Moses Fletcher (Mayflower passenger)
Moses Fletcher was a Separatist who was from Sandwich, Kent in England. At his marriage in 1589, it was recorded he had been born about 1564/5, making him one of the oldest Mayflower passengers, along with James Chilton, who was also from Canterbury/Sandwich in Kent.
Life in England 
From 1604 to 1609 he was the sexton of St. Peters Church in Sandwich, which entailed maintaining the church buildings and the surrounding churchyard. But while in that position he was excommunicated by the church three times. Two of those three punishments were caused by his participation in illegal burials (the Separatists did not respect others rituals), one of those being for his daughter Judith. Judith’s death caused Moses to be excluded from church sacraments and services for burying her without the ritual of the Church of England.
Moses Fletcher, along with James Chilton’s wife, was accused of having attended the burial of a child performed outside of the Church of England, and so excommunication proceedings were commenced. Shortly thereafter, he and other from the Sandwich (Separatist) congregation moved to Leiden and joined the Puritan community.
Life in Holland 
By December 1613 Moses Fletcher and his family moved to Leiden, Holland, the center of the English Separatist community. He appears to have continued his trade as blacksmith there, as he identified his occupation as “smith” in his betrothal to his second wife. It is believed that here Moses met James Chilton, who was also a Mayflower passenger, as well as other Separatists who later went to Holland, and so became part of the English Leiden religious company.
On the Mayflower and death in Plymouth 
Moses Fletcher departed Plymouth, England aboard the Mayflower on September 6/16, 1620. The small, 100-foot ship had 102 passengers and a crew of about 30-40 in extremely cramped conditions. By the second month out, the ship was being buffeted by strong westerly gales, causing the ship‘s timbers to be badly shaken with caulking failing to keep out sea water, and with passengers, even in their berths, lying wet and ill. This, combined with a lack of proper rations and unsanitary conditions for several months, attributed to what would be fatal for many, especially the majority of women and children. On the way there were two deaths, a crew member and a passenger, but the worst was yet to come after arriving at their destination when, in the space of several months, almost half the passengers perished in cold, harsh, unfamiliar New England winter.
On November 9/19, 1620, after about 3 months at sea, including a month of delays in England, they spotted land, which was the Cape Cod Hook, now called Provincetown Harbor. And after several days of trying to get south to their planned destination of the Colony of Virginia, strong winter seas forced them to return to the harbor at Cape Cod hook, where they anchored on November 11/21. The Mayflower Compact was signed that day.
In William Bradford’s appended list of The names of those which came over first, in ye year 1620 he groups together ten males, of whom he includes no further information, with “Moyses” Fletcher heading the list. Later in Bradford’s account of the decreasing & increasing of these persons” “Moyses” Fletcher heads the paragraph of those who dyed sone (soon) after their arrival, in the generall sickness that befell. But the rest left no posteritie (descendants) here. No further mention is made of Moyses (Moses) by Bradford nor is he mentioned in the journal of the first years known as Mourt’s Relation, that was published in 1622. He is however, included in Nathaniel Morton’s 1669 New England’s Memorial list of those who signed the Mayflower Compact.
Moses Fletcher’s children remained in Holland and married there. Since 1972 a few modern descendants of Moses Fletcher have been identified. None of his children are known to have come to America. His descendants today are Dutch.
Moses Fletcher was buried in 1621 in Coles Hill Burial Ground, Plymouth in an unmarked grave as were all who died that winter. He is named on the Pilgrim Memorial Tomb, Plymouth, Massachusetts. The burial place of his wife Mary is unknown as is that of his second wife Sarah.
There are no known portraits, estate inventories, wills or personal belongings extant for Moses Fletcher.
Moses Fletcher married:
(1) Mary Evans on October 30, 1589 at St. Peters, Sandwich, Kent. They had ten children. She died possibly in 1613 with her husband remarrying shortly thereafter.
(2) Sarah (_____) Denby, widow of William Denby, also from England, on December 21, 1613. Moses Fletcher would have been about 49 years old at this time. There are no recorded children of this marriage.
Of his children, only John, Priscilla and Elizabeth are known to have married. None of the children are known to have come to the New World.
- Mary, baptized January 4, 1589/90. No further record.
- John, born about 1592. Married Josina Sarcharias, in Leiden December 5, 1618. Had at least four children. He died after February 13, 1656.
- Catherine, baptized September 1, 1594. No further record.
- Richard, baptized January 2, 1596/7. No further record.
- Priscilla, baptized March 24, 1599/1600. She married in Leiden (1) Thomas Coit, an English soldier, April 4, 1626, as his second wife and had four children. She married (secondly) Help or Solomon Terry June 1, 1637 and had one daughter. She married (3) Jan Janzoon Vermont July 29, 1652.
- Moses, baptized October 10, 1602. Died as an infant - buried April 21, 1603.
- Elizabeth, baptized April 4, 1604. In Leiden she married first Casper Barnaat and secondly Michiel Voorchoren May 21, 1636 and had four children. She died after September 21, 1677.
- Jane, baptized February 8, 1606/7. No further record.
- Moses, baptized April 2, 1609. No further record.
- Judith, died as an infant - buried on November 6, 1609.
The General Society of Mayflower Descendants lists fourteen members claiming descent from Moses Fletcher and his wife Mary. All of the lines are through his daughter Priscilla.
- Robert Charles Anderson, Pilgrim Village Family Sketch: Moses Fletcher (a collaboration between American Ancestors and New England Historic Genealogical Society)
- Moses Fletcher at plimoth.org
- Memorial for Moses Fletcher
- William Bradford, History of Plymouth Plantation by William Bradford, the second Governor of Plymouth (Boston: 1856), p. 449, 452
- Charles Edward Banks. The English Ancestry and Homes of the Pilgrim Fathers (New York: Grafton Press, 1929), p. 54
- Junior PA Mayflower
- Robert Moody Shennan, CG, FASG and Verle Delano Vincent Revised by Robert S. Wakefield, FASG. Mayflower Families Through Five Generations Descendants of the Pilgrims who landed at Plymouth, Massachusetts, Dec. 1620 Vol. 15 Family of James Chilton (General Society of Mayflower Descendants: 1997), p. 1
- Eugene Aubrey Stratton. Plymouth Colony: Its History and People, 1620-1691, (Salt Lake City: Ancestry Publishing, 1986), p. 413
- George Ernest Bowman, The Mayflower Compact and its signers, (Boston: Massachusetts Society of Mayflower Descendants, 1920), Photocopies of the 1622, 1646 and 1669 versions of the document pp. 7-19.
- Mary Evans Fletcher