The Saga of Samuel and Mary Eastlick


 A widely-circulated genealogy claims that Alexander Eastlick (1741-1821) of Steuben County, New York, was the son of James Eastlick, a wagon maker in England. There is no known documentation to confirm this, yet it may be a clue for further research. There is one James Eastlick listed in the IGI (International Genealogical Index) for England as baptized in Middlesex in 1719, son of Samuel and Mary Eastlick.

We have no record of when or if the James Eastlick of Middlesex ever came to America. As for Samuel and Mary, Peter Wilson Coldham reports in his book, “English Convicts in Colonial America” that one Samuel Eastlick was transported to the American Colonies in July 1723 on the ship Alexander. Ed Easlick has located the landing certificate verifying that Samuel survived the journey (eleven individuals did not) and made it to Annapolis, MD on 14 September 1723. Mary Eastlick, also a convict, was transported on the ship Anne in February 1724 to Carolina. Another source, “Petitioners Against Imprisonment for Debt listed in the London Gazette 1712-1724,” reveals that Samuel Eastlack, late of St Olave, Southwark, was a tailor. Are these transports, Samuel and Mary Eastlick, the parents of James “the wagon maker”? Is James the father of Alexander?  Of what crimes were Samuel and Mary convicted?

The Transportation Act of 1718, during the reign of George I, was an act for “further preventing robbery, burglary, and other felonies, and for the most effectual transportation of felons.” Crime in England had been mounting, especially in London, Middlesex, and Surrey areas. “No longer would transportation be confined solely to the pardoning process and acts of executive clemency, as it had been,” but now would include “petty larcenists and offenders…non capital felonies…banished directly to America for seven years” and “for stolen good for fourteen.”  “Its most compelling advantage, in the eyes of the policy makers, lay in expelling from British shores significant quantities of threatening offenders whose ways would not be mended by more mild penalties” of no punishment or providing labor for the colonies.

Transportation to the Americas was ended on the outbreak of the rebellion in 1776.  Transportation provided a useful compromise for the authorities ensuring that individuals could be punished without actually killing them.”

Questions abound.  Were transports Samuel and Mary the same people as the married couple mentioned in the baptism records? If so, how would they find each other after arriving in the Colonies? If they were indentured for 7 or 14 years, did they fulfill their obligations? Did they ever meet up again? Is there any record of them over here? If they WERE the parents of James, what became of him? Did he stay in England and come to America later?  Did he come with Mary? Were there other children? There are too many loose ends to prove any lineage at this point.

When my parents, Russ and Fran Lewis, were in England in 1998, they searched for documents that might fill in the details on the crimes and convictions of Samuel and Mary, whether or not these individuals prove to be our ancestors. At the Greater London Record Office, they examined the Middlesex Sessions Record Calendar of Indictments, consisting of the old, original documents, rolled-up records of one day’s court session. The outside cover of each roll was a long piece of leather-like material, with a numbered index of each hearing listed on the back. The number referred to the individual notes rolled inside. Samuel’s case was listed as #42 on the index, but matched #39 of the minutes. The documents were written in a mix of Latin and old English phrases which made them difficult to read. Thanks to the assistance of the staff in translating, Mom and Dad were able to take notes on the contents of the documents, as follows:

Indictment February 1722/23* Session Minutes

42. (list inside cover of roll)  Samuel Eastlick com’d by Samuel Newton Esq. for stealing a brass pestle and mortar from Samuel Eastlick, his father, DOT 18th.

39.  (Latin phrases)…King George, etc….Samuel Eastlick….parish St Mary Marylebone, Whitechapel, in county of Middlesex, 4 February (Latin phrases)…List of items stolen included one hat, one pestle and mortar, one pair of worsted stockings, six napkins valor trim, 2 or 3 more items.  (Latin phrases to the end)

Samuel Eslick Jr. for goods of the value of 17 schilling of Samuel Eslick Sr.; put himself on the county and found guilty to value of 39 schilling, has no property, seeks benefit of the statute; it allocated (granted) and is transported.

Note on top:  He was transported (from individual page for this session)

And as for Mary:

Indictment January 1723

35.  Maria Estlick theft of goods the value of 4 pounds 16 schillings and no pence of Joseph Williams.  Seeks trial not guilty; and they did not change.

35.  Maria Eslick late of St Sepulcher, county of Middlesex, servant, 11 Dec…from Joseph Williams, 1 silver watch – 40 schillings, 1 porringer – 20 schillings, 5 silver spoons – 16 schillings; feloniously stole them and covered them away; pleaded guilty…found guilty, transported.

Witnesses:  Joseph Williams, Abigail Partridge

Note:  seeks benefit of statute, allocated and she is transported.


Contributed by Fran Lewis

It is difficult to describe the feelings Russ and I had, holding the court documents from the 1700s and seeing the names of Samuel and Mary on them. I had accepted the family lore that they were husband and wife and been transported at different times. But as I read the documents, I began to ask why we thought that they were married. There was evidence of a Samuel and Mary Eastlick with a son, James, baptized in 1719 in a parish in Middlesex, which was about the same time period. But due to the fact that Samuel stole from his father, which might mean he was still living at home (or not), and that Maria (Mary) was a servant, they could have been merely two people who shared the last name (cousins or whatever).

From Coldham’s records we know that the transported Samuel was a tailor and now we know that his own father charged him with a felony so that he was transported. Felons received 14 years (Mary was also a felon) and it stunned us to think that his own father had brought charges.  We could speculate that this was a way to get him to the Colonies where he might have a better chance than in England. There are all kinds of scenarios.

We checked the IGI records and found many Samuel and Mary couples. Some of them continued to baptize children after the transportation dates and so could be eliminated. There is not a couple that had additional children baptized after James that we could find in that same parish.

Again, we know the ships each were transported on, and Samuel is listed in a landing document in the Colonies.  There is no record of Mary’s arrival that we are aware of. If they were husband and wife, how did they maintain contact with each other, or did they? And if they were in fact the parents of James, where did he go? We could not find an answer to our question about children of transported people. Did they remain behind? Did they get transported? It is difficult to imagine that a woman would be as valuable in the Colonies with a child.

But of course, the real mysteries remain as none of this ties me to either of these two people.  Until we can document who Alexander’s father is, we do not know our connection back to England. Nor can we trace the Samuel, Jr. and Samuel, Sr. to Bodmin. Another trip to England!

English Convicts in Colonial America, Vol. I, Middlesex:  1617-1775, Compiled and edited by Peter Wilson Coldham

Eastlick, Samuel, sentenced in May, transported July 1723 on ship Alexander to Maryland

Eastlick, Mary, sentenced in January, transported February 1724, ship Anne to Carolina

Appendix II, List of Ships Carrying London, Middlesex and Home Counties Convicts to America 1716-1775

Date           Ship            Captain            Number        To          Remarks
July 1723     Alexander      John King     105     Maryland**   11 died on voyage

Feb 1724       Anne         Thomas Wrangham  67        Carolina

**landing certificate issued at port of arrival


Other references:

Bound for America, by A. Roger Ekirch, 1987.

The Transportation of British Convicts to the Colonies 1718-1775, by David Stanford, University Printing House, Oxford, Oxford University Press, Walton Street, Oxford OX2 6DP.  Published in the US by Oxford University Press, New York.

Lists of Emigrants in Bondage, by Kaminkow & Kaminkow.

Bound With an Iron Chain:  The Untold Story of How the British Transported 50,000 Convicts to Colonial America by Anthony Vaver.  Note from Fran: “This book provides an excellent view of the many possibilities of what might have happened to Samuel, Jr. when he landed at Annapolis.  He might have bought his freedom at landing if his father had indeed been instrumental in his transportation; he might have been purchased at the dock because of his trade (the reason we have not found a record of his sale); he might have ended up in Maryland and/or North Carolina either at a tobacco plantation or in mining; he may have served only 7 years of his 14 since that was what often happened.  Without documentation of his purchasing land at some point, it is very difficult to trace him in the Colonies, and at this time we have not found any such documentation.  The fact that he had a documented trade (tailor) leads me to believe he had opportunities in the new land especially valuable to a plantation owner.”

*Note from Leslie:  A discussion of the calendar might be appropriate here to avoid confusion with dates during this time period.  The Julian calendar was used throughout the Middle Ages in Europe, but it had inaccuracies causing the calendar dates to gradually get ahead of actual (sun) time.  To solve these problems, the Gregorian calendar was adopted in 1582.  England, however, resisted the change, and only gradually transitioned into using the new calendar.  In the Colonies, as in England, the first day of each new year had been celebrated on March 25, until an act of Parliament in 1752 finally brought about the important change unifying England’s calendar with the rest of the Western world.  After 1752, the change-over from one year to the next would occur on January 1.  Referring to an event which occurred in January, February, or March prior to 1752, we often see it recorded with double dates, such as 1722/23.  This means that according to the old style calendar (pre-1752) the year of the event was 1722, but according to the new style calendar, the year would be referred to as 1723.

This affects both Samuel and Mary’s years of indictment.   Samuel was indicted in February of 1722 (Old Style) when the year 1723 would not have begun until March 25.  However, since we now consider February the 2nd month of the year and not the 11th, we would refer to that date as 1723 (New Style).  The dates of his sentencing (May), transport (July) and arrival in the Colonies (September) do not fall between January 1 and March 24, so no double-dating is necessary.

Mary was indicted in January 1723 (Old Style), sentenced in January and transported in February 1724 (New Style) as referenced in the Coldham book.  So she did not necessarily wait around a year before being shipped to America.  It is a difference in what the years are called depending on whether Old or New Style is used.

An interesting side note:  In a June 1820 pension application document, Alexander Eastlick of Steuben Co, NY declared he was “seventy-nine years of age the 13th day of February last.”  From our perspective we would do the math and decide that he was therefore born 13 February 1741.  BUT that is by the New Style calendar.  At the time of Alexander’s birth, depending on which calendar was being used during this gradual change-over to the New Style, the year 1741 may not have started until March 25.  We should say he was born in 1740/41, to eliminate any confusion!

Source:  “Ancestry’s GUIDE TO RESEARCH, Case Studies in American Genealogy,” by Johni Cerny and Arlene Eakle, 1985.


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