38 Mayflower Facts for Kids
The Mayflower was the name of the sailing vessel sailed from Great Britain to what is now the United States by the pilgrims in the 17th century. Have you ever wondered what such a journey would be like? Curious to learn more about the Mayflower as a ship? Here, we have collected a few cool facts about the Mayflower. Read on to learn more.
1. The journey of the Mayflower only occurred because the pilgrims desired the freedom to practice their religion without interference or prejudice in England.
2. To afford this journey (and the costs of hiring a ship like the Mayflower to take them to America) the pilgrims worked with business people in Holland. They promised that they would send back goods like lumber and furs to the business people up to 7 years after landing in North America.
3. The Mayflower set sail from Southampton, England in 1620. Although you never hear about it, another vessel was with the Mayflower at that time, and was named the Speedwell. The Mayflower and Speedwell would actually turn back twice due to complications before the Mayflower could start its journey in earnest.
4. Halfway through the journey, the Speedwell turned back due to leaks. A few of the passengers switched boats to continue the journey on the Mayflower when this happened.
5. Christopher Jones was the Mayflower’s captain. About 20-30 men made up his crew on the ship.
6. Not everyone aboard the Mayflower or the Speedwell was a member of the Separatists (the sect we now refer to as pilgrims). Some just wanted a new start in life, and were known as strangers.
7. Not all of the sailors on the ship liked the pilgrims. Nor did all the pilgrims like the sailors (or, at least, they did not like their salty language). One of the sailors that was particularly cruel to them because of their being seasick often actually died. The pilgrims felt it was God punishing the sailor for being so mean to them.
8. The pilgrims sailing the Mayflower were actually aiming to land in Virginia to make their new home. The King of England had given them permission to settle around the Hudson River (in what we now call the state of New York). However, the perilous journey threw them a bit off course.
9. During the journey, those on the Mayflower encountered storms, brought on during the autumn season.
10. Originally, the Mayflower was meant to transport goods for sale, not people, and was a merchant, not a passenger, vessel.
11. Believe it or not, the Mayflower was also one of the largest merchant vessels sailing at the time.
12. The Mayflower was powered entirely by wind. To do this, the Mayflower used 6 separate sails that were attached to three large masts on the boat.
13. 103 pilgrims journeyed from England to the New World on the ship.
14. In addition to these 103 humans, cats, dogs, sheep, chickens, goats, and other animals also made the long journey.
15. Each family on-board could only bring a single chest of belongings with them.
16. The entire journey took the pilgrims around 66 days to complete.
17. At least one passenger, John Howland, was nearly killed when a storm almost swept him off decks. He was able to grab hold of a rope and be pulled back aboard.
18. The entire boat nearly exploded when two small boys set a fire near a storage of gun powder.
19. The pilgrims spent most of their time below decks. They ate there, slept there, and lived there during the journey. There were no windows in this area. Mostly, it was cold, a bit damp, and dark.
20. Most of the pilgrims below decks slept directly on the floor. A few were lucky enough to have hammocks.
21. While on the Mayflower, there was no electricity, running water, or plumbing. Pilgrims used the restroom on a chamber pot.
22. Salt water from the ocean was sometimes used to rinse off the bodies of the pilgrims. This was probably the closest thing to a bath during the journey.
23. No one could wash their clothes until after the entire journey was over! Everyone wore the same clothes for the whole journey. After they landed, the women went to shore to wash clothes for their families.
24. Although there was a kitchen on the boat, most of the food that the Pilgrims ate while on the Mayflower consisted of things that would keep very easily, like oatmeal, ship’s biscuits, salted pork, cheese, beans, and fish.
25. Mostly, the pilgrims on the Mayflower drank beer. Including the kids! They did not drink much water on the journey.
26. A man above decks provided the helmsman, or “driver,” of the boat with information to help the helmsman steer the ship. Other than that, the helmsman had no way to steer even a very large ship like the Mayflower. The place where steerage was located was actually below decks!
27. The captain and officers of the ship lived in separate quarters below decks, known as The Great Cabin.
28. The Mayflower’s course was plotted by the captain using the stars. To do this, the captain had to go to the deck and do his best to calculate the longitude and latitude of the ship based upon its relative position to the stars, the skyline, etc. Two instruments that helped the captain complete this job were the cross-staff and quadrant. Doing this required a lot of patience and math skills.
29. A baby boy, named Oceanus, was actually born while the Mayflower was on the way to North America. After arriving in New England, another baby boy, named Peregrine, was born.
30. Plymouth was not the first place that the Mayflower landed in the New World. Instead, it was Cape Cod (around Provincetown) in the area we now call Massachusetts.
31. The Mayflower actually stopped in the Cape Cod area due to a lack of supplies.
32. The first document setting out rules and regulations for the Plymouth Colony, called the Mayflower Compact, was actually signed on board the vessel. This document also asked the King of England permission to settle in the area where they were, as opposed to settling along the Hudson River.
33. 41 men signed this document. Women would not have signed such a document during this period of history.
34. One of these men was Myles Standish, who would later become the military leader for the Plymouth colony. William Bradford, who would soon be governor of Plymouth, also signed this document.
35. It has been thought that the writing of the Mayflower Compact would later influence other very important documents such as the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.
36. For most of the first winter, the pilgrims actually lived in the ship. It was not until a bit later (December 26th) in the year that the sight for Plymouth was founded by a small search party looking for a suitable place for the Pilgrims to make their home.
37. The first winter was very difficult for the pilgrims while they lived on the ship. Nearly half of them would die from illness during just this season.
38. After the pilgrims had made it to the New World and established the colony at Plymouth (spelled Plimouth by them), the Mayflower returned to England for yet another journey elsewhere.