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Mayflower, Day by Day - Monday, 3 May 1621

3 May 2021 3:27 AM | Soule (Administrator)

Let us entertain you

I was going to leave this until Thursday, but I got so many messages yesterday that I had to move this group up in the list.

Celebrities and entertainers make up a significant body of descendants, and many have several Mayflower lines.  Comedian Richard Wayne (“Dick”) van Dyke is not unusual in the number of lineages he has: he is descended from John and Priscilla Mullins, Myles Standish, George Soule, Francis Eaton, Peter Brown, Francis Cook, Edward Doty, and Degory Priest.  Adding at least one Mullins parent, that yields a total of 10 passengers.

One of the most controversial lines is Hugh Hefner, founder of Playboy Enterprises.  Perhaps the only thing about him that is not controversial is his descent from William Bradford.  Numerous sources state that this line was formally disavowed by the Mayflower Society, although I don’t see how it could be: if it was, it would have happened because of the activity of the descendant and not because there was any doubt about the lineage.

The rock musicians are the most fun: the lead singer of Metallica (James Hetfield) was descended from Degory Priest, Thomas Rogers, William and Susanna White, and Resolved White.  Which certainly goes against the stereotype of Mayflower descendants all being old, staid and grey-headed.  Also descended from Resolved White is singer-songwriter James Taylor (“You’ve Got a Friend”) and George Hamilton.  Mrs. Elvis Presley (nee Priscilla Ann Wagner) is descended from Stephen Hopkins (of course! “All Shook Up!”) and William Brewster; Lisa Marie Presley (Mrs. Michael Jackson) would also share that lineage.  And we couldn’t possibly bypass Richard Wagstaff (“Dick”) Clark, host of American Bandstand for thirty years, who is a descendant of Edward Fuller; also descended from Edward Fuller and his son Samuel is Don Knotts -- not someone usually associated with Dick Clark -- and Burt Reynolds.

William Brewster was the ancestor of both Mrs. Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn -- you just knew that Hepburn had to be a Mayflower descendant, didn’t you? -- as well as Bing Crosby, Bette Davis, Chevy Chase (also a Howland), Richard Gere (also Warren, Cooke, Soule, Eaton, Billington, Samuel Fuller, Priest, and Hopkins -- that may be a record number)

And yes, Meg, Clint Eastwood is descended from William Bradford.  So is Henry Fonda (and Jane and Peter, too), John Lithgow (also Howland and Billington), Sally Field (what would Bradford have thought about one of his granddaughters being a flying nun?), the Baldwin brothers (also Howlands), Ellen de Generes (also Alden), and Christopher Reeve.

Tomorrow I will deal with entertainers from the two big families (Alden and Howland), but I have to close today by saying that the one that always makes me laugh is the Wilson brothers (Brian, Dennis, and Carl) of the Beach Boys, who are descended from Francis Cooke, Peter Brown, and John and Francis Billington (the boy who almost blew up the Mayflower).

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