Foster Immigrant

Compiled by Miriam Dye, Gerneva Dennis, and Bill Foster

It has been accepted for years by most researchers that the immigrant of the Southern Fosters was a Richard Foster, son of Sir Robert Foster and Miss Isham, who sailed from London on August 10, 1635 on the ship, Safety, arriving in Virginia in the fall. That the first married an Ann and then a Sussan Garnett and became the father of two known sons, Robert and John of Gloucester and later Essex County, Virginia.

Later information shows that this Richard Foster's passage was paid by Bartholomew Hoskins, ancient planter, and both him and Richard migrated to Lower Norfolk County, VA where both became prominent member of the social and political society.

Capt. Ed Dittmer, retired naval officer, was the first to cast doubts on Richard being the immigrant and placed James Foster of Gloucester County as the most likely immigrant. This revelation was met with little interest by most researchers since it broke the tie with English royalty. However, there were several researchers, including Miriam Wood Dye of Memphis, TN, Gerneva Foster Dennis of Abilene, and myself who required more than "tradition" to accept the 1635 immigrant as our immigrant. We offer the following information for your consideration:

Richard Foster of the 1635 Safety was transported by Bartholomew Hoskins. We have documentation that Bartholomew married, in England, Dorcus Foster, widow with two small children. Bartholomew was called father by Richard. (March 2, 1639/40.)

Conclusion: Richard of the 1635 Safety wad the son of Dorcus Foster and an unknown father and the step-son of Bartholomew Hoskins. We must assume that it was this Richard Foster who migrated, with Bartholomew Hoskins, into Lower Norfolk County, VA.

We do know that Bartholomew Hoskins and Mrs. Dorcus Foster had children and one was a daughter, Dorcus, who married a Richard Foster (from Hoskins family history). However, it could not have been the 1635 Richard Foster as she was only 5-6 years old when Richard called Bartholomew father and besides Dorcus was his half-sister.

Conclusions: There were two Richard Fosters found in Lower Norfolk. The second Richard Foster could have been the Richard Foster who came to VA in late 1630s or early 1640s and was a lawyer. He has been reported as Richard Worster. He was the Clerk of the Court, etc and signed his name as "ffoster" which looks a "W." Now, both Fosters were literate as indicated by many documents.

There was at least one other Richard Foster in Lower Norfolk. He was found on Bennetts Creek on March 25, 1653/4 and signed his name with an "X", i.Ed., he could neither read nor write. So, this separates him from the above two. It could be he who married Ann Jackson and fathered a child before marriage as shown in Lower Norfolk records.

There was a another Richard Foster (Deed Book B, Lower Norfolk Co., VA, p. 51) at an inquest concerning the death of Jacob Bradshaw on April 11, 1647. This Richard was also illiterate and signed his name with a mark "ff." He could have been the same illiterate Richard Foster (above). However, his makr was "ff" and not "X."

Conclusion: There were three and possibly four Richard Fosters in Lower Norfolk who are potentially our immigrant: (1) Richard Foster of the Safety, step-son of Bartholomew Hoskins, (2) Richard Foster, the lawyer, (3) Richard Foster, who may have married Anne Jackson who mark was "X" and, (4) Richard Foster, the Witness, who mark was "ff."

Now which, if any, was our immigrant? One of these Richard Foster married Dorcus Hoskins and received a land patent in 1651 for the transport of himself, his wife Dorcus, and daughter, Dorcus, Jr. He probably was Richard Foster, the Lawyer, as Richard, the Step-son was in England during this time (more on this later). This Richard Foster was probably the Richard Foster who was a member of the House of Burgass and was called first Lt and then Capt. and then Major Foster and followed his father-in-law, Bartholomew Hoskins, and brother-in-law, Richard Hoskins into North Carolina. We can eliminate him as our immigrant. Richard Foster, step-son of Bartholomew, was in England from 1748 to 1754. He could be our immigrant. Then there are the illiterate Richard Fosters. They are possible candidates, however, not likely as we must assume that our immigrant was literate as he came from a knighted father, Sir Robert Foster.

There was a Richard Foster who received 200 acres of land in Mackjack Bay (later called Gloucester County, VA). This land joined Col. George Ludlow, who was in records of Jamestown and Lower Norfolk Counties. Now, Richard Foster, step-son of Bartholomew Hoskins was in England until 1654 and the land was patented on April 1, 1655. Could this have been the Richard Foster who patented that land? Could this have been Richard Foster who married Susan Garnett and became our immigrant ancestor. We have no proof or even an indication that it is so - the land or the marriage.

So, considering all of these Richards, the step-son is the most likely, IF our ancestor immigrant was a Richard Foster. If we assume this, then all the records in Lower Norfolk that deals with Richard Foster must concern the others. If this be so, then what was our immigrant doing from 1635 to 1655?

Even the doubters disagree with is the more likely Richard Foster, our immigrant: (1), (2), (3), or (4). I (Bill Foster) guess I am the most deviant of them all, along with Capt . Ed (I cannot speak for Miriam or Gerneva), as we do not believe that a Richard Foster was our immigrant. Our candidate is the James Foster who was living in Kingston Parish, Gloucester (now Matthews) County, VA and was a neighbor of John Garnett. The Fosters and the Garnetts were closely associated and intermarried several generations. Robert and John Foster, brother and assumed siblings of Richard Foster, bought land in Essex County in 1692 close to a James Foster. Although circumstantial, it is compelling evidence that Robert named his first sons, Robert and James and not Richard (Richard was his fourth child, after John).

We present this information to your for your consideration and to elicit your comments.

Gerneva Foster Dennis
2625 N. 6th Street
Abilene, TX 79603

Miriam Woods Dye
1555 Poplar #2
Memphis, TN 38111-6038

Dr. B. G. Foster
2130 Santa Fe Trail
Tyler, TX 75703-7659
email address:

Foster Family Page