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Peregrine: the Youngest of the Mayflower Pilgrims

Peregrine: the Youngest of the Mayflower Pilgrims

Nearly 400 years ago, 102 brave souls packed onto a small 100-foot ship called the Mayflower and set sail for the New World, spending two long, miserable and grueling months crossing the rough seas of the Atlantic Ocean.

A peek at the ship's manifest reveals 74 men and 28 women bearing the usual names: John and Mary were the winners, followed by William, Edward, Richard, Elizabeth, Dorothy and Alice. With a smattering of Puritanical "virtue" names like Constance, Love, Humility and Remember.

One name that does not appear on the passenger list of the Mayflower is Peregrine. This little dude rode the high seas "in-utero" and wasn't actually named until the ship made port, when his mother gave birth to him on-board, November 20, 1620, whilst anchored at Provincetown Harbor. 

Come again? Peregrine? 

Peregrine was the name chosen for the first baby born among the Pilgrims. Apropos, Peregrine is the English form of the Late Latin Peregrinus meaning, quite literally, “foreigner, traveler, one from abroad,” from the Latin elements per- “away, beyond” and ager “country, land.”  In fact, it was the Mayflower Puritans who first called themselves "pilgrims," from a phrase in the Bible: “...they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” (Hebrew 11:13). Peregrine became the littlest pilgrim borne among the earliest of American colonists.

So what ever happened to the Pilgrim's little namesake? Apparently he lived to the ripe old age of 83 (that's a helluva ride for the 17th century). His (rather curious) obituary reads:

"Capt. Peregrine White of this Town, Aged Eighty three years, and Eight Months; died the 20th Instant. He was vigorous and of a comely aspect to the last; Was the Son of Mr. William White and Susanna his Wife; born on board the Mayflower... Was the First Englishman born in New England. Altho' he was in the former part of his Life extravagant; yet was much Reform'd in his last years; and died hopefully."

Vigorous and comely aspect to the last suggests that our man Peregrine was a strong and handsome man, both in his youth and old age.

Altho' he was in the former part of his Life extravagant; - after a little digging we discovered that Peregrine was a naughty pilgrim; he and his wife Sarah were both fined for "fornicating" before they were married.

Yet was much Reform'd in his last years; and died hopefully is a reference to him not joining the Church until the age of 78, so his salvation, at best, was considered hopeful

 

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