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
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.
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.”
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.
Famous Mayflower Descendants of William and Mary Brewster
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.
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.
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.
Famous Mayflower Descendants of William Bradford
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.
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.
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.
To learn more about the Mayflower passengers behind these famous names, check out the following articles!
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