The Mayflower was the vessel that brought the first English Puritans, who are now commonly referred to as the Pilgrims, from Plymouth, England to the continent of North America in 1620.
The voyage of the Mayflower and the people who boarded it had a crucial part in the early colonization and settlement of the Americas. The Pilgrims were looking for religious freedom and a better living when they made the journey to the New World.
The ship had set sail with the intention of docking in northern Virginia; but, adverse weather conditions and mistakes in navigation caused it to instead arrive in what is now the state of Massachusetts, in the region that is now home to the city of Plymouth.
The Plymouth Colony was the first successful and long-lasting English settlement in New England, and it was founded by the Pilgrims. Plymouth was in the southeastern part of the state of Massachusetts.
The voyage of the Mayflower and the settlement of the New World by the Pilgrims is an important chapter in the annals of United States history, and it is commemorated annually on Thanksgiving.
1. At about 180 tons, she was considered a smaller cargo ship
The Mayflower was considered a smaller freight ship and was not specifically constructed for ocean journeys. It was largely used to transport goods between England and Bordeaux, such as clothing and wine.
It was, however, outfitted with the required rations and supplies to complete the journey across the Atlantic and was deemed capable of meeting the voyage’s demands.
Despite its small size and lack of ocean crossing experience, the Mayflower successfully brought the Pilgrims to the New World.
2. The Mayflower was a popular name for ships at the time.
During the time of James I (1603-1625), there were 26 vessels carrying the name Mayflower in the Port Books of England; it is unknown why the name was so popular.
To minimize confusion with the numerous other Mayflower ships, the identity of Captain Jones’ Mayflower is based on data from her home port, her tonnage (estimated 180-200 tons), and the master’s name in 1620.
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It is unknown when or where the Mayflower was built, though she was designated as “of London” in later documents. In the Port Books of 1609-11, she was identified as “of Harwich” in the county of Essex, which was also the birthplace of Mayflower master Christopher Jones in 1570.
3. It was intended for two ships to travel to the New World
The Mayflower set sail from London in the middle of July 1620 and proceeded downstream on the Thames to Southampton, where it met up with the Speedwell.
It was intended for the two ships to travel to the New World together, with the Mayflower transporting the majority of the pilgrims to their new home and the Speedwell acting as a supply ship along the journey.
However, it didn’t take long before it became clear that the Speedwell wasn’t seaworthy, so the two ships were forced to make multiple stops for repairs along the trip.
In the end, it was determined that the Mayflower would be the sole vessel upon which the Pilgrims would continue their journey, while the Speedwell would sail back to England.
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Because of this setback, the voyage of the Pilgrims was prolonged by several weeks, and there were fewer people on the Mayflower as a result.
In spite of this, the Pilgrims persisted on their voyage until they finally reached their destination in the New World. Once there, they established the Plymouth Colony and began a new life in the Americas.
4. There are no Admiralty court documents connected to the pilgrim fathers’ voyage of 1620
There is no subsequent record that directly refers to Jones’ Mayflower after 1616 until 1624. This is remarkable for a ship trading to London because it would not normally vanish from the records for so long.
There are no Admiralty court documents connected to the pilgrim fathers’ voyage of 1620, which could be due to the odd way the pilgrims were transferred from Leyden to New England, or some of the period’s records may have been lost.
By 1620, Jones, together with Christopher Nichols, Robert Child, and Thomas Short, was one of the ship’s owners. In the summer of 1620, Thomas Weston chartered her from Child and Jones to embark on the Pilgrim journey.
Because of his membership in the Company of Merchant Adventurers of London, Weston played an important role in the Mayflower journey, and he finally traveled to the Plymouth Colony personally.
5. A second Mayflower sailed from London in 1629.
In 1629, another ship called the Mayflower set sail from London to the Plymouth Colony.
A group of settlers set out on this expedition to establish a new settlement in the New World. Unlike the Pilgrims’ famous voyage on the Mayflower in 1620, which is regarded one of the most renowned episodes in American history, this latter voyage is less well remembered.
However, it was a significant event in the history of the Plymouth Colony, contributing to the settlement’s and its existence in the New World.
The voyage of the Mayflower in 1629, as well as numerous comparable voyages conducted by other ships and groups of settlers, shaped the history of the United States and its formation as a nation.
6. The Mayflower was square-rigged ship with a beakhead bow.
The Mayflower was square-rigged, which implies that its masts were rigged with square sails. Square-rigged ships were popular because of their stability and capacity to withstand strong winds, making them ideal for long trips across the open ocean.
The Mayflower also had a beakhead bow, which was common on many ships of the time. This bow was distinguished by a sharp, curved prow designed to cut through the water more efficiently.
The Mayflower also had a high, elevated stern, which allowed the ship to carry more cargo while also protecting the crew and passengers from rough weather.
These architectural elements, combined with the ship’s robust build and skilled crew, aided the Mayflower’s memorable trip across the Atlantic and safe arrival in the New World.
7. The number of crew on board was less than 50.
The Mayflower’s commanders and crew included a captain, four mates, four quartermasters, a surgeon, carpenter, cooper, cooks, boatswains, gunners, and roughly 36 men before the mast, for a total of about 50 men.
The whole crew remained with the Mayflower in Plymouth during the winter of 1620-1621, and almost half of them died during that time. The surviving crewmen traveled back to England on the Mayflower on April 15, 1621.
8. In 2020, the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower’s landing was celebrated.
The 400th anniversary of the Mayflower arrival occurred in 2020, marking four centuries since the famed ship and its passengers arrived on the shores of what is now Massachusetts, United States.
Special displays, historical reenactments, and educational programs, as well as ceremonies and other events honoring the bravery and endurance of the Pilgrims and the crew of the Mayflower, were held to commemorate the event.
The Mayflower landing and the creation of the Plymouth Colony are significant events in American history because they signify the commencement of permanent English colonization in the New World as well as the birth of one of the United States’ earliest colonies.
The 400th anniversary of the Mayflower landing was an opportunity to reflect on history and remember the Pilgrims and their trip to the New World.
9. The government created a Pilgrim Tercentenary half dollar, with the ship depicted on the reverse and passenger William Bradford depicted on the obverse.
The United States government struck a unique commemorative coin, the Pilgrim Tercentenary half dollar, to mark the 300th anniversary of the Mayflower’s arrival.
The coin depicts the Mayflower on the reverse and a portrait of William Bradford, one of the Pilgrims’ leaders, on the obverse.
The currency was issued in 1920 and extensively disseminated as a symbol of the country’s acknowledgement of the Mayflower and the Pilgrims’ importance in American history.
The Pilgrim Tercentenary half dollar is a noteworthy piece of American numismatic history, and coin collectors prize it for its historical significance and rarity.
The release of this coin helped to raise attention to the Mayflower and the Pilgrims’ story, and it serves as a lasting homage to their bravery, dedication, and endurance in making the momentous voyage to the New World.
10. A replica of the Mayflower, built in 1956, can be seen at the Pilgrim Memorial State Park in Plymouth, Massachusetts.
The Mayflower model can be seen in the Pilgrim Memorial State Park in Plymouth, Massachusetts. This replica was created in 1956 to honor the ship’s remarkable voyage and importance in early American settlement.
The replica is a full-scale wooden sailing ship that was built utilizing traditional shipbuilding processes and materials to the greatest extent possible.
It serves as an educational and historical resource for visitors, allowing them to learn about the Pilgrims’ and early settlers’ hardships and experiences in the New World.
The replica is a renowned tourist attraction in Plymouth and a significant symbol of American history and tradition.