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on some of her dower lands in Great Budworth; for the records of Chester cathedral show that she died not long afterwards, while residing at Seven Oaks in that parish.
She sailed from Boston, and by vote of the particular Court at New Haven, held on June 10, 1658, “it was committed to the townsmen to provide her at the town charge a footman to attend her to the Bay.”; A proposition was made at the same time to send also a mounted escort to protect her from the Indians, but this was laid over for future consideration, and receives no further mention in the records. She took her daughter, Hannah, with her, who soon returned to spend the rest of her life here as the wife of Governor Jones. I Theophilus Eaton remained in Ireland, where his descendants are still to be found.
It has not been the purpose of this paper to trace in detail the public services of Governor Eaton. He brought the scattered plantations together as a single government. He framed its code of laws. He helped to form that confederation of the United Colonies of New England which was the prototype of the confederation of the United States of America of the succeeding century. He inspired, to a large extent, the foreign policy of this alliance, and conducted important negotiations with the Dutch at New Amsterdam. More truly than Louis XIV could say of France “L'État, c'est moi,” Eaton could have declared that he was New Haven. While Davenport shared the work of planning it, it fell to Eaton, almost unaided, to conduct its affairs.
He had omitted any provision for juries in drafting the Colony Laws, on account of his preference for the methods of trial with which he had become familiar during his life in Europe. This threw a double duty on the magistrates, and of that the lion's share rested on the shoulders of the presiding
* Pict. Hist. of Raynham, 48.
# She died May 4, 1707, a few months after her husband. 1 New Haven MSS. Rec. of Births, Marriages and Deaths, 98.
$ Pict. Hist. of Raynham, 47.
judge. That it was a burden he was well fitted to sustain we may be sure from this vivid portraiture of him, drawn by a contemporary to whom he must have been personally known:
“He had an excellent princely face and port, commanding respect from all others: he was a good scholar, a traveler, a great reader, of an exceeding steady and even spirit not easily moved to passion, and standing unshaken in his principles, when once fixed upon; of a profound judgment, full of majesty and authority in his judicatures, so that it was a vain thing to brave him out, and yet in his ordinary conversation, and among friends, of such pleasantness of behavior and such felicity and fecundity of harmless wit as hardly can be paralleled.”
In the same vein, though without the same elegance of expression, are these stanzas from a long elegy written by another of his friends, Rev. Abraham Pierson, the pastor of the Branford church:
“Joshua-like, strong, and of good courage hee,
The pleasant stories he was wont to tell!”+ No modern pen can add to these graphic strokes. They bring back to us the imposing figure and the grave countenance that yet could light up with a kindly smile, better even than the painter's art.
A distinguished Connecticut divine of a former generation, in a discourse prepared on the occasion of the funeral of the pastor of one of our ancient churches, after speaking with proper warmth of the many virtues which had adorned his life, concluded thus: “In casting about for the faults of this blameless man, I have thought of this," and then proceeded to sketch a background for his picture. He was prevailed on by a friend, to whom he submitted the sermon for criticism, to omit this passage; but as I have taken no such advice, I shall venture to allude to one feature of Governor Eaton's history, which might be thought to cast a certain shadow upon it.
* Hubbard, Gen. Hist. XV Mass. Hist. Soc. Coll., 330. Paul Bartlett has been engaged by the State Commission of Sculpture of Connecticut to design a statue of Eaton to be placed on the north front of the capitol.
† Mass. Hist. Soc. Coll., 4th Series, VII, 477.
He was a slaveholder; becoming such not long after he settled in New Haven. He belonged to his century and shared its opinions. Slavery was then an institution regarded as lawful throughout the world. He read also in his bible that it had been always recognized as such among the Hebrews, and his very reverence for the Old Testament led him, as it led so many other good men throughout the South, in later days, to accept, without question, whatever he found there, seeming to indicate a rule of social right and duty. What he taught his children upon this subject may be inferred from a paper drawn or signed in her later years by his daughter, Hannah. He had given permission to two of his slaves, in their old age, to occupy a small house adjoining his orchard, and they remained there for a long time after his death. A law suit was the result, in 1691, to determine the title to the house lot. Mrs. Jones was the plaintiff, and in her petition says that her father "had two negro servants, bought with his money, servants forever or during his pleasure, according to Leviticus, 25; 45 and 46. These were a part of my Hond father's estate."*
The texts from the Mosaic law to which she refers are as follows:
“Moreover of the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall ye buy, and of their families that are with you, which they beget in your land: and they shall be your possession.
And ye shall take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them for a possession; they shall be your bondmen forever: but over your brethren, the children of Israel, ye shall not rule one over another with rigour.”
The fact that these two negroes were not inventoried at the time of Governor Eaton’s death, as part of his estate, may indicate simply that they were regarded as so old and infirm as to be worthless. It may also be explained on the theory, probably set up by the defendant in the case, that he had emancipated them and given them the land on which they resided. Let us hope that this is the true explanation, and that Eaton, like Washington, though a slaveholder, came to be an unwilling one, and did what he could to set the captive free.
* State MSS. Archives, Miscellaneous, Vol. II, page 1.
Will of Rev. Richard Eaton.* “In the name of God Amen. The eleaventh of July 1616 and in the yeares of the raigne of Or Lord James by the grace of God Kinge of England Scotland ffraunce and Ire land Defendor of the faith &c. that is to say of England ffraunce and Ireland the ffourteenth and of Scotland the nyne and ffortieth, I Richard Eaton Clarke beinge weake in body and yett in perfect mynde and memorie all prayse be given to God therefore calinge to mynde the certaintie of Death and the uncertaintie of tyme and place when and where it shall please God to visite me and myndinge to sett in order and to dispose of such worldly goods as it hath pleased God to blesse me withalle Doe make and declare this my last Will and Testament in manner and forme followinge, ffirst and principally I comend my soule to Allmightie God my Creator and to Jesus Christ his deare sonne my Saviour and Redeemer by whose most pretious Death and passion I hope assuredly to be saved and to have full and free remyssion of all my synnes, And my body I committ to the earth to be buried in such place convenient as my Executor hereafter named shall thinke good, and that done I will that such Debts as I owe to any person or persons shall bee truly payed with as convenient speede as maye bee after my Decease. Item whereas I have two houses commonly called and knowne by the names of Pow house and the Poos house situate in Over Whettly in the County of Chester as alsoe a peece of lande which I lately bought of John Eaton of Sandynay My, will and mynde is that my lovinge. wife Elizabeth Eaton shall quietly and peaceably have hold and enjoy the same duringe her naturall life togeather with all such landes rents and revenues as are thereto belonginge or any wise appertaininge. Item whereas I have certaine other lande and Tenementes now in the occupacion of Thomas Whittly as allsoe Brothertons howse in Over Wheatly my Will and mynde is that my Executor hereafter named shall doe his best endevour to make sale of the aforesaid lande and Tenementes to the best advantage, And I doe freely give unto my Children hereafter named as Childrens partes and portions due from me unto them all such somme and sommes of money as those aforesaid landes and Tenementes beinge soulde shall amounte unto to witte unto Elizabeth, Hanah, John, Samuell, Thomas, ffrancis, Nathaniell, and Jonathan to be equally devided amongest them, Item I give and bequeath unto my lovinge sonne Theophilus Eaton whome I doe make the full and sole Executor of this my last Will and Testament as his Childes parte and portion those two afore named howses called by the name of Pow howse and the Poos howse with the landes and proflits thereto belonginge, onely reservinge the rents and commodities of the same unto my deare and lovinge wife duringe her life in manner and forme as is before expressed
* Weldon 8. Copied by Miss Kate Joyce, June, 1900.
Item I give and bequeath unto him after his mothers Decease, that parcell of lande which I bought of John Eaton of Sandy way with all other landes and tenements whatsoever that are myne either by fee simple or lease which have not in this present Testament beene mentioned. The residue of all my goodes Chattells Cattell money plate and all manner of moveables beinge first at the discretion of my Executor equally and justly valued my funerall charges allsoe beinge discharged I doe thus ordaine and appointe to be disposed of, ffirst I give and bequeath unto my lovinge wife one thirde part thereof, Item I give and bequeath the two remayninge thirdes unto my afore named Children to witt Elizabeth, Hanah, John, Samuell, Thomas, ffrancis, Nathaniell and Jonathan' to be equally devided amongest them. Item my will and mynde is that my sonne Theophilus shall pay unto my three Daughters (in consideration of the lande that I have given him) videlt Elizabeth, Hanah, and ffrancis at their severall marriages, such a somme or sommes of money as may make up those portions which I have allready bequeathed them the just somme of one hundred poundes a peece of currant English money, Item if my sonne Theophilus shall with the consent of my lovinge Wife covenant to pay unto my afore named Children when they of age* such portions as my said Wife and sonne shall in their Discretions thincke convenient and can agree upon, that then iny expresse will and minde is, and I doe by these presents give and bequeath unto my said sonne Theophilus all those landes and Tenementes in the occupacion of Thomas Whittly & Brotherton (which were above appointed to be sold) to be disposed of to his owne use and behoofe as he himselfe shall thincke fittinge which my said sonne I doe as before make and ordaine full and sole executor of this my last Will and Testament not doubting but he will see the same in all thinges dulie performed according to the truste I have and doe repose in him. And I doe hereby revoke all former Willes Legaceys and Devises by me heretofore made And I will that this shall stand fore my last Will and none other or otherwise. In witnesse whereof to this my present. Testament and last Will conteyning one sheete of paper and somewhat more I the said Richard Eaton have set to my hand and seale. Geouen the daye and yere first above written.
Richard Eaton. Sealed and published by the saied Richard Eaton as his last will and testament in the presence of us this twelveth of Julye one thousand six hundred and sixteene.
14 January 1616-7.
Juramento Theophili Eaton.