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  • 24 Feb 2021 2:41 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    At anchorage

    More sickness on ship and on shore than at any time before, and more deaths. Rainy, clearing.

    Bradford’s 1651 list named John Rigsdale and his wife Alice among the passengers, and John definitely signed the Mayflower Compact, but left behind no other record.  According to Bradford, “Thomas Tinker and his wife and son all died in the first sickness [more about them tomorrow].  And so did John Rigsdale and his wife.”

    Caleb Johnson notes that Bradford “grouped John and Alice Rigsdale in a list that included other Leiden residents” (TAG 80 [2005] 99; Mayflower Passengers, 200).  Jeremy Bangs, however, does not include them in his list of members of the Leiden congregation (Strangers and Pilgrims, 709), and they are not mentioned in any Dutch records.  Johnson also reports a marriage of John Rigsdale and Alice Gallard in Weston, Lincolnshire, on 17 November 1577; this could possibly be the Mayflower passenger, although they would have been in their mid-sixties during the voyage, and would have been one of the oldest passengers (Robert Charles Anderson declares that “they would be quite old to undertake such a voyage.”  Mayflower Migration, 145).  The Rigsdale family of St Mary Weston appears to be related to the Rigsdale family of Spalding (also in Lincolnshire), the parish associated with the Billingtons.  A letter from Edward Winslow to his wife's uncle Robert Jackson of Spalding (dated 30 October 1623) may be another hint.  If this Lincolnshire couple are the Mayflower passengers, they might have had children who were adults and on their own in 1620.  Further research may uncover these (possible) children, and their descendants would thus have Mayflower ancestors.  Caleb Johnson also notes the possibilities for a married couple with no children on the Mayflower: (1) they were so recently married that they had not yet had any children; (2) they were unable to have children; (3) they left their children in England to be sent for later; (4) their children were grown and so did not accompany them (New England Ancestors 11 [2010]:36).  Given the lack of any documentation, there is no way of telling for sure which of these would apply to the Rigsdales, although the relatively unusual surname does enable document searches to be more focussed.

  • 23 Feb 2021 3:00 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    At anchorage

    Rainy.   The sickness and mortality had rapidly increased and was now at its height.

    It is interesting to survey some of the passengers who died during the Great Sickness but whose later descendants (if any) have not been identified, and I will try to look at several over the next few weeks. 

    John Crackston was a member of the Leiden congregation. Based on the date of his marriage, he was probably at least 50 at the time of the Mayflower’s journey, and he died between the arrival in Plymouth and the departure of the Mayflower.  John married Katherine Bates at Stratford St Mary in Suffolk on 9 May 1594 (Caleb Johnson has published the marriage record in TAG 80 [2005]: 100); his wife did not accompany him on the Mayflower, and it may be concluded that she probably had died before 1620, and perhaps earlier.  We know that John signed the Mayflower Compact, but almost nothing else. 

    John Crackston’s son John Crackston accompanied his father on this voyage, and survived the first winter.  He did not sign the Mayflower Compact (only one John Crackstone did, which must have been his father), and this would suggest that his year of birth was 1601 at the earliest.  In the 1623 land division, John Crackstone received an allotment as a passenger on the Mayflower (perhaps two acres, one for himself and one for his father: Plymouth Colony Records 12:4).  He is mentioned in the 22 May 1627 cattle division (still, apparently, unmarried); Bradford notes that “about five or six years after [the death of his father] his son died, having lost himself in the woods; his feet became frozen, which put him into a fever of which he died.”  This would probably have been in the winter of 1627/28, in his mid-twenties. Isaac Allerton was part of the Suffolk Separatist community, and John Crackston (Jr.) was included in Allerton’s company in the 1627 division of cattle, so there may be some connections to be discovered both in England and in Leiden.

    An intriguing person in all of this is John Crackston’s daughter Anna.  On 22 December 1618 [n.s.], when the marriage banns for Thomas Smith, a wool comber from Bury St Edmunds, and Anna Crackston were entered in Leiden, the bride was described as “spinster, from Colchester in England” (MQ 40 [1974]: 117; Dexter and Dexter, The England and Holland of the Pilgrims, 634; Tammel, The Pilgrims … in Leiden 1576-1640, 54, 96, 163, 247).  Her witness was Patience Brewster (Bangs, Strangers and Pilgrims, 294, 719).  She would have been born about 1598.  In 1974, Robert Wakefield gathered all the evidence then available for John Crackston (MQ 40 [1974]: 117-119); none of the children for any Thomas Smith after 1618 appear to have been born to Anna Crackston (see also Caleb Johnson, “Undiscovered Mayflower Lineages,” New England Ancestors 11 [2010]: 37).  This does not mean that Anna had no children, however, and if there are any who left descendants, these, too, would be Mayflower descendants -- although none have ever proved a lineage, and since the name is, well, Smith, this would be the proverbial needle in a haystack.  John and Katherine (Bates) Crackston may have also had other children than John and Anna, and Mayflower descent could be claimed through them, as well.

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

    At anchorage

    Getting goods on shore. 

    We looked last week at Samuel Fuller, the physician.  His older brother, Edward Fuller, was also a passenger.  While Samuel survived until 1633, Edward and his wife (whose name remains unknown) died “soon after they came ashore,” according to Bradford’s 1651 list.  Caleb Johnson’s analysis of that list places Edward Fuller as a member of John Robinson’s Leiden congregation prior to 1620 (TAG 80 [2005]: 99).  In 1985, Jeremy Bangs published a Leiden record that was thought to indicate Edward Fuller (MQ 51 [1985]: 58), but Donald Blauvelt demonstrated that this “Eduwaert Fauwler, Englishman” was still alive in 1622, a year after our Edward Fuller died (MQ 86 [2020]: 32-33).  Edward was born at Redenhall, Norfolk, in 1575 (bapt. 4 September 1575, the son of Robert Fuller: NEHGR 55 [1901]: 192, 410-416).  He married by about 1605 (MQ 86 [2020]: 34-35); his wife’s name is unknown, and she also died about February 1620/21. 

    His son Samuel (easily confused with his brother Samuel, although Edward’s son is regularly mentioned as “Samuel Fuller Junior”) received three acres in the 1623 division of land (for himself, and for his mother and father who died the first winter: Plymouth Colony Records 12:4; MD 40:12).  After being orphaned shortly after arriving in Plymouth with his parents on the Mayflower, Samuel was raised by his uncle, Samuel Fuller (are you confused yet?).  Samuel (Jr.) moved to Scituate in 1635, where he married Jane Lothrop (daughter of the Rev. John Lothrop and his first wife Hannah Howes), and later moved to Barnstable on Cape Cod, where he died in 1683 at about the age of 80.  He was the only Mayflower passenger to settle permanently in Barnstable.  He and Jane had nine children, so there are many descendants today (including myself).

    Matthew Fuller, a physician, came to Plymouth in 1640, and extensive research has led to the conclusion that Matthew was an elder son of Edward Fuller (Bruce MacGunigle, Robert Sherman, Robert Wakefield, “Was Matthew Fuller of Plymouth Colony a Son of Pilgrim Edward Fuller?" TAG 61 [1986]: 194-199, and yes, I am descended from Matthew Fuller, too).  Matthew was one of the first physicians to settle in Barnstable; he took a public stand on the side of the unpopular Quakers and was fined for it.  He died a wealthy man (for the times) in 1678.  He and his wife Frances (maiden surname unknown) had five children: the fourth daughter (Anne Fuller, b. c. 1640, probably in England but perhaps in Plymouth) married Samuel Fuller (bapt. 11 Feb 1637/38: Scituate Vital Records 1:159), the son of, er, um, Samuel Fuller (the Mayflower passenger), thus marrying her first cousin.

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

    At anchor in Plymouth harbour

    Ninth Sunday in this harbour.  It is not possible to tell whether there was any activity on this Sabbath, or where, as the number of able bodied was now fewer than a dozen.

  • 20 Feb 2021 3:11 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    At anchor in harbour

    Transferring goods to shore, but sickness makes both passengers and crew shorthanded. The numbers affected continues to increase. Fetched wood and water.

  • 19 Feb 2021 3:01 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    At anchorage

    Cold weather continues.  The common house for the sick on shore took fire this afternoon, by a spark that kindled in the roof.  No great harm done.  Master Jones going ashore, killed five geese, which he distributed among the sick.  “He found also a good deer killed; the savages had cut off the horns, and a wolf was eating of him; how he came there we could not conceive.”

  • 18 Feb 2021 9:02 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    Power has just been restored after the ice storm last night. I felt like a Pilgrim. But I am back in the saddle ...

    At anchorage

    Hard, cold weather. Little work possible.

  • 17 Feb 2021 3:10 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    At anchor in harbour

    Much colder.  As noted before, there was as much puzzlement about those who did not get sick as there was about those who did get sick.  William Brewster and Myles Standish both were identified by Mourt’s Relation as passengers who did not get sick during the first winter, and spent their time ministering to those who had succumbed.  I have never seen an explanation for why these two were spared any contagion, despite their sharing the common life of the passengers and crew, while everyone else got sick or died.  Also, there were no deaths in the Billington family, which caused a certain wonderment among the more religious passengers, since almost every other family lost at least one member to the General Sickness -- and it absolutely wasn’t their piety that kept them from the illness.

  • 16 Feb 2021 2:59 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    At anchor in harbour

    Cold and clear.   More on the Plymouth colony’s first physician: Samuel Fuller’s inventory upon his death in 1633 included “a surgeon’s chest with the things belonging to it” valued at £5.  His surviving correspondence [Bradford’s Letter Book 56-59] show an educated man, although the details of where and when he studied are unknown.  His inventory also included about thirty books valued at £3 2s 6d; they were mostly Bibles and other religious works, but there were also “physic books” and other practical reference works (see Jeremy Bangs, Plymouth Libraries 24-30 for a list of the titles).  Baptised in Redenhall, Norfolk, on 20 February 1580/81, the son of Robert Fuller (MQ 86 [2020]: 35), he was a deacon of the Leiden congregation, where he worked as a say [wool] weaver.  At 40, he must have been one of the older men on the voyage. While Bradford described him as “a man godly and forward to do good, being much missed after his death,” this estimation was not universally shared.  Thomas Morton, Anglican lawyer and all around wiseguy (see my review in the upcoming issue of the Mayflower Quarterly), thought little of Fuller’s medical skills, described him as a quack and called him “Doctor Noddy” (New England Canaan 297-299, 309: this is the same author who referred to Myles Standish as “Captain Shrimp”).  Fuller married three times (Alice Glascock [d. 1613]; Agnes Carpenter [d. 1615]; Bridget Lee [marr. 27 May 1617, d. 1667] joined him in Plymouth later).  Samuel Fuller was the younger brother of Edward Fuller, also a Mayflower passenger, and through his second wife was related to William Bradford, William Wright and others in the Carpenter family (see Pilgrim Migration 93-95, 524 and Sue Allan, In the Shadow of Men 69-76).  More on his brother Edward next week.

  • 15 Feb 2021 3:37 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    At anchor in harbour

    Clearing weather.  Many comments to these postings have asked what disease or condition the passengers and crew were suffering.  Accounts are far from specific as to the name or proper treatment for the dreadful sickness engulfing the community. Medical techniques of that day were so primitive that they could have brought more harm than cure to patients unquestionably suffering from improper diet, anxiety, overexertion, and exposure to damp and cold. Bradford ascribed the affliction to "the scurvy and other diseases which this long voyage and their inaccomodate condition had brought upon them." The other diseases could have been pneumonia or ship fever, a form of typhus.

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