Mayflower kin

As we head into 2020 with the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower voyage, I’ll likely be posting more and more on various figures with Mayflower heritage, as I have already this year with Denise Nickerson and Terry Kiser. As is most often the case (except in my own), usually one Mayflower line leads to another, then another, etc., since members of these families often married one another.

After watching the Netflix original movie El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie, which focuses on the character Jesse Pinkman, I took a look on the ancestry of actor Aaron Paul, who portrays Jesse. As various biographies report, Aaron Paul Sturtevant was born in Emmett, Idaho on 27 August 1979, the son of Robert Lee and Darla (Haynes) Sturtevant. While the actor goes by his middle name (in part due to casting directors stumbling over “Sturtevant”), I recognized that surname as usually going back to colonial Plymouth.

Samuel Sturtevant first appears in Plymouth Colony on 3 May 1642 in a court case which refers to a business deal with Mayflower passenger Edward Doty over the 1641 corn harvest. Mentioned in several Plymouth records throughout the 1640s, ‘50s, and ‘60s, he died at Plymouth on 16 October 1669. While not a Mayflower passenger, many descendants of Samuel Sturtevant will also have Mayflower lineage. He had nine children, two of whom married descendants of passenger Richard Warren.

While not a Mayflower passenger, many descendants of Samuel Sturtevant will also have Mayflower lineage. He had nine children, two of whom married descendants of passenger Richard Warren.

Robert Hunter Sturtevant’s 1986 genealogy Descendants of Samuel Sturtevant, treats Aaron Paul’s lineage down to the actor’s father Robert Lee12 Sturtevant (Leon Robert11-10, Joel Benton9, Henry Irwin8, Joel Benton7, Cyril6, Lemuel5-4, Samuel3-1), born at Nampa, Idaho on 22 May 1948.[1] Except for the first generation, this genealogy provides very few citations, although from vital, census, and other sources cited below, this line is indeed correct. Within the ancestry of Aaron’s great-great-great-great-grandfather, Joel Benton Sturtevant (1809–1886), the actor has descents from Mayflower passengers Mary, Isaac, and Mary (Norris) Allerton, Peter Brown, Francis Cooke, Richard Warren (twice), and my own ancestors, Francis, John and Elinor (____) Billington.

Click on images to expand them.

As an additional related piece, six years ago, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon had an entertaining segment called Joking Bad, in homage to the Breaking Bad series, and both Aaron Paul and Bryan Cranston had cameos. Aaron Paul’s Jesse character was parodied by Fallon’s announcer, actor and comedian Steve Higgins. Higgins, like Sturtevant, is another name that goes back to colonial Plymouth. Again, while not the on the Mayflower, the immigrant Richard Higgins, who arrived in Plymouth by 1632 and moved to Eastham in 1645, has many descendants with Mayflower lineage. Stephen Eugene12 Higgins (Harold Richard11, Tyler Joel10, Joel Mansfield9, Jonathan8, Shaw7, David6, Moses4, Richard3, Benjamin2, Richard1), a native of Iowa, was the great-great-great-grandson of Jonathan Higgins (1794–1857) who moved from Maine to Iowa, and whose parents, first cousins Shaw and Eunice (Higgins) Higgins, were born in Eastham, Massachusetts. Steve Higgins has descents from Mayflower passengers Stephen Hopkins (twice through his children Constance and Giles, who were also passengers) and William and Mary Brewster (at least once, probably twice).


Aaron Paul: John Bradley Arthaud, Mayflower Families Through Five GenerationsVolume Twenty-One, Part 3: Family of John Billington, 194–97 (Cyril Sturtevant and wife Lucy Benton, follow families back for Cooke and Brown descents); Robert S. Wakefield, Mayflower Families Through Five Generations … Volume Seventeen: Family of Isaac Allerton, 110–11 (Fear Gibbs’s birth, follow families back for Warren lines); Mansfield Vital Records, D: 277 (marriage of John Sergeant and Fear Gibbs, daughter of John of Lebanon, 3 April 1760); Sargent Genealogy, 41, 50 (Sergeant to Benton); Revolutionary War Pension of Joel Benton W-20,711; gravestones of Cyril and Lucy (Benton) Sturtevant, Joel Benton and Sarah (Chapman) Sturtevant,; Rock Co., Wisconsin Probate Record Joel B. Sturtevant, 1886, no. 2820; 1909 South Dakota Death Certificate of Henry Sturtevant, no. 16075; 1953 Idaho Death Certificate of Joel Benton Sturtevant, no. 939; 1902 South Dakota Birth Record of Leon Robert Sturtevant; 1924 South Dakota Marriage Certificate Leon Sturtevant and Ethel Walker; 1940 U.S. Census, Ritzville, Adams Co., Wash., Leon R. Sturtevant household; 1947 Idaho Marriage Certificate for Robert Sturtevant and Verna Lee Webb, no. 01095.

Steve Higgins: John D. Austin, Mayflower Families Through Five Generations … Volume Six Family – Stephen Hopkins, 249-50 (Priscilla Snow and Jesse Higgins), 457-58 (down to Lydia Hopkins and David Higgins), Barbara Lambert Merrick, Mayflower Families in Progress William Brewster … Fifth Generation Descendants of his daughter Patience, 183–84, 194–96 (down to siblings Richard and Priscilla Sparrow, with spouses, Priscilla’s stated as probable); Katherine E. Chapin Higgins, Richard Higgins, a resident of and pioneer settler at Plymouth and Eastham, Massachusetts, and at Piscataway, New Jersey, and his descendants, 256, 270-71 (David through Jonathan Higgins, descendants of Jonathan and Elizabeth (Higgins) Smith have joined the Mayflower Society); 1870 U.S. Census, Washington, Dubuque Co., Iowa, J.M. Higgins household; Dubuque County, Iowa Probate Record of Joel M. Higgins, 1896; 1925 Iowa State Census, Washington, Dubuque Co., Iowa, T.J. Higgins (listing parents); 1928 Iowa Marriage Record of Tyler J. Higgins and Vera Nabb; 1934 Iowa Birth Certificate of Harold Richard Higgins; “Harold R. Higgins,” The Des Moines [Iowa] Register, 9 October 1979, 16; “Marian Coppola Higgins, The Des Moines Register, 10 July 2011, 19.


[1] The family had moved westward from Massachusetts to Vermont to Wisconsin to South Dakota to Idaho.

About Christopher C. Child

Chris Child has worked for various departments at NEHGS since 1997 and became a full-time employee in July 2003. He has been a member of NEHGS since the age of eleven. He has written several articles in American Ancestors, The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, and The Mayflower Descendant. He is the co-editor of The Ancestry of Catherine Middleton (NEHGS, 2011), co-author of The Descendants of Judge John Lowell of Newburyport, Massachusetts (Newbury Street Press, 2011) and Ancestors and Descendants of George Rufus and Alice Nelson Pratt (Newbury Street Press, 2013), and author of The Nelson Family of Rowley, Massachusetts (Newbury Street Press, 2014). Chris holds a B.A. in history from Drew University in Madison, New Jersey.

16 thoughts on “Mayflower kin

  1. Chris, it is certainly more likely than not that Mayflower descendants have more than one passenger as an ancestor, given how small the initial gene pool was, and that after many generations, lines of ancestry often merge. My family’s experience is a good example of this.

    When I started my research, I first found Edward Doty, through his 3rd great granddaughter Betsey Washburn, who is my 3rd great grandmother. I then discovered that Betsey was also a Chilton, a Cooke, a Hopkins, and a Warren. The same thing happened on my wife’s side, with her grandmother Laura Harlow’s lineage traceable to John Howland, and therefore also Elizabeth Tilley. But further research on Laura also proved her descent from Allerton, Edward Fuller, and Warren (thereby making my wife and me cousins.)

    So I have 8 Mayflower ancestors and my wife has 10. Our two daughters therefore have 17 Mayflower ancestors (not 18 because they have Warren twice), all because of the family mergers in the first few generations after the Mayflower voyage.

    Steve McLane

    1. Certainly. But for me, Billington is the only family on the Mayflower itself I descend from! I descend from the brothers of Edward Winslow and John Howland, and the cousin of Henry Samson.

    2. If you have Elizabeth Tilley, you also have her parents who were John Tilley and Elizabeth Hurst. Not sure if you counted them.

  2. I know you’re looking at the breaking bad angle but Aaron Paul was also in that movie van Wilder, a national lampoon parity of the animal house movies that they have done. Very funny movie!

  3. This is a great motivator to get back to researching my husbands possible Mayflower ancestor Edward Fuller. We came up against a brick wall at generation 5 a few months ago, but with the 400th anniversary fast approaching there is no time like the present!

    1. Barb, I would be happy to share with you my wife’s line of descent from Edward Fuller; perhaps it would have a clue for your research.

      1. Please share your wife’s line of descent with me. My grandson is a Fuller descendant, and is working on the Fullers this special Mayflower year

        1. So sorry for the delay in responding, but I had lost this thread until another post came in today. So this is my wife Nancy’s Fuller line. This was approved for her as a supplemental line under her GSMD #88454.

          Edward Fuller m. Anna
          Matthew Fuller m. Frances?
          Samuel Fuller m. Mary?
          Thomas Fuller m. Elizabeth Lathrop
          Benjamin Fuller m. Rebecca Bodfish
          Lydia Fuller m. John Percival
          Benjamin Percival m. Lydia Goodspeed
          John Percival m. Sarah Smith
          William Percival m. Eliza C. Godspeed (a Tilley and Howland descendant)
          Susan Percival m. John Jones Harlow (an Allerton and Warren descendant)
          Laura Cowie Harlow m. Louis George Karl Clarner, Jr.
          Louis George Karl Clarner III m. Barbara Sprague
          Nancy Clarner m. Stephen Eric McLane (a Chilton, Cooke, Doty, Hopkins, and Warren descendant)

  4. Good Afternoon, Chris. I just tried to call you re the Phone and I was just able to leave a message. I too have links to several of the Mayflower Passengers and Crew. I have been busy for a while researching this phase of our lives re our Genealogy and it is great to meet up with so many of our friends who really love our Family History. I wish all of our NEHGS a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Sincere Best Wishes, Paul Morris Hilton- or via phone- 506-366-1113.

  5. Enjoyed your excellent post. It did encourage me to continue two lines that i believe go to the Mayflower. I already have Alden and Warren proven. It is filling out the application to the Mayflower Society that overwhelms me.:)

    1. Hi Chris, I would love to give you an interesting follow up story to this article. Thank you, Ellen Niedert Higgins

  6. Hi,
    I have been working on the Bodfish Mayflower information. I did see Fuller married Bodfish in one of the posts. Any information you can provide I will be grateful for. Thank you so much.

    1. Kimberly, in my wife’s Edward Fuller line (GSMD 88454 and Mass. Society 12302S) Benjamin Fuller, 1690-1748/9, married Rebecca Bodfish on 25 March 1714 in Barnstable, Mass. She was born on 22 Feb 1692/3 in Barnstable and died on 10 March 1727/8 in West Barnstable. Her parents were Joseph Bodfish and Elizabeth Bessie. The descent from Mayflower passenger Edward Fuller is
      Edward the passenger

      I hope this is useful.

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