The Eaton Family
Francis Eaton, his wife Sarah and infant son Samuel were passengers on the Mayflower. He and his son survived the first winter, but Sarah did not, dying during the general sickness the winter of 1620/21.
Francis was baptized at St. Thomas Parish in Bristol, Gloucester, England, 11 September 1596, the son of John and Dorothy (Smith) Eaton. He died at Plymouth, before 8 November 1633, during another sickness that swept through Plymouth and surrounding areas.
Francis Eaton was one of the signers of the Mayflower Compact, signed while the ship was at Provincetown, on 11 November 1620. He was a carpenter and it is likely that these skills would have been beneficial in building much-needed shelters during that first cold, wet winter, resulting in the general sickness.
Francis received four acres in the 1623 land division; the extra share would have been for his second wife, who was the maid of the Carvers thus was also a Mayflower passenger. The extra acre also tells us he married his second wife, (whose name was Dorothy), by 1623. Documents found in England, dated 1626, name Francis and Dorothy Eaton, “The M[aste]r at New England.” Dorothy was likely unknowingly deceased at the time of this 1626 document as Francis had a new wife and child known by 1627 as the cattle division names Francis Eaton with wife Christian and children, Samuel and Rachell Eaton. Christian Penn arrived in 1623 on the Anne and herself received one acre in the land division.
In 1636, at the age of 16 and with the permission of his “mother in law,” Samuel Eaton apprenticed himself for seven years to John Cooke. At the end of seven years, he would receive three “sute of apparel,” twelve bushels of Indian corn and one heifer. He was referred to as “of” Duxbury by 1646. In 1651 Samuel was presented for “mixed daunsing” with Goodwife Halle and in 1652, he was sentenced to sit in the stocks for pilfering and stealing.
Child of Francis and Sarah Eaton:
- Samuel (Mayflower passenger): born in England, circa 1620, he was a “suckling child” when he arrived; died at Middleborough, before 29 October 1684; married 1) between 1643 and 10 March 1646/47, Elizabeth ( ), they had two daughters of whom nothing is known; married 2) at Plymouth, 10 January 1660/1, Martha3 Billington (Francis2, John1) and had four children: Sarah, Samuel, Mercy and Bethiah Eaton. Martha remarried after Samuel’s death to Robert Crossman.
Children of Francis and Christian (Penn) Eaton:
- Rachel, born at Plymouth, circa 1625; died between June 1656 and October 1661; married at Plymouth, 2 March 1645, Joseph Ramsden and had at least two children: Daniel and unknown child.
- Benjamin, born at Plymouth, March 1627/28; died at Plympton, 16 January 1711/12; married at Plymouth, 4 December 1660, Sarah Hoskins; they had six children: Benjamin, William, Sarah, Ebenezer, Rebecca and prob. Experience Eaton.
- Child, born at Plymouth after 1627; referred to as an “Ideote” by Gov. Bradford.
Mayflower Families Through Five Generations, Francis Eaton, by Lee D. Can Antwerp, rev. by Robert S. Wakefield; vol. 9. Plymouth, 1996.
Mayflower Passenger References, (from contemporary records and scholarly journals), by Susan E. Roser. 2011. pp. 216-223.
“The Origin and Parentage of Francis1 Eaton,” by Neil D. Thompson; The American Genealogist 72 [July-Oct. 1997]: 305-309 and “Notes on Francis1 Eaton of Plymouth,” by David L. Greene, TAG 72 [July-Oct. 1997]: 301-304.
Descendants of Francis Eaton are invited to join The Eaton Families Association.