25 August 2020
Do you have Mayflower ancestors or did your ancestors arrived in America around the same time as the famous ship? Simon Wills share his top tips for free of charge research resources.
Perhaps the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower will encourage you to investigate whether any of your family emigrated to America. You may not have ancestors on the Mayflower itself, but maybe your 17th-century relations arrived in America at a similar time or even before the pilgrim father, writes Simon Wills
There are many resources that can assist genealogists trying to find out if their British ancestors crossed the Atlantic to settle in America in the 17th century. There are many free online sources to help you:
1. The Packrat
Notably, the Packrat website lists many early emigrant ships from 1602 to 1638, together with their passenger lists here. This includes quite a few ships that pre-date the Mayflower.
On this site you can rearrange the list of ships by name or by date of sailing, but also search across all ships for named passengers by clicking on the ‘Passengers’ link.
2. The Winthrop Society
The Winthrop Society describes those who settled in Massachusetts in the 1630s with Governor John Winthrop. Many of these came from Suffolk, Essex and Dorset.
There are similar lists elsewhere associated with other celebrated individuals, such as William Penn’s ship Welcome, which travelled from Deal to Pennsylvania in 1682. See here.
3. Virtual Jamestown
There is a list of the original inhabitants of Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607/8 and a ‘muster’ (census) of the British colony of Virginia for 1624/5 at Virtual Jamestown. The census is helpful because it includes people’s ages, the ship travelled on, and the date of arrival. All of these inhabitants came from England in the early 1600s.
There is also a database of 10,000 indentured British servants 1654-86, and transcriptions of various other contemporary documents for Virginia such as court records which name numerous individuals.
4. Family Search
The free site FamilySearch may tell you about births, marriages and deaths of early America citizens. Many of these people came from Britain originally, and you may be able to make connections to British parish records for yourself.