Hunnewell Family Data
Ashton is a little village six or eight miles west of Exeter, Devonshire,
England. There is at present a medium sized, aged church which was
probably standing in 1600. As one enters this church by the main
aisle one passes over a gray stone walk, each stone of which may be raised
and which covers the long-ago-dead of the village. Ten or a dozen
feet beyond the doorway there is a large stone on which is bolted a smooth
brass plate, bearing in very plain black letters the inscription, "In Death
is Lyfe, Here Lyeth William Honnywill, son of Mathew Honiwell and Joane
his wife, deceased the first of November,
This is supposed to be the inscription over the ancestor of all the Hunnewells known in America. The parish register of Ashton contains the will of this William Honnywill and the name has yet a third variety of spelling Honnywell, which shows the carelessness of early English spelling. The amount of property spoken of in this will shows him to have been a man of means for his time and he is styled "Mr." which was then the mark of a gentleman.
There is another will attested at Buckfastleigh, Devon, Eng., Oct 16, 1609, the will of one Roger Honywill, note the fourth spelling--probably a brother of William who died in 1614. Yet neither of these wills mentions another Roger Hunnewell, presumably the son of William. Why------, probably because they thought him dead at that time, as it was somewhat of a custom in old England, if a person's whereabouts were not known for a year to consider him dead. So it seemed that Roger Hunnewell left England before 1609, but it seems probable that he left a young son in England. We are now confronted by the problem of Roger's disappearance from England and his reappearance very early in the Kennebec country.
All the county of Devon, as well as the other southern counties of England, must have been somewhat excited over the fitting out of a vessel call the Archangel at Plymouth, England in 1604-5 by the Earl of Southampton and Lord Arundel, in which vessel Captain Waymouth was to sail on a exploring trip to the coast of New England, and it is an historical fact that Captain Waymouth set sail from Plymouth, March 5, 1605 and on May 17th following, landed a Monhegan, Maine, and named the place St. George. He explored the Maine coast from the Kennebec to the Piscataqua, saw the distant White Mountains, as they can be seen today from the mouth of this Piscataqua, made charts of the coast and looked at sited suitable for settlements, particularly noted the situation where two years later came the Popham colony; made estimates of the fishing and fur trade, obtained a few native Indians to return with him, (Shakespeare's Tempest (Act II, Scene II) and arrived again at Dartmouth, England, July 18, 1605.
Sir Fernando Gorges, then Governor of Plymouth, Eng., had in the meanwhile bought out the grant and other rights of the Earl of Southhampton and Lord Arundel and was resolved with Lord Chief Justice Popham to fit out a colony, who should come to New England and settle at the mouth of the Kennebec at that situation so favorably remarked by Waymouth.
The Popham Colony is a matter of early Maine History, it was led by the brother of Chief Justice Popham, but the leader Popham dying, the colony returned to England in about one year. They had come over in two ships, one of them called the Gift of God, being old, they built a new one. When about to return they divided themselves into three parties, the party with the best ships and the party with the new ships returning to England, but the third party of forty-five men that were assigned to the Gift of God, elected to remain in America, and while a few of them tarried at their old settlement others scattered along the coast or amongst those few families of fishermen who by this time had begun to make their homes along the seaboard.
Was Roger Hunnewell of this party? Certain is was that he was living very early at Saco, because there he was found the party of half-starved Plymouth Pilgrims sailed across the bay to obtain provisions without which they must have perished the winter of 1623. If Roger Hunnewell was not of the Popham Colony is possible that he came on some fishing boat and remained.
If he brought a wife from England or if he found one here it is more than probable that his sons Richard and John were born in Maine and would have been very successful rivals of Peregrine White, because among those recorded settlers of Essex or old Norfolk Co., Mass., in 1663, is Richard Hunnewell aged 50 years and if he was 50 in 1663 he must of been born in 1613, while Peregrine White does not date until 1620.
Richard Hunnewell's name is mentioned many times by the writers of Plymouth. Benj. Church (Vol. IV, 7) calls him Richard Hunnewell of Scarborough, son of Roger of Saco and sends his orders as commander-in-Chief of the Plymouth forces to Lieut. Richard Hunnewell in charge of twenty soldiers at Blue Point, Black Point and Spurwink Garrison. Richard Hunnewell is also mentions in York Co., Maine deeds Vol. 9, Folio 179, as deeding to his brother John, property at Winter Harbor (Saco). There are traces of the two brothers also in the Weathersfield, Conn., colony. They probably went there after the breaking up of the Merrymeeting Bay (Maine) Colony on account of Indian outrages in 1692, but Richard, at least, returned when the colonists returned to their old homes. It was probably during this trouble with the Indians that Richard lost a wife and some of his children is in the appeal which these poor colonists sent to Plymouth for assistance it is stated that their home are burned, their provision destroyed and all their records wanting, which would account for our lack of early knowledge of these colonists. Richard is said to have turned Indian hater and fighter. It is stated on authority of Drakes History of the Indians that Richard was killed in battle at Black Point with eighteen men of his garrison in 1703, if correct he would have been ninety years old.
There is a marriage record at Plymouth, England, dated Nov. 1st. 1659, of Ambrose Hunnewell and Jane Homes, not further trace of them can be found in England, but in 1661, seven years after the death of Roger of Saco, Ambrose and his wife Jane are recorded at Saco, Maine. He seems to have been a grandson of Roger and this being the reason for supposing Roger left a son in England.
Ambrose and Jane had five children: Ambrose married a Mary _____; Mary m. a Whiting; Richard m. Sarah Adams, probably of Plymouth Adamses; Stephen m. Mary ______ and was killed by Indians; Charles m. Eliz. Davis and from this latter couple are descended the Hollis Hunnewells of Wellesley, Mass. We have never been able to trace Lieut. Richards' line and would be very glad of any information
on this point or any additions or corrections on the above matter. (The method pursed by Waymouth to "obtain" these Indian captive cannot be defended. He used gross deception to induce them aboard his ship.
Shakespeare, as cited by the writer, makes Trinculo, who discovers a salted and dried hake then called a "poor-john" say:- What have we here? a man or a fish? Dead or alive? A fish: he smells like a fish; a very ancient and fish-like smell; a kind of not-of-the-newest poor-john. A strange fish! Were I in England now, as once I was, and had but this fish painted, on a holiday fool there but would give a piece of silver: there would this monster make a man; any strange beast there makes a man; when they will not give a doit (1) to relieve a lame beggar, they will lay out ten to see a dead Indian.
Undoubtedly his sole object in committing this outrage upon innocent savages who had made him friendly calls was to take them to England and exhibit them as curiosities. The Tempest was written according to the best authorities about 1610 and no American red men, except Waymouth's captives, had been carried there prior to that date, hence Shakespeare probably referred to this.
The poet evidently speaks of a fact then well known to all that these Indians were exhibited to the public for pay;.................... " any strange beast there makes a man: when they will not give a doit to relieve a lame beggar they will lay out ten to see a dead Indian" at least corroborates this assumption. However cruel the act in its nature may have been there is no evidence that Waymouth in any manner outraged or ill-treated them.
These captives fill into the care of Sir Ferdinando Gorges, who was intensely interested in promoting the colonization of the New World, and who treated them with kindness and consideration.
During the three years they remained with him he taught them so much that they were able to make for him valuable plans and maps of Maine coast, rivers, bays, etc.
And yet although not harm befall them, this act of Waymouth's was unfortunate for the English colonists.
It was the beginning of the red man's distrust of the white man in Maine, which only too soon developed into an unreasoning hatred and an unquenchable thirst for blood and revenge. Editor)