Is Surname EASTON in Muster Rolls 1630?

Discussion in 'Main Forum' started by PlainJane, Jun 26, 2017.

  1. PlainJane

    PlainJane New Member

    Hello. I am a new member and also new to forums!
    I am interested in the surname EASTON in Antrim. According to a family diary the family fled from Antrim to Lanarkshire Scotland in 1641 during the Rebellion.
    I am surprised to find out from your forum that there may be Muster Rolls that might place this family in Antrim.
    Can anyone help?
    Thanks for any suggestions.
  2. Elwyn

    Elwyn Member

    The 1630 Muster Rolls list 2 John Eastons in Ulster, both in Co Down. One was in the town & parish of Killeglagh (modern Killyleagh) and the other in the town and lands of Holliwood (modern Holywood). The later had no arms (ie no sword, snaphance, pike etc).

    No Eastons anywhere else, and none in Co Antrim.
  3. PlainJane

    PlainJane New Member

    Thank you for looking this up for me! And I am so excited to find something!
    I would appreciate any further insights or suggestions on next steps for research if anyone can help.
    This line is of particular interest to me in that ‘Easton’ was my father’s given name but it is limited what one research from Canada.

    I am making 2 assumptions:
    a) Eastons are not of Irish origin? (It is not a common Irish surname?)
    b) Because they end up in Scotland, I assume they came from Scotland?

    Placing this family in history:
    If the family is in Down in 1630, they may have come as part of the private plantations of Antrim/Down and not as part of the main Ulster plantations?
    I think from the family diary (a grandson travelling with his grandfather _ possibly the father was killed/detained?) that they were in Ireland for at least one or two generations?

    I have more questions than answers.
    1. I do not know enough about the movement of peoples in 1600s or during the 1641 Rebellion. Holliwood apparently was a significant port in 1625. One could travel from Holliwood (or Belfast) to Scotland (to Stanraer?).
    It seems a little more difficult from Killeglagh?
    And I guess it is too optimistic to hope there might be ship records?

    2. What resources are available to take either of these lines back further?

    3. How might Townland records help?
    Holliwood is a town and a townland
    But Killeglagh has 24 townlands? How do I narrow that down?

    4.Are these two areas Holiiwood and Killeglagh (or the specific townlands) under the same landowner? Do estate records exist?

    Thanks. I appreciate any help.
  4. Elwyn

    Elwyn Member

    There’s about 200 people named Eason/Easton in the 1901 Irish census. The majority are Presbyterian, some are Church of Ireland and there’s a few RC. So it’s a predominantly settler name. Given that the majority are Presbyterian that would point to them being of Scottish origins.

    Counties Antrim & Down weren’t involved in the Plantation of Ireland because they had already been settled by other means. In Co Antrim, the MacDonalds from Islay had been given about a quarter of the county in the 1500s. A lot of the remainder of Antrim and some of Down was settled in the Hamilton & Montgomery settlement of 1606 or thereabouts. On top of that there was a further rush of Scots in the 1690s fleeing famine in Scotland then. (Possibly 50,000 came then).

    You say, “because they ended up in Scotland, I assume they came from Scotland.” Not necessarily so. Hundreds of thousands of people of native Irish stock, with no previous connection to Scotland, also went to there in the 1800s for work and to avoid the dreadful conditions in Ireland. But in this case the Eastons probably did originate there.

    In the 1600s Carrickfergus was the capital of Ulster. That would have been one point of arrival/departure for Scotland. Holywood (as it is spelled today) is a suburb of Belfast. It doesn’t have a harbour at all, though I gather it was a port in the 1600s. Possibly not a very big one. Belfast itself was little more than a ford across a river in the 1600s and didn’t amount to a significant port either.

    Other ports used in the 1600s in that area that were used, were Larne, Bangor and Donaghadee. For a long time they crossed regularly from Donaghadee to Portpatrick. That’s only about 16 miles, but the harbour at Portpatrick was/is very exposed in bad weather conditions and in the 1800s they moved to Stranraer as it was more sheltered.

    Killyleagh is on Strangford Lough, so it’s easy enough to get to by sea as well. In the 1600s when there was shortage of Presbyterian Ministers in Ireland (the Church of Ireland had expelled most of them), the entire congregation of Killyleagh routinely used to sail over to Stranraer for their Sunday service, and then back again in the evening (according to a document on Presbyterian church history I have).

    There are no passenger or ship records for travel between Scotland & Ireland. There are only passenger records for intercontinental journeys eg Ireland to the US. They only started in the 1700s, and even that was sporadic. Belfast to Scotland is short domestic journey. Even in the 1600s it only took a few hours, and folk were back and forth all the time. Not the sort of travel there was any need to keep records for. Until quite recently the fishermen from Portnahaven on the Scottish Hebridean island of Islay used to land their fish at Ballycastle in Co Antrim because it was easier to get to than the fish market in Oban, Scotland. In the 1600s when there was fighting between Scots settlers and native Irish in the Glens of Antrim, the Scots would light fires on the top of the Antrim hills, to get assistance from their kin in Kintyre and Islay. They would then sail over to support them. Hopefully those anecdotes give you an idea of the routine contact and local travel that existed even in the 1600s. No paperwork was involved.

    You enquire about movement of people in the 1600s. Probably the best source is “The Scottish Migration to Ulster in the reign of King James I” by M. Perceval-Maxwell, which explains in great detail about the early settlers, where they came from etc. “Eagles Wings – the journey of the Ulster-Scots & Scots-Irish” by David Hume also covers some of the same ground.

    You ask about resources to search back earlier than the 1600s. Frankly there aren’t any. Neither in Ireland nor in Scotland. We know the names of some of the big landowners (or undertakers as they were called in Plantation areas) but not of the tenants they brought with them or of others who followed later. There are hardly any parish records in Ireland or Scotland that cover the late 1500s or early 1600s. Unless you were landed gentry, research pretty well comes to a stop at this point.

    You are correct that Holywood is both a town and a townland, though there wouldn’t have been a town there in the 1600s, more of a hamlet. It’s also a parish. Killyleagh is a parish, which contains the town of Killyleagh as well as adjacent townlands. There’s no way of easily determining whether the Eastons in the muster Rolls were in the town or a townland within the parish. However you could try Penders 1659 census which does have some of the townlands in it, and some occupants names. I don’t think it’s on-line but I could be wrong. There’s a copy in PRONI in Belfast.

    I had a look at the tithe applotment records for Killyleagh in 1827. There were no Eastons farming there then.

    Hollywood and Killyleagh don’t ever appear to have had to same landowners. (They are about 30 miles apart). There are estate records but they are patchy. You would need to go to PRONI to search for them.

  5. PlainJane

    PlainJane New Member

    Thank you for your reply! It was kind of you to take the time to answer in such detail. You have given me a greater insight into the customs of the times in the area. And the stories of the church goers and the fishermen have added such delightful local colour! It is this geography and social/political history that make genealogy so interesting, not just a collection of birth and death dates to see how far back one can get. We call it “putting flesh on the bones”! I also appreciate the suggested readings which sound very interesting.

    Another close family line of ours is that of Hamilton and our DNA suggests that we are likely related to the clan descended from Walter fitz Gilbert de Hameldone. Interestingly our Hamilton line is an almost unbroken line of Gilbert to Gilbert to Gilbert back to 1700 in Lanarkshire where we ‘lose’ them. There were several families of Hamiltons in the Plantation of Ireland (perhaps also in the 1690s?) but we have no proven link yet to any of them. It raises my curiosity now as to whether there were any ‘Gilberts’ in the lot!

    My husband and I will be visiting Ireland briefly this August and the Glens of Antrim are certainly on the itinerary. I discovered the Glens of Antrim Historical Society when planning our route. I enjoyed the video on the History of the Glens of Antrim so much that I have shared it with extended family and friends.

    Again, many thanks and kind regards to you.

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