William Eager, #21 on ‘The Dunbar Prisoners’ List

Every attempt has been made to ensure accuracy; please independently verify all data.

Published: 15 Dec 2014
Updated: 27 Oct 2016

Find his descendants and researchers here.

Surname variations: Eager, Eger, Auger, Agar, Ager, Augur

First Generation in the New World

1. WILLIAM¹ EAGER, “Scotchman” was born in Scotland about 1629 and died at Marlborough*, Middlesex, Massachusetts* on 4 April 1690*. He married, first, at Malden*, Middlesex, Massachusetts on 7 Oct 1659*, RUTH HILL*, daughter of Abraham and Sarah (Long) Hill. He married, second, at Cambridge on 13 Apr 1680, LYDIA CHEEVER, widow of Thomas Barrett and Arthur Cole (Coale).

Biographical Notes:
c. c. [County Court Returns] Augur, William, m. Ruth Hill. Capt. Marshall.  7 (10), 1659.” From: Births, Marriages and Deaths from the Town of Malden, Massachusetts, 1649-1850.
He left a will which can be seen at: Middlesex County, MA: Probate File Papers, 1648-1871. Online database. AmericanAncestors.org. New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2014. (From records supplied by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Archives.) Unfortunately it is in poor condition and difficult to read. One of his descendants needs to print out the will and carefully try to transcribe it as there does seem to be a lot of information in the will.

Malden, a hilly woodland area north of the Mystic River, was settled by Puritans in 1640 on land purchased in 1629 from the Pennacook tribe. The area was originally called the “Mistick Side” and was a part of Charlestown. It was incorporated as a separate town in 1649. The name Malden was selected by Joseph Hills, an early settler and landholder, and was named after Maldon, England.~Wikipedia

Children of William and Ruth (Hill) Eager:
2.    i. WILLIAM EAGER*, (William¹)*, b. and d.* at Malden* on 20 Dec 1661*; DIED YOUNG. (Births, Marriages and Deaths from the Town of Malden, Massachusetts, 1649-1850. Page 328.)
2.   ii. WILLIAM EAGER*, (William¹), b. at Malden* on 30 Nov 1662*; d. before 1684. (“Augur” on birth record at Malden)
2.  iii. ZACHARIAH EAGER, (William¹), b. at Malden in Oct 1667; d. at Marlborough on 5 Jul 1742.
2.   iv. ABRAHAM EAGER, Captain, (William¹), b. at Malden on 11 July 1670; d. at Shrewsbury, MA on 25 Oct 1734; m. on 15 Nov 1692, LYDIA WOODS, dau. of John and Lydia (Rice) Woods
2.    v. ZERUBBABEL EAGER, (William¹), b. at Cambridge on 8 Jun 1672; d. at Marlborough on 9 Jan 1746/7; m. on 23 Mar 1698, HANNAH KERLEY, dau. of Henry and Elizabeth Ward Howe Kerley.
2.   vi. MARTHA EAGER, (William¹), b. at Cambridge on 26 Oct 1674.
2.  vii. RUTH EAGER, (William¹), b. at Cambridge on 1 Feb 1677; d. at Marlborough on 25 Dec 1768; m., JOHN BANISTER.
2. viii. SARAH EAGER, (William¹), b. at Cambridge on 25 Jun 1679

Children of William and Lydia (Cheever) Barrett Cole Eager:
2.   ix. MARGARET EAGER, (William¹), b. 25 May 1681, d. Cambridge in 1725; m. ISAAC MANNING
2.    x. MERCY EAGER, (William¹), b. at Marlborough on 20 Oct 1682.
2.   xi. LYDIA EAGER, (William¹), b. at Marlborough on 20 Jun 1684.
2.  xii. JAMES EAGER, Captain, (William¹), b. at Marlborough on 21 Sep 1686.
2. xiii. JACOB EAGER, (William¹), b. at Marlborough in 1688.
2.  xiv. JOHN EAGER, (William¹), b. at Marlborough on 6 Jun 1689; d. 18 Jan 1756.

Second Generation

2.    i. WILLIAM EAGER, (William¹ & Ruth), was born and died at Malden in 1661. DIED YOUNG.

2.   ii. WILLIAM EAGER, (William¹ & Ruth), was born at Malden on 30 Nov 1662 and died before 1684.

2.  iii. ZACHARIAH EAGER*, (William¹ & Ruth), was born at Malden in Oct 1667* and died at Marlborough on 5 Jul 1742*. He married at Marlborough/Framingham* by 1694*, ELIZABETH NEWTON*. Elizabeth* died at Marlborough* on 18 Jan 1756*.(Torrey’s NE Marriages to 1700) (In will, probate 1690 “William Eager”)

Children of Zachariah and Elizabeth (Newton) Eager:
3. WILLIAM EAGER
*, born* at Marlborough* on 14 Feb 1697*.
3. MARGRET EAGER*, died* at Marlborough* on 19 Jul 1726*.
3. PHINEHAS EAGER*, son, died* at Marlborough* on 28 May 1729*.

2.   iv. ABRAHAM EAGER*, Captain, (William¹ & Ruth), was born at Malden on 11 July 1670 and died at Shrewsbury, Mass. on 25 Oct 1734. He married at Marlborough/Worcester/Shrewsbury* on 15 Nov 1692*, LYDIA WOODS*, daughter of John and Lydia (Rice) Woods. (In will)

Children of Abraham and Lydia (Woods) Eager:
3. i. MARTHA EAGER*, b. at Marlborough* on 15 Aug 1693*.
3. ii. LYDIA EAGER*, b. at Marlborough* on 3 Jul 1696*.
3. iii. SARAH EAGER*, b. at Marlborough* on 27 May 1699*.
3. iv. HAZADIAH EAGER*, daughter*, b. at Marlborough* on 1 Jul 1701*.
3. v. PHEBE EAGER*, b. at Marlborough* on 11 Feb 1703*.
3. vi. ZERUIAH EAGER*, daughter*, b. at Marlborough* on 17 Sep 1705*.
3. vii. LUCY EAGER
*, b. at Marlborough* on 15 Jul 1707*.
3. viii. ABRAHAM EAGER*, b. at Marlborough* on 14 Sep 1709*.
3. ix. MILLICENT EAGER*, b. at Marlborough* on 22 Feb 1711/12*; d. at Marlborough on 24 Feb. 1711/12. DIED YOUNG.
3. x. BEZALEEL EAGER*, son, b. at Marlborough* on 22 Dec 1713*.

2.    v. ZERUBBABEL EAGER*, (William¹ & Ruth), was born at Cambridge on 8 Jun 1672* and died at Marlborough on 9 Jan 1746/7*. He married at Marlborough* on 23 Mar 1698*, HANNAH KERLEY*, daughter of Henry and Elizabeth Ward Howe Kerley. (Torrey’s NE Marriages to 1700) (In will)

Children of Zerubbabel and Hannah (Kerley) Eager:
3. URIAH EAGER*, Captain*, son, b. at Marlborough* on 4 Apr 1700* and died* at Marlborough* on 30 Dec 1780* “in his 81st year”*.

2.   vi. MARTHA EAGER, (William¹ & Ruth), was born at Cambridge on 26 Oct 1674.

2.  vii. RUTH EAGER, (William¹ & Ruth), was born at Cambridge on 1 Feb 1677 and died at Marlborough on 25 Dec 1768. She married, JOHN BANISTER.

2. viii. SARAH EAGER, (William¹ & Ruth), was born at Cambridge on 25 Jun 1679.

2.   ix. MARGARET EAGER, (William¹ & Lydia), was born at 25 May 1681 and died at Cambridge in 1725. She married, ISAAC MANNING.

2.    x. MERCY EAGER*, (William¹ & Lydia*), was born at Marlborough* on 20 Oct 1682*.

2.   xi. LYDIA EAGER*, (William¹ & Lydia), was born at Marlborough* on 20 Jun 1684*.

2.  xii. JAMES EAGER*, Captain, (William¹ & Lydia*), was born at Marlborough* on 21 Sep 1686*.

2. xiii. JACOB EAGER, (William¹ & Lydia), was born at Marlborough in 1688.

2.  xiv. JOHN EAGER*, (William¹ & Lydia*), was born at Marlborough* on 6 Jun 1689* and died on 18 Jan 1756.

SOURCES AND NOTES:

Torrey’s New England Marriages Prior to 1700. (Online database. AmericanAncestors.org. New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2008.) Originally published as: New England Marriages Prior to 1700. Boston, Mass.: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2015.

Torrey’s New England Marriages Prior to 1700. (Online database. AmericanAncestors.org. New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2008.) Originally published as: New England Marriages Prior to 1700. Boston, Mass.: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2015.

Massachusetts Vital Records to 1850 (Online Database: AmericanAncestors.org, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2001-2016). "Marlborough"

Massachusetts Vital Records to 1850 (Online Database: AmericanAncestors.org, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2001-2016). “Marlborough”

Massachusetts Vital Records to 1850 (11) 2

Massachusetts Vital Records to 1850 (12) 2

Written and submitted by Jill Barnard, direct descendant of William Eager
January 19, 2015:
“There is much conjecture about the origins of William Eager (alternate spellings Auger, Augur, Eger, Agar, and Ager). William’s ancestry is believed to be from England, who then settled on their estates in Ireland, and married into a Scottish family. There is no record of his birth or his arrival in New England. He was deposed in 1689/90 as being age 60, making his birth year about 1629 (New England Historical and Genealogical Register, Vol 85 p 453-454, pub Boston, MA 1931.)

There is strong evidence that he was one of 10,000 Scottish soldiers captured at the Battle of Dunbar September 3, 1650, by Oliver Cromwell of England, and taken to New England on the “Unity” as one of 150 Scottish Prisoners of War, who were sold as indentured servants upon arrival. The usual term of indentured servitude was 7 years.

He is first found in New England records in 1659 when he married in Malden, MA – just after his indenture would have ended. He was mentioned in the will of William Godden (Gooden) of Malden, written in 1663, which stated, “There were sums of money due him [Godden] from Edward Wiar and William Egar, Scotchmen…”  (History of Malden, MA 1633-1785, p 601)

Both of these men were included on a list of probable Unity passengers in 1650, compiled by reputable American genealogist George S. Stewart.  As he wrote in a letter to Elizabeth French on 18 Jan 1911, Stewart was “particularly interested in 150 of the Dunbar prisoners who were embarked at Newcastle, England in November 1650, consigned to John Bex and Joshua Foote, merchants of London, and whose ultimate destination was New England…”

Elizabeth (French) Bartlett was one of the most esteemed female genealogists of her time, doing research in England and America between 1908 and 1917.  Stewart requested her assistance in researching the Dunbar list while she was living in London.  Their documents are held in the R. Stanton Avery Collection at New England Historic and Genealogical Society in Boston.  More research is needed to determine what information caused Stewart to place William Eager’s name on his list of probable Dunbar prisoners.

1659:  He was married by Captain Marshall on October 7, 1659 in Malden, MA to 1) Ruth Hill (daughter of Abraham and Sarah Long Hill) born 1640 in Malden.  (Malden VRs to 1850)  It has been noted that the Scottish Prisoners of War frequently married the daughters or close family members of the men they were indentured to.  Abraham Hill was a prominent citizen of Malden, a tavern owner, and was the tenant and operator of the Coytmore corn mill.  It is probable he could have needed the servitude of one or more SPOWs, and had the means to support them.

1673: By 1673 William and Ruth had five children and at least one servant.  On 22 Nov 1673, Ruth Agur testified as “wife of William”, “that John Salter, their servant, threw her on to the fire”; confirmed by John Evans (perhaps another servant?).  Salter was sentenced to Bridewell; Daniel Champney, Surety. Test: Ruth Egur age thirty three {33} yrs.  (Middlesex County, MA: Abstracts of Court Files, 1649-1675, Vol 2 p 194)

1679:  Ruth died in Cambridge 6 Jan 1679 and is buried there. Her headstone is inscribed “Ruth wife to William Eger, aged 39 year, Dec. Jan y 6 1679”.

1680:  William, age 50-51, married in Cambridge, MA, on 13 Apr 1680: 2) Lydia ?Cheever Barrett Cole, widow of Thomas Barrett and Arthur Cole (Coale).  (Cambridge VRs to 1850)

1682: They removed to Marlborough about 1682 in the earliest days of that settlement. He was one of the original proprietors of Marlborough, and was instrumental in the purchase of the Ockoocangansett Plantation from the Indians in 1684. He settled in that colony, where he died 4 Apr 1690. There is no surviving gravestone in the early cemeteries.

Susie Eager Trotter wrote in “History of the Eager Family”:  “His marriage and his interest in the purchase of the Indian tract indicated that he was a man of some standing, and I have, therefore, been surprised not to find any record of his admission to citizenship or his activity in public affairs.  The record of his Scottish ancestry probably explains this.  If he was a Scotch Presbyterian, he was of course not eligible as long as he retained his membership.”

In his will he left 42 acres on which his dwelling house, barn, and out housing stood, commonly called his Home lot; plus land and meadows (acreage not mentioned).  His estate was inventoried at £318.

The names of his wives and 14 children are listed in the Malden church records and/or the will of William Eager, which was probated 17 June 1690.

His children with Ruth Hill:
i.   William b. and d. 1661 Malden
ii.  William b. 30 Nov 1662 Malden; d. before 1684
iii. Zachariah b. October 1667 Malden; d. 5 Jul 1742 Marlborough
iv. Captain Abraham Eager b. 11 July 1670 Malden, MA; d. 25 Oct 1734 Shrewsbury, MA; m. Lydia Woods, dau. John and Lydia Rice Woods
v.   Zerubbabel b. 8 Jun 1672 Cambridge; d. 9 Jan 1746/47 Marlborough m. Hannah Kerley 23  Mar 1698, dau. Henry and Elizabeth Ward Howe Kerley.
vi.  Martha b. 26 Oct 1674 Cambridge
vii. Ruth b. 1 Feb 1677 Cambridge; d. 25 Dec 1768 Marlborough; m. John Banister
viii. Sarah b. 25 Jun 1679 Cambridge

His children with Lydia Cheever Barrett Cole:
ix.   Margaret b. 25 May 1681, d. 1725 Cambridge. m. Isaac Manning
x.    Mercy b. 20 Oct 1682 Marlborough
xi.   Lydia b. 20 Jun 1684 Marlborough
xii.  Capt. James b. 21 Sep 1686 Marlborough
xiii. Jacob b. 1688 Marlborough
xiv. John b. 6 Jun 1689 Marlborough, d. 18 Jan 1756

**Esther, mentioned in his will, is believed to be the daughter of Lydia Cheever and her 1st husband Thomas Barrett.

In History of the Eager Family…, Susie Eager Trotter gives the following account: WILLIAM EAGER: born in Ireland, came to Plymouth, MA from Wales in 1630 with the Winthrop Fleet, then moved from Plymouth to Cambridge, MA.  This is believed to be erroneous for the following reasons:

  1. William Eager was deposed in Marlborough, MA in 1689/90 as being 60 years old.  That would make his birth year 1629 Or 1630.  Therefore, he would have been one year old or less upon arrival with the Winthrop Fleet. There is no record of his birth in England, Ireland, or New England. (New England Historic and Genealogical Register, Vol 85 p 453-454, pub Boston, MA 1931.)
  2. The William Ager who came with the Winthrop Fleet in 1630 appears to have come alone. There were no parents, spouse, siblings, or children listed. This William Ager settled in Salem, married “Alice”, had four children (none named William), and died in 1654. (The Great Migration Begins, Vol 1 p 14-15, pub 1995)
  3. The Winthrop Fleet did not arrive at Plymouth, but at Charlestown and Salem, MA.  So he would not have “moved from Plymouth to Cambridge”. Further, Eager spent at least 11 years in Malden after marrying there, and prior to removing to Cambridge; he had four children in Malden, all of public record. The author failed to acknowledge his presence in Malden, MA.

Sources:
-Vital records of Malden, Cambridge, & Marlborough, MA to 1850
History of Malden, Massachusetts, 1633-1785, Corey, pub. 1898
The Great Migration Begins”, Vol 1, p 14, pub 1995
History of the Eager Family 1630-1952; Susie Eager Trotter, pub 1952

Trotter, Susie Eager. History of the Eager Family: From the coming of the first immigrant, William Eager, in 1630 to date, 1952 (Harpeth Press, 1952) (Google eBook)”

2 Responses to William Eager, #21 on ‘The Dunbar Prisoners’ List

  1. George Eager says:

    This account of the matter I find completely persuasive. Most of all, Susie Trotter’s book would have us suppose that William arrived in the New World as an adult, born let us say in 1609 perhaps, and did not get around to marrying until 1659, but then fathered numerous children by two different wives. This scenario is incredible, and has always posed a problem for those of us trying to do the math. Capture at Dunbar and transportation on the Unity solves this problem neatly. Of course in this particular matter documentation we might like to have simply doesn’t exist, but Ms Jill Barnard’s hypothesis has the great merit of forming the data we do have into a believable and coherent picture. ~ George Eager. Charlottesville Virginia.

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