The Mary and John, 1630

The historians among our early ancestors were serious men. They approached their gigantic task with great earnestness, as well they might; names, facts, and dates all carefully tabulated for the confusion of future generations of boys and girls. But the details of the lives of these people, the marvelous stories of bravery and adventure, of love and intrigue, of bigotry and chivalry, are either lacking altogether, or are told in a few brief words. Much has been written about the cruel punishments of the times, of the witchcraft trials, of banishments into the wilderness; but little has been told of the men who were kind, and gentle, and good. Those were hard times, and some of the men were harsh; but others were among the gentlest people on earth. Reverend Maverick has been called "a man of exceedingly humble spirit." And Reverend Warham must have been a great and sympathetic man to have held his group together through all their wanderings. Even Governor Winthrop, who was considered a harsh man, laments the mistreatment of children discovered in one of the early schools.

Much has been said about the frequent marriages of our ancestors. If we consider the dangers of the times, we must realize that a woman could not live alone with a family of little children; nor could a man left alone with a new-born baby face life without a woman's help. It was wise and natural that the families joined together for mutual protection. Time and again in reading old wills, it will be found that a man has provided for the children of his wife, making no distinction between them and his own. And genealogies are full of marriages between these foster sisters and brothers.

Searching family records becomes in time a gentle vice from which the eager victim finds it impossible to escape. He (or more often she) pours over dull finely printed pages, over long lists of somber names: Abner, Nathaniel, Moses, Elijah, Daniel. And then—there it is! The very name for which you are seeking! Suddenly the story brightens; once more these people live!

The story of the "Mary and John" has been told many times, and the present work is intended to be genealogical rather than historical. And yet history has crept into the record. There is no official list of the passengers who sailed on this ship, but from various scattered sources, traditional, documentary, and circumstantial, the following list has been compiled, and is subject to constructive criticism. It has been said that there were one hundred and forty people aboard this boat, but we do not know if they counted the babies and small children. On some of the later boats, we know that it was the practice to allow two small children to go for one fare, and babes in arms went free. Perhaps this was the case on the "Mary and John."

The principal authority for the voyage is Roger Clap, who was one of the party, and who wrote his oft-quoted Memoirs. But even he names only six of his fellow passengers: Reverend Maverick, Reverend Warham, Edward Rossiter, Roger Ludlow, Israel Stoughton, and Captain Southcote. The task of making an accurate list of the "Mary and John" passengers is made more difficult by the confusing fact that some colonists from the Winthrop Fleet of 1630 settled in Dorchester, too; and appear among the earliest records of the town.

On The Twentieth of March, 1630, a group of men and women, one hundred and forty in number, set sail from Plymouth, England, in the good ship, the "Mary and John." The company had been selected and assembled largely through the efforts of the Reverend John White of Dorchester, England; with whom they spent the day before sailing, "fasting, preaching, and praying." These people had come from the western counties of England, mostly from Devonshire, Dorsetshire, and Somerset. They had chosen two ministers to accompany them: "men who were interested in the idea of bringing the Indians to the knowledge of the gospel." The Reverend John Maverick was an elderly man from Devon, a minister of the Established church. Reverend John Warham was also an ordained minister of the church of England, in Exeter, eminent as a preacher. There is some evidence that both of these men were in some difficulties with the church on account of their sympathies with the Puritans.

Edward Rossiter and Roger Ludlow, two men who were members of the government in England, were also chosen; and several gentlemen, middleaged, with adult families were next joined to the association. Among these were Henry Wolcott, Thomas Ford, George Dyer, William Gaylord, William Rockwell, and William Phelps. But a large portion of the company were young men, eager for adventure, such as Israel Stoughton, Roger Clap, George Minot, Richard Collicott, and Nathaniel Duncan. [Clapp, Ebenezer: History of the Town of Dorchester, 1859, published by Ebenezer Clapp, Boston, Mass., pp. 17-18.]

So we came, writes Roger Clap in his Memoirs, by the good Hand of the Lord, through the deep comfortably; having preaching or expounding of the word of God every day for ten weeks together by our ministers. When we came to Nantasket, Capt. Squeb, who was Captain of that great ship of four hundred tons, put us on shore and our goods on Nantasket Point, and left us to shift for ourselves in a forelorn place in this wilderness.

It had been their original intent to land in the Charles River, but a dispute with Captain Squeb, the commander of the vessel, caused the whole company, on May 30, 1630, to be put ashore at Nantasket. The "Mary and John" was the first of the Fleet of 1630 to arrive in the bay. At that time there could not have been pilots, or charts of the channel, and it does not seem unreasonable that the captain refused to undertake the passage, but Roger Clap has sent Captain Squeb down to posterity as a merciless man. [Stiles, Henry R.: History of Ancient Windsor, 1891, Case, Lockwood & Brainard Co., Hartford, Conn.]

According to tradition they landed upon the south side of Dorchester Neck, or South Boston, in Old Harbor. Ten of the men, under the command of Captain Southcote, found a small boat, and went up the river to Charlestown Neck, where they found an old planter, probably Thomas Walfourd, who fed them "a dinner of fish without bread." Later they continued their journey up the Charles River, as far as what is now Watertown, returning several days later to the company who had found pasture for their cattle at Mattapan. The settlement was later called Dorchester, in honor of the Reverend John White, of Dorchester, England.

Roger Clap tells of the hardships that followed. They had little food, and were forced to live on clams and fish. The men built small boats, and the Indians came later with baskets of corn. "The place was a wilderness," writes Roger Clap. "Fish was a good help to me and to others. Bread was so scarce that I thought the very crusts from my father's table would have been sweet; and when I could have meal and salt and water boiled together, I asked, 'who could ask for better?'"

Here they lived for five or six years. Other boats arrived and other towns were settled. But the life at Dorchester was not entirely congenial to the lovers of liberty of the "Mary and John." The group of settlements around Massachusetts Bay was dominated by clergymen and officials of aristocratic tendencies. Their Governor, John Winthrop, had little sympathy with the common people. "The best part (of the people)," he declared, "is always the least, and of that best part, the wiser is always the lesser." And the Reverend John Cotton put it more bluntly when he said, "Never did God ordain democracy for the government of the church or the people."

These principles were repugnant to the people of the "Mary and John," who had come to America to escape such restraint. They had no wish to interfere with the methods of worship of others, and they did not wish others to interfere with them. Too, they were land-hungry, after centuries of vassalage to the lords of the manors, leading hopeless lives without chance of independence. Perhaps they were influenced also, by the fact that a great smallpox epidemic had raged among the Indians, killing off so many that they were not the menace that they had been at first. The settlers turned their attention toward the fertile meadows of the Connecticut Valley.

A group under Roger Ludlow set out and reached the Plymouth Trading house that had been erected by William Holmes near the junction of the Connecticut and the Farmington Rivers, early in the summer of 1635. A little later sixty men, women and children, with their "Cows, heifers and swine," came overland from Dorchester. The winter was severe and the food scarce, and many returned to Massachusetts, but in the spring they came back to Connecticut with their friends, and by April, 1636, most of the members of the Dorchester Church were settled near the Farmington River, along the brow of the hill that overlooks the "Great Meadow." This in spite of the fact that the Plymouth people disputed their claim to the land. They built rude shelters, dug out of the rising ground along the edge of the river bank. The rear end and the two sides were simply the earth itself, with a front and a roof of beams. The town was later named Windsor.

In the following year, 1637, danger from the Pequot Indians forced them to abandon their dugouts and to come together around the area known as the Palisado Green. Their new homes were at once enclosed with a strong palisado.

In 1639 they began the construction of their first real meeting house. It stood in the center of the palisado, and was topped with a cupola and platform, where the sexton beat a drum to summon the people to attend services or public meetings. About the same time there was built and presented to the pastor, the Reverend John Warham, a corn mill, which is supposed to have been the first grist mill built in Connecticut. For many years it served all the settlements in the river valley, as far south as Middletown.

All over America today live the descendants of the fathers and mothers of the "Mary and John." Their sons and daughters have written their names on the pages of American History. They have filled the pulpits of famous churches; they have sat on judges' benches, and in the seats of Congress; they have occupied Governors' Mansions, and even the White House. Some fought at Lexington, and wintered with Washington at Valley Forge. They joined in the trek to the West, and one followed Brigham Young into Utah. One marched with Sherman as he burned and pillaged his way through Georgia, and perhaps one fought on the other side with Lee. One is called the "Hero of Manila Bay," and one was hanged! They learned strange names like Saint-Mihiel, Chateau-Thierry, the Argonne Forest and Sedan. Perhaps one lies in Flanders Field.

And even as this manuscript is being written, our boys are going again into strange lands: to Iceland, to Africa and to Australia! One of our own correspondents wrote from Schofield Barracks in Hawaii.

An effort has been made to show through the ancestry of people living today, or through famous men of history, how this little group lived together, married and intermarried, even beyond the third and fourth generations. The names of descendants of the men and women who came to America on the "Mary and John" are found in every state of the Union.


REVEREND JOHN MAVERICK was a native of Devon, son of Peter and Dorothy (Tucke) Maverick. He was baptized Dec. 28, 1578, at Awlescombe, and married at Ilsington, Devon, Oct. 28, 1600, Mary Gye, who was living with her son Samuel Oct. 9, 1666. Reverend Maverick matriculated at Exeter College, Oxford; took holy orders by 1603, and later became a Puritan. He was made a freeman with the first group at Dorchester, May 18, 1631, and had expected to remove to Connecticut, but died at Dorchester, Feb. 3, 1636, aged about sixty years. Governor Winthrop in his "Journal" makes several references to Reverend Maverick and also to his son Samuel, who was in America as early as 1623, and was an early settler at Noddles Island. Winthrop says of Rev. Maverick: "He was a man of very humble spirit, and faithful in furthering the work of the Lord."

Charles Edward Banks says that when Reverend Maverick and his wife came to America in the "Mary and John," they brought with them "their children, Elias, Mary, Moses, Aaron, Abigail, Antipas, and Margaret."

The New England Historical and Genealogical Register in the issue of 1942, states that Elias was at Chelsea, Mass., in 1630, where he had his home near his brother Samuel. Aaron was alive in 1622, but is believed to have died young. Moses was given land at Dorchester in 1633, but moved to Salem by 1634. There also appears to have been a son John, and Margaret is not mentioned.

Samuel Maverick settled first at Winnesimmet, now Chelsea, where in 1630 he entertained Governor Winthrop. In 1633, he and his wife cared for the Indians dying of smallpox, burying as many as thirty a day. In 1634 he moved to Noddles Island, which had been granted to him. It is an interesting fact that a line of descendants of Reverend Maverick went to the West Indies and later settled in Texas. A Samuel Maverick in the last century who did not make a practice of branding his cattle is said to have been the originator of the word "maverick" as applied to unbranded cattle.

Maude Pinney Kuhns, The "Mary and John"


  1. I just found my Maverick line, which includes the Rev. and his family. Interesting story!
    Cheryl Ann

  2. I'm a descendent of Jonathan Gillette. 11 generations ago for me.

  3. Samuel Winsley is my 10th GGF.

  4. I'm tracing my mother's father...just found out when I go back 10-11 generations that we are related to George Dyer from the Mary & John 1630. WOW! This is so interesting.