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The First Family of New England

A look into the life of New England's first family.

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Type: Article
Resource: GenWeekly
Prepared by: Melissa Slate
Word Count: 404 (approx.)
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Edward Winslow was an American Pilgrim in the Plymouth Colony and also served that colony in multiple terms as governor. Edward was a printer by trade and was active in the printing of religious pamphlets and books. Edward Winslow also wrote and recorded a great deal of the history of the early colonists. His writing gave graphic descriptions of the early days of the colony and the first explorations of the Pilgrims onto the New American land. What makes him unique is that he became the first person of that colony to marry in America, and so this union formed the first family of New England.

Edward Winslow and his wife Elizabeth Barker Winslow arrived to the New World aboard the Mayflower in 1620. Elizabeth did not survive the first winter and died on March 24, 1621. It is thought that possibly Edward Winslow may have had two sons from this union; however, that is open to controversy.

In May 1621, Edward Winslow married Susannah White. This was the first marriage of the New England colonies and possibly its first blended family. Ms. White was the widow of William White, Plymouth colonist who died 2/21/1621. In those times when someone lost a spouse through death, remarriage occurred rather quickly out of necessity. Children needed to be raised and the work of daily life necessitated a partner to help with those duties.

Susannah was the mother of Peregrine White, who was born aboard the Mayflower while it was anchored off the coast of Plymouth. Thus, Peregrine became the first white child born to Pilgrims in the New World. Peregrine was raised by Edward Winslow, and later adopted by him. Susannah was one of only four women who survived the terrible first Pilgrim winter and one of only four to care for the remaining fifty men and children. Sadly, we do not know the date of Susannah's death but we do know that she was still alive when her husband's will was written in December of 1654.

Josiah Winslow, son of Edward and Susannah, too became Governor of Plymouth Colony in later years and he bore the distinction of being the first native-born governor to New England. He also led the Colonial militia in 1675, in the battle of King Phillips War.

The Winslows were truly the first family of New England and made many valuable contributions to the New World. Their lives and genealogy are indeed interesting and rewarding research.

Source Information: GenWeekly, New Providence, NJ, USA: Genealogy Today LLC, 2007.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Genealogy Today LLC.

*Effective May 2010, GenWeekly articles that are more than five years old no longer require a subscription for full access.

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