Vital Records of Plymouth,
Massachusetts to the Year 1850
Compiled by Lee D.
Edited by Ruth Wilder Sherman
Copyright 1993 Society of Mayflower
Descendants in the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations
Picton Press, Camden, ME, 1993
of the vital records to 1850, from the Plymouth Town Clerk's books, have
previously appeared in print. These records are from volume one and part of
volume two and constitute the first 318 pages of this book; they were taken from
literal transcriptions by the legendary George E. Bowman, in The Mayflower
Descendant quarterly magazine. We have compared his work to the original records
and found his accuracy impressive; few discrepancies were of enough significance
to warrant correction.
Dr. Lee D.
van Antwerp transcribed the balance of the vital records through the year 1849
from microfilm prints of the Town Clerk's records to form pages 318-649. His
work was meticulously compared with the films and corrected as needed. These
additional records are from volumes two and three, and from the Register.
appendix contains a few records copied from the published Plymouth Colony
Records, some of which are identified as belonging to Plymouth people.
in the above records are included in the index, which we believe to be a most
significant part of the present volume.
of persons and places have been copied exactly; Middo.
stands for Middleboro, Plymo.
for Plymouth etc. All other spellings were
modernized. Standard capitalization has been used for clarity. Dates are not
changed from old style (O.S.) to new style (N.S.); those which were recorded,
for example, as 17011/12 are printed here as 1711/12. Words which were crossed
out in the town books are struck through in the printed text. Marriage
intentions have been shortened somewhat and, usually, an asterisk and footnote
have been used on those pages so that the intentions will not be mistaken for
marriage records. Birth records in early years often listed both parents with
the family surname (e.g., children of Nathan Ward and Elizabeth Ward his wife),
which does not mean that the father and mother were born with the same surname.
On items of doubtful interpretation, the editor and proofreaders have checked
with each other, with the original record books, and with the 19th century
copies made by Nahum Mitchell around 1840. Any items of which we are still
unsure carry bracketed comments.
RUTH WILDER SHERMAN
Warwick, Rhode Island
OUR THANKS TO
Collas, Town Clerk of Plymouth, for granting
permission to print these records and for lending the microfilms so that we
might do this work many miles from "America's Home Town."
Lee D. van Antwerp, Former Governor General of the General Society of Mayflower
Descendants and a Past Governor of the Illinois Society of Mayflower
Descendants, for his major part in this work (see page viii).
The late Ruth Wilder Sherman and the late Robert M. Sherman
of Rhode Island for computerizing the records, as well as for their careful
proofreading and editing.
Joslyn of New York and Robert M. Sherman for
indexing, and Shirley M. Pizziferri for proofreading
Anderson of Massachusetts, Robert Charles Anderson of New Hampshire, David L.
Greene of Georgia, Roger D. Joslyn, and Robert S.
Wakefield of California for further proofreading and for offering constructive
Charles F. Mathewson of Plymouth for endpaper and frontispiece artwork.
That hardy little band of people who braved the high seas
and founded the mother town from which sprang many daughter towns in New England
HOW THIS BOOK CAME TO BE
Dr. van Antwerp responded to a challenge in The Mayflower Quarterly addressed to
interested and capable persons that they should undertake some sort of
Bicentennial project which would honor our country's anniversary and at the same
time be a boon to historians and genealogists. He selected as his project the
transcribing of the Plymouth Vital Records, of which only about half was in
print. Mrs. Sherman obtained the necessary permission and films and, for several
years, Dr. van Antwerp diligently read the film and typed what he could read,
despite severely failing eyesight.
point Mrs. Sherman and her husband, Robert M. Sherman, with their long
experience in reading the 17th and 18th century handwritings, agreed to take his
work, computerize it, compare it with the filmed originals, and make the needed
changes. This was completed by 1984, but the untimely death of Mr. Sherman put
the work on hold. With the publication of this volume, Dr. van Antwerp's vision
will have become a reality.
who have successfully brought an accurately-transcribed volume of 17th century
records into print will appreciate the work which has been done since 1984 by
those thanked above (and others) in order that the best possible version can be
made available in this 92d year since the Rhode Island Mayflower Society was
OTHER PLYMOUTH SOURCES
many other published and unpublished original records which serve as "mortar" to
hold the Plymouth vital record "bricks" together. Among them are the following
published titles (including guides to unpublished materials) some of which are
long out of print, but may be available in reprint or microform:
Frederick W. Bailey, Early Massachusetts
Marriages Prior to 1800, 3 vols. (New Haven, Conn., 1897)
George E. Bowman, Pilgrim Notes and Queries, 5
vols. (Boston 1913-1917)
George E. Bowman and Alicia C. Williams, The
Mayflower Descendant: A Quarterly Magazine of Pilgrim History and Genealogy
Lucy Hall Greenlaw,
The Genealogical Advertiser: a Quarterly Magazine of Family History, 4 vols.
(Cambridge, Mass., 1898-1901)
Bradford Kingman, Epitaphs from Burial Hill,
Plymouth Massachusetts, from 1657 to 1892 (Brookline, Mass., 1892)
David T. Konig,
Plymouth [County] Court Records 1686-1859, 16 vols. (Wilmington, Del., 1978)
Plymouth Church Records, 1620-1859, 2 vols.
(New York 1920-23)
Charles H. Pope, The
Plymouth Scrapbook: The Oldest Original Documents Extant in Plymouth Archives...
Records of the Town of Plymouth, 3 vols.
Ruth Wilder Sherman and Robert S. Wakefield,
Plymouth Colony Probate Guide: Where to find Wills and Related Data
For 800 People of Plymouth Colony 1620-1691 (Warwick,
Nathaniel B. Shurtleff
and David Pulsifer, Records of the Colony of New
Plymouth in New England, 12 vols. (Boston 1855-61)
Robert S. Wakefield, Plymouth Colony Marriages
to 1650 together with Mary Chilton's Title to Celebrity (Warwick, R.I., 1978)
Ralph Van Wood Jr., Plymouth County
Massachusetts Probate Index 1686-1881 (Camden, Maine, 1988)