Katherine More

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Katherine More (1586–?) was the youngest daughter of Jasper More (1547–1613) and his wife Elizabeth Smale (sometimes spelled as Small). Katherine was baptised 23 November 1586 and raised in Shropshire, England.[1]

Katherine and her children were at the center of a mystery in early 17th century England that caused early genealogists to wonder why the More children's father, believing him to be Samuel More, would send his very young children away to the New World on the Mayflower in the care of others. It was in 1959, that the mystery was explained. Jasper More, a descendant of Samuel More prompted by his genealogist friend, Anthony Wagner, searched and found in his attic a 1622 document, which detailed the legal disputes between Katherine More and Samuel More and what actually happened to the More children.[2] It is clear from these events that Samuel did not believe the children to be his offspring.[3] To rid himself of the children, he arranged for them to be sent to the Colony of Virginia.[4]

Marriage[edit]

Katherine’s father, Jasper More, was master of Larden, a 1000-acre estate between Much Wenlock and Ludlow in Shropshire, England. Samuel’s father, Richard More, was master of Linley, an estate near Bishop’s Castle, close to the Welsh border.[5]

Jasper More's sons died leaving no male heir.[6] The estates were held in an entail whereby inheritance was restricted to male heirs but Samuel father, Richard, in the marriage settlement paid 600 pounds to Jasper More, so there must have been clear title.[7] It was arranged that Katherine would marry her cousin and indeed, in 4 February 1610, (old date style) Katherine, 25, the last unmarried daughter of Jasper, married her cousin, seventeen-year-old Samuel More.[8]

At some point during this time, Samuel began working in London as secretary to Lord Edward Zouche, privy councillor, diplomat and courtier.[9] Over the next four years, Katherine bore four children: Elinor, baptised 24 May 1612, Jasper, baptised 8 August 1613; Richard, baptised 13 November 1614; Mary, baptised 16 April 1616. All were baptised at St. James parish church in Shipton, Shropshire.[10][11]

Marital problems[edit]

In 1616, Samuel More accused his wife of adultery and, at the direction of his father, Richard, devised a plan to rid himself of Katherine and the children. The adultery was supposedly committed with Jacob Blakeway, a young man near in age to Katherine who lived close by and whose family had been More tenants for several generations. In 1608, Jacob Blakeway and his father Edward, a yeoman had renewed a lease on a parcel of land owned by Katherine More's father, Jasper More of Larden Hall. The manor of Larden Hall was about half a mile from Brockton where the Blakeway family lived.[5]

In a deed dated 20 April 1616, Samuel cut the entail on the Larden estate to prevent any of the children from inheriting. During the long court battle, Samuel would deny that he was the father of the children borne by his wife, Katherine, and stated them to be children of the adulterous relationship.[12] Katherine did not deny her relationship with Jacob Blakeway, stating there was a former betrothal contract with him, and therefore he was her true husband. This would have made her marriage to Samuel invalid. Samuel quotes her words in his declaration, though she could not sufficiently prove by witnesses yet it was all one before god as she sayed. At that time any of the usual witnesses would have been dead.[13]

Custody dispute[edit]

In that same year, by his own account, Samuel went to his employer and a More family friend, Lord Zouche, Lord President of the Council of Wales, Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports and Privy Counselor, to draw up a plan for the disposition of the children.[14] Zouche had been a member of the Virginia Company and in 1617 he invested £100 in an expedition to the Colony of Virginia, which is where the Mayflower was supposed to have landed. It was his actions that were instrumental in putting the More children on the Mayflower.[15][16][17] At that time, children were routinely rounded up from the streets of London or taken from poor families receiving church relief to be used as labourers in the colonies. Any legal objections to the involuntary transportation of the children were over-ridden by the Privy Council, namely, Lord Zouche. Most people thought it a death sentence and indeed, many did not survive either the voyage or the harsh climate, disease and scarcity of fresh food for which they were ill-prepared.[18][19]

Additionally, in 1616, Samuel More, under his father Richard's direction, removed all four children from Larden and placed them in the care of some of his tenants near Linley. The removal was shortly after the youngest child had been baptised which was on 16 April. According to Samuel's statement,[20] the reason he sent the children away was as the apparent likeness & resemblance … to Jacob Blakeway, quoting from: "A true declaracon of the disposing of the fower children of Katherine More sett downe by Samuell More her late husband together with the reasons movinge him thereunto accasioned by a peticon of hers to the Lord Chief Justice of England" and it is endorsed, Katherine Mores Petition to the Lord Chief Justice ...the disposing of her children to Virginia dated 1622".[21] Samuel goes on to state that, during the time the children were with the tenants, Katherine went there and engaged in a struggle to take her children back:[22] Katharine went to the tenants dwelling where her children had been sequestered, and in a hail of murderous oaths, did teare the cloathes from their backes. There were at least twelve actions recorded between December 1619 and 8 July 1620 when it was finally dismissed.[23][24]

Memorial in Provincetown to Pilgrims who died at sea or while the Mayflower was harboured, including Jasper More.

The statement details that soon after the denial of the appeal on 8 July 1620, the children were transported from Shipton to London by a cousin of Samuel More and given into the care of Thomas Weston,“…and delivered to Philemon Powell who was intreated to deliver them to John Carver and Robert Cushman undertakers for the associats (sic) of John Peers (Pierce).[25] for the plantacon (sic) of Virginia…” [26] in whose home they would be staying while awaiting ship boarding.[27][28] Thomas Weston and Philemon Powell were both poor choices, and Thomas Weston especially was quite disreputable. In later years Weston would become an enemy of the Crown.[29] As the agent of the Merchant Adventurer investment group that was funding the Puritan voyage, Bradford states that Weston caused them many financial and agreement contract problems, both before and after the Mayflower sailed. Weston’s Puritan contacts for the voyage were John Carver and Robert Cushman who jointly agreed to find the children guardians among the Mayflower passengers. Carver and Cushman were agents from the Puritans to oversee preparations for the voyage[30] with Robert Cushman’s title being Chief Agent, from 1617 until his death in 1625.[31] Within several weeks of the More children’s arrival in London, and without their mother Katherine More’s knowledge or approval, they were in the care of others on the Mayflower, bound for New England.[21]

After the Mayflower sailed, Katherine made another attempt to challenge the decision through the courts. It was this legal action in early 1622 before Chief Justice James Ley which led to the statement from Samuel explaining where he sent the children and why, the historical evidence for this history.[32]

Samuel More continued to act as secretary to Edward la Zouche and on 11 June 1625, he married Elizabeth Worsley, daughter of Richard Worsley, Esq. of Deeping Gate (in Maxey) in Northamptonshire and cousin to Lord Zouche's second wife,[33] although he was only separated not divorced from Katherine More, there was no divorce as it is known today and neither party was allowed to remarry during the lifetime of the other.[34] On February 1626, Samuel More obtained a royal pardon, possibly to protect himself against accusations of adultery. It is not known if Katherine was still alive at the time of his second marriage.[35]

Court actions[edit]

The case was fought through the English courts over the next four years.

  • The Judicial separation was confirmed after appeal on 8 July 1620. (The More children were taken to London for the voyage)
  • Between July 1620 and early 1622: Katherine petitioned in the Court of King's Bench concerning the whereabouts of her children. By this time three of her four children had died in the New World.
  • In 1622: Samuel More made his declaration in answer to Katherine's petition.
  • On 24 June of that same year, Katherine and Samuel received a separation and neither could marry again until one of them died. Katherine was promised 300₤.[36] Dr. Donald Harris believes that the money paid was in return for renouncing all claims to Larden.[37]
  • In November 1622, the litigation ended. Her signature on that document is the last of what is known of Katherine More.

At one point Jacob Blakeway received a royal pardon for his adultery.[38] Jacob, according to Samuel's declaration: Having obtained pardon, Blakeway, caryed himself more and more insolently ...[and] continued the company of the said Catherine in the howses & about the grounds of the sd Samuel[34]

The More children and the Mayflower[edit]

At the time of the Mayflower's sailing in September 1620, the children were aged between four and eight and classed as indentured servants and were to be labour in the colony of (Northern) Virginia (present day Long Island). This was the Mayflower's intended destination until winter weather forced the ship to anchor at Cape Cod. A number of colonists travelled as paying passengers on the Mayflower. Exactly what explanation was given for the More children's presence is not known as many homeless waifs from the streets of London were sent to the New World as labourers.[39][40]

Mayflower plaque in St. James Church in Shipton, Shropshire commemorating the More children baptism. courtesy of Phil Revell

Three of the Mayflower Pilgrims took responsibility for the children as indentured servants:

  • Elinor More, Ellen More, age 8, assigned as a servant of Edward Winslow. She died in November 1620 soon after the arrival of the Mayflower at Cape Cod Harbor. Her burial place is unknown and may have been ashore on Cape Cod similarly to her brother Jasper several weeks later. With many others who died that winter, her name appears on the Pilgrim Memorial Tomb, Cole's Hill, Plymouth, Massachusetts.
  • Jasper More, age 7, servant of John Carver. He died of a 'common infection' in Dec. 1620 while the Mayflower was in Cape Cod Harbor. He was buried ashore in what is now the Provincetown area. Provincetown has a memorial plaque with his name and that of four others 'who died at sea while the ship lay at Cape Cod Harbor' in Nov./Dec. 1620.
  • Mary More, age 4, assigned as a servant of William Brewster. She died sometime in the winter of 1620/1621. Her burial place is unknown, but may been on Cole's Hill in Plymouth in an unmarked grave as with so many others buried there that winter. As with her sister Ellen, she is recognised on the Pilgrim Memorial Tomb in Plymouth, misidentified after her sister's name as "and a brother (children)" – the statement of calling her "a brother" mistakenly coming from William Bradford's failing memory years after the event of her death.
  • Richard More, age 6, servant of William Brewster. He resided with the Brewster family until about mid-1627 when his term of indentureship expired. This is about the time that his name appears, at age 14, in a census as a member of the Brewster family, in what was called then 'New Plimouth'. By 1628, Richard was in the employ of Pilgrim Isaac Allerton, who was engaged in trans-Atlantic trading.[41][42][43]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Shipton Parish Register – held by Shropshire Archive
  2. ^ Anthony R. Wagner. The Children in the Mayflower (The London Times) 30 June 1959 p. 11
  3. ^ Anthony R. Wagner. The Origin of the Mayflower Children: Jasper, Richard and Ellen More, (Boston: The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, July 1960), vol. 114, p. 163-168
  4. ^ Donald F Harris, PhD., The More Children of the Mayflower, Part III, The Mayflower Descendant, vol. 44, no. 2 (July 1994), p. 20
  5. ^ a b Donald F Harris, PhD., The More Children of the Mayflower, Part II, The Mayflower Descendant, vol. 44, no. 1 (January 1994), p. 12
  6. ^ David Lindsay, PhD., Mayflower Bastard: A Stranger amongst the Pilgrims (New York: St. Martins Press, 2002), p. 2
  7. ^ Donald F Harris, PhD., The More Children of the Mayflower, Part I, The Mayflower Descendant, vol. 43, no. 2 (July 1993), p. 131
  8. ^ Shipton Parish Register Shropshire archive.
  9. ^ Acts of the Privy Council of England, APC Col. p. 38 show Samuel More in Zouche's service as a private secretary as noted in David Lindsay, PhD., Mayflower Bastard: A Stranger amongst the Pilgrims (New York: St. Martins Press, 2002), p.221.
  10. ^ Anthony R. Wagner, The Origin of the Mayflower Children: Jasper, Richard and Ellen More, (Boston: The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, July 1960), vol. 114, p. 164 Parish Record of the Shipton Shropshire Register Society.
  11. ^ Robert Charles Anderson, The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England 1620–1633 (Boston: New England Historical Genealogical Society, 1995), vol. 2, G-O, p. 1282
  12. ^ Donald F Harris, PhD., The More Children of the Mayflower, Part II, The Mayflower Descendant, vol. 44, no. 1 (January 1994), pp. 14, 18
  13. ^ Anthony R. Wagner, The Origin of the Mayflower Children: Jasper, Richard and Ellen More, (Boston: The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, 1960), vol. 114, p. 165
  14. ^ Donald F Harris, PhD., The More Children of the Mayflower, Part III, The Mayflower Descendant, vol. 44, no. 2 (July 1994), p. 109
  15. ^ Liza Picard, Elizabeth's London (Weidenfield & Nicolson 2003). p. 196
  16. ^ Morison & Commager, The Growth of the American Republic (4th Ed., New York, 1950), vol. 1, p. 40
  17. ^ Donald F Harris, PhD., The More Children of the Mayflower, Part II, The Mayflower Descendant, vol. 44, no. 1 (January 1994), p. 14. and (2 July 1994,) vol. 44, no. 2, pp. 108–110
  18. ^ Donald F Harris, PhD., The More Children of the Mayflower, Part III, The Mayflower Descendant, vol. 44, no. 2 (July 1994), pp. 110, 111
  19. ^ R.C. Johnson, The Transportation of Vagrant Children from London to Virginia, 1618–1622, in H.S. Reinmuth (Ed.), Early Stuart Studies: Essays in Honor of David Harris Willson, Minneapolis, 1970.
  20. ^ The More Archive – Shropshire Council
  21. ^ a b Anthony R. Wagner, The Origin of the Mayflower Children: Jasper, Richard and Ellen More, (Boston: The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, July 1960), vol. 114, pp. 165–167
  22. ^ David Lindsay, PhD., Mayflower Bastard: A Stranger amongst the Pilgrims (New York: St. Martins Press, 2002), p. 13
  23. ^ The Shropshire Records and Research Center 1037/10/8 and 9
  24. ^ Anthony R. Wagner, The Origin of the Mayflower Children: Jasper, Richard and Ellen More, (Boston: The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, 1960), vol. 114, p. 166
  25. ^ William Bradford. History of Plymouth Plantation by William Bradford, the second Governor of Plymouth (Boston: 1856), p. 123
  26. ^ Nathaniel Philbrick, Mayflower: A story of Courage, Community and War (New York: Viking, 2006), p. 20
  27. ^ Charles Edward Banks, The English Ancestry and Homes of the Pilgrim Fathers (New York: Grafton Press, 1929), p. 72
  28. ^ David Lindsay, PhD., Mayflower Bastard: A Stranger amongst the Pilgrims (New York: St. Martins Press, 2002), p. 53
  29. ^ David Lindsay, PhD., Mayflower Bastard: A Stranger amongst the Pilgrims (New York: St. Martins Press, 2002), pp.27,28,54,55
  30. ^ Nathaniel Philbrick, Mayflower: A story of Courage, Community and War (New York: Viking, 2006), pp. 21. 26, 42, 135
  31. ^ Robert E. Cushman and Franklin P. Cole, Robert Cushman of Kent (1577–1625): Chief Agent of the Plymouth Pilgrims (1617–1625) (2nd Ed. Edited by Judith Swan Pub by General Society of Mayflower Descendants 2005) p. 87
  32. ^ Anthony R. Wagner, The Origin of the Mayflower Children: Jasper, Richard and Ellen More, (Boston: The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, 1960), vol. 114, p. 164-167
  33. ^ Donald F Harris, PhD., The More Children of the Mayflower, Part III, The Mayflower Descendant, vol. 44, no. 2 (July 1994), p.110
  34. ^ a b Donald F Harris, PhD., The More Children of the Mayflower, Part II, The Mayflower Descendant, vol. 44, no. 1 (January 1994), p. 16
  35. ^ David Lindsay, PhD., Mayflower Bastard: A Stranger amongst the Pilgrims (New York: St. Martins Press, 2002), p. 65
  36. ^ David Lindsay, PhD., Mayflower Bastard: A Stranger amongst the Pilgrims (New York: St. Martins Press, 2002), p.56
  37. ^ David Lindsay, PhD., Mayflower Bastard: A Stranger amongst the Pilgrims (New York: St. Martins Press, 2002), Note 6, p.224
  38. ^ 'Special pardon for Jacob Blakeway, UK National Archives – Patent Roll 15 James. I, 21st part (C 66/2150, no. 5)
  39. ^ Donald F. Harris, PhD., The More Children of the Mayflower, Part I, The Mayflower Descendant, vol. 43, no. 2 (July 1993), p. 124
  40. ^ Morison & Commager, The Growth of the American Republic (New York, 1950), vol. 1, p.40
  41. ^ David Lindsay, PhD., Mayflower Bastard: A Stranger amongst the Pilgrims (New York: St. Martins Press, 2002), pp. 25–27, 102–104, 150–152
  42. ^ Donald F Harris, PhD., The More Children of the Mayflower, Part III, The Mayflower Descendant, vol. 44, no. 2, p. 4
  43. ^ Nathaniel Philbrick, Mayflower: A story of Courage, Community and War (New York: Viking, 2006), p. 26
  44. ^ Douglas Richardson, Plantagenet Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families Katherine More (2004) pgs 515–516.
  45. ^ David J. Cade, The Search for a Royal Descent, Parts I and II", Mayflower Quarterly, The General Society for Mayflower Descendants, (Plymouth, MA.: 2001), vol. 67, pp. 127–134 and (2002) pp. 239 -241