Welcome! I really enjoy exchanging information with people and hope this blog will help with that. I am not an expert and I consider most of my research as a work in progress. Some of the surnames I'm researching:

Many old Cape families including Kelley, Eldredge/idge, Howes, Baker, Mayo, Bangs, Snow, Chase, Ryder/Rider, Freeman, Cole, Sears, Wixon, Nickerson.
Many old Plymouth County families including Washburn, Bumpus, Lucas, Cobb, Benson.
Johnson (England to MA)
Corey (Correia?) (Azores to MA)
Booth, Jones, Taylor, Heatherington (N. Ireland to Quebec)
O'Connor (Ireland to MA)
My Mayflower Ancestors (only first two have been submitted/approved by the Mayflower Society):
Francis Cooke, William Brewster, George Soule, Isaac Allerton, John Billington, Richard Warren, Peter Browne, Francis Eaton, Samuel Fuller, James Chilton, John Tilley, Stephen Hopkins, John Howland.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

John Faunce ca 1608-1653, Plymouth, Mass.

John Faunce is another ancestor through my grandfather Arthur Washburn Davis. His last name is sometimes seen as Fance or Phance in records. He was born in England circa 1608 (based on estimated age at marriage). His origins in England are unknown, but there has been some speculation he was from Purleigh, Essex. He married Patience Morton in Plymouth about 1633. Patience was born in Leiden, Holland, about 1614, the daughter of George Morton and Juliana Carpenter.

Patience came to Plymouth with her family on board the Anne in 1623. They were members of the Separatists in Leiden. John Faunce was on board the same vessel.

John and Patience had eight children: Priscilla, Mary, Patience, Sarah, Thomas, Elizabeth, Mercy, and Joseph.

I have two direct lines from John, one through his daughter Priscilla who married Joseph Warren (son of Mayflower passenger Richard Warren) and the other through Mercy who married Nathaniel Holmes.

One of John's sons, Thomas Faunce, lived to almost 100 years of age, dying in 1746, and served as the Town Clerk and the ruling elder of the church. A well-known story originated in a talk given in the 19th century at Plymouth's Old Colony Club that at age 95 Elder Faunce was driven to town in an open wagon from Eel River and taken to Plymouth Rock. He told the people gathered there how he had talked to John Howland and his wife, John Alden, Giles Hopkins, George Soule, Francis Cooke and his son John, and Mrs. Cushman, born Mary Allerton, who "died but yesterday." All of these, he said, told him that upon that rock they had stepped ashore, and John Winslow's wife, Mary (Chilton) had come there on her 75th birthday and laughed as she stepped on the rock and said she was the first woman to have stepped on it. This story, relayed to posterity verbally by one who claimed to hear it from a person who had been in Elder Faunce's audience that day, is as far back as we can go to authenticate that what we call today Plymouth Rock was in fact the first land at Plymouth touched by the Mayflower passengers. Of course, many people today refute the claim, so perhaps Thomas was just a great teller of yarns.
Old postcard of portico over Plymouth Rock

John was literate as his estate inventory includes a Bible, but did not serve on many committees or offices. He is listed as being on a petit jury in Plymouth. James Freer Faunce wrote that that John was “stranger,” coming to Plymouth for business, recruited by the merchant adventurers who financed the colony, rather than religious reasons. This doesn’t make sense given his young age. Perhaps he came as an indentured servant? He was said to have been close with the Francis Cooke family.

He received a land grant as a passenger of the Anne and purchased additional land during his lifetime. John Faunce died in Plymouth on 29 November 1653. An inventory of his estate was taken 16 December 1653 by Lt. Thomas Southworth and Nathaniel Morton. His estate totaled over 27 pounds, but did not include property, so perhaps he had already gifted it to his sons. The inventory did list two cows, five swine and a weaver’s loom. Patience was named to administer the estate.

Patience married, second, Thomas Whitney. She died on 16 August 1691, “being entered into the 77 year of her age."  

The burial locations of John and Patience are not known, but their son Thomas told Deacon Ephraim Spooner that his parents’ graves were leveled and sown over to conceal them from the Indians.

Sources not listed above:
Robert Charles Anderson, The Great Migration Begins, 3:1715-8, 1995
James Freer Faunce, “The Faunce Family,” NEHGR, Volume 114, April 1960


  1. John was my 10 times great grandfather.I have recently followed my line. My last name is Hayden.

  2. Chris - I recently lost my maternal grandmother who we found was married briefly to a Faunce and fathered my mother. In tracing his lineage - I can track it back to John Faunce of the Anne, Plymouth. I can claim Thomas as well! I also can track back my paternal grandmother's lineage back to The Kelley's. I am listed in an attachment to the American Ancestors and Descendants of Seth Kelly. We share several ancestors. I have an overwhelming desire to visit Cape Cod and visit all the sites you blog about. I was curious of there was any type of meeting or festivals - a good time to meet other geneaology seekers.
    I am curious if you are on Ancestry and if you have taken the DNA tests.

    1. Hi Pam, Congrats on your discovery! I'm not sure about meetings in the area. Plymouth has a Mayflower Society meeting each fall and although Faunces didn't come on the MF, they are such an old family. The Cape Cod genealogical society has monthly meetings with speakers. I'm not on ancestry and haven't had my DNA done, although I should! Chris

  3. Enjoyed your blog. I am trying to look for James Freeman, Bourne, MA and Winifred Cole, also Bourne, Ma,They had 2 children, that I know of, Richard, and Everett Newcomb Freeman

    1. Hi, I'm sorry but I don't know of the couple you are looking for. Chris

  4. Same here and my second generation granddad was Joseph. My last name is Faunce.

  5. I was wondering if anyone knows of an historical connection between the Faunces and the Hornblowers. (Not sure I spelled that correctly.) As a small child (early to mid 1950's) I summered with my great aunt Ann and uncle Walter Faunce at a cottage on the beach in Plymouth. I think they were the nanny and chauffeur to the Hornblowers as I frequently played with the Hornblower children at their grand house on a hill. After seeing Saints and Strangers on Tv recently, I looked up Plymouth Colony and saw the account of the elder John Faunce and also that the Hornblower family had historical and archeological interests and played a role in the development and financial support of the present day Plymouth Colony.