Remembering the Unsung Pilgrims

Everyone knows the famous Pilgrims, but what about all the other, lesser-known Pilgrims? Here’s the scoop on a few of our B-list forefathers and mothers.

By Ken Sheldon

Nov 09 2015

Photo Credit : Mark Brewer
Everyone knows the famous Pilgrims—Governor William Bradford, Miles Standish, Priscilla Mullins and John Alden—but what about all the other, lesser-known Pilgrims? Here’s the scoop on a few of our B-list forefathers and mothers.
Unsung Pilgrims
Remembering the Unsung Pilgrims | Humor

Remembering the Unsung Pilgrims

Isaac ‘Insider’ Allerton

The original wheeler-dealer, Allerton was among those responsible for repaying the Pilgrims’ debt to the investors who had financed their trip. Instead, he embezzled from those funds and was banished from the colony. A true survivor, Allerton nevertheless succeeded in business and ended up with houses in both New Haven and lower Manhattan, near where Wall Street stands today—which figures.

Francis ‘Boom-Boom’ Billington

While the Mayflower was still in Plymouth Harbor, young Francis—an “active” child if ever there was one—got hold of his father’s musket and fired it off, showering sparks near an open barrel of gunpowder, which could easily have blown up the ship. Later, members of the Billington family were found guilty of sedition, scandal, slander, and even murder. They were the family you didn’t want to live next door to.

Mary Brewster

Wife of William Brewster, the Pilgrims’ religious leader, Mary was one of only five adult women to survive the first winter at Plymouth and make it to the first Thanksgiving—which she had to help cook, of course. No big surprise that one of Mary’s many descendants was Julia Child.

Stephen Hopkins

The Mayflower voyage was Hopkins’s second trip to the New World. His first ship, headed to Jamestown, Virginia, was wrecked off Bermuda. There Hopkins mutinied and narrowly escaped being hanged. He eventually returned to England and came back to the Americas aboard the Mayflower. In Plymouth, he established the first tavern, where he was fined several times for serving liquor on the Lord’s Day, overcharging for spirits, and allowing drunkenness in his establishment. The local Chamber of Commerce at the time voted him “Most Likely to End Up in the Stocks.”

Edward ‘Temper, Temper’ Doty

The “honor” of fighting the first duel in the New World goes to Edward Doty and Edward Leister, servants of Stephen Hopkins. No one knows what the dueling Eds were arguing about, but their punishment was to be tied together hand and foot for 24 hours. Doty spent the rest of his life in Plymouth, where he was known for his quick temper, appearing in court numerous times and managing to avoid public service of any kind—which is probably just as well.

Goodman & Browne

Working in the woods one day, John Goodman and Peter Browne took a lunch break and went for a walk with their dogs. The dogs saw a deer and chased it, so the men went after them. They got lost in the process and spent the night pacing beneath a tree—and ready to climb it—because they heard what they thought were “two lions roaring exceedingly.” No truth to the rumor that descendants of Browne and Goodman founded AAA.

Alice Mullins

This unsung heroine was married to shoemaker William Mullins, who brought 250 shoes and 13 pairs of boots with him on the Mayflower. (“But did you remember the sunscreen? No.”) Sadly, Alice died soon after arriving at Plymouth, but she nevertheless had a vast number of descendants, one of whom was Marilyn Monroe, who also had a lot of shoes.

Susanna ‘Me First’ White

A fortunate survivor of that first winter, Susanna had some notable firsts to her credit: first baby born in the new colony (while the ship was still in the harbor); first bride, a few months after her first husband died; and first person to say of Plymouth Rock, “That’s it?”