Person:Richard Borden (4)

Richard Borden
m. abt 1590
  1. Richard Borden1595/96 - 1671
  2. John Borden1606/7 - abt 1636
  • HRichard Borden1595/96 - 1671
  • WJoan Fowle1604 - 1688
m. 28 Sep 1625
  1. Francis Borden1628 - 1705
  2. Mary Borden1631 - 1690
  3. Matthew Borden1638 - 1708
  4. John Borden1640 - 1716
  5. Joseph Borden1642/43 -
  6. Sarah Borden1644 -
  7. Samuel Borden1645 -
  8. Benjamin Borden1649 - 1728
  9. Amie Borden1653 - 1683/84
  10. Thomas Borden - 1676
Facts and Events
Name Richard Borden
Gender Male
Christening[2][4] 22 Feb 1595/96 Headcorn, Kent, EnglandPrimary source needed
Marriage 28 Sep 1625 Englandto Joan Fowle
Alt Marriage 28 Sep 1625 Headcorn, Kent, Englandto Joan Fowle
Immigration[1][9] 1635 Massachusetts, United States
Burial[6] 25 May 1671 Portsmouth, Newport, Rhode Island, United StatesFriend's Cemetery
Will[8] 25 May 1671 will proved
Obituary? Indirect Primary Source

Much of the following is based on Weld, 1899, Glenn, 1901, and Crapo 1912:254-260. Both Weld and Glenn appear to have consulted primary records, but verification and validation of most of the information given here is needed. A list of other genealogies for this line is included under Bibliography, and need to be examined for additional data.


Richard Borden of Aquidneck


Persons of Interest

Benjamin Borden (1)
Benjamin Borden (4)
Richard Borden (4)

Source Materials


Birth and Ancestry

Richard Borden was born in Headcorn, Kent County, England, baptized February 22, 1595-6 , and married September 28, 1625, in the parish church at Headcorn to Joan Fowle. He was the son of Matthew Borden of Headcorn, who left a considerable estate. Matthew was the son of Thomas Borden, who died in 1592, and Joan, his wife, who lived until 1620. Thomas was the son of William Borden, who died in 1557, and his wife, Joan. William was the son of Edmund Borden, who died in 1539, and Margaret, his wife. Edmund was the son of William Borden, who died in 1531, and Joan, his wife. William was the son of John Borden, who died in 1469. John was the son of Thomas, who also died in 1469. Thomas was the son of Henry Borden, who was born about 1370 and died in 1480. It is probable that he was of the family of Bordens of Borden, a parish some twelve miles distant from Hedcorn, where he lived.[10]


After marriage Richard and Joan removed to the parish of Cranbrook, where they were living in 1628. The couple immigrated to America sometime before 1638, possibly in the company of other family members. On the 13th of May, 1635, a John Borden age 28, appears on a "certificate conformitie" from the minister of "Bennandin" (als Biddenden) in Kent presented to Roger Cooper/Cowper Master of the "Eliza and Ann" [als Elizabeth and Ann] before sailing to Boston. The certificate of conformity demonstrated that he conformed "to the orders and discipline of the Church of England" [See Certificate of Conformity]. It is believed that this John Borden, born 1607 (according to the certificate) was Richards younger brother. Headcorn, Cranbrook, and Biddenden are located within a few miles of each other in Kent, and the speculation of the relationship between Richard and John seems plausible. Some believe that Richard came in this same ship, but does not appear on this list because he was a Quaker, and thus could not swear conformity, as Quakers refused to swear oaths of any kind. The presumption is that he made a private arrangement with the ships captain, and thus did not appear on any of the paperwork. While possible, this is not likely to be precisely true. Richard could not have been a Quaker in 1635 as that faith was not founded until 1652. It is possible that he was unwilling to swear the Oath of Conformity as that might have been false swearing, but he did not refuse the oath because he was a Quaker. Richard later joined with the Quakers, but this conversion could not have occurred until after 1652. That he was at death a Quaker is attested to by the fact that he is buried in a Quaker cemetery in Rhode Island. As far as whether or not Richard was on the Eliza and Ann, this has to be speculative at best. It may be true, but there seems no data to support this speculation.

Location of Headcorn, Cranbrook, and Biddenden in Kent England
Location of Headcorn, Cranbrook, and Biddenden in Kent England

To Rhode Island. Richard did not stay long in the Massahuesetts Bay Colony. In the early spring of 1638 Richard settled in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, near the landing place of what has since been known as the Bristol Ferry. The timing of this move suggests that the relocation was in response to religious persecution. The Anabaptist Ann Hutchinson (1591-1643) had been banished from the colony in March of that year.

In March 1638, the First Church in Boston conducted a religious trial. They accused Hutchinson of blasphemy. They also accused her of "lewd and licivious conduct" for having men and women in her house at the same time during her Sunday meetings. This religious court found her guilty and voted to excommunicate her from the Puritan Church for dissenting from Puritan orthodoxy. [11]

Sometime previous to this

Mr. John Clark, an eminent physician, made a proposal to his friends to remove out of a jurisdiction so full of bigotry and intolerance....Mr. Clark was now in the 29th year of his age. He was requested, with some others, to look out for a place where they might enjoy unmolested the sweets of religious freedom. Benedict, 1848:462-464.

Initially this group considered moving north to New Hampshire, but were detered by the severity of the winter. They then considered relocation to New Netherlands, thinking of either the Long Island area, or perhaps New Sweden on the Delaware Bay.

So, having sought the Lord for direction, they agreed that, while their vessel was passing about Cape Cod, they would cross over the land, ....At Providence they were kindly received by Mr. Williams, and being consulted about their designs, he readily presented two places before them—Sowams, now called Harrington, and Aquidneck, now Rhode Island. And inasmuch as they were determined to go out of every other jurisdiction, Mr. Williams and Mr. Clark, attended with two other persons, went to Plymouth to inquire how the case stood—-the Plymouth people informed them that Sowams was the garden of their patent. But they were advised to settle at Aquidneck and promised to be looked on as free, and to be treated and assisted as loving neighbors...On their return, the 7th of March, 1638, the men, to the number of eighteen, incorporated themselves a body politic...Benedict, 1848:462-464.

The "body politic" referred to above by Benedict included:

William Coddington, John Clark, William Hutchinson
John Coggshall William Aspinwall Thomas Savage
William Dyre William Freeborne Philip Shearman
John Walker Richard Carder William Baulstone
Edward Hutchinson Edward Hutchinson, Jun. Samuel Wilbore
John Sanford John Porter Henry Bull

The third man listed above, William Hutchinson is presumably the same William Hutchinson who married Anne Hutchinson, who was banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony in this same month of March. From this it appears that these men on the list were probably followers of Anne, and as a group had recognized the outcome of the conflict with the authorities in Massachuesetts, seeking other alternatives well before the outcome of the trial was known. In any case, it appears that by the time Anne was banished, her followers had already laid the ground work for a new settlement in Rhode Island, selecting Aquidneck as their future home.

Richard Borden is not listed among the founders of Aquidneck, but it is clear he came to the area very shortly after the others. It seems likely that his going from Massachusetts was driven by the same intolerance that drove Anne Hutchinson and her followers. Perhaps he was a follower of Anne as well, or perhaps he just shared some of her beliefs.


The place first selected for the settlement was about half a mile southeast from Bristol Ferry, at the south end of a pond that opened into Mt. Hope Bay, which the settlers dignified by the name of Portsmouth Harbor. The pond still retains the name of the town pond, and ebbs and flows as it did then. The town spring has not ceased to send forth its crystal stream, as in days of yore, to gladden the hearts of men, notwithstanding the crowd of settlers have turned their backs upon it, and left it alone in its glory. To the northeast of the spring a neck of land extends about two miles, which was nearly separated by creeks, marshes and the town pond from the rest of the island.
This strip of land, called by the natives Pocasset Neck, was set off by the settlers as a common by running a fence from the south end of the pond to a cove on the east side of the island. This common was called the fenced common, to distinguish it from the lands outside to the south and west of it, which were all common; and the north point then received the name of common fence point, which it still bears, though the reason for its name ceased soon after it was given, and it is now a matter of wonder with many how this name could have originated.
In 1639 the settlers concluded to change their location for another about one and one-half miles farther south, on the east side of the island which they called Newtown. There they laid out house lots for a numerous settlement, but the speedy division of the island into farms soon absorbed all the population then in Portsmouth, and the settlement at Newport this year attracted a large portion of the emigrants to that locality...This town was not laid out on the narrow, contracted, miserly plan of modern speculators. To every citizen was meted out a lot of five acres on which to place his cottage, cabbage and turnip yard...[From Weld, 1899:36]
From Blaskowitz and Faden 1777, showing the location of the original Aquidneck community, and the village of Portsmouth. See also Media:Narraganset Bay Blaskowitz 1777.jpgfor overall setting
From Blaskowitz and Faden 1777, showing the location of the original Aquidneck community, and the village of Portsmouth. See also Media:Narraganset Bay Blaskowitz 1777.jpgfor overall setting

Richards Life in Rhode Island

On 20 May of 1638 Richard was admitted as an inhabitant of the settlement on Aquidneck, where he was allotted a house lot of five acres. The same month his son Matthew was born, the first child of English parentage born on the island. In October, 1638, he signed the civil compact and took the freeman's oath.

I, Richard Borden, being in God's providence an inhabitant within the jurisdiction of this commonwealth, do freely acknowledge myself to be subject to the government thereof. And therefore do here swear by the great and dreadful name of the Everlasting God that I will be true and faithful to the same with my person and estate, as in equity I am bound, and will also truly endeavor to maintain and preserve all the liberties and privileges thereof, submitting myself to the same. And further, that I will not plot or practice any evil against it, or consent to any that shall do so, but will timely discover and reveal the same to lawful authority now here established for the speedy prevention thereof. Moreover I do solemnly bind myself in the sight of God, that when I shall be called to give my voice touching any such matter of this state in which freemen are to deal, I will give my vote and suffrage as I shall judge in mine own conscience may best conduce and tend to the Publike weal of the Body, so help me God in the Lord, Jesus Christ. [Weld, 1899:37]

Shortly after the first settlement, some of the original settlers, includig Richard, moved to a location half way down the island to called "Newtown", now the village of Portsmouth. Richard took a leading part in the activities of the new settlement. During his life he acted for the town in many capacities, especially in the matter of laying out lands and settling land disputes. He was first chosen to the town council in 1649, and served many times thereafter. In 1654 he was chosen General Treasurer of the Colony. In 1656 and from 1667 to 1670, he was a Deputy to the General Assembly. Richard acquired property in Rhode Island, Massachuesetts, and in New Jersey. His home in Portsmouth is described as being substantial. In short, at his death on 25 May, 1671 [See Obituary] he was possessed of substantial wealth. His noncupative will was probated 31 May 1671. According to his obituary:

Richard Borden of Portsmouth, R. I., being one of the first planters of Rhode Island, lived about seventy years and then died at his own house, belonging to Portsmouth. He was buried on the burial ground given by Robert Dennis to the Friends, which is in Portsmouth, and lieth on the left hand of the way that goeth from Portsmouth to Newport, upon the 25th day of the 3rd month, 1671 [See Obituary from "Friends Records".]

Joan survived her husband for seventeen years, dying July 15, 1688. The records of the Friends' monthly meeting at Newport say of Joan that "she lived long enough to see all her children confirmed in what she believed to be the truth, and in dying she must have had a happy consciousness that they would do honor to their parental training." [Primary source needed].

Religious LIfe. Those who believe that Richard came to the Masschusetts Bay Colony in 1635 on the Eliza and Ann, typically explain away the fact that he does not appear on the ship list (as does his brother John) by saying that he made a private arrangement with the ships captain. The need for such an arrangement is said to be the fact that he was a Quaker, and could not swear the Oath of Conformity then required. Since Quakerism was not founded until 1652, the idea that he was already a Quaker in 1635 is clearly not true. It might be possible that he did not appear on the same list as his brother because he was in fact a non-conformist. However, there's nothing that can be pointed to that supports the idea that he was in fact on the "Eliza and Ann", and at this point speculation about his possible non-conformist views is just that, speculative.

However, given the fact that he moved to Rhode Island shortly after the founding of the Aquidneck community in 1638 by followers of Ann Hutchinson, suggests that he was indeed a non-conformist, and probably an Anabaptist. At sometime after his settlement at Aquidick Richard apparently adopted the Quaker faith, which also shared Hutchinson's Anabaptist views. Certainly he was buried in a Quaker cemetery at this death in 1671, and his children are said to have all followed the Quaker faith. When he converted is not clear. However, it probably dates at the earliest to 1657 when Mary Dyer (wife of one of the original founders of Aquidneck) returned from England from a visit, where she had been converted to Quakerism. Dyer was eventually martyred in Boston for her faith, but ws probably responsible for establishing Quaker views in Rhode Island where she lived with her husband William Dyer.

Land Holdings. Richard Borden aquired substantial lands in both Rhode Island, and later in the Monmouth Plantation. A summary of his land holdings is found in the accompanying Notebook

Civic Life. The following provides a tabulation of civic records for Richard Borden culled from various tertiary sources (e.g, Source:Crapo, 1912. The underlying primary sources are needed (final column). Most probably come from civic records of Rhode Island, and/or Quaker Records for the area, neither of which has been examined.


Date Role or eventPrimary Source
May 20 1638 admitted an inhabitant of the Island of Aquidneck, having submitted himself to the government that is, or shall be established
October 1, 1638 signed the civil compact
2nd day of the 11th month, 1638 he was appointed on a committee to lay out all the farming lands in Portsmouth.
1639, January 2He and three others were appointed to survey all lands near about, and to bring in a map or plot of said lands.
1640He was appointed with four others to lay out lands in Portsmouth.
1641, March 16listed as a freeman at Portsmouth, Newport County, Rhode Island
1643-1644 represented Portsmouth when Portsmouth Newport Providence and Warwick crepresentatives met to effect a union. The result was the establishment of "The Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations," in 1644
1653, May 18He and seven others were appointed a committee for ripening matters that concern Long Island, and in the case concerning the Dutch.
1653-54Assistant Treasurer/Assistant to the town Portsmouth, Newport County, Rhode Island.
1654-55General Treasurer.
1661, September 6He bought of Shadrack of Providence, land in Providence near Newtokonkonut Hill, containing about 60 acres.
1665Richard was one of the group who went together to purchase land in the Navasink Highlands of New Jersey, from the Native Americans. He aquired three shares, which he apparently gave to his sons, Francis, Samuel, and Benjamin, as they eventually relocated there.


Things worth pursueing

  1. Thomas Allen Glenn, 1901. Pedigree of Richard Borden, Philadelphia, 617 Witherspoon Building, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Printed for Private Distribution; LDS Family History library Film 0990349.
  2. Hattie Borden Weld, 1899. "Richard Borden and his wife Joan Fowler", Los Angeles. Also given by some as "Albany, NY, Josel Munsell". FHL film 512
  3. Johnston, Richard Borden & Descendants. This work is occassionally cited by some authors, who give no further substantive bibliographic information. Johnson may be may be Harry Ferris Johnson, who is also occassionally cited, and seems to have worked in the later 1930's and 1940's. The notation "Your Ancestors, a National Magazine of Genealogy and Family History' (Buffalo, NY, Harry Ferris Johnston 1947-1959) Part 14. FHL film 1,597,740". is sometimes given. Johnston may have been the editor of this magazine.
  4. James N. Arnold 1895. 'Vital Record of Rhode Island 1636-1850,' 1st series Providence, R I
  5. Genealogy of Borden Family of Shrewsbury, NJ, 1370-1868,' typescript of 'Borden Scrapbook' & family papers in possession of Charles F. Borden, Shrewsbury, NJ, 1952. FHL film 858,787, item 6.
  6. G. Andrews Moriarty. 1930. "The Bordens of Headcorn, Co. Kent." New England Historical and Genealogical Record, pp. 225-228.
  7. J.A. Kelly. 1931. "Benjamin Borden, Shenandoah Valley Pioneer: Notes on His Ancestry and Descendants." William & Mary Coll. Quart. Hist. Mag. 11: 325-329 (republ. 1982 as pp. 399-403 in Genealogies of Virginia Families. Genealogical Publ. Co., Baltimore; Broderbund CD-186).
  8. Moriarty, G. Andrews. “Genealogical Research in England: Fowle-Borden,” NEHGR 75 (1921): 227-33.
  9. ———. “Genealogical Research in England: The Bordens of Headcorn, co. Kent,” NEHGR 84 (1930): 70-84, 225-29.
  10. Roberts, George Braden. Genealogy of Joseph Peck and some related families, including the Bordens, the Fowles ... [etc.]. Washington, D.C., 1955.
  11. Anderson, Robert Charles. “A Note on the Gay-Borden Families in Early New England,” NEHGR 130 (1976): 35-.
Image Gallery
  1. Certificate of Conformity, 13 May 1635, 13 May 1635.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Crapo, H.H. Certain Comeoverers, 254-260, 1912.
  3.   Milliken, Charles F. A history of Ontario County, New York, and its people. (New York: Lewis Historical Pub. Co., 1911), 1911.

    Provides an explanation for identifying Thomas Borden, son of Richard, as Thomas Barden, of Ontario County, NY

  4. William Nelson. New Jersey biographical and genealogical notes from the volumes of the New Jersey archives: with additions and supplements. (Genealogical Pub. Co, 1973), 40.

    provides genealogical data of the family and descendants of Richard Borden=Joane Fowle. Data for New Jersey portions based on archival records, but specific records are not cited for specific information. Unknown provenance for data in other areas. The discussion of Richard Borden's family is quite similar to many presentations found in genealogical treatments on the web

  5.   Noncupitative Will of Richard Borden 25 May 1671, 25 Nat 1671.

    His (non cupitative) will was proven May 25, 1671, by the town council on testimony concerning the wishes of the deceased. Source:Nelson, William, 1916

  6. Rhode Island Friends, in Arnold, James N. Vital Record of Rhode Island, 1636–1850: First series, births, marriages and deaths. A family register for the people. (Narragansett Hist. Publ. Co., 1891), 89.

    BORDEN, Richard, one of the first planters, aged 70 years, buried in ground given by Robert Dinnes to the Friends, Portsmouth, May 25, 1671.

  7. Various values are given by different secondary sources for Richard's DOB. In lineages on, DOB's generally range from 1593 to 1603, but some give his DOB as late as 1640. Most lineages (346/750) use the Christening date of 22 Feb 1594/1595 as his DOB, but a substantial number (101/750) use a date of c1601. This seems to be based on obituary in which it was stated that he was about 70 years of age at death. Since he died in 1671, that would make his DOB c1601.
  8. see MySource:Noncupitative Will of Richard Borden 25 May 1671 fide Person:Richard Barden (1); primary source needed.
  9. Date of immigration is based on widespread belief that Richard immigrated with his brother John Borden, who appeared with his family on the passenger list of the Eliza and Ann of London, Roger Cowper, Master, in May of 1635. The explanation given as to why Richard himself, and his family do not appear on the same list, is because the list is based on "Conformity Letters", requiring an oath that the persons followed Church of England practices. The reasoning goes on that Richard, as a Quaker, could not swear such an oath, and in anycase did not follow Church of England practices. Therefore, he could not appear on the list with his Non-Quaker brother. Whether this is true or not is another question. Certainly Richard was buried in a Quaker cemetery, and he and his family appear on Quaker records in Rhode Island, but he could not have been a Quaker as early as this, since the Quaker faith was not founded until 1652. Thet relocation to Rhode Island in May of 1638 was coincident with the banishment of the Anabaptist Anne Hutchinson. Richard and his family may have been followers of Anne, and hence Anabaptists rather than Quakers. That still might have prevented him from taking the Oath of conformity, since in truth as an Anabaptist he could not have sworn to uphold the teachings of the Church of England. But in this event, his absence on the Conformity list would because he could not swear to oaths in general, but because in good concsious he could not swear to this particular oath. Ultimately, while there's a certain appeal to this explanation as to why he doesn't appear on the passenger list with his brother, this has the feeling of a "just so" explanation, not founded in specific facts. Overall, the explanation that he came on a different ship altogether, at a different date seems more plausible.
  10. The foregoing was taken from Crapo 1912:254-260, who cites Glenn, 1901. Glenn appears to have consulted relevant primary records from Kent County England in developing the forgoing lineage. It would be useful to review his presentation in detail, to verify and confirm his information, and the relationships described. Bill 13:18, 8 November 2007 (EST)
  11. Anne Hutchinson, in Wikipedia