McKay Notable Ancestors

George Soule, Mayflower Passenger

Mayflower II

George Soule was a passenger on the Mayflower and helped establish Plymouth Colony in 1620 and was one of the signers of the Mayflower Compact.

He sailed in the Mayflower as one of two servants to Edward Winslow. The Winslow family from which Edward was descended lived in nearby Kempsey Parish and this early neighborhood association may explain the apprenticeship of George to the future Governor. George was probably in London when he joined Edward Winslow on the Mayflower voyage. Droitwich, the Winslow family home at the time, was a salt-mining community connected in a business way with the Salter's Company of London and thus the Winslow-Soule association was established.

George was the 35th signer of the Mayflower Compact (at Cape Cod in 1620). He had volunteered for the Pequot War of 1637, but Plymouth's troops were not needed. He sold his lands in Plymouth and moved to Duxbury before 1645, at which time he was Deputy to the General Court at Plymouth; he was also an original Proprietor of Bridgewater in 1645. He was on various committees, juries, and survey teams, during his life in Duxbury. In 1646, for example, he was appointed to the committee to deal with Duxbury's problem of the disorderly smoking of tobacco. George, Myles Standish and John Alden laid out the town of Duxbury and all are probably buried there.

George became a relatively well-to-do community leader, businessman and office holder. In 1668, he gave his land in Middleboro to his sons-in-law John Haskell and Francis Walker and their wives (his daughters) Patience and Elizabeth.

John Alden, Mayflower Passenger

John was a crew member on the 1620 voyage of the Mayflower which brought the English settlers to Massachusetts. He was hired in Southampton, England, as the ship's cooper, responsible for maintaining the ship's barrels. Although he was a member of the ship's crew and not a settler, Alden decided to remain in Plymouth Colony when the Mayflower returned to England. He was a signatory to the Mayflower Compact.

He married fellow Mayflower passenger Priscilla Mullins. The marriage of the young couple became prominent in Victorian popular culture after the 1858 publication of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's fictitious narrative poem The Courtship of Miles Standish.

Alden was one of Plymouth Colony's most active public servants and played a prominent role in colonial affairs. He was annually elected to the Governor's Council nearly every year from 1640 to 1686. He served as Treasurer of Plymouth Colony, Deputy to the General Court of Plymouth, a member of the colony's Council of War, and a member of the colony's Committee on Kennebec Trade, among other posts. He was the last surviving signer of the Mayflower Compact upon his death in 1687.

Geoffrey Chaucer, Poet

Geoffrey Chaucer

Geoffrey Chaucer, an English poet, author, and civil servant best known for The Canterbury Tales, is a direct McKay ancestor. Known as the first English author, Chaucer wrote in English at a time when Latin was considered the grammatica, or language which would not change, and most of the upper-class English spoke French.

In 1359, Chaucer joined the English army’s invasion of France during the Hundred Years’ War and was taken prisoner; King Edward III of England paid his ransom in 1360. In 1366, Chaucer married Philipa de Roet, who was a lady-in-waiting to Edward III’s wife. In 1367, Chaucer was given a life pension by the king, and began traveling abroad on diplomatic missions.

By 1374 Chaucer was firmly involved in domestic politics and was granted the important post of controller of customs taxes on hides, skins, and wool. Chaucer died on October 25, 1400 and is buried in what is now called the “Poets’ Corner” in Westminster Abbey

Thomas Hooker, the Father of Connecticut

Rev. Thomas Hooker

Thomas Hooker, (born probably July 7, 1586, Markfield, Leicestershire, England—died July 7, 1647, Hartford, Connecticut [U.S.]), prominent British American colonial clergyman known as “the father of Connecticut.” Seeking independence from other Puritan sects in Massachusetts, Thomas Hooker and his followers established one of the first major colonies in Hartford, Connecticut. A staunch supporter of universal Christian suffrage (voting rights independent of church membership), Hooker was a renowned theologian and orator who greatly shaped the early development of colonial New England.

After preaching briefly in the parish of Esher in Surrey, England, Hooker became lecturer to the Church of St. Mary at Chelmsford, Essex, around 1626, where he delivered fervent evangelical addresses. Such church lectureships, an innovation of Puritanism, came under attack from the Church of England in 1629, and in 1630 Hooker was cited to appear before the Court of High Commission. He fled to Holland, forfeiting his bond, and in 1633 immigrated to Massachusetts Bay Colony. At New Towne (now Cambridge), he became the pastor of a company of Puritans who had arrived from England the previous year; in expectation of his joining them, they had been called Mr. Hooker’s Company. Hooker and his supporters became restive under the influence of John Cotton, and in 1636 Hooker led a group to Connecticut to settle Hartford, where he served as pastor until his death.

Critical of limiting suffrage to male church members with property, Hooker sought a more-universal suffrage and told the Connecticut General Court in 1638 that the people had the God-given right to choose their magistrates. Though his view was an advanced one for his time and led some historians to call him “the father of American democracy,” Hooker had no intention of separating church and state; he declared that the privilege of voting should be exercised according to the will of God. He was active in formulating the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut (1639), which later helped shape aspects of the Constitution of the United States of America. In matters of church governance, Hooker preferred the more-autonomous Congregational model to the hierarchical structure of Presbyterianism and defended his views in A Survey of the Summe of Church Discipline (1648).[1]

Erasmus Kirkener breastplate

Erasmus Kirkener, Armourer

Erasmus Kirkener was famous in his own right as a Master Armourer for the Royal Armoury Workshops in Greenwich, England. The workshops were founded in 1525 by King Henry VIII in order to provide tailored armour for the nobles of England. In addition to armour made for King Henry VIII, Erasmus made armour for the King's knights. A 1540 suit of armour made by Erasmus Kyrkener for King Henry VIII is on display at the United Kingdom's National Museum of Arms and Armour.


[1]Thomas Hooker

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