Source Information

Ancestry.com. Mayflower Deeds and Probates, 1600-1850 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2013. This collection was indexed by Ancestry World Archives Project contributors.
Original data: Roser, Susan E. Mayflower Deeds and Probates: From the Files of George Ernest Bowman at the Massachusetts Society of Mayflower Descendants. Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Company, Inc., 1994.

About Mayflower Deeds and Probates, 1600-1850

This database contains transcriptions from wills, deeds, probates, and inventories of Mayflower (and other) colonists and their descendants extracted from the files of George Ernest Bowman.

Historical Background

George Ernest Bowman, founder of the Massachusetts Society of Mayflower Descendants in 1896, compiled more than 20,000 pages of research on descendants of the original Mayflower colonists. Susan E. Roser has extracted the deed and probate details contained in the database from Bowman’s files.

Roser points out that the documents in this volume are not limited solely to Mayflower descendants: “Bowman was very thorough in his research and usually undertook the task of locating records pertaining to the family of the person who married into the Mayflower family. Also, in the case of deeds, non-Mayflower lines can be found selling/buying to/from Mayflower lines. Non-Mayflower lines are also found throughout the probate records where, along with their own records, they are found in the Mayflower records as witnesses, appraisers, and administrators.”

What You Can Find in the Records

Neither deeds nor probates have always been transcribed in their entirety in these records. The amount of the record transcribed depended on how valuable or interesting details were and how much of the original Bowman had transcribed.

Deeds may provide the following details:

  • source
  • name
  • occupation and residence of parties
  • date
  • sales price
  • acreage and location of land
  • witnesses
  • date of acknowledgement
  • date recorded

Roser notes that deeds can provide other useful insights as well: “Quite often additional genealogical data is given, family members may be dividing land, a grantor may name his/her parents and/or grandparents from whom he/she originally received the land. You will learn who your ancestors’ neighbors were, see how the family homestead or other lands were passed down through the family—and out of the family as they moved to other areas.”

As for probate records, Bowman transcribed some wills completely, extracted details from others, and for the remainder simply listed a source. As available, Roser has included the following:

  • date written
  • bequests
  • descriptions of persona and real estate
  • names of witnesses

Roser points out that wills can also provide names of family members for multiple generations and that children are often listed according to birth order.

Using the Records

You can find more details on interpreting Roser’s entries in the introduction and guidelines sections of this book. Remember that spellings for names can vary widely. Roser also uses the following abbreviations:

  • dau - daughter
  • hus - husband
  • wf - wife
  • pr. - probate
  • inv. - inventory
  • adm. - administration
  • admr. - administrator
  • admx. - administratrix
  • exr. - executor
  • rec. - recorded
  • ack. - acknowledged

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