Thursday, November 26, 2009

History: 100th Post And A Tub

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American Brethren. I'm sure you know exactly what the name of the rebuilt ship pictured above is and, if you don't, you might be a little young for this blog. This post is fine, kids, but ask a parent or guardian first next time, OK?

Yep, she's the Mayflower of Pilgrim fame and my privateer ancestors would have called her a right tub. With her fat, merchant hold she hardly swam at all and how she made it across the Atlantic twice is still one of seafaring's little mysteries. Some of her passengers doubtless saw the hand of God in it. I see a fool and a genius for a Captain. But let's get specific while we're here.

The details are sketchy but Mayflower was most probably built in 1606 in Leigh, England. From 1609 her owner is registered as Christopher Jones with his wife Josian. Jones was also listed as "master" which in this case identified him as Mayflower's Captain. She displaced 244 tons and was approximately 111 feet long with a 9 foot draft. She carried three masts with sails square rigged on her fore and main and fore-and-aft rigged on her mizzen. She was nothing pretentious. Mayflower was a merchant ship built to haul cargo and she plied the trade - mostly moving wine - between Spain and France and England with some forays to Germany and the Netherlands.

A fairly equal number of English religious Separatists and Church of England followers contracted with Jones and the owner of a ship named Speedwell in 1620 to carry them to the Hudson River area of North America. Here they had permission from the Virginia Company to settle. Both ships set out in August but had to return to Dartmouth, England due to leaking, particularly in the Speedwell. The Separatists, according to the Wikipedia article on the Mayflower, later spread the rumor that Speedwell's crew purposefully sabotaged her to avoid the voyage. That sounds fishy to me. Sailors are notoriously proud of their vessels and - unless they had a surprising number of lubbers in the crew - I'd say the Separatists were being unchristian. But then so would those "witches" a few years later, I suppose.

Some folks literally bailed out of the voyage at Dartmouth and Mayflower, loaded up with approximately 20 crewmen and 104 passengers, set sail for what was then Virginia on September 6, 1620. The harrowing crossing has been gone over more than once what with storms and cracked bulkheads and illness so I won't rehash it. In November, after sixty plus days at sea, Mayflower sighted land. She had made Cape Cod rather than the Hudson River mouth and when inclement weather threatened again, Jones dropped anchor in what is now Provincetown Harbor and told his passengers this was where they got off. Literally.

It wasn't until the following spring that the Separatists and pioneers finally left Mayflower for good to start Plymouth Colony. Jones returned to England on an astoundingly quick voyage of only 31 days. This is particularly amazing considering that half of Jones' crew had died over the winter in New England. She made the Thames in May of 1621.

The last legal document mentioning Mayflower is dated 1624 and names Josian Jones as the Captain's widow and part owner. The papers document a survey of the ship. After this, the original Mayflower is lost to history.

Enjoy your Holiday and, if you think of it, raise a glass to the old Mayflower who accomplished more than she was ever intended to. If you're feeling generous, raise one to your humble hostess as well. I just completed my 100th post. Huzzah!

7 comments:

Timmy! said...

Ahoy, Pauline! Huzzah, indeed! Congratulations on post #100, and a fine one she is at that. Also, Happy Thanksgiving once again to you and too all who may visit this site. Now it's time for me to crack open a pumkin-chocolate porter, enjoy a Thanksgiving feast and watch some football...

Blue Flamingo said...

Huzzah, Pauline!

Pauline said...

Ahoy Blue Flamingo! And Thankee!

Pauline said...

Ahoy, Timmy! And hey, champagne for me, if you please!

dwightjacobs said...

Just beginning to catch up on your blog...The first member of Leslie's family to come to America was Edward Fuller, who came over on the Mayflower. Not a great move, as he and his wife died in the first winter, and his son Samuel was raised by an uncle's family that had also come over on the Mayflower. Edward's family line can be traced even further back to the Baron of Hungerford who fought with Henry V at the Battle of Agincourt.

Pauline said...

Ahoy, Dwight! So the wife is a Daughter of the Mayflower? Impressive! I'm a Daughter of the Hellish Banditi. Somehow it all works.

dwightjacobs said...

Yep, my wife and kids are poshes. :-)