Wednesday, February 22, 2012

White-Winslow Children - The Second Generation

Above we have discussed the first generation: William and Susanna White, and Edward Winslow. Now is a good time to discuss their children, the second generation: Resolved and Peregrine White, and Josiah and Elizabeth Winslow.

Susanna White and Edward Winslow married in May, 1621. Both had lost their spouses through the sicknesses that plagued the Pilgrims in the first year, and this was the first English marriage in New England. Edward adopted Resolved and Peregrine, and thus became their step-father. Susanna and Edward tried to have children of their own, and after 5 pregnancies, 2 of their children survived to adulthood - Josiah, born circa 1628, and Elizabeth, born circa 1632.

Plimoth Plantation Reproduction - 1627
For the first 15 years, this family lived in New Plymouth, sometimes called Plimoth Plantation. Each household was allocated a 50 X 100 foot plot in the village. However, a few were allocated a double-sized plot for their dwelling, such as Mr. Edward Winslow and family. In 1627, Plymouth looked like the adjacent picture, which is a reproduction as how the village would have looked, 7 years after Mayflower landing. The dwellings were crude, small and not fancy at all, although the White-Winslow house may have been a bit larger than most, considering it had a 100 X 100 foot lot. It took a while for the Pilgrims to figure out that thatched roofs, although fine for the damp English climate, were impractical for the hot and dry North American summers. Too many dwellings burned to the ground in the warm dry months of July-August when live sparks from the continually burning hearths caused the damage. They eventually learned that shingled roofs were best.

In what kind of society were these 4 children raised? I can not emphasize enough that they lived in a society more reflective as to how 17th century English society was, rather than it being a Pilgrim society. It was still a medieval world, wherein one was either a master or a servant. The White-Winslows were classified as the "masters." Without a doubt, Susanna had little housework to do as having indentured servants do all of the menial tasks was part of her station in life, being married to a gentleman. Most certainly, servants would look after the children as well.

Resolved was the eldest, being 5 years older than Peregrine. Peregrine became the middle child when their half brother Josiah was born and survived infancy. Elizabeth was their only daughter and was the youngest of the family, so perhaps she was the most spoiled, if any of them were "spoiled" as children. In 1630, when the Massachusetts Bay Colony was founded about 20 miles north of them, Resolved would have been 15, Peregrine 10, Josiah about 2, and Elizabeth had yet to be born. So Susanna had her 3 little "masters" to take care, with the help of her servants, of course.

There was no school for them to attend. Such an institution as a public school was not built in the Plymouth Colony for another 50 years, and besides, such institutions were not part of 17th English society. Whatever education they received, would have been from their father Edward, or from a willing neighbour. Mr. Winslow was probably much too busy to attend to their education, and he was not around very much anyway, attending to his duties as Deputy Governor, or taking trips to England representing the colony to the English court.

I would guess that both Resolved and Peregrine learned to read, at the least. These skills were helpful for their success when they assumed their adult duties as gentlemen land owners. However, I doubt Peregrine ever learned how to write, since his will shows his "mark" rather than his signature. As for Josiah Winslow, their half brother, he became a Harvard graduate; so Edward ensured that his only flesh and blood son received one of the best educations possible. Harvard was established in the Bay Colony in 1636, and the Bay Colony also had grammar schools for younger children fairly early on. Therefore, I would imagine that Josiah was absent much of the time from the family as a child, being in residence while attending various schools in Boston. As for Elizabeth, well, if she received any education at all, this would have been the exception, since she was a woman living within 17th century English society.

In the mid 1630s, Edward Winslow received a huge land grant in the Green Harbour-Marshfield area. It was 1200 acres, which is almost 2 square miles. He named it the Careswell Estate. Upon this land, he built a huge fortified medieval-style manor house. Marshfield is about 5 miles north of Plymouth. Given that Elizabeth was very young at the time, this would have probably been the first home she remembered. Since Josiah was off to school in Boston, he probably did not have much time to enjoy this mansion much as a child. Resolved was now a young man, and Peregrine was a teenager.

These 4 children would have regarded each other as brothers and sister, as any siblings would. Only Resolved would have had memories of his real father, William White. Given their station in society, each of these siblings married into families of wealth and power. The society they lived in though, was quite alien to us. Four hundred years does make a very big difference, even if this was English society.

Society and Culture

Even the language that they spoke would be hard for us to understand. They did speak modern English, but more specifically, early modern English - the language of William Shakespeare, and in the English that the Authorized King James Bible is written. They were also a very religious society, but this is more of a reflection of 17th century English society, than that they were also Pilgrims. Everyone attended church on Sunday, and no work or travel was performed on the Sabbath. If someone did not attend church on Sunday without a good reason, i.e., they were on their deathbed, they were fined by the court.

English society was also, what we would consider, superstitious. Witchcraft was a crime punishable by death. What made the Salem Witch Trials so famous, was the quantity of witches executed within such a short span of time. But hanging witches was quite common in England, and in Plymouth, there were a couple of people accused of witchcraft, but nothing much came of these accusations. However, in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, where the Salem trials occurred in 1692, many witches were accused and found guilty prior to 1692. It was part of their life and times. Witchcraft was a crime in England until it was repealed in 1736.

The Plymouth Colony was more tolerant in many ways, than was the Massachusetts Bay Colony. John Robinson who founded the Separatists, the Pilgrims, taught that there should be a separation of church and state, and he also taught that there should be a tolerance of other religions. The Pilgrims did practice tolerance of other religions, up to a point. For instance, they did not hang Quakers, whereas the Massachusetts Bay Colony did. As for the concept of separation of church and state, that is another matter. Even though the Pilgrims of New Plymouth and the Puritans of the Bay Colony, came to the New World to escape religious persecution, this did not automatically translate into their setting up of colonies based upon the separation of church and state principal. But rather, they set up their colonies based upon the form of government they were used to - a government whose power and direction came from the prevalent religion. Thus, in both colonies, only those who belonged to the "right" church were allowed to vote or hold public office.

As it was, one had to be white, male, of legal age, and a landowner to even qualify as a Freeman, which was one who could vote. One also had to belong to the correct church, in order to be classified as a Freeman. English society, and thus the societies of the Pilgrim and the Puritans in the colonial era of history, were quite prejudicial by our modern standards. It is not a matter of how they should have been, by our judgment, but it is a matter of accepting historical facts for what they were.

Going to the Family Heart

This was the society in which these 4 White-Winslow children were raised. They had the advantage though, since they were at the top of the heap. There is evidence that they had great affection for one another, as reflected in the wording of their wills that survive. This is an extract from Josiah Winslow's will, "I give to my loving sister Elizabeth Corwin my pocket watch... I give unto my brother Peregrine White my Spanish rapier & buff belt with silver clasps." Josiah also left to Resolved's son, William, some bedding. Apparently Josiah's nephew, William, was living on the Careswell estate and being cared for by Josiah and his wife. We are not sure what William's condition was, but he was disabled in some way. I am guessing that Susanna, William's grandmother, offered to look after her grandson and Josiah continued his care after she died. Later on, Resolved and his other sons, gave a gentleman a large portion of land as payment to look after William. The point is, they were all one family who did care for one another and looked out for the other's welfare.

Just as a touching side note, that Spanish rapier given to Peregrine through Josiah's will, was passed down to one of Peregine's sons, Jonathan, through Peregrine's will. This very same rapier (sword), may be on display at the Pilgrim Hall Museum, having been last owned by one of Peregrine's grandsons. The sword was probably picked up in London England by Josiah Winslow when visiting his father Edward. Josiah later became in charge of the military in the Plymouth Colony, and when King Philip's War began, Josiah was appointed Commander-in-Chief for all the New England Confederation military. This was more than likely the very sword Josiah used when he held this auspicious military command. The sword obviously held great sentimental value to the White-Winslow sons.

What Did They Look Like?

Amazingly enough, I have a better insight into the physical appearance of a few of these second generation Mayflower descendants, going back 350 years, than I do of my own great grandparents, going back by about only 100 years. As for Resolved White, my 8th great grandfather, or Elizabeth Winslow, my 8th great grandaunt, no records are left of their physical appearance. The same is not so for the other two: Peregrine White, and Josiah Winslow, my 8th great granduncles.

Josiah Winslow - 1651
Josiah Winslow was described as being thin, and somewhat sickly throughout most of his life. He died fairly young at the age of 52, and yet given his physical weaknesses, he took his role as Commander-in-Chief very seriously. During King Philip's War, he led an army of about 1,000 soldiers into the swamps of Rhode Island in the month of December to destroy an Indian stronghold. As to the wisdom of this assault upon a neutral tribe of Indians is another matter, but regardless, uncle Josiah led this army and showed deeds through example, in spite of his physical frailties. As well, the adjacent painting is the oldest image from life I have found of a blood relative of mine. It was painted in London England in 1651, when Josiah was visiting his father. Josiah would have been about 23 years of age. His clean shaven appearance reflects how by the mid 17th century, shaved facial hair for men became the style. For the most part, beards did not become popular again for men within English society until around the mid-1800s. Josiah Winslow also became the first native born Englishman of the New World, to become a governor of a colony. He was governor of Plymouth from 1673 to 1680. He died in office in 1680.

As for my other 8th great granduncle, Peregrine White, physical descriptions, and other interesting records, have been left about him. He was described as being "comely," which is an early modern English expression meaning "attractive." Therefore, uncle Perry must have been a handsome man, by 17th century standards. Perhaps he inherited his looks from his mother, Susanna, which I believe was probably an exceptionally beautiful woman - well, Edward Winslow snapped her up fast after being a widower for only 2 months.

Peregrine was known to be very devoted to his mother. His estate bordered on the Careswell Estate in Marshfield, and the image of his riding to visit his mother daily, was apparently a familiar one to the Marshfield inhabitants. He rode his horse wearing his dark Spanish coat, with large shiny buttons, glistening in the sun. His comely appearance was a sight for all to see on his daily rides to see his mother. I would imagine that these visits occurred for years, particularly when Edward Winslow had left for England, never to return. Someone had to help her in running the estate, for it was hardly a woman's task to do so. The lands these people owned were not farms, per se, but estates. They were not farmers, in the sense we know. They managed servants and tenants, and did not milk the cows after the evening meal, nor work in the field at harvest time. They supervised this kind of work, but only if their overseers were being negligent. I have read the records - the White-Winslows were equivalent to the "landed gentry" of England.

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