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Friday, 24 February 2017

Pilgrim Fathers

The Pilgrim Fathers are the name given to the emigrants who sailed from Plymouth, England on September 16, 1620.

They called themselves "Separatists," as they were trying to separate themselves from the Church of England and establish a religious sect of their own.

Some of these "Separatists" were not escaping from religious persecution in England, but rather the tolerant Dutch Republic where some had fled to and they feared were influencing their children.

On board the Mayflower were 102 passengers (73 males and 29 females). 41 of the emigrants were Separatists, the other 61 were called "Strangers" by the Separatists, they had their own reasons for leaving England. Some were looking for adventure; others for a new path to wealth and riches.

The Embarkation of the Pilgrims (1857) by American painter Robert Walter Weir

Due to bad weather the Pilgrims were forced to land at Cape Cod, in modern Massachusetts, far away from the territory granted to them.

After tense encounters with Native Americans, the Pilgrims resettled at Plymouth Bay in December.

The first baby born on the Mayflower during its voyage to the New World was named Oceanus Hopkins. The second child born after the ship set anchor was named Peregrine White.

The first Indian who came out of the woods to meet the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock was named Samoset. He surprised the Pilgrims by coming to their settlement and greeting them in broken English on March 16, 1621. Samoset asked for some beer and English food and said he learned some of the language of English fishermen who had come to the area in the past.

The Pilgrims developed friendly relations with the native Wampanoag people. The Wampanoag people taught the Pilgrims how to plant corn, hunt, and fish in the new land.

Samuel de Champlain's 1605 map of Plymouth Harbor. The star is the approximate location of the 1620 English settlement.

The well known lullaby "Hush-a-bye baby, on the tree top", is said to have been the first English poem written on American soil, when a boy that sailed with the Pilgrim Fathers was inspired by the natives' custom of propping babies cradles in tree tops.

The first ever Thanksgiving Day was celebrated by the Pilgrims in 1621. It was a three-day feast shared by 50 Pilgrim Fathers and about 90 native Americans to acknowledge and celebrate God's provisions of a good harvest.

The Pilgrims had a difficult struggle to establish themselves, but eventually, with new arrivals, the colony at Plymouth became one of the bases of the new American population.


We didn't start calling these settlers "Pilgrims" until 170 years after the fact.  The modern colloquial title that became their identity was extracted from a single line in one journal, written by William Bradford before beginning their transatlantic voyage: “They knew they were Pilgrims.”

It's now thought 12 per cent of all modern day Americans are descended from the Mayflower Pilgrims.

It is estimated that 35 million people worldwide are direct descendants of the Mayflower Pilgrims.

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