The More children, Shropshire

The story of the four More children is a tragic one. 2020 marks 400 years since their death and there are a variety of activities taking place in Shropshire to commemorate this event.

Baptised in the parish of Shipton, Shropshire, the More children’s parents, were cousins from a prominent family. Katherine’s Father, Jasper More, with no male heir, agreed to a pre-arranged  marriage with Samuel for a payment today worth £60,000.

Katherine and Samuel were married in 1610 and by April 1616 Katherine had given birth to four children, but Samuel was arranging a legal separation. Within days of Mary’s birth, the children were sent to live with a tenant of Samuels father, as he had accused Katherine of adultery with a neighbour Jacob Blakeway. Katherine declared a pre-contract (betrothal) overriding the marriage to Samuel, however Katherine lost the case and Samuel was granted a separation and control over the Children.

Lord Zouche, Samuel’s employer, was a member of the Virginia Company which had been transporting children from London to meet the need for labour in America. Meanwhile, the Pilgrim Fathers were planning their journey aboard the Mayflower, hoping to emigrate to America to gain freedom for their religion.  A deal was struck free land for the Puritans in America, £10 share per person to pay for the voyage, unaccompanied children to be looked after by the adults.

Within hours of receiving custody of the children, on 8 July 1620, the children were sent to London and awaited a ship for passage.Samuel paid £80 for double shares for the four children and they were allocated guardians. Ellen (8) was placed with Edward Winslow; Jasper (7) with John Carver; Richard (5) and Mary (4) with William Brewster.

Once aboard the Mayflower, the four children, aged 4 to 8 years old, were placed into the households of some of the most prominent Pilgrims, Richard and Mary with William Brewster, Jasper with John Carver and Ellen was placed with Edward Winslow.

The Mayflower sailed from London to join the Speedwell at Southampton. A harsh winter, turbulent crossing of the Atlantic, and disease caused the loss of nearly half of the passengers. Of the More children, only Richard survived. Jasper and Ellen died on board and Mary died soon after landing. Richard was the last male survivor from the Mayflower and he has the only known gravestone of a Mayflower passenger located in Salem.