There were 102 passengers on the Mayflower including 37 members of the separatist Leiden congregation who would go on to be known as the Pilgrims, together with the non-separatist passengers. Almost half the people on-board the ship were fare paying passengers seeking a new life and not driven by religious convictions.
There were 74 men and 28 women – 18 were listed as servants, 13 of which were attached to separatist families. There are thought to have been 31 children (20 boys and 11 girls) on the Mayflower. The crew were led by Captain Christopher Jones, but it is unknown just how many crew there were.
In addition to the initial 102 passengers, one was born at sea on the way (Oceanus Hopkins) and another was born while they were at anchor (Peregrine White). One of the passengers (William Butten) died on the way to America.
While at anchor off Cape Cod between November 9 and December 8, 1620, four more died, Edward Thompson; Jasper More; Dorothy Bradford and James Chilton. In addition to the above, there were other crew members of the Mayflower (some estimate that there were 30-50 total crew members).
Two of the families on the Mayflower were the Winslows and the Whites.
Edward Winslow was born in Worcestershire, in the town of Droitwich Spa in 1595. His family were involved in the salt production trade and owned a salt. Between 1606 and April 1611 he studied at the King’s School at nearby Worcester Cathedral.
He was one of ten students championed for a scholarship by the Dean of the Cathedral. His admission is listed in the Cathedral Library. He would have studied Grammar, Latin and Greek. This education would mark Winslow out in the Pilgrims and be a factor in becoming a leader in their ranks.
He became an apprentice to a stationer but after a dispute, decided against fulfilling his contract and began to travel in Europe, meeting the exiled English Separatist church in Leiden, Holland, in 1617. These Separatists had fled persecution for their religious beliefs and had settled in Leiden, a kind of refuge at the time, and would go on to plan the Mayflower’s historic sailing in search of the New World and a new life.
Winslow helped the Separatists in their underground printing activities and soon became one of the leading members of the group. He married Elizabeth Barker in 1618, and is listed as a printer in the marriage records.
He became instrumental in organizing the journey to America, helping decide how they would finance the operation with John Carver and Robert Cushman, who we negotiating with merchants in London.
In the summer of 1620, Winslow was among the Pilgrims who sailed from Leiden on the Speedwell, arriving in Southampton to meet the Mayflower, with the intention of both ships sailing to America. It didn’t work out that way and after a stop in Dartmouth the passengers on the Speedwell transferred to the Mayflower at their last stop, Plymouth. It meant that with 102 passengers on board, the Atlantic crossing was extremely arduous and overcrowded.
Winslow travelled with his wife Elizabeth, his brother Gilbert plus a servant called George Soule and a youth named Elias Story. Also in their care was a girl called Elinor More – one of four children from the More family of Shipton in Shropshire who travelled with the Pilgrims.
William White was born in Wisbech and was the son of Edward and Thomasine (Cross)(May) White. He was the uncle of William Bradford’s first wife Dorothy May. Susanna White was the daughter of Richard and Mary (Pettinger) Jackson. Her father leased part of the Scrooby Manor and fled with Bradford to Amsterdam in 1608 to avoid arrest for their beliefs.
In the spring of 1608, William, identified as a shoemaker, was cited for nonconformity and excommunicated from Wisbech St Peters, along with his half siblings Henry May and Jacomine May. William left for Amsterdam in May 1608; his half-siblings joined him the following August.
The May and the White families, both from Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, arrived in the Netherlands around 1608. The marriage of Gov. William Bradford to Dorothy May in 1613 states that she was 16 years old and that she had been living there for about 5 years.
Henry May the Elder stated in 1627 that he had been living in Amsterdam for about 15 years. In June 1608, “Willem Wit” was granted permission to reside within the city, and in August 1608 “Hendrick May” also received permission. In 1611, William White purchased a house in the “new city” of Amsterdam.
William White was a member of Henry Ainsworth’s congregation of Separatists in Amsterdam. His half-brother, Henry May was a leading elder of this congregation.
Susanna was likely born and raised in Scrooby, and her father held a lease for a portion of Scrooby Manor. She may have fled with her father to Amsterdam in 1608, and there married William White.
William and Susanna met in Amsterdam and married there. They were members of Henry Ainsworth’s congregation and were the only members to join the Mayflower group from Leiden. William and Susanna had their son Resolved about 1615.
Bradford notes about the household on the trip across the Atlantic, “Mr. William White and Susanna his wife and one son called Resolved, and one born a-shipboard called Peregrine, and two servants named William Holbeck and Edward Thompson” (Bradford, 442).
The following is an listing of the White and Winslow households aboard the Mayflower: William White 30; Susanna White 25; Resolved White 5; Peregrine White Born at anchor; William Holbeck (Servant to William White); Edward Thompson <21 (Servant to William White); Edward Winslow 25; Elizabeth Winslow 23; Ellen More 8 (Servant to Edward Winslow); George Soule 21 – 25 (Servant to Edward Winslow); Elias Story <21 (Cared by Edward Winslow) and Gilbert Winslow 20 (Brother of Edward).
Then, after landing, disaster struck.
Within weeks, fifty-two of the 102 passengers who had reached Cape Cod were dead, including fourteen of the twenty-six heads of families. All but four families had lost at least one member. Of the eighteen married couples who had sailed from England, only three had survived intact.
Bradford tells us that “Mr. White and his two servants died soon after their landing.” (William White died February 21, 1621.) Likewise, Winslow’s “wife died the first winter,” (March 24, 1621) Bradford, p. 444 and 445.
On May 12, 1621, Susanna White, left a widow with two small sons, married Edward Winslow, whose wife Elizabeth had likewise died.
Edward Winslow eventually became a prominent member of the Plymouth Colony, being elected governor three times. Winslow served as a member of the governor’s council from 1624 to 1647, except for the three times he was governor of the colony (in 1633–34, 1636–37, and 1644–45).
He and Susanna had five more children together, although only two lived to adulthood.
Some Winslow and White ‘Firsts’:
- Peregrine White was the first child born to the Pilgrims in the New World. (Oceanus Hopkins was born on board the Mayflower during the Atlantic crossing.) (The name Peregrine means ‘one from abroad’; a foreigner, traveler or pilgrim.)
- Susanna, was the mother of the first English-born child in New England. “Before the End of November Susanna Wife of William White was delivered of a Son, who is called Peregrine being the first Born since their arrival and I conclude the first of the European Extract in New England.” Thomas Prince, New England Chronology, 1736.
- The wedding of Edward Winslow and Susanna White was the first in Plymouth Colony. “May 12 . was ye first mariage in this place, which, according to ye laudable custome of ye Low-Cuntries, in which they had lived, was thought most requisite to be performed by the magistrate, as being a civill thing, upon which many questions aboute inheritances doe depende, with other things most proper to their cognizans, and most consonante to ye scripturs, Ruth 4. and no wher found in ye gospell to be layed on ye ministers as a part of their office. “This decree or law about mariage was published by ye Stats of ye Low-Cuntries Ano: 1590. That those of any religion, after lawfull and open publication, coming before ye magistrats, in ye Town or Stat-house, were to be orderly (by them) maried one to another.” (Bradford)
- Susanna Winslow was one of only four adult women to have survived to see the ‘First Thanksgiving’ at Plymouth that autumn.
- Susanna Winslow was the First Lady of Plymouth Colony (on three occasions).
- Josiah Winslow, son of Edward and Susanna became governor of the Plymouth Colony in 1673 (the first native-born governor of any of the American colonies). In one of his early administrative actions, he established the first public school in the colony. Susanna became the mother of the first native-born governor of any of the American colonies.
Click the following link to a general summary about Winslows and Whites: