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Soule Kindred In America

Mayflower, Day by Day - Sunday, 18 October 1620

18 Oct 2020 2:39 AM | Soule (Administrator)

The Numbers Game

Disclaimer: A completely accurate identification of “Saints” and “Strangers” is well-nigh impossible, because of the state of our knowledge and the imprecision of the task.  You have been warned.

George F. Willison in Saints and Strangers provides the following breakdown of passengers of the Mayflower: “Saints” 41 (17 men, 10 women, 14 children); “Strangers” 40 (17 men, 9 women, 14 children); hired hands 5 (all men); servants 18 (11 men, 1 woman, 6 children); yielding a total of 104 (50 men, 20 women, 34 children) (p. 395).  We have previously noted his bias against the Leiden community and his restriction of true “Saint”hood to the Scrooby community, so it can easily be assumed that this would be the lowest possible number of separatists on this voyage.  The number of members of the Scrooby community who sailed on the Mayflower was a small minority of the total number of passengers.  Further research in the last seventy-five years has modified or disproved many of his identifications: George Soule (386), for example, was probably not from Eckington in Worcestershire, and had nine and not seven children (Bradford states that “His [i.e., Winslow’s] man, George Soule, is still living and hath eight children” -- Benjamin Soule probably had not yet been born when the 1651 list was compiled); Willison’s classification of him as Edward Winslow’s servant is correct.

Jeremy Bangs in Strangers and Pilgrims estimates that the “total number of Mayflower passengers who can be identified as having joined from London is seventeen, plus the four Moore children and John Alden.”  This “leaves 80 of the 102 passengers who were either from Leiden or of uncertain origin but likely to have been from Leiden” (614).  Bangs also argues (reasonably so) that any men or women who sailed on the Mayflower as servants to one of the Leiden families should be counted as having been in Leiden in the 1610s.  This is probably the upper limit of calculation for the separatist Saints.

Caleb Johnson’s 2005 article in The American Genealogist (“New Light on William Bradford’s Passenger List of the Mayflower,” TAG 80 [2005] 94-99), mentioned yesterday, suggested that Bradford’s list, our main source of information about the Mayflower passengers, “was not just listing the passengers on paper as he remembered them in some kind of stream of consciousness.  In fact, it is now possible to see that he was listing the passengers in a very specific order … organized into five sections: the leading Leiden church members, followed by the leading ‘Strangers,’ followed by the remaining Leiden church members, then the remaining ‘Strangers,’ and last the hired seamen” (94).  Johnson only listed heads of households and single men in his list (wives, children and servants were not).  The totals for leading Leiden Church Members is 7; Leading ‘Strangers’ 7; Remaining Leiden Church Members 14; Remaining ‘Strangers' 6; Hired seamen 5 (98-99).  This yields a total of 39, which is significantly less than half, but has the advantage of relying on contemporary sources to make distinctions.  Many of these identifications have since been challenged, principally Myles Standish.  As mentioned yesterday, strong (even radical) puritan sympathies can be found in Christopher Martin, classified as a leading ‘Stranger,’ and in the father of the More children (thus providing a plausible reason for their presence on board).  There is also research into possible puritan sympathies for Richard Warren as well.

Robert Charles Anderson in his 2020 The Mayflower Migration has broken the passengers down by point of origin.  Anderson counts sixty nine passengers who had some definable relationship with Leiden, and thirty-five who did not (a - split).  Nevertheless, even the “London” contingent had significant puritan sympathies: some, such as the Mullins family and Peter Brown, from Dorking in Surrey, came from a significant center of nonconformist activity; Christopher Martin had been charged with puritan views; Richard Warren had puritan family connections; the More children have been mentioned already, and Stephen Hopkins “had puritan tendencies at least.”  These would account for 23 of the 35 people in that contingent, which, when added to the 69 of the Leiden contingent, tops Bangs’ number by a full dozen (92 out of 104).  Of the remainder, nothing is known of John Alden’s religious inclinations, and there remain seven single men about whom little can be said (either about their religion or their origins).  Only the Billingtons stand out of this crowd, which suggests that they were stunningly isolated from the rest.  One wonders why they were on the ship in the first place, if they were so different from the other passengers.

Anderson notes that one of the most significant new discoveries of recent decades “is the information elicited about the premigration religious activities of some members of the non-Leiden group, which, although they did not necessarily extend to separatism, in some cases exhibited something approaching radical puritanism” (14).  Future research will undoubtedly change these totals, but it is significant that the number of “saints” has progressively increased with the increase of new evidence.

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