John Alden (c1599-1687)

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John Alden was born circa 1599 in England, United Kingdom and died 22 September 1687 in Duxbury, Massachusetts, United States of unspecified causes. He married Priscilla Mullins (1602-1680) circa 1622 .

Vital statistics

  • John Alden (1599–September 22, 1687) - Parents uncertain (See biography)
  • 1599 : Born in England - probably Harwich, Essex (circa 1599)
  • 1620-Sep-6 : From a list of the 102 passengers onboard the Mayflower during its trans-Atlantic voyage of September 6 - November 9, 1620, among them the 50 Pilgrim settlers of Plymouth Colony in what is now Massachusetts.
  • 1620-Nov-13 : The group remained onboard the ship through the next day, a Sunday, for prayer and worship. The immigrants finally set foot on land at what would become Provincetown on November 13.
  • 1622/1623 : Married Priscilla Mullins (1602-1680)
  • 1687-Sep-22 : Died in Duxbury, MA :


Early Plymouth_Colony settler (1620) from the Mayflower and he is said to be the first passenger of The Mayflower to set foot on Plymouth Rock in 1620.

John Alden was hired as a cooper in Southampton by the Leiden separatists and was given a choice of remaining or returning to England. He was also one of the founders of the Plymouth Colony and the seventh signer of the Mayflower Compact. Distinguished for practical wisdom, integrity and decision, he acquired and retained a commanding influence over his associates. Employed in public business he was first recorded as a Governor's Assistant in 1632, the Duxbury Deputy to the General Court of Plymouth, a member under arms of Capt. Miles Standish's Duxbury Company, a member of Council of War, Treasurer of Plymouth Colony, and Commissioner to Yarmouth.

Voyage of the Mayflower


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, John was the 7th 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.

Plymouth Colony

John Alden had settled with the Separatist congregation in the Plymouth Colony, though was not likely a member himself. A year or two after arriving, John Alden was wed to Priscilla Mullins, daugher of prominent (and wealthy) fellow colonist William Mullins who perished in the first winter.

From 1633 until 1675 he was assistant to the governor of the colony, frequently serving as acting governor and also sat on many juries, including one of the two witch trials in the Plymouth Colony.

In 1634 Alden was jailed, in Boston, for a fight at Kennebec 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.

In later years Alden became known for his intense dislike of the Quakers and Baptists, who were trying to settle on Cape Cod. A letter survives complaining that Alden was too strict when it came to dealing with them.

John Alden was the last male survivor of the signers of the Mayflower Compact of 1620, and with the exception of Mary Allerton, he was the last survivor of the Mayflower's company. He died at Duxbury on September 12, 1687. Both he and his wife Priscilla lie buried in the Miles Standish Burial Ground.

The Alden residence is also in Duxbury, on the north side of the village, on a farm which is still in possession of their descendants of the seventh generation. He made no will, having distributed the greater part of his estate among his children during his life time.

John Alden's House was built in 1653 and 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. John and Priscilla had the following children who survived to adulthood: Elizabeth, John (accused during the Salem witch trials), Joseph, Priscilla, Jonathan, Sarah, Ruth, Mary, Rebecca, and David. They have the most descendants today of all the pilgrim families.


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.

Family of John Alden and Priscilla Mullens

John and Priscilla had the following children who survived to adulthood: Elizabeth, John (accused during the Salem witch trials), Joseph, Priscilla, Jonathan, Sarah, Ruth, Mary, Rebecca, and David. They have the most descendants today of all the pilgrim families.

This is just a partial list:

  1. Captain John Alden JR (1622-1701) - - married Elizabeth Phillips - 12 children / accused in Salem Witch Trials.
  2. Elizabeth Alden (1623-1717) - married William Pabodie - 13 children
  3. Joseph Alden (1627-1696) - married Mary Simmons - 7 children
  4. Sarah Alden (1627-1674) - married Alexander Standish, son of Mayflower Pilgrim Myles Standish - 8 children
  5. Mary Alden (1632-1688) - born in Duxbury and died after 13-Jun-1688 - no known marriage or descendants
  6. Captain Johnathan Alden (1633-1697) - married Abigail Hallett - 6 children
  7. Ruth Alden (1643-1674) - married John Bass - 7 children - great grandparents to Pres John Adams
  8. David Alden (1646-1718) - married Mary Southworth - 6 children
  9. Priscilla Alden (1647-1688) - born in Duxbury and died after 13-Jun-1688 - no known marriage or descendants
  10. Rebecca Alden (1649-1689) - married Thomas Delano - 9 children
  11. Unnamed children that died young

Children listed in error - Zachariah, Lydia,


Offspring of John Alden and Priscilla Mullins (1602-1680)
Name Birth Death Joined with
John Alden (1622-1701) 16 May 1622 Plymouth, Plymouth County, Massachusetts 14 March 1701 Duxbury, Plymouth County, Massachusetts Elizabeth Phillips (1622-1695)

Elizabeth Alden (1623-1717) 1625 Plymouth, Plymouth County, Massachusetts 31 May 1717 Little Compton, Newport County, Rhode Island William Pabodie (1620-1707)

Joseph Alden (1627-1696) 22 May 1627 Plymouth, Plymouth County, Massachusetts 8 February 1697 Bridgewater, Plymouth County, Massachusetts Mary Simmons (1638-1697)

Sarah Alden (1627-1674) 1627 Plymouth Colony, Duxbury, Plymouth County, Massachusetts 13 June 1688 Duxbury, Plymouth County, Massachusetts Alexander Standish (1627-1702)

Johnathan Alden (1633-1697) 22 May 1632 Plymouth, Plymouth County, Massachusetts 14 February 1697 Duxbury, Plymouth County, Massachusetts Abigail Hallett (1644-1725)

Mary Alden (1632-1688) 1638 Duxbury, Plymouth County, Massachusetts 13 June 1688 Duxbury, Plymouth County, Massachusetts
Ruth Alden (1643-1674) 1643 Duxbury, Plymouth County, Massachusetts 1674 Braintree, Norfolk County, Massachusetts John Bass (1630-1716)

David Alden (1646-1718) 1646 Duxbury, Plymouth County, Massachusetts, United States 20 May 1718 Duxbury, Plymouth County, Massachusetts, United States Mary Southworth (c1650-1719)

Priscilla Alden (1647-1688) 1639 Duxbury, Plymouth County, Massachusetts 1688 Duxbury, Plymouth County, Massachusetts
Rebecca Alden (1649-1689) 1643 Duxbury, Plymouth County, Massachusetts 1688 Duxbury, Plymouth County, Massachusetts Thomas Delano (1642-1723)

Unnamed children who died young

Notable descendants

John Alden challenges John Howland for the claim to having the greatest number of descendants in America.

Notable descendants include: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Ichabod Alden, Orson Welles, Dan Quayle, Raquel Welch, Frank Nelson Doubleday, Samuel Eliot Morison, Gamaliel Bradford, Elizabeth Palmer Peabody, Herbert Henry Dow, Martha Graham, Adlai Stevenson III, Jan Garrigue Masaryk, Dick Van Dyke, Julia Child, William Cullen Bryant, John Trumbull, Ned Lamont, Matt Hasselbeck, Marilyn Monroe and Hayden Alden. [11]

Bradfords Passenger List

From Gov Bradford's list of Mayflower passengers (written circa 1650):

John Alden was hired for a cooper, at South-Hampton, wher the ship victuled; and being a hopefull yong man, was much desifed, but left to his owne liking to go or stay when he came here; but he stayed, and maryed here.

Mr. Molines, and his wife, his sone, and his servent, dyed the first winter. Only his dougter Priscila survived, and maried with John Alden, who are both living, and have 11 children. And their eldest daughter is maried, and hath five children.


Sources and notes

‡ General
Ω Birth
₪ Wedding
  • 1622 or 1623


  MainTour,,, Robin Patterson

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