Pilgrim fathers, the
At the middle of the sixteenth century the social condition of the people of England
was very primitive, and their wants were few. The common people lived in cottages built of wooden frames filled in with clay; their houses were without wooden floors; and in many of them the fireplaces were constructed in the middle of the rooms without chimneys, a hole being left in the roof for the escape of the smoke.
The windows were not glazed, and were closed against the weather, and the light was allowed to enter by means of oiled paper.
Such was the plain condition of the houses of the Puritans of New England
in the early part of Queen Elizabeth's reign pallets of straw served for beds of the common people, who had coverings made of rough mats, and their pillows were logs.
This was regarded as a good bed, for many slept in straw alone.
Very few vegetables were then cultivated, for gardening had not yet been generally introduced from Holland
, and gardens were cultivated only for the rich, and these chiefly for ornament.
The common material for bread was the unbolted flour of oats, rye, and barley; and sometimes, when these were scarce (afterwards in New England
), they were mixed with ground acorns.
Even this black bread was sometimes denied them, and flesh was the principal diet.
Their forks and ploughs were made of wood, and these, with a hoe and spade, constituted the bulk of their agricultural implements
Their spoons and platters were made chiefly of wood, and table-forks were unknown.
It is said that glazed windows were so scarce, and regarded as so much of a luxury, that noblemen, when they left their country-houses to go to court, had their glazed windows packed away carefully with other precious furniture.
Chimneys had been introduced into England
early in the sixteenth century.
The non-conformist English refugees in Holland
under the pastorate of Rev. Mr. Robinson
, yearning for a secluded asylum from persecution under the English
government, proposed to go to Virginia
and settle there in a distinct body under the general government of that colony.
They sent Robert Cushman
and John Carver
in 1617 to treat with the
London Company, and to ascertain whether the King
would grant them liberty of conscience in that distant country.
The company were anxious to have these people settle in Virginia
, and offered them ample privileges, but the King
would not promise not to molest them.
These agents returned to Leyden
The discouraged refugees sent other agents to England
in February, 1619, and finally made an arrangement with the company and with London
merchants and others for their settlement in Virginia
, and they at once prepared for the memorable voyage in the Mayflower
Several of the congregation at Leyden
sold their estates and made a common bank, which, with the aid of their London
partners, enabled them to purchase the Speedwell
, a ship of 60 tons, and to hire in England
, a ship of 180 tons, for the intended voyage.
They left Delft Haven
in the Speedwell
(July, 1620), and in August sailed from Southampton
, but, on account of the leakiness of the ship, were twice compelled to return to port.
Dismissing this unseaworthy vessel, 101 of the number who came from Leyden
sailed in the Mayflower
, Sept. 6 (O. S.). These included the “Pilgrim fathers,” so called.
The following are the names of the forty-one persons who signed the constitution of government on board the Mayflower
, and are known as the Pilgrim Fathers
: John Carver
, William Bradford
, Edward Winslow
, William Brewster
, Isaac Allerton
, Myles Standish
, John Alden
, Samuel Fuller
, Christopher Martin
, William Mullins
, William White
, Richard Warren
, John Howland
, Stephen Hopkins
, Edward Tilley
, John Tilley
, Francis Cook
, Thomas Rogers
, Thomas Tinker
, John Ridgedale
, Edward Fuller
, John Turner
, Francis Eaton
, James Chilton
, John Crackston
, John Billington
, Moses Fletcher
, John Goodman
, Degory Priest, Thomas Williams
, Gilbert Winslow
, Edward Margeson
, Peter Brown
, Richard Britteridge
, George Soule
, Richard Clarke
, Richard Gardiner
, John Allerton
, Thomas English
, Edward Doty
, Edward Lister
Each subscriber placed opposite his name the number of his family.
The following is the text of the agreement which was signed on the lid of Elder Brewster
's chest (see Brewster, William
In the name of God, Amen.
We whose names are hereunto written, the loyal subjects of our dread sovereign lord, King
James, by the grace of God, of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, etc., having undertaken for the glory of God and advancement
of the Christian Faith, and honor of our King and Country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the northern parts of Virginia, do by these presents solemnly and mutually, in the presence of God and of one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic for our better ordering and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitution, and offices, front time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the colony, unto which we promise all due submission and obedience.
In witness whereof we have hereunto subscribed our names, at Cape Cod, the 11th of November [O. S.], in the year of the reign of our sovereign lord, King James, of England, France, and Ireland, the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth, Anno Domini 1620.
Handwriting of the Pilgrims.|
first anchored in Cape Cod Bay
, just within the cape, on Nov. 21 (N. S.
), in what is now the harbor of Provincetown
, the only windward port for many a league where the vessel could have long safely lain.
Nearly all the company went ashore, glad to touch land after the long voyage.
They first fell on their knees, and thanked God for the preservation of their lives.
The waters were shallow, and they had waded ashore—the men to explore the country, the women
Old relic from the Mayflower.|
to wash their clothes after the long voyage.
The spot chosen by a party of explorers
for the permanent landing-place of the passengers on the Mayflower
was selected about Dec. 20, 1620, where New Plymouth was built.
From about the middle of December until the 25th the weather was stormy, and the bulk of the passengers remained on the ship, while some of the men built a rude shelter to receive them.
On the 25th a greater portion of the passengers went on shore to visit the spot chosen for their residence, when, tradition
says, Mary Chilton
and John Alden
, both young persons, first sprang upon Plymouth Rock
from the boat that conveyed them.
Most of the women and children remained on board the Mayflower
until suitable log huts were erected for their reception, and it was March 21, 1621, before they were all landed.
Those on shore were exposed to the rigors of winter weather and insufficient food, though the winter was a comparatively mild one.
Those on the ship were confined in foul air, with unwholesome food.
Scurvy and other diseases appeared among them, and when, late in March, the last passenger landed from the Mayflower
, nearly one-half the colonists were dead.
The lands of the Plymouth Colony
were held in common by the “Pilgrims” and their partners, the London
In 1627 the “Pilgrims” sent Isaac Allerton
to negotiate for the purchase of the shares of the London
adventurers, with their stock, merchandise, lands, and chattels.
He did so for $9,000, payable in nine years in equal annual instalments.
Some of the principal persons of the colony became bound for the rest, and a partnership was formed, into which was admitted the head of every family, and every young man of age and prudence.
It was agreed that every single freeman should have one share; and every father of a family have leave to purchase one share for himself, one for his wife, and one for every child living with him; that every one should pay his part of the public debt according to the number of his shares.
To every share twenty acres of arable land were assigned by lot; to every six shares, one cow and two goats, and swine in the same proportion.
This agreement was made in full court, Jan. 3, 1628.
The jointstock or community system was then abandoned, a division of the movable property was made, and twenty acres of land nearest to the town were assigned in fee to each colonist.
See Plymouth, New
Gov. William Bradford
(q. v.) wrote a History of the Plymouth plantation
, of which the following is an extract: