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Mayflower Passenger Richard More – His connection to Annapolis Royal

by Ian Lawrence

The story of the passage of the Mayflower to the New World is probably the best-known event in early American history. The ship that carried the first permanent European settlers to New England landed at Plymouth in December 1620. One of the most interesting of the Mayflower passengers was a small boy named Richard More. For a number of reasons he was not a typical Pilgrim. His origins, his chosen vocation, and his conduct as an adult were all departures from the norm in the tiny religious colony. And he had a connection to Annapolis Royal.

The ship’s 102 passengers were members of a splinter Protestant group, many of whom had lived for a number of years in Leyden, Holland, before their search for religious freedom led them to the New World. Among the Mayflower passengers were four More children, Ellen age 8, Jasper age 7, Richard age 6, and Mary age 4. Long thought to be orphaned urchins from London, they were wards of several of the group’s leaders. Ellen, Jasper and Mary all died that first winter in Plymouth which cruelly claimed half of the fledgling colony’s population. Subsequent research in England in the last century has revealed that the More children were actually members of the gentry and the only Mayflower passengers to have proven royal descent, from King Henry II of England and King David I of Scotland.

Richard More was bpt. 13 November 1614 in Shipton Parish, Shropshire, England. His mother, Catherine More, the 23 year old heiress to Larden Hall, had married in 1610 her 16 year old third cousin Samuel More of Linley- a marriage arranged to keep property in the family. Subsequent divorce proceedings revealed the More children to be actually the offspring of one Jacob Blakeway. Mistreated and rejected by their mother, the four children became the concern of their erstwhile father, Samuel More. In July 1620 he entrusted them to the Pilgrim leaders, making provision for their transportation to the New World “to provide for the educacon & maintenance of these children in a place remote from these partes where these great blotts and blemishes may fall upon them…”. Richard (and sister Mary) were entrusted to the care of Elder William Brewster with whom Richard was still living in 1627. Richard More married in Plymouth on 20 October 1636 Christian Hunter, the mother of his seven children. Following their marriage the couple moved to Salem in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. After her death on 18 March 1676, he remarried to widow Jane Crumpton.

A mariner and sea captain by vocation, Richard More sailed to Virginia, the West Indies, England and Nova Scotia, where in 1654 he was at Port-Royal/Annapolis Royal when the French fort “was reduced to English obedience”. A bell from the church at Port-Royal was later brought to Salem “in Capt. Moor’s Ketch”. The mystery of a life at sea also apparently extended to his personal affairs. It has been recently discovered that he married bigamously on 23 October 1645 at St. Duncan’s, Stepney, Middlesex, England, one Elizabeth Woolno, effectively having a wife on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. Suspected of licentious behaviour, the Salem Church Records for 1688 note that: Old Captain More having been for many years under suspicion and common fame of lasciviousness and some degree at least of incontency.. but for want of proof we could go no further. He was at last left to himself so farr as that he was convicted before justices of peace by three witnesses of gross unchastity with another mans wife and was censured by them”.

Richard More died at Salem between 19 March 1693/4 and 20 April 1696. His tombstone is the only original gravestone still in existence for a Mayflower passenger. All of Richard More’s known progeny descend from the three children of granddaughter Susannah Dutch, bpt. Salem 22 September 1683, and her husband Benjamin Knowlton. Susannah Dutch was the daughter of Samuel Dutch and Susannah More, bpt. Salem 12 March 1650. One of those three Knowlton children was Susannah, bpt. Wenham, MA 16 March 1714. In 1762, during the New England Planter migration to Nova Scotia, she and her husband Capt. Josiah Dodge together with their children settled in Granville Township, Nova Scotia, across the river from the fort that her great-grandfather had assisted in reducing in 1654. Josiah and Susannah (Knowlton) Dodge left many descendants in Annapolis and adjacent counties. Their seven children were: i. Josiah Dodge, b. Ipswich MA 8 September 1740, m. Lunenburg MA 8 November 1761 Hannah Conant; ii. Susannah Dodge, b. Ipswich MA 3 February 1742, m. Granville, N.S. 29 March 1762 Israel Fellows; iii. Rhoda Dodge, b. Lunenburg MA 26 August 1744, m. Granville, N.S. 11 September 1762 Benjamin Hinds; iv. Sarah Dodge, b. Lunenburg MA 24 May 1749, m. Granville, N.S. 1 November 1764 Jonathan Leonard; v. Asahel Dodge, b. Lunenburg MA 26 Aug. 1752, m. Granville, N.S. 10 April 1773 Ann Walker; vi. Benjamin Dodge, b. Lunenburg MA 1 May 1754, m. Granville, N.S. 26 December 1776 Tabitha Perkins; vii. Phebe Dodge, b. Lunenburg MA 23 September 1759, m. Granville, N.S. Pardon Sanders.

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