The Mayflower Society


While America was celebrating its centennial in 1876, many citizens became interested in honoring the memory of their ancestors who had helped found the country. To commemorate the courageous, steadfast spirit and contributions to American democracy of the Mayflower Pilgrims, several states in the northeast began to mobilize.

The Society of Mayflower Descendants was established in New York City on December 22, 1894 as a society for those with a lineage to the Mayflower Pilgrims. Three more states followed in 1896: Connecticut on March 7, Massachusetts on March 28, and Pennsylvania on July 1. Delegates from existing Societies met in Plymouth, Massachusetts, to form the General Society of Mayflower Descendants on January 12, 1897. Mayflower Societies quickly formed across the nation.

The first state to be chartered by the General Society was Illinois in 1897. Almost 10 years later, Colorado became the first state west of the Mississippi to be chartered in 1906. Since its founding, the Mayflower Society has welcomed over 100,000 members who could prove Mayflower descent and continues to grow today with members across the globe.


Interesting places in Plymouth MA


A little of the history of the pilgrims

The Pilgrims were a group of English people who, during the reign of King James I, came to America seeking religious freedom. After two failed attempts to leave England and move to Holland, a Separatist group was finally relocated to Amsterdam, where they stayed for about one year. From there, the group moved to the town of Leiden in Holland, where they remained for close to ten years; worshipping as they pleased under lenient Dutch law. As their children began to lose touch with their English heritage and religious beliefs, and with the resumption of war and their lack of opportunities as non-citizens in Holland, a small group from the Leiden church made plans to settle in Northern Virginia – as New England was known at the time. In August 1620, they set sail for Southampton, England, where they met other English colonists who shared their dream of starting a new life in America.


Women in the Mayflower


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On September 6, 1620, eighteen adult women boarded the Mayflower as it left Plymouth, England. Though William Bradford’s list of Mayflower passengers provides little information on these women compared to their more well-known husbands, we can begin to piece together their lives from what we do know.

Some of the women on the Mayflower had been living in Holland as part of a separatist congregation prior to the voyage, while others remained a part of the Church of England.  Some had children who they hoped would join them later, while others came with their entire family.  And by the end of the Pilgrims’ first year in New England, all but four of these women had died.

In 1607 and 1608, members of a separatist congregation which included many eventual Mayflower passengers attempted to leave England for the Netherlands.  During the second of these attempts, the women and children were delayed in meeting their group while the men who were already at the rendezvous boarded the ship that would take them to the Netherlands. The ship’s captain “espied a great company, both horse and foot, with bills and guns and other weapons” coming to apprehend the fleeing Separatists and sailed away with only the men who had already boarded, leaving behind “their wives and children which they saw thus to be taken.”