Saturday, 26 September 2015

John Prescott (1604-1681) (Week 39) Theme: "Unusual"

For this week's "Unusual" theme, I've asked myself which of my immigrant ancestors brought the most unusual item from Europe to North America. What couldn't be left behind in England? Perhaps it could be William Mullins, my 11th great grandfather, a merchant who brought a full supply of boots and shoes with him on the Mayflower. (William's plan to set up shop selling footwear in the New World ended before it began. He died shortly after arriving at Plymouth.) But, no, the award for most unusual item clearly belongs to my 9th great grandfather John Prescott who brought along a full suit of armour. Either he brought it from England, or as a blacksmith and metal worker, he may have made it for himself after arriving in New England - something that would be equally unusual.

No, not John's actual armour but a "Suit of Armour c. 1530"  from Wikimedia Commons
Carnegie Museum of Art, Gift of Hearst Foundation; Original photo from flickr by Moira Burke

John may have been born in Lancashire, England, although there is some confusion and lack of proof as to exactly where he originated. Unfortunately, no records firmly attached to this John Prescott have been identified for the first two dozen years of his life.

The first definite record occurred when he married Mary Gawkroger Platts in her home town of Sowerby, Yorkshire, England on 11 April 1629.

1629 Marriages (middle column) include 11 April marriage of John Prescott and Mary Gawkroger

Their first five children were born at Sowerby with two dying young.

Google Earth Image showing location of Sowerby, Yorkshire

John, Mary and their three surviving children migrated first to Barbados in 1638 where daughter Hannah was born in 1639. They came to Watertown in what is now Massachusetts in about 1640. Daughter Lydia Prescott (my 8th great grandmother, wife of Jonas Fairbanks) was born in Watertown on 15 August 1641.

John owned 126 acres of land there, but by 1643 he and others purchased 80 sections of land from the Nashaway, an Algonquin tribe of Native Americans. The settlement was known first as Nashaway Plantation and later as Lancaster, MA. "Nashawog" means "land in the angle made by two rivers", which certainly describes the geography here. The area around Lancaster was thought to contain a wealth of minerals to be exploited and several of the men interested in the enterprise, including John Prescott, were workers in iron.

Lancaster, MA sits in the angle where the North and South Branches of the Nashua River meet
Google Earth Image

There was some difficulty in gaining access to their new lands since the Sudbury River posed a natural barrier. The purchasers petitioned the General Court to have a bridge constructed, but this was not a priority for the General Court. Apparently Prescott lost his horse and all its load while crossing the River and when his wife and children tried to cross on horseback a week later, they barely made it across with their lives.

Notwithstanding the difficulties, by 1645, he settled on his land there and is regarded as the founder of the town. Two sons, Jonathan and Jonas, were born there in 1646 and 1648, completing the family.

The original name proposed by the settlers for the town of Lancaster was Prescott  in John's honour, but this was rejected by the General Court as smacking of "man-worship". At the next sitting of the General Court, the name became Lancaster, probably to honour the settlers' English homeland. Even though his name had been rejected, Prescott was the first to subscribe to the town covenant.

Signatories of the town covenant for Lancaster MA include ancestors John Prescott (his signature at the top of the page) and his son-in-law Jonas Fairbanks (name starts inside the circle)
Image from Nourse's "Early Records of Lancaster Massachusetts 1643-1725", 1884, page 25 

Elizabeth Titcomb says in her book that "Mr. Prescott at a very early day became a leading spirit and a prominent and influential man." She says that he "was a man of strict integrity and of great energy and perseverance."

Certainly he made his mark on the community and is frequently mentioned in its records. He had other professions as well as blacksmith - farmer, surveyor, millwright and miller as well as builder and operator of sawmills. Prescott had a millstone delivered to Lancaster in 1653 and this enabled the locals to grind their grain locally rather than having to take it to nearby Watertown. Nourse in his 1884 "Early Records of Lancaster" describes the significance of this venture on page 31:

"The arrival of Prescott's millstone in Lancaster must have been an event of matchless interest to every man, woman and child in the settlement. Until that began its tireless turning, the grain for their every loaf of bread had to be carried to Watertown mill, or ground laboriously in a hand quern, or parched and brayed in a mortar Indian fashion, or hulled and softened with lye and crushed, as is the practice to this day in some regions of North America."  

The value of Prescott's estate by 1654 was in excess of 366 pounds, making him the 2nd wealthiest man in the area. By 1659 he also had  built a sawmill and house in nearby Clinton and a sawmill in Groton in 1667. Describing the significance of Prescott's sawmills to the housing situation in Lancaster, Nourse says on page 57:
"Before Prescott started his saw-mill, all houses of the town must have been rude structures of logs, hewn timber, stone and clay, for it was an impossibility to bring from the lower towns over the existing roads, and on the rude cart of the period, any large amount of sawn lumber. . . . It would be natural at first for builders to rest content with a single story, for few pioneers could afford more; but after 1658, with Prescott's saw-mill in successful operation, doubtless a few more pretentious structures arose. Daniel Hudson, a brickmaker and mason, was here resident in 1651. Nails, large and small, and all other articles of constructive hardware were made laboriously by hand upon the smith's anvil. Paint was unknown. "

There is some suggestion that he served under Oliver Cromwell in England. Some believe this to be impossible because he had moved to New England by the time of the English Civil War, but some of the early settlers did return to England to fight with Cromwell.

As to his "unusual" possession, John is known to have owned and worn a complete suit of armour - coat of mail, helmet, cuirass and gorget. Perhaps it came with him on his original voyage from England or on a return trip after serving with Cromwell - or some have suggested that capable iron worker John fashioned it for himself. In any event, there are some interesting tales that surround it and its owner.

Although the settlers of Lancaster had many amicable dealings with some of the Native Americans, there was understandable discontent brewing among the Native Americans who saw the newcomers expanding their settlements ever deeper into their traditional territories. In some instances, alliances were made with some some Native American tribes to fight others.

According to Elizabeth Titcomb, John would put on his suit of armour whenever he had difficulties with the Native Americans. She says that "He was a very strong athletic man of a stern countenance and upon such occasions he presented a very fierce and frightful appearance."

One particular situation is described in which a group of Native Americans had stolen a horse of John's and he put on his armour and went in hot pursuit. Surprised that he would follow them on his own, a chief approached him with upraised tomahawk. When Prescott told him to go ahead and strike him, the chief did so and was amazed that it made no mark on Prescott's head. The chief wanted to try it out for himself and put the helmet on so that Prescott could strike him. However, the helmet was too small and scraped the sides of the chief's head when Prescott banged on its top, resulting in an increase in Prescott's mystique. John got his horse back.

Another time, the American Natives set fire to Prescott's sawmill. Again, he donned his armour and went out and doused the flames with no fear of ambush.

When they attacked his house, he was well-armed with many muskets but he and wife Mary were there alone. Mary loaded the guns and John discharged them, all the time shouting loud orders as if he had a house full of soldiers. Eventually, the attackers withdrew with their dead and wounded.

Map of Lancaster 1675 - John Prescott's land highlighted in yellow #1 (beside the letter B)
From Marvin's "History of Lancaster" 1879

We have seen that John could be a man of action as well as a capable and practical man of industry. He didn't neglect his community obligations either. He served on a grand jury on 28 March 1673/4 and 20 March 1674/5 and often served as prudential manager or Selectman of the town.

Before the massacre at Lancaster during King Philip's War, he owned about 1200 acres of land in South Lancaster, Clinton, Washacum Pond in Sterling and Groton. The massacre left all the homes burned and some 50 inhabitants dead or captive. John Prescott lost family members including two grandsons and two sons-in-law (including my 8th great grandfather Jonas Fairbanks). The surviving town members left the area for safety in more populated towns for the duration of King Philip's War. They returned in about 1779, with aging John Prescott again taking the lead. At the time of his death in 1681, he still possessed about 700 acres at Lancaster.

He is buried in the Old Settlers' Burial Field at Lancaster. This cemetery is difficult to find down a twisting trail under a railroad bridge. The site has a mystical quality to it, especially on a misty drizzly day such as we enjoyed during our May 1999 visit there.

Old Settlers Burial Ground at Lancaster MA, 24 May 1999

His original headstone is a very crude one ("John Prescott|Decased (sic)") located in front of the large memorial put up some 50 years after his death.

John Prescott Memorial on far left
Old Settlers' Burial Ground, Lancaster 24 May 1999

The larger memorial says: "Here with his children around him lies John Prescott, founder of Lancaster and first settler of Worcester County. Born at Standish, Lancashire, England, died at Lancaster MA December, 1681. Inspired by the love of liberty and the fear of God this stout-hearted pioneer forsaking the pleasant vales of England took up his abode in the unbroken forest and encountered  wild beast and savage to secure freedom for himself and his posterity. His faith and virtues have been inherited by many descendants who in every generation have well served the state in war, in literature, at the bar, in the pulpit, in public life and Christian homes."  (Text by Senator George F. Hoar)

After this death, his favourite matchlock musket gun that he had brought from England (and that Mary had reloaded during the attack on their house) was passed down to oldest son John and through his family line until it was finally donated to the Wisconsin Historical Society in Madison, Wisconsin where it no doubt still resides. Pictures of it can be seen through this link.

So then, what became of his suit of armour after his death? Although there is no specific mention of it in his will, as part of his "movables", it would have first gone to his wife for her lifetime (and although she was obviously a strong and capable woman, one cannot imagine her ever making much use of it). After her death, such movables were to be divided evenly between sons John and Jonathan. No further records or stories have been found of anyone making use of John's suit of armour as he had done in such an unusual manner.

References and Further Reading:

  • Marvin, Abijah P., "History of the Town of Lancaster Massachusetts 1643-1879", Lancaster: Published by the Town 1879 (copy reviewed by the author at the Lancaster Town Library Historical Collection 1999 and now also available online at Google Books at this link)
  • Nourse, Henry S. ed., "The Early Records of Lancaster Massachusetts 1643-1725", Lancaster 1884 (copy reviewed by the author at the Lancaster Town Library Historical Collection 1999 and now also available online at this link.) 
  • Nourse, Henry S. ed., "The Birth, Marriage and Death Register, Church Records and Epitaphs of Lancaster, Massachusetts 1643-1850", Lancaster 1890 (copy reviewed by the author at the Lancaster Town Library Historical Collection 1999)
  • Prescott, William, M.D., "The Prescott Memorial or a Genealogical Memoir of the Prescott Families in America", Boston, 1870
  • Titcomb, Elizabeth, "Early New England People", Boston, 1882, pp 133-213 available online at Google Books at this link

Friday, 18 September 2015

Stukely Westcott (1592-1678) (Week 38) Theme: "Favorite Place"

There can be no one favourite place for me when it comes to my ancestors. Wherever I find them, that is my favourite place of the moment. I've chosen to write about my 9th great grandfather Stukely Westcott this week, not only because he was one of the founders of Rhode Island (which is indeed a lovely place), but also because I continue to find him cropping up in various places in my life.

First Baptist Church in Providence, RI
Congregation first established by Roger Williams and others including Stukely Westcott

I appreciate his memorable first name - no ubiquitous John or William for this Stukely. Perhaps because the name is so recognizable, it has enabled me to discover fellow descendants in unexpected places. I spoke briefly about my discoveries about Stukely at a meeting of the Alberta Family Histories Society in Calgary, Alberta, only to discover that the woman seated beside me was another descendant, as was one other member of that audience. After moving to Victoria, British Columbia, I discovered to my delight that a new friend also has Stukely in her family tree.

It seems that Stukely was his mother's maiden name - she was Mary Stukely (sometimes spelled Stucley). Mary and her husband Stephen Guy Westcott were living in Ilchester, Somerset, England when Stukely was born in 1592.

Location of Ilchester and Yeovil, Somerset, England
Google Earth image
Little is known of Stukely's childhood in Somerset. There is one report of Stukely Westcott being listed in a tithe book for adolescents in 1607 and of his name appearing in 1619 in the Court book list of tenants.

When Stukely was 27 he married Julianna Marchante in Yeovil on 5 October 1619. Their family started to grow with the birth of Damaris in about 1620, followed by Samuel in 1622 and other children including Robert, Mercy, Amos and Jeremiah (my 8th great grandfather) in 1633.

This was a time when religious differences continued to pervade England. Although many years had passed since King Henry VIII had broken from the Catholic Church, there were many Protestant factions that did not feel that the resulting English church satisfied their belief systems. Stukely and Julianna were among those who chose to leave England for religious freedom in America. Stukely sailed from Dartmouth, Devon on 1 May 1635 with wife Julianna, and children Robert, Damaris, Mercy, Samuel (13), Amos (4) and Jeremiah (2). They arrived in Salem, Massachusetts on 24 June 1635. Stukely was named a Freeman of Salem the following year.

By 1638 he was applying for a license to remove his family from the jurisdiction of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. To understand the reason for this, it is necessary to step back a few years.

A man named Roger Williams had come to Plymouth in about 1631 to be their religious leader. Williams, a Baptist, was a man of very definite views and a man of conviction. He believed in separation of Church and State. He also felt that the settlers didn't own the land but that it belonged to the Native Americans. This was not a popular view among the other settlers and there was some talk of shipping him back to England. To escape this fate, Williams fled into the wilderness where he was eventually welcomed by the Native Americans. He made a deal with two of the sachems (chiefs) to acquire tracts of land in the area. Soon he was joined by some of his supporters. On 8 August 1638 Williams admitted 12 loving friends and neighbours into equal ownership with him in Rhode Island at a place they called "Providence" in recognition of its having provided their refuge from persecution. Stukely was in that group. The following year he was excommunicated from his former church in Salem.

Stukely was one of the largest landowners in Rhode Island, owning up to 20,000 acres. He co-founded the First Baptist Church of Providence, was several times chosen "assistant" and was frequently elected deputy to the Colonial Assembly.

First Baptist Church in Providence, RI 1999
Having escaped the religious intolerance of England and then of Plymouth/Massachusetts Bay, the Baptists in Rhode Island were a remarkably democratic people. There was a minimum of government, a maximum of civil liberties and religious freedom for all. One man's faith was considered to be as good as any other's. The town radiated a friendly and cooperative spirit with settlers often addressing one another as "Neighbour". One interesting anecdote shows that although one man's faith was considered to be as good as another's, it had yet to be decided whether this extended to women as well or whether this would go against God's word that women be subject to their husbands. A man named Joshua Verin had forbidden his wife to attend Roger Williams' church meeting as she wished to do. (The families were next door neighbours as can be seen near the top of the map below.) In the end, after much debate, the wife won the right to attend and Verin dejectedly left the community by himself.

Layout of lots in early Providence, Rhode Island
(Stukely's lot highlighted in yellow; other ancestors
were Chad Brown and William Wickenden)

All was not sunshine and prosperity for the new colony despite all the freedom and good will. They had very few resources after fleeing Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay and were struggling to feed and house themselves. The other colonies tried to claim their lands for themselves and the local native tribes were waging war in an attempt to rid New England of the unwanted settlers. Roger Williams was able to broker an alliance with the Narragansett tribe but war against other tribes wiped out the Pequots and peace remained elusive.

In 1642, Williams returned to England and obtained a patent from Parliament for the lands covering essentially all of what is now Rhode Island. However, with Civil War raging in England, it was uncertain whether the land grant made by Parliament would be respected should King Charles prevail. Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay were still eyeing the Rhode Island lands for their own expansion.

Amidst all the turmoil, the settlers did make some progress. Homes were built on long narrow lots (as shown on the map above) giving each family access to water and ample land to plant an orchard, build a house and out buildings as well as provide each with space for their own family burial ground. A visit to this area will show that these lots essentially ran along what is now Benefit Street with each family's lot running sharply uphill.

Benefit Street area of Providence originally settled by Roger Williams
 and his followers including Stukely Westcott
Google Earth Image

In 1647 Stukely moved his family to Warwick, a few miles south of Providence. The Society of Stukely Westcott Descendants of America put up a marker in his honour on his original lot in 1935. When we visited the area in 1999, we tried to locate this marker, but were not having any success. As so often happens in these matters, serendipity was about to lend a hand. When we stopped to ask a local in a residential area of Warwick if he might know where we could find it, he said he certainly did.  He turned out to be the president of the local historical society and gave us a bit of a tour before setting us on the correct path to Stukely's memorial. (He also asked us if by any chance we shared a common ancestor with him - Chad Brown of Providence. I have subsequently regretted not getting his name and contact information after learning some years later that I do in fact also descend from Chad Brown.)

Memorial to Stukely Westcott in Warwick, RI

Julianna predeceased Stukely and is no doubt buried at Warwick, RI. Stukely lived to the grand old age of 84. Unfortunately, notwithstanding many instances of cooperation and good will with the Native American tribes, Stukely was driven from his home by them during King Philip's War. It was said that he was 84, wifeless and infirm when carried to the house of his grandson Dr. Caleb Arnold in Portsmouth where he died 12 January 1677/78.


  • "Genealogy of Rhode Island Families", 2 volume set, Genealogical Publishing Co., Baltimore 1983 
  •, "U.S. and Canada, Passenger and Immigration Lists Index 1500s-1900s"; Place: Salem, Massachusetts; Year: 1636; Page 72
  • Eleanor Wescott Trismen talk of 8 August 1964 quoted from the website at
  • Whitman, Roscoe L., "History and Genealogy of the Ancestors and Some Descendants of Stukely Westcott", 1932, pages 411-412
  • Greene, W.A., "The Providence Plantations for Two Hundred and Fifty Years", 1886

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Elizabeth "Betsey" Carver (1775-1858) (Week 37) Theme: "Large Family"

Elizabeth was generally known as "Betsey". Perhaps she was even better known as "Mother" since she and husband Stephen Westcott were the parents of 13 children. Betsey and Stephen were my 4th great grandparents. Their children (born between 1795 and about 1818) were:
  1. Susannah Westcott 
  2. Polina Westcott 
  3. Almira Westcott
  4. Clark Westcott
  5. Elizabeth "Betsey" Westcott
  6. Phoebe "Polly" Westcott
  7. Nancy Westcott
  8. John Westcott
  9. Stephen Westcott (sometimes with the middle name given as Henry, my 3rd great grandfather)
  10. Morgan Westcott
  11. Barton Westcott
  12. Charles Westcott
  13. Manoah Westcott
(Possibly the couple had one additional child who died in infancy since there is a Westcott baby buried in the same tiny Davis-Dickson cemetery where Stephen will eventually be laid to rest. That child died 19 May 1810 at the age of just 9 days. Stephen's daughter Polina Westcott Davis and her husband will also be buried there many years later. There are only 6 people in total buried in this cemetery, making it likely that the infant was a 14th child of Betsey and Stephen's. Oh, Betsey! 14 pregnancies? By my calculation, you spent 10 or more years of your life being pregnant, so say nothing of the years of breastfeeding and raising this large family.)

Covered Bridge in Foster, RI area

Foster Town House 1796
Photos taken 1999

Of course Betsey wasn't always a mother. She was born about 1775 in Foster, Providence Co., Rhode Island to Oliver Carver and Mary Perkins. When she was about 19, she married Stephen Westcott in Foster. The marriage was performed from his full height of 6 feet 5 inches by Justice of the Peace Daniel Howard. Stephen, born 2 April 1775, was also 19 at the time of their marriage. For both, their earliest childhood years would have occurred during the American Revolution and one cannot help but wonder about the impact of that on their families. No evidence has been found that either had a father who participated directly in the War.

Foster Rhode Island Marriages
(Last entry above is for Carver, Elizabeth and Stephen Westcott, Aug 7, 1794)
Although their earliest children were born in Foster, RI, Stephen and Betsey soon migrated to Butler, Wayne County, NY where they settled on a farm. At the time of their move, this would have been a remote region near Lake Ontario that was just being settled. The War of 1812 would have been occurring around them but we don't have any details of its impact on them. Even after the Erie Canal was built through their area in the mid 1820's, it would have been several miles away from them. In fact, we know very little of the detail of their lives during the period that they were raising their huge family.

There was a Stephen Westcott in the New York State Militia but, with the Westcott family being such a prolific one, we don't know for sure if this was Betsey's Stephen.

Stephen died in 1830 at the age of 55 and is buried in the small private cemetery shown below. Just 6 people are buried here including daughter Polina and Polina's husband and perhaps that 14th child who died in infancy. Some of Stephen and Betsey's younger children would have still been in their teens, but no doubt the older children pitched in to help Betsey in her widowhood.

Stephen's Headstone
Photo courtesy T. E. Camp on Find a Grave website

Stephen's stone reads:
"This stone his memory long shall tell 
which friend stood here in silent grief.
We weep for him they love so well.
Shed such tears as give relief."

Davis Dickson Cemetery holds just 6 graves
Photo courtesy T. E. Camp on Find a Grave website

Betsey would outlive Stephen by 28 years, dying 12 September 1858 at age 82. She is buried in Butler Center Cemetery. We don't know where she spent those final years, but one might assume that someone in her large family provided her with a comfortable home during her long widowhood.

Betsey's Headstone in Butler Center Cemetery
Photo courtesy Joanne MacDougall on Find a Grave website


  • Find a Grave websites for Stephen Westcott, Betsey Westcott and Justice Daniel Howard
  • Vital Records of Rhode Island, page 30, record for Elizabeth Carver accessed online 13 August 2015
  • Whitman, Roscoe L., "History and Genealogy of the Ancestors and Some Descendants of Stukely Westcott", 1932, pages 411-412

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Edward Winslow (1560- c1620) (Week 36) Theme: "Working for a Living"

The suggested theme this week is "Working for a Living". Among my ancestors I can count many preachers, teachers, a glass maker, a tanner or two, a cooper, merchants, carpenters, millers, weavers, fishermen and an abundance of farmers. But there was just one who made a living as a salt extractor. That man was my 9th great grandfather Edward Winslow, father to 5 Winslow men who were early Plymouth Colony settlers. Among them was not one, but two, of my 8th great grandfathers: Kenelm Winslow and John Winslow.

Winslow Family Home in England, "Kerswell"
Photo 1999
Edward Winslow was born 17 October 1560 at Droitwich, Worcestershire, England. In his early 20's he married his first wife Eleanor Pelham and by her had two children, a son Richard and daughter Margaret. After Eleanor died, he married his second wife, Magdalene Ollyver at St. Bride's Church in London, England on 4 November 1594.

Second entry for November 1594 for St Bride's Church is for Edward and Magdalene
From London, England, Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1538-1812
St. Bride's Church at the time of their marriage was an earlier version of today's wedding-cake spired landmark that was designed by Christopher Wren after the Great Fire of 1666. The medieval version was much simpler as can be seen from this segment of a copperplate map prepared just a few years before Edward and Magdalene's marriage there.

Copperplate map of London surveyed between 1553 and 1559
Wikimedia Commons Public Domain

Edward and Magdalene would go on to have a large family:
  1. Edward (passenger on the Mayflower 1620) 
  2. John (passenger on the Fortune 1621, my 8th great grandfather, married Mayflower passenger Mary Chilton)
  3. Eleanor
  4. Kenelm (also my 8th great grandfather, in Plymouth Colony by 1630 where he married Ellen Newton who had arrived on the Anne 1621)
  5. Gilbert (passenger on the Mayflower 1620 but returned to England)
  6. Elizabeth
  7. Magdalene
  8. Josiah (another early Plymouth settler by 1631)
Droitwich, England, has natural brine springs about ten times saltier than sea water. Archaeological evidence indicates that this natural feature has probably been exploited by humans since at least the Iron Age. Certainly the Romans took advantage of it to pay their soldiers in salt during their 400 year occupation of the area. The Domesday Book indicates the high value afforded to Droitwich because of this feature and records 1000 tons of salt a year being produced here.

By the late 1500's Edward Winslow was one of the men who extracted and sold the famous Droitwich salt. A method of evaporation would have been used to get the salt from the brine and the end product would have been in high demand for preservation of food.  This afforded Edward and Magdalene a comfortable lifestyle for their growing family. The family home was named  "Kerswell" and was a very attractive and comfortable dwelling near the small village of Kempsey, not far from Droitwich. It has continued to be inhabited as a beautiful home into the current century. Although the homeowners no doubt tire of Winslow descendants from North America returning "home" expecting to find a museum or other public place, this is definitely a private residence. It was suggested by them that at some point some of these descendants could consider purchasing the home with that in mind. However, with special prior arrangements having been made by my husband as a surprise for me, the owners very graciously allowed us inside on our visit in 2004 - a special treat indeed!

The author inside Kerswell 2004 - touching the beams that Edward touched
Photo courtesy Graham Barnard
In addition to his salt business, Edward also served as under-sheriff of Worcestershire.

No records have been found for the date of Edward's death, but it is thought to be around 1620. Edward's eldest son Richard from his first marriage was undoubtedly the son who inherited all the father's assets under English primogeniture.

Edward's other sons had all started to make lives of their own. Several seemed to be caught up in varying degrees of Puritan zeal. Son Edward, in particular, was active in illicit printing of Protestant Separatist religious tracts and went to Leiden, Holland, as part of the group that went there seeking religious freedom. He and brother Gilbert joined that group when it headed to America on the Mayflower.  Edward became one of Plymouth's leading men, acting as the colony's Governor for a period of time. He often represented the Colony in its dealings with England and returned to England to serve with Oliver Cromwell. He died of yellow fever near Jamaica in 1654 while acting as commissioner of a British naval mission against the Spanish.

1650 Portrait of Edward Winslow, son of the Edward of this Story
Wikimedia Commons
As for the other sons of Edward and Magdalene, Gilbert soon returned to England after coming on the Mayflower. John (my 8th great grandfather) arrived in Plymouth aboard the Fortune in 1621, the second ship to deliver settlers to Plymouth Colony. He married Mary Chilton who had arrived on the Mayflower. John was a wealthy merchant and shipowner. Josiah and Kenelm (the latter being another of my 8th great grandfathers) are known to have arrived in Plymouth before 1630, but no definitive ship's name has been attached to their travels.

Did some of Edward Winslow's Droitwich salt make its way to America aboard the Mayflower or the Fortune with his sons? Although there is no record of this, it would stand to reason that such a necessary commodity might well indeed have been included in the cargo.


  • Wikipedia article about Edward Winslow (the son) accessed 25 August 2015
  • BBC, "The History of Salt Production at Droitwich Spa" accessed 24 August 2015 at
  • Wikipedia article about John Winslow accessed 1 September 2015
  • Willison, "Saints and Strangers" 1945, pages 450-451
  • Colket, Meredith B, "Founders and Patriots - Founders of Early American Families (Emigrants from Europe 1607 - 1657)", 1975
  • Stratton, "Plymouth Colony: Its History and People 1620 - 1691", page 376