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My children and I are related to two "Mayflower" passengers through my mother's side of the family -- John Alden and Priscilla Mullins. John was not a Puritan Pilgrim, but the ship's cooper (barrel maker), a “hopfull yonge man” from Harwich, Essex, England, little more than 20 when the ship anchored off Cape Cod. Since he was under contract to remain with the colony for a year, instead of returning with the “Mayflower” in the spring, he stayed on in Plymouth.
Priscilla was the 16 or 17-year-old daughter of an investor in the colony, a shopkeeper from Dorking, Surrey, about 30 miles southwest of London. She came with her father and his wife, who were “strangers” rather than Pilgrims, though perhaps they were “separatists.” But both parents died in the brutal winter of 1621. Priscilla was alone, and could have returned to live with her brother or sister in England, but she chose to stay in the new Colony see her adventure through.
John Alden and Priscilla Mullins were wed in 1622, two years or so after the “Mayflower’s” first voyage. Some time after their marriage they moved to the new village of Duxbury, and had nine children.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, a descendant of John Alden, wrote an extremely popular poem “The Courtship of Miles Standish” in 1858. It describes a fanciful courtship by Capt. Miles Standish, who asked John Alden to convey his proposal to Priscilla Mullins. In the poem she says coyly, “Why don’t you speak for yourself, John?”
Though the poem has little relationship to history, it was so popular that John and Priscilla Alden became celebrated figures in American popular culture. A number of paintings of the couple or of Priscilla herself were reproduced by lithograph to hang on the walls of Victorian homes.
The pair of paintings I copied were by C.W. Georges, an otherwise unknown artist. They were published in 1906 by a lithograph company in New York, Ullman Manufacturing Co., as both prints and post cards. 221224. Watercolor, 2 paintings, each 6.0 x 6.5 inches. In a private collection. AMR
Ralph F. Wilson Watercolors
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