Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, UK

The Mayflower

photo of a model of the Mayflower taken from the Window of Etcetera Hub, with a new out of the window to the street

The Mayflower

(With thanks to Susanah Farmer for the research)

Famous daughter of Wisbech – Dorothy May, pilgrim

Dorothy was born in Wisbech about 1597. Dorothy’s parents, Henry and Katherine May, had moved to Holland and this is where Dorothy married William Bradford of Austerfeld, fustian worker, in 1613. William had also moved to Leiden to escape persecution in England. There is  a record of Jean de I’Ecluse, a book printer from Rouen, marrying Jacomyne May of Wisbech who may have been Dorothy’s sister.

Dorothy was one of the original pilgrims to travel to the New World on the Mayflower with her husband. After surviving the journey across the Atlantic, Dorothy fell overboard and was drowned on 7 December 1620 whilst the ship was lying at anchor off Cape Cod, before she had set foot on American soil. William Bradford went on to serve as Governor of the Plymouth Colony for about 30 years between 1621 and 1657.

Dorothy and William had a son, John, who was born in Leiden sometime around 1617. He was left behind when his parents sailed (perhaps with his grandparents as too young to travel safely), but travelled to America later, where he married Martha Bourne. He died about 1676, having had no children.

Peregrine White

Peregrine White was born to parents Susanna and William White while the Mayflower was anchored in Cape Cod in late November 1620. He became known as the ‘first born child of New England’ and went onto become a prominent farmer and military captain.  

Peregrine’s mother Susanna was one of 18 adult women who boarded the Mayflower at Plymouth, and one of only three who were at least six months pregnant. 

When the ship arrived in Cape Cod the men went ashore and spent two months finding somewhere to settle, and the women stayed on board the Mayflower to look after the sick and young. This was in damp, dirty and crowded conditions so many of them died before they stepped foot on land. Only five of the 18 survived that first, harsh winter. 

Peregrine was the second baby born on the Mayflower’s historic voyage – after Elizabeth Hopkins gave birth to Oceanus whilst the ship was actually sailing across the Atlantic. Tragically Oceanus died at the age of two. 

Peregrine was also the first known English child born to the Pilgrims in America. His five year old brother, Resolved, also travelled on the Mayflower with his parents. 

Peregrine went on in later life to become active in the military from the age of 16, going on to serve as a lieutenant and later a captain. He was also a farmer and later became involved in government affairs within the Plymouth Colony serving the community as a representative to the General Court.

Peregrine married Sarah Bassett in 1648/49 and they had seven children. Historians say they were fined for fornication before marriage though, because records showed their first child Daniel was born in 1649, meaning they married after becoming pregnant. 

Peregrine died on July 20, 1704 in Marshfield, Massachusetts at the age of 83.