Interracial Marriage in the late 1700’s – Eunice Foss & London Atus

Eunice Foss was my 5th great Aunt. Her sister, Fannie, is my 5th gr.grandmother.

These two stories were written by another (B.Dodge) and shared on Ancestry for Eunice Foss & London Atus.
In 1705 Massachusetts (for which the present day Maine was a part of) passed a law banning interracial sex and marriage. In 1789 Eunice (a white women) and London (a black male) had their first child. The town of Machias did not impose the law against this. After living together for two years the townsfolk was putting pressure on London and Eunice to “marry”. One reason that it took so long for them to marry is that some suggest he had to earn enough money to pay James Lyon (his old Master). (It is claimed that ex slaves wishing to marry were sometimes forced to pay all the past expenses their masters had paid out for the care while in their charge even though at the time of the marriage proposal they were free.) They did so in 1791. There was no negative reaction from the townsfolk. However, on March 17, 1791 Eunice was brought up on charges of “fornication” (birth of her second child) and charged 6 shillings for her crime. There is no known record that she had been charge for this same crime with the birth of her first child. It should be noted that when Maine achieved statehood they enacted a law making it illegal for a white person to marry a Indian, Negro or Mulatto-but this law was not widely enforced.

Atusville was started as a sub community within Machias, Maine (then Massachusetts) during the Revolutionary War. The community was started by London Atus. He was born a slave and moved to Machias as a body servant to the church parson’s James Lyon. During the Revolutionary war he participated both as a blunder and then as a soldier. His blunder was that he was a church service (being held in a barn on Center Street) with his “master” when he looked out the window and saw men about to attack. No one had warned him that the town folk were about to capture the British soldiers taking part in the church service. London sounded the alarm and the British soldiers safely made it back to their ship. Later London participated in taking the ship. London later was freed.
He with his new wife Eunice Foss (a white women from a prominent family in the town) began Atusville that grew into a semi large bi-racial community with it’s own school.



Eunice Foss (1766 – 1854)
5th great-aunt
Benjamin Foss Jr (1741 – 1830)
father of Eunice Foss
Fannie Foss (1805 – )
daughter of Benjamin Foss Jr
John Milton Roberts (1858 – 1939)
son of Hiram Hills Roberts
Hazel Pearl Roberts (1900 – 1990)
daughter of John Milton Roberts
Helen Adelaide Reynolds (1920 – 2003)
daughter of Hazel Pearl Roberts

About T.K. Eldridge

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One Response to Interracial Marriage in the late 1700’s – Eunice Foss & London Atus

  1. What an interesting read!

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