Mayflower (ship)

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MAYFLOWER, a three-masted, double-decked merchant ship of 180 tons, chartered in London to take the Pilgrims to America. The Mayflower left Holland on 31 July 1620, joining the Speedwell in Southampton, England, for the voyage to America. The two ships sailed on 15 August but returned because of the leaky condition of the Speedwell. The Speedwell was eventually abandoned, and on 16 September, 102 passengers and crew aboard the Mayflower finally sailed from England, sighted Cape Cod on 19 November, and arrived in what is now the harbor of Provincetown, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, on 21 November. Repairs kept them there until 21 December 1620. The Mayflower followed the land-exploring party and sailed into Plymouth, Massachusetts, harbor on 26 December, where it remained until houses could be built for the new settlement. It sailed for England on 5 April 1621, reaching London safely.


King, H. Roger. Cape Cod and Plymouth Colony in the Seventeenth Century. Lanham, Md.: University Press of america, 1994.

Langdon, George D., Jr. Pilgrim Colony: A History of New Plymouth, 1620–1691. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1966.

R. W. G.Vail/a. r.

See alsoColonial Ships ; Plymouth Colony .

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In the early 1600s, a new religious movement was gaining momentum in England. Challenging the traditions of the Anglican Church, or Church of England, members of the movement sought to simplify and purify the Protestant Christian churches. (See Protestantism .) Called

Puritans , they were harassed by English authorities because their movement threatened the power of the Anglican Church.

Seeking religious freedom, many Puritans left England to settle new religious communities in other countries, including America. The first 102 of these emigrants to America are called Pilgrims , from a Latin word that means “wanderer in foreign lands.” The Pilgrims left for America in 1620 aboard the Mayflower.

The Mayflower was a three-mast merchant ship with a normal speed of two and a half miles per hour. It was chartered along with the vessel Speedwell to carry the Pilgrims to America. The Speedwell proved unseaworthy and, after a few attempts to fix it, was abandoned in England.

On September 16, 1620, the Mayflower set sail with its passengers and crew. Landing in Massachusetts on November 21, it remained in the service of the Pilgrims and other settlers until housing could be built on the mainland. It sailed for its return to England on April 5, 1621. Although it is known to have reached England safely, its fate afterward is lost to history. The confusion arises in part because several other ships of the time also were called Mayflower.

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Mayflower. The Mayflower, an unremarkable ship of about 180 tons, has been immortalized, since it carried the first Pilgrims to New England and because the Mayflower Compact of 21 November 1620 was agreed on board. This was a covenant by the adult males, many of whom were not previously known to, and were distrusted by, the Pilgrim leaders, to obey agreed laws and ordinances. It allowed the election of officials and the suppression of disorder, in the absence of a formal charter. An early exercise in self-government, it was later followed by the formal election of a governor and assembly.

Richard C. Simmons

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Mayflower the ship in which the Pilgrim Fathers sailed from England to America. It arrived at Cape Cod on 21 November 1620 after a voyage of sixty-six days.
Mayflower Compact a document signed by 41 of the male passengers prior to their landing at Plymouth; it formed the signatories into a body politic for the purpose of establishing a government.

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Mayflower Ship that carried the Pilgrims from Plymouth, England to Massachusetts in September, 1620. It carried 120 English Puritans (some from a congregation from the Netherlands) who established the Plymouth Colony in 1620.

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may·flow·er / ˈmāˌflou(-ə)r/ • n. a name given to several plants that bloom in May, esp. certain hepaticas and anemones and the trailing arbutus.

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May·flow·er / ˈmāˌflou(-ə)r/ the ship in which the Pilgrims sailed from England to America in 1620.