About Author

Amateur genealogy run obsessively amuck in 1648 Plymouth.  Homesteading in Oklahoma.

Erin is the product of Mayflower, Cherokee, English, Irish, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Mississippi, military, migrating, sometimes-less-than-honorable, often admirable families.  Raised in Latin America, Erin has a history degree from Texas A&M University and a PhD in adult and higher education from the University of Oklahoma.  She is a mother to five, an academic researcher and finds her family history nearly as fascinating as herself.


18 Responses to About Author

  1. David J Michnal says:

    Fascinating account of the murder, trail, evidence, etc. As a lawyer myself, I was particularly delighted to read so much information about the legal processes of that day – especially because I too share Alice Martin Bishop as an ancestor. Thanks for putting this together.

  2. Harry Sutton says:

    Thanks for your thought provoking work!…. I also share Alice Martin Bishop as an ancestor.And I always wondered why Damaris Bishop Sutton named her first child after her mother Alice.

    Any thoughts??

    Harry Sutton
    Wolfeboro,New Hampshire

    • Hmmm…I hadn’t thougt of that. All I can hope is that Damaris had some pleasant memories of her mother and chose to honor her that way. Damaris leaving the area and eventaully being connected to the Anne Hutchinson crew means she certainly had her fair fair share of drama!

  3. Bethany says:

    I stumbled upon your blog in my effort to learn more about Alice Martin Bishop. You have certainly done a fantastic job researching all that you have on AMB–we have learned volumes… I am another descendant from Damaris Bishop. I, too, felt a horrible sadness for the story after learning of it.

    After reading (and re-reading) the account of the coroners’ observations and the deposition of Rachel Ramsden, I find myself still unconvinced that Alice Martin Bishop was truly responsible for the death of her 4 year old daughter. I just do not see enough circumstantial evidence noted (ie: blood upon her clothing). As far as I can tell, AMB was hung based solely upon the account (and opinion) of Ms. Ramsden. One researcher pointed out that AMB, herself, could not recall murdering her own child (even though she later confessed to doing so). After much thought upon the tension the Martin family already had in the Plymouth community, I can’t help but wonder… was her family somehow considered to be “cursed” by the Puritan community? Was she forced through inhumane treatment to “confess” to a crime she did not commit? Perhaps it was someone else murdered that poor child in the “upstairs chamber”? Would it have been possible for AMB to bother stuffing her own daughter’s wind pipe into the throat? Only someone over-come with the most deepest of rage would bother. Someone who had time to premeditate this murder. Even Ms. Ramsden admitted how AMB seemed like her usual self–not angry or out of sorts in any way. Why would she have taken the time to murder her child at a time when she was expecting Ms. Ramsden to return from the buttermilk errand? It just doesn’t add up!

    Lastly, it is interesting to note that Damaris Bishop married William Sutton–a man who was considered an upstanding pillar of the congregation to his Quaker beliefs. The Puritans saw the Quakers as a scurge in their community. They (the Quakers) endured the persecutions brought upon them by the Puritans, evenutally leaving Plymouth Colony for kinder locales. I do believe Damaris named her first daughter after her own mother because she did not believe her mother to be guilty of such a horrible crime.

    Just my two wondering coppers. Thank you for reading!

    Bethany Crawford
    San Jose, California

    • I want to thank you for such a thoughtful note where you raise many of the same questions I do. The blog is static now only because I feel I don’t have more evidence to add. I remain unconvinced that Martha was killed by Alice. Alice may have had the psychological trauma to elicit psychotic behavior but…as you pointed out…the evidence just doesn’t add up. We must remember that colonial evidence collection was rudimentary at best — we do not know if Alice had blood on her clothes, we do not know if Martha had other trauma (like a sexual assault) and we do not know if Abigail or Richard had any evidence to give. It remains a mysterious, tragic story that I live in fear will, one day, be made into a trashy movie and shame all of Alice/Damaris descendants! 🙂 Thanks, Erin

  4. Pam Carter says:

    What an excellent treatment of this case! Thanks for taking the time to research and share this with others. I am just starting to blog about my genealogy and have a question. Two of my ancestors served on the jury – Dunham and Cole. I would like to write a post about the case and their involvement. I don’t know the “rules” or “etiquette” of blogging and want to be respectful of all your hard work. I plan to write one post summarizing and synthesizing what you’ve found and explain how it connects to my family. I would like to link to your blog and credit it as my source. Is that okay? Is there anything else I need to do to fully credit you? Thank you so much again for all the time and effort that went into this blog!

    • Pam — I am happy to see this blog used toward your efforts because, if not, I am just the crazy, OCD genealogy lady. I have always thought Dunham might also be related to my family and we have another juror from another side of my family who also sat for AMB. Feel free to link to the blog and use my name and certainly share with me when your site is up! Thanks, Erin in OK

  5. Lani Lila says:

    Today I found a Mayflower connection via Ancestry.com’s One World Tree by way of my great- grandmother Beatrice Snow Winsor. Through Google, I found your web pages. It will be great to look deeper into our mutual connection.

    Many thanks for sharing the fruits of your research.

    Lani Louise Davis (Lila)

  6. Sean says:

    I’m curious. Most of the accounts of Alice suggest that her father “died at sea.” Yet he was a signer of the Mayflower Compact and is widely cited as dying during the “first winter.” This event is what prevents his descendents from being members of the Mayflower Society: “Anyone who arrived in Plymouth on the Mayflower and survived the initial hardships is now considered a Pilgrim …” He did not make it through “the initial hardships.” Perhaps people have mistaken him “dying at sea” because he was still aboard the ship, which was anchored in the harbor? This has no bearing on the case, but it seems to be a related fact that is not reflected in many of the accounts that I’ve read.

    Furthermore, I was surprised to read in the accounts of the trial that the five individuals who attested to her confession were (apparently) also members of the jury. This is a significant departure from modern procedure in which people with direct involvement or knowledge of the case are disqualified from jury service. I think this has a direct bearing on the case as their presence on the jury (in modern times) would be considered prejudicial, though I doubt it had any impact on the outcome; the confession decided the case.

    The politics aboard the Mayflower (at least as described in The Mayflower and Her Log) were so spectacular that it must have colored how Alice Martin was treated throughout her life at Plymouth and perceptions of her crime.

    Please keep in mind that I am a casual student of this case, not an expert like yourself. I am interested to hear what your reaction is, as I have enjoyed your fascinating essays immensely. Please do not construe any of this as criticism.

    • I am –by far — not an expert, just obsessed and I think all of your observations are on mark. CM was listed as “died at sea” because, while harbored, CM did die on ship and in those awful months were so much was going and so many dying that little documentation took place. He signed the MCompact in his official capacity and is supposedly buried near Plymouth Rock. Understanding how colonial justice worked was a steep learning curve for me and I agree that this was hardly a jury of her peers. Instead, AMB got a jury of the colony’s most influential men who also participated in inquest/investigation. I later discovered that one of her jurors was actually an ancestor from another side of my family. Like you, I have little doubt AMB became somewhat of a notorious person in the community. Thanks for your thoughtful reading and comments!

  7. Sue Ellen Ash says:

    Hi, We have been aware of Alice in our family tree for a good many years, and you bring new insight into this tragic story. Enjoyed reading your blog. Thanks for making this open to share.
    Sue Ellen Ash

  8. Kat says:

    I have found information on Ancestry.com that there was another daughter – Ann Martin who married Benjamin Gillam and didn’t come to American until about 1635. Have you seen any reference to Anne? Of course none of those who list Ann as the daughter of Christopher and Marie Prower have given a source that connects her with her parents so I don’t know how that connection was even made. Any insight from you would be much appreciated. I’ve loved reading your blog. Fascinating and yet sad story.

  9. Juegos says:

    I’m gone to say to my little brother, that he should also pay a visit this webpage on regular basis to obtain updated from most up-to-date news.

  10. Erin, you’ve done a positively fantastic job of compiling AMB’s story, and writing as well. I hold degrees in History and Political Science, and can remember being a TA and assisting graduate researchers who were not as thorough, concise, or as interesting as subject matter (admittedly, their grammar was noticeably lacking as well…where is yours is perfect). You ought to write this in a book format, then market it to the hoity-toity East Coast families, and historical societies 🙂

    • Thanks Karen for the kind words. You should know that this blog is about to undergo a major revision — I’ve done a better job with the research in the last several months and a new blog will be uploaded. It’s important that I correct some of my own historical myopia! Erin

    • Also… a woman in California contacted me because she was supposedly writing a book on this, maybe not scholarly, but more armchair history like mine. Not sure anything ever came from that.

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