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 : 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.