-

“John was a well to do farmer. He lost every penny, through his brother in law, Foster by name, asking him to stand security in the amount of £30,000, and next day Foster proved insolvent. (See W.J.Curzon’s letters 1887 to J.E.L.N.) (*his wife’s brother or his sister’s husband?)”

Frances Jamieson’s records show that John Nowers had married a Maria Foster or Southgate. He in fact married Maria Southgate on the 8th of August 1799 at Lenham so the guarantee would have been to John Foster ie. his sister’s husband. John and Maria were living at Otterden, Kent and had eleven children between 1799 and 1821. The guarantee must have been signed and called upon about 1817 as in the parish register for Otterden in 1816 he is described as a farmer of Bunce Court when a son James was baptised but in 1818 and 1821 when two daughters were baptised he is described as a labourer. The F.J. tree also stated that John was buried in Lewisham, Kent.

I have traced him there on the 1841 Census to what was probably a small terraced property in a street known as Garden Row which has long since been demolished. He and Maria were living with two of their sons, one of whom, Thomas, was married. His wife Mary Ann and their five children were also living in the house. Father gave his occupation as a gardener and the two sons were described as labourers. John died in 1844 and Maria in 1861, both in Lewisham. John Nowers and his family it appears were ruined for life when the guarantee was called upon and he and Maria died destitute in very humble circumstances. I can find no trace of either John Nowers or his brother in law ever being declared bankrupt. I wonder if Elizabeth ever contacted her brother again after this tragedy? (See separate history for full details of John and Maria).

John Foster and Elizabeth seem to have recovered from their financial problems by moving to Priory Farm at Hastings although John died on the 9th of March 1823. The Ruth Bent Sapp (R.B.S.) history estimates the move at between 1813 and 1819, probably by reference to the baptism of the last two children, one at Lenham in 1814 and the youngest at Hastings in 1819. However when their daughter Caroline was married at Lenham in December 1815 it was to Richard Cossum of Hastings so perhaps the move was prior to this date.
The farm was occupied on a life tenancy from the Earl of Cornwallis and after Johns death Elizabeth also received an annuity of £100 per annum. On the 1851 Census, where Elizabeth is shown as a widow aged 78, it states that Priory Farm was of 160 acres and that 10 staff were employed who were presumably living elsewhere as they were not listed. She continued to run and actively manage the farm right up to 1860 although it is mentioned that there was trouble arising with “the steward” and it was decided to break up the home in April that year. Later that month whilst travelling to visit one of her daughters, Charlotte, she stopped at the home of another daughter, Mary Ann Gray where she died suddenly and unexpectedly on the 23rd of April. Mary Ann was living at 14, Medina Villas, Hackney in 1861 and this is probably where Elizabeth died as the burial entry in the parish register was annotated “from Hackney”. She was buried at Fairlight, on the 1st of May 1860 “ just as the sun was sinking over the West Hill at Hastings, we laid her to rest”. The farm was completely built over thereafter although it is remembered to this day as Priory Street, Hastings.

The R.B.S. history says of John Foster that he is shown in miniature on horseback in a water colour picture of Priory Farm House. “The view, is however, too small to show his lineaments though he appears as short and stocky. One of his sons says, he was about five feet ten, weighed about 240lbs., not obese like a dutch beer barrel, but straight, broad shouldered, what he lacked in stomach he made up in muscle and brains”. (The picture is now owned by Mr. Charles Foster of Sheffield (1919).

R.B.S. also says that Elizabeth’s appearance has been beautifully preserved in a portrait in crayon, made in 1850 by Philibert Schick, and shows a slight, pleasant face be-capped, with large, clear eyes, prominent nose, and the firm mouth of the strict disciplinarian. This picture is owned by Bertram Foster of Washington, D.C. (1919?). Her son, William said she was a slender woman, never weighed 100lbs., but in stature her appearance was tall, her carriage graceful as a deer, and her will was mighty, and the whole household obeyed her orders, my father not daring to test her temper. Her eyes were hazel and very bright, and she always wore a black dress with white ruffles at her wrists, a cap tied under her chin with plaitings of net through the headpiece.

The children:-

  • Elizabeth 1794-1811
  • Mary Ann 1795-1869
  • Caroline 1796-1850
  • Georgina 1798-1861
  • John Best 1800-1873
  • Thomasine 1801-1856
  • Sophia 1802-1899
  • Amelia 1804-1885
  • Frances 1806-1881
  • Decima 1807-1875
  • Maria 1809-1826
  • Charlotte 1810-1896
  • Martha 1812-1895
  • William 1813-1893
  • Charles Belcher 1819-1896

Elizabeth Judith was born 7.7.1794 and baptized 15.3.1794. She died 10/11.2.1811 and was buried at Marston Mortain, Bedfordshire.

Mary Ann was born 2.8.1795 and on the 13th of December 1812 “Marrianne Foster” had her “base born” son Henry baptised at Lenham. Henry became a farmer and corn dealer in Hastings and married a Sarah Waters at Pevensey on the 7th of January 1834. They had 11 children and the couple appear to have been accepted into the family as in 1851 their daughter Martha was living with Mary Ann’s sister Amelia in Hastings, as she was 10 years later after Amelia had married.

Mary Anne subsequently married William Gray of St. Martin in the Fields, London on the 20th of November 1824 at that church by licence when she was living in the parish of St. Bride’s London. He was a captain in the Army with the East India Company. The couple had three children. William, born c1827 at sea, was a practical brewer. Charles Henry, born c1829, at Cheltenham, Gloucestershire was a commercial traveller and Mary Caroline who was born c1830 in Madras, India and was baptised on the 27th of January 1830 at St. Thomas Mount, Tamil Nadu. At some stage William and Mary Anne left their children in the UK whilst they went “to the East Indies to scrimmage in the Burmese War”. It is not known when or where William died. On the 1851 Census Mary Ann was a widow living at 6, Thyssen Terrace, Hackney, Middlesex with her three children. In 1861 she was at 14, Medina Villas, Hackney with her daughter Mary Caroline who married the Reverend George Wheelwright (born c1813 at Tansor, Northamptonshire a son of Charles and Anna Wheelwright) in October 1866. He was the vicar of Crowhurst in Surrey. Mary Ann died on the 18.3.1869 and is buried at Crowhurst in Surrey as was the Reverend Wheelwright on the 13th of February 1876.

Caroline, born 26.9.1796, married Richard Cossum, born c1790, of St. Clements, Hastings, at Lenham on the 25th of December 1815. She was still a minor and the marriage by licence was “with the consent of John Foster her natural and lawful father”. They had 7 children baptised at the same church between 1817 and 1829. In the register he was described as a draper for six of the baptisms and lastly as a farmer when daughter Caroline was baptised on the 29th of June 1829. Was he perhaps helping out at Priory farm? Richard was a witness to Sophia Foster’s marriage in 1826 to Alfred Mannington together with Amelia Foster.

Richard and Caroline together with all their children emigrated in 1830 to the USA in the “Mannington” party. They sailed on a barque, the Robert Zaur, from Rye in Sussex, which was only about 12 miles from their home in Hastings, arriving in New York on the 7th of June 1830.

Caroline died on the 9.11.1850 and was buried at Cleveland, Oswego County, New York.

Georgina, born 26.11.1797, married Henry Collins of Bexhill, Sussex. He was born on the 3rd of April 1792 the son of George Collins who was Clerk of the Cheque at Priddy Hard Magazine near Gosport, Hampshire. Henry entered the Navy as a boy on the 4th of March 1806 initially on the Quebec under a Captain George McKinley. On other vessels he saw active service in the Mediterranean, the English Channel and the Baltic. Whilst Master’s Mate of the Unite he served in the boats at the capture of a brig and several vessels in the mouth of the Tiber in 1811 and at the capture of a French frigate. He was promoted Lieutenant on the 1st of January 1813 and was involved in the blockade of New York before being put on half pay in September 1815.

Sometime in the 1820’s he was transferred to the Coast Guard and up to 1847 had served 21 years on full pay and 20 on half pay. This was not unusual with many officers serving only one third or less of their time on full pay. He remained in the Coast Guard Service and in 1847 commanded the Jarrow station, a post of honour, on the Tyne. In 1851 he was at Katerline and the following year at Buckie on the coast east of Inverness. He retired on the 2nd of July 1855 when still a Lieutenant but was he was promoted to the rank of Commander by an Order in Council.

Henry and Georgina were married by licence at St. Clement’s, Hastings, Sussex on the 30th of June 1817 when Henry’s address was given as “the signal post Bexhill”. On the 29th of May 1818 they had two sons, presumably twins, baptised at the same church. One was named Henry Foster Collins and the other George McKinley Collins. In the register Henry was described as a Lieutenant in the Royal Navy. It seems that the second of these boys was named after the captain of the first ship he served on, George McKinley who later went on to become a Vice-Admiral. There was also another son and four daughters all per the 1841 Census at the family home at Walker Place, Hartlepool, Durham. William (13), Margaret (11), Tomasine (7), Decima (5), baptized Decima Sutton on the 30.11.1836 at St. George, Everton, Liverpool. Plus Elizabeth (1), born 28.6.1840 and baptized 31.7.1840 at St. Martin in the Field, Liverpool when her parents were living at Limekiln Lane, Liverpool, Henry a Lieutenant Royal Navy.

Their son Henry Foster Collins, who was educated at Greenwich Hospital School, joined the Merchant Navy as a boy in 1832 and then followed his father into the Navy on the 30.9.1843, probably as a mate. In 1845 when only 27 he was appointed second master, a navigating officer, on HMS Erebus, Sir John Franklin’s ship which was lost in 1847/8 with all hands near King William Island when searching for the North West Passage. HMS Terror on the same expedition was also lost. Second master was the most junior officer rank and their pay at that time was £5-9-4 per month against £14 for a lieutenant. However both officers and crew always received double pay on Arctic expeditions in keeping with Admiralty practice as an inducement to volunteer. One reference book states that his portrait is in the Royal Naval Museum at Gosport in Hampshire. This could not be traced in 2001 when I wrote to the museum. (See below for more detail of the expedition and his death).

Georgina died on the 3.12.1861 and was buried at “Fetteran churchyard, Stone Haven, N.B”. This abbreviation, which was used in Victorian times, stands for North Britain ie. Scotland. Kirktown of Fettesso is a village by Stonehaven which is on the coast some 15 miles south of Aberdeen.

John Best, born 1.3.1799 was the eldest son and went to Van Dieman’s Land (Tasmania) in 1829 or possibly earlier where “he spent his patrimony and the best five years of his life”. He subsequently returned home and married Ann Manington who was a sister of Alfred who married Sophia. The witnesses were his sister Amelia and Richard Cossum who was the husband of another sister, Caroline. The wedding was at St. Clements, Hastings on the 3rd of January 1831. Ann died a few years later and there were no children. In 1835 he returned to Van Dieman’s Land with dispatches from the Colonial Secretary, Lord Glenelg, confirming that Sir John Franklin was to be sent out as the new Governor. John was last heard of in 1872/3 from Port Philip near Melbourne, Australia when “he was in poor condition both physically and financially”.

Thomasine, born 29.10.1800, was unmarried and died on the 26.12.1856 (GRO Kensington D1856) and was buried at Kensal Green Cemetery, London.

Sophia, born 7.2.1802, married Alfred Manington at St. Clements church Hastings on the 30th of April 1826. Alfred was born at Hastings on the 5th February 1804 the son of Thomas and Delia (Wenham) Manington and was educated at the University of Boulogne in France. He worked with his father in Hastings where they had a large ironmongers business.

In April 1830 Alfred and Sophia and their five month old son John emigrated to the United States arriving in New York in June after a six week voyage. “They were in a family party of twelve and Alfred paid the passage of the majority”. Betsy Wyffels has found a passenger list for the Robert Zaur sailing from Rye in Sussex which includes Alfred, Sophia and their son John plus Richard and Caroline Cossum together with their 7 children. Also listed were Sophia’s brother William and sister Decima and Thomas Nowers born 24.8.1805. In addition there is a Hy. Tyndall aged 25 who was perhaps a family friend. This makes 16 people against 12 mentioned in the old records that have been handed down. The Robert Zaur docked in New York on the 7th of June 1830.

Alfred and Sophia went to Utica, Oneida County, New York, it would seem through an existing connection. Sophia’s father John Foster had an elder brother William, who had two sons, Samuel and Horatio. Horatio had emigrated to the USA in 1826 and was already living in Utica. Shortly after their arrival Alfred and Sophia brought a farm near West Vienna, Oneida County the land extending down to Oneida lake. They built a large timber frame house. Ruth Bent Sapp visited it in 1931 when she said it was still in fine shape. “Timber pegs were used instead of nails to hold the main frame together. There were wide board floors and large fireplaces with a hall running through the centre of the house”. They had a further nine children who were all born there.

Alfred died 8.6.1874 in West Vienna and was buried at the Jewel cemetery Oneida. Sophia died on the 23rd of October 1899, which incidentally was the very day my father was born, and was buried at the Grove Hill cemetery at Morrison, Illinois where she had been living with her daughter Decima Bent for thirteen years.

Amelia, born 5.9.1804, was shown living at 2, Wilmington Place, St. Mary in the Castle, Hastings on the 1851 Census. Three months later when she married William Henry Acraman on the 21st of June at Westham parish church near Eastbourne in Sussex she was living there. He was born in Bristol c1806 the son of John Acraman. William was a bachelor and a Professor of Music. The two witnesses were James and Frances Crouch, Frances being Amelia’s younger sister. The 1861 Census shows them living at 7, Wellington Place, St. Mary in the Castle, Hastings. In 1871 the couple were at 31, Robertson Street, Holy Trinity, Hastings, he still a Professor of Music. In 1881 they were lodgers at 2, South Villas, Ealing, Middlesex with no occupations given. The only known issue was a son Henry William Acraman. Amelia died 25.10.1885 at Ealing and William on the 27.5.1886 at 2, The Limes, Matlock Lane, Ealing.

Frances, born 24.3.1806, married a James Nathaniel Crouch of Hastings born c1804. The marriage on the 30th of July 1840 was at St. Paul’s, Deptford, Kent where he was living although Frances was living at St. Mary’s in the Castle, Hastings. The certificate describes him as an Excise Officer.

In 1851 James was a railway station clerk living at 28 Railroad Cottage, Westham, Sussex with Frances and their son Walter born c1850. There was also a daughter, Frances born c1841, who was living at Priory Farm, Hastings with her grandmother in 1851 (per Census). In 1861 they were living at 16, Gleane Street, Everton, Liverpool with their children Fanny and Walter. James had no occupation so perhaps they were in Liverpool prior to emigrating to the United States. It is not known exactly when the family emigrated but both Fanny and Walter where living with their widowed mother at Atkinson, Henry County, Illinois in 1880. Walter was described as a farmer.

Frances died on the 7.11.1881 and was buried at Grandview Cemetery, Atkinson, Illinois.

Decima, born 26.10.1807, married her first cousin Thomas Nowers, born 24.8.1805, whose parents were Thomas and Elizabeth Reaks (Lawrence) Nowers. They went to the USA in the “Mannington party” in 1830 (See above) and one source states that they were engaged before they departed from England. They were married on the 26th of October 1830 Yonkers, Westchester, New York (others records say April or October 1833 but 1830 is more likely) and subsequently had nine children and became founders of the “Illinois” line of the Nowers family.

Thomas was in the lumber business in New York running saw mills before moving west after about 20 years to Mercer County, Illinois finally arriving in Atkinson in 1856. Here he farmed before opening a grain and general store which was brought out by his sons Thomas Jnr. and John F. in 1866. Thomas was active in local affairs and was the treasurer of Henry County from 1856-1860 and for 15 years was the highways commissioner. He also became the first president of Atkinson. In 1881 his two sons started a small banking business in the store and in 1885 this was sold to enable them to run the bank full time. They traded as Nowers Bros. Bank and it remained in private ownership until 1920 when to comply with state law it became the Atkinson Trust and Savings Bank.

Betsy (Nowers) Wyffels of Geneseo, Illinois who I correspond with is descended from this couple.

Decima died on the 22nd of March 1875 and Thomas on the 26th of May 1888. They are both buried in Grand View Cemetery, Atkinson.

Maria, born 24.3.1809, died 10.8.1826 and was said to be buried at Fairlight, Sussex although I cannot find an entry in the parish register.

Charlotte, born 2.12.1810, married a William Palmer R.N who was born on the 9th of April 1789 at Monkwearmouth, Durham the son of William Palmer a ship owner of that place. He had first married Elizabeth Greenwell in 1830 whose father Kingswood Greenwell was also a ship owner. In the 1841 Census they were living at Hedworth, Monkton, County Durham, he being on half pay from the Navy. He was left a widower in January 1844 with one daughter.

The marriage to Charlotte was on the 12th of August 1846 in the parish church of Jarrow, Durham. William Palmer was described as a widower and a Lieutenant R.N. living at Monckton (sic) near Jarrow. The witnesses were her sister Georgina and her husband Henry Collins who perhaps introduced William, as a fellow naval officer, to Charlotte. Henry was after all serving in Jarrow around this time. It is said that Charlotte could speak seven languages and as a girl was a governess to the family of Baron Julian Rothschild. She and the Baroness were lifelong friends and studied Hebrew together.

William Palmer entered the Navy as a boy on the 12th of November 1804. In April 1808 he was promoted to Master’s Mate and for the next two years served in the Mediterranean on the Belle Poule under Captain Brisbane. In 1809 he assisted in the capture of the 26 gun Le Var which was taking supplies to the French garrison on Corfu. He then returned home to serve mainly in the Baltic on the Excellent and the Victory. In August 1813 he was promoted Lieutenant on the Rolla and his last appointment from December 1814 to the summer of 1816, again in the Mediterranean, was on the Amelia under Captain the Hon. G. L. Proby. On the 15th of July 1815 whilst in the Amelia’s pinnace in an attempt to capture a French vessel at Campo off Elba he was wounded by a musket ball above the hip which was never extracted. He was at the same time made a prisoner but was exchanged shortly afterwards. On his retirement on the 15th of April 1856 he was promoted to Commander under an Order in Council having only served 12 years on full pay (ie. Active service) throughout his entire career. This appeared to be a standard practice to reward long serving officers. The Navy had shrunk steadily from 1814 when there were 713 ships to only 143 in 1820 leaving thousands of officers without appointments.

William and Charlotte were still living in Monkton per the 1851 and 1861 Census but by 1871 she had been widowed and was living at Parsonage House, Crowhurst, Surrey with her niece Mary Caroline Wheelwright and her husband the Reverend George Wheelwright. In 1891 she was at 1, Wilbury Road, Hove, Sussex a widow, 80, living on her own means. There were also 17 other boarders listed with six servants and the owner. She died on the 14.1.1896 when living at 20, Sillwood Place, Brighton, Sussex and is buried at Monkwearmouth, Northumberland. There were probably no children as when she died she left her estate to her brother Charles and niece Mary Caroline Wheelwright. She did however leave a silver urn to Barbara Kirby of Middlesborough who could have been her married step daughter.

Martha, born 7.12.1811, married a Frederick James Emary, born 8.10.1818, at Hastings the son of Thomas Reeves Emary and Susan (Russell). They were married on the 25th of February 1846 at St. Mary’s Newington, Surrey when they were both living at Kennington. Frederick was at some time a clerk with the Bank of England. He gave his occupation on the 1851 Census when in Lambeth as a bank clerk. They had four children, born in London, before emigrating to Mercer County, Illinois, USA in 1852 where they had two more. In 1868 they moved to Knox Township, Clarke County, Iowa where they farmed having purchased 160 acres. Martha was a talented musician and played the organ at a church in Hastings. According to the Clarke County Biographical Record published in 1886 she was the best musician in the county. She died 19.2.1895 and he 8.11.1885 and they were both buried at Osceola, Iowa where they had finally settled.

William, born 27.12.1813. “I never had much time at home since I was ten. I was sent off to boarding school in Kent (the grammar school in Maidstone) and afterwards finished my schooling at Hurstmonceaux in Sussex when I was 14½. Then sent to London to work in a dry goods house but soon afterwards to a hardware store in Hastings (the Mannington’s shop?) until I left England in 1830”. William was 16 and in the “Mannington” party. (See above re Sophia). He initially went to Vienna, Oneida County, New York State. In a letter to his grandson, also William, written in July 1890 he said that his cousin Horace (Horatio) “lived in Utica, New York when I came here in 1830” which was nearby. He married Mary Cramp at Oswego 8 o’clock in the evening on Monday the 5th of June 1837. The service was performed by the Reverend McCarty but no church detail is given. They had 9 children.

Mary Cramp, the daughter of James and Sarah (Sinnock) Cramp, was born on the 7.5.1812 and baptized at Otford, Kent on the 21.4.1814. James emigrated to the USA in March 1829 and Sarah with their children sailed from London on the Mary Lord on the 26.9.1829 to join James, arriving at Utica, New York State on the 6th of December.

Mary had a brother James, (born 1813) who became a firm friend of William Foster, so much so that they travelled together and in 1835 were in New Orleans. They were to embark with free passage on an American ship bound for Tampico in Texas on a colonizing expedition. However James “prevailed on William not to join him until he could be sure it was a worthwhile venture as William was practically engaged to marry his sister Mary”.

It transpired that the ship was controlled by a General Mexia and those on board were tricked into taking up arms for Texas against the Mexicans. James and many others refused and after their vessel was shipwrecked James and 21 others were taken prisoner by the Mexicans. All 22 were executed by a firing squad on the 14th of December 1835.

On the eve of the execution James wrote two letters which have survived. One was addressed to his brother, whose name I have been unable to establish, and sent via a Mr. James Brown at Oswego Post Office, Oswego County, New York State. He asks him to break the news to his mother and friends and also to reimburse money he borrowed from William Foster when he was in the South. The letter was signed “Farewell, your unfortunate but happy brother, James Cramp”. The other letter was a petition and declaration and farewell address to friends in the United States of America on behalf of all those executed. A full transcript of both letters can be found on the Internet under James Cramp, Tampico.

The following is taken from “Landmarks of Oswego County, New York” published in 1895.

“Hon. William Foster was identified with the village of Cleveland from its infancy until his death in 1893. He was born in Tenham (sic), Kent County Kent, England December 27, 1813, and came to America aged sixteen locating in the town of Vienna, Oneida County. After spending some time in Richmond, Va., and in the Red River Country, he located to Cleveland as a bookkeeper in the tannery. June 5, 1837 he married at Oswego, Mary, daughter of James Cramp, formerly of Constantia. He moved to Ottawa, Ill., but about 1840 returned to Cleveland and settled permanently, entering the employ of James Burke, then the owner of the Eagle Tannery. Upon the latter’s death Mr. Foster purchased the tannery and except a short partnership with Joseph Hallagan was the sole proprietor until about 1870, when he was succeeded in the active management by his son William H. With Forris Farmer and Charles Kathern he carried on a store and also the manufacture of glass, being interested in the Union Glass Company, which was incorporated in 1851. Afterwards Farmer, Kathern and Foster became owners of these works. Mr. Foster owned large tracts of land in Vienna and Constantia and was the agent for the Roosevelts for the sale of land in this vicinity. He was also a large stockholder, a director, and prominent organiser of the Midland and other railroads. In politics he was an active Republican, and in 1871-2 represented this (the 21st) district in the State Senate, He was the first president of Cleveland village, in which capacity he served in all four years, and was also the supervisor of the town many terms. Mr. Foster was a representative man of wide and wholesome influence, of great native ability, and of extensive travel”.

“Cleveland is the largest village on Constantia and is a station on the New York, Ontario and Western Midland Railroad in the south east corner of the town. It is pleasantly located on the shore of Oneida Lake, about 40 miles from Oswego, and contains a population of 839, or 115 more than in 1880 and 166 less than in 1860. The village was incorporated by the Legislature on April 15, 1857 the first officers being as follows:-

President William Foster; Trustees 5; Clerk L. J. Saunders; Assessors 3; Treasures Cyrus Marble; Constable – Collector David Hazen.

William Foster was President 1857-8, 1860 and 1871. William Foster, junior 1875 and 1879.

The village suffered from several fires including one on the 18th of July 1876 which consumed the Eagle Tannery of William Foster, entailing a loss of $30,000. Another on the 25th of March 1877 which burned the famous Marble House (owned by A. H. Morgan) and the store and residence of W. H. Foster, the loss being $10,000. The Eagle Tannery was rebuilt by William Foster in 1876/7 and a few years later permanently abandoned. It is stated that at one time William owned 13,000 acres of primeval forest, the timber being cut solely for the bark for use in the tannery, the enormous trees in the early days being allowed to rot where they fell.

St. James Protestant Episcopal Church of Cleveland was founded on the 22nd of July 1867. Among the wardens have been William Foster and William H. Foster”.

William Foster also had an interest in politics and was briefly a member of the Senate of New York State and the following is taken from “Life Sketches of Government Officers and Members of the Legislature of the State of New York for 1873”.

“William Foster of Cleveland, Oswego County, represents the twenty-first Senatorial district, composed of the counties of Oswego and Madison. For many years this district was one of the many Gibraltars of the Democracy – “old Oswego” being one of the most reliable strongholds. But this state of things has been changed, and now the twenty-first district under ordinary circumstances is conceded to the Republicans.

The subject of the present sketch was born in Lenham, Kent County, England on the 27th day of December, 1813. Both his parents were of Scotch extraction**. He received a good substantial education, attending the academy at Maidstone in his native county, and also one at Hurstmonaux (sic) in Sussex, which bounds Kent on the south. At the age of 17 he emigrated from “merrie old England” and sailed for this country. The year 1830 found him settled on the Oneida Lake, getting his living by clerking it. As a clerk he remained for five years, and at the end of that time left the Empire State and traveled to the Old Dominion. A little later, the mood of travel still on him, he visited Louisiana and Texas. In 1837 leaving the south he took up his quarters in the great north-west and spent the next two succeeding years in farming. In 1839 he returned to New York State and took up his residence at Cleveland, Oswego County, where he has since resided.

Mr. Foster has been actively engaged for many years as a manufacturer of window glass. He also carries on the business of tanning. In 1867 he became identified with the construction of the Midland Railroad, as a director and active agent, positions he still holds.

The Senator has always taken a deep interest in politics. He was formerly a Whig, and gave his first vote, in 1840, for William Henry Harrison, for President. Subsequently he sympathized strongly with the anti-slavery movement, and became what is known as an Abolitionist. Since the formation of the Republican Party he has been prominently identified with that organization.

He was elected to the Senate by a majority of 4130 over his Democratic opponent. He holds the Chairmanship of two Committees – Erection and Division of Towns and Counties and Poor Laws. He is also a member of the Committee on Railroads.

Senator Foster very seldom addresses the Senate, but he appreciates the wants and wishes of his constituents, and by deed, if not by word, is potent for the interest of the twenty-first district”.

**There is no record of either the Nowers or Foster families being of Scotch extraction.

Mary Foster died on the 15th of April 1883 at her daughter Ellen’s home in Camden New York. William died on the 26th of July 1893 also in their daughter Ellen’s home although she was then living at 106, Helen Street, Syracuse, New York. Both were buried in the family plot at the Riverside Cemetery in Oswego.

Charles Belcher, born 18.1.1819 and baptized 13.2.1819 at St. Mary’s in the Castle Hastings as Charles Foster, is shown on the 1841 Census living with his mother at Priory Farm, Hastings giving his occupation as a farmer. However he worked for the Inland Revenue most of his life. He married Juliana Louisa Whybourn by licence on the 15th of November 1842 at St. Leonards Chapel, St. Leonards, Sussex. He was described as a bachelor, 23, yeoman of Holy Trinity, Hastings and she as a spinster, 19, of St. Mary’s in the Castle, Hastings, her father Thomas a yeoman. Charles signed and Juliana put her mark. They had six children Elizabeth Laura, Olive, Georgina, Matilda, Charles Frederick and Juliana Louisa. Elizabeth and Charles were baptised at St. Mary in the Castle, Hastings.

In 1851 they were living at Snape, Norfolk with Charles an Officer of the Inland Revenue. At that time they had two daughters, Elizabeth Laura aged 8 and Olive 6 months. They also had a servant girl, Elizabeth Whythe, aged eleven! The 1861 census shows the family living at 25, Albert Street, St. Margaret’s, Kings Lynn, Norfolk. Charles was an Officer of the Excise. Juliana died GRO Sept. 1863 Kings Lynn. In 1871 Charles, an Inland Revenue officer, was living at 24, Andover Street, Brightside, Sheffield with his second wife Elizabeth (47) born at Gaywood, Norfolk. All six children by Juliana were also at home together with Henry Baker, (33) a commercial clerk, who was married to daughter Elizabeth. In 1881 he was at 9, Woodhead Road, Eccleshall, Sheffield, a superintendent with the Excise Branch of the Civil Service and a widower for the second time. His daughter, Elizabeth Baker, was the head of the household, also now a widow, and boarding house keeper, with her daughter Elizabeth aged 8. There were 4 lodgers living in. When Charles died on the 16.7.1896 he was living at 17, Eyre Street, Sheffield and was buried at the Attercliffe Cemetery there.

It is interesting to note that six of John and Elizabeth’s children settled in the United States.

John Foster must have had some influential connections as most of his daughters appear to have “married well”. Henry Foster Collins was mentioned very briefly in the R.B.S. history by William “my Nephew, Henry Collins, son of my sister Georgina, was sailing master of the Erebus, Sir John Franklin’s ship, when she and the Terror were lost near the North Pole”. This led me to a book by Roderick Owen and numerous other sources about the Franklin expedition. How did John Best and Collins both have a connection with Sir John Franklin? Did John Best stay in Van Diemans Land and meet Sir John Franklin after he had taken up his appointment and recommend his nephew to him? Or was it through his grandmother’s connections? She was born Judith Belcher and William speaks of his father’s “close relative Sir Edward Belcher the Arctic Navigator, who went in search of Franklin before the Grinnel expedition”.

Franklin was born on the 16th of April 1786 and had gone to sea as a boy. He subsequently made his name leading two expeditions in the Arctic and was knighted in 1829. A few years later he was offered the Govenorship of Antigua on a salary of £1200 per annum which on the advice of his friend, a Captain Beaufort, he declined as it would “be hard work keeping up appearances on less than £2000pa”. However he was soon rewarded with the Govenorship of Van Diemans Land (Tasmania) from Lord Glenelg where he was from 1836-1843. Initially however the salary was still only £1200pa. but by way of compensation there was Government House “which is a good one and has 13 acres of park around it”.

Sir John Franklin set out on his final and disastrous expedition to find the North West Passage on the Erebus together with Terror to find the North West Passage to the north of Canada on the 26th of May 1845 from Sheerness, Kent. Erebus, 372 tons, was built in Pembroke dockyard and launched in 1826 as a bomb ship (a firing platform for large mortars). Terror, 326 tons, was built by Davy of Topsham and launched in 1813. They were converted to exploration ships in 1839 and 1836 and both sailed to Antarctica on an expedition led by Capt. Sir James Ross 1839-1843. Both had 20 horse power auxiliary steam screw engines fitted in early 1845 and were capable of 6 knots. Provisions were calculated to last three years and included 70 tons of flour, 48 tons of meat, 3648 gallons of spirits, 3½ tons of tobacco and 4½ tons of lemon juice. These provisions would have to be replenished if needs be when they reached the Pacific as they hoped.  Ice-Master Thomas Blanky an officer on the Terror anticipated possible success and a long absence and wrote to his wife thus:-

“Should we not be home in the fall of 1848, or in the early spring of 1849, you may anticipate that we have made the passage, or are likely to do so; and if so, it may be from five to six years – it might be into the seventh – ere we return; and should it be so, do not allow any person to dishearten you on the length of our absence, but look forward to the hope the Providence will at length of time restore us safely to you”.

On the 3rd of June they left Stromness in the Orkney Islands and by the 4th of July were anchored off Whale Fish Island near Disco on the west coast of Greenland. The two ships were last sighted on the 26th of July 1845 by a Captain Dannett of the whaler Prince of Wales in Lancaster Sound. There was Government concern at the lack of news in the autumn of 1847 and the first search party was sent out in the spring of 1848. In April 1849 the Admiralty offered a reward of £20,000 on behalf of Her Majesty’s Government “to any private ship that rendered efficient assistance to Sir John Franklin, his ships or their crews and may have contributed directly to extricate them from the ice”. During the next 10 years there were over 30 search parties, both official and private. However it was not until 1859 that the fate of the expedition, which had included 129 officers and men all of whom perished, was finally established. This search party, on the yacht Fox, was led by Captain F.L. McLintock R.N. but it was a Lieutenant Hobson who found a small tin case by a cairn at Point Victory containing two messages.

The first message found in 1859 read:-


28 of May 1847. HM Ships Erebus and Terror wintered in the ice in Lat. 70 05 N. Long. 98 23 W. Having wintered in 1846-47 at Beechy Island, in lat.74 43 28N, long.90 39 15W, after having ascended Wellington Channel to Lat.77, and returned by the west side of Cornwallis Island. Sir John Franklin commanding the expedition. All well. Party consisting of 2 officers and 6 men left the ships on Monday 24th May 1847.

G.M.Gore, Lieut. Chas. F. Des. Voeux, mate.

The second message read:-

April 25th 1848 – HM’s Ships Terror and Erebus were deserted on the 22nd April 5 leagues N.N.W. of this, having been beset since the 12th September 1846. The Officers and crews, consisting of 105 souls under the command of Captain F R. M. Crozier, landed here in Lat. 69 37 42N, Long. 98 41 W. Sir John Franklin died on 11th June 1847; and the total loss by deaths in the Expedition has been to this date 9 officers and 15 men.

(Signed) James Fitzjames, Captain HMS Erebus. (Signed) F. R. M. Crozier, Captain and Senior Officer and start tomorrow, 26th for Back’s Fish River.

Taking into account the very high proportion of deaths amongst the officers mentioned in the second message it is possible that Henry Foster Collins died before the ships were deserted when the remainder of the expedition set off on a journey to safety which none completed.

In Owens book there is an extract from the Journal of James Fitzjames the Master of the Erebus which was left before their departure and said:- “The second master Collins is the very essence of good nature, and I may say good humour”.

There is a photograph of Collins in this book, which with the help of the Curator of Historic Photographs at the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich, I have proved is incorrectly captioned Reid and the photograph of Reid on the same page is actually that of Collins. Photographs (daguerreotype) of Franklin and all his officers were taken before the expedition sailed and subsequently appeared in the Illustrated London News on the 13th September 1854.

Henry Foster Collins left a will dated the 9th of May 1845 which was witnessed by Frederick Bullock, Captain R.N. and by Augustus Bullock R.N. Bullock was captain of a steam surveying vessel based in the Thames. Augustus was presumably his son or a close relation. The will was proved in London on the 21st of June 1854 before the worshipful William Robinson, Doctor of Laws. The Executors were Octavius Ommanney and William Henry Palin of Norfolk Street, Strand, London, Navy Agents. All his estate was left to a Samuel Dowbiggin of Bayswater Terrace. The Death Duty Register gives the date of death as “in or since July 1845 at sea” and shows the value of annuities and bequests as £893.11.3 with duty paid of £89-7-1. A substantial sum in those days but I think that all members of Franklin’s expedition probably continued to be paid until they were officially declared dead in 1854 when their names were deleted from the Navy list. The pay would have just accumulated in London. The next entry in the register is for Edward Couch, late Mate of H.M. ship Erebus, with an estate of £800. According to early census returns Dowbiggin is principally a Lancashire surname. However the 1851 census shows a Thomas Dowbiggin (61) born Lancaster and a fund holder, his wife Anne (60) born Buckinghamshire and daughters Louisa (26) and Jane (24) both born in Middlesex. They all lived at Abercorn Lodge, Abercorn Place, Marylebone with their 7 servants. Were these Samuel’s parents and sisters and if so where was he?

In 1857 a special Arctic Medal in silver was authorised for all those who had been members of the numerous exploratory expeditions which had taken place since 1818. The obverse had a portrait of Queen Victoria and the reverse a sailing ship with icebergs in the background and a sledge party in the foreground. It was inscribed “For Arctic Discoveries 1818-1855”. Those on the Erebus and Terror 1845-48 were entitled to the medal but as no one survived the expedition they could be claimed by relatives. Sadly no claim was made for Henry Foster Collins medal although Esther Blanky the widow of Thomas the Ice Master on the Terror claimed on behalf of her husband.

John and Elizabeth Foster are both buried at Fairlight, near Hastings, East Sussex.

Elizabeth was an elder sister of my great great grandfather Edward Nowers (1781-1867).


1. Memoirs of my life by Decima Manington Bent (1844 -1928).
2. Family history compiled by Ruth Bent Sapp (1877- 1951).
Both the above received from Mary Minnick of Florida, U.S.A.
3. Frances Jamieson family tree compiled in 1970.
4. Micro film records of Lenham and Otterden Parish Registers (Canterbury Cathedral Archives).
5. Micro film records of St. Paul’s Lewisham, St Mary’s Lewisham and 1841 and later Census
returns (Lewisham Local Studies Centre, Lewisham Library, London SE13 and the Family Record Centre).
6. Micro film records and transcripts of St. Clements and St. Mary’s in the Castle Hastings and Fairlight Parish Registers, Hastings. 1841 and 1851 Census returns for Hastings. (All at East Sussex Record Office, Castle Precincts, Lewes, East Sussex).
7. The Fate of Franklin by Roderic Owen (1978). (Croydon Library).
8. The Caird Library, National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, SE10.
9. Sir John Franklins Last Arctic Expedition by R.J.Cyriax (1997). (The Caird Library).
10. British Polar Exploration and Research. A historical and Medallic Record 1818-1999
by Lt. Col. N.W.Poulsom (2000). (The Caird Library).
11. Unraveling the Franklin Mystery by D.C.Woodman. (The Caird Library).
12. Franklin, the Land Arctic Searching Expedition 1855. The Hakluyt Society (1999).
(The Guildhall Library, London).
13. The Sailing Navy List 1688-1860 by David Lyon (1993) The National Archives, Kew.
14. Encyclopedia Britannica. (Croydon Library).
15. Palmers Index to the Times and Times newspapers on micro film (Guildhall Library, London).
16. Janis Kirby of London, Ontario, Canada.
17. Betsy Wyffles of Geneseo, Illinois, U.S.A.
18. Various editions of the Illustrated London News 1845-1859 (Croydon Library).
19. Various editions of the Navy List (Society of Genealogists Library, London and the Caird Library).
20. A Naval Biographical Dictionary by William R O’Byrne, London 1849 (Society of
Genealogists Library, London).
21. The Royal Naval Museum, HM Naval Base, Portsmouth.
22. Principal Registry of the Family Division, Probate Department, 42-49 High
Holborn, London WC1V 6NP.
23. London Metropolitan Archives, Northampton Road, London, EC1R OHB.
24. Family Record Centre, 1 Myddelton Street, London EC1R 1UW.
25. Landmarks of Oswego County, New York by J.C. Churchill 1895. (Internet).
26. Life Sketches of Government Officers and Members of the Legislature of the State of New York
for 1873 by William Henry McElroy. (Internet).
27. I.G.I.
28. Dictionary of Disasters at sea during the age of steam 1824-1962 by Charles Hocking (1969)
(Guildhall Library).
29. Rice Digital Scholarship Archive, Rice University, Houston, Texas. (Internet).
30. Various Census Returns. (Croydon Library, London Metropolitan Archives and the S. of G. Library).


Bible Transcription

The following is a transcript of a hand written list received from Mary Minnick. 

Page 1 

Foster family descendants.

(1) John Foster = Martha Ady on December 11th 1712 Egerton, Kent.

their son :-

(2) John Foster and Judith* (Belcher) his wife (b.1724) had issue as follows viz:-

1 Judith Born 23rd February 1746/7 Old Style

2 Elizabeth Born 22nd August 1749.

3 William Born 7th November 1751

4 ……….. Son Born 30th January 1754

5 Mary Born 20th February 1755

6 John Born 7th April 1757 Died 9th March 1823 (Hastings Eng.).

7 Sarah Born 4th February 1760

8 ………. Daughter born 27th October 1762

9 Samuel Born 28th July 1764

All born at Egerton, Kent, England.


Judith wife of John Foster died 25th August 1765 aged 41 years

. (Judith Belcher Foster had brothers Samuel and Peter).

Page 2. 

(3) John Foster & Elizabeth Nowers his wife had issue as follows viz:-.

(m. Feb. 9 1793) (b. July 4th 1772 at Brambles Farm parish of Wye,

Kent. d. Apr 23 1860 buried at Fairlight near Hastings).

1 Elizabeth Judith Born 20 July 1794 died 11 Feby. 1811.

2 Mary Ann Born 2 August 1795 died 18 March 1869. Married Captain (Army) Wm. Gray of Clapton & buried at Crowhurst, Surrey.

3 Caroline Born 26 Sept 1796 died & was buried at Cleveland Nr. New York (Nov. 9 1850). Married Richard Cossum of Hastings.

4 Georgina Born 27 Novbr. 1797 died 3 December 1861 & buried in Fretteranav? Church Yard, Stonehaven, NB. Married

Captain Collins RN.

5 John Best Born 1 March 1799. Died in Australia. (Married Ann Mannington of Hastings).

6 Thomasin Born 25 October 1800 died 26 Decb. 1856 and buried in Kensal Green Cemetery.

7 Sophia Born 7 February 1802 (Royton Manor, near Lenham, Kent, Eng.) died 23 Oct. 1899 at Morrison, Illinois, U.S. (Buried Grove Hill Cemetery). Married Alfred Mannington of Hastings Apr. 30 1826.

8 Amelia Born 5 September 1804 died 25 October 1885 at Ealing Dean?

Married W. H. Acraman of Bristol & London.

9 Frances Born 24 March 1806 died 7 November 1881 at Atkinson, Illinois. U.S. Married James N Crouch of Hastings.


10 Decima Born 26 October 1807 died 22 March 1875 at Atkinson, Illinois. U.S. Married Thomas Nowers (Cousin).

11 Maria Born 24 March 1809 died 10 August 1826 & buried at Fairlight, Sussex.

12 Charlotte Born 2 Decbr. 1810 died 14 January 1896 & buried at Monkwearmouth Cemetery. Married Wm. Palmer Commander in R. Navy.

13 Martha Born 9 June 1812 died 19 February 1895 in Ocela, (Iowa), America. (m. Emory)

14 William Born 27 December 1813 died 25 July 1893 in New York County U.S. (Buried in Oswego N.Y.).

15 Charles Born 18 January 1819 died 16 July 1896 & buried in Attercliffe Cemetery, Sheffield.


Nos. 1-14 Registered in Lenham Church, Kent.

No 15 “ in All Saints Church, Hastings.


(Signed) ? Foster.

Copied June, 1926, from family Bible in possession of Charles Foster, 76, Psalter Lane, Sharrow, Sheffield, England).

Where detail is in brackets it is in the same hand but seems to have been added later.


Anthony Derek Nowers 
251 Hayes Lane 
Kenley, Surrey CR8 5HN
United Kingdom

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