William Eager Comes to Marlborough

Once again, I owe the following information to Ms Jennifer Ehle, direct descendant and genealogist for William Eager.  Eager came to Marlborough with a large family.  His children with Ruth (Hill) Eager included William, born at Malden in 1662, Zacchariah, born at Malden in 1667, Abraham, born at either Malden or Cambridge about 1670, Zerubabbel, born at Cambridge in 1672, Martha, born at Cambridge in 1674, Ruth, born at Cambridge in 1677, and Sarah, born at Cambridge in 1679.  Their first child, also named William, was born and died in infancy in Malden in 1661.  Martha is thought to have died in childhood, but no death record has been found.

At Ruth’s death in January of 1680, William shortly after married a twice widowed woman with previous ties to Marlborough.  Her full name at the time was Lydia “Hester” (Cheever) (Barrett) Cole.  Hester was a maternal family name and may have been a nickname.  She had two children by Thomas Barrett, a daughter, Hester and a son, Thomas Junior; and two sons by Arthur Cole, Arthur and Daniel.  Because of the customs of the times, it may surely be possible,  perhaps even likely, that Thomas was raised by his uncle John to relieve the pressure created by widowhood.  Similarly her two other sons may have been raised by other family members.  It does appear that her daughter, Hester who was older,  remained with her mother throughout her childhood.

In any case, the William and Lydia Eager family  was anywhere from eight to twelve when they came to Marlborough.  This included their first child, Margaret, born in 1681 in Cambridge.  They were in Marlborough by October 20, 1682, the date of the birth of their second child, Marcy, who was born in Marlborough.

The motivation for their coming to Marlborough could have been numerous and I will offer a few which may very well have acted in concert.  It may have been that Lydia’s son Thomas was

raised by her brother in law John Barrett and the move to Marlborough may have served to bring them together again.  Second, it may have been that the opportunity to purchase the Indian land presented itself in Cambridge and they came to Marlborough with the purchase already in mind.  

Third, they may have already been staying in Marlborough.  Lydia owned a piece of property there with her husband Thomas Barrett.  This land, however, was in legal question.  Though I am not certain of the details of the law, colonial requirements were such that the widow did not have unrestricted ownership to common property.  It could be lost if the widow remarried.  This is apparently what happened, and Lydia lost rights to her property after her marriage to William Eager, though, apparently, it wasn’t challenged after her marriage to Arthur Cole.

As to how the Indian purchase came about, we have only a broad outline.  In May of 1682, permission was granted to Sarah Connamug to sell a piece of land of about 60 acres.  This permission was required because Indian land sales were being corrupted by both English and Indian agents.  This particular sale was permitted by the specific signing of both Rev. John Eliot and Daniel Gookin, overseer of Indian Affairs.  It was further proof that it was a separate transaction from the larger sale of the 5800 acres to the town of Marlborough which was expressly opposed by both Eliot and Gookin.

Another unique aspect to the sale was that the mortgage was held in some odd manner by Sarah Connamug herself, to be paid on a yearly basis.  It appears from the various documents associated with it that Thomas Hincksman of Chelmsford became a principle of the mortgage at some point.  It was the oddest mortgage that I’ve ever come across.  In any case, it has led to further confusion on the nature of the sale in the public records.

And so William Eager and his family came to Marlborough and settled on Indian Land only to be rediscovered hundreds of years later.

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