The Fosters: A Family History

Research: Frederick T. Foster

Editing: Patricia O’Quinn Foster

Published September 2002

San Diego, California


How Did This Get Started?

This family history owes its inception to two outstanding, caring women — my wife, Patricia O’Quinn Foster, and my aunt, Miss Minnie Foster.

Minnie Foster was a native of England who emigrated to the United States in 1893 at the age of 14. [Sam’s note: in a sailing ship, which I found astounding as a kid!] She never lost her British accent and she kept in close touch with her relatives in England. Fortunately, she also had a remarkable memory for names, dates and places.

Some years ago, my wife began to think of my retirement. The question arose in her mind: “What will Fred do with his new leisure time—will he get bored with life?”

At the time, Aunt Minnie was making her home with us. One day, she and Pat were enjoying their afternoon cup of tea when Pat said: “Minnie, tell me about the Foster family. Who were Fred’s ancestors, where did they live, and what did they do for a living?”

These question sessions continued over a period of time, with Aunt Minnie providing names and relationships, while Pat made notes and attempted to develop rough genealogy charts. When she had finished, she filed these away to wait for Fred’s retirement to begin.

April 2, 1980—the first day of Fred’s retirement—Pat handed her file of family notes to Fred, and thus began a search that has continued for more than 20 years.

Fortunately, Fred and Pat love to travel, so combining genealogy research with trips to many places where ancestors had lived served a double purpose. England was visited on nine different occasions, touring most parts of the British Isles, but concentrating on family research in three counties: Suffolk, Buckinghamshire, and Cambridgeshire, plus London. Additional productive time was spent in correspondence with Family History Societies in these counties and with individuals who were involved in such research.

In the United States, our research travels took us to 12 states, mostly in the East and South of the country. Extensive time also was spent in Salt Lake City to take advantaqge of the world’s largest genealogy collection, the Family History Library of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, whose personnel could not have been more helpful.

Outline of the Book

This book is divided into five volumes:

  1. Paternal Ancestral Lines
  2. Our Canadian Cousins
  3. Related Ancestral Lines
  4. England is Unique!
  5. Family Pictures

Generation Numbers

As a means of distinguishing between ancestors with same first names, each individual has been assigned a generation number which is shown in brackets following his or her name.

For example, if Harry Foster is the first in his ancestral line, he would be shown as Harry Foster [1]. If Harry and his wife had a son named Philip, he would be identified as Philip Foster [2]. Philip’s brothers and sisters would have the same generation number of [2]. When Philip married and had a daughter named Pricilla, she would be listed as Priscilla Foster [3].


In order to conserve space, abbreviations have been used in some instances. Some of these are:

  • ca = circa (about, approximately)
  • b = birth
  • c = christening
  • m = marriage
  • d = death
  • bu =burial

The following are used for names of English counties:

  • BKM -Buckinghamshire
  • CAM – Cambridgeshire
  • LAN – Lancashire
  • LIN – Lincolnshire
  • OXF – Oxfordshire
  • HRT – Hertfordshire
  • YKS – Yorkshire

States in the United States are identified by their usual two-letter postal designations.


The author wishes to express his appreciation for the assistance provided by the agencies named below:


County Record Office, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire

County Record Office, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire

County Record Office,Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk

Buckinghamshire Family History Society

Cambridgeshire Family History Society

Suffolk Family History Society

Public Library, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire

General Register Office, London

Somerset House, London

Public Record Office, Kew, Richmond, Surrey

House of Lords, London

United States

Family History Libraries: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah; McClung Collection, Lawson-McGee Library, Knoxville, TN; Newberry Library, Chicago, IL; Daughters of the American Revolution, Washington, D.C.

Government and Educational Agencies: Federal Archives, Washington, D.C.; Federal Archives, Laguna Niguel, CA; Georgia State Archives and Record Center, Atlanta, GA; Tennessee State Library, Nashville, TN, Virginia State Library, Richmond, VA; University of Virginia Library, Charlottesville, VA

Public Libraries: Muscogee County, Columbus, GA; Jacksonville, FL; Nowata OK; San Diego, CA; Hamblen County, TN; Chattanooga, TN; Kingsport, TN; Sweetwater, TN; wilkes county, GA; Louisa County, Hanover, VA; Clearwater, FL; Robeson County, Lamberton, NC; Morristown, TN

Courthouses: Henry County, Martinsville, VA; Pittsylvania County, Chatham, Va; Claiborne County, Tazewell, TN; Louisa County, Hanover, VA; Grainger County, Rutledge, TN; Wilkes County, Washington, GA; Hamblen County, Morristown, TN; Halifax County, Halifax, VA

Historical Societies: Clairborne County, Tazewell, TN; Washington County, VA

Genealogy sources in England

On September 5, 1538, Thomas Cromwell, vice-Regent during the reign of Henry VIII, issued a mandate requiring every parish priest to record in a register all births, marriages, and deaths in his parish, with the names of the parties. This action provided the foundation for genealogical research in England. A total of 678 parishes have records that commence in 1538.

Although the law specified births and deaths, it was more practical to record christenings and burials, and this was generally done. The recording was sometimes done by the Church Warden, who was often illiterate and unable to spell the names of the persons involved. This accounts for the fact that a name may be spelled in a number of ways depending on the way it sounded.

As an example, the name Dasley has 14 alternate spellings: Darsley, Dazely, Dazeley, Daisley, Daseley, Dasely, Derisley, Derisly, Dearesly, Dearslye, Dearsly, Dearslee, Deresly, and Dearsley.

In 1597, Elizabeth I ordered that parish registers be made of parchment instead of paper, and that all entries wee to be sent annually to the appropriate bishop. These “Bishop’s Transcripts” became another valuable research source.

The period of the Civil War and the Commonwealth, 1642 to 1660, caused disruption in parish life. Church registers were neglected, destroyed, or buried. Much potentially valuable information was lost during this period.

Th 18th century brought about two reforms for which geanealogists are thankful:

  1. The use of Latin was discontinued in parish records; and
  2. The Gregorian Calendar was adopted replacing the Julian Calendar.

With the Julian Calendar, the first day of the year was March 25. thus, a birth recorded between January 1 and March 25, 1714, by the Julian Calendar, would actually have occurred in 1715 by the Gregorian Calendar, which changed the first day of the year to January 1.

Until 1893, parish registers were maintained by the local parish. Many were stored improperly and were deteriorating. As a result, the government now requires that registers will be deposited in County Record Offices, where they may be reviewed by researchers.

As an interesting note, when a particular parish register was requested at the Cambridgeshire County Record Office, the attendant said: “Why do you want to review that here, it’s on film in Salt Lake City (at the Mormon Family History Library).”

maps aylesbury uk – Google Maps

maps cambridge uk – Google Maps

Twelve Generations of Fosters

JACOB (or JAMES or JOSEPH) FOSTER (ca 1556) = Agnes Smith (1581)




















Joseph (1688) SAMUEL



(ca 1717)


(ca 1718)















































Fitz Thomas


Kate Selina


Maud Herberta


Albert Alexander


Minnie Herberta
Jeanne Augusta


Francis Albany
Alan Frederick
Archibald Reid
Clarence Steed
Elsie May
Robert Dasley
Richard Osborne


Kathryn Suzanne “Samanta” Christopher Thomas

NOTE: Names CAPITALIZED in bold face indicate persons in direct ancestral line. The date under each name represents the date of birth or baptism.

One Comment

    Error thrown

    Call to undefined function ereg()