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By Muriel L. Curtis Cushing

Date of birth: about 1595, England
Baptized: 11 Sept 1596, Bristol, Gloucester, England
Marriage 1: Sarah (maiden name unknown) around 1617-1619, "dyed in the general sickness."
Children: One (1)
1. Samuel b. 1620, came on the Mayflower "a sucking child"
Marriage 2: Dorothy (maiden name unknown) before 1623
Children: None (0)
Marriage 3: Christian Penn, about 1625, Plymouth, MA
Children: Three (3)
1. Rachel b. about 1626, married 2 Mar 1645/6 Joseph Ramsden
2. Benjamin b. Mar 1627/8, married 4 Dec 1660 Sarah Hoskins
3. unknown Eaton b. about 1620, mentally challenged
Death: between 25 March and 8 November, 1633 at Plymouth, MA "in the 1633 epidemic."
Burial Site: unknown

 

'Embarkation of the Pilgrims' Painting by Robert W. Weir (1843)

  • The Bristol, England records identify Francis Eaton as a house carpenter. The son of John and Dorothy (Smith) Eaton, he was the only one of their children known to have survived to adulthood. No record of his marriage or the birth of his first child has been found in Bristol, so he may have lived elsewhere in England before migrating to New England.
  • Francis, his wife Sarah, and infant son Samuel arrived in New England aboard the Mayflower in November 1620. "Francis Eaton his first wife died in the general sickness. And he married again and his second wife died, and he married the third and had by her three children. One of them is married and hath a child. The others are living but one of them is an idiot. He died about 16 years ago. His son Samuel who came over a sucking child, is also married and hath a child."
  • Apparently he was not a member of the Leyden, Holland religious group and believed to be part of the group that came from London identified as "Strangers." Many of the London families were not accepted for the voyage until about two months before the Mayflower first left England.
  • He was the 23rd signer of the Mayflower Compact.
  • His skill as a carpenter was a great help in the construction of shelter on arriving in the New World.
  • In the 1623 land division Francis Eaton was granted four acres as a passenger on the Mayflower and on 25 June 1631 he sold this same land to Edward Winslow. Other land transactions were made when he sold 32 acres of land and shortly after sold an additional 10 acres from the same lot to William Brewster. On 8 January 1632/3, just previous to his death in 1633, Francis Eaton sold "his dwelling house with other appurtenances thereunto belonging" to Kenelm and Josiah Winslow for 26 pounds.
  • In the 1627 Division of Cattle: "The tenth lot fell to ffrancis Eaton & those Joyned to him his wife Christian Eaton, Samuell Eaton, Rahell Eaton, Stephen Tracie, Triphosa Tracie, Sarah Tracie, Rebecka Tracie, Ralph Wallen, Joyce Wallen, Sarah Morton, Robert Hilton Bartlet and Tho: Prence. To this lott fell an heyfer of the last yeare called the white belyd heyfer & two shee goats."
  • In 1633, Francis Eaton is listed as one of the names of the Freemen of Plymouth.

  • After his death in 1633, his third wife Christian Penn, who had come on the Anne, married July 1634 Francis Billington, who had come on the Mayflower as a child. He was the son of John and Elinor Billington. They had 9 children.
  • The inventory of Francis Eaton taken on 8 November 1633 itemized a number of carpenter's tools and a long list of debts owed. His debts far exceeded the value of his estate. At the 25 November 1633 court, "That whereas Frances Eaton, carpenter, late of Plymouth, deceased, dyed indebted for more then the estate of the said Frances would make good" it was declared that Mr. Thomas Prence & Mr. John Done should administer the estate and pay the creditors as far as the estate will make good and the widow be freed from any claim.

REFERENCES
General Society of Mayflower Descendants
Mayflower Families Through Five Generations (Silver Books)
Pilgrim Hall Museum
One Hundred & Eleven Questions & Answers Concerning the Pilgrims, by William P. Muttart and Linda R. Ashley
Caleb Johnson's MayflowerHistory.com