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  • 27 Sep 2020 3:28 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    How much did this cost?                               

    It is probable that the exact stipulations of the contract will never come to light, and we can only roughly guess at them by a somewhat difficult comparison with the terms on which the Lady Arabella, the “Admiral” or flagship of Winthrop’s fleet, was chartered in 1630, for what is substantially the same voyage (of course, without expectation or probability of so long a stay on the New England coast), though the latter was a much larger ship. The contract probably named an “upset” or total sum for the “round voyage,” as was the case with the Lady Arabella. Winthrop enters among his memoranda, “The agreement for the Arabella £750, whereof [blank] is to be paid in hand [i e. cash down] the rest upon certificate of our safe arrival.” The sum was doubtless considerably in excess of that paid for the Mayflower, both because she was a much larger, heavier-armed, and better-manned ship, of finer accommodations, and because ships were, in 1630, in far greater demand for the New England trade than in 1620, Winthrop’s own fleet including no less than ten. The adjustments of freight and passage money between the Adventurers and colonists are a matter of much doubt and perplexity, and are not likely to be discovered by further research. The only light thrown upon them is by the tariffs for such service on Winthrop’s fleet, and for passage on different ships at a little later day. It is altogether probable that transportation of all those accepted as colonists, by the agents of the Adventurers and “Planters,” was without direct charge to any individual, but was debited against the whole. But as some had better quarters than others, some much more and heavier furniture, while some had bulky and heavy goods for their personal benefit, it is fair to assume that some schedule of rates for “tonnage,” if not for individuals, became necessary, to prevent complaints and to facilitate accounts. Winthrop credits Mr. Goffe—owner of two of the ships in 1630—as follows:—“For ninety-six passengers at £4, £384.  For thirty-two tons of goods at £3 (per ton).  For passage for a man, his wife and servant, (3 persons) £16/10, £5/10 each.”

  • 26 Sep 2020 3:30 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    Chartering the Mayflower

    In 1619, the Leiden Separatists first met with Thomas Weston, a representative of the London investors, who conveyed his fellow investors’ willingness to finance the Separatists’ colony in the New World. The Separatists sought to build an autonomous community based on New Testament principles; Weston and his fellow investors were interested in the Colony of New Plymouth, but more so in New England and her natural resources.  Arlene Spencer writes, “That Weston invested his own money in a business as an individual along with other investors who together owned a company through joint stock was not new. What was relatively new was this: as individuals, those investors were not necessarily wealthy, courtiers, nor aristocracy anymore. This was a recent emerging economic engine in England: the first of what eventually becomes the middle class. The practice came about because then, in recent prior decades, English merchants had learned from their more affluent and successful Dutch competitors, as an individual trader, no longer to trade solely in one good (i.e. wool cloth, coal, or fish), but instead to diversify trade goods, buying different kinds of goods and then selling those goods by, crucially, creating and maintaining trade routes through relationships with trade partners within Britain and internationally.”  The actual contract for the Mayflower has not survived; most of what we know about Weston, the financial arrangements, and the chartering of the Mayflower is told to us in William Bradford’s first hand account, Of Plimoth Plantation. Others of Weston’s contemporaries, such as Winslow (Good Newes From New England), Pratt (A Declaration of the English People That First Inhabited New England), and Morton (Mourt’s Relation) wrote about this but none had the personal dealings with Weston and the Merchant Adventurers that Bradford had.  From these works we only learn about Weston and the Merchant Adventurers during the years 1619-1623: these are the years Weston was involved in the founding of Plymouth and an attempted second colony, Wessagusset.  More about all this next month; tomorrow we will try to figure out how much this all cost.

  • 25 Sep 2020 3:33 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    The Mayflower before the Pilgrims (continued)

    After 1616, there is no further record which specifically relates to Jones' Mayflower until 1624. This is unusual for a ship trading to London, as it would not usually disappear from the records for such a long time. No Admiralty court document can be found relating to the Pilgrims’ voyage of 1620, although this might be due to the unusual way in which the transfer of the Pilgrims was arranged from Leiden to New England; some of the records of the period might also have been lost.  Jones was one of the owners of the ship by 1620, along with Christopher Nichols, Robert Child, and Thomas Short. It was from Child and Jones that Thomas Weston chartered her in the summer of 1620 to undertake the Pilgrim voyage. Weston had a significant role in the Mayflower voyage due to his membership in the Company of Merchant Adventurers of London, and he eventually travelled to the Plymouth Colony himself.

  • 24 Sep 2020 2:58 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    The Mayflower before the Pilgrims

    The identity of Captain Jones' Mayflower is based on records from her home port, her tonnage (est. 180–200 tons), and the master's name in 1620 in order to avoid confusion with the many other Mayflower ships. It is not known when and where the Mayflower was built, although late records designate her as "of London."  She was designated in the Port Books of 1609–11 as "of Harwich" in the county of Essex, coincidentally the birthplace of Mayflower master Christopher Jones about 1570.  Records dating from August 1609 note Christopher Jones as master and part owner of the Mayflower when his ship was chartered for a voyage from London to Trondheim in Norway and back to London. The ship lost an anchor on her return due to bad weather, and she made short delivery of her cargo of herring. Litigation resulted, and this was still proceeding in 1612. According to records, the ship was twice on the Thames at London in 1613, once in July and again in October and November, and in 1616 she was on the Thames carrying a cargo of wine, which suggests that the ship had recently been on a voyage to France, Spain, Portugal, the Canaries, or some other wine-producing land. Jones sailed the Mayflower cross-Channel, taking English woolens to France and bringing French wine back to London. He also transported hats, hemp, Spanish salt, hops, and vinegar to Norway, and he may have taken the Mayflower whaling in the North Atlantic in the Greenland area or sailed to Mediterranean ports.

  • 23 Sep 2020 2:40 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    The name “Mayflower”

    There were 26 different vessels bearing the name Mayflower in the Port Books of England during the reign of James I (1603–1625); it is not known why the name was so popular.   Even more strange is the fact that Bradford does not mention the name of the ship on which he came to America, even once, in his Of Plimoth Plantation.  In his record of 1629 he speaks of a ship called the Mayflower (along with the Talbot) commissioned by the Massachusetts Bay Company, but this is different than the ship which brought the Pilgrims to Plymouth.  The earliest authentic evidence that the ship which bore the Pilgrims across the North Atlantic in the late autumn of 1620 was the Mayflower, is the heading of the “Allotment of Lands” — happily an official document — in March, 1623.  It is more than a little remarkable that, with the constantly recurring references to “the ship,” the all-important factor in Pilgrim history, her name should nowhere have found mention in the earliest Pilgrim literature.  Bradford uses the terms the “bigger ship,” “larger ship,” and “first ship”; Winslow, Cushman, Captain John Smith, Morton, and others mention simply the “vessel,” or the “ship,” when speaking of the Mayflower, but in no case give her a name.

    In the Land Distribution of 1623, property is given to various settlers according to when they arrived: each of the ships are named. In the first lot, it is stated: "The Falles of their grounds which came first over in the May-Floure, according as their lotes were cast ." Caleb Johnson notes, "In 1623, the Pilgrims divided up their land. The people mentioned in the Division of Land came on the Mayflower (1620), the Fortune (1621), and the Anne (1623). A couple may have arrived on the Swan (1622) or the Little James (1623), but these were small ships carrying mostly cargo. The Division of Land is recorded in Volume XII of the Records of the Colony of New Plymouth, and reprinted in the Mayflower Descendant, 1:227-230. Each family was given one acre per family member."  This would appear to be the first definite indication of the name of the ship by the colonists.

  • 22 Sep 2020 2:42 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    Mayflower under full sail (Equinox)

    First day of Autumn.  Fine, warm weather and the “harvest-moon.”  The usual equinoctial storms seem to have been delayed, but the danger increased significantly now that the calendar has passed into autumn.

  • 21 Sep 2020 2:36 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    Passengers’ Ages [Part One]

    The actual and comparative youth of the majority of the leaders — “the Pilgrim Fathers” — is a matter of comment, even of surprise, to most students of Pilgrim history, especially in view of what the Leiden congregation had experienced before embarking for America.  Four men were over 50, five men were between 41 and 50, 21 men were between 31 and 40, seven men were between 21 and 30 years old.  The largest age group was the teen-aged boys aged between 10 and 18, with about 24 in all, or about one-quarter of the total passengers -- more about them as time goes on.  Only nine could have been over forty, and of these Carver, Chilton, Martin, Mullins, and Priest died within a few months of landing, leaving Brewster, Warren (who died early), Cooke, and Hopkins as the “seniors.”  Winslow celebrated his twenty-fifth birthday during the crossing, Dr. Fuller was about 31; Bradford was only 31 when chosen Governor, Allerton was 32, and Standish 36.  They were certainly “old heads on young shoulders.”

  • 20 Sep 2020 2:31 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    Mayflower under full sail (continued)

    The Mayflower comes in with wind ENE.  Gale continues.  The Mayflower now surpassed the point at which it had turned back on 5 September when the Speedwell had begun to leak, two weeks before.  The Mayflower was square-rigged with a beakhead bow and high, castle-like structures fore and aft which protected the crew and the main deck from the elements — designs that were typical of English merchant ships of the early 17th century. Her stern carried a 30-foot high, square aft-castle which made the ship difficult to sail close to the wind and not well suited against the North Atlantic's prevailing westerlies, especially in the fall and winter of 1620; the voyage from England to America took more than two months as a result. Mayflower's return trip to London in April–May 1621 took less than half that time, with the same strong winds now blowing in the direction of the voyage.

  • 19 Sep 2020 2:27 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    Mayflower under full sail (continued)

    The Mayflower’s galley, with its primitive conditions for cooking, existed rather as a place for the preparation of food and the keeping of utensils, than for the use of fire.  The arrangements for cooking were exceedingly crude, and were limited to the open “hearth-box” filled with sand, the chief cooking appliance being a tripod-kettle of the early navigators. This might be set up in any part of the ship where the “sand-hearth” could also go, and the smoke be cared for.  It not infrequently found space in the forecastle, between decks, and, when fine weather prevailed, on the open deck. The bake-kettle and the frying-pan were only slightly less important than the kettle for boiling.

    Her ordnance doubtless comprised several heavy guns, mounted on the spar-deck amidships, with lighter guns astern and on the rail, and a piece of longer range and larger calibre on the forecastle; this was the general disposition of ordnance on merchant vessels of her size in that day, when an armament was a sine qua non. Edward Winslow in his “Hypocrisie Unmasked” ([1646] 91) says, in writing of the departure of the Pilgrims from Delfshaven, on the Speedwell: “The wind being fair we gave them a volley of small shot and three pieces of ordnance,” by which it seems that the Speedwell, of only sixty tons, mounted at least “three pieces.” The Mayflower, being three times the size, may have carried more.

  • 18 Sep 2020 2:42 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    Mayflower under full sail

    No one can state with authority the Mayflower’s exact rig, model, or dimensions; but there can be no question, from even the meagre data and the prints we possess, that all these were very standardised.   Her hundred and eighty tons register indicates in general her size, and to some extent her probable model and rig.  In that era, the ships of each class closely corresponded to each other.  Like all vessels having high stems and sterns, she was unquestionably “a wet ship” — upon this voyage especially so, as Bradford shows, from being overloaded, and hence lower than usual in the water.  Bradford says, quoting the master of the Mayflower and others: “As for the decks and upper works they would caulk them as well as they could, … though with the working of the ship, they would not long keep staunch.” She was probably not an old craft, as her captain and others declared they “knew her to be strong and firm under water;” and the weakness of her upper works was doubtless due to the strain of her overload, in the heavy weather of the autumn gales. Bradford says: “They met with many contrary winds and fierce storms with which their ship was shrewdly shaken and her upper works made very leaky.”

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