If you have been following our blog over the last twelve months you may remember that we joined in the celebrations of the 400-year anniversary of the Mayflower voyage (from England to New England, America) looking at some of the events before, during and after the journey across the Atlantic. If you missed any of these you can see them in our archive.
When we last left the Mayflower, her crew and passengers had anchored in Plymouth Harbour in the middle of December 1620. In the following weeks they battled against the cold weather and went about the start of constructing their new homes. The first house, timber frame with wattle and daub walls, was built slowly over two weeks. Slowly the settlement took shape with more homes being built along with a wooden platform to support a cannon on the nearby Fort Hill.
The winter took its toll on the Pilgrims and Passengers. There was a lack of shelter, poor living conditions on board the Mayflower and disease. Of the 102 passengers. 45 died that winter. Many were too poorly and weak to help with the construction of the new settlement. Plans had aimed to construct 19 homes, however they were only able to complete seven residences and four common houses. It was enough though to unload the provisions from the Mayflower.
During these weeks of hard toil they also had several intense encounters with the Native Americans and so by mid-February they organised themselves into military orders. To lead the militia they appointed on 17th February, Myles Standish as the colony’s first commander. His name may stand out, with good reason, as he had played a key role in the three expeditions in the months leading up to the decision to settle in Plymouth. He had been hired by the Pilgrims as a military adviser back in the Netherlands, where he had been living in Leiden, possibly after having served in the English forces supporting the Dutch in the Eighty Years' War.
During his years as a solider in New England, the Plymouth colony would continue to re-elect him. His military leadership was to have a significant impact on its future and its relationship with the native people. He retired from service in 1640’s and went onto live in the town of Duxbury where he died in 1656, aged 72.
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.
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