Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
John Alden (1599?-September 12,1687) was one of the Pilgrims who emigrated to America in 1620 on the Mayflower and founded the Plymouth Colony. He was one of the first settlers of Duxburrough or Duxborough, known today as Duxbury Massachusetts, where he lived for most of his life. From 1633 until 1675 he was assistant to the governor of the colony, frequently serving as acting governor and also sat on many juries, including one of the two witch trials in the Plymouth Colony.
There are several theories regarding John Alden's ancestry. According to William Bradford's History of the Plimoth Plantation, he was hired as a cooper in Southampton, England just before the voyage to America. In The English Ancestry and Homes of the Pilgrim Fathers Charles Edward Banks suggested that John was the son of George and Jane Alden and grandson of Richard and Avys Alden of Southampton. However, there are no further occurrences of the names George, Richard, and Avys in his family which would have been unusual in the seventeenth century.
Another theory is that John Alden came from Harwich, England where there are records of an Alden family who were related by marriage to Christopher Jones, the Mayflower's captain. In this case, he may have been the son of John Alden and Elizabeth Daye.
At the time of his death, at Duxbury on September 12, 1687, he was the last male survivor of the signers of the Mayflower Compact of 1620, and with the exception of Mary Allerton was the last survivor of The Mayflower's company. He is remembered chiefly because of a popular legend, put into verse in 1858 as The Courtship of Miles Standish by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, concerning his courtship of Priscilla Mullins, whom he married in 1623 after having wooed her first on behalf of his friend, Miles Standish. Sadly, there is no known historic basis to the legend.
John Alden's house in Duxbury, built in 1653, is open to the public as a museum. It is run by the Alden Kindred of America, an organization which provides historical information about him and his home, including genealogical records of his descendants.
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