John Alden, "Mayflower" Passenger

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John Alden

Also Known As: "John "Mayflower Compact" Alden"
Birthplace: Southhampton, Hampshire, England
Death: Died in South Duxbury, Plymouth Colony
Place of Burial: South Duxbury, Plymouth, Massachusetts, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Unknown Father of John Alden and Unknown Mother of John Alden
Husband of Priscilla Mullins and Priscilla Mullins, "Mayflower" Passenger
Father of Joseph B Alden; Elisabeth Pabodie; Hannah Alden; John Alden, Jr.; Joseph Alden, Sr. and 7 others

Occupation: Cooper, Carpenter, Assistant Governor, Cooper on the Mayflower, Ship Captain, Pilgrim emigrated on the Mayflower to Plymouth Colony in Mass.
Managed by: John Patrick McCaffrey
Last Updated:

About John Alden, "Mayflower" Passenger

John Alden (c.1597 - 12 September 1687 South Duxbury, Plymouth Colony) John Alden is said to be the first person from the Mayflower to set foot on Plymouth Rock in December of 1620.


  • Efforts to locate John Alden's birthplace and have so far been inconclusive. Although he joined the Mayflower at Southampton County, Hampshire, England, no records have been found of John in Southampton, and he was not necessarily a native of that place.
  • John Alden's parentage is unknown. Genealogy depends on original documentation for proof of lineage. If you cite a link, please make it to a place that shows original documents - NOT Wikipedia or other non-primary sources.


Priscilla Mullens (also spelled 'Mullins') (c.1603 Dorking, Surrey, England - c.1688 Duxbury, Plymouth County present-day Massachusetts), daughter of William Mullens (c.1578 Dorking County, Surrey, England - 21 February 1621 Plymouth, Plymouth, Massachusetts) and Alice Mullens (c.January 1574 St. Martin, London, Middlesex, England - c.1620 Plymouth, Plymouth, Massachusetts)

The Alden Children

Priscilla and John Alden had ten children, with a possible eleventh dying in infancy. Although not documented, it's presumed that the first three children were born in Plymouth, and the remainder in Duxbury.

  1. John Alden, Jr. (1623 - 1701) Born at Plymouth, John moved to Boston and married Elizabeth Phillips Everill, widow of Abiel Everill, 1 April 1660 at Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts; John and Elizabeth had thirteen children. He was a mariner and became a naval commander of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. He was a member of the Old South Church of Boston and his headstone is embedded in the wall there. On a trip to Salem John Alden was accused of witchcraft and spent fifteen weeks in a Boston jail. He escaped shortly before nine other accused were executed during the Salem witch trials. Later exonerated, Captain John Alden died at Boston, Massachusetts, on 14 March, 1701.
  2. Elisabeth Alden (c.1624 - 1717) married William Pabodie (also recorded as 'Peabody'), a civic and military leader of Duxbury, where all thirteen of their children were born. They later moved to Little Compton, Rhode Island, where Elizabeth died on 31 May, 1717, at the age of ninety-four.
  3. Joseph Alden (c.1627 - c.1697) Moved to Bridgewater where he farmed land purchased from the Indians by his father and Myles Standish. He married Mary Simmons and they had seven children. Died 8 February 1696/97 at Bridgewater, Plymouth County, Massachusetts
  4. Jonathan Alden (c.1632 - 1697) married Abigail Hallett on 10 December 1672 at Duxbury, Plymouth County, Massachusetts. Jonathan and Abigail lived in Duxbury and raised six children in the original Alden home, which he received from his father, and which passed to his son upon his death on 14 February, 1697.
  5. Sarah Alden (c.1628 - 1674), whose marriage to Alexander Standish, son of Miles Standish, belies any idea of a feud between the Aldens and the Standish family. Sarah and Alexander had at least seven children and lived in Duxbury until Sarah’s death on 12 August 1674.
  6. Ruth Alden (1634 - 1674) married John Bass 12 May 1657; had seven children; died 12 October 1674 at Braintree, Norfolk, Massachusetts.
  7. Priscilla Alden (1639 - 1689) No record of marriage nor children
  8. David Alden (c. 1645 - 1719) married Mary Southworth, daughter of Constant Southworth of Plymouth Colony, and had six children. Described as "a prominent member of the church, a man of great respectability and much employed in public business."
  9. Rebecca Alden (c.1649 - 1688), married Thomas Delano of Duxbury before30 October1667. They had nine children.
  10. Robert Alden (1649 - 1685)
  11. Mary Alden (c.1659 - c.1688) No record of marriage nor children

NOTE: Zachariah Alden and Henry Alden have been incorrectly identified as sons of John and Priscilla Alden in various publications. For information on the genealogy of Henry Alden, see Mayflower Descendant 43:21-29,133-138; 44:27-30,181-184.

Biographical Summary

John Alden (1599?–September 22, 1687) was a tradesman who emigrated to America in 1620 with the Pilgrims on the Mayflower and was among the founders of the Plymouth Colony. He was originally hired by William Bradford and others to be their cooper. Though he could have returned to England the following year, he chose to stay in the new colony.

At Plymouth, he quickly rose up from his common seaman status to a prominent member of the Colony. About 1622 or 1623, he married Priscilla, the orphaned daughter of William and Alice Mullins. They had their first child Elizabeth, around 1624, and had nine more children over the next twenty years.

John Alden was one of the earliest freemen in the Colony, and was elected an assistant to the governor and Plymouth Court as early as 1631, and was regularly re-elected throughout the 1630s. He also became involved in administering the trading activities of the Colony on the Kennebec River, and in 1634 witnessed a trading dispute escalate into a double-killing, as Moses Talbot of Plymouth Colony was shot at point-blank range by trespassing John Hocking, who was then shot and killed when other Plymouth men returned fire. John Alden was held in custody by the neighboring Massachusetts Bay Colony for a few days while the two colonies debated who had jurisdiction to investigate the murders. Myles Standish eventually came to the Bay Colony to provide Plymouth's answer in the matter.

There are several theories regarding Alden's ancestry. According to William Bradford's Of Plimoth Plantation, he was hired as a cooper in Southampton, England just before the voyage to America. In The English Ancestry" and "Homes of the Pilgrim Fathers, Charles Edward Banks suggested that John was the son of George and Jane Alden and grandson of Richard and Avys Alden of Southampton. However, there are no further occurrences of the names George, Richard, and Avys in his family, which would have been unusual in the seventeenth century. Another theory is that John Alden came from Harwich, England where there are records of an Alden family who were related by marriage to Christopher Jones, the Mayflower's captain. In this case, he may have been the son of John Alden and Elizabeth Daye.

In 1634 Alden was jailed in Boston for a fight at Kenebeck in Maine between members of the Plymouth Colony and the Massachusetts Bay Colony. While Alden did not take part in the fight (which left one person dead) he was the highest ranking member the Massachusetts Bay colonists could get their hands on, and it was only through the intervention of Bradford that he was eventually released.

Alden, and several other families, including the Standish family, founded the town of Duxbury in the 1630s and took up residence there. He served as Duxbury's deputy to the Plymouth Court throughout the 1640s, and sat on several committees, including the Committee on Kennebec Trade, and sat on several Councils of War. He also served as colony treasurer. In the 1650s, he built a house in Duxbury, which still stands today. By the 1660s, Alden's frequent public service, combined with his large family, began to cause his estate to languish, so the Plymouth Court provided him a number of land grants and cash grants to better provide for his family. Through the 1670s, Alden began distributing his land holdings to his surviving sons. He died in 1687 at the age of 89, one of the last surviving Mayflower passengers. Alden and his wife Priscilla lie buried in the Miles Standish Burial Ground in Duxbury.


  • John Alden is remembered chiefly because of a popular legend, put into verse in 1858 as The Courtship of Miles Standish by his descendant Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, concerning his courtship of Priscilla Mullins. There is no known historic basis to the legend.
  • Alden's house in Duxbury, built in 1653, is open to the public as a museum. It is run by the Alden Kindred of America, an organization which provides historical information about him and his home, including genealogical records of his descendants.
  • A rifle supposedly owned by John Alden is in the collection of the National Firearms Museum (National Rifle Association), Fairfax, Virginia: "The most valuable item in the museum's collection is a .66-caliber Italian wheel lock carbine that came over on the Mayflower in 1620 with Pilgrim John Alden."
  • Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was a descendant of John Alden, as were John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Orson Welles, Dan Quale, Raquel Welch, Frank Nelson DOubleday, Samuel ELiot Morison, Gamaliel Bradford, Elizabeth Palmer Peabody, Herbert Henry Dow, Martha Graham, Martha Stewart, Adlai Stevenson III, Jam Garrigue Masarysk, Dick Van Dyke, Julia Child, William Cullen Bryant, John Trumbull, Ned Lamont, Matt Hasselbeck, Jordan Narvey, Lila Battis, and (presumably) Marilyn Monroe.


  • Addison, Daniel Dulany. "The Life and Times of Edward Bass, First Bishop of Massachusetts". Houghton, Mifflin, 1897
  • Alden, Ebenezer. "Memorial of the Descendants of the Hon. John Alden". S.P. Brown, 1867
  • Hawthorne, Julian. "The History of the United States from 1492 to 1910 Volume 1: 1492-1910". BiblioBazaar, LLC, 2007. ISBN 1426485417, 9781426485411.; p.61-62
  • Longfellow, H.W. "The Courtship of Miles Standish", 1858
  • National Society of Colonial Dames. "First Record Book of the Society of Colonial Dames", 1897; Ch.75
  • Waters, Henry Fitz-Gilbert. "The New England Historical and Genealogical Register". New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1898; p.435-440


Detailed biography -

-------------------- Crew Member of the Mayflower, signer of the Mayflower Compact

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John Alden, "Mayflower" Passenger's Timeline

July 6, 1599
Southhampton, Hampshire, England

1599 Southampton, Hampshire, England

Age 18
Braintree, Norfolk County, Massachusetts, United States
November 1620
Age 21
Plymouth, Massachusetts, United States

The Mayflower Compact is a written agreement composed by a consensus of the new Settlers arriving at New Plymouth in November of 1620. They had traveled across the ocean on the ship Mayflower which was anchored in what is now Provincetown Harbor near Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The Mayflower Compact was drawn up with fair and equal laws, for the general good of the settlement and with the will of the majority. The Mayflower’s passengers knew that the New World’s earlier settlers failed due to a lack of government. They hashed out the content and eventually composed the Compact for the sake of their own survival.

All 41 of the adult male members on the Mayflower signed the Compact. Being the first written laws for the new land, the Compact determined authority within the settlement and was the observed as such until 1691. This established that the colony (mostly persecuted Separatists), was to be free of English law. It was devised to set up a government from within themselves and was written by those to be governed.

The original document is said to have been lost, but the writings of William Bradford’s journal Of Plymouth Plantation and in Edward Winslow’s Mourt’s Relation: A Journal of the Pilgrims at Plymouth are in agreement and accepted as accurate. The Mayflower Compact reads:

"In the name of God, Amen. We, whose names are underwritten, the Loyal Subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord, King James, by the Grace of God, of England, France and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, e&. Having undertaken for the Glory of God, and Advancement of the Christian Faith, and the Honour of our King and Country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the northern parts of Virginia; do by these presents, solemnly and mutually in the Presence of God and one of another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil Body Politick, for our better Ordering and Preservation, and Furtherance of the Ends aforesaid; And by Virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame, such just and equal Laws, Ordinances, Acts, Constitutions and Offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the General good of the Colony; unto which we promise all due submission and obedience. In Witness whereof we have hereunto subscribed our names at Cape Cod the eleventh of November, in the Reign of our Sovereign Lord, King James of England, France and Ireland, the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth. Anno Domini, 1620."

One of the first lists of the Mayflower Compact’s signers was provided by William Bradford’s nephew, Nathaniel Morton. The names are published in his 1669 New England’s Memorial. They are also posted by the Avalon Project of Yale University. Some of the more familiar names includes are those such as: John Carver, William Bradford, Edward Winslow, William Brewster, Isaac Allerton, Myles Standish, and John Alden.

John Alden was not a Pilgram but hired as a Cooper. it is said he was the first passenger from the Mayflower to set foot on lnad at Plymouth Rock, MA.

Age 20

John was hired as a cooper when the Mayflower victualled at South Hampton. He was the youngest signer of the Mayflower Compact.

Age 20
Plymouth, Massachusetts, United States
Age 20
Age 20
Plymouth, MA, USA

Helped found Plymouth Colony

Age 20
England to Plymouth Colony, Mayflower
May 12, 1623
Age 23
Plymouth Colony (Present Massachusetts), (Present USA)

Married about 1623

Age 24
Plymouth, Plymouth, Massachusetts