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James Chilton was one of the more unfortunate of the Pilgrim Fathers. Born in the middle of the sixteenth century, he was thought to have been about sixty-four and one of the oldest of the party when the Mayflower sailed. A former resident of Canterbury he was part of the Pilgrim Separatist community in Leiden before journeying to Plymouth with his wife, Susanna, and daughter, Mary.

Sadly James died in Cape Cod harbour, on 8 December 1620 before work began on the new community, but after he had signed the Mayflower Compact. His wife died the following spring in the epidemic that took hold among the Pilgrims. Their teenage daughter, Mary, who had been the first female of the party to set foot on Plymouth Rock, fared better. She married John Winslow, brother of Governor Edward Winslow and together they had nine children. Mary died many years later, in 1679, in Boston, New England. Her sister, Isabella, incidentally, had long since sailed out to America herself, on a later ship.