Journey Of The Mayflower

Persecuted in England and unhappy in Holland, the people we know today as "Pilgrims" made arrangements to take a dangerous journey to the New World pursuing religious freedom. Forty-six Pilgrims sailed from Holland to England in July, 1620.

They traveled in a 60-ton ship named the "Speedwell," purchased to make the trip to America. A larger vessel, the "Mayflower," had been leased in London, also to take settlers and supplies to the New World.

It was August when both ships sailed from Southampton, England. However, the "Speedwell" proved troublesome. After two attempts to make her seaworthy, both ships came ashore in Plymouth, England; it was decided there to abandon the "Speedwell" and use only the "Mayflower."

Unfortunately, one ship could not accommodate all of the passengers who wanted to travel to America, so a number of them were left behind. Problems with the "Speedwell" had put the expedition a month behind schedule. The late start cost them the hope of good summer weather for the trip.

The "Mayflower" sailed alone on September 6, headed for Virginia. It carried 102 passengers with a crew of 20-30 men and was under the command of Captain Christopher Jones. The ship was a three-masted vessel weighing 180 tons. Her length was 90 feet, and her beam (width) was 26 feet. Previously she had been used to carry wine, a "stout ship" accustomed to heavy loads and heavy seas and well equipped to make this long voyage. On the downside was the fact that she wasn't particularly fast and that her upper deck leaked in stormy weather.

Only 40 passengers were actually members of the Pilgrim Church. The remainder were settlers who had been recruited by the company which provided the Pilgrims' supplies and transportation to the New World. The non-Puritans were referred to as the "Strangers" or the "Adventurers." Many of them lacked any interest in religious freedom which was being zealously pursued by the Pilgrims.

The two groups did have one common bond: all of them came from England's lower and lower-middle classes, "from cottages and not ... castles..."

In spite of such a mutual connection, Pilgrim leaders remained aware that they were outnumbered and faced potential trouble upon arrival in America.

The "Mayflower" passenger list contained the names of 50 men, 20 women, and 32 children. (Keeping THEM occupied must have presented a special challenge!)

At sea, fresh food lasted only a short time. Thereafter meals consisted of gruel (a watery cereal eaten warm the first day and cold for two more days), dried or salted meat (sometimes fish), hard biscuits (called hardtack), and cheese--washed down with beer.

There were no sanitary facilities, except for buckets. Personal hygiene suffered since washing was almost impossible. When some of the passengers tried to use seawater to clean themselves, the crew made fun of them. The fresh water supply for drinking was carefully guarded.

At the end of September fierce storms and hurricanes blew the "Mayflower" far off course. During one of those storms, one of the main deckbeams cracked. Luckily (or perhaps Providentially) one of the carpenters' tools on board was a "greate iron screw." It was generally used in the construction of houses and barns; two or more men would turn it to get a heavy beam into the exact spot before it was fastened. To repair the storm damage, the screw was placed beneath the cracked beam and used as a jack to move it back into place while support was installed beneath it. The ship was able to proceed on its way.

A notable incident mentioned in the journal of William Bradford (one of the Pilgrim leaders) concerned one of the crew members. He took great pleasure in taunting the Pilgrims. He made fun of their faith, teased them when they were sick, and even cursed them. Near the mid-point of the "Mayflower" voyage, however, this man became ill and died! This was seen by Bradford as "... the just hand of God upon him ...). Another event which Bradford noted concerned John Holland, one of the Pilgrims. He was washed overboard but managed to grab the topsail halyard and hung on for dear life. Bradford wrote that "... it pleased God that he caught hold ..." Holland was able to stay with the halyard until he was "... brought aboard with a boat hook and other means ..."

In November, Captain Jones sighted Cape Cod. Knowing he was too far north, he turned the ship southward toward Virginia. He ran into difficulties off the coast (contrary winds), and so he turned back to find a safe harbor. On November 11, the "Mayflower" anchored at the present-day location of Provincetown, Massachusetts. They had been at sea for 65 days. Exploring parties went ashore to find a suitable site for their settlement. One group sailed the shallop (a small boat brought in the "Mayflower" in sections and put together on land) down the coast searching for a place to establish their colony. The men returned with news of a sheltered harbor and an excellent place to live. This was Plymouth, a location that appeared on John Smith's 1614 map of the area. There was cleared land with a brook providing a good water supply.

Captain Jones brought the "Mayflower" to that location, and so the Pilgrims' sea odyssey had ended. During the voyage two passengers had died, but there had been two births. This means that the number of colonists who arrived (102) was the same number who departed England some four months earlier. In actuality, of course, two of those who had been on board in September had not survived the trip.

The Mayflower Passengers By Family Groups

John Alden
Isaac Allerton--Wife: Mary--Son: Bartholomew--Daughters: Mary, Remember--Servant boy: John Hooke
John Allerton
John Billington--Wife: Ellen--Sons: Francis, John
William Bradford--Wife: Dorothy
William Brewster--Wife: Mary--Sons: Love,
Wrastle--Servant boys: Richard Moore, (name unknown)
Richard Britteridge
Peter Browne
John Carver--Wife: Catherine--Young woman in their care: Desire Minter--Servants: John Holland, Roger Wilder, William Latham, Jasper More, maid
servant (name unknown)
James Chilton--Wife: (name unknown)--Daughter: Mary
Richard Clarke
Francis Cooke--Son: John
John Crackston--Son: John
Francis Eaton--Wife: Sarah--Son: Samuel
Thomas English
Moses Fletcher
Edward Fuller--Wife: Ann--Son: Samuel
Samuel Fuller--Servant: William Butten
(Another Fuller on board the Mayflower was Suzanne Fuller White, wife of William White)
Richard Gardiner
John Goodman
Stephen Hopkins--Wife: Elizabeth--Sons: Giles, Damaris,
Oceanus--Daughter: Constance--Servants: Edward
Dotey, Edward Leister
Edmund Margeson
Christopher Martin--Wife: (name unknown)--Servants: Solomon Prower--John Langemore
William Mullins--Wife: Alice--Son: Joseph--Daughter: Priscilla--Servant: Robert Carter
Degory Priest
John Ridgdale--Wife: Alice
Thomas Rogers--Son: Joseph
Miles Standish--Wife: Rose
Edward Tilley--Wife: Anne--Cousins under their care:
Humility Cooper, Henry Samson
John Tilley--Wife: Bridget--Daughter: Elizabeth
Thomas Tinker--Wife: (Name unknown)--Son: (Name unknown)
John Turner--Sons (2) Names unknown
Richard Warren
William White--Wife: Susanna Fuller--Son: Peregrine--Daughter: Resolved Servants: William Holbeck, Edward Thompson
Thomas Williams
Edward Winslow--Wife: Elizabeth--Child under their care:
Ellen Moore--Servants: George Soule, Elias Story
Gilbert Winslow

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