ORIGIN: Leiden, Holland

MIGRATION: 1620 on Mayflower


EDUCATION: Signed the will of WILLIAM MULLINS [Waters 255; MD 1:230-32].

OFFICES: Governor from landing at Plymouth until his death in early 1621 [Bradford 76].

BIRTH: By about 1585 (based on date of first appearance in Leiden).

DEATH: "In this month of April [1621], whilst they were busy about their seed, their Governor (Mr. John Carver) came out of the field very sick, it being a hot day. He complained greatly of his head and lay down, and within a few hours his senses failed, so as he never spake more till he died, which was within a few days after. Whose death was much lamented and caused great heaviness amongst them, as there was cause. He was buried in the best manner they could, with some volleys of shot by all that bore arms. And his wife, being a weak woman, died within five or six weeks after him" [Bradford 86].

MARRIAGE: By 1609 Catherine (White) Leggatt, daughter of Alexander White. She died at Plymouth about five or six weeks after her husband, so in late May or early June 1621 [Bradford 86]. (The identification of the wife of John Carver derives from the following evidence: Alexander White in his will of 15 March 1594 named daughters Catherine, Bridget, Jane and Francis (all apparently unmarried); Eleanor White, widow of Alexander White, in her will of 7 April 1599 named "my son Leggatt and his wife" and "their daughter Marie," along with daughters Bridget, Janie and Frances (still apparently unmarried); Bridget White married in 1604 Rev. John Robinson; and in a latter of 14 June 1620 [NS] John Robinson addressed John Carver as "My dear friend and brother, whom with yours I always remember in my best affection" [MD 43:183-86; see Bradford 42 for letter from Robinson; see also English Homes 44; Stratton 259]. Insofar as this identification rests on the letter from Robinson there may be some doubt, inasmuch as Robinson addresses others as brother, so this may reflect only a church relationship.)

CHILDREN: None recorded. (Dexter published burials of two children at St. Pancras, Leiden, one in 1609 and one in 1617, as children of John Carver [Dexter 608-9]. Dexter misread these burial records, which pertain to other families [private communication from Jeremy D. Bangs].)

ASSOCIATIONS: The ancestry given for John Carver, and the connection to Robert Carver of Marshfield, in the Carver genealogy are completely unsupported and should be discounted [Clifford N. Carver, The Carver Family of New England (n.p. 1935), pp. 18, 23]. Banks champions a different ancestry, citing the baptism at Doncaster, Yorkshire, on 9 September 1565 of John, son of Robert Carver [English Homes 44]. This would make Carver forty-four years old at the time of his first appearance in Leiden, and we have no other indication that Carver would have been this old at that date (unless his appointment as governor in 1620 requires it).

If John Carver's wife has been correctly identified, then he was uncle by marriage of ISAAC ROBINSON of Scituate and Barnstable [PM 391].

COMMENTS: In his account of the passengers on the Mayflower in 1620, Bradford records as the first family "Mr. John Carver, Katherine his wife, Desire Minter, and two manservants, John Howland, Roger Wilder. William Latham, a boy, and a maidservant and a child that was put to him called Jasper More." In the accounting of these families as of 1651 Bradford reports that "Mr. Carver and his wife died the first year, he in the spring, she in the summer," and then goes on to give the fate of their several servants [Bradford 441, 443]. John Carver signed the Mayflower Compact.

John Carver was clearly one of the most respected members of the Mayflower contingent [Oxford DNB]. He and ROBERT CUSHMAN [PM 158] travelled to London in the summer of 1620 to plan and prepare for the voyage of members of the Leiden congregation to America. Several letters addressed to John Carver during this period give some evidence of his activities [Bradford 42-46, 360-61, 367].

The Pilgrim Migration: Immigrants to Plymouth Colony 1620-1633

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