Mary Chilton

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Mary Chilton leaping onto Plymouth Rock before the other Pilgrims
Site of Mary Chilton Winslow's home on Spring Lane in Boston
Mary Chilton Winslow's burial site in the Winslow tomb at King's Chapel Burying Ground

Mary Chilton (1607 – c.April 1679) was a Pilgrim and purportedly the first European woman to step ashore at Plymouth, Massachusetts.


Mary Chilton was baptized on May 31, 1606 in Sandwich, Kent, England and was the daughter of the Mayflower passenger, James Chilton. Mary Chilton's mother's name has been listed as "Susannah, possibly Furner" in many places. She is listed by William Bradford as "Mrs. Chilton" or "James Chilton's wife." He may have never known her given name.[1] At the age of thirteen, Mary Chilton accompanied her parents on the voyage to Plymouth. Her father, age sixty-four, was the oldest passenger on the Mayflower.[2]

Her father passed on December 18, 1620 and her mother passed six weeks later on January 21, 1621, both shortly after arriving at Plymouth Rock, both of "the first infection of the disease" reportedly by Governor William Bradford in 1650. Once orphaned, she may have become the ward of Myles Standish or John Alden. Chilton was given three shares in the land division of 1623, one for herself and one each for her deceased parents. Her property was situated between those of Standish and John Howland.[3]

She was one of eleven minor girls on the Mayflower, nine of whom survived the first year at Plymouth Rock and would have been present at the time of the famous First Thanksgiving in 1621. In contrast, only four of the 14 adult women survived the first year.[3]

She married John Winslow (possibly on October 12, 1624) and thus became the sister-in-law of Mayflower passenger Edward Winslow. They had ten children: John, Susannah, Mary, Edward, Sarah, Samuel, Joseph, Isaac, an unnamed child who probably died in infancy, and Benjamin. All but Benjamin married, and Benjamin's birth is the only one listed in the records of Plymouth colony.[3]

The family moved to Boston some time after the birth of Benjamin in 1653. There John Winslow is said to have prospered as a merchant.

She made out a will on July 31, 1676 (one of two female passengers from the Mayflower who did so, Elizabeth Tilley being the other) and died before May 1, 1679 in Boston.


By legend, Mary Chilton was the first passenger to step ashore at Plymouth, seemingly so excited that she jumped out of the small boat and waded ashore onto "Plymouth Rock."[4]

The Chilton Club, a private social club in Boston, MA, was named in her honor.[5]

Notable Descendants[edit]

Notable descendants of Mary Chilton include First Lady Lucretia Garfield,[6] Howard Dean,[7] Christopher Van Hollen, Jr., US Congressman from Maryland, Jessica Deahl.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Biographical Summary of James Chilton at
  2. ^ Pilgrim Hall Museum, Chilton information, accessed Oct. 2009
  3. ^ a b c Eugene Aubrey Stratton, Plymouth Colony, its history & people, 1620-1691, (Ancestry Publishing, 1986) pg. 262 [1]
  4. ^ Samuel Adams Drake, A book of New England legends and folk lore in prose and poetry. Illustrated by F. T. Merrill (Roberts Brothers, 1884) pg. 379 [2]
  5. ^ Samuel Hornblower. Fifteen Minutes: The Old Boys' Clubs. Harvard Crimson. April 27, 2000.
  6. ^
  7. ^ Reitwiesner, William. "Ancestry of Howard Dean". 

External links[edit]