Friday, November 26, 2010

What we know about the Pilgrims

Much of what we know about the Pilgrims come from William Bradford's writings. Most of the Pilgrims and their immediate descendants were simple, uneducated people who were unconcerned about the importance of the colony they founded. They did not even bother to keep town records in Plymouth until 1632. Early on in their settlement, they wrote and published to tracts trying to attract additional settlers. It is known as Mourt's Relation and makes an interesting read. I've included the link It was written by Pilgrims Winslow and Bradford, with Bradford's contribution largely being in the first section.

From 1630 to 1650, Bradford set about writing the history of the the sect and Plymouth, he describes the effort as "scribled Writings", "peeced up at times of leesure afterwards. During most of this time he was the Governor of the Plymouth Colony. He eventually titled his efforts "Of Plimouth Plantation" and it covered the story of the Pilgrims for 1606 to 1647. An electronic edition of his writings can be found at and makes interesting reading.
Bradford's manuscript was not published. For two hundred years, it was handed down from father to son. Occasionally, passages were copied into Church records by his nephew Nathanial Morton who as Secretary of the Old Colony used it as the basis of his own account of the colony in "New England's Memorial" published in 1669. Many years later, Bradford's manuscript turned up in the hands of Rev. Thomas Prince's library in the Old South Church in Boston where it remained until looted by the British during the American Revolution. Most disappeared until 1855 when it was discovered in the library of Fulham Palace, the residence of the Bishops of London, on the city's outskirts. The bishop allowed Bradford's writing to be published the next year.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

William Bradford

Things have been a bit out of control here as we try to remodel the kitchen and host Thanksgiving but the oven and stove top were finally installed yesterday so it looks like I'm cooking tomorrow so.... I'll come back to William Brewster's story but I wanted you to know about our other Pilgrim ancestor William Bradford.

William was born in Austerfield, York, England in 1589/90 he was orphaned early and was shuttled between relatives for years. About the time he was 12, he visited the nearby town of Scrooby where he attended a church service (perhaps hosted by William Brewster at Scrooby Manor) and was won over by the simplicity of the service and the congregation's passion for reform. At that time, much of the profit from the land in England was paid to the church leaving the population largely destitute.

He wrote about the Separatist's beliefs in his journal. "One the one side (The Separatists) laboured to have ye right worship of God & discipline of Christ established in ye church, according to ye simplicite of ye gospell, without the mixture of mens inventions, and to have & to be ruled by ye laws of Gods word, dispensed in those offices, & by those officers of Pastors, Teachers, & Elders, &c. according to ye Scripturs. The other partie (the Church of England), though under many colours & pretences, endevored to have ye episcopall courts, cannons, & ceremonies, togeather with all such livings, revenues, & subordinate officers, with other such means as formerly upheld their antichristian greatnes, and enabled them with lordly & tyranous power to persecute ye poore servants of God." (from Pilgrim Hall Museum's website).

He was virtually adopted by William Brewster around 1602. He is variously described as a silk worker and a fustian (a coarse cloth made of cotton and flax somewhat like twill). He lived in Amsterdam from 1607-1609, then moved to Leyden.

Bradford was about 30 years old, married with a young son and very much involved, when the congregation decided to leave Leyden for an area north of the Virginia Colony. He and his wife Dorothy decided to leave their four year old son behind with their pastor in Leyden.

Much of what we know about the Pilgrims today comes from the journals and papers that Bradford kept. He was involved with the many of the administrative responsibilities of the group and the correspondence between them and their financial backers as they prepared to sail to America.

Have to continue the story tomorrow, time to get Colby and Chris from the airport.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Elder William Brewster is another of our Pilgrim Ancestors. He was born about 1566 probably in Scrooby, Nottinghamshire, England or in the vicinity. He was the son of William Brewster and his wife Mary (surname thought to have been either Smythe or Simkinson). William Sr. was the bailiff for Scrooby Manor which belonged to the Archbishops of York for about 31 years. Scrooby Manor was important as it was located on the main road to the north. The position included being Postmaster.

William studied Latin and Greek at Peterhouse College at Cambridge University from about 1580 to 1583 though there is no evidence that he took a degree. After the University, he served as a secretary to Sir William Davison who was an assistant to Queen Elizabeth's Secretary of State Sir Francis Walsingham. It was while working for Davison, that Brewster first traveled to the Netherlands.

While it may have been during his Cambridge years that Brewster first became involved with the religious reformism, certainly, his time in the Netherlands gave him additional opportunities to experience the Reformed Church.

Davison fell out of favor with Elizabeth, and William returned to Scrooby where he assumed his father's position as Postmaster from 1590-1607. Brewster's home became the meeting place for dissenting Puritans and in 1606 they formed the Separatist Church of Scrooby.

The atmosphere of restrictions and persecution, convinced the congregation that they should leave the country for the more tolerant Netherlands. They first tried to leave in 1607, but were arrested at Scotia Creek and several were imprisoned. They were finally successful in leaving for Amsterdam in 1608 where they joined the Ancient Church of Francis Johnson and Henry Ainsworth. Caught up in the in-fighting between the two men, they relocated to Leiden in less than one year.

Brewster taught English to support his family, and later printed and published separatist religious books in English for sale in England. This raised the ire of the English who prevaled upon the Dutch to have Brewster and his partner arrested in 1619. Brewster escaped and knew the congregation would have to move on.

The story continues tomorrow.

Oh, for the descent.... William Brewster's daughter Patience married Thomas Prence, their daughter Hannah married Nathaniel Mayo, their son Thomas married Barbara Knowles, their daughter Lydia married Joshua Merrick, their daughter Abigail married Elisha Hopkins, he married Druscilla Conant, their daughter Rhoda Hopkins married Thomas Warner, their daughter Joanna Warner married Naaman Cone, their son William Warner Cone married Eliza Utley and their son was Frederick Naamen Cone, Frederick married Helen Brown Newton, and their son was Charles Newton Cone.... you know the rest.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Giles Hopkins

Continuing with information about our Pilgrim ancestors, Giles Hopkins, son of Stephen Hopkins and his first wife Mary. New research shows that he was born in Hursley, Hampshire, England sometime shortly before 30 January 1607/8 as that was the date of his baptism.

Giles was part of a family of five that traveled together on the Mayflower, including his step-mother Elizabeth and sister Constance, and step-sister Damaris. His half-brother Oceanus was born during the voyage.

Records show he volunteered for service in the Pequot War of 1637 but was not called.

Giles married Catherine Whelden in Plymouth in 1639. Soon after his marriage, the couple followed Stephen Hopkins to the Yarmouth area of Cape Cod where Stephen had built a house in 1638. (The Plymouth Colony Court did not authorize a permanent settlement in Yarmouth until 1639).

About five years later, Giles' brother-in-law Nicholas Snow helped found the town of Nauset. By 1650, Giles had also settled there and soon the town's name was changed to Eastham.

Catherine and Giles had 10 children. The exact date of Giles death is not know but evidence proves that he died sometime between 5 Mar 1688/89, the date a codicil to his will was witnessed and 16 Apr 1690, the date his will was entered in to probate.

Our descent from Giles is the same as for Stephen Hopkins.

You can see the references to Giles in Plymouth Colony at the following link

To follow.... information on our more famous Pilgrim ancestors.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Our Pilgrim Ancestors

As we approach Thanksgiving Day, the stories circulate once again of the first Thanksgiving Feast at Plymouth, Massachusetts. It's interesting to know that we had several ancestors who celebrated that first meal.

Stephen Hopkins was born about 1582 in England and was a tanner (cured cow-hides into leather for shoes, clothing, etc.) and merchant. He was not part of the Pilgrims' congregation but rather on the group of Mayflower passengers the Pilgrims referred to as "The Strangers". He signed the Mayflower compact and served as an assistant to the governor through 1636.

Evidence suggests that Stephen Hopkins had come to America before the Mayflower. He arrived at Jamestown, Virginia in 1609 aboard the new flagship of the Virginia Company, the "Sea Venture". He signed on as the Minister's Clerk to the Admiral of the Fleet. The ship, is desperate need of provisions, intended to stop for supplies in Bermuda. Supposedly, she was deliberately sailed onto the reefs off Bermuda to prevent her from foundering because the ship had been severely damaged in a storm.
Luckily, all 150 passengers and a dog survived the ship wreck.

Stranded on the island, the passengers and crew fitted the ship's longboat with a mast and volunteers set out for Virginia and help. Alas, they were never heard from again.

The remaining survivors built two ships, the "Deliverance" and the "Patience" from tree found on the island and materials salvaged from the wreck of the "Sea Venture".
It seems that patience was not won of Mr. Hopkins' strong suits. He was sentenced to death for trying to start a mutiny. Pleading for mercy based on how his death would destitute his wife and children, he was later freed.

Eventually, both ships made it to Jamestown, where Hopkins stayed for two years before returning to England.

My great-grandfather Frederick Newton Cone proved his descent from Stephen Hopkins and was a member of the Mayflower Society. The Descent goes as follows:
Stephen Hopkins-Giles Hopkins-Stephen Hopkins=Nathaniel Hopkins-Nathaniel Hopkins, Elisha Hopkins-Rhoda Hopkins-Joanna Warner-William Warner Cone-Frederick Naaman Cone-Charles Newton Cone-Charles Newton Cone, Jr. Cecily Louise Cone

Caleb Johnson has written an excellent book about Stephen Hopkins and his adventures entitled "Here Shall I Die Ashore: Stephen Hopkins, Bermuda Castaway, Jamestown Survivor and Mayflower Pilgrim".