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September 2020 sees the quatercentenary of the start of the voyage of the Mayflower. Leaving Plymouth on September 6th 1620 it arrived at Cape Cod on November 9th 1620. Normally carrying cargo of wine and dry goods, this time it carried 102 passengers who were all looking to start a new life in the Colonies.

Mayflower II, replica of the original ship, at Plymouth, Mass. (GmaJoli [CC SA-BY 4.0])
Mayflower II, replica of the original ship, at Plymouth, Mass. (GmaJoli [CC SA-BY 4.0])

Mary Norris is Berkshire’s only connection to the Mayflower. Thought to be born in 1592 near Newbury, Mary married Isaac Allerton in Leiden, Holland on November 4th 1611, in a double wedding with Sarah Allerton (Isaac’s sister) and Degory Priest (Sarah’s second husband). Isaac became a citizen of Leiden in 1614 and worked as a tailor.

Mary, Isaac and three of their children (Bartholomew (b c1612), Remember (b 1614) and Mary (b 1616), all born in Leiden) embarked for Southampton from Leiden on the Speedwell, to join the Mayflower for the journey to the New World.

Originally departing from Southampton on August 5th, a leakage problem with the Speedwell meant a stop at Dartmouth on August 12th for repairs. After patching up the Speedwell, the two boats left Dartmouth on August 21st. Three hundred miles into the journey, Speedwell’s problems with sea-worthiness came back and the two boats returned to England, at Plymouth. The recurrent leaks and loss of time spent trying to repair the Speedwell meant that the decision was taken for the Mayflower to make the voyage alone.

Being one of three heavily pregnant women on board the Mayflower, Mary was the first person to give birth in the Plymouth Colonies. Unfortunately, the child was stillborn just as the Mayflower docked in the harbour.

Mary and Isaac had another child, Sarah, born in 1618, who travelled over on the Anne in 1623, in the care of her aunt, Sarah Priest. There was another child born in Leiden who was buried, un-named, on February 5th 1619/20.

Mary and Isaac’s daughter, Mary (b 1616), was the last survivor of the Mayflower Pilgrims when she died in 1699, and one of her descendants was Franklin D Roosevelt, 32nd President of the United States of America.

Mary, senior, died on February 25th 1620/21 in Plymouth, Massachusetts during the first winter at the Plymouth Colony. She is buried there in Coles Hill Burial Ground.

After Mary’s death, Isaac went on to marry Fear Brewster and had, amongst other children, a son, also called Isaac, whose descendant was Zachary Taylor, 12th President of the United States of America.

Isaac was the fifth person to  sign the “ Mayflower Compact”, originally titled “Agreement Between the Settlers of New Plymouth ”, which was the first governing document of the Plymouth Colony. It was signed aboard the Mayflower on November 11th 1620.

It’s not much, but it is our county’s link to one of the most notable historic events of the Western World.

Sources

A History of the Allerton Family in the United States 1585-1885: and a Genealogy of the Descendants of Isaac Allerton by Walter S. Allerton (1900). https://archive.org/details/ historyofallerto1900alle.

www.mayflower400uk.org

Signing of the Mayflower Compact 1620, a painting by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris 1899 [public domain]
Signing of the Mayflower Compact 1620, a painting by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris 1899 [public domain]

 

 

 

Berkshire Family History Society

Berkshire Family History Society

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