William White (Mayflower passenger)

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Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor by William Halsall (1882)

William White (c. 1580 - February 21, 1621). Accompanied by his wife Susanna, son Resolved and two servants, he travelled in 1620 on the historic voyage of the Pilgrim ship Mayflower. He was a signatory to the Mayflower Compact and perished early in the history of Plymouth Colony.[1][2][3][4]

English origins[edit]

William White has been a difficult person to research, largely because of the commonness of his name in England. Per author Edward Banks, his surname was one of the dozen commonest names in England and his baptismal name one of the four most frequently bestowed in that period, making genealogical research quite difficult. And contrary to internet information about his supposed White family ancestry, per the Mayflower Society Families book, Volume 13, the Society states “Little is known about Pilgrim William White.”[1][4][5]

Further, there is confusion about William White in Leiden. Records reveal that there were two men of that name living there, other than Mayflower William White about 1620 and both appear to have been still there after the Mayflower departed. Aside from the William Whites in Leiden confusion, an additional contributing factor was the name of the wife of one of the William Whites – Ann – which erroneously has connected the Whites with the Fuller family.[1][4][5]

Other evidence of the William White family coming to the Mayflower from England and not Holland comes from William Bradford’s 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 the William White of the Mayflower with Leiden, Holland.[1][4][5]

The Mayflower Voyage[edit]

William White came on the Mayflower with his pregnant wife Susanna, son Resolved, then about five years in age and two servants. Susanna gave birth to their son Peregrine on board the Mayflower several weeks after White signed the Mayflower Compact.[4][6][7]

The White family, as recalled by William Bradford in 1651, per their Mayflower voyage, and the birth of Peregrine: “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.”[8]

Signing the Mayflower Compact 1620, a painting by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris 1899

William White and his wife Susanna and their son Resolved, departed Plymouth, England aboard the Mayflower 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.[9]

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.[9][10]

William White was the eleventh signatory to the Mayflower Compact. His servants William Holbeck and Edward Thompson were not of age and could not sign the Compact.[6][9]

In Plymouth Colony[edit]

William White died late in the first winter on February 21, 1621. With the death of her husband, Susanna White, with newborn Peregrine and five year old Resolved, became the only surviving widow out of the many families who perished that winter. By the Spring of 1621, 52 of the 102 persons who originally had arrived on the Mayflower at Cape Cod would be dead.[6][11]

In May 1621, Susanna White became the first Plymouth colony bride, marrying Edward Winslow, a fellow Mayflower passenger whose wife had perished on March 24, 1621.[3][12] At least five children were born to Edward Winslow and his wife Susanna.[13][14]

And though deceased, in the 1623 Division of Land, White received five acres (akers) “lyeth behind the forte to the little ponde.” (lying behind the fort to the little pond). Edward Winslow, his wife Susanna’s husband since May 12, 1621, received four acres in the same section. White’s sons Resolved and Peregrine were both listed with their step-father Edward Winslow and mother Susanna in the 1627 Division of Cattle, and moved with their parents to Marshfield in 1632.[6][15]

About 1638, the Winslows moved with Susanna’s sons Resolved and Peregrine White, to Green Harbor, now called Marshfield Massachusetts. Edward Winslow later became Governor of Plymouth County, and was also the colony agent in England. In England, his diplomatic skills soon came to the attention of Oliver Cromwell, the new Puritan leader of the country. Cromwell required Winslow head a joint award reparations commission to assess damage caused by Danish ships.[16]

Edward Winslow lived in England the last six years of his life, serving the government there. When his will was written in 1654 as resident of London, the document stated that he left his New England property to his son Josiah “hee (sic) allowing to my wife a full third parte thereof for her life also” so it is probable that his wife did not follow him to London. Edward Winslow died of fever May 7/8, 1655 while on a British military expedition in the Caribbean[17][18][19][20]

There is no trace of Susanna’s death beyond a sales record in 1647, and no further record of Susanna has been found. Though she was the wife of one colony governor and the mother of another, the first bride in the colony and the mother of the famed Peregrine White, she seems forgotten in the records.[21]

The Mayflower Society has refuted the reported maiden surname of 'Fuller' for Susanna White and has determined that the maiden name of Susanna White is unknown. Further, Susanna ____ (White) Winslow, was not the sister of Dr. Samuel Fuller as is often stated. The Samuel and Edward Fuller who traveled on the Mayflower were sons of Robert Fuller of Redenhall, England. Robert had a daughter Anna, born about 1578, far too old a bride for Winslow who was not born until 1595. The 1615 will of Robert Fuller mentions no daughter named Susanna, nor a daughter married to William White. It does mention Alice Bradford, a sister-in-law. In a letter that Edward Winslow wrote in 1623 to “Uncle Robert Jackson”, he provided news of Susanna, her late husband William White, and her children. He also sends his regards to his father-in-law in England, obviously not Robert Fuller who had been dead for nine years.[22]

Another misrepresentation is that William White once lived in Holland. For many years genealogists assumed that William White spent his early married years in Holland, marrying and burying children but no proof that they apply to the Pilgrim William White but rather they probably apply to the William White who was still living there in 1621.[23]

Family of William White and Susanna[edit]

William White married Susanna ____ by about 1615 and had two sons. White died on February 21, 1621. Susanna remarried on May 12, 1621 to Edward Winslow and had five children with him. The death date of Susanna is uncertain – sometime between 1654 and 1675. She was buried in Winslow Cemetery in Marshfield where her sons Resolved and Peregrine White and their wives were buried. Edward Winslow died on a British military expedition in the Caribbean in 1655 and was buried at sea.

Children of William White and his wife Susanna:

  • Resolved White was born in England, about 1615. He died sometime after September 19, 1687. He and his first wife Judith were buried in Winslow Cemetery, Marshfield.[24]
He married:
1. Judith Vassall, daughter of William Vassall, on November 5, 1640 in Scituate. She was born in England ca. 1619, and was buried in the Winslow Cemetery in Marshfield on April 3, 1670. They had eight children born in Scituate between 1642 and 1656.
2. Abigail (____) Lord, widow of William Lord, on October 5, 1674 in Salem. She was born in England ca. 1606 and died in Salem between June 15 and 27, 1682.[4]
  • Peregrine White was born aboard the ship Mayflower late in November 1620 and died in Marshfield on July 20, 1704. He married Sarah Bassett, daughter of William Bassett, by March 6, 1648/9 and had seven children. She died in Marshfield on January 22, 1711.[25]

The fate of the White family as recalled by William Bradford in 1651: “Mr. White dyed soone after ther landing. His wife married with Mr. Winslow (as is before noted). His *2* sons are married, and Resolved hath *5* children, Peregrine tow (sic), all living. So their increase are now *7*.”[26]

Death and burial of the servants of William White[edit]

  • William Holbeck came on the Mayflower as an indentured servant of William White and may have come from the same area of England as the White family, the origins of which have not been found. He did not sign the Mayflower Compact as he was not age twenty-one and was likely a teen-ager. He died without known family the first winter in 1620/21. The name of Holbeck is not especially common and is found in St. Andrews parish, Norwich, where Leiden pastor John Robinson was curate prior to going there. He was known to be a member of the Leiden contingent. He may have been buried in an unmarked grave in Coles Hill Burial Ground in Plymouth as with most from the Mayflower who died in the first winter. His name appears on the Pilgrim Memorial Tomb, Coles Hill in Plymouth.[27][28]
  • Edward Thompson (Thomson) came on the Mayflower as an indentured servant of William White. He apparently was not yet age twenty-one as he did not sign the Mayflower Compact. He died several weeks later on December 4, 1620, being the first to die after the anchoring of the ship at Cape Cod. He was likely buried ashore on Cape Cod in an unmarked grave, as with several others who died while the ship was at anchor there. His English origins remain uncertain due to the commonness of his name but may be associated with his master, whose own origins cannot be determined. His name appears on several memorials in Provincetown on Cape Cod with several other Mayflower passengers who were the earliest to die while the ship was anchored at Cape Cod.[7][29][30]

The fate of the White servants, as recalled by William Bradford in 1651: “Mr. White and his *2* servants dyed soone after ther landing.[26]

Death of William White[edit]

William White died on February 21, 1621. He was buried in Coles Hill Burial Ground in Plymouth, likely in an unmarked grave as with most from the Mayflower who died that first winter. His name appears on the Pilgrim Memorial Tomb (sarcophagus) on Coles Hill. The date of death of his wife Susanna, who became the second wife of Edward Winslow, is uncertain. She was buried in the Winslow Cemetery, Marshfield, as were her sons Resolved and Peregrine and their families. Edward Winslow died on a British military expedition in the Caribbean in 1655 and was buried at sea.[4][31]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Caleb H. Johnson, The Mayflower and Her Passengers (Indiana: Xlibris Corp., copyright 2006 Caleb Johnson), pp. 246-247
  2. ^ Eugene Aubrey Stratton, Plymouth Colony: Its History and People, 1620-1691, (Salt Lake City: Ancestry Publishing, 1986), pp. 25, 405, 412
  3. ^ a b Nathaniel Philbrick, Mayflower: A story of Courage, Community and War (New York: Viking, 2006), p. 104
  4. ^ a b c d e f g A genealogical profile of William White
  5. ^ a b c Charles Edward Banks, The English Ancestry and Homes of the Pilgrim Fathers (Boston: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2006), p. 94
  6. ^ a b c d Caleb H. Johnson, The Mayflower and Her Passengers (Indiana: Xlibris Corp., copyright 2006 Caleb Johnson), p. 247
  7. ^ a b Nathaniel Philbrick, Mayflower: A story of Courage, Community and War (New York: Viking, 2006), p. 69
  8. ^ Eugene Aubrey Stratton, Plymouth Colony: Its History and People, 1620-1691, (Salt Lake City: Ancestry Publishing, 1986), p. 406
  9. ^ a b c Eugene Aubrey Stratton, Plymouth Colony: Its History and People, 1620-1691, (Salt Lake City: Ancestry Publishing, 1986), p. 413
  10. ^ 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
  11. ^ Nathaniel Philbrick, Mayflower: A story of Courage, Community and War (New York: Viking, 2006), pp. 89-90
  12. ^ Eugene Aubrey Stratton, Plymouth Colony: Its History and People, 1620-1691, (Salt Lake City: Ancestry Publishing, 1986), p. 25
  13. ^ Pilgrim Village Family Sketch: Edward Winslow
  14. ^ William Bradford, History of Plymouth Plantation by William Bradford, the second Governor of Plymouth, (Boston: 1856), p. 101
  15. ^ Eugene Aubrey Stratton, Plymouth Colony: Its History and People, 1620-1691, (Salt Lake City: Ancestry Publishing, 1986), p. 416
  16. ^ Nathaniel Philbrick, Mayflower: A story of Courage, Community and War, (New York: Viking 2006), p. 184
  17. ^ David Lindsay, PhD., Mayflower Bastard: A Stranger amongst the Pilgrims, (New York: St. Martins Press, 2002), p. 137
  18. ^ Nathaniel Philbrick, Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community and War (New York: Viking 2006), p. 184.
  19. ^ Ruth Wilder Sherman, 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.), p. 2.
  20. ^ David Lindsay, PhD., Mayflower Bastard: A Stranger amongst the Pilgrims (New York: St. Martins Press, 2002), p. 137
  21. ^ Ruth Wilder Sherman, 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.) p. 2.
  22. ^ Ruth Wilder Sherman, 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.) pp. 2-4.
  23. ^ Ruth Wilder Sherman, 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.), p. 3.
  24. ^ Memorial for Resolved White
  25. ^ Memorial for Peregrine White
  26. ^ a b Eugene Aubrey Stratton, Plymouth Colony: Its History and People, 1620-1691, (Salt Lake City: Ancestry Publishing, 1986), p. 408
  27. ^ Caleb H. Johnson, The Mayflower and Her Passengers (Indiana: Xlibris Corp., copyright 2006 Caleb Johnson), p. 158
  28. ^ Charles Edward Banks, The English Ancestry and Homes of the Pilgrim Fathers (Boston: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2006), p. 59
  29. ^ Caleb H. Johnson, The Mayflower and Her Passengers (Indiana: Xlibris Corp., copyright 2006 Caleb Johnson), p. 233
  30. ^ Charles Edward Banks, The English Ancestry and Homes of the Pilgrim Fathers (Boston: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2006), p. 85
  31. ^ Memorial for William White