William Mullins dictated his will to the Governor, which Carver wrote down, and Giles Heale, the ship’s surgeon, and Christopher Jones, the Mayflower’s captain, witnessed, “they being left aboard to care for the sick, and keep the ship.” Mullins and William White both died this day, as did two others who were not named (Prince, Chronological History, 184; William Mullins and his family will be discussed tomorrow). The work party completed bringing the ordnance up the hill and the men returned aboard about nightfall.
William White has appeared in this narrative several times over the past six months (I can’t believe I have been writing these notes for this long), but, as Caleb Johnson mentioned in his Mayflower Passengers (p. 246), “throughout the years, William White has proven to be a very difficult passenger to research. … Unfortunately, William White is such a common name in England that it is extremely difficult to identify the correct man”
There were at least two William Whites in Leiden, one a wool comber and the other a tobacco merchant, “but both appear to still be living in Leiden after the Mayflower departed.” Johnson notes that Bradford’s 1651 list of passengers places William White in the section listing the London merchants (Martin, Mullins, Hopkins, Warren and Billington), and not in the section listing the members of the Leiden congregation (Carver, Brewster, Winslow, Bradford, Allerton, Fuller and Crackston).
Sue Allan, Caleb Johnson, and Simon Neal published the evidence that establishes William White’s origin in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire and his connection with the May family (TAG 89 : 81-94, 168-88). William was baptised at Wisbech on 25 January 1586/7, born into a family which had been involved with the proscribed sect known as the “Family of Love” or the “Familists.” By May 1608 he had moved to Amsterdam and joined the Ancient Church, an English separatist congregation which had been organised there in the 1590s. By about 1615, he married Susanna Jackson, daughter of Richard Jackson of Scrooby, Nottinghamshire, although no record has been found of the Jackson family ever living in Amsterdam or Leiden. Richard had been a member of the separatist congregation in Scrooby, and was probably not residing in England at the time of the marriage (see Allan, Neal and Johnson, “The Origin of Mayflower Passenger Susanna (Jackson) (White) Winslow,” TAG 89 : 241-264, which relates in some detail previous attempts to establish Susanna’s identity; see also Sue Allan’s description of the Family of Love and the Mays of Wisbech in In the Shadow of Men [Domtom: Burgess Hill, West Sussex, 2020], 61-64, 98f., and, of course, her In Search of Mayflower Pilgrim Susanna White-Winslow [Domtom: Burgess Hill, West Sussex, 2018]). Note again here that just because someone was a merchant adventurer does not mean that he was not connected to or at least in sympathy with the Separatists and Puritans: the portrayal of the “Strangers” as imposed or forced upon unwilling “Saints” is not the picture that emerges from a close reading of the sources and research.
William White and his pregnant wife Susanna boarded the Mayflower with their five year old son Resolved. Susanna gave birth to their son Peregrine on board the Mayflower, while her husband was out exploring for a place to settle. After William’s death, four hundred years ago today, Susanna remarried Edward Winslow on 12 May 1621 (o.s.) -- the first marriage to take place at Plymouth. In the 1623 Plymouth division of land, the now deceased William White received five acres as a passenger on the Mayflower (Plymouth Colony Records 12:4; MQ 40:12). Robert Wakefield argued that these five acres were the shares of the late William White, his two sons Resolved and Peregrine, and his two servants. The acre for his widow Susanna is included in the grant to her second husband, Edward Winslow.
William White’s two servants, William Holbeck and Edward Thompson, both predeceased him. Thompson died on 14 December 1620 (n.s.) in Provincetown harbour, the first death after arrival; the date of Holbeck’s death is unknown.