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  • 25 Jan 2021 3:41 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    At anchor in Plymouth harbour

    Rained much all day.  Those on board the ship could not go ashore, nor could they on shore do any labour, but were all wet.

    Some more comments on frostbitten John Goodman: Robert Charles Anderson notes that, “For a man who generated so few records, John Goodman has left behind a remarkable number of unresolved problems” (Mayflower Migration, p. 97).  Both his origins and the circumstances of his departure or death are unknown.  Based on his analysis of Bradford’s list of Mayflower passengers, Caleb Johnson concluded that Goodman was a member of the Leiden congregation, but Jeremy Bangs has not included him in his list of Leiden church members (TAG 80 [2005]: 99, Mayflower Passengers 154; Strangers and Pilgrims 706).  Bradford stated that he died “soon after arrival in the general sickness that befell,” which would probably indicate that he died during this first winter, but John Goodman also received a grant (presumably one acre) as a passenger on the Mayflower in the 1623 land division.  He had certainly died or departed by 1627, because he is not included in the division of cattle.  There are no clear indications of where he came from or where he went, and other than getting lost in the woods and his (almost) encounters with wild animals, we know very little.

  • 24 Jan 2021 2:45 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    At anchor in harbour; common house on fire

    Fifth Sunday in this harbor.  In the morning about 6:00 AM, the wind being very great, those on shipboard saw their new common house on fire, “which was to them a new discomfort, fearing because of the supposed loss of men, that the savages had fired them.” They could not go on shore to them immediately, because the tide was out and the harbour was too shallow for the boats to approach.  Yet after three quarters of an hour they went; they had intended to keep the Sabbath services on shore for the first time today, because this was now where the greatest number of (healthy) people were, but the fire, tide, and other difficulties prevented them from doing so.  “At their landing they heard good tidings of the return of the two men, and that the house was fired occasionally [i.e., accidentally] by a spark that flew into the thatch, which instantly burnt it all up but the roof stood and little hurt. The most loss was Master Carver's and William Bradford's, who then lay sick in bed, and if they had not risen with good speed, had been blown up with powder, but, through God's mercy, they had no harm. The house was as full of beds as they could lie one by another, and their muskets charged [i.e., were loaded], but, blessed be God, there was no harm done.”   Some of those sick in the common-house decided to return aboard the Mayflower for shelter. 

  • 23 Jan 2021 3:09 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    At anchor in harbour

    The Governor sent out an armed party of ten or twelve to look for the missing men, but they returned without seeing or hearing anything at all of them. Those on shipboard “much grieved, as deeming them lost.”  Fetched wood and water.

    At daybreak, Goodman and Brown set out in search of the settlement.  After passing several streams and ponds, they came upon a five mile section of blackened earth that the Indians had recently set fire to.  In the middle of the afternoon, they climbed a high hill that gave them a view of the harbour -- they were thus able to get their bearings when they saw two islands (Clark’s Island being one of them, suggesting that they were wandering around modern Kingston and Duxbury), and headed back.  They arrived late at night, and Bradford wrote that they were “ready to faint with travail and want of victuals, and almost famished with cold.”  Goodman’s feet were frostbitten and swollen, so that he “was fain to have his shoes cut off his feet … and it was a long while ere he was able to” walk.  Goodman’s adventures are not over -- we will catch up with him again next week.

  • 22 Jan 2021 3:08 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    At anchor in harbour; two passengers get lost 

    Began to rain at noon and stopped all work.  Froze and snowed at night.  The first snow for a month: an extremely cold night.

    John Goodman and Peter Brown, two of the colonists, were cutting thatch about a mile and a half from the settlement; they had with them the two dogs (a small spaniel and a very large mastiff), which were used a guard dogs to protect them from wild animals and Indians.  When it started to rain, the two men stopped for lunch by a lake, leaving behind two companions to bundle up the thatch that had been cut; they then saw a large deer -- which the dogs immediately chased after.  By the time Goodman and Brown caught up with the dogs, they were completely lost: “they wandered all that afternoon being wet, and at night it did freeze and snow, they were slenderly apparelled and had no weapons but each one his sickle.”  They had hoped to find an (abandoned) Indian village or house to take shelter from the rain and snow, but they were forced “to make the earth their bed, and the element their covering.”   They heard what they took to be “two lions roaring exceedingly for a long time together” (it was possibly an eastern cougar), and the two were undoubtedly terrified and climbed a tree, only to discover that it was much colder aloft.  They paced back and forth underneath a tree all night, trying to keep warm in the sub-freezing weather.  They had sickles with which they had been cutting thatch, but this was their only means of defence.  In addition to keeping watch and trying to keep warm, they also had to restrain the mastiff, a very large dog, by its collar whenever it was roused by whatever was out in the woods that was making the lion-like sounds.  “But it pleased God so to dispose that the wild beasts came not.”  When the work party returned to the Mayflower that afternoon, they announced that Goodman and Brown were missing, and the settlers entertained fears that they may have been taken by Indians. 

  • 21 Jan 2021 3:27 AM | Soule (Administrator)

     At anchor in harbour; William Bradford becomes ill

    A fair day.  “William Bradford being at work … was vehemently taken with a grief and pain, and so shot to his huckle-bone [hip bone]. It was doubted [thought] that he would have instantly died; he got cold in the former discoveries, especially the last, and felt some pain in his ankles by times, but he grew a little better towards night and in time, though God's mercy in the use of means, recovered.”   Bradford, as a boy in Austerfield, had been too weak and ill for farm work; even with the searing pain of today, he was one of the few people whose health had not broken down completely.  Many were ill aboard the ship, which had become something of a hospital.  Bradford later noted that the only two passengers who did not get sick or die during the first year were Myles Standish and William Brewster.  Those who were strong enough to work not only had to build, but also had to fetch wood, prepare food, tend the sick (both on shore and on the ship), draw water, make and tend fires, care for the beds, and change the “loathsome clothese.  In a word,” Bradford concluded, “they did all the homely and necessary offices for them which dainty and queasy stomachs cannot endure to hear named.”  They also had to bury the dead, an increasingly onerous duty.

  • 20 Jan 2021 2:52 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    At anchor in harbour 

    Working party went on land from ship.  Frosty.  In addition to the problems with construction mentioned in yesterday’s post, the small number of healthy men also slowed the project.  At times there were only six or seven men able to work at any one time; while the settlers tried to keep about twenty men in the settlement as a guard at all times, at this point not all of those were able bodied.

    The common house had bedding laid from wall to wall, but this was also the sole place of storage on land as well.  Weapons, ammunition, and powder were kept there, as well as all of the tools needed in construction.  Tools left outside the main area of the settlement would occasionally “disappear,” particularly when there was an Indian scare.  In addition to the twenty or so on guard, working parties had to be ferried from the Mayflower, anchored a mile and a half away -- although this became impossible if the weather was bad, stranding the guard on shore and leaving both groups without a means of ready communication with each other.

  • 19 Jan 2021 3:04 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    At anchor in harbour

    A remarkable fair day.  Sent burying-party ashore with the body of Christopher Martin.  A summary of the past few weeks is contained in Mourt’s Relation: “We went to labour that day in the building of our town, in two rows of houses for more safety. We divided by lot the plot of ground whereon to build our town. After the proportion formerly allotted, we agreed that every man should build his own house, thinking by that course men would make more haste than working in common. The common house, in which for the first we made our rendezvous, being near finished wanted only covering, it being about twenty feet square. Some should make mortar, and some gather thatch, so that in four days half of it was thatched. Frost and foul weather hindered us much, this time of the year seldom could we work half the week.”

  • 18 Jan 2021 3:28 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    At anchor in Plymouth harbour                                                       

    A very fair day.  The working-party went on land early.  The Master sent the shallop for fish.  They had a great storm at sea and were in some danger.  They returned to the ship at night, with three great seals they had shot, and an excellent great cod.

    Christopher Martin died today, as Bradford wrote, “in the first infection.”

    Today Francis Billington, the same tyke who almost blew up the Mayflower by setting off a musket next to a powder keg in a small cabin last month, “having the week before seen from the top of a tree on a high hill a great sea as he thought,” went with one of the master's mates to see it. They went three miles and then came to, not the Pacific Ocean, but “a great water,” divided into two great lakes.  The larger of them was five or six miles in circuit (originally called “Fresh Lake” and now known as Billington Sea), the source of Town Brook that flowed past the tiny settlement, “and in it an isle of a cable length square; the other [was] three miles in compass” and is now known as “Little Pond.”  In their estimation, they are the source of fine fresh water, full of fish, and fowl; “it will be an excellent help for us in time.” They found seven or eight Indian houses, but not lately inhabited. When they saw the houses, they were scared, since they were only two people with but one musket, and one shot.  They found the same eerie, unexplained situation as had been found in each other discovery -- numerous Indian habitations, but no Indians or inhabitants of any sort in evidence anywhere.

  • 17 Jan 2021 3:55 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    At anchor in harbour

    Fourth Sunday here.  Governor Carver came aboard to talk with Christopher Martin, “who was very sick, and, to our judgement, [with] no hope of life.”

    We have met Christopher Martin back in September, when he was making himself disagreeable to the Leiden congregation.  We have also seen him a week or so ago as the step father of Solomon Prower, recalling when he was cited by the Archdeaconry Court of the Diocese of Chelmsford for “suffering his son to answer … that his father gave him his name” (NEHGR 21:77), and in 1612 he was accused of refusing to kneel for Holy Communion.  In 1982, R. J. Carpenter published a twelve-page pamphlet that thoroughly traces what is known of Christopher Martin in English court and ecclesiastical records (Christopher Martin, Great Burstead and The Mayflower [Chelmsford, Essex: Barstable Book, 1982]).   Martin was living on board ship at this point because the women, children, and ill (those unable to do “heavy lifting” in the construction of the settlement) were all confined to the Mayflower: this was about three quarters of the surviving passengers.

  • 16 Jan 2021 3:47 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    At anchor in harbour

    Fetched wood and water.  In the judgment of Brewster, Bradford, and others, Christopher Martin, the colonists’ first governor and current treasurer, was so hopelessly ill that Governor Carver, who had taken up his quarters on land, was sent for to come aboard to speak with him. The colonists had to quiz the dying businessman about their accounts with the Merchant Adventurers and about the bills for their provisions before he died. 

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