Biography: John Alden and Priscilla Mullins
Alicia Crane Williams, Editor
Mayflower Families Through Five Generations, John Alden
Esther Littleford Woodworth-Barnes, Prime Researcher for the Alden Family
John Alden was hired for a cooper, at South-Hampton, where the ship victuled; and being a hopfull
young man, was much desired, but left to his owne liking to go or stay when he came here; but he
stayed, and maryed here. (Bradford's History, p. 443, The Mayflower Descendant vol. 1:228)
On 11 November 1620 John Alden joined with the other free adult male passengers of the Mayflower
to sign the Compact whereby they agreed to make and abide by their own laws (Bradford's History,
75; New Englands Memorial, p. 15-16)
That is all that is known about the origins of John Alden. Efforts to locate his birthplace and
parentage have so far been inconclusive. Although he joined the Mayflower at Southampton, co.
Hampshire, England, no records have been found of John in Southampton, and he was not
necessarily a native of that place.
Several theories regarding the origins of John Alden were discussed in The Mayflower Descendant,
vol. 39:111-121 and vol. 40:133-136. Of these theories, the one with the most prospects is that
of the Harwich Alden family. A John Alden of Harwich married the daughter of William Russell,
a merchant of that town. When William Russell wrote his will on 1 August 1586, he mentioned
his son-in-law John Alden who was at that time in captivity in Spain (these were the years
just before the Spanish Armada when English and Spanish ships competed for rule of the seas).
He also mentions a number of children of John Alden. Interpretation of Russell's will seems
to indicate that the captured John Alden had two sons named John. John "the elder" was
probably the child of an earlier, unknown, first wife; and John "the younger" was the
child of William Russell's daughter. Other children of the captured John Alden were
Peter, William and Thomas. Any of these sons could have been the father of John Alden
of the Mayflower.
The most appealing facet of the Harwich theory is that William Russell's son Robert, brother of
the Elizabeth Russell who married the captured John Alden, married the widowed mother of Captain
Christopher Jones of the Mayflower. Thus, if this theory is correct, Capt. Jones would have
been this step-son of our John Alden's great-uncle! Certainly, this theory offers ample
opportunity for John Alden to have learned about Captain Jones's trip to New England and
to gain the job of cooper/carpenter for the voyage. Unfortunately, no records have been found
in Harwich or the county of Essex of a John Alden who could be ours. If Captain Jones was
related to John Alden, William Bradford did not know if it when he wrote his history or he
almost certainly would have mentioned the connection.
John, himself, left us no information about his past. We estimate the year of his birth as 1598
using John's own deposition and a broadside published upon his death. In the deposition made
on 6 July 1682 John stated he was "aged 83 yeers or thereabouts" (Plymouth Colony Records,
Judicial Acts, Part 2, p. 32; The Mayflower Descendant vol. 3:120-121, which would indicate
he was born between 6 July 1598 and 6 July 1599. When John died on 12 September 1687, a
broadside published to commemorate the occasion stated he was "about eight-nine years of age,"
indicating he was born between 12 September 1687 and 12 September 1598 (The Mayflower
Descendant, vol. 9:129). Combining the two ranges results in an estimated birth date between
6 July and 12 September 1598 or thereabouts.
Thus John was a about twenty-two years old in 1620 and very likely had just finished an
apprenticeship in cooperage or carpentry. No letters, no family Bible, no journal, no writings
survive for either John or Priscilla. All that survives is the story of their courtship.
Priscilla Mullins was the daughter of William Mullins, also a passenger on the Mayflower with
Alice and son Joseph. William, Alice and Joseph all died in the terrible sickness and
deprivation of the first winter in Plymouth. Priscilla, who as probably still too young to be
married, was orphaned, her only surviving kin her brother and sister in England. Poet Henry
Wadsworth Longfellow celebrated the story of how Priscilla attracted the attentions of the
newly-widowed Captain Myles Standish, who asked his friend John Alden to propose on his behalf
only to have Priscilla ask, "Why don't you speak for yourself, John?" Most of the world draws
its image of the Pilgrim story from Longfellow's epic narrative poem, The Courtship of Myles
Standish. The basic story was apparently handed down in the Alden family and published by
John and Priscilla's great-great-grandson, Rev. Timothy Alden, in his Collection of
American Epitaphs and Inscriptions in 1814 (264-271). Rev. Timothy's facts are not always
correct (he was not born until 1736, fifty years after John's death), and he embellishes
in the typical style of his day, but his account of the famous courtship and description
of John is as close to the original as we can get:
Mrs. Rose Standish, consort of Captain Standish, departed this life, on the 29 of January 1621.
This circumstance is mentioned as an introduction to the following anecdote, which as been
carefully handed down by tradition.
In a very short time after the decease of Mrs. Standish, the captain was led to think, that, if
he could obtain Miss Priscilla Mullins, a daughter of Mr. William Mullins, the breach in his
family would be happily repaired. He, therefore, according to the custom of those times, sent
to ask Mr. Mullins' permission to visit his daughter. John Alden, the messenger, went and
faithfully communicated the wishes of the captain. The old gentleman did not object, as he
might have done, on account of the recency of Captain Standish's bereavement. He said it was
perfectly agreeable to him, but the young lady must also be consulted. The damsel was then
called into the room, and John Alden, who is said to have been a man of most excellent form
with a fair and ruddy complexion, arose, and, in a very courteous and prepossessing manner,
delivered his errand. Miss Mullins listened with respectful attention, and at last, after a
considerable pause, fixing her eyes upon him, with an open and pleasant countenance, said,
prithee John, why do you not speak for yourself? He blushed, and bowed, and took his leave,
but with a look, which indicated more than his diffidence would permit him otherwise to
express. However, he soon renewed his visit, and it was not long before their nuptials were
celebrated in ample form.
Obviously, in addition to the inevitable distortions of stories told and retold over the years,
the Rev. Alden had already taken some poetic license with the family story before Longfellow
took over. There would have been very little time between the death of Rose Standish on January
29th and the death of William Mullins on February 21st, if all of this took place while Mullins
was still alive, and there is little chance even the flamboyant Captain Standish would have
been courting Priscilla during those desperate months of sickness and starvation in the winter
of 1621. A grain of truth probably exists in the family tradition, but most of the story
that found its way to Longfellow's poem is pure imagination.
The marriage date of John and Priscilla is also unknown. They were certainly married at Plymouth.
23/4 see below), it is assumed their marriage took place before that list was made and,
therefore, John Alden's share included that of his wife. By the division of cattle in May 1627,
the Aldens had two children, Elizabeth and John. No birth records for any of the Alden children
survive, but from the death record of Elizabeth Alden it appears she was born about 1624-5 and
was the eldest child. This places John and Priscilla's marriage about 1623. Since no birth or
baptism for Priscilla has been found, we can only make a wild guess that she may have been
about sixteen to eighteen in 1620, slightly too young to marry in the first year or two after
she was orphaned.
William Bradford's account of the Increasings and Decreasings of the Mayflower passengers,
written in 1650, states:
Mrs. Mullins and his wife, his son and his servant died the first winter. Only his daughter
Priscilla survived, and married with John Alden, who are both living and have eleven children.
with their eldest daughter is married and hath five children (Bradford's History, 445; The
Mayflower Descendant, vol. 1:9)
No further written record of Priscilla survives. Bradford's statement that she had eleven
children (and that her eldest daughter had five by 1650) is contradicted by his marginal tally
of "15" beside the entry. Eleven children plus five grandchildren should have been "16." Only
ten children have been identified. If there were other children, they died unmarried and without
heirs before John Alden's estate was settled.
Priscilla died before here husband. A nineteenth century account published by John A. Goodwin in
The Pilgrim Republic in 1888 describes the mourners at the funeral of Governor Josiah Winslow in
1680 including "John Alden, with Priscilla still on his arm" (also New England Historical &
Genealogical Register, vol. 51:429). No contemporary corroboration of this statement has been
found, and we can only state with certainty that she was alive when Bradford wrote is list
in 1650 but dead by the time John's epitaph was published in 1687 (for certainly if Priscilla
had been living, the writer would have mentioned the famous widow). Since no special notice
was made of Priscilla's death, we can probably assume she did not die very young nor under
any strange circumstances. Sadly, neither the birth, marriage, nor the death for one of
America's most famous women is known.
The 1623 division of land among the Plymouth colonists (probably made in early 1623/4) placed
John Alden in the group that received land on the "north side of the towne." Others in this
group were Edward Winslow, Richard Warren, John Goodman, John Crackston, Mary Chilton, Captain
Myles Standish, Francis Eaton, Henry Cooper, and Humility Cooper (Plymouth County Records,
vol. 12:4; Plymouth Colony by Stratton, 416). The acreage that John Alden is illegible, but
was probably four acres representing on share each for himself and Priscilla, and for her
deceased parents William and Alice Mullins (Mayflower Quarterly Feb. 1974, 13).
In 1626 Isaac Allerton negotiated an agreement between the Merchant Adventurers in England who
had financed the Plymouth Colony, whereby 53 members of the colony (including John Alden) and
five London men (called the "Purchasers") were to pay L180 for all of the stocks, lands, and
merchandise that belonged to the Company (The Mayflower Descendant, vol. 2:177; Plymouth
Colony by Stratton, 419-20). In May 1627 John Alden joined with William Bradford, Capt. Myles
Standish, Isaac Allerton, Edward Winslow, William Brewster, John Howland, and Thomas Prence,
to undertake (thus they ere called the "Undertakers") the debt owed by the "Purchasers."
In return, this group of eight men received the boats, furs, and other stores that had
belonged to the Company as well as rights to trade for themselves for six years. Payment
was to be made in corn and tobacco (Of Plimoth Plantation, 194-195).
The division of cattle made 22 May 1627 placed John Alden, Priscilla Alden, and their children
Elizabeth and John in the fourth lot that "fell to John Howland & his company Joyned to him."
The lot received "one of the 4 heyfers Came in the Jacob Called Raghorne" (Raghorne is a breed
of cattle) (Plymouth County Records, 12:10; Plymouth Colony by Stratton, 422).
The colonists began to spread out from Plymouth and settle on the land they had been granted.
At first, the families would end to their land during the summer and return to the Plymouth
settlement during the winter where they could attend church. The original Alden house in
Duxbury was probably begun during the summers and by 1631 the family was staying longer,
perhaps the whole year. Bradford and others in Plymouth were worried about losing the families
from the original settlement, and in April 1632 John Alden, Capt. Standish, Jonathan Brewster
and Thomas Prence signed an agreement promising to bring their families back to Plymouth
during the winter. However, as Bradford later wrote, "First those that lived on their lots
on the other side of the Bay, called Duxbury, they could not long bring their wives and
children to the public worship and church meetings here, but with such burthen as, growing
to some competent number, they sued to be dismissed and become a body of themselves"
(Bradford's History, 253). thus the Alden family took up permanent residence in Duxbury.
The Alden grant in Duxbury was accessible by water from the bay and up the river, so that the
length of the farm had water transportation. The Green Harbor Path, running from Plymouth to
Marshfield passed along the west end of the farm. The bounds of the farm were described in a
document dated 4 December 1637, but recorded in 1681 or later.
The bounds of the land of Mr. John Alden of Duxbery, as it was layed out by Gov. Bradford, Mr.
Edward Winslow, Joshua Pratt, and Edward Bangs. It begines, for the breath of it, att a place
where formerly an old pine tree stood, where now there is a gravelly hole, and from thence to a
burnt walnut stump, and runinge for the length, and from thence to take its length unto a whie
oake tree standing a little within the land of Phillip Delano deceased, the root of that tree
still remaining, and from thence for the breadth att the had of the lott up to the old Greens
Harbor Path; on the southerly side bounded with the meddow of the said John Alden in part and
with the land of Experience Mitchell att the upper end (Plymouth County Records, vol. 1:71).
This description was amended under the date 1 January 1637/8 (Alden Family in the Alden House, 14):
The bounds of the land of MR. John Alden att Duxburrow, as it was layed forth by Gov. Bradford,
Mr. Edward Winslow, Joshua Pratt, Edward Bangs, as followeth: from an old pine tree by the
meddow, which meddow was afterwards allotted unto mee, the said John Alden, and for the breadth
of the said land buting upon and ranging along the said Blew Fish River to a burnt walnut stump;
and from thence to a walnut tree ranging from the abovesaid stump west north west, which was
sum tim after run by Joshua Prate and Phillip Delano, Senior, unto a white oake tree, standing
a little within the bounds of Phillip Delanoes land, there being a stump or root of that tree
still remaining, and from thence for the breadth att the head, up to Greens Harbour, old
path; and on the southerly side of he land bounded ptly with my owne meddow, and with the
land of Experience Mitchell towards the upper end.
The first house built and occupied by John and Priscilla was a long, narrow house with a field
stone foundation and a root cellar under the west end. Archeological excavations made in 1960
by Roland Wells Robbins revealed the cellar stones and that the house was about 10 ½ feet in
width and 38 feet in length (here the Aldens raised 10 children!). Its size would have been
similar to a modern mobile home, although the Alden house would have had a loft or second floor.
Evidence at the site of the old house proved that the old house had not burned, as many old
stories claimed. It had definitely been moved or dismantled. The dimensions of the old house
led Robbins to believe that it had been dismantled and moved up the hill to be incorporated
as the kitchen, borning room, and buttery of the existing Alden House, which are exactly the
same dimensions (Pilgrim John Alden's Progress, 15).
The present Alden house was believed to have been built in 1653, a date reputedly found carved
in one of the beams or boards of the house. However, recent archeological work indicates the
house may have been built sometime in the latter two decades of the 1600s. It is still believed
that beams from the original house were used in the construction of the newer one. Further
research is being undertaken by the Alden Kindred of America, Inc., which owns and maintains
the house. The Alden house remained in the possession of members of the Jonathan2 Alden
family until 1892 and was transferred to the Alden Kindred in 1907 (Alden Family in the Alden
John Alden was on the 1633 list of Plymouth freemen among those admitted prior to 1 Jan 1632/3
(Plymouth County Records, vol. 1:3). The tax list of 25 March 1633 assesses John Alden £1.4s.
The highest tax was assessed to Isaac Allerton (£3.11s.). John Alden was assessed the same tax
on the 27 March 1634 list (the highest then being Edward Winslow at £2.5s.) (Plymouth County
Records, vol. 19, 27; Plymouth Colony by Stratton, 427-429).
In 1634 a list was made of all colony men able to bear arms (between the ages of 16 and 60).
"Mr. John Alden, Sen., John Alden, Jun., and Jos. Alden" were all listed for the town of
"Duxborrow" (Plymouth County Records, vol. 8:187-196) Plymouth Colony by Stratton, 441).
Also in 1634, John Alden found himself imprisoned in Boston as the results of an incident on the
Kennebec River involving parties from the Massachusetts Bay Colony and Plymouth Colony. The
Bradford Patent gave Plymouth the right to settle and trade on the Kennebec River. John Howland
was in charge of the Plymouth trading post on the river in 1634 when a trading ship from the
Piscataqua settlement, under John Hocking, attempted to horn in. After they ignored his
warnings to leave, Howland ordered their ship's mooring lines cut. Hocking shot and killed
the man who cut the line, and one of the Plymouth men shot and killed Hocking. John Alden
had been in Kennebec bringing supplies to the post at this time, but was not a party to
the shootings. However, by the time he returned to Boston, a one-sided version of the news
had arrived before him, and as he was the nearest Plymouth Colony representative at hand,
Alden was arrested. Captain Myles Standish was dispatched with letters from Thomas Prence,
Governor of the Plymouth Colony to straighten out the officials in Boston. Prence was
successful in convincing Governor Dudley that they had heard only half of the story,
the part about Hocking having killed a man being omitted. Alden was released, but the
dispute over trading rights on the Kennebec continued acrimoniously between the two
colonies (Bradford's History, 263-265).
For a young man hired as a cooper, John Alden soon assumed a place of high responsibility in
the Plymouth Colony, serving as an Assistant many times between 1632 and 1640 and 1650 to 1686.
He acted as Deputy Governor on two occasions when the Governor was absent. In March 1664/5 and
October 1677; was Treasurer for three terms 1656 to 1658; and served on numerous committees
and councils of war. This extensive public service indicates that he must have been well
educated. Whether he received that education in England or from his fellow Pilgrims such as
Winslow and Bradford is not known (Great Migration Begins, 1:21).
In 1636 and 1637 John Alden as assigned mowing ground for the year (Plymouth County Records,
vol. 1:40, 56). John Alden's cattle mark recorded at Plymouth 15 November 1636 was "a peece
like a long round cut" (Plymouth Town Recs, 1). On 6 March 1636/7, "A parcel of land containing
a knoll, or a little hill, lying over against Mr. Alden's land at Blewfish River, is granted by
the Court unto the said Mr. John Alden in lieu of a parcel of land taken from him (next unto
Samuel Nash's lands) for public use" (Plymouth County Records, vol. 1:51). Bluefish River is a
marshy brook in he eastern part of Duxbury.
On 5 February 1637/8 John was granted "certain lands at Green's Harbor" (later Marshfield). John
Alden and Myles Standish were granted 300 acres "on the north side of the South River" on 2
July 1638, and John was granted "a little parcel of land … lying at the southerly side of his
lot" on 3 September 1638 (Plymouth County Records, vol. 1:76, 191, 195). The South River rises
in Duxbury and flows through Marshfield to the sea.
In 1638 Assistants Thomas Prence and John Alden were dispatched to Sandwich to settle a dispute
over how that town's granted land was to be divided (Plymouth Colony by Stratton, 65).
In October 1645 the General Court granted the inhabitants of Duxbury "a competent Porcion of
lands about Saughtuckquett, towards the west, for a plantacon for them, and to have it foure
miles every way from the place where they shall set up their center … and have nominated Captaine
Miles Standish, Mr. John Alden, Georg Soul, Constant Southworth, Joseph Rogers, and Willm Brett
to be feoffers in trust for the equall devideing and laying forth of the said lands to their
inhabitants." These lands became known as Duxbury, New Plantation, incorporated in 1656 as
the town of Bridgewater (Plymouth County Records, vol. 2:88, 2:101, 143; Plymouth Colony by
Robert Hicks of Plymouth mentioned in his well dated 28 May 1645, a field on the north side of
Plymouth that he had "lately purchased of Mr. John Aldin" (The Mayflower Descendant, vol. 8:144).
John Alden bought land from Edward Hall in 1651 (Plymouth County Records, vol. 1:73).
On 2 February 1657/8 John Copeland and William Braind, Quakers, were charged with verbally
abusing John Alden and Thomas Southworth among others. They were ordered to leave the colony,
but either did not or returned, and on 8 February the two men were publicly whipped. While
Plymouth Colony's treatment of Quakers was milder than Massachusetts Bay Colony, which hanged
four, the Quakers were not welcomed in either place and were urged to move on. In 1658 James
Cudworth of Scituate, who had lost his position as head of the Scituate military company
when he was accused of aiding Quakers, wrote to England to complain about the treatment
Quakers were receiving. In his letter he wrote, "Mr. Alden hath deceived the Expectations
of many, and indeed lost the affections of such, as I judge were his Cordial Christian
Friends; who is very active in such Ways, as I pray God may not be charged him, to be
Oppressions of a High Nature." Apparently, Cudworth and others had expected Alden to be
more sympathetic to the Quaker's plight (Plymouth County Records, vol. 3:130, 115, 162;
Plymouth Colony by Stratton, 91-92).
"Liberty is granted unto Mr. John Alden to look out a portion of land to accommodate his sons
withall, and to make report thereof unto the Court, so it may be confirmed unto him" on 3
June 1657 (Plymouth County Records, vol. 3:120). At the Duxbury town meeting on 19 January
1659, the town granted to Mr. John Alden, Sen., "all that piece of common land, from the
south of Philip Dillano's" (Duxbury Town Records, p. 54).
On 13 June 1660 John Alden was allowed "In regard that Mr. Alden is low in his state, and
occasioned to spend much time at the courts on the country's occasions, and so hath done this
many years, the Court have allowed him a small gratuity, the sum of ten pounds …" (Plymouth
County Records, vol. 3:195). This did not mean that John was destitute, only that he was
short on cash needed to travel on colony business.
In June 1661 the Plymouth Court granted liberty to "Major Josiah Winslow and others the first
born children of the jurisdiction of New Plymouth in reference unto an order or grant of the
Court bearing date 1633 to purchase certain parcells of land for their accommodation; viz.
a parcell next to the Massachusetts bounds, and another parcell between Namassakett and
Bridgewater, and to make report thereof unto the Court that all such may be accommodated
as aforesaid." The purchase was made in 1662 from Josiah Wampetuck, Sachem. Mr. Aldin was
fourth on the list of those granted land in what was called the Purchade Purchase"
(Pachade/Pochade/Pachage/Purchade Neck on the Nemasket River near the border of Middleborough
and Bridgewater) and his lot was bounded "with two red Oak trees marked" (New England
Historical & Genealogical Register, vol. 3:336). In 1669 the court determined that the
first tract should belong to those eight who had their allotments upon Pochade neck and
to their heirs; and the second tract to those eight plus those who had their allotments
on the east side of Nemasket River in Captain Southworth's purchase.
John was granted a "competency of land" at Namasskett, 7 Jun 1665, and 100 acres at Teticcut,
4 March 1673/4 (Plymouth County Records, vol. 4:95; 5:141). Namasket and Titicut were villages
in the area that became the town of Middleborough.
At the Plymouth Court of General Sessions held in July 1667, Robert Finney was granted 100
acres "where mr Alden and Captaine Southworth hath land att Namassakett River, if it may be had there …" (Middleboro History, p. 545).
Mr. John Alden was one of the members of a Council of War assembled at Plymouth in April 1667
to deal with threats from the French and Dutch, and the increasing problems with King Philip
and the Narragansetts. They commissioned officers of the military companies and arranged for
military watches during any possibility of danger. Plans for evacuation of women and children
and orders of war for horse and foot soldiers were made. When King Philip's War broke out
in 1675, John Alden was a senior advisor to Gov. Josiah Winslow (Plymouth Colony by Stratton,
In 1675, "The Sixteen Shilling Purchase" was made by Constant Southworth and John Tompson
(for £33) from the Indian sachems of Middleborough. The largest purchase of land in that town,
it included what is now the own of Lakeville running to the Dartmouth line. John Alden was one
of the 71 original proprietors of this purchase who were assigned lots on 21 November 1679.
John received the 15th lot (Middleboro History, p. 621). The list of proprietors in
Middleborough taken 28 Jun 1677 includes Mr. John Alden (Middleboro History, p. 551).
On 6 July 1682 Mr. John Alden made a deposition to the Plymouth court (The Mayflower Descendant,
vol. 3:120-121; Plymouth County Records, vol. 2:32):
John Alden Esqr Aged 83 years or thereabouts Testifyeth and saith that I this Deponant being one
of the first Comers into New England to settle att or about Plymouth which Now is about 62
yeers since Doth know and understand by Osamequine the Great Sachem of these pttes that then
was; and alsoe from Divers other prsons both English and Indians That the little Iland lying
Neare the southerly point of Mount Hope Neck. Called by the Indians Chessawanuck by the
English hoge Iland Did then blonge and appertaine to the said Sachem Sachem Osamequin as
the other lands adjacent upon the Maine then Did and that the said Iland was Called by the
English att the Trading house att Sowamsett then belonging to the Companie of Plymouth
Collonie, hog Iland, upon this ocation that the said Companies People att the said Trading
house; had then the posession and Improvement of he said Iland by keeping hoggs for theire
use thereon; and further I this Depondant Doe Testify that both the said Sachem Osamequin
and Wamsitta his reputed Eldest son; Did Give Graunt Allianate Infeoffe and Confeirme the
Iland aforesaid unto Richard Smith Now of Naragansett; The said Iland being thus posessed
and Improved; att the pleasure of the Colonie of New Plymouth aforesaid, a long time before
Rhode Island was Posessed or Improved by any English.
In lieu of a will, John distributed his real estate among his sons by a series of deeds. On
8 July 1674, "for love and natural affection and other valuable causes and considerations,"
John deeded to "David Alden his true and natural son all that his land both meadow and upland
that belongs unto him situate or being at or about a place called Rootey Brook within the
Township of Middleborough … excepting only one hundred acres," totaling about 300 acres
(Plymouth County Land Records, vol. 3:330). Rootey Brook apparently flowed into the Nemansket
River near Nemansket (Assawampsett) pond.
On 1 April 1679 John gave to his son Joseph "all that my share of land. … within the township
of Bridgewater (Plymouth County Land Records, 3:194).
On 1 January 1685[/6] John Alden, Sr., of Duxbury for "that real love and parental affection
which I bear to my beloved and dutiful son Jonathan Alden" deeded all of his upland in Duxbury
for which "see old book of grants and bounds of land anno 1637 folio 137," and all other
lands at Duxbury whether granted by court at Plymouth or town of Duxbury (Plymouth County
Land Records, 6:53).
On 13 January 1686[/7] "for that natural love and affection which I bear to my firstborn and
dutiful son John Alden of Boston," John Alden, Sr., of Duxbury, deeded 100 acres at Pekard
Neck alias Pachague with one-eighth of the meadow belonging to that place, and one hundred
acres at Rootey Brook (brother David Alden to have the first right of purchase if John, Jr.,
should wish to sell this hundred acres), together with a sixteen shilling purchase being the
fifteenth lot, all in Middleborough, and one hundred acres, the first in a division of one
thousand acres in Bridgewater (Plymouth County Land Records, 5:437).
John Alden, Sr. of Duxbury, cooper, gave to sons Jonathan and David Alden five acres of salt
marsh at Duxbury and "my whole proportion in the Major's Purchase commonly so-called being the
thirty-fifth part of said purchase" (The Mayflower Descendant, vol. 9:145; Plymouth County
Land Records, 4:65). The Major's or Five Men's Purchase had been bought by Major Josiah
Winslow from sachem Tispequin in 1663 and consisted of a narrow tract on the east side of
Nemasket River between the upper and lower Indian paths to Plymouth, extending to the Carver
line (Middleboro History p. 600).
John Alden died on 12 September 1687 by the old calendar. His death was noted by Judge Sewell,
"Monday, Sept. 12. Mr. John Alden, the ancient Magistrate of Plymouth, died" (Sewall Diary, 150),
and in two broadsides printed to commemorate the passing of the last signer of the Mayflower
Compact. Reproductions of the broadsides ere published in The Mayflower Descendant (vol. 9:129,
vol. 34:39). John and Priscilla were buried in the old Duxbury burying ground, but he
exact location of their graves is not now known. In the 1950s stones were erected by the
Alden Kindred in an area where other Alden graves were marked.
Administration of the estate of Mr. John Alden of Duxbury was granted to Lt. Jonathan Alden
on 8 November 1687. Inventory was taken on 31 October 1687 by Lt. Jonathan Alden who made his
oath on the day administration was granted to him. It consisted entirely of moveables and
totaled £49.17s.6d. (Plymouth Co Probate Records, vol. 1:10, 16; The Mayflower Descendant,
£ s d
Neate Cattell sheep Swine & one horse 13
one Table one forme one Carpit one Cubert & coubert Cloth 15
2 Chaires 3
bedsteds Chests & boxes 15
Andirons pot hookes and hangers 8 6
pots Tongs one quort kettle 10
by brass ware 1 11
by 1 ads 1s 6d & saws 7s 8 6
by Augurs and Chisells 5
by wedges 5s to Coupers tooles 18 2s 1 7
one Carpenters Joynters 1 6
Cart boults Cleavie Exseta 13
driping pan & gridiorns 5
by puter ware 1 pound 12s by old Iron 3s 1 15
by 2 old guns 11
by Table linen & other linen 1 12
To beding 5 12
one Spitt 1s 6d & baggs 2s 3 6
one mortising axe 1
marking Iron a Case of Trenchers with other things 7
hamen and winch exse 2 6
by one goume and a bitt of linnin Cloth 7
by one horse bridle and Saddle
liberary and Cash and
wearing Clothes 18 9
by other old lumber 15
On 13 June 1688 the heirs of John Alden, Sr., of Duxbury, signed