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1. ?JAMES-

m. ELIZABETH ______ Issue-

  • ?2I. JAMES- bpt. 10 Feb. 1633/4 Slapton, Devon, m. SARAH ?NUTE, will 14 Oct. 1697- 24 June 1698

    2I. JAMES (JAMES 1)

    bpt. ?10 Feb. 1633/4 Slapton, Devon (1)
    m. SARAH ?NUTE- d. of James Nute
    will 14 Oct. 1697- 24 June 1698

    The eminent genealogist Dr. Charles E. Banks was of the opinion that the James Buncker baptised in 1634 in Slapton, Devon, son of James and Elizabeth Buncker is our James Bunker the immigrant. (1) From a deposition given in 1678 he gave his age as 50, however, at this time most people did not know or care what their exact age was and this was probably an approximation.(2) I'm a bit skeptical that James of Slapton is the same as James of Kittery and Dover as he appears as a member of the Coroner's Jury examining Charles Frost concerning the death of Warwick Heard at Eliot 24 March 1646/7.(3) Not something that a 13 year old would be expected to do! Actually, to be a member of a coroner's inquest suggests that by 1647 he was of age, or at least age 17, implying that he was born prior to 1630 and probably prior to 1626. Bette Bunker Richards in her article on the family states that: "Boys as young as 14 and 15 were allowed to vote at the time. They could also serve on coroner's juries. All 17 year old males were allowed to vote. The lines defining when a male reached his majority were blurred."(17) However, in my experience this was very much the exception and not the rule in New England at the time, particularly outside the aristocracy. Another possiblity for his father is James the son of Nicholas and Elizabeth Bunker of Blackawton. However no records have been found to substantiate this either. Nicholas was the brother of William also of Blackawton, born in Rattery, son of Gregory Buncker. The whole family moved from Rattery to Blackawton and then to the neighboring parish of Slapton about 1640. They then returned to Blackawton.

    We do know that our James lived at the home of Mrs. Trueworthy in Kittery c.1648-9 and was employed by the widow Catherine Shapleigh Treworgy at that time when Ellingham hired the Shapleigh Mills at Sturgeon Creek.(4) It's also possible that James was an apprentice to the Shapleighs or perhaps worked as a ship's boy on one of their vessels. James was indicted on 14 Oct. 1651 with Nicholas Frost, William Ellingham and others for conspiring to steal from Mr. Shapleigh. The theft supposedly occurred in 1648 when he was living in Kittery and was an employee of the Shapleighs. There was a resolution against the others, however, nothing is found concerning James, suggesting that the charge was dropped.

    James then moved to Dover, NH where he appears on the census of 1648 and where he witnessed a deed in 1652.(5) James, along with William Follett, received a grant of 236 acres between Bunker's Creek and Johnson's Creek in Dover on 10 Aug. 1653.(6) He signed the Dover Petition against the Patentees in 1654(7) and before the end of 1655 he took oath of fidelity (8). He was on the Grand Jury 30 June 1657 (9), and on the Dover tax list on 21 July 1657.(10) He signed the petition to be freed of the jurisdiction of Massachusetts on 26 July 1665. (11)

    In 1675 James built "Bunker's Garrison" which was successfully defended against an Indian attack on 17 July 1694.(12) Two soldiers were assigned to his garrison and he was paid £5/6/0 for their upkeep between 25 July 1693 and 24 Nov. 1694. And on 8 Apr. 1696 he was paid £5/8/0 for the upkeep of the Massachusetts soldiers posted at his garrison. In 1697 he had one soldier assigned to Bunker's Garrison.

    In 1676 James was appointed one of the administrators of the estate of William Roberts (13) and on 16 Feb. 1679 he was on the list of persons qualified to vote for a representative to appear at Portsmouth and was elected a representative along with James Nute Jr. 16 Mar. 1679/0. (14) He signed a petition for Oyster River to be a township in 1695. (15)

    Sarah and their son John were witnesses to John Knight's will on 11 Nov. 1694: "John Bunker, Sarah Bunker, & Mary Hanson being at the house of John Knight of Dover upon the 11th day of Novembr 1694 to vissitt him in his sickness-". (18)

    "In the name of God Amen The 14th of October I the year of [ ] God 1697 In the ninth yeare of the Reigne of our Lord King William the third King of England Scotland France and Ireland Defender of the ffaith

    James Buncker of oyster River (Planter) In the Province of New Hampshire Being well strucken in Adge and weak in body [ ]

    I imprimus I give and bequeath to my well beloved son Jams Bunker Junr ffrom this day forward one halfe of the Plantation he now lives upon that is to say the house and land after my decease and my wife Sarah Buncker I doe gve to my son James Buncker whom I lickwise Constetute make and ordaine my only & Sole Executor of this my last will and Testament all and singulor my lands, & Meseagements and Tenaments by him to be ffreely possesed and Injoyed after I and my wif Sarah decease:

    Item I give to my well beloved son Joseph Buncker ten shillings I give to my well beloved son John Bucker five shillings and as touching any other Estat as Moveabell which shall be left after ye Decease of myselfe and my wife Sarah I Doe give it to be Equalley Devided Amongst all our Children and I doe here by uterly disalow, Revoake & Disanull all and Every other fformer Testaments, wills, Legeses, requests, Executors by me in any wise by me before this time named willed and bequeathed; Retifying and Confirmeing this and no other to be my last Will and Testament In Witness whereoff I have hereunto set my hand and Seale ye Day and year above wrighten.

    his mark
    James X Bunkcer

    Signed Sealed, Published pronounced and Declared by sd James Buncker as his last will and testament in the presents of us the Subscribers.

    Andrew Pepperell Senr
    Andrew Pepperell
    Willm Pepperell"
    Proved 24 June 1698

    The inventory was submitted 22 June 1698 and was £86 and was signed by John Woodman and Joseph Smith. (16)

    James' wife was named Sarah as noted and the "Genealogical Dictionary of Maine & New Hampshire" states that she was the daughter of James Nute. However, Edward Moran states in his genealogy that he could not find any evidence of this and he inquired of the author of the GDMNH for proof, however, he received none. However, the only Sarah living in the area of Oyster River at the time that did not marry another was Sarah Nute whose family lived near the Bunkers. The fact that James' will was witnessed by three Pepperells has led Col. Paul Bunker to question if Sarah might have been a Pepperell, however, Sarah Pepperell married another and besides, she was not the right age to be married to James. The Pepperells witnessed many documents at the time and they probably wrote many of them as well.


  • I. Mary- b.c.1664, m. Sept. 1683 Thomas Drew (b.c. 1662, son of William and Elizabeth Drew), d. 1738 Durham, NH
  • 3II. JAMES- b.c.1665 Durham, NH, m.1. before 1700 ANNE THOMAS (3), 2. Martha Downes (m.2. 1722 John Mackellroy), d. 1722 Dover, NH
  • III. Joseph- b.c.1666, m. Mary ______, Adm. 29 July 1717 Oyster River (Durham)
  • IV. John- b.c.1667, m. 1695 Dorcas Field, d. 8 July 1707


    (1) "Topographical dictionary of 2885 English Emigrants to New England 1620-1650"- Dr. Charles E. Banks- p. 27
    (2) Genealogical Dictionary of Maine and New Hampshire- p 119
    (3) Maine Province & Court Records- Vol. 1, p. 108
    (4) Ibid- p. 164; Pioneers on Maine Rivers, with Lists to 1651- W.D. Spencer, 1930- p. 112
    (5) New Hampshire Province Deed- Vol. 1, p. 86
    (6) NH Provincial Deed- Vol. 5, pp. 220-1; History of Durham- Vol 1, p. 64
    (7) NH State Papers- Vol. 1, p. 212
    (8) NEHGR- Vol. 4, p. 247
    (9) NH Provincial Deeds- Vol. 2, p. 15A
    (10) NEHGR- Vol. 4, p. 248
    (11) NH State Papers- Vol. 17, p. 513
    (12) NEHGR- Vol. 5, p. 452; Proceedings of the Dover Historical Society- Vol. 5, p. 240
    (13) NH State Papers- Vol. 31, p. 170
    (14) Ibid- Vol. 19, p. 660
    (15) NH Provincial Papers- Vol. 9, p. 235
    (16) New Hampshire State Papers- Vol. 31, pp. 432-3; New Hampshire Provicial Probate Records- Vol. 2, p. 47
    (17) Article prepared 14 Jan 2009 by Bette Bunker Richards at:
    (18) NH State Papers- Vol. 31, pp. 397-8

    Bunker Genealogy: Ancestry and Descendants of Benjamin 3 (James 2, James 1) Bunker- Edward Carleton Moran Jr., Rockland, 1942- p. 7
    The Early Marriages of Strafford County, N.H., 1630-1850- unknown author, n.p. 1991- p. 47.
    M.D.I. History and Genealogy at:\.
    A Genealogical Dictionary or The first Settlers of New England showing Three Generations or Those who came Before May, 1692 on the Basis of Farmer's Register- James Savage, 1862- vol. 1, p. 299


    b.c.1665 Durham, NH
    m.1. before 1700 ANNE THOMAS- d. of James and Martha (Goddard) Thomas (3)
    2. Martha Downes (m.2. 1722 John Mackellroy), d. of Thomas and Mary (Lord) Downes
    d. 1722 Dover, NH

    James was granted land by town of Dover in 1694. (1). He participated in the defense of the Bunker Garrison against the Indian attack on 17 July 1694. James and his father and brother Joseph signed the petition to make Oyster River a township in 1695. (2)

    James was the constable for Dover in 1698, rendering his account to the Council and General Assembly at Portsmouth on 14 Aug. 1701 (4).

    James was authorized to receive claims against William Follett's estate and signed the inventory on 7 Aug. 1705. (5). On 28 Mar. 1707 Nicholas and Mary Follett of Portsmouth deeded to him the Follett portion of the "Land granted in joynt" on 10 Aug. 1653 by the town of Dover to his father and William Follett. (6).

    The will of Robert Huckins, 9 Jan. 1719/0, named his wife Welthean (Thomas) and made "my brother-in-law James Bunker the Sole Executor hereof untill My Eldest Son James Huckins Shall be of Age". (7).

    James died in 1722 and a court fight began among the family. The New Hampshire Provincial Court file states that "in or about the year 1722 he died intestate, leaving James the plaintiff his eldest son and his only sons Joseph, Benjamin, Clement and elijah and his daughter Love now Love Millett and Patience his heirs."(8) The administration of his estate was granted to his sons James and Joseph, both of Dover, on 5 May 1724. The inventory of the estate being valued at £977/6/0 on 22 May 1724. (9) Articles of Agreement between Martha Mackelroy "widow relict of James Bunker late of Dover" and "James Bunker and Joseph Bunker both of Dover, administrators of estate of their late father James Bunker," in which she agreed "to maintain the child she hath had by the aforesaid deceased," were signed 8 Dec. 1725 (10).

    "Articles of Agreement made and Concluded upon This Eighth day of Decembr in the Twelfth Year of the Reign of our Soveraign Lord George by the Grace of God of Great Britain France & Ireland King Defendr of the Faith &c Annoq Domini 1725

    Between Martha Bunker of Dover in the Province of New Hampr Widdow relict of James Bunker late of Dover aforesd Yeoman Deceased of the one part And James Bunker and Joseph Bunker both of Dover aforesd Administrators on the Estate of their late Father James Bunker Aforesaid of the Other part

    Imprimis The said James Bunker and Joseph Bunker for themselves their Heirs Executrs and adminrs promise and oblige themselves to and with the Said Martha Bunker, That she shall have the use of two Ground Rooms in the Western End of the Late Dwelling House of the said Deceased and also of the Cellar under Said Ground rooms, and also the Improvement of a piece or Tract of Land of the sd Deceaseds Known or Called by the name of the Litle field, bounded as followeth vizt Beginning at a pitch pine Tree Near the head of the long Creek and runs down by the High way till it comes to the Gully that runs into Said Creek where the old House Stood, and the Channell of the said Creek to be the Bounds, And also Liberty to pasture five Cows, on the other Lands of the Deceased aforesd and Liberty of fetching watter from ye sd Decds Well and of Cutting & fetching wood for her owne use, off of ye sd Deceaseds Land, all which beforementioned Priviledges & Liberty the Said Martha Bunker is to Enjoy during her Natural Life in her own person or Assigns

    Secondly The aforesd James Bunker and Joseph Bunker promise & oblige themselves as aforesd That the said Martha Bunker shall Enjoy That one Third part of the aforesd Deceased's personal Estate which she hath already received. As her own proper Estate & her Heirs for Ever, and Also one Third part of all ye Debts due to the Said Deceased

    In Consideration of all which the Said Martha Bunker Releases to the aforesaid James Bunker and Joseph Bunker in their aforesd Capacity, all her Right of Dowry and Power of Thirds in & unto the aforesd Deceaseds Estate, and promise and obligeth her self her Heirs Executrs and Adminrs to maintain the Child she hath had by the aforesd Decd without any Charge to the Said Deceaseds Estate untill the sd Child comes of Age, And also to maintain & keep in good Repair one Third part of ye out fences on the Said Deceaseds homestead, and also pay one Third part of ye debts due from ye Sd Deceased-

    And for the True performance of all the foregoing Articles each party bind themselves Their Heirs Executrs and Adminrs each unto the other in the Sum of four Hundred pounds Currant money of New England

    In Testimony whereof the parties have hereunto Sett their hands & Seals the day & year first abovementioned

    Signed Sealed and Delivd in prsence of

    John Mackellroy
    martha X mackelroy
    James bunker
    Joseph bunker" (9)

    James' seven children were listed in the division of his estate 15 may 1759. Obviously the children were a long time arriving at an agreement on division of their father's estate. Attached to this deed is a map showing the division among James, Joseph, Clement and Love (Bunker) Millett as James had previously bought out the interests of Benjamin, Elijah and his sister Patience (Bunker) Drew. (12)

    Martha Critchett (who was the Martha Goddard who married James Thomas and secondly Elias Critchett) divided her estate which she inherited from "my own father Jno Goddard," and bequeathed to the "children of my daughter Ann Bunker," the first wife of James Bunker, Jr., by deed 4 Aug. 1729. (11)

    Issue- all children by Anne

  • I. Love- b. 6 Apr. 1700 Dover, NH, m. 1720 Durham, NH, Thomas Millett, d. 3 Nov. 1763 Dover
  • II. James- b. 1701, m. Sarah Giles, d. 12 Sept. 1774 Durham
  • III. Joseph- b. 1702, m.1. Elizabeth ______, 2. Ann Giles, d. July 1784
  • 4IV. BENJAMIN- b. 1710 Dover, m. ABIGAIL ______, d. 1818 Mount Desert Island
  • V. Clement- b. 1714, m. 26 Mar. 1738 Dover, Rebecca Drew
  • VI. Patience- b. 1716, m.c.1725 John Drew
  • VII. Elijah- b. 1720


    (1) NEHGR- Vol. 5, p. 452
    (2) New Hampshire State Papers- Vol. 9, p. 235
    (3) History of Durham- Vol. 2, pp. 32, 357; Genealogical Dictionary of Maine & New Hampshire- p. 119
    (4) NH State Papers- Vol. 3, p. 147
    (5) Ibid- Vol. 31, p. 339
    (6) NH Provincial Deeds- Vol. 5, p. 220
    (7) NH State Papers- Vol. 32, p. 96
    (8) New Hampshire Provincial Court File #23,424
    (9) NH State Papers- Vol. 32, p. 219-21
    (10) Ibid
    (11) Ibid- Vol. 32, p. 368; NH Provincial Deeds- Vol. 17, p. 53
    (12) Strafford County Deeds- Vol. 47, p. 444

    Bunker Genealogy: Ancestry and Descendants of Benjamin 3 (James 2, James 1) Bunker- Edward Carleton Moran Jr., Rockland, 1942- pp.7-8


    b.c.1710 Dover
    m. ABIGAIL ______
    d.c.1818 Mount Desert Island

    Benjamin witnessed a deed at Dover 21 March 1732/33 (1). He was granted by the Proprietors of Brunswick 63 acres on 10 Jan. 1740 (2) and an additional 115 acres on 12 Jan. 1740 (3). In 1740 he was listed as living at the "Head of Mericoneag" (4). He and Abigail sold to his brother James Bunker III of Durham, all his rights "in estate of James Bunker, Jr. my father late of Oyster River in Dover, N.H." on 26 Nov. 1740. (5).

    Benjamin moved back to Dover during course of the litigation with William Booker of York. (6) Before 26 June 1741 he and others were deeded 150 acres (Lot 163) in Barrington, by Joseph Hicks and Thomas Leighton of Dover (7), and subsequently deeded his 12th part thereof on the same day to Partridge Farren. (8). As a resident of Durham, Benjamin was involved in litigation with Joseph Patterson of Newington from 1741 to 1744. (9)

    On 13 Feb. 1745 Benjamin enlisted as a private in Captain Hale's Co., Colonel Moore's regiment. He was later made clerk and then promoted to Ensign on 10 Aug. 1745. He participated in the siege and capture of Louisburg on 17 June 1745. (10)

    The Fortress at Louisbourg

    The fortress of Louisbourg on Cape Breton Island was considered impregnable and later historians referred to it as the Gibralter or Dunkirk of North America for the French. Two hundred British ships sailed from Halifax and set up a blockade to keep French ships from reaching Louisbourg. Transports carrying approximately 8,000 troops also went to Halifax. The seige of Louisbourg began on 22 May when 12,500 Regulars and Militiamen left Halifax and by 10 June British troops had reached the gates of the fortress and burned all the merchant ships in the harbor. By 24 June Louisbourg was completely shut off from the outside and was being bombarded by cannon and mortars. Cut off since April and surrounded by British and Colonial troops for almost two months, the French surrendered their garrison on 26 July. One newspaper reported: "By this event, France is deprived of the Key to her North American Trade, and of the Means to insult and encroach upon our Settlements." After this came the fall of Fort Duquesne and the capture of Niagara, Ticonderoga, and Crown Point.

    Landing of troops at Louisbourg- 1745

    Upon his return from the war Benjamin was sued by James Nute of Dover 11 Nov. 1745 (11). He was involved in litigation with Jotham Odiorne Jr. 5 June 1746 (12).

    Benjamin moved back to Brunswick between June 1748, when his son Thomas Millett Bunker was born in Dover (13) and 1752 when, as a resident of Brunswick, he signed a petition to form a new county in Maine. (14) "Land on head of Merryconeage Neck, beginning on Benjamin Bunker's southwest corner" was referred to in the will of John Starbird dated 20 June 1753 (15). Benjamin of "Merriconeag in the town of North yarmouth" (Merriconeag Neck had been set off from North Yarmouth to Brunswick and returned to North Yarmouth) sold 6 acres of Brunswick land to Thomas Skofield on 11 March 1755 (16). He signed the "Petition of Inhabitants of Kennebec River for Protection 22 Apr. 1755" (17). He and Abigail of the "Dist of Harpswell" deeded land to Robert Speer Jr. on 15 Aug. 1758. (18)

    Benjamin and Abigail then moved from Harpswell sometime after 22 July 1759 (when his son was baptised there) to Great Cranberry island before 3 October 1763, when the "Seawall that makes a peninsula, on which Benjamin Bunker dwells" was found there by Governor Francis Bernard's surveyor John Jones (19).

    The struggle between England and France for the possession of Acadia did not end until Wolfe's victory over Montcalm on the Plains of Abraham 13 Sept. 1759 and effectively prevented any permanent settlement by the English in Eastern Maine before 1760. On 27 Feb. 1762 the Massachusetts General Court granted Mount Desert Island to Governor Francis Bernard. His "Journal of a Voyage to the Island of Mt. Desert 1762" entry for 3 Oct. 1762 states that two families were settled at the head of the river and four were settled upon one of the Cranberry Isles (20). The journal entry for 7 Oct. 1762 mentions "Solmer's log house" at the head of the river. This was Andrew Somes who settled there in June 1762, according to his letter to Eben Parsons dated 20 April 1816. The other settler "at the head of the river" was James Richardson, who also arrived in the summer of 1762 (21). When Governor Bernard's surveyors John Jones and Barachias Mason surveyed the grant in 1763, Jones states he found on Great Cranberry Island "Bunker's house" and "Bunker's seawall on which Benjamin Bunker dwells" and "Jno Bunker's hutt." As no one but Bunkers were found on Great Cranberry Isle in 1763, it is logical to conclude that they were the ones mentioned by Governor Bernard as the "four families that were settled upon one of the Cranberry Isles" in 1762.

    Benjamin deeded Little Cranberry Island to "my son John Bunker" on 20 July 1768 (22) and land on Great Cranberry Island to "my sons Isaac and Aaron Bunker" 1 August 1768 (23).

    During the Revolutionary War, Benjamin and his sons Isaac and Benjamin Jr. took up land later referred to as the "Ebenezer Eaton lots" at Norwood's Cove and Clark's Point on Mount Desert Isle.(24) The sale of this same land to Rev. Ebenezer Eaton of Sedgwick on 21 Oct 1801 from Nathaniel Bennett of North Yarmouth states: "The said lots were taken up and settled in the years 1775 and 1776 by Benjamin Bunker, Benjamin Bunker Jr. and Isaac Bunker." (25).

    Benjamin was made surveyor of roads at a Mount Desert Plantation meeting on 25 March 1777. Mount Desert was not incorporated as a town until 17 March 1789 and included the Cranberry isles until 16 March 1830. The "Names of Persons in Possession of Land 23 June 1785" in the Bernard or western half of Mount Desert Island included Benjamin Bunker (26). Benjamin Bunker, "gentleman," deeded 100 acres on Great Cranberry Island to his son John Bunker 14 Oct. 1786 (27). Under the Massachusetts General Court Resolve of 29 June 1787, Benjamin Bunker was deeded 100 acres as a "settlers right". (28)

    The 1790 Census lists only one Benjamin Bunker family and that family included two males over age 16, and as none of the children of Benjamin Bunker Jr. were then age 16 this implies that Benjamin Bunker Sr. was then living with his son Benjamin Jr. Also on 21 Aug. 1793 "Benjamin Bunker of Mt. Desert Gentleman" deeded to "Mary Bunker the wife of my son Benjamin," the 100 acre settlers right granted to him by the Massachusetts General Court Resolve (29). This implies that Abigail was by then deceased.

    Both he and his son Benjamin Jr. were included among "Names of Persons in Possession of Land" on 23 June 1805 at Mount Desert (30). It being necessary for the old settlers to prove their claims under the Resolve of 1785, a "Commissions Proceedings at Mt. Desert" was held in 1808 at which Benjamin Bunker Sr. testified (31)

    He died about 1818 and lived to the extraordinary age of 108 or 110 (32). A letter dated 9 January 1874 from John Bunker, born 1802, addressed to Horace Gilley Bunker states:

    "My great-grandfather Bunker settled at Mt. Desert. He lived to a great age, 108 years, and he had five sons, John, Aaron, Isaac, Benjamin, and Silas. Isaac settled at Gouldsboro, Silas at Sedgwick, and the others at Mt. Desert in the vicinity of Norwood's Cove." (33) It is stated in the "History of Durham" that he was buried in a field owned in 1913 by Mrs. Joseph Smith, across the highway from the Bunker Garrison and near the river in Durham. (34)

    The Bunker name is on many places in the area, Bunker’s Head on Great Cranberry, with South Bunker’s Ledge nearby, on Little Cranberry there is Bunker’s Neck and Cove with East Bunker’s Ledge between them and Mount Desert.

    The following is a story about the Bunker family written by T.L. Spurling Sr. and found on the Bunker Family Association web site:

    "When Ben and his family first came to these islands, the conditions were harsh - very much different than they are today with so many modern conveniences that we take for granted. In many places the trees grew right down to the water’s edge and clearings had to be made for the hay fields, gardens and their homes, These, latter were at first made of logs, chinked with moss and banked high with brush during the winter. Fishing, trading and lumbering were the first occupations. Fish could be had in great quantity near the shore for most of the year. They were salted or smoked and thus could be kept for some time, as well as eaten fresh. An old Indian jingle goes thus: “Salt fish and potatoes, the fat of the land, if you don’t like this, then starve and be damned”! They were also used in trade with passing vessels. Cod and Mackerel were the fish most and herring. Halibut were of no value then, nor the tuna, known a “horse mackerel”. Living by the sea, the settlers were much better off than the inland fanner. Lobsters were so plentiful in those days that an indentured servant considered himself lucky if his contract stated he would not have to be served them more than twice a week. Sea birds were in great variety and abundance and were prized, not only for their meat, but for their feathers as well. These were used in bedding and pillow and for trading. Clams could always be found and dug at the right tides. Many early sea coast familys have been kept alive by this means. Some have subsisted on just clams and potatoes for a good part of the winter. Their vegetable gardens, of course, were planted as soon as possible, especially rows of potatoes. The islands also yielded wild berries that were eaten in season and also made into jams and jellies; raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, and the abundant cranberry. The sea faring men used to take barrels of the cranberries with them on long voyages, as they were a good combatant of scurvy. It was said that the Cranberry Isles first got their name from Governor Bernard when he noted the growth of these berries here. The earliest of our settlers came “down to Maine”, mostly in small open sailing boats, referred to as “Chebacco Boats”. A few did come by larger craft such as brigs and schooners, as there was coasting [freighting by boat] by these islands during this time, en route to points east and Canada and to our larger settlements to the west. Goldsboro, to the east was settled early and Ellsworth, north of Mount Desert, up the Union River, was later to become one of the larger lumbering centers of the state.

    "At first, before the people of the Cranberries became better settled and organized and had built a method of trade and transportation, they used more home made and home grown products, such as growing flax for linen to make sails for their vessels. All boots, as well as shoes were made of leather; no rubber boots [that we take for granted]. No one working around the water in those days could expect to have dry feet. As soon as possible, livestock were brought on, sheep being a very important animal, both for its meat and its wool used for home spun clothing. There were a few cows and oxen for plowing and hauling, but no horses, at first.

    "These islands at the time of our early settlers were more coveted than the mainland. They were easier for the keeping of livestock, in many cases no fences were needed as they couldn’t stray too far. Of course, all the important trading, freight and transportation was by water; the ocean a very effective moat, so to speak. It kept the desired elements on and the undesirable off. These islands were a snug, self sustaining ample area, sometimes referred to as “The ship that would not sink”. You were also nearer the fishing grounds. When nets were needed, these were oft times knit by the women folk. Most of the ladies had herb gardens also and were very adept in time of sickness. No medicine then, was of much help in the epidemics of smallpox, typhoid, cholera etc, that could frequently ravish a community. Much of this unwittingly brought on by the crews of visiting vessels. Before the pioneers had been here very long, a saw mill and grist mill were built and in operation at Somesville, at the head of Somes Sound. Now better homes could be built of sawn lumber and their grain could be ground. Large families were the thing to help the parents in their many chores about the house, grounds and boats, for in those days the worry of raising cash for college of education was not in the reckoning…there were no such schools at first. Usually there was someone in the settlement who could teach the children to read, write and cipher. Sometimes, their parents could. It wasn’t until the early 1800's that the Cranberry Isles voted for a school district to be laid off. Religious services were held in houses and on good days later, excursions would be made by boat to Mount Desert to attend church. Town meetings were also organized. In 1789, the town of Mount Desert was formed, which included most of the islands in this area. It was not until 1830 that the town of Cranberry Isles came into being, as a town separate from Mount Desert. Even though the settlers were better established, money was still scarce. Most of their local necessities were achieved by their own efforts, swapping with their neighbors and trading with passing vessels that would bring and deliver letters for them and also such goods as they could not produce. Every settler tried his best to get enough land for his house, garden, a hay field, and a woodlot. Later, he might add an apple orchard and a rhubarb patch. These early islanders balanced their hard life with frequent recreation, visiting back and forth with neighbors, as well as nearby islands. Dances were held in larger buildings; also spring festivals and dancing around an island maypole with skating and sliding in the winter time. There was a semi-“work-playtime”, when a house or barn was raised, or a pile of wood needed to be chopped, for someone who had no able men-folk. The ladies had quilting bees. Boating made good sport for the young men, who became skilled at an early age. Gunning for sea birds and an occasional deer on the larger islands, made these island men superior marksmen. The Revolutionary War came along with it, English men O’ War began to harass and pillage the coastal settlements. Ben Bunker had taken a part in the capture of Louisburg in the earlier French War, as had his island neighbor, Job Stanwood, on Little Cranberry, who had lost an arm in this battle. Ben’s son, John, [known as Capt. Jack] cut out a British supply ship down the coast at Wiscasset, during the Revolution and sailed home, where its cargo helped feed his hungry relatives and neighbors. He sailed it “Down East” to hide it in a safe spot, said to be at Roque Island, where today there is still, on the charts a Bunker Harbor. Another of Ben’s children was Comfort Bunker, who married John Manchester, a Revolutionary War soldier of Mount Desert. He happened to be away one day, when a British landing party made a visit to his home on Manchester Point. They killed all the family’s livestock for shipboard rations, took all the winter supplies and shoved off. Luckily, John had his musket with him and soon after his return, he and Comfort spied a moose swimming across the sound. They were able to row out to it, shoot it and tow it ashore. This with what few supplies they were able to beg and borrow from their neighbors got them through to better times. These were some of the hardships these people put up with in those days in addition to their regular pioneer life.

    "A few of the earliest settlers received land agreements from Governor Bernard, but after the Revolution their grants were lost. Two new applicants applied for land claims, these were his son, John; and a French woman, Madam Barthelmy De Gregoire; granddaughter of Sieur De Cadillac, who had a French claim much earlier. Sir John Bernard had sided with the colonists, while his father remained loyal to the crown; so the American Congress gave him the western half of Mount Desert and De Gregoire the eastern half including the Cranberry Isles. The division was made down along Somes Sound and was known by the older people as “The French Line”. Madame De Gregoire soon sold much of her land to the early settlers and squatters; 100 acres for five Spanish milled dollars. Several years later, during the War of 1812, the British sloop of war “Tenedos” appeared between the islands one day in August 1814. Its Captain was looking for Yankee shipping and had heard that Benjamin Spurling and Joseph Bunker had vessels hidden in nearby Norwood’s Cove on Mount Desert. This is an interesting story in itself, that might be related to another time. Anyway, the islanders were able to drive the English away from the cove and save the vessels. Joseph, was one of Ben Bunker’s grandsons and a son of Capt. Jack. Now, as time moved on, living was gradually easier for the island people. Coastal shipping was now at its peak and lasted well through the 19th century. By 1870, almost every bit of land that could be improved for corn field, hay field or pasture and every site for a new gristmill on Mount Desert Island had been taken up. Lumbering, ship building and coastal transportation lasted until nearly the end of the 19th century, but the days when the islanders main livelihood depended on the forest and sea was coming to an end. The coming of steamboats and the summer residents were changing things. Very few larger sailing crafts were being built now. Many island people worked for the “summer people” at least part of the time. This changed their kind of livelihood to a great extent. Of all their former ways of earning a living, only fishing could be counted on for sure and some local boat building. By the 20th century the gas engined boat was starting to come into use thus putting an end to commercial sail. Soon after, the automobile, likewise, was putting an end to the steamboats. Finally, electricity came to the two larger Cranberry Isles in 1928.

    "Two world wars have greatly changed life on our islands. Many young men have gone into lobster fishing, as have others from away, who have made the islands their home. Some of the older ones, who first came as summer visitors have bought property and retired here, “Where it's quieter and more peaceful”, they say, “Without the pressure, smog and rat race”. Transportation by boat is much better and more dependable now that in past years. The mail and ferryboats of Beal and Bunker Inc., do a good business. For many years Elisha Bunker owned and operated a boat yard on Great Cranberry and his nephew, Raymond, of Mount Desert; is nationally known for his excellently built work and pleasure boats. These Bunker men are descendents of the old Ben Bunker, listed as Ensign in our Maine family archives, said to have reached the age of 108. Most of us native island people here today also claim Ensign Ben, as our ancestor. Some descending through his son, Capt. Jack and others through his daughter, Comfort Bunker Manchester and some, like myself, through both. There are many other mainland Bunkers living nearby who also descend from two more of his children, Silas and Isaac.

    This is my story of our area and a courageous ancestor, who came here many years ago and played an important role in colonizing these island frontiers."


  • I. John- b.c.1730, m.1. c.1752 Abigail Young, 2. 7 Aug. 1785 Hannah Hadlock, d.c.1810
  • 5II. AARON- b. 1735, m. SARAH ______ (d. Feb. 1821), d. Feb. 1821
  • III. Comfort- b.c.1736, m. 20 July 1756 North Yarmouth, John Manchester
  • IV. Isaac- b.c.1740, m. Esther Ives, d.c.1825
  • V. Silas- b.c.1746, m. 21 Nov. 1771 Mary Foss, d. 15 Feb. 1829
  • VI. Thomas Millett- b. 26 June 1748 Dover, NH
  • VII. Mary- b. 24 Mar. 1754, m.1. 27 Oct. 1770 Cranberry Isles, Eliakim Eaton, 2. Clement Stewart, d.c.1845
  • VIII. Abigail- b. 29 June 1755, m. 30 June 1777 Reuben Salisbury
  • IX. Sarah- b. 14 Sept. 1758 Harpswell
  • X. Benjamin- b. 22 July 1759 Harpswell, m. 1777 Mount Desert Island, Mary Stanley, d.c.1830


    (1) NH Province Deeds- Vol. 28, p. 183
    (2) York Deeds- Vol. 27, p. 163
    (3) Ibid- Vol. 24, p. 48; History of Brunswick, Topsham and Harpswell- George Augustus Wheeler & Henry Warren Wheeler, Alfred Mudge & Son, Boston, 1878- p. 39
    (4) History of Brunswick, Topsham and Harpswell- p. 865
    (5) NH Province Deeds- Vol. 29, p. 211
    (6) NH Province Court file- 23,178
    (7) NH Province Deeds- Vol. 26, p. 409
    (8) Ibid- Vol. 86, p. 84
    (9) NH Province Court File- 25,117
    (10) Roll of New Hampshire Men at Louisburg, Cape Breton, 1745- George C. Gilmore, E.N. Pearson, Concord, NH, 1895- p. 31; NEHGR- Vol. 25, p. 268; History of the Town of Durham, New Hampshire- Everett S. Stackpole, Durham, 1913- Vol. 1, pp. 111-2; Notable Events in the History of Dover, New Hampshire, From the First Settlement in 1623 to 1865- George Wadleigh, Dover, NH, 1913- p. 141
    (11) NH Province Court File- 22, 189
    (12) Ibid- 21, 780
    (13) NEHGR- Vol. 41, p. 89; Collection of the Dover Historical Society- p. 154
    (14) Collection of the Maine Historical Society, 2nd Series- Vol. 12, p. 197; Bangor Historical Magazine- Vol. 3 (1888), p. 189
    (15) York County Probate- Vol. 8, p. 249
    (16) York Deeds- Vol. 30, p. 281
    (17) MA Archives- Vol 136, pp. 270-280
    (18) York Deeds- Vol. 34, p. 6
    (19) John Jones Field Notes- original at Maine Historical Society- Me Hist Soc Spec Coll. 1203
    (20) Sparks Manuscripts in Harvard College Library
    (21) Old Hancock County Families-William Macbeth Pierce, Hancock Co. Pub., Ellsworth, 1933- p. 35; Mount Desert: A History- George E. Street, Houghton Mifflin Pub. Co., 1926- p. 115
    (22) Lincoln County Deeds- Vol. 11, p. 53
    (23) Ibid- Vol. 13, p. 121
    (24) Hancock County Deeds- Vol. 10, p. 42
    (25) Collections of the Maine Historical Society, 2nd Series- Vol. 2, p. 440; Maine Historical Magazine- Vol. 8, p. 22
    (26) Collections Maine Historical Society, 2nd Series- Vol. 2, pp. 442, 447
    (27) Washington County Deeds- Vol. 1, p. 63 then Eastern Lincoln County Registry of Deeds
    (28) Hancock County Registry of Deeds- Vol. 2, p. 428
    (29) Ibid
    (30) Collections of the Maine Historical Society, 2nd Series- Vol. 2, p. 447
    (31) Ibid- Vol. 2, pp. 440, 442
    (32) Sprague's Journal of Maine History- John Francis Sprague, 1913- Vol. 14, p. 181; An Historical Sketch of the Town of Deer Isle, Maine, with Notices of its Settlers and Early Inhabitants- George L. Hosmer, Stanley & Usher, Boston, 1886- p. 168
    (33) Sprague's Journal Maine History- Vol. 14, p. 181
    (34) History of the Town of Durham, New Hampshire- Everett S. Stackpole, Durham, 1913- Vol. 1, p. 240

    Bunker Genealogy: Ancestry and Descendants of Benjamin 3 (James 2, James 1) Bunker- Edward Carleton Moran Jr., Rockland, 1942- pp.8-9


    b. 1735
    m. SARAH ______ (d. Feb. 1821)
    d. Feb. 1821

    Aaron was deeded land on Great Cranberry Island by his father on 1 Aug. 1768.

    Captain William Owen, RN was given a grant to Campobello Island and started the first settlement there. In 1775 he wrote a journal that covers his travels in North America from 1767 to 1771. In Oct. 1770 Capt. Owen was anchored at Mount Desert island where:

    "an odd adventure happened... the family of my pilot, Aaron Bunker, were most of them settled in this neighborhood [the Cranberry Islands]... My anchor was scarce gone last night ere the pilot requested me to lend him the boat to go on shore to his brother Isaac's. Alas! The dire mishap! He popped in very unexpectedly I suppose, and found his maiden sister Mary bundled a-bed with the son of rather a wealthy settler on Deer Island. The enraged pilot swore he would cut the gallant's throat if he did not repair the honour of the family by marrying his sister: the trembling swain declared his readiness to do so as soon as he had an opportunity, but observed there was no parson in the district."

    Of course, as a captain in the Royal Navy, Owen was authorized to officiate at such events and Aaron quickly returned to the ship to ask him to conduct the wedding. Capt. Owen agreed "to remove a blot out of the escutcheon of the Bunker family." and "married Eliachim Eaton to Mary Bunker... A good substantial and plentiful entertainment was provided on the occasion and a real and genuine Yankee frolic ensued." A month later Capt. Owen was back in the area and landed at Bunker's Harbour on Cranberry Island. All the Bunker family was there and he conducted another marriage, of Lewis Jones, one of his men, to "one Mary Wright, a buxome widow that would, at all events, accompany us from Falmouth: the evening was spent in Yankey jiggs and country dances, much innocent mirth & social glee."(1)

    Capt. Owen described Aaron as "a very clever fellow, who was to be my pilot, and like most other New England men was Carpenter, Farmer, fisherman and seaman".

    Capt. William Owen, R.N.

    Aaron is listed as living on West Cranberry Island at the time of the 1785 Rufus Putnam Survey and had been there since 1776. He is listed in the 1790 census as living on Great Cranberry Island. His lot of 100 acres was laid out by John Peters in 1790. De Gregoire granted him land on Great Cranberry Island on 28 Mar. 1792. "Bunker Head" on the south side of Great Cranberry Island is named after him.

    From the records of the First Church of Mount Desert we find that Aaron and Sarah and their daughter Hannah, joined on 4 Sept. 1796 and they both died in Feb. 1821.(2)

    "Harry Gray's house was built by Aaron Bunker for Mr. Whiting and it has had several owners. Mr. Gray bought it from M. L. Allen and Elrie Holmes. There are a few small cottages and camps in this vicinity."(3)

    "Ebenezer Eaton Ist lott. — Benjamin Bunker saith Isaac Bnnker lived on this lott on which Mr Ebenezer Eatons house now stands before the 1785 and since and conveyed it to Bennet, Bennet to Eaton Isaac Bunker improved said lott in 1779

    2d lott Benjamin Bunker lott was purchased by said Eaton And the improvements were about the same

    3d lott Andrew Tucker gives the same evidence concerning said lotts & also the lott of Benjamin Bunker Jr

    Joseph Legro. — Andrew Tucker saith Joseph Legro went on to his lott in the year 1784 & has improved it ever since

    Peter Dolliver. — Andrew Tucker saith Aaron Bunker took up this lott in the year 1784 he Sold it to Andrew Bennit, & Bennit to Emmerson, Sd Emmerson to Peter Dolliver who has continued the improvement". (4)

    He is included among the "Names of persons in possession of land 23 June 1805".


  • 6I. DAVID- b.c.1778, int. 12 Oct. 1799 Mount Desert Island, ESTHER STANWOOD (m.1. 6 July 1795 MDI, Andrew Tarr Jr. of Fernald's Point, d. 12 Dec. 1854, Rockland, bur. Jameson's Point cemetery), d. at sea 31 Dec. 1844
  • II. Hannah- b.c. 1780
  • III. Abigail- b. 19 Dec. 1784 Mount Desert Island, m. 16 Aug. 1804 Mount Desert Island, John Thomas Gilbert Crane, d. 10 Feb. 1870 Rockport


    (1) Narrative of the American Voyages and Travels of Captain William Owen, R.N. and the Settlement of the Island of Campobello in the Bay of Fundy- Victor Hugo Paltsits in the "Bulletin of the New York Public Library"- Vol. XXXV, No. 10, pp. 731-2, 743; Dance and its Music in America, 1528-1789- Kate Van Winkle Keller, Pendragon Press, 2007- pp.292-3
    (2) Records of the First Church of Mount Desert, Maine, 1792-1867- Belvin Thomas Williston, NEHGR- Vol. 73 (Oct. 1919)- p. 281
    (3) Traditions and Records of Southwest Harbor and Somesville, Mount Desert Island, Maine- Nellie Carroll Thornton, Acadia Pub. Co., Bar Harbor, 1988- p. 260
    (4) Commissioner's Proceedings at Mount Desert, 1808- Wm. B. Lapham, MHS, second series, Vol. II, 1891- p. 440
    Bunker Genealogy: Ancestry and Descendants of Benjamin 3 (James 2, James 1) Bunker- Edward Carleton Moran Jr., Rockland, 1942- p. 10
    Pioneer Settlers of the Cranberry Islands- The Bunkers- Hugh Dwelley, Ted Spurling Jr., Islesford Historical Society, 1996


    m. 28 Oct. 1799 (int. 12 Oct.) Mount Desert Island, ESTHER STANWOOD (m.1. 6 July 1795 MDI, Andrew Tarr Jr. of Fernald's Point, d. 12 Dec. 1854, Rockland, bur. Jameson's Point cemetery)- d. of Job & Martha (Bradstreet) Stanwood
    d. at sea 31 Dec. 1844

    David Of Otter Creek is listed in Samuel Hadlock's account book for Sept. 1798. He died at sea in Dec. 1844. Esther is listed in the 1850 census for Tremont.


  • David- b. 21 May 1800 Otter Creek, Mount Desert Island, d.s.p.
  • Thomas- b. 27 Dec. 1802 Otter Creek, Mount Desert Island, d.s.p.
  • Comfort- b. 10 July 1804 Mount Desert Island, m. Samuel Davis
  • Esther- b. 16 Mar. 1807 Mount Desert Island, m. 24 May 1831 Frederick Amesbury
  • 7V. ELIZABETH- b.c.1807, m. 29 Aug. 1825 Mount Desert Island, JOHN DAVIS (b.c.1804, d. before 1860)
  • Abigail- b. 6 Oct. 1818 Mount Desert Island, m. Daniel Kennedy (b. 10 Mar. 1808 Marlborough, County Queens, Ireland, d. 1 Nov. 1875 Rockland), d. 28 July 1889 Rockland, bur. Sea View Cemetery
  • Esther- b.c.1820, m. Frederick Amesbury


    Bunker Genealogy: Ancestry and Descendants of Benjamin 3 (James 2, James 1) Bunker- Edward Carleton Moran Jr., Rockland, 1942- pp. 14-5

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