Part of the American
History & Genealogy Project
Wives of the Pilgrims
Mrs. Katherine Carver, it has been supposed by some, was a
sister of Pastor Robinson. This supposition rests, apparently,
upon the expression in his parting letter to Carver, where he
says: "What shall I say unto you and your good wife, my loving
sister?" Neither the place of Mrs. Carver's nativity nor her age
Desire Minter was evidently a young girl of the Leyden
congregation, between the ages of fourteen and seventeen, who,
in some way (perhaps through kinship), had been taken into
Carver's family. She returned to England early.
"Mrs. Carver's maid," it is fair to presume, from her position
as lady's maid and its requirements in those days, was a young
woman of eighteen or twenty years, and this is confirmed by her
early marriage. Nothing is known of her before the embarkation.
She died early.
The wife of Elder Brewster, the "Chief of the Pilgrims," was
about fifty-one years of age at the time of the landing of the
Mayflower. She was the mother of three sons; the two younger.
Love and Wrestling Brewster, accompanied their parents to the
Mrs. Elizabeth (Barker) Winslow, the first wife of the Governor,
appears by the data supplied by the record of her marriage in
Holland, May 27, 1618 to have been a maiden of comporting years
to her husband's, he being then twenty-three. Tradition makes
her slightly younger than her husband.
Ellen More, "a little girl that was put to him" (Winslow), died
early. She was a sister of the other. More children, "bound out"
to Carver and Brewster.
Mrs. Dorothy (May)
Mrs. Dorothy (May) Bradford's age (the first wife of the
Governor) is fixed at twenty-three by collateral data, but she
may have been older. She was probably from Wisbeach, England.
The manner of her tragic death (by drowning, having fallen
overboard from the ship in Cape Cod harbor), the first violent
death in the colony, was especially sad, her husband being
absent for a week afterward. It is not known that her body was
Mary (Norris) Allerton is called a "maid of Newberry in
England," in the Leyden record of her marriage, in October, 161
1, and it is the only hint as to her age we have. She was
presumably a young woman. Her death followed (a month later) the
birth of her still-born son, on board the Mayflower in Plymouth
Harbor, February 25, 1621.
Remember Allerton, apparently Allerton's second child, was, no
doubt, born in Holland about 1614. She married Moses Maverick by
1635, and Thomas Weston's only child, Elizabeth, was married
from her house at Marblehead, to Roger (Sonant, the first
''governor" of a "plantation" on the Massachusetts Bay
Mary Allerton, apparently the third child, could hardly have
been much more than four years old in 1620. She was probably
born in Holland about 1616. She was the last survivor of the
passengers of the Mayflower, dying at Plymouth, New England,
Susanna (Fuller) White, wife of William, and sister of Dr.
Fuller (?), was apparently somewhat younger than her first
husband and perhaps older than her second. She must, in all
probability (having been married in Leyden in 1612), have been
at least twenty-five at the embarkation eight years later. Her
second husband, Governor Winslow, was but twenty-five in 1620
and the presumption is that she was slightly his senior. There
appears no good reason for ascribing to her the austere and
rather unlovable characteristics which the pen of Mrs. Austin
hat given her.
Mrs. Alice Mullens, whose given name we know only from her
husband's will, filed in London, we know little about Her age
was (if she was his first wife) presumably about that of her
husband, whom she survived but a short time.
Priscilla Mullens, whom the glamour of unfounded romance and the
pen of the poet Longfellow have made one of the best known and
best beloved of the Pilgrim band, was either a little older or
younger than her brother Joseph, it is not certain which. But
that she was over sixteen is probable.
Nothing is known concerning Mrs. Elizabeth Hopkins, except that
she was not her husband's first wife. Sometime apparently
elapsed between her husband's marriages.
(Or Constantia) Hopkins
Constance (or Constantia) Hopkins was apparently about eleven
years old in 1620, as she married in 1627, and probably was then
not far from eighteen years old.
Damaris Hopkins, the younger daughter of Master Hopkins, was
probably a very young child when she came in the Mayflower, but
her exact age has not been ascertained. Davis, as elsewhere
noted, makes the singular mistake of saying she was born after
her parents arrived in New England. She married Jacob Cooke, and
the ante-nuptial agreement of his parents is believed to be the
earliest of record in America, except that between Gregory
Armstrong and the widow Billington.
Humility Cooper is said by Bradford to have been a "cosen'' of
the Tilleys, but no light is given as to her age or antecedents.
She was but a child apparently. She returned to England very
soon after the death of Mr. and Mrs. Tilley, and "died young."
(Van Der Velde) Tilley
Mrs. Bridget (Van der Velde) Tilley was her husband's second
wife, concerning whom nothing is known, except that she was of
Holland, and that she had, apparently, no child.
Elizabeth Tilley is said, by Goodwin and others, to have been
fourteen years old at her parents' death in 1621, soon after the
arrival in New England. She was the child of her father's first
wife. She married John Howland before 1624. Historians for many
years called her the "daughter of Governor Carver," but the
recovery of Bradford's MS. "historic" corrected this, with many
other mis-conceptions, though to some the error had become
Mrs. Chilton's given name is declared by one writer to have been
Susanna, but it is not clearly proven. Whence she came, her
ancestry, and her age, are alike unknown.
Mary Chilton was but a young girl in 1620. She married, before
1627, John Winslow, and was probably not over fourteen when she
came with her parents in the Mayflower.
Mrs. Sarah Eaton, wife of Francis, was evidently a young woman,
with an infant, at the date of embarkation. Nothing more is
known of her, except that she died in the spring following the
arrival at Plymouth.
Ellen (Or "Elen")
Mrs. Ellen (or "Elen") Billington, as Bradford spells the name,
was evidently of comporting age to her husband's, perhaps a
little younger. Their two sons, John and Francia, were lively
urchins who frequently made matters interesting for the
colonists, afloat and ashore. The family was radically bad
throughout, but they have had not a few worthy descendants. Mrs.
Billington married Gregory Armstrong; and their ante-nuptial
agreement is the first such record known in America.
Source: The Part Taken by Women in
American History, By Mrs. John A. Logan, Published by The Perry-Nalle
Publishing Company, Wilmington, Delaware, 1912.