The Mayflower set Sails

By | Sep 6, 2011

Many know the story of how the Pilgrims sailed on the Mayflower from Southampton, England (the same port where the Titanic set sail for New York nearly 300 years later) to settle on the shores of the New World. It was on September 6, 1620 that the ship left England.

The ship was bound for the mouth of the Hudson River, near present day New York at the northern edge of the Virginia Colony. During the trip across the Atlantic the ship went off course to the North and arrived near Cape Cod on November 11th.

When the Mayflower set sail that day in 1620, it was not a brand new ship. The ship had been built around 1607/08 with its first voyage being to Trondheim, Norway, in 1609, to bring back lumber, tar, and fish.

The ship was a private vessel, used mainly as a cargo vessel in the wine trade, and had been chartered by the pilgrims to take them to America. After the first winter in the New World, Captain Christopher Jones left to return to England. Shortly afterward Jones died and by 1624 it had fallen into ruins. It is assumed that the ship was sold and broken apart as scrap.

By the time the Pilgrims landed in America, Virginia had been settled in 1607 at Jamestown, 1610 at Hampton, 1611 at Henricus, 1613 at Newport News, 1613 at New Bermuda, as well as several other Virginia settlements. Virginia had a population of about 4,500 in 1623. Also, Albany, New York, was settled by the Dutch in 1614, Santa Fe, New Mexico was settled by the Spanish in 1610, and St. Augustine, Florida dates to the 16th century.

Squanto, the Native American who helped the pilgrims beginning in the spring of 1821, was himself a traveler. He had ventured to England with John Smith in 1614. Smith had explored the northern portion of the Virginia Colony, land which included New England, during that time. Squanto lived in England for a number of years and is thought to have crossed the Atlantic at least four times.


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