Most of us have been led to believe that the Mayflower passengers were all Pilgrims seeking religious freedom from the authoritarian rule of the Church of England. They were collectively known as "Separatists" and their move to America was their way of finding a place where they could live and worship without interference. In reality, of the 99 passengers on board the Mayflower, only 49 were actually religious Separatists and even that number includes their 18 children. The remaining passengers were a combination of common English merchants, craftsmen, skilled workers, indentured servants as well as a few orphaned children all of whom were loosely referred to as the "Outsiders." In fact, about forty percent of all of the passengers were under the age of twenty-one and unlike the wealthier Puritans who began emigrating to the Boston area a decade later in the 1630s, the majority of all of the passengers onboard the Mayflower were of a lower social and income level. For the most part other than the crew, every one of the Mayflower travelers was hoping for a better life in America than the one that they had left behind. The chance to own land, raise farm animals, grow their own food, and worship as they pleased was more than they could ever have hoped for in England or in the case of the Separatists, in Holland. One minor issue that needs to be clarified is exactly how many passengers were actually on the Mayflower. While we noted above that Edward Doty was one of the 99 passengers, most sources seem to list there being 102 passengers. From what we can determine the 102 number must include the five crew members that remained behind in America when the Mayflower returned to England so technically they should not be counted as passengers. On the other hand the number must also exclude the baby born during the voyage and a second baby born shortly after the Mayflower arrived and lay moored in the Cape Cod Harbor. The website MayflowerHistory.com lists there being 99 passengers excluding the crewmembers and including the two new borns.
My 9th great grandfather, Edward Doty, was an indentured servant or perhaps more accurately stated, he was an unpaid apprentice of fellow passenger and his employer Stephen Hopkins. Unfortunately we know nothing about the family origins of our 9th great grandfather other than he was English and he may have grown up in London where his parents may have indentured him to Stephen Hopkins at an early age possibly when he was still in his mid to late teens. This was a very common practice at the time and it is recorded that upwards of 19 of the passengers onboard the Mayflower were young indentured servants. We also know that Edward Doty was uneducated at least to the respect that he was unable to read and write nor even sign his name beyond the placing of his "mark" on paper.
|Signing the Mayflower Compact|
Edward Doty was undoubtedly present at the Pilgrim's "Thanksgiving" feast that took place sometime before the arrival of the ship Fortune that landed in November of 1621 bringing additional new settlers from England to the new Colony of Plymouth. He was also a part of the "Division of Land" which occurred in 1623 wherein land was divided up among the settlers. Since apparently Edward Doty was still under 25 at the time, and still a servant of Stephen Hopkins, and undoubtedly unmarried, he was granted only one acre. A few years later however in 1627, another distribution occurred that is referred to as the "Division of Cattle." By this time Edward Doty apparently had been freed from his indentured relationship with Stephen Hopkins and he was living on his own lot next door to fellow Mayflower passenger John Howland and his family. He had also received at this point another grant of 20 acres of land. According to the historical writings of William Bradford, 2nd governor of Plymouth, when Edward Doty married Faith Clarke (my 9th great grandmother) on January 9, 1635 it was his second marriage. While there is no reason to question the accuracy of William Bradford's statement, there are no surviving records showing that he married anyone in Plymouth after 1620 nor does it seem likely based on his youthful age at the time, that he would have married someone in England before departing to America on the Mayflower especially if he were an indentured servant. On the other hand, Edward Doty when he married Faith Clarke was around 37 years old which is very old for a first marriage especially in the 1600s. My great grandmother Faith Clarke however, was only around 15 years old when she married Edward.
Faith Clarke and her father Thurston Clarke arrived in Plymouth sometime in mid-summer of 1634 after sailing to America on the ship Francis which initially brought them into the Massachusetts Bay Harbor. Faith was the oldest child of Thurston and his wife, Faith Clarke. Her mother and Faith's younger brothers and sisters remained behind in England in 1634, possibly because they were mostly too young to travel but more likely because Thurston may not have had enough money to afford for the entire family to travel. The fact that Thurston Clarke allowed his daughter Faith to marry so quickly and at such a young age after their arrival suggests that lack of money may have been an issue although at the time young girls marrying successful older men was not that uncommon and generally considered a good thing. The fact that Edward Doty and his father-in-law, Thurston Clarke were later suing each other in court, suggests that my great grandfathers were not best friends. In any case, by the 1635 marriage, Edward Doty had become a relatively large landowner and a reasonably successful farmer ("Planter") and a decent catch for Thurston Clarke's oldest daughter Faith.
By 1634, Plymouth Colony was no longer the primary destination for new emigrants to New England as ships by this point were landing in more popular locations such as Maine, Salem, Boston, and even at some of the coastal settlements in Rhode Island and Connecticut. Despite the influx of almost 10,000 new immigrants to New England by the mid-1630s, the population of Plymouth Colony is estimated to have grown to no more than 350 to 400 people. Unfortunately as most of their citizens had too soon realized, Plymouth Harbor was much to shallow for many of the ships bringing new settlers to the colony and the soil in the area was of poor quality for planting of the necessary quantity of crops needed to feed the growing population of new settlers. Thurston Clarke's wife, Faith, and their two sons (several daughters had died young in England) arrived in America in early 1637. The Clarke family lived in Plymouth Colony until 1652 at which time they moved to Duxbury located a little north of Plymouth. Unfortunately my 10th great grandfather, Thurston Clarke died in December of 1661. The unfortunate part of his death was not his young age for in 1661 he was around 71 years old. What was unfortunate was the nature of his death for despite his older age he attempted to walk the eight miles or so from Plymouth to Duxbury on a cold and snowy day. Traveling alone he apparently got lost. His body was later found frozen to death. Perhaps sadden by her husband's death, Faith Clarke, my 10th great grandmother, died only two years later.
Not surprisingly, Faith (Clarke) Doty, still a young woman at the time of her husband's death, married for a second time in February of 1666 to a man named John Phillips who lived in Marshfield around 10 miles north of her home in High Cliffs. Faith like her husband died young at the age of 56 years old on 21 December in the year 1675. One of the most wonderful things that I learned about my 9th great grandmother was that before she married her second husband, she requested that he sign a prenuptial agreement that effectively protected the assets of her former husband Edward Doty from being taken by her new husband. By protecting the assets it allowed her children to inherit these assets during her lifetime and some following her death. This was a very unusual thing to do in the 17th century. Who knows, but perhaps she had learned a great deal from her first husband, the cantankerous Edward Doty, during their 21 year marriage. I proudly join with the thousands of Edward Doty descendants alive today in honoring my 9th great Doty grandparents.