Pilgrims to America: A Pictorial History - TO AMERICA

TO AMERICA (Illustration) Biographies Famous Historical Events Geography Social Studies Tragedies and Triumphs Visual Arts American History

As the Mayflower and her passengers crossed the Atlantic, during the fall of 1620, they encountered bad weather.  This image, by Mike Haywood, imagines how such a scene could have appeared during a storm.  Copyright, Mike Haywood, all rights reserved.  Image provided here as fair use for educational purposes and to acquaint new viewers with Haywood's work.


Before both ships left Southampton, there had been too few passengers to make the voyage to America. Additional people (referred to in primary sources as "strangers") joined the Separatists for the journey.

Who can imagine the depths of their collective disappointment when good sailing weather was given up to reach Plymouth, England? Instead of reaching the New World, they landed at the Old Barbican (from which they also departed a week later).

This time, however, the Speedwell would not attempt an Atlantic crossing. The ship's log (for (August 29/September 8) notes:

At conference of officers of ship [the Mayflower] and consort [the Speedwell] and the chief of the Planters, it was decided to send the SPEEDWELL back to London with some 18 or 20 of her passengers, transferring a dozen or more, with part of her lading, to the MAY-FLOWER.

The Mayflower was "a bark of one hundred and eighty tuns burden." What, exactly, does that mean? During the 17th century, ships were described, among other things, by the amount of cargo they could carry. A "tun" was a large barrel which could hold about 265 gallons of wine. The Mayflower, at "one hundred and eighty tuns burden" could carry 180 of those barrels.

Once passengers and cargo were transferred from the Speedwell, she left Plymouth for London. Four days later, flying both the new "Union Flag" (created in 1606 to signify a united England and Scotland) and "St. George's Cross," (the flag of England), the Pilgrims sailed out of Plymouth Harbor. Their destination?

Laid course W.S.W. for northern coasts of Virginia.
(Ship's Log: Wednesday, September 6/September 16)

Of the 102 Mayflower passengers (including paid servants, hired men and "strangers"), forty-one were Leiden Separatists. (The rest of that group, discouraged by all the delays and problems, had decided to remain behind.) Thirty-two passengers were children or young adults.

They were about to experience the difficulties of a late-fall ocean crossing.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5197stories and lessons created

Original Release: May 01, 2006

Updated Last Revision: Nov 17, 2017

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