In 1509, England was under the rule of the infamous Henry VIII. Everyone in England at that time was Catholic. Henry spent his time entertaining himself and left the kingdom in the hands of Thomas (Cardinal) Wolsey. Henry's wife was Catherine of Aragon, daughter of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain. Ferdinand and Isabella were the ones who financed the voyage of Christopher Columbus in 1492.
By 1534, Henry had given up on the possibility of Catherine bearing him a son to inherit the throne. He went to Wolsey, who was head of the Catholic church in England and asked him to annul the marriage so he would be free to marry again. Wolsey denied the request and Henry responded by declaring himself the head of the Church of England. This needed the consent of Parliament, which they gave because anyone who questioned Henry's authority was immediately beheaded for treason.
The Anglican Church allowed divorce so Henry remarried and had his son. When he died in 1547, his son, Edward, took the throne. Edward's reign was brief because he soon died and his sisters took the throne. Eleven years, and several changes of religion passed before Queen Elizabeth took the throne in 1558. During that time, the religion of the country had gone from a mixture of Catholic and Protestant, to strict Catholic, and with her ascension to the throne, back to the Anglican religion that Henry VIII had instituted.
This period must have been difficult for the people. They had been told time and again to change their religious practices. Those who questioned these frequent changes were quickly arrested, imprisoned, or even beheaded.
The Eastman family was in Charlton, "Dounton Manor" as early as 1539. It is in these tumultuous times we begin the tracing of the Eastman name.*
*Source: Roger Eastman