Robert Cushman was born 2 July 1581 in Rolvenden, Kent, England to Thomas Couchman (1538-1586) and Elynour Hubbard (c1540-) and died 1625 Rolvenden, Kent, England of plague. He married Sara Reder (1585-1616) 18 July 1568 JL in Rolvenden, Kent, England.

Robert Cushman (1577 – 1625) was an important leader and organizer of the Mayflower voyage in 1620, serving as Chief Agent in London for the Leiden Separatist contingent from 1617 to 1620 and later for Plymouth Colony until his death in 1625 in England.

Cushman was most likely one of the first Mayflower passengers when the ship sailed from London to Southampton to meet the Speedwell coming from Leiden. The Speedwell was later forced to be abandoned.


Cushman family in Leiden

Robert Cushman and his family emigrated to Leiden, Holland, sometime before November 4, 1611, where he was a woolcomber. In the year 1616, the year before his appointment as agent of the Leiden (Leyden) Church, Robert Cushman had three family losses. His wife Sarah died early in the year - exact date unknown. One of their children had died in March and another in October.

Preparing for the voyage to the New World

Beginning in September 1617, Cushman spent much of his time in England, working on preparations for the voyage to the new colony[7] He, along with John Carver, became an agent of the Leiden (Leyden) Holland congregation for doing business in England.[8] With Elder William Brewster in hiding, being searched for by men of James VI and I for Brewster's distribution of religious tracts criticizing the king and his bishops, the Separatists looked to John Carver and Robert Cushman to carry on negotiations with officials in London regarding a voyage to America.[9] By June 1619 Carver and Cushman had secured a patent from the Virginia Company for the Separatists. Cushman and Carver, as purchasing agents for the Leiden congregation, began to secure supplies and provisions in London and Canterbury.[10]

His historically famous booklet titled ‘Cry of a Stone’ was written about 1619 and finally published in 1642, many years after his death in 1625. The work is an important pre-sailing Pilgrim account of the Leiden group’s religious lives.

Arrival in Plymouth in 1621

Robert Cushman and his son, Thomas Cushman (1608-1691), traveled to Plymouth Colony aboard the Fortune in 1621. Cushman carried with him a patent to the New Plymouth colony in the name of Mr John Pierce of London, one of the Merchant Adventurers.[17]

Robert Cushman was to remain but a few weeks. His mission was to convince the settlers to accept the terms of their contract imposed by Thomas Weston and the London investors. This contract had incurred the resentment and anger of the Leiden contingent and which they had angrily rejected on August 5, 1620, the date of departure from Portsmouth. But Cushman found at Plymouth that the settlers had finally come to realize their situation and their need for assistance from London. Cushman did complete his mission, but left Plymouth on December 13, 1621, having already spent four months at sea, and left his son Thomas in the care of Governor Bradford.[18] Bradford later reported on Cushman's visit to Plymouth: "stayed not above fourteen days" and that the ship Fortune was "speedily dispatched away laden with (cargo) estimated to be worth near £500."[17]

On the voyage back to England, the Fortune was attacked by French pirates and was robbed of its valuable cargo along with the possessions of crew and passengers.[19]


Offspring of Robert Cushman and Sara Reder (1585-1616)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Thomas Cushman (1608-1691) 8 February 1607 Canterbury, Kent, England, United Kingdom 10 December 1691 Plymouth Colony, Plymouth, Plymouth County, Massachusetts, United States Mary Allerton (1616-1699)
Child1 Cushman (1612-1614)
Child2 Cushman (1614-1616)
Sarah Cushman (1615-)


Vital Records

Cushman Memorial


Cushman Memorial is a granite column, twenty-five feet high, and it is by far the most conspicuous monument on "Burial Hill" in Plymouth MA. It is dedicated to this key supporter of the early Mayflower pilgrims.

Pieterskerk Memorial

Pilgrim Memorial Plaque at Pieterskerk in Leiden

Pieterskerk Pilgrim Memorial located on the great Pieterskerk in Leiden lists this family members who lived died at the Pilgrim settlement here. This place was At one time a center of activity for the over 300 Leiden Pilgrims lived here in the early 1600s after escaping from religious persecution in England.

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)