On Wednesday 25th November 1620, or the 15th if you’re using the dates of the time, a group of 16 Mayflower passengers set out on an exploration mission, spending Wednesday and Thursday nights under the stars.
On the third morning they came across a stubbled field, previously planted with corn in relatively recent years, and their first evidence of the Native agriculture. This discovery was soon followed by what appeared to be a grave site where there were mounds of sand covered with reed mats. They started to explore the mounds, finding a bow and rotting arrows, but decided not to go down further out of respect to the local people. They returned the bow and arrows and covered them back up.
From there they continued south and came across what may have been wreckage from a French shipwreck from 1615. Later, near the river now known as the Pamet, they came across a seventeen-year-old fort built by Martin Prigg (an English Explorer from Bristol). Their next discovery was an area of flattened sand on a high shoreside hill. They considered it to be different from the graves they had come across earlier and so three dug down while the others formed a defensive ring around them. They soon came across a basket of woven reeds with four bushels of corn – further evidence of agriculture. They collected up some corn and returned to the ship with news of their discoveries.
On this day in 1620 a group of sixteen men from the Mayflower set out on a mission to explore the area they had landed at. They were led by Captain Miles Standish and included William Bradford and Stephen Hopkins. Each man had a musket, sword and corset (a light piece of body armour). The men rowed through a shallow area of coastline and had to jump out and wade through the cold icy water, weighed down by their armour and weapons. Once on the beach they marched in single file along the shore.
After a few miles they saw a group of people and thought they were Captian Jones along with the Mayflower’s spaniel who they knew were ashore. When the group ran away into the woods they realised they had seen natives for the first time. The explores followed the group of natives tracking their footprints in the sand. They tracked them for the rest of the day marching somewhere between 7 and 10 miles. With the light drawing in they set up camp for the night. They spent the night gathered around a large fire with three sentinels on guard at a time.
In the morning they continued to track the natives, despite being tired and thirsty. They found a source of freshwater at what is now known as Pilgrims Spring on a slightly raised section of land and once refreshed headed back to the beach where they built a large fire as had been agreed before leaving the Mayflower, which was now around 4 miles across the water from them. Tired after two days marching in the cold they slept well before the final day of their first exploration.
On this day in 1120 The White Ship sank in the English Channel near the Normandy coast off Barfleur. Only one of the approximately 300 people aboard survived and among the dead were William Adelin, the only legitimate son and heir of King Henry I of England, his half-sister Matilda, his half-brother Richard, Richard d'Avranches, 2nd Earl of Chester, and Geoffrey Ridel. William’s death led to a succession crisis and a period of civil war in England known as the Anarchy.
The White Ship was a newly refitted vessel captained by Thomas FitzStephen. FitzStephen offered his ship to Henry I of England to return to England from Barfleur in Normandy. However, Henry had already made other arrangements, but allowed many in his retinue to take the White Ship, including his heir, William Adelin; his illegitimate son Richard of Lincoln; his illegitimate daughter Matilda FitzRoy, Countess of Perche; and many other nobles. According to chronicler Orderic Vitalis, the crew asked William Adelin for wine and he supplied it to them in great abundance. By the time the ship was ready to leave, there were about 300 people on board, although some, including the future king Stephen of Blois, had disembarked due to the excessive binge drinking before the ship sailed.
FitzStephen was ordered by the revellers to overtake the king's ship, which had already sailed. The White Ship was fast, of the best construction and had recently been fitted with new materials, which made the captain and crew confident they could reach England first. But when it set off in the dark, its port side struck a submerged rock called Quillebœuf, and the ship quickly capsized. William Adelin got into a small boat and could have escaped but turned back to try to rescue his half-sister, Matilda, when he heard her cries for help. His boat was swamped by others trying to save themselves, and William drowned along with them. According to Orderic Vitalis, Berold (Beroldus or Berout), a butcher from Rouen, was the sole survivor of the shipwreck by clinging to the rock. The chronicler further wrote that when FitzStephen came to the surface after the sinking and learned that William Adelin had not survived, he let himself drown rather than face the King.
One legend holds that the ship was doomed because priests were not allowed to board it and bless it with holy water in the customary manner.
A direct result of William Adelin's death was the period known as the Anarchy. The White Ship disaster had left Henry I with only one legitimate child, a second daughter named Matilda. Although Henry I had forced his barons to swear an oath to support Matilda as his heir on several occasions, a woman had never ruled in England in her own right. Matilda was also unpopular because she was married to Geoffrey V, Count of Anjou, a traditional enemy of England's Norman nobles. Upon Henry's death in 1135, the English barons were reluctant to accept Matilda as queen regnant.
One of Henry I's male relatives, Stephen of Blois, the king's nephew by his sister Adela, usurped Matilda as well as his older brothers William and Theobald to become king. After Henry I's death, Matilda and her husband Geoffrey of Anjou, the founder of the Plantagenet dynasty, launched a long and devastating war against Stephen and his allies for control of the English throne. The Anarchy dragged from 1135 to 1153 with devastating effect, especially in southern England. Contemporary historian William of Malmesbury wrote:
“No ship that ever sailed brought England such disaster, none was so well known the wide world over. There perished then with William the king's other son Richard, born to him before his accession by a woman of the country, a high-spirited youth, whose devotion had earned his father's love; Richard earl of Chester and his brother Othuel, the guardian and tutor of the king's son; the king's daughter the countess of Perche, and his niece, Theobald's sister, the countess of Chester; besides all the choicest knights and chaplains of the court, and the nobles' sons who were candidates for knighthood, for they had hastened to from all sides to join him, as I have said, expecting no small gain in reputation if they could show the king's son some sport or do him some service.”
These scenes were built by James Pegrum as part of a series of models on the Kings and Queens of England. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see them first.
Having taken their first steps on American soil on a Saturday, the next day, being a Sunday, was spent on board the Mayflower in worship and fellowship. Once Monday came work began on a number of important tasks following the journey from Europe. The four sections of the shallop, a small boat that had been carried aboard in pieces, were taken ashore for reconstruction, though this took much longer than expected due to damage caused during the voyage.
Another key job was cleaning clothes. During the voyage washing clothes (a role at this time which was carried out by women) had not been possible so once on dry land they found a freshwater pool (which is near the location of modern Provincetown). For generations to come, in New England, Monday would be wash day, a tradition founded by the women of Mayflower. The passengers and sailors also took the opportunity to gather fresh sea food, which caused some of them to be sick!
The other key task they had was to explore the area. This would not have been so critical had they landed as planned at the mouth of the Hudson River, but now they there were somewhere they did not know. Exploration, however, was not going to be as easy as hoped as they were unable to use the shallop. Therefore, by the Wednesday it had been agreed that sixteen men would row ashore across what is now Provincetown harbour and explore the area by foot. This will be the subject of a coming blog.
On this day in 1620 the Mayflower dropped anchor in what became known as Provincetown Harbor, at the northern end of Cape Cod Bay, marking the arrival of her passengers in America. Before disembarking to explore the new land they first drafted and signed what would become known as the Mayflower Compact, a document that historian Nathaniel Philbrick has argued provided “the basis for a secular government in America”.
The Mayflower was originally bound for the Colony of Virginia but inclement weather and hazerdous waters forced her to seek anchor at the hook of Cape Cod in Massachusetts. Owning to a lack of provisions it was considered unwise to continue and that a colony should be established there. Because they would not be settling in the agreed-upon Virginia territory this inspired some of the non-Puritan passengers to proclaim that they "would use their own liberty; for none had power to command them". To prevent this, the Pilgrims determined to establish their own government, while still affirming their allegiance to the Crown of England. Thus, the Mayflower Compact was created, forming a social contract in which the settlers consented to follow the community's rules for the sake of order and survival.
The original document has long been lost, but three slightly different versions printed later in the 17th century still exist. A modern version of the wording goes as follows:
"IN THE NAME OF GOD, AMEN. We, whose names are underwritten, 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, &c. Having undertaken for the Glory of God, and Advancement of the Christian Faith, and the Honour 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 one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil Body Politick, for our better Ordering and Preservation, and Furtherance of the Ends aforesaid: And by Virtue hereof do enact, constitute, and frame, such just and equal Laws, Ordinances, Acts, Constitutions, and Officers, from 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 eleventh of November, in the Reign of our Sovereign Lord King James, of England, France, and Ireland, the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth, Anno Domini; 1620."
Forty-one of the Mayflower’s remaining 101 passengers signed the document. This was done on the 11th November under the Old Style Julian calendar, since England did not adopt the Gregorian calendar until 1752. The modern date is November 21st.
Following the document’s signing the passengers disembarked onto the smaller of two boats that had been carried aboard and rowed to the shore where they would take their first steps into the New World. The second small boat, and the larger of the two, had been cut up into four and was stored below deck during the voyage and was yet to be assembled.
Sixteen men landed on the beach in Provincetown Harbour, where they fell on their knees and in the words of William Bradford:
“blessed the God of Heaven who had brought them over the vast and furious ocean, and delivered them from all the perils and miseries thereof, again to set their feet on the firm and stable earth, their proper element”.
The landscape they found was similar to the Downs in Holland; hills of sand. It was an infertile land, with more trees than costal England or Holland and they found no people. They took back to the Mayflower freshy with sawed wood of red cedar and enjoyed perhaps for the first time since leaving England a warm fire. The days ahead would require more exploration of the land before they could start settling down and building their first homes.
On this day in 1620 those who’d survived the perilous voyage across the Atlantic aboard the Mayflower set their eyes on America for the first time. It was late morning and the sun had risen behind the Mayflower and Captain Jones believed the land ahead was the ‘forearm’ of Cape Cod. Slowly the landscape of sand with tree covered hills came nearer. The intended site for the journey was the mouth of the Hudson River, which they were well north of. The passengers had been granted land in this area which was a further 220 miles away.
Captain Jones had to make a decision – either continue south to the Hudson or head northwards into the bay of Cape Cod and to what is now known as Provincetown. The first option depended on a north wind and would take several days, the second option would only take a few hours and required a southerly wind. The occurrence of northerly wind helped him with the decision and so the Mayflower went south and into poorly chartered waters. The threat of grounding the ship was high, so the leadsman constantly dropped the lead to measure the depth of the seabed.
After 1pm the tide and wind became less favourable and the Mayflower found herself in the Pollark Rip, an ever-changing maze of shoals and sandbars. Fortunately, the wind and tide changed and towards late afternoon the Mayflower was sufficiently away from the dangers of the Rip. With the change in the wind, they were now being pushed northwards and heading away from the mouth of the Hudson; Captain Jones decided to make for the protection of Cape Cod Bay.
The change in destination caused tension between the two groups of passengers, The Pilgrims and The Strangers, with the prospect of the new settlement being on land that they did not have permission to occupy. The solution will be the subject of our next blog.
On this day in 1620 the only passenger to die on the Mayflower's voyage from England to America passed away, just three days before land was sighted. Little is known about the young man, William Butten, who was a servant of the doctor Samuel Fuller. He is recorded as “a youth” by William Bradford in his list of passengers. He joined the voyage with the Fuller family and was unwell throughout the voyage. His place of rest is unknown and his name is on memorial stone erected by Massachusetts Society of Mayflower descendants.
This scene was built by James Pegrum as part of a series of models on the voyage of the Mayflower. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see them first.
On this day in 1100 King Henry I of England married Matilda, daughter of Malcolm III of Scotland. According to historian Warren Hollister, Henry and Matilda were emotionally close, but their union was also politically motivated. Matilda was a member of the West Saxon royal family, being the niece of Edgar Ætheling, the great-granddaughter of Edmund Ironside and a descendant of Alfred the Great. Marrying Matilda gave Henry's reign increased legitimacy, and and gave future English monarchs a direct line back to the Saxon Royal House. As she was brother to Edgar, who was king of Scotland between 1097 and 1107 and Alexander I who succeeded him. It also bought closer relations with England's northern neighbour, which in the past had often disintegrated into conflict and violence.
Henry was the fourth son of William the Conqueror and brother of his predecessor William II, often known as William Rufus. He was present at his brother's death, which was possibly a murder.
His reign ran between August 2nd 1100 and December 1st 1135. He is reputed to have been an effective ruler, although some consider him harsh. He skillfully manipulated the barons in England and Normandy. In England, he built on the existing Anglo-Saxon system of justice, local government and taxation. He encouraged ecclesiastical reform, but became embroiled in a serious dispute in 1101 with Archbishop Anselm of Canterbury, which was resolved through a compromise solution in 1105.
Matilda was intelligent and resourceful and wielded a level of agency that was uncommon for women of the time, taking an active role in government when her husband was away; many surviving charters are signed by her. She took a great interest in architecture and instigated the building of many Norman-style buildings, including Waltham Abbey and Holy Trinity Aldgate. She also commissioned the building of the first arched bridge in England, at Stratford-le-Bow, as well as a bathhouse with piped-in water and public lavatories at Queenhithe. Her court was one of literature and culture, filled with musicians and poets. She was also pious and sympathetic with the poor, with William of Malmesbury describing her as attending church barefoot at Lent, and washing the feet and kissing the hands of the sick.
Henry and Matilda had two children. Their daughter Matilda would become Holy Roman Empress, German Queen and Queen of Italy while their son William Adelin would die in the White Ship disaster of 1120.
Henry's failure to produce a legitimate son from his second marriage led to the succession crisis of The Anarchy.
This scene was built by James Pegrum as part of a series of models on the Kings and Queens of England. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see them first.
Recently we took a look at a limited number of the crew, both officers and sailors who were key in navigating the Mayflower from England to America (here, here and here). But what about those who have gone down in history as the ‘Pilgrim Fathers’? Were all the passengers Separatists (Puritans who wanted greater reform in the church)? Surprisingly to some, not all the passengers were Separatists - some wanted to start life in a new place, others went as servants.
When the Mayflower set off from Plymouth on the 16th September 1620 there were 102 passengers aboard; 74 males and 28 females. Of the 102 passengers as few as 37 had been members of the separatist congregation in Leiden. So who were some of these passengers?
William Brewster was probably born in Scrooby and like his father held the position as postmaster of Scrooby for a period of time. He was a key member of the establishment of the Separatist church in Scooby, which often met in his home, Scrooby Manor. Along with the others in the church he left England for Holland to get away from the persecution and prosecution for this faith. During his time in Leiden he became a church elder, responsible for caring for the congregation. Whilst in Leiden he worked in a printing press which published religious books and pamphlets, which led to the English authorities discovering him and getting the Dutch authorities to pursue him. He went into hiding. He was chosen by the Leiden congregation to go with them to America which he agreed to. He continued to be a church elder throughout his life in the Plymouth Colony, dying in 1644.
Mary Brewster married Willaim Brewster in around 1592 and gave birth to their first son, Jonathan a year later. Her early years are unknown along with her maiden name. She had her second child, a daughter Patience in about 1600. Around the time the Separatist church started to come under more pressure and persecution from the authorities she had their third child, a daughter who they called Fear. Moving to Holland along with her husband she had a fourth unnamed child which they buried in Leiden. She gave birth to a son named Love in 1611 and to their last child, a son called Wrestling in 1612. She joined her husband William along with their two youngest sons, Love and Wrestling on the Mayflower. She died in 1627 having been one of five women to survive the first winter. The other children joined the family in America between 1621 and 1623.
William Bradford was born in Austerfield, Yorkshire. He was orphaned as a young boy and raised by his uncle, Robert Bradford. He was sickly as a boy and took to reading his bible. As he grew older he got to know the ministry of Richard Clyton and John Smith whose leadership would help form the Separatists churches in their area. By the age of 18 he joined the Separatists and fled England for Holland, first to Amsterdam and then Leiden. He married Dorothy in 1613. He became a widower in December 1620 and remarried in 1623. He became the second governor of Plymouth and was re-elected a number of times in the following years and played a key role in running the Colony. He had three children with his second wife. In 1630 he started writing a history of the Plymouth Colony which is a key source about the journey and colony and is the only one written by a Mayflower passenger. He died in 1657.
Dorothy Bradford was born in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire around 1597 and was the niece of William White. At the age of 23 she married William Bradford in 1613. Sometime around 1617 she gave birth to a son, John, in Leiden. When Dorothy and William joined the Mayflower voyage, they left their son in Leiden. After reaching America the Mayflower anchored off Provincetown Harbour on 11th November. Whilst William was out on one of the expeditions on the 7th December, Dorothy fell off the Mayflower into the freezing water and drowned. Their son, John, came to America later and married Martha Bourne.
William White was born in Wisbech moving to Holland when he was about 21. He later married Susanna Jackson in Holland. They had their first child, Resolved, in 1615. Their second child, Peregrine, was born on board the Mayflower in late November 1620 and was the first European to be born to the Pilgrims in America. He died during the first winter on the 21st February 1621
Susanna White (nee Jackson) was born in Scrooby. She moved to Amsterdam with her father and married William White. She joined her husband along with her oldest son, Resolved boarding the Mayflower whilst pregnant. She gave birth to Peregrine whilst at sea. Following the death of her husband she married Edward Winslow on 12th May 1621, the first marriage in the new Plymouth settlement.
Edward Thompson was in the care of the White family and under the age of 21. He sadly was the first passenger on the Mayflower to die after reaching Cape Cod on the 6th December 1620.
Willaim Butten was a youth and indentured servant, a form of work where there was no pay as such, of Samuel Fuller. He sadly never made it to America, dying 3 days before Cape Cod came into sight, on the 16th November 1620.
Christopher Martin was a non separtist and initial sailed on the Speedwell and later the Mayflower. He came from Great Burstead, Billericay, Essex. Whilst a churchwarden in Essex he refused to kneel at communion, a sign that he was abstaining from the rituals of the Church of England. This was a typical Puritan infraction. Church officials had issues with him for not providing financial accounts from his time as churchwarden and he went onto have problems with his finical records in his part of the Mayflower preparations. In 1617 and 1620 he sold of his land holdings in Great Burstead and purchased shares in the Pilgrim’s joint stock company. He was appointed by the congregation in Leiden along with John Carver and Robert Cushman to purchase goods and supplies in Southampton. He was asked to give an account of his spending when money ran short, to which he refused. Nonetheless he was appointed ‘governor’ on the Speedwell where he upset both crew and passengers. With the Speedwell having to stay behind he remained Governor of the Mayflower, a role he filed until the landing in America. Whilst in Essex he married a widower, Mrs Mary Prower and they had one son, Nathaniel, who stayed in England. Mary had a son, Solomon, who joined the voyage to America. Christopher, Mary and Solomon all died in the first winter.
Stephen Hopkins came from Hampshire and had previously been to America. Before his travels to America he had married Mary and they had had three children, Elizabeth, Constance and Giles. In 1609 he travelled to Jamestown, Virginia, on the ship Sea Venture. The ship was wrecked on the “Isle of Devils” (Bermuda) where he was stranded for ten months. After six months as a castaway the passengers and crew organised a mutiny against the governor. The mutiny was found out and Stephen was sentenced to death. He managed to get a pardon. The castaways eventually built themselves a ship and sailed to Jamestown. Whilst he was there his wife Mary, still in England, died. When he was back in England, he married Elizabeth Fisher and intended to take his family back to Jamestown. In 1620 he took his wife and children, Constance, Giles and Damaris (born to him by Elizabeth) on the Mayflower. His experience in Jamestown proved helpful to the colony and he was assistant governor through 1636. He died in 1644.
The journey took relatively few lives, but the first winter was more devastating with about half of the passengers dying. Nonetheless, a settlement was established and today many Americans are able to trace their ancestry back to some of these passengers.
These scenes were built by James Pegrum as part of a series of models on the voyage of the Mayflower. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see them first.
The Fifth of November,
Gunpowder treason and plot;
For I see no reason
Why Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.
Traditional Nursery Rhyme
On this day in 1605, Guy Fawkes was discovered in a cellar under the House of Lords with 36 barrels of gunpowder. He was there carrying out part of what is now known as the Gunpowder Plot, a failed attempt to assassinate King James I of England and VI of Scotland. The thwarting of the Plot is commemorated every year on Bonfire Night.
The plotters, who were led by Robert Catesby, were Catholics, who having suffered years of persecution under Elizabeth I had hoped James, who became king in 1603, would be better deposed to them. While initial signs were good, following an earlier failed plot and the need to satisfy the Puritans in his Parliament, in February 1604 the king publicly announced his 'utter detestation' of Catholicism. Consequently, Catholic hopes were not met and the Gunpowder plotters began to draw their plans.
The plan was to blow up the House of Lords during the State Opening of England's Parliament on 5 November 1605, at which James and many other important figures would be present. It would be a prelude to a popular revolt in the Midlands during which James's nine-year-old daughter, Princess Elizabeth, would be installed at the Catholic head of state.
The plotters leased a small house in the heart of Westminster, installing Fawkes as caretaker under the alias of John Johnson. In March 1605 the group took out another lease on a ground-floor cellar close by the house. The cellar lay directly beneath the House of Lords and over the following months, 36 barrels of gunpowder were moved in, enough to completely destroy the chamber above, if ignited. Fawkes, who had 10 years of military experience fighting in the Spanish military, was given charge of the explosives.
The plot was however revealed when an anonymous letter was sent on the 26th October to William Parker, Baron Monteagle, warning him to avoid the house on the 5th November. He took it to Cecil, Earl of Salisbury who was already aware of certain stirrings, but did not yet know the exact nature of the plot, or who exactly was involved. He therefore elected to wait to see how events would unfold. Searches of the House was ordered on the 5th; the first found a suspiciously large amount of firewood in one of the cellars. The second, at around midnight, found Fawkes and his gunpowder.
Fawkes was arrested immediately, although he gave only his alias. Another plotter, Thomas Percy, had already been linked with the cellar and house, and a warrant for his arrest was also issued. Fawkes was interrogated, however little had been learned by the following day and so James I gave permission to use torture, gradually 'proceeding to the worst'. It took several days to illicit any useful information, however on the 8th November, most of the other plotters were caught, while Catesby, Percy and two others were killed fighting in an attempt to evade capture. The last remaining plotter, Robert Wintour, was captured in the New Year.
At their trial on 27th January 1606, eight of the surviving plotters, including Fawkes, were convicted and sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered, which was carried out on the 30th and 31st.
The immediate impact on ordinary Catholics would be immense and last several centuries. New laws were passed preventing them from practising law, serving as officers in the military, or standing or voting in local or Parliamentary elections. At the same time, it didn't help the cause of the English Puritans (who James associated with the Scottish Presbyterians) and the banning of religious petitions that had taken effect at the Hampton Court Conference the previous year in 1604. Instead, in the short term it reinforced James' view that as monarch he would rule the church through the bishops, while in the longer term it led to the persecution of English Puritans which contributed to the Mayflower voyage.
The longer-term impact on the Catholics was that they became the scapegoat for many tragic events, including the Great Fire of London of 1666. While penal laws started to be dismantled from around 1766 , it would not be until the Roman Catholic Relief Act of 1829 that the most substantial restrictions would be lifted, including the right to vote. It was not until 2011 that the law barring a British monarch from marrying a Catholic was lifted, while the monarch cannot be a Catholic to this day
The conversion of James II of England and VII of Scotland to Catholicism in around 1668 and the prospect of a Catholic monarchy in England led directly to the Glorious Revolution of 1688 when William of Orange was invited to take the thrones. This in turn led to the Jacobite Risings, which took place between 1689 and 1746 and were Britain’s last civil wars. The Jacobite Risings were the subject of our big build of 2017, designed to coincide with Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology. You can see more on our portfolio page!
These scenes were built by James Pegrum as part of a series of models on British history. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see them first.
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