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  • 6 Mar 2021 2:54 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    At anchorage

    Fetched wood and water. "The spring now approaching," said Bradford, "it pleased God the mortality began to cease amongst them, and the sick and the lame recovered apace, which put as it were new life into them, and contentedness as I think any people could do. But it was the Lord which upheld them..."

    When the General Sickness had finally run its course, half of all of Mayflower's passengers had perished.  The loss among the wives was the heaviest. Among the eighteen couples aboard, eight of the men (Isaac Allerton, John Billington, William Bradford, William Brewster, Edward Fuller, Stephen Hopkins, Miles Standish, Edward Winslow) but only four of the women survived (Eleanor Billington, Elizabeth Hopkins, Mary Brewster, and Susanna White). Four families were wiped out completely, and only in three families did all the members survive (Billington, Brewster, Hopkins). Six children lost one parent and five lost both.  Children fared comparatively well, with twenty-five of thirty-two surviving; of the eleven young women, only one died.

  • 5 Mar 2021 3:01 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    At anchorage

    Party from the ship went on shore to help finish work on the ordnance. 

    While quite a bit of attention has been paid to the Mullins family, mostly because of Priscilla, there remain a significant number of questions.

    Starting with who was Priscilla’s mother.  If it were not for William Mullins’ will, we would not know the first name of his wife: Bradford’s list of increasings simply says that William’s “wife and son and servant died the first winter” (MD 1 [1899]: 13); in his 1651 list of passengers, he names Joseph Mullins as William’s son, but does not give the name of William’s wife.  William names his wife Alice in his will, so that much is established.  Alice’s maiden name is unknown: claims that her maiden name was Atwood or Poretiers are unsubstantiated, if not erroneous.  Because we have no marriage date for William and Alice, and no baptismal dates for the children, we cannot prove that Alice was the mother of any (much less all) of William’s children.  This is a not unlikely assumption, but it remains an assumption nonetheless.

    Caleb Johnson speculates that William Mullins had two wives: (1) Elizabeth Wood, daughter of John and Joan (Taylor) Wood of Dorking; and (2) Alice, the widow of William or Thomas Browne. If that is correct, the Mullins family might have a close relationship to Peter Brown of the Mayflower: Alice Mullins might be his aunt (TAG 79 [July 2004]: 161-178, “The Probable English Origins of Mayflower Passenger Peter Browne, and his Associations with Mayflower Passenger William Mullins”; MQ 78 [March 2012]: 44-57, “Investigating the Origins of Alice Mullins”).

    There is significant speculation about William Mullins’ religious views.  If he were on the Puritan or Separatist end of the spectrum, this might account for why there is no record of marriage for him and Alice, or of baptism for his children.  In the latter case, this was not because the Puritans rejected infant baptism, but because of their pious horror at the use of the sign of the cross in the baptismal ceremony of the Book of Common Prayer.  There is a baptismal record of one of William’s daughters, Elizabeth Mullins (Holy Trinity, Guildford, Surrey, 11 November 1598: see MQ 78 [March 2012]: 45).  There is no further record for Elizabeth, so she may have died young.

    William Mullins had four children who are attested in his will:

    William Mullins (b. c. 1593) was his eldest son, born probably at Dorking, Surrey, and came to the Plymouth Colony to lay claim to the inheritance left to him by his father’s will: the earliest reference to him in Plymouth documents is in 1637 in Duxbury (near his sister Priscilla).  He returned to England at least once, and was one of the founders of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in New England (1649).  He later removed to Braintree, where he died in 1672.  He had three children baptised in Dorking between 1618 and 1622: his older children stayed in England.  The youngest, Sarah Mullins (bapt. 5 May 1622) joined her father in coming to America, and married three times before dying in Braintree before 1697.  Because her will made bequests of all of her possessions to named individuals and “my nearest relations,” it is presumed that Sarah (Mullins) (Gannett) (Savill) Faxon had no surviving children (MD 7 [1906]: 37-48, 179-183).

    Sarah Mullins’ (b. c. 1600) married name is known to be Blunden from her father’s will, and she was the administratrix of his estate in England, but no more is known of her.  She is the only one of William Mullins’ children who never travelled to America.

    Joseph Mullins (b. c. 1604) accompanied William and Alice Mullins on the Mayflower, but, according to Bradford, he died the first winter, although this must have been after 2 April 1621 when his father’s will was copied.

    And last, but certainly not least, was the fabled Priscilla, my ninth great grandmother.  No birth or baptismal record exists for her, and no recorded age has been found for her.  She was probably not married until 1623: the delay in marriage may have been either because of a period of mourning for her parents’ deaths or a reflection of her youth at the time of the voyage.  Although she has recently been portrayed as an outrageously outspoken proto-feminist, she has left almost no traces behind.  As we do not know the date of her birth (probably between 1600 and 1605), so also we don’t know the date of her death (probably after 1650, since she is on Bradford’s list of increasings).

  • 4 Mar 2021 3:06 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    At anchorage

    Large burial-party went ashore with bodies of Mullins and White, and, joined with those on shore, made the largest burial thus far. 

    William Mullins, who died yesterday and was buried today, was one of the chief subscribing Adventurers, “a man pious and well-deserving, endowed also with a considerable outward Estate; and had it been the will of God that he had survived, might have proved an useful Instrument in his place, with several others who deceased in this great and common affliction, whom I might take notice of to the like effect” (Nathaniel Morton, New England Memoriall, 37).  He was born in England (probably at Dorking in Surrey) about 1572, the son of John and Joan (Bridger) Mullins.  His father died in February 1583/84; Caleb Johnson concluded that his mother remarried to Vincent Benham on 1 November 1585 (Mayflower Passengers, 193), but Alicia Crane Williams in the Alden silver book listed her as John Mullins’ sister, and thus William Mullins’ aunt (MF 16 pt. 1 [2002]: 16).  William served an apprenticeship as a shoemaker during the later 1580s (MD 61 [2012]:19); he later moved to Stoke-next-Guildford (also in Surrey), where he had one of his children baptised in 1598 (MD 61 [2012]:20).  Returning to Dorking by 1604, William operated a fairly prosperous shoemaking business; he sold his real estate for £280 in Dorking in May 1619, perhaps in preparation for emigration (MD 61 [2012]: 24-25, 62 [2013]: 78-87; £280 in 1619 might be worth £55,640 now, following the Retail Price Index [RPI]).

    The last will and testament of William Mullins is the only surviving will of anyone who died that first winter.  This will was drawn up in Plymouth (then considered part of Virginia, otherwise the words “also if my son William will come to Virginia” would not make as much sense), and was nuncupative, i.e., declared orally and written down at the time.  The date of 2 April 1621 at the top of the document is evidently the day on which the copy was made to be carried back to England on the Mayflower’s return.  This date is of particular interest, because it establishes that the Mayflower did not leave Plymouth on its return voyage until 2 April (o.s.) or 12 April (n.s.) 1621, or later.  The probate record in England was made on 23 July 1621, and proves that William Mullins’ former residence was at Dorking, and that he left behind in England a married daughter, Sarah (Mullins) Blunden, who was appointed administratrix by the court.  We learn from the will that William’s wife’s given name was Alice, and his eldest son, also named William, was also in England at the time.  William’s widow Alice and his son Joseph must have been alive in Plymouth at the time the Mayflower sailed, otherwise John Carver, in forwarding the copy of the will to be probated, would have included a statement about the death of two of the legatees.  The full transcript of the will can be seen in MQ 34 [1967]:9-10; NEHGR 42 [1888]: 62-64; MD 1 [1899]: 230-232; MF 16 pt. 1 (2002): 14-15; Atherton and Horne, The Weaver, the Shoemaker and the Mother of a Nation [Cockerel Press: Dorking, 2020] 62-63, with a picture of the clerk’s copy of the will on p. 36.  Mullins apparently had five children (William, b. 1593; Elizabeth, bapt. 11 Nov 1598; Sarah, b. c. 1600; Priscilla, b. c. 1602; and Joseph, b. c. 1604).  Caleb Johnson has thoroughly researched the association of William Mullins with several other Dorking families, showing potential relationships with Peter Brown and with others who later came to New England (TAG 79 [2004]: 161-178; MQ 78 [2012]: 44-57; MD 61 [2012]: 17-27, 64 [2016]: 37-39).  More on the family, and questions about how many times William married, tomorrow.

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

    At anchorage

    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 [2017]: 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 [2017]: 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.

  • 2 Mar 2021 3:39 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    At anchorage

    Getting cannon ashore and mounted. Master Jones, with some crewmen, brought ashore a minion—a cannon with a 3½-inch bore. This, along with a larger bore cannon called a “saker” that had been left by the shore, were lugged to the platform on top of Burial Hill. They were mounted there with two smaller cannon, called “bases,” which had a 1½-inch bore. A hard day’s work.  “He [Jones] brought with him a very fat goose to eat with us, and we had a fat crane, and a mallard, and a dried neat's tongue [ox tongue], and so we were kindly and friendly together.” When Jones went on shore, he sent for Governor Carver to take the directions of William Mullins regarding his property, as Mullins was one of those lying near to death.

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

    At anchorage

    It was determined, given the “close encounters” with Indians over the past few weeks, that heavy artillery was needed, rather than the damp and rusty muskets that were available to the guard on shore.  The Pilgrims brought the first one of the great guns on shore today.  This took all day.  The settlers were short handed, and the guns were large; there was also no machinery (or even animals) to assist with moving the larger guns, so when they were moved up the hill, it was all manpower.  A gun platform had been erected at the top of the hill (now within Burial Hill cemetery), but the settlers had been unable to mount any guns there until now.

  • 28 Feb 2021 3:16 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    At anchor in Plymouth harbour 

    The tenth Sunday in this harbour.  Many sick, both on board the ship and on shore.

    The third family wiped out by the general sickness (the first two being those of John Rigsdale and Thomas Tinker) was that of John Turner, a long-time member of the Leiden congregation.  He is mentioned as a merchant in a Leiden record of 1610.  Caleb Johnson believes he was related to the Turner families of Great Yarmouth, Norfolk (Mayflower Passengers, 243); based on the date of his Leiden citizenship, he must have been born by 1589 (and thus be at least in his early thirties, and perhaps older).  He could have been born much earlier, especially if he underwent an extensive apprenticeship before becoming a merchant.  Turner was used as a messenger between the Leiden community and agents in England: on 10 June 1620 he delivered correspondence to Robert Cushman in London, and returned to Holland a few days later with letters; Cushman alerted his correspondents to information which “you shall hear distinctly by John Turner, who I think shall come hence on Tuesday night” (Bradford, Of Plimmoth Plantation).  It is unknown whether he acted in this capacity on other occasions.

    According to Bradford’s 1651 list, John Turner came on the Mayflower with two sons, whose names are not given.  Since John signed the Mayflower Compact but neither of his sons did, they were surely under the age of twenty-one.  All three died during this winter of 1620.

    Nothing is known about his wife.  She did not come over on the Mayflower in 1620, and she must have died before 1622, when her daughter is listed as an orphan.  We do not know whether John married his wife in England before he (or they) came to Holland, or whether they married in Leiden.

    Bradford, however, does add in 1651 that Turner had “a daughter still living in Salem, well married and approved of.”  Robert Wakefield noted that a “Lysbet Turner,” orphan from England, was found on the Leiden poll tax of 1622, residing in the household of Anthony Clement (TAG 52 [1976]:110-113).  In October 1635, an Elizabeth Turner witnessed a property deed between William Lord and John Woolcott of Salem, Massachusetts, and later (28 December 1637) Elizabeth Turner joined the Salem church.  Christopher Child examined the Salem church records, however, and concluded that this Elizabeth Turner was not the daughter of the Mayflower passenger (MD 64 [2016]: 151-173).  Who Elizabeth Turner married in Salem remains unknown, as well as whether she had any children, but Child’s careful annotations may provide clues for her eventual identification.  Elizabeth’s children, and their descendants, would, of course, be Mayflower descendants, even though Elizabeth herself apparently came over later.

  • 27 Feb 2021 3:17 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    At anchorage

    Fetched wood and water. All the colonists on the ship able to go on shore went this morning to attend the meeting “for the establishment of military orders among ourselves.”  They chose Myles Standish as their captain, and gave him “authority of command in affairs.”

    In the middle of this meeting, someone noticed that there were two Indians standing on the top of what later was called Watson’s Hill, on the other side of Town Brook from the settlement, about a quarter of a mile to the south.  The meeting was immediately adjourned and the men hurried to grab their muskets.  When the newly organised militia assembled, the two natives were still standing on the hill.

    The two groups stared at each other for a while, and then the Indians made signs for the settlers to come to them.  “All armed and stood ready, and sent two towards them, Captain Standish and Master Hopkins,” with only one musket between them.  The two crossed Town Brook, and before they started up the hill, they laid the musket down on the ground “in sign of peace.”  The natives then ran off, “to the shouts of a great many more” who were concealed on the other side of the hill.  The Pilgrims feared an immediate attack, “but no more came in fight.  It was determined to plant the great ordnance in convenient places at once.” 

    * * * * *

    As an aside, the action on this day provided an organisation in the third way a community could organise.  The three forms were ecclesiastical, civil, and military: each had its own hierarchy, officers, duties, qualifications and roles.  Some, but not all, of the Pilgrims, both men and women, had organised as an ecclesiastical body in Leiden, and this membership continued when they arrived in Plymouth - it was the only one to include women.  Some, but not all, of the men had organised as a “civil body politic” upon arrival at Cape Cod.  Today some, but probably not all, of the men organised as a military body by electing officers and “establishing military orders.” 

    Although there is no reason to think that there is a direct causal connection here, it is intriguing that the Bill of Rights (the first ten amendments of the United States Constitution) adopted exactly the same divisions: the first amendment prohibited Congress from establishing or regulating the body of citizens when they were organised as an ecclesiastical body; the second amendment prohibited limiting the right to bear arms of the militia (i.e., the body of citizens when they were organised as a military body); the fifth and sixth amendments referred to juries (i.e., the body of citizens when they were organised as a political or judicial body).  In this neither the Pilgrims nor the first Congress were original or ground breaking: we still use, almost instinctively, the word civil as opposed to and distinct from ecclesiastical (on the one hand) and military (on the other hand) -- these are the three forms of law, a mediaeval division.

  • 26 Feb 2021 2:55 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    At anchorage

    A fair day, but the northerly wind continued, which continued the frost.  This day after noon one of the Pilgrims was hidden in the reeds of a salt creek, “about a mile and a half from our plantation,” hunting ducks, when “there came by him twelve Indians marching towards our plantation, and in the woods he heard the noise of many more.  He lay close till they were passed, and then with what speed he could he went home and gave the alarm, so the people abroad in the woods returned and armed themselves, but saw none of them.”  Miles Standish and Francis Cook were at work in the woods when they heard the signal, and hurrying down the hill, they left their tools behind them.  The men armed themselves, but the Indians never appeared.  Later, when Standish and Cook returned to retrieve their tools, they discovered that they “were taken away by the savages. This coming of the savages gave us occasion to keep more strict watch, and to make our pieces and furniture ready, which by the moisture and rain were out of temper.”  That evening, a great fire was seen from the ship, about where the duck hunter had seen the Indians.

  • 25 Feb 2021 2:52 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    At anchorage

    A fair day; northerly wind and frost.

    Bradford notes that “Thomas Tinker and his wife and son all died in the first sickness”; the 1651 list does not mention the names of either Tinker’s wife or son.  Thomas Tinker’s name occurs in Leiden records when he became a citizen on 6 January 1617 [n.s.] (guaranteed by Abraham Gray and John Keble); his occupation was listed as a wool sawyer.  Caleb Johnson suggests that he may be the same as Thomas Tinker, carpenter, who married Jane White on 25 June 1609 in Thurne, Norfolk (Mayflower Passengers, 239).  The maiden name White is an intriguing connection, but nothing has been found to support any possibilities.  This is one of the families that was wiped out completely by the sickness, and about which little, if anything, is known.

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