An Alden Genealogy Page for the Betterley Family


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1906 postcard  featuring Ghosts of John & Priscilla Alden


In early America

shipJohn Alden c1599-1687 was hired as the Mayflower cooper at Southampton, England and arrived with the Pilgrims at Plymouth in 1620. He was referred to by William Brewster as "that hopeful young man" and chose to remain with the colonists when the ship returned to England. The seventh and last surviving signer of the Mayflower Compact, he married fellow passenger Priscilla Mullins and was among the founders of the colony of Duxbury, MA. John was among those that assumed the debt of Plymouth Colony and held various offices. He served as Assistant Governor, Deputy for Duxbury to the Plymouth General Court, and Treasurer. He served on the Council of War and on committees to revise laws and trade with the Kennebec Indians. He was once arrested for murder when a trader was shot after firing upon Alden and his men. He was acquitted, and the trader was deemed the guilty party. John and probably Priscilla are buried at the Standish Burial Ground in Duxbury, though the exact location of their graves is unknown. He had deeded his land to his children before his death, so the inventory of his estate was not large. The Alden house is now owned by the Alden Kindred of America.

John Alden house in Duxbury

11th gr-grandsons with commemorative brick in pathway

Standish Burial Ground  in Duxbury

in memory of Mrs. Priscilla Alden

Mr. John Alden

witchJohn Alden, Jr. c1626-1702 was a sea captain, employed by the colony. After returning on 28 May 1692 from a voyage to Quebec to redeem prisoners held by the French, during which time the French had imprisoned him for a short time, the 70-year-old was called to Salem and accused of witchcraft. When he faced the accusing girls, it was obvious that they didn't recognize him at first. They knew him only by his reputation as a wealthy and important Bostonian. When they learned that it was the son of the famous Plymouth Pilgrim they cried out, "There stands Alden, a bold fellow, with his hat on before the judges. He sells powder and shot to the Indians and French and lies with the Indian Squaws, and has Indian papooses." He rebuffed them indignantly, using "the language of an old sea dog". Judges Hathorne, Gedney, and Corwin told him to "look upon the accusers". As he did so, they fell to the ground as if stricken. When he asked why Mr. Gedney was not similarly stricken when looked upon, there was no answer. Alden was sent to a Boston prison, where he remained for fifteen weeks. He escaped shortly before nine other of the accused were executed. He fled to Duxbury and then returned to Boston, surrendered, and posted bond. He was discharged after the witch panic ended. After a public apology, the judge visited to make amends privately for John's imprisonment. The Captain never forgot his ordeal, and the judge's visits continued until the day Alden died. We do not know where he is buried, but his grave marker is embedded in the wall at Old South Church in Boston.

The next in line is Captain William Alden 1669-1729, buried at King's Chapel Burial Ground in Boston. His daughter, Elizabeth, married Thomas Betterley on 26 Jul 1720 at King's Chapel. Along with, apparently, every Betterley I know of in America, Alden descendants include Presidents John and John Quincy Adams, Vice President J. Danforth Quayle, poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, actress Marilyn Monroe, and perhaps television news personality Chet Huntley. Longfellow's tale, The Courtship of Myles Standish, immortalized the romance of John and Priscilla Alden.

For More Information

Visit the Alden Kindred of America and the John Alden House in Duxbury, MA.

Visit the Mayflower Society.

Visit Caleb Johnson's

Visit the Salem Witch Museum in Salem, MA.

View the GEDCOM.

Got an Alden question? Visit the Alden Surname Board.

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