One of the classic goals of American genealogy is to trace one's descent to the Mayflower. This was certainly one of my father's goals. Once George Whiting had traced his ancestry back, my father had to make the attempt as well. When my sister Sally and I took up my fathers notes and started delving into family history, we had in the back of our minds taking up Dad's quest... not that it was foremost in our minds, or that we knew how to go about it. I confess it wasn't until after I had found our link, recognizing the names of Priscilla Mullens and John Alden, that I searched for a list of Mayflower passengers and used the computer to examine people with passenger surnames that might plausibly link in.

Currently, I have four solid looking Mayflower direct ancestors on the Butler of Brockton tree. The relationship chart to the right shows the line for all four. Of course, once one has a link to Priscilla Mullens, you get her husband John Alden, her father William Mullens and her mother Alice Mullens with no effort.

I call the link 'solid' with confidence, but not proven to the standards the Mayflower Society or John Alden Society would accept. The top five generations from John and Priscilla Alden to Levi and Hanna Jones are in Mayflower Families Through Five Generations, the definitive work on the subject.  The Alden Kindred of America Website has these five generations available on line.

I was able to get two more generations from a not quite as hallowed but still solid source, Genealogies of the Families of Braintree, Norfolk, Mass., 1640-1850, transcribed on line with additions as Genealogies of Families of Braintree, Quincy, Weymouth, Randolph, Holbrook, Mass. & Others.  This makes me confident of Luther and Sarah Hayden, plus Royal and Sarah Hollis.

This brings us into the mid 1800s, when US Census data starts becoming solid. For each generation from Royal And Sarah Hollis down to my parents, the US Government caught parents and children in the same household. We also found the gravestones between Royal and Sarah and the still living.

This isn't considered as proper as having a complete set of certified birth, marriage and death records from the town hall or state archives. Ideally, certified vital records are preferred all the way from Mayflower Families Through Five Generations to the youngest of the still living. Unfortunately, there are large holes in the family's vital records. It seems that way back when, there was no tangible benefit for registering birth, marriages and deaths. It wasn't required by law. It cost money to record such events. As a result, vital records for those with less money and those who didn't live particularly close to the Town Hall are very incomplete. Alas, the Haydens and Hollises -- trying to make a living making boots and shoes atop Brockton's Cary Hill -- were neither particularly wealthy nor close to town hall.

Organizations like the Mayflower Society or John Alden Society do accept alternate 'primary sources' when the vital records are incomplete. US Census data counts as primary sources. I am just unsure of how much effort would be required to meet their standard. One is expected to make a good go at getting as many certified vital records as possible before going to alternate records. I am considering finding out just how expensive and tedious collecting such records might be.

But those are the square solid connections. There are some other Mayflower passengers on the tree that are not so square or direct.

With All Due Humility...

Humility Cooper was a passenger on the Mayflower. Her parents had died of a plague, so she was given to the care of her father's sister, Ann (Cooper) Tilly. Unfortunately, in the harsh first winter at Plymouth, Ann Tilly, her husband, and the rest or the Tillies died.

The above seems fairly certain. After that...

Humility Cooper was born in 1588, which would have made her an adult in 1620. Humility Cooper was 19 years old when she was baptized in London, England, which would have made her one year old while she was on the Mayflower. She was born in 1614/1615. Excuse me, 1619. The Mayflower Society, and alas I didn't ask their source, thought her ten years old when she was on the Mayflower. 1610. By records kept at Pilgrim Hall, Humility Cooper was still in Plymouth for the 1623 division of land and the 1627 division of cattle. William Bradford wrote in Of Plymouth Plantation that Humility "was sent for into England and died there." Humility Cooper married Christopher Webb. They married at Stratford on Avon, Warwickshire, England. They married in Braintree, Massachusetts. They lived in Braintree, and had five children, Christopher, Richard, Sarah, Thomas and Mary. She lived, if not happily ever after, then at least until she died in November 1689 in Braintree.  Wait a moment. Christopher Webb married Humility Wheaton, not Humility Cooper.

It has been suggested that there were at least two people named Humility Cooper.  I am inclined to agree. The problem isn't that there aren't records to show she lived, but that the records are too contradictory to give a clear picture of a single life span.

Anyway, if one wanders up the Sarah Austin tree, one can find someone named Humility who is a direct ancestor of Alton Webster Butler and thus all of the Modern Butlers.  While I haven't sought out the level of proofs I'm trying for on Pricilla's line, the possibility of a descent is there.

But none of the grand pilgrim societies are apt to touch it.  They want proof beyond a reasonable doubt, way past unreasonable doubts if at all possible. Poor Humility's past is too much lost in time. Still, if one googles "Humility Cooper" with "Christopher Webb," one can find any number of family trees touting Mayflower descent through Humility.

Me?  I added a big question mark to the Mayflower picture I added to her file.  Figuring out if the Braintree Humility is also the Plymouth Humility would seemingly require more primary evidence than is currently available.


Next, below the line, we have a near miss. Something a bit beyond a near miss. It seems almost like the Mayflower was aiming at poor Jael Hobart, but she managed to dodge with reflexes reminiscent of The Matrix.

To the right, you see Jael Hobart married to Joseph Bradford. If I mentioned that someone named Joseph Bradford born in Plymouth in 1630 is the son of Governor William Bradford, would you be surprised?

The problem is that so far as I know, none of the Modern Butlers are descended from Joseph and Jael. This is a miss.

Still, it might be considered an interesting miss. Note the green ovals all over the above diagram? I use the green oval bio-rose symbol to indicate a multiple ancestor. Such people have two or more children that are direct ancestors of the Modern Butlers. Two of Richard and Margaret Ibrook's children are my direct ancestors, including Rebecca. Three of Edmund and Margaret Hobart's children are my direct ancestors, including Peter. Two of Alice Northend's children are direct ancestors -- by two different husbands -- though Alice never came to the New World.  Everybody on the above chart is a direct ancestor... except Jael and Joseph.

But close only counts with horseshoes and hand grenades. The Mayflower Society and their ilk care little for horseshoes or hand grenades.

Above, we have a tale of two towns.  On the left in shades of red we have a small part of the Hersey family, one of the founding families of Hingham. Just to their right in green we have another such HIngham founding family, the Hobarts again, including Margaret and Edmund, whose granddaughter Jael married Governor Bradford's son as shown on the prior chart.  This time, however, we are tracing down through their daughter Alice, another one of their three children that is an ancestor of the Modern Butlers.  (Another of Edmund and Margaret's daughters, Nazereth, married a Beal. Mary Beal then married a Whiton (Whiting). When I visited the Mormon genealogy center in Hingham, I was complemented on having all sorts of grand old Hingham names in my tree.)

And, yes, everyone in red and green above is a direct ancestor... except Joshua Hersey on the bottom. Joshua has a brother, William Hersey III, who is a direct ancestor, but...

To the right, in blues and violets, we have some grand names from Plymouth, including Governor Bradford again and Richard Warren, another Mayflower passenger. Is it surprising that the grandchildren of the colony founders married one another? In this case, it was the great grandchildren who went a bit further afield.

Anyway, while Sarah Hersey might represent a union of two towns' founders, to my knowledge the Modern Butlers aren't descended from her or anyone else on the Plymouth side of the above chart.

Still, it is an interesting piece of the tree.

Scroll high and to the right for one more Mayflower almost connection, Edward Doty.

The last Mayflower connection isn't really a close miss at all, at least not from a Butler perspective. Mabel (Butler) Randall, however, has a close friend Jean Migre who has been for some time a member of the Mayflower Society. When Mabel and Jean discovered my new interest in genealogy, they sent me some information including Jean's line of descent from Mayflower passenger Edward Doty. (Scroll high and to the right.)

Looking at what Jean sent me, I saw a few familiar names. Sure enough, Jean and I (and therefore Jean and Mabel) share some common ancestors. I figured, sure, why not, I'd enter Jean's information into the Butler family tree so I could make some neat charts showing the relationship. In the chart above and to the right, the gold J on purple is Jean's Mayflower descent from Edward Doty. As the Butlers descend through Hingham and Brockton, Jean's tree comes through Hanover.

What I didn't anticipate was the connection to the white page icons that mark the Butler descent from John and Priscilla. I certainly wan't looking for it. Still, one day I asked the computer to show anyone on the tree who descended from Priscilla. I just wanted to look at my own line again, and was surprised when the computer showed a lot of gold and purple Js as well.

Thus, I was able to give a long time Mayflower Society member an alternate line of descent. As Ruth Copeland and Joseph Copeland are in Mayflower Families Through Five Generations, and the descent from Betsy Eells on down has been approved already, it would be a fairly straight forward thing to get approved.

Jean and Mabel meet Ed and Priscilla

Four Square

Jael's Break

Hingham Meets Plymouth