Capt Augustine Jean, who described himself as a ‘mariner of the Isle of Jersey’ went to Reading, Massachussets, in 1675. The circumstances that caused his name to be changed to John Gustin, without any such wish or intention on his own part, are unparalleled in the history of any family in New England.
At first his name of Augustine Jean was anglicised by scriveners to John. Afterwards they transposed Augustine Jean to John Augustine, and finished by mutilating Augustine down to Gustin. In the Genealogical Dictionary of New England the family is called Augustine, but the change to Gustan or Gustin was gradual. The old man made his last protest against this on his deathbed, on 3 July 1719, drawing an enormous AU before the name Gustin, with which his will was signed.
During the latter part of Philip’s war he served as sergeant in the company of Capt Beers, and received a grant of land from President Danforth at Falmouth, and bought more with money left him by his father and mother. In his will he described these lands as ‘lying in Casco Bay, at Martin’s Point and Pasumscot River’ now in the city of Portland, Maine.
He had married on 10 January 1678, Eliza, daughter of John Brown, of Watertown, and in the following year moved to his new possessions where were born his first son, Samuel, and a daughter Sarah.
Escape from Indians
On 26 May 1690 the French, assisted by a party of Abenakis Indians, captured, sacked and burned Falmouth, John Gustin and his family being among the very few who escaped from the slaughter pen. He fled to Lynn where he remained until 1719.
There were born John, 6 November 1691; Abigail, 9 December 1693; Ebenezer, 4 October 1696; Thomas, 5 March 1699; David, 6 February 1703.
Online family trees
The confusion in America over Augustine Jean's involuntary name changes has given rise to even greater confusion in online trees. The trees to be found on ancestry.com, particularly, largely drawn up by American descendants of Augustine, contain a plethora of inaccuracies, poor spelling and a fundamental lack of knowledge of the Channel Islands. It can also clearly be seen how one tree has been copied from another, perpetuating the inaccuracies, and also how inaccurate data deposited with the LDS gives rise to trees with fundamental errors.
The trees contain ancestors of Augustine in Jersey, whose surnames are shown as Gustine, and variants, whereas it is well documented that this name did not appear until generations later in America.
We have been sent various attempts at producing a Jean lineage in the 16th and 17th centuries, and have previously rejected them all, but have now revisited the family to produce a tree which we believe to be as accurate as it is possible to create, given that the individuals at the top of the tree lived before church family records are available.