The journey of The Mayflower is remembered for being one of the most famous sea voyages in history, with the travellers on The Mayflower becoming known as the Pilgrims, or Pilgrim Fathers in the UK.
Reasons for the Journey
The Mayflower contained 102 passengers who not only sought a new life in the United States, but who also sought to spread Christianity on the American continent. With a battle between major European nations, especially Britain and Spain, to colonize new lands, a successful journey by The Mayflower would boost Britain’s prestige still further. It would also add to the power of Britain’s monarch, King James I.
Two Months at Sea
Beginning from Plymouth, Devon, in South West England, The Mayflower’s journey began on September 6th, 1620. It took just over two months to reach American soil. The Mayflower’s journey was completed on November 11th, 1620, when it landed in the state of Massachusetts.
Plymouth Rock Is the Settlers First Home The place where The Mayflower landed was named Plymouth Rock by the settlers, with the name being arrived at for two reasons. Plymouth was used because it was where the ship had left England from, and Rock was added because the ship, so the legend goes, landed on a rock.
Life and Death
Among the travellers on The Mayflower were several pregnant women. There was one birth and two deaths during the voyage, and two births just after The Mayflower reached Massachusetts. Susanna White gave birth to a baby boy who was called Peregrine, and he was the first child to be born in the new colony. The Plymouth Colony, as it became known, was one of the first British colonies in the United States. Jamestown in Virginia had been founded over a decade earlier.
Escaping Religious Persecution
The leaders of the Pilgrims initially travelled out of England, from Boston in Lincolnshire to Amsterdam in the Netherlands, to escape religious persecution. Years later they returned to England only to leave again for the New World. With religious views dangerously fluctuating for decades in Europe, the Pilgrims sought to make a new start in America.
The Speedwell’s Failure
Before The Mayflower’s voyage, a similar voyage was planned on a ship called The Speedwell. Both times the journey had to be abandoned, and it transpired that the ship had been deliberately damaged resulting in its inability to successfully complete a long journey. As both The Speedwell and The Mayflower were wooden ships, the success of any sea journey largely depended on the kindness of the weather.
Reasons for the Colony’s Success
The success of the Plymouth Colony was made possible by the determination of the colonists, but also by their meeting no resistance from the natives, who were fearful of Europeans in the area. Many of the indigenous population had also either been killed by diseases brought by Europeans, or were made weaker by the diseases, so any resistance would probably have been futile. Good relations were, however, later established between the colonists and the native people.
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