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John Alden
Male 1599 - 1687

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  • Birth  1599  Southampton, Hampshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender  Male 
    Died  12 Sep 1687  Duxbury, Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID  I13461  Ellis-Pagoria Family Tree
    Last Modified  23 Dec 2012 
    Father  George Joseph Alden,   b. 1575, Southampton, Hampshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1620, Southampton, Hampshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Mother  Jane Unknown,   b. 1575, Southampton, Hampshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Family ID  F7902  Group Sheet
    Family  Priscilla Mullins,   b. 1602, Dorking, Surrey, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 05 Feb 1688, Duxbury, Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Married  12 May 1622  Plymouth, Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA Find all individuals with events at this location 
     1. Joseph Alden,   b. 22 May 1627, Plymouth, Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 08 Feb 1697, Bridgewater, Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA Find all individuals with events at this location
     2. Rebecca Alden,   b. 1643, Duxbury, Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 12 Sep 1688, Duxbury, Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA Find all individuals with events at this location
     3. Elizabeth Alden,   b. 1623, Plymouth, Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 31 May 1717, Little Compton, Newport, Rhode Island, USA Find all individuals with events at this location
    Family ID  F5120  Group Sheet
  • Photos
    John Alden's (1599-1687)House
    John Alden's (1599-1687)House
    Built in Duxbury, MA in 1653 and still standing.
     John_Alden_and_Priscilla_Alden_Grave in_Duxbury_MA.jpg
     John Alden & Priscilla Mullins.jpg
  • Notes 
    • John Alden joined the Mayflower in England. At the time, he was about 21 years old. William Bradford writes that he "was hired for a cooper, at South-Hampton, where the ship victuled; and being a hopefull yong man, was much desired, but left to his owne liking to go or stay when he came here; but he stayed, and maryed here."

      John Alden was a cooper, or barrel-maker, by trade.

      John Alden married Priscilla Mullins, also of the Mayflower. The date of their marriage is not known. They were probably married by 1623 since Priscilla is not listed separately in the 1623 Division of Land. By the 1627 Division of Cattle, they were married and had two children, Elizabeth and John.

      The legend of the rivalry between Miles Standish and John Alden for the hand of Priscilla Mullins was first published in Rev. Timothy Alden's 1814 Collection of American Epitaphs and Inscriptions. The story was popularized in the poem, The Courtship of Miles Standish, published by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in 1858. There is no documentation for the legend in the records of Plymouth Colony. For more information on "Love & Legend in Plymouth Colony," click HERE.

      John and Priscilla Mullins Alden had 10 children : Elizabeth, John, Joseph, Sarah, Jonathan, Ruth, Rebecca, Mary, Priscilla, and David.

      Alden became one of the Purchasers and Undertakers. He was an Assistant in the Colony government for many years and presided occasionally as deputy governor. He also served as colony treasurer and was a member of committees in charge of revising laws.

      John Alden was one of the founders of Duxbury. He owned several pieces of property but seems to have deeded all his real estate to his children during his lifetime. John Alden died intestate (without a will), but we do have an inventory of the property he owned at his death (click HERE for John Alden's inventory).

      Alicia Crane Williams has written a superb article on John and Priscilla Mullins Alden. "John and Priscilla, We Hardly Know Ye," America History Illustrated Vol. 23 No. 8 (December 1988), gives an excellent and readable overview of what is known about the Aldens. Ms. Williams has also done extensive work on the English background of John Alden and published "John Alden : Theories on English Ancestry" in The Mayflower Descendant, Vol. 39 No. 2, July 1989.

      The Alden homesite in Duxbury contains the excavated foundations of the first Alden home (c1627) as well as the still-standing 1653 Alden House. The homesite was acquired in 1907 by the Alden Kindred of America (the Kindred is comprised of descendants of John and Priscilla Mullins Alden). There are two excellent books on the Alden homesite. Pilgrim John Alden's Progress : Archaeological Excavations in Duxbury by Roland Wells Robbins focuses on examining the remains of the no-longer-standing house of 1627. Dorothy Wentworth's The Alden Family in the Alden House concentrates on the 1653 Alden House and its residents.

      Check our LINKS page for the Alden House Website!

      How do we know about John Alden? From the written records of the 17th century.
      For a look at all the 17th century records that pertain to John Alden, click HERE.


      John Alden


      BORN: c1598-1599, England (possibly Harwich, Essex, England)
      DIED: 12 September 1687, Duxbury, Massachusetts
      MARRIED: Priscilla Mullins, c1623, Plymouth, daughter of William and Alice (---) Mullins


      Elizabeth cir 1623-1625, Plymouth 31 May 1717, Little Compton, RI William Pabodie, 26 December 1644, Duxbury
      John cir 1626, Plymouth 14 March 1701/2, Boston Elizabeth (Phillips) Everill, 1 April 1660, Boston
      Joseph aft. 22 May 1627 8 February 1696/7, Bridgewater Mary Simmons
      Sarah aft 22 May 1627 bef 13 June 1688 Alexander Standish
      Jonathan cir 1632 14 February 1696/7, Duxbury Abigail Hallett, 10 December 1672, Duxbury
      Ruth unknown 12 October 1674, Braintree John Bass, 12 May 1657, Braintree
      Rebecca bef 1649 aft 13 June 1688 Thomas Delano, bef 30 October 1667
      Mary unknown aft 13 June 1688 unmarried
      Priscilla unknown aft 13 June 1688 unmarried
      David cir 1646 between 5 June 1718 and 1 April 1719 Mary Southworth


      Ancestral Summary:
      Extensive research has been done into the ancestry of John Alden, but nothing has conclusively been found. There are two major theories that have been presented over the years:

      Charles Edward Banks, in his book The English Ancestry and Homes of the Pilgrim Fathers, 1929, puts forward a theory that John is the son of George Alden and Jane (---) and grandson of Richard and Avys Alden of Southampton, England. Since Bradford says John Alden was hired in Southampton, this would be a logical place to start looking for Aldens. No other supporting evidence has been found, and it has been noted by many researchers that the names George, Richard, and Avys do not occur anywhere in John Alden's family. Naming children after parents and grandparents was an extremely common practice in the seventeenth century, and the absence of such a name is nearly enough evidence to disprove this theory.

      The currently popular theory is that John Alden came from Harwich, Essex, England. There was a sea-faring Alden family living there, who were related by marriage to Christopher Jones, captain of the Mayflower. It has been suggested John Alden may be the son of John Alden and Elizabeth Daye, but this is not fully proven either.

      Two commemorative broadsides (elegy poems) survive from John Alden's 1687 death. The first broadside is by an unknown author, and the second broadside was written by John Cotton.


      Biographical Summary:
      William Bradford wrote, in his history Of Plymouth Plantation: "John Alden was hired for a cooper [barrel maker] at Southampton where the ship [Mayflower] victualed, and being a hopeful young man was much desired but left to his own liking to go or stay when he came here; but he stayed and married here." and later wrote "John Alden married Priscilla, Mr. Mullin's daughter, and had issue by her as is before related."

      John Alden was an assistant for the Plymouth colony for many years, and was deputy governor for two years. His marriage to Priscilla Mullins was the subject of the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem, "The Courtship of Myles Standish", which although a classic has little factual basis. John and Priscilla were among the founders of the town of Duxbury.

      In 1634, John Alden was on the Kennebec River assisting in the forceful removal of John Hocking who was illegally fishing and trading on land that had been granted to the Pilgrims. Hockings refused to leave, and when the party arrived at his ship by canoe to board and remove him, he shot and killed Moses Talbot. In return, Hockings was shot and killed. The Massachusetts Bay Colony took matters into its own hands, and arrested John Alden (even though he was not the one who fired the shot). Myles Standish was sent by Governor Bradford to obtain Alden's release, which he successfully did.

      In his later years, John Alden was on many juries, including even a witch trial--though in Plymouth's case, the jury found the accuser guilty of libel and the alleged witch was allowed to go free. Plymouth Colony only had two witch trials during its history, and in both cases the accuser was found guilty and punished.

      John and Priscilla Alden probably have the largest number of descendants of any Mayflower passenger, but with stiff competition from Richard Warren and John Howland. They are ancestors to Presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams, poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Vice President Dan Quayle.


      John Alden's House built in 1653 still stands, and tours are given by the Alden Kindred of America. For more information, click on the picture of the house and you will go to the Alden Kindred web page.


      Zachariah Alden and Henry Alden have both been incorrectly identified as sons of John Alden and Priscilla Mullins in various publications. For information on the genealogy of Henry Alden, see Mayflower Descendant 43:21-29,133-138; 44:27-30,181-184.


      Alicia Crane Williams, ""John Alden: Theories on English Ancestry", Mayflower Descendant 39:111-122; 40:133-136

      Alicia Crane Williams, Families of Pilgrims: John Alden and William Mullins (Massachusetts Society of Mayflower Descendants, 1986).

      Robert C. Anderson, The Great Migration Begins, 1:21-26 (Boston: New England Historical and Genealogical Society, 1995).

      William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation, ed. Samuel Morison (New York: Random House, 1952).

      Eugene Aubrey Stratton, Plymouth Colony: Its History and Its People, 1620-1691 (Ancestor Publishers: Salt Lake City, 1986).

      Harry Hollingsworth, "John Alden--Beer Brewer of Windsor?", The American Genealogist 53(1977):235-240.

      John Alden & Priscilla Mullins
      1599? to 1687 , Masachusetts

      John Alden (1599?-September 22, 1687) was a tradesman who emigrated to America in 1620 with the Pilgrims on the Mayflower and was among the founders of the Plymouth Colony. He was originally hired by William Bradford and others to be their cooper. Though he could have returned to England the following year, he chose to stay in the new colony. About 1623 he married Priscilla Mullins, with whom he had many children. He was one of the first settlers of Duxburrough or Duxborough, known today as Duxbury, Massachusetts, where he lived for most of his life. From 1633 until 1675 he was assistant to the governor of the colony, frequently serving as acting governor and also sat on many juries, including one of the two witch trials in the Plymouth Colony.

      There are several theories regarding Alden's ancestry. According to William Bradford's Of Plimoth Plantation, he was hired as a cooper in Southampton, England just before the voyage to America. In The English Ancestry and Homes of the Pilgrim Fathers, Charles Edward Banks suggested that John was the son of George and Jane Alden and grandson of Richard and Avys Alden of Southampton. However, there are no further occurrences of the names George, Richard, and Avys in his family which would have been unusual in the seventeenth century.

      Another theory is that John Alden came from Harwich, England where there are records of an Alden family who were related by marriage to Christopher Jones, the Mayflower's captain. In this case, he may have been the son of John Alden and Elizabeth Daye.

      In 1634 Alden was jailed in Boston for a fight at Kenebeck in Maine between members of the Plymouth Colony and the Massachusetts Bay Colony. While Alden did not take part in the fight (which left one person dead) he was the highest ranking member the Massachusetts Bay colonists could get their hands on, and it was only through the intervention of Bradford that he was eventually released.

      In later years Alden became known for his intense dislike of the Quakers and Baptists, who were trying to settle on Cape Cod. A letter survives complaining that Alden was too strict when it came to dealing with them.

      At the time of his death, at Duxbury on September 12, 1687, he was the last male survivor of the signers of the Mayflower Compact of 1620, and with the exception of Mary Allerton, he was the last survivor of the Mayflower's company.

      He is remembered chiefly because of a popular legend, put into verse in 1858 as The Courtship of Miles Standish by his descendant Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, concerning his courtship of Priscilla Mullins, whom he married in 1623 after having wooed her first on behalf of his friend, Miles Standish. There is no known historic basis to the legend.

      Alden's house in Duxbury, built in 1653, is open to the public as a museum. It is run by the Alden Kindred of America, an organization which provides historical information about him and his home, including genealogical records of his descendants.

      Alden and his wife Priscilla lie buried in the Miles Standish Burial Ground in Duxbury.

      John and Priscilla had the following children who survived to adulthood: Elizabeth, John (accused during the Salem witch trials), Joseph, Priscilla, Jonathan, Sarah, Ruth, Mary, Rebecca, and David. They have the most descendants today of all the pilgrim families.

      Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was a descendant of John Alden, as were John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Orson Welles, Dan Quayle, Raquel Welch, Frank Nelson Doubleday, Samuel Eliot Morison, Gamaliel Bradford, Elizabeth Palmer Peabody, Herbert Henry Dow, Martha Graham, Adlai Stevenson III, Jan Garrigue Masaryk, Dick Van Dyke, Julia Child, William Cullen Bryant, John Trumbull, Ned Lamont, Matt Hasselbeck, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, The Baldwin Brothers and Marilyn Monroe.[1]