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Mayflower 400th anniversary

November 16th, 2020 · No Comments · Books, City Library, Events, Local History, Main Branch, NH Room, West Branch

400 years ago, in late November, the Mayflower reached Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1620. Their intended destination was Virginia, but strong winds kept them in what we now know as New England. After facing hardship for years before the voyage, the pilgrims’ lives were not about to get easier any time soon.

The puritans aboard the Mayflower had lived in exile in the Netherlands for several years due to religious differences with the Church of England. They fled their homeland in fear of persecution, and lived a difficult life in Holland, only managing to secure low paying and hard labor jobs. When the political atmosphere changed in Holland, the puritans sought to settle in North America.

The voyage to the New World started in July, when the Mayflower made its way down the Thames to meet the Speedwell, a smaller ship carrying the passengers from Holland. However, the Speedwell sprung a leak and had to be repaired several times, before it was deemed unsafe to cross the Atlantic. Now overcrowded after taking on the Speedwell’s occupants, and already running low on provisions, the Mayflower finally set out for Virginia on September 16.

After facing several storms, one of which nearly broke the mast, the ship reached land and set anchor on November 21, 1620. The frozen ground and snow drifts made it impossible to settle on land, so they remained on the ship for the winter. The settlers luckily received help from the Wampanoag tribe, which they likely would not have survived without.

After the Pilgrims were finally able to disembark the ship and establish a settlement, the Mayflower and her crew returned to England in April of 1621, arriving in London a month later on May 16, 1621. From there, her history is not clear, but it is possible that some of the timber from the ship was used to construct a barn in South Buckinghamshire in 1624, which still stands today.

Read about the Pilgrims journey to the new world with one these books on display at the library.

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