17 Mayflower Voyage Facts: An Extraordinary Journey | Kidadl


17 Mayflower Voyage Facts: An Extraordinary Journey

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The Mayflower voyage is one of the most important parts of the history of America.

In 1620, some pilgrims decided to set sail for a New World alongside some passengers on a ship called Mayflower. The pilgrims would eventually establish the first colony in New England and pave the way for future American colonies to thrive on the continent.

It took the Mayflower 66 days to sail through the Atlantic and this voyage was often interrupted with storms and seasickness. The horrid conditions made the passengers sick and many could barely even stand up during the journey. By the month of October, the ship experienced Atlantic storms which made the voyage perilous and the sails were badly damaged leaving them useless. The ship merely drifted until the pilgrims arrived on the coast of America. The pilgrims intended to actually land around Northern Virginia and the Hudson River was their preferred destination. The pilgrims were told that these new regions were much more preferable than the Netherlands. But eventually, the ship missed the Hudson River and would land on the coast of Massachusetts. Cape Cod was spotted by the crew on November 9, 1620, just when the Sun rose. However, their plans to reach the Hudson River were thwarted by the rough seas that almost capsized the Mayflower and ruined any chances to explore Cape Cod.

If you like this article about Mayflower voyage facts, be sure to check out articles on facts about Providence Rhode island, and Arctic Ocean islands too!

Important Dates: Mayflower Voyage

The mid-1617 saw William Brewster and other separatists form a plan to set sail for a New World to build a new life. Ultimately they would decide on Virginia, America.

July 22, 1620, was chosen as the day the separatists would set sail on a ship called Mayflower and another ship named Speedwell. However, due to some leaking issues in the Speedwell, both ships returned to the starting port.

On September 16, 1620, the Speedwell was finally ditched and all the passengers of the ship were packed into the Mayflower that set sail for the New World.

The Mayflower made its way to America and on November 11, 1620, the crew of the ship spotted Cape Cod, nearby the coast of what is modern-day Massachusetts.

Upon arrival to Massachusetts instead of Virginia as planned, the Mayflower Compact was signed and a self-governing colony was established on majority rule.

After exploring the lands for a plantation location, the pilgrims would finally settle in modern-day Plymouth, Massachusetts. Many of the English settlers would lose their lives to the harsh winter conditions.

The Autumn of 1621, is believed to be the first Thanksgiving ever held. The first Thanksgiving meal comprised of wildfowl, including turkey, as it is revealed in William Bradford's 'Of Plymouth Plantation' and the occasion was celebrated with the Native Americans that were invited by the remaining Mayflower pilgrims.

Thanksgiving is now celebrated on the fourth Thursday of every November.

Motives For The Voyage

The plans for the voyage actually began when the pilgrims and puritans sailed to the Netherlands in an effort to form a Christian church free of the influence of the government, or the Church of England. However, in these new settlements, the pilgrims were forced to learn new customs and languages and many had to even change professions to suit the new regions. Some even worried about the young generation growing up in a Dutch society instead of the preferred English society.

In 1620, after enduring 12 years in the Dutch colonies, these pilgrims would shift their focus to the New World where they could invent an English culture and freely worship whomever they wished.

The first watchtower and fort built by the settlement are known as modern-day Burial Hill. The graves of the original settlers and William Bradford can be found on the location.

A common house for general use was built and rules were passed to prohibit the purchasing of houses more than necessary. Each extended family of the colony was provided a plot of land where they built their houses and by the end of February, most of the settlers had their own houses.

The first house in the region served as a hospital as an estimated 31 people lost their lives by the end of February. The first cemetery, Coles Hill was built above the beach.

Half of the Mayflower crew also suffered from various sicknesses and by the time they recovered, captain Christopher Jones sailed the Mayflower back to England in only half the time it took them to reach America.

Passengers: Mayflower Voyage

The Mayflower was originally a merchant ship that was used to carry goods like wine and other cargo. However, the ship would be known for carrying the group of pilgrims that set off for America. Due to Speedwell being deemed unfit to sail, all the passengers were packed into the Mayflower.

The Mayflower left England finally in September, putting behind the troubles caused by the Speedwell. The passenger quarters were cramped and the rough seas only made the trip much more enduring for the passengers aboard.

The Mayflower finally reached the coastline after two long months and served as the shelter for the pilgrims during their first winter on the continent.

The passengers on the Mayflower were mostly people who were seeking religious asylum from the Church of England under the leadership of Lord King James. The pilgrims were not the only passengers as other groups including contracted workers, servants, and families in search of a new life.

Two of the most notable passengers on the Mayflower were Myles Standish and William Bradford and the latter would be one of the founding fathers of the newly established Plymouth Colony and also served as its Governor for 30 years. Myles Standish would use his experience as a soldier to lead the country's military.

Stephen Hopkins, a passenger on the Mayflower, had actually been to America before he boarded the Mayflower in 1620. Hopkins made his way back to Jamestown in 1610 after he was shipwrecked in Bermuda in 1609. He returned to England in 1614 and it is believed that Hopkins' story was the inspiration behind Shakespeare's play 'The Tempest'. He was also one of the signatories of the Mayflower Compact.

The passengers on the ship were duly protected as even merchant ships during the early 17th century carried weapons for defense against notorious pirates or other types of enemies. The Mayflower carried at least 14 cannons and the gun deck of the ship would also be used as lodging for the passengers.

As the Mayflower landed in Massachusetts, the alliance that would allow the pilgrims to become a part of the Virginia colony was termed invalid and in all the confusions, many of the passengers, to bury any chances of mutiny or discord would end up signing the Mayflower Compact. Based on the rules of the Mayflower Compact all passengers would agree to set rules and follow said rules for the success of the Plymouth Colony. The Mayflower Compact was also used to install the voting practices that assisted in the foundation of the ruling government of the colony.

On their 66 day trip across the Atlantic Ocean, the pilgrims on the Mayflower had a limited diet. They lived on a diet of fish, meat, flour, grain, cheese, dried fruit, and biscuits. The pilgrims avoided water as it was deemed unsafe. They preferred other beverages, even for kids! The pilgrims switched to fermented apple juice once they reached the New World.

The Mayflower also had tools, food stores, weapons, and live animals among the many cabins.

trip across the Atlantic Ocean

Mayflower Ship History

The Mayflower voyage was originally meant to be done by two ships. The Mayflower and the Speedwell, another merchant ship. Both the ships were to meet in Southampton, the United Kingdom before they set sail across the Atlantic Ocean.

Southampton, at that time, was a busy seaport and all sorts of provisions including commercial were available in the region for a long sea voyage.

Speedwell and Mayflower met at the Southampton port but Speedwell was in dire need of repairs because it had developed a leak. Both the ships set sail on August 15, 1620, together, but would not go far as the Speedwell started taking in the water again. The course was changed to Dartmouth, on Devon's south coast. The damage was eventually fixed in a week's time but it was of no help as Speedwell would leak badly again after setting off with the Mayflower. Eventually, the Mayflower would make the trip alone and become an important part of America's history.

On 16 September 1620, the Mayflower sailed from Plymouth, United Kingdom to America. It is believed that the reason behind this was to move to another region to form a new life. Some of the people who set the Plymouth Colony were either seeking a fresh start in life or religious freedom. These people would go on to lay foundations for the colonial America of the future.

By the time the Mayflower arrived at its destination, Dutch and French colonies already existed and were gathering ad fishing on the East Coast. The Spanish settlers had reached America decades earlier. The place where the Mayflower landed was called 'New England' and the Plymouth Colony was formed in the spot.

Two additional ships were aboard the Mayflower. One was a longboat and the other one was a shallop that was stored on the gun deck of the ship.

The Mayflower would make its return to England in April 1621. Half of the crew survived the winter and more than half of the Mayflower pilgrims died of diseases, sudden weather changes, and malnutrition. The Mayflower was run down when it got back to England.

Did You Know...

The historic voyage of the Mayflower was celebrated in 1957 with a replica of the original Mayflower. The ship was manufactured in England and sailed for Massachusetts, United States in 53 days.

The term 'pilgrim' first originated in 1820. The term was coined when William Bradford wrote and referred to the pilgrim fathers as 'pilgrims' and 'saints'.

An estimated 35 million Americans are thought to be the descendants of the original pilgrims that were aboard when the Mayflower sailed.

Out of the original 102 passengers that set sail for the New World, only 50 survived the first winter.

Prior to the Mayflower voyage, a gathering of English Protestants would leave Nottinghamshire and move to Holland. These separatists referred to themselves as 'Saints'.

Elizabeth Hopkins, wife of Stephen Hopkins, and Susannah White gave birth to their children aboard the Mayflower. Hopkins' son was named Oceanus and White's son was named Peregrine, which was a reference to the Latin word 'Peregrinus' that translated to 'Pilgrim'.

The documentation of the voyage that we have today is based on the journals of William Bradford. These documentations are taken at face value as there are no other sources that record the events of the voyage.

Despite the friendly relations between the settlers and the Native Americans, the future settlers did not have fine relations with the natives.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for Mayflower voyage facts then why not take a look at Jeju Island South Korea, or is Bahrain an island.

Written By
Srija Chanda

<p>An aspiring media professional, Srija is currently pursuing her Master's degree in Mass Communication at St. Xavier's University, Kolkata, after completing her degree in journalism. With experience in PR and social media, she has also honed her leadership skills through her participation in a youth parliament. Srija's interests include devouring books, watching movies, and exploring new places through travel.</p>

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