Monday, 22 November 2010

Historical Southampton - Mayflower Voyage to America

I was curious about Thanksgiving Day in the US, and so did a little research into where and when the Pilgrim Fathers left England for America.  As it happens, I live in Southampton, where the Mayflower set sail in 1620 - 390 years ago - and I didn't know the history surrounding all the places in Southampton named after the Mayflower, such as Mayflower Park, The Mayflower Theatre, Mayflower Cruise Terminal, etc.

Mayflower II
Southampton was where the Mayflower was prepared for it's iconic journey to America. It was chartered by the group of English Separatists, who, with the backing of a consortium of London Merchants chartered the Speedwell and Mayflower for the journey to the New World. The Mayflower along with the Speedwell left Southampton on 5 August 1620 with around 120 passengers. The Speedwell sprung several dangerous leaks forcing them into Dartmouth and Plymouth.

While at Plymouth the pilgrims stayed at the Island House on the Barbican, where today there is a plaque listing the names of all the passengers. It was while they were in Plymouth that they decided to leave the Speedwell behind making the journey aboard the Mayflower only. Several of the original pilgrims decided the problems already encountered didn't bode well for the journey and left the ship at Plymouth to return home. In all around 100 pilgrims finally continued the journey to American on 6 September 1620.

Route across the Atlantic Ocean
They finally reached America in November 1620 but didn't land until December naming their landing port New Plymouth. Their journey and the subsequent settlement in America were recorded by William Bradford, who estimated that fifty percent of the Pilgrims had died by February 1621! It wasn't until a Native American, Squanto, showed them how to farm the land that they managed to provide for themselves and survive. Later their numbers swelled when more English Separatists joined them. Their story is now ingrained in American History and consciousness.

Here is a memorial in Southampton, UK to the Pilgrim Fathers that was erected on the 350th anniversary of their journey, and is built of Portland stone.

 © Copyright Clive Perrin and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
This is the top of the Mayflower Memorial, framed against the turning leaves of a sycamore tree. The monument is about 50 feet high and contains commemoration plaques from many American families of the Mayflower's passengers, many of whom became prominent in the setting up of the United States of America.

© Copyright Graham Horn and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence


  1. How cool was that! I just read it to my kids and now we have a huge conversation going!! Thank you Jane!!

  2. That's so cool! My pleasure - glad you found it informative - I certainly did too! xx

  3. How neat to read the history from across the pond! I had no idea that you would have so many places named after the Mayflower!!

  4. Hi Tonya,

    There are a lot!! It was interesting to research too. xx



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