Last Updated: 26 March, 1996

Honeywell Heritage
Vol. 2, No. 3

The Hawaiian trader

James Hunnewell, (AM-37), (Feb. 10, 1794-May 2, 1869) was born in Charlestown, MA, the son of William and Sarah (Frothingham) Hunnewell. Descended from Ambrose Hunnewell of Devonshire, England, and from a line of substantial farmers, James longed for a life of a seafarer.

In 1815 he went to China as a common seaman, and on Oct. 9 of that year he shipped on a brig to Honolulu, where the vessel was sold to Hawaiian chiefs. James was left behind by the captain to collect payment in sandalwood, the local currency. This task required several months of extensive travel through the islands and gave him an opportunity to become familiar with the natives, learn their customs, and gain the confidence of the chiefs and royal family.

In October 1819, he returned to Hawaii as second mate of the brig Thaddeus, bringing the first American missionaries. Left at Honolulu to barter part of the cargo, he aided in persuading an unwilling native king, Lilholiho (successor to Kamehameha), to receive the missionaries.

Shrewdly determined to use his trading experience for his own benefit, he undertook in 1826 to captain the 49' schooner Missionary Packet without salary but for the privilege of loading on her 50 barrels of merchandise and rum. During the succeeding four years he developed a large trading business. This grew into a trading house, later known as C. Brewer & Co., said to be the oldest operating American corporation west of the Rocky Mountains. James returned to Charlestown, Massachusetts in 1830, leaving his partner Henry A. Pierce in charge of local operations.

In 1852, Hunnewell and Pierce built the 205' clipper ship John Gilpin, which was lost on its third voyage from Boston to Honolulu. This ship took part in the famous clipper race of 1852 from Sandy Hook, New Jersey, to San Francisco.

Today, Brewer is the largest corporate landholder in the Islands: 135,000 acres are owned and another 135,000 acres leased for sugar production and macadamia nut cultivation. The main office still sits on the site James bought for it in 1826. James amassed a considerable fortune, of which he gave liberally to found Oahu College. On Hunnewell Street is located Punahou School of which James was a founding trustee.

James is the grandfather of James Melville Hunnewell, author of The Descendants of Roger and Ambrose Hunnewell (Honeywell), and great- grandfather of Richard Farnsworth Hunnewell (C63), who supplied information for this article. Sources: The Dictionary of American Biography; American Clipper Ships (p. 304); Mainliner, April, 1974.

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John Honeywell

John Honeywell was born about 1649, probably at Saco, Maine, the second son of Roger and Bridget Hunnewell. He moved around before the King Philip’s War and fought at Berwick on May 12, 1674. He rode out of York on a Sunday some two months later. The next record found of him was in 1677 as a seaman, whereby he had a sloop at Salem, Massachusetts. This was 15 years before the infamous Salem witch trials.

John then moved on to Wethersfield, Connecticut where he was married to his first wife, Lydia ___, on January 1st, 1680. In Wethersfield, he purchased some land with a saw mill, and in March 1680 was granted some more land to make and burn bricks. John and Lydia had a daughter named Mary on December 10, 1682. Lydia died eight months later on August 10, 1683 of an undisclosed cause.

John worked in Wethersfield for a time as a surveyor or roads and then moved in 1689 to Middlefield, Connecticut, where he married his second wife, Elizabeth Harris, daughter of Capt. Daniel and Mary (Weld) Harris. John and Elizabeth had four children, Abial, Elizabeth, John, and Bridget. In 1692, then a brick maker, he purchased his father’s land at Winter Harbor from his brother, Richard on December 10, 1692. Eight days later he sold the land to a John Stainford of Ipswich, MA.

John died before August 5, 1706, when he was referred to as deceased in a guardianship proceeding in behalf of his daughter Bridget. Elizabeth died before December 4, 1710, when administration on her estate was granted to John Honeywell, the only son, who received a double portion, and his sisters each a single portion. Source: The Descendants of Roger and Ambrose Hunnewell (Honeywell), p. 43, 1972. Next: Ambrose Hunnewell of Hunnewell Point, ME

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Odds ‘n’ ends

Tennis anyone? "Court tennis was introduced in Boston in 1876 by Hollis Hunnewell and Nathaniel Thayer, who built a court at Buckingham Street. The game is played with a curiously shaped racket on a court (usually enclosed) 110 feet long and 38 feet wide, with an elaborate layout. There are only about a dozen such courts in the United States." Kane, Joseph Nathan, Famous First Facts. H. W. Wilson Company, New York, 1981.

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Mail bag

"I think what’s going on with the Honeywell family is so exciting. What you’re doing is really a fantastic endeavor. Wanting to know our heritage is a proud and heartfelt desire. To want to share it with the rest of us is just plain wonderful. Family history is so important. It truly gives one a sense of belonging, of being someone." Margaret Ellen (Boddeker) Honeywell (Mrs. Leslie Henry Honeywell), Merritt, BC, Canada (IS).
Thanks, Margie, you helped make the effort all worthwhile. Ed.

"My whole family enjoys the newsletter. Matt Honeywell, who is in seventh grade, is very interested and even takes them to school, as he is studying about the Boston Tea Party." Timothy Honeywell, Alexandria Bay, NY (C76 IS).

"Thank you for the significant contribution you have already made to the interest in our family and our heritage. Not since my Grandmother’s many enjoyable tales of our family, have I enjoyed anything quite so much. My best personal regards and best wishes." Dan H. Honeywell, Orlando, FL (C84 JO).

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Hunnewell anthropologist

In March of 1865, "Walter Hunnewell, blessed with a large income and an amiable disposition," went on the Thayer Expedition to Brazil with the Swiss naturalist, Louis Agassiz. "Hunnewell brought along a camera and worked hard at learning the use of this remarkable contraption." While on the expedition, Agassiz "was especially interested in the natives, but as there was no practical way of bringing any home, he set Hunnewell to photograph them (probably the first Hunnewell anthropologist)."

In July, 1866, the Thayer Expedition ended, "stocked with more than eighty thousand specimens for the museum (Museum of Comparative Zoology at Cambridge, MA)." Tharp, Louis Hall, "Professor of the World’s Wonders" American Heritage, February 1961.

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Family Patriots

Ten family members bearing the Hunnewell or Honeywell name are listed in the DAR Patriot Index - Centennial Edition, Part 2, on pages 1537-8. Lineage is added in parentheses, taken from The Descendents of Roger and Ambrose Hunnewell (Honeywell) by Samuel Willet Honeywell.

Editor’s Note: Revolutionary War Patriots not listed by the DAR and found in Roger & Ambrose:

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Rice Honeywell; patriot, speculator

Rice Honeywell, was born March 1760 at Fredericksburg (now Carmel), Westchester County, New York, according to his deposition for pension. He was a younger son of David (ca 1730-1772?) and Rebecca (Rice?) Honeywell of the same place. He was descended from Roger Hunnewell 's third son Israel Honeywell.


In 1773, the probable date of his father's death, Rice went to live with his oldest brother Isaiah at Lanesborough, Massachusetts. From there, when two months short of his sixteenth birthday, he enlisted in January 1776, along with Isaiah, in Colonel Seth Warner's Regiment. They immediately marched to Montreal and on to Quebec to join General Benedict Arnold's troops. His five months of service were up just after the Americans fell back on Montreal, and he was returned to Lanesborough. Another enlistment of six months followed in General Poor's Brigade. He was at Long Island, New York when it was overrun by the British, being in a "guard" that was led to safety through the British lines under cover of fog by General Israel Putnam. In 1777 he was called out on a tour of militia duty on the approach of General Burgoyne from the north, was wounded in the left arm in a skirmish at Wood Creek near Fort Ann, but he continued to fight with his arm in a sling. Although not fully recovered, he turned out soon thereafter to fight under Colonel Warner at Bennington, New York, but suffered from his neglected wound.

Beginning in May 1778 he had a number of periods of service in which he went as a substitute for others. One such period was for nine months with General Wayne's Brigade at Valley Forge. Both Isaiah and Sergeant Rice Honeywell were numbered among the Green Mountain Boys.

In March 1778 he moved from Lanesborough to "Old Hoosac on the Hoosac River" in New York State, "where he resided until March 1785 when he removed to Augusta in the County of Grenvelle, Upper Canada."

One account has it that after the war Rice came back into Canada to see it and fell in love with Ruth Allen, the daughter of a Tory, Weston Allen, U.E., who had brought his family to the Prescott area. The date of the marriage is not known, nor the place, although it is probably Prescott, Ontario. In any case, Rice took his bride Ruth back to his home in New York (probably Hoosac). When they returned to Canada in 1785 because Ruth wished to be near her own family, it was with two children, a daughter and son, Ira. Source: Pension application. LIFE IN CANADA

There is evidence that he took an interest in the community and people around. He was on the list of subscribers in 1790 for the Blue Church, Prescott, which was to be erected in 1791. His name has appeared as a witness at such functions as weddings. A number of letters are extant, to John Small at the Executive Council Office at York, which he wrote on behalf of other settlers.

The census of 1806 for Augusta showed Rice in a household of three, including one son Richard; by that time Ira was the head of his own family. It is likely that Ruth died about 1800, because his second son Richard was born in 1802 to Rice and Catherine (Fishback) Honeywell. In the 1823 census Rice's family consisted of himself, his wife, two sons, one daughter, four male servants and one female servant.

His will of 1839, probated 19 August 1840, probably named only his surviving children: Ira, Richard, John, Mariah Obrien and Israel Putnam Honeywell (likely named after the hero of his youthly escape from Long Island). Israel, a minor at the time, was no doubt the son of his third wife and widow, Martha Honeywell.

Richard went back to New York State, to St. Lawrence County, and left many descendants there. John and Mariah are as yet untraced. It is very possible that the Israel Putnam (or Putman) Honeywell of South Crosby, in 1854 and the one being married in Camden in 1858, later settling at a blacksmith shop in the 5th Concession of Thurlow Township, Hastings County, Ontario are one and the same. The corner is still known as Honeywell's Corners. Source: Miss Doris Honeywell notes.


In 1785, 1791, and 1793, Rice and Ruth received land grants in Maitland and Augusta Township. In 1795 they were allowed Town lot No. 19 at Johnstown on the north side of First Street and a park lot on condition that they build a frame house, which they did.

Under an Order in Council of the 3 July 1797 he was granted a special lot, No. 14, Concession 1 in Haldimand Township, North Cumberland County, as the site of a sawmill. In April of that year his brother Isaiah had moved his family from the U. S. to Concession 3, Haldimand. Leaving his own family of four (his wife, one boy and two girls) settled in Augusta, Rice built the mill within the required year. He obtained its patent in April 1801 and sold the mill and the land in August 1802 for ‘325 pounds current money’ to the Honourable Richard Cartwright of Kingston.

By various early patents Rice had land in Younge, Leeds County; Augusta, Edwardsburg, and Wolford Townships in Grenville; and Matilda and Mountain in Dundas County. These lots he held for varying lengths of time and disposed of them in different ways. Rice improved his situation with each transaction.

Perhaps as the result of a petition by eight settlers in the Wolford/Montague area that Rice be granted a site for a grist mill, he petitioned in February 1799 for the grant of Lot 2, Front of Wolford Township as a mill site for what is now Merrickville. Not being successful, he petitioned for a lease of it in June 1801, but by that time four other claimants were waiting in line for it. Although no other petition was so early as Rice's first one, Lee(?) Merrick won out, or that place might now be called Honeywell. Within living memory a road leading from that lot across the country of "The Great Swamp" to Carleton Place was known as Honeywell's Road. Source: Miss Doris Honeywell notes, Ottawa, 10 August 1978.


It must have galled certain Loyalists to see American Rice Honeywell in their midst, enjoying the fruits of Crown grants in Upper Canada. In his biography, Justus Sherwood, a Justice of the Peace in Prescott, apprehended and admitted to bail Rice Honeywell and Thirby Cromwell for "treasonable talk." Rice was alleged to have said "G_ D_ King George, I have served the Congress." Rice denied the charge, which could have led to serious consequences, if convicted. Rice was not a Loyalist, had served as a Congressional soldier, and had received 100 acres of free land through Sherwood himself against the protest of others. Cromwell was a young man of indifferent character, who had taken the oath of allegiance, but had not received any land. Charges were dropped after community residents testified on Rice's behalf. Source: Jackson, Harold McGill, Justice Sherwood; soldier, loyalist and negotiator. Aylmer, P. Q., 1958.

This page, and all contents, are copyright © 1996 Honeywell Family Association.

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