When I was about 11 or 12 years old, my father received as a Christmas gift from his sister, a genealogy of the Starr family. Dad thought I should read it (really?), since I had an interest in history, and while doing so, I found that there was a marriage in the Starr family that took us back to Elder William Brewster and his wife, Mary. Yes, that good man and his wife Mary are our ancestors!
I have been interested in the Pilgrims/Puritans/separatists ever since, and when my interest in family history ignited in 2006, that was the first family line that I added to my tree.
However, I always thought it would be nice if I could find some Pilgrim ancestors for Mom, too. The odds seemed at least somewhat favorable, since there were many of her lines that were in early New England. I'll never forget the day I found Mom's Pilgrims. I was working on the Foster family, which was a true joy in itself because I'd finally found Elizabeth Whittemore's parents, after searching for years. Her maternal grandfather was a Foster. I was at work (before work hours, naturally), and came across the name Hannah Standish, who had married Nathan Foster. They were born in the early 1700's, and the thought crossed my mind "How many Standish families can there be?" Sure enough, as I traced her line back, not only did she descend from Myles Standish, she also descended from Edward Doty! Oh, that was a happy genealogy dance day!
Here's a very brief summary of each man.
William Brewster was apparently a man of some means, and was thought highly of by his fellow Separatists. He was an Elder in the church and served as their pastor once the Mayflower group reached Massachusetts, until a pastor arrived to lead them. He taught and preached, but refused to serve communion since he was not ordained. Everything I have read about him points to his being a really good man. His wife was Mary, last name not certain. I have listed her as Mary Wentworth on my tree because the evidence seems to point that direction, but I haven't carried her line back further because I don't consider it "proof" enough to continue.
Myles Standish may or may not have been a member of the Pilgrims in the religious sense, but he attended services with them and shared his life with them. He was a "Captain", and was apparently hired or otherwise enticed by the Pilgrims to come to "Virginia" with them (Virginia was their original destination) as their military leader. He served admirably in that capacity, and from what I have read, was a diplomat as far as relations with the native Americans went. It is due in large part to what he did that the little colony survived. We are descended through his second wife, Barbara, whose last name is also unknown.
Both of these men were also commended for the "tender care" they gave the sick and starving Pilgrims during the first disastrous winter, when so many of them died. I'm sure neither man had nursing in his background, but they did what needed to be done in a loving and caring manner. Yes, they were heroes in my book.
The third Pilgrim, Edward Doty, didn't join the church until some years after the arrival of the Mayflower. He was apparently a contentious man, frequently in court over some matter, usually as the defendant. He came to the New World as an indentured servant of Stephen Hopkins, and the first mention that is made of him is of his involvement in a duel with the other indentured servant of Stephen Hopkins. Maybe he did not achieve at the high level of Elder William Brewster or Captain Myles Standish, but he did survive the first winter, and many more, and he did accumulate considerable wealth. He was married to Faith Clarke.
These are very brief summaries of the men and women we can claim as ancestors, written as a brief Thanksgiving Day tribute. If you would like more information about how our lines descend, please contact me and I'll be happy to send the information.