Many families hold a tradition that they are descended from the Pilgrims, which often kindles an interest in finding out more. Sometimes the stories of a Mayflower heritage are true and it is easy to document a descent. More often the documentation is missing and must be researched and supplied to prove one's line. The good news is that advanced research techniques, improved genealogy library collections and computerized resources have made it easier to track down your Pilgrim roots.
Many descendants of Mayflower passengers, for a variety of reasons are not aware of their Mayflower heritage. You may be one of those individuals. You should know that the majority of individuals who join the Society of Mayflower Descendants in the State of Illinois each year were not previously aware of their Mayflower Heritage. Learn more about eligibility to become a member by clicking here.
Samuel Fuller (son of Edward)
Elizabeth (Fisher) Hopkins
Joan (Hurst) Tilley
The best documentation to look for is vital records such as the birth, marriage, and death certificates for each person. Other documentation might be published genealogies, family documents and other official records. If you have a relative who is a member of the Society, you may be able to use their lineage documentation to help you with your research.
To become a member of the Society, you must be able to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” your direct lineage from one of the Mayflower passengers using primary or secondary source documentation. (See the Genealogy Research page on this website for further explanation regarding acceptable documentation.)
The documentation submitted should substantiate:
1) the date and place of the birth, marriage and death of each of your ancestors in the Mayflower line and
2) the parent-child relationship between each of the successive line carriers in the Mayflower line.
The General Society also requires that certified vital records--which name the parents--be provided for the three (3) most current generations (you, your parents and your grandparents).
If you have a reasonable basis to believe that you are descended from a Mayflower passenger, and would like to be considered for membership, here is the process and timeline you can expect:
1. Please send an inquiry email to our Membership Secretary and a preliminary application will be sent.
Our Membership Secretary, Donald W. Sherman, can be reached via email at:
2. Please return the completed preliminary application to the Membership Secretary within six months, along with an application and initiation fee of $150. ($100 of the application and initiation fee is non-refundable, but the annual dues portion of $50 will be refunded if the application is not approved for any reason.)
3. Once received, the Membership Secretary will forward your completed preliminary application to one of our three experienced State Historians. Your assigned State Historian will contact you to offer you his or her assistance and will prepare and send you an initial worksheet application for you to complete. Although State Historians are not able to perform genealogical research for you, they will be happy to offer you helpful and instructive suggestions, and advice and direction with regard to your research and documentation. (See the Genealogy Research page on this website for more helpful information.)
4. Please return your completed worksheet application and acceptable documentation to the State Historian for his or her review. The turnaround time for this review may be up to two months. The State Historian will approve or reject your application. If approved, you will be asked to sign a final version of your application which will be forwarded to the General Society in Plymouth. If rejected, you will have up to two years from the issuance of your application worksheet to submit an acceptable application.
5. The General Historian in Plymouth, MA will approve or reject your final application. The turnaround time for this review may be up to two months. If your application cannot be approved without additional documentation, the Historian General may alternatively keep your application in a "pending file" for six months, at the end of which time the application may be rejected as "unproven." The State Historian will inform you of the final decision of the General Historian regarding your application.
6. If approved by the General Society, the Illinois Board of Assistants (the governing board of the Society of Mayflower Descendants in the State of Illinois) will provide the final and formal approval for you to become a member.
7. Upon election, you will be issued a certificate of membership.
Mayflower Passenger List:
Mary (Norris) Allerton
Mrs. James Chilton
Mrs. Edward Fuller
APPLICATION FEE: $150.00
The membership application and initiation fee is paid in advance during the membership application process. ($100 of the application and initiation fee is non-refundable, but the annual dues portion of $50 will be refunded if the application is not approved for any reason.)
ANNUAL DUES: $ 50.00
Annual member dues for existing members are due each December.
LIFE MEMBER DUES:
Members may become a Life Member by paying a one-time Life Membership Dues, based upon age. No additional annual member dues will be collected for the member's lifetime. Lifetime Membership applies to membership in the Society of Mayflower Descendants in the State of Illinois, and is not transferrable to other state Mayflower Societies.
$1,500 Birth through 18th birthday
$1,100 Age 18 (and one day) through 35th birthday
$900 Age 35 (and one day) through 65th birthday
$500 Age 65 (and one day) and older
SUPPLEMENTAL APPLICATION FEE: $100
Supplemental Applications are for existing members that would like to prove their lineage to an additional Mayflower Passenger.
JUNIOR MEMBER REGISTRATION FEE: $15
The Society of Mayflower Descendants of the State of Illinois welcomes you to apply for membership to our organization. Any person, eighteen years of age or older, who is able to document their lineal descent from one or more of the Mayflower Passengers is eligible to apply for membership in the Society of Mayflower Descendants in the State of Illinois. Children who are descendants of Illinois Mayflower members may apply for a Junior Associate membership by completing the Junior Associate Application form.
Junior Associates are children who are descendants of members of the Society of Mayflower Descendants in the State of Illinois.
An application to become, or sponsor, a Junior Associate membership may be obtained at the Mayflower Society website or from our Membership Secretary, Donald W. Sherman, by sending an email request to:
A completed application must be returned for each applicant, with a check for $15.00 and two photocopies of the original birth certificate from vital statistics (stating the name of the father and showing the mother’s maiden name). The birth certificates are kept on file to facilitate the transition at a later date from Junior Associate to a full adult membership application.
The Junior Associate Application form can be downloaded here.