Mayflower Bastard: A Stranger Among the Pilgrims

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9780312262037: Mayflower Bastard: A Stranger Among the Pilgrims

David Lindsay, researching old records to learn details of the life of his ancestor, Richard More, soon found himself in the position of the Sorcerer's Apprentice-wherever he looked for one item, ten more appeared. What he found illuminated not only More's own life but painted a clear and satisfying picture of the way the First Comers, Saints and Strangers alike, set off for the new land, suffered the voyage on the Mayflower, and put down their roots to thrive on our continent's northeastern shore. From the story, Richard emerges as a man of questionable morals, much enterprise, and a good deal of old-fashioned pluck, a combination that could get him into trouble-and often did. He lived to father several children, to see, near the end of his life, a friend executed as a witch in Salem, and to be read out of the church for unseemly behavior. Mayflower Bastard lets readers see history in a new light by turning an important episode into a personal experience.

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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

About the Author:

David Lindsay has previously published several books, including The Patent Files: Dispatches from the Frontiers of Invention and Madness in the Making: The Triumphant Rise and Untimely Fall of America's Show Inventors . He has also written for New York Press, American Heritage, The Village Voice, The Wall Street Journal and The American Experience. In addition to being a successful historian, he is also a founding member of the music groups the Klezmatics and They Might Be Giants. David Lindsay lives in New York City

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