SKETCHES OF MY MAYFLOWER PASSENGERS AND THEIR FAMILIES
So far, I have uncovered connections to my first FOUR family
lines in the MAYFLOWER: ROGERS, HOPKINS, HOWLAND, TILLEY and allied
families. A request to me this spring for information about my
ROGERS' connections from several BBC producers and their subsequent
visit to my home on Cape Cod near where they were they were filming
an upcoming documentary slated for possible release in '99
to the DISCOVERY Channel, led to my preparing a personal sketch of
this family. I have resolved to prepare additional sketches for
the rest. Following is the product of my efforts which were
received kindly enough to having been accepted for publishing in the
Cape Cod Genealogical Society's Summer '98 BULLETIN.
THOMAS AND JOSEPH ROGERS, MY FOREBEARS
Although Thomas Rogers died within the first few months after arriving
in Plymouth, he was a great force in the movement to the New World
from England. He lies buried in the company of the others who died
in Plymouth during that first winter. I am including his son, Joseph,
in this sketch as he, too, was a passenger on the MAYFLOWER who
survived and deserves his place in history.
We assume Thomas was born before 1572 in Watford, Northampton, England
to WILLIAM and ELEANOR ROGERS. He married ALICE COSFORD, the daughter
of GEORGE COSFORD on 24 Oct 1597 and was a "camlet merchant".
(Camlet was an expensive silk/cashmere fabric which dated back at
least to the Middle Ages in France.) Being a merchant in this fabric
must have provided both a lucrative living for the Rogers' family
as well as access to ships' captains, traders and merchants. Rogers
would have been very comfortable with thoughts of moving about over
the seas. According to Leon Clark Hills' HISTORY AND GENEALOGY OF
THE MAYFLOWER PLANTERS (isbn # 0-8063-0775-7), Rogers had a "stall"
in the "Bartholomew Fair". It is more than just suspected that
Rogers was related in some rather close way to the Rev JOHN ROGERS
who was among the 45 "heretics" burned at the stake en masse on
4 February 1555 in Smithfield "for aronyus opinions, with a grett
compene of the gard". This dreadful inferno took place within the
reign of Mary and well within the memory of Thomas' parents. No
doubt, this unspeakable incident must have affected profoundly
the direction of their lives and it must have been recounted many
times to Thomas as "eyewitness accounts".
Thomas was successful enough to have purchased, apparently, shares
in the Virginia Company of London as early as 1609. Most likely,
he shared with others the intention of removing himself to new fields
of opportunity (personal,religious and financial) in the new world.
He is known to have attended at least some Company meetings in 1619
as a special invitation was extended to the "Netherland" group. Such
meetings might have been the assembly "att a greate and General
Quarter Holden for Virginia at Sir Edwin Sandy's Howse neere
Aldersgate Feb. 2, 1620". It is suspected that these meetings
included discussion of a "northern landing".
Thomas' family background has been quite sketchy up to the recent
discovery of the baptismal records for his children in Watford
England. (See Caleb Johnson's MAYFLOWER site on the web). It is
now quite definite that Thomas' son, Joseph was baptized on 23
January 1602/3 and was the first son to come to New England and
survive. (Joseph is the son from whom I descend: Thomas 1,
Joseph 2, John 3, Eleazer 4, Elizabeth 5 who married into the
WILLIAM BASSETT line.) Two other sons, Thomas and Richard, had died
in infancy before Joseph's birth. Thomas and Alice's first son named
Thomas, was baptized 24 March 1598/9 but was buried 27 May of the
same year. The second son, Richard, was baptized 12 March 1599/1600
but was buried 4 April 1600. No doubt the birth of this third son,
Joseph was longed for and he was treasured. Joseph was followed
a few years later in 1606 by another brother, John. His two sisters,
Elizabeth and Margaret arrived in 1609 and 1613. All of the surving
siblings are said by Bradford (pgs 442 and 446) to have come to
America, married and had progeny.
But, back to Leyden: By 25 June 1618, Thomas had become a citizen of
Leyden, sponsored by WILLIAM EPSON and ROGER WILSON. Citizenship
allowed him membership in the guilds which controlled all skilled
employment and independent trade. How else could he continue to make
a good living for his family? Others in this group to obtain
citizenship in Leyden included: Bradford, Brewster, Allerton, Priest,
Masterson and Turner. (SAINTS AND SINNERS by G.F. Wilson 1945).
Rogers became a frequent visitor, along with the other "Mayflower
Planters" and their close friends in 1619 to the house of Sir Edwin
Sandy near "Aldersgate." Later, nearer the final decision time, they
met at Mr Ferrar's house in St. Sithe's Lane.
We now know from recent discoveries of records that Thomas' eldest son,
Joseph, was about eighteen years of age when he came to Plymouth with
his father. What a nightmare it must have been for that young man to
become fatherless an ocean away from home and family just a few weeks
/months after he had endured a "long beating at sea" from September
6 to November 9. Since he was a nearly full-grown man at the time
of the voyage, we can assume that he participated in his share of the
"expeditions" and building chores. (Plymouth.org. site) Joseph
was destined to become one of the leading men of the colony and leave
a large group of descendants. It is said by the family that Gov.
Bradford took him into his home following the death of his father.
Meanwhile, back in Leyden, the 1622 Poll Tax there shows Thomas Rogers'
widow and children living in the "Over 't Hoff" section of Leyden. It
can be deduced that they may have come to Plymouth with the last
of the Leyden contingent in 1629/30. No record has been found at
present to show an actual date, only deductions can be made.
Joseph became a freeman in 1633 before the age of thirty and his
first child of eight children was born that year in Duxbury. Duxbury
at that time was known as an heretical center, harboring Baptists as
well as Quakers. But, unfortunately, this first child, a daughter
Sarah, died in infancy as had his older two brothers in England
thirty-five years earlier. Joseph and Hannah (yet another story) went
on to have a Joseph, Jr baptized 19 July 1635. This Joseph, Jr
eventually married SUSANNAH DEANE on 4 April 1660 and they had a
child, Joseph III. Tragedy surely stalked this family as Joseph Jr
died in a fall on Christmas Day in 1660 while wrestling with his friend,
RICHARD HOWE, less than nine months after his marriage.
My Joseph's next child, Thomas, was baptized 26 March 1638 in Scituate.
The first daughter to survive infancy, Elizabeth, was baptized in Duxbury
29 September 1639. After these four children, Joseph and Hannah (still
another "story")produced another son, John, my progenitor who was
baptized 3 April 1642 in Duxbury. He eventually married into the
"heretical" Quakers through ELIZABETH TWINING.) After those children
came Mary, baptized 27 September 1644 in Duxbury. Then came the
seventh and eighth children, James and Hannah who were born in Eastham.
It may well be that Joseph returned there in part, at least, to having
remembered in his later years that sweet day in November when he
first came upon that "good harbor and pleasant bay, compassed
about to the very sea with oaks, pines, juniper, sassafras and other
sweet wood." It was there that day, he must have witnessed the
"greatest store of fowl", the sweet wood, fresh water and the
signing of the Mayflower Compact by his father and resolved to
return in time.
My Joseph was awarded "two akers" (Plymouth Colony Records 12:4) of
the twenty-nine acres of land on the first list list of land division
in 1623, at the age of about twenty years, for having been a
Mayflower passenger and the son of Thomas, also a passenger.
This land "lye on the South side of the brooke to baywards" and
were from the fields which Massasoit suggested be turned by hand
for crops of wheat, barley, Indian corn and peas to be planted in
early April of that first fateful year. That he was awarded two acres
indicated to me, early on, that Joseph had to be older than eleven
years of age on the voyage of the Mayflower in order to be the recipient
of two acres. Some older men had been awarded but one. This
award, of course, included his father's share, to be sure. In the
later 1627 Plymouth cattle division, Joseph was the fifth person in the
eleventh company. (PCR:12:12) In the rate assessment for 25 March
1633, both he and his brother John were assessed the minimum rate of
9s. (PCR 1:11)
By 1635, Joseph operated a ferry across the Jones River, named after
the Captain of the Mayflower and over which one must travel today
to get to Boston from Cape Cod. He served on a jury in 1636, was
granted another thirty acres in Duxbury in 1638, and became a
Duxbury Constable in 1639. On 6 April 1640, he and his brother, John,
were granted another fifty acres each of upland at the North River.
(PCR:1:144) However, by 1647, Joseph had removed to Eastham and was
made a Lieutenant of the Nawsett Company in order to "organize"
the men there. He lived subsequently very briefly in Sandwich in the
early 1650s, served on the Council of War in 1658 and was relieved
of his lieutenancy by 1661, only to have it reestablished in 1664.
By 1670, he was a selectman in Eastham.
My Joseph's will was probated in Eastham 5 March 1677/8 and a copy
of it exists, bequeathing to his sons Thomas, John and James and
to his wife, Hannah. The daughters were included but with the
exception of Mary who had married JOHN PHINNEY 10 August 1660 in
Barnstable. (His daughter ELIZABETH ROGERS had married JONATHAN
HIGGENS 9 January 1660.) Joseph is buried in the Old Cove Burying
Ground. He provided well for his "Loveing wif hannah Rogers" for "as
longe as shee lives." Interestingly, he bequethed to "Benja higgens
my Grandchild on Condition hee live with mee until I die."
The foregoing is but a mini-capsule of my efforts to come to know
these forebears of mine. The kind of faith these forebears exhibited
is unimaginable to me. What kind of faith sustained them on the
voyage, what courage allowed them to make it through that
devastating first winter, and what fear clouded their lives on a
daily basis! Perhaps this was but another challenge, the like of
which their forebears had been accepting for hundreds of years.
Were they, especially the Rogers Family, inured to their destiny
as they believed it to be?
On the day that the FORTUNE of London arrived under her colors,
(a white ensign bearing the red cross of England) with thirty-five
comparatively healthy passengers on board, Joseph must have had many
deep and even conflicting emotions. Surely, the new arrivals must
have been simply aghast at what they found on the shore awaiting them
and deeply shocked over the loss of those who were no longer there to
greet them. Joseph and those other 51 ragged, starved souls awaiting the
FORTUNE must have had a deep and profound sense of regret,relief,
frustration, joy, disbelief and many other human emotions we cannot
even imagine today, removed as we are from any of these privations.
(However, a sense of utter triumph must have slowly dawned upon them
in the days which followed.) But, what a poignant day that must have
been and truly that day was as much a part of the MAYFLOWER voyage as
One of the passengers arriving on the FORTUNE was the much-married
master mason WILLIAM BASSETT who was forced to give up his place in
the original MAYFLOWER to wait for the next departing ship. Little
did my Joseph know that this man, who might not have survived the
first winter, was to have descendants who would join with his own
descendants to produce me. For this union, I am thankful.
UPDATED INFORMATION ON STEPHEN HOPKINS
STEPHEN HOPKINS: Excellent new discoveries by Caleb Johnson
"INTERVIEW" WITH ELIZABETH TILLEY HOWLAND
A Window Into Pilgrim Life: Anne Morris Mertz excellent "interview" which must not be missed
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