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Honouring the children of the Mayflower

Updated: Jun 17, 2021

Would the Plymouth colony have survived without the children on board the Mayflower? Keith Quimbach honours the young Mayflower passengers who helped the new American colony prosper - as well as our newest and youngest Mayflower generation here in Australia.

The Mayflower set sail on September 16th of 1620, and that journey through the Atlantic during the late fall was rough and arduous. The ship's Master Christopher Jones chartered a northern route. This meant the 30-or-so crew and 102 passengers of the Mayflower endured a very rough journey for 66 days. Passengers and crew members alike were sick from scurvy and the shortage of food meant many were starving.

Upon sighting land on 9 November, known today as 'Cape Cod', there was a glimmer of hope. But, the passengers were not prepared for the winter in the northern part of North America. They were supposed to sail to the northern colony in Virginia where there would be shelter and food. Instead, they would have to find their own food and build their own shelter which would take them several months. Throughout the winter of 1620 and into the spring of 1621, some 49 of the 102 perished in one way or another - nearly half of the entire group of pilgrims.

Of the surviving men (about 25), some have continued to be very well known throughout history, including William Bradford, William Brewster, George Soule, John Howland, Edward Fuller, and Richard Warren. Our Australian Society now has (40) members, men and women, who have traced their heritage back to one or more of these founding fathers.

There were only four married women who managed to survive the first winter: Eleanor Billington, Mary Brewster, Elizabeth Hopkins and Susanna White Winslow. These women suffered immensely but endured the hardship, caring for the children and sick as well as doing the cooking and washing.

The children of the Mayflower

There were a number of children onboard the Mayflower and they were vitally important to the survival of the Plymouth Colony. Fortunately, there were fewer deaths among the Mayflower children that first cruel winter. Many had become accustomed to hard labour since they had to work in Holland to help support their families. When their families faced illnesses and deaths the first winter, it was the children who stepped up to help the adults to tend the sick, fetch firewood and water, prepare food and do whatever was necessary.

The six adolescent girls who survived were: Constance Hopkins, Desire Minter, Priscilla Mullins, Elizabeth Tilley, Mary Chilton, and Dorothy, a maidservant to John Carver. Nine adolescent boys, along with some very young girls and boys also survived. Those who grew up to have descendants are listed below (with their approx. ages in 1621).

  • Girls: Mary Allerton (3), Mary Chilton (13), Constance Hopkins (14), Elizabeth Tilley (13) Priscilla Mullins (17)

  • Boys: Remember Allerton (5), Francis Billington (14), Love Brewster (13), John Cooke (13), Samuel Eaton (1), Samuel Fuller (12) son of Edward Fuller, Giles Hopkins (12), Richard More (6), Joseph Rogers (17), Peregrine White (born aboard), Resolved White (5), Bartholomew Allerton (7).

The first Thanksgiving

During the spring in late 1621, the local Indian tribe (Wampanoag) helped and showed the remaining survivors how to plant corn and other vegetables, hunt and catch local fish (chod). Then after a successful summer crop, the Mayflower survivors celebrated with their fall harvest. This is the origin of Thanksgiving Day that is celebrated in America today.

Our future

Our hopes and endeavours are such that in the years to come - our Society will flourish like the pilgrims of 1620, continue to grow and reflect upon our lineage.

Our children and grandchildren are the next generations to carry on and prosper. I am very proud to say that our society now has four junior members, descendants of Richard Warren; George Soule and Edward Fuller. We look forward to the future and the day that comes when our Juniors can become regular members. We are very thankful and blessed.

Juniors have an International Facebook page administered by Peggy Marsh, Juniors and their families may also be interested in these GSMD recommended Books for the Thanksgiving Celebration.

Our children and their children are our blessings.

Keith Quimbach

Governor, AUSMD, Inc.

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