By AZEL AMES, M.D.
Member of Pilgrim Society, etc.
"Next to the fugitives whom Moses led out of Egypt, the little
shipload of outcasts who landed at Plymouth are destined to
influence the future of the world."
JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL
O civilized humanity, world-wide, and especially to the descendants of
the Pilgrims who, in 1620, laid on New England shores the foundations of
that civil and religious freedom upon which has been built a refuge for
the oppressed of every land, the story of the Pilgrim "Exodus" has an
ever-increasing value and zest. The little we know of the inception,
development, and vicissitudes of their bold scheme of colonization in the
American wilderness only serves to sharpen the appetite for more.
Every detail and circumstance which relates to their preparations; to the
ships which carried them; to the personnel of the Merchant Adventurers
associated with them, and to that of the colonists themselves; to what
befell them; to their final embarkation on their lone ship, - the immortal
MAY-FLOWER; and to the voyage itself and to its issues, is vested to-day
with, a supreme interest, and over them all rests a glamour peculiarly
For every grain of added knowledge that can be gleaned concerning the
Pilgrim sires from any field, their children are ever grateful, and
whoever can add a well-attested line to their all-too-meagre annals is
regarded by them, indeed by all, a benefactor.
Of those all-important factors in the chronicles of the "Exodus," - the
Pilgrim ships, of which the MAY-FLOWER alone crossed the seas, - and of
the voyage itself, there is still but far too little known. Of even this
little, the larger part has not hitherto been readily accessible, or in
form available for ready reference to the many who eagerly seize upon
every crumb of new-found data concerning these pious and intrepid
To such there can be no need to recite here the principal and familiar
facts of the organization of the English "Separatist" congregation under
John Robinson; of its emigration to Holland under persecution of the
Bishops; of its residence and unique history at Leyden; of the broad
outlook of its members upon the future, and their resultant determination
to cross the sea to secure larger life and liberty; and of their initial
labors to that end. We find these Leyden Pilgrims in the early summer of
1620, their plans fairly matured and their agreements between themselves
and with their merchant associates practically concluded, urging forward
their preparations for departure; impatient of the delays and
disappointments which befell, and anxiously seeking shipping for their
long and hazardous voyage.
It is to what concerns their ships, and especially that one which has
passed into history as "the Pilgrim bark," the MAY-FLOWER, and to her
pregnant voyage, that the succeeding chapters chiefly relate. In them the
effort has been made to bring together in sequential relation, from many
and widely scattered sources, everything germane that diligent and
faithful research could discover, or the careful study and re-analysis of
known data determine.