Facts About the Mayflower That Prove Most of Us Would Not Have Been Brave Enough

Photo of author

The Mayflower, the ship that carried the Pilgrims to the New World, is often romanticized in American history. However, the reality of the journey was far from idyllic. The conditions were harsh, the journey was perilous, and the future uncertain. Here are some often-overlooked facts about that famous voyage that prove most of us would have stayed put in Europe instead of willingly stepping foot aboard the Mayflower!

The Voyage Wasn’t Short

Mayflower replica 2 - DP
Image Credit: Deposit Photos.

The Mayflower’s voyage from England to the New World took 66 grueling days. The ship was constantly battered by strong winds and high seas, making the journey incredibly uncomfortable for the passengers.

Fun Fact: The Mayflower was originally supposed to sail in July 1620, but due to various delays, it didn’t leave England until September 6, 1620. This meant that the ship had to cross the Atlantic during the stormy autumn season.

Cramped Living Conditions

old sail boat
Image Credit: Deposit Photos.

The Mayflower was not a passenger ship, but a cargo ship. The living quarters were cramped, with approximately 102 passengers living in a space designed for transporting goods, not people.

Fun Fact: The living area for the passengers, known as the ‘tween deck, had no windows and was only about five and a half feet high. This meant that most adults couldn’t stand up straight.

Lack of Fresh Food and Water

Mayflower replica 3
Image Credit: Deposit Photos.

The diet on the Mayflower was far from appetizing. The passengers survived on a diet of hardtack (a type of dry biscuit), salted meats, and beer. Fresh food and water were scarce.

Fun Fact: The beer served on the Mayflower wasn’t like the beer we know today. It was a weak beer known as “small beer” that was safer to drink than water because the brewing process killed off bacteria.

Disease and Death

sailing ship's helm
Image Credit: Deposit Photos.

The conditions on the Mayflower led to disease and death. Many passengers fell ill during the voyage, and by the time the ship reached the New World, forty-five of the 102 passengers had died.

Fun Fact: The first death on the Mayflower was a young servant named William Butten, who died just three days before they sighted land.

The Landing Spot Wasn’t What Was Planned

Plymoth rock -
Image Credit: Deposit Photos.

The Pilgrims had intended to settle near the mouth of the Hudson River, but due to rough seas and the approaching winter, they decided to stay where they had landed, which is now known as Plymouth, Massachusetts.

Fun Fact: The Pilgrims chose Plymouth as their settlement spot because it had a good harbor and fields that had already been cleared by Native Americans.

The First Winter Was Brutal

Pilgrim women
Image Credit: Deposit Photos.

The first winter in the New World was harsh and deadly. The Pilgrims were not prepared for the cold and the snow, and many of them died from exposure, disease, and malnutrition.

Fun Fact: Only half of the Mayflower’s original passengers survived to see their first New England spring.

Native American Relations

native american teepees - DP
Image Credit: Deposit Photos.

The Pilgrims’ relationship with the Native Americans was complex and fraught with tension. While there were moments of cooperation and mutual assistance, there were also conflicts and misunderstandings.

Fun Fact: The Pilgrims’ first encounter with the Native Americans was an armed conflict known as the “First Encounter.”

The Mayflower Returns to England

old sail boat 2
Image Credit: Deposit Photos.

While the Pilgrims began their new lives in the New World, the Mayflower itself didn’t stick around for long. The ship set sail for England on April 5, 1621, leaving the settlers behind to fend for themselves.

However, it’s important to note that the passengers didn’t immediately move to their new settlement upon arrival. They lived on the ship for several months, from November 1620 to late March 1621, enduring the harsh winter conditions while they built their homes on land. This meant that the Pilgrims had to survive not only the perilous journey across the Atlantic but also several additional months living on the ship in the New World.

Fun Fact: The Mayflower’s return journey to England was far quicker than its journey to the New World. It took just over a month, thanks to favorable spring winds.

The Fate of the Mayflower

Mayflower 1620 structure - DP
Image Credit: Deposit Photos.

After its famous voyage, the Mayflower continued to be used as a cargo ship for a few more years before it was likely dismantled for scrap lumber.

Fun Fact: Despite its place in history, no one knows for sure what happened to the Mayflower. There are no records of it after 1624.

The Mayflower II

Mayflower replica 4
Image Credit: Deposit Photos.

In 1957, a replica of the Mayflower, known as the Mayflower II, was built and sailed from England to Plymouth, Massachusetts, to commemorate the original voyage.

Fun Fact: The Mayflower II was built in England using traditional methods and is now a popular tourist attraction in Plymouth.

The Legacy of the Mayflower

plymouth rock mass - DP
Image Credit: Deposit Photos.

The Mayflower’s voyage and the founding of Plymouth Colony are significant events in American history. They symbolize the courage, determination, and desire for religious freedom that characterized the early settlers.

Fun Fact: Descendants of the Mayflower’s passengers have formed a society known as the General Society of Mayflower Descendants. Some famous members include presidents John Adams, John Quincy Adams, and George Bush.

Facts About the Oregon Trail That Prove Most of Us Would Have Never Made It

Covered Wagon of the early Pioneers
Image Credit: Deposit Photos.

Picture setting off on an epic voyage that stretches over 2,000 formidable miles, peppered with perilous river fords, the challenge of food scarcity, the unyielding elements, and ever-looming health risks. You’ve just stepped into the boots of an Oregon Trail pioneer!

Facts About the Oregon Trail That Prove Most of Us Would Have Never Made It

Could You Have Done What Lewis and Clark Did? Probably Not and Here’s Why

Lewis and Clark 2- DP
Image Credit: Deposit Photos.

Lots of people are into hiking, although very few have the stamina to do what Lewis and Clark did. Can you even imagine making an 8,000-mile cross-country trek into unchartered territory? Take a minute to explore these 12 riveting realities of the Lewis and Clark expedition that will leave you questioning your own survival skills.

Could You Have Done What Lewis and Clark Did? Probably Not and Here’s Why

Facts About the “Greatest Generation” That Prove How Much We Owe Them

old man part of the greatest generation
Image Credit: Deposit Photos.

Every generation leaves its mark on history, but the Greatest Generation—those who faced the challenges of the early 20th century head-on—did more than just that. They carved out the world as we know it today. We owe them a lot, not just for their courage and resilience, but for setting a precedent that still guides us when dealing with life’s obstacles.

Facts About the “Greatest Generation” That Prove How Much We Owe Them

Boomer vs Gen Z Housewives: A Whimsical Comparison of Two Generations, United by Oven Mitts

smiling woman on pink background
Image Credit: Deposit Photos.

Once upon a time, the role of a housewife was as clearly defined as the grooves in a vinyl record. Fast forward to the 2020s, and the concept of a housewife has evolved into a multi-faceted, dynamic occupation.

Boomer vs Gen Z Housewives: A Whimsical Comparison of Two Generations, United by Oven Mitts

Step Into the Past: 10 American Ghost Towns to Explore

Ghost Town Train
Image Credit: Deposit Photos

While the United States may lack the ancient history of other nations, it certainly holds its own when it comes to ghost towns. As highlighted in a recent New York Times report, we’re talking about an impressive count of approximately 3,800 abandoned settlements.

Step Into the Past: 10 American Ghost Towns to Explore

This article was syndicated by Our Woven Journey. Featured Image Credit: Deposit Photos.

Website | + posts

Karee Blunt is a nationally syndicated travel journalist, focused on discovering destinations and experiences that captivate and inspire others through her writing. She is also the founder of Our Woven Journey, a travel site focused on inspiring others to create memory-making adventures with their loved ones. Karee is passionate about encouraging others to step out of their comfort zone and live the life they dream of. She is the mother of six kids, including four through adoption, and lives with her family in the Pacific Northwest. You can learn more about Karee on her about me page.