Christopher Martin, "Mayflower" Passenger

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Christopher Martin

Birthplace: Laughton, East Sussex, England, United Kingdom
Death: January 18, 1621 (45-46)
Plymouth, Massachusetts
Immediate Family:

Husband of Marie Prower, "Mayflower" Passenger and Marie Martin
Father of Nathaniel Martin; Nathaniel Martin; John Martin; Solomon Martin and Francis Martin

Occupation: Provisioner of the "Mayflower"
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Christopher Martin, "Mayflower" Passenger

The Mayflower Society does not accept Christopher Martin (c 1575-1621) of the "Mayflower" as the father of Alice Martin, widow of George Clark & wife of Richard Bishop.

Biographical Summary

Christopher Martin was born probably around 1580, probably in the vicinity of Great Burstead, Billericay, which is where he married the widowed Mrs. Mary Prower on 26 February 1606/7; she brought into the family her son from her previous marriage, Solomon Prower. Christopher and Mary had a child together, Nathaniel Martin, baptized on 26 February 1609/10 in Billericay. No other children are recorded to the couple.

On Easter in 1612, Christopher Martin got into some trouble with the ecclesiastical authorities for refusing to kneel at communion--an indication that he had a bit of Puritan in him. In 1617, Chistopher Martin invested £25 in Ralph Hamor's company traveling to Virginia. He and step-son Solomon then had another run-in, this time with the Archdeaconry Court at Chelmsford in 1619, for refusing to follow Catholic ritual. In May 1620, he purchased four shares of the Virginia Company from Captain George Percey, with the apparent intention of going to Virginia. He shortly thereafter became involved in the Pilgrims attempt to procure passage to Virginia, and was placed in charge of purchasing the provisions for the Mayflower. For the voyage, he was elected governor of the Speedwell.

Christopher Martin's governing abilities were heavily criticized by the passengers, however. Passenger and assistant Robert Cushman wrote:

Mr. Martin . . . so insulteth over our poor people, with such scorn and contempt, as if they were not good enough to wipe his shoes. It would break your heart to see his dealing, and the mourning of our people; they complain to me, and alas! I can do nothing for them. If I speak to him, he flies in my face as mutinous, and saith no complaints shall be heard or received but by himself, and saith they are froward and waspish, discontented people, and I do ill to hear them. There are others that would lose all they have put in, or make satisfaction for what they have had, that they might depart; but he will not hear them, nor suffer them to go ashore, lest they should run away. The sailors are so offended at his ignorant boldness in meddling and controlling in things he knows not what belongs to, as that some threaten to mischief him . . .

Christopher Martin, his wife Mary, and his step-son all died the first winter at Plymouth.

Additional Resources

The most thorough study of Christopher Martin is found in R.J. Carpenter's Christopher Martin, Great Burstead, and the Mayflower (England: Fact and Fiction, 1993).

Christopher was Governor, the representative of the Adventurers who provided the money for provisions and hiring of the s hip. He was a large, red faced man, selfl-important, pugnac ious, fat and breathless. At the end of the journey he wa s a changed man--having lost his good red color and such a n amount of flesh his slovernly clothes hung loosely upon h im, his face a sickly yellow, patched with scurfy areas. Tr easusrer Martins accounts were not in the best condition an d he sent for John Carver concerning them the day before h e died. Gov. William Bradford in his history said, "Marti n brought with him his wife and two children, one of whom Solomon died".

"Mr . Christopher Martin and his wife and two servants, Solomon Prower, and John Langmore came aboard the Mayflower."

Christopher Martin was born on 8 Jan 1575. He died on 21 Jan 1620/1621 on board the Mayflower/at sea. He married Marie Prower on 26 Feb 1607 in Billerica,Essex,England.

died on Mayflower

A Passenger and Governor (and Provisioner) of the "Mayflower" and 9th signer of the Compact. Apparently died in the first winter on January 8th, 1621 of 'infection' at Plymouth Colony 23 days from the time the Mayflower dropped anchor in Plymouth Harbor on December 16, 1620.

However, as the Mayflower records indicate, the Martins who came on the ship died the first winter and left no children in America.

Among the 102 passengers who boarded The Mayflower at Plymouth on 6 September 1620 was Christopher Martin, the ship’s provisioner. Previously serving as churchwarden at Great Burstead’s St Mary Magdalene’s Church, he and Marie Prower married there in 1607. He is believed to have owned the Chantry House at 61 High Street, Billericay, where the emigrants prayed on the evening before the start of their epic journey onvthe Mayflower. Billerica in Massachusetts was established in 1655 and is now twinned with Billericay, Essex.

William Bradford's Register of Some of the First Deaths at Plymouth

The information given below concerning the deaths of passengers on the Mayflower has been extracted from Thomas Prince's A Chronological History of New-England, in the Form of Annals (Boston, N.E., 1736; Edinburgh Private printing, 1887-1888), 5 vols. In volume 3, Prince lists at intervals extracts from "A Register of Governor Bradford's in his own hand, recording some of the first deaths, marriages and punishments at Plymouth." According to Robert Charles Anderson's three volume The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England 1620-1633 (New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1995), p. 1809, this register has subsequently been lost.

November & December, 1620

During the voyage

William Butten: November 6, 1620 "the only passenger who dies on the voyage," Bradford (Prince), vol. 3, p. 8.

While at anchor off Cape Cod between November 9 and December 8, 1620

Edward Thompson: December 4, "servant to Master White, the first that dies since their arrival," Ibid., p. 12.

Jasper More: December 6, "a boy of Master Carver's," Ibid.

Dorothy Bradford: December 7, "wife to Master William Bradford," Ibid.

James Chilton: December 8, Ibid.

After dropping anchor in Plymouth Harbor, 16 December, 1620 and through the departure of the Mayflower on April 5, 1621

Richard Britteridge: December 21, "the first who dies in this harbour," Ibid., p. 17.

Solomon Martin (Prower): December 24, "the sixth and last who dies this month," Ibid.

January, 1621

Digory Priest: January 1, "the year begins with the death of Degory Priest," Ibid., p. 29.

Christopher Martin: January 8, "this day dies Master Christopher Martin," Ibid., p. 30.

Rose Standish: January 29 "Dies Rose, the wife of Captain Standish," Ibid., p. 31. N.B. This month, Eight of our number die.

William Bradford's list of "Decreasings and Increasings," 1650

William Bradford's list of passengers on the Mayflower follows the final entries of his original manuscript on the history of Plymouth Plantation. Immediately after the list, he writes:

       I have thought it not unworthy my pains to take a view of the decreasings and increasings of these persons and such changes as hath passed over them and theirs in this thirty years [Bradford evidently wrote this in 1650]. (Bradford, p. 443)

Later in the list he comments:

       "Of these hundred persons which came first over in this first ship together, the greater half died in the general mortality, and most of them in two or three months' time." (Bradford, p. 447)

Martin, Christopher: "Mr. Martin, he and all his died in the first infection, not long after the arrival," Bradford, p. 445.

from The Plymouth Colony Archive Project


© 2000 Copyright and All Rights Reserved

by Patricia Scott Deetz and James Deetz

He was a leader of the "Strangers," represented the Adventurers and was governor on the Mayflower in 1620 when it first sailed. He may have continued in this position after the Speedwell had to stay back in England or he may have relinquished that position to Carver. He was the acting purchasing agent at Southampton but was unable to account for the money entrusted to him. Bradford had nothing good to write about him. Records state that he and all his died in the first infection which probably eliminated a source of potential trouble in the life of the new colony. Some sources stated that he died on the Mayflower; others say he died after they arrived.

Obviously, the records weren't totally accurate as his daughter Alice survived.

Rebuttal to the point above:

When using you must look at the sources of the information that you are seeing. Some comes from extracted records and is reliable, but some comes from other sources, such as church member submissions, and is not reliable. What you saw was apparently an IGI entry submitted by a church member.

Christopher and Mary (___) (Prowe/Prower) Martin had only one recorded child, Nathaniel, bp. Great Burstead 26-Feb-1609/10, and apparently alive there in 1620, per the well-researched "Christopher Martin, Great Burstead and The Mayflower" by R. J. Carpenter (Chelmsford, Essex, England: Barstable Book, 1982), which cites English church and court records. Mary was the widow of a man named Prowe/Prower, given name unknown, and Mary's surname is unknown.

"Solomon Martin" was actually Solomon Prower, Mary's son by her first marriage, who also came on the Mayflower (Bradford listed him as one of the Martins' two servants) and died at Plymouth on 24-Dec-1620. Christopher Martin died at Plymouth on board the Mayflower on 08-Jan-1620/21, and his wife Mary died at Plymouth some time during that first winter.

Dale H. Cook, Member, NEHGS and MA Society of Mayflower Descendants;
Plymouth Co. MA Coordinator for the USGenWeb Project Administrator of

Christopher Martin (1582-1621)

Mayflower Passenger

Christopher Martin was one of the 41 Pilgrims to sign the Mayflower Compact. He died shortly after arriving in Plymouth.

Notes for further research:

Christopher Martin was born probably around 1580, probably in the vicinity of Great Burstead, Billericay, which is where he married the widowed Mrs. Mary Prower on 26 February 1606/7; she brought into the family her son from her previous marriage, Solomon Prower. Christopher and Mary had a child together, Nathaniel Martin, baptized on 26 February 1609/10 in Billericay. No other children are recorded to the couple.

  • Gov. William Bradford in his history said, "Martin brought with him his wife and two children, one of whom Solomon died". Note: Solomon was his stepson, not his son. Is this the reasoning behind the idea Alice was his daughter?

Several genealogies on the Web, have Alice is identified as a daughter of Francis Martin

  • "Francis Martin (John MARTYN, Christopher Martin1) was born ABT. 1599 in England, and died c. 1624. He married Prudence Deacon 10 APR 1619 in Plymouth, Devon, England. She was born abt. 1602 in, England, and died ABT. 1624. Child of Francis Martin and Prudence Deacon is: + 14 i. Alice Martin was born 1620 in Plymouth, Devon, England, and died AFT. 4 OCT 1658 in Scituate, Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA ". Yet the Saint Andrew parish registers have no records of children for Francis and Priscilla (Deacon) Martin. The records suggest they died. In any case, there were no Alice Martins baptized at Saint Andrew.
  • Do either of these possibilities make sense? Or in fact a birth date of 1616 (as often seen) for Alice Martin. She died in 1648 as the mother of young children and 2 known marriages, putting a birth date "between" 1620-1625, which eliminates both proposed Martin families. Mary Prower was b 1577, her son Solomon was born about 1600, and Christopher Martin was older and not in the best of health. Their own son Nathaniel born 1609 in England stayed behind. I would think it unlikely for a woman in her late 30's to come with an infant as "hired hands" yet leave an 11 year old behind ... Or for a "Mayflower baby" not to have been noted by Gov. Bradford.
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Christopher Martin, "Mayflower" Passenger's Timeline

Laughton, East Sussex, England, United Kingdom
December 17, 1592
Age 18
Andover, Hampshire, England, United Kingdom
February 26, 1609
Billerica, Essex, , England
Dorset, England, United Kingdom
November 11, 1620
Age 46
Provincetown, Massachusetts, USA
November 11, 1620
Age 46
Provincetown, Massachusetts, USA