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  • 2 Jan 2021 2:41 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    At anchor in Plymouth harbour

    Sent the body of Richard Britteridge ashore for burial, the storm having prevented taking it before, and also a large party of colonists to fell timber and begin construction of houses.  Left a large number on shore at the rendezvous.  Fetched wood and water.

  • 1 Jan 2021 3:01 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    At anchor, Plymouth harbour

    The storm continues, so that no one could go ashore, or those on land come aboard. 

    This morning goodwife Allerton was delivered of a son, but still-born. He was the third child born on board the ship since leaving England (all boys!) — the first in this harbour.

    Note that although we start the new year on 1 January, the Julian calendar still used by the Pilgrims did not start the new calendar year until 25 March (the anniversary of Jesus’ Incarnation).  Thus the year from today through the end of March would be 1620 to the Pilgrims and the English, but 1621 to most of the rest of the world and to us, who follow the Gregorian calendar.  Years in this blog will accordingly be “double dated.”  This change is in addition to the addition of ten days that occurred with the transition to the Gregorian calendar (so that while 1 January 1621 would be exactly 400 years ago in the Gregorian calendar, the exact same day would be 22 December 1620 in the Julian calendar).

  • 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.

  • 30 Dec 2020 2:56 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    At anchor, Plymouth harbour, many ill

    After service the colonists decided to go ashore this morning and determine upon one of two places which were thought most fitting for their habitation.  “After we had called on God for direction, we came to this resolution: to go presently ashore again, and to take a better view of two places, which we thought most fitting for us, for we could not now take time for further search or consideration, our victuals being much spent, especially our beer. After our landing and viewing of the places, so well as we could we came to a conclusion, by most voices, to set on the mainland, on the first place, on a high ground, where there is a great deal of land cleared, and hath been planted with corn three or four years ago, and there is a very sweet brook runs under the hillside, and many delicate springs of as good water as can be drunk, and where we may harbour our shallops and boats exceedingly well, and in this brook much good fish in their seasons; on the further side of the river also much corn-ground cleared. In one field is a great hill on which we point to make a platform and plant our ordnance, which will command all round about. From thence we may see into the bay, and far into the sea, and we may see thence Cape Cod.”  It is interesting to note the “voice vote” -- probably calling out names and asking for a choice (as opposed to a written ballot), rather than using the equivalent of an applause meter.  The site known as Plimoth, and Cole’s Hill in particular, was chosen.  A considerable party went ashore and left twenty of their number there on the hill to make a rendezvous, the rest returning to the Mayflower at night, “resolving in the morning to come all ashore and to build houses.”  “Our greatest labour will be fetching of our wood, which is half a quarter of an English mile, but there is enough so far off.  What people inhabit here we yet know not, for as yet we have seen none.”

  • 29 Dec 2020 3:04 AM | Soule (Administrator)

     At anchor, Plymouth harbour

    A party from the ship went ashore to explore, some going by land and some keeping to the shallop.  A creek was found leading inland to a settlement site near the (modern) town of Kingston: “We found a creek, and went up three English miles. A very pleasant river, at full sea a bark of thirty tons may go up, but at low water scarce our shallop could pass. This place we had a great liking to plant in, but that it was so far from our fishing, our principal profit, and so encompassed with woods that we should be in much danger of the savages, and our number being so little, and so much ground to clear, so as we thought good to quit and clear [i.e., leave] that place till we were of more strength.”  It was given the name of “Jones River” in compliment to the captain of the Mayflower.  “Some of us having a good mind for safety to plant in the greater isle,” i.e., Clark’s Island, where the exploration party had spent two days the previous week after almost being shipwrecked during a storm, “we crossed the bay which is there five or six miles over, and found the isle about a mile and a half or two miles about, all wooded, and no fresh water but two or three pits, that we doubted of fresh water in summer, and so full of wood as we could hardly clear so much as to serve us for corn. Besides, we judged it cold for our corn, and some part very rocky, yet divers thought of it as a place defensible, and of great security” -- this would certainly have been a safe spot to defend in case of an Indian attack.  All came aboard at night with resolution to fix, tomorrow, which of the several places examined they would settle upon: the options were (1) making a settlement inland near modern day Kingston, although this was the least acceptable, and was probably not even considered in the final choice; (2) returning to the defensible and wooded but water-poor Clark’s Island; (3) the top of a 165-foot hill that had been cleared by the Indians (although none were in evidence) and from which the surrounding coastline could be seen for miles, near several fresh water springs, a salt marsh, and an anchorage for small boats.

  • 28 Dec 2020 2:41 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    At anchor, Plymouth harbour

    The Master of the ship, with three or four of the sailors and several of the Pilgrims, went on land: “We marched along the coast in the woods some seven or eight miles, but saw not an Indian nor an Indian house; only we found where formerly had been some inhabitants, and where they had planted their corn.”  Bradford noted that the Indians’ “skulls and bones were found in many places lying still upon the ground,” since there had not been sufficient people to bury them when they had died several years earlier; they were now eerie, bleached testimony to the epidemic -- the sight must have been chilling. “We found not any navigable river, but four or five small running brooks of very sweet fresh water, that all run into the sea. The land for the crust of the earth is a spit's depth, excellent black mould, and fat in some places, two or three great oaks but not very thick, pines, walnuts, beech, ash, birch, hazel, holly, asp, sassafras in abundance, and vines everywhere, cherry trees, plum trees, and many other which we know not. Many kinds of herbs we found here in winter, as strawberry leaves innumerable, sorrel, yarrow, carvel, brooklime, liverwort, watercresses, great store of leeks and onions, and an excellent strong kind of flax and hemp. Here is sand, gravel, and excellent clay, no better in the world, excellent for pots, and will wash like soap, and great store of stone, though somewhat soft, and the best water that ever we drank, and the brooks now begin to be full of fish.” The party came aboard at night, “many being weary with marching.”

  • 27 Dec 2020 3:08 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    At anchor in Plymouth harbour 

    Services on board ship; first Sunday in Plymouth harbour.  Rested on the Sabbath.

  • 26 Dec 2020 2:46 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    Comes in with fair wind for Plymouth.

    Weighed anchor and put to sea again and made harbour safely this time, the shallop in company.  “But it pleased God that the next day, being Saturday the 16th day [old style], the wind came fair and we put to sea again, and came safely into a safe harbour; and within half an hour the wind changed, so as if we had been letted [i.e., hindered or delayed] but a little, we had gone back to Cape Cod.” Let go anchors just within a long spur of beach a mile or more from shore. This is the end of the Mayflower’s outward voyage: one hundred and two days from Plymouth (England) to Plimoth (New England), one hundred and fifty-five days from London.

  • 25 Dec 2020 2:37 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    Weighed anchor to go to Plimoth 

    Course west, after leaving harbour, with the shallop in company.  Coming within two leagues (six miles) of Plymouth Harbour, the wind coming northwest, the Mayflower was unable to enter the harbour, and had to turn around and return to Cape Cod.  They made their old anchorage at night, the thirty-fifth night they have lain at anchor here.  The shallop returned with the ship.  I find this return to be one of the most frustrating of the many discouraging events of this voyage.

  • 24 Dec 2020 2:48 AM | Soule (Administrator)

     At anchor, Cape Cod harbour

    The colonists determined to make settlement at the harbour the exploratory party visited, and which is apparently, by Captain John Smith’s chart of 1616, none other than the place he calls  “Plimoth.”  Fetched wood and water, and prepared to weigh anchor.

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