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  • 27 Oct 2020 3:12 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    “A succession of fine days, with favouring winds”

    Most of the passengers have now been on board a ship for over three months.  While time above deck was certainly welcome in the fresh air, it has been a very long time since anyone has done laundry.  Given the fierceness of the storms, everything must have become wet, even the clothing that was packed away. Edward Winslow, in his 1621 advice to future travellers, suggested that they take "a good store of clothes and bedding."  After the ferocious storms of the beginning of the month, this “succession of fine days” must have been particularly welcome.  Because of the cracked beam, however, the captain was not able to put out full sail, and had to ease up whenever the wind became strong to avoid further strain on the fractured main beam.  Westward progress is slow.

  • 26 Oct 2020 12:20 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    Indentured servants on the Mayflower

    Taken from Bradford’s 1651 list of passengers, the following can be classified as servants or indentured to other passengers.  All are identified by Bradford as being servants or apprentices of specific households, rather than placed in the section of the passenger list for free adults or hired hands (such as John Alden).  Those four who have known descendants (21% of the Mayflower’s indentured servants) are given in boldface.  Ages are difficult to estimate, although the dates of baptism for the four More children are known, and William Latham gave his age in a 1641 deposition.  Eleven died in the first year (58% of the servants), and are marked with a dagger (†).  Four signed the Mayflower Compact and are listed with an asterisk (*), which may help establish their approximate ages, although none would appear to have been over 25:

    1. William Button (†) - servant of Samuel Fuller.  Died before landfall in Cape Cod.

    2. Robert Carter - servant of William Mullins.  In his will, William Mullins asked his overseers to “have a special eye to my man Robert which hath not so approved himself as I would he should have done.”  MQ 34:10; MD 1:230-232.

    3. Edward Doty* - servant to Stephen Hopkins.  Married (twice) and had nine children by his second wife.  Fought a duel with Edward Leister (below), the colony’s second criminal offense, and was probably close to the end of his indenture at that time.

    4. William Holbeck (†) - servant of William White.  “Died soon after landing.”

    5. John Hooke (†) - “servant boy” of Isaac Allerton.  Died first winter.  Jeremy Bangs published John’s apprenticeship record (NEHGR 143:207-8), Caleb Johnson published the marriage record of his parents (TAG 80:101), and Sue Allan published his baptismal record (NEHGR 173:204-5).

    6. John Howland* - “manservant” to John Carver.  “The boy who fell off the Mayflower” married Elizabeth Tilley (also a passenger) and had ten children.  The statement in the Plymouth Colony Records (8:34) that he was “above eighty years” on his death on 23 February 1672/3 is “almost certainly exaggerated” (Anderson, Mayflower Migration, 110; Johnson, Mayflower Passengers, 287 fn. 188).

    7. John Langmore (†) - servant of Christopher Martin.  “died in the first infection”

    8. William Latham - “a boy” in the household of John Carver (b. about 1609); when John and Katherine Carver died, young William probably transferred into Governor Bradford’s household.  Robert Wakefield suggests that he was in William Brewster’s household (MQ 40:9).  He became free of his indenture by 1633 (he is taxed in the lowest bracket in that year), and moved to Duxbury by 1638, where he was fined 40 shillings for the “entertaining of John Phillips into his house contrary to the act of the Court” PCR 1:87.  In 1639, after indictments for drunkenness, he sold his house and moved to Marblehead; he transferred to Marshfield by 1643.  Latham’s wife Mary was “a proper young woman about 18 years of age”; “being rejected by a young man whom she had an affection unto, vowed she would marry the next that came to her,” and that turned out to be William Latham, “an ancient man who had neither honesty nor ability” -- being 35 at the time, William was significantly older than Mary.  She then began to associate with “diverse young men who solicited her chastity, and drawing her into bad company, and giving her wine and other gifts, easily prevailed with her.” One of these was James Britton of Weymouth; James and Mary were convicted of adultery by the Massachusetts Bay Court of Assistants and were hanged at Boston on 21 March 1643/4 (MQ 75 [2009]: 49-53; quotations from Governor Winthrop’s Journal).  After the execution of his abusive teenaged wife (for more details, see Caleb Johnson’s 2009 Mayflower Quarterly article), William and Roger Cooke were living together in 1645 when they charged Ann Barker with burning down their house (two unmarried men living together was “a domestic arrangement not generally approved of by the colony authorities”) [PCR 7:41].  Latham returned to England in 1646, and then was part of a colonisation attempt in the Bahamas, where, after being shipwrecked on Eleuthera Island, he died of starvation and exposure in 1647.  No known children.

    9. Edward Leister* - servant to Stephen Hopkins.  Died in Virginia after 1623.

    10. Ellen (Helen) More (†) - “a little girl was put to [Edward Winslow] called Ellen, the sister of Richard More. … Died soon after the ship’s arrival.”  She was baptised in 1612.

    11. Jasper More (†) - “a child that was put to [John Carver]. … [Jasper] died before [the Carvers] of the common infection.”  He was baptised in 1613.

    12. Mary More (†) - “Richard More’s brother died the first winter.”  More about this confusion, and the story of these four children, later.  She was baptised in 1616.

    13. Richard More - Bradford records that “a boy was put to [William Brewster] called Richard More, and another of his brothers.”  He was baptised in 1614.  Married twice, and had seven children.

    14. Solomon Prower (†) - servant of Christopher Martin, who was probably his stepfather.  He was born about 1597, and died 24 December 1620 -- “the last who died this [December].”

    15. George Soule* - servant to Edward Winslow.  Married Mary Becket (passenger on the Anne) and had nine children (Bradford records eight, suggesting that the ninth and youngest child, Benjamin, was born after the list was compiled.  Benjamin Soule was killed on 26 March 1676 in “Captain [Michael] Peirse’s Fight” during King Philips War).

    16. Elias Story (†) - servant to Edward Winslow; died early in 1621.

    17. Edward Thompson (†) - servant of William White.  “Died soon after their landing.”

    18. Roger Wilder (†) - “manservant” to John Carver, died “before either of [the Carvers] of the common infection.”

    19. Dorothy (unknown surname) - “a maidservant” in the household of John Carver; married Francis Eaton as his second wife.  Died between 1622 and 1626.

  • 25 Oct 2020 2:47 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    Indentured servants (continued)

    Indentured servants could not marry without the permission of their master, were sometimes subject to physical punishment and did not receive legal favour from the courts. Of the European arrivals who came voluntarily, Tomlins estimates that 48% were indentured (Christopher Tomlins, "Reconsidering Indentured Servitude: European Migration and the Early American Labor Force, 1600–1775," Labor History 42 (2001): 5–43, at p. 9 and n. 11 -- Tomlins revises downward earlier estimates for the total number of indentured servants in the American colonies and argues that the institution may not have been as important as many other scholars have argued).   About 75% of these were under the age of 25. The age of adulthood for men was 24 years (not 21); those over 24 generally came on contracts lasting about 3 years (Tomlins at fnn. 31, 42, 66).  Regarding the children who came, Gary Nash reports that "many of the servants were actually nephews, nieces, cousins and children of friends of emigrating Englishmen, who paid their passage in return for their labor once in America." Gary Nash, The Urban Crucible: The Northern Seaports and the Origins of the American Revolution (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1979) 15.  In the case of New England, servants were clearly present among the approximately 20,000 migrants who entered Massachusetts Bay during the decade after 1630, but not in great numbers. Tomlins notes that, “there is little evidence of an organized trade in servants to New England of any significance (there is some scattered evidence in the early 18th century of unsuccessful efforts to encourage one -- see, for example, Province Laws, 1708-9, ch. 11, ‘An Act to Encourage the Importation of White Servants’), and most migrant servants appear to have been recruited directly by migrant heads of household through family and community networks.  Scholars’ estimates of the numbers of servants in the migrant stream have concentrated on the male population, varying in incidence from 1 in 3 to 1 in 6 of male migrants.  Given that roughly 60% of migrants were males and (again roughly) that male servants outnumbered female by 3 to 1, this suggests that servants constituted no fewer than 12.5% and no more than 25% of the Great Migration.” (“Reconsidering Indentured Servitude,” 8 n. 8.)  For the sources of these estimates, see also David Hackett Fischer’s controversial Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989), 16, 27-28; Roger Thompson, Mobility and Migration: East Anglian Founders of New England, 1629-1640 (Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 1994), 122-23.  Richard S. Dunn argues that 15% of 1630s migrants to New England were servants and that these servants represented 33% of “the initial work force,” but does not define work force: “Servants and Slaves: The Recruitment and Employment of Labor,” in Jack P. Greene and J.R. Pole, eds., Colonial British America: Essays in the New History of the Early Modern Era (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1984), 157-94, at 160.  On the 19 indentured servants on the Mayflower, wait until tomorrow.

  • 24 Oct 2020 2:57 AM | Soule (Administrator)


    An indentured servant or indentured labourer is an employee (indenturee) who is bound by a signed contract (indenture) to work without pay for the owner of the indenture for a period of time.  The contract often let the employer sell the labour of an indenturee to a third party.  Indenturees usually entered into an indenture for a specific payment or other benefit (such as transportation to a new place), or to meet a legal obligation, such as debt.  On completion of the contract, indentured servants were given their freedom, and occasionally land.  Indentured servitude was often brutal, with a high percentage of servants dying prior to the expiration of their indentures. In many countries, systems of indentured labour have now been outlawed, and are (currently) banned by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  Until the late 18th century, indentured servitude was very common in British North America; it was often a way for poor Europeans to immigrate to the American colonies: they signed an indenture in return for a costly passage they could not otherwise afford.  After their indenture expired, the immigrants were free to work for themselves or another employer.  Between one-half and two-thirds of European immigrants to the American colonies between the 1630s and American Revolution came under indentures.  However, while over half of the European immigrants to the Thirteen Colonies were indentured servants, at any one time they were outnumbered by workers who had never been indentured or whose indenture had expired, and thus free wage labour was more prevalent for Europeans in the colonies (see John Donoghue, "Indentured Servitude in the 17th Century English Atlantic: A Brief Survey of the Literature," History Compass 11 [2013]: 893–902).  In the 17th century, most indentured servants were of English origin and migrated to the Chesapeake and West Indies. Of the 120,000 emigrants to the Chesapeake during this era, roughly 90,000 arrived as bound labourers. Another 50,000 to 75,000 white indentured servants went to the islands, although these numbers included many Irish servants, political prisoners, and convict labourers. A few indentured servants, or engagés, appeared in the French colonies, but the institution was much more common in the British colonies.  After the American Revolution, however, the system virtually disappeared in the United States.  Document collections concerning the history of indentured servitude are particularly rich in Chesapeake material, but very little has been written about indentured servitude specifically in New England.  Tomorrow I will look at the numbers and characteristics of indenture for New England, and the day after at the indentured servants on the Mayflower.

  • 23 Oct 2020 2:58 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    Smoother sailing

    The equinoctial disturbances over and the strong October gales, the milder, warmer weather of late October followed.  The Mayflower did not encounter any more ferocious storms on this journey, but it was also significantly off course and much further north than had been intended.

  • 22 Oct 2020 3:10 AM | Soule (Administrator)


    The arms and accoutrements (besides ordnance) of the Mayflower Pilgrims, known on the authority of Bradford and Winslow to have been brought by them, included muskets (“matchlocks”), “snaphances” (flintlocks), armour (“corslets,” “cuirasses,” “helmets,” “bandoliers,” etc.), swords, “curtlaxes” (cutlasses), “daggers,” powder, “mould-shot,” “match” (slow-match for guns), “flints,” belts, “knapsacks,” “drum,” “trumpet,” “manacles,” “leg-irons,” etc., etc. “Pistols” (brass) appear in early inventories, but their absence in the early hand-to-hand encounter at Wessagussett suggests that none were then available, or that they were not trusted. It is evident from the statement of Bradford that every one of the sixteen men who went out (under command of Standish) on the “first exploration” at Cape Cod had his “musket, sword, and corslet;” that they relied much on their armor, and hence, doubtless, took all possible with them on the ship. They probably did not long retain its use. In the letter written to the Adventurers from Southampton, the leaders complain of “wanting many muskets, much armour, &c.”  Bradford states that they used their “curtlaxes” (cutlasses) to dig the frozen ground to get at the Indians’ corn, “having forgotten to bring spade or mattock.” “Daggers” are mentioned as used in their celebrated duel by Doty and Leister, servants of Stephen Hopkins. Bradford narrates that on one of their exploring tours on the Cape the length of guard duty performed at night by each “relief” was determined by the inches of slow-match burned (“every one standing when his turn came while five or six inches of match was burning”), clearly indicating that they had no watches with them. The “drum” and “trumpet” are both mentioned in Mourt’s Relation in the account given of Massasoit’s reception, the latter as eliciting the special attention of his men, and their efforts at blowing it.

  • 21 Oct 2020 2:55 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    Intellectual Baggage

    In this connection it is of interest to note what freight the Mayflower carried for the intellectual needs of the Pilgrims. Of Bibles, as the “book of books,” we may be sure — even without the evidence of the inventories of the early dead — there was no lack, and there is reason to believe that they existed in several tongues, viz. in English, Dutch, and possibly French (the Walloon contribution from the Huguenots), while there is little doubt that, as both publishers and as “students of the Word,” Brewster, Bradford, and Winslow, at least, were possessed of, and more or less familiar with, both the Latin and Greek Testaments. It is altogether probable, however, that Governor Bradford’s well attested study of “the oracles of God in the original” Hebrew, and his possession of the essential Hebrew Bible, grammar, and lexicon, were of a later day. The Holland voyagers had with them some few copies of the earliest hymnals (“psalme-bookes”) — then very limited in number — in the singing of their parting hymns at Leyden and Delfshaven, as mentioned by Winslow and in the earlier inventories: These metrical versions of the Psalms constituted at the time, practically, the only hymnody permitted in the worship of the separatists.  Given the other demands on their space during this journey, these books must have been precious.

    Jeremy Bangs tried to organise a major exhibition at the Leiden Municipal Museum on the “world of ideas” that surrounded the Pilgrims.  While the exhibition unfortunately did not come to fruition, the Leiden American Pilgrim Museum produced a profusely illustrated catalogue of what "could have been" in the exhibit, cleverly named Intellectual Baggage (Leiden: Leiden American Pilgrim Museum, 2020).  The introductory essays, and particularly Bangs’ own consideration of the place of printing in the Pilgrim’s project, provide a largely overlooked context for the Pilgrims’ story.  The whole “catalogue” (for an exhibit that did not take place) is well worth a careful read.  The one book on the Pilgrims which I have not read (as it is somewhat difficult to find on this side of the Atlantic), but which I want more than any other to read, is Bangs’ Plymouth Colony’s Private Libraries (Leiden: Leiden American Pilgrim Museum, rev. ed. 2018) -- it provides insights gained by looking at the books they owned and read and seeing what literature they valued.

  • 20 Oct 2020 3:17 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    More about Food (and drink)

    This is the last post about food -- I promise.  At least until the Pilgrims get to Plymouth in December.  Vinegar in hogsheads was named on the food-list of every ship of the Pilgrim era. It was one of their best antiscorbutics, and was of course a prime factor in their use of “sour krout,” pickling, etc. The fruits (natural, dried, and preserved) were probably, in that day, in rather small supply. Apples, limes, lemons, prunes, olives, rice, etc., were among the luxuries of a voyage, while dried or preserved fruits and small fruits were not yet in common use. Winslow urges that “your casks for beer … be iron bound, at least for the first [i.e., end] tyre [i.e., hoop]”. Cushman states that they had ample supplies of beer offered them both in Kent and Amsterdam. The passengers’ supply seems to have failed, however, soon after the company landed, and they were obliged to rely upon the whim of the Captain of the Mayflower for their needs, the ship’s supply being apparently separate from that of the passengers, and lasting longer. It was evidently a stipulation of the charter-party that the ship should, in part at least, provision her crew for the voyage — and certainly furnish their beer. This is rendered certain by Bradford’s difficulty (as stated by himself) with Captain Jones showing that the ship had her own supply of beer, separate from that of the colonists, and that it was intended for the seamen as well as the officers.

    Bradford mentions “aqua vitae” as a constituent of their lunch on the exploring party of November 15. “Strong waters” (or Holland gin) are mentioned as a part of the entertainment given Massasoit on his first visit, and they find frequent mention otherwise. Wine finds no mention. Bradford states, “Neither ever had they any supply of foode from them [the Adventurers] but what they first brought with them;” and again, “They never had any supply of vitales more afterwards (but what the Lord gave them otherwise), for all ye company [the Adventurers] sent at any time was allways too short for those people that came with it.”

  • 19 Oct 2020 2:51 AM | Soule (Administrator)


    Today is the halfway point in the Mayflower’s trans-Atlantic journey.  From the entrance to the English Channel at Plymouth (England) Harbour to Cape Cod, it is 2,750 miles.  Allowing another 250 miles for zig-zagging against contrary winds, this yields a total of 3,000 miles from origin to destination.  It took the Mayflower sixty-five days to make it (departure from Plymouth, England on Wednesday, 6 September 1620 until sighting Cape Cod on Thursday, 9 November 1620 [o.s.]), thus averaging 45 miles a day, or slightly less than two miles an hour.  “She was deep loaded, her bottom must have been extremely foul with grass and barnacles from being in the water all through the hot months, during the last half of the western passage Captain Jones had to ease up on her every time the wind breezed up, and she struck right into the season of roaring westerlies” (W. Sears Nickerson, Land Ho! 1620: A Seaman’s Story of the Mayflower, Her Construction, Her Navigation, and Her First Landfall [East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Press, 1997] 28).  Although it was unknown to any of the mariners or passengers at the time, the ship was also running against the Gulf Stream, and this probably impeded the progress further.  Although first observed in 1513 by Ponce de Leon, the Gulf Stream was not charted until the early 1770s by Benjamin Franklin. In 1843, the United States Coast Survey set out to study the Gulf Stream in more detail, more than two centuries after the Pilgrims.  Today, northbound ships choose the maximum velocity stream current while southbound ships hug the outer edges to conserve fuel. One problem is that the stream does not have definitive banks and meanders back and forth as well as varying in width as it proceeds north. The maximum current off the coast of Florida ranges from two to four knots, although speeds of eight knots have been reported. Its width varies, but generally is 40 to 50 miles in width. Its volume through the Florida Straits is about 30 million cubic meters per second - that is a lot of sea water! For a comparison, the combined volume of all the rivers that empty into the Atlantic Ocean is about 0.6 million cubic meters per second.  This current was what the Mayflower was running against.  “All in all, it is a wonder that she ever got here.”

  • 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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