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Mayflower, Day by Day - Wednesday, 22 December 1621

22 Dec 2021 3:01 AM | Soule (Administrator)

Departure of the Fortune

After a stay of just two weeks, the Fortune left to return to London on 23 December 1621 (n.s.).  Robert Cushman returned, carrying the signed agreement of the settlers with the London Merchant Adventurers (which may have been the primary purpose of the Fortune’s voyage), as well as a manuscript account of the first year of the Pilgrims in New England that would become known as Mourt’s Relation. We have been sampling longer and shorter excerpts of this work, written by Edward Winslow and William Bradford, for the past thirteen months -- it contained the brief summary of what later generations called “the first Thanksgiving,” and painted a rosy picture of bounty and good, which would soon -- very soon -- disintegrate, as the settlers entered a winter which, if anything, was more difficult than the last. Robert Cushman left his son Thomas in the care of William Bradford, who gave him a home, educated him, and treated him as a son. The last letter written by Cushman to Bradford, dated “London, December 22, AD 1624,” concluded: "Lastly, I must intreat you still, to have a care of my son, as of your own; and I shall rest bound unto you. I pray you let him sometime practice writing. I hope the next ships to come to you." Bradford replied: "Your son and all of us, are in good health (blessed be God).  He received the things you sent him. I hope God will make him a good man." But Cushman had died before the comforting message reached him.

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