Dr. Patricia Moseley Stanford

English Homes of the Pilgrims Map



by Ruth Godfrey Donovan

The "Mayflower" sailed from Plymouth, England, September 6, 1620, with 102 people aboard.

Among the passengers standing at the rail, waving good-bye to relatives and friends, were at least thirty children. They ranged in age from Samuel Eaton, a babe in arms, to Mary Chilton and Constance Hopkins, fifteen years old. They were brought aboard for different reasons. Some of their parents or guardians were seeking religious freedom. Others were searching for a better life than they had in England or Holland. Some of the children were there as servants. Every one of the youngsters survived the strenuous voyage of three months.

As the "Mayflower" made its way across the Atlantic, perhaps they frolicked and played on the decks during clear days. They must have clung to their mothers' skirts during the fierce gales the ship encountered on other days.

Some of their names sound odd today. There were eight-year-old Humility Cooper, six-year-old Wrestling Brewster, and nine-year-old Love Brewster. Resolved White was five, while Damans Hopkins was only three. Other names sound more familiar. Among the eight-year-olds were John Cooke and Francis Billington. John Billington, Jr. was six years old as was Joseph Mullins. Richard More was seven years old and Samuel Fuller was four. Mary Allerton, who was destined to outlive all others aboard, was also four. She lived to the age of eighty-three.

The Billington boys were the mischief-makers. Evidently weary of the everyday pastimes, Francis and John, Jr. went in search of excitement one day and found it in the space occupied by their family. Their father was not around. Francis took some gunpowder and made pellets. Placing them in the father's gun, he shot it off. A small barrel of powder lay nearby. It caught on fire! Many passengers were nearby but fortunately they escaped harm. Quick action brought the fire under control.

Another exciting event was the birth of a baby while the "Mayflower" was at sea. The son of Stephen and Elizabeth Hopkins, he was appropriately named Oceanus.

Another baby, Peregrine White, was born as the "Mayflower" lay at anchor near Provincetown, Massachusetts. Because this baby boy was the first English child born in "those parts," the General Court in 1665 granted him 200 acres of land. He lived until 1703.

Mary Chilton, fifteen, was destined to have her name in the history books. After the long voyage and the decision to settle at Plymouth, Massachusetts, the Pilgrims finally disembarked. In some later stories Mary Chilton was given the honor of being the first to step on Plymouth Rock.