Mayflower was the famous ship that transported the English
Separatists, better known as the Pilgrims, from Southampton,
England, to Plymouth, Massachusetts (which would become the
capital of Plymouth Colony), in 1620.
The vessel left England on September 6 (Old Style)/September 16
(New Style), and after a grueling 66-day journey marked by
disease, which claimed two lives, the ship dropped anchor inside
the hook tip of Cape Cod (Provincetown Harbor) on November
11/November 21. The Mayflower was originally destined for the
mouth of the Hudson River, near present-day New York City, at
the northern edge of England's Virginia colony, which itself was
established with the 1607 Jamestown Settlement. However, the
Mayflower went off course as the winter approached, and remained
in Cape Cod Bay. On March 21/28, 1621, all surviving passengers,
who had inhabited the ship during the winter, moved ashore at
Plymouth, and on April 5/15, the Mayflower, a privately
commissioned vessel, returned to England. In 1623, a year after
the death of captain Christopher Jones, the Mayflower was most
likely dismantled for scrap lumber in Rotherhithe, London.
The Mayflower has a famous place in American history as a symbol
of early European colonization of the future US. With their
religion oppressed by the English Church and government, the
small party of religious separatists who comprised about half of
the passengers on the ship desired a life where they could
practice their religion freely. This symbol of religious freedom
resonates in US society and the story of the Mayflower is a
staple of any American history textbook. Americans whose roots
are traceable back to New England often believe themselves to be
descended from Mayflower passengers.
The main record for the voyage of the Mayflower and the
disposition of the Plymouth Colony comes from William Bradford
who was a guiding force and later the governor of the colony.
A second ship called the
Mayflower made a voyage from London to Plymouth Colony in 1629
carrying thirty-five passengers, many from the Pilgrim
congregation in Leiden that organized the first voyage. This was
not the same ship that made the original voyage with the first
settlers. This voyage began in May and reached Plymouth in
August. This ship also made the crossing from England to America
in 1630, 1633, 1634, and 1639. It attempted the trip again in
1641, departing London in October of that year under master John
Cole, with 140 passengers bound for Virginia. It never arrived.
On October 18, 1642 a deposition was made in England regarding
After World War II, an effort
began to reenact the voyage of the Mayflower. With cooperation
between Project Mayflower and Plimoth Plantation, an accurate
replica of the original (designed by naval architect William A.
Baker) was launched September 22, 1956 from Devon, England, and
set sail in the spring of 1957. Captained by Alan Villiers, the
voyage ended in Plymouth Harbor after 55 days on June 13, 1957
to great acclaim.
Mayflower II masts in the fog. The ship is moored to this day at
State Pier in Plymouth, and is open to visitors