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How to Find Out if Your Ancestors Were Mayflower Passengers

How to Find Out if Your Ancestors Were Mayflower Passengers

This is a collaborative post. All views and text are mine. 

Hello, friends! 

Once in a while I like discussing about American history here at Hip Mama’s Place.  So today, I’m bringing you a little history about the Mayflower Passengers. Enjoy! 🙂

Have you ever wondered if your ancestors rode to the New World on the Mayflower in 1620? The journey to tracing your family heritage can start by studying a Mayflower passenger list and descendants. Find out if your last name or a surname in your family matches any of the passengers. Working with a genealogist will give you a clear insight as to how your family migrated to what is now America.

Have you ever wondered if your ancestors rode to the New World on the Mayflower in 1620? Here's how to find out!

Significance of Mayflower Passengers

The reason why it would be compelling to know if you have ancestors who rode on the Mayflower is because those people were the first European settlers to develop early American colonies. The Mayflower passenger list comprises 102 Pilgrims who originally came from Leiden, Holland. They landed and settled in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Unfortunately, only half of these travelers survived after the first winter in the New World.

There have been over a dozen generations since then, but it’s still possible to find out if you were connected with this crew. Well known figures who had ancestors on the Mayflower include Bing Crosby, Marilyn Monroe and Clint Eastwood. Additionally, several U.S. presidents were descendants of Mayflower passengers. Now that it’s been over sixteen generations, some calculations reveal that there have been millions of descendants related to Mayflower passengers.

Ask Your Own Family

One way to begin researching your family history is to start asking older members of your family what they know. Many times it’s fairly easy to find out your family’s past for several generations just by talking with parents and grandparents. Sometimes people keep old artifacts and then forget about them until someone mentions them.

Even if your family tree has no connection to the Mayflower, you may still want to learn about your family history. It’s much easier to research history of the past few centuries due to the emergence of public records and local newspapers. You may end up being surprised that you are related to famous historical figures. Chances are good for many Americans that they are related to at least one person on the Mayflower.

Could your ancestors be Mayflower Passengers? Here's how to find out!

Tracing Your History

Finding evidence that links your family history to the Mayflower may come from a series of old publications that have tracked Mayflower family members. GenealogyBank has kept an archive of historical newspapers that include obituaries of people in the nineteenth century, sometimes listing their connection to early settlers. Even if you’re not related to any of these families, you will come across interesting stories.

Another paper trail to follow is Mayflower ship passenger records, which are still available in Leiden. Genealogists have several other sources to draw from that document early settlers. Keep in mind that the first U.S. Census was taken in 1790, over a century after the first Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth Rock. While it’s very difficult to find official records in this early period of American history, ancestors have left clues behind in early newspapers of the late seventeenth century.

One of the most definitive sources for this research is the General Society of Mayflower Descendants, which issues various publications that are available in public libraries. A series of silver books by this publisher features the first five generations of Mayflower descendants. A series of pink books focuses on Mayflower families, in which new information is constantly added.

Learn About History

The story of Pilgrims migrating to America is an important piece of world history that can help you understand how the modern world was shaped. Plotting your family history on a timeline that shows what was happening at that time could provide valuable insight about your heritage. The value in knowing your own family history can lead to storytelling interesting enough to write a book. Exploring your family history may give you access to old pictures and writings that may be considered valuable by historians.


Learning your family history can be accomplished partly from your own research and also from a genealogist with access to databases of old records. The reason it’s exciting to find out if your ancestors were on the Mayflowers is that odds are favorable they were.

Photo Credit: Pilgrim Hall Museum

Jocelyn Brown
Jocelyn Brown

A former school teacher, Jocelyn Brown created Hip Mama’s Place in 2007. Her motto for this blog is: get inspired, create and share! Jocelyn loves sharing about food and recipes, crafts, DIY projects and her random travels with her family. She also loves all things social media, but her latest obsession is Instagram.

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  1. 09/29/2017 / 6:15 pm

    How interesting! I think it would be nice to know who our ancestors are. Actually, my husband and his brother are into digging out their family history and they’ve been doing it for a few years now.

  2. adriana
    09/29/2017 / 12:51 am

    This is so cool! It’s always so interesting to learn about you family history. My mom does a ton of genealogy and it’s so cool to see what you can learn about your ancestors!

  3. Dogvills
    09/28/2017 / 9:45 pm

    It would be great to find out about my genealogy. I would love to know where my great great grandparents were originally from.

  4. 09/28/2017 / 9:35 pm

    My grandpa’s last name is spanish so I would like to know who our ancestors are. Thanks for the recommendation.

  5. 09/28/2017 / 9:19 pm

    Wouldn’t this be the coolest thing? I definitely 100% know they were not, but as far as my husband – you never know, their line is quite old in settlers, I will let him know to check this out!

  6. 09/28/2017 / 3:21 pm

    I’ve always wanted to know more about my ancestors. I find this topic to be extremely interesting.

  7. 09/28/2017 / 2:01 pm

    I have always wanted to know who my ancestors were. This looks like a great idea.

  8. 09/28/2017 / 11:55 am

    As an African American and also a person with Native America decent…it more likey my ancestors were the originally from African brought here and my other ancestors were natives of this country. I am still going to do my ancestor DNA research – but I am sure of this.

  9. Annemarie LeBlanc
    09/28/2017 / 7:24 am

    It would be interesting to know if my ancestors were on the Mayflower! I don’t know much about our genealogy but you did get me so interested to find out!

  10. Crystal
    09/28/2017 / 5:59 am

    My dad is really into genealogy and has made us a pretty detailed family history. I know we aren’t descendants of anyone on the Mayflower but I know very little about my husband’s side.

  11. 09/28/2017 / 3:37 am

    This has definitely inspired me to do some research! I have always heard stories about my family and our long history, but I have never had any proof. I think now is the time to really start and digging and see where exactly my family came from.

  12. 09/28/2017 / 3:24 am

    I would love to dig into my family’s history and see where we came from! I need to start doing some asking!!

  13. 09/28/2017 / 2:18 am

    I think this is something that my cousin would really like to know. He’s always digging into our ancestry, so to find out if we had relatives on the Mayflower would be quite exciting for him, I am sure.

  14. 09/28/2017 / 1:53 am

    For those with European ancestry it seems like a useful tool.

  15. 09/28/2017 / 1:23 am

    That is so amazing and it would be so nice to know if we have ancestors aboard that ship! I’ve always been curious about our family’s history!

  16. 09/28/2017 / 1:11 am

    This is a fascinating post! I love learning about history! I am Canadian so i don’t know much about the Mayflower but it was very enlightening!

  17. 09/27/2017 / 11:02 pm

    It would be really cool to trace family members to the Mayflower. I took a DNA test last year, so I have a better idea of where my ancestors are from, which is a big help. I think more of my ancestors came over to Ellis Island.

  18. Pam
    09/27/2017 / 10:46 pm

    I am lucky to know a lot about our family history and lineage. One of my aunts is very interested in genealogy.

  19. 09/27/2017 / 9:16 pm

    Well dang – my ancestors were not on the list. LOL I can’t believe not one SMITH was onboard! I do love things like this though! What a cool article!

  20. 09/27/2017 / 9:11 pm

    I love learning about my ancestry and began digging deeper about six months ago! Most of my bloodline is from Israel and would not have come via the Mayflower, but I plan to share this helpful information with my husband, whose family is European.

  21. Meagan
    09/27/2017 / 6:47 pm

    This is actually really interesting. I would love to look into this for our family.

  22. 09/27/2017 / 5:30 pm

    This is really neat! I know someone who’s ancestor was a captain on one of those ships 😉 Super neat. Love that you can find out more about your ancestors now adays.

  23. Jeanine
    09/27/2017 / 3:44 pm

    So interesting. I love hearing stories and peoples family history. I wish most of my family was still around to get more info from them! This museum sounds awesome.

  24. 09/27/2017 / 12:14 pm

    I’ve always been fascinated by the story of the pilgrims and their journey. I’d love to visit this museum.

  25. 09/27/2017 / 12:13 pm

    That is so neat! I would love to know if my ancestors came over on the Mayflower. I’d love to know my ancestry in general.

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