James Carver

James CARVER (1527 – c. 1568) was Alex’s 13th Great Grandfather;  one of 32,768 in this generation of the Miner line.

James Carver was born in 1527 in Doncaster, West Riding Yorkshire, England. He married Catherine [__?__].  James died after 1568  in Doncaster, England

Children of  James and Catherine:

Name Born Married Departed
1. Isaac CARVER 1562
Doncaster, Yorkshire, England
Catherine [__?__] 1598
Leyden, Holland
2. John Carver (Wikipedia) 9 Sep 1565
Doncaster, Yorkshire, England
Catherine White
c. 1600
5 Apr 1621
Plymouth, Mass
3. William Carver bapt.
27 Mar 1567
Doncaster, Yorkshire, England

There is no documentary proof that James Carver and Catherine [__?__] were the parents of Isaac and John Carver, the first governor of the Plymouth Colony, but there is strong circumstantial evidence.

James Carver was a yeoman of Doncaster, Yorkshire. The parish where John Carver was baptized was only seven miles from Austerfield which is next to Bentley where the early English homes of the Brewster and Bradford families were located. It is possible that the father’s name was Robert, not James.

Charles Edward Banks in English Ancestry and Homes of the Pilgrim Fathers identified John Carver as the son of Robert Carver and gives his baptism at Duncaster, County York , on 9 Sep 1565. The NEHGR, Vol. 67, p. 382 (October 1913) has two baptismal records which bear out this statement: “1564 Sept. 9 John, s. of Robert Caruer” and “1567 March 27 Wilim s. of Robte Caruer.” These entries were copied from the parish register of Duncaster, County York and were found in a manuscript volume in the Library of the New England Historic Genealogical Society.

There were then three Carvers born about the same period in Doncaster Parish:
(The Carver Family of New England, Clifford Nickels Carver, 1935)

 – Isaac Carver of Boston, Lincolnshire, the father of Robert from whom most American Carvers descend. Died at Leyden, Holland.

– John Carve(u)r  Bpt. 9 Sept 1564/65, Doncaster, Yorkshire; D [died] 5 Apr 1621, Plymouth Colony; M [married] MRS. CATHERINE (WHITE) LEGGATT ca 1600 – (one child, born in Holland, was buried there)

–   Wilim Car(v)uer Bpt. 27 March 1567, Doncaster Parish Register.

In the Genealogical and Family History of the State of Maine, compiled by Little, the statement is made that Isaac Carver, father of Robert and brother of John died at Leyden which leads one to believe he too had followed his brother there.”


1. Isaac CARVER (See his page)

2. John Carver

John Carver was a Pilgrim leader. He was the first governor of Plymouth Colony and his is the first signature on the Mayflower Compact.

John’s wife Catherine White was born xx.  Her parents were Alexander White of Sturton-leSteeple, on the River Trent, of North Nottinghamshire and [__?__]. She was a widow of George Leggatt.  Catherine died shortly after her husband in 1621, Bradford says “of a broken heart.”

He and hs wife Catherine were members of the Leiden Separatist community and first definitively appear in the records of LeIden in 1615. Apart from the name of Catherine, his wife’s identity is not certain. They had no surviving children, although they may have buried two infants in Leiden, one in 1609 and one in 1617.

Carver was a wealthy London merchant.  The first definitive record of the Carver’s involvement in the Leiden Separatist community appears in 1616, where he served as deacon of the church.  He was very much welcome in the group because of his willingness to bear the financial expenses. He donated much of his personal estate to the Pilgrim congregation and to the Mayflower voyage.

In 1617, he became the agent for the Pilgrims in securing a charter and financial support for the establishment of a colony in America.   Carver chartered the Mayflower and was chosen as governor of the ship. With 101 other colonists, he set sail from Plymouth, England, in September 1620.

He traveled with his wife, Catherine, and with one servant Desire Minter, and Jasper More, a child of seven years of age.   Bradford says “Desire Minter returned to her friend and proved not very well and died in England.”  No known husband or children.  Jasper’s three brothers and sisters were given into the care of other senior members of the company. Until relatively recently the children were thought to be orphans or foundlings, but, in the 1990’s, it was conclusively shown that they were sent to America because they were illegitimate, and the source of great controversy in England.  It is not known whether Carver knew anything about Jasper’s’s background. Jasper died on the Mayflower, at Cape Cod Harbor, 16 Dec 1620.


John Carver was the first to sign the Mayflower Compact

Carver signed the Mayflower Compact on November 11, 1620, and on the same day was elected governor of the colony. He was regarded as “a gentleman of singular piety.”  In March 1621, Carver established a peace treaty with Chief Massasoit of theWampanoag tribe. This was one of America’s most successful Indian treaties, lasting for over half a century.

Carver died suddenly one month later after falling ill while working in the fields, probably of a stroke.   William Bradford was named his successor.

Time Line


22 May 1615 – Roger Chandler, sayworker, bachelor from Colchester in England, accompanied by Roger Wilson his acquaintance with Isabel Chilton, spinster, from Canterbury in England, accompanied by Sarah Minther and  [Cathelyna Kerver] Catherine Carver, her acquaintance.

12 May 1616 – Henry Wilson, pumpmaker, bachelor, (from) Yarmouth in England, accompanied by William Jepson and John Carver [Jan Kerver}, his acquaintances with Elisabeth Nicholas, spinster, also from Yarmouth in England, accompanied by Sarah Minther and Dorothy Bradford, her acquaintances.

3 Mar  1617 – John Michaelson (Jennings), merchant, from Essex in England, widower of Elisabeth Pettinger, accompanied by John Carver [Jan Kerver] his acquaintance, dwells at the clothier’s near Douver in Marendorp, with Rose Lile, spinster, from Yarmouth in England, accompanied by Rose Jepson, her acquaintance.

19 May  1617 – Robert Cushman, woolcomber, from Canterbury in England, widower of Sarah Cushman, dwelling in an alley in the Nonnensteech, accompanied by John Keble, his acquaintance, with Mary Singleton, from Sandwich in England, widow of Thomas Singleton, accompanied by Catherine Carver [Cathelyne Kerver], her acquaintance.

14 July  1618 – Roger Symonson, mason, bachelor, from Sarum in England, dwelling at Amsterdam, accompanied by Daniel Fairfield, his future brother-in-law and John Carver, his acquaintance, with Sarah Minther, from Norwich in England, widow of William Minther, dwelling at leyden, accompanied by Thomas Willet, her father and Alice Willet, her mother.”

12 Nov 1617 – From a letter written by Sir Edwin Sandys to Mr. John Robinson and Mr. William Brewster

“The agents of your congregation, Robert CUSHMAN and John CARVER, have been in communication with divers select gentlemen of His Majesty’s Council for Virginia; and by the writing of seven Articles subscribed with your names, have given them that good degree of satisfaction, which hath carried them on with a resolution to set forward your desire in the best sort that may be, for your own and the public good. Divers particulars whereof we leave to their faithful report; having carried themselves here with good discretion, as is both to their own and their credit from when they came. And whereas being to treat for a multitude of people, they have requested further time to confer with them that are to be interested in this action, about the several particularities which in the prosecution thereof will fall out considerable, it hath very willingly assented to. And so they do not return unto you.”

15 Dec 1617 – Robinson and Brewster responded:

“We have with the best speed and consideration withal that we could, set down our requests in writing, subscribed as you willed, with the hands of the greatest part of our congregation, and have sent the same unto the Council by our agent and a deacon of our church, John Carver, unto whom we have also requested a gentleman of our company to adjoin himself. To the care and discretion of which two we do refer the prosecuting of the business.”

“…one Thomas Weston, a merchant of London, came to Leyden about the same time (who was well acquainted with some of them and a furtherer of them in their former proceedings), having much conference with Mr. Robinson and others of the chief of men, persuaded them to go on (as it seems) and not to meddle with the Dutch or too much to depend on the Virginia Company. For if that failed, if they came to resolution, he and such merchants as were his friends, together with their own means, would set them forth; and they should make ready and neither fear want of shipping nor money; for what they wanted should be provided. And, not so much for himself as for the satisfying of such friends as he should procure to adventure in this business, they were to draw such articles of agreement and make sure propositions as might the better induce his friends to venture. Upon which, after the former conclusion, articles were drawn and agreed unto and were shown unto him and approved by him. And afterwards by their messenger (Mr. John Carver) sent into England who, together with Robert Cushman, were to receive the moneys and make provision both for shipping and other things for the voyage; with this charge, not to exceed their commission but to proceed according to the former articles.”
(William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647)

“Wherupon two were Chosen [Robert Cushman and John Carver] and sent into England att the Charge of the Rest [to] sollissit this matter whoe found the Verginnia Companie very desirous to have them goe thither, and willing to Graunt them a Pattent with as ample privilidges as they had or could Graint to any, and to Give them the best furtherance they C[ould]…

12 Nov 1617 London – “A Coppy of a letter from Sir Edwin Sands directed to mr John Robinson and mr William BREWSTER.

“After my harty sallutations, the agents of youer Congregation Robert Cushman and John Carver have bin in Comunication with divers Celect Gentlemen of his Ma’ties Councell for Verginnia, and by the writing of seven articles with youer Names have Given them that Good degree of Satisffaction; which hath Carryed them on with a Resolution to sett forward youer desire in the best sort that may be for youer own and the public Good divers p’rticulars wherof wee leave to theire faithful Report; having Carryed themselves heer with that Good descretion as is both to theire owne and their Creditt from whence they Came; and whereas being to treat for a Multitude of people they have Requested further time to Confer with them, that are to be Interrested in this action about the severall p’rticulars which is in the prosecution therof will fall out Considerable; It hath bin very willingly assented unto, and soe they doe Now Returne unto you…

“Theire Answare was as followeth…

“… we have with the best speed and Consideration withall; that wee Could sett down our Requests in writing subscribed (as you willed) with the Greatest p’rte of our Congregtion and have sent the same unto the Counsell by our agent A deacon of our Church John Carver unto whom wee have alsoe Requested a Gentleman of our Companie to adjoyne himself, to the Care and descretion of which two wee doe Refer the prosecuting of the busines”

“But now another difficulty arose, for Mr. Weston and some other that were for this course, either for their better advantage or rather for the drawing on of others, as they pretended, would have some of those conditions altered that were first agreed on at Leyden. To which the two agents sent from Leyden or at least one of them who is most charged with it) did consent, seeing else that all was like to be dashed and the opportunity lost, and that they which had put off their estates and paid in their moneys were in hazard to be undone. They presumed to conclude with the merchants on those terms, in some things contrary to their order and commission and without giving them notice of the same; yea, it was concealed lest it should make any further delay. Which was the cause afterward of much trouble and contention…”

“… there fell out a difference among those three that received the moneys, and made the provisions in England, for besides these two formerly mentioned sent from Leyden for this end, viz, Mr. Carver and Robert Cushman, there was one chosen in England to be joined with them to make the provisions for the voyage…”

10 Jun 1620 Difficulties continued. Robert Cushman referred to them in this letter sent to John Carver:

“Loving Friend, I have received from you some letters, full of affection and complaints, and what it is you would have of me I know not; for your crying out ‘Negligence, negligence, negligence,” I marvel why so negligent a man was used in this business. Yet know you that all I have power to do here shall not be one hour behind, I warrant you. You have reference to Mr. Weston to help us with money … to speak the truth, there is fallen already amongst us a flat schism, and we are readier to go to dispute than to set forward a voyage…

“Think the best of all and bear patience what is wanting, and the Lord guide us all.”
William Bradford commented “I have been the larger in these things, and so shall crave leave in some like passages following (though in other things I shall labor to be more contract) that their children may see with what difficulties their fathers wrestled in going through these things in their first beginnings; and how God brought them along, notwithstanding all their weaknesses and infirmities.”

Disputes continued even after the Pilgrims had left Leiden :

“Thus hoisting sail [about 22 July 1620], with a prosperous wind they came I short time to Southampton, where they found the bigger ship come from London, lying ready with all the rest of their company. After a joyful welcome and mutual congratulations, with other friendly entertainments, they feel to parley about their business, how to dispatch with the best expedition; as also with their agents about the alteration of the conditions. Mr. Carver pleaded he was employed here at Hampton, and knew not well what the other had done at London; Mr. Cushman answered he had done nothing but what he was urged to, partly by the grounds of equity and more especially by necessity, otherwise all had been dashed and many undone. And in the beginning he acquainted his fellow agents herewith, who consented unto him and left it to him to execute, and to receive the money at London and send it down to them at Hampton, where they made the provisions.” (William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647,)

27 Jul 1620 – Rev. John Robinson, pastor of the Leiden congregation who was not to accompany the small group making the voyage to America in the Mayflower, wrote a farewell letter to John Carver, reproduced here in its entirety:

My dear brother, I received enclosed in your last letter the note of information, which I shall carefully keep and make use of as there shall be occasion. I have a true feeling of your perplexity of mind and toil of body, but I hope that you who have always been able to plentifully to administer comfort unto others in their trials, are so well furnished for yourself, as that far greater difficulties than you have yet undergone (though I conceive them to have been great enough) cannot oppress you; though they press you, as the Apostle speaks. the spirit of a man (sustained by the Spirit of God) will sustain his infirmity; I doubt not so will yours. And the better much when you shall enjoy the presence and help of so many godly and wise brethren, for the bearing of part of your burthen, who also will not admit into their hearts the least thought of suspicion of any the least negligence, at least presumption, to have been in you, whatsoever they think in others.

“Now what shall I say or write unto you and your good wife my loving sister? Even only this: I desire, and always shall, unto you from the Lord, as unto my own soul. And assure yourself that my heart is with you, and I will not forslow my bodily coming at the first opportunity. I have written a large letter to the whole, and am sorry I shall not rather speak than write to them; and the more, considering the want of a preacher, which I shall also make some spur to my hastening after you. I do ever commend my best affection unto you, which if I thought you made any doubt of, I would express in more and the same more ample and full words.

“And the Lord in whom you trust and whom you serve ever in this business and journey, guide you with His hand, protect you with His wing, and show you and us His salvation in the end, and bring us in the meanwhile together in the place desired, if such be His good will, for His Christ’s sake. Amen.”
(William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647)

6 Jan 1621 – Master Martin was very sick, and, to our judgment, no hope of life. So Master Carver was sent for to come aboard to speak with him about his accounts; who came the next morning.” (Mourt’s Relation)

12 Jan 1621 – This day two of our people put us in great sorrow and care. There was four sent to gather and cut thatch in the morning; and two of them John Goodman and Peter Browne, having cut thatch all the forenoon, went to a further place, and willed the other two to bind up that which was cut, and to follow them. So they did, being about a mile and a half from our plantation. But when the two came after, they could not find them, nor hear any thing of them at all, though they hallooed and shouted as loud as they could. So they returned to the company, and told them of it. Whereupon Master Carver and three or four more went to seek them; but could hear nothing of them. So they returning, sent more; but that night theuy could hear nothing at all of them.”
(Mourt’s Relation)

14 Jan 1621 – “But the next day, in the morning about six of the clock, the wind being very great, they on shipboard spied their great new rendezvous on fire … At their landing they heard good tidings of the return of the two men [John Goodman and Peter Browne], and that the house was fired occasionally [accidentally] by a spark that flew into the thatch, which instantly burnit it all up; but the roof stood, and little hurt. The most loss was Master Carver’s and William Bradford’s, who then lay sick in bed, and if they had not risen with good speed, had been blown up with powder; but, through God’s mercy, they had no harm. The house was as full of beds as they could lie one by another, and their muskets charged; but, blessed be God, there was no harm done.” (Mourt’s Relation)

7 Mar 1621 – The wind was full east, cold but fair. That day Master Carver with five others went to the great ponds, which seem to be excellent fishing places.” (Mourt’s Relation)

23 Mar 1621 – “This day we proceeded on with our common business, from which we had been so often hindered by the savages’ coming and concluded both of military orders and of some laws and orders as we thought behooveful for our present estate and condition; and did likewise choose our governor for this year, which was Master John Carver, a man well approved amongst us.” (Mourt’s Relation)

2 April 1621 – The will of William Mullins to “my two overseers Mr. John Carver and Mr. Williamson, 20s apiece to see this my will performed desiring them that he would have an eye over my wife and children to be as fathers and friends to them, also to have a special eye to my man Robert which hath not so approved himself as I would he should have done.”

April 1621 – “They now began to dispatch the ship away which brought them over, which lay till about this time, or the beginning of April. The reason on their part why she stayed for so long, was the necessity and danger that lay upon them; for it was well towards the end of December before she could land anything here, or they able to receive anything ashore. Afterwards, the 14th of January, the house which they had made for a general rendezvous by casualty fell afire, and some were fain to retire aboard for shelter; then the sickness began to fall sore amongst them, and the weather so bad as they could not make much sooner any dispatch. Again, the Governor and chief of them, seeing so many die and fall down sick daily, thought it no wisdom to send away the ship, their condition considered and the danger they stood in from the Indians, til they could procure some shelter; and therefore thought it better to draw some more charge upon themselves and friends than hazard all.” (William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647)

Apr 1621 – “Whilst they were busy about their seed, their Governor (Mr. John Carver) came out of the field very sick, it being a hot day. He complained greatly of his head and lay down, and within a few hours his senses failed, so as he never spake more till he died, which was within a few days after. Whose death was much lamented and caused great heaviness amongst them, as there was cause. He was buried in the best manner they could, with some volleys of shot by all that bore arms. And his wife, being a weak woman, died within five or six weeks after him.”
(William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647)

“Before I pas on I may not omitt to take Notice of the sad losse the Church and this Infant Comonwealth sustained by the death of mr John Carver whoe was one of the deacons of the Church in leyden but Now had bine and was theire first Gov’r: this worthy Gentleman was one of singular Piety and Rare for humillitie which appeered (as otherwise) soe by his Great Condesendencye when as this miserable people were in Great sicknes hee shuned not to doe very meane services for them yee the meanest of them; hee bore a share likewise of theire labour in his owne person; according as theire Great Nessesitie Required; whoe being one alsoe of a Considerable estate spent the Maine prte of it, in this enterprise and from first to last approved himself, not onely as theire agent in the first Transacting of thinges but alsoe all alonge to the Period of his life; to be a pious faithfull and very benificiall Instrument; hee deceased in the Month of Aprill in the yeer 1621, and Now is Reaping the fruite of his labour with the lord.” (“History of the Plymouth Church, 1620-1680, by William Bradford and Nathaniel Morton)

Nov 1621 – A letter arrived for John Carver on the Fortune.    “In this ship Mr. Weston sent a large letter to Mr. Carver, the late Governor, now deceased; full of complaints and expostulations about former passages at Hampton, and the keeping the ship [Mayflower] so long in the country, and returning her without lading, etc…
[William Bradford replied to Mr. Weston]

“Your large letter, written to Mr. Carver and dated the 6th of July 1621, I have received the 10th of November, wherein after the apology made for yourself you lay many heavy imputations upon him and us all. Touching him, he is departed this life and now is at rest in the Lord from all those troubles and encumbrances with which we are yet to strive. He needs not my apology; for his care and pains was so great for the common good, both ours and yours, as that therewith (it is thought) he oppressed himself and shortened his days; of whose loss we cannot sufficiently complain.

“At great charges in this adventure I confess you have been, and many losses may sustain; but the loss of his and many other honest and industrious men’s lives cannot be valued at any price. Of the one there may be hope of recovery; but the other no recompense can make good.”
(William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647)

“And seeing it hath pleased Him to give me to see thirty years completed since these beginnings, and that the great works of His providence are to be observed, I have thought it not unworthy my pains to take a view of the decreasings and increasings of these persons and such changes as hath passed over them and theirs in this thirty years …
“Mr. Carver and his wife died the first year, he in the spring, she in the summer.”
(William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647)

John Carver was remembered by the Colony and, when the names of the founders were invoked in legal documents, his name appears at the head of the roster. For example, in 1658

“A Declaration demonstrating the warrantable grounds and proceedings of the first Associates of the Govrment of New Plymouth in theire laying the first foundation of the Govrment in this Jurisdiction ffor the making of Lawes and disposing of lands and of all such thinges as shall or may Conduce to the welbeing of this Corporation of New Plymouth:

Wheras John Carver William Bradford Edward Winslow William Brewster Isaake Allerton and divers others of the Subjects of our late Sov: Lord Kinge James by the grace of God King of england Scotland ffrance and Ireland Defender of the faith &c did in the eighteenth yeare of his Reigne of england ffrance and Ireland, and of Scotland the fifty fourth which was in the yeare of our Lord God one thousand six hundred and twenty did undertake a voyage into that pte of America called Verginia or new England theunto adjoyning there to erect a plantation and collonie of English Intending the glory of God the Inlargment of his Ma’ties dominnions and the speciall good of the English Nation…”

Carver Chair

It is highly unlikely that this chair actually belonged to John Carver, the first Governor of Plymouth Colony. Although the chair was long thought to have been brought on the Mayflower by Carver, a recent wood analysis determined that the chair was actually made in America. American white ash does not grow in England.

Governor Carver died in Spring of 1621 and it is not probable that people in the fledgling colony had time to build such a chair during that first devastating winter when half the Pilgrims died.

The name of Plymouth’s first governor, however, has been firmly attached to this type of Early American chair; chairs with turned spindles in the back only are known generically today as “Carver chairs.” They differ from Brewster Chairs, which have spindles under the seat and arms as well.

The chair is related to other chairs made by craftsman Ephraim Tinkham (1649-1713), who worked in Plymouth and Middleboro.

Carver Sword — Material : Steel, iron, silver and wood Ownership attributed to John Carver.

The “Carver sword,” on loan to the Pilgrim Society from the Massachusetts Historical Society, was donated to the Massachusetts Historical Society by Ichabod Shaw of Plymouth in 1795. The decoration and workmanship are typical of English swords of the early 17th century.

The town of Carver, Massachusetts, just west of Plymouth, was named for him.

Carver, Plymouth, Mass.






“History of the Plymouth Church, 1620-1680, by William Bradford and Nathaniel Morton,” Plymouth Church Records [Publications of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts, Volumes XXII and XXIII. Boston : The Society, 1920 and 1923]. Volume 1, p. 31-33.

This entry was posted in Artistic Representation, First Comer, Line - Miner, Place Names, Wikipedia Famous. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to James Carver

  1. Pingback: Isaac Carver | Miner Descent

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  5. K. Simms says:

    You have James Carver (1527 – 1560) dying in 1560, yet he has three sons born to him between 1562 and 1567. Please explain.

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