Mayflower Genealogy, Did your Ancestors Sail on the Mayflower?
Updated: Jul 1
When you start researching your ancestry and passenger records in particular, we all hope that perhaps we might find an Ancestor who travelled on the Mayflower!
This year marks the 400th Anniversary of their Voyage and sees a year long commemoration take place which includes events & exhibitions all centred around the destinations involved in the Mayflower story.
It is said that an estimated 10 million living Americans and 35 million people from around the world are descended from the original Mayflower passengers.
In September 1620 the Merchant ship ‘Mayflower’ set sail from Plymouth, England. The Ship would normally transport wine and goods. However on this voyage she carried passengers. Approx. 30 crew and 102 passengers travelled on board, all hoping to start a new life across the Atlantic.
Many of the passengers were known as ‘Saints’, they were actually Protestant Separatists who had experienced difficulty with religious freedom and lifestyle in Europe. The hope for many of these passengers was to establish a church in the New World and a better way of life. These people would later become known as the ‘Pilgrims’.
Years previous to this a number of these Protestants from Nottinghamshire had left for Leyden in Holland. They were keen to escape the Church of England believing it as corrupt as the Catholic Church. The Separatists who moved to Holland experienced freedom of religion which in turn proved appealing to the younger members of the communities.
So, they made the decision to move to a place free from interference and arrangements for their passage to the New World was made.
The Virginia Company agreed to them settling on the East Coast of America. The passage was arranged on the Speedwell and the Mayflower however the Speedwell developed a leak as the journey commenced which meant that all the passengers had to make the journey aboard the Mayflower.
It must have been pretty cramped as Families, Individuals, Animals & cases of goods required for their new lives were all crammed onto the ship for a journey that would take Two months. It would have been extremely uncomfortable!
The trip would have been dangerous and poor weather including strong winds and high waves would cause damage to the vessel which all had to be repaired during the voyage.
On the 9th November 1620 the Mayflower eventually reached land at Cape Cod. The original plan to travel to Virginia being impossible due to strong winds and bad weather. They set down Anchor to the north of the area and due to a feeling of unrest made the decision to sign an agreement to follow certain rules and regulations so that order could be established.
The first winter in the New World proved to be deadly for the settlers and the spread of disease was rife. Living conditions aboard the ship were poor and they suffered from a lack of nutrition. Almost half of the passengers and half of the crew didn’t survive.
For those who remained they disembarked the ship in March the following year and began their new life by building huts. With the help of the crew they unloaded their weaponry which included cannons, which would be used to protect their new settlement.
As they adjusted to life in the New World, they were helped by the Native people who taught them survival techniques which included growing crops and hunting.
By the following summer the Plymouth settlers celebrated the first harvest with the native Indians in a festival of thanksgiving, a tradition still practised today.
These settlers and the journey they made aboard the mayflower to the New World will always have a special place in Americas History
Have you ever wondered if someone from your Ancestry made this trip? You can also check out the list of passengers via this link
Confident in reading old Handwriting? Then check out the original passenger list.
The ‘Mayflower 400’ celebrations involve all sorts of Events and Festivals in places relevant to the Mayflower story you can check out what’s via their website
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