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1620. The Mayflower  -  William White .

William White was a passenger on the Mayflower in 1620 and he died in the first winter, on the same day as three other passengers, including William Mullins. Susanna White wife of William gave birth to their son Peregrine while the Mayflower was still anchored off the top of Cape Cod waiting for the Pilgrims to discover a place to build their colony. Peregrine White was the first European child to be born in America.

The birthplace of William White has not been identified?



The Arms of the White Family on the Church Tower of St. Laurence.


John Wilson states in his book "Chorley Church" published in 1914 that the Church of St Laurence had a window with the White Family Coat of Arms in it. The Arms figured on the surcoat of a gentleman in armour were the same as those carved on the buttresses of the Church Tower.

There was a window in which was figured " a man knelynge armed w' these armes on him [Gules 3 boars' heads couped argent tusked or, within a bordure engrailed of the second] and in divers buttras cut in stone”.

John Wilson also states the precise date that the Arms were granted and the name of the official record -:

"These arms were confirmed by Dethick, Garter King at Arms to John Wight,1 of London, 2 Feb. 30 Eliz. 1588. And in that sumptuous volume, "Some Feudal Coats of Arms," by Joseph Foster, we find : " White, Sir John (whyght) of Norfolk (Ed. II Roll) bore, gules, a chevron between three boars' heads couped argent".

This clearly indicates that the Church Tower built and paid for by the White family could not have been built before February 2nd 1588.

Another point that John Wilson makes is in regards to several other Whites in Lancashire – “There were Whites in Lancashire in the fourteenth century: in the Lay Subsidy Roll for the County in 1322 we find Robert le White of Great Crosby and Roger le White of Great Eccleston paying 3 shillings each, John le White of Bispham with Northbreck, 18 pence”.

The Norman French use of names can cause problems in determining a name as a family surname  or the name of the Occupation  of an individual - John le White or John the White .One of the many early forms of spelling White is WRIGHT an occupational name such as Plough Wright – Millwright.


White - Wrygth - Wyt - Witte  Surname or Occupation ?

In Standish deed 88 below this problem is indicated in the work or two of the Great researchers J.P. Earwaker who transcribed the deed and the Rev. T.C. Porteus who edited the deed!

Standish deed 88. Date: 11th Nov.1366     

Demise from William de Holand of Hale to Henry son of John son of  Henry the Wrygth  of Shevington, Marion his wife, and John and Hugh their sons, for their lives, of parcels of my land and buildings which John my father held of John de Holand in the said vill; together with another plot called the Grendillis feld. which William Wyt formerly held in the same vill, with buildings and a plot (with appur­tenances) called le Quithull, and all my land of the Rygges [Ridges] within its metes and bounds. To hold for their lives, with common of pasture, sufficient turbary and other appurtenances. Rent, 25 shillings of silver annually for 25 years at two terms, namely, the Translation of St. Thomas the Martyr (3rd July) and at St. Martin in Winter (11th Nov.) in equal portions, and afterwards five marks yearly. Witnesses: Henry de Standisch, Hugh de Wordthinton, Robert de Standisch. Dated at Shevington, Wednesday the feast of St. Martin in Winter, 40 Edward III [11th Nov.; 1366].

Seal in green wax : a large quatrefoil with four small foils between each, encircled by a ring and 8 enarches to fill up spaces. No legend.

This deed clearly indicates the name Wrygth as occupational. Over a period of time occupational names became surnames in their own right but in 1366 the transition was in its infancy. So what was Henry the Wrygth original surname?

Standish deed 64. Dated 6th May 1351 gives us a clue.


Standish deed 6th May 1351        

Grant from Margaret daughter of Adam de Sotlesworth  in pure widowhood to Robert son of Edmund de Standish of a certain annual rent of 2s. of silver issuing out of lands and tenements which were William Witte's of Shevynton, and out of one rood of land lying in the Foxholes, and also a rent of 3d. out of land to Geoffrey le Lestmaker's.   To have and to hold the said rents and all right and claim which I have in the same vill, together with the said reversion.   

Witnesses :   John de Standish, Richard de Longetre, Richard de Standish, Hugh de Worthinton, Thomas  de  Eccliston, William the clerk. Dated  at Shevynton the Friday next after the Invention of the Holy Cross (3rd May). 25th year of Edward III 6th May 1351.

To this deed is still attached a round seal of brown wax, on a shield, a chevron between quatrefoils or bluebottles slipped. The arms “resemble” those of the Chorley family. The legend is indistinct: S: Ricardi: de : Tho (?)... 9J X 5§. Earwaker : *XXXVII

The above Standish deeds are legal statements of title to land and property detailed within them. The deeds also contain a brief history of the past title owners. None of the Standish title deeds referring to the Wrygth or Witte family of Shevington include any reference to the de Chorley family the Lords of the Manor of Chorley. Thus the question to be answered is - how does the seal of a junior member of the de Chorley family become attached to this deed transferring the title to lands in Shevington to the Standish family? The only legal answer based upon the old English rule of Law the balance of probability is that Margaret daughter of Adam de Sotlesworth in pure widowhood is the widow Margaret Witte married into the Witte family – the Wrygh -Witte or White name is occupational as indicated by Earwaker and Porteus and thus the real family surname is confirmed by the seal attached to the deed on the 6th May 1351 –  de Chorley..

Thus Henry the Wrygth would be Henry de Chorley le Wrygth.


2. The White family - Church of St. Laurence – Chorley – The Mayflower.

Death record - "Puer Willi White Paragrine" - recorded in the parish register 2nd April 1641.

The parish register for1641 - page 99 (original page survives)

St. Laurence, Chorley, Lancashire  


The parish register for1641 page 99 printed extracts 1920.


The documentation and information relating to the White family who built and paid for the Church Tower of St. Laurence in 1588 puts the Town of Chorley in prime position as the birthplace of William White passenger with Myles Standish on the Mayflower. The need in the new world for the skills of a Wright such as those possessed by many generations of the White family and the military skills of soldier Myles Standish were imperative to survival.Thus the presence of these two men with complementary skills on the Mayflower was not just an act of God but also a matter of sound  business practice, which brought together two men born in the same County of Lancashire possibly known to each other and employed on the same venture. Susanna White wife of William gave birth to their son Peregrine while the Mayflower was still anchored off the top of Cape Cod waiting for the Pilgrims to discover a place to build their colony. Peregrine White was the first European child to be born in America.


Biographical Information provided by Caleb Johnson of the USA indicates that the birthplace of William White the father of sons Resolved and Peregrine is unknown.

Biographical Information by Caleb Johnson -

Born: Unknown.


  • Susanna, maiden name unknown.

Death: 21 February 1620/1, Plymouth.

Children: Resolved, Peregrine.

William White is a difficult individual to research, and much as been mispublished about him. 

There is a marriage record in Leiden, Holland,which records the marriage of a William White to Anna Fuller on 27 January 1612; the marriage was witnessed by Sarah Priest and Anna's brother Samuel Fuller.  For many years this was thought to have been the Mayflower passenger, Susanna and Anna being reasonable variants of the same name. This has been a heavily-debated issue: was this the marriage of the Mayflower passenger, or not? 

There are at least two William White's living in Leiden during the appropriate time period, one was a woolcomber, and one was a tobacco merchant.  The William White who married Anna Fuller was called a woolcomber in the 1612 marriage record, which was witnessed by Sarah Priest.  On 10 April 1621, well after the Mayflower had departed, William White woolcomber was a party to the antenumptual agreement of Samuel Lee in Leiden.  Thus, William White, woolcomber, could not have been the Mayflower passenger.  And since Sarah Priest had witnessed the will of William White in 1612, wouldn't it be reasonable to assume it was the same William White who witnessed her own marriage to Godbert Godbertson in Leiden in October 1621?  The Mayflower passenger was also not the tobacco merchant, who appears in numerous Leiden records throughout the 1620s. 

So there was either a third William White in Leiden, or else the William White of the Mayflower  may have joined onto the Mayflower's voyage from England. In any case, William and his wife Susanna came on the Mayflower  in 1620 with son Resolved. Susanna gave birth to son Peregrine while the Mayflower  was still anchored off the top of Cape Cod waiting for the Pilgrims to discover a place to build their colony

William died the first winter, on the same day as three other passengers, including William Mullins.  His wife Susanna remarried to Edward Winslow a few months later, being the first marriage to occur at Plymouth. - Caleb Johnson