Christopher Martin (c1582-1621)

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Christopher Martin was born 1583 in England, United Kingdom and died 1621 in onboard the Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor, Plymouth, Plymouth County, Massachusetts, United States of unspecified causes. He married Mary Prower (c1575-1621) 27 February 1607 in Great Burstead, Essex, England.

Passenger on the 1620 Mayflower and early settler of Plymouth_Colony who died in the first harsh winter there. Signer of the Mayflower Compact.

Birthplace - Great Burstead, Essex.

Biography Edit

Christopher Martin was born on an unknown date prior to 1582. He married Mary Prower, a widow, in Great Burstead, Essex, England in February 1606 or 1607. Mary Martin was born around 1580, in the vicinity of Great Burstead, Billericay. She had a son, named Solomon, from her previous marriage. She later bore Martin a son, whom they named Nathaniel, born in February 1609 or 1610, also in Billericay. [1]

Christopher Martin was a merchant. He was a practicing catholic, however in his early 30s, he came into conflict with Catholic religious authorities for refusing to observe the Catholic ritual of kneeling at communion. A similar incident, also involving Nathaniel, occurred at Archdeaconry Court at Chelmsford in 1619.

Governor of the Speedwell Edit

Christopher Martin sold off his landholdings in Great Burstead between 1617 and 1620, and purchased shares in the Pilgrims' joint-stock company, where he was appointed as a Purchasing agent and elected governor of the Speedwell, the ship that was to accompany the Mayflower. He did not endear himself well to the Separatists, however. Robert Cushman, one of the Pilgrim's business leaders, reported:

Near £700 hath been bestowed at Hampton, upon what I know not, Mr. Martin saith he neither can, nor will give any account of it; and if he be called upon for accounts, he crieth out of unthankfulness for his pains and care, that we are suspicious of him, and flings away, ... [H]e ... so insulteth over our poor people, with such scorn and contempt, as if they were not good enough to wipe his shoes. It would break your heart to see his dealing, and the mourning of our people; they complain to me, and alas! I can do nothing for them. If I speak to him, he flies in my face as mutinous, and saith no complaints shall be heard or received but by himself, and saith they are froward and waspish, discontented people, and I do ill to hear them. There are others that would lose all they have put in, or make satisfaction for what they have had, that they might depart; but he will not hear them, nor suffer them to go ashore, lest they should run away. The sailors are so offended at his ignorant boldness in meddling and controlling in things he knows not what belongs to, as that some threaten to mischief him . . .

Voyage of the Mayflower Edit

Christopher Martin, Mary Martin and her son Solomon came to America on the Mayflower, but all died during the first winter in Plymouth Colony, during 1620-21. He appears as the first governor of the Mayflower when it set sail in 1620.


Mayflower at Provincetown Harbor

The Mayflower, originating from London with a group of Adventurers bound for the New World rendezvoused on 22 July with the Speedwell just arriving from Holland with a group of religious refugees from Leiden. Originally intended to sail jointly to the English Colony in Virginia it soon became evident that Speedwell was not seaworthy. Passengers and cargo were combined onto Mayflower (with many left behind) for the journey, finally departing on September 9.

During the voyage fierce storms blew the ship off course, arriving at Cape Cod on the Eastern Massachusetts coastline on November 9th. For two days they attempted to sail south to Virginia but exhausting supplies and fierce storms caused them to abort this effort and drop anchor at what is now Provincetown Harbor. On November 11th, the group decided to settle here and start their own colony. They wrote a governmental contract called the Mayflower Compact, Christopher was the 9th of the 41 signers on this document.

Mayflower compact 2016

Signing the Mayflower Compact 1620, a painting by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris 1899

About the middle of December 1620, the ship moved and dropped anchor in Plymouth Harbor. All the while the pilgrims were conducting several exploring missions of the area and negotiations with the local natives. Almost half of the passengers died, suffering from an outbreak of a contagious disease described as a mixture of scurvy, pneumonia and tuberculosis. In the spring, they built huts ashore, and on March 21, 1621, the surviving passengers disembarked from the Mayflower into their new settlement at Plymouth, Massachusetts.

Marriage and Family Edit

Christopher Martin came from Great Burstead, Billericay, where he married the widow Mrs. Mary Prower on 26 February 1606/7. They had one son, Nathaniel, baptized there on 26 February 1609/10, but there is no further record of this child and he did not come on the Mayflower, so he probably died young.

Family travelers on the Mayflower include:

  • Christopher Martin - died first winter onboard the Mayflower
  • Mary Prower Martin (wife of Christopher) - also died in first winter - believed to be survived by several children from first marriage to Edward Prower.
  • Solomon Prower (1596-1620) - (Mary's son from her first marriage - also listed as a servant and signal-man. Died in first winter.
  • John Langmore (c1605-1621) - (probably from Shropshire or Worcestershire), age under 21, servant to the Christopher Martin


Offspring of Christopher Martin and Mary Prower (c1575-1621)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Nathaniel Martin (c1608-c1618)


Vital Records Edit

Bradford's 1651 Journal Edit

List drafted circa 1651 by Gov Wm Bradford:

Mr. Christopher Martin, and his wife, and 2 servants, Salamon Prower and John Langemore.

Mr. Martin, he and all his, dyed in the first infection; not long after the arrivall.

References Edit

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