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  • 13 Feb 2021 3:10 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    At anchorage

    Weather threatening.  Fetched wood and water.  A nagging question that arises is why the Mayflower stayed as long as it did with the settlers: it was in Provincetown and Plymouth for five months, and no one had anticipated that long of a layover.  The initial intention was to drop the passengers off and return, but it was now considered inexpedient to send the Mayflower back to England until both the settlers and the crew were in better health, as Bradford writes: “The reason on their part why she stayed so long was the necessity and danger that lay upon them, for it was well towards the end of December before she could land anything here, or they able to receive anything ashore. Afterwards, the14th of January the house which they had made for a general randevoze [rendezvous/meeting house] by casualty fell afire, and some were fain to retire aboard for shelter. Then the sickness began to fall sore amongst them, and the weather so bad as they could not make much sooner any dispatch. Again, the Governor and chief of them, seeing so many die, and fall down sick daily, thought it no wisdom to send away the ship, their condition considered, and the danger they stood in from the Indians, till they could procure some shelter; and therefore thought it better to draw some more charge upon themselves and friends, than hazard all. The master and seamen likewise, though before they hasted the passengers ashore to be gone, now many of their men being dead, and of the ablest of them (as is before noted) and of the rest many lay sick and weak, the master durst [dared] not put to sea, till he saw his men begin to recover, and the heart of winter over.”

  • 12 Feb 2021 2:44 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    At anchorage

    In addition to the strain that came from disease and death, and the steady and heavy work needed from the fewer and fewer able-bodied men, there was the mounting fear of Indian attack.  Philbrick notes (Mayflower, p. 90): “Whenever the alarm was sounded, the sick were pulled from their beds and propped up against trees with muskets in their hands.  They would do little good in the case of an actual attack, but at least they were out there to be counted.  The Pilgrims also tried to conceal the fact that so many of them had died.  They did such a diligent job of hiding their loved ones’ remains that it was not until more than a hundred years later, when the runoff from a violent rainstorm unearthed some human bones, that the location of these ancient, hastily dug graves was finally revealed.”

  • 11 Feb 2021 2:10 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    At anchor in harbour

    Weather better, and some of those on board the ship went on shore to work, but many ill.  There were two doctors in the company: the Mayflower's doctor, Giles Heale, and Samuel Fuller, a weaver while in Leyden who functioned as the Pilgrims' "surgeon and physician." Fuller, said Bradford, was a tender-hearted man and "a great help and comfort to them."  During the General Sickness, however, neither doctor was mentioned.  Perhaps they, like Bradford, were among those stricken.  More about Dr. Fuller next week.

  • 10 Feb 2021 2:55 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    At anchor in harbour

    Still cold and frosty, with sleet.  No party went on shore.

    Returning, for a moment, to Thomas Prince’s Chronological History of New-England in the Form of Annals: this work probably strikes most moderns as quite curious, since very few histories of New England now start with the Great Flood of Genesis (“now generally reckoned … [to be in] the year of the world 1656,” or 2348 BC, following Archbishop Ussher’s chronology).  Despite the title, there is no actual mention of New England (with Martin Pring’s 1603 expedition) until chapter 5!  While Prince uses many of the now familiar printed sources (Mourt’s Relation, Bradford’s Of Plimmoth Plantation, Winslow’s Good News from New England), it is valuable for the other unpublished sources cited (such as Bradford’s “register”) which have since been lost.

  • 9 Feb 2021 3:02 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    At anchorage

    Cold, frosty weather, so no working-party went on shore from ship. “In the morning the master and others saw two savages that had been on the island near our ship [Clarke’s Island]. What they came for we could not tell; they were going so far back again before they were descried, that we could not speak with them.” These were the first natives actually seen since the “first” encounter on Cape Cod two months ago.  The settlers on the shore, and the crew and the sick on the Mayflower, knew that the native inhabitants were watching them closely, but so far the Indians had refused to come forward or make any contact.  The smoke from large fires was visible as the Indians cleared land up and down the coast, and several large attempts were made to find the natives to initiate trade, or even basic communication, but all in vain.  The natives must have known that many had died, and even though the Pilgrims carried out their burials under cover of darkness, it must have been clear that the settlers were incapable of mounting any effective resistance in the event of an attack.

  • 8 Feb 2021 3:23 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    At anchor, Plymouth harbour

    Morning cold, with frost and sleet, but afterward reasonably fair.  Both long-boat and shallop carried goods on shore. 

    Rose Standish, wife of Captain Standish, died today, the eighth passenger to die this month.  Only her first name, married name, and date of death are known from the records.  There are no known children of Rose and Myles, and thus she left no known descendants.  The notice of this death is taken from the first volume of the Rev. Thomas Prince’s Chronological History of New-England in the Form of Annals (not to be confused with Thomas Prence, governor of the Plymouth colony).  This Thomas Prince was the minister (from 1718 to 1758 -- quite a long tenure) of Boston’s Third Church, later called the Old South Church.  The first volume was published in 1736, bringing the history down to September 1630.  This work has preserved a number of records of deaths (and births and marriages) for which no other authority has been discovered; it is unfortunate that he printed only a part of those he found in the original documents to which he had access.  Prince here consulted “Governor Bradford’s Pocket Book,” which contained a “Register of Deeds, &c.” from 6 November 1620 to the end of March 1621.  Prince’s record reads: “Jan. 29 [o.s.].  Dies Rose, the Wife of Capt. Standish.  [under January 1620/1:] N.B. This Month, 8 of our Number Die” (pp. 97-8).  See George Ernest Bowman’s article about Prince’s work in MD 30 (Jan 1932): 1-5.

  • 7 Feb 2021 2:54 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    At anchorage, Plymouth harbour

    Seventh Sunday in this harbour.  Worship service held on shore.  Those of the settlers on board who were able, and some of the ship’s company, went ashore, and came back after service.

  • 6 Feb 2021 2:53 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    At anchorage

    Weather fair.  Good working weather all the week, but many sick -- including some of the ship’s crew.  Fetched wood and water.

  • 5 Feb 2021 3:29 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    At anchorage

    Weather good.  Working party set ashore.  The sickness increases; details are scarce.  Although the deaths of several more prominent passengers are recorded over the next couple of months, Bradford’s journal and Mourt’s Relation stop listing each death, probably because there were so many of them in February and March: at times daily, and faster than burial parties could bury them (particularly during freezes and massive storms).

  • 4 Feb 2021 3:00 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    At anchorage

    Weather good.  Working party set ashore and came aboard at night.

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