Marilyn M. Barnewall
November 26, 2009
I literally owe my life to a gentleman named Christopher Jones.
Does the name strike a bell with you?
Christopher Jones was the captain of the Mayflower. He was not a relative, but one of his passengers was. I don't know how many great-great-greats there would be in front of the name "grandfather," but my ancestor is Elder William Brewster who came to America on the Mayflower.
His name came to mind afternoon as I watched a movie called "Plymouth Adventure." For home school parents, it is an excellent portrayal of how difficult the voyage to America was for the pilgrims. The History Channel also had an excellent production.
Did Spencer Tracey (the Mayflower's Captain, Christopher Jones) really fall in love with William Bradford's wife? Did she really fall into the Atlantic Ocean and drown while the Mayflower was anchored off the shores of Massachusetts? I have no idea. I assume there were journals - William Brewster kept one and so did William Bradford.. but movie plots are movie plots. They have to add a little romance and drama.
It was not romance or drama, however, when the pilgrims convinced Jones to keep the Mayflower anchored off the coast of Massachusetts for much of that first winter. It was survival. Without the ship, the pilgrims would have never made it through that first New England winter. We would have no day of Thanksgiving.
Even with the ship anchored, when the pilgrims got a community building completed, Jones and his crew made them move from the Mayflower and into the building. Less than 60 of the original 100 (plus) pilgrims made it until spring when they could begin building homes. Living in such crowded, unsanitary conditions, many died. Some died of scurvy and other illnesses during the voyage.
Jones had not planned on spending the winter providing hotel accommodations for pilgrims. He had planned to return to England. So, since my ancestor Brewster would have died had Christopher Jones not decided to anchor the Mayflower long enough to complete the community building, I and all those who came before me would not be here were it not for him. Thank you, Captain Jones. even if you did kick those people off your ship and did not leave to return to England until April 5th.
I started working on my family tree about ten years ago and am just now getting to the roots of this mighty oak. A guy named Ken responded to an email I sent because of a listing he had on Ancestry.com His message said he would like to contact those interested in the Daniel Wright Royce family of Columbus, Ohio. That is my paternal grandmother's family and it is from Ken I found out about my Mayflower connection.
The Mayflower's passengers thought they would be taken to a place north of James Cittie in Virginia which offers a much milder winter climate than do the New England states.
My Mom's first American ancestor arrived in Jamestown about 1640, but my Mayflower connection is on my Dad's side of the tree. Dad's relative, Elder William Brewster, arrived at Plymouth Rock in November of 1620. Jamestown (or, as it was then called, James Cittie) was settled in 1607.
The movie, Plymouth Adventure, made me laugh because it did accurately portray Elder William Brewster as being sought by King James' soldiers while the Mayflower was docked in England before departing for the New World.
If you recall your history, when King Henry VIII died, his eldest daughter, Mary, became Queen of England (Queen Mary is also a direct ancestor, by the way). She was Catholic. During Henry's reign, he had broken with the Catholic Church and established the Anglican Church. On several occasions, Henry wanted to change wives and the Catholics would not let him cut off the heads of prior wives and re-marry. The Episcopal Church, as we call it in America, was born. As Queen, Mary returned England to a nation of Catholicism.
When Mary died and Elizabeth I became queen, England once again broke its ties to the Catholic Church. Elizabeth I tolerated little separation of church and state. When the unmarried Elizabeth I died childless, James of Scotland took over the reins.
The Anglican (or Episcopal) church was the Church of England and if you lived in that country, that was how and where you worshiped, like it or not.
My ancestor, William Brewster, did not like it. He wanted religious freedom. A lot of other people did, too. "Elder" was his church title. When the printing press was invented, Brewster got himself one and began printing religious pamphlets. They were offensive to King James and the Church of England. Thus, King James was looking for William Brewster and his bothersome printing press and religious pamphlets. Had he been caught, Brewster would undoubtedly have spent some fun time in the Tower of England.
William Brewster and many other English citizens moved to Leiden, The Netherlands (Holland) where they established a new Reformed Protestant Church. King James was so offended by my ancestor's pamphlets, he gave the Dutch an ultimatum to either stop the printing of them and stop the import of them into England, or James would not be the good friend the Dutch would need if Spain invaded them (as the Dutch thought Spain was going to do)..
The head of Brewster's church could not go with the pilgrims to the New World. He needed to stay with the majority of church members in Holland and England. He could not set sail on the Mayflower. Thus, the head of the church sent one of his trusted Elders: William Brewster. He was one of the men who helped write and then signed the Mayflower Compact.
William Brewster was born 24 January 1560 in the year of our Lord in Doncaster, Yorkshire, England. He was 59 years old when the Mayflower sailed in 1620. He died at age 84 in Plymouth, Massachusetts on 10 April 1644 and was buried at Burial Hill in Plymouth.
In 1591, William Brewster married Mary Wentworth, born 1569 in Scrooby, Nottinghamshire, England (one of the strongholds for religious upheaval). The couple was married at Mary's birthplace. Mary died on 17 April 1627. just seven years after arriving in America's shores.
The movie was wrong about one thing. It showed Mary "Smith" talking with King James' soldiers. She had with her two daughters one of whom was named "Patience." The Brewsters did have two daughters when they came to America, but left their children behind in Holland. After Plymouth was colonized they sent for their daughters (one of whom was Patience). William and Mary had other children before she died. Patience Brewster is my ancestor.
From there, a lot of begetting occurred. Patience Brewster married Thomas Prence (twice governor of Massachusetts), and they begat Mercy Prence who married John Freeman. The Freemans begat daughter Mercy who married Samuel Knowles and they begat Mercy Knowles who married Thomas Rich. They begat Ruth Rich (who first married a man named Daniel Higgins) who, after being widowed, married William Taylor. Ruth and William begat Ozias Taylor (who married Amelia Humphrey). They begat my great-grandmother, Amanda Taylor.
The story gets interesting about here, but I'm not going to go into it because this is a Thanksgiving story. Suffice it to say that my grandmother, Jessie Helen M. Royce, was the illegitimate daughter of William Taylor Royce, son of Amanda Taylor and Daniel Wright Royce. She was raised by Amanda and Daniel and, after their deaths, by Danforth Royce, another son, and his wife, Sarah Royce.
The point is, Thanksgiving is about roots. Have you ever thought about it that way? I don't think I have. Not until this year.
When you look at the various attacks by secular progressives against American and Western European societies, isn't our roots what the attacks are designed to destroy?
The feminists and gays want to do away with traditional marriage which eliminates family roots. The ACLU and secularists want to do away with religion which does away with the moral roots that have made our societies strong. One Worlders want to do away with national borders and that does away with the roots of our nation's sovereignty.
We need to hold on to our roots. They are the thing that keeps our society upright. A tree without them falls flat on its. trunk.
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I hope you and yours have a wonderful, deep-rooted Thanksgiving holiday! Humility demands that we understand that we owe everything we have - from straight teeth and good or bad health to social and religious traditions or roots - to our ancestors.
Make sure you save a place at the dinner table for them when you say grace.
© 2009 Marilyn M. Barnewall - All Rights Reserved
Marilyn Barnewall received her graduate degree in Banking from the University of Colorado Graduate School of Business in 1978. She has authored seven non-fiction books about banking, two are listed at Oxford and Cambridge University libraries in Great Britain. Her current book, When the Swan’s Neck Breaks, details the banking problems she foresaw in 2006. Of the 24 predictions made in the book, 22 have happened. It is fiction but readers refer to it as docu-fiction.
Barnewall was named one of America's top 100 businesswomen in the book, What It Takes (Dolphin/Doubleday; Gardenswartz and Roe) and was one of the founders of the Committee of 200, the official organization of America's top 200 businesswomen. She can be found in Who's:Who in America (2005-08), Who's Who of American Women (2006-08), Who's Who in Finance and Business (2006-08), and Who's Who in the World (2008).