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

    A Dutch Destination?

    There was no reason why, if the Pilgrims had so desired, they should not have gone to “Hudson’s River” or its vicinity, unless it was that they had once seemed to recognize the States General of Holland as the rightful owners of that territory, by making petition to them, through the New Netherland Company, for their authority and protection in settling there. But it appears certain that, whatever the cause, they themselves broke off their negotiations with the Dutch — whether on account of the inducements offered by Thomas Weston, or because of a doubt of the ability of the Dutch to maintain their claim to that region, and to protect them. The States General — whether with knowledge that the Leiden community had ended negotiations or from their own doubts about their ability to maintain their claim on the Hudson region — rejected the petition made to them on the Pilgrims’ behalf. It is probable that the latter was the real reason, from the fact that the petition was twice rejected.

    It also appears from the petition itself, made by the New Netherland Company (to which the Leiden leaders had looked, doubtless on account of its pretensions, for the authority and protection of the States General, as they afterward did to the English Virginia Company for British protection), that this Company had lost its own charter by expiration, and hence had absolutely nothing to offer the Leiden community beyond the personal influence of its members, and the prestige of a name that had once been potent. In fact, the New Netherland Company was using the Leiden congregation as leverage to pry for itself from the States General new advantages, larger than those that it had previously enjoyed.

    Moreover it appears by the evidence of both the petition of the Directors of the New Netherland Company to the Prince of Orange (2/12 February 1619/20), and the letters of Sir Dudley Carleton, the British ambassador at The Hague, to the English Privy Council, dated 5/15 February 1621/22, that, up to this latter date the Dutch had established no colony on the territory claimed by them at the Hudson, and had no other representation there than the trading-post of a commercial company whose charter had expired. There can be no doubt that the Leiden leaders knew, from their dealings with the New Netherland Company, and the study of the whole problem which they evidently made, that this region was open to them or any other parties for habitation and trade, so far as any prior grants or charters under the Dutch were concerned, but they required more than this.  [See Sir Dudley Carleton’s letters: “They have certain Factors there, continually resident, trading with savages … but I cannot learn of any colony, either one already planted there by these people, or so much as intended.” British State Papers, Holland, Bundle 165.]

    To Englishmen, the English claim to the territory at “Hudson’s River” was valid, by virtue of discovery by the Cabots, under the law of nations as then recognized, notwithstanding Hudson’s more particular explorations of those parts in 1609, in the service of Holland, especially as no colony or permanent occupancy of the region by the Dutch had been made.  So we can rule out an hesitation on the part of the Pilgrims from going to the mouth of the Hudson River because it was claimed by Holland.  But the conversations of the previous two years show that they had definitely considered what is now New York Harbour as the principal destination for their journey, and for some time.

  • 30 Oct 2020 2:49 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    Where were they headed, exactly?

    The specific statements of Bradford and others leave no room for doubt that the Mayflower Pilgrims fully intended to make their settlement somewhere in the region of the mouth of “Hudson’s River.” Morton states clearly that Captain Jones’ “engagement was to Hudson’s River.” Presumably, the stipulation of his charter party required that he should complete his outward voyage in that general locality. The northern limits of the patents granted in the Pilgrim interest, whether that of John Wincob (or Wincop) sealed 9 June 1619, but never used, or the first one to John Pierce, of 2 February 1620, were brought within the limits of the First (London) Virginia Company’s charter, which embraced the territory between the parallels of 34° and 41° N. latitude. The most northerly of these parallels runs about twenty miles north of the mouth of “Hudson’s River.” It is certain that the Pilgrims, after the great expense, labour, and pains of three years, to secure the protection of these Patents, would not willingly or deliberately have planted themselves outside that protection, upon territory where they had none, and where, as interlopers, they might reasonably expect trouble.

    Henry Hudson, an Englishman who worked for the Dutch East India Company, had mapped the area.  Barely a decade before the arrival of the Mayflower, Hudson came across Manhattan Island and the native people living there in 1609, and continued up the river that would later bear his name until he arrived at the site of present-day Albany.  Although fur traders set up (temporary) trading posts after 1613, a permanent European presence in New Netherland only began in 1624, with the founding of a Dutch fur trading settlement on Governors Island.  In 1625, construction was started on the citadel of Fort Amsterdam on Manhattan Island, later called New Amsterdam, in what is now Lower Manhattan.  But in late 1620, there was no European settlement in what is now New York City.  Imagine what it would have been like if the Pilgrims had been the first New Yorkers!

  • 29 Oct 2020 2:22 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    Captain Jones and the Beer Wars

    That Christopher Jones, Master of the Mayflower, was a man of large experience and fully competent in his profession is beyond dispute.  His disposition, character, attitudes and deeds have been the subject of much discussion. By most writers he is held to have been a man of coarse, “unsympathetic” nature, “a rough sea-dog,” capable of good feeling and kindly impulses at times, but neither governed by them -- nor by principle. An early twentieth century author stated, “that he was a ‘highwayman of the seas,’ a buccaneer and pirate, guilty of blood for gold, there can be no doubt.”  Bradford himself — whose authority in the matter will not be doubted — says: “As this calamitie, the general sickness, fell among ye passengers that were to be left here to plant, and were basted ashore and made to drinke water, that the sea-men might have ye more bear [beer] and one in his sickness desiring but a small can of beare it was answered that if he were their own father he should have none.”  Bradford later claims that Captain Jones displayed excessive rapacity, when in command of the Discovery, with his extortionate demands upon the Plymouth planters, notwithstanding their necessities; this, however, was Thomas Jones, and not Christopher Jones.  It must be freely admitted that if it were not for Jones, the Pilgrims would never have reached the New World.  Christopher Jones’ health was so impaired by the 1620-1621 voyage that, having sold the Mayflower within months of his return, he died not long thereafter (March 1622).  Over the next few days I will try to look at the charges and the evidence for Jones’ (alleged) attempt to sabotage the voyage.

  • 28 Oct 2020 3:07 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    Edward Winslow’s birthday!

    Edward Winslow, the son of Edward Winslow and Magdalene Oliver, was born on 18 October 1595 (o.s.) and was baptised at Saint Peter’s Church in Droitwich, Worcestershire (England) on 20 October 1595.  That would mean that today was his twenty-fifth birthday (what a place to celebrate -- in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean!).  Young Edward attended The King’s School at Worcester Cathedral from April 1606 to April 1611 (aged 10 to 15); he may (or may not) have then gone to Cambridge -- there is no documentation to that effect, which does not rule it out.  He would certainly have learned Latin and Greek at the Worcester Cathedral School -- he may or may not have been a chorister.  Edward next appeared in 1613 in London, as apprentice to John Beale, “citizen and stationer.”  Beale was imprisoned in 1614 for accepting Winslow as an apprentice (“against the orders of this house [i.e., the Company of Stationers]”), but Winslow re-enlisted as an apprentice in 1615 for a period of eight years after Beale paid a fine.  In 1618, Winslow showed up in Leiden, having left his apprenticeship before it was over, as assistant to the Pilgrims’ lay leader William Brewster along with John Reynolds.  Edward Winslow married Elizabeth Barker in Leiden in May 1618: his occupation on the marriage register was “printer”; he would have been 22 years old.  The documentation on Edward Winslow in Leiden, what there is of it, is reviewed by Jeremy Bangs in NEHGR 154 (2000): 109-118, and in his later Pilgrim Edward Winslow: New England’s First International Diplomat (Boston: NEHGS, 2004).  By the Mayflower’s voyage, Winslow had become one of the acknowledged leaders of the group.  His brother Gilbert accompanied him on the Mayflower, while his three remaining brothers all came to New England later (John Winslow in 1621, Josiah Winslow and Kenelm Winslow in 1631).

    He came on the Mayflower with his wife, who died the first winter, and three indentured servants.  There are hints that his wife Elizabeth had come into a substantial inheritance in England, and this was disposed of before the Mayflower’s departure.  He would thus have been relatively flush with cash, which may account for the number of indentures, and was safely Puritan, which would account for eight year old Ellen More being entrusted to him.  Winslow’s wife Elizabeth, Ellen More, and one of the servants (Elias Story) all died the first winter.  Only George Soule, the other of Winslow’s male servants, survived, and, indeed, thrived.  It would appear that all of the Mayflower’s indentured servants had some previous connection with the households to which they were attached, and this would suggest that George Soule was indentured to Winslow either through connections in Leiden or in London -- servants did not simply show up at a jobs centre looking for a ticket to America.  The connection with the household to which they were indentured is usually the key to many other parts of the story. 

    A surprising part of this is that George Soule, who signed the Mayflower Compact and thus was either over or almost 21 in November 1620, would not have been more than a few years younger than Edward Winslow himself -- this personal relationship may not have been exclusively or merely “master-servant.”  If Soule had been associated with the Leiden congregation, or was a part of a separatist conventicle in or around London, this might explain why he was able to take advantage of Winslow’s new wealth, particularly if, as a young, single man, he was not able to afford the journey himself and Winslow was generous in helping others he knew to make the trip.  While the standard length of an indenture was seven, or even eight, years, other periods were possible (three and five years were not uncommon); since George Soule married between 1623 and 1626 (Mary Becket arrived on the Anne in 1623 and she was unmarried at the time of the land allotment; their eldest son Zachariah was born in 1627) and he would have been out of his indenture by then, the usual birth date given for him of 1599, based on his signature on the Compact and age at marriage, might be correct, although he may also have been only four or five years younger than Winslow.  Soule went to Duxbury before 1637 and Winslow moved to Marshfield by 1643, so there was not necessarily any continuing connection: George Soule appears more closely connected to the Warren family after they arrive, being included with them in several divisions, than to Winslow’s new family after Edward remarried.

  • 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.

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