Peregrine White (c. late November 1620 – July 20, 1704) was the first known English child born to the Pilgrims in America. His parents, William White and his pregnant wife Susanna, with their son Resolved White and two servants, came on the historic voyage of the Pilgrim ship Mayflower in 1620. Peregrine White was born while the Mayflower lay at anchor in the harbor at Cape Cod. In later life he became a person of note in Plymouth Colony, active in both military and government affairs.
Peregrine White was the second son of Mayflower Pilgrim William White and his wife Susanna. The Mayflower Society states that her surname is unknown. His mother Susanna was pregnant during the Mayflower voyage and gave birth to Peregrine in late November 1620 while the ship was anchored at Cape Cod, now Provincetown Harbor.
The name Peregrine is derived from the Latin word peregrinus, which means "pilgrim".
The Whites are believed to have boarded the Mayflower as part of the London merchant group, and not as members of the Leiden Holland religious movement. Evidence of the William White family coming to the Mayflower from England and not Holland comes from William Bradford’s Mayflower passenger list which has "Mr. William White" in his section for London merchants along with Mr. Christopher Martin, Mr. William Mullins, Mr. Stephen Hopkins, Mr. Richard Warren and John Billington. It is believed that if William White had been a member of the Leiden congregation, his name would have appeared in Bradford’s work for that section, but it does not. There is no evidence to associate William White and his family with Leiden, Holland. And regarding the various White family ancestries which erroneously place the William White family in them, the Mayflower Society states that “Little is known about William White.”
The White family, as recalled by William Bradford in 1651: “Mr. William White, and Susana, his wife, and one sone, called Resolved, and one borne a ship-bord, called Peregriene; and *2* servants, named William Holbeck and Edward Thomson.”
The Mayflower departed Plymouth, England 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. 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 Plymouth Colony
Peregrine White’s father William White, died on February 21, 1621. With her husband's death, Susanna White, with her newborn son Peregrine and five-year-old Resolved, became the only surviving widow out of the many families who perished that first winter. On May 12, 1621 Peregrine’s mother Susannah married widower Edward Winslow, a Mayflower and later a Plymouth colony notable with whom she had five children, one of whom was Josiah Winslow, future Plymouth governor.
In the 1627 Division of Cattle, both Resolued (sic) and his brother Peregrine were listed in the Third Lot under Capt. Standish in the family of Edward Winslow, his wife Susanna Winslow and their sons Edward and John Winslow.
In 1636, the family, now numbering 6 - Edward and Susanna White Winslow, Resolved and Peregrine White, and the two children born to Edward and Susanna, Josias and Elizabeth Winslow - moved to the new settlement of Marshfield, north of Plymouth.
Peregrine served in the militia at age 16 and continued to serve, first as a lieutenant and then a captain. He was also a farmer. At some point he also served his community as a representative to the General Court.
Peregrine in-laws, the Bassets, had a great deal of land in Marshfield and Peregrine and Sarah moved there, eventually buying several adjacent pieces of property as the years progressed.
In 1655 he was granted land as the “first of the English that was borne in these ptes.”
On June 16, 1656 as written, William Bassett Sr. of Duxborrow (sic), now living at Bridgewater, gave his lands in Scituate to his sons Peregrine White and Nathaniel Bassett.
On October 2, 1658 he was chosen to the council of war.
On June 3, 1662 Peregrine was chosen deputy for Marshfield.
On August 19, 1674 Peregrine White of Marshfield deeded son Daniel White, in consideration of his intended marriage, various buildings and lands in Marshfield from the time of his death, except if he died before his wife Sarah and Daniel was to pay monies to sister Sarah and Mercy when they became or married.
On May 22, 1696 Capt. Peregrine White “the first born Child of New England born November 1620” was admitted into the Marshfield Church in his 78th year. At age 78, Peregrine officially joined the Marshfield church.
Peregrine White married before March 6, 1648/9 Sarah Bassett, daughter of William and Elizabeth/Elisabeth _____ Bassett. William Bassett came to Plymouth in 1621 on the Fortune as a single man, but by the 1623 division was allotted two acres showing he had married before that date. Bassett’s name as “Wm Bassett, Sen” appears on the 1643 Able to Bear Arms list for Duxborrow (sic). William Bassett became a Plymouth Colony person of historic note.
Children of Peregrine White and his wife Sarah:
- Daniel White, born c.1649 and died in Marshfield on May 6, 1724, noted in records as being either 70 or 75. He married in Marshfield on August 19, 1674 Hannah Hunt, who was last known to be living on May 25, 1721. They had seven children.
- (child) White, born c.1650/1.
- Jonathan White, born in Marshfield on June 4, 1658. He died in Yarmouth between July 14, 1736 and February 22, 1737.
Jonathan White married twice:
- Married in Yarmouth February 2, 1682/3 Hester Nickerson, daughter of Nicholas and Mary Nickerson. She was born in Yarmouth in the last week of October 1656 and died there on February 8, 1702/3. They had seven children.
- Married _____ Elizabeth _______. She died in Yarmouth on April 12, 1718 “wife of Jonathan White.”
- Peregrine White (Jr.), born in Marshfield c.1661, baptized at Brattle Street Church, Boston, on February 16, 1723/4, “aged 62” and died in Boston on November 20, 1727 “aged 66.”.
Peregrine White Jr. married twice:
- Married c.1684 Susanna ______. They had one son.
- Married before June 9, 1696 Mary _______. She died after March 13, 1755. She married second in Boston on December 19, 1728 Cornelius Judevine.
- Sarah White, born in Marshfield in October, 1663 and died in Scituate on August 9, 1755 in her 92nd year. She married in Scituate in January 1688/9 Thomas Young, son of George and Hannah (Pinson) Young. He was born in Scituate on November 5, 1663 and died there on December 25, 1732 at age 69. They had nine children.
- Sylvanus White, born in Marshfield before 1667 and died in Scituate before June 29, 1688. He married Deborah _____, who died after June 30, 1688. She was possibly the daughter of Richard and Elizabeth (Warren) Church, who was born in Hingham January 27, 1656/7. They had one son.
- Mercy White, born c.1670 and died in Marshfield on June 12, 1739, age 69. She married in Marshfield on February 3, 1697 William Sherman, son of William and Desire (Doty) Sherman. She was a descendant of Pilgrim Edward Doty. They had four children.
In 1704 - The will of Peregrine White (which is owned by and displayed at Pilgrim Hall in Plymouth), dated July 14, 1704 and proved August 14 of the same year states: Peregrine White of Marshfield…..Being aged and under many Weaknesses and Bodily Infirmities devised to his wife Sarah everything not otherwise disposed of by the will to his eldest son Daniel …personal items and land .. as well as various personal items and land to daughters Sarah and Mercy and sons Jonathan and Peregrine. His will was signed with the initials PW “The mark of Peregrine White” who was then aged almost 84 years.
Death and burial
Peregrine White died on July 20, 1704 in Marshfield, Massachusetts at age 83 years and 8 months. He was buried in Winslow Cemetery in Marshfield, Massachusetts. His wife Sarah died on January 22, 1711 and was also buried in Winslow Cemetery. Additionally, Peregrine’s elder brother Resolved White, his wife Judith and their mother Susannah were all buried in Winslow Cemetery. Winslow Cemetery has a substantial stone monument to “The Early Settlers of Green Harbor Marshfield” naming, among others, Resolved and Peregrine White, their wives and mother Susannah as well as her second husband Edward Winslow.
Marshfield vital records note the death of “Capt. Peregrine White” on “July ye 20:1704” and the ‘Boston Newsletter’ of Monday July 31, 1704 gives the following obituary: "Marshfield, July, 22 Capt. Peregrine White of this town, Aged Eighty three years, and Eight Months; died the 20th Instant. He was vigorous and of a comly Aspect to the last; Was the Son of Mr. William White and Susanna his Wife;’ born on board the Mayflower, Capt. Jones Commander, in Cape Cod Harbour. Altho’ he was in the former part of his Life extravagant; yet was much Reform’d in his last years; and died hopefully.”
- Johnson 2006, p. 247.
- Stratton 1986, pp. 79, 365, 370, 406, 408.
- A genealogical profile of William White (Peregrine)
- Stratton 1986, p. 21.
- Banks 2006, p. 94.
- Stratton 1986, p. 406.
- Allison Lassieur, Peter McDonnall The voyage of the Mayflower (Pub. Capstone Press, ©2006 Mankato, Minnesota)
- Stratton 1986, p. 413.
- Bowman 1920, photocopies of the 1622, 1646 and 1669 versions of the document.
- Philbrick 2006, pp. 89-90.
- Sherman 2006, p. 5.
- Stratton 1986, pp. 421-422.
- Sherman 2006, p. 8.
- Pilgrim Hall Museum Peregrine White
- Sherman 2006, p. 9.
- Stratton 1986, p. 193.
- Stratton 1986, p. 371.
- Young 1842, p. 148.
- Sherman 2006, pp. 8, 9, 10.
- Banks 2006, p. 106.
- Stratton 1986, pp. 439, 441, 442.
- Stratton 1986, p. 370.
- Sherman 2006, p. 14.
- Sherman 2006, p. 10.
- Sherman 2006, p. 16.
- Sherman 2006, p. 17.
- Sherman 2006, p. 19.
- Sherman 2006, p. 20.
- Sherman 2006, p. 13.
- Pilgrim Hall Museum Wills and personal items index
- Memorial for Peregrine White
- Banks, Charles Edward (2006). The English Ancestry and Homes of the Pilgrim Fathers: who came to Plymouth on the Mayflower in 1620, the Fortune in 1621, and the Anne and the Little James in 1623. Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Co.
- Bowman, George Ernest (1920). The Mayflower Compact and its signers. Boston: Massachusetts Society of Mayflower Descendants.
- Johnson, Caleb H. (2006). The Mayflower and Her Passengers. Indiana: Xlibris Corp.
- Philbrick, Nathaniel (2006). Mayflower: A story of Courage, Community and War. New York: Viking.
- Sherman, Ruth Wilder, CG, FASG and Robert Moody Sherman, CG, FASG. Re-edited by Robert S. Wakefield, FASG, Mayflower Families through Five Generations: Descendants of the Pilgrims who landed at Plymouth, Mass. December 1620. Vol. 13: Family of William White. Pub. General Society of Mayflower Descendants 2006 3rd Ed.
- Stratton, Eugene Aubrey (1986). Plymouth Colony: Its History and People, 1620-1691. Salt Lake City: Ancestry Publishing.
- Young, Alexander (1842). Chronicles of the Pilgrim Fathers of the Colony of Plymouth from 1620-95. Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown.
- "The General society of Mayflower descendants: meetings, officers and members arranged in state societies, ancestors and their descendants General Society of Mayflower Descendants (The De Vinne press, 1901), p. 441