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  • 16 Dec 2020 2:16 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    Second death in the harbour; Third discovery party departs

    Very cold, bad weather.  Today Jasper More died, a seven year old bound to John Carver: this was the second death in the harbour.  Jasper was the second of four children, all below the age of ten, who were placed with leading members of the Leiden congregation: three of the four died within the first few months, and only Richard More, aged six, survived, reached adulthood and married, and had children.  The (exceptionally) complicated story began well over one hundred years earlier when William More of Larden in Shropshire (England) had two sons, Edward and Thomas, one of whom inherited the Larden estate and the other of whom became an officer of Henry VIII and received a lease on a valuable and substantial (former) abbey at the time of the dissolution of the monasteries.  Fast forwarding to the seventeenth century, the sole heiress to the Larden estate was Katherine More; the family was concerned that when Katherine married, as both of her brothers had died by 1608, the estate would fall out of the family’s hands.  Katherine was therefore married to her second cousin Samuel More (Katherine was 25, Samuel was 17), thus reuniting the two branches and estates of the family.  Katherine, however, had established, ahem, um, er, a “friendship” with Jacob Blakeway (aged 27 at the time of Katherine’s marriage), a tenant on one of her father’s farms.  Four children were born and baptised in Shipton, Shropshire between 1612 and 1616: Jasper was baptised on 8 August 1613; four days after the baptism of the youngest, Samuel More (now 21) cut the children off from their rights to inherit the Larden estate, and Samuel’s father made similar moves to protect the other estate -- in this period property was almost always inherited solely along blood lines, and thus since it appeared that the children were not in fact Samuel’s, steps had to be taken to preserve the property in the family.  “Samuel … had come to the realization that these were not his children after all; in fact, most of them appeared to resemble Jacob Blakeway” (Caleb Johnson, Mayflower Passengers, p. 190).  Numerous suits and counter suits followed over the next two years; Samuel stopped short of actually declaring the children bastards, and was careful to have them entrusted to staunch Puritan families to be cared for (to keep them in his own home might have been interpreted as admitting paternity, and would have interfered with his desire to start a family of his own): Samuel purchased a double share in the Plymouth Company for each of the children plus an additional investment of £20, with the contractual obligation that each child was to be given 50 acres of land after seven years, and handed them over to Robert Cushman and Thomas Weston.  The children lived in Weston’s house in London before the Mayflower’s departure.  For more information on this story (and there is a lot more), see Anthony Richard Wagner’s accurate account in NEHGRegister 114 (1960):163-168 [includes transcripts of the original documents], 124 (1970):85-87, and Donald Harris, “The More Children of the Mayflower,” Mayflower Descendant 43 (1993):123-132, 44 (1994):11-20, 109-118.    Wagner also published an outline of various royal descents (Malcolm III of Scotland and Edward I of England) for the More children in NEHGRegister 124 (1970):85-87. David Lindsay’s biography of Richard More, Mayflower Bastard: A Stranger among the Pilgrims (New York: St Martin’s Press, 2002) has been characterised as “readable … but rather speculative.”   Of the three children who died within the first few months of arrival in America, we only have a precise date for Jasper’s death.  I will have more to say about the More children if I have time and space later on.

    Mourt’s Relation provides a narration of the discovery party “penned by one of the company.”  The third exploring party got away from the ship in the afternoon in the shallop: “we set out, being very cold and hard weather. We were a long while after we launched from the ship before we could get clear of a sandy point which lay within less than a furlong of the same. … Two were very sick, and Edward Tilley had like to have sounded [swooned] with cold; the gunner also was sick unto death, (but hope of trucking made him to go), and so remained all that day and the next night. At length we got clear of the sandy point and got up our sails, and within an hour or two we got under the weather shore, and then had smoother water and better sailing, but it was very cold, for the water froze on our clothes and made them many times like coats of iron. We sailed six or seven leagues by the shore, but saw neither river nor creek; at length we met with a tongue of land, being flat off from the shore, with a sandy point. … As we drew near to the shore, we espied some ten or twelve Indians very busy about a black thing — what it was we could not tell — till afterwards they saw us, and ran to and fro as if they had been carrying something away. We landed a league or two from them, and had much ado to put ashore anywhere, it lay so full of flat sands. When we came to shore, we made us a barricade, and got firewood, and set out our sentinels, and betook us to our lodging, such as it was. We saw the smoke of the fire which the savages made that night, about four or five miles from us.”  The “black thing” was probably (as recorded in Mourt's Relation for tomorrow) a grampus, the genus that includes Risso's dolphin as its only species; it is also a common name for the orca (killer whale) and pilot whale.

  • 15 Dec 2020 2:42 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    At anchor in harbour 

    Weather cold and foul.  Francis Billington, the young son of one of the passengers, put the ship and all in great jeopardy, by shooting off a fowling-piece in his father’s cabin between decks where there was a small barrel of gunpowder open, and many people about the fire close by.  None were hurt.  Ten settlers were chosen to make a third, and more extensive, exploration of sites for a permanent settlement: “Captain Standish, Master Carver, William Bradford, Edward Winslow, John Tilley, Edward Tilley, John Howland, and three of London, Richard Warren, Stephen Hopkins, and Edward Doty, and two of our seamen, John Allerton and Thomas English. Of the ship's company there went two of the master's mates, Master Clarke and Master Coppin, the master gunner, and three sailors.”

  • 14 Dec 2020 2:06 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    At anchor in Cape Cod harbour; First death since arrival

    Carpenter completing repairs on shallop. Much discussion of plans for settlement: “Robert Coppin, our pilot, made relation of a great navigable river and good harbor in the other headland of this bay, almost right over against Cape Cod, being in a right line not much above eight leagues distant, in which he had been once; and because that one of the wild men with whom they had some trucking stole a harping iron [harpoon] from them, they called it Thievish Harbour [probably modern Boston, Massachusetts - you may draw whatever conclusions you wish from Boston’s original name being “Thievish” -- although Boston is 49 miles west of Provincetown, but Coppin’s memory was certainly hazy ]. And beyond that place they were enjoined not to go, whereupon a company was chosen to go out upon a third discovery.”  Master Jones urged that the settlers should explore with their shallop at some distance; he refused, given the season, to stir from the present anchorage until a safe harbour had been discovered where they would settle permanently, and where the Mayflower might go without danger.

    Edward Thompson, an indentured servant of William White, died today, the first to die aboard the ship since it anchored in the harbour. Jeremy Bangs notes that the servants of Pilgrims known to have lived in Leiden (such as the Whites) may also be counted as from Leiden, because their apprenticeships or similar terms of service must have been contracted there (and not in England: see Strangers and Pilgrims, p. 446f.).  Caleb Johnson indicates that Edward was not yet 21, since he did not sign the Mayflower Compact: it is possible, however, that he could not sign because his health was so poor.  He might have been over 21 (as Bradford calls him a “servant” and not a “lad”) and was one of the men who did not sign (comprising as much as 20% of the adult male passengers).  I have frequently wondered about the dynamic in the community of having more than three quarters of the adult male passengers signing (whether all signatures were voluntary, or some were coerced, cannot now be determined), yet a substantial number of adult male passengers did not sign (for reasons that cannot now be known).  The fact that he was indentured to William White would suggest that his not signing was not for religious reasons or from a desire to bolt once it became clear that the group was not headed to the Hudson River; at this distance it is impossible to tell for certain.  Thom(p)son is a common enough name, and “it is unlikely anything conclusive can be determined [about his English origins] unless he can be tied with an association to his master William White (whose English origins are also unknown)” (Mayflower Passengers, p. 233).  Winslow and Bradford both give as a reason for speeding up a choice of a permanent settlement, the fact that people were now dying onboard the Mayflower; this must have added significant pressure to come to a quick determination.

  • 13 Dec 2020 2:44 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    At anchor in Cape Cod harbour

    The fourth Sunday here.  Weather very variable.  Discussions continued about settlement, with a variety of reasons being advanced for not staying where they were: “Others again, urged greatly the going to Anguum, or Angoum [modern Ipswich, Massachusetts, north of Cape Ann], a place twenty leagues off to the northwards, which they had heard to be an excellent harbour for ships, better ground, and better fishing.  Secondly, for anything we knew, there might be hard by us a far better seat, and it should be a great hindrance to seat where we should remove again.  Thirdly, the water was but in ponds, and it was thought there would be none in the summer, or very little.  Fourthly, the water there must be fetched up a steep hill.  But to omit many reasons and replies used hereabouts, it was in the end concluded to make some discovery within the bay, but in no case so far as Anguum.”

  • 12 Dec 2020 2:45 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    At anchor in harbour 

    Much discussion among colonists as to settlement, with the Master insisting on a speedy determination. Whales were playing about the ship in considerable numbers: “one, when the sun shone warm, came and lay above water as if she had been dead, for a good while together, within half a musket shot of the ship, at which two were prepared to shoot to see whether she would stir or no. He that gave fire first, his musket flew to pieces, both stock and barrel, yet, thanks be to God, neither he nor any man else was hurt with it, though many were there about. But when the whale saw her time, she gave a snuff, and away.”  Passengers fetched wood and water.

  • 11 Dec 2020 3:11 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    At anchor, Cape Cod harbour 

    The carpenter was finishing work and repair on the shallop.  The colonists continued discussing locations visited as places for settlement, but no place yet seen was entirely suitable.  Edward Winslow (in Mourt’s Relation) suggested four reasons for staying near where they were: “First, … there was a convenient harbour for boats, though not for ships. Secondly, good corn-ground ready to our hands, as we saw by experience in the goodly corn it yielded, which would agree with the ground, and be natural seed for the same. Thirdly, Cape Cod was like to be a place of good fishing …; Fourthly, the place was likely to be healthful, secure, and defensible.  But the last and especial reason was, that now the heart of winter and unseasonable weather was come upon us, so that we could not go upon coasting and discovery without danger of losing men and boat, upon which would follow the overthrow of all, especially considering what variable winds and sudden storms do there arise. Also, cold and wet lodging had so tainted our people, for scarce any of us were free from vehement coughs, as if they should continue long in that estate it would endanger the lives of many, and breed diseases and infection amongst us. Again, we had yet some beer, butter, flesh, and other such victuals left, which would quickly be all gone, and then we should have nothing to comfort us in the great labour and toil we were like to undergo at the first. It was also conceived, whilst we had competent [sufficient] victuals, that the ship would stay with us, but when that grew low, they would be gone and let us shift as we could.”

  • 10 Dec 2020 3:02 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    At anchor in harbour

    Master Jones sent the shallop to the head of the harbour with mattocks and spades, as desired by those ashore; the seamen took their muskets, also. 

    Myles Standish was in charge of those eighteen who had been left on shore, and they went in search of Indians.  They were ignorant of the normal Indian migration pattern (staying inland in the winter and near the water in the summer), and, in any event, found no one.  On the way back, they found “a place like a grave, but it was much bigger and longer than any we had yet seen.”  The arrangement was different from anything they had previously seen, including the Indian graves, so they “resolved to dig it up.”  They found quite a few boards, one of which was “finely carved and painted, with three tines, or broaches on the top, like a crown” (probably Neptune’s trident); further down they “came to a fair new mat, and under that two bundles, the one bigger, the other less.”  “We opened the greater [bundle] and found in it a great quantity of fine and perfect red powder [red ochre] … the red powder was a kind of [embalming], and yielded a strong, but [not offensive] smell; it was fine as any flower.”  They also found the skull of a man with “fine yellow hair still on it, and some of the flesh unconsumed.”  With the skull was a sailor’s canvas bag containing a knife and sewing needle.  Then they turned to the smaller bundle: inside were the skull and bones of a small child, along with a tiny wooden bow “and some other odd knacks.”  Even if they had not been frightened beforehand, they must have been now.  They were clearly not the first Europeans here, and they must have had many, many questions: who was the man, and who was the child?  Did either or both die a natural death?  Or had they been killed?  Why were they buried with special care by the Indians?  How recent was this?  How did the blond haired man get here?  Despite the fact that the Pilgrims had not seen any other humans for the last three months other than their fellow passengers and six spectre-like Indians far away on the beach two weeks ago, who had run away before contact was made, this must have been startling and brought home that they were not the first or the only people here.  I have to admit that this discovery fills me, even at the distance of four centuries, with dread and foreboding like no other part of this story.

    The exploration party then discovered some Indian houses not far away.  There were several deer heads, one of which was quite fresh, and a piece of broiled herring, suggesting that the occupants had -- very recently -- left in quite a hurry.  The Pilgrims decided to leave behind some beads and other trade goods and tokens for the Indians “in sign of peace … purposing to give them full satisfaction when they should meet with any of them (as about some 6 months afterwards they did, to their great content).”  While they were still trying their level best to make contact with Indians, the Indians were quite successful in avoiding any such contact.  It was now getting dark.  The shallop collected the party and came alongside the Mayflower at nightfall with the rest of the explorers — the tide being out — bringing “some of the best things,” baskets, pottery, wicker-ware, etc., with them.  They reported that the ground was frozen a foot deep.

  • 9 Dec 2020 2:46 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    At anchor, Cape Cod harbour

    Very cold.  Foul weather threatening.

    On shore, the exploratory party went looking for the place where they had discovered the corn two weeks ago (“Corn Hill”); the snow made it difficult to find the exact location again, but after brushing away the snow and hacking at the frozen topsoil with their cutlasses (they had not brought spades or shovels), they located the original bag of seed, and an additional ten bushels “of their corn & of their beans of various colours.”    [This seems to be the first mention of beans in Pilgrim literature.  They have held an important place in the New England diet ever since.]  “And sure it was God’s good providence that we found this Corn, for else we know not how we should have done, for we knew not how we should find or meet with any of the Indians, except it be to do us a mischief.” Master Jones then returned towards night to the (relative) warmth of the Mayflower with corn and beans and several men who were too sick to go on (eighteen men remaining ashore). 

  • 8 Dec 2020 3:04 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    At anchor, Cape Cod harbour

    Cold.  Master Jones and the exploring party were absent on shore with the long-boat and the colonists’ shallop.  Six inches of snow fell yesterday and last night.  The crew was hard at work clearing snow from the ship. 

    The shallop, which beached yesterday in a strong wind and harboured there last night, got under way this morning and sailed up the harbour, following the course taken by the long-boat yesterday, with the wind favouring.  By the time they reached Pamet Harbour (in present day Truro) they were so frostbitten and numb that they named it “Cold Harbour.”  Jones explored the northern and larger of the two creeks by land, but gave up after “marching up and down the steep hills, and deep valleys, which lay half a foot thick with snow.”  Some of the Pilgrims wanted to continue, but Jones insisted that it was time to make camp under some large pine trees.  They feasted on six ducks and three geese “with soldiers’ stomachs for we had eaten little all day.”  Cold Harbour was too shallow to support a permanent settlement (“no harbour for ships but only for boats”), so they would have to continue searching tomorrow.

  • 7 Dec 2020 3:00 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    Second Exploration Party; “First Child of New England”

    Rough weather and cross winds.  The Pilgrims determined, after Christopher Jones’ ultimatum of yesterday, to send out a strong exploring party, and invited Jones to join them and go as leader, which he agreed to and offered nine of the crew and the long-boat.  One of the mates was left in charge of the ship.  Of the colonists there were twenty four, making the party in all thirty four (or double the size of the previous exploration party). The wind proved so strong that, setting out from the ship, the shallop and long-boat were obliged to row to the nearest shore, and the men to wade above the knees to land; the shallop had to harbour where she landed, in an inlet that is now part of Pilgrim Lake, and here all of the men spent the night: their wet shoes and stockings began to freeze.  “Some of our people that are dead,” Bradford wrote, “took the original of their death here.”  The wind blew fiercely and it snowed all day and at night, and froze.

    Susannah White was delivered of a son, who was named “Peregrine” (meaning “Pilgrim”).  This was the second child born on the voyage, and the first in this harbour: he is called “the first child of New England” in the Marshfield church record of May 1696 (at age 75).  Peregrine joined William and Susannah White and an older brother Resolved.  He survived the first winter, and around 1649 married Sarah Bassett (b. c. 1628, daughter of William and Elizabeth Bassett, who both came on the Fortune in 1621).  Bradford’s list said that Peregrine White had two children at that time (1651); he had five more in the next twenty years.  One was killed in Captain Pierse’s Fight during King Philip’s War (along with Benjamin Soule, son of the pilgrim George Soule; see Mayflower Descendant 45 [Jan 1995]:53), while all of the others have descendants.  At least three autographs of Peregrine White have been identified (all pictured in Mayflower Descendant 13 [Jan 1911]: frontispiece, 1-2), but he signed his will with the initials “PW” and his mark; he was over 83 years old at the time.  He died in Marshfield on 20 July 1704.

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