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We all know about the long sea voyage and the hard first winter of the Mayflower arrivals. Those who survived have many living descendants – but how far did the apple fall from the tree? The famous descendants of Plymouth Colony’s Governor William Bradford, Preacher William Brewster and Chief Scout Richard Warren are some real surprises:
#1 William Bradford – Governor of Plymouth Colony
As the head of Plymouth colony, Bradford was responsible for the courts, finances, diplomatic relations and law as well as writing the history of the colony, which is now known as Of Plymouth Plantation. He is quoted as having said: “All great and honorable actions are accompanied with great difficulties, and both must be enterprised and overcome with answerable courage.” He would no doubt be rightly proud of his descendants John Lithgow, Christopher Reeve, Julia Child and Clint Eastwood. However, one of his descendants strayed pretty far from his Puritan hopes for future Americans – playboy Hugh Hefner. Hefner has acknowledged his 10th-generation ancestor, once saying: “Some would say my life has been kind of a reaction to exactly that Puritan heritage.” A night at Hefner’s Playboy Mansion would surely be a shock to Great-Grandfather Bradford!
#2 William Brewster – Religious Leader
Plymouth’s religious leader began his dynasty by fathering some very oddly-named children: Patience, Fear, Love, and Wrestling Brewster. With his dour demeanor and puritan outlook he would no doubt have been surprised to find that a whole host of his descendants turned to a life in the world of showbusiness – among his descendants are Bing Crosby, Richard Gere, Katherine Hepburn, Ted Danson and Ashley Judd. In an interview, Judd called the discovery of her Mayflower ancestor a life-changing event and wondered if her desire to help the oppressed was in her genes.
#3 Richard Warren – Colony Scout
On arrival Warren was the key advance scout in Cape Cod, plotting the landscape and scoping possibilities. He was present at what is known as the First Encounter with the continent’s native people on December 6, 1620. Two of his descendants who were also adventurous enough to venture into the unknown were frontierswoman Laura Ingalls Wilder and the Astronaut Alan Shepherd, who in 1961 became the first American to travel into space and later became the fifth person to walk on the Moon.