How to Research your
New York Foster Family

By Townsend (Tim) Foster, e-mail
DNA Group 7
Participant # 193
Tucson, Arizona


            Foster is an Anglo-Saxton surname of ancient origin and noble lineage.  It is derived from the occupational source, in this case, from the “forester”.  In the English Middle Ages, the forests and woods were almost always owned or controlled by the lord of the manor, but people had no reservations about sneaking in and taking firewood, game, or whatever else they might require.  To keep the poaching to a minimum, the lord retained a man to watch the forest, often called a forester, and sometimes called a foster.   At the time of the Anglo-Saxton conquest of Britain (fifth and sixth century), the name was also taken from the place of residence of the family in a forest, or wild wooded country.  The use of surnames beginning in the eleventh century increased slowly and it wasn’t until the fifteenth century that such names became nearly universal and also stationary. The name stuck as an English Occupation surname. Foster, the spelling of this branch of the family, is a contraction of the original spelling of “Forester”.      

            There are two versions of the first Foster name.

            Version I.  Much of Germany, France, Spain and Italy were conquered by the Danish Norsemen.  One of the Danish nobles,  Anacher, organized the conquered territory into a state, and called it Flanders.  Charlemagne, with the assistance of Anacher and his army, became the successful defender of Christianity and the Roman Empire from the attacks of the new swarms of Noresmen.  He elevated Anacher to a cabinet position which Charlemagne called the Great Forester because Anacher was to have charge of all the wild animals and government lands of France.  His son, Baldwin I, succeeded to the position of Great Forester.

            Version II.  Lyderici, the first man to bear the name “Buc”, was appointed as the first  “Royal Forester” of the country of Flanders by Dagobvert of Nerovingia, King of Frankish Germany and Flanders in the 621.  With this appointment he received the Governorship of all Flanders with his own castle.  He was the first of a dynasty of Counts who governed Flanders.

            Antoine, his second son, was First Grand Forester.  Bouchard, his third son, was named Forester, Lord of Harlebeck.  Estorede, son of  Bouchard, was named Forester, of Lorraine and Harlebeck.  He died in 792.  Lyderici II, son of Bouchard, was named Forester, and titled Count of Flanders and Harlebeck.  He died in 836.  Euguerrand, so of Lyderic II, named Forester and titled Count of Flanders and Harlebeck.  He built may towns and castles and died in 852.  The last of this particular dynasty was Odoacer also named Forester, and titled Count of Flanders and Harlebec.  He died in 864.       

            Upon his death, the title of Forester and Count of Flanders then passed to Baldwin I, “Iron Arm” (charts 512, 513, 560), and his descendants who then held it for several centuries.  It is a family history that lasts from around 620 to 1716 when the Bamburgh Forster dynasty finally petered out, an impressive total of 1155 years covering some 40 generations.

            Baldwin V went to England as head general in the armies of William the conqueror, Duke of Normandy, early in 1066 and his son, Richard, was on his staff.  Baldwin did not serve his time out as Count of Flanders, but was active in the Battle of Hastings with William, Duke of Normandy, who became William the Conqueror, the first Norman King of England. (Chart 512 & 560 Guillaume I “Le Conquberant” De Normandy)  (For interesting history involving William the Conqueror go to internet under that name)

            Richard was knighted and given large land holdings in Scotland and England.  His descendants include the Forsters of Etherston and Bamborough Castles in Northumberland.

The Forster’s must be regarded as one the great families in the county of Northumberland.  They were awarded numerous knighthoods and at least one baronetcy and are entitled to take their place alongside any other notable family in the county. Namely Comyn “Earl of Buchan”, De Elmendon, De Umfreville, De Etherstone, DE Orde, and De Quincy.

            From early records the family first became established as a dynasty at Adderstone in the parish of Bramburgh, and lived there for 12 generations.  Adderstone (variously known as Ederston, Etherston, Etherstone, and Bramburgh) was their paternal home.

             In their earlier days they were very prolific which makes it difficult to make a complete family tree.  The dates of birth were not always recorded correctly if at all although the dates of death were more accurate.  To confuse the genealogy even more was the use of the given name “Thomas” constantly from generation to generation.  The family did in fact spread over the whole of Northumberland, to Durham, to the West Country, To Essex, to London, and North America.  .          

            The first known basis for the direct Foster line is Alan DeBuckton born about 1190 (chart 503) who was the Head Forester to the Bishop of Durham.  For the next 100 years the De Bucktons continued as foresters to the bishop (chart 502).  Gilbert De Buckton lived in the time of King John and King Henry III (1220-1272).  His son John Forster married Elizabeth De Orde (chart 500).  He was a stout soldier with the Black Prince at the battle of Poietirers in 1357. 

            Thomas Forster who served with Earl Percy at the battle of Otterburne in 1388, married Joan De Elmedon.  She was the co-heir of Thomas De Elmedon and co-heir to Gilbert De Umfreville, the last Earl of Angus (chart 506, 508).  As a result he became the governor of Etherstone.  Their son, Thomas Forster, fought under the Percy banner at Agencourt 25 Oct 1415.

             He was knighted and married Elizabeth Featherstonebaugh of Stanhope Hall, Durham.  This family was of Saxton origin and was seated at Featherstone in Northumberland before the conquest, that part of the country having been allotted to its progenitor, a Saxton officer for his gallant conduct against the Britains.  The house in which the family resided was formerly upon a hill, where there were two stones, featherstones.  The house was destroyed and a new edifice erected under the hill in a valley, which valley was locally dominated a baugh, thence the name fleatherstonebaugh.

             Thomas and Elizabeth had 23 children, 22 boys and one girl.  The second child was Roger Forster who used the spelling of Foster.  His descendants immigrated to America and landed in Virginia.  This is the Foster that spread throughout the Carolinas and the southern part of North America.

             The first child, Thomas, married Jane Hilton (chart 146).  They had seven children.  Their 4th child, Thomas Forster, married Dorothy Ogle.  He died after 4 Mar 1526.  Their son, Thomas, married Frances Wharton, and their son, John Thomas Forster, married Margaret Servington.

            Thomas and Margaret are the parents of Christopher Foster who married Frances Stevens abt 1610.  Christopher and Frances along with three children sailed for America in 1635 aboard the Abagail.  Christopher is the first of the “Long Island Fosters” which is our pedigree.

            For a very interesting monograph about the early Fosters or Forsters, and the relationship between the  English and Scotish families see History of the Forster Family and Clan by Gerry Forster.  Use Google to the web WWW

            In the 10th, 11th,and 12th centuries there were not so many people. As a result the titled families of England, France, Germany and Scandanavia were all related by blood, marriage or conquest.

                         Thomas Forster 1448 married Elizabeth Fetherstonebaugh of Stanhope Hall; Thomas Forster married Elizabeth de Etherstone of Etherstone; Thomas Forster married Joan de Elmedon of Elmedon; (Chart 500) and John Forster  married Elizabeth de Orde of Buckton (Chart 502).  These marriages created a relationship to the de Elmedons, Umfrevilles (Charts 506, 508, 509); the Comyns (Chart 515) and Galloways (Chart 522) as well as the Kings of Scotland and Dukes of Normandy.

             Joan De Elmedon was the daughter of Elizabeth De Umfreville.  Her great great great grandfather, Gilbert De Umfreville married Eliza;beth Comyn (chart 506).  Her great grandfather, Richard Comyn married Hextilda Tynedale whose mother was Bethoc Princess of Scotland (chart 509).  Her father was Donald “Bane” III King of Scotland and the Scottish Kings (charts 517, 530-536).

             Elizabeth Comyn (chart 509) was the root of several pedigrees.  Her great grandfather was Robert De Quency (chart 519) whose great great grandfather was Siward Biornsson whose father was Biorn “Bjorn Ulfiusson “Estridsen” born in Denmark (chart 520) and  follows on to the Danish an Norwegian Kings.       

             Another great great grandfather of Elizabeth Comyn is Rolland of Gallaway (chart 522) whose grandfather was Henry I King of England who married Matilda Princess of Scotland.

             Elizabeth Comyn seems to be related to everyone.  Her great  grandfather, Saher IV De Quency’s great grandmother is Matilda “Maud” Huntington who leads us into the French Dukes ( 540, 550, 560), French Kings, and check our old friend in chart 560 line 28.  Scott and I are the 32nd direct descendant of  Hugues Capet, King of France around 987.