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September 16th: Mayflower Sets Sail

The Official Website of the
Plymouth 400
Commemoration

395 years ago today, the Mayflower set sail from Plymouth, England with 102 passengers onboard.
Some accounts of the Mayflower voyage recall its departure date as September 6th. Why the discrepancy? The Pilgrims at the time were using the Julian Calendar, which is 10 days behind the Gregorian Calendar, which we use today.
Here are some other things you might not have known about the Mayflower and her voyage:
1. The Pilgrims weren’t originally from Plymouth.
Most of the Pilgrims were living in Leiden, a city in the Netherlands, in 1620. The Separatists’ (as they’re called due to the fact that this particular group wanted to separate completely from the Church of England) congregation that went on to form Plymouth Colony originally lived in and around the town of Scrooby in Nottinhamshire, England, including William Brewster and William Bradford. (You can watch the trailer for Jane Williams’ documentary on Scrooby Manor here.)
2. The Mayflower was supposed to sail with another ship.
A ship called the Speedwell was intended to sail together to Northern Virginia. However, the Speedwell sprung a leak. After patching leaks in the Speedwell twice, the Pilgrims finally decided to leave her in Plymouth, England, and transfer all of their cargo to the Mayflower. On September 16, 1620, a very crowded Mayflower set sail for the New World alone.
3. One of the Mayflower’s passengers fell overboard.
John Howland, a twenty-something-year-old indentured servant to John Carver, climbed to the deck because he wanted some fresh air. Unfortunately, Howland wasn’t a seaman and the incredible gusts of wind he met on the deck carried him to the ship’s rail, and he fell into the ocean. Several sailors were able to reel him in with a rope, and he went on to live quite a long life!
4. The Pilgrims were intended to land in Virginia.
The Pilgrims were supposed to land in Jamestown, Virginia, which was founded in 1607. A group of investors, called the London Adventurers, funded the Pilgrims’ journey to Virginia Colony in the hopes that they would earn a good share of Jamestown’s profits. However, the Mayflower encountered stormy seas and was blown more than 500 miles off course.
5. Nobody knows what happened to the original Mayflower ship.
The last known record of the Mayflower is from 1624. According to Plimoth Plantation, “Several places in England claim to have a piece of the original ship, but there is no historical proof to support these claims.”
In 2020, we will commemorate the 1620 Mayflower voyage and the founding of Plymouth Colony, events that significantly shaped the building of America. Want to learn more? Join us at our next Community Meeting on September 17th at the Moose Lodge in Plymouth, MA!