Are You a Mayflower Descendant? You can find out.

According to The General Society of Mayflower Descendants, there may be as many as 35 million living descendants of the Mayflower worldwide. That includes 10 million living descendants in the United States or roughly 3 percent of the U.S. population. 

About the Voyage

2020 marked the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the Mayflower. The Mayflower left England on Sept. 16, 1620, two months later than originally planned. The ship sailed across the Atlantic Ocean for a grueling 66 days. It dropped anchor inside the hook tip of Cape Code (Provincetown Harbor) on Nov. 11, 1620.

The Puritans, photo credit: history.com

The Mayflower carried men, women and 31 children (one child was born during the voyage) in search of a life of religious and civic freedom.

A total of about 130 people were onboard, which included 102 passengers (74 male and 28 female), the rest were crew. The exact number of crew members and all of their names are not known. 

Passengers included farmers, merchants, English Puritan separatists (37 members of the separatist Leiden congregation), and 18 servants.

The Mayflower originally was destined for the Hudson River, north of the 1607 Jamestown Settlement. However, the ship went off-course as winter approached and remained in Cape Cod Bay. During the winter, the passengers remained on board the Mayflower, suffering from scurvy, pneumonia, tuberculosis, and other ailments. 

At the end of winter, there were only 53 people still alive, half of the passengers and half of the crew. In spring, they built huts ashore, and on March 21, 1621, the surviving passengers left the Mayflower

Every living descendant of a Mayflower passenger, as currently known, is descended from one of 26 male passengers. 

Pilgrim arrival, photo source: World History Encyclopedia

Could one of the Mayflower passengers be a relative of yours? That answer may be just a click away. In this article, we answer some of the most common questions about the Mayflower’s passengers. Then we offer resources you can use to see if you may be a Mayflower descendant. After all, with 35 million possible living descendants, you could be one of them. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I view the original list of passengers?  View the original list of Mayflower passengers from the handwritten manuscript of Gov. William Bradford, written about 1651. Source: The State Library of Massachusetts

Available from MayflowerHistory.com, you can also access a comprehensive list of all Mayflower passengers, with a link to each person for further information.

Where did the Mayflower passengers originate? Mayflower400uk.org offers an interactive map that shows where each of the Pilgrims originated.

Who are the known Mayflower crew members? 

  • Christopher Jones, captain
  • John Alden, cooper
  • John Allerton, seaman
  • John Clarke, ship’s pilot
  • Robert Coppin, Master’s mate
  • Thomas English, seaman
  • Giles Heale, ship’s surgeon
  • John Parker, seaman
  • William Trevore, seaman
  • Ely (last name unknown), seaman
  • Andrew Williamson, seaman

Were any babies born on the Mayflower? Three babies were born on the Mayflower. While at sea, Oceanus Hopkins was born. He survived the first winter in Plymouth, but died by 1627. After the ship arrived at Cape Cod, Susanna White gave birth to a son, Peregrin. Shortly thereafter, Mary Allerton gave birth to a stillborn son.

Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock; Image source, Plymouth Rock Foundation

Who were the oldest Mayflower passengers? James Chilton was born about 1556. He was 64 years old when he made the Mayflower journey with his wife and youngest daughter, Mary, making him the oldest passenger on the ship. He died Dec. 8, 1620, onboard the Mayflower when it was anchored off Provincetown Harbor. 

Moses Fletcher was born about 1565, making him the second oldest Mayflower passenger. He came alone on the Mayflower and died sometime during the first winter at Plymouth. His adult children remained in Holland. Several people from the Netherlands have documented their descent from Moses Fletcher. 

Were there any Blacks on the Mayflower No. The first Black person known to have stopped in Plymouth was John Pedro, either a servant or slave. He was there only briefly in 1622, before heading to Jamestown, Virginia. There are no records of Blacks living in Plymouth Colony until 1643, and then there was a single man listed among the “men between the ages of 16 and 60 who was capable of carrying arms in the defense of Plymouth.” 

Mayflower II, Plimoth’s full-scale reproduction of the tall ship that brought the Pilgrims to Plymouth in 1620, at State Pier in Pilgrim Memorial State Park, photo source: Plimoth-Patuxet.

Does the original Mayflower still exist?  The Mayflower that carried the Pilgrims and her master, Christopher Jones, went back into the French wine trade for a couple of years before the ship was decommissioned and scrapped in 1624.

Did anyone die during the voyage of the MayflowerTwo people died during the voyage, a sailor (whose name was not recorded), and a young servant named William Butten. 

Did the Pilgrims name Plymouth? No. Captain John Smith mapped the New England coast in 1614 and gave his work to Prince Charles, who became King of England in 1625. Charles put English names on the map, including Plymouth.

President John Adams, National Portrait

Who are some of the most notable Pilgrim descendants? Among the U.S. presidents and vice presidents: John Adams (2nd U.S. President), John Quincy Adams (6th U.S. President), George Herbert Walker Bush (41st U.S. President), George W. Bush (43rd U.S. President), Calvin Coolidge (30th U.S. President), Charles Gates Dawes (30th U.S. Vice President), James A. Garfield (20th U.S. President), Ulysses S. Grant (18th U.S. President), Levi Parsons Morton (22nd U.S. Vice President), Nelson A. Rockefeller (41st U.S. Vice President), Franklin Delano Roosevelt (32nd U.S. President), and Zachary Taylor (12th U.S. President). 

There are a number of celebrities who are descendants, including familiar names like: American chef Julia Child, actor and singer Bing Crosby, actor and director Clint Eastwood, actor Richard Gere, publisher Hugh Hefner, actress Ashley Judd, actress and model Marilyn Monroe, and comedians and actors Jerry and Dick Van Dyke. 

Which Mayflower Pilgrims have known descendants? Below is a list of Mayflower passengers and couples with known descendants. This list does not include child passengers with descendants, if the parents are already listed. Only 26 Mayflower families are known to have left descendants. 

  1. John Alden and Priscilla (Mullins) Alden
  2. Isaac Allerton and Mary (Norris) Allerton
  3. John Billington and Elinor (maiden name unknown) Billington
  4. William Bradford
  5. William Brewster and Mary (maiden name unknown) Brewster
  6. Peter Browne
  7. James Chilton and Mrs. Chilton (James Chilton’s wife’s name is not found in any records.)
  8. Francis Cooke
  9. Edward Doty
  10. Francis Eaton and Sarah (maiden name unknown) Eaton
  11. Moses Fletcher
  12. Edward Fuller and Mrs. Fuller (Edward Fuller’s wife’s first name and maiden name are unknown)
  13. Samuel Fuller (brother of Edward Fuller)
  14. Stephen Hopkins and Elizabeth (Fisher) Hopkins
  15. John Howland and Elizabeth Tilley
  16. Richard More
  17. William Mullins and Alice (maiden name unknown) Mullins
  18. Degory Priest
  19. Thomas Rogers
  20. Henry Samson
  21. George Soule
  22. Myles Standish
  23. John Tilley and Joan (Hurst) Tilley
  24. Richard Warren
  25. William White and Susanna (Jackson) White
  26. Edward Winslow

Am I eligible to join The General Society of Mayflower Descendants? The General Society of Mayflower Descendants, commonly called the Mayflower Society, is a nonprofit organization founded in 1897. Their national headquarters is on the campus of the historic Mayflower Society House in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Membership requires proof of lineage from one of the Mayflower passengers. The society engages in Pilgrim scholarship, research and publications. In addition, they protect, preserve and interpret historic properties. To become a member, you must contact one of their 54 Member Societies and work with a historian of that Society on preparing and submitting your application. 

Edward Winslow House, Plymouth, Massachusetts

The Society purchased the Edward Winslow House in Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1941. The home was originally built in 1754 by the great-grandson of Edward Winslow, third governor of Plymouth Colony. The Society operates the home as the Mayflower House Museum. The offices of the Society are located behind the mansion. Note: The Mayflower Society House will be closed during the 2021 season for repairs. But you can still visit the property and their Colonial Revival Garden will be open.

Ways to Find Out if You are a Mayflower Descendant

Today, there are more resources than ever to help determine whether you are a Mayflower descendant. Listed here are our top research suggestions. In addition, there are a wide variety of public forums, published genealogies, family and surname-based research groups, state-based resources, and more online. 

  • Surname research: Let’s start with the most obvious method. If you share a surname with any of the Mayflower 26, focus on that line of your family tree and see if you can work backward toward a connection. Unfortunately, it isn’t always that easy as the vast majority of descendants don’t share a name with anyone on the list, since only a direct paternal line would have perpetuated that name.
  • New England research: If you don’t have a direct name connection, start with a line that you suspect has New England roots, and see if that will take you back to one of the Pilgrims. 
  • FamilySearch: Use FamilySearch’s Mayflower Descendants Search feature. All you have to do is type in the name of one of your ancestors who was born on or before 1910. See if one of the results matches your ancestor’s information. If you discover a match, simply click on the name to go to the authenticated genealogy chart that stretches back to your Mayflower ancestor. 
  • The General Society of Mayflower Descendants: If you have a list of relatives leading to a Mayflower Pilgrim and want to verify if you are a legitimate descendant, consider using The Mayflower Society’s Mayflower Lineage Match Service. The Society will determine what portion of your Mayflower lineage has already been documented in a previously approved application, and for what portion you will need to provide documentation. After comparing your proposed lineage to their more than 200,000 previously approved lineages, they will send you a detailed report on their findings, along with instructions on how to proceed with membership in their Society, should you wish to join. It takes from 2-4 weeks for a response and there is a $75 fee per inquiry.
  • Mayflower Families Through Five Generations: This is a multi-volume collection also known as the Silver Books, published by The General Society of Mayflower Descendants. The books contain information about the first five generations of descendants from the Mayflower passengers, but new information is being added to this collection all the time. The publications can be ordered online through Amazon, or you can view copies at the FamilySearch libraries. 
  • AmericanAncestors.org: The New England Historic Genealogical Society’s website offers an entire section devoted specifically to Mayflower genealogies. Unfortunately, to fully access their site membership is required. But, they do host the world’s largest free searchable database of General Mayflower Descendants Membership Applications, 1620-1920. The database includes all applications and supplemental applications for applicants who were born before Jan. 1, 1920. The database has birth, marriage and death information indexed for each generation of descendants on the application. This database was created through a partnership of the General Society of Mayflower Descendants, AmericanAncestors, and FamilySearch.  
  • MayflowerHistory.com: This trusted website is hosted by historian and author Caleb Johnson. It is considered to be the most complete and accurate website dealing with the Mayflower passengers and history of the Pilgrims 
  • Rootweb: Available through Rootweb is the Mayflower Database: Surnames. This is a combined database of genealogies with known connections to the Mayflower. This database is worth a quick search for any names in your tree; however, you will need to verify data accuracy since it includes information from trees created by family researchers.  
  • Check HathiTrust: Hathitrust is a free online research library that offers a wide variety of publications containing information about Mayflower descendants, including reports by state Societies of Mayflower Descendants. 

If you are a Mayflower descendant, we’d love to hear about your connection and any resources that helped with your discovery. Please post them in the comment section below. 

References

Related

Mayflower: Voyage, Community, War; by Nathaniel Philbrick
The Boy Who Fell Off the Mayflower, or John Howland’s Good Fortune; intended for readers ages 7-11 years
The Story of the Pilgrims, by Katharine Ross and Carolyn Croll; intended for readers ages 3-6 years old

4 thoughts on “Are You a Mayflower Descendant? You can find out.

  1. I have found my ancestral line to Wm Brewster, but not all the confirmations. Hardest being my father with no birth certificate, and with that, no record of it at the court house. But, I know, and I guess that is enough for me. Also, I would like to ask, how would Edward Winslow’s brother, be related to me? A great x ? Uncle? Just curious Thank you

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    1. If William is your grandfather, his brother is an uncle with the same “Great” level. That would double qualify you. If you don’t have a birth certificate, do you have your father’s social security information and census data?

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  2. I found that Israel Canfield (my 4x grandfather) was married to Mary? Bradford. Thought name sounded familiar! Found a William Bradford descendent book online published by the University of Wisconsin- Madison about 1957. It had their marriage in it, but said no issue! Of course they had moved from New Jersey to Wisconsin (right under the author’s nose!) They had several children. It went from Bradford to Canfield to Canfield to Meatyard to Lofy(me)

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