An Original Portrait of a Pilgrim: Edward Winslow

Edward Winslow (1595-1655) was a Mayflower Pilgrim, signer of the Mayflower Compact, and three-time governor of Plymouth Colony. He is also notable for another reason: Edward is the only Mayflower Pilgrim with a verified portrait.

Painting: portrait of Plymouth Colony Governor Edward Winslow
Painting: portrait of Plymouth Colony Governor Edward Winslow. Credit: Pilgrim Hall Museum, Plymouth, Massachusetts; Wikimedia Commons.

I recently learned about the existence of this portrait and wanted to learn more. What was the history of this historic portrait and how did it come to be? To find out, I turned to GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives.

For this search, I used Edward’s first and last names, plus two keywords: “Pilgrim” and “Portrait.”

A screenshot of GenealogyBank's search page showing a search for Edward Winslow and "Pilgrim" and "portrait"
Source: GenealogyBank

This search led me to an article about the Winslow family and gave me a bit more info about the portrait itself.

An article about Edward Winslow, San Francisco Chronicle newspaper article 6 January 1907
Source: GenealogyBank, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco, California), 6 January 1907, page 6

According to the article:

“The only authentic portrait of any Mayflower pilgrim is that of Edward Winslow; it was painted in England in 1651. His chair and other relics are preserved in Pilgrim hall.”

Interesting that it was painted in England and not in the United States.

The next article I found continued the story of this fascinating painting.

An article about Edward Winslow's portrait, Boston Traveler newspaper article 3 July 1953
Source: GenealogyBank, Boston Traveler (Boston, Massachusetts), 3 July 1953, page 9

This article reports:

“Back in 1620 Edward Winslow sailed for America aboard the Mayflower. Today his portrait came back to Britain as an American gift to his birthplace, the midland spa of Droitwich…

“The picture is a copy of the original hanging in the Pilgrim Hall at Plymouth Mass. The original is the only known contemporary portrait of any of the Pilgrim fathers. The copy, by American artist Elisabeth Weber-Fulopp, is the gift of the Historic Winslow House Association of Marshfield, Mass.”

A document from the Pilgrim Hall museum gave me the last piece of information I was looking for, explaining when and why the original painting was created:

“The portrait of Edward Winslow is the only likeness of a Pilgrim made from life. It was painted by an unknown English artist in 1651 when the 57-year-old Winslow was joined in London by his son Josiah on the occasion of Josiah’s wedding to Penelope Pelham. Josiah and Penelope also had their portraits painted at this time.”

— Source: “Edward Winslow Portrait,” Pilgrim Hall Museum, Plymouth, Massachusetts

Fascinating. Interested historians and other visitors can see the Edward Winslow portrait, along with the Winslow chair and other relics, in the Pilgrim Hall Museum.

Genealogy Tip: GenealogyBank’s newspapers can help you discover information about your family that you did not already know. Start your search today!

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