A Tale of Two Mayflower Descendant Applications

For quite some time I have been of two minds as far as applying to the Mayflower Society. On the one hand, I already know I descend from several travelers on the Mayflower, so why should I pay someone to affirm what I already know is true. On the other hand, my friend Gary was thinking of joining, so that sort of tipped the scale for me. I wrote about Gary’s descent from the Mayflower last about a year ago. As you may guess, Gary is the second application referred to in the title of this Blog.

My Application

From what I read, approval of you being in the Mayflower Society is through the State Association. In my case, that is Massachusetts. The State Society is in Hingham and the National Mayflower Society is in Plymouth. I’ve been to the Plymouth Mayflower Library and bought books there, but I’ve never been to the Hingham Office. I called Hingham and the woman there wanted to know if I was sure of my Mayflower ancestry. I said I was. My White ancestor came to Rochester MA in the late 1600’s and my ancestors have lived there since. Plus, Rochester has tended to have pretty good records.

The woman emailed me an application and reminded me that I needed to send in a check with my application. Here is the relevant part of the application with some blurring of the living people:

I would have cost me $75 more for a Mayflower Lineage Match, so I skipped that step. I didn’t hire a genealogist, but I have my genealogical information at Ancestry and I have my own web site.

What Happens Next?

Here is what I found at the Massachusetts Society of Mayflower Descendants web page:

Application Process

This page describes the procedure for adult members. For Junior Members click here.

If you have identified a lineage from a Mayflower passenger to you, and have some evidence that it is correct, we invite you to proceed with a Preliminary Application Form. To make your application process as efficient as possible, and reduce the potential of unnecessary expense we recommend waiting until you receive your personalized worksheet and instruction guide before obtaining additional documentation.

Your application goes through a process on the journey for you to become a member. The average time for candidates is eleven months, but it can be as short as six from this office’s receipt of your application to your being mailed the acceptance of your membership.

First you obtain your preliminary application form. It can be mailed to you, emailed to you, or downloaded from this website. Fill it out completely and return it with a check for the appropriate amount for the options you have chosen for membership. Don’t forget to sign the application. Please do not submit documentation at this stage.

During the application process, the Historian will return a worksheet that details what is known about your lineage after researching in our library and membership files in the Massachusetts Society, and the General Society. If further primary documentation is needed, there will be bolded comment in the references section of the worksheet. This indicates that you will need to provide more documents to support that claim (of birth, marriage, or death).

This says that to become a member, it takes an average of 11 months. I assume that means that review of my Preliminary Application will be within a month or so. The last paragraph above is interesting. The Historian will send me what is known about my line already. I do have probably over 100 2nd cousins. Maybe one of them has already applied. I like the idea of finding out what research has been done on my line so I don’t have to duplicate the effort.

Once I hear from the Historian:

This is the time when you will personally research any gaps remaining on your application. When you are ready to return your documentation to support the items in bold, you do not need to send in a copy of the worksheet as we will have one here. Legible, unmarked copies of the requested documentation should be submitted via postal mail at this stage of the process. You also have the option of scanning your documents, and sending the digital images as attachments. Please remember to include your name in either a mailing or an email.

The Historian will review all the documents you have supplied. If further documentation is needed, the Historian will email a revised worksheet with the remaining issues highlighted. There may be an explanation of the different steps you can take to solve the problem areas. Please feel free to call or email with any questions you might have (anytime during this process). Just remember that the Historian is only in the office two days a week.

Once all the documentation has been received to the satisfaction of the Historian, you will be mailed a copy of your “final” application form on acid-free paper. At this point you are allowed to jump up and down for a few minutes of course keeping your fingers crossed. Please sign the form in black ink on the first page. Do review the document one last time to make sure there are no typographical errors. If you find one, on a separate piece of paper, (do not write on these final forms other than your signature), write out the correction you feel needs to be made and the Historian will deal with it when your final papers are returned. Include any fees outstanding as noted on the letter accompanying your final application.

When your signed final application is returned, it will be forwarded to the Historian General in Plymouth, Massachusetts, where the application will be reviewed one last time. The Historian General has the final say over what is approved. This review process takes about thirteen to fifteen weeks.

When it is approved and returned to the office, our Historian will mail you a certificate, a membership card, and a copy of your final application as approved by the Historian General. Congratulations! 

I suppose that this is what takes the six to eleven months. Fortunately, I do not live far from the Rochester Town Hall. Also, hopefully the person in charge of the records there will be understanding.

Why I Chose White for My Mayflower Application

I am descended from many of the original Mayflower travelers. My more recent line is Bradford. My great-grandmother’s mother was a Bradford. However, the records are not so good for that line. Many of these early Bradfords lived in Plymouth up to Harvey Bradford. He moved to Wareham, and then apparently to Rochester. My connection is through land records rather than vital records. It is possible that should I join the Mayflower Society, I could submit a Supplemental Application for my Bradford Line for a mere one-time fee of $200.

The records down from White on my line are pretty complete. I even know about where many of these ancestors lived within the Town of Rochester, Massachusetts where I grew up.

Mayflower Database

Here is something I didn’t realize. A lot of the Mayflower Descendant Applications are supposed to be online.

This is a FamilySearch article. I looked up Penelope White and found a tree:

I put a box around Francis Crapo, my ancestor. I don’t know what all the letters and numbers are for. I suppose they are numbers from the Mayflower Society. From there I can get out to Harvey Bradford:

Let’s take this all the way out:

This ends at Ralph Gurney and Annie Hartley. These are people I remember, so that is interesting. Their children were/are my father’s 1st cousins. So I assume that there is someone in the Gurney family who is/was in the Mayflower Society. I called my Gurney 2nd cousin who used to work at Plimouth Plantation, but she did not know of any of her relatives who were members of the Mayflower Society.

Update from the Massachusetts Society of Mayflower Descendants (MSMD)

I received this email today as I was writing this Blog:

We have received your check and application for the William White line, and have entered both in our process. Due to the back-log caused by the quarantine, it is taking a little longer, but you will receive a worksheet from our  State Historian with instructions for the submission of your documentation.

In the meantime, you could gather two COPIES of your birth certificate- long form showing parentage; 2 copies of your marriage certificate [if applicable] and two copies of your spouse’s birth. The General Society also requires these same documents for your parents, and death certificates [if applicable].

We look forward to working with you.

That is something to think about. My mother was born in Philadelphia and married in Pennsylvania. This could be more work than I thought. I suppose my marriage certiicate has to do with if I want to include my children.

Gary’s Application

Gary’s application hit a snag. Even though he is descended from William White, the research since about 1996 has brought this into question. Here are our two White lines:

The John on the left who is on Gary’s line is now thought to be illegitimate. John’s mother was likely Martha Doty. Here is a record from 1690:

Usually someone confronted with fornication had given birth. In this case, as the father was not named, it is assumed that Martha Doty/Doten did not offer that information. Further, it appears that Martha herself was born outside of marriage. According to the April, 1996 edition of The American Genealogist,

That makes me wonder if there were those who were admitted to the Mayflower Descendant Society before 1996 on the John White Line who were later found to not be from the William White Line.

That means that this appears to be Gary’s Mayflower LIne:

Mayflower Records at FamilySearch

Above, I traced a line that was close to mine. Are there Mayflower Lines that are close to Gary’s? First, I’ll check through Gary’s ancestor John White:

This does show that John White born in 1689 was the son of John White and Martha Doty. However, if this was right, John White Sr would have been 20 and Martha 17. Plus, the arguments against this being the case are pretty good. I assume that this was from an old tree before it was discredited. I’ll take this down Gary’s line:

This brings us from right to left over to Phineas born 1785.

Gary’s line goes through Augustus White to Walter White. Walter must be the brother of Edward Nelson White where the tree ends. These trees end at 1910, so it makes sense that the tree ends with Edward White born in 1881.

I could try Martha Doty, but that line would end at the same place.

Gary’s Doty Line

The Mayflower Database has some blanks when I do a search for Thomas Doty:

I’m not sure what a blank box means. It appears that there are three parts to the Edward Doty Mayflower Families. Thomas would be in Part 2:

It would be interesting to see what this book says. This book came out in 1996 – the same year The American Genealogist article came out that I mention above. The online book at American Ancestors does not show all pages. It starts with page 72 at the fifth generation. Page 73 has one of Gary’s ancestors:

It could be that these books are available at libraries that are not too far away.

Gary’s YDNA

If Gary has an unbroken line to William White from the Mayflower, then a YDNA test should show that. YDNA tests changes on the male line only. That is, father to father to father all the way back.

The Mayflower Society Project is one of Family Tree DNA’s (FTDNA’s) projects:

The White portion of the project is small:

However, the first tester has proven lineage to William White, Mayflower Passenger. It would have been better if this person had taken the BigY test, but they did take the STR test. The STR test is less definitive than the BigY test, but comparison to the combination of the tester’s STRs should be able to prove or disprove relationship to William White. It is easier to prove than to disprove with the STRs. The R-M269 is a very broad Haplogroup. It’s age is from 4,000 to 10,000 years old according to Wikipedia.

Apparently, whoever runs the project felt that the other two Whites beneath the proven White had a close enough match to the proven White to also descend from William White of the Mayflower.

Here are some of the comparisons of White markers:

The third row is the mode of the three testers. Changes from the mode are highlighted in pink or blue.

Summary and Conclusions

  • I don’t foresee any issues with my line to Mayflower William White. I’ll keep plugging away with my birth, marriage and death certificates until I hear further from the Massachusetts Mayflower Historian
  • Gary had a bump in the road with his direct line to William White. He could apply to the Mayflower Society under Doty, but he would rather apply under White
  • Gary has ordered a YDNA test which could prove or disprove that his ancestor John White was the illegitimate son of Martha Doty.


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