Christopher Martin

BIRTH:  Perhaps around 1580, from Great Burstead, Billericay, co. Essex, England.
MARRIAGE:  Mary Prower, widow, on 26 February 1606/7 at Great Burstead, Billericay, co. Essex, England.
CHILDREN:  Nathaniel.
DEATH:  8 January 1620/1, onboard the Mayflower anchored off Plymouth.

Christopher Martin came from Great Burstead, Billericay, where he married the widow Mrs. Mary Prower on 26 February 1606/7.  They had one son, Nathaniel, baptized there on 26 February 1609/10, but there is no further record of this child and he did not come on the Mayflower, so he probably died young.  In 1611, Christopher Martin was appointed churchwarden, but on Easter 1612, he refused to kneel at communion--an indication that he was abstaining from the rituals of the Church of England--a common Puritan infraction.  Later in 1612, the manorial court records show he owned three properties in Great Burstead, where he was a merchant.  He and stepson Solomon Prower had another run-in with religious authorities in 1619, when they refused to participate in the recital of phrases from the Book of Common Prayer during Confirmation.

Christopher Martin sold off his landholdings in Great Burstead between 1617 and 1620, and purchased shares in the Pilgrims' joint-stock company, where he was appointed as a Purchasing agent and elected governor of the Speedwell, the ship that was to accompany the Mayflower.  He did not endear himself well to the Separatists, however.  Robert Cushman, one of the Pilgrim's business leaders, reported:

Near £700 hath been bestowed at Hampton, upon what I know not, Mr. Martin saith he neither can, nor will give any account of it; and if he be called upon for accounts, he crieth out of unthankfulness for his pains and care, that we are suspicious of him, and flings away, ... [H]e ... so insulteth over our poor people, with such scorn and contempt, as if they were not good enough to wipe his shoes. It would break your heart to see his dealing, and the mourning of our people; they complain to me, and alas! I can do nothing for them. If I speak to him, he flies in my face as mutinous, and saith no complaints shall be heard or received but by himself, and saith they are froward and waspish, discontented people, and I do ill to hear them. There are others that would lose all they have put in, or make satisfaction for what they have had, that they might depart; but he will not hear them, nor suffer them to go ashore, lest they should run away. The sailors are so offended at his ignorant boldness in meddling and controlling in things he knows not what belongs to, as that some threaten to mischief him . . .

Christopher Martin, his wife Mary, and step-son Solomon, all died the first winter at Plymouth.

Christopher Martin exploring on Cape Cod in December 1621, as portrayed on the History Channel's "Desperate Crossing."  Promotional image courtesy of Lone Wolf Documentary Group.