Many of my ancestors were passengers on the Mayflower. After “visiting” their homes and “talking” to them in the Plimouth Plantation in Plymouth, Massachusetts, it was readily apparent that they owned very little “stuff”.
Over the years, I’ve read their wills with interest and although they are often lengthy, outside of their land and building properties, the individual items were typically small, minor "stuff". Today, we probably have more on our garage shelves than they ever owned.
The list below was found in an old family newsletter:
“Here is a shortened sample of some clothing, tools and books in the possession of various Pilgrims at their time of death and taken from their probate inventories. All probate inventories relating to the Pilgrims have been reprinted in various editions of the Mayflower Descendant Magazine.
Peter Browne (d. 1633)
felling axe, handsaw, awgers and chisel, suit and cloake, Irish stockings, coate, 12 oz of shott, and spade.
Francis Eaton (d. 1633)
coate, cloake, black suit, white hat, black hat, cheese press, tool box, handsaw, great hammer, fishing lead, shovel, gun and pistol, awgers, boots, curtains and rods.
William Brewster (d. 1644)
black coat, green drawers, black gown, black hat, gloves, red cap, black silk stockings, pistol, green cushion, "sizzers", dagger, white rug, tobacco and pipes, sword, stool, desk, white cap, violet coat, corslet; BOOKS: Moral Discourse, Discover of Spanish Inquisition, Description of New England, Remains of Britian, Ainsworth’s Psalms, Mr Hernes works, Babingtons works, Mr Rogers on Judges, Knights Concord, Bodens Commonwealth, Surveyor, Willet on Genesis, Messelina, Barlow on 2 Timothy, Parr on Romans, Robinsons Observations, Right Way to go to Work, Atterson’s Badges of Christianity, Treasury of Similes, Downfall of Popery, Bolton on True Happyness, Plea for Infants, Discovery by Barrow, Hackhill History of Indies, Perkins on Jude, Sweeds Intelligencer, Politike Diseases, Standish for woods, History of Mary Glover, The Morality of Law, plus about 300 other books, plus another 65 books written in Latin.
Stephen Hopkins (d. 1644)
yellow rug, green rug, flanell sheets, white cap, gray cloak, breeches, frying pan, funnels, fireshovel and tongs, feathers, butter churn, two wheels, cheese rack, four skins, scale and weights, two pails.
Edward Doty (d. 1655)
land at Clarke’s Island, yoke of oxen, plow irons, draught chain, axes, spades, hoes, pitchforks, tongs, copper and brass kettles, matchlock musket, hammer and pinchers, chairs, cradle, table, pewter dishes and candlesticks, earthen and iron pots.
Myles Standish (d. 1656)
sword and cutlass, one fowling gun, three musketts, two small guns, featherbed, sheets, napkins, pillows, mault mill, two saddles, beer caske, brass kettle, warming and frying pan; BOOKS: Homer’s Illiad, Wilson’s Dictionary, History of the World, Turkish History, Chronicle of England, Country Farmer, History of Queen Elizabeth, Calvin’s Institutions, Roger’s Seven Treaties, The French Academy, Caesar’s Commentaries Bariffes artillery, Preston’s Sermons, Burrough’s Christian Contentment, German History, the Sweede Intelligencer, and A Reply to Dr. Cotton.
William Bradford (d. 1657)
white blankets, green rug, snaphance and matchlock muskets, Holland sheets, hemp sheets, Holland tablecloths; one great beer bowl, wine cup; CLOTHES: suit with silver buttons, black briches and red wastecoat, lead colored suit with silver buttons, black coat, green gown, violet cloak, one black and one colored hat, light-colored cloak, six pairs of shoes; BOOKS: French Acadamy; History of the Church; History of the Netherlands; Peter Martire on the Romans; Bodin’s Commonwealth; Mayers works on the New Testament; Luther on the Gallations; Speed’s General Description of the World; Calvin’s Commentary on the Acts; Downhams 2nd part on Christian warfare; Taylers Liberty of Prophesy; Gouges’ Domestical Duties; Mr Ainsworth on Genesis and Exodus; Calvin on Genesis; Gifford Refuted; Physics book; and two Bibles.
Isaac Allerton (d. 1658/9)
Sea chest, morter and pestel, spectacles, old hat and cap, eight jars and a case of bottles, six stools and three old chairs.
Francis Cooke (d. 1663)
Morter and pestel, earthen pots and pans, pewter and iron pots, hammer, saw, three pairs of sheep sheers, featherbed and bolster, hoes, cushens, two hats, ten pair of stockings, old coat, gloves, twenty pounds of wool and twenty-one sheep.
John Howland (d. 1672/3)
musket, long gun, cutlass and belt, cow bells, chain, padlock, sauce pan, brass skillet, two red waistcoats, Holland shirt, two silk neckties, three hats, sheets, towels, blankets, featherbed, candlesticks.
George Soule (d. 1679)
gun, books, chest and chair, sheers, tramel and wedge, bed and wearing clothes, books.
Mary (Chilton) Winslow (d. 1679)
Silver beer bowl, silk gown, stockings, six petticoats, brass kettle, six white aprons, seven neck handkerchiefs, seventeen linen caps, fourteen headbands, Fustian waistcoats, and an old trunk.
Henry Samson (d. 1685)
one cow, table and benches, harness and plow irons, three wheels, lumber, corn, "Armes wearing Clothes" and Library.
John Alden (d. 1687)
chairs, bedstead, chests, boxes, tongs, kettle, saw, augars and chisel, carpenter joyners, dripping pan, pewter wear, two old guns, table linen, horse bridle and saddle, library, wearing clothes, and old lumber.”