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I am interested to know if I am a descendant from anyone on the Mayflower ship. I have access to ancestry.com and also Family Search. My genealogy goes back quite far in many different directions. Where should I start and what is the most efficient approach to take?

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The advice I am offering here is as an amateur genealogist normally researching the United Kingdom and Australia, and rarely researching the United States.

I think the first steps should be:

  1. Review list of the names of those who travelled on the Mayflower
  2. Produce a list of Mayflower surnames from 1.
  3. Create a list of the surnames for your direct ancestors
  4. Determine whether any surnames in 3. are also found in 2.
  5. For any "Mayflower surnames" amongst your "ancestor surnames" work through your direct ancestors one by one starting with the ones who have their earliest reliable records nearest in time to the date of the Mayflower landing to see if you are able to find any reliable records that indicate direct descendancy/ancestry between them.

Also, as suggested by @bgwiehle:

  1. Focus on any of your ancestral families who are English and rooted in New England
  2. Look for books and society resources (periodicals and databases) that detail the early families (e.g. giving daughters' married names).

If the above does not find any Mayflower ancestors I am sure that there will still be lots of other methods that you may be able to employ with additional effort.

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  • That sounds like a great approach. Thanks for the tip.
    – bill999
    Jul 23 '14 at 2:41
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    See werelate.org/wiki/Mayflower_Passenger_List for list. Note that many of these passsengers left no descendants, reducing the number of target families. There are a number of books and society resources (periodicals and databases) that detail the early families (eg. giving daughters' married names), so bridging the gap a few generations. Basic technique outlined by PolyGeo still applies, although I would exclude ancestral families that are non-English and those rooted outside New England.
    – bgwiehle
    Jul 23 '14 at 13:04

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