John Crackstone, Sr. was born 1575 in England and died 1620 Plymouth, Plymouth County, Massachusetts of unspecified causes. He married Catherine Bates 1584 in England.


1620 Mayflower passenger and early settler of Plymouth Colony. His son John also came with and died there a few years later.

England Early Years

His birth year of about 1575 is based on his daughter’s marriage date. He is believed to have come to Holland from Colchester in County Essex, England. In the 1618 Leiden marriage record of his daughter Anna, she is noted in records as being a spinster from Colchester.

Leiden Separatist

The name of John Crackston, English Separatist residing in Leiden Holland, first appears in Leiden records on June 16, 1616, when, along with future fellow Mayflower passenger Moses Fletcher, they being witnesses to the betrothal of Zachariah Barrow. Leiden records also state that on May 19, 1617, he was the groom’s witness for the betrothal of Henry Collet to Alice Thomas.

Crackston’s daughter Anna (Anne) married Thomas Smith in Leiden on December 12, 1618, to which he is also recorded as being a witness. At her wedding she was accompanied by her friend Patience Brewster (1600-1634), later to be a Mayflower passenger in the family of her father, Elder William Brewster. Patience was to die of a fever In Plymouth in 1634 as the first wife of colony governor Thomas Prence.

Voyage of the Mayflower

John Crackstone traveled on the Mayflower with his son John Crackstone (c1602-1628). John Sr died in the first winter. John, Jr died 8 years later from exposure to the extreme cold when he got lost in the woods.

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 25th 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.

Marriage & Family

In addition to John Jr., he also had a daughter Anna, whom married Thomas Smith on 12 December 1618 in Leiden. The Crackston surname is extremely rare, especially in England, and there is a marriage record at the parish of Stratford St. Mary, Suffolk of a John Crackston marrying a Catherine Bates on 9 May 1594. Could this be the Pilgrim John Crackston? The timing matches very well with having a daughter Anna marrying in 1618. William Bradford states that elder John died in the first winter, although the exact date of this is unknown. Any descendants of John Crackston would have to be through his daughter Anna.

  1. Anna (Anne) Crackston was born about 1600, probably in Colchester, co. Essex, England. She married Thomas Smith, presumed to be English, in Leiden on December 22, 1618. No descendants of this marriage have been identified.
  2. John Crackston (Jr.) was born about 1602, also presumably in England. He never married. He is believed to have died of a fever in the winter 1627-1628 brought on by frostbite caused by being lost in the forest. Per Bradford, John Crackston Jr. died five or six years after their arrival on the Mayflower although it was probably later than that as he appears in the 1627 Division of Cattle, appearing as “John Crakstone” with the Allerton family. His name also appeared in the 1623 Division of Land as “John Crackston” with the Winslow family. It is believed that John Crackston Jr. died sometime after the 1627 Division of Cattle, possibly the next winter. His burial place is unknown


Offspring of John Crackstone, Sr. and Catherine Bates
Name Birth Death Joined with
Anna Crackstone (c1600-)
John Crackstone (c1602-1628) 1602 England 1628 Plymouth Colony, Plymouth, Plymouth County, Massachusetts


Vital Records

Cole's Hill Memorial


A large monument was erected in 1921 on Cole's Hill in Plymouth, Massachusetts to honor the many pilgrims who came to Plymouth Colony in the Mayflower but died during the first terrible winter and were buried here. This person is one of those person's listed thereon.

John Crackston (Sr.) died sometime in the winter of 1620, per William Bradford among the first Mayflower passengers to die, although a later date is also given. The exact date is unknown. As with most passengers who died that winter, he was most likely buried in an unmarked grave in Coles Hill Burial Ground, Plymouth. He is memorialized on the Pilgrim Memorial Tomb on Coles Hill as “John Craxston Sr.”

Bradfords Passenger List

In 1651, William Bradford recollected about the fate of John Crackston and his son John:

"John Crakston and his son John Crakston."

“John Crakston dyed in the first mortality, and about some *5* or *6* years after, his sone dyed; having lost him selfe in the wodes, his feet became frosen, which put him into a feavor, of which he dyed.”

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)