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Mayflower Bastard: A Stranger Among the Pilgrims Hardcover – November 1, 2002

ISBN-13: 978-0312262037 ISBN-10: 0312262035 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books; 1st edition (November 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312262035
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312262037
  • Product Dimensions: 4.8 x 1.2 x 10.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,097,160 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The subject of David Lindsay's Mayflower Bastard is Richard More, a distant kinsman of Lindsay's. More, the 5-year-old, illegitimate offspring of a headstrong Shropshire woman and a man of "mean parentage," arrived in the New World on the Mayflower. He would live long enough to witness the hysteria of the Salem witch trials--and see a friend, accused of wizardry, "pressed" to death by stones. More was a sea captain, merchant, and tavern keeper. He was also an adulterer and a bigamist, whose wives lived on both sides of the Atlantic, forcing him to appear a Puritan in one country, and anything but in the other. What emerges is an intimate portrait of a world hardly holy--far more venal, vindictive, complex, and, especially, litigious than is usually believed. Lindsay's account is a stylistic mélange of first-person, second-person, and third-person history sprinkled with a few present-day anecdotes, in which the author retraces some of More's journeys. While this unorthodox approach lends the subject matter a certain gravity, at times it is merely obfuscatory. --H. O'Billovich

From Publishers Weekly

Histories based on genealogy often suffer from tunnel vision. Lindsay commits the opposite offense in this tale of one Richard More, a Lindsay ancestor who sailed at age five to the Plymouth colony aboard the Mayflower. In using the story of "the Mayflower Bastard" (so-called because More was the illegitimate son of landed gentry) as a lens through which to view early New England history, Lindsay has created a sprawling tale that exhausts the reader's patience as a cast of thousands parades through dozens of familiar scenes most extensively treated elsewhere. Lindsay's strategy is understandable. Little documentation on More, a Salem seafarer and tavern keeper, has survived; even his date of death is unknown. In the hands of a deft writer, the resulting fictionalization and speculation can work brilliantly, but this author is, at best, workmanlike. Lindsay, whose previous books explore inventors and inventions, also falters when choosing a narrative voice. At several points, he addresses a mysterious "you" apparently the accuser who had the elderly More cast out of the church for "lasciviousness." In other places Lindsay lapses into the first person. One of those asides is a gross sexual escapade Lindsay shared with a sailor friend, which the author includes to prove that sailors then and now did not share the moral code of the God-fearing Puritans. Aside from questionable historicity of such a comparison, no reader picking up a book about this nation's origins should be exposed to such a gratuitously offensive interjection. Still, some Mayflower buffs may want this volulme.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 1, 2003
Format: Hardcover
What a pity that the author put so much time and effort into the research for this book and then botched it all by making assumptions and jumping to conclusions, some of which may have a basis in fact (we will probably never know) but others which I truly believe are erroneous. Excellent footnotes cite original sources, but the writing style makes it impossible to determine conclusively which of the author's suppositions are backed up by good evidence and which are not. I would have preferred to read a straight chronological presentation of the evidence, more of it in the form of the full text (perhaps presented in appendices), and let the evidence speak for itself. It appears there wasn't enough evidence to fill out a complete biography, so the author padded it by filling in what he thought would make the most interesting and swashbuckling story. The text is further marred by several typographical errors which are unworthy of a publishing house of the stature of St. Martin's Press. Don't they proofread? This was one of the worst books I have read in a long time; it was given to me by a friend and I have no intention of keeping it, but I even hesitate to donate it to my local library.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By John O. Bronson on April 16, 2003
Format: Hardcover
More often than not when people hear the word "Mayflower", a certain attitude surfaces in conversation. To those who bristle with ill disguised anger at the thought of someone else being a descendant of a First Comer, let him or her read this work. If another person gushes with adoration at the same thought, let him or her read the same. The fact is these First Comers were regular people who took a major risk in starting life anew in a place no one knew anything about. One may as well be a First Comer at Mars Colony #1. The major difference being that at present we know more about Mars than these Mayflower ventures knew about any part of the New World let alone the inhospitable coast of 17th century New England.
This is the story of a five year old boy who was all but literally cast into the arms of the pilgrims and lived and grew up in earliest New England.It is an interesting read and throws light on various aspects of life in New England, the Plimoth Colony and the town of Salem in particular. Richard More arrived at Plimoth in 1620 and lived there until very late in the 17th century (1696). He was not only a First Comer but a Long Liver as well. He was regarded as being very ancient and a representative of Ancient Times. The story of the Salem Witch Trials is dealt with and not pawed over in morbid fascination.
This was an interesting and useful read. I recomment it.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 19, 2002
Format: Hardcover
"Richard More is a distant cousin of Lindsay's...a First Comer on the Mayflower who grew up to be a bigamous debauchee, and this is his tale: a mostly jolly entertainment that finishes on a reflective note. Lindsay has cobbled together More's life from extant records-adding surmises and conjectures as necessary-and squared it with the times:from landfall in 1620 to the era of witches' nooses in Salem. Product of a dalliance, More got shipped aboard the Mayflower at the age of five by his disgruntled father-in-name-only. Wonderfully, wryly told, Lindsay's tale charts More's wayward course. Put into the hands of a Saint-a particularly vibrant Puritan-for his first seven years at Plimouth Colony, he disappears from Lindsay's sights until surfacing aboard the Blessing, out of London for New England in 1635. Well on his way to becoming a dispossessed soul, More falls in with the fishermen of Maine outposts, who "drank like the damned and shared their wives as they did their boats." When he finally settles in Salem, he marries and starts to raise a family and gain a position in town. Problem is, he marries and starts to raise a family in London as well, which he takes pains to hide, as bigamy is a hanging offense. All this is painted against a rich historical backdrop of tobacco and bells, feuding between Separatists and Strangers, the Quaker and Antinomian controversies ("as usual, theology was not the real issue at stake, because no one was studying it"), the whole dissembling of the New England ideal, pretending to one course while following another. Like something out of Henry Fielding, a bad seed gets worse (More eventually wears the scarlet letter) in a quizzical story that keeps momentum and drollery all the way to its humanist end."
-Kirkus Reviews
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Dave Schwinghammer VINE VOICE on June 20, 2003
Format: Hardcover
MAYFLOWER BASTARD is riveting at first. The back story involving Richard More's parents reads like a gothic novel. Theirs was an arranged marriage that quickly unraveled with Samuel, Richard's father, living in London, and his mother, Katherine, carrying on an affair with another man, resulting in four bastard children. Richard More's father is such a snake it's hard to believe people like him actually exist. When his wife is too blatant in her affair, he divorces her and has their illegitimate children deported to America on the Mayflower. Richard is assigned to William Brewster the temporary minister at Plymouth Colony. Richard is pretty much treated like a servant and the Stranger (non Puritan) that he is and his brothers and sisters die.
Apparently Samuel's arrangement with Brewster was rather like that of an indentured servant. After seven years, Brewster's obligation was fulfilled. Richard then hooks up with Richard Hollingsworth, a shipwright whose daughter Christian he marries. They ultimately have seven children together. Richard becomes a sea captain and in the process takes another wife in England, an offense which could have gotten him hanged since the penalty for bigamy was death.
Richard More lived to be an old man and was known among the Puritans as one of the Ancient Ones. He was around at the beginning of the colony and was there for the Salem Witch trials. He was not hanged for being a witch but he did become embroiled in politic intrigue and was found guilty of adultery and required to wear a scarlet A, just like Hester Prynne.
Author David Lindsay, a descendant of Richard More, did extensive research on his subject, but the book is replete with supposition which cheapens his effort.
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