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Mayflower, Day by Day - Thursday, 7 January [1620]/21

7 Jan 2021 3:04 AM | Soule (Administrator)

At anchor 

All who were able went ashore this morning to work on a platform for ordnance on the hill to the back of the settlement: “so many as could, went to work on the hill where we purposed to build our platform for our ordnance, and which doth command all the plain and the bay, and from whence we may see far into the sea, and might be easier impaled, having two rows of houses and a fair street. So in the afternoon we went to measure out the grounds, and first we took notice of how many families there were, willing all single men that had no wives to join with some family, as they thought fit, that so we might build fewer houses, which was done, and we reduced them to nineteen families.”  This was the initial plan, but the death toll later caused them radically to revise their expectations downward.  Instead of nineteen, only seven houses were built during the first year, along with four common use buildings, including the “rendezvous,” which served as fort, church, storehouse, common area, and gathering place.  “To greater families we allotted larger plots, to every person half a pole in breadth, and three in length, and so lots were cast where every man should lie, which was done, and staked out. We thought this proportion was large enough at the first for houses and gardens, to impale them round, considering the weakness of our people, many of them growing ill with cold, for our former discoveries in frost and storms, and the wading at Cape Cod had brought much weakness amongst us, which increased so every day more and more, and after was the cause of many of their deaths.” All but the guard returned to the ship at night, about a mile and a half away.

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