You can describe your ancestor who traveled to America on the Mayflower as your forefather.

Use the noun forefather to talk about a relative in the distant past, usually a man who goes back on your family tree several generations. Your great-great-great grandfather is your forefather, for example. You can also describe the founder of a tradition or style as a forefather — some people think of Chuck Berry as the forefather of rock n' roll, for example. Fore, "before," combines with father in the word forefather.

Definitions of forefather

n the founder of a family

“keep the faith of our forefathers
father, sire
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the first of the Old Testament patriarchs and the father of Isaac; according to Genesis, God promised to give Abraham's family (the Hebrews) the land of Canaan (the Promised Land); God tested Abraham by asking him to sacrifice his son
(Old Testament) the youngest and best-loved son of Jacob and Rachel and one of the twelve forebears of the tribes of Israel
(Old Testament) the second patriarch; son of Abraham and Sarah who was offered by Abraham as a sacrifice to God; father of Jacob and Esau
(Old Testament) the son of Abraham who was cast out after the birth of Isaac; considered the forebear of 12 Arabian tribes
(Old Testament) a son of Jacob and a forebear of one of the tribes of Israel
(Old Testament) the 11th son of Jacob and one of the 12 patriarchs of Israel; Jacob gave Joseph a coat of many colors, which made his brothers jealous and they sold him into slavery in Egypt
(Old Testament) the fourth son of Jacob who was forebear of one of the tribes of Israel; one of his descendants was to be the Messiah
(Old Testament) a patriarch (grandfather of Noah) who is said to have lived 969 years
the Hebrew patriarch who saved himself and his family and the animals by building an ark in which they survived 40 days and 40 nights of rain; the story of Noah and the flood is told in the Book of Genesis
(Old Testment) a son of Jacob and forefather of one of the tribes of Israel
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any of the early biblical characters regarded as fathers of the human race
antediluvian, antediluvian patriarch
any of the early patriarchs who lived prior to the Noachian deluge
(Old Testament) son of Isaac; brother of Esau; father of the twelve patriarchs of Israel; Jacob wrestled with God and forced God to bless him, so God gave Jacob the new name of Israel (meaning `one who has been strong against God')
(Old Testament) the 2nd son of Jacob and one of the 12 patriarchs of Israel
Type of:
ancestor, antecedent, ascendant, ascendent, root
someone from whom you are descended (but usually more remote than a grandparent)

n person from an earlier time who contributed to the tradition shared by some group

“our forefathers brought forth a great nation”
Type of:
one who precedes you in time (as in holding a position or office)