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 Ancestor of the Month  

July 2008 

 

John Fouracres (Foreacres)

b. 1714                  d. 1756

 

We know that our ancestor John Fouracres was born in 1714; his history before that time, however, is a matter of speculation.

 

The Fouracre Family

 

According to various researchers, the Fouracre family may have been from Somerset, England, from Sweden, or from Scotland.  The Fouracre family has been traced back to 1273 in County Somerset, England.  Thus, they are probably British.  On the other hand, there is supposedly a Scottish tartan plaid for the Fouracres family; thus, they may be from Scotland.  Perhaps they or a branch of the family were originally from Scotland and moved to Somerset or vice versa.  They were also possibly part of the Norman-French invasion of England and were awarded land in Somerset for their support of William the Conqueror.  As such, they would have been French in 1066 and could have originally been Vikings if we go back far enough. However, French, Vikings, and/or Scots would probably not have been named Fouracres.  That particular name probably began in England between 1100 and 1500 since both four and acre are words of Middle English origin.

 

Once in the colonies the family settled in Delaware, which had a high percentage of Swedes in the early days.  This “guilt by association” or “birds of a feather” thinking may be why someone might suggest the Fouracres were originally Swedish. The Viking connection could also fit here.  Any of these theories could be correct, but they seem somewhat farfetched.  Most likely the family name as we know it originated in Somerset since the name is an English “locational” name meaning “he who dwells at the four-acre enclosure.” 

 

In any event, some Fouracres ancestor came to America, and in 1714 our John was born in Delaware.

 

John’s Unlikely but Possible Father

 

Since we do not know for certain where John Fouracres was born, some sources say that a Richard Fouracres (b.?-d.?) may be the original immigrant who is the ancestor or father of John.  Richard was sent to the colonies in 1685 after a particularly bloody period in England.  He was identified as a “rebel” who was involved in political insurrection in England.  Apparently he was sent to the colonies as ”an emigrant under bondage.”  If he were Scottish or if he had been involved in the religious turmoil going on in England, then his designation as a “rebel” is understandable   His rebellious streak continued in the colonies as he was punished for refusal to attend the parish church.  His wife Hannah was fined a large sum for selling “spirited liquors” without a license.  (Sources indicated that if she did not pay the fine, the result would be a public whipping, but I could find no record of whether or not she paid it.)  In addition to their other problems, Richard’s family was apparently poor, for all but two of his children were put out for indenture.  No indenture records for two of his children (John and Elizabeth) have been found.  In his will, proven in Spotsylvania Co., VA in Jan of 1727, Richard names his sons:  Thomas, Hezekiah, James, and John.  Unfortunately, there is no indication of date of birth for these children to help make a connection between John and Richard.  If this is indeed our John, he would have been 13 years old when Richard died. 

The major problem with the “Richard as John’s father theory” is that Richard’s family lived in Virginia, whereas most of the information about John’s life is set in Delaware/Maryland.  It is possible that he came to the Delaware/Maryland area when his siblings were “put out” for indenture, but this is entirely speculation.  In addition, a lad of 13 seems to be a bit young for traipsing off to Delaware to seek his fortune.  We do know that wherever he was born, he made his home in Maryland after he was married.

 

Most likely, even though Richard had a son named John, and even though the dates fit, he was probably not our John’s father.

 

Marriage and Family

 

Whatever happened from 1714 when he was born until he met his wife is a matter of mystery, but meet his wife, he did, and on 13 Jul 1735 they were married.  John’s wife was Sarah Eleanor Halts (possibly Halls) (b. c1718-d.?)  (John’s wife apparently preferred and went by the name Eleanor)  At the time of their marriage he was about 21 and she was about 16-20.  As with John, Eleanor’s family and early history is unknown, but she was probably born in Queen Anne’s County, MD since that is where the couple was married, bought property, and raised their family.

 

The couple had at least 6 children:

 

1.      Elizabeth (b. 10 June 1736 in Queen Anne’s County, MD - d.?) m. John Newman 16 Sep 1756

2.      Mary Ann Fouracres (our ancestor)  (b. c1738 in Queen Anne’s Co., MD

d. c1796 Caswell Co., NC) m. Clement Trigg, Jr. in St. Luke’s Parish, Queen Anne’s County, MD m. (2) Thomas Hatsfield (b.? -d. before 1786)

3.      John Fouracres, Jr. (b. c1740 in Queen   Anne’s Co., MD d.?)  m. Jane Burk 27 Jan 1757

4.       Unknown Fouracres  (b. c1742 in Queen Anne’s County, MD-d?)

5.      Isaac Fouracres  (b. c1744 in Queen Anne’s County, MD -d?)

6.      Unknown Fouracres (b. c1746 in Queen Anne’s County, MD -d?)

 

The Fouracres were a farming family, but by 1740, they were prosperous enough for John to purchase 100 acres, and on the deed he is listed as a “planter” so he may have been involved in tobacco planting.   The land he purchased was known as “Tollis Lott.”  It was located in Queen Anne’s County, MD, and John purchased it from Darby Ryon in May or June of 1740.  It is possible, however, that even though John had enough to purchase this land, he may have nevertheless “put out” some of his own children for indenture, for his daughter Mary Ann was living with a neighbor woman in c1750 when she had her famous encounter with a mountain lion.  She was about 12 years old at the time and may have been working to provide the family with extra money, or she may have been indentured, or she may have just been helping out a neighbor.  (To read about Mary Ann Fouracres, go to the top of this page and click on the sentence about previously printed articles.  When you reach the archives, scroll down the navigation bar on the left until you reach “Mary Ann Fouracres” and click her name.)

 

Service in the Maryland Militia

 

Since there were not enough British soldiers in the colonies, average citizens were called upon to become part of each colony’s militia.  John served as a private in the Maryland Colonial militia for Queen Anne’s County, MD.  His commanding officer was Captain James Brown.  John’s service occurred during 1748/49 and would have been during the time just before the outbreak of the French and Indian wars (1754-1763).  Between 1740-1748, the French began building a series of forts along the Ohio to discourage British colonists from moving into the area.  The Indians of the region were generally on the side of the French whom they considered more “fair” and less likely than the British to move in and settle in the area.  The time of John’s service would probably have been a time of providing a defensive “home guard” for the colony. 

 

Colonial soldiers usually served a period of about eight months and received no pay until the end of their enlistment.  They were usually paid an enlistment bonus when they joined the militia, and, if this bonus were saved, it could be added to their final pay for enough money to buy between 30 and 150 acres.  Since many colonial landowners kept their property intact and handed it down to their first born, the militia was an easy way for younger sons to obtain money for

purchasing land.  John was about 34 or 35 years old while he served in the militia and already owned 100 acres.  Thus, he may have served for purely patriotic reasons or may have had other uses for any money he might earn.

 

After his service in the militia, John returned to his family.  They were to live on Tollis Lott for about five or six more years

 

John’s Will

 

John wrote his will on Friday 13 February 1756, and the will was proven in open court on 24 Mar 1757 in Queen Anne’s County, MD.  Witnesses were James Lane and John Burk. (Burk may have been a relative of Jane Burk, John, Jr.’s wife.)  The will gives John’s personal property and real estate to his wife and children.  It mentions ”wife Elanore [sic],” and “Children: John, Isaac, Elizabeth and three or four others not named.”  Sometime between the date the will was written and the date it was proven, John died.  He was 42 or 43 years old.  Eleanor survived her husband, but at this time we do not know her date of death.

 

Although we do not know as much about John Fouracres as we do some of our other ancestors, we do know that he must have been a determined man.  Although his life was short by our standards, he accomplished what most of us want to do.  He married, had a family, purchased land, and served his country.  He is another of whom we can be proud.

 

John Fouracres is Papaw McCarter’s 4 great grandfather.  If you are Eli McCarter’s great great grandchild, John Fouracres is your 8-great grandfather.

 

Line of Descent from John Fouracres to Eli McCarter:

 

John Fouracres (1714-1756) + Sarah Eleanor Halts (c1718-)

Mary Ann Fouracres (1738-1796) + Clement Trigg, Jr. (1735-1779)

Elizabeth Trigg (1760-1825/30) + Timothy Reagan (1747-bef 1830)

Richard Reagan (1769-1829) + Julia Ann Shultz (1775-1846)

Daniel Wesley Reagan (1802-1892) + Nancy Ogle (1810-1844)

Marriah Reagan (1842-1923) + Thomas Hill McCarter (1846-1923)

Rev. Eli McCarter (1886-1955) + Mary Elizabeth Hatcher (1889-1969)

 

 

Sources

 

“Acre.”  Colliers Encyclopedia Dictionary, 1998.  Sierra On-line, Inc.

 

“Colonial Soldier.”  http://www.iroquoisdemocracy.pdx.edu/html/colonialsoldier.htm

 

“Dave’s Roots and Branches”  http://www.minson.org/100302web/aqwg43.htm

 

Foraker Family Genforum http://genforum.genealogy.com/foraker/index.html#164

 

“Four.”  Colliers Encyclopedia Dictionary, 1998.  Sierra On-line, Inc.

 

“Fouracres Coat of Arms/ Fouracres Family Crest.”  http://www.4crests.com/fouracres-coat-of-arms.html

 

“Fouracres, John,” Smokykin.com.

 

McCarter Family charts

 

Reagan, Donald B.  The Book of Ragan/Reagan.  Knoxville, TN:  1993.

 

 

 

 

 

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