As most everyone knows, today, 16 September 2020 is the 400th Anniversary of the departure of the Mayflower from Plymouth, England before it sailed across the Atlantic and made landfall in Massachusetts, in a place those settlers called “Plymouth Rock.”
I knew that I had American ancestors, because my grandmother Stephanie Treffry (whom some of you have met elsewhere on this website) was half American. Her mother was Mary Emelin Davis, daughter of George Washington Davis of Acworth, New Hampshire.
One day, about six years ago when I had nothing better to do, I followed the leaves on ancestry.com, that led me to the discovery that my sister and I have 5 relatives on that Mayflower. I was so sure that my American relatives had shown up on these shores in the Speedwell, or some other boat. But no. We are (despite our British accents & manners) American Royalty!
So who were our relatives?
They were ISAAC ALLERTON (1586-1659), great-grandson of Sir William Allerton of Allerton near Dartington, Devonshire. Unfortunately, Isaac was not the most moral person in the world. He is most famous for marrying Fear Brewster, the daughter of William Brewster, who became the leader of the new community in Massachussetts. And for bilking his fellow colonists of money.
But before he married Fear, he married MARY NORRIS (1588-1622), daughter of Sir Edward Norris of Rycote, Oxfordshire. Mary Norris died on 25 February 1622 in Plymouth Massachusetts, after a harsh New England winter during which the colonists were near to starvation.
Also on the Mayflower, were their three children: BARTHOLOMEW (born 1612, and therefore around 7 or 8 years old), REMEMBER (born 1614, and therefore around 5 or 6 years old), and MARY (born 1616, and therefore 3 or 4 years old.) My sister and I are descended from little Mary, who died in 1699 at the ripe old age of 83, in Plymouth Massachusetts, the last surviving Mayflower Pilgrim.
You can imagine how astonished (and delighted) I was. Everyone loves to have famous ancestors, even those who don’t behave in ways we would wish…like King John the Bad (1167-1216).
But that is a story for another time.