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Mayflower, Day by Day - Wednesday, 24 February [1620]/21

24 Feb 2021 2:41 AM | Soule (Administrator)

At anchorage

More sickness on ship and on shore than at any time before, and more deaths. Rainy, clearing.

Bradford’s 1651 list named John Rigsdale and his wife Alice among the passengers, and John definitely signed the Mayflower Compact, but left behind no other record.  According to Bradford, “Thomas Tinker and his wife and son all died in the first sickness [more about them tomorrow].  And so did John Rigsdale and his wife.”

Caleb Johnson notes that Bradford “grouped John and Alice Rigsdale in a list that included other Leiden residents” (TAG 80 [2005] 99; Mayflower Passengers, 200).  Jeremy Bangs, however, does not include them in his list of members of the Leiden congregation (Strangers and Pilgrims, 709), and they are not mentioned in any Dutch records.  Johnson also reports a marriage of John Rigsdale and Alice Gallard in Weston, Lincolnshire, on 17 November 1577; this could possibly be the Mayflower passenger, although they would have been in their mid-sixties during the voyage, and would have been one of the oldest passengers (Robert Charles Anderson declares that “they would be quite old to undertake such a voyage.”  Mayflower Migration, 145).  The Rigsdale family of St Mary Weston appears to be related to the Rigsdale family of Spalding (also in Lincolnshire), the parish associated with the Billingtons.  A letter from Edward Winslow to his wife's uncle Robert Jackson of Spalding (dated 30 October 1623) may be another hint.  If this Lincolnshire couple are the Mayflower passengers, they might have had children who were adults and on their own in 1620.  Further research may uncover these (possible) children, and their descendants would thus have Mayflower ancestors.  Caleb Johnson also notes the possibilities for a married couple with no children on the Mayflower: (1) they were so recently married that they had not yet had any children; (2) they were unable to have children; (3) they left their children in England to be sent for later; (4) their children were grown and so did not accompany them (New England Ancestors 11 [2010]:36).  Given the lack of any documentation, there is no way of telling for sure which of these would apply to the Rigsdales, although the relatively unusual surname does enable document searches to be more focussed.

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