John King1

4th great-grandfather of Ruth Minerva Fairfield.
6th great-grandfather of Laura Jane Munson.
Family Background:
Fairfield and Allied Families
Appears on charts:
Pedigree for Ruth Minerva Fairfield
     John King was born in Kent, England.1 He married Elizabeth Webber on 14 September 1704 in Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts. They were married by Mr. Benjamin Wadsworth.2 Marriage intention of John King and Mary Stowell was published 2 April 1718 at Boston.3,4
     John King came to America in the latter part of the seventeenth century, and lived in Boston.5

     The search for our King ancestry began, and almost ended, with Mary, the wife of William Fairfield. I long suspected that her father's name was Cyrus, because she and William named a son Cyrus King. Though I found a man of that name living in Biddeford, he was too young to be Mary's father. I began to focus on him as a possible brother, but quickly discovered he had a sister of that name who could not possibly have been our Mary. For many years thereafter, I dropped all efforts regarding the Kings.

     The breakthrough came when I posted a query on the Internet and received information that Mary was the daughter of David King and Elizabeth Gray. I was skeptical at first because of Mary King's fourteen children, not one is named David or Elizabeth. Then I found in a DAR Lineage Book that a Miss Italia Italia Evans had joined on both William Fairfield and David King. (Italia was a descendant of William's son Oliver who moved to Fort Wayne, Indiana, at the same time as his brother Asa.) I still couldn't find much on David, but I did locate an Internet site that listed him as a son of John and Mary (Stowell) King. The information is poorly sourced, but having little else to go on, I copied it all down.

     Since then, it has been an ongoing effort to verify that information, and in doing so, I have discovered that we descend from two of David King's children, Mary and Josiah. Mary's grandson, James Monroe Fairfield, married Josiah's granddaughter, Jane Elizabeth Thurber.

     Through baptismal and birth records, our direct line from the immigrant John King is proven. However, there are still questions regarding two of his children, Richard in particular. Following are research notes and conclusions, both mine and those of other researchers.

     By most accounts, John King came to America with a wife and four children and settled in Boston. The wife died soon after, and the children have never been identified. He then married as his second wife, Mary Stowell. They had ten children born in Boston, the oldest being Richard who is identified as their child because it is proven that Mary, David, Josiah, William and Martha King, all proven children of John and Mary (Stowell) King, were his siblings.

     W.H.H. Stowell, in his Stowell Genealogy, names five children by an unnamed first wife. The births of those five children are recorded in the Boston Town Records as the children of John and Elizabeth King. Furthermore, they are the only children recorded in Boston during that time period as children of any John King. The mother of those five children was probably Elizabeth Webber who married a John King in 1704 per Boston records, and is perhaps the Elizabeth King buried in Copse Hill Burying-Ground in Boston: "Here lyes ye body of Elizabeth wife to John King aged about 38 years. d Nov. 29. 1715".

     Stowell also contends that John King had two sons named Richard, one by each of his wives, and that the first Richard died at three years. He goes on to say that there is no doubt that the second Richard is the son of Mary Stowell. He quoted General Horatio King, who was at the time Postmaster General of the United States, as saying to him in a personal conversation, "You know the first King, the immigrant John, born in England, married Mary Stowell and our family have always regarded her as the mother of all the Kings in America and have held her in high esteem on account of her strong character and brilliant intellect and attribute to her the talents possessed by so many of her descendants. That is the reason I take such a warm interest in the Stowell family."

     John King and Mary Stowell had eight children who were baptized at New North Church in Boston, two of whose births are recorded in the town records. There remains two "problem children."

     One account says that Mehitable King was born in 1735 and married John Kneeland. As it turns out, there is a Boston marriage record for Mehitable King and John Kneeland, but the date of their marriage is the same 1735 date given as her date of birth. Mehitable could not have been born before 1722 if she was a daughter of Mary Stowell as claimed, and it is highly unlikely that she married at 13 years. Stowell says that Martha married second in 1772, John Kneeland. There were a number of John Kneelands in early New England, and if Stowell is correct, Martha's second husband was probably not the same as in the 1735 marriage record, but was perhaps a son. Because there are few Kings in the Boston town records for the time period in question, it is possible, perhaps probable, that Mehitable King who married John Kneeland in 1735 was related. A guess is that she was John King's sister, or perhaps a widowed sister-in-law. I am not at all convinced that John even had a daughter named Mehitable, but if he did, that would be fairly convincing evidence that the older Mehitable was closely related.

     That leaves only Richard, the son who by almost every account was the son of John King and Mary Stowell. There has been more interest in him than in all the others because of the prominence of many of his descendants. Supposedly he was 57 or in his 57th year when he died. If correct, he was born in 1718 or 1719. John King and Mary Stowell married after 2 April 1718 when marriage intentions were published, and Mary was born 14 months later. Therefore, a 1718 birthdate is impossible unless Richard was conceived well in advance of his parent's marriage. A 1719 birthdate is likewise impossible unless he and Mary were twins. That seems unlikely, however, because Mary's birth and baptism are recorded, and Richard's are not. It seems a reasonable possibility that he was the son Richard by the first marriage and W.H.H. Stowell was mistaken about his death, or that he was Mary Stowell's child, but younger than stated when he died. If younger, 1722 is the earliest possible birth year. He first appears in the records in 1744, so he would have been of age.

     There is one other interesting possibility, but it doesn't work if Elizabeth King who is buried at Copse Hill was the first wife. A John King married in Boston 23 March 1713/14, Sarah Allen. They were married by "Rev. Mr. Sam. Miles Presbt." This is the only other John King marriage found in Boston records between 1700 and 1718. Perhaps it has been discounted by researchers because this couple was married by a Presbyterian minister. Presbyterians were generally Scots or Scots-Irish, and this was about the time the Scots-Irish began to immigrate to America in large numbers. No children are recorded in Boston for a John and Sarah King, but it should not be dismissed as a possibility that our John married three times, and that Richard was a son by the second marriage.

     It's interesting that no one past or present seems to question the seemingly impossible 1718 birthdate (providing he was Mary Stowell's child) of Richard. However, for the time being, I am leaving him where other researchers have placed him with hope that in the future something will turn up to prove or disprove he was the child of Mary Stowell.

Children of John King and Elizabeth Webber

Children of John King and Mary Stowell


  1. [S716] William Henry Harrison Stowell, Stowell Genealogy; A Record of the Descendants of Samuel Stowell of Hingham, Mass (Rutland: The Tuttle Company, 1922), 49.
  2. [S729] Massachusetts Registry Department Boston, compiler, Boston Marriages from 1700 to 1751 (Boston: Municiple Print, 1898), 11.
  3. [S716] William Henry Harrison Stowell, Stowell Genealogy, 49, citing Boston Marriage Records, "John King, Int. marriage, 2 April 1718 to Mary Stowell of Newton."
  4. [S729] Massachusetts Registry Department Boston, Boston Marriages, 1700-1751, 97, Marriage Intentions , 1711-1720, "John King of Boston & Mary Stowel of Newtown."
  5. [S728] Charles R. King, "Richard King", Maine Historical and Genealogical Recorder 1:3 (1884): 152.
  6. [S718] Thomas Bellows Wyman, New North Church Records, Boston, 1714-1799 (n.p.:, 1867).
  7. [S716] William Henry Harrison Stowell, Stowell Genealogy, 53.