Mary Chilton: The First European Woman to Step Onto Plymouth Rock

August 5, 2022 | Boston, MA

Site of John & 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 in Boston, MA

Mary Chilton and John Winslow were my 9th Great Grandparents.

John and Mary Chilton Winslow > Susanna Winslow > Hannah Latham > Ebenezer Washburn Sr > Miles Washburn > Sarah “Sally” Washburn > Jacob Tubbs > Peter Stillman Cottrell Tubbs > John Herbert Tubbs

From Wikipedia:

Mary Chilton (May 31, 1607 – May 16,1679) was a Pilgrim and purportedly the first European woman to step ashore at Plymouth, Massachusetts.

“The Landing of the Pilgrims” (1877) by Henry A. Bacon. This painting is in the Pilgrim Hall Museum, Plymouth, Massachusetts.

Mary Chilton was baptized on May 31, 1607 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 died on December 18, 1620, while the Mayflower was anchored in Provincetown Harbor, and her mother died six weeks later on January 21, 1621, shortly after arriving at Plymouth. Both died of “the first infection of the disease” reported 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]

John Winslow was my 9th Great Grandfather.

John Winslow (1597–1674) was one of several Winslow brothers who came to the Plymouth Colony in its earliest years. His brothers Edward and Gilbert were passengers on the Mayflower in 1620. John Winslow was a passenger on the Fortune in 1621, and two other brothers, Kenelm and Josiah, also settled in New England, arriving before 1632. The Winslow family were involved in all aspects of the Plymouth Colony, producing in the 17th century several governors and making their mark in New England history in both government and business.

John Winslow was born April 16, 1597, in Droitwich, Worcestershire, England.[2] He grew up in Droitwich, Worcestershire, residing there with his parents, Edward Winslow and Magdalene Oliver/Ollyver, one step-brother, four brothers and two sisters. His father was a salt extractor.

Winslow was a brother of Pilgrim leader Edward Winslow and came to Plymouth in 1621 on the ship Fortune. He was unmarried upon his arrival.[5][6]

Winslow is next mentioned in the 1623 Division of Land, John Winslow, as a single person, had one aker (acre) assigned to him.[7][8][9] In 1626 his name appears on the 53-name list of Purchasers, who were prominent colony men involved in Plymouth investments. Winslow is mentioned next in the 1627 Division of Cattle (also used as a quasi-census), his name appears on the list of Lot 3 with the Standish family and other Winslows, including his brother Edward and wife Susanna (White) and her sons by Pilgrim William White – Resolved and Peregrine. All were Mayflower passengers. Winslow’s wife Mary and their son John appear on the list for Lot 6 with other families.[10][11]He was declared a freeman in 1633 and became active in the government of the colony.[12] On July 1, 1633, and again on January 3, 1636/37, the General Court ordered that the passage between Green’s Harbor and the sea be enlarged, and the governor, and Assistants, and John Winslow and other prominent men were assigned to apportion costs to “every man” and to supervise the work there, with ten men working at a time. On July 25, 1633, the court noted that John Beavan had covenanted to serve John Winslow as an apprentice for six years and at the end of the term Winslow was to give to him twelve bushels of Indian corn and twenty-five acres of land. On July 23, 1634, Mr. Timothy Hatherly turned over the remaining term of his servant Ephraim Tinkham to John Winslow, and Winslow was obligated to perform the conditions expressed in the indenture. On March 3, 1634/35, John Winslow was on a committee to assess colonists for the costs of the watch and other charges.

As early as January 5, 1635/6, John Winslow, his brother Kenelm Winslow, John Doane and other prominent men were chosen to assist the governor and council to set rates on goods to be sold and wages paid laborers. The court not only regulated prices, but sometimes quality. He is next mentioned on November 2, 1636, where he turned over the (indentured) services of Edmond Weston for two years to Nathaniel Thomas, on behalf of the latter’s father, Mr. William Thomas. Monies and goods were to be exchanged in the process. Winslow was on the committee in 1637 to assess taxes for the cost of sending men to the Pequot War. Winslow continued to be very active in the colonial government and in 1638 and his brother Kenelm were witnesses against Stephen Hopkins for selling wine at excessive rates.

Many of the more prosperous men had indentured servants. John Winslow was one of them. Records show that on July 28, 1640, he sold for £12 the services of Joseph Grosse for five years to John Howland.

On yet another important committee, on October 17, 1642, Winslow was noted as one of several men appointed to grant lands for the town of Plymouth and in the 1643 list of “Men Able to Bear Arms”, he appears with the men of Plymouth.[13] He also served for two years as Deputy from Plymouth to the general court.[14] and in 1653 Winslow became a member of “a counsell of war” (Council of War).[15]

Winslow was well thought of and a man to be trusted as evidenced in a record which shows that on March 20, 1654/55, Stephen Tracy, who had returned to England and was residing at Great Yarmouth in Norfolk, gave power of attorney to John Winslow of Plymouth to dispose of his estate in New England for the benefit of his son John Tracy, daughters, Ruth Tracy and Mary Tracy, and the rest of his five children. John Tracy married Mary Prence, daughter of Governor Thomas Prence.[16]

On October 10, 1657, Mr. John Winslow of Plymouth sold all his house and land in Plymouth to Edward Gray, believed to be his son-in-law married to his daughter Mary, and moved to Boston, where he became a wealthy merchant and ship owner, as well as retaining lands in Plymouth.[17][18]

Winslow was on the 1662 list of “first born” men of Plymouth to share in a land distribution.[19] and he was one of the witnesses to the sale of land by Myles Standish in 1661.[20]

On September 19, 1671, it is recorded that John bought for the sum of £500 in New England silver money “the Mansion or dwelling-house of the Late Antipas Voice with the gardens wood-yard and Backside as it is scituate lying and being in Boston aforesaid as it is nowe fenced in And is fronting & Facing to the Lane going to mr John Jolliffes.” The Winslows lived in this house until his death in 1674 and that of Mary Chilton in 1679. The house (which would have been on Spring Lane) no longer exists.[21]

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.

Legend

By legend, 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]

Mary Chilton leaping onto Plymouth Rock before the other Pilgrims

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

Children of John and Mary Winslow, all born in Plymouth after May 22, 1627

  • John was born about 1627 and died in Boston between October 3 and 12, 1683. His name appears with his mother Mary on the 1627 Division of Cattle list for Plymouth, with the father John named on a separate list.

He married:1. Elizabeth ____ before April 18, 1664 (birth of first child) and had four children, all born in Boston. No record of her after August 7, 1670.2. Judith ____ after August 7, 1670. She was born ca. 1625 and died shortly before December 18, 1714 (burial date), in Boston, age near 9

Susanna (my 7th Great Grandmother) was born about 1630 and died after November 14, 1685, in East Bridgewater. She married Robert Latham (my 7th Great Grandfather) by 1650 and had eight children, probably born in Bridgewater. He was possibly born in England ca. 1613 and before February 28, 1688/9 in Bridgewater at age 76. Both were buried in Old Grave Yard, East Bridgewater, Section B.

Reports from the records of the Plymouth coroner’s jury on January 31, 1654/5 details an event that is termed one of the most extreme cases of a master mistreating a servant in that colony. This involved Susanna and her husband Robert Latham. From the records the case details a systemic abuse of 14-year-old John Walker, apparently an indentured servant, who died with a battered, bruised, starved and frozen body at the fault of his master and mistress. His master Robert Latham admitted whipping him “all his backe with stripes given him by his master, Robert Latham, as Robert himself did testify..” and testimony from witnesses revealed that “hee (Latham) gave John Walker som stripes that morning before his death; and also wee find the flesh much broken of the knees of John Walker, and that he did want sufficient food and clothing and lodging..”[25]On March 4, 1654/5 Robert Latham was indicted for felonious cruelty to his servant John Walker by unreasonable correction, by withholding necessary food and clothing, and by exposing Walker to extremities of the seasons, whereby he died. The trial jury found him guilty of “manslaughter by chaunce medley” and he was sentenced to be burned in the hand, and having no lands, to have all his personal property confiscated. Latham’s wife Susanna was presented by the grand jury for being in great measure guilty with her husband in exercising extreme cruelty toward their late servant John Walker.[26]

  • Mary was born about 1631-32 and died after October 28, 1663, and before November 1665 in Plymouth. She married Edward Gray on January 16, 1650/1, and had six children, all born in Plymouth. Edward Gray, born ca. 1629, is recorded as being a merchant and among the wealthiest of Plymouth Colony. He married (2) in December 1665, Dorothy Lettice and had six more children. Edward Gray died in Plymouth in June 1681 at age 52.
  • Edward was born about 1635-36 and died in Boston on November 19, 1682. He was poss. buried in Copps Hill Burying Ground, Boston, with his first wife Sarah.

He married:1. Sarah Hilton by 1661 and had three children born in Boston. She died on April 4, 1667 in Boston, age 26.2. Elizabeth Hutchinson on February 8, 1668 and had five children born in Boston. She died September 16, 1728 in Boston in her 89th year. Edward and Elizabeth’s son, Edward Winslow became a noted early American silversmith and military leader.

  • Sarah was born about 1638-39 and died on April 9, 1726, in Boston at age 88.

She married:1. Myles Standish Jr. on July 19, 1660. He disappeared at sea after March 20, 1661. He was a son of Pilgrim Myles Standish. They had no children.2. Tobias Payne in 1667/1668 and had one son William born in Boston. Payne died in Boston on September 12, 1669.3. Richard Middlecott in 1672 and had four children. He was born in England ca. 1640 and died on June 13, 1704 in Boston.[27]

  • Samuel was born about 1641 and died in Boston on October 14, 1680, at age 39. He married Hannah Briggs before June 22, 1675, and had two children baptized in Scituate. Hannah married (2) Capt. Thomas Jolls. She died after November 4, 1714, in Boston. Samuel was buried in Copps Hill Burying Ground, Boston
  • Isaac was born about 1643-44 and died at Port Royal, Jamaica, between August 26 and 29, 1670. He married Mary Nowell on August 14, 1666, and had two children born in Charlestown. Mary married (2) in 1674 John Long with whom she had four children. She died before January 23, 1729, in Charlestown.
  • Joseph was born about 1645 and died before August 7, 1679, on Long Island, New York. He married Sarah Lawrence by 1668 and had four children. Sarah married (2) Charles LeBros. She died before 1693.[28]
  • A child was born about 1651, and died young, certainly before March 12, 1673 (date of father’s will). No further record.
  • Benjamin was born on August 12, 1653, in Plymouth. He died between March 12, 1673/4 and July 31, 1676. He was unmarried.

Notable descendants

Notable descendants of Mary Chilton include: 

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