Monday, November 13, 2017

Along the Pilgrim Trail ~ Francis Eaton of Bristol, England

Along the Pilgrim Trail, part 12

St. Thomas the Martyr Church, Bristol, England

Vincent and I recently took the General Society of Mayflower Descendants Historic Sites Tour of England, Wales and The Netherlands along with 41 other enthusiast participants (known as "The 43").  We traced the footsteps of the Separatists and the Mayflower passengers and crew all around these countries with some amazing tour directors, guides, historians and authors.  We were given access to places off the usual tourist trails, and behind the scenes.  We had a wonderful time, and I will be blogging about it over the next few weeks.

The maritime city of Bristol, England was the hometown of Mayflower passenger Francis Eaton.  He was baptized at St. Thomas the Martyr church in Bristol on 11 September 1596, the son of John Eaton and Dorothy Smith.  Francis Eaton was a house carpenter.  He married a woman named Sarah and had a son named Samuel.  Francis signed the Mayflower Compact.  In the first winter, his wife died. He remarried to another unknown woman named Dorothy, who also died.  His third wife, Christian Penn, had three Eaton children, then she remarried to Francis Billington, Jr. and had nine Billington children.  Francis Eaton died in 1633 in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

Samuel Eaton, who came on the Mayflower as a baby, lived and married first to a woman named Elizabeth who had two children. Then he married Martha Billington, his step-sister, a daughter of his step-mother Christian with her marriage to Francis Billington.  He had four children with Martha. He died in 1684 in Middleborough, Massachusetts.

Francis Eaton descendants in front
of the former St. Thomas Church
where Francis Eaton was baptized.

St. Thomas the Martyr, Bristol
This church is cared for by
The Churches Conservation Trust,
the national charity protecting
historic churches at risk.
Although no longer used for regular worship,
our churches remain consecrated
and open to all.

Bristol, England is the westernmost port in England, which created early trade with Ireland and made it the port city for many early voyages to the New World.  John Cabot left here in 1487, and there is a monument to him, Cabot Tower, overlooking the seaport.  The Triangular Trade from England to Africa to the New World and back to England centered mostly on ships sailing from Bristol, which made it a center for slavery in England, and also a center for abolition since Thomas Clarkson lived in Bristol and reported on slavery from the Seven Stars pub.  There is also a replica of the SS Great Britain, built by Isambard K. Brunel, on the Bristol waterfront.

SS Great Britain

The Seven Stars Public House,
where Thomas Clarkson researched
Bristol's slave trade.

Part 1 of this series "Babworth, Nottinghamshire":

Part 2 of this series “Scrooby Manor, Nottinghamshire”:  

Part 3 of this series "Gainsborough, Lincolnshire"

Part 4 of this series "Harwich, Essex, home of the Mayflower"

Part 5 this series "Upper Clatford, Hampshire"

Part 6 of this series "William Mullins of Dorking, Surrey":

Part 7 of this series "Edward Winslow of Droitwich, Worcestershire":

Part 8 of this series "The Fullers of Reddenhall, Norfolk":

Part 9 of this series "John Howland of Fenstanton, Cambridgeshire":

Part 10 of this series "Tilley and Sampson of Henlow, Bedfordshire":

Part 11 of this series "William Bradford of Austerfield, Yorkshire": 


Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Along the Pilgrim Trail ~ Francis Eaton of Bristol, England", Nutfield Genealogy, posted November 13, 2017, ( accessed [access date]).

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