9 Mayflower Descendants as Famous as Their Pilgrim Ancestors

September 10, 2020  - by 
clint eastwood, famous mayflower descendant

The Mayflower set sail for America in 1620 with 102 passengers. Though only 53 passengers lived to see the following spring, an estimated 35 million people worldwide are descendants of this small but hardy group. With that many descendants, it’s no surprise that you might recognize a few of them—you might even be one!

Here’s a short list of famous Mayflower descendants and the mark they, like their pilgrim ancestors, have made on American history.

Famous Mayflower Descendants of John Alden and Priscilla Mullins

John Adams

The second president of the United States descended from John Alden and Priscilla Mullins through their son William Mullins, who was also a Mayflower passenger. Adams isn’t the only president to descend from a Mayflower passenger—George W. Bush, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Ulysses S. Grant can also trace their ancestry to one or more Mayflower passengers.

John Adams, mayflower descendant

Marilyn Monroe

Born in 1926 as Norma Jeane Mortenson, this famous Mayflower descendant later changed her name to Marilyn Monroe and became one of the most famous American actresses in history. She is even included in the Smithsonian’s list of “100 Most Significant Americans of All Time.”

Marilyn Monroe

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is one of the most famous of American poets. His legacy includes the American classic “Paul Revere’s Ride.” Longfellow also wrote the long poem The Courtship of Miles Standish about the love triangle between three Mayflower passengers—Miles Standish and Longfellow’s ancestors John Alden and Priscilla Mullins.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Famous Mayflower Descendants of William and Mary Brewster

Julia Child

Julia Child left her own mark on United States history with her famous cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking, which famously brought French cuisine to the American dinner table. 

Julia Child

Bing Crosby

The legacy of Harry Lillis “Bing” Crosby includes his famous role in the musical film White Christmas and his innovative singing style, which later influenced Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, and other celebrated American musicians.

Bing Crosby

Katharine Hepburn

The Brewsters’ descendants include yet another recognizable American actress, Katharine Hepburn. Hepburn has been listed in several publications, including the Encyclopedia Britannica, as one of the most influential women in history.

Katherine Hepburn

Famous Mayflower Descendants of William Bradford

George Eastman

We have William Bradford, in part, to thank for “selfies.” After all, his descendant George Eastman founded the Eastman Kodak Company, which popularized the everyday use of cameras. Before his first camera, the Kodak, most cameras were used only professionally.

George Eastman

Clint Eastwood

It’s almost no surprise that Clint Eastwood is a descendant of William Bradford, one of the most famous of Mayflower passengers. Eastwood, an iconic American figure in his own right, is an actor most known for his roles in Western films.

Clint Eastwood, famous mayflower descendant

Noah Webster

That’s right—the “Father of American Scholarship and Education,” Noah Webster, is a Mayflower descendant! If the name sounds familiar, it’s because Noah Webster is the Webster of the Merriam-Webster dictionary, which arose out of a dictionary he published.

Noah Webster

To learn more about the Mayflower passengers behind these famous names, check out the following articles!

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  1. Since John Adams and George W Bush are listed as presidents descending from Mayflower passengers, shouldn’t George H W Bush and John Quincy Adams also be included in the list?

      1. Barbara Bush has a ton of famous or prominent relatives through Sarah Howell and Moses Coe, and also through her father’s branches. Many of the people listed in this article are related to Barbara through this line. GW and his siblings are my 5th cousins.

  2. John Alden and Priscilla Mullins didn’t have a son named William Mullins. William Mullins was Priscilla’s father.

    1. I noticed that too John Alden so hopefully they will make the correction. Found another cousin! Thanks John

  3. The Pilgrims came from Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, England and may very well have been descents of my ancestors.

  4. I have a long fascination with my ancestry and have determined that Daniel Boone is a relative on my Paternal Grandmother’s side.

  5. You said that I was a descendant of John Cooke. Please notify me of what I should do to find the ancestors in between. Thank you very much for this informtion already given.

    1. I have found my links through find a grave to my Bradford line. All but one and that one was easy enough to fill in using parents, siblings and children. Now on to my Warren side.

  6. It is estimated that there are 3 million people currently alive who are descendants of William Brewster. One is Fanny Crosby who is the author of many hymns. Another well known descendant is Ashley Judd. Wikipedia lists hundreds of people who are descendants of William Brewster.

  7. I have been exploring the genealogy of a friend whose family had a vague claim of descent from a Mayflower passenger. I started digging in and, so far, have found that my friend is a direct descendant of eleven of the 102 Mayflower passengers. Is this a common phenomenon or does she have something unusual here?

    1. Only about 1 in 30 people have any direct Mayflower ancestors, so 11 is uncommon. I have around 30 Mayflower direct ancestors. Some branches of my family didn’t move very much once they landed on Plymouth Rock and they kept inter-married for 400 years. I’m not sure that is something to be proud of.