John Alden was born circa 1599 in England, United Kingdom and died 22 September 1687 1653 Alden House, Duxbury, Plymouth County, Massachusetts, United States of unspecified causes. He married Priscilla Mullins (1602-1680) 1622 in Plymouth Colony, Plymouth, Plymouth County, Massachusetts, United States.

Vital statistics

  • John Alden (1599–September 22, 1687) - Parents uncertain (See biography)
  • 1599 : Born in England - probably Harwich, Essex (circa 1599)
  • 1620-Sep-6 : From a list of the 102 passengers onboard the Mayflower during its trans-Atlantic voyage of September 6 - November 9, 1620, among them the 50 Pilgrim settlers of Plymouth Colony in what is now Massachusetts.
  • 1620-Nov-13 : The group remained onboard the ship through the next day, a Sunday, for prayer and worship. The immigrants finally set foot on land at what would become Provincetown on November 13.
  • 1622/1623 : Married Priscilla Mullins (1602-1680)
  • 1687-Sep-22 : Died in Duxbury, MA :


Early Plymouth_Colony settler (1620) from the Mayflower and he is said to be the first passenger of The Mayflower to set foot on Plymouth Rock in 1620.

He was also one of the founders of the Plymouth Colony and the seventh signer of the Mayflower Compact. Distinguished for practical wisdom, integrity and decision, he acquired and retained a commanding influence over his associates. Employed in public business he was first recorded as a Governor's Assistant in 1632, the Duxbury Deputy to the General Court of Plymouth, a member under arms of Capt. Miles Standish's Duxbury Company, a member of Council of War, Treasurer of Plymouth Colony, and Commissioner to Yarmouth.

Mayflower Cooper

John Alden was hired as a cooper in Southampton by the Leiden separatists and was given a choice of remaining or returning to England. Being cooper was an important job, responsible for maintaining the group's barrel's which kept fresh everyone's food and drinking water. (See Bradford's journal below.)

Voyage of the Mayflower

Mayflower at Provincetown Harbor

The Mayflower, originating from London with a group of Adventurers bound for the New World rendezvoused on 22 July with the Speedwell just arriving from Holland with a group of religious refugees from Leiden. Originally intended to sail jointly to the English Colony in Virginia it soon became evident that Speedwell was not seaworthy. Passengers and cargo were combined onto Mayflower (with many left behind) for the journey, finally departing on September 9.

During the voyage fierce storms blew the ship off course, arriving at Cape Cod on the Eastern Massachusetts coastline on November 9th. For two days they attempted to sail south to Virginia but exhausting supplies and fierce storms caused them to abort this effort and drop anchor at what is now Provincetown Harbor. On November 11th, the group decided to settle here and start their own colony. They wrote a governmental contract called the Mayflower Compact, John was the 7th of the 41 signers on this document.

Signing the Mayflower Compact 1620, a painting by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris 1899

About the middle of December 1620, the ship moved and dropped anchor in Plymouth Harbor. All the while the pilgrims were conducting several exploring missions of the area and negotiations with the local natives. Almost half of the passengers died, suffering from an outbreak of a contagious disease described as a mixture of scurvy, pneumonia and tuberculosis. In the spring, they built huts ashore, and on March 21, 1621, the surviving passengers disembarked from the Mayflower into their new settlement at Plymouth, Massachusetts.

Plymouth Colony

John Alden had settled with the Separatist congregation in the Plymouth Colony, though was not likely a member himself. A year or two after arriving, John Alden was wed to Priscilla Mullins, daughter of prominent (and wealthy) fellow colonist William Mullins who perished in the first winter.

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.

1629 Alden House in Duxbury

John Alden House in Duxbury MA. Built in 1653, replacing the first house he built in 1629.

By 1629, John Alden, Sr. and his family had moved to Duxbury, Massachusetts where they built their first family home, only 38 feet x 10 feet big, in which he would raise a family of 10 children. He would build a much larger home in 1653, which much of the business of Plymouth Colony was transacted as he served as court clerk. Today, 1653 Alden House, which stands on Alden Street, is operated as a Alden family history museum by Alden Kindred Society.

1634 Kennebec Dispute

Kennebec Dispute 1634 was a deadly fight in 1634 between traders of Plymouth Colony and nearby Pistacaqua Colony over indian trading rights on the Kennebec River in Southern Maine territory. Afterwards two prominent leaders of Plymouth (John Alden (c1599-1687) and John Howland (1592-1672)) were implicated in Massachusetts Bay Colony but eventually released.

In 1634 Alden was jailed, in Boston, for a fight at Kennebec in Maine between members of the Plymouth Colony and the Massachusetts Bay Colony. While Alden did not take part in the fight (which left one person dead) he was the highest ranking member the Massachusetts Bay colonists could get their hands on, and it was only through the intervention of Bradford and Standish that he was eventually released.

Later Years

In later years Alden became known for his intense dislike of the Quakers and Baptists, who were trying to settle on Cape Cod. A letter survives complaining that Alden was too strict when it came to dealing with them.

John Alden was the last male survivor of the signers of the Mayflower Compact of 1620, and with the exception of Mary Allerton, he was the last survivor of the Mayflower's company. He died at Duxbury on September 12, 1687. Both he and his wife Priscilla lie buried in the Miles Standish Burial Ground.

The Alden residence is also in Duxbury MA, on the north side of the village, on a farm which is still in possession of their descendants of the seventh generation. He made no will, having distributed the greater part of his estate among his children during his life time.

John Alden's House was built in 1653 and 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.

Marriage and Family

A year or two after arriving at Plymouth, John Alden was wed to Priscilla Mullins (1602-1680), who was orphaned when her wealthy parents and fellow colonists (William Mullins (c1572-1620) and wife and son) all perished in the first winter. Theirs was the second or third marriage of the colony, the exact date unknown, but taking place between 12 May 1621 and 14 Aug 1623.

Courtship of Myles Standish

The Courtship of Miles Standish

The story of their courtship has been romanticized for all time in the story of The Courtship of Miles Standish written in poem by their descendant, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882).

The colony's military leader, Myles Standish (c1584-1656), desired the hand of Priscilla in marriage, but being to shy to speak himself, employed John as a go-between. However, Priscilla fell in love with John.

Set against the backdrop of a fierce Indian war, the tale focuses on a love triangle among three Pilgrims: Myles Standish (c1584-1656), Priscilla Mullins (1602-1680), and John Alden (c1599-1687). Longfellow claimed the story was true, but the historical evidence is inconclusive. Nevertheless, the ballad was very popular in nineteenth-century America, immortalizing the Mayflower Pilgrims.

Their Children

John and Priscilla had the following children who survived to adulthood: Elizabeth, John (accused during the Salem witch trials), Joseph, Priscilla, Jonathan, Sarah, Ruth, Mary, Rebecca, and David. They have the most descendants today of all the pilgrim families.

This is just a partial list:

  1. Captain John Alden JR (1622-1701) - - married Elizabeth Phillips - 12 children. In his old age he was accused in the Salem Witch Trials and only barely escaped execution. In 1687, he received 100 acres land at "Peckard's Neck" from his father.
  2. Elizabeth Alden (1623-1717) - married William Pabodie - 13 children
  3. Joseph Alden (1627-1696) - married Mary Simmons - 7 children - 1679 he received lands in Bridgewater MA from John Sr.
  4. Sarah Alden (1627-1674) - married Alexander Standish, son of Mayflower Pilgrim Myles Standish - 8 children
  5. Mary Alden (1632-1688) - born in Duxbury and died after 13-Jun-1688 - no known marriage or descendants
  6. Captain Johnathan Alden (1633-1697) - married Abigail Hallett - 6 children - in 1685 received the "uplands" in Duxbury MA from John, Sr.
  7. Ruth Alden (1643-1674) - married John Bass - 7 children - great grandparents to Pres John Adams
  8. David Alden (1646-1718) - married Mary Southworth - 6 children - in 1674 he received lands at Rooty Brook in Middleborough MA from John Sr.
  9. Priscilla Alden (1647-1688) - born in Duxbury and died after 13-Jun-1688 - no known marriage or descendants
  10. Rebecca Alden (1649-1689) - married Thomas Delano - 9 children
  11. Unnamed children that died young

Children listed in error - Zachariah, Lydia,


Offspring of John Alden and Priscilla Mullins (1602-1680)
Name Birth Death Joined with
John Alden (1622-1701) 16 May 1622 Plymouth, Plymouth County, Massachusetts, United States 14 March 1701 Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, United States Elizabeth Phillips (1622-1695)
Elizabeth Alden (1623-1717) 1625 Plymouth, Plymouth County, Massachusetts 31 May 1717 Little Compton, Newport County, Rhode Island William Pabodie (1620-1707)
Joseph Alden (1627-1696) 22 May 1627 Plymouth, Plymouth County, Massachusetts, Kingdom of England 8 February 1697 Bridgewater, Plymouth County, Massachusetts, Kingdom of England Mary Simmons (1638-1697)
Sarah Alden (1627-1674) 1627 Plymouth Colony, Duxbury, Plymouth County, Massachusetts, United States 13 June 1688 Duxbury, Plymouth County, Massachusetts, United States Alexander Standish (1627-1702)
Johnathan Alden (1633-1697) 22 May 1632 1629 Alden House, Duxbury, Plymouth County, Massachusetts, Kingdom of England 14 February 1697 Duxbury, Plymouth County, Massachusetts, Kingdom of England Abigail Hallett (1644-1725)
Mary Alden (1632-1688) 1638 1629 Alden House, Duxbury, Plymouth County, Massachusetts, Kingdom of England 13 June 1688 Duxbury, Plymouth County, Massachusetts, Kingdom of England
Ruth Alden (1643-1674) 1643 1629 Alden House, Duxbury, Plymouth County, Massachusetts, United States 1674 Braintree, Norfolk County, Massachusetts, United States John Bass (1630-1716)
David Alden (1646-1718) 1646 1629 Alden House, Duxbury, Plymouth County, Massachusetts, United States 20 May 1718 Duxbury, Plymouth County, Massachusetts, United States Mary Southworth (c1650-1719)
Priscilla Alden (1647-1688) 1639 1629 Alden House, Duxbury, Plymouth County, Massachusetts, United States 1688 Duxbury, Plymouth County, Massachusetts, United States
Rebecca Alden (1649-1689) 1643 1629 Alden House, Duxbury, Plymouth County, Massachusetts, United States 1688 Duxbury, Plymouth County, Massachusetts, United States Thomas Delano (1642-1723)


There are several theories regarding Alden's ancestry. According to William Bradford's Of 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.

Notable descendants

John Alden challenges John Howland for the claim to having the greatest number of descendants in America.

Notable descendants include: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Ichabod Alden, Orson Welles, Dan Quayle, Raquel Welch, Frank Nelson Doubleday, Samuel Eliot Morison, Gamaliel Bradford, Elizabeth Palmer Peabody, Herbert Henry Dow, Martha Graham, Adlai Stevenson III, Jan Garrigue Masaryk, Dick Van Dyke, Julia Child, William Cullen Bryant, John Trumbull, Ned Lamont, Matt Hasselbeck, Marilyn Monroe and Hayden Alden. [11]

Vital Records

Bradfords Passenger List

From Gov Bradford's list of Mayflower passengers (written circa 1650):

John Alden was hired for a cooper, at South-Hampton, wher the ship victuled; and being a hopefull yong man, was much desifed, but left to his owne liking to go or stay when he came here; but he stayed, and maryed here.

Mr. Molines, and his wife, his sone, and his servent, dyed the first winter. Only his dougter Priscila survived, and maried with John Alden, who are both living, and have 11 children. And their eldest daughter is maried, and hath five children.

Pilgrim Monument


National Monument to the Forefathers, commemorates the Mayflower Pilgrims, (including this person) who came to Plymouth Colony in 1620 on the Mayflower. Dedicated on August 1, 1889, it is thought to be the world's largest solid granite monument. Located on an 11 acre hilltop site on Allerton Street in Plymouth, Massachusetts.



Footnotes (including sources)

‡ General
Ω Birth
₪ Wedding
  • 1622 or 1623

MainTour,,, Robin Patterson