Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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CUSHMAN, Robert, Plymouth pilgrim, born in Kent, England, about 1580 ; died in England in 1625. With John Carver he was instrumental in effecting the emigration of the pilgrims to Holland, where he joined them after they had been in Leyden several years. He became a leading member of the community in Leyden, and took a deep interest in the project of settling in an English colony. In 1617 he was sent with Deacon Carver to London to negotiate with the Virginia company, which had secured a grant from the king of all the territory between boundaries 200 miles north and 200 miles south of Point Comfort, for permission to settle on their lands, and to apply to King James to grant them liberty of conscience there. The king would only grant them permission to settle, and refused to issue a charter under his seal, though he promised not to molest them. Cushman undertook a subsequent mission to England for the same object with Elder Brewster in 1619, when a patent was obtained in which the king granted toleration for their form of religion so long as they remained faithful subjects. The arrangement with the London merchant adventurers was concluded through his agency. He and Carver then returned to England to collect subscriptions, make purchases, and prepare for the voyage. They chartered the "Mayflower," and, while Carver was busy with the ship at Southampton, Cushman, at the solicitation of the adventurers, altered the agreement on his own responsibility, abandoning the two days a week for their private affairs that had been reserved to the colonists in the original contract. Robert Cushman, who was given the office of assistant governor, embarked with his family on the "Speedwell" on 5 August 1620, when the two vessels began the voyage together ; but when the "Mayflower" sailed again alone on 6 September with only a part of the com-pony, he remained behind to act as their financial agent in England and send them supplies. In 1621 he published a pamphlet on " Emigration to America," urging the advantages of that country for settlement, and in July he sailed for New England in the "Fortune," taking with him his only son, Thomas, and arriving 21 November He returned to Europe to manage the business of the colonists there, but left his son in the family of Governor Bradford. Before his departure he preached on the "Sin and Danger of Self-Love," 9 December 1621, noted as the first discourse delivered in New England that was published (London, 1622). It was reprinted in Boston in 1724, in 1780, and, with a biographical sketch by Judge John Davis, in 1785 (Plymouth). It is also contained in the "Cushman Genealogy," and was photo-lithographed from one of the three existing examples in 1870. On 13 December 1621, he sailed for England, and continued as agent for the colonists in London. On the voyage he was captured and plundered by the French, and taken to France, but released after two weeks' detention. On his arrival in England he published an eloquent vindication of the colonial enterprise, and an appeal for Christian missions to the North American Indians. In 1623, with Edward Wins-low, he obtained from Lord Sheffield a grant of territory on Cape Ann, where a new band of Puritans made the first permanent settlement within the limits of the Massachusetts bay colony.--His son, Thomas, born in England in 1608; died in Plymouth, Massachusetts, 11 December 1692. He married Mary, third daughter of Isaac Allerton, about 1635. He was always the confidential friend of Governor Bradford, and became ruling eider of the Church on the death of Brewster in 1649. His wife survived him, and was the last of the "Mayflower" passengers, dying in 1699 at the age of ninety years. A large granite monument to the memory of the first Cush-marts was erected at Plymouth, Massachusetts, by their descendants in 1858.
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