Francis Eaton (1596-1633)

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Francis Eaton was born 11 September 1596 in Baptism at St. Thomas Church, Bristol, Gloucestershire, England to John Eaton (c1560-) and Dorothy Smith (c1650-) and died 18 November 1633 in Plymouth, Plymouth County, Massachusetts of unspecified causes. He married Sarah Morton (c1600-1621) circa 1618 in England. He married Dorothy Eaton (c1600-1622) circa 1622 in Plymouth, Plymouth County, Massachusetts. He married Christian Penn (1607-1684) circa 1626 in Plymouth, Plymouth County, Massachusetts.

Vital StatisticsEdit

  • Ancestry - Born in England?
  • 11-Sep-1596 - Baptized
  • 1st Marriage - Sarah
  • 1620 - Voyage to America with wife and son
  • 2nd Marriage - Unidentified - possibly the unnamed maid servant of Gov John Carver
  • 3rd Marriage - Christiana Penn - who as widow remarred Francis Billington
  • 1633 - Died during the general epidemic.


Francis Eaton was born ca. 1596 in Bristol, an independent city in southwest England, and died in the autumn of 1633 in Plymouth, Massachusetts Bay Colony.

Early Life Edit

Francis Eaton was baptized in 1596 in Bristol, Gloucester, England, the son of John and Dorothy (Smith) Eaton. Nearly all of Francis Eaton's siblings died in 1603/1604, apparently due to a sickness that had spread throughout the household. He and brother Samuel did survive; Francis would name his first son Samuel.

Francis Eaton (baptized 11 September 1596) was a passenger on the Mayflower and also a signer of the Mayflower Compact. He traveled from England with his first wife, Sarah, and their "sucking" child, Samuel. Unlike many of the Mayflower voyagers, the Eatons were never involved with the strict Protestants from the Leiden church, and their precise motivations in emigrating to America are not known.

Eaton had become a house carpenter in Bristol by about age nineteen (c.1615) and was living in a tenement in the parish of St. Phillips, Bristol. Bristol records subsequent to 1615 do not list Francis Eaton, who may have left England for Holland, as Bradford lists him on the Mayflower passenger list section for Leiden congregation members.[3]

Probably about 1618 or 1619 in England, Francis Eaton married a woman named Sarah (last name unknown). There is no record in Bristol of his first marriage or of the birth of his son Samuel there, indicating the family may have lived elsewhere in England prior to boarding the Mayflower.

Voyage of the Mayflower Edit


Mayflower at Provincetown Harbor

The Mayflower, originating from London with a group of Adventurers bound for the New World rendezvoused on 22 July with the Speedwell just arriving from Holland with a group of religious refugees from Leiden. Originally intended to sail jointly to the English Colony in Virginia it soon became evident that Speedwell was not seaworthy. Passengers and cargo were combined onto Mayflower (with many left behind) for the journey, finally departing on September 9.

During the voyage fierce storms blew the ship off course, arriving at Cape Cod on the Eastern Massachusetts coastline on November 9th. For two days they attempted to sail south to Virginia but exhausting supplies and fierce storms caused them to abort this effort and drop anchor at what is now Provincetown Harbor. On November 11th, the group decided to settle here and start their own colony. They wrote a governmental contract called the Mayflower Compact, Francis was the 23rd of the 41 signers on this document.

Mayflower compact 2016

Signing the Mayflower Compact 1620, a painting by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris 1899

About the middle of December 1620, the ship moved and dropped anchor in Plymouth Harbor. All the while the pilgrims were conducting several exploring missions of the area and negotiations with the local natives. Almost half of the passengers died, suffering from an outbreak of a contagious disease described as a mixture of scurvy, pneumonia and tuberculosis. In the spring, they built huts ashore, and on March 21, 1621, the surviving passengers disembarked from the Mayflower into their new settlement at Plymouth, Massachusetts.

Sarah Eaton died during the first, hard winter, and Francis remarried soon thereafter to a servant named “Dorothy”. Dorothy, herself, only survived for perhaps two or three years and Francis soon married his third and last wife, Christiana or Christian Penn.

Plymouth Colony CarpenterEdit

Existing records indicate that Francis Eaton was a carpenter, specifically a "house carpenter" in the Bristol apprenticeship record of 1626. This would have certainly been an occupation in great demand as the colonists built needed structures of all sorts. He died young, though, in his late thirties, leaving four children, varying from about 13 years of age (Samuel) to perhaps 8 for Benjamin. Francis’ estate, not surprisingly, included many carpentry tools, as well as two hats, one white and one black. Francis Eaton was literate, at some level, and able to sign his name. This literacy may have been connected with his religion and the Protestant belief in the power of individual Biblical interpretation.

Marriage & Family Edit

1st Marriage: Sarah Morton Edit

  • Samuel Eaton - Mayflower passenger as a "sucking" child - He married first to Elizabeth (?) and then 2nd to Martha Billington (the daughter of his stepmother's 2nd marriage). He apprenticed to John Cooke Jr.

2nd Marriage: Dorothy Unknown Edit

Dorothy Eaton (c1600-1622), a fellow passengers on the Mayflower is believed to have been the maidservant of Governor John Carver (1565-1621). They married about 1621-1622. She died a year or two after the marriage - ca. 1624. Bradford wrote of her: “married, and dyed a year or two after, here in this place.” They had no children. Burial place unknown.

3rd Marriage: Christiana Penn Edit

His widow Christian Penn (1607-1684) remarried to Mayflower passenger Francis Billington (1607-1684), son of John Billington.

  • Rachel Eaton
  • Benjamin Eaton
  • (Unnamed?) Eaton - Gov Bradford only lists him as an idiot who died at age 16. No name given (see below).


Offspring of Francis Eaton and Sarah Morton (c1600-1621)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Samuel Eaton (1619-1684) 1619 England 29 October 1684 Middleborough, Plymouth County, Massachusetts Elizabeth Unknown (c1620-)
Martha Billington (1639-1704)

Offspring of Francis Eaton and Christian Penn (1607-1684)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Rachel Eaton (1625-) 1625 Plymouth Colony, Plymouth, Plymouth County, Massachusetts Joseph Ramsden (c1625-)

Benjamin Eaton (1627-1712) 1627 Plymouth, Plymouth County, Massachusetts 16 January 1712 Plymouth, Plymouth County, Massachusetts Sarah Hoskins (1637-1711)

Samuel Eaton (1630-) 1630 Plymouth, Plymouth County, Massachusetts

Vital Records Edit

Bradfords Passenger ListEdit

From Gov Wm Bradfords list of Mayflower passengers (written ca 1651):

"Francis Eaton, and Sarah, his wife, and Samuell, their sone, a yong child."

"Francis Eaton his first wife died in the generall sicnes; and he maried againe, and his 2nd wife dyed, and he maried th 3rd time and had by her 3 children. One of them is maried, and hath a child; the other are living, but one of them is an ideote. He dyed about 16 years agoe (1634). His sone Samuell, who came over a sucking child, is allso maried and hath a child."


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