Lineage society research has its own terminology. While some of the terms appear in popular culture, the meaning may be different in the lineage society world.
What’s a gateway ancestor?
A gateway ancestor is an entry point to a line that’s already been established to a qualifying ancestor for a specific lineage society. This term is most often used in the royal societies. However, it could also apply to generation 6 of a Mayflower family. Since most Mayflower families have been documented through generations 5-6, identifying an ancestor in that generation will allow you to quickly document the rest of the line.
If you’re interested in joining the Mayflower Society or the Jamestowne Society, a gateway ancestor can make your research much easier. Both societies have publications available that can be used to document qualifying ancestors (Adventures of Purse and Person for Jamestowne; the Silver Books for Mayflower). These publications end about the period of the Revolution. If you’ve documented your lines up the Revolutionary period, you likely will be able to use the publications to build the rest of the line. If the Mayflower Society is of interest, be sure to also check the Mayflower Society’s Patriot to Passenger list, which connects known “patriots” to their Mayflower roots.