By John M. Hunt, Jr.
When Robert Charles Anderson journeyed from his home in Derry, New Hampshire, where he directs the Great Migration Project, to received our Society's Award for Distinguished Mayflower Scholarship, conferred at our Annual Luncheon, on January 15, 2000, he came in eminent company. Alice C. Teal, editor of the Mayflower Quarterly, joined us for the occasion, as did Sandra Hewlett, Second Vice President of the New England Historic Genealogical Society in Boston, the sponsor of the Great Migration Project. Mrs. Hewlett brought printed information about the project, covering immigrants to New England between 1620 and 1640, and displayed the four volumes published so far (to 1634). All was sun and coziness on the sun porches of the Radnor Hunt Club, despite the January date, and our members actually saw the "field" of riders, dressed in pinks and top-hats or black melton coats and bowlers, depart smartly behind hounds.
During dessert and coffee Governor Edward A. Parker, IV, introduced our awardee, Robert Charles Anderson, a Mayflower descendant in his own right (from William White) and a live member of the Massachusetts Society. Mr. Anderson, sporting our Society's pink and white in the form of a boutonniere, told our members of the new discoveries related to Stephen Hopkins and Francis Eaton, and predicted that more information would soon surface on the origins of John Alden and Richard Warren. "This is what happens when you follow up old clues," he said.
We honored Mr. Anderson precisely for the authoritative biographical sketches he has produced, of Pilgrims and Puritans, for the rigorous critical methodology he has applied, rejecting the old romantic approach, and for the small discoveries he has made, in details, that lead to larger advances and a clearer picture of the migration process. When, for instance, a Hough becomes a Hutchinson, the prosopograply of early New England changes; and there is more to learn, for instance, about the famous John Winthorp, simply through reinterpretation of his Journal.
As SMDPA sees it, The Great Migration is an ongoing masterwork; it has already revitalized the whole Mayflower company, both those who left descendants and those who did not. We appreciate the enormous impetus it gives to future study of this important period.