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  • 14 Jan 2021 3:45 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    At anchor in Plymouth harbour

    The colonists had seen the odd Indian “skulking about them,” but they always ran away when they were approached.  Captain Standish went out today, with four or five more men, to see if they could "meet with any of the savages in that place where the fires were made. They went to some of their houses, but not lately inhabited, yet could they not meet with any. As they came home, they shot at an eagle and killed her, which was excellent meat; it was hardly to be discerned from mutton.” (Tastes like chicken?)

  • 13 Jan 2021 3:31 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    At anchor in harbour

    “Some of our people being abroad to get and gather thatch, they saw great fires of the Indians, and were at their corn-fields, yet saw none of the savages, nor had seen any of them since we came to this bay.”  For centuries, the Indians had been burning the landscape on a seasonal basis as a form of land management; this created open forests, without significant underbrush.  Philbrick notes that (Mayflower, p. 87), “the constant burning created stands of huge white pine trees that commonly grew to over 100 feet tall, with some trees reaching 250 feet in height and as much as 5 feet in diameter.  … In swampy areas, where standing water protected the trees from fire, grew white oaks, alders, willows, and red maples.  But there were large portions of southern New England that were completely devoid of trees … Come summer, this … blackened ground would resemble, to a remarkable degree, the wide and rolling fields of their native England.”

  • 12 Jan 2021 3:46 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    At anchor in harbour

    Sent burying-party ashore with Priest’s body.  Weather good.  Working-party went on shore and returned to the ship at night.

  • 11 Jan 2021 3:59 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    At anchor in Plymouth harbour

    A large party went ashore early to work.  Much time lost ferrying passengers, the ship drawing so much water that it could only anchor a mile and a half off shore.  The working-party came back aboard at nightfall.  Fetched wood and water.

    Today Degory Priest, a hatter who was part of the Leiden congregation, died aboard the ship.  His English origins are unknown, although his wife was Isaac Allerton’s sister and he was probably a little over 40 years old at the time of his death (calculated from his statement in a 1619 deposition in Leiden).  He married Sarah Allerton, widow of Jan (John) Vincent, on 4 November 1611 -- the same day and at the same office that Isaac Allerton married Mary Norris (a double wedding?).  The couple’s two children were born in Leiden in the years immediately after their marriage; the children came to America on the Anne in 1623 with their mother and her (third) husband, the improbably named Godbert Godbertson (sometimes written as “Cuthbert Cuthbertson” -- another hatmaker!).  Godbert was previously married (to Elizabeth Kendall, d. 1621), and married Sarah in Leiden in November 1621; Robert Charles Anderson notes that according to both his marriage records, Godbert Godbertson was of “’Eastland,’ meaning presumably that region around Danzig, now part of Poland” (The Great Migration Begins II:778).  The elder daughter, Mary Priest, married Phineas Pratt, who was part of the ill-fated settlement at Wessagusset, and had eight children (all of whom had children); Sarah Priest married John Coombs in Plymouth about 1630.  Sarah went to England in 1645 (where she had never lived previously), leaving her two children in America in the custody of William Spooner, and apparently never returned; John Coombs had apparently died by this time.  Speculation is that Sarah died either on the journey to England or not long afterwards, for she is never heard from again.  In 1648, the Plymouth court ordered William Spooner to “keep the children of Mis Combe and not dispose of them without further order.”  Both John Coombs and Francis Coombs grew to adulthood and had children (some of whom married into the Eaton, Howland, and Cushman families).  Thus, even though neither Sarah nor her two daughters were Mayflower passengers, their descendants are Mayflower descendants because their husband and father Degory Priest was a passenger.  No indication of any other Priest children has been found; Sarah (Allerton) (Vincent) (Priest) Godbertson and her husband Godbert (or Cuthbert) had a son Samuel, but neither he nor any of his descendants would be Mayflower descendants.  It is unclear whether Samuel ever married or had children (although “Samuell Cutbird aged about 42 years,” according to a 1699 death record in Middleborough, would have been born at the right time to be Samuel’s son).  According to the 1623 Plymouth land division, “Cudbart Cudbartsone” received six acres as a 1623 passenger on the Anne, for himself, his wife Sarah, their son Samuel, Sarah’s deceased husband Degory Priest, and Sarah’s two Priest daughters.

    As mentioned several times before, today would have been 1 January in the Julian calendar, but it would not have been the beginning of a “new year,” and the settlers and crew would have considered that it was still 1620 until 25 March; only then would the calendar have turned over to 1621.

  • 10 Jan 2021 3:03 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    At anchor in harbour

    The third Sunday in this harbour; Sunday service on board ship.  Sailors given leave to go ashore.  Many colonists ill.

  • 9 Jan 2021 3:30 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    At anchor in harbour

    Very stormy and cold.  The second day in a row on which no working party was sent on shore; the settlers were assembling tools.  Great smoke of fires visible from the ship, six or seven miles away, probably made by Indians.

  • 8 Jan 2021 2:58 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    At anchor in harbour

    The weather wet and cold; no working-party went on shore.  The colonists were assembling and fitting tools for their work.  The centre street of the settlement (although at this time there were really not enough buildings to merit that title) is now underneath Leyden Street in modern day Plymouth.  The two rows of houses planned on either side of the main street (which were not completed until a couple of years later) were arranged according to Dutch fortification plans, probably learned by Myles Standish during his time in Leiden.  The main (at this point, the only) street was capped by the artillery platform at the top of the hill, and intersected by a path going down to Town Brook, ending at the shore of the harbour.

  • 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.

  • 6 Jan 2021 2:39 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    At anchor in harbour

    Sent working party ashore.  All but the guard came back to the Mayflower at night; the common house by now has partial walls and a roof, with the thatch made from reeds and cattails from the nearby marsh.

  • 5 Jan 2021 2:56 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    At anchor in Plymouth harbour 

    A violent storm of wind and rain.  The weather so foul this morning that none could go ashore.  Only a small amount of work could be done, but those on land refused to be deterred by the weather.  The walls of the house were made of hewn tree trunks, interwoven with branches and twigs that were covered with clay.  This “wattle and daub” construction was surmounted by a thatched roof (which would have been a familiar construction from England).  There may or may not have been a chimney -- it is possible that there was just a hole in the roof, through which the smoke from the open fire on the dirt floor escaped.  There was probably no window covering, at least immediately: eventually there would have been linseed coated parchment used to cover the openings, which would have been semi-opaque.  There was no glass.  The common house would thus have been very dark and very smoky, and the floor was soon covered with bedding (wall to wall) as this was initially the only shelter on land.

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