Welcome! I really enjoy exchanging information with people and hope this blog will help with that. I am not an expert and I consider most of my research as a work in progress. Some of the surnames I'm researching:

Many old Cape families including Kelley, Eldredge/idge, Howes, Baker, Mayo, Bangs, Snow, Chase, Ryder/Rider, Freeman, Cole, Sears, Wixon, Nickerson.
Many old Plymouth County families including Washburn, Bumpus, Lucas, Cobb, Benson.
Johnson (England to MA)
Corey (Correia?) (Azores to MA)
Booth, Jones, Taylor, Heatherington (N. Ireland to Quebec)
O'Connor (Ireland to MA)
My Mayflower Ancestors (only first two have been submitted/approved by the Mayflower Society):
Francis Cooke, William Brewster, George Soule, Isaac Allerton, John Billington, Richard Warren, Peter Browne, Francis Eaton, Samuel Fuller, James Chilton, John Tilley, Stephen Hopkins, John Howland.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Mayflower Ancestors Pt. 11: Francis Eaton

Francis Eaton is an ancestor who tugs at my heart strings as he had a life filled with tragedy. The misfortune started early--all of Francis’s siblings, except for his brother Samuel, died in 1603/1604, apparently due to a sickness that had spread through the household. 

Francis was baptized 11 September 1596 at Bristol, Gloucestershire, England, the son of John Eaton and Dorothy Smith. He became a house carpenter in England, which may have been why the Separatists wanted him to come to America with them. He was not a Separatist but rather a “stranger.” Francis had at least some education as he signed his name to documents.
Francis Eaton Signature from mayflowerhistory.com

Francis married first Sarah, whose maiden name is unknown, about 1618-19, in England. They had a son Samuel who was an infant on board the family’s voyage aboard the Mayflower. Sadly, Sarah died during that first difficult winter at Plymouth. 
Francis married second Dorothy, maiden name unknown, before 1623 at Plymouth. She was a maid servant to John Carver who had died in the spring of 1621, as did his wife, leaving Dorothy on her own. 

In the 1623 Land Division, Francis received four shares: one for himself, one for his deceased wife Sarah, one for his son Samuel, and one for his current wife Dorothy. Dorothy must have died soon after the division of land at Plymouth. 

Francis was about 26 years of age and had already lost two wives, but he forged ahead and married yet again. He married third Christian Penn around 1625 in Plymouth. Christian had arrived in 1623 on the “Anne.” They had three children together: Rachel, Benjamin and a third child whose name is unknown. The unknown child was called an “ideote” and was still living in 1651. I can’t imagine how people coped with a child with a severe disability given how difficult life already was for them. 

Francis died in the fall of 1633, apparently dying of an infectious fever that swept hrough Plymouth.  He was just 37 years of age and left behind a wife and four young children. 

His estate included one cow and a calf, two hogs, fifty bushels of corn, a black suit, a white hat, a black hat, boots, four pewter platters, fishing lead, and many carpentry tools including , hammers, an adze, square, augers, a chisel, boards, saws. See a list of his inventory at: http://www.pilgrimhall.org/willfeaton.htm

In July 1634, Christian married second Francis Billington, whose father John was hanged for murder in 1630. She and Francis Billington had nine children together. She died circa 1684, probably at Middleborough.

My line of descent from Francis and Sarah Eaton:

1      Francis Eaton 1596 - 1633
+Sarah Unknown   
2      Samuel Eaton  1620 - 1684
+Martha Billington 1638 - 1704
3      Mercy Eaton   1665 - 1703/04
+Samuel Fuller        1658 - 1728
4      Benjamin Fuller      1695/96 -
+Mary Samson       
5      Samuel Fuller  1724 - 1758
+Ann Tinkham        1726 - 1758
6      Mary Fuller    1748 - 1802
+Jabez Nye     1749 -
7      Desire Nye       1771 - 1858
+David Pierce 1773 - 1820
8      Lucy Nye Pierce      1809 - 1896
+Rowland Sturtevant Bumpus        1804 - 1853
9      Mary Briggs Bumpus      1840 - 1916
+Seth Washburn     1828 - 1921
10    Charles Francis Washburn     1857 - 1941
+Hattie Maria Benson    1861 - 1914
11    Carrie Clyfton Washburn      1896 – 1974
+George Brewster Smith        1895 – 1913
12    Arthur Elmer Washburn Davis      1913 - 1976
+Mildred Louise Booth   1917 – 1999
13    My parents
14   Me 

Richard Gere is a descendant of Francis Eaton.


  1. A have a great grandfather that is named Francis Eaton but it is said he was born in Wales in 1583 and his parents are John Eaton and Dorothy Smith. some say he died in Wales at a very young age of 22 but I don't have any proof but yet it is said he had children. Can you help me? Thanks

  2. I'm sorry, but I only know about the Francis Eaton born in England! Chris

  3. Thank you for post on family. My surname is smith frome different smith lines one connected to ralph smith, who is connected to hopkins doty and cook line pilgrims. Enjoy learning aboutt family history and who related to.

  4. I too am related to Francis Eaton through third wife Christian Penn and daughter Rachell Eaton Ramsden.
    Lee Diauto

    1. Thanks, Lee, for taking the time to leave a comment! Chris

    2. I too am a descendant of Francis & Christian and daughter Rachel. Chris, thank you for putting the blog together. It's great to learn more stories about our history. Sherilyn

  5. Do you happen to know if any of Francis' descendants migrated to Virginia?

  6. I am also related to Francis Eaton via Christian Penn and then his son Benjamin. I am volunteering to take a y-DNA test to verify our line.

    1. I am VP of The Eaton Families Association and we would love to either help with your DNA or perhaps you would be so kind as to share results with our DNA coordination, Doug MacMillan (president@eatongenealogy.com) We are in dire need of Eaton males who can trace their Eaton ancestry to Francis. My name is Barbara and you can contact myself (webmaster@eatongenealogy.com) or Doug directly. Our website is www.eatongenealogy.com Thanks!

    2. Hi Barbara, Thank you for reaching out. Unfortunately if you are looking for male descendants, I can't help since I'm a woman. Name is confusing, I know! Chris

  7. I think I'm a descendant of Francis Eaton but not direct. My line comes down through Ramsdell. Blanchard Ramsdell came from the same area in MA. Can't make the connection. Peter Eaton

    1. I'm not familiar with the Ramsdell name. I hope you find a connection to Francis! Chris

    2. My maternal great grandfather was Randall Ramsdell descended from Francis Eaton and Christian Penn, he lived in upstate NY.

  8. I am from New York and have a theory I am related to Francis. My family has kept the name Eaton and it has been passed down through generations that we are related to Francis.

  9. I am from New York and have a theory I am related to Francis. My family has kept the name Eaton and it has been passed down through generations that we are related to Francis.

    1. That's great to have the family stories to get you started. Have you tried tracing your ancestry to Francis? Chris

  10. I am a descendant of Frances Eaton and live in VA via CT.

  11. My grandmother, Rebecca Olive Center Eaton, is a direct descendant of Francis Eaton. She was born in Worcester, Mass. in the late 1800's. As she had just one child, my mother, Constance, my siblings and I are considered indirect descendants of Francis Eaton.

    1. Hi Anne, It sounds to me like you are a direct descendant of Francis Eaton. Chris

  12. I am related by Bethia Bump/ Bumpas marriage to Peleg Ballard. I have applied to mayflower society..

    1. I'm related to Bethia Bumpus as well, her father Philip is my 9th great uncle. Chris

  13. I believe I am also related to Francis Eaton through Christian Penn. My 7th great grandparents are Michael Hawkins and Angess Eaton daughter of William Eaton and Sarah Pinkethman. Anyone have these family members? Thank you

  14. Tied in thru Samuel Eaton Family name "Phillips".

    thru Betha Eaton, then Lydia Bassett married Samuel Phillips.

    Same Phillips family that help establish Taunton, Massachusetts

    1. Thanks for posting your info! Chris

  15. My great grandmother's name was mae elizabeth eaton . We are also direct descendants of francis eaton .
    Ever since i was a little boy i remember her telling stories of how he came to america .
    Ive just recently taken an interest in family history and im glad to have stumbled across this page !
    My mind is blown to see how many living decendants he has to this day considering how short difficult life was