Thursday, 17 December 2020

Mayflower 400: Queer Bloodline Revelations

One of three stained-glass windows depicting the Mayflower. The windows were created 100 years ago this year and can be seen at the Pilgrim Museum Plymouth, Massachusetts.

In this 400th anniversary year of the sailing of the Mayflower I wanted to celebrate members of the lgbt community who are descended from the Mayflower Pilgrims and passengers. I had the idea 18 months ago and began researching the ancestries of hundreds of lgbt people for find their Mayflower ancestors. I had already researched quite a few and I’ve featured several of them in my “Out of Their Trees” series.

As research progressed more and more names became added to the list. In the end I had to sift through them all and select just 60 people to research in more detail, verifying each bloodline with as many primary and authoritative sources as was available.

The task was enormous, I realised that from the start, and with hindsight I wish I’d begun earlier. I had hoped to produce my research in June for the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower setting off on its voyage, but the research wasn’t quite complete. Then I hoped to produce it in September for the anniversary of the ship’s arrival in New England, but I hadn’t finished compiling the charts and writing its accompanying text. So, I decided I needed to get it all finished by today, the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower dropping anchor in Plymouth Harbor.

Even though the Mayflower had arrived in September it took until December before the Pilgrims found a suitable place to drop anchor and found their settlement. Incidentally, contemporary accounts of this (by two Pilgrims) make no mention of Plymouth Rock.

So, after 18 months of research my Mayflower 400 project is as complete as it’s likely to be before the anniversary passes by. It contains many family trees that are appearing in print and available online for the very first time.

Here is the link to the finished research, “Mayflower 400: Queer Bloodline Revelations”.

I hope that the lay-out of the family trees are easy to follow. Many of the people included have multiple descents from several Mayflower Passengers, Pilgrims and Separatists. These descents have had to be split between several charts. This will be confusing, but I hope with a little concentration you will figure it out!

Of the 60 lgbt Mayflower and Pilgrim descendants included in the document some are famous and some are less well-known. They range from entertainers to artists, murderers to murder victims, and politicians to activists. There’s even a stamp collector in there. The majority of the individuals are, not surprisingly, American though there are several Canadians as well. One regrettable omission is the absence of any “t+” people from the lgbt+ spectrum. I would have liked the document to be more representative of the whole community, but I’ve been unable to verify any Mayflower ancestors in the ancestries of any I researched. No doubt there is some, but they are difficult to find at present.

One word of advice for anyone researching their own, or someone else’s, family tree; don’t assume that ancestries you find on public websites such as Ancestry, Find My past, etc. are accurate. Many of them copy each other, and one false identification of an ancestor can spread. I may have mentioned before that many family trees online, including on Ancestry and Find My past, have one of my ancestors fighting in the American Civil War, which I know is impossible – he was living in Nottinghamshire, England, all through the war. A couple of years ago the media made a sensation about a young girl who claimed to have proved that all the US Presidents were descended from King John of England. The girl had not researched the ancestries herself but copied them all from Ancestry.com. A simple background search by the media would have revealed that most of the research the girl had used had long been disproved.

Having said that, rest assured that I have researched the ancestries in the document thoroughly. Research is never-ending. New Mayflower bloodlines will be discovered, and some disproved. More lgbt people will be revealed as Mayflower and Pilgrim descendants. As I said earlier, there may be some transgender mayflower descendants.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this celebratory document.

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