The Pilgrims of Plymouth

By | Nov 22, 2012

During the first part of the 17th Century a group called the Separatists felt a need for a complete separation from the Church of England. They wanted to worship in a very simple manner without all of the ritual and symbols which were used in the Anglican Church. This group first went to Amsterdam and then in 1609 to Leiden, Holland. By the end of 1619 the Leiden Separatists asked King James for a Royal Charter, which would allow them to establish a colony in the New World. Although James refused to give them a Charter, he promised that he would not try to stop them from settling abroad.

It was originally intended for the entire Leiden congregation to move to America, but they decided to send only sixty or seventy of their most able members to establish the community with the others were to follow at a later date.

Before leaving England, the Separatist leaders went to talk with Capt. John Smith, who had been to the New World and had made some extensive surveys of the New England area. Capt. Smith would have been willing to sail with them on the Mayflower as an adviser. However, the Pilgrim Fathers did not have the money to pay for his service. Instead, they purchased his book, which included a detailed map of the New England region.

The Mayflower made her final departure from Plymouth, England, on September 16, 1620, with 102 passengers aboard and a crew of about 30. Of this number only 41 were members of the Leiden church. The remainder of the passengers were hired men, paid servants, or “strangers” who wanted to make a new life in America.

The sea voyage lasted about two months at sea when the Pilgrims arrived at Cape Cod. For the next few weeks they explored the area as well as creating the Mayflower Compact. The Compact was an agreement signed by all the men on board agreeing to abide by laws that would be drawn up and agreed upon by all male members of the community.

The Pilgrims landed at Plymouth on December 31, 1620. Of those who left England only 53 people were alive to celebrate the first Fall Harvest (Thanksgiving). Even though none of the women would die during the voyage to the New World, only 4 of the 18 women survived into the summer.


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