Edward Winslow is a name that schoolchildren do not know but should. He was an influential leader of Plymouth Colony and served as governor three times and assistant governor multiple times as well.
Perhaps his greatest influence is the multiple times he sailed back to England in defense of the New England Colonies. The Pilgrims had not landed where they were supposed to, and many believed that because they settled outside of English law, they were not subject to the law. This is why the Mayflower Compact was written and signed.
Edward did not become influential overnight but over time. He was born in 1595 in London, England, and would attend King's College. After graduation, he moved to Leiden, Holland, where he helped William Brewster continue his illegal printing activities.
Leiden allowed the Separatists an escape from religious persecution, but it was not exactly a safe haven. Brewster and Winslow published a pamphlet titled Perth Assembly that was distributed and critical of King James I. This enraged the king, who ordered the arrest of Brewster and sent agents to track him down in Holland
Brewster hid in Holland and then hid in England. This was unfortunate since it was during this time that they needed his leadership for the preparations of their journey to the New World.
The leadership would fall to Edward Winslow.
On June 10, 1620, Winslow was one of four men – the others being William Bradford, Isaac Allerton, and Samuel Fuller, who wrote a letter representing the Leiden congregation to their London agents John Carver and Robert Cushman regarding the terms upon which the Pilgrims would travel to America.
Soon, the Mayflower was ready to set sail, and the Pilgrims could flee the repressive policies of King James I and practice their own religion. Edward left with his young wife and embarked on the New World.
Once they arrived, they found themselves in immediate danger. This danger was not from Native Americans but from the New England winter. Edward Winslow would lose his wife to the first winter and see many of his friends die due to the cold.
After surviving the first winter, the Pilgrims would make allies with the Wampanoag Tribe when they met Chief Massasoit, Samoset, and Squanto. These allies would be beneficial and teach them how to live off the land in exchange for the Pilgrims helping them fight against other Native tribes.
At this point, Edward was one of the leading members of the colony. He had remarried, inherited children from his widow, and begun to have his own children.
As stated previously, he would live out his days as an influencer in the colony. Serving as governor, diplomat, and other offices. He developed a good relationship with Chief Massasoit and, in England, served Oliver Cromwell.
Despite all his work for the colony, he died in the Caribbean during a military expedition and was buried at sea. A monument was erected in his honor, and a cemetery named after him is still maintained by the town.
Edward Winslow was born in England and came from a long line of Winslows who were somewhat affluent in the area. He was well-educated and had a passion for the Separatist beliefs.
He first married in 1618 but lost her when she died during the first winter in Plymouth. He remarried quickly, which was normal during that time, and took in two children from a widow. He and his new bride went on to have five children, with only two surviving to adulthood.
He had siblings that eventually followed him to Plymouth a couple of years later to Plymouth.
The most well-known of his sons was Josiah Winslow, who would become Governor of Plymouth.
Winslow's descendants are fascinating and tell the tale of two very different paths.
Despite Edward's contempt for the English crown and that he fled from England for religious freedom, there is not one male descendant who remained loyal to America during the American Revolutionary War. At that time, many of those descendants had become wealthy through the crown and did not want to sacrifice their wealth. Some would actually flee the country that Edward helped found.
It would be through the daughters and granddaughters of Josiah that Winslow's descendants would serve the patriot cause. Surnames such as Warren and Watson would become well-known in the Massachusetts Bay Colony and throughout the war.
Family Tree Chart
Edward Winslow Sr. (1570 -1628)
Magdalene Ollyver (1566 - ???)
Elizabeth Barker (1593 - 1621) - Died during the First Winter
Susanna Jackson (1594 - 1675) - Widow to William White. She had two sons, Resolved and Peregrine, before her husband's death. She remarried Edward and had five more children.
Infant Winslow (1623)
Edward Winslow (1624 - 1627)
John Winslow (1627)
Josiah Winslow (1628 - 1680)
Elizabeth Winslow (1630 - 1698)
Josiah Winslow (1596 - 1597)
John Winslow (1597 - 1674)
Eleanor Winslow (1598 - 1672)
Kenelm Winslow (1599 - 1672)
Gilbert Winslow (1600 - 1631)
Elizabeth Winslow (1603 - 1605)
Magdalene Winslow (1604 - 1693)
Josiah Winslow (1606 - 1674)
Richard Winslow (1608 - 1659)