By Rosalie Eggleston, Ph.D.,
and Linda Eggleston McBroom

Bygod1 Eggleston was among the founders of Dorchester, Massechusetts, in 1630 and of Windsor, Connecticut, in 1635. He was born to JamesA Eggleston in 1586/7 and baptised at Settrington, Yorkshire, England.

Probably no early colonist has had more erroneous conjectures made about him than Bygod Eggleston. This is due to the total absence of records relating to his mother and his wives. We now have proof that his mother was not Juliana Harker, as has been widely accepted in the past. The conjecture was based on the fact that in his will of 1612, James Eggleston named Julian as his wife and a neighbor, Ralph Harker, as his brother. The assumption was that Ralph had an older sister named Juliana or Julian who married James Eggleston and became the mother of his eight children. (For details of Eggleston and Harker families, see the 1991 book by the present authors: Bygod Eggleston: Englishman & Colonist and some of his Descendants The Mary & John Clearing House, 562-305th St., Toledo OH 43611, hereafter Eggleston.)

Three recently discovered wills prove that there was no Juliana in the Harker family and that the wife mentioned in James Eggleston's will was Juliana Frear, daughter of John Frear of Thorp Bassett, a parish adjacent to Settrington. (We are indebted to Robert Charles Anderson, coeditor of TAG, for discovering the will Richard Harker of London and to Tim Owston for discovering the wills of John Freer [Frear, Frere, Fryer] of Thorpe Bassett and Juliana Bainton of Settrington.)

If we assume that Juliana Frear was the mother of all eight of Jame's children, then we are left with the problem of why he called Ralph Harker his brother. The solution to this problem may lie in a fact which seems to have escaped the notice of earlier writers on Bygod's family. There was an age difference of about twenty-five years between the eldest child, Bygod, and the youngest, Alice. That seems a long time for one mother to bear children in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. James Eggleston's family can be divided into two sets of four children separated by a lapse of eight years. This suggests that Jame's first wife died and he remarried.

Following is a list of names and baptismal dates of those children which are recorded in the Settrington Parish Register with the exceptions of Dorothy and Alice; we know of their existence from the wills of James and Juliana.

Date of baptism Name of child
13 Feb, 1586/7 Bygod
[say 1589] Dorothy

8 Oct. 1592 Elizabeth
2 Nov. 1595 Jane

[a gap of nearly eight years ]
19 June 1603 James
6 April 1606 John
28 Feb. 1608/9 Margaret
[say 1611] Alice

In our book about Bygod Eggleston, we gave the will of Miles Harker, Ralph's father, and noted two phrases which indicate that he did not name all of his children (Eggleston, 16). Fortunately, Ralph Harker, eldest son of Miles, left a will which names all four of his sisters, three of whom were not mentioned by Miles.

Richard Harker's will, dated 1 March "one thowsand Five hundred threscore & fourteene" [1574/5] and proved on 19 April 1575, may be found in the Preragative Court of Cantebury (14 Pyckering [Family History Library (FHL), Salt Lake City, film #091,953]). It is a long and detailed will which shows that Richard Harker, mercer, of the parish of St. Dunstan's in the East in the City of London, had become a wealthy Elizabethan gentleman. He bequeathed fine and fashionable clothes as well as gold for death's head rings, jewels, silver spoons, gilded table items, swords and amour. He left to his wife Elizabeth, his two London houses and some disputed property in Cheshire, and made elaborate arrangements in the event that she was with child. He had paid the £13 necessary to renew the lease to his father's farm in Settrington. His brother George was one of the witnesses of Richard's will which indicates that he was also in London.

Following are abstracts of those parts of Richard Harker's will relevant to the Eggleston problem:

To my four sisters Isabell, Agnes, Margarett and Elizabeth £3 6s. And 8d. Each.
To my brother Georg[Eggleston] Harker £10 and wearing apparel.
To my brother Thomas Harker £5.
To my brother Raffe Harker 40s. "In considerac[I]on that he hath my father's Farme which I paid for and oughte to have-notwithstandinge I am contented that my mother in Lawe have the same during the terme of hir widowho[o]d and then the same Farme to retorne and revert againe to the said Rauffe Harker."
To the poor of Settrington in the county of York, 40s.

Here we learn the names of Isabel, Agnes and Margaret whom Miles did not name in his will. We also learn that Dorothy Harker named in Miles's will was not his first wife and not the mother of Richard who calls her mother-in-law, meaning stepmother.


Richard: Named as eldest in Miles Harker's will. Married Elizabeth Williamson at St. Dinstan in the East, London, on 12 December 1572.
George: Named in both wills. Probably lived in London.
Thomas: Named in both wills.
Ralph: Named in both wills. Baptised at Settrington 23 May 1561. Married
Isabel Berryman, daughter of Petronell and Anthony Berryman of East Heslerton, Yorkshire, about 1586. Ralph Harker's children were:
i Petronell bp.9 Feb. 1588/9
ii Miles bp.30 Aug. 1590.
iii John bp. 24 June 1592
iv Isabel bp. 17 June 1594, d.y.
v Elizabeth bp. 25 July 1596, d.y.
[A gap of eight years ]
vi Elizabeth bp. 12 Sept. 1604.

In his will of 1612, James A Eggleston said: "Item I do give unto my brother Ralf Harker his fower children everye one of them one Ewe." In our book about Bygod Eggleston, we said that there should have been five children belonging to Ralph Harker in 1612 when James Eggleston made his will (Eggleston, 15). It was obvious that Ralph's first Elizabeth had died as an infant. We suggested that Petrnell might have died young also. We now know that it was Isabel who died young. In a will dated 20 November 1615, John Owston of East Heslerton left legacies to the same four children of Ralph Harker and named them as Miles, John, Petronell and Elizabeth (Perogative Court of York [PCY] 33:712).


Isabel. Named only in Richard Harker's will. Isabel married James Melton at Settrington on 16 August 1573.

Agnes. Named only in Richard Harker's will. An Agnes Barker or Harker married John Harke at Settrington on 27 June 1568. He died and Agnes married William Johnson on 23 October 1575. After Johnson's death Agnes married Nicholas Roome. Agnes died in December 1607. There is some doubt about whether this Agnes was a daughter of Miles Harker, but we think that she was. No other Barker's are recorded in the Settrington register at that time.

Margaret. Named only in Richard's will. No further records have been found for Margaret Harker.

Elizabeth. Named in both wills. Baptised at Settrington on 31 January 1563/4. She married (1) John Nicholson of West Heslerton and (2) John Knaggs, and had issue by both husbands. Elizabeth left a will dated 1620 in which she named her brother "Raiph" Harker and his son Miles (PCY 36:530). One of the witnesses of her will was Robert Lamb, who was probably her stepfather. Her mother Dorothy, widow of Miles Harker, married Robert Lamb on 13 August 1581. This Dorothy could not have been Dorothy Bigod, daughter of Sir Francis, as some have conjectured.

From the information above, we can see that Miles Harker did not have a daughter named Juliana. All of his daughters appear to be accounted for except Margaret. We believe that Margaret Harker married James Eggleston. We have already noted the eight-year gap in the births of the children of James Eggleston that suggests that he had had two wives, and this solution is that James named his first daughter from his second marriage after his deceased wife, Margaret, a common practice of the time.

Margaret (Harker) Eggleston must have died sometime between the births of Jane in 1595 and James Jr. In 1603. By about 1602, James Eggleston married Juliana Frear, as the will of her father shows. John Frear's will, executed on 18 April 1605 and proved on 3 October 1605 is given here in full as transcribed by Linda Eggleston McBroom (PCY 29:704):


In the name of god Amen the xviijth day of Aprill an[n]o d[o]m[in]I 1605 I john Frear of Thorpe bassette in the County of York, Yeoman, sicke in body but sounde & p[er]fecte in remembrance thankes be to almighty god make this my last will & testament in manner & forme followinge. First I bequeath my soule unto allmightie god and my body to be buried within the church yarde of Thorp basset

It[e]m I give unto my sonne Thomas Freare xxxs I give unto my sonne in lawe James Eggleston of Settrington iiijli ijs

It[e]m I give unto the fower children of Lancelote Atley to be equallye devided amonest them five poundes

It[e]m I give unto Christopher harker of Scagglethrop [i.e., Scagglethorpe] my sonne in law [?] vjs viijd

It[e]m I give unto Christofer Jenkinson a bonde wherein he stoode bounde to pay unto me five pounds

It[e]m I doe give him more one cowe & fower shorne sheepe

It[e]m I doe give unto Lancelote Jenkinson a lambe

It[e]m my landes house garth [i.e., enclosed yard] and houses I give unto Elizabeth Freare my wife

It[e]m I freely forgive my sonne Thomas Freare three pounds xs w[hi]ch he oweth unto me

It[e]m I freely forgive my sonne in law James Eggleston xviijs & iiijd which he oweth unto me for a cowe

The rest of all my gooded my debts paid and fun[er]alle discharged I freely give to Elizabeth Freare my wife and Thomas Freare my sonne whome I doe make joynt exequutors of this my last will & testament

Witnesses hereof Richard Sandyman John Blenthorne and George Benson

Terms of relationships found in early wills sometimes differ from our modern concepts of them. "Son-in-law," for example, could mean a stepson or spouse of a daughter. We have proof that John Freare was using our modern meaning of the term. He also named Christopher Harker as his son-in-law and we have a record of Harker's marriage to Helen Frear.

There are three names in particular to notice in this will. James Eggleston, Christopher Jenkinson and Christopher Harker all married daughters of John Frear. Lancelot Atley may also have married a Frear daughter. The Settrington register and the IGI record the marriages of the two Christophers but not of James or Lancelot. They were probably married at Thorpe Bassett, and the register for that parish does not begin until 1656 with sketchy Bishop's Transcripts beginning in 1604. Christopher Jenkinson was married to Alice Frear on 1 July 1582, and Christopher Harker married Helen Frear on 17 May 1590, both at Settrington. These female Frears had a brother Leonard Frear who lived at Settrington. Leonard married Jane Swinburn on 3 May 1579.

In his will, John Frear did not name Christopher Jenkinson as his son-in law, yet we have the record of his marriage to Alice. It seems more than probable that Alice had died before John Frear made his will. A substantial legacy went to Christopher and a lamb to Lancelot Jenkinson. This son seems to have been the only issue of Alice and Christopher Jenkinson.

Thomas Frear, James Eggleston, Christopher Harker and the Atley children all recieved the exact equivalent of £5. Jame's wain, or wagon, was worth 18s. And he received £4.2 in cash which totals exactly £5.

Christopher Harker of Scagglethorpe within the parish of Settrington was a son of Robert Harker and possibly a cousin to Ralph, son of Miles. James Eggleston and Christopher Harker were brothers-in-law through marriage. There is no reason to attempt to link Christopher with the fact that James called Ralph his brother. James left a substantial legacy of a ewe to each of Ralph's four children, and he left nothing to Christopher Harker. This suggests a stronger bond between James and Ralph.

The Frears seemed to have been quite wealthy land owners. John Frear could call himself a yeoman, largely on the basis of his ownership of a freehold farm in Thorpe Bassett. In addition, he held the leases to four farms in Settrington. He passed these leases on to his son, Leonard, in 1594/5. Leonard then sold the leases to three of the farms, but kept the largest one for himself and lived there. It had more acres than any other mixed farm in Settrington.(HARKER. King and A. Harris, eds., A Survey of the Manor of Settrington, Yorkshire Archaeological Society Record Series, 126[1962]; this survey of land holdings in Settrington was carried out by John Mansfiled, the Queen'Settrington surveyor, in 1599/1600.)

Leonard Frear had also purchased two freehold farms in Settrington. One of them was the parcel of land on which the dovecote was situated. This desirable property came into the possession of James Eggleston who passed it on to his young son, James Jr., in his will. In our book about Bygod Eggleston, we discussed the prestige attached to the ownership of the dovecote (Eggleston, 44-45). There could be only one on any manor because of the damage that too many birds could cause to rops. On most manors, only the landlord was allowed to own the dovecote, but at this time Settrington was Crown property and did not have a resodent landlord. There were probably a number of freeholders who coveted the dovecote because it provided a valuable source of fresh meat and eggs as well as fertilizer from the bird droppings.

We do not know if Leonard Frear gave or sold the dovecote to his brother in-law and sister, Juliana. Leonard died in 1601 and that is why his name did not appear in John Frear's will of 1605. Leonard left a will but all that remains of it now is the Latin probate in the York Act Books. At any rate, Leonard must have favored James and Juliana by letting them have it before 1601. Perhaps he gave it to them as a wedding present.

JamesA Eggleston did not leave any money or property to Juliana, but left his freehold farm to be divided between his sons John and James Jr., who were only seven and ten years old when their father made his will. In those days, the lives of widows with small children were very difficult. Juliana had four children of her own all under ten years of age, and Alice could not have been more than two or three. Of James Eggleston's older children, only Elizabeth remained in Settrington. Bygod, Dorothy and Jane were in Norwich before 1611 when Bygod's name appears in the Norwich militia lists.

On 15 June 1614, more than a year after James Eggleston died, Juliana Eggleston married William Bainton. No doubt he took over the running of the farm until James Jr., and John reached the age of majority. Bainton's will, dated 4 December 1632, shows that he had been a loving husband to Juliana and a caring stepfather to her children. (Eggleston, 12-13)

This marriage of Juliana to William Bainton explains the name Juland Banton in the third will being discussed in the article. The parish clerk or whoever wrote down the will from Juliana's dictation had a very poor concept of spelling, even of the phonetic spelling of that time. However, Juliana's is probably the most important will that we have found. We give it here in full.


In the name of god amen and the friste day of Januarye in the year of our lord god one thoussand six hundredth thirtie sixe [I.e., 1636/7] Curante I Juland banton off Settrington in the Countie off yorke weda being sicke in body but of p[er]ficke mynd and memorie thankes be to god doe make amd ordaine this my last will and Tesstament in maanor and Forom Follwing vid First I give soule to Allmightie god who gave it and to Jesus Christe who bought it and to the holy ghoste who sanctifyed it and my bodie to be buried in the Church yard off Settrington: I do give Frances thrope and Elezebeth thrope my dowter two dowteres vs betwext them and one Letell Cheste by Legesses I do give to my sone John egellston my kowe and all her Fowther: by Legesse painge to my dowter Margrett Anfessonxxs by one brasse pot by Legasse I do give to Jane egellston my sone James egellston dowter one Cobbart and hatt by Legasse I do give to my dowter dorotye Barwicke which is at noreg xxs by Legasse I give to my dowter Jane Clarke which is at nereg xxs by Legasse I do give to Mary egellston youngeste dowter to my sone James egellston my best brass pott by Legasse I do give to my sone James egellston one spett by Legasse I do give to John egellston sone to John egellston one Chest by Legasse I do give to Margrett daffesson one smoke and apperon by Legasse dettes that I do owe Folleith I do owe unto barbera Fowller-xxs I do owe unto alsse abbutt xxs. I do owe unto Jaine egellston dowter to James egellston iis vjd I do owe unto John egellston sone to John egellston iis vid. dettes owing me my cussein Lenard Freare doth owe me-iiijli my debts and Funerall exspences paid I do make my two Sones James egellston and John egellston Full exectores off this my Last will and Testament In witness heare off I the said Juland banton have heare unto sett my hand the day and yeare above written in the P[re]sence off us

John Frearemmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm (mark)
mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm Juland banton

Margrett davesson

Unlike other Yorkshire wills, Juliana's was not found among those probated by the Prerogative Court of York. It was probated more than a year after it was written in the Deanery of Buckrose where Settrington was situated. Juliana was buried on 8 January 1636[/7], just a week after the will was written, but the will was not probated until February 1637/8. Apparently this will is not available on microfilm in the United States. We obtained our copy from the Borthwick Institute in York, England, and have their permission to publish this transcription made by Linda Eggleston McBroom (ref.: Buckrose D 1637/8).

Juliana Bainton did not have many worldly possesssions to bequeath to her children, grandchildren and stepdaughters, but she named all of James Eggleston's children, except Bygod who by 1636 was in Windsor, Connecticut.

Referring to page 9 of our book about Bygod Eggleston, we can see that Julianna had the following children and grandchildren at the time of her death:

James Jr. who married Jane ___ and had two daughters named Jane,aged four years, and Mary,aged about two years.

John who married Ursula Fisher and had two sons: James,aged less than four years, and John,aged less than one year.

Margaret seemed to be Juliana's mainstay in life and death. The Settrington register shows that she was married to John Avison, but in the will her married name appears in various forms such as "davesson." There are no records of any children of Margaret and John Avison. In 1639, Margaret, widow, married Roger Thorpe of Settrington. We wonder if he was related to the former husband of Margaret's deceased half-sister, Elizabeth, whose two daughters are mentioned in Juliana's will, Frances and Elizabeth Thorpe or Throp.

Alice whose name appears as "alis" in Juliana's will was obviously married to a Burnbe, probably Burnby. There were several Burnbys in Settrington then, but we cannot identify which one married Alice Eggleston.

Juliana named all of the children and grandchildren she had, but she also named or implied James Eggleston's older children, except, of course, Bygod. Dorothy, Elizabeth and Jane must have been her stepdaughters rather than daughters. Frances and Elizabeth Thorpe must have been the daughters of Elizabeth, and she must have died before Juliana made her will.

Juliana named [step]daughters Dorothy Barwicke "which is at noreg" and Jane Clarke "which is at noreg" In our book about Bygod Eggleston (p. 60) we said that we thought that Dorothy and Jane went to Norwich with Bygod because they were the only ones of James's children to receive legacies from their uncle Sylvester Eggleston who lived in that town. Juliana's will proves that we were right about that and we were also right about about Jane Eggleston's marriage to Samuel Clarke at St. Peter Mancroft, Norwich, in November of 1632. We have not found record of Dorothy's marriage.

Some of the items which Juliana bequeathed require clarification. She was a widow ("weda"). Her son John received Juliana's cow and all her fodder ("fowther"). Alice received all of her mother's wearing apparel and one piece of white "cateye," which may have been some kind of cloth. Margaret received a smock ("smoke") and apron ("aperron"). Others received pots, chests and a cupboard ("cubbart").

As usuals in wills of this period, Juliana listed debts owed and owing. Juliana still owed 20s. to Alice Abbot, the same amount that William Bainton owed her when he made his will in 1632. It is difficult to understand why Juliana owed 2s. 6d. to her infant grandchildren, Jane and John. Perhaps there was a custom that grandchildren gave baptismal gifts of money to their grandchildren and Juliana had not paid the money.

Most interesting is the statement that her cousin Leonard Frear owed her some money. In those days the term cousin could mean any relative other than parents, uncle, aunt or brother. We can tell from the parish register that this Leonard Frear Juliana's great-nephew, grandson of her brother Leonard Frear who once owned the dovecote and who died in 1601. The John Frear who witnessed her will was probably another great-nephew. The mention of these two Frears is futher confirmation that Juliana was a member of that family.

The three wills discussed in this article clear up some of the questions relating to Bygod Eggleston's maternal ancestry. If we are right about Margaret Harker's being Bygod's mother, then the problem of why James Eggleston called Ralph Harker his brother is resolved.

Rosalie Eggleston, a retired universtiy teacher of Birmingham, England, and Linda Eggleston McBroom, of Steilacoom, Washington, are an aunt and neice team who have been working on the English and American Egglestons for several years.

***Reprinted here by permission of the authors and The American Genealogist. The above article originally appeared in The American Genealogist, Whole Number 276 Vol. 69, No.4, October 1994, pp 193-201.

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Update on the Mother of Bygod Eggleston from the same authors.

The following is from a Mary & John Clearing House order form. I am neither affiliated with The Mary & John Clearing House nor with the authors and the information is provided as a service to Eggleston researchers.

The book Bygod Eggleston: Englishman & Colonist and Some of His Descendants, By Dr. Rosalie Eggleston & Linda McBroom. Softbound. 1991. 137 pages.

This is the most comprehensive book ever published on the English ancestry of Bygod Eggleston (1586-1674) of Windsor, Connecticut. This work is the result of extensive new research by Dr. Rosalie Eggleston of Birmingham, England & Linda McBroom of Steilacoom, Washington. They visited and photographed the towns of Settrington & Norwich, where Bygod Eggleston lived and found new records never before published. This book contains many photos and maps and also the first four generations on Bygod Eggleston's descendants.

Bygod Eggleston: Englishman & Colonist and Some of His Descendants is available from:

The Mary & John Clearing House
5602-305th Street
Toledo, Ohio 43611 Price is $16.00 plus $1.25 for shipping and handling.