Edward’s Life – 1600-1655
Edward Doty was a notable person in American history, so his adult life is reasonably well documented. Click here for information about his ancestry and youth.
A Map of New England – 1677
Massachusetts Historical Society Collection
(West at Top of Page)
Historian’s surmise that Edward was born in about 1600 in England – perhaps in Greater London. In 1620 he was a passenger aboard the Mayflower and a signer of the Mayflower Compact. He died at about age 55 in 1655 in the town of Plymouth, where he spent his entire adulthood. His body was buried on Burial Hill, although exactly where, nobody knows. He left behind his second wife, Faith (Clark) Doty and their nine children, ages 3-19.
Edward was mentioned in William Bradford’s History of Plymouth Plantation (1606-1646), an eyewitness account. Since then, he has been the subject of numerous articles, both in print and online. Authoritative accounts of Edward’s life have been published by the General Society of Mayflower Descendants and the New England Historic Genealogy Society. Also, Caleb Johnson’s Mayflower History Website is well regarded. Much of the information about Edward and his kin presented here is drawn from these sources, among others.
Edward Doty, Indentured Servant
Edward was a “servant” of Stephen Hopkins (1581-1644), and during his servitude was a member of the Hopkins household. What more do we know about this relationship?
Of the 104 passengers on the Mayflower voyage, about 20 were servants of some kind. Twelve of these died within a year. An excellent article, “Servants and Masters in the Plymouth Colony”, by Jillain Galle, describes the types of servants that worked in the Colony. We do not know what type of servant was Edward, in part because we do not know at what ages he entered and left Hopkin’s service. One record suggests that Edward was independent by 1627.
As Galle explains, however, we do know that indentured servants were not slaves! Although they were bound to their masters during their contracts, thereafter they were expected, eventually, to become freemen in the community. This, indeed, was Edward’s story.
One of the most colorful stories about Edward is that in 1621, he and his fellow servant in the Hopkins household, Edward Leister, fought the first duel in New England. Historians have speculated that it was fought over one of the Hopkins daughters. According to Bradford, the antagonists inflicted minor stab wounds on each other, before the affair was stopped. The “whole company” ordered that they be bound together by head and feet for one day – without food or drink. However, the young men were so piteous after only an hour that they were released, promising to behave. Leister eventually migrated to Jamestown.
Stephen Hopkins, Edward’s master, himself was a colorful figure. Historians believe that he was the same Stephen Hopkins who was aboard the Sea Venture in 1609, when it shipwrecked on Bermuda enroute to the new Virginia colony. (William Shakespeare based the plot of his 1610-11 play, The Tempest, at least partly on this event.) Thereafter, Hopkins eventually arrived and settled in Virginia. However, by 1617 he was summoned back to England by the death of his wife and the plight of his children, all of whom he had left behind.
Hopkins remarried in England, and in 1620 he boarded the Mayflower with his pregnant second wife, small children, and two servants. He just could not stay away from the New World, it seems. Their son, Oceanus, was born during the voyage. Hopkins was a tanner by trade and a some-time leader of the Colony. Among other roles, he sat on the Board of Assistants until 1636. However, thereafter he came an innkeeper and from time to time ran afoul of the law in connection with his sale of liquor.
Caleb Johnson tells the full story of Stephen’s fascinating life in Here I Shall Die Ashore (2007).
Edward Doty, Householder
William Bradford mentioned that Edward had a first wife, but said nothing more about her. Historians surmise that she might have arrived in the Colony in about 1630, married Edward soon thereafter, and died in an epidemic in 1633. No record of any children of this marriage ever has been found.
Edward then married Faith Clarke, a 1634 arrival and about 19 years his junior in age, soon after her arrival.
Records show that by 1633, Edward was a “freeman”, with full rights as a male citizen of the Colony. The inventory of his possessions at his death indicates that primarily he was a farmer, raising crops and livestock. However, he also dabbled in real estate, including in land near and far that he acquired through his share of grants to freemen, and, perhaps, purchases. Edward’s homestead was on High Cliff, north of Water Street in downtown Plymouth and on or near the sea coast.
At the same time, Edward was notably contentious. His biographers always note that in the two dozen years before his death, he was either a plaintiff or defendant in over two dozen legal actions. These included five counts of assault, three of them against George Clark, 20 years his junior. He also sued his own father in law, Thurston Clarke, over money. All of these matters seem to have been minor, occasionally resulting in small fines, for example. However, Edward almost never was tapped for public service, which was unusual for the time.
Edward and Faith (Clark) Doty had nine children, all of whom survived to adulthood, married, and had children of their own. In large part, this is why they have so many descendants alive today. Click here for a brief genealogical profile of Edward, Faith, and their children.
All of Edward’s and Faith’s children were young when he died:
|Child||Date||Place||Age When Edward Died|
|Isaac2||8 Feb 1648/9||Plymouth||6|
|Joseph2||30 Apr 1651||Plymouth||4|
First Five Generations
A detailed analysis of Mayflower Families Through Five Generations – Volume 11, Parts 1-3 [“Mayflower5G”], the most authoritative genealogy of Edward Doty, shows how quickly Edward’s lineage grew:
|Generation||Had Kids||Had No Kids||Total||Pctg Had No Kids|
It is likely that Edward has had even more descendants than this: These are only the ones for whom genealogical proof has been found.
Almost all of those in the Fifth Generation were born between 1715 and 1785, very many in the middle of that period. Mayflower5G also lists those in the Sixth Generation for whom it came across records, although it does not purport to establish a complete list.
On average, over 40% of Edward’s progeny died childless. We do not know whether that was typical for these times. However, it probably reflects, among other things, a high mortality rate during childhood and youth.
From the 1897 publication of The Doty-Doten Family in America until today, over 90,000 descendants of Edward Doty have been identified. Undoubtedly, there have been tens of thousands more – maybe, a hundred thousand? – with whom we have yet to connect. Some of the youngest Doty descendants alive today are the Sixteenth Generation.
Doty Family Migration
Edward and Faith spent their entire adult lives in the town of Plymouth. But, where did their children and grandchildren settle? The migration of some in these first three generations set in motion the expansion of Dotys in America. Click here for a detailed analysis of this initial migration.
In 1667 – about eleven years after Edward died – Faith Doty married John Phillips and she moved to his home in nearby Marshfield. Presumably, at least some of her youngest children accompanied her.
The Second and Third Generations of the Doty lineage included 86 men and women, plus the spouses of 69 of them. Each of Edward’s nine branches pursued its own destiny.
|Edward2||Edward’s branch remained entirely in the town of Plymouth, for three generations.|
|John2||John’s branch remained almost entirely in Plymouth, for three generations.|
|Thomas2||Thomas’ branch migrated to Rochester, Duxbury, and Barnstable – all new towns in Plymouth Colony – for three generations.|
|Samuel2||Samuel departed for Middlesex County, and his entire branch settled in Piscataway (founded 1666) and in other central-Jersey towns, for three generations.|
|Desire2||Desire’s branch remained in the town of Plymouth, or settled in the nearby towns of Marshfield and Plympton, for three generations. One of her sons, Ichabod, migrated to Halifax, Nova Scotia.|
|Elizabeth2||Elizabeth and her branch stayed in Marshfield, for three generations. Her grandchildren died childless, so this branch died out early.|
|Isaac2||Isaac departed for Oyster Bay, Long Island (founded in 1653), and his entire branch settled there, for three generations. Subsequently, part of the family migrated to Poughkeepsie, NY.|
|Joseph2||Joseph settled in Sandwich, then Rochester (both in Plymouth Colony), where his children were born. Some of his children migrated to Rhode Island; Litchfield, CT; and Dutchess Co., NY.|
|Mary2||Mary settled in Scituate, near Marshfield, where her children were born. Most of her children migrated to Rochester, Middleboro, or Pembroke. One son, Elisha, migrated to Hillsdale, in Columbia Co., NY.|
Edward’s life helped to define the “American Dream” from the very beginning. What can we today learn from the life of this forefather?
First courage. It took courage to board that small ship, knowing that it would cross an immense ocean – only to land in a remote, unknown wilderness. Did he also know that he never would see his homeland again? Did he care?
Second, industry. History tells us that Edward was contentious, but also that he was ambitious and hard-working. He bootstrapped himself from indentured servitude to prosperity. And, he managed to leave a legacy for his wife and children. Edward’s will, signed on 20 May 1655, provided:
In the Name of God Amen
Know all men to whom it may concerne that I Edward Dotten senir: of the Towne of New Plymouth in New England being sick and yet by the mercy of God in p’fect memory and upon mature Consideration Doe by this my last will and Testament leave and bequeath my purchase land at Coaksett unto my sons; my son Edward I give a Double portion and to the rest of my sonnes equal alike if they live to the age of one and twenty if they Die before then to be p’ted among the rest onely to my loveing wife I give and bequeath my house and lands and meadows within the precincts of New Plymouth together with all of the Chattlesand moveables that are my proper goods onely Debts and engagements to bee paied; As for my Share of land att Punckquetest if it comes to anything I give unto my son Edward; This being my last will and Testament, I Edward Dotten owner it for my Act and Deed before these my loving ffriends who areWitnesses; and Doe sett my hand to the same; the Day and yeare above written.
Witnesses: John howland, James hurst, John Cooke, William Hoskins
Ther being many names besides Coaksett I mean all my purchase land According to the Deed.
Att the generall court held the fift of March 1655; faith the wife of Edward Dotten Decased Did give up and make over all her right and enterest she had in the land of Edward Dotten Att Coaksett or places adjacent unto her Children this shee Did in the prsence of the said Court; held att Plymouth yt Day and yeare above expressed;
The abovewritten Will and Testament of Edward Dotten Deceased was exhibited to the Court held att Plymouth the fift of March 1655 on the oathes of Mr John howland James hurst John Cooke and William Hoskins
Presumably, he had provided for his daughters through their marriage dowries.
Subsequently, “Coaksett” became the town of Dartmouth, within Plymouth Colony, but over 30 miles from the town of Plymouth. This shows that Edward’s holdings included land that was an investment. We are unable to find the location of “Punckquetest”.
Third, faith. There is no indication that Edward was a religious man. However, he could not have accomplished all that he did in life – raising nine children, farming the land, increasing his wealth – without an abiding faith: in his talents; in the support of his wife, friends, and community; in the bounty of the New World that he was confronting.
Memorial & Historical Markers
If a marker was placed at Edward’s grave on Burial Hill at the time of his burial, it has long been lost. However, descendants of Eliza Doty Cravath placed a memorial stone within the cemetery.
Also, the Society has erected the following stone, marker and plaque:
- Faith (Clarke) Doty Phillips – Old Winslow Cemetery, Marshfield (Placed 6 May 1989)
- Edward Doty – High Cliffe Site (Placed 9 Sep 1990)
- Edward Doty – Pilgrim Fathers (Mayflower) Memorial Park,
Southampton, England (Placed 3 Oct 1992)
The Society plans to place another historical marker for Edward and his children at the Nemasket Hill Cemetery, Middleboro, MA in September 2017. Burial Hill cemetery is closed to further gravestones.
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