Allison Janney learns she has a connection to the Mayflower 'in a huge way'

Oscar-winning actress Allison Janney found out the huge connection she has to the famous Mayflower ship in 1620 on a new episode of Who Do You Think You Are? Sunday.

Janney was interested in learning more about the maternal side of her family and, on her ancestral journey, the actress traced her family tree all the way back to her 11-times great-grandfather Stephen Hopkins, who was born in 1582.

At the Pilgrim Hall Museum in Plymouth, Janney was told Hopkins was "a familiar name in these parts" due to the fact that he, his second wife and four children traveled to Massachusetts on the historic Mayflower in 1620.

It is historically known that, after a grueling 10 weeks at sea, the Mayflower reached America and dropped anchor in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. However, before they set foot ashore, the "Mayflower Compact" was written and signed. As Janney kept reading, she was then shocked by the sight of her 11-times great-grandfather's name signed as a witness on November 11, 1620, on what was essentially one of the earliest expressions of representative government.

"Stephen Hopkins is absolutely unique for having a foothold in the establishment of three English plantations. Being at Jamestown, being there at the beginnings of what became the English plantation in Bermuda as well, and then being here, arriving on the Mayflower in 1620 for the founding of Plymouth Colony," explained Dr. Donna Curtin, Executive Director of the Pilgrim Hall Museum.

Janney was amazed by the fact that her ancestor was the only person to have been a part of all three established colonies, and the fact that she has a connection to the Mayflower "in a huge way." And after learning how admired he was, Janney wasn't at all surprised to find out that he later became an elected official and the governor's assistant. However, she was surprised to learn that the Pilgrim Hall Museum still owned an artifact that once belonged to him.

Members of the court, back then, inventoried every single thing they owned. Among the list of items was a hat. Curtin told Janney, "We have a hat that descended through your ancestor, Stephen Hopkins's daughter, Constance. It is from the early 17th century."

Janney was blown away by the hat as she joked, "Wow. That is a great looking hat. And I'm a hat lady. That looks like Pharrell might have copied that. It looks like it would fit my head."

"If it was a little less than 400 years old, I would let you try it on," Curtin joked back.

Video transcript

ALLISON JANNEY: And these are the families that were on the Mayflower. And there he is, Steven Hopkins. That's pretty-- that's pretty-- that's pretty exciting.

KYLIE MAR: On a new episode of "Who Do You Think You Are?" Sunday, Oscar-winning actress Allison Janney found out the huge connection she has to the famous Mayflower in 1620.

- Being in Jamestown, being there at the beginnings of what became the English plantation in Bermuda as well. And then being here, arriving on the Mayflower in 1624 for the founding of Plymouth Colony.

ALLISON JANNEY: Is there anyone else who has done that no?

- No, no. He is extraordinary.

KYLIE MAR: It is historically known that after a grueling 10 weeks at sea, the Mayflower reached America and dropped anchor in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. However, before they set foot ashore, the Mayflower Compact was written and signed.

ALLISON JANNEY: Covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic. This is the saying we are our own people. We are starting our own--

- Government.

ALLISON JANNEY: Thank you. That's the word.

KYLIE MAR: As Janney kept reading, she was then blown away by the sight of her 11-time great grandfather's name signed as a witness on November 11, 1620 on what was essentially one of the earliest expressions of representative government.

ALLISON JANNEY: In witness whereof we have here unto subscribe to our names at Cape Cod the 11th of November 1620, Steven Hopkins.

KYLIE MAR: After learning how admired Steven Hopkins was, Janney wasn't surprised to learn that he eventually went on to become an elected official and the governor's assistant. However, she was surprised to learn that the Pilgrim Hall Museum still owned an artifact that once belonged to him.

ALLISON JANNEY: That's a great looking hat, and I am a hat lady.

- [CHUCKLES]

ALLISON JANNEY: That looks like Pharrell might have copied that.

- If it was a little less than 400 years old, I would let you try it on.

ALLISON JANNEY: Yeah, would totally kill in that hat.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting