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Soule Kindred In America


  • 26 Mar 2021 7:13 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    At anchorage

    A fair, warm day, towards noon. 

    Master Jones and others went ashore to the general military meeting.  It was planned that there would be drill after the meeting.  Oddly enough, whenever the Pilgrims gathered for drill or other meeting, they were always interrupted by Indians.

    This morning the same thing happened, although there was only one of them this time.  Unlike the previous times, “a tall, straight man, the hair of his head black, long behind, only short before, none on his face at all” appeared at the top of Watson’s hill, and then walked straight into the settlement, and down the main street (such as it was) toward the meeting house, where the women and children had been assembled in case of attack.  He showed no hesitation or fear, although he was “stark naked, only a leather about his waist, with a fringe about a span [i.e., about nine inches] long or little more.”  When a cold breeze came up, the settlers threw “a horseman’s coat” over him to keep him warm.  He was armed with “a bow and two arrows, the one headed, the other unheaded.”  No special significance was attached to this at the time, but they may have been signs of the alternatives of war and peace.    Some of the men came out of the meeting house and blocked the entrance.  This strange visitor “saluted us in English” and with great enthusiasm spoke the now famous words:

    “Welcome, Englishmen!”

    Bradford wrote that the Pilgrims offered him something to eat, and he immediately asked for beer.  Since their beer had run out, the settlers offered him some “strong water” (probably the aqua vitae [brandy]) along with some “biscuit, and butter, and cheese, and pudding, and a piece of mallard, all of which he liked well” (Mourt’s Relation).

    “He introduced himself as Samoset -- at least that is how the Pilgrims heard it -- but he may actually have been telling them his English name, Somerset.  He was not, he explained in broken English, from this part of New England.  He was a sachem from Pemaquid Point in Maine, near Monhegan Island, a region frequented by English fishermen.  It was from these fishermen, many of whom he named, that he’d learned to speak English” (Philbrick, Mayflower, 93-94).  He saw the Mayflower in the harbour, from a distance, and supposed it to be a fishing vessel.  He told the Governor that the plantation was formerly called “Patuxet” [or Apaum], “and that about four years ago all the inhabitants died of an extraordinary plague, and there is neither man, woman, nor child remaining, as indeed we have found none, so as there is none to hinder our possession, or to lay claim unto it.  All the afternoon was spent in communication with him; we would gladly have been rid of him at night, but he was not willing to go this night.”  Governor Carver purposed sending him aboard the ship at night, “and he was well content to go and went aboard the shallop to come to the ship, but the wind was high and water scant [low], that [the shallop] could not return back.  We lodged him that night at Stephen Hopkins’s house, and watched him” (Mourt’s Relation).

  • 25 Mar 2021 3:28 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    At anchorage

    The Allerton household was hit by more than Mary (Norris) Allerton’s death.  Isaac Allerton’s servant, John Hooke, died at about this time, as did Isaac’s brother, John Allerton. 

    John Allerton had intended to spend only that first winter in America, helping his brother’s family, and then return to his wife.  He was hired as help for the colony, and is identified by Bradford as a seaman -- he signed the Mayflower Compact, between two others identified as seamen: Richard Gardinar and Thomas English.  He was on several of the exploratory expeditions, was at the “First Encounter” with the Nauset Indians, and was with the group when it explored Plymouth Harbour for the first time.  We know nothing about his wife or any of his children.  If there were any, and they had descendants, they would be Mayflower descendants.

    John Hooke was born about 1607 in Norwich, Norfolk, making him about thirteen at the time the Mayflower set sail.  At some point the Hooke family moved to Leiden, where their former pastor John Robinson led the congregation.  John Hooke’s father (also named John) died in Leiden and his mother remarried to Henry Gallant.  Henry and Alice apprenticed young John on 8 January 1619 to Isaac Allerton of Leiden, a tailor, for a period of twelve years: John only survived a bit more than two.

  • 24 Mar 2021 2:55 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    At anchorage

    A group of my parishioners are going to plant a large bed of Mayflowers in the garden behind my house, but I have to admit that I really didn’t know what one looked like for real and can’t say that I could identify it if I saw it in the wild.

    The mayflower plant, also called “trailing arbutus” (Epigaea repens) is a trailing plant with fuzzy stems and clusters of sweet-smelling pink or white blooms about half an inch across when expanded, and borne in clusters at the ends of the branches.  It is found from Newfoundland to Florida, west to Kentucky and the Northwest Territories.  This unusual wildflower grows from a specific type of fungus that nourishes the roots.  The seeds of the plant are dispersed by ants, but the plant rarely produces fruit and trailing arbutus wildflowers are nearly impossible to transplant.  Due to the plant’s particular growing requirements and destruction of its habitat, mayflower trailing arbutus wildflowers have become very rare.  If you are lucky enough to see a mayflower plant growing in the wild, do not attempt to remove it.  The species is protected by law in many states, and removal is prohibited. Once trailing arbutus disappears from an area, it will probably never return.  Mayflower trailing arbutus requires moist soil and partial or full shade. Like most woodland plants growing under tall conifers and deciduous trees, the Mayflower plant performs well in acidic (humus-rich) soil.  Mayflower arbutus grows where many plants fail to thrive: I hope that the Great Smoky Mountains qualify.

    The Mayflower is the official flower of the Province of Nova Scotia and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts [digging up one in Massachusetts is punishable with a $50 fine].

    When I went to the nursery last week to talk about getting more, the horticulturalist confessed that he had never, in almost forty years, been asked to obtain one.  So keep your fingers crossed that it will flourish, like the Pilgrims -- with lots of moisture and in partial or full shade.  I have decided to put up two flagpoles there: one will, of course, have the King’s Colours; I think that the other one should have the new flag of the Canadian Society of Mayflower Descendants.

  • 23 Mar 2021 2:57 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    At anchorage

    The sickness and mortality on ship and on shore continue.

    Whenever I have to talk about George Soule, there is one question that is asked far more frequently than where did he come from and what were his origins.  That is, “How do you pronounce the name Soule?”  This is closely connected to the question of how it was spelled.  Note that spelling was not standardised in this period, and would have been closer to pronunciation (as people would have been spelling in accord with how it sounded more frequently than they would have been spelling from how it appeared in print or writing).

    We have an original signature from George the Pilgrim, as a witness on the will of John Barnes (6 March 1667/[68]).  A close examination of this document clearly shows that the surname was spelled “Soule,” with the addition of “Senr” after it, to show that this was the Pilgrim and not his son George Soule.  There is no indication that the name of this branch was ever written with an accent (“Soulé”) or pronounced “Soo-lay” in the French fashion (where it means, er, um, uh, “drunk”).   George Ernest Bowman reported in his article on the pronunciation of the name in the Mayflower Descendant that after reviewing numerous documents not found in print, he had discovered six ways of spelling the surname: Soule, Soull, Soul, Sole, Soal, and Sowle (all of which can be pronounced to rhyme with coal: MD 14 [1912]: 129-130). The earliest contemporary written use of the name is in the record of the division of land in 1623: it is there written as Soule (Plymouth Colony Records 12:4; MD 1 [1899]:228).  In Bradford’s list of Mayflower passengers (1651), he uses the form “Sowle,” but in the same list he states “aboute a hundred sowles came over in the first ship,” showing that he pronounced the surname as if it rhymed with coal.  The frequent occurrences in the original records of the forms Soule, Soul, Soale, Soal, and Sole, with the numerous  autograph signatures in the forms Soule, Soul, and Sole, furnish conclusive evidence that for the first century in America (at least), the name was pronounced to rhyme with “coal” (and hole, bowl, troll, etc.) rather than with “fool.”

  • 22 Mar 2021 3:15 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    At anchorage

    Easterly weather.

    More has probably been written, with fewer solid conclusions, about George Soule, an indentured servant to Edward Winslow and signer of the Mayflower Compact, than about any other passenger on the Mayflower.  Speculation has been rampant about his origins (English? Dutch? French?) and has ranged from agnosticism to wildly imaginative speculation (that he was a Sephardic Jew from Spain, who came to Leiden via Africa), with none of it -- absolutely none of it -- resting on even a single document that has his name.  As it happens, the very first document on which George Soule’s name appears is the Mayflower Compact.  It may be valuable, or at least entertaining, to look at the various theories for his origins:

    1. A generation ago it was generally agreed that George Soule of the Mayflower came from Eckington, a small village in Worcestershire.  There was a George Soule there in the early seventeenth century, but this identification is too problematic to be a prime answer in the search.  The facts that argue in its favour have to do with connections of the Winslow family to the area; arguing against it is that the Soules in that area (and there are still some) do not share any DNA connection with George or his descendants, and no documentation clearly shows any local George Soule of the right age or occupation, or one with Separatist sympathies.  The Eckington origin, however, is still the story that is used in the Plimoth Plantation playbook for the actors who portray George.

    2. About twenty years ago, several researchers, particularly Louise Throop, pointed to a couple of Dutch Reformed refugees named Jan Sol (or Soltz or Solis or Sols) and Mayken Labis (or Labus).  They married in London at the old Austin Friars Church in 1586, and had seven children, who were baptised in Haarlem in Holland.  While the name sounds a lot like “Soule,” the problem with this identification is that the record of their children's baptisms appears to be complete into the seventeenth century, and none of their children are named George (or any variation of that).  Another John Soule (Jan Sol, Johannes Sol) was a Leiden book printer, thus putting him in the right place at the right time, but his marriage was in 1616, making it impossible for him to be this George Soule’s father (see Bangs, Strangers and Pilgrims, 299f. n. 135).  There has, thus far, been no documentation to either prove or disprove George Soule’s Dutch origins.  Overheated speculations on DNA results have been inconclusive as well.

    3. With the discovery of Elizabeth (Barker) Winslow’s family connections a couple of years ago, a new place of research has opened up.  She was the daughter of Samuel Barker of East Bergholt and Chattisham in Suffolk (see the work of the intrepid trio of Sue Allan, Caleb Johnson, and Simon Neal in NEHGR 173 [2019]: 5-17), and it is clear that both Edward and Elizabeth went back in 1619 to sell off property she inherited from her parents.  They purchased shares in the merchant group financing the Mayflower voyage, and this recent sale would have made Edward and Elizabeth two of the wealthier people in the community.  I have speculated in these posts several times before that it is possible that the Winslows were thus in a position, being newly flush with cash, to pay for the passage of others of like mind; the fact that George Soule and Edward Winslow were roughly contemporaries is also intriguing, as well as the fact that George did not have any particular trade that would have made his presence necessary or valuable to the settlers (such as John Alden, who was a cooper).  There were Soules in this area of Suffolk, and it is possible that the Winslows picked up George Soule while they were back there making arrangements for the Barker estate.  This is, however, the proverbial needle in a haystack, but researchers are looking to see if there are any candidates for a George Soule in Suffolk, where it is known that there were influential Separatist conventicles.  Nothing has yet shown up to prove or disprove this possibility, either.

    4. Edward Winslow’s relationship to John Beale, a London printer, is also a possible connection to look at.  Winslow was apprenticed to Beale, “citizen [of London] and stationer, for the term of eight years,” on 19 August 1613, but left England in 1617, before his apprenticeship ended (Bangs, Edward Winslow, 3-4).  No penalties were imposed on him when he returned in 1635, which they would have been if he has been a runaway.  This suggests that Winslow’s relationship with Beale was not merely master-servant.  The facts will bear the interpretation that Beale was a distributor of the Puritan and Separatist tracts produced in Leiden, and if George Soule were from London and could be connected with Beale’s circle, whether as a courier or in some other capacity, it would be easy to connect him to Edward Winslow (by occupation and religious preference) before the Mayflower sailed.  In some ways this is the most difficult of the possibilities, since Winslow’s printing activity was illegal in England, and there is not likely to be a very obvious paper trail connecting George with anyone involved in seditious activity.

    There may be other possibilities, as well, but these all (except for the Eckington connection) are currently live options.  Stay tuned …

  • 21 Mar 2021 3:36 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    At anchorage, Plymouth harbour

    The thirteenth Sunday the ship has been in this harbour. Many of Mayflower crew still sick, including the boatswain. Those on shore beginning to recover.

  • 20 Mar 2021 3:30 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    At anchorage

    Rough easterly weather.  Fetched wood and water.

    Between 1990 and 2008, Elizabeth Pearson White prepared four volumes covering the first five generations of the descendants of John Howland through his four oldest children: Desire (1990), John (1993), Hope (2008), and Elizabeth (2008).  These were published by the Picton Press in Maine, independent of the silver books (“Five Generations”) project.  Robert Charles Anderson notes that these books need to be used with caution (Mayflower Migration, 113); Martin Hollick in MD 58 (2009): 97-98 warns that Elizabeth Pearson White’s long years of research on the Howland family may have caused her to lose a certain objectivity in evaluating new evidence, dismissing instead of investigating possibilities (in more than one case, getting the person’s sex wrong).  Elizabeth Pearson White died in 2011 (aged 96!), and Picton Press, alas, ceased publication in 2014.  Thus the books, where they can be found, are out of print, out of stock, and hideously expensive (I have seen online prices well over $7,000 a volume -- which must mean that someone, somewhere, will pay that outrageous price for it); I am told that the White heirs appallingly continue to refuse to permit the books to be republished.  While these books do have flaws, they are well done, up to modern standards, and indispensable to anyone working on these lines.

    Beginning in 1959, the General Society of Mayflower Descendants sponsored the publication of a series of books originally called the “Five Generation Project,” which sought to document all of the descendants of the passengers with known descendants for the first five generations.  The aim of the project was to bridge the research gap between the Plymouth Colony’s beginnings and Revolutionary times.  Most of the Mayflower Families have been published as a single volume for each individual passenger; those covering Pilgrims with a large number of descendants have been published as multi-part sets. They soon became known as the “Silver Books” (because of the colour of the cover), and are an invaluable tool because of the meticulous research and documentation they contain.  The more recent books have expanded to contain six generations, naming the seventh, and thus frequently reach into the early nineteenth century.

    One of the earliest volumes to appear (vol. 3 [1981]) was the descendants of George Soule, and was the work of John E. Soule and Milton E. Terry.  While it was a painstaking operation, it suffered from the change in genealogical standards that was occurring at just about that time; it very quickly became clear that this book was not adequate to substantiate the identities and families of George Soule’s descendants, the purpose of the silver book series.  Starting in the 1990s, other researchers began documenting the Soule lines with substantial further research, and published several soft cover volumes officially called Mayflower Families in Progress (MFIP), but more colloquially known as “Pink Books” because their covers are the hue of the “may flower.”  Other family organizations have produced these interim books, as well, and then combined and revised them for publication in the final, definitive silver book: the most recent volume to go from pink to silver is William Brewster, and a series of (green) books have been published on the descendants of Phillip Delano, a passenger on the Fortune (1621), but whose children married into many Pilgrim families.  The Soule family, which counts at least 40,000 descendants and spouses in the first six generations, is the largest family without a more than provisional publication of its Mayflower descendants, but I remain hopeful that the new Soule silver book can be published in the next three years.  Soule Kindred in America is sponsoring a revision and completion of the Soule pink books with the ultimate goal of producing a final silver book, thus fulfilling the project begun by John Soule and Milton Terry over half a century ago. 

    Mayflower silver book researchers continued with the subsequent children of John and Elizabeth Howland not covered in Elizabeth Pearson White’s four volumes; the organization of these new silver book volumes, however, was slightly changed, and this makes consulting them somewhat confusing.  Volume 23, Part 1 (2006) covers the first four generations of the remaining six children (Lydia, Hannah, Joseph, Jabez, Ruth, and Isaac).  Part 2 (2010) then goes on to the fifth generation of his daughters, Lydia and Hannah.  Part 3 (2012) goes to the fifth generation of his sons Joseph and Jabez.  The fifth generation descendants of Ruth and Isaac remain to be published (just my luck, since I am descended from Isaac); I hope it is not far off.  At some point the four volumes previously done by Elizabeth Pearson White will be revised in order to coordinate them with the silver books that have been published.

  • 19 Mar 2021 3:09 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    At anchorage 

    Rough easterly weather.  Many still sick aboard.

    There are six other people in the household of John Carver mentioned in Bradford’s list of passengers, in addition to John’ wife Catherine:

    1) John Howland: John Howland was born about 1599 to Henry and Margaret Howland of Fenstanton, Huntingdonshire.  The Howland family appears to have had connections with Randall Thickens, John Carver’s brother-in-law, which may help explain why he was placed in this household.  Howland signed the Mayflower Compact, and took part in several of the exploratory trips before settling in Plymouth.  Both John and Catherine Carver died in the spring and summer of 1621, and Howland’s indenture must have been close to ending in any event, as he married Elizabeth Tilley (see last Tuesday’s post) not long before the 1623 division of land.  Their first daughter, Desire, was born about 1624, and some have speculated that she was named after Desire Minter, who was probably a close contemporary of Elizabeth and may have recently died (see below), and who was one of John’s fellow servants in the Carver household.  The Howlands’ second child was born in 1626.  In the 1627 division of cattle, John and Elizabeth were in the only lot that did not contain two female goats.  He was also one of the surveyors for the 1627 division of land.  Howland was active in the colony, and lived out his last years at his house in Rocky Nook, near Kingston.  He made out his will on 29 May 1672, and died on 23 February 1672/73 “above eighty years” (Plymouth Colony Records 8: 34 -- there is general agreement that this age at death is almost certainly exaggerated).  All ten of John and Elizabeth’s children survived to adulthood and had children of their own -- an unusual set of circumstances, which has led many to conclude that there are more descendants of John and Elizabeth Howland than there are of any other Mayflower passenger.  There is much more to say about John Howland, particularly his activities in Maine; these are summarised by Caleb Johnson in Mayflower Passengers, 169-175.  On the White and silver books (sorry, I couldn’t resist), see tomorrow’s post.

    2) William Latham: see my posting of 26 October 1620 on the indentured servants on the Mayflower.  Although William was not included by name in the 1623 division of land, he was included in the 1627 division of cattle in the group of William Bradford.  He was born about 1609, moved to Duxbury, Marblehead and Marshfield before he returned to England in 1645, and then headed to the Bahamas, where he was abandoned on Eleuthera Island and starved to death in 1648.  He married a woman by the name of Mary by 1643; she was hanged in Boston on 21 March 1643/44.  Lots more stories where those care from (see my earlier post).

    3) Desire Minter: Robert Charles Anderson notes that “although the precise connection is not yet clear, Desire Minter was related to John Carver in some way [NEHGR 174 (2020): 5-20], thus placing her in the Southeast Suffolk Separatist cluster of immigrants to Leiden.”  Her father, William Minter, had died by 1618 in Leiden; at that point her mother Sarah (Willet) Minter remarried to Roger Simons (or Simonson), and by 1622 Sarah had married a third time to Roger Eastman.  Desire was born about 1610 (see NEHGR 143 [1999]: 209); Bradford states that she “returned to her friend and proved not very well and died in England.”  The word “friend” in this period could also mean kinsman or guardian.  Her mother made an arrangement for her support on 10 May 1622, which is the last mention of her in any extant document.  There is no record of either a marriage or children for her. 

    4) Jasper More: see my posting of indentured servants of 26 October 1620, and on Jasper himself on 16 December 1620 (the date of his death).  Jasper was baptised in 1613, the elder of the More sons, and died during this winter “of the common infection” at about the age of eight.

    5) Roger Wilder: also died during this winter, according to Bradford.  He presumably came with Carver from Leiden.  Roger did not sign the Mayflower Compact, either because he was too young, or because he was one of eight or ten men who refused to do so.  Caleb Johnson notes a Roger Wilder baptised at Rotherwicke in Hampshire on 28 December 1595 (Mayflower Passengers, 249); Robert Charles Anderson comments that this Hampshire man, “although probably too old to be the Mayflower passenger, may provide a clue to discovering the correct origin” (Mayflower Migration, 186).

    6) “maidservant”: see my post of 11 October 1620.  Bradford does not name this passenger, but I think it reasonable to identify her as “Mrs. Carver’s maid.”  All the adult women on the Mayflower were married, with the exception of Mrs. Carver’s maid, Dorothy (who became Francis Eaton’s second wife -- see Caleb Johnson’s careful and fascinating reconstruction of the complicated record in Mayflower Passengers, 263-265.  Whether or not she was alive in 1623, one acre of land was granted to Francis Eaton in Dorothy’s right in the land division of that year.  Francis Eaton remarried (a third time) in 1626, so Dorothy must have died before then.

  • 18 Mar 2021 3:31 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    At anchor in harbour

    Rough easterly weather.

    We have seen John Carver several times in the past six months, so perhaps now is a good time to look at him more closely.  John was born at Great Bealings, Suffolk in 1581, so he was just shy of 40 on this voyage.  He appeared -- frequently - in the manorial records of Seckford Hall (in Great Bealings), but he sold off all of his holdings there between 1605 and 1608, and disappeared from English records thereafter.  Carver and his family appear in Leiden by 1615, when he became deacon of Pastor John Robinson’s congregation (Plymouth Church Records 1:51; Sue Allan, Caleb Johnson, and Simon Neal have published the evidence for Carver’s English origins in NEHGR 174 [2020]: 5-20).  Carver became one of the principal negotiators and agents for the Leiden community with the merchant adventurers, along with Robert Cushman, over the next few years.  He married twice: first in England to Martha Rose, daughter of William Rose of Tuddenham St. Martin in Suffolk (she died by 1608 or thereabouts); second to the widow Catherine (White) Legatt, daughter of Alexander White.  Catherine came on the Mayflower with her husband, and survived him, but not for very long, dying in the summer of 1621.  Carver’s household in Plymouth also included Desire Minter, two servants (John Howland and Roger Wilder), William Latham, “a maidservant,” and “a child that was put to him, Jasper More.”  More about these people tomorrow.

    John Carver and his first wife had a daughter, Margaret, who was baptised in Great Bealings on 26 April 1603; she was named in her grandfather’s will in November 1604, but there is no record of her after that.  John Carver thus has no known descendants.

    It would appear that Carver was elected Governor at the end of August, before the colonists left England: this was the point at which Christopher Martin was dropped as leader and Carver, who had been his assistant, was elevated in his place.  Upon arrival at Cape Cod, Bradford says that Carver’s election as Governor was “confirmed,” suggesting that he had been elected previously.  He was active in many of the early exploratory parties, and oversaw both the colony’s operations and its finances.  Caleb Johnson describes the colony’s situation in early March as follows: “With half of the colonists sick or dead, with all the winter weather that hampered construction, with the accidental fires -- what more could possibly go wrong?  On February 16[/26], some tools mysteriously disappeared from the woods; and the next day, some Indians stood on a hill overlooking the new settlement, waving and making signals.  When the Pilgrims sent some armed men to investigate, they heard ‘a great noise of many others,’ but the Indians went into hiding and could not be located” (Mayflower Passengers, 112).  By this point in March, the settlers were (finally!) starting to recover their health, although almost half of them were now dead.  Carver remained reluctant to send away the Mayflower, because he felt that the colonists needed the security of a ship that could return them home, at least until their health was more assured, and their safety from the Indians was more secure.  But, as many modern commentators seem to forget, the Mayflower’s presence was not free of charge: the colonists were paying for the ship, the crew, and the master by the day (!); and each day was costing the already broke company more and more money.  So their main problem was not (only) that they had run out of beer.

  • 17 Mar 2021 3:08 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    At anchor in harbour 

    Wind full east, cold but fair.  Today John Carver with five others went “to the great pond” discovered by one of the ship’s mates and Francis Billington, “which seem to be excellent fishing places; all the way they went they found it exceedingly beaten and haunted with deer, but they saw none. Amongst other fowl, they saw one a milk-white fowl, with a very black head.” This day some garden seeds were sown: the first planting.

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