Category Archives: Eddy

Abigail (Eddy) Benjamin, England to Massachusetts, 1632 on The Lyon: Her Origins

This is part of a series about my New England colonial ancestors who arrived by during the Great Migration. If you have early Massachusetts ancestry, be sure to check out AmericanAncestors, as the Great Migration Study Project can be viewed there with a membership to the New England Historic Genealogical Society.

Abigail (Eddy) Benjamin was already married to John Benjamin when they made the decision to leave England and sail away to Massachusetts Bay Colony on the Lyon in 1632.

However, there are a number of Eddy descendants in America today (Nelson Eddy, for one) because she was not the only family member to come to the same decision. Her brothers John and Samuel also settled in Massachusetts.

Charles Eddy published Genealogy of the Eddy Family in 1881, but his work remains well regarded, as this book is cited in the Great Migration Project sources.

The very beginning of Charles’ work is a detailed account of Reverend William Eddy and his wife, Mary Fosten, of Cranbrook, Kent, England. Although William and Mary never left England, they are the parents of three Eddys who became part of the Great Migration.

Therefore, it’s important to share a family sketch for this couple.

It is thought that William Eddy was born c1550, in Bristol, as he himself noted in the church book, but no documents have been found providing an exact date or identifying his parents in spite of some online trees.

He studied at St. Johns and Trinity College, Cambridge and earned a Master of Arts degree.

William Eddy married Mary Fosten on 20 November 1587 in Cranbrook, Kent, England. She was the daughter of John Fosten and Ellen Munn. Mary was the mother of all his children, but the last one, Priscilla, who was born to his second wife, Sarah Taylor, who he married on 22 February 1613/14, also in Cranbrook. Priscilla was baptized on 18 December 1614, but was buried on 22 February 1616.

William Eddy and Mary Fosten are my 10X great grandparents.

Children, all baptized at Cranbrook except for Nathaniel:

  1. Nathaniel, baptized 30 March 1589, Staplehurst, Kent, England; died by 1611.
  2. Mary, baptized 19 September 1591; married Simeon Merdon.
  3. Phineas, baptized 23 September 1593; died c1641, England; married (1) Katherine Courthropp (2) Christian (MNU), before December 1639.
  4. John Eddy, baptized 27 March 1597; died 12 October 1684, Watertown, Middlesex, Massachusetts; married (1) Amy Doggett, c1622, England (2) Joanne (MNU) Meade, widow of Gideon Meade, after 12 May 1666. He lived in Boxted, Essex, England before migrating and arrived on the Handmaid in 1630. He lived first at Plymouth before removing to Watertown.
  5. Eleanor, baptized 5 August 1599; died October 1610, both in Cranbrook, Kent, England.
  6. Abigail, baptized October 1601; died 20 May 1687, Charlestown, Suffolk, Massachusetts; married John Benjamin, c1620, probably Kent, England. They arrived in Massachusetts in 1632 on the Lyon.
  7. Anne, baptized 15 May 1603; died 1678, Massachusetts; married Barnabas Wines, c1628, England. This family arrived in Massachusetts in 1634. They lived in St. Clement Ipswich, Suffolk, England before migrating.
  8. Elizabeth, baptized 7 December 1606; no further record.
  9. Samuel, baptized 15 May 1608; died 12 November 1688, Swansea, Bristol, Massachusetts; married Elizabeth (possibly Savory), by 1637. Samuel also arrived in Massachusetts by 1630, settling first at Plymouth and later in Swansea.
  10. Zacharias, baptized march 1610; no further record.
  11. Nathaniel, baptized 18 July 1611; buried 27 July 1611.

John and Samuel Eddy were the first to arrive in Massachusetts Bay Colony, although it isn’t known whether both sailed on the Handmaid or if Samuel came on a different ship.

Abigail and John Benjamin were next to arrive in 1632.

Anne and husband Barnabas Wines were last to leave the homeland in 1634.

Their parents were long deceased by this time. Their mother Mary was buried on 18 July 1611, likely from childbirth difficulties, as her last child Nathaniel was born in July 1611.

Reverend William Eddy died on 23 November 1616, in Cranbrook, Kent, England. No gravestone has been found for him, but as he was the vicar of the church, he may be buried inside the building, as was the custom.

My line of descent:

  1. Rev. William Eddy & Mary Fosten
  2. John Benjamin & Abigail Eddy
  3. John Woodward & Abigail Benjamin
  4. John Woodward & Susannah Grout
  5. John Woodward & Saphira Moore
  6. Robert Wilson & Mary Woodward
  7. Robert Wilson & Dorothy Holmes
  8. Benjamin Parker and Maria Wilson
  9. Daniel Adams & Sarah Ann Parker
  10. Calvin Segee Adams & Nellie F. Tarbox
  11. Charles Edwin Adams & Annie Maude Stuart
  12. Vernon Tarbox Adams & Hazel Ethel Coleman
  13. George Michael Sabo & Doris Priscilla Adams
  14. Linda Anne (Sabo) Stufflebean – Me!



Rev. William Eddy & Mary Fosten of Cranbook, Kent, England

Rev. William Eddy, the vicar of St. Dunstan’s Church, the “Cathedral in the Weald,” never traveled to the American colonies, but he has many descendants today in the United States.

The reverend was a well educated man, having received his B.A. degree from the University of Cambridge in 1583 and three years later, earned a master’s degree, also at Cambridge.

On 15 January 1591, “William Eddye” was appointed as the vicar of Cranbrook by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rev. Whitgift. He served there the rest of his life.

William Eddy was born c1562 to unproven parents (in spite of what is found online). He married (1) Mary Fosten, 20 November 1587, Cranbrook, Kent, England. Mary died on 18 July 1611 in Cranbrook.  (2) Sarah Taylor, 22 February 1614/14, also at Cranbrook.

William was the father of twelve children, with eleven being born to Mary and his last child, a daughter, to Sarah Taylor.

Children (All events in Cranbrook unless noted otherwise):

1. Nathaniel, baptized 30 March 1589, Staplehurst, Kent, England; died before 1611.
2. Mary, baptized 19 September 1591; reportedly married Simeon Merdon
3. Phineas, baptized 23 September 1593; died c1641; married (1) Katherine Courthropp (2) Christian (MNU), before December 1639. This family reportedly moved to Portsmouth, England, but Phineas supposedly died in Cranbrook.
4. John, baptized 27 March 1597; died 12 October 1684, Watertown, Middlesex, Massachusetts; married (1) Amy Doggett, c1622, England (2) Joanna (MNU), the widow of Gabriel Meade, after 12 May 1666. His two eldest children were baptized at Nayland, Suffolk, England. John and Amy and children arrived in Massachusetts on the Handmaid in 1630.
5. Eleanor, baptized 5 August 1599; died October 1610
6. Abigail, baptized October 1601; died 20 May 1687, Charlestown, Suffolk, Massachusetts; married John Benjamin, c1620. John and Abigail Benjamin emigrated to Massachusetts on the Lion in 1632.
7. Anne, baptized 15 May 1603; died 1678; married Barnabas Wines. Barnabas and Anne also emigrated to Massachusetts, settling in Watertown.
8. Elizabeth, baptized 7 December 1606; no further record.
9. Samuel, baptized 15 May 1608; died 12 November 1687, Swansea, Bristol, Massachusetts; married Elizabeth Savory. Samuel and Elizabeth sailed with his brother John’s family on the Handmaid in 1630.
10. Zacharias, baptized March 1610; no further record
11. Nathaniel, baptized 18 July 1611; buried 27 July 1611.

Rev. Eddy’s last child was with his second wife, Sarah Taylor:

12. Priscilla, baptized 18 December 1614; buried 20 February 1616.



Immigrants John Benjamin & Abigail Eddy, MA, 1632

John Benjamin and his wife, Abigail Eddy, were early immigrants to Massachusetts, having arrived in the Lion in 1632. The origins of John Benjamin are unknown, but he likely came from the area around Cranbrook, Kent, England, as Abigail was baptized there on 25 October 1601. Her father, William Eddy, was the vicar of the church and the family lived there for a number of years. Her mother was Mary Fosten, born c1566 and who died in 1611 in Cranbrook.

John Benjamin was born c1595 and likely married Abigail c1620. As her father was the local minister, and she would certainly have married in his church, it’s a mystery why their marriage record hasn’t been found even though the church registers exist well back into the 1500s.

Another mystery about the Benjamin family is why there are no births recorded for the children born in Massachusetts when church records from the era are extant. At least five children were born to this couple after they settled in Massachusetts.

John Benjamin died on 14 June 1645 in Watertown, Middlesex, Massachusetts. Abigail survived her husband by many years, although she never remarried. Her death date/place is reported to be 20 May 1687 in Charlestown, Suffolk, Massachusetts. However, her death isn’t in found in the town records and it is thought that the date may have been found on a gravestone that no longer exists or is illegible.

John and Abigail were the parents of 8 known children. There is a big gap between the births of Mary and Joseph. It is possible that they lost three children born in that time period, but it seems to me that it is also possible that Abigail Eddy died and John Benjamin married a second time to another woman named Abigail.

Many men in this time period typically married near the age of 25 and the women near the age of 21. Yet in the birth year estimates assigned to these children in the Great Migration Project, Joseph would have been 27, Samuel 29, Caleb 33, Abel 31 and Joshua 40 at the time they married, apparently for the first time.

If there was a second wife Abigail and Joseph was born c1636, Samuel, c1640, Caleb, c1646, Abel, c1646 and Joshua, c1657, their age at marriage would make a lot more sense.

Another possibility, given the lack of vital records, is that one or more of the Benjamin men had a previous unidentified wife.

There is a statement in the Great Migration Project that the birth order and years of birth for this family are “problematic.”

It is what it is and, lacking any further documentation, at least the children have been identified.


1. John, born c1620, England; died 22 December 1706, Watertown, Middlesex, Massachusetts, aged 86 years.

2. Abigail, born c1624, England; died 30 October 1704, Sudbury, Middlesex, Massachusetts; married (1) Joshua Stubbs, c1645 (2) John Woodward, between April 1657-November 1658.

3. Mary, born c1626, England; died 10 April 1646, Watertown, Middlesex, Massachusetts. She was born no earlier than 1646 as she left a will that was not admitted to probate because she was under the legal age of 21 when she died.

4. Joseph, born c1634, Massachusetts; married (1) Jemima Lombard, 10 June 1661, Barnstable, Barnstable, Massachusetts (2) Sarah (MNU)

5. Samuel, born c1636, Massachusetts; died probably in Hartford, Hartford, Connecticut; married Mary (MNU), c1665

6. Caleb, born c1638, Massachusetts; married Mary Hale, after 8 May 1684, probably Wethersfield, Hartford, Connecticut.

7. Abel, born c1640, Massachusetts; married Aminathia Mirrick, 6 November 1671, Charlestown, Suffolk, Massachusetts

8. Joshua, born c1642, Massachusetts; died 6 May 1684, Charlestown, Suffolk, Massachusetts, aged 42 years; married Thankful Stow, 24 August 1682, Charlestown, Suffolk, Massachusetts. She married (2) Ebenezer Austin, 8 July 1685, Charlestown, Suffolk, Massachusetts.

Will of Mary Benjamin, 1646
Source: American Ancestors

John Benjamin left a 1645 will, but only named eldest son, John, with a double portion and “seven of my other children.”

Will of John Benjamin, 1645
Suffolk County, MA Probate Book 1:36-37
Source: FamilySearch

I John Benjamin being in pfect memory as touching my outward estate do give & bequeaath t omy sonne John a double portion of my estate & my beloved wife two Cowes fourty bushels of Corne out of all my lands to be allowed her towards the bringing up on my smale Children yearly such as grows uppon the ground one part of fower of all  my houshould stuffe all the rest of my lands goodes & chattles I will shalbe equally divided betweene seven other of my children Provided that out of all my former estate my will is that my wife dureing her life shall enjoy the dwelling house I live in & three Acres of the broken up ground next the house & two Acres of the Meddowe neere hand belonging to the house That this will be truly pformed I doe appoint my brother John Eddie of Watertown & Thomas Marrit of Cambridge that they doe theire best Indevor to see this pformed

John Benjamin

Witnes George Muninge

the 15 (4) 45

This was proved to be the last will & Testament of John Benjamin & that he did further declare (as an addition to this his will that his wife should have liberty to take wood for her use uppon any of his lands dureing her life uppon the Oath of John Eddye (5) 3 1645

Before Thomas Dudley Gov.
Jo winthrop Dep Gov