Following on the publication of The Last Pilgrim, I am re-posting the sad story of the fate of the Mayflower.
The Mayflower II at Sate Pier in Plymouth in 2014, looking a bit worse for the wear
I was a young girl when the Mayflower II, a precise replica of the original 17th-century ship built in Devon, England, during 1955–1956, arrived in Plymouth Harbor in the spring of 1957. My father took us out in a boat to welcome her home. The Mayflower II was moored at State Pier in Plymouth Harbor and open to visitors until 2016, when she was towed to Mystic, Connecticut, for some long-overdue and extensive repairs.
The newly re-built Mayflower II has been launched and will be back in Plymouth for the quadricentennial celebrations. I am lucky enough to have a piece of one of the original sails of Mayflower II, given to me by the sail master who sewed the new sails.
The refurbished Mayflower II prior to launch.
After launch. Note how small the ship is.
The Mayflower is an iconic ship in the history of America, but did you know it never returned to the New World after it left the Plymouth Colony on April 5, 1621?
Her captain, Christopher Jones, bought the Mayflower in 1607, together with several business partners. She was a cargo ship, capable of carrying up to 180 tons, and at different time carried lumber, tar, fish, French wine, Cognac, vinegar, or salt.
The home of Master Christopher Jones in Harwich, England
After returning from a voyage to Bordeaux, France, in May 1620, the Mayflower and its master were hired to take the Pilgrims to Northern Virginia. This was the first recorded trans-Atlantic voyage for both ship and Jones although several crew members had been to the New World before.
The delayed sailing in the fall of 1620 and the damage done by storms in the crossing, plus the time it took to locate a suitable site for the Pilgrims’ colony, meant the Mayflower had to over-winter in Plymouth Harbor, where half of her crew was lost to disease. You can read all about the voyage and that first winter in The Last Pilgrim.
The Mayflower arrived back in England on May 6, 1621. Christopher Jones took the ship out for a few more trading runs, but he died a couple of years later in March 1622. His widow, Josian, inherited the Mayflower, and the ship was appraised for probate purposed in May 1624. At that time it was referred to as being “in ruins” and was only valued at 128 pounds sterling. The Mayflower was almost certainly broken up and sold off as scrap.
A sad end for this historic lady, but at the time the Mayflowers’s place in history had not yet been recognized.
The “Mayflower Barn” in Jordans, England, was identified in the 1920s as having been made from the remnants of the Mayflower. The evidence is entirely unconvincing, but that has not stopped it from becoming a tourist attraction nonetheless.