Saturday, April 9, 2016

Chapter 42 - Edward Doty, Mayflower Passenger

Edward Doty, one of the 99 passengers on the Mayflower's extradinary voyage to America in 1620, was my 9th great grandfather. His portrait to the left undoubtedly represents someone's imagination at work but it probably does portray what he may have looked like shortly before his early death in 1655 around the age of 57.

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 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.

While the voyage of the Mayflower originated in England the majority of the Separatists began their voyage to America in Leiden, Holland when they boarded a second ship in July of 1620 by the name of the Speedwell. The Speedwell then met up with the Mayflower in Southampton, England and on August 15th both ships containing around 120 combined passengers departed for America.  Unfortunately not long after departure the Speedwell was determined to be unseaworthy and at the last minute before heading out into the open sea both ships returned to Plymouth, England located near the southwest corner of England.  At this point many of the Separatists who had been on the Speedwell then boarded the Mayflower, thus greatly overcrowding a ship that had never been built to house passengers in the first place.  Despite the rapidly approaching winter months and an overcrowded ship, by mid-September 1620, the Mayflower, now alone, headed west across the Atlantic to America. Not unexpectedly about half way across the Atlantic, the Mayflower met with strong winds and storms with high seas leading to the death on board of one crew member and one passenger.  As it turned out later this was actually a surprisingly low number of causalities considering the miserable conditions. The original plan was to sail to the mouth of the Hudson River in what is now the New York City area (but in 1620 considered to be part of Northern Virginia and not far north from the existing colony of Jamestown) but the extreme weather and treacherous seas drove them off course. Finally on November 19, 1620 after around sixty-six days at sea the Mayflower approached Cape Cod off the coast of the future State of Massachusetts.  On November 21st the ship finally anchored in the calm waters of Cape Cod Harbor. The air temperature at the time was probably quite cool as winter was rapidly approaching. There were obviously no small homes (or hotel rooms) available where they could all retire with a thick blanket, a warm fireplace, and a well stocked pantry. This was not to be a good winter for many of these new emigrants to America. The rapidly deteriating weather plus the filthy conditions onboard the Mayflower after three months of crowded occupancy, did not bode well for the immediate future.

Signing the Mayflower Compact
Upon arrival in the New World these new immigrants realized that they were about to settle in an area that was not in accordance with the original plan of their sponsor, the London Company.  The London Company had paid the cost of the voyage and was expecting to make money from their investment through the sale of goods shipped back to England by the new settlers. The "Pilgrims" also realized that they were a group that was not entirely united with some being Separatists and some Outsiders, so as a group they decided that it was critical that they draw up an agreement that all would sign pledging their common interest.  Forty-one of the adult males including five of the crew members who planned to remain in America signed an agreement on November 21,1620 later known as The Mayflower Compact wherein they pledged to establish and accept a common form of government and to remain loyal to the English Crown. One of the interesting things about this agreement was that two of the signers were indentured servants one of whom was our 9th great grandfather Edward Doty.

As best we can determine from reviewing records of the early Plymouth colony, Edward Doty was a fairly outspoken and determined individual and it was not surprising to learn that despite is young age in 1620 and his status as a servant, he was selected to be in the first group of men to disembark the ship and walk on dryland, which in this case took place way out on the tip of Cape Cod on November 21, 1620. (Note this date is based on our modern calendar and is ten days later than dates often noted in many of the early Plymouth Colony records.  The modern calendar took affect in the British Empire in 1752.)  Edward Doty was also part of the first exploratory group that left the Mayflower in a longboat on November 25th traveling down the western shoreline of Cape Cod a few miles before landing and then on foot the group followed a stream inland.  They returned the following day but not before observing the first "savages" and coming across an Indian village where they found kernels and ears of corn. By December 7th, a "shallop" (a small sailing boat) which had been stored below deck on the Mayflower, was ready for use after extensive repairs, and Edward Doty with 33 other men including the ship's captain and some of the crew, departed for more exploration of the Cape. This trip lasted around three days wherein they explored further down the cape discovering on November 10th some abandoned Indian wigwams and graves. Edward Doty was also part of a third exploratory group that departed on December 16th and again in their shallop they followed along the coastline of Cape Cod Bay until they ultimately passed into Plymouth Bay on December 21, 1620.  During this third exploratory trip they had their first actual encounter with the local Indians including a brief exchange of gunfire and arrows. They then returned to the Mayflower. On December 25, 1620, the Mayflower pulled up anchor from its mooring spot at the tip of Cape Cod and set sail for Plymouth Bay. Unfortunately they were driven back by high winds but on the following day the Mayflower at last arrived at Plymouth Bay and their new home.  The passengers and the crew of the Mayflower had been living onboard the vessel at this point for a little over four long months and it was not over.

The weather in the winter months of eastern Massachusetts is always cold, wet, and snowy as it was in the winter of 1620/21. While I am sure that the Pilgrims tried their best to keep their below deck home on the Mayflower as warm and clean as possible, it was nevertheless crowded with people and boxes and crates and it was unavoidably unsanitary and loaded with disease-bearing bacteria. For the most part the passengers sleep on blankets on the hard wooden floor. Their lack of healthy foods was also a major problem that contributed to issues with scurvy and other diseases and obviously the lack of heat and warm clothes further added to the problem.  While the men, including our Edward Doty, spent the better part of their days, weather permitting, building homes and other shelters, the women and children for the most part remained onboard the ship.  It is not surprising therefore to learn these horrible statistics.  During the winter of 1620-1621, 75% of the women died, 50% of the men died, 36% of the young boys died, 18% of the young girls died, and while the records are not entirely clear, upwards of 50% of the ship's crew died. The total loss of life, almost 50% of the people who sailed on the Mayflower, was a disaster.  Most of the bodies were buried in shallow, unmarked graves in what today is known as Coles Hill, that rises above what is believed to be the original landing site of the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock. 

Construction of buildings began shortly after the "landing" at Plymouth Rock. The first structure built was a "common house" that was constructed on the relatively flat top of Coles Hill. Construction of this first building was completed within about two weeks and then over the course of the following winter months a total of seven residents were built along with four storage buildings plus a defensive fort, fences, and sheds. Fortunately for these Pilgrims the land on the top of Coles Hill had been previously cleared and then was later abandoned by the local Indians. This meant that it was not necessary for the Pilgrims to clear the land of trees before construction and before the later planting of crops could be started. Young Edward Doty undoubtedly played a major role in helping to construct the new village. As a servant of Stephen Hopkins he would have helped construct the Hopkins' family home where Doty would also have lived, plus he would have played a role in the construction of the common buildings and other structures.

Edward Doty's name appears numerous times in the early records of Plymouth Colony, although unfortunately not always favorably.  It is somewhat surprising that there are no records of his ever having served on a jury nor his ever holding a public office or serving on any governmental committees. This was very unusual for men during this period of our early history.  After reading that he appeared before a judge in at least 23 cases over an almost twenty year period wherein he was either suing someone or they were suing him over issues such as slander, trespassing, assault and battery, breaking the peace, and other miscellaneous mostly civil issues, it is no wonder that his apparent cantankerous and disagreeable personality may have made him unsuitable as a juror or public official.  My great grandfather Edward Doty is best known for his earliest transgression wherein he apparently fought a "duel" with his fellow servant Edward Leister (also a servant of Stephen Hopkins) in June of 1621. The duel with sword and dagger apparently ended up with both young men receiving serious wounds, however after an immediate punishment of their being tied up together, they were soon released for treatment of their wounds after a promise of behaving themselves in the future.  Despite his contentious personality, Edward Doty remained in the Plymouth Colony area for the remainder of his life and it appears that he ultimately achieved a certain degree of personal and financial success.

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.

Edward and his wife Faith Clarke Doty were to have nine children beginning with Edward Doty Jr who was born in 1636/7 and ending with their last child Mary Doty who was born in 1653.  My 8th great grandmother and their 5th (or 6th) child, Desire Doty, was born in 1645. Some sources report that there was a tenth child, Faith Doty, named after her mother who died as a baby in 1639. Edward and his family apparently lived in an area about a mile north and up the coast from Plymouth Rock called High Cliffs (see map on the left).  Based on an inventory of his possessions taken following his death in 1655, the Edward Doty family must have lived a rather upscale life style.  The fact that they owned furniture that was probably imported from England and not commonly in use in the New World in the mid-1600s, is testament to Edward's success.  Edward Doty arrived in America as an indentured servant but who over a period of only 37 years following his arrival and less if you deduct the years he remained a servant in America, became a prosperous land owner, a wealthy farmer, and an owner himself of indentured servants.  Based on the numerous Plymouth Colony records that have survived, we see Edward Doty not only as an outspoken and confident individual, but also as a large land speculator owning many acres of land that he obviously had purchased for resale or trade.  In the inventory of his land holdings at the time of his death, he owned land not only at High Cliffs, but on Clark's Island out in Cape Cod Bay, Yarmouth out on Cape Cod, as well as in such remote locations (at the time) of Coaksett (now Dartmouth, Massachusetts) and Punckquesett (now Tiverton in Rhode Island).

Edward was around 57 or 58 years old at the time of his death, relatively young even in these early years.  His oldest child was only around 19, his youngest child only 2, and my great grandmother Desire Doty only 10 years old at the time of their father's death.  His wife Faith was only around 36 years old when she lost her hard working husband. Edward Doty was buried in Burial Hill Cemetery in Plymouth, Massachusetts.  The exact location of his burial within this old cemetery and the original carved wood grave marker have long been lost. Today however, within the cemetery there stands a memorial stone in his honor.

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.

1 comment:

Nanny said...

Greetings C A,

Thanks for this great write up with accompanying illustrations. I to am a direct descendant of Edward Doty, of the Mayflower. I have collected many images of various ancestors who lived before the age of photography, but as I am sure you know images of 17th folk who came to or were born in the Plymouth or Boston Colonies are few and far between. What is the origin of your supposed Edward Doty image? I am curious to know its origin. I tried figuring it out from a couple of quick web searches.

Thanks for any insight you can give me on this,