Family:James Chilton and Unknown (1)

Facts and Events
Marriage[1][2] Est 1583
chr. 16 Aug 1584 Canterbury, Kent, England
chr. 15 Jan 1586/87 Canterbury, Kent, England
Est 1590
bur. 23 Nov 1593 Canterbury, Kent, England
chr. 14 Jul 1594 Canterbury, Kent, England
chr. 22 Aug 1596 Canterbury, Kent, England
Bef 11 Sep 1603
chr. 29 Apr 1599 Canterbury, Kent, England
chr. 26 Jul 1600 Sandwich, Kent, England
chr. 11 Sep 1603 Sandwich, Kent, England
chr. 31 May 1607 Sandwich, Kent, England
Bet 31 Jul 1676 and 1 May 1679 Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts, United States

Mr. and Mrs. Chilton sailed aboard the Mayflower with their youngest daughter Mary.

The Mystery of Mrs. Chilton

The long-published claim that James Chilton's wife was Susanna Furner was disposed of by Michael Paulick's research published in 1999. Paulick found the baptism for Susan Furner in Nov. 1573, which would make her no more than 12 1/2 at the time of conception of their first child, christened in Jan. 1587. That strongly suggests she was not Chilton's wife, and there is no documentary evidence to support the theory. (Michael Paulick, "The 1609-1610 Excommunications of Mayflower Pilgrims Mrs. Chilton and Moses Fletcher," New England Historic and Genealogical Register Vol. 153 (October 1999):408-412.)

The article is concerned mainly with Mrs. Chilton's excommunication from St. Peter's in Sandwich in 1609. (Her given name was not given in the records.)

The excommunication record from St. Peter's, Sandwich, reads:

I the parson there doe present Thomas Bartlet the wife of James Chilton Danyell Hooke and Mosses Flecher all of our said parish for pryvatly burying a childe of Andrewe Sharpe of St. Maries parish who is strongly suspected not to dye an ordinary death the which they secretly conveyed to the earth without anie notice to given to me or my clarke of anie companie of neighboures but such only as semed accessary thereunto, this they did the 25 or 24 of Aprill last past, the lawfulness of which acte some of them seem now since to dissent by calling into question the lawfulnesse of the kinges constitutions in this and other behalfes, affirming these thing to be popishly cerimonious and of no other force; for the truth of all which the premisses with much more when it shall be further erquired I the now resident incumbent there have hereunto subscribed my name this 8 May 1609.

This excommunication record, and subsequent announcement to the entire church on 12 June 1609, are quite interesting. The group apparently buried a young child without following the proper ceremonies prescribed by the Church of England. Religious dissenters opposed such ceremonies, since they were not Biblically-based. It is interesting to note that this group of individuals from Sandwich, Kent was apparently not directly connected to the Scrooby, Nottinghamshire congregation (consisting of William Bradford, William Brewster, and other prominent Pilgrims, who were already in Leiden by this time), but instead came to Holland later--probably shortly after their excommunications--and joined up with the Scrooby congregation that was already living there.

The excommunication of Mrs. Chilton, whose first name is unfortunately left blank, is the first known record of a female Pilgrim having been excommunicated, or otherwise punished by the Church.

  1. James Chilton, in Anderson, Robert Charles. The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England, 1620-1633. (Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1995).

    MARRIAGE: By 1586 _____ _____; [Per New England Ancestors subsequent article mentioning the baptism date of son Joel, the marriage happened earlier, perhaps about 1583. See next source]

  2. The Mayflower Chiltons in Canterbury, 1556-1600, in New England Ancestors. (Boston, MA: New England Historic Genealogical Society)

    James Chilton was probably married in 1583, at the age of about twenty-seven, or earlier. The parish register clearly showed a christening entry for "Susan Furner the 5th daye" of November 1573. It is very unlikely that a twenty-seven-year-old Chilton married his ten-year-old Stepsister. The identity of Mrs. Chilton remains a mystery.

The Mayflower (1620)
The Mayflower was the first settlement voyage to New England, carrying primarily English Separatists known as Pilgrims. It was destined for the mouth of the Hudson River, but landed at Cape Cod in present-day Massachusetts.
Sailed: 6 Sep 1620 from Southampton, England under Captain Christopher Jones
Arrived: 11 Nov 1620 at Plymouth, Massachusetts
After spending the winter aboard ship, the surviving passengers moved ashore on 21 Mar 1621.
Next Vessel: The Fortune (1621)

104; 24 families left descendants (Full List)
Pilgrim Families: Allerton (Asst. Gov. Isaac) - Bradford (Gov. William) - Brewster (Rev. William) - Chilton - Cooke - Fuller (Edward) - Fuller (Samuel) - Priest - Rogers - Sampson - Tilley (Edward) - Tilley (John) - White - Winslow (Edward)
Other Families and Servants: Alden - Billington - Browne - Doty - Eaton - Hopkins - Howland - Mullins - Soule - Standish (Capt. Miles) - Warren - Winslow (Gilbert)

Resources: Primary Sources: Bradford's History of Plymouth Plantation - Mourt's Relation - Pilgrim Hall (wills and other contemporary documents)
Wikipedia: Mayflower (voyage) - Passenger List - Pilgrims - Plymouth Colony - Captain Christopher Jones