Blogs > Cliopatria > How Many People Are Descended from the Mayflower Passengers?

Oct 23, 2004

How Many People Are Descended from the Mayflower Passengers?

John Galluzzo, in the Kingston Mariner (Sept. 10, 2004):

For all the average American elementary school student knows, the story of the Pilgrims ends on the last page of the first chapter of his or her history textbook. Yet the saga of that hardy band of 102 transatlantic travelers that reached our local shores in 1620 continues today, nearly four centuries removed from the settlement of the plantation at "Plimoth."

Of the 102 passengers of the Mayflower, 24 males produced children to carry on their surnames. And although approximately half of the Mayflower passengers died at the plantation during the harsh winter of 1620-21 (one passenger had died at sea while another was born before landing), today, a staggering 35 million people claim an ancestral lineage that runs all the way back - sometimes through fifteen generations - to the original 24 males. That number represents 12 percent of the American population. A relatively small number of the descendants of one of those males, Governor William Bradford, met at the Major John Bradford House in Kingston in August.

"We're very excited to be here," said John Pogue of Chevy Chase, Maryland, Historian of the Governor William Bradford Compact, standing primly dressed in the doorway of the "new" Bradford House Barn in his Pilgrim gear. "We've never held our meeting here, and it's very special for us to have it at a place so closely associated with the Bradford family. " The Compact, comprised of 500 or so Bradford descendants, donated money for the construction of the Bradford House Barn. Now that it has been completed, the Barn will serve as an annual gathering place for the members.

"The completion of the Barn is a great thing for our future," said Pogue. "We've never had a place to call home. "In the past the Compact has met in Plymouth, making the Bradford House a stop on the itinerary.

The 40 or so members of the Compact who attended the 2004 annual gathering, some of whom came from as far away as Florida, while others stopped in from neighboring Plymouth, shared several experiences over the course of the weekend that while interesting to some, held special meaning to them. Breakfast at the Bradford Homestead that Saturday was followed by a visit to the family's memorial to another Bradford family home site. Believed to possibly be the home of the Governor himself, the lot at the crest of Bradford Road, a private way off Landing Road, now stands unoccupied, save for a large memorial tablet facing to the east, looking across a sloping meadow toward Kingston Bay and the Myles Standish Monument in Duxbury.

While historians may debate whether or not the elder Bradford lived on the property or just owned it, the inscription on the memorial reads, "A portion of the ancient estate of William Bradford, Second Governor of Plymouth Colony. Here also lived his son, William Bradford, Deputy Governor. Presented to the Society of Mayflower Descendants in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts by those desiring to perpetuate the memory of their illustrious ancestor, 1897-1900. "The boulder sits in the center of a depression that is believed to be the cellar of the old home. . . .

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