While I was driving myself nuts yesterday with Ancestry...had been on the 'wrong' branch of the tree happily adding people who had nothing to do with me...Ancestry did say they weren't but old clever clogs, decided they were so it serves me right...where was I?...ah yes...I found a chap called Sylvester who really was one of my relatives. He and his wife and two children sailed to America in 1638 on a boat called Martin.
Sylvester died before the voyage was over, and yet he's buried in the small village churchyard from where he hailed in England.
Which rather begs the question of why and how...normally anyone dying on the voyage was simply tipped over the side into the depths of the ocean...the sailors who performed this unpleasant task usually said a prayer in lieu of a full blown service, but it seems that Sylvester was kept on board until the ship Martin returned to England.
The ship had sailed from the Port of London so it would seem it would have returned there...but Sylvester and his family had lived a couple of hundred miles away from London...
The logistics of transporting a body to America and then keeping it until the ship set sail for home again and then moving it two hundred or so miles before the advent of mechanised transport...I suspect he'd have been a bit stinky when his remains finally completed the long journey back to his home place.
Had Sylvester been an indentured servant, his wife would have had to work twice as long herself to pay for his voyage...or put one of her children forward to do the same. But he was wealthy in his own right and he'd have paid for his families passage out of his own pocket.
Indentured servants didn't pay...they travelled free, on the understanding the person who signed them up for five or seven years paid the ship's Captain...for some it was nothing but another form of slavery...others fared better and received a training, plus their bed and board.
But if you were unfortunate enough to lose a family member on the way then you still had to pay for their passage...so you were signed up for your own five years with another additional five for the deceased.
I was reading some of the ship's passenger details earlier...those travelling to America in the 1600's tended to be moneyed and skilled. Farmers and tailors...Wheelwrights and Sheep Shearers...people who would have slotted neatly enough into the communities which were being set up among the early emigrants. It wasn't until later, around the early 1700's, that very much poorer people were risking the long and arduous sea voyage. Then it was mainly the English and the Germans...travelling in the hold, with little food or fresh water, they died in their scores without ever being in sight of the promised land of America.
Perhaps the mystery of Sylvester's return to his home village will never be solved...the person who has conducted some research into his story hasn't given up hope of finding out how and why...his grave is no longer visible in the graveyard...stones have been discarded over time and the inevitable multiple burials have taken place. But his name is clearly in the old burial records along with the date of his funeral...three months after his demise.
His wife remarried a couple of years later and his children survived their childhood and went on to become parents themselves...