Monday, September 19, 2011

Women of the Mayflower Project

You missed a good one!  The Women of the Mayflower Project

Well, you didn't miss it completely, because its an ongoing project.  On Saturday, 10 September 2011 in Plymouth, Massachusetts I attended a wonderful presentation of research by three renowned genealogists, Caleb Johnson, Simon Neale and Jeremy Dupertuis Bangs.  Their work will be published in upcoming editions of the Mayflower Quarterly, so you can catch up.

The Women of the Mayflower is a project sponsored by the General Society of Mayflower Descendants to identify and investigate the maiden names and families of the wives of the male passengers on the Mayflower.  Only three women's lingeages have been identified, Mary Norris Allerton, Joan Hurst Tilley, and Katherine White Carver.  Several others are still nameless, and their identities are still lost to time.  In 2010 Governor General Judith Swan of the Mayflower Society came to New Hampshire and spoke about this project, and I've been very interested in the research ever since.

The first researcher who presented his research was Caleb Johnson, who has a wonderful website, and has authored books including Here I Shall Die Ashore (the story of Stephen Hopkins) and The Mayflower and Her Passengers.  He was assigned to find the ancestry of Alice Mullins, mother of Priscilla Mullins Alden.  He did exhaustive research in all the villages where William Mullins lived, including looking at the extended family of all the Mullins relatives, business contacts, and people named in other records.  This is what kind of research is possible when you are funded by the Mayflower Society! His charts and slides took my breath away, with his possibilities of extended kinship found in records. No definite conclusions were made, but many discoveries were made on the Mullins family.

Simon Neale is from Kew's National Archives in the United Kingdom.  He was assigned to research the two wives of Stephen Hopkins. He also did exhaustive research on Hopkins families in London. The last to present was Jeremy Bangs, who did research on the Walloon Mayflower families such as Delano and Cooke.  Jeremy is the author of many books including Strangers and Pilgrims, Travelers and Sojourners, 2009, and Indian Deeds, 2002.  If you have read his books, you know that he does meticulous work with many footnotes and details.  His research reflected this attention to leaving no stone unturned as he he traveled from France and Holland to England.  His story of finding kinships among the records in Norwich, England was fascinating. 

In Plymouth, Massachusetts, across the street from Plymouth Rock is a memorial to the Women of the Mayflower.  It was erected in 1920 on the 300th anniversary of the arrival of the Mayflower in the New World.  On the back of the memorial is the following list of names.  Remember, in 1920 this was all that was known of the women and girl passengers on the Mayflower.  Some of the women have been identified since 1920, but we have a long way to go.  As Caleb Johnson pointed out during the lecture, although this was exhaustive research, some women's names may never be known.  

Mary Norris Allerton
Mary Allerton
Remember Allerton
Eleanor Billington
Mary Brewster
-------------- Chilton
Mary Chilton
Sarah Eaton
--------------- Fuller
Elizabeth Hopkins          now identified as Elizabeth Fisher Hopkins
Constance Hopkins
Alice Mullins
Priscilla Mullins
-------------  Tilley            now identified as Joan Hurst Tilley
Elizabeth Tilley
Susanna Fuller White     "Fuller" is not her maiden name
Dorothy Bradford           now identified as Dorothy May Bradford
Katherine Carver           now identified as Katherine White Carver
Maid Servant of the Carvers, name unknown    now known only as Dorothy
Humility Cooper
Demaris Hopkins
------------ Martin            now identified as Mary Prower Martin
Desire Minter
Ellen More
Alice Rigdale
Rose Standish
Ann Tilley
------------- Tinker
Elizabeth Winslow         now identified as Elizabeth Barker Winslow

Women of the Mayflower, from Caleb Johnson's website

Jeremy Bang's American Pilgrim Museum in Leiden, The Netherlands

Copyright 2011, Heather Wilkinson Rojo 


  1. Heather,

    Thanks for the ongoing Mayflower/Plymouth posts. My husband is descended from Isaac Allerton, his wife Mary Norris Allerton, their daughter Mary Allerton and, in addition, Degory Priest (through his wife Sarah Allerton and their daughter, Sarah Priest Coombs). So I especially enjoyed your "women of the Mayflower" post!

    Best, Marian

  2. This is such an exciting project! It's thrilling just to consider all the possibilities. Maiden names can be so tricky and I cannot wait to see what the Society might discover next.

  3. I'm surprised that Caleb didn't point out that Priscilla may not be (and probably is not) the daughter of Alice (---) Mullins, who seems very clearly to be a second wife.

    You need to get a hold of Drew Bartley's Mayflower Passengers 1620. It is indispensable if you are interested in Mayflower genealogy. Go to the Mass. Mayflower Society site online and get one.

  4. I love dropping in for a read of your posts ...they are so interesting.

  5. Thanks for the update, Heather! It's encouraging that maiden name brick walls can be knocked down...even 300 yr. old walls!

    I am decended from Brewster and Hopkins.

  6. I had no idea this was going on - what a great project! I have no direct Mayflower ancestors, but my ex-hub does through his mother, so for the kids' sake, I'm trying to keep up with those digging more on William WHITE's wife, Susanna. Thanks for posting this.

  7. Great posting...but I wonder why Susanna Fuller m. William White and then Edward Winslow isn't included. She had children both by William White and Edward Winslow. I'm descended from her son, Resolved White. She had two children with William White and two children with Edward Winslow who survived to adulthood!


  8. Very interesting post, Heather.

    How was Ann Tilley related to Elizabeth Tilley?


  9. This is all so extremely impressive that it's almost intimidating to me. Talk about exhaustive research! Such care, such detail. I suppose you could observe (with the feminists) that the loss of maiden names, throughout history, does contribute to erasing identities in fact. Thanks to all those who are working to recover the lineages of these women!

  10. I am a little confused. Elizabeth Tilley is my 10th great-grandmother, and she should have been included in the list also. Is Ann Tilley her or maybe another family member?

    1. Dear Jean,
      I'm descended from Joan Hurst Tilley and from Elizabeth Tilley, too! The children were not listed on this original statue of "WOMEN of the Mayflower". You can see that at the time this statue was erected, Elizabeth's mother was still unknown. Since then she has been identified as Joan Hurst Tilley.

  11. Are they referring to Mary Brewster in this list as the wife of the Elder William Brewster or? There are a lot of their descendants that have placed her as Mary Wentworth and dau. of Thomas Wentworth, but it has never been proven. I am one of the descendants via dau. Patience, but I have Mary in my tree with no maiden name until proven otherwise.

    1. Vera, Mary, wife of Elder William Brewster is still unidentified. The project has been suspended for a while, but I hope they will fund another round of research so we can continue to research these ancestresses.