Funny story . . . I discovered I have a Mayflower ancestor last Thanksgiving. Yes, on the holiday where we think about the Pilgrims and the Indians, I discovered I have a Pilgrim ancestor. I sure wish I had known when I visited the Plymouth area years ago! I have to admit I am kind of excited about this discovery. There are lots of descendants of the approximately 217,000 Revolutionary War soldiers, but there were only 102 Mayflower passengers and about half of them died the first winter.
While checking sources, I discovered another Pilgrim ancestor! A married couple, Samuel Washburn and Abigail Leonard each had a Mayflower ancestor. Here is what we know about the ancestors of Samuel Washburn and Abigail Leonard. Some dates are approximate and calculated. Most of this information is from the Mayflower Families through Five Generations volumes 12 and 15.
I will go into more detail on the Washburns in an upcoming post, but for now let’s talk a bit about the Mayflower passengers, especially Francis Cooke and James Chilton, both signers of the Mayflower Compact.
There is some great description about the ship and the journey here. Over two months on a small ship under bad conditions! They got off course from where they were supposed to settle and there was some disagreement between the Puritans and non-separatist Pilgrims.
They wrote the Mayflower Compact to govern themselves and this was the first written framework of government established in what is now the United States. Many people believe the Mayflower Compact influenced the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.
Francis Cooke was my great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather. He had been a woolcomber in England, then he was in Leiden for a bit and then ended up on the Mayflower in 1620 with son John. He made it through that hard first winter and lived many more years, until 1663. Wife Hester and the other children came on the Anne in 1623.
James Chilton was also my great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather. He may connect back to Robert Chilton who was a representative from Canterbury to Parliment in 1339 – I would love to find out more about that! James was born around 1556 in Canterbury England. He was a tailor and spent time in Leiden. Rocks were thrown at him and his daughter. He came over on the Mayflower in 1620 with his wife and daughter Mary. He died in Cape Cod during that first infection and his wife died soon after. Poor daughter Mary! Only 13 years old and an orphan in a strange land. Another daughter, Isabella, came to Plymouth 1629 or 1630.
- Francis Cooke from the Pilgrim Hall Museum
- Francis Cooke from the Plymouth Colony Archive Project
- James Chilton from the Pilgrim Hall Museum
- The Mayflower Compact by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris (1863–1930)
- Mayflower families through five generations : descendants of the Pilgrims who landed at Plymouth, Mass., December 1620, volume 12 Francis Cooke (1996).
- Mayflower families through five generations : descendants of the Pilgrims who landed at Plymouth, Mass., December 1620, volume 15 James Chilton and Richard More (1997).