27 October 2009
THERE ARE MAYFLOWER DESCENDANTS LIVING IN COLCHESTER COUNTY TODAY…. this may seem irrelevant to some folks and of no interest to others. To be honest I did not go out of my way to learn about the Mayflower Pilgrims in my ancestry for many years. I was more focused on those ancestors who had lived on the lands I knew. Then a friend of mine put together a little booklet that he gifted to me titled “Your Ancestor, The Saint”, that poked my inquisitive nature and I began to look for information on this ancestor. I discovered a fascinating part of my history that birthed a pride in me for these determined, brave people, who gave everything for their Faith. This is what my friend wrote….
YOUR ANCESTOR, THE SAINT…
Meet Thomas Rogers, Pilgrim Father, Mayflower passenger, and your great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great (that’s 9-great’s)-grandfather.
In the United States, it is an honour to be able to claim a Pilgrim Father in one’s ancestry. You carry that distinction through your descent from Thomas Rogers.
The Pilgrim Fathers (and Mothers) are known quite rightly as the founders of New England. Thomas Rogers was one of the 102 people who embarked on the now-fabled Mayflower in 1620 to start a new life in the New World. Thomas had been a camlet merchant (camlet is a satiny fabric of silk and wool) from Watford in the shire of Northampton, England, but for several years prior to the Mayflower expedition he had been living with his family in Leyden, Holland. The Rogers belonged to a group of English religious dissenters called Separatists who held strong Protestant views and who preferred exile in Holland to life under the absolute authority of the imperfect Church of England. But even Holland proved unsatisfactory, so Thomas and others opted for a future in North America by hiring a ship and sailing into the unknown.
In the Rogers household, it was decided that Thomas would make the voyage accompanied by his eldest surviving son, Joseph, aged 17. Thomas wife (Alice Cosford, married 1597), a younger son and two daughters would wait in Leyden until Thomas sent for them. In April, 1620, the Rogers sold their house to raise money. In July, 1620, Thomas and Joseph Rogers, with 35 other Separatists, sailed on the ship Speedwell from Holland to Southampton, England, where they joined more Separatists, and others, on board the waiting Mayflower. The company has been divided by history into two groups: “Saints” (the Separatists) and “Strangers” (the non-Separatists). Thomas Rogers was a “Saint.”
The great voyage began on 16 September 1620. It lasted sixty-five days during which the 102 souls on board were forced to endure the continual cold and damp of the North Atlantic in the autumn, leading to testiness, tempers and depression, compounded by cramped conditions and poor diet. In October, fierce storms and mountainous seas nearly swamped the ship, but somehow the Mayflower kept afloat and delivered the Pilgrims in November to the uncolonized shores of Massachusetts where “they had now no friends to welcome them, nor inns to entertaine or refresh their weather-beaten bodys.” This quote is taken from the written account of Governor William Bradford, of Plymouth Colony, who kept a record of the voyage. From the Governor’s list of fellow-passengers, his entry for Thomas and Joseph Rogers is reproduced below.
Transcription: Thomas Rogers, and Joseph his sone; his other children came afterwards.
[There is no mention of what became of Thomas’s wife, Alice]
The Pilgrims faced a host of difficulties once they reached their new home in Plymouth, but no problem was more serious than the “great sickness” which swept over them. It decimated their ranks. The sickness was a deadly combination of scurvy, pneumonia and tuberculosis brought on by weeks of exhaustion, inadequate and unclean living conditions, and malnutrition. It killed half of the Pilgrims, most in January and February, 1621. Sometimes, two or three people a day died. Thomas Rogers was among the victims. Fortunately, his son, Joseph, survived, married and had issue, from whom you are descended. In 1650, Governor Bradford updated the fate of the Rogers family:
Transcription: Thomas Rogers dyed in the first sickness but his sone Joseph is still living, and is married, and hath .6. children. The rest of Thomas Rogers came over, & are married, & have many children.