Bonython, Richard (DNB00)

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BONYTHON, RICHARD (1580–1650?), an early American settler, was the second son of John Bonython of Bonython, and was baptised at St. Columb Major on 3 April 1580. His title of ‘captain,’ and a passage in the ‘Winthrop Papers’ (Massachusetts Historical Society, 4th ser. vii.), seem to prove that he served in the French wars with Sir Ferdinando Gorges, who like himself was a west-country man. In 1630 he received a grant of a large tract of land on the east side of the Saco river, in Maine, or, as it was then called, New Somersetshire, and settled on his property in 1631 He was a commissioner under Gorges for the government of Maine in 1636; and when Gorges obtained a royal charter of the province Bonython was named in 1640 one of his council, and acted in that capacity to 1647. His uprightness as a magistrate is the theme of constant pntise, and it is added that he even entered a complaint against his own son, the turbulent John Bonython, who was outlawed for contempt of court, and bore an evil reputation throughout his life. Bonython died about 1650, leaving this son and two daughters. The name is now extinct in America; but the descendants of his daughters are numerous, the poet Longfellow tracing his ancestry back to Bonython's third daughter. The reckless John Bonython is introduced by Whittier as a character in ‘Mogg Megone.’

[Bibl. Cornub. iii. 1083; Folsom's Saco, passim; Willis's Portland, 28, 57-78, 159; Proceedings of Maine Hist. Soc. 25 May 1883; Western Antiquary, i. 200-16.]

W. P. C.