Who Is Alice Martin Bishop?

Meet our 10x great grandmother. In 1648, Alice Martin Bishop of Plymouth Colony was hanged for the murder of her 4-year-old daughter, Martha Clarke. Join us as we reconstruct Alice’s world. Here, we learn more about her origins, her husbands, her surviving children, and her Puritan community — all in an attempt to make sense of a crime so unnatural, it continues to fascinate, nearly 400 years later.

48 thoughts on “Who Is Alice Martin Bishop?

  1. I am a 10x great grandson of Alice Martin Bishop. Never knew til just now her history. From her I go through families of Bonney, Hill, Smith, to Hill again (but different y-dna group). Will provide more details if any cousins are interested.

  2. I was excited to find your website and have been eagerly awaiting your return from Plymouth :-). Thank you for all of your hard work!
    Alice is my 11th great grandmother through Damaris Bishop Sutton, 3 additional Sutton generations, 2 Hayden generations, a Ketcham, a Pettit, 2 Lemley generations, ending with the Connor line.
    I was born in Pittsburgh and am currently living in the Washington DC Metro region. The Pettits, Lemleys and Connors resided in West Virginia and southwestern PA. I am happy to share whatever info I have.

      • Hope you both are feeling better 🙂
        I have a theory regarding Alice’s parentage; I’m thinking she may be a niece of “Mayflower” Christopher Martin and she may have arrived or been born in Virginia. Here goes… Chris Martin was interested in the Virginia Colony and was partner in Ralph Hamars plantation in Jamestown. Captain John Martin arrived in Jamestown in 1607 (with his teenage son, John) – his brothers include, Thomas, Richard, & “Mayflower” Christopher – all who arrived later. The original destination of the The Mayflower was the Virginia Colony but bad weather prevented them from sailing that far south, thus, they ended up at Plymouth. The first settlers of Jamestown also included a John Clarke who arrived in 1608, and a Charles Clarke, who may have returned to England – it’s possible that they were related to George Clarke. I am now searching for any Jamestown Churchills or Ramsdens; given that they don’t appear in early Plymouth records, I’m wondering if perhaps they had originally arrived in Virgina and then headed north to Plymouth – this would explain how the families knew each other and why there are no early Plymouth records for them???? Just a theory, I thought I’d throw out there… Has anyone explored this possibility already? Or perhaps I am way off-base….

        • Wow Diane — that IS quite a theory! I haven’t seen any information about Christopher Martin’s family (other than his wife and stepson, who died the first winter after the Mayflower reached Plymouth). Mayflowerhistory.com notes that John Clarke, the Mayflower’s “pilot and master mate,” was in Jamestown twice, in 1611 and 1618, and I remember briefly wondering if he could be related to our George Clarke (http://mayflowerhistory.com/crew). I don’t think there were many women in Jamestown, and I haven’t found any good documentation yet that discusses travel between the two colonies (how difficult it was, how frequently it happened), but our people HAD to come from somewhere. I certainly prefer your theory to the thought that any emigration information that existed has been lost forever, so keep looking! -Kristin

  3. Hi! Alice’s daughter, Damaris Bishop, married William Sutton. They moved to the Piscataway, New Jersey area, where they both died (she in 1682 and he in 1718). Their descendants live in New Jersey today. They were my 9th great grandparents. My great grandmother’s maiden name was Sutton.

    • Hi Erin my Sutton side moved to Indiana and Michigan. How many more still live in NJ? Their are my 9th great grandparents. I would be interested in hearing more about that side of the tree. Let me know if you want to talk.

      • Hi! I’m also a descendant of William Sutton. He was my 9th great grandfather. He had a son, John Sutton, who had a son John II and then John II had a son, Reverend Abner Sutton. Abner Sutton had a son, Jeremiah who started out in New Jersey then made his was to Macomb, Michigan and that is where my family continued, in Michigan. I’d love to connect with you ladies and find out where our connections begin. I’m on Facebook under, Chris Peltonen or you can email me at gottobe73@yahoo.com.

        Love this site!

      • I am just now seeing this. My Sutton side moved to Indiana as well. Damaris’s son John to David to James (I believe he is the one who moved from NJ to Indiana) then another James, then Jacob. Jacob’s daughter Sarah was my great great grandmother. I believe she was born and died in Indiana. Her daughter Victoria is the one who moved out to Kansas.

        I think I saw someone mention a Doty somewhere on this page, and Sarah’s parents were Jacob Sutton and Abigail Doty. Sarah married into the Bailiff family.

        I’m always interested in making connections with others in the family line. Some of my cousins research genealogy as well. My email is juliamgallagher at gmail dot com.

    • Welcome Erin! Do you live in New Jersey? We haven’t done much research beyond the date of Damaris’s death, but if you’re there, maybe we can send you to a cemetery or courthouse… -Kristin

  4. I never knew this story until today. Alice Martin Clarke Bishop was my 9th Great Grandmother, her daughter Damaris Bishop Sutton is my 8th Great Grandmother. I am a descendant through Bishop, Sutton, Hoff line. I live in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

  5. Hi Damaris Bishop is my 9th great grandmother. I live in Connecticut. Did Alice come over on the Mayflower? I was reading that that we are not ALLOWED to join their group because of Alice killing her baby. I have not had a chance to get over to Mass to do any research on my own. There are so many story’s out there that info is blurred so it makes it hard to know what is or is not. One thing that I did read was maybe she had postpartum and that is why she did what she did. And back then no one understood it. I have to get over there and see things like you girls did. The worst thing is I live the next state over. LOL

    • Hi Carleen- Welcome to the site (and the family!). We don’t believe that Alice was on the Mayflower. The Mayflower Society has very strict rules about membership, but I don’t know if they would reject a member because of that person’s actions — either your ancestor was on the ship, or he or she wasn’t. We’ll be addressing a possible postpartum depression in an upcoming post, but most women with postpartum depression don’t kill their children. Thanks for your interest! -Kristin

  6. Hello,

    I’m just doing some genealogy and found that Alice was my 9th great grandmother on my father’s side. I’m excited to read all about her. Thanks for your blog.

  7. I have learned that Alice is my 9th great grandmother. I am from the Sutton side of the family with my grandmother being Olive Sutton.

  8. I too, am a 10x great granddaughter of Alice Martin Bishop. I am actually related to her through both my 3x great grandparents, Felix Collins and Lovina Tharp Collins. Felix’s 3x great grandparents were, David Sutton and Sarah Trembley (his second wife). Lovina’s 3x great grandparents were, David Sutton and Elizabeth Cox (his first wife). My guess is Felix and Lovina never realized their great great great grandfather was one and the same.

    Love your website!!!

  9. I just found this wonderful site. Alice Martin Bishop is also my 10X great Grandmother thru the Sutton line. My 1st great grandmother was Alice Sutton of Ottawa, Kansas. I live near Atlanta, Georgia

  10. Hello All;
    AMB is also my 10xGGM via James Bishop/Mary Lewin (9x) and Elizabeth Bishop/John Bonney (8x). I made the discovery through Ancestry back in Dec 2015. I’m still reading all of the amazing information here. I’m currently living in Vermont but was born and raised in Massachusetts around Boston.

    • Welcome to the site Mark, and sorry for the delayed reply. We haven’t yet made a connection between James Bishop and Alice Martin Bishop, but let us know if you find anything. In fact, the evidence we have that Damaris was her daughter is circumstantial at best, but we hope to find more definitive proof as we continue our research, and we’re keeping our eye out for James as well.

  11. Hello AMB is my 10th great grandmother through her daughter, Damaris (9th ggm) who married William Sutton and they begot John David Sutton who married Emma Carter who begot Rev. David Sutton who married Elizabeth Cox who had yet another Elizabeth who married Rev. Jacob Cozard 1724_1812 They begot Mary Cozard 1756NJ _1811Ohio who married John Coon my 5th ggparents. They begot Charity Coon 1773 NJ _1872WV who married an.older Henry Hinzman of Germany who got them out of NJ to WV where I was born ,but the generations almost didn’t make it. In WV poor Charity dealt with an Indian raid where her unusual blonde hair was admired and a piece of her scalp taken. Fortunately she hid her children under the log cabin protecting my 3rd great grandmother yet another Elizabeth called Betty Hinzman who married Robert R. Raines 1795_1864 They begot Elmore Riaines who died in the civil war and marriedt Mary Margaret Shamblin my 2nd ggmother who is also my 3 rd great aunt.Mary raised her daughters alone after the civil war. Mary Elizabeth Raines born 1863 their daughter married Floyd Davis 1869_1910 Mary got ill in the early 1930`s and her 2nd cousin Lucinda Shamblin came to nurse her until her death which tge date and year are unknown She stayed and married their son her 3rd cousin Delbert 1898_1972. They lived in the house Floyd had build with his own hands and had children one being my mom who married and begot me last of the line. I’ve traced it back to find all.of you, dear cousins! 🙂

  12. I have a couple of theories about Alice Martin Clark Bishop and there may well be more. For instance, she could have been a dau of Christopher and Mary, but born after the boat landed. In this case who raised her? Would the church have provided foster parents?
    Another is that she may have been married to a Mr. Martin before she married George Clark. One problem that bothers, is the absence of people named Martin in the county records.
    Of course, she may have come in from another county, or on another boat; it’s not likely that she came in alone.
    This real-life mystery is fascinating.
    She is the 10G grandma of my grandson, through the Sutton line. We live in Colorado.

    • Sorry for the belated reply. Glad you found the site! Have you read one of our early posts, Alice’s Arrival? We explore possible ways Alice might have ended up in Plymouth Colony.

  13. I am AMB’s 8th great granddaughter. My great grandmother Helen married Timothy Sutton and my maternal grandmother is Erma Sutton. I was born and raised around Bloomington, I’ll and currently reside in South Carolina.

  14. I am also a great grandchild ( x10) of Alice Bishop Martin, through the Sutton’s. Zacharias Sutton was my 7th great grandfather. It seems that there are quite a lot of cousins out there! Very interesting to find your site. I can only imagine what it was like to be a woman in the colony. Very rough life- it’s astounding to me that anyone there maintained some modicum of sanity. Being a woman must have been so awful. My poor great grandmothers and aunts- pregnant their entire adult lives, in such a difficult situation. I am in New Jersey but I have relatives in Plymouth and my parents lived on the Cape for years. The next time I go up there I will be visiting the plantation again with new eyes. Fascinating story, thanks for sharing it, cousins!

    • Hi Ruth! I’m also descended through William and Damaris Sutton. Zacariahs brother, John Sutton was my 8th great grandfather.

    • Hi Ruth! I am also descended through William and Damaris Sutton. Zacariahs brother, John Sutton was my 8th great grandfather.

    • Hi Ruth,
      I’m another distant Sutton cousin — my ancestor John was a younger brother of your Zacharias. Their descendants stayed in NJ until the earl 1800s, then went to Virginia, then in 1850 moved to Iowa.

      I agree with you that it must have been an awful life for women. I have just returned to the northern midwest after 40 years in New York City, and know how cold it can feel there. Can you imagine being cooped up in one of those dark, flimsy houses? Hell on earth. I just watched a 2 hour episode of The American Experience on Plymouth colony, playing on Amazon Prime. It gives you a real feel for how desperate the first years there were.

  15. I too am descended from Damaris. If Damaris is descended from Alice Martin, Alice would be my 10th Great Grandmother. I am working on dna confirmation. Looking for dna matches. Have any other cousins here taken the Ancestry dna test? Karen

    • Hi Karen- Erin and I have both done the Ancestry DNA tests, but we don’t come back as a match — 10th cousins don’t seem to have enough DNA in common for Ancestry’s kits, and I don’t see anyone in my DNA list that is more distant than a possible 8th cousin. You might need to find a closer cousin who is also descended from AMB through one of her great or great great grandchildren. Do you know which of Damaris’s children you descend from? Kristin

  16. Hi family!

    Damaris is my 12x great-grandmother by way of Pennsylvania, but I was born/raised in California. My line is as follows:
    Damaris Bishop > John David Sutton > Moses Sutton > Aaron Sutton > John Sutton > Rachel Sutton > Mary Pilhower > Elizabeth Tyger > Harriet Snyder > James Gaston > Irvin Gaston > Loyn Gaston > David Gaston > Me

    • Hi Erin! I’m in California too, and I’m also descended from John David Sutton, but then I go through his son David. Welcome to the site! Kristin

  17. She was my 11th great grandmother and I have just discovered her on Ancestry and almost fell out of my chair when finding this research and these facts, First woman hung in Colonial British America. Or in North America first woman executed!!
    Thanks so much for sharing this “Cousin” this has been the most through detailed find on the subject I could or have found thus far concerning her and the murder of her daughter and her hanging or execution. Thanks
    Jeremiah from western NC

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