Curious about early New England Valentine’s Day traditions? The Alden Kindred of America – a GSMD-endorsed family society – is hosting a tea and talk this Thursday, Feb. 14th on the etiquette of the tea table and courtship traditions, followed by tea and treats made from historic recipes.
The program will be presented by Leslie Evans, director of the Avery-Copp Museum. Admission is $10 ($8 for members). The event takes place in the barn of the Alden House Historic Site in Duxbury, MA from 2-4 pm. Reservations are recommended; email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 781-934-9092 to reserve your spot!
The Alden House is a fitting setting for a Valentine’s event, considering it was the homestead of two Pilgrims with a very famous courtship. Most people don’t think of romance when they picture the Pilgrims, but the story of Mayflower passengers John Alden and Priscilla Mullins has been romanticized for centuries. And if you choose to believe the 1858 poem “The Courtship of Miles Standish,” (composed by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, a descendant of John and Priscilla who said that he based his writing on oral family tradition), John, Priscilla, and Captain Myles Standish were embroiled in a love triangle that could rival any Hollywood movie plot!
It’s not farfetched to speculate that John and Priscilla could have fallen in love during their time on the Mayflower. She was 17, the oldest minor girl passenger, while John was around 21 years old. He was hired in Southampton as the cooper (barrel-maker) for the ship and was due to return to England, but for some reason, he chose to stay in Plymouth… We can certainly speculate why!
John married Priscilla (after, legend has it, unsuccessfully trying to convince her to marry his friend, Captain Standish) and the two had 10 children together, from which there were many notable descendants, including Presidents John Quincy and John Quincy Adams, Orson Wells, Marilyn Monroe, and Dick Van Dyke.
For more on John Alden and Priscilla Mullins, visit the Alden Kindred of America.