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Duxbury’s Pilgrims

This exhibition uses the term “Pilgrim” to describe all passengers who came on the Mayflower in 1620, no matter their religious affiliation. The word is often used only to refer to those passengers who were of the Separatist faith. However, because Duxbury branded itself a “Pilgrim Town” in large part because of its founding by Myles Standish and John Alden, two men who were not Separatists when they emigrated, we chose to use the term liberally.


Duxbury’s Mayflower Pilgrims:

Artifact recovered at the Brewster site, Duxbury. Photo Courtesy of Greg Derr/The Patriot Ledger 2012 NEWS Photo.

John & Priscilla (Mullins) Alden
John Alden was “hired for a cooper” on the Mayflower and decided to stay in the Plymouth Colony when the ship returned to England. He married fellow passenger, Priscilla Mullins, whose own family had died during the winter of 1621. In 1627 John Alden received a land grant of 100 acres abutting the Blue Fish River. The Aldens’ first house site has been established through an archaeological dig. The current Alden House, c. 1700, was built by John & Priscilla’s son or grandson.

The Aldens were plucked from obscurity by the pen of Henry Wadworth Longfellow, their descendent. When Longfellow wrote the poem The Courtship of Miles Standish in 1858, about a fictitious love-triangle between John Alden, Priscilla Mullins and Myles Standish, they became the stuff of folklore.

Elder William Brewster
William Brewster was one of the Pilgrims who had resided in Leiden, Holland before coming to North America. He traveled aboard the Mayflower with his wife, Mary, and sons, Love and Wrestling. Mary died in 1627. He was a religious elder of the Plymouth Colony and, as such, had an elevated position within the community. William was granted land in Duxbury on the Nook, a small peninsula in the southern part of town, close by the farm of Myles Standish. The lilacs that grow at his homesite that are purported to have been brought by him aboard the Mayflower. Three of Brewster’s children also settled in Duxbury: Jonathan, Love and Patience. Objects in this exhibit were discovered at an archaeological dig at the Brewster homesite.

Love Brewster
Love arrived aboard the Mayflower with his parents, Elder William and Mary Brewster, and brother, Wrestling. He married Sarah Collier and settled on his father’s land grant on the Nook. He later moved his family closer to his father-in-law’s [William Collier] property near “Waiting Hill” in Duxbury.

Peter Browne
Little is known of Peter Browne prior to the Mayflower’s voyage, other than he was not a member of the religious community in Leiden, Holland. In 1627, he was granted 100 acres of land on Duxbury Bay and built a house on the Duxborough Path, an old Pilgrim-era road that is no longer in existence. His land encompassed a portion of today’s Washington Street, Surplus Street and South Station Ave. Browne’s time in Duxbury was short; it is believed he died in 1633. After his death, his daughters by his first wife, Priscilla and Mary, were placed into the homes of other colonists. His second wife and daughter remained on the Browne property for a time.

Francis Eaton
Francis Eaton traveled aboard the Mayflower with his wife, Sarah, and infant son, Samuel. His wife died during the first winter and he married twice more. In 1627 he was granted 80 acres of land on the Nook, between the land of Myles Standish and William Brewster. He shortly sold half of his land to Brewster and died soon after. Creditors took almost all of what remained of Eaton’s farm, leaving 1/3 to his widow, Christian. She sold her portion to the Brewsters.

Samuel Eaton
Samuel Eaton traveled as an infant on the Mayflower with his parents, Francis and Sarah Eaton. He was still a child when Francis Easton received his Duxbury land grant, and would have moved here with his family. Later, he purchased a piece of property on the Nook.

Richard More
Richard More, or Moore, is one of four young siblings, possibly of royal descent, who traveled to Plymouth aboard the Mayflower. Six year-old Richard was the only one to survive the first winter. He was a member of Elder Wiliam Brewster’s household and Brewster eventually gave him a 20 acre parcel on the Nook in Duxbury that encompassed Eagle’s Nest Point. He did not remain long in Duxbury as an adult and is buried in Salem, MA.

Henry Samson
Henry Samson was a young man of 16 when he traveled on the Mayflower in the company of his cousins James and Martha (Cooper) Tilley and Humility Cooper. In 1627 he received a land grant in Duxbury of approximately 100 acres that encompassed today’s Island Creek Oyster headquarters on Duxbury Bay and the Winsor House Inn on Washington Street. In 1635 he married Anne Plummer and had nine children. He was an active member of the Duxbury community.

George Soule
George Soule traveled on the Mayflower as an indentured servant to Edward Winslow. He was granted approximately 100 acres on the eastern third of the peninsula known as Powder Point in Duxbury. He, along with his wife, Mary, and children, moved to the area in about 1632. Upon his death, much of the property was deeded to daughter Mary (Soule) Peterson and remained in the family until the end of the 19th century. The King Caesar House is on a portion of the Soule farm, as Ezra Weston was a direct Soule descendant.

Myles Standish
Capt. Myles Standish was not a member of the Pilgrim’s Separatist religious community but was hired by them to act as the military leader of the Colony. He traveled on the Mayflower with his wife Rose. She died during the first winter, in 1621. He then married his second wife, Barbara, with whom he had seven children. He was granted 120 acres of land on the peninsula known as the Nook in South Duxbury. Captain’s Hill, on his former land and on which stands the Myles Standish Monument, is named for him. The site of his home is now a public park.  Two archaeological digs were conducted at his homesite in the 19th century. Objects from both digs are featured in this exhibit.

For more information on the locations of the original home sites, please see Henry Fish’s map.


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Digging Duxbury

The quest for archaeological evidence of the Pilgrim past began with an 1833 dig, one of the earliest in U.S. history.

Coming to a Pilgrim Town

Coming to a Pilgrim Town

Duxbury’s Pilgrim history, combined with the town’s natural beauty, initiated a tourist boom.

Collecting in a Pilgrim Town

Collecting in a Pilgrim Town

The tourism boom brought another enterprise, the creation and sale of Pilgrim-themed souvenirs.

Lasting Legacy

Duxbury's Lasting Legacy

Duxbury never forgot its Pilgrim origins. How could it? The names continue to generate interest today.
All objects, text and materials in this digital exhibition are owned or copyrighted by the Duxbury Rural & Historical Society and may not be reproduced, copied or distributed without permission. © 2020, Duxbury Rural & Historical Society. All Rights Reserved. Please contact 781-934-6106 for more information.