Saturday, July 30, 2016

My Mayflower Connection

Richard Warren is my 10th great-grandfather. His claim to fame is having been a passenger on the storied ship Mayflower, as she sailed from the port at Plymouth, England, to present-day Cape Cod. He was of the London Merchant Adventurers group, rather than the Leiden, Holland religious Separatists group (known as the Pilgrims), and traveled alone, leaving wife Elizabeth and five daughters behind. The identity of his parents is unknown, but it is believed that he was born between 1578 & 1585, probably in Hertfordshire, England, where he was later married.

Elizabeth Walker (daughter of Augustine Walker) and Richard Warren were married on 10 April 1610 in Great Amwell, Hertfordshire, at St Leonard's Church. Little is known of his life prior to the sailing despite much research into the matter. The Warren's had five daughters: Mary in 1610, Anne in 1612, Sarah in 1614, Elizabeth in 1616, and Abigail in 1618. Elizabeth and the girls sailed to the New World to join Warren aboard the Anne in 1623. Two sons were subsequently born: Nathaniel in 1624, and Joseph in 1627.

Along with the Mayflower, the Speedwell was originally meant to transport the Pilgrims from Holland to Cape Cod via Plymouth. She began taking on water, repairs were made in England, and both ships set off. The Speedwell continued to leak, the stores and passengers were transferred to the Mayflower, Speedwell was left behind, and the Mayflower sailed the perilous Atlantic alone. She had 102 passengers and about 30 crew aboard along with a multitude of stores, provisions, furniture, weapons, and tools. The reconstruction of the ship's log, "The May-flower and her log: July 15, 1620-May 6, 1621, chiefly from original sources" (located online at: gives a detailed account of items brought aboard. The list is long and varied and includes a long-boat, one or more smaller boats, beer, whiskey, gin, goats, swine, poultry, sheep, rabbits, and trading goods. The Mayflower was a rather small ship (90 ft long, 26 ft wide, with a tonnage of 180) and was likely crowded, noisy, and uncomfortable during her 66 day voyage.

The Mayflower

The famous "Mayflower Compact", a promise between the settlers to function as a group for the good of all, was signed on November 21, 1620, aboard the ship at anchor in the harbor. In December, Warren was a member of the third scouting party to go ashore where the first encounter with hostile Indians took place.

The first winter at Plymouth Colony was brutal, and fully one-half of the passengers succumbed to disease. Warren received his share of acreage in the Division of Land in 1623, and the family shared in the Division of Cattle in 1627. All seven of the Warren children would live to adulthood, marry, and have large families. Today, there are estimated to be millions of Americans descended from Richard Warren.

Plymouth Plantation Living History Museum

Warren died in 1628. The record of his death is taken from Morton's 1669 book New England's Memorial, "This year [1628] died Mr Richard Warren, who was an [sic] useful instrument and during his life bore a deep share in the difficulties and troubles of the first settlement of the Plantation of New Plymouth". He is buried at Cole's Hill Burial Ground across from Plymouth Rock and overlooking Plymouth Bay.

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