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An Ancestor and a Ship

Mark this date, Sept. 6, 1620, when the Pilgrims set sail on the Mayflower ship from Plymouth, England for a new life and an unknown future in the New World. This date may well tie into your own family lineage. It is figured that millions of people are direct descendants of passengers (not all on board were Pilgrims) who came to the new settlement.

The ship itself is so famous, yet it had a history long before 1620. In 1608, Capt. Christopher Jones and his three business partners purchased the Mayflower to haul cargo. They first went to Norway but on the return trip during a terrible storm at sea the ship and crew barely survived. After returning to England, Christoper Jones traveled in the Mayflower to Spain and France, carrying wines, spices and vinegar to England for the next ten years. It was May 1620 that the Pilgrims hired Jones and the ship to take them to America. They had also hired the ship Speedwell, with both ships leaving Southampton on August 5th, but the Speedwell was discovered to be leaking 300 miles into the voyage. Returning to England, cargo and passengers where transferred from the Speedwell. By September 6th, Capt. Jones, his crew, his additional passengers, cargo and only the Mayflower sailed across the Atlantic, arriving November 11, 1620 after 66 days at sea. One passenger, a young servant named William Butten died while the Mayflower was at sea. Also one of the crewmen of the Mayflower died at sea.

Of course the first winter in was very harsh with half of the Mayflower passengers dying, including half of the ship’s crew. Capt. Jones returned to England with a skeleton crew in April 5, 1621. The Pilgrims did not forget their captain, they named a river the Jones River which is located near Kingston, Massachusetts. After returning, Jones commanded in the Mayflower again in late 1621 to Ireland, Spain and France for another trading run. He died March 5, 1622 after his return to England. Since Captain Jones did have several children, there is the possibly you are related to this captain. The Mayflower ship remained docked in England and decayed while Jones’ estate went through probate for two years. Eventually the wooden ship was broken up and sold as scrap wood.

There may be a family legend of ancestors who were part of the Mayflower passengers to arrive in 1620. With so much available documentation and societies just beginning with the surnames is a start. Some lesser known names include: More, Soule, Browne, Howland, Craxton, Fletcher and Doty, are all still part of this famous settlement. Interesting it was the children (most in their teens) of this colony who really helped it get going, for less of them became sick and died compared to the adults. They truly worked to keep the settlement alive.

What many don’t realize is that soon additional ships came to the Plymouth Colony with new settlers. Later in 1621 arrived the ship Fortune, then in 1623 two ships, the Anne and Little James brought many people. So even if an ancestor didn’t arrive on the Mayflower, it is worth checking the other arrivals that followed.

There are many notable people over the years who were direct descendants of those who came on the Mayflower to create the Plymouth Colony. There was Katherine Hepburn – actress, descended from William Brewster; Noah Webster – writer – descended from William Bradford; President F. D. Roosevelt – descended from Isaac Allenton; General U. S. Grant – descended from Richard Warren and Marilyn Monroe – actress – descended from John Alden.

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Thanks for the great Post very COOL!!!

I stumbled upon your blog in my erfoft to learn more about Alice Martin Bishop. You have certainly done a fantastic job researching all that you have on AMB we have learned volumes I am another descendant from Damaris Bishop. I, too, felt a horrible sadness for the story after learning of it.After reading (and re-reading) the account of the coroners' observations and the deposition of Rachel Ramsden, I find myself still unconvinced that Alice Martin Bishop was truly responsible for the death of her 4 year old daughter. I just do not see enough circumstantial evidence noted (ie: blood upon her clothing). As far as I can tell, AMB was hung based solely upon the account (and opinion) of Ms. Ramsden. One researcher pointed out that AMB, herself, could not recall murdering her own child (even though she later confessed to doing so). After much thought upon the tension the Martin family already had in the Plymouth community, I can't help but wonder was her family somehow considered to be cursed by the Puritan community? Was she forced through inhumane treatment to confess to a crime she did not commit? Perhaps it was someone else murdered that poor child in the upstairs chamber ? Would it have been possible for AMB to bother stuffing her own daughter's wind pipe into the throat? Only someone over-come with the most deepest of rage would bother. Someone who had time to premeditate this murder. Even Ms. Ramsden admitted how AMB seemed like her usual self not angry or out of sorts in any way. Why would she have taken the time to murder her child at a time when she was expecting Ms. Ramsden to return from the buttermilk errand? It just doesn't add up!Lastly, it is interesting to note that Damaris Bishop married William Sutton a man who was considered an upstanding pillar of the congregation to his Quaker beliefs. The Puritans saw the Quakers as a scurge in their community. They (the Quakers) endured the persecutions brought upon them by the Puritans, evenutally leaving Plymouth Colony for kinder locales. I do believe Damaris named her first daughter after her own mother because she did not believe her mother to be guilty of such a horrible crime. Just my two wondering coppers. Thank you for reading!Bethany CrawfordSan Jose, California
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