William Mullins was born about 1572 in Dorking, Surrey, England, son of John Mullins and Joanne Bridger of Dorking parish, located about 21 miles south of London. John Mullins died in February 1583/84 and his widow Joane married secondly Vincent Benham on November 1, 1585. The Dorking Register shows baptisms, marriages and burials of persons with the name of “Mullyns” between 1571 and 1585 and then a gap in those names of about twenty-five years until more names of this family appear.
The first mention of William Mullins in Dorking records was on October 4, 1595, when he was fined, at about age 23, two pence by the manorial court for non-attendance at that year’s session. That record states that he was then residing in the Chippingborough district of Dorking. Records note a William Mullins named on a 1596 muster list for Stoke, near Guildford, co. Surrey, where it is believed he was living at that time, and returning to Dorking about 1604.
While in Guildford it is believed that Mullins married for a first time, name of wife unknown. During that time, it is also believed that his first wife gave birth to at least one daughter, name Elizabeth, with baptism recorded at Holy Trinity Church, Guildford on December 11, 1598. Elizabeth may have died young. Authors Caleb Johnson and Charles Edward Banks have indicated that this unnamed wife may have given birth to a son and daughter prior to the 1598 birth of Elizabeth.
William brought his wife Alice and children Priscilla and Joseph on the Mayflower; he also brought over 250 shoes and 13 pairs of boots, his profession being a shoemaker. He died on 21 February 1620/1, during the first winter at Plymouth, as did his wife and son Joseph. His original will has survived, written down by John Carver the day of Mullins' death. In it he mentions his wife Alice, children Priscilla and Joseph, and his children back in Dorking, William Mullins and Sarah Blunden. He also mentions a Goodman Woods (likely a reference to the Wood family in Dorking), and a Master Williamson, who have not been identified. It was witnessed by the Mayflower's captain Christopher Jones, the Mayflower's surgeon Giles Heale, and Plymouth's governor John Carver.
Records for Dorking dated October 5, 1604, again name William Mullins, then residing in the Eastborough district there where he was the head of a “frankpledge” – a group of ten families bonded to the king for their good behavior. And if one member of the group was fined or punished, all members would be punished, which is what happened on September 19, 1605 when Mullins and his frankpledge were fined for an unknown transgression.
In May 1619 Mullins sold his Dorking Manor holdings to Ephraim Bothell/Bothall for 280 pounds, which may have been a precursor of his preparations for the Mayflower voyage. It appears he made a good living as a shoemaker as his was one of the larger investments in the Merchant Adventurers group, of which he was a member, which was investing in the Pilgrim venture. His will shows he had nine shares of stock in the Merchant Adventurers and that his estate consisted primarily of boots and shoes.
The London businessmen known as the Merchant Adventurers, under the direction of Thomas Weston, invested in the Mayflower voyage from the very beginning. The documents drawn up, and approved by members of the Leiden church, imposed certain restrictions on the Pilgrims work week, to which they agreed. But as the time to depart England drew near, the Adventurers wanted the restrictions tightened which would have caused the Pilgrims to work almost 7 days a week, in an effect to increase profits, without such as due time for religious activities. The Pilgrims balked at this and refused to agree to the new terms. William Mullins played a part in these deliberations, probably because he had a large investment and needed to ensure a satisfactory return on it, as an Adventurers member. And although Robert Cushman, who had been the Leiden agent for Mayflower voyage preparations, came to Plymouth in November 1621 to try to settle the rift between the Pilgrims and the Adventurers, it was never resolved. Eventually the Pilgrims bought out the Adventurers and formed their own investment company.
When the Mullins family boarded the Mayflower, they consisted of William, then about age fifty, his wife Alice, daughter Priscilla and son Joseph. They boarded the ship with the London contingent, and not as part of the Leiden religionists. Mullins was a shoemaker and businessman, and carried with him a large stock of boots and shoes. Accompanying the family was their indentured servant, Robert Carter. The family had left behind in Dorking the two eldest children, Sarah, about age 22 and probably married, and William, possibly in his late 20s and married. These two older children may have been borne by a first wife of Mullins. His daughter Sarah, married to _____ Blunden, was his estate administrator, as requested in Mullins' will.
William Mullins' wife's first name was Alice. There has been some speculation that her maiden name was "Atwood". This has been disproven.
Recording those on board the Mayflower, William Bradford wrote of Mullins as “Mr. William Mullins”, possibly due to his being somewhat more prosperous than many of the original settlers: “Mr. William Mullines, and his wife, and *2* children, Joseph and Priscila; and a servant, Robart Carter.”
The Mayflower departed Plymouth, England on September 6/16, 1620. The small, 100-foot ship had 102 passengers and a crew of about 30-40 in extremely cramped conditions. By the second month out, the ship was being buffeted by strong westerly gales, causing the ship‘s timbers to be badly shaken with caulking failing to keep out sea water, and with passengers, even in their berths, lying wet and ill. This, combined with a lack of proper rations and unsanitary conditions for several months, attributed to what would be fatal for many, especially the majority of women and children. On the way there were two deaths, a crew member and a passenger, but the worst was yet to come after arriving at their destination when, in the space of several months, almost half the passengers perished in cold, harsh, unfamiliar New England winter.
On November 9/19, 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. 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 1620.
Both Johnson and Banks believe that William Mullins married twice, with the name of his first wife being unknown. It is also believed that his daughter Priscilla and son Joseph were the only children of his second wife Alice.
First wife of William Mullins
William Mullins probably married firstly ______ _______ in Stoke, near Guildford, co. Surrey, England sometime possibly in the early 1590's.
Children believed of the first marriage
William Mullins Jr., possibly born about 1593 and died in 1674 in New England, coming there sometime after his father’s death.
Sarah Mullins (married Blunden) mentioned in William's will.
Elizabeth Mullins, baptized December 11, 1598 at Holy Trinity Church, Guildford, co. Surrey. She may have died young.
Second wife of William Mullins
William Mullins married secondly Alice _____ possibly ca 1600/1602. Her ancestry is unrecorded. She died in Plymouth in the winter of 1620/1.
Children believed of the second marriage
Priscilla Mullins was born about 1604 and died between 1651 and September 12, 1687, the date of her husband’s death. She had been a passenger on the Mayflower with her parents and her brother Joseph, and only she survived after their deaths in 1621. She married Mayflower cooper John Alden before 1623 and had eleven children. The only proven descendants of William Mullins living today are descended from Priscilla.
Joseph Mullins, born about 1606. He was a passenger on the Mayflower with his parents and sister Priscilla. He died after the first winter in Plymouth – sometime in 1621 between April 5 and mid-November, date unknown. His corrected birth year per Johnson.
William's will named as family members his wife, Alice, son Joseph, daughter Priscilla, eldest son (later mentioned as son William), and eldest daughter (unnamed but appointed administrator).
In the name of God Amen: I comit my soule to God that gave it and my bodie to the earth from whence it came. Alsoe I give my goodes as followeth That fforty poundes in the hand of goodman Woodes I give my wife tenn poundes, my sonne Joseph tenn poundes, my daughter Priscilla tenn poundes, and my eldest sonne tenn poundes Also I give to my eldest sonne all my debtes, bonds, bills (onelye yt forty poundes excepted in the handes of goodman Wood) given as aforsaid wth all the stock in his owne handes. To my eldest daughter I give ten shillings to be paied out of my sonnes stock Furthermore that goodes I have in Virginia as followeth To my wife Alice halfe my goodes & to Joseph and Priscilla the other halfe equallie to be devided betweene them. Alsoe I have xxj dozen of shoes, and thirteene paire of bootes wch I give into the Companies handes for forty poundes at seaven years and if thy like them at that rate. If it be thought to deare as my Overseers shall thinck good And if they like them at that rate at the divident I shall have nyne shares whereof I give as followeth twoe to my wife, twoe to my sonne William, twoe to my sonne Joseph, twoe to my daugher Priscilla, and one to the Companie. Allsoe if my sonne William will come to Virginia I give him my share of land furdermore I give to my twoe Overseers Mr John Carver and Mr Williamson, twentye shillinges apeece to see this my will performed desiringe them that he would have an eye over my wife and children to be as fathers and freindes to them; Allsoe to have a speciall eye to my man Robert wch hathe not so approved himselfe as I would he should have done.
This is a Coppye of Mr Mullens his Will of all particulars he hathe given. In witnes whereof I have sett my hande John Carver, Giles Heale, Christopher Joanes.
[Followed by, translated from the Latin]: In the month of July Anno Domini 1621. On the 23rd day issued a commission to Sarah Blunden, formerly Mullins, natural and legitimate daughter of William Mullins, late of Dorking in the County of Surrey, but deceased in parts beyond the seas, seized &c., for administering the goods, rights and credits of the said deceased, according to the tenor and effect of the will of the said deceased because in that will he named no executor. In due form &c. swears.
Wife not Priscilla Coolman Caleb Johnson. speculated that "Because of her name "Priscilla" and her connection to a Hammon family, she might make an interesting candidate for a first wife of William Mullins." He doesn't suggest the relationship is proven.
↑ Banks, Charles Edward. 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. 73.
↑ Johnson, Caleb H. The Mayflower and Her Passengers. Indiana: Xlibris Corp., 2006. p. 193.
↑ Banks, Charles Edward. 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. 74
↑ Johnson, Caleb H. The Mayflower and Her Passengers. Indiana: Xlibris Corp., 2006. p. 193.
↑ Banks, Charles Edward. 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. pp. 73-74.
↑ Philbrick, Nathaniel. Mayflower: A story of Courage, Community and War. New York: Viking, 2006. p. 40.
↑Mayflower Families through Five Generations Vol. 16 Part 1 Page 16.
↑ Robert C. Anderson's The Pilgrim Migration. pp. 330-340.
↑ Morton, Nathaniel. New England's memorial. (Boston: Congregational board of publication, 1855) Originally published 1669.p. 26 Note: The original compact is gone. Morton furnished the earliest known list 1669 facsimile
↑ Mayflower Quarterly, vol. 78, no. 1, March 2012, An investigation into the origins of Alice wife of William Mullins by Caleb H. Johnson, pp. 44-57.
↑ Johnson, Caleb "The Probable English Origin of Mayflower Passenger Peter Browne, and his association with Mayflower Passenger William Mullins," The American Genealogist: Vol. 79 #3 (7m 2004) p. 161-178.
Woodworth-Barnes, Esther Littleford and Williams, Alicia Crane, Mayflower Families through Five Generations, Vol 16 Part 1 of 3, John Alden, Boston, Mass.: General Society of Mayflower Descendants, 2002. p.16.
Edward A Cooper, Cape Cod GeneaLogy, www.history.vineyard.net.
William V. Hopkins, Jr., Shaw - Newcomer - Shutt - Hopkins, www.rootsweb.com.
Bradford, William. History of Plymouth Plantation (Massachusetts Historical Society, 1856) p. 448 "Mr William Mullines, and his wife, and 2. children, Joseph & Priscila; and a servant, Robart Carter." p. 452 "15 [persons] Mr Molines, and his wife, his sone, and his servant, dyed the first winter. Only his dougter Priscila survied, and maried with John Alden, who are both living, and have 11. children. And their eldest daughter is maried, & hath five children."
Bradford, William, 1590-1657. Of Plimoth Plantation: manuscript, 1630-1650. State Library of Massachusetts "List of Mayflower Passengers." In Bradford's Hand.
Will see [MQ 34:10; Waters 254-55; MD 1:230-32 (all citing PCC 68 Dale)]. ......"
"In his accounting of the passengers on the Mayflower Bradford included "Mr. William Mullins and his wife and two children, Joseph and Priscilla; and a servant, Robert Carter" [ Bradford 442]. In the listing of the fate of these passengers in 1651 he reported that "Mr. Mullins and his wife, his son and his servant died the first winter. Only his daughter Priscila survived, and married with John Alden; who are both living and have eleven children. And their eldest daughter is married and hath five children [Bradford 445]."
"It has been suggested that he was the William Mullins of Stoke, Surrey, about ten miles from Dorking [ English Homes 73-74; Brainerd Anc 217]. This likely identification is aided by a 1616 Privy Council order that may have been a religious trial that motivated William to sell his holding in the Manor of Dorking and emigrate [English Homes 73-74; Brainerd Anc 217-218]."
Merchant Adventurers -- "Mullens. Was, as appears elsewhere, a well-conditioned tradesman of Surrey, England, who was both an Adventurer and a MAY-FLOWER Pilgrim, and Martin and himself appear to have been the only ones who enjoyed that distinction. He died, however, soon after the arrival at Plymouth. That he was an Adventurer is but recently discovered by the author, but there appears no room for doubt as to the fact. His record was brief, but satisfactory, in its relation to the Pilgrims." ...... "Of the Adventurers, Collier, Hatherly, Keayne, Mullens, Revell, Pierce, Sharpe, Thomas, and Weston, probably Wright and White, possibly others, came to America for longer or shorter periods. Several of them were back and forth more than once. The records show that Andrews, Goffe, Pocock, Revell, Sharpe, and White were subsequently members of the Massachusetts (Winthrop's) Company. Professor Arberl finds but six of the Pilgrim Merchant Adventurers who later were among the Adventurers with Winthrop's Company of Massachusetts Bay, viz.:-Thomas Andrews, John Pocock, Samuel Sharpe, Thomas Goffe, John Revell, John White. He should have added at least, the names of Richard Andrews and Robert Keayne, and probably that of Richard Wright. Of their number, Collier, Hatherly, Martin, Mullens, Thomas, and (possibly) Wright were Plymouth colonists Martin and Mullens, as noted, being MAY-FLOWER Pilgrims. Nathaniel Tilden, a brother of Joseph Tilden of the Adventurers, came, as previously mentioned, to the Colony from Kent, settling at Scituate. Joseph, being apparently unmarried, made his nephew, Joseph of Scituate, his residuary legatee, and his property mostly came over to the Colony. ...... William Mullens and his family were, as shown, from Dorking in Surrey, and their home was therefore close to London, whence they sailed, beyond doubt, in the MAY-FLOWER. The discovery at Somerset House, London, by Mr. Henry F. Waters, of Salem, Massachusetts; of what is evidently the nuncupative will of William Mullens, proves an important one in many particulars, only one of which need be referred to in this connection, but all of which will receive due consideration. It conclusively shows Mr. Mullens not to have been of the Leyden congregation, as has sometimes been claimed, but that he was a well-to-do tradesman of Dorking in Surrey, adjacent to London. It renders it certain, too, that he had been some time resident there, and had both a married daughter and a son (William), doubtless living there, which effectually overthrows the "imaginary history" of Baird, and of that pretty story, "Standish of Standish," whereby the Mullens (or Molines) family are given French (Huguenot) antecedents and the daughter is endowed with numerous airs, graces, and accomplishments, professedly French. ...... Master William Mullens (or Molines, as Bradford some times calls him) is elsewhere shown to have been a tradesman of some means, of Dorking, in Surrey, one of the Merchant Adventurers, and a man of ability. From the fact that he left a married daughter (Mrs. Sarah Blunden) and a son (William) a young man grown, in England, it is evident that he must have been forty years old or more when he sailed for New England, only to die aboard the ship in New Plymouth harbor. That he was not a French Huguenot of the Leyden contingent, as pictured by Rev. Dr. Baird and Mrs. Austin, is certain. Mrs. Alice Mullens, whose given name we know only from her husband's will, filed in London, we know little about. Her age was (if she was his first wife) presumably about that of her husband, whom she survived but a short time. Joseph Mullens was perhaps older than his sister Priscilla, and the third child of his parents; but the impression prevails that he was slightly her junior,-on what evidence it is hard to say. That he was sixteen is rendered certain by the fact that he is reckoned by his father, in his will, as representing a share in the planter's half-interest in the colony, and to do so must have been of that age. Priscilla Mullens, whom the glamour of unfounded romance and the pen of the poet Longfellow have made one of the best known and best beloved of the Pilgrim band, was either a little older, or younger, than her brother Joseph, it is not certain which. But that she was over sixteen is made certain by the same evidence as that named concerning her brother."
"Thomas Rogers appears, from the fact that he had a son, a lad well-grown, to have been thirty or more in 1620. His birthplace, antecedents, and history are unknown, but he appears to have been "of the Leyden congregation." His wife and children came later. Joseph Rogers was only a "lad" aboard the MAY-FLOWER, but he left a considerable posterity. Nothing is surely known of him, except that he was Thomas's son."
"John Alden was of Southampton, England, was hired as "a cooper," was twenty-one years old in 1620, as determined by the year of his birth, 1599 ("Alden Memorial," p. 1), and became the most prominent and useful of any of the English contingent of the MAY FLOWER company. Longfellow's delightful poem, "The Courtship of Miles Standish," has given him and his bride, Priscilla Mullens, world-wide celebrity, though it is to be feared that its historical accuracy would hardly stand criticism. Why young Alden should have been "hired for a cooper at Southampton," with liberty to "go or stay" in the colony, as Bradford says he was (clearly indicating that he went to perform some specific work and return, if he liked, with the ship), has mystified many. The matter is clear, however, when it is known, as Griffis shows, that part of a Parliamentary Act of 1543 reads: "Whosoever shall carry Beer beyond Sea, shall find Sureties to the Customers (?) of that Port, to bring in Clapboard [staves] meet [sufficient] to make so much Vessel [barrel or "kilderkin"] as he shall carry forth." As a considerable quantity of beer was part of the MAY-FLOWER'S lading, and her consignors stood bound to make good in quantity the stave-stock she carried away, it was essential, in going to a wild country where it could not be bought, but must be "got out" from the growing timber, to take along a "cooper and cleaver" for that purpose. Moreover, the great demand for beer-barrel stock made "clapboard" good and profitable return lading. It constituted a large part of the FORTUNE'S return freight (doubtless "gotten out" by Alden), as it would have undoubtedly of the MAY-FLOWER'S, had the hardship of the colony's condition permitted."
SOURCE for the above: "The Mayflower and Her Log July 15, 1620-May 6, 1621 Chiefly from Original Sources" by Azel Ames, M.D. - Member of Pilgram Society ; Boston and New York - Houghton, Mifflin and Company, The Riverside Press; 1907.
He is buried on the hillside above Water St.just overlooking Plymouth Rock...A sarcophagus is situated there with many people that died the first winter. William, Alice, his wife, and their son are buried in that memorial. The Pilgrims buried their dead at night in shallow graves so that the Indians would not know how many of them had died that first winter. Later the monument was built and the remains of the first winters dead were placed there on the hillside. I have been to the grave in Plymouth on a cold, windy day and it is very sobering to think of what they endured as they settled in this new land.