Mys­tery of the Mayflower

Soundings - - Just Yesterday -

“Avail­able for Char­ter: Mayflower, of 180 tons, own­ers Robert Childe, Thomas Short, Christo­pher Jones and Christo­pher Nichols. Of three masts and three decks, 100 feet in length with a 24-foot beam and a 12-foot draft. Mayflower has made suc­cess­ful voy­ages trans­port­ing lum­ber, fish and tar, wine, cognac and vine­gar. She is in­ured to the rig­ors of the North Sea and the At­lantic. Ap­ply to the cap­tain, Christo­pher Jones, in Lon­don.”

The ad­ver­tise­ment might not have read quite that way, but a group of re­li­gious sep­a­ratists re­sponded, hir­ing the 11- year- old ves­sel in the late 1620s. Granted per­mis­sion to raise a colony in North Amer­ica, the pil­grims needed the trans­porta­tion to make their dream come true. Ap­prox­i­mately 35 of the sep­a­ratists sailed on the Mayflower in mid-Septem­ber with Capt. Jones in com­mand.

The pil­grims lived al­most ex­clu­sively on the gun deck, which had barely 5 feet of head­room. The trip lasted 66 days. Two pas­sen­gers died; a girl named Oceanus was born at sea.

Fi­nally, in Novem­ber, Mayflower reached the shores of Cape Cod. A month later, the pas­sen­gers and crew sailed over to the main­land and set­tled in what would be­come Ply­mouth, Mass­a­chu­setts. The voy­age had been no pic­nic, but Mayflower had car­ried her hu­man cargo safely to their new land and into his­tory. So, what hap­pened to her af­ter­wards? Mayflower sailed back to Eng­land in 1621. Jones died the next year, and his widow in­her­ited the ves­sel. Judged a derelict by the ap­prais­ers, Mayflower was val­ued at just 128 pounds and change.

No one knows for cer­tain, but it’s be­lieved the ship was bro­ken up for scrap with some of the tim­bers used in the con­struc­tion of a barn in Buck­ing­hamshire, Eng­land. The barn later be­came a lo­cal tourist at­trac­tion.

A se­cond Mayflower sailed to Ply­mouth Colony in 1629. At­tempt­ing a voy­age to Vir­ginia in 1641, that Mayflower and her 140 pas­sen­gers were never heard from again. — Steve Knauth

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