Duxbury in Plymouth County, Massachusetts — The American Northeast (New England)
Memorial Stones of John and Priscilla Alden
Gravestone of Captain Jonathan Alden
Capt. John Alden, Sr. (c. 1599 - September 12, 1687) was a crew member aboard the Mayflower and arrived in Plymouth Colony in the late-fall of 1620. It is believed that he was from the Alden family of Harwich, England, homeport of the Mayflower. Although not a Separatist, he was hired for the journey as the cooper (barrel maker). Rather than returning to England with the ship, however, he chose to remain in Plymouth Colony as a settler.
In 1628, John acquired by lot a 100-acre grant of land in Duxbury near the Bluefish River. He was a prominent leader in the Plymouth Colony and held several high positions of public service, including a term on the Governor's Council of Assistants and served as acting governor.
Priscilla Mullins (c. 1602 - c. 1685) was most likely born in Surrey, England, and was only 18 when she boarded the Mayflower in 1620, with her mother, father, and brother, for the voyage to the New World. Her parents and brother died in the first winter in the Plymouth Colony, leaving 19 year-old Pricilla as the only surviving member of her family in the New World.
Priscilla Mullins married John Alden
Captain Jonathan Alden (c. 1632-1697), a son of John and Priscilla, was the captain of the local militia and heir to the Aldens' Duxbury farm. At the time of his death, Puritan austerity had given way to more traditional burial observances. Jonathan was accompanied to the grave by his neighbors and fellow soldiers, and ceremonially "buried under arms". At Jonathan's funeral, Rev. Ichabod Wiswall of Duxbury gave the eulogy, which sermon is recognized as one of the earliest funeral sermons in the American colonies.
50 years after Jonathan Alden's death, when this burying ground had fallen into disrepair, Ezra Weston, IV, an Alden descendant, discovered Jonathan's headstone lying on its side in the overgrown grass. Weston brought it to his house, where it remained until 1880. It was then given to Lucia Alden Bradford, also a direct descendant of Jonathan Alden. She kept the stone in the parlor of her house. Prior to her death in 1893, she wrote a note, requesting that the headstone be returned to its proper place in the Old Burying Ground. Her nephew honored that wish and chose a spot on what seemed to be
While the real-life Pricilla left almost no trace in the historical record, the Pricilla of the mostly-fictional epic poem, The Courtship of Miles Standish by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, first published in 1858, became in the judgment of some one of the most important women in American history, praised for taking her destiny in her own hands. In the poem, Priscilla is portrayed as the unrequited love of newly-widowed Captain Myles Standish, the Plymouth Colony's military advisor. According to the poem, Standish asked his good friend John to propose to Priscilla on his behalf, but upon doing so, Priscilla is written to have asked: "Why don't you speak for yourself, John?". While the poem may be based more on a romantic version of family tradition than independent historic evidence (Longfellow was an Alden family descendent, and the poem embellished an Alden family anecdote), the romantic poem's popularity elevated John and Priscilla Alden and fellow Pilgrim Myles Standish, to American folk-heroes.
Representation of John and Priscilla Alden; from a postcard, c. 1940.
The note written by
Courtesy of the Duxbury Rural & Historical Society
Alden House Historic Site
Courtesy of The Alden Kindred of America, Inc.
Erected by Duxbury Community Preservation Act Fund.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Colonial Era. A significant historical date for this entry is May 12, 1622.
Location. 42° 1.501′ N, 70° 41.267′ W. Marker is in Duxbury, Massachusetts, in Plymouth County. Marker is at the intersection of Chestnut Street and Pilgrim By-Way, on the right when traveling west on Chestnut Street. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 88 Chestnut Street, Duxbury MA 02332, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. America's Oldest Maintained Cemetery (a few steps from this marker); Welcome to the Old Burial Ground, c. 1632-1787 (within shouting distance of this marker); Captain Myles Standish (within shouting distance of this marker); Site of First Church (within shouting distance of this marker); Site of Second Meeting House (within shouting distance of this marker); Welcome to the Old Burying Ground, c. 1632-1787 (within shouting distance of this marker); Site of Nook Gate (approx. half a mile away); The Beginning of the Bradford House (approx. 0.9 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Duxbury.
Credits. This page was last revised on July 19, 2021. It was originally submitted on November 13, 2020, by J. Makali Bruton of Querétaro, Mexico. This page has been viewed 172 times since then and 51 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on November 13, 2020, by J. Makali Bruton of Querétaro, Mexico.