George Morton (1585-1624) and Nathaniel Morton (1613-1685)
This past week my publisher delivered the files for my book to the printer. I imagine that within the next couple of weeks I will have an actual copy of my first book in my hands. The book is Ascend: The Catholic Faith for a New Generation, published by Paulist Press of New York.
I mention this because there is a gap of 389 years between my book and the first books published by my ancestors. As far as I know, I have no ancestors in the interim who have published a book.
The first known book published by one of my ancestors was Mourt’s Relation: A Relation or Journal of the Beginning and Proceedings of the English Plantation Settled at Plimouth in New England, which was published in London in 1622. This book was ostensibly written by my 10x-great-grandfather George Morton (1585-1624), although historians generally agree it was probably written by Edward Winslow (1595-1655) and William Bradford (1590-1657), both of whom served as governors of Plymouth Colony. William Bradford is considered the author of the Mayflower Compact.
Why Governor Winslow and Governor Bradford chose to have my 10x-great-grandfather’s name put on a book they wrote is unknown. Perhaps he compiled their writings and found a publisher. But the book sold well, encouraging many to join the English colony in the New World.
George Morton married Juliana Carpenter (1584-1665) on 23 Jul 1612 in Leyden, Holland, where they settled after fleeing English persecution for their Separatist beliefs. Juliana was one of the three famous Carpenter sisters who are acknowledged as matriarchs of three separate great American family trees. One of their seven children, Nathaniel, is my 9x-great-grandfather. On 25 Dec 1634 he married Lydia Cooper, and their daughter Mercy (1638-1667) married Joseph Dunham, the son of Deacon John Dunham, my 9x-great-grandfather and the progenitor of the main branch of the Dunham name in the United States.
Nathaniel Morton (1613-1685) was orphaned at an early age, and was brought up in the household of his uncle, William Bradford. He became the secretary of Plymouth Colony and as a result preserved the records of the colony, especially the writings of Governor Bradford.
In 1669, Secretary Morton published New England’s Memorial, the first history of the Plymouth Plantation, based largely on the written records of his uncle Governor Bradford. His book has not lost its impact in the intervening years; every year since 1961 The Wall Street Journal has published an excerpt from his book on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving Day.
There may have been other books published by my ancestors, but these two were quite significant. As far as I know, these are the only books published by my family prior to Ascend.