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John Carver (abt. 1576 - 1621)

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Governor John Carver
Born about in Doncaster, Yorkshire, Englandmap
Son of [father unknown] and [mother unknown]
[sibling(s) unknown]
Husband of — married in Leiden, Hollandmap
Husband of — married in Leiden, Hollandmap
[children unknown]
Died in Plymouth, Plymouth, Massachusettsmap
Carver-254 created 28 Apr 2011 | Last modified | Last edit: 18 Sep 2017
19:59: Weldon Smith posted a message on the page for John Carver. [Thank Weldon for this]
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Categories: Mayflower Passengers | Collaborative Profile of the Week | Mayflower Family Member | Notables | Mayflower Compact signatories | Plymouth, Massachusetts | American Notables.

The Mayflower.
John Carver was a passenger on the Mayflower.
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John Carver is notable.
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Preceded by
Office Established
John Carver
1st Governor
of Plymouth Colony

1620 —1621
Plymouth Colony Seal
Succeeded by
2nd Governor
William Bradford
Mayflower 1620 Compact



Unknown Origin and Uncertain Marriage

Robert C. Anderson featured John Carver in The Great Migration Begins and reports his "origin" as Leiden, meaning his ship sailed from there, but his birth place and parents are unknown.[1][2][3] John Carver was probably born by about 1585, "based on the date of his first appearance in Leiden."[1]

Anderson also reports only one marriage, by 1609 to Catherine (White) Leggattt, and even that is based on a circumstantial evidence. Alexander White mentioned his daughters (Catherine, Bridget, Jane, and Francis) in his 1594 will. His wife's will of 1599 mentioned "my son Leggatt and his wife" and "their daughter Marie" along with daughters Bridget, Janie, and Frances. Bridget White married in 1604 to Rev. John Robinson. On 14 June 1620, John Robinson wrote a letter to John Carver as "my dear friend and brother, whom with yours I always remember in my best affection." This is not conclusive, because John Robinson also addressed other members of the church as "brother."[1]

John Carver is credited with writing the Mayflower Compact, was its first signer, and was the first governor of New Plymouth Colony. Carver was a Leiden Separatist instrumental in organizing the Pilgrim's Mayflower voyage in 1620, on which he was a passenger, and which resulted in the creation of Plymouth Colony in America.[4]
John Carver was a deacon in Leiden about 1609 at about age 25, and is believed to have been born sometime before 1584. Leiden records of St. Pancras Church state that Carver buried a child on July 10, 1609. Sometime shortly after the death of the child, Carver's wife Mary died.[4]
John Carver may have been the actual author of the Mayflower Compact itself, and was also its first signer. Following the Compact signing, Carver was "chosen, or rather confirmed" governor of the new political body that was his creation.[4]

John Carver, a Leiden separatist, is credited with writing the Mayflower Compact, as well as, organizing the voyage. Originally destined for Virginia, the voyagers were blown off course and settled in Plymouth, Massachusetts. [5]


John may have married twice. Robert Anderson of The Great Migration series and Caleb Johnson in his Mayflower History,com, among others, report only the first marriage.[1][6]

His first wife was Mary de Lannoy, of L’Escluse, France. They were both were members of the French Walloon church in Leiden. Leiden records of St. Pancras Church state that Carver buried a child on July 10, 1609. Sometime shortly after the death of the child, Carver’s wife Mary died.[7]

He next married Katherine White, who was a prominent member of the Leiden English Separatist church.[8]The date of marriage is unknown. On November 11, 1617, at St. Pancras in Leiden, Katherine Carver buried a child, probably an infant.

During this time John Carver was negotiating with the London Company for passage to Virginia for he and the Leiden Church dissenters. John Carver was very wealthy and provided much of his personal fortune to the congregation in Leiden, and investment in the joint-stock company as well as for the Mayflower voyage itself.[9]

Boarding the Mayflower in 1620 with John Carver and his wife Katherine were five servants: 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.”[10]

"On November 11/19, 1620, after about 3 months at sea, including a month of delays in England, they spotted land, which was the Cape Cod Hook, now called Provincetown Harbor. And after several days of trying to get south to their planned destination of the Colony of Virginia, strong winter seas forced them to return to the harbor at Cape Cod hook, where they anchored on November 11/21. The Mayflower Compact was signed that day."[11]

The Carver family with whom John lived, survived the terrible sickness of the first winter, during which many Pilgrims died. But the following spring, on an unusually hot day in April, Governor Carver, according to Bradford, came out of his cornfield feeling ill. He passed into a coma and "never spake more."

His wife, Kathrine, died soon after her husband.

Since the Carvers had no children, John Howland is thought to have inherited their estate. It has been said that he immediately "bought his freedon" but no record has survived.[12]

The following is quoted from William Bradford's Mayflower passenger list.[13]

mr. John Carver, Kathrine his wife, Desire Minter; & 2. Man-servants John Howland Roger Wilder. William Latham, a boy, & a maid servant. & a child yt was put to him called, Jasper More.[13]
These bening aboute a hundred sowls came over in this first ship: and began this worke, which god of his goodnes hathe hithertoo blesed; let his holy name have ye praise.[13]
And seeing it hath please him to give me to see .30. years compleated, since these biginings. And that the great works of his providence are to be observed. I have thought it not unworthy my paines, to take a view of the decreasings, & Increasigs of these persons, and such changs as hath pased over them, & theirs, in this thirty years. It may be of some use to such as come after; but however I shall rest in my owne benefite.[13]
mr. Carver and his wife, dyed the first year, he in ye spring, she in ye somer; also his man Roger, and ye litle boy Jasper, dyed before either of them, of ye commone infection. Desire Minter, returned to her friend & proved not very well, and dyed in England. His servant boy Latham after more than .20. years stay in the country went into England; and from thence to the Bajamy Ilands in ye west Indees; and ther with some others was stavred for want of food. His maid servant maried, & dyed a year or two after her in this place. His servant John Howland maried the doughter of John Tillie, Elizabeth and they are both now living; and have .10. children now all living and their eldest doughter has .4. children and ther .2. doughter, one, all living and other of their children mariagable, so 15. are come of them.[13]
Of these 100 persons which came first over, in this first ship togeth; the greater halfe dyed in the general mortality; and most of them in .2. or .3. monthes time. And for those wich survifed though some were ancient & past procreation; & others left ye place and cuntrie, yet of those few remaining are sprunge up above. 160 persons; in this .30 yeasr. And are now living in this present year. 1650. besids many of their children which are dead and done not within this account.[13]
And of the old stock, (of one, & other) ther are yet living this present year. 1650. nere .30. persons. Let the Lord have ye praise; who is the High preserver of men.[13]

Death and Legacy

John Carver passed away suddenly in April 1621 after working in his fields.

"In this month of April 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 spoke 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." [14][15]

Research Notes

The Wikipedia article on John Carver reports a first marriage to Mary de Lannoy, citing Plimoth Plantation and New England Historic Genealogical Society, "A Genealogical Profile of John Carver."[4] However, this source does not mention any first marriage.[3]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Anderson, Robert C., (1995) "John Carver," featured name. The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England 1620-1633, Volumes I-III. NEHGS, (Volumes I-III, Page 320-22).
  2. "Possible English Origin of Degory Priest of the Mayflower." The American Genealogist, Vol 80. NEHGS, (Vol 80, Page 257 fn.)
  3. 3.0 3.1 Plimoth Plantation and New England Historic Genealogical Society, "A Genealogical Profile of John Carver." Archived on 1 Nov 2012, LINK to PDF Retrieved on 7 Sep 2017.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Wikipedia contributors, "John Carver (Plymouth Colony governor)." Retrieved on 7 Sep 2017.
  5. Eugene Aubrey Stratton, Plymouth Colony: Its History and People, 1620-1691, (Salt Lake City: Ancestry Publishing, 1986), p. 259
  6. Johnson, Caleb, (1994-2017) "John Carver." Retrieved on 7 Sep 2017.
  7. Eugene Aubrey Stratton, Plymouth Colony: Its History and People, 1620-1691, (Salt Lake City: Ancestry Publishing, 1986), p. 18
  8. Charles Edward Banks, The English ancestry and homes of the Pilgrim Fathers who came to Plymouth on the Mayflower in 1620, the Fortune in 1621, and the Anne and the Little James in 1623, (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2006), p. 44
  9. Nathaniel Philbrick, Mayflower: A story of Courage, Community and War (New York: Viking, 2006), p. 42
  10. Eugene Aubrey Stratton, Plymouth Colony: Its History and People, 1620-1691, (Salt Lake City: Ancestry Publishing, 1986), p. 405
  11. Eugene Aubrey Stratton. Plymouth Colony: Its History and People, 1620-1691 (Salt Lake City:Ancestry Publishing, 1986), p. 413
  12. Source unknown.
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 13.4 13.5 13.6 "Governor Branford's List of the Mayflower Passengers." The Mayflower Descendant. LINK(Vol. 1, Pages 9, 11-12, 16)
  14. Caleb H. Johnson, The Mayflower and Her Passengers, Xlibris Corporation: 2006
  15. This is a modern rendition of the account of John Carver's death given in William Bradford's Journal, Published as History of Plymouth Plantation. Boston: Little Brown, 1856.

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No known carriers of John's ancestors' Y-chromosome or mitochondrial DNA have taken yDNA or mtDNA tests.

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On 18 Sep 2017 at 23:59 GMT Weldon Smith wrote:

Rachelle, what is the connection between John Carver and Doncaster, and why do you claim it is 'probable', when our trusted sources do not?

On 10 Sep 2017 at 22:33 GMT Rachelle McClendon wrote:

It is well documented that John Carver of the Mayflower did not have children. His probable brother came from the same original parish in Doncaster with Isaac Carver mentioned in the records as being the father of John and Robert.

On 7 Sep 2017 at 23:42 GMT Weldon Smith wrote:

Profile Managers: Please consider my request to remove Robert as son of John Carver. This bad link apparently reappeared during a recent merge. Both PGM and Mayflower Projects state unequivocally that Robert Carver is not son of John Carver. See G2G discussion: If you would rather, I am happy to remove this bad link from our tree for you. If you object, please show cause. If Robert link still present on 15th September, absent cause, I will remove. Thanks.

On 7 Sep 2017 at 23:09 GMT Cynthia (Billups) B wrote:

Do we have evidence for: this birth place? first wife? Also, please see G2G question re detaching profile for Robert Carver as son. Thanks!

On 17 May 2017 at 16:33 GMT Andrea (Stawski) Pack wrote:

Carver-538 and Carver-254 appear to represent the same person because: Clear Duplicate

On 6 Apr 2017 at 14:00 GMT Tanya Kasim wrote:

He and Katherine White Leggatt were married in Leiden, Holland.

On 18 Feb 2016 at 19:28 GMT Sharon Smith wrote:

John is 16 degrees from Kevin Bacon, 17 degrees from Joseph Broussard, 22 degrees from Helmut Jungschaffer and 18 degrees from Queen Elizabeth II Windsor on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.

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