Welcome! I really enjoy exchanging information with people and hope this blog will help with that. I am not an expert and I consider most of my research as a work in progress. Some of the surnames I'm researching:

Many old Cape families including Kelley, Eldredge/idge, Howes, Baker, Mayo, Bangs, Snow, Chase, Ryder/Rider, Freeman, Cole, Sears, Wixon, Nickerson.
Many old Plymouth County families including Washburn, Bumpus, Lucas, Cobb, Benson.
Johnson (England to MA)
Corey (Correia?) (Azores to MA)
Booth, Jones, Taylor, Heatherington (N. Ireland to Quebec)
O'Connor (Ireland to MA)
My Mayflower Ancestors (only first two have been submitted/approved by the Mayflower Society):
Francis Cooke, William Brewster, George Soule, Isaac Allerton, John Billington, Richard Warren, Peter Browne, Francis Eaton, Samuel Fuller, James Chilton, John Tilley, Stephen Hopkins, John Howland.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother’s Day: Mary Chilton 1607-1679, England, Plymouth and Boston

My 11th great-grandmother Mary Chilton was baptized on 30 May 1607 at Sandwich, Kent, England. She came to Plymouth on the Mayflower with her parents, when she was 13 years of age. They survived the long, arduous journey but her father, James, died on board the Mayflower when it was anchored off the shore of Provincetown. Mary’s mother, whose name is not known*, died that first winter when so many Pilgrims died. It is believed that Mary then joined the household of Myles Standish.
Sarcophagus on Cole's Hill, Plymouth, holding the remains of the Pilgrims who died the first winter
The Chilton’s were members of the Separatist group and lived at Leiden, Holland, where James worked as a tailor. The couple had other children, but Mary was the youngest and only one to make the voyage on the Mayflower.  Gov. Bradford wrote that later another of the Chilton’s daughters came to Plymouth, likely Isabella. 

I wrote an earlier post on James Chilton and his daughter Mary here.  

A longstanding tradition has held that Mary Chilton was the first of the Mayflower passengers to step onto Plymouth Rock, but that seems like more myth than fact.
Dramatic painting of Mary Chilton stepping on Plymouth Rock. How did all the other people get on land?!

Before 22 May 1627, Mary married John Winslow who was born at Droitwich, Worcestershire, England 16 April 1597, the son of Edward Winslow and Magdeline Oliver. His brother was Mayflower passenger Edward Winslow who became Governor of Plymouth Colony. Edward was said to be one of the most aristocratic in upbringing of the Mayflower passengers. John came to Plymouth in 1621 on the Fortune.

Mary was the only Mayflower passenger to move to Boston. John became a successful merchant there. 

Mary and John had ten children:  John, Susanna, Mary, Edward, Sarah, Samuel, Joseph, Isaac, an unnamed child who died young, and Benjamin. Only the birth of their youngest son, Benjamin, was recorded at Plymouth (in 1653) but they were likely all born there. Remarkably all but one of their children lived to adulthood.

I descend from their daughter Mary, who married Edward Grey/Gray. I wrote about that couple here.

They transferred their church membership from Plymouth to the Third Church, now Old South Church, in Boston, on 16 July 1671, but had probably been in Boston since the 1650s.
Current Old South Church built in 1874-5

On 19 Sept 1671 John bought, for sum of 500 pounds in New England silver money, "the Mansion or dwelling-house of the Late Antipas Boice 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." They lived at this house until his death in 1674 and hers five years later.

The Society of Mayflower Descendants marked the site of Mary's last home on Spring Lane, Boston, near the Third Church, now the Old South Church.

The plaque reads: "Mary Chilton the only Mayflower passenger who removed from Plymouth to Boston died here in 1679. John Winslow and Mary Chilton were married at Plymouth about 1624, came to Boston about 1657, and bought a house on this site in 1671. John Winslow died here in 1674. As a passenger on the Mayflower in 1620 Mary Chilton came to America before any other white woman who settled in Boston." Dedicated in 1924, attached to the Minot Building.

Plaque marking the location of Mary and John's home

John Winslow died in between March and May 1674 in Boston. His will is dated 12 March 1673, and mentions 7 children, some grandchildren, and other relatives.

He left well beloved wife Mary Winslow use of dwelling house with gardens and yards for her natural life, all household goods, 400 pounds. Son John received house and land after Mary's death; grandson William Payne, son of daughter Sarah Meddlecott, 50 pounds; granddaughter Parnell Winslow, daughter of son Isaack Winslow 50 pounds; children of son John Winslow to divide katch Speedwell, of which John (senior) was sole owner, and the cargo be divided among them on her return to Boston; son Benjamin 100 pounds when he turns 21; son Edward, if he relinquishes share in Katch Speedwell, he will have one quarter part of Katch John's Adventure,  katch and cargo to be divided among other children, excepting John and Edward; grandchild Susanna Latham 30 pounds at day of her marriage; rest of daughter Latham's children five pounds each, when come of age or are married; son Edward's children five pounds each; son Edward Grey's children he had by daughter Mary Grey 20 pounds each; son Joseph Winslow's 2 children five pounds each; grandchild Mercy Harris' two children five pounds; kinsman Josiah Winslow, Gov of Plymouth, 20 pounds paid in goods; brother Josiah Winslow 20 pounds in goods; kinswoman Eleanor Baker, daughter of brother Kenelm Winslow, 5 pounds in goods; rest of estate shall be divided and distributed at wife's death, My Paddyes widow 5 pounds as a token of my love; Negro girl Jane shall be free after she has served 20 years from this date. Son John executor. Friends Thomas Brattle, William Tailer, John Winsley as overseers, each received 5 pounds. He gave permission to sell any vessels not mentioned in will, as well as any goods and merchandise for the best advantage of his children.

Inventory taken 27 October 1674, includes wearing apparel, 200 pounds, pieces of eight, French crownes, cross dollars, English money, barrels of pork, cargo of Ketch Speedwell, debts owed him by various people, cargo of the Bark Mary, pink Jane and Sarah; hogsheads of sugar and tobacco. Total 2946 pounds, 14 shillings, 10 pence.

Mary died between 31 July 1676 and 1 May1679. It is believed Mary and John are buried in the Winslow family tomb at King's Chapel Burying Ground in Boston.

Mary Chilton
Winslow tomb at King's Chapel with modern stone in front
Mary Chilton

Mary Winslow, of Boston, wrote her will on 31 July 1676. She left her son John her great square table; daughter Sarah Middlecott her best gown and petticoat, silver bear (beer?) bowl and to each of her children a silver cup with a handle; grandson William Paine, great silver tankard; daughter Susanna Latham long table, six joined stools, great cupboard, bedstead and furniture belonging to it in the chamber over the room where "I now Lye", small silver tankard, six silver spoons, case of bottles, all wearing apparel, except gown to daughter Sarah and grandchild Susanna Latham; grandchild Ann Gray trunk of linen already delivered to her, one bedstead, bed bolster and pillows in the chamber over the hall, 10 pounds; Mrs. Tappin to be paid 4 pounds in money per year for three years for and towards the maintenance of the said Ann Gray according to agreement with Mrs. Tappin; granddaughter Mary Winslow, daughter of son Edward,  largest silver cup with 2 handles; grandaughter Sarah Winslow, daughter of son Edward, lesser silver cup with 2 handles; also to his children six silver spoons; grandchild Parnell Winslow 5 pounds to be improved by Executor until he comes of age; divide spoons among grandchildren according to discretion of daughter Sarah; granddaughter Mercy Harris white rug; granddaughter Mary Pollard 40 shillings; granddaughter Susanna Latham petticoat with silk lace; grandaughter Mary Winslow, daughter of son Joseph, 20 pounds at age 18 or day of marriage; remainder to children John Winslow, Edward Winslow, Joseph Winslow, Samuel Winslow, Susanna Latham, Sarah Middlecott, to divide equally. Friend William Tailer of Boston, merchant, exec. Added: Mr. Thomas Thacher pastor of the Third Church in Boston: 5 pounds.

Signed by her mark. Witnesses by John Ilands, Francis Hacker, John Hayward. Wm Tailer in May 1679 renounced his Executorship of will.

You can see transcriptions of John and Mary’s wills at http://www.mayflowerfamilies.com.

Mary is one of my ancestors that truly intrigues me. She was orphaned as a child in a new land, married of man from an important family, grew to become wealthy and influential, raised a large family in the 17th century when women had few individual rights, and lived to the advanced age of 72 years of age. She saw so much in her long lifetime: struggles for religious freedom, lifelong separation from siblings, violence, loss of husband and children, financial success, and hopefully a lot of joy.

* Many reports give Mary's mother's name as Susanna Furner, but no modern documentation supports this. 
Sources Not Included Above:
Robert Charles Anderson, The Great Migration Begins, 1995

John G. Hunt, “Origins of the Chiltons of the Mayflower," The American Genealogist, 38:244-245.
Michael R. Paulick, “ The Mayflower Chiltons in Canterbury, 1556-1600" New England Ancestors, Spring 2007

Caleb Johnson, "A New Record Relating to James Chilton," The Mayflower Quarterly, June 2009

Robert Sherman et al, Mayflower Families, Volume 15: James Chilton, Richard Moore, 1997.


  1. I'm so excited to have found this, since I'm also a descendant of Mary and have just found another article about a pair of stays that are thought to be hers. :D

    1. How cool about the stays! Chris

    2. I'm am also excited that I too am a descendant of Mary. I am also a decendant of captain James Davis of the Popham colony of maine, 1607 My root go back a long way in new england

  2. It's really cool to find this! I recently found out that I'm a relative of Mary as well. I'm a descendant of her sister Isabella!

    1. Welcome, Robert. I've imagined how amazing Mary and Isabella's reunion must have been when Isabella came to America! Chris