John Alden

Male About 1598 - 1687


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  • Born  About 1598  England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender  Male 
    Died  12 Sep 1687  Duxbury, Plymouth County, Massachusetts Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Notes 
    • "John Alden was hired for a cooper, at South-Hampton, wher the ship victuled; and being a hopfull young man, was much desired, but left to his owne liking to go or stay when he came here; but he stayed, and maryed here." (Bradford's History, 443; MD, 1:228).

      "On 11 November 1620 John Alden joined with the other free adult male passengers of the Mayflower to sign the Compact whereby they agreed to make and abide by their own laws." (Bradford's History, 75; New Englands Memorial, 15-16)

      "This is all that is known about the origins of John Alden. Efforts to locate his birthplace and parentage have so far been inconclusive. Although he joined the Mayflower at Southampton, co. Hampshire, England, no records have been found of John in Southampton, and he was not necessarily a native of that place.

      "Several theories regarding the origins of John Alden were discussed in The Mayflower Descendant, 39:111-121 and 40:133-136. Of these theories, the one with the most prospects is that of the Harwich Alden family. A John Alden of Harwich married the daughter of William Russell, a merchant of that town. When William Russell wrote his will on 1 August 1586, he mentions his son-in-law John Alden who was at that time in captivity in Spain (those were the years before the Spanish Armada when English and Spanish ships competed for rule of the seas). He also mentions a number of children of John Alden. Interpretation of Russell's will seems to indicate that the captured John Alden had two sons named John. John 'the elder' was probably the child of an earlier, unknown, first wife; and John 'the younger' was the child of William Russell's daughter. Other children of the captured John Alden were Peter, William, and Thomas. Any of these sons could have been the father of John Alden of the Mayflower.

      "The most appealing facet of the Harwich theory is that William Russell's son Robert, brother of the Elizabeth Russell who married the captured John Alden, married the widowed mother of Captain Christopher Jones of the Mayflower. Thus, if this theory is correct, Capt. Jones would have been the step-son of our John Alden's great-uncle! Certainly, this theory offers ample opportunity for John Alden to have learned about Captain Jones' trip to New England and to gain the job of cooper/carpenter for the voyage. Unfortunately, no records have been found in Harwich or the county of Essex of a John Alden who could be ours. If Captain Jones was related to John Alden, William Bradford did not know of it when he wrote his history or he almost certainly would have mentioned the connection.

      "John, himself, left us no information about his past.... John was about twenty-two years old in 1620 and very likely had just finished an apprenticeship in cooperage or carpentry. No letters, no family Bible, no journal, no writings survive for either John or Priscilla...."

      (Mayflower Families Through Five Generations, Volume Sixteen, Part 1, pages 1-2.)

      *****

      After helping to establish the Plymouth colony, he moved to a farm at Duxbury, where he lived most of his life. He served in a variety of civic capacities: agent for the colony, surveyor of highways, deputy from Duxbury, member of the local council of war, treasurer, and, most important, assistant to the governor of Massachusetts (1623-41 and 1650-86), twice serving as deputy governor.

      Two popular myths have combined to perpetuate a romantic aura about the memory of John Alden. One claimed he was the first Pilgrim to set foot on Plymouth Rock. The other was dramatized by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem "The Courtship of Miles Standish," in which Alden presumably won the hand of Priscilla Mullens after first wooing her for his friend Standish. He did wed Priscilla, and the marriage produced eleven children. When he died, he was the last male survivor of the Mayflower Company.

    Person ID  I2783  Benbow Family and Allied Lines
    Last Modified  12 Jun 2011 

    Family  Priscilla Mullins,   b. 1600 - 1605, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1650 - 1687, Massachusetts Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Married  1622 - 1623  Plymouth, Plymouth County, Massachusetts Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Notes 
    • Although William Bradford stated that John and Priscilla had eleven children, researchers only know about ten children. Perhaps one died in early childhood or somehow escaped being recorded in public records.
    Children 
     1. Elizabeth Alden,   b. 1624 - 1625, Plymouth, Plymouth County, Massachusetts Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 31 May 1717, Little Compton, Newport County, Rhode Island Find all individuals with events at this location
     2. John Alden,   b. About 1626, Massachusetts Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Between 17 Feb 1702 - 13 Apr 1702, Boston, Massachusetts Find all individuals with events at this location
     3. Joseph Alden,   b. About 1627, Massachusetts Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 8 Feb 1696/1697, Bridgewater, Plymouth County, Massachusetts Find all individuals with events at this location
     4. Sarah Alden,   b. 1630 - 1640, Massachusetts Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Before 13 Jun 1688
     5. Jonathan Alden,   b. About 1633, Duxbury, Plymouth County, Massachusetts Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 14 Feb 1697, Duxbury, Plymouth County, Massachusetts Find all individuals with events at this location
     6. Ruth Alden,   b. About 1637, Massachusetts Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 12 Oct 1674, Braintree, Massachusetts Find all individuals with events at this location
     7. Rebecca Alden,   b. Before 1649, Massachusetts Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 12 Jun 1696 - 5 Oct 1722
     8. Mary Alden, Massachusetts Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. After 13 Jun 1688
     9. Priscilla Alden, Massachusetts Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. After 13 Jun 1688
     10. David Alden,   b. About 1645 - 1650, Massachusetts Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 2 Jul 1718 - 1 Apr 1719
    Headstones
    Alden Headstones at Old Burying Ground
    Alden Headstones at Old Burying Ground
    Last Modified  12 Jun 2011 
    Family ID  F973  Group Sheet

  • Photos
    John Alden House Plaque
    John Alden House Plaque
    The John Alden House 1653
    The John Alden House is the only structure standing today that was built by, lived in by, and in which Mayflower Pilgrims died. Presented by Massachusetts Bay Chapter, National Society Colonial Dames XVII Century, September 11, 1996.
    John Alden's House in Duxbury, Massachusetts
    John Alden's House in Duxbury, Massachusetts
    "The colonists began to spread out from Plymouth and settle on the land they had been granted. At first the families would tend to their land during the summer and return to the Plymouth settlement during the winter where they could attend church. The original Alden house in Duxbury was probably begun during the summers and by 1631 the family was staying longer, perhaps the whole year....

    "The Alden grant in Duxbury was accessible by water from the bay and up the river, so that the whole length of the farm had water transportation. The Green Harbor Path, running from Plymouth to Marshfield passed along the west end of the farm....

    "The first house built and occupied by John and Priscilla was a long, narrow house with a field stone foundation and a root cellar under the west end. Archaeological excavations made in 1960 by Roland Wells Robbins revealed the cellar stones and that the house was about 10 1/2 feet in width and 38 feet in length (here the Aldens raised 10 children!). Its size would have been similar to a modern mobile home, although the Alden house would have had a loft or second floor. Evidence at the site of the old house proved that the old house had not burned, as many old stories claimed. It had definitely been moved or dismantled. The dimensions of the old house led Robbins to believe that it had been dismantled and moved up the hill to be incorporated as the kitchen, borning room, and buttrey of the existing Alden House, which are exactly the same dimensions (Pilgrim John Alden's Progress, 15).

    "The present Alden house was believed to have been built in 1653, a date reputedly found carved in one of the beams or boards of the house. However, recent archaeological indicates the house may have been built sometime in the latter two decades of the 1600's. It is still believed that beams from the original house were used in the construction of the newer one. Further research is being undertaken by the Alden Kindred of America, Inc., which owns and maintains the house. The Alden house remained in the possession of members of the Jonathan Alden family until 1892 and was transferred to the Alden Kindred in 1907 (Alden Family in Alden House, 128)."

    (Mayflower Families Through Five Generations, Volume Sixteen, Part 1, pp. 5-7.

    John's son Jonathan lived here as well during his own adult years.

    Documents
    Mayflower II
    Mayflower II
    indicates this person is a Mayflower Pilgrim or descendant; only some individuals in the family line will be marked this way

    Headstones
    John Alden's headstone
    John Alden's headstone
    NEAR HERE LYES Y BODY OF
    MR. JOHN ALDEN
    WHO DIED IN DUXBURY
    SEPT. Y 12, 1687 AGED NEAR 88 YRS.

    Erected by The Alden Kindred of America 1930


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