John Carver

BAPTISM:  12 March 1580/1 at Great Bealings, Suffolk
MARRIAGE:  Katherine (White) Legatt, before 1617, at Leiden, Holland.
CHILDREN: Unnamed child buried in 1617 in Leiden, Holland.
DEATH: April 1621 at Plymouth, apparently of heat-stroke.

UPDATE. In September 2019, Sue Allan, myself, and Simon Neal, announced the discovery of the probable English origin of John Carver at the Mayflower Genealogy conference of the New England Historical and Genealogical Society. These discoveries will be published in the next issue of the New England Historical and Genealogical Register. This page will be updated when the article is published, but the baptism date and place above has already been updated.

Surprisingly little is known about John Carver, especially given the fact  he was one of the most prominent members of the Pilgrims' church in Leiden. Perhaps John Carver was one of the original members of the Scrooby congregation.  Interpreting his appearance in Leiden records is complicated by the fact there appears to have been one or two other men with similar names also living in Leiden.

Carver married, perhaps around 1616, to Katherine (White) Legatt, the daughter of Alexander White of Sturton-le-Steeple, Nottinghamshire. Katherine's sister Bridget White married the Pilgrims' pastor John Robinson. John and Katherine Carver buried a child in Leiden in November 1617. John Carver is not known to have had any surviving children. However, Thomas Hutchinson's 1767 history of New England does state that Robert Carver of Marshfield was a grandson: but on what grounds the author makes this claim is unknown, and no supporting historical record has been found.

When the Pilgrims made the decision to begin moving their church to somewhere in America, they sent John Carver and Robert Cushman as their representatives to England to negotiate with the Virginia Company and organize the business. Carver came on the Mayflower, where he acted as governor on the ship for the voyage. After arrival, he was elected governor of the Colony, and remained in that capacity until his untimely death from an apparent sunstroke in April 1621. His wife Katherine died a few weeks later, supposedly of a "broken heart."