- James Chilton came to Plymouth on the "Mayflower" in 1620 with his wife and daughter Mary. He died aboard the Mayflower while in Cape Cod Harbor, Barnstable, Massachusetts. James was the oldest Mayflower passenger, and one of the first to die after reaching the New World.
From notes in 1647 of William Bradford, 2nd Governor of Plymouth Plantation:
James Chilton and his wife also died in the first infection, but their daughter Mary is still living and hath nine children; and one daughter is married and has a child. So their increase is ten.
James Chilton was the oldest passenger on the Mayflower, having been born ca1556 (28 April 1619); with the possible exception of William Brewster. Leydon document states he was 63 yrs, in Canterbury, Kent County,England, where the surname appears in the annuals as far back as 1339 when Robert Chilton was a representative to Parliament from Canterbury. James' grandfather, Richard Chilton of St. Paul's Parish, Canterbury, in a will dated and proved in 1549, mentioned his deceased wife, Isabell and bequeathed the bulk of his estate to his son Lyonell. The Chilton family was, no doubt, of French descent, but were very early settlers in England. The name may originate from the chalk cliffs of Dover, or more likely from the Crusaders, for when Robert of Normandy embarked for the Holy Land, names were then bestowed which have been retained by their Descendants in America. In 1060 William of Normandy set sail for the conquest of England, and inscribed on his banner roll was Sir John Chilton. No doubt, he shared the spoils bestowed by the conqueror.
James Chilton, tailor, was listed as a freeman of Canterbury in 1583. He married before 1587 just possibly Susanna Furner, daughter of his step-mother and her first husband Francis Furner. Seven children were baptised in Canterbury to James, then about 1600 the family moved to neighboring Sandwich where three more children were baptised, including youngest daughter Mary, who was baptised at St Peter's in 1607.Here he undoubtedly met Moses Fletcher, who was destined to be a fellow Mayflower passenger, as well as other Pilgrims who later went to Holland, and so was drawn in to the Pilgrim movement.
From 1607 to 1620 we lose sight of James, but since his daughter "Ysabel Tgiltron spinister from Canterbury" was married in Leydon, Holland in 1615, and probably a second daughter Ingle, listed as "Engeltgen Gilten", was married there in 1622, it is likely that James took his family to Holland, where Leydon betrothal records include several Pilgrims from Sandwich and Canterbury. On the other hand, James Chilton's name has not been found in Leydon as owner of property, as a citizen, as friend of a betrothed couple, or even as witness at the betrothal of his own daughter. Possibly this apparent lack of record might be ascribed to the difficulty the Dutch had with the writing the name Chilton. TMQ The Mayflower Quarterly Aug. 1977 81/82
On April 28, 1619 James (then 63) and his daughter Isabella were caught in a riot and about 20 boys began throwing rocks. James was hit in the head with a large stone and required the services of the town surgeon, Jacob Hey.
From the "Roll of Freeman of the City of Canterbury" p.315 Freeman by gift: James Chylton, tailor 1583. also baptisms of daughters: Isabell, Jane, Ingle, Elizabeth; sons: James, Christian, 2nd James.