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Mayflower, Day by Day - Thursday, 31 December 1620

31 Dec 2020 3:02 AM | Soule (Administrator)

At anchor, Plymouth harbour

Wet and stormy, so the Pilgrims could not go ashore as planned; the Mayflower had to set out another anchor in the gale-force winds.  It was exceptionally uncomfortable for the party on shore, who were soaked, freezing, and starving: they “were wet, not having daylight enough to make them a sufficient court of guard to keep them dry. All that night it blew and rained extremely; it was so tempestuous that the shallop could not go on land so soon as was meet, for they had no victuals on land. About eleven o'clock the shallop went off with much ado with provision, but could not return; it blew so strong and was such foul weather that we were forced to let fall our anchor and ride with three anchors ahead.”   

This day Richard Britteridge died aboard the ship, the first to die in this harbour.  Richard was a signer of the Mayflower Compact, and was listed in Bradford’s list of passengers with other adult, unmarried males (as opposed to indentured servants or children).  Richard’s exact date of death is recorded in Thomas Prince’s Chronological History of New England (1736), which relied in part on William Bradford’s “Register of Births and Deaths” (which no longer exists, having disappeared in the chaos of the American Revolution).  Caleb Johnson (Mayflower Passengers, 101) has identified a Richard Brightridge (not a very common surname), son of Anthony Brightridge, who was baptised in Crowhurst, Sussex, on 31 December 1581, which, if he is one and the same as the passenger, would make him 39 at his death.  This is, however, only a possibility.  There is no record of any marriage or children for him.


  • 31 Dec 2020 3:10 AM | Soule (Administrator)
    As you may note, this is not at all like the usual, numerous paintings of Mary Chilton (or John Alden -- take your pick) stepping serenely on to Plymouth Rock.
    Link  •  Reply

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