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Mayflower Ancestors

The Mayflower set sail from Plymouth, England on about September 6, 1620. While the intentions were to land in Northern Virginia, the Mayflower, in fact, landed in Plymouth, Massachusetts on November 9, 1620. There were 102 passengers on the Mayflower, three of whom were pregnant. One infant, who was names Oceanus, was born during the ship’s voyage. The other two were born shortly after the Pilgrim’s arrival to America.

It is estimated that about 10 percent of Americans today can trace their ancestry back to the Mayflower. Researching Pilgrim genealogy can begin online. Mayflower historian, Caleb Johnson, owns and maintains the website, MayflowerHistory.com. Here, genealogists can view the Mayflower’s passenger list, wills of more than a dozen and a half Pilgrims, history of the Mayflower and its voyage, life in early Plymouth, Massachusetts, and more.

Another important online resource for Mayflower genealogists is the website of The Mayflower Society. Again, genealogists can find information about the Mayflower’s history, as well as the history of Pilgrim life. There is also an area to order useful books and publications about the Pilgrims, including compiled genealogies of many Mayflower families.

When using the compiled genealogies of other Mayflower descendants, it is important that you be wary of common mistakes. The New England Historic Genealogical Society has compiled a useful list of common mistakes in Pilgrim genealogies. It is worthwhile to study these mistakes in order to avoid passing them on in your own genealogy.

At some point, it is likely that you will have to carry out some of your Mayflower genealogy offline. Some information may be discovered in the many published books about the Pilgrims. Some useful books may include Mayflower Marriages, Mayflower Births and Deaths, and Mayflower Deeds & Probates, all compiled by Susan E. Roser.

When searching for records about your Mayflower ancestry, keep in mind that some residents of the Plymouth Colony moved to nearby towns, such as Duxbury and Taunton. Records can be obtained by visiting the towns of your ancestors in person, or by sending a written request to the appropriate repository (you should be able to locate this information online).

If you are able to visit Plymouth, Massachusetts, plan to visit the various Pilgrim museums located throughout the town. You may discover artifacts that once belonged to your Mayflower ancestor, compiled genealogies, informative books, and more. Museums, such as the Plymouth Plantation and Mayflower II, can also provide a better understanding about life on the Mayflower and in early Plymouth.