MAYFLOWER SEPARATIST PILGRIMS
Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.
Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.
2 Corinthians 6:17-18
During this time of Thanksgiving, let us remember the Mayflower Pilgrims, who celebrated the first English Thanksgiving Dinner here in New England. Barbara Packard Haines’ ancestor, Francis Cooke, was one of the Mayflower Separatist Pilgrims who landed in Plymouth, America in 1620. The other Mayflower Pilgrims were called Strangers. Francis’ great granddaughter, Lydia Thompson, married John Packard. Barbara’s maiden name is Packard and she is a descendant of both Lydia Thompson (thus Francis Cooke) and John Packard. Francis came over with his son John. His wife came over to Plymouth on the Anne in 1623 with their two other children and her nephew, Phillipe De La Noye. Phillipe lived with the Cooke family in Plymouth. Francis was from Blythe, Nottinghamshire, north of Sherwood Forest (of Robin Hood fame). He was a wool comber by trade and became a husbandman at Plymouth. Francis Cooke was a Christian who went on a long and adventurous pilgrimage for religious freedom. Holland was the first stop on the Cooke Pilgrimage. Francis Cooke moved there, to Leiden, Holland around 1600. Little is known about his move from England to Holland. The other English Separatists came to Holland later.
In Leiden, Holland, Francis was married to Hester Maiheu, who came from Canterbury, England. She was a French speaking Walloon. Her origin was Belgium, being a refugee from there to Canterbury, England. Both Hester and Francis had moved to Leiden, Holland and were married there in the Walloon church, Vrouwekerk, in 1603, the same year that their nephew, Phillipe De la Noye was baptized. De la Noye was later changed to Delano, Franklin’s middle name, the maiden name of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s mother. Franklin was a descendant of the Mayhieu family, specifically Hester’s nephew, Phillipe. The ruins of that church were in the public square in front of the Boerhavve Museum. They were among the French-speaking Protestants who joined the English Separatists. The English Separatists arrived in Amsterdam in 1608 and then moved to Leiden in 1609. The Cookes lived along the Levendaal Canal, now filled in. They became the ancestors or were related to the ancestors of United States Presidents, Ulysses S. Grant, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush.
The Separatists were not ashamed to claim to be Separatists. There is a long history of religious persecution in England. The Roman Catholic Church 1229 forbid the use of the Bible to laymen. John Wycliffe wrote the first open English Bible in the 1300s. It was done by hand from the Latin Vulgate. Convocation in Oxford in 1408 decreed and enforced the penalty of burning for those who owned or even read the English Scriptures. By Papal decree in 1413, Wycliffe’s books were banned. The council of Constance ordered his books and bones be burned.
King Henry VIII of England reigned during the Martin Luther Protestant Revolution in Germany in 1517. He established the Church of England in 1534. He made himself the Supreme Head of the Church of England. He eventually allowed English Bibles to be placed in the churches. During his daughter, Queen Mary’s Catholic reign, more than 300 people were martyred for their Protestant faith. Her half sister, Queen Elizabeth’s reign began in 1558. She re-established the Protestant Church of England. Elizabeth retained her rule over the Church of England. That led to the rise of “Puritanism” in 1560s. It also led to the rise of the Separatists.
But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.
1 Timothy 2:12
The Guttenberg Press was perfected in 1450. At the beginning of Catholic Mary’s reign in England, about 800 English people moved to Geneva and from the learned among them they carefully wrote the “Geneva Bible” in 1560. It became the English household Bible, used by the Pilgrims. Under William the Silent of Orange (1533-1584) the Netherlands had become an asylum of liberty for persecuted people. There was a treaty to unite Holland, Zeeland, and Utrecht in 1576. The signing of the Union of Utrecht in 1579 formed an alliance with northern and a few southern provinces. William was assassinated in 1584. Queen Elizabeth immediately offered military assistance to the Dutch. Miles Standish, the captain of the military in the colony was a soldier of this assistance from England. He was in Holland before the pilgrims arrived.
William Brewster, destined to become a ruling elder of the Mayflower Pilgrims, entered Cambridge’s Peterhouse College in 1580 the same day as John Penry, who would become a Separatist martyr in 1593. Puritan and Separatist ideas molded his thinking. In 1584-1587 Brewster was in the service of William Davison, the British ambassador to the Netherlands. The Netherlands struggled to throw off the yoke of Spain. The United Provinces of the Netherlands were seeking diplomatic and financial help from England. Davison was a Puritan and Brewster lived with him in The Hague and in other cities, such as Leiden, where they witnessed the practice of religious freedom.
Davison then became caught up in the events leading to the execution of Mary Queen of Scots, who had conspired to assassinate Queen Elizabeth. Davison, as Assistant Secretary of State, was assigned the legal process against Mary and he issued the warrant for Mary’s execution. So Brewster moved back to Scrooby, where he assisted his father in the positions of town bailiff, royal postmaster, and inn keeper and prepared to become an elder of the Mayflower Pilgrims. Elizabeth signed the warrant, but then turned on Davison, claiming he deceived her. He was taken to court and then put in the prison of the Tower of London in 1587. After his father’s death in 1590 Brewster was appointed as a replacement for all of his father’s positions. He married a woman named Mary within two years. They attended services in Babworth, listening to Richard Clyfton’s preaching. In the Bible, Moses grew up in the court of Egypt and later led his people out of Egypt. So, William Brewster had been brought up serving in high places, and was prepared to lead his people out of England’s bondage.
The English Midlands, where Nottingham, Yorkshire and Lincolnshire met, was the Mayflower Separatist‘s place of origin. They came from the towns of Babworth, Gainsborough, Austerfied and Scrooby. This is the true starting point of one of the greatest adventures of heroism, religious conviction, and heart-breaking struggle that has ever been told. The Pilgrim Separatist movement began in the Babworth All Saints’ Parish Church (built in 1290). Richard Clyfton was appointed minister there in 1586. William Bradford often walked nine miles to this church to hear him preach. William Brewster from Scrooby often attended and enjoyed his services. Separatists did not follow Elizabeth’s conventicle act of 1593, which outlawed unauthorized worship services, “conventicles”. Many Separatists suffered imprisonment for their insistence on church purity and simplicity of worship.
In the year of 1593, during Queen Elizabeth’s reign, Separatists John Greenwood, Henry Barrowe and John Penry were hanged (martyred) in London. Queen Elizabeth of England died in 1603. During the reign of King James 1, the cannons of 1604 declared that all who rejected the practices of the Church of England had already excommunicated themselves. All clergy must accept royal supremacy, the authority of the Book of Common Prayer and the 39 articles. They also had to use copes and surplices and the sign of the cross in baptism.
Clyfton was removed from rector in 1606 for failure to conform. He and his family then moved up to Scrooby and lived in the Manor House with William Brewster’s family to become the Separatist’s pastor. He would become one of the best authors of Pilgrim Separatists. He would become the Separatists Pastor and John Robinson, their teacher. He travelled with the Pilgrims as far as Amsterdam, Holland, but chose not to go to Leiden. He died in Amsterdam in 1616.
John Robinson entered Corpus Christi College in 1592 and graduated with a B.A. in 1596. The following year he received his ordination and became a fellow in the college. He received his M.A. in 1599. He became parish minister around 1603 in Norfolk, where William Perkins was lecturer. He was deposed probably in 1605 after the cannons of 1604 came into effect. He then became a teacher to the Separatists.
There are many other persecutions, but it would require another work to explain them all. It was the Church of England’s intolerance that sent the separatist pilgrims into exile.
John Smyth was educated at Christ’s College, with a BA and MA, fellow and then was ordained by the Bishop of London in 1600. John Smyth was a Puritan and he was deposed in 1602 for his strange teachings and went to Gainsborough to hold worship services in Gainsborough Manor in 1602 and became pastor of the like minded people there. After a meeting with other ministers to discuss a course of action, Smyth broke all ties with the Church of England. He then preached in the Gainsborough Manor House as the Separatist pastor of a covenanted Separatist church. After five years in with the Gainsborough church, William Bradford, William Brewster, and John Robinson held secret worship services in the stately, half-timbered and brick Scrooby Manor house for their safety and convenience.
Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. Galatians 5:1
William Bradford was born in Austerfield, Yorkshire, England in 1590. He had a deep interest in the Bible and at about age 12 he attended the Babworth Church to hear Clyfton’s preaching. Nearby, Scrooby meetings began in 1606, which he loved to attend. And at age 17 he moved into the stately, half-timbered and brick Scrooby Manor House, where William Brewster tutored him in Greek, Hebrew and Latin. He later became governor of the Plymouth Plantation in Massachusetts.
King James I served notice on all dissenters, “I shall make them conform, or I will harry them out of the land, or else do worse.” The authorities watched at night the Pilgrim’s homes. Because of the hatred towards them, the Brewsters named their first born daughter, “Fear”. Government spies informed the Church of England Authorities. Brewster was called to court for charges of being disobedient to matters of religion. Their families could no longer function in a normal way. They were hunted and persecuted on all sides. John Penry, who was hanged for his Separatist beliefs, wrote a letter to the Separatists before he was hanged stating that they should leave the tyranny of England and find another more hospitable land. About 300 took heed and had moved to the Netherlands since 1693. Brewster went into hiding and the little group was looking for a way to escape the country. It was not legal for them to leave the country without an emigration license. They could not get a license because they were already wanted by the authorities. John Smyth and his 40 member Gainsborough congregation were able to escape across the North Sea to safety, but the 100 members of the Scrooby congregation ran into difficulties. The best known parallel in the Bible would be the Israelite’s deliverance from Egypt and escape from the Pharaoh through the sea into the wilderness. The Israelites had their wilderness experience and so did the Pilgrims.
The Scrooby pilgrims decided which of their items to sell and which items to keep. They then made arrangements with an English sea captain to transport them from Boston to the Netherlands. They went by foot, cart and boats and small barges to Lincoln and then took the River Witham down to Boston, England. Their boat came and they paid the expensive fee to board. Using small boats, they boarded the ship. The king’s officers then appeared to arrest them all. The captain had betrayed and swindled them without mercy. The officers took them to Boston and handed them over to the magistrates. They were put in a prison for a month. Then they released all but seven men who went to court, including Brewster and Robinson and ordered them to Scrooby. They hid with friends and relatives as refugees over the winter.
The next spring or early summer of 1608, they tried to escape England again. This time they contracted a Dutchman at the port of Hull. Most of the men travelled by land and the women, children and goods went by rented barge. The ship arrived in the morning. It took aboard many of the men with a longboat. The barge was stuck in the mud due to the low tide, so the women and children were delayed. The longboat was returning to pick up the rest of the men, when a great host of armed English soldiers appeared. The Dutch Captain was afraid and immediately set sail. Women and children were now separated from husbands and fathers. A fearful tempest raged upon the ship for days. The ship was swept away north to Norway, but arrived in Amsterdam in 14 days. Leaders, John Robinson, William Brewster and Richard Clyfton were with the barge. These Separatists were brought before magistrate after magistrate. The magistrates were weary and tired of the Separatists and were glad to be rid of them in the end upon any terms. All of the Separatists got over to the Netherlands at one time or another, some in one place and some in another. Robinson, Clyfton and Brewster remained with them to the end and finally went over in the last contingent. By August 1608 all of them were united in Amsterdam.
Prince Maurice of Orange-Nassau became chief magistrate and military general for the Dutch in 1588. With much help from the English, he drove out the Spanish from the Northern provinces. The Dutch States General signed a twelve year truce with Spain in 1609. This began an era of great commercial prosperity and a Golden age of Dutch art, with such painters as Rembrandt and Jan Vermeer. When the pilgrims arrived in Amsterdam in 1608, the population was rapidly expanding, from 50,000 in 1600 to 120,000 in 1630. The city is divided by canals into about ninety islands, joined together by some 400 bridges. When they arrived in Amsterdam there were already three English congregations in the city. In 1609, after about nine months with the Ancient Congregation, the Pilgrims moved to Leiden about 25 miles southwest of Amsterdam. Richard Clyfton stayed in Amsterdam serving as a teacher with another group. He was aged and did not want to move.
In Leiden, the Pilgrims resumed their own church under Pastor John Robinson. The Pilgrims took up work as wool combers, weavers, tailors, hatmakers, and glovers, as well as masons, carpenters, and much more. About half of them worked with textiles. On October 3, 1574, the citizens of Leiden celebrated their miraculous deliverance from the Spanish siege, during their revolt against Roman Catholic Spanish rule, during which over six thousand died from starvation and epidemics. The date immediately became Leiden’s Thanksgiving Day Celebration, which the Pilgrims observed while there and continues to be observed today. In 1611, the congregation bought with eight thousand guilders a building just across from the bell tower of Pieterskerk. Robinson and his family lived upstairs and the meeting house was downstairs. On the property behind the building, they built as many as 21 cottages for the Pilgrims. New refugees from England steadily joined them until Robinson’s congregation swelled to about 300. Many of those who came over from England were French Reformed (Walloon). Some of these refugees joined up with Robinson’s congregation as the Cookes did. The church held three services per week, two on Sunday and one on Thursday.
William Brewster bought a house in 1609 where he taught the English language to foreign students who attended the nearby Leiden University. Adjacent to his home he ran a printing press. From the Pilgrim’s Press,” established in 1616, books were printed which were outlawed in England for their Separatist viewpoint. He had partners in London, England and a financier, Thomas Brewer. William printed work by Scotsman, David Calderwood. They were smuggled into Scotland and read widely. They attacked the efforts of King James I to force the Church of England’s Episcopal form of government upon the Presbyterian Church of Scotland. King James sent agents to find the author of these books. In the spring of 1619 Brewster and Robert Cushman were in England negotiating with the Virginia Company for a patent for the Pilgrims to settle in Virginia. In September agents stormed upon Brewster’s property and found the Pilgrim Press. They seized the books, pamphlets and print-type and closed down the press. Meanwhile, Brewster continued negotiations. Their financier, Thomas Brewer, spent fourteen years in prison.
A member of their congregation, James Chilton, was hit in the head by rioters and almost died. He was the oldest Pilgrim on the Mayflower. The twelve year truce with Catholic Spain was coming to an end. With the Remonstrant and Contra-Remonstrant controversies and riots of 1618, the Pilgrims realized that the walls of the safe haven were crumbling down. There was Sabbath breaking and their children were being lured away from home and the truth. They could see evil ahead and decided to be prudent and hide themselves from the predicted destruction. They also wanted to bring their children up with their own English language and culture. Through John Carver and Robert Cushman, they applied for patents which expressed a loyal English stance from the Virginia Company of London. James 1 approved of their aim to advance his kingdom. The arrangements which the Pilgrims received were hard and the advantages few. They returned to London in 1619 looking for investors. On February 2, 1620 they received a patent from Thomas Weston, granting the Pilgrims permission to settle within their jurisdiction. Weston was an ironmonger and his merchant investors included 70 men who supported the adventure. It took the Pilgrims some 20,000 pounds to pay the debt of 1,800 pounds by 1645.
Thomas Weston had contracted with the Mayflower, a 180-ton vessel, to pick up the Pilgrims in Southampton, England. The Pilgrims also purchased a Dutch ship, a 60-ton “pinnace” called the Speedwell. They planned to use the Speedwell for trading in the New World. On July 30, 1620, the Pilgrims prepared to sail. They heard a farewell message from Pastor John Robinson on Ezra 8:21. Then there were prayers given.
Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river of Ahava, that we might afflict ourselves before our God, to seek of him a right way for us, and for our little ones, and for all our substance.
Pastor Robinson declared it a day of fasting and prayer to prepare them for the arduous voyage ahead. That night the whole church gathered for the farewell dinner of goose and pudding. Pastor Robinson gave a farewell address in which he told the Pilgrims to follow him as he followed Christ. He told them to also be ready to receive any truth by any other instrument of his. He was very confident that the Lord had more truth and light to break forth out of his holy word. Many in the congregation were experts in music. They sang Psalms, with joy in their hearts. They were then prepared for the voyage.
They were making a great step of faith and courage. The next morning they set out by canal boat and travelled 24 miles to Delfshaven, Rotterdam, where the Speedwell was waiting. William Brewster was waiting in Southampton, England for his wife and two of their five children. It is at this point that William Bradford called them Pilgrims, meaning “stranger”, “sojourner”, and “exile”, residing in a country not their own. The word “pilgrim” is found in Hebrews:
These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.
They knew that they were Pilgrims and they lifted up their eyes to the heavens, the better country and quieted their spirits. Having arrived in Delfshaven, the Pilgrims gathered that evening for their last worship service before leaving the continent. Bradford described their last night as one of Christian fellowship, friendly entertainment and other expressions of true Christian love. People came to see them off; some came from as far away as Amsterdam, nearly 50 miles distant. The next morning on August 1, everyone knelt on board the ship’s deck, as Pastor Robinson committed his people to God, in a moving and humble way that brought tears to every eye. They departed Delfshaven with the cheers of the good burghers there and found his presence with them in the midst of the trials soon to come.
The Mayflower’s home berth was the Rotherhithe section of London on the south bank of the River Thames. The quarter-owner and captain of the Mayflower was Christopher Jones. He received orders to meet the Speedwell at Southampton and then together to make the trip to the New World. Jones’s master mate and pilot was John Clarke. The trip took a toll on the crew and Jones died about one year after his return to England.
John Alden was waiting for the Mayflower in Southampton. He went on board as a cooper. He lived longer than any of the signers of the Mayflower Compact. On Wednesday, August 5, the Speedwell sailed into Southampton, where the passengers saw the Mayflower for the first time. The Mayflower had three masts and six sails. Her length was a little longer than one hundred feet from back rail to bowsprit beak. She had board width of 25 feet and the keel was 64 feet. She was armed with twelve cannon. There was on board a four ton shallop in pieces and a twenty foot longboat.
There were a total of 120 passengers and crew. There were probably four mates, four quartermasters, and a surgeon, a carpenter, a cooper, and cooks along with boatswains and gunners. The Mayflower had only carried cargo before, never passengers. William Brewster brought along a library and his Geneva Bible, which would be a schoolbook to teach the children. Here the pilgrims read a farewell letter from Pastor John Robinson encouraging them to get along and to obey their leaders. The ships set sail and about three days later, the Speedwell was taking in water. In preparation for the voyage, the Speedwell had been fitted with taller masts and larger sails to keep up with the Mayflower. The two ships turned back and anchored at Dartmouth, England on August 23 for repair of the Speedwell. The Speedwell was thoroughly examined. Leaks were found and mended; after more than a week, they set sail again about August 31. The captain of the Speedwell announced that his vessel was still taking water. Again the ships turned back, this time to Plymouth, where they anchored on September 7.
Bradford and others thought that the captain sabotaged the boat purposely, so he would not have to spend a year in America. They paid for repairs and sold the Speedwell. Eighteen people decided to not go on to America. So, they brought on board the rest of the passengers and cargo to the Mayflower. On September 16, the Mayflower alone set sail again for America. William Bradford compared their situation with Gideon’s army. William Stoughton stated: “God sifted a whole nation, that he might send choice grain into this wilderness.” (Beale, 2000)
The pilgrims had consumed the provisions that they had for the entire voyage. Regarded by Anglican authorities as outlaws, they could not turn back. Ships made most of their trips in early spring to mid- summer to avoid the late summer and autumn storms. Since wooden ships could easily break apart in storms, they seldom went out alone. The Pilgrims would not see land again for 66 days. The boat travelled 3500 miles, about 46 miles per day, less than two miles per hour.
Twelve of the Mayflower Pilgrims were gentry meaning of good birth or good breeding, though titles were earned by character, not inheritance. Yeoman or Goodman were the titles of the best of the middle class, the well-to-do farming class who worked their own land. Then there were hired servants and indentured servants. The pilgrims had to think of themselves in terms of a civil society. Initially, there were 120 passengers, 30 on the Speedwell, and ninety on the Mayflower. Twelve of the 30 passengers moved to the Mayflower. So, the Mayflower set sail with 102 passengers (fifty men; twenty women; 22 boys and 10 girls). This includes three crew members who were hired to remain permanently in Plymouth and two who were hired for one year. There were two births on board the Mayflower, making the total 104.
Mayflower Passengers (104)
Separatists who survived winter of 1621 (56)
Bartholomew Allerton (son)
Mary Allerton (daughter)
Samuel Fuller (son of Edward Fuller)
Love Brewster (son)
Wrestling Brewster (son)
Mary Chilton (daughter of James, married John Winslow)
Humility Cooper (infant female)
John Crackston (born in Leiden, died of exposure while lost)
Separatists who did not survive before Nov. 9, 1621
Mary (Norris) Allerton
Dorothy (May) Bradford
John Crackston Sr.
John Hooke (age 14)
Mrs. Thomas Tinker
Son of Thomas Tinker
Son of John Turner
Son of John Turner
The Mayflower set sail from Plymouth on September 16, 1620. A seaman who had harassed the Separatists died on October 3rd and was buried at sea. After this a severe westerly gale arose and they went through fierce storms. The Mayflower tossed about like a toy boat on the raging sea. A main beam bowed and cracked. For a while Captain Jones feared serious disaster and was tempted to turn back. He consulted with the leaders of the voyage and it was decided to continue on for someone had found a great screw which the passengers had brought from Holland that fixed the damaged beam. In a series of storms, the ship drifted under bare poles. In one of the fiercest of these, John Howland was washed overboard and would have been lost at sea if he had not caught hold of a topsail halyard trailing in the ocean, as the ship was leaning in the waves. After holding on fathoms underwater, He was hauled back on board with a hook. Mid ocean, there was the birth of Oceanus Hopkins. On November 16th, a servant named William Button died and was buried at sea. Two days later floating objects were observed that indicated that land was not far away. The long awaited cry of “Land Ho” came from the crow’s nest on November 19. Cape Cod had been sighted and the historic voyage was at an end. The pilgrims fell on their knees and blessed the God of Heaven, who had brought them over the vast and furious sea. While the Mayflower rode anchor off Provincetown on Saturday, November 21, forty-one men signed the historic Mayflower Compact. After signing the contract they “confirmed” John Carver as their governor for the first year. All important positions were elective. Carver died in spring of 1621. William Bradford was chosen to succeed him. At first, he had one assistant, Isaac Allerton, and later with as many as seven assistants, acting as magistrates who collectively constituted the Council, that is the executive and judicial body of the plantation colony. On the next day, Sunday, the pilgrims spent the day in quiet worship.
On Monday, November 24th the men took the pieces of the shallop, to the beach to repair and caulk. The women went ashore to do the laundry. Francis Eaton, the carpenter had his hands full with the shallop. It took two to the better part of three weeks to repair it. Men formed exploring parties and made three discoveries. Tuesday, November 25th the first exploring party of sixteen men under Miles Standish set out on land and spied five or six Indians with a dog who fled from them. The Pilgrims followed for miles but were not able to catch up with them. On Wednesday, November 26th, they discovered Truro Springs, Pamet River and fresh water. They made a fire to signal the ship. Then continuing on they discovered a fresh water pond. After that they found several baskets of Indian corn buried in the sand. They took part of the corn and buried the rest. Bradford considered this a special providence of God, and a great mercy to this people, giving them seed to plant corn the next year to keep them from starving. They also found an old fort and two canoes. The party returned to rendezvous at their campsite for the night. On November 27th, the next day, William Bradford caught his leg in a deer trap make by the Indians. The exploring party returned to the ship that day.
The shallop was repaired and on December 7 an exploring party of 34 men, making up the 2nd expedition started out intending to circumnavigate the Cape Cod Bay. Some were in the shallop and others in the longboat.
This was a four day trip. At the beginning of the trip the wind blew and there was snow and all were frozen. Many later deaths were attributed to this severe weather exposure. They made a campsite with a barricade and had a peaceful night of rest. In the morning they divided and some went to coast along the shore, the others to march through the woods to find a place suitable to settle. The marchers did not find any Indians or suitable place to live. When the sun got low they hastened out of the woods to join up with the shallop. They went to the campsite and made a barricade and got some rest. At about midnight they heard a hideous cry. The sentinel ordered “Arm, Arm” Two shots from a couple of muskets and the sound ceased. In the morning they got up at five, said their prayers and then prepared for breakfast. Then they were attacked by the Indians at their campsite. The men got their guns and stopped the violence. They followed the Indians, using their guns. No one of their party was hurt from the arrows sprayed at them. God had vanquished their enemies and given them deliverance. They left the campsite and coasted along, but did not find a suitable harbor. After some hours of sailing, it began to rain and snow. In the middle of the afternoon, the wind increased and the sea became very rough. The rudder broke and the mast broke in three pieces. The sail fell overboard. They were in danger of being wrecked, but according to God’s mercy they were able to recover themselves. They had the tide with them and struck in towards the harbor. They were about to be run ashore with a cove of breakers. The seaman directed them to save themselves and row away. It was very dark and rained hard. They managed to row into the lee of an island. They spent the night there secure from Indians and dried their clothes. On Saturday, which was a sun-shining fair day, they prepared for the Sabbath. On Monday morning, they sounded the harbor and found it safe for shipping. Landing and marching inland they came upon several cornfields and many creeks, a place suitable for a settlement. So, they returned to the ship and told the rest of the pilgrims of their find.
On Wednesday, December 15, a party of eighteen men set out in the shallop for the third expedition to find the place that they discovered. That day they had to bear up again. On the sixteenth day, the winds were fair and they arrived safely in the harbor. They took a better view of the place and resolved to build upon this land. They named the place Plymouth. Captain John Smith had already named the area Plymouth on his map. On the 25th of December they began to build the first house for common use, for them and their goods.
On the 14th of January, the house that they had built accidentally caught on fire. Some of the pilgrims had to go back on the ship for shelter. The men began to build the storehouse. Then the sickness began to fall on them. This began a life and death struggle, a battle with the devil who did not want their light to light the darkness. The pilgrims lost about half of their number during the cold season due to starvation and scurvy. They had to bury them in shallow graves at night, so that the Indians did not know how many died. Many of the crew died. The men erected many shelters which soon caught fire mysteriously. After some serious encounters with the Indians, they had a meeting to form a military policy. Myles Standish was chosen to be captain of the militia company. They mounted cannons on a hill which were strategically important for their safety.
The Indians went skulking around those who were ashore. When any approached the Indians, they would run away. About March 16, an Algonquin Indian Chief came boldly among them. He spoke broken English. He lived in the eastern country, where some English came to fish. He got his knowledge of the English language from them. His name was Samoset and he was a sachem from Monhegan in Maine. He was instrumental in giving information to the English. He told them of another Indian named Squanto, who was native to this land and could speak English better than he could. After being entertained he was dismissed with gifts. He later brought back five others and they brought back all the tools that had been stolen earlier, and made way for the coming of their great sachem, Massasoyt. Later, Massasoyt and about 60 braves, chiefs of his friends and other attendants including Squanto, went to Plymouth. A friendship was started between the pilgrims and the Indians. After friendly entertainment and some gift giving, they made a peace treaty which lasted for 40 years. (Beale, 2000)
After this, Samoset left for his own country, but Squanto stayed with the pilgrims. Squanto was a native of this place and was kidnapped in 1605, at about the age of 12, along with four others, when he was captured by Captain Weymouth and taken to England and lived there for nine years. There he was taught the English language. He got a ride back to Patuxet in 1614; where he was again kidnapped along with many others by Captain Hunt, part of John Smith’s expedition that had stayed behind. Captain Hunt sold them as slaves in Malaga, Spain. Some monks bought him and introduced him to the Christian faith. Five years later he was on a ship traveling to London, England. He lived with a merchant in London, England and then worked in Newfoundland before being transported back to his homeland by Captain Dermer in 1620. Squanto found that his whole tribe had died in an epidemic, two years before. Squanto lived with another tribe for a while and then by himself. Samoset came to him and told him of the Pilgrims. He agreed to go with Samoset to Plymouth. Squanto became the Pilgrim’s interpreter and a special instrument of God for their good, beyond their expectation. He taught them how to plant corn, where to get fish and other commodities, guided them in unknown places. He never left them until he died in 1622 of Indian Sickness. Squanto was a Godsend. It was like the story of Joseph. Joseph was put in prison and was later released and raised up to help his people, Israel, survive the time of famine. Of all his people, Squanto survived to help the pilgrims to survive.
The Mayflower set sail for England on April 5th, and arrived in England on May 6, 1921. The ship made more trade runs to Spain, Ireland and France. Captain Jones died on March 5, 1622. The ship sat dormant for two years and then was probably sold for scrap.
In April of 1621, Governor Carver came out of the fields very sick with something wrong in his head. He died a few days later, probably of a stroke. William Bradford was chosen governor in his stead and not yet completely recovered from his illness, in which he had nearly died, Isaac Allerton was appointed assistant to him. A marriage between Susanna White and Edward Winslow was the highlight of May. In July, they sent an envoy of Edward Winslow, and Mr. Hopkins, along with Squanto to visit their new friend Massasoyt to bind them closer. They gave Massasoyt a suit of clothes, a horseman’s coat and other small things. The peace was pretty well established with the Indians around them. Another Indian, Hobbomack, a strong and valiant man moved in with Myles Standish and Squanto was the governor’s man. Hobbomack remained very faithful to the English, until he died.
After a skirmish between Squanto and Corbitant, another Indian, in which Squanto’s life was endangered, the English showed military force to protect Squanto. After this, they had many greetings from many Sachems and a much firmer peace.
In September they sent out their shallop with ten men and Squanto to trade with the Indians. They brought home a good quantity of Beaver. Thus they found the Lord to be with them in all their ways, and to bless their going out and coming in, for which let His holy name to have the praise forever, to all posterity.
There was no want that summer. The corn did well and gardens flourished. The Pilgrims began to gather in the small harvest they had, and to prepare their houses for winter, having recovered their health and strength. The governor sent four men fowling who killed as much fowl which served the plantation for about one week. Some men went fishing. They invited Massasoyt and celebrated a harvest festival, later to become Thanksgiving Day. Massasoyt came with 91 braves and brought five dressed deer and turkeys. They enjoyed the games that followed. They celebrated for three days. On November 5, 1636, an ordinance was passed “that it be in the power of the governor and assistants to command solemn days of humiliation by fasting and also for thanksgiving, as occasion shall be offered.” (Beale, 2000) Congress and various Presidents have set a Thanksgiving Day. The last date set was by President Ulysses S. Grant for the fourth Thursday in November, which was briefly altered by Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
During the first year in Plymouth, services were held in the common house, then later in the fort. Elder Brewster preached. Brewster was careful to preserve doctrinal purity. Many were brought to God through his ministry. There was no one in those days to administer baptism or the Lord’s Supper because Brewster was not ordained. Brewster resigned in 1629. An ordained man, Ralph Smith, succeeded him. The Mayflower Pilgrims were the root of Puritan, Presbyterian, Congregationalist, and Baptist Heritage. We can be thankful that they suffered and fought to win their religious freedom so that they and their posterity would have the freedom to worship and serve our Lord Jesus Christ in purity and holiness. We are also Separatists in that respect. Today we have religious freedom. The Separatists deserve to be known and honored for what they had accomplished. To God be the glory.
“As one small candle may light a thousand, so the light here kindled hath shone unto many, yea in some sort to our whole nation; let the glorious name of Jehovah have all the praise.” William Bradford (Bradford, 1948)
Written by Barbara Ann Haines
November 30, 2014
Bradford, William (1948). The History of Plymouth Colony. Roslyn, NY: Walter J. Black, Inc.
Beale, David (2000). The Mayflower Pilgrims. Greenville, South Carolina: Ambassador-Emerald Int.
Mextaxas, Eric (1999). Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, Inc.
Marshall, Peter; Manuel, David (1977). The Light and the Glory. Grand Rapids, MI: Fleming H. Revell
Meyers, Rick (2000-2014). The King James Version Bible. www.e-sword.net/support.html: e-Sword
Weisgard, Leonard (1967). The Plymouth Thanksgiving. Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company Inc.