Monday, September 9, 2019

Roger and Sarah Eastman: English Immigrants to Salisbury, Massachusetts

Photo by Johannes Plenio

english origins
Roger Eastman of Salisbury was the ancestor of wealthy Eastman-Kodak founder George Eastman. George hired a genealogist to trace his English ancestry. Since then various publications have made claims to his ancestry. In 1901 Guy Scooby Rix printed his version of the Eastman lineage. He claimed that Roger Eastman was born in 1611 in Wales and that he was the son of  John Eastman of Romney, Southampton, England whose will was written September 24, 1602 and proved on October 22, 1602. [1] Now, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see why this cannot be true. He is also the first reseacher who pinned the surname 'Smith' on Sarah Eastman, stating only that it was a tradition.

In 1915 an article was published in the New York Genealogical and Biographical Record [2] by author Charles Eastman. His assertion was that Roger was a descendant of the Eastman family of  Charleton, Downton, Hampshire who could be traced to a John Eastman who died in 1565. John was followed by son Roger who died in 1604, then his son Nicholas and his wife Barbara, parents of the immigrant Roger. [2] 

Nicholas and Barbara has a son named Roger baptized on 4 April 1610. [3] But a book published in 1938 disputes the solidity of the proof that links Roger to the Downton Eastmans. And he points out flaws in the original analysis of the family relationships.The author admits that the baptism put this Roger in the right time frame but points out that Roger Eastman of Salisbury did not name a child either Nicholas or Barbara, which would have followed a very common naming pattern for Puritan immigrants. [4]

Some note that several other families from this area immigrated to Massachusetts and settled in Salisbury including John Rolfe and John Saunders of Landford, Wiltshire who brought his servant, Roger Eastman.

This evidence does not appear to be sufficient for Robert Charles Anderson of the Great Migration Project who states that the ancestry and origins of Roger Eastman are unknown. [5]

All that being said, if you want to believe that Roger was the son of Nicholas Eastman and his wife Barbara, I won't hold it against you.

I am happy to confirm that Roger sailed to Massachusetts in 1638 aboard the Confidence from Southampton along with many Wiltshire families. [6] Based on depositions he was born between 1611 and 1613, but it was not uncommon to round up your age for depositions. Roger and many of his shipmates settled in Salisbury.

In 1639 Roger married a woman named Sarah. Most early genealogist state her surname is unknown. But in a 1952 book, a descendant claims her name is traditionally given as Smith. He gives no other sources. [7] This is not good enough for me so I going with Sarah Unknown. 

In 1640 the town of Salisbury began to divide up its land, Roger was given a house lot at that time. He received a second division in 1643. His name is found on tax lists and according to Hoyt, he was a house carpenter by trade. This must have proved very useful in a land with no houses! [8]

In 1646 Roger took the Oath of Fidelity, before Lt. Pike, the ranking military officer. This oath was required of all men. In 1664 he was recorded as serving as a juror and again in 1667, 1676, 1677. In 1669 the court discharged him from the duties of serving as constable of Salisbury, no explanation offered. In 1671 Roger and Sarah were both deposed in court about a case that involved the Martin/North families. Roger gave his age as 'about 60' and Sarah was 'about 50'. 

In 1672 the Eastman family was deposed again in court. Their son, Nathaniel had married a woman named Elizabeth Hudson on 30 March 1672. She had previously given birth to a child out of wedlock. In court she claimed that Joseph Hall of Lynn was the father. Joseph was found to be the childs father by the court and ordered to pay Nathaniel maintenance for the child and to pay her father for 'enticing her and frequenting her company despite her father's warnings'. Elizabeth, herself was ordered fined or whipped for having sex before marriage.

In a 1682 court case, Roger made his mark, he could not write his name, apparently.

Roger and Sarah had eleven children:

*John, Captain and Planter of Salisbury, b.9 March 1640, m. 27 Oct. 1665 Hannah Healey, 5 Nov 1670 Mary Boyton. All children (7) by second wife. Will written in 1715 & 1720.

*Nathaniel Planter and Cooper of  Salisbury, b. 18 May 1643, m. 30 April 1672 Elizabeth Hudson. (10) children, d. 10 June 1716.

*Phillip, Haverhill and Woodstock. b. 30 Dec 1644, m. (1) unknown, (2) 22 Aug 1678 widow Mary (Barnard) Morse, (3) Margaret Unknown, (5) children, captured by Indians in King Philip's War in 1676, d. 1714.

*Thomas, Haverhill, b. 1646, m. 20 Jan 1679/80 Deborah Corliss, soldier in King Philip's War, d. 29 April 1688, (4) children, (1) k. by Indians in 1696.

*Timothy, Salisbury and Hadley, b. 1648, m. 16 May 1682 Lydia Markham, d. 1 April 1733, (4) children, outlived only by an unmarried daughter.

*Joseph, Weaver of Suffield and Hadley, b. 1651, m. Mary Tilton, soldier in King Philip's War, d. 1692.

*Benjamin, Tanner of Salisbury, b. 12 Feb 1652/3, m. (1) 5 April 1678  Ann Pitts, w/o Sam Joy, (2) Naomi Flanders, (3) twice widowed Sarah.  will proved 4 March 1727/8.

*Sarah b. 25 Sept 1655, m. (1) 13 June 1678 Joseph French, (2) 4 Aug 1684 Solomon Sheppard, d. 1 Dec 1748.

*Samuel, Salisbury, b. 20 Nov 1657, m. 4 Nov. 1686 Elizabeth Scriven, d. 27 Feb 1725.(12) Children.

*Ruth b. 21 March 1660/61, m. 23 May 1690 Benjamin Heard

My ancestor is Ruth Eastman who married Benjamin Heard,  widower from Dover, New Hampshire. 


[1] Rix, G. S. (Guy Scoby). (1901). History and genealogy of the Eastman family of America: containing biographical sketches and genealogies of both males and females. Concord, N.H.: [Press of I.C. Evans].Great Migration Newsletter, V.1-20.(Online Database:, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2018.)

[2] The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record. New York, NY: New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, 1870-. (Online database:, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2011.)

[3]"England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975," database, FamilySearch ( : 10 February 2018, Roger Eastman, ); citing item 1, index based upon data collected by the Genealogical Society of Utah, Salt Lake City; FHL microfilm 1,279,375.

[4] Pillsbury Ancestry

[5] Anderson, Robert Charles. Great Migration Directory (The). Immigrants to New England, 1620-1640. A Concise Compendium. Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2015: "Eastman, Roger: Origins Unknown; immigration 1638 on Confidence; Settled in Salisbury. sources: Drake's Founders 58; SyTR 7; NYGBR 46:58-62; Pillsbury Anc 111-15; Guy S Rix History and Genealogy of the Eastman Family of America 2 volume publ 1901.

[6] (Roger came in 1638 on The Confidence.

[7] Charles Eastman, That Man Eastman, (Self-Published, 1952) 4. see book here.

[8] The old families of Salisbury and Amesbury, Massachusetts ... v.1. Hoyt, David Webster, 1833-1921.

1 comment:

Dell said...

I believe Roger Eastman and Sarah are the ancestors of Daniel Webster. Their son, John, had a son John, who had a son Roger, who had a daughter, Abigail, who married Ebenezer Webster. Abigail and Ebenezer's son was Daniel Webster.

Roles of Men, Women and Children in 17th Century Puritan Massachusetts

In 17 th century pur itan Massachusetts , the roles of men , women and children were very clearly defined . Men were the ...