Cushman. I. Robert, one of the founders of Plymouth colony, born in England about 1580, died in 1625. He joined the nonconformist exiles at Ley den, and in 1617 was sent to London with John Carver, as their agent to negotiate with the Virginia company for leave to settle within their dominion in North America, and to petition King James for "liberty of conscience there." Not gaining the last point, he returned to Leyden after an absence of about six months. In the latter part of the same year he, with the same colleague, was again despatched with written terms from the Leyden Congregational church, but gained no better result, for the company was now distracted by dissensions among its officers. In 1619 Mr. Cushman was sent the third time on the same embassy, associated with Elder William Brewster, and a patent was finally obtained in the name of John Wincob, which however was not used, as that person did not emigrate. In 1620 he was despatched the fourth time to London, with Carver and Martin, to receive money and provide for their embarkation. The "Merchant Adventurers" of London now began to withdraw their means and promises, and insisted upon two stringent alterations in the terms of their contract with his associate.
Cushman assented to them, which gave dissatisfaction to many of his friends, though they afterward perceived that it saved the expedition and their ventures in it from utter failure. He procured the Mayflower, a pilot, etc, and sailed in her, as "assistant governor" to the passengers, from Southampton, Aug. 5, 1620, in company with the Speedwell. The latter vessel being dismissed and left at Plymouth as unseaworthy, Mr. Cushman was appointed.to the care of those left ashore, and followed in the next vessel, the Fortune, 55 tons, bringing most of them and others, and reaching New Plymouth, Nov. 9, 1621. On Dec. 12 he preached in the "common house" of the little colony the first sermon in America that was printed, "On the Sin and Danger of Self-Love," a discourse abounding in wisdom, and enriched with very many illustrations and examples from sacred history, evidently written to allay any dissatisfaction among the colonists. He sailed for England the next day, in the same vessel by which he came, which was captured by the French, plundered, and detained two weeks on their coast.
After his arrival he issued an eloquent vindication of the colonial enterprise, and appeal for Christian missions to the American Indians, which was the first published argument for English emigration to this country. In 1623, with Edward Winslow, envoy from New Plymouth, he procured from King James, through Lord Sheffield, a charter for territory on Cape Ann. Early in 1625, while preparing to emigrate thither to join his son, and make New Plymouth his permanent residence, he died. II. Thomas, son of the preceding, born in England in 1608, died at Plymouth, Dec. 11, 1691. He came with his father to New Plymouth in the Fortune, Nov. 9, 1621, and was left in the care of Gov. Bradford, in whose family he lived till manhood. He married Mary, third child of Isaac Allerton, who died in 1699, aged 90, the last survivor of the Mayflower passengers. He is described in the Plymouth first church records as an unusually temperate, studious, and peaceable man, much beloved by his people. A massive granite monument to the memory of these Cushmans was erected at Plymouth by their descendants, and consecrated Sept. 16, 1858.