Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Rev. Thomas Mayhew - Not so Wordless Wednesday

This monument is located just outside of
Edgartown on the island of Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts

The Reverend Thomas Mayhew is my 9x great grandfather.  His story is told on this plaque.  The stones placed on the monument are an old tradition, marking a solemn visit to a grave or place of interest.  I've seen similar piles on the spot marking where Thoreau's cabin stood near Walden Pond, and especially in Jewish cemeteries.

The Mayhews were an old colonial family in Massachusetts, and they produced a prodigious amount of ministers.  Several Reverend Mayhews served on the island of Martha's Vineyard, and Experience Mayhew was a missionary who put the Wampanoag language into writing and produced religious books  in their own language. Reverend Mayhew was beloved by the Praying Indians on Martha's Vineyard. When he was just 22 years old, in 1642, he was the first to minister to the native people in New England.  In 1652 he opened a school to teach the Indians to read.

My sister was married on Martha's Vineyard, and has lived in Tisbury for twenty years.  At her wedding to a local fisherman in the village church in Tisbury she lamented that she would always be an outsider, not an "islander".  When I told her that she was descended of seven generations of Mayhew islanders, including the Reverend who founded the very church where she had her wedding I think I made her very happy!  Since then I have discovered hundreds of island names for our family tree!

My Mayhew genealogy:

Generation 1: Matthew Mayhew, born about 1550, died about 1614, married on 2 October in Tisbury, Wiltshire, England to Alice Barter, daughter of Edward Barter and his wife, Edith.  Matthew was the son of Thomas Mayhew and Alice Waterman.

Generation 2: Governor Thomas Mayhew, born about 1593 and died 25 March 1682 in Tisbury, on the island of Martha's Vineyard; married first about 1620 in England to Abigail Parkhurst; married second about 1634 in England to Jane Gallion.  I am descended of two children, by Abigail (Thomas (see below) and Hannah who married Thomas Daggett/Doggett). 

Generation 3: Reverend Thomas Mayhew born about 1620 in England, died about November 1657 at sea on a voyage to England; married to Jane Unknown. Six children.  I am descended of two children, John (see below) and Jedediah Mayhew who married Benjamin Smith.

Generation 4:  Reverend John Mayhew, born about 1652 in Edgartown on the island of Martha's Vineyard, died on 2 February 1689 in Chilmark, on the island of Martha's Vineyard; married in 1672 at Tisbury to Elizabeth Hilliard, born 22 January 1654 in Hampton, New Hampshire, died 1746 in Chilmark, daughter of Emmanuel Hilliard and Elizabeth Parkhurst.  Five children.

Generation 5: John Mayhew, born 1676 in Chilmark, died 3 March 1736 in Chilmark; married on 27 November 1700 in Chilmark to Mehitable Higgins, daughter of Owen Higgins and Seaborn Tew.  Seven children.

Generation 6: John Mayhew, born 1701 died on 16 January 1790; married on 29 October 1730 in Falmouth, Massachusetts to Ruth Davis, born 5 July 1705 in Falmouth, died 16 Jan 1790 in Chilmark, daughter of Benjamin Davis and Mary Robinson (a descendant of Reverend John Robinson of the Pilgrims).  Five children.

Generation 7: Mary Mayhew, born 22 May 1734 on Martha's Vineyard, died in Nova Scotia; married Caleb Rand, born 10 January 1730 in Charlestown, Massachusetts, died 25 September 1776 in Cornwallis, Nova Scotia, son of Caleb Rand and Katherine Kettell.  Eleven Children.

For more information:

The History of Martha's Vineyard by Dr. Charles Banks, Volume III Family Genealogies: pp. 298 - 328 (the Mayhews) also can be seen online at  

Martha's Vineyard Historical Society   You can send genealogy queries at, address your query to (who else?)  Catherine Mayhew!

Copyright 2011, Heather Wilkinson Rojo


  1. I love these historical pieces that takes us back to the 16-17th century. The plaque reads 1657 and then the date of 1901. Is this the date of he DAR monument? Have you found anything on the ship or purpose of the returned trip? Thanks so much for sharing.

  2. Yes, the monument was erected by the DAR in 1901. It was restored about five years ago (after the photo, but I like the old patina!). There had been a stone cairn at the spot since 1657, believe it or not, and people still leave stones. According to the history of Martha's Vineyard, he was on board a ship called "The Garrett" which was lost at sea on the way back to England. People in New England went back and forth frequently across the Atlantic, one of my ancestors, Isaac Allerton of the Mayflower, crossed five times on business. It is unknown if Rev. Mayhew was on church business (to raise missionary funds) or visiting family. Interesting, too, is the fat that his father (a wealthy business man), who could not find a replacement minister who spoke the Wampanoag language, became a missionary in his place. There are too many good stories about this family to fit into a blog!

  3. Hello cousin, thanks for the interesting post on Rev. Thomas Matthew. My Mayhew line diverges after Gen #3 as I have #4 Matthew Mayhew m. Anna Newcomb and #5 Anna Mayhew m. William Bassett. It is an interesting family!

  4. Thomas Mayhew is also my husband's 9th great grandfather as well as my children's 10th great grandfather. Very excited to find other extended family members. Thank you for all of the information that you posted.