The World of Grandpa Don

 Mayflower Ancestors
John Alden


Alden James Copeland was my father. His first name is a clue to our ancestry and connection to John Alden of Mayflower fame.  This page describes the connection of the family to the early Plymouth Massachusetts Colony and to the Mayflower voyage.

This is their story, as I know it.

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Introduction - David Copeland 1738 - 1779

David Copeland was born in Milton, MA on May 14, 1738 David is known to have served in the Continental Army in the Revolutionary War. He is the first of our Copeland line to be a citizen of the newly established United States of America. All his ancestors can be traced back to the earliest colonial times with one branch having claim to arriving with the original colonists on the Mayflower in 1620. This page is dedicated to those colonists, particularly the first to arrive on these Massachusetts shores.

I have provided an ancestor tree which includes all the family members discussed on this page and their relationship to David Copeland for your convenience. You may print it for future reference or you may leave it's window open and refer to it as you read about our first American colonists. By "our" I mean those in my particular family line. We will concentrate only on the earliest arrivals to these shores.


Click the button for the tree in pdf format
 David Copeland Ancestors

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Lawrence Copeland was born in England reportedly in 1599. He sailed to Plymouth Colony in America in about 1635 settling in the town of Braintree where on October 10, 1651 he married Lydia Townsend. Lydia's parents* had arrived in America just prior to her birth in 1630. They had two children while living in England and four in Massachusetts.

Lawrence and Lydia were the parents of five boys and three girls. Lydia died on January 8, 1688 and Lawrence on December 30, 1699 at "an advanced age". His Tombstone records his age as 100.

From" Records of the Town of Braintree, Massachusetts, 1640 to 1793" p. 695
Laurence Copeland a verry aged man born in the Reign of our Gracious
Soverreigne Queen Elizabeth of Blessed memory December ye 30th.1699

Lawrence and Lydia Copeland were great-grandparents of David Copeland through William Copeland (grandfather), and David Copeland (father).

The "OneWorldTree" and other sources list Lawrence's father and mother as Lawrence and Ruth Copeland who lived in Dolphin Leigh, Dolphinholme, Yorkshire, England. They had ten children between 1599 and 1627.

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John Bass was baptized at Saffron Walden, Essex, England on 18 September, 1630. He came to the American colony in Massachusetts with his parents Samuel and Anne (Savell) Bass. Samuel was born in 1600 in Safron, Walden, Essex, England and died at the age of 94 in Braintree,Norfolk,Massachusetts on Dec 30, 1694.. Anne was born on October 15, 1598 at Saffron Walden,, Essex, England and reportedly lived to the age of 95 having died in Braintree on September 5, 1693.

In February of 1657, in a ceremony officiated by Mr. (John) Auldine, John Bass married Ruth Alden, the daughter of John and Pricilla Alden (See below). Ruth was born about 1637 in either Plymouth or Duxbury, Ma and died October 8, 1674 at the age of 37. John and Ruth were the parents of seven children; John, Samuel, Ruth, Joseph, Hanna, Mary, and Sarah.

After Ruth's death, John married Hannah, the widow of Samuel Sturtevant in a marriage which took place on September 21, 1675. We have no substantiated information on her maiden name nor the children of  her earlier marriage. She became the step-mother to the young Bass children. John and Hannah had no children from this marriage.

John Bass was a wheelwright and farmer. He served as a Viewer of Fences in 1695 and a Titheing Man in 1701. He refused the office of Constable in 1710. He died at the age of 86 on September 12, 1716.

John's parents could qualify as our first American Bass ancestors but I have found no information about them other than that reported here.

Of further interest here is the fact that a daughter of John and Ruth, Sarah, married Ephriam Thayer. Jennie Thayer, married to Harvey Louis Copeland was my grandmother. We have not researched a possible connection.

The information for this ancestor was gleaned from the publication Mayflower Families Through Five Generations published by the General Society of Mayflower descendants, 2002. There are many internet entries for John Bass which list him as being born in Plymouth Colony which is obviously in correct.

John and Ruth Bass were great-grandparents of David Copeland through Mary (Bass) Copeland (grandmother), and David Copeland, his father.

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The Mayflower Connection

John Alden is believed to have been born in England about 1599. Speculation abounds but his parentage and place of birth is unknown. He joined the crew of the Mayflower at South-Hampton as a cooper (barrel maker), at about the age of 22. Upon his arrival at Plymouth, he decided to leave the crew and stay in the colony. It is possible that a teen aged girl, Pricilla Mullins traveling with her parents and brother, caught his eye.

John and Pricilla became what are the most famous of the Mayflower and Plymouth Colony personalities largely due to Henry Wordsworth Longfellow's fictionalized account in "The Courtship of Miles Standish. Longfellow, a descendant of the pair, embellished the already distorted story by a previous descendant, Rev. Timothy Alden. The fact is that John Alden married Pricilla possibly in 1623.

Pricilla was born in Dorking Co, Surry, England about 1604. Her parents, William and Alice Mullins sailed on the Mayflower in 1620 along with Pricilla, her brother John and a servant. Both parents, John and the servant died the first winter due to illness.

There were 11 children identified in John Alden's will but there may have been others who did not survive. John and Pricilla were the 2nd great grandparents of David Copeland through Ruth (Alden) Bass (great-grandmother),  Mary (Bass) Copeland (grandmother), and David Copeland his father.

Relationship Chart

For additional information about this family and others of Plymouth Colony visit the following web sites;

  John & Pricilla    John Alden    Mayflower Families

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John Bent was born at Penton-Grafton, England in November 30, 1596. His Parents were Robert Bent and Agnes Gosling.

Martha Blanchard was born in England about 1598 at Hampshire, England. and Baptized on 24 Sep 1598 at Wayhill, Hampshire. John and Martha married at Weyhill in about 1624.

While still in England their children Robert, William, Peter, Agnes, and John were born. The family sailed to the American colony on the ship Confidence. Their children Joseph and Martha were born here.

From E. C. Felton's article "The English ancestors of John Bent, of Sudbury":

"John Bent, the first of the surname in New England, settled in Sudbury, and shared in the first and second divisions of land there in 1639 and 1640. He is said to have been one of Maj. Simon Willard's troopers in the fruitless expedition against Ninigret in October, 1654. His name appears in 1656 as one of the petitioners to the General court for a grant of land which subsequently formed the town of Marlborough. he died in Sudbury, 27 September, 1762, and seems to have been a prosperous and public-spirited man. His descendants settled during the seventeenth century in Marlborough, Framingham and Milton. ..."

Also from from; "Francis Cooke, Early MA & New England Families":

"Peter, his oldest son lived upon the land granted to him by John his father. In King Philip's war his houses were burned and Peter's son, Zacheus was killed and scalped by the Indians. Peter then went back to England were he died."

John died on 27 Sep 1672 and Martha died on 15 May 1679 both in Sudbury, Middlesex, MA  John and Martha Bent were the 2nd great grandparents of David Copeland through Joseph Bent (great-grandfather),  Joseph Bent (grandfather), and Elizabeth (Bent) Copeland, his mother.

For mare details of this family see ...
New England Families    Pane - Joyce Genealogy

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Thomas Bourne  was born about 1582  in Tenderden, Kent, ,Eng. He died on 11 May 1664 in Marshfield,Plymouth,Ma. He was buried on 11 May 1664 in Marshfield,Plymouth,Ma. He married Elizabeth Rouse on 21 Dec 1607 in Matlock,,Derbyshire,England.

Elizabeth Rouse was born about 1585  in of Tenderden, Kent, England. She died on 18 Jul 1660 in Marshfield,Plymouth,Ma. She was buried on 18 Jul 1660 in Green Harbor, Marshfield, Plymouth, Ma.

From the web page of D. Pane-Joyce (see "Bourn Family" below)

"Thomas Bourne and his wife, Elizabeth, with several children, came to Plymouth sometime near 1630. He was a resident of Plymouth long enough to be well known there, and was so desirable a citizen that in 1637 the Court of Plymouth Colony granted him and others called 'special persons,' 'that would promise to live at Plymouth on some good farms, and so tie the lands of Plymouth as farms for the same; and these they might keep their cattle, tilling by some servants,' and reatin their dewllings in Plymouth.
    "Dec. 4, 1637, a grant of 100 acres was given to Thomas Bourne, and ti was the second grant recorded of land in Marshfield. The same day 100 acres was granted to Josiah Winslow. The town was incorporated in 1640, and the same year Thomas Bourne was one of tow that were chosen deputies to represent the town in the October Genal Court, and he was elected three times afterward.
    "Under date of Aug., 1645, the following entry is found: 'On a motion being made for one to teach school, we whose names are undersigned, are willing to pay yearly besides paying for our children; we shall send the following sums.' Among others we find the name of Thomas Bourne, who subscribed ten shillings. Thus early, Thomas Bourne, his son, John, and others, took measures to establish a public school. We have one more record of this Thomas, called by one writer the 'eldest of the Marshfield settlers and a patriarch of its Eden"

There were reported to be about nine children of Thomas and Elizabeth. The genealogy web pages abound with family trees with conflicting information and dates of birth and death, some of which are obviously in error. However, it is obvious that their descendants are many and diverse with several prominent names among them.

 Thomas and Elizabeth were 3rd great grandparents of David Copeland through Thomas Bourne, (2nd great-grandfather), Elizabeth (Bourne) Bent, (great-grandmother),  Joseph Bent (grandfather), and Elizabeth (Bent) Copeland, his mother.

For mare information:
Bourne Family

Also,  about John Bourne:
Inventory  John Bourne

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Thomas Besbedge was born in 1590 at Biddenden, Kent, England and was baptized on March 3rd of that year. On  January 1, 1619 Thomas married Anne Baseden, at Biddenden, Kent, Eng. They had three daughters, Mary in about 1620, Sarah in about 1621, and Alice in about 1624. Sarah died at only seven years of age in 1628. Anne died at Kent in Apr 1634.

Obviously well-to-do, he sailed on the Hercules in 1635 with his two daughters, Mary and Alice, and seven servants.

From the web page of D. Pane-Joyce (see "Besbedge Family" below)

"Thomas Bisbedge settled first in Cambridge, MA, then in Scituate. He was deacon of the First Church of Scituate that he joined 30 Apr 1637, but removed to Duxbury, probably for the religious quarrels at Scituate. He was rep. for Duxbury 1643. He removed again to Sudbury. Freeman 7 Feb 1637."

He was made a freeman by the general court of Plymouth Colony 2 Jan 1638. In Dec 1638 he was among a group of eight with ties to Scituate who were to be granted land at Seipican (now Rochester, MA). The people of Scituate decided against that area in favor of Barnstable where a large number of church members moved in 1639 with their Minister John Lothrop. On 1 Mar 1642 Thomas Besbeech of Duxbury was appointed to sit on the grand jury in Plymouth [Plym. Col. Rec., 2:34]. He apparently neglected his civil duties, for he was fined five shillings on 7 Jun1642 for "departing the Court without leave, being warned to serve on the grand inquest" [Plym. Col. Rec., 2:42]. Thomas remained in Duxbury and was elected a deputy to the general court from that town on 6 Jun 1643 [Plym. Col. Rec., 2:57]. On 13 Oct 1664 he sold his land in Scituate and removed to Marshfield, MA (he may have lived there before this date, for he is listed a freeman of Marshfield in 1658 [Plym. Col. Rec., 8:201]). He later resided in Sudbury, MA where he d. Mar. 9, 1674.

Thomas lived with the family of Mary, his daughter, for a number of years in Sudbury"

Thomas and Anne Bisbedge were 3rd great grandparents of David Copeland through Alice (Bisbedge) Bourne, (2nd great grandmother), Elizabeth (Bourne) Bent (great-grandmother),  Joseph Bent (grandfather), and Elizabeth (Bent) Copeland. his mother.

For more information: The Bisbedge Family

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John Fuller was born on December 14, 1611 in Toperton, Norfolk, England. There are many entries on internet genealogy pages for him and as usual many are conflicting and in obvious error. However, it seems that he married three times. His first Marriage in England was to Elizabeth Farrington.. He may have had a son, John with her before she died, date unknown.

Elizabeth Farrington was born about 14 Jun 1623in Bishop Stortford, Hertford, England.

John sailed to the American colonies where he and Elizabeth Farrington were married  about 1641 in Newton, Middlesex, Mass. They reportedly were the parents of seven additional children. She died on August  23, 1723. In 1682 at Cambridge, Ma,  John remarried, this time to Elizabeth Cole.

This Fuller family is not the same as the branch origination with Mayflower passenger Edward Fuller, his wife and son Samuel. We found no credible references to this family other than a number of family trees from which the above information was gleaned.

John and Rachel Fuller were 2nd great grandparents of David Copeland through Jonathan Fuller (great grandfather), Rachel (Fuller) Bent (grandmother), and Elizabeth (Bent) Copeland, his mother.

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Thomas Trowbridge was born February 8, 1598 in Taunton, Somerset, England. He was the son of John and Agnes (Prowse) Trowbridge.

Elizabeth Marshall was born in St Mary Arches, Exeter, Devon, England on March 24, 1603, the daughter of John and Alice (Bevys) Marshall.

The prominent Trowbridge and Marshall families were united when Thomas and Alice were married on March 26, 1627. Four children; Elizabeth, John, Thomas, and William were born to them between 1627 and 1633. The family sailed to the New England colonies in about 1636 leaving behind son John, age 7,  in the care of his grandfather. It is believed that Thomas intended to stay several years to establish a trading company and then return with his family to his home in England.

In 1636 another son, James, was born at Dorchester, Massachusetts. They soon moved on to New Haven, Connecticut, where in 1641 Elizabeth died. At that point Thomas returned to England to settle his wife's estate, leaving the children in the care of a servant. He intended to return to the colonies but the British Civil War prevented him from doing so. He served as a Captain in the Parliamentary Army in the resistance to King Charles I. Thomas served directly under the Roundhead leader, Robert Blake. Thomas "probably remained in England to enjoy the more liberal regime of Cromwell's Commonwealth. By the time the restoration of Charles II took place in 1660 he would have been at least 60 years of age and probably too old to remove himself to America."  He died  Feb 7, 1672 at his birthplace in Taunton, Somerset, England.

According to The Extended Family of Geoffrey and Heidi (Messick) Trowbridge web site:

Thomas is a direct descendant of Charlemagne The Great through his mother's line. Thomas's own descendants include Susan B. Anthony, Clara Barton, Ernest Hemmingway, and US President Rutherford B. Hayes.

Thomas and Elizabeth Trowbridge were 3rd great grandparents of David Copeland through (Deacon) James Trowbridge (2nd great grandfather), Mindwell (Trowbridge) Fuller (great-grandmother), Rachel (Fuller) Bent (grandmother) and Elizabeth (Bent) Copeland his mother.  

For additional information and references ...

Tudor Tavern
Geoffrey & Heidi
English Civil Wars

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Humphrey Atherton was baptized in Winwick, Lancashire, England, on Friday, September 4, 1607. His parents were Edmond and Mary Atherton.

Margaret (Mary) Wales was born in Winwick about 1610.

The two were married at Preston, Lancashire, England in 1628 and had three daughters; Elizebeth, Catherine and Isabele before sailing to America on the ship "James," under the command of Capt. Taylor, arriving Aug. 7, 1635. They settled in Gorchester, Connecticut where. they were the parents of nine additional children; Consider, Margaret, Mary, Best (Rest), Increase, Thankful, Hope, Watching, and Patience.

Humphrey was prominently involved in the community helping to establish and manage the first Public Schools. He helped raise funds to build the town meeting hall. According to his son, the Reverend Hope Atherton, ...

"He had decided taste for military affairs, organized the first training band in Dorchester in 1664, was early a member of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company, was its captain 1650 to 1658, commanded the Suffolk regiment with title of major general, was chief military officer in New England, many years Selectman and Town Treasurer, deputy to General Courts 16381641, in 1659 was Speaker, and had great experience and skill in treatment of the Indians"

"Gen. Humphrey Atherton had a grant of 500 acres at Nonotucke, beyond Springfield, Mary 26, 1658 given to him by the General Court in recognition of his public service, Nonotucke being the Indian name for the region about Hadley and Hatfield. This grant interfered with other grants previously made, and so, in Nov. 1659, the Court granted an additional 200 acres (700 in all) which were relocated at Waranoke, now Westfield. The estate of Gen. Humphrey Atherton after his death, included in the inventory a "Farme of seven hundred acres at Waronoco."

On  Sept. 16, 1661 after reviewing his troops, he was thrown from his horse in a collision with a cow and died.  Epitaph on his tombstone at Dorchester:

Here lyes our Captaine, & Major of Suffolk was withall;
A Godly Magistrate was he, and Major Generall,
Two troops of Hors with him heare came, such worth his love did crave;
Ten companyes of Foot, also mourning, marcht to his grave.
Let all that Read be sure to keep the Faith as he as don,
With Christ he lives now Crowned, his name was Humpry Atherton

According to Rev. Hope Atherton, "Robert de Atherton lived in the time of King John 11991216. From this we trace down through the centuries to Humphrey Atherton."

Margret survived her husband by 11 years, dying August 17, 1672 at Dorchester, Suffolk, Massachusetts.

According to an article in Boston Transcript By SVSueK ;

He was deputy, 1638 and eight years thereafter; in 1653, being Speaker of the House. He was selectman of Dorchester for twelve years between 1638 and 1660, and was town treasurer; from 1645 to 1661, he was assistant or councillor; as magistrte his valued services are indicated by the wide range of public duties which fell to his lot.
But he is perhaps best known for his military service and his work with the Indians. In swift succession he was lieutenant, 1645; member of the Council of War, 1645; captain, 1646; captain of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company, 1650-58; major of the Massachusetts forces, 1652; commanded the expedition against the Narragansetts, 1650; and major general, 1661, the highest military office in the colony. In 1653 he was appointed Superintendent of Indian Affairs. At Dorchester he was one of the first members of a school committee in America.


For more information and stories of this interesting ancestor, see the web site of Walter Gilbert:

 Walter Gilbert

Humphrey and Margaret (Mary) Atherton were 3rd great grandparents of David Copeland through Margaret (Atherton) Trowbridge (2nd great grandmother), Mindwell (Trowbridge) Fuller (great-grandmother), Rachel (Fuller) Bent (grandmother) and Elizabeth (Bent) Copeland, his mother. 

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Data Notes

The Family line from Lawrence Copeland as well as from John Alden to the present was provided by my sister Marilyn Copeland and has been thoroughly researched and authenticated. The rest of the lineage was found using internet sources and not independent research or documentation. Where conflicting data was encountered, obvious errors were not used and the most logical information selected.

With apologies to serious genealogists, I have not used standard genealogical nomenclature but present the information as a narrative. This is done to accommodate the lay person and make it more interesting to my relatives and friends, particularly my grandchildren and the children of my relatives.

I welcome corrections, additions and comments. I may  be contacted using the link at the bottom of the page.

Grandpa Don Plefka
aka Harry Ronald Cecora


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My Family

The Copeland - Mayflower Connection

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