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Mayflower, Day by Day - Tuesday, 23 February [1620]/21

23 Feb 2021 3:00 AM | Soule (Administrator)

At anchorage

Rainy.   The sickness and mortality had rapidly increased and was now at its height.

It is interesting to survey some of the passengers who died during the Great Sickness but whose later descendants (if any) have not been identified, and I will try to look at several over the next few weeks. 

John Crackston was a member of the Leiden congregation. Based on the date of his marriage, he was probably at least 50 at the time of the Mayflower’s journey, and he died between the arrival in Plymouth and the departure of the Mayflower.  John married Katherine Bates at Stratford St Mary in Suffolk on 9 May 1594 (Caleb Johnson has published the marriage record in TAG 80 [2005]: 100); his wife did not accompany him on the Mayflower, and it may be concluded that she probably had died before 1620, and perhaps earlier.  We know that John signed the Mayflower Compact, but almost nothing else. 

John Crackston’s son John Crackston accompanied his father on this voyage, and survived the first winter.  He did not sign the Mayflower Compact (only one John Crackstone did, which must have been his father), and this would suggest that his year of birth was 1601 at the earliest.  In the 1623 land division, John Crackstone received an allotment as a passenger on the Mayflower (perhaps two acres, one for himself and one for his father: Plymouth Colony Records 12:4).  He is mentioned in the 22 May 1627 cattle division (still, apparently, unmarried); Bradford notes that “about five or six years after [the death of his father] his son died, having lost himself in the woods; his feet became frozen, which put him into a fever of which he died.”  This would probably have been in the winter of 1627/28, in his mid-twenties. Isaac Allerton was part of the Suffolk Separatist community, and John Crackston (Jr.) was included in Allerton’s company in the 1627 division of cattle, so there may be some connections to be discovered both in England and in Leiden.

An intriguing person in all of this is John Crackston’s daughter Anna.  On 22 December 1618 [n.s.], when the marriage banns for Thomas Smith, a wool comber from Bury St Edmunds, and Anna Crackston were entered in Leiden, the bride was described as “spinster, from Colchester in England” (MQ 40 [1974]: 117; Dexter and Dexter, The England and Holland of the Pilgrims, 634; Tammel, The Pilgrims … in Leiden 1576-1640, 54, 96, 163, 247).  Her witness was Patience Brewster (Bangs, Strangers and Pilgrims, 294, 719).  She would have been born about 1598.  In 1974, Robert Wakefield gathered all the evidence then available for John Crackston (MQ 40 [1974]: 117-119); none of the children for any Thomas Smith after 1618 appear to have been born to Anna Crackston (see also Caleb Johnson, “Undiscovered Mayflower Lineages,” New England Ancestors 11 [2010]: 37).  This does not mean that Anna had no children, however, and if there are any who left descendants, these, too, would be Mayflower descendants -- although none have ever proved a lineage, and since the name is, well, Smith, this would be the proverbial needle in a haystack.  John and Katherine (Bates) Crackston may have also had other children than John and Anna, and Mayflower descent could be claimed through them, as well.

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