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The first Mayflower left Plymouth, England on September 6, 1620 with 102 passengers and about 25 carefully selected crew, arriving in the New World 67 days later.  She was a "sweet" ship in that she had been engaged in the wine trade in the Mediterranean since 1616.  She had also been engaged in fur trade with Norway and had experienced the storms of the North Sea, a most treacherous body of water.  The dimensions of the first Mayflower were 90 feet in length (12 Feet more than a tennis court), 26 feet in width, with a tonnage of 180.  Small as she was she was larger than the Discovery, which landed at Virginia in 1607.  There was a barn in Buckinghamshire, England, in which some roof timbers and the central cross beam were made from the original ship.

On July 4, 1955, construction started on Mayflower II, a replica of the original ship, in Brixham, England.  She was designed by U.S. Naval Architect William Baker and commissioned by Plimouth Plantation.  Although her dimensions and tonnage were similar, there were major updates.  Mayflower II steered with a wheel instead of a tiller, had a generator, electricity, and two-way radio, as well as superior pumps.  She also had a galley without a refrigerator for the preparation of meals.  The Pilgrims had a sandbox on which small fires could be kindled and at best they could stew in small pots.  In bad weather, this cooking procedure could not be used due to the danger of fire from the burning coals.  Mayflower II left England April 20, 1957 and arrived at Plymouth, MA on June 13.  It is permanently berthed in Plymouth and well worth a visit.

Mayflower II was Captained by Alan Villiers, an Australian, and had an international crew that numbered 31.  Two LIFE Magazine reporters were also on the voyage.  The 1967 route went south to pass the Canary Islands, down below the Tropic of Cancer and back up to the west of Bermuda.  In 1620 Captain Jones, the 1620 Captain, familiar with the charts and maps of explorers Cabot and Gosnold, took a shorter, more northern route in rougher seas, aiming to stay along the 42d parallel.

Article from the Tar Heel Pilgrim, May 2000.

Sources: Caffrey, Kate: Mayflower; Williston, George: Saints and Sinners; "California Mayflower," Apr. 1997; "Daughters," Publication of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Nov. 1996; "LIFE MAGAZINE," Apr. 17, 1957; "Mississippi Mayflower Messenger," Apr. 1997 and "New York Mayflower Newsletter," Spring 1998.



102 passengers sailed from Plymouth and 102 arrived in New England.  One passenger, a servant of Deacon Samuel Fuller died, and one child was born at sea.  That child was Oceanus, son of Stephen and Elizabeth Hopkins.  Unfortunately, the baby died during the first winter.


The voyage took 66 days to cross the Atlantic.  The first child born in New England after the ship arrived was Peregrine White, son of William and Susanna White.  The landing took place on November 11, 1620, at present day Provincetown, MA, at the tip of Cape Cod.


The first governor of Plymouth Colony was John Carver, who was elected in November 1620, while aboard the Mayflower.  He was again elected in March 1621.  He died in April 1621.


The first Pilgrims to be married in New England were Edward Winslow and Susanna White, both widowed during the first winter.  They were married in a civil ceremony, as was the Pilgrim custom, on May 12, 1621.


Out of 102 passengers, 51 survived the first winter, (1620-1621) Only four of the married women survived - Elizabeth Hopkins, Eleanor Billington, Susanna White, and Mary Brewster.  These four women along with the older girls presumably oversaw the food preparation for the three-day harvest feast celebrated by the colonists, Massasoit, and 90 of his Indian men - the feast we now call "The First Thanksgiving".  52 English were at that feast, since Peregrine White was born after arrival.


The Pilgrims didn't use forks.  They used a knife, a spoon, a large napkin and their --- fingers, and might share plates and drinking vessels.


William Bradford transcribed his memory of the first Colony in his book titled "Of Plimoth Plantation".  The original manuscript is held in the Massachusetts State archives.

(Ka Pupu Nihoniho, November 2000 - Hawaii State Newsletter)


Pilgrim children chores included fetching water from the brook or springs, gathering firewood, herding animals, gathering berries, and other wild plants and helping their parents cook, clean, preserve food, plant and harvest crops and care for younger children.


The children probably played marbles, running games, board games, and ball games. The Pilgrim children were expected to show courtesy to adults, including their parents, by bowing and curtsying to them. They also served meals to their parents and ate after their parents were served, often on stools near the hearth (fireplace).


Boys and girls in the 1600s in England and New England wore gowns (dresses) until they were about seven years old. At that time a boy would be "breeched", that is, dressed for the first time as a young man in scaled-down versions of adult clothing.


There was no school in the early years of New Plymouth. Parents who wanted their children to learn to read and write taught them themselves or had their children taught by neighbors.


(Pilgrim News - Nebraska, Autumn 2000)


In 2002, the tradition of the Mayflower Cup ended, according to an article by the Literary and Historical Association in the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh. Started in 1921 by the Society of Mayflower Descendants in the State of North Carolina, The cup was an annual award for the best published work by a North Carolinian (Literary and Historical Association). To learn more about the cup and its history, visit


All the Pilgrims spoke English, but words and phrases they used were so different, 400 years ago, from the language used and known today.  Today's descendants might have a very hard time understanding exactly what their ancestors meant.


The Pilgrims lived in the midst of the most exciting period in the history of the English language.  It was a time when 12,000 words were added to the language.  It was also a time of considerable change in the language structure.  The Pilgrims ere among the first generation to use the "s" form of verbs, such as "has" rather than "hath," and "runs" rather than "runneth," etc.  Also, the pronouns "thee" and "thou" were dying out at the same time.  If the Pilgrims had come twenty-five years earlier, these terms might have been preserved in our common English of today.

It also seems possible that some of the Pilgrim families spoke different dialects since they came from many towns and cities in different parts of England. Even if the word was heard correctly could today's descendants define it?

For fun, see how many of the nouns listed below, words commonly used in the Sixteen hundreds, can be matched with the correct definition.


A. A bread or un-sweetened cake cooked on hot stones.
B. A wooden plate for food. 
C. An open boat, usually for 2 oarsmen, or a two-masted fishing boat. 
D. A cask for liquor or a measure of weight. 
E. A spicy, salted fish stew. 
F. A woman's undershirt. 
G. A small bed, truck or cart on wheels. 
H. A strong drink or the vessel to hold it. 
I. A thick vegetable soup. 
J. An alcoholic drink. 
K. A wooden vessel for food, such as lard or butter of 1/4 of a barrel. 
L. A fortress, barricade or castle.

Answers to How's Your Pilgrim English?

1-E; 2-A; 3-F; 4-H; 5-K; 6-J; 7-L; 8-I; 9-C; 10-B; 11-G; 12-D.

(Green Mountain Pilgrim - Burlington, VT  October 2000)


This information is interesting and is from Edwin Valentine Mitchell's book, "It's An Old New England Custom".

The colonial housewife raised medicinal herbs in addition to plants to dye her linen and woolen clothing.  Doctors expected her to have a good supply of samples (single herbs) for application when he was summoned.


Such herbs one may have used are:


Honeysuckle - a vine to treat fevers, sore throats, boils and skin sores.


Cranberries - from the Indians, she learned that cranberries were excellent when mashed and used as a poultice for wounds.


Lemon balm - comfort for the heart; also aided digestion.


Morning glories - the vines of morning glories acted as a laxative, and the flowers were helpful in relieving a backache and healing broken bones.


Parsley - comforted the stomach, prevented baldness and was helpful in assisting fretful infants to break wind.


Rosemary - used with embalming.


Sage - calmed the nerves.


Columbine - leaves acted as a lotion, good to rub on sore mouths and throats.  Taken in wine it was thought to give a speedy delivery for childbirth.


Comfrey - came from England.  Roots boiled with water or wine was good for drinking. Helped inward hurts and bruises.  As a tea it was drunk for a restful sleep.

Flax - planted to spin the fibers for thread for linen; good for treatment of rheumatic pains.  The seedling seed aided in digestion and was used for poultices.


Foxglove - gentle cleansing; it rid the body of clammy humors.  Ointment was used for a scabby head.


Roses - could cure anything.


(Evergreen Log, Washington State, Fall 2000)

 1.  The Pilgrims first landed at:

       a.  Provincetown

       b.  Clarke's Island

       c.  Monomoy Point

2.  How many signatures were on the Mayflower Compact?

3.  What is a shallop?

       a.  something to eat

       b.  the collar of the Pilgrim's clothing

       c.  a small boat

4.  Name the sailor buried at sea (Alden's roommate).

5.  Who is believed to be the first person to have stepped upon Plymouth Rock?

6.  Who was given command to go ashore to explore the land and lead others?

7.  How many were in the party?

8.  What animal was with the Indians on the beach?

9.  The first signer of the Mayflower Compact was _________________?


10.  The Compact was signed

       a. on shipboard

       b.  in the Common House

       c.  at church after the first service


11.  How many Pilgrims died in the "general sickness"?


12.  What custom did the Pilgrim women establish on Monday, November 13th, that would eventually be practiced by millions of American housewives hundreds of years later?


13.  Where was Leyden Street?

       a.  Provincetown

       b.  Plymouth


14.  What was the name of Priscilla Alden's father?


15.  Name the Indian who said "Welcome, Englishmen" and asked for beer to drink?  Can you name his tribe?


16.  Squanto's other (longer) Indian name was___________________________?


17.  Who was the English captain who kidnapped Squanto and some other Nauset Indians and sold them to Spaniards as slaves?


18.  What two (2) Pilgrim men fought a duel over a Pilgrim girl who later returned to England unwed?


19.  Following the death of John Carver, what man was chosen to be his successor?  Who was chosen Assistant Governor?


20.  On what date did the Mayflower leave Plymouth to return to England?


21.  How were the Pilgrims summoned to church services?


22.  Who was the first couple to be married in the new land by William Bradford?


23.  How long did the first Thanksgiving festivities last?

       a.  1 day

       b.  3 days

       c.  1 week


24.  How many men did Massasoit bring to the feast?

       a.  90

       b.  20

       c.  47


25.  What was the name of the NEXT ship to come to America?

       a.  The Sparrow

       b.  The Fortune

       c.  The Charity




90% Correct - You're a genius.  You really know your Pilgrim History!!

80% Correct - Pretty good.  You're smart!!

50% or less - It's time for you to hit the books again!


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