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‘Portsmouth’ Category

  1. Richard Borden: America’s First Borden Family

    March 29, 2011 by editor

    Many members of the Borden family in America can trace their ancestry to Richard Borden who emigrated with his family (and his brother John and family) to Boston in about 1635 from the village of Headcorn, Kent County, England.  The ancestors of brothers Richard and John Borden have been traced back another eight generations to Henry Borden, born in the 1370’s, who was the first Borden to live in Headcorn.  Henry was likely a descendant of a Borden from the village of Borden, about 12 miles north of Headcorn.

    From ships records, John Borden and his family sailed on the ship Elizabeth and Anne about 20 June 1635. John was 28, his wife Joan 23, son Matthew 5, and daughter Elizabeth was 3. There is no indication that Richard and his family were on the Elizabeth and Anne, or any other vessel, but they do appear in the records of the city of Boston by the next year.

    When Richard Borden arrived in Boston with his wife and two sons,Thomas and Francis, fifteen years after the Mayflower had landed in 1620, there were approximately 10,000 settlers in New England. The Puritans in Boston under Governor Winthrop had become a new strident religious authority, and they accepted no dissent. Many who had fled English persecution did not share their beliefs. Anne Hutchinson, the daughter of a minister, was just such a person. As a woman, she was barred from being a minister herself, but she began to counsel and teach women in her own home and nursed them in theirs.

    In March 1638, the authorities in Boston put Anne Hutchinson on trial, and excommunicated and banished her. Anticipating the outcome of the trial, Anne’s husband Will and a number of followers and friends of the Hutchinsons, searched for a new place to settle. Before departing Boston to seek a new site, they signed the Portsmouth Compact, considered by many as the first declaration of religious freedom in the colonies.

    The Will Hutchinson party first traveled to the new settlement of Providence, and with the help of Roger Williams, purchased land from the native Americans at Aquidneck, which would become the site of the town of Portsmouth, Rhode Island. By April, Anne and her family and some friends were welcomed by Will and other members of his party at Aquidneck. Richard Borden and his family were members of this group and Richard’s third son, Matthew, was the first child of English descent born on Aquidneck in May 1638. Richard was to become a leader in the Portsmouth community, and became one of the founders of the Society of Friends in Portsmouth (later known as Quakers).

    Richard’s family finally totaled ten children, seven boys and three girls. His oldest son Thomas moved to Providence, Francis was one of the first settlers of New Jersey in Shrewsbury, and Samuel and Benjamin also went to New Jersey. Sons John and Matthew stayed in Portsmouth. However, the Borden family quickly spread just across the bay to Massachusetts and the area that would become Fall River. Fall River is home to the largest population of Bordens in America.

    It appears that Richard’s brother John and his family eventually left for New London, but there is no trace of his descendents beyond there. There is little or no evidence that other persons with the Borden name sailed from England to America, however the Borden family name was adopted by some immigrants who arrived from a number of other countries such as Ukraine, Italy, Greece, Poland and Turkey in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. However, many who carry the Borden name in the United States can trace their ancestry to Richard Borden. This site is dedicated to Richard Borden and his family and descendents in America.