William Gager 1585/1592 -1630


William Gager is a keystone ancestor of the Gager’s in the United States. His voyage here in 1630 to the Plymouth Colony is well recorded.

Here is Edmund R. Gager’s account from his book, “The Gager Family”.


1-00 WILLIAM GAGER, b. ca. 1585 in Suffolk , England ; d. Sept. 20, 1630 at Charlestown, Mass; son of William Gager, the playwright; m. (?) Hannah Mayhew.
THEIR ISSUE :2-00 John Gager 6 other children born and died in England

The Gager story in America begins in February of the year 1630 in London, Engl and, with this letter from John Winthrop and others:

To our loving friend, Mr. Gager, at Little Waldingfield in Suffolk, England.
Sir: Beinge informed of your good inclination to furthance of this work which through the Lords good providence we are in hand with for the establishing of a churche in N.E. and having sufficient assurance of your godlinesse and abilitiyes in the arte of chirurgerye (surgery) to be of much use to us in this worke: beinge informed also that the place where you live dothe not affordde you such sufficiente and comfortable imployment as your giftes doe require, we have thought good to offer you a call to joyne with us: and become a member of our familye: your entertainment shal be to your good contente: if you like to accepte this motion, we desire you would prepare to goe with us this springe if you come up to London we shal be readye to treat further with you: and so with our hearty salutations we commit you to the Lord and rest.
Your Loving Friends.

In the early spring of 1630, Dr . William Gager, along with his son John, began preparations to leave his ancestral home and medical practice to go to New England with the Massachusetts Bay Company . The voyage was to be under the leadership of his friend and neighbor, John Winthrop. They were to sail on the flagship ARBELLA, captained by one Peter Milborne and manned by fifty-two crewmen. The names of the other ships in the Winthrop Fleet were : the JEWEL, the TALBOT, the CHARLES, the MAYFLOWER, the WILLIAM AND FRANCIS’ the HOPEWELL, the WHALE , the SUCCESS, the TRAIL, and the AMBROSE. The ships were ready in the harbor and loaded with hogsheads of beer, water,
“syder,” vinegar, dried meat (16 hogsheads), and beef tongues. Some of the ships carried furniture, farm implements and livestock. These were the ships that were to carry the seven hundred or so immigrants to the New World, to a new dream, and to the religious freedom that these Puritans had not experienced in their homeland. Also, there was the promise of one hundred acres of free land to every man that signed on with the Massachusetts Bay Company.

Their departure was scheduled for Easter Monday, March 29, 1630, on the morning tide from the Isle of Wight. However, due to some repair work on some of the ships, it was over a week before they weighed anchor. On Tuesday, April 6, Matthew Cradock, the late Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Company, arrived from London to take his official leave of the party. When this formality was over, he was duly saluted as he went over the side. Then the ships, led by the ARBELLA, weighed anchor and leisurely sailed down the Solent (a strait of the English Channel) , and came to anchorage before the castle at Yarmouth, on the west end of the Isle of Wight. It was here that the Reverend John Cotton, Vicar of Boston in Lincolnshire, came down to give his blessing
and approval of the undertaking. He preached to them from the book of II Samuel, verse 7:10:

Moreover I will appoint a place for my people Israel, and they will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own, and move no more; neither shall the children of
wickedness afflict them any more, as beforetime.

Shortly after this farewell sermon, the flotilla was finally under way.

Winthrop writes in his journal that the weather was calm for the first few days, and the passengers seemed to delight in what was a first for most of those on board. But the sea was soon to change, and with this many took to their bunks. So sick were many that they nearly died, and some did. Dr. Gager was obviously a busy man during this ordeal, but he too suffered from the malady for which the only cure is land.

Land was sighted on Friday, June 11, 1630, after eighty-four days of turbulent seas. They dropped anchor the following day near Salem. The passengers were all dressed in their finest for the occasion. The ARBELLA fired two shots to alert those on shore of their arrival. The Reverend George Phillips gave thanks unto the Lord for their safe journey. Many of these passengers were sick from scurvy, caused by their unwholesome diet while at sea. Dr. Gager was among those so afflicted. But along with the warm winds of summer, many were soon to have their full strength restored.

Two years prior to this voyage, the Bay Company had sent John Endecott and a to prepare a place for the main arrival.Mr Endicott said that several of his people were ill, and tired of eating mussels, berries and Indian corn. He also made it clear that many were anxious to return when the fleet departed.

After careful observation, Winthrop and his company decided not to  settle at Salem.  They went down the coast a few miles to a place that the Court of Assistants soon named Boston, after a place of the same name in Lincolnshire, England. The leaders of the colony soon erected a church, and on August 27, 1630 , Dr . Gager and others signed the first Church Covenant of Boston.

Dr .Gager and his son settled in Charlestown , a section of the newly found Boston . While there, he was “Keeper of the Powder.”

Dr . William Gager never fully recovered from the ill- effects of the voyage from England , and died of a fever on September 20 , 1630 .

I have been told that the name of William Gager ‘ s wife was Hannah Mayhew , but I have never been able to prove this information. It is my assumption that she died in England, as did six of his other children . The deaths of these children are recorded in the Parish Records in Groton, England . Perhaps this great loss that he suffered was another reason for his departure from England . I can only assume that he thought that things would be better in the New World. According to records, William Gager’s son , John Gager, seems to be the only other survivor of the Gager family that made the 1630 voyage. The following is from Dr. Snow’s History of Boston, printed in 1828:

In the midst of these afflictions, Dr. Gager died . He was their principal , if not their only , physician and surgeon. He is represented as a man of skill in his profession, and we have seen that the soundness of his faith and the purity of his life had promoted him to the office of a deacon in the infant church . He was considered a public servant; and the same court which provided for the salaries of the ministers ordered that a house should be built for him against the coming spring, and that he should be furnished with a cow and be paid twenty pounds for his first year, and afterward have thirty pounds per annum at the common charge.

Dr. Gager is buried at Town Hill , Charlestown, Massachusetts.

There is another account by Tor Hylborn that includes photos and can be found online at http://hylbom.com/family/paternal-lines/paternal-dy-to-gi/gager-5302/


Gager Wm Famous Kin 2016