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A sample sketch: Simon Eyre


ORIGIN: Bury St Edmonds, Suffolk.

MIGRATION: 1635 on the Increase.


REMOVES: Boston 1646.

OCCUPATION: Surgeon [Hotten 66]; physician [SLR 8:360]. Petitioned for payment for curing John Symond and Mistress Cole, 31 May 1652 [MBCR 3:276]. His inventory included, in the study, "physick" valued at ₤12.

CHURCH MEMBERSHIP: Admission to Watertown church prior to 17 April 1637 implied by freemanship. On 17 April 1647, “Mr. Simon Eyres upon letters of dismission from the Church at Water Towne having declared his condition to the Elders in private” was admitted to Boston church [BChR 46-47].

FREEMAN: 17 April 1637 [MBCR 1:373].

EDUCATION: He bequeathed books and manuscripts to his eldest son. His inventory included “five Dutch pictures” valued at 12s. and, in the study, “books” valued at ₤30. John Sherman called his record keeping “uncertain” [WaTR 1:1].

OFFICES: Deputy for Watertown to Massachusetts Bay General Court, 7 October 1641 [MBCR 1:336]. Commissioner to end small causes at Watertown, 10 May 1643 [MBCR 2:34].

Clerk of the writs for Watertown, 10 December 1641, 1642 [MBCR 1:345; WaVR 1:3]. On 1 October 1645, “Mr. Symon Eyres being formerly chosen clerk of the writs for Watertowne, & his implements being generally at Boston, upon the desire of the town John Sherman is appointed clerk in his room” [MBCR 2:136]. (When John Sherman assumed the duties of clerk of the writs for Watertown in 1648, he prefaced his compilation of vital records with these exculpatory remarks: “What was taken before was by Mr. Eirs and uncertain in the transmitting; - yet in this book transcribed according to the order of the Court so many as came to hand 1648. The year by Mr. Eires as I supposed began the first of March; but from 1648 the 25 of March” [WaVR 1:1].)

Watertown selectman, 10 October 1636, 30 December 1637, 10 December 1638, 6 December 1639, 29 December 1640, 29 November 1641, 28 November 1643 [WaTR 1:2-3, 5-7, 9]. Committee to lay out farms, 14 October 1638 [WaTR 1:4]. Ordered “that Simon Eire shall write a transcript of the lands in a book and give it in to the Court” [WaTR 1:7].

ESTATE: On 13 April 1635, immediately before coming to New England, Simon Eire, gentleman, and Dorothy his wife sold to Timothy Oldmanes alias Pricke and his wife Mary two messuages, one stable, two gardens and one orchard in Bury St Edmonds [NEHGR 69:249, citing Suffolk Feet of Fines, Easter 11 Charles I].

On 25 July 1636, “Simon Eire” was granted Lot 1 in the Fourth Division of the Great Dividends in Watertown, sixty acres [WaBOP 5]. On 28 February 1636/7, “Simon Eire” was granted eighteen acres in the Beaverbrook Plowlands [WaBOP 6]. On 26 June 1637, “Simon Eire” was granted eighteen acres in the Remote Meadows [WaBOP 8]. On 9 April 1638, “Simon Eire” was granted six acres at the Town Plot [WaBOP 11].

In the 1644 Watertown Inventory of Grants, “Simon Eire Senior” held eleven parcels: “an homestall of six acres”; “sixty acres of upland by estimation being a Great Dividend in the fourth division & the first lot”; “three acres of meadow”; “three acres of meadow”; “two acres of swamp”; “eighteen acres of plowland by estimation in the hither plain”; “eighteen acres of Remote Meadow by estimation & the seventh lot”; “four acres of Remote Meadow”; “six acres of upland by estimation at the town plot”; “twelve acres of upland”; and “eighteen acres of upland” [WaBOP 78-79].

In the 1644 Watertown Inventory of Possessions, “Simon Eire Senior” held four parcels: “an homestall of sixteen acres”; “six acres of Remote Meadow by estimation & the eleventh lot”; “five acres of Remote Meadow by estimation & the ninety lot”; and “nineteen acres of plowland by estimation in the hither plain” [WaBOP 117-18].

In the 1644 Watertown Composite Inventory, “Simon Eire Senior” held ten parcels: “an homestall of sixteen acres ... bought of Robert Seely”; “an homestall of sixty acres of upland being a Great Dividend in the 4 division & the 1 lot”; “six acres of meadow & two acres of swamp in Pequusset Meadow”; “twelve acres of meadow in the Remote Meadows called Long Meadow & part of the 7 lot”; “six acres of meadow in the Remote Meadows called the Round Meadow & the 11 lot, bought of Edward How”; “one acre of meadow in Beaverbrook Meadow”; “four acres of meadow more or less in the Plain Meadow”; “a farm of two hundred acres upland”; “five acres of meadow in the Remote Meadows & the 70 lot ... bought of Gregory Taylor”; and “nineteen acres of plowland in the hither plain & the 19 & 21 lots, bought of Daniel Pattrick & Gregory Taylor” [WaBOP 23-24].

On 22 August 1646, Richard Parker of Boston, merchant, sold to “Symon Ayre” of Boston, physician, a barn and garden in Boston, reserving the right to carry wood through the yard into his own adjacent property [SLR 8:360].

On 23 May 1655, the court considered a petition by “Mr. Eires & several others” for confirmation of land formerly granted to them in Watertown [MBCR 3:384].

In his will, dated 5 July 1658 and proved 4 March 1658/9, “Simon Eyre of Boston” bequeathed to “Martha my beloved wife the thirds of my dwelling house at Boston with the garden & appurtenances belonging to it & also the thirds of my farm at Watertown with the house, barn, orchard & all the appurtenances belonging to it now in the occupation of Joseph Tayntor” for her life; the other two thirds to go to the “bringing up of my two youngest children Mariah & John”; after the death of Martha, Mariah and John to have the house at Boston and the farm at Watertown, equally between them; if Mariah and John both die before they marry or come to the age of twenty years, then the house at Boston and the farm at Watertown to be equally divided among “my children both sons and daughters” or their descendants if they be dead; to “Martha my beloved wife towards the bringing up of Mariah & John ... and for the payment of my debts the hundred and fifteen pounds due to me,” also “woollen and linen cloth in the press, with my apparel, physick and debts due to me with all the mares & colts at Ipswich & Watertown to make good the cattle & moveables I had out of the stock for her use”; to “my youngest daughter Mariah” all household goods; to “my youngest son John all my books & manuscripts, mortars, seals and weights, stills, pots & glasses”; to “Thomas my eldest son the 200 acres I am to have laid out at Watertown for a farm with the seventeen acres of remote meadow & the sixteen acres called Seelye’s Lot ... to make up his double portion”; to “Dorothy my daughter,” ₤40 in cloth to be paid at Boston and a complete bed from the hall chamber, “the rest of my children having had their portions”; Mr. William Hubbard Junior of Ipswich and Mr. James Penn of Boston, overseers; “Martha my wife executrix” [SPR 1:321-22; MCF Folio #63].

The inventory of the estate of “Mr. Simon Eire of Boston deceased,” taken 31 December 1658, totalled ₤577 5s., of which ₤320 was real estate: “the house & garden at Boston,” ₤200; “the houses & orchard land at Watertown,” ₤100; and “a grant of 200 acres at Watertown and 16 acres at Sibly’s Lot,” ₤20 [SPR 3:157-60].

The following year, widow Martha Eyers let out the farm at Watertown to John Chenery for sixteen years, but had to sue Chenery in 1674 to recover it, “which farm was left to John Whittacar by Mrs. Eire the spring 73” [MCF Folio #63]. On [blank] November 1675, “Martha Eyre of Boston ..., widow, Richard Mosely of the same place, merchant, & Maria his wife, and John Eyre, the widow & children of the late Simon Eyre of the said Boston, deceased,” sold to John Whittaker of Watertown “all that their farm” in Watertown “in the present tenure and occupation of the said John Whittaker” [MLR 5:304-5; TAG 65:18-19].

On 9 May 1678, in response to her petition, the Boston selectmen ordered that a fence around Martha Eyre’s garden be repaired at the county's cost, setting her off from the prison [MBCR 5:187-88].

BIRTH: Baptized Lavenham, Suffolk, 21 June 1588, son of Simon and Susan (Vale) Eyre [NEHGR 69:248-51] (aged 48 in 1635 [Hotten 66]).

DEATH: Boston 10 November 1658 [BVR 67].

MARRIAGE: (1) By 1619 Dorothy Paine, born about 1597 (aged 38 in 1635 [Hotten 66]), daughter of William and Agnes (N[e]ves) Paine [NEHGR 69:250]. She died at Boston 11 August 1650 [BVR 31].

(2) By 1652 Martha (Hubbard) Whittingham, daughter of WILLIAM HUBBARD {1635, Ipswich} and widow of JOHN WHITTINGHAM {1638, Ipswich} (in his will of 1648 John Whittingham of Ipswich included bequests to “Martha my dearly beloved wife” and to children including “my son John” and “my three daughters Martha, Elizabeth and Judith” and made “my father-in-law Mr. William Hubbard” one of his executors [EPR 1:103-4]; on 7 November 1653, “John Whittingham son-in-law to Mr. Simon Eire died” at Boston [BVR 43]; on 27 March 1656, “Judith Whittingham daughter-in-law unto Mr. Simon Eire died” at Boston [BVR 56]). She died at Boston on 13 July 1687 (“Mis. Eyre, Mr. Jno Eyre’s Mother dies ... Mis. Eyre buried: Bearers, Mr. Rawson, Joyliff, Cook, Addington, Wyllys, Oakes. Governor not there.” [Sewall 144]).


With first wife

       i     MARY, bp. Lavenham, Suffolk, 22 June 1619 [NEHGR 69:249] (aged 15 in 1635 [Hotten 66]); m. by about 1642 Joseph Tainter [TAG 65:19-21, and sources cited there].

      ii     THOMAS, b. about 1622 (aged 13 in 1635 [Hotten 66]); on 17 December [1648], Lucy Downing wrote to John Winthrop Jr.: “my daughter Lucie was a little going to be married to Mr. Eyer’s son Thomas I mean, but he had not yet art enough to carry his ship, so they turned back, and now we are upon an earnest motion with Mr. William Norton, the man is very fair, but she hath not yet forgotten Mr. Eyers his fresh red” [WP 5:290; see also Hale, House 518]; d. in Virginia before 2 October 1666, apparently unmarried (the inventory of the estate of “Thomas Eyre, deceased in Virginia,” was presented in court on 2 October 1666 by “Joseph Taynter, administrator” [MPR 2:321-22]).

     iii     SIMON, b. about 1624 (aged 11 in 1635 [Hotten 66]); m. by 1652 Lydia Starr (only known child b. Boston 6 August 1652 [BVR 36]; “Lydia wife of Mr. Simon Eire died” at Boston 10 August 1653 [BVR 42]; on 12 January 1653[/4], “power of administration to the estate of Mrs. Lydia Eire deceased is granted to Mr. Comfort Starre in behalf of his grandchild Simon Eire till it come to the age of fourteen years” [SPR 2:137]).

     iv     REBECCA, b. about 1626 (aged 9 in 1635 [Hotten 66]); m. by 1647 Christopher Clark (on 25 December 1647, “Mrs. Rebekah Clarke, the wife of Mr. Chrystofer Clarke,” was admitted to Boston church [BChR 50]) [TAG 65:21; Hale, House 738].

      v     CHRISTIAN, b. about 1628 (aged 7 in 1635 [Hotten 66]); m. by 1656 Anthony Stoddard [Hale, House 737; TAG 65:19].

     vi     ANNA, b. about 1630 (aged 5 in 1635 [Hotten 66]); m. Boston 5 March 165[1/]2 John Checkley [BVR 38].

    vii     BENJAMIN, b. about 1632 (aged 3 in 1635 [Hotten 66]); living 2 October 1660, when mentioned in will of uncle William Paine [SPR 1:346]; no further record.

   viii     SARAH, b. about 1635 (aged 3 months in 1635 [Hotten 66]); no further record.

     ix     JONATHAN, b. Watertown 20 March 1637/8 [WaVR 5]; on 22 September 1656, “Jonathan Eyre” signed a promissory note at Boston, to be paid in sugar at Barbados, and acknowledged it on 15 September 1658 [SLR 2:333]; on 6 September 1658, “Jonathan Eyres of Boston, chirurgeon,” signed a promissory note at Boston; no further record.

      x     DOROTHY, b. Watertown 4 June 1640 [WaVR 7]; living 2 October 1660, when mentioned in will of uncle William Paine [SPR 1:346]; no further record.

With second wife

     xi     MARIA, b. 26 March 1652 [BVR 36], bp. Boston 4 April 1652 [BChR 322]; m. by 1675 Richard Mosley [MLR 5:304; TAG 65:19-21].

    xii     JOHN, b. 19 February 1653[/4?] [sic] [BVR 41], bp. Boston 22 January 1653/4 [BChR 326]; m. 20 May 1680 Catharine Brattle, daughter of Thomas Brattle (this marriage date is given by Savage and by many secondary sources, but has not been found among published vital records; eldest known child b. Boston 27 March 1682 [BVR 157]; on 13 March 1683/4, “Nathanel Oliver, John Eyre & Joseph Parson in right of their wives (three of said children)” participated in the distribution of the estate of “Capt. Thomas Brattle late of Boston deceased” [SPR NS 2:392-95]).

ASSOCIATIONS: Dorothy Paine, wife of Simon Eire, was sister of three other early immigrants to New England: WILLIAM PAINE {1635, Watertown}; Elizabeth (Paine) Hammond (wife of WILLIAM HAMMOND {1631, Watertown} [GMB 2:850-54]); and Phebe (Paine) Page (wife of JOHN PAGE {1630, Watertown} [GMB 3:1365-69]) [NEHGR 69:248-52, 79:82-84, 101:242-45].

COMMENTS: On 15 April 1635, “Chirurgion Symon Ayres,” aged 48, “uxor Dorothy Ayres,” aged 38, “Marie Ayres,” aged 15, “Tho[mas] Ayres,” aged 13, “Symon Ayres,” aged 11, “Rabecca Ayres,” aged 9, “Christian Ayres,” aged 7, “Anna Ayres,” aged 5, “Benjamin Ayres,” aged 3, and “Sara Ayres,” aged 3 months, were enrolled at London as passengers to New England on the Increase [Hotten 66].

It is curious that a man with so many children of an age to be baptized in England should be so elusive. A Thomas Eyre was baptized in St Clement, Norwich, Norfolk, on 8 February 1620[/1], but is not demonstrably of this family. The family of first wife, Dorothy Paine, was of Lavenham, Suffolk, so it is not surprising that the baptism of their first child occurred there or that Simon was from the same parish. Despite selling land in Bury St Edmonds in 1635, Simon and Dorothy did not baptize children there.

By 1648 John Coolidge received four trees on “the land was taken from Mr. Eires” for going to court against Mr. Eyre [WaTR 1:15]. On 25 May 1653, Mr. “Simon Ayres” was fined 10s. for his chimney being on fire, contrary to an order made for prevention thereof [BTR 1:116].

BIBLIOGRAPHIC NOTE: In 1915 Elizabeth French published some parish register entries for this family, and compiled a brief genealogy of the immigrant generation [NEHGR 69:248-51]. In 1990 Robert Charles Anderson identified the husbands of a number of the daughters of this immigrant [TAG 65:17-23].