Pilgrims and the MayFlower

The Story of the Pilgrims and the Mayflower

Pilgrims And MayFlowerIn 1620, nearly four hundred years ago, a small group of people known as Pilgrims, felt besieged and set upon by the majority for the simple reason that their religious beliefs marked them as “different.” They weren’t different, of course, just a group of people who chose to practice a religion not acceptable to the majority.

England was then, and is now, a nation of Protestant worshippers. The Pilgrims chose to practice their religion in their own way, not the way of the majority. And that led to persecution and intolerance … and a desire on the part of the Pilgrims to leave England forever.

Their opportunity came in the year 1620. With the permission of the King of England, the Pilgrims planned to cross the Atlantic Ocean and set up a new colony in “the Americas” in the name of the King. Their planned departure date was in the summer of that year when, it was hoped, the sea would be calm and free of storms.

The Pilgrims did, in fact, depart London that summer of 1620 in two boats, one large and one much smaller. The smaller boat took on water almost immediately and that forced both boats to return to port. A few days later, the Pilgrims set to sea once again, this time in the larger boat only, the one they called the Mayflower.

One hundred and two Pilgrims, men, women and children, were passengers on the Mayflower, a very large wooden ship that had previously functioned as a Cargo Ship traveling between England and several countries in Europe.  There were between 25 and 30 crew members.

Interestingly, while the Mayflower was a large ship, by modern standards it would be the equivalent of a “canoe.” There were only limited sleeping quarters, no bathroom facilities, of course, and, because the ship was 100% wood, all of the food brought along for the journey was eaten cold … because of the fear that lighting a fire to cook the food might result in the ship burning down.

Consider, if you will, that these 102 Pilgrims and 30 or so crew members ate nothing but cold, and often raw, food for the entire time they were at sea. And they were at sea a very long time … the trip took sixty-six days to complete. It’s difficult to imagine what it must have been like for these people to be on a wooden boat in the Atlantic Ocean for more than two full months … how little privacy there must have been for all of them … how sanitation must have not existed … how truly difficult it was to endure, especially for the women and children.

Finally, after two months, members of the ship’s crew spotted land … it was the Americas. The long and difficult trip was nearing its end. And even at that time, all was not perfect for the Pilgrims. Their planned destination had been northern Virginia, but a storm had thrown them off course as they neared the Americas and the land they spotted was not in the south, but in Plymouth Rock in an area that is now part of Massachusetts. No matter. The 102 Pilgrims had made the journey with virtually no casualties. They lost only two of their members on that long trip to a new life.