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THE COOMBS OF MAINE


Descendants of Anthony2 and Mercy (Hodgkins) Coombs

The Third Generation and their Children of the Fourth Anthony2 & Mercy Hodgkins

There is some uncertainty about this line. Anthony2 is known to have bought land on New Meadows River in 1740–1747–1751. He, with two sons, Sylvanus and Anthony, signed a petition as residents of the Kennebec region as late as 1755. After this I find no trace of his descendants there.

There is a tradition of three brothers, “Frenchmen,” one of whom, Francis, settles at Bath, another, Sylvanus, settled at Bristol, east of Bath, while the third, Anthony, “went east.” An examination of the family record of Anthony2 does not show any son Francis, but, on account of his frequent removals, it is very probable that there were several births that were not recorded. Sylvanus, born 1731, could easily have been the one who went to Bristol, and Anthony, born 1729, could have been the one who moved from New Meadows and settled at Islesboro, at the mouth of the Penobscot. He was town officer there in 1789. He is said to have died there in 1815, at the age of one hundred years. This is probably an exaggeration of his age, as there was no Anthony of that generation on record as born at so early a date, and none possible, unless a child of Peter, the date of whose marriage is unknown. Peter’s wife was a sister of the wife of Anthony, who was married in 1722. I think it almost certain that those three were the son’s of Anthony,2 and have carried out several lines on that theory, with this warning as to uncertainty.

The main line of Anthony2 and Mercy (Hodgkins) Coombs is as follows:159

Anthony3 [Anthony,2 Anthony1] Coombs, born 28 Jul 1729, at Falmouth (now Portland), ME; removed with his family to New Meadows when he was about nine; married Ruth Getchell (intentions published 18 Nov 1752 in Brunswick, ME), who died at Islesboro, ME in 1826; Anthony3 died 1815 in Islesboro. He removed from New Meadows to Islesboro, and was town officer there in 1789.160

On 22 Apr 1755, Anthony3 was one of the proprietors along the Kennebec River who signed a petition to William Shirley, Governor of the Province of the Massachusetts Bay, requesting “some Measures may be by your Wisdom concerted for their Safeguard and Defence against the Enemies [Indians] to whom they are exposed….” Other Coombs who signed this petition were: Anthony2 Combes, Peter2 Comes, Peter3 Combes Junr George3 Combes, Silvanus3 Cooms, and William Cooms [an, unidentified member of the family].161

Some time before 1768, Anthony3 and Ruth left New Meadows and settled in Harpswell, ME. On 25 May 1768 he is noted as living there [Shapleigh Island] along with Joseph,3 Coombs, son of John,2 Coombs, and another Anthony Coombs, probably another son of John2 Coombs. On 30 Jan 1773, Anthony3 was noted as still owning land in Harpswell.162

In 1775, Anthony3 was chosen to be a member of the Harpswell Committee of Correspondence, Inspection and Safety. This was one of the chain of committees organized throughout the colonies to communicate concerns, grievances and plans for dealing with English oppression. Anthony was made Clerk of the Harpswell Committee on 21 Mar 1780.163

On 18 Jun 1777 and again on 13 Sep 1777, Anthony3 was selected a Selectman of Harpswell.164

According to the History of Islesborough, Maine, “Captain Anthony Coombs” came to Islesborough [an island in Penobscot Bay, ME] about 1782 with his sons Anthony,4 Jesse,4 Robert,4 and Ephraim,4. Anthony3 settled on the “lot next north of Shubael Williams,” where the meetinghouse was later built. His sons settled on the northeast side of the island, above Sabbath–Day Harbor and there built a saw and gristmill.165 [See map of Islesborough below]

Islesborough was incorporated as a town in early 1789. At the first meeting after incorporation, 6 Apr 1789, Capt. Anthony,3 was voted surveyor of wood and other lumber. At another Islesborough Town Meeting (1 May 1792) Anthony3 was chosen to serve on a committee to “fix a place where to set up a meeting house.”166

In 1788, the inhabitants of Islesborough sent a petition to the General Court asking for examination of the claim of General Knox to the ownership of the island. This petition was deferred for several years and on 9 Mar 1797, the General Court appointed a commission “to settle and declair their rights.” The result of the commission’s review was to confirm “Anthony Coombs’ claim as a Settler, 1784:”

Capt. Anthony Coombs’ and Ephraim Coombs Lots, in Islesborough, 30 Oct 1799.
Surveyed for Capt. Anthony Coombs and Ephraim Coombs a lot of land in common and undivided in northeast division on Long Island, in Islesborough, in the county of Hancock, bounded as follows, viz.: Beginning at a white rock on the east shore of said island, thence running north forty–three degrees west adjoining on Joseph Williams’ lot, twenty–nine rods to a spring; thence north nineteen degrees west adjoining on said Williams’ lot, eighty–four rods to a stake and stones; thence north forty–seven degrees west adjoining on said William’s lot, one hundred sixteen rods to a stake and stones; thence north thirty–one degrees east twenty–six rods to a stake; thence north forty–four degrees east seventeen rods to a stake; thence north thirty–six degrees east adjoining on William Grinnell’s lot, thirty–four rods to a stake; thence south forty–seven degrees east adjoining on Hosea Coombs’ lot, one hundred and ninety–six rods to a white birch tree standing on the bank at shore; thence southerly and westerly as Penobscot east bay runs, bounded thereby to the first mentioned corner; containing one hundred and sixteen acres of land.

The surveyor commented that the claim was made up of:

“Thirty acres good land; thirty acres swamp, cold, poor land, spruce wood; the rest broken, ledgy land. No water in a dry time except one spring. Eight miles to mill by water. About an acre fit for plowing in a piece.”167

In the Census of 1790 the population of Islesborough was 382 persons in 67 families. Anthony’s family is listed as: three males over 16 years of age, three younger unmarried males, and one female. Anthony4 and Ruth would account for one male over 16 and the one female. Robert4 is listed as a separate head of household. Therefore, probably Jonathan4 and Benjamine4 who were both about to get married, were the other two males over 16 years of age and Anthony4 Jesse4 and Ephraim4 were probably born after 1774.

By the year 1800, Islesborough’s population had grown to 484 persons in 78 families. Thirty–five of these people were members of Anthony3 ’s or his sons’ families. The Census of 1800 shows Anthony3 had originally emigrated from Harpswell, he was 45 or older, and there were two males and two females in his household. It is not known who the other male and female were that are listed as living with Anthony3 and Ruth. It was not one of the known sons since Anthony,4 Robert,4 Jonathan,4 Benjamin,4 and Ephraim,4 were heads of households in Islesborough and Jesse,4 ’s family was listed in Northport, ME. If they were children of Anthony3 and Ruth, the record of their birth has not been found.

Based on the 1800 Census, Jesse was the youngest of the known sons since he is listed as being between 16–26 year old and his brothers were all 26–45 years old.
Anthony3 is reported to have died in Islesborough in 1815 and his wife Ruth died there in 1826.168

Children of Anthony3 and Ruth (Getchell) Coombs:169

Five of these sons of Anthony3 Coombs, Jonathan, Anthony, Benjamin, Ephraim and Jesse, joined forces in 1805 to build a schooner, 123 tons, length 78, beam 23 and depth 8 feet, named “Five Brothers.” These same five members of the Coombs family are recorded as owners of the “Five Brothers,” along with other people from Islesborough.171

Also built in Islesborough in 1805 was the “Retaliation,” a 110 ton schooner, 72 feet long, 22 foot beam and a depth of 8 feet. This schooner was built by the possible sons of Peter3 Coombs: Fields4 Hosea4 and Simon Coombs, along with Samuel Veazia and Jesse Hallbrook.172

While there is no question concerning the name “Five Brothers,” it sounds like there might have been an interesting story behind the schooner named “Retaliation.”

Sylvanus3 [Anthony,2 Anthony1] Coombs, born 6 Apr 1731 at Falmouth (now Portland), ME; married Mary Williams. Some time later than 1755 he left New Meadows and settled in Bristol, ME.

Children of Sylvanus3 and Mary (Williams) Coombs:173


The Fourth Generation and their Children of the Fifth Anthony2 & Mercy Hodgkins

Anthony4 [Anthony,3 Anthony,2 Anthony1] Coombs, married (probably) Hanna Holbrook; died 8 Jan 1835. Was town officer of Islesboro, ME, 1792–1796, and lived on the second lot below Sabbath–Day Harbor.

Children of Anthony,4 and Hanna (Hallbrook) Coombs:174

Jesse4 [Anthony,3 Anthony,2 Anthony1] Coombs, married 16 Apr 1794 to Hannah Richards, daughter of William Richards, of Bristol; died 5 Sep 1823. Hannah died 16 Nov 1859.

Children of Jesse,4 and Hannah (Richards) Coombs, all born in Islesborough, ME:175

Robert4 [Anthony,3 Anthony,2 Anthony1] P. Coombs, born 7 Oct 1768, in New Meadows or Harpswell, ME; at about 1782 he immigrated to Islesborough, ME, with his family. Before 1799, Robert acquired about 100 acres of land on West Penobscot Bay bordering on lands owned by Jeremiah Hatch (to the east) and four lots to the west, including one owned by Robert Sherman.176

Based on the birth dates of Robert’s first two children, it is assumed that he was married after removing to Islesborough. Nothing is known about this first wife except that they had two children.

Apparently the first wife died soon after the birth of Isaac5 as Robert4 age almost 22, married 2nd Lucy Thomas, age 16, on 10 Jul 1790 in Islesborough, ME. Lucy was born 15 May 1774 in Islesborough; died 21 June 1835 in Islesborough. She is buried on the estate of Edson Sherman on the west end of Islesborough. Lucy was probably the daughter of Benjamin and Mary (Jordan) Thomas; Benjamin Thomas was from Long Island, Penobscot Bay and Cape Elizabeth, he died in 1821; Mary Jordan, the daughter of Robert Jordan of Cape Elizabeth, was born in 1747 and died in 1828.177

Robert4 and Lucy are listed as owners of a pew in the First Baptist Meeting House in Islesborough between 1794 and 1804. Fields,3 Coombs, Anthony,3 Coombs and Isaac Coombs [unidentified family relationship] are also listed as pew owners.178

The Census of 1790 records Robert,4 as being a Head of Household, living in Islesborough. His household is listed as containing only one male and one female, but no mention is made of his two children. Ten years later, in the Census of 1800, Robert3 is still listed as living in Islesborough; he is recorded as having emigrated from Harpswell and had a family of five males and two females [this is consistent with Robert’s Family Bible records]; Robert’s age is listed as being between 26 and 45 years.

Robert4 was a sea captain engaged in the costal trade. When he first went to sea is not known, but on 4 Aug 1839 he purchased a one–eighth share in the five masted schooner, Cordelia, for $150 from Nelson Pendleton, of Islesborough. This schooner had been built in Bangor, ME, in 1836; it was seventy–eight feet nine inches long, twenty–three feet broad, with a depth of seven feet seven and one half inches and a total weight of 119 tons. Nine months later he purchased another schooner, the two masted Juno. This single decked ship was seventy–five feet seven inches long, had a breadth of twenty–two feet three inches, a depth of seven feet two inches, and weighed 104 tons. He purchased the Juno from Robert Coombs of Belfast, ME.179

A family story relates that when Robert’s house caught fire, the neighbors assembled to help rescue the family possessions and limit the fire. Robert,4 told everyone to be very careful not to scratch the furniture. In their efforts, they carried much of the furniture out of the house and carefully placed it under the back steps of the house, only to see the fire spread and burn the stairs and all of the furniture.

In Mar 1837 Robert,4 married (3rd ) Louisa Emeline Dean, who apparently left Robert when he “went crazy” and she subsequently married her cousin’s widowed husband, Moses Mills, on 27 Dec 1849 on Vinalhaven.180

In 1839 Robert4 was engaged in state Supreme Court proceedings with his neighbor, the son of Amos Williams, over the ownership of the wood lot that Robert had cut. The outcome of this proceeding has not been recovered.181

Robert4 died prior to 13 May 1845 when an “Inventory of all the Real Estate goods and Chattels rights and credits of Robert Coombs” was taken in Islesborough. Robert left a substantial estate, consisting of $1,100 of real estate, $700 for three schooners, $140 in livestock, and various farm and household items, including a bible ($3), China tea set ($2.50), two decanters, six tumblers, six wine glasses and six silver table spoons (combined $7.36). The total value of the estate was $2,027.42.

According to a letter written by Louisa Dean Coombs Mills [Robert’s 3rd wife] to the Civil War Pension authorities in support of her application to receive the pension of Isaiah5 D. Coombs: “Isaiah’s father was Robert Coombs and that he had 10 children by his former wife Lucy Thomas and that 9 of the children were still living at Robert’s death” It also states in the letter that when Robert died “he owned of a coasting vessel and 100 acres of land and some stock on said farm.. I do not know what the estate was worth but think it was worth in all $1,500. His other children took all the property excepting the $200 they paid to me. I don’t know how the business was done. I know that Luther one of his sons took care of said Robert 3 or 4 years before his death who was insane during that time and had a heavy bill for that and other services. Said farm was sold in 1 year from said Robert Coombs death which was about 2 years ago. It was sold by said Luther as administrator.”182

NOTE: — There are considerable differences in the family of Robert3 Coombs based on what is presented by William Carey Coombs in Anthony Coombs and His Descendants, John Pendleton Farrow in his History of Islesborough, Maine, and in the Robert P. Coombs Family Bible records in the possession of Dawn Baker of Whitefield, ME. Because it is a primary source, we have principally relied on the Robert P. Coombs Family Bible records for the following family structure and birth dates.

Children of Robert4 P. Coombs (based on records from Robert P. Coombs Family Bible in the possession of Dawn Baker of Whitefield, ME) and a presumed, but unknown, 1st wife:183

Children of Robert4 P. and Lucy (Thomas) Coombs:184

After Lucy (Thomas) Coombs died in 1835, Robert,4 P. Coombs married (3rd) Louisa Emeline Dean in Mar 1837.

Child of Robert4 P. and Louisa Emeline (Dean) Coombs (based on record from Robert P. Coombs Family Bible in the possession of Dawn Baker of Whitefield, ME):

Ephraim4 [Anthony,3 Anthony,2 Anthony1] Coombs, born about 1777; died 9 Jan 1812, aged 36 years; married _____ of Bristol, ME.

Children of Ephraim4 Coombs:185

Benjamin4 [Anthony,3 Anthony,2 Anthony1] Coombs, married Abigail Williams, 10 Jun 1791. She died 13 July 1842.

Children of Benjamin4 and Abigail (Williams) Coombs:186

Jonathan4 [Anthony,3 Anthony,2 Anthony1] Coombs, married Martha Warren, daughter of Samuel Warren, 16 Nov or June 1790. Moved to Albion, where he died.

Children of Jonathan4 and Martha (Warren) Coombs:187

Capt. Samuel4 [Sylvanus,3 Anthony,2 Anthony1] Coombs, born 25 Jan 1781; married _____ Sproul; lived at Bristol, ME,; a sea–captain.

Children of Samuel4 and _______ (Sproul) Coombs:188

Richard4 [Sylvanus,3 Anthony,2 Anthony1] Coombs, who is probably the one who married a Fossett, went to Vassalboro to live and had at least three children.

Children of Richard4 and _______ (Fossett) Coombs:189

Mary4 [Sylvanus,3 Anthony,2 Anthony1] Jane Coombs, who married a Bailey, lived in Bristol.

Children of ________ and Mary4 Jane (Coombs) Bailey:190


  1. Anthony Coombs and His Descendants, pages 135-136.
  2. Anthony Coombs and His Descendants, page 136.
  3. Massachusetts Archives, Vol. 136, pages 270-280.
  4. Bangor Historical Magazine, Vol. II, pages 70 and 120.
  5. Collection of the Maine Historical Society, Vol. XVIII, page 160.
  6. Collection of the Maine Historical Society, Vol. XV, page 124.
  7. History of Islesborough, Maine, page 11.
  8. History of Islesborough, Maine, pages 39 and 41.
  9. History of Islesborough, Maine, page 32.
  10. History of Islesborough, Maine, page 176.
  11. Anthony Coombs and His Descendants, page 136.
  12. Robert P. Coombs Family Bible, in possession of Dawn Baker, Whitefield, ME.
  13. Merchant Sail, by William Armstrong Fairburn, printed by L. Middleditch Co., Published by Fairburn Marine Educational Foundation, Inc., Centre Lovell, ME, Volume V, pages 3462-3.
  14. Merchant Sail, page 3462.
  15. Anthony Coombs and His Descendants, pages 138 and 139.
  16. History of Islesborough, Maine, page 176 and Anthony Coombs and His Descendants, page 136.
  17. History of Islesborough, Maine, pages 176-7.
  18. History of Islesborough, pages 11 and 93.
  19. History of Islesborough, page 284.
  20. History of Islesborough, page 67.
  21. Family papers in the possession of Whitney J. Coombs, Littlestown, PA.
  22. Robert P. Coombs Family Bible, in possession of Dawn Baker, Whitefield, ME.
  23. Family papers in the possession of Whitney J. Coombs, Littlestown, PA.
  24. Isaiah D. Coombs' Civil War Pension file, Vinalhaven Historical Society, Vinalhaven, ME.
  25. Robert P. Coombs Family Bible, in possession of Dawn Baker, Whitefield, ME.
  26. Robert P. Coombs Family Bible, in possession of Dawn Baker, Whitefield, ME.
  27. History of Islesborough, Maine, page 177.
  28. History of Islesborough, Maine, page 179.
  29. History of Islesborough, Maine, page 179.
  30. Anthony Coombs and His Descendants, pages 138 - 139.
  31. Anthony Coombs and His Descendants, page 139.
  32. Anthony Coombs and His Descendants, page 139.

Next: The Fifth Generation and their Children of the Sixth Anthony2 & Mercy (Hodgkins) Coombs


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