Thursday, February 20, 2014

1620 - The "Mayflower Pilgrims"

March 27, 1620 - George Thorpe leaves London for Jamestown having been appointed by the Virginia Company of London to build a middle school in a 11 000-acre land located on the north bank of the James, upstream to Henrico.

The farming activities of the settlers should ensure the running of the school the purpose of which was to Christianize the Indian children and introduce them to the English culture.

George Thorpe (? - Henrico (VA) 1622) was among the gentlemen of the Berkeley Company who came to invest a tidy sum in Virginia. He replaced from his arrival captain John Woodleefe at the head of the Berkeley Hundred plantation (now in Charles City's County) and set up a first distillery. He was pleased to get soon a fermented corn alcohol which he considered of better quality than English beer.
Beer was in the time a very wide-spread drink in England where it was preferred to water which very often polluted, was accused of favoring the spread of epidemic diseases as typhoid or cholera. Even children drank rather beer
Thorpe was a brilliant gentleman led by an impetuous missionary spirit. He was persuaded to achieve to wipe out the Indian culture which he regarded as wild and primitive by educating their children in the Christian faith from an early age. But what he saw as a step towards the civilization proved fast to be unbearable in the eyes of Indians. He crystallized finally, around him, the hatred of Powhatan and was to be be killed during the uprising of 1622.

May 17, 1620 - In London, Sir Edwin Sandys describes the dilapidation of Jamestown and its facilities to members of the Virginia Company. He notes the expansion of private plantations at the expense of the lands of the Company and worries about the excessive place granted to tobacco compared to other crops.

May 31, 1620 - The leaders of the Virginia Company report, during their meeting, that Virginia and Bermuda serve as bases for piracy against the Spaniards, for what Sir Edwin Sandys has been criticized in the Court of king James. Sandys admits that the colonists devote to the piracy because of the easy benefits expected.

June 20, 1620 - Sir Edwin Sandys is replaced by his friend Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton, as treasurer of the Virginia Company. He keeps however exerting a considerable power over the Company.
[07/22/1620] [07/1621]

July 22, 1620 - the Virginia Company publishes a booklet entitled " Declaration on the State of Virginia " summarizing the achievements of the previous year. All in all, on 1260 persons who went to Virginia, 80 became tenants of the governor, 100 other tenants to Middle Plantation and 150 were hired as servants or apprentices. 90 women arrived in Virginia. It is planned that the next trips include orphans sent by the Mayor of London, poor people and ex-convict.

The Company planned to dispatch 800 new settlers to Virginia in prospect of a fast economic development. Their traveling costs were supported by the company and they all received supplies needed for their installation.
They were to be distributed as follows : 200 tenants at Elizabeth Citie, 100 at Henrico, 100 at Charles Citie, 100 in Jamestown and 100 others in the service of the officials. Hereto were added 100 women for marrying tenants and 100 young apprentices assigned to plantations.
It was expected that tenants receive half the profits from harvests of the plantations where they worked.

August 1620 - left London in April with 153 passengers, the Bona Nova arrives at Jamestown.

Among its passengers was Elizabeth Baynham.

August 15, 1620 - the Mayflower sets sail from Southampton with 102 settlers on board. These will later be commonly known as the Pilgrims

The Mayflower was a 180-ton trade vessel 90 ft. long and 26 ft. wide. Built in 1612, it had been initially assigned to wine shipping.
It was of rather modest ship and the pilgrims had of to fit out makeshift shelters on the deck. For provisions, they left with some salted horse salted, smoked bacon, smoked or dried fish, biscuits, vegetables roots, dried peas, seeds and beer. [09/06/1620]

September 6, 1620 - 102 pilgrims leave Plymouth aboard the Mayflower to the New World.

Among the passengers were 35 very pious Separatists, fleeing James I's persecutions in search of a place to practice freely their religion and 67 "Strangers" recruited to provide additional workforce. Coming from modest backgrounds (small farmers, craftsmen, soldiers...), most of them subscribed to the puritan principles.
Led by John Carver, the Pilgrims had for three years chosen to emigrate to the New World and had for it managed to get a patent from the London Company of Virginia.
Having left London, their boat met in Southampton a second ship, the Speedwell, coming from Holland. This one carried 35 passengers, led by William Bradford and William Brewster. After a layover in Dartmouth on August 12 , due to bad weather, the Speedwell succeeded to reach Plymouth but had suffered too much damage to pursue the trip. The Pilgrims then decided to perform the Atlantic crossing with a single boat. The Mayflower thus left Plymouth on September 6, having taken on board the passengers of the Speedwell.
The Pilgrims came to get supplies from fishermen in Newfoundland when a storm hindered the progress of their expedition. The bad weather pushed the vessel to Cape Cod in Massachusetts and not in Virginia, initial purpose of the journey. The Pilgrims were finally put ashore on November 21. It seems that about twenty persons had died of smallpox during the crossing.

John Carver (1576-1621) - leader of the Pilgrims and first governor of the Plymouth Colony.
He was probably born in Nottinghamshire. Carver was a rich merchant settled in London when he fled from England and moved to Leiden in the Netherlands owing to religious persecutions. He became in 1617 the agent of pilgrims eager to get a Charter and a financial support to base a colony in America. He chartered the Mayflower and left Plymouth September 6, 1620 with 101 settlers.

William Bradford (May 19, 1590 - May 9, 1657) Separatist leader of the Plymouth Colony, he was the second signatory and the first writer of the Mayflower Compact in Provincetown Harbor.
Born near Doncaster, Yorkshire, he had been attracted as a teenager by the Scrooby Congregation of which he had become a member. They were called Separatists since they decided to leave the Church of England, unlike the Puritans who wanted to purify it. James 1 began to persecute the Separatists in 1609 and William Bradford had to run away to the Netherlands, like most members of the congregation. Yet, fearing to go to war against Catholic Spain, the Dutch government chose to conclude an alliance with England and Separatist immigrants in the Netherlands regarded it as a true threat. This is why Bradford pondered leaving for America.

William Brewster (c. 1566 - April 10, 1644)
Settler and preacher born in Scrooby, Nottinghamshire. He studied briefly at Peterhouse College in Cambridge before entering the service of William Davidson, assistant Secretary of State Sir Francis Walsingham and cousin of Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots. He accompanied the latter in the Netherlands to negotiate an alliance with the States General before he lost favor with the Queen.
Cambridge was then a center of religious reformism and Brewster could, during his stay in Holland, hear and learn about Protestantism. Back to Scrooby where he resumed a while his father's business, he entered the local religious quarrels and formed, from 1602, a group of dissident Puritans.
Restrictions and pressures which the authorities exerted on his congregation convinced him to leave the country for the more hospitable Dutch lands. He lived there from 1609 till 1619 publishing books intended to England where they were banned. He was lucky enough to get from the London Company of Virginia a license allowing him to organize the group which was to sail on the Mayflower. His wife Mary and his sons Coils and Wrestling were part of the journey.

November 3, 1620 - the Great Patent is granted by King James 1 to the Plymouth Company which changes its name to become The Council for New England.

This new charter made the company absolute owner of the lands located between 40th and 48th parallels extending from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean.

November 9, 1620 - the Pilgrims of the Mayflower see for the first time the American coast off Cape Cod.

November 11, 1620 - 41 Pilgrim Fathers sign the Mayflower Compact once their ship anchored along the coast of Massachusetts (near Provincetown Harbor). John Carver is elected first governor for one year.

The Mayflower Compact is a document consisted of several commitments drafted and signed by the Pilgrims Fathers on November 11, 1620 during their route between England and Massachusetts.
This pact is an agreement set up between the settlers for the management of the future colony.
The Pilgrims Fathers were more than 500 miles northeast of their original destination, Virginia. Their license in the New World, granted by the Virginia Company of London, having thus lost its contractual nature, some passengers wished to become completely independent from their travelling companions. To solve this problem, forty one heads of family met during the crossing in the cabin of the ship to draft and sign the declaration of principles of the new colony, called Mayflower Compact. All adult men had to sign.
The Mayflower Compact was the first written constitution in America, establishing a form of government based more on the willingness of the settlers rather than that of the English Crown. All the passengers met to form a " civil politic body" asked to develop and to apply the laws required for the well-being of the future colony. All the settlers were to obey the enacted orders. It was mostly a social contract of which the colonists agreed to observe the rules and regulations for their survival.
This statement established a majoritarianist concept which remained one of the fundamental principles of government of the Plymouth colony until its absorption by Massachusetts in 1691. The Mayflower Compact is often regarded as the base of the constitution of the United States.
[11/19/1620] [April, 1621]

November 20, 1620 - Susanna White gives birth to a little boy named Peregrin. Born in Provincetown Harbor before the Mayflower passengers have still precisely chosen where to settle, he is the first English child to be born on the soil of New England.

Peregrine White (November 20, 1620 - July 20, 1704)
Son of William and Susanna White, both pilgrims of the Mayflower. His father died shortly after landing and his mother remarried Edward Winslow who adopted him and made his heir.
Virginia Dare was on the other hand the first English child born in America. She was born in 1587 in the Roanoke colony founded by Sir Walter Raleigh. What she became remained a mystery because all the settlers disappeared without leaving any trace.

December 6, 1620 - While they left exploring Plymouth Bay, the group of colonists led by William Bradford is suddenly caught in a storm that threatens to sink their boat. Washed away by the waves, they manage however to land on the small Clark's Island.

This island was named after Richard Clarke, the first mate of the Mayflower expedition.

It was the third time when English had gone recognize lands along Plymouth Bay to select a suitable place for their settlement. The first one had moreover experienced an incident fortunately not serious when William Bradford had been caught in a deer-trap set by Indians.

December 7, 1620William Bradford's wife Dorothy Bradford dies drowned after falling from the Mayflower while still anchored in Provincetown Harbor. Late assumptions will refer to suicide.

December 8, 1620 - A party of Nauset Indians attacks the Mayflower passengers left ashore seeking for foods.The latter repel the aggression but prefer to embark for another destination. They reach at night the port of Patuxet.

Formerly so welcoming to the European visitors, the Nausets had hating these unscrupulous people who turned into slave traders.
The party landed from the Mayflower ended up certainly by chance near a place where had been buried the last victims of the plague. The men discovered there corn and thinking that crops had been put underground, they began to dig, stirring up the Nausets anger who saw it as a true desecration.
This first contact did not failed to spread confusion among the Pilgrims, already exhausted by the journey and suffering from hunge. It seemed to them that they landed in a hostile environment, announcing painful aftermath.
Miles Standish and a dozen men decided to respond by provoking  without delay the Indians in their village but discovered, upon their arrival, that it was abandoned. Then, they realized that they were constantly watched.

December 19, 1620 - the Pilgrims settle down near the former village of Patuxet they rename Plymouth.
The Pact signed during the trip states that every man has to build his own house and take part in the building of the "Town Hall" which will serve to store equipment and provisions.

The area, yet so crowded when captain John Smith had drawn up the map some six years earlier, had been devastated by an epidemic that killed the major part of the population. The townsite of Plymouth itself, previously occupied by the Wampanoag village of Patuxet, was now totally abandoned.
In mid-January, the Town Hall was completed and the small village began to take shape. But disease had begun to hit the colony, sparing no family.
When Verazzano and Champlain had explored the coast of New England, they had found a region lived by an important warlike population. Many villages of wigwams occupied the landscape covered with cornfields and gardens where grew beans and squash whereas small Indian fishing boats were lined up in tight rows on the shores. But barely a generation later, the English colonists in search of a livable site, discovered a deserted coast.

An epidemic more fatal to the Indian tribes than their infighting had just swept the country. Wigwams were gone. Wasteland had replaced the crops and the decimated tribes had hidden out in the forests where they had become so weak that they could not offer resistance

1620 - Captain Cornelius Jacobsen Mey explores the Delaware Bay aboard the Blijde Boodschap, in view of a possible Dutch colonization. He gives his name to Cape Mey (now Cape May) which marks the southern end of current New Jersey.
He took advantage of it to barter with the neighboring Indians and could leave with a cargo of precious furs.

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