Not Everybody Signed the Mayflower Compact

By Lois Masterson

                                                                                                          Signing of the Mayflower Compact, by J.L.G.Ferris

There were one hundred and two passengers (plus the crew) on the Mayflower. Only forty-one males who were free agents, including Christopher Martin, the agent and treasurer of the London merchants, signed the Compact on November 11 (=21), 1620, in Provincetown Harbor. The intent of the Compact was to assure that all would band together and submit to majority rule.

The twenty-three women on board did not have voting rights. That prevented the following from signing: Katherine Carver, a 20-year-old maid and a second maid (names unknown), Marie Martin, Elizabeth Baker Winslow, Dorothy May Bradford, Mary Norris Allerton, Rose Standish, Alice Mullins, Susanna White, Elizabeth Fisher Hopkins, Elinor Billington, Agnes Cooper Tilley and her cousin Humility Cooper Tilley, Joan Hurst Rogers, Mrs. Thomas Tinker, Alice Rigdale, Susanna Chilton, Ann Fuller, Sarah Eaton, and Sarah Priest.

Some—not all—of the males classified as servants or seamen were ineligible to sign the Compact. They were Roger Wilder, an unmarried seaman who died a few days after landing; William Latham, a boy servant to John Carter, who returned to England about 1640; William Butten, a servant who died on the voyage; John Langermore and Solomon Prower, both servants to Christopher Martin; Robert Cartier, servant to William Mullins, who died the first winter; Elias Storey, an unmarried seaman; and John Hooke, a boy who died soon after arrival. Among the thirty-one children on board were Jasper More, age 7, who died in December 1620; Richard More, age 6; Ellen More, "a little girl" who died the first winter; Bartholomew Allerton, age 8; Remember Allerton, age 6; Mary Allerton, age 4; Mary Chilton, age 13; Samuel Eaton, "a suckling child"; Constance Hopkins, age 11; Oceanus Hopkins, born at sea; Henry Samson, age uncertain; John Billington, age 15; Francis Billington, age 14; Elizabeth Rogers, age 13; John Cooke, age 10; Resolved White, age 5; and Peregrine White, born in Provincetown Harbor.

The Mayflower Compact from William Bradford's 'Of Plimoth Plantation'. Photo by Joseph Wood

These non-signers had their fates. Dorothy Bradford, falling off the Mayflower while her husband was away exploring in the shallop, drowned in Provincetown Harbor. She never saw Plymouth. Peregrine White, born in Provincetown Harbor in December 1620, the first English child born in New England, lived to experience the eighteenth century, dying in 1704. Richard More died in 1696 in Salem, the only Mayflower passenger whose grave is marked by the stone set at his burial. (It was discovered in 1970 that Richard and his siblings were not mere waifs on the Mayflower, as had been supposed, but royally descended.) Mary Allerton, who married Thomas Cushman, the successor to William Brewster as Ruling Elder of the Plymouth Church, lived longest of all Mayflower passengers—until December 1699.