History of the "MayFlower"
We all take for granted the Mayflower carried
the Pilgrims to the New World, but it would appear this name was used
on many vessels working in the UK.
Over 26 vessels of that name, have been listed in Port documents between
1550 and 1620.
The name "May Flower" was chosen, as it was considered a lucky
plant to 16th & 17th century Mariners.
Out of all these vessels, which was the
genuine one which set sail from Plymouth ?
The name 'Mayflower' was, in fact, very
common in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Besides Scottish and
Irish 'Mayflowers,' of which there were several, there were 'Mayflowers'
belonging to almost every port in England
There were MayFlowers of Aldeburgh, Brightlingsea, Bristol, Chester, Dover,
Grimsby, Looe, Lyme, Lynn, Maidstone, Millbrook, Newcastle, Plymouth,
Portland, Rye, St. Ives, Sandwich, Scarborough, Shoreham, Southwold, Stockton,
Stonehouse, Swansea, York, Weymouth, and Whitby. (total 26)
Although the same ship is not always described as belonging to the same
port, some of the larger ports such as Ipswich, London, Newcastle, and
Yarmouth, possessed two or even several 'Mayflowers' apiece.
There may well have been forty or fifty 'Mayflowers' existing between
1550 and 1700.
The same ship is frequently described as
belonging to different ports. Christopher Jones's 'Mayflower' is described
some times as 'of London' and twice as 'of Harwich.' She may nevertheless
have been owned in Aldeburgh, Ipswich, or elsewhere.
||As regards her connection
with Harwich, the port is frequently used by ships bound either to
Ipswich or to Aldeburgh.
It`s located at the entrance to the River Orwell which flows onwards
to the Port of Ipswich
Likewise, vessels wait at Harwich until the high tide, when they can
cross the sand bank at Orford Haven on route to the River Alde and
R.G.Marsden in his book, mentions that
"Master Jones and his ship were Whaling at Cherrie Island".
He also states, there were other indications pointing to the conclusion
that Jones`s Mayflower may have been a "Whaler" before 1610.
Other documents revealed that the Mayflower was purchased from the "Greenland
Whale Fishery Company", who had used Harwich as its home base during
the Whaling season.
So we can safely conclude, that the "Mayflower"
was most likely a Whaler before she was acquired by Christopher Jones,
to work from the Port of Harwich.
Master of the MayFlower
Now let us turn to the Master of the ship, Christopher Jones.
The Harwich Society publishes this report of his wedding:-
Few of the guests gathered for the wedding
at St Nicholas Church, Harwich on December 23rd 1593 would have had any
inkling that the bridegroom was to become a figure of international and
historical importance. The young mariner was Christopher Jones and his
bride to be Sara Twitt, the 17 year old daughter of his neighbour across
Admiralty records indicate on 14 Jan. 1610,
Christopher Jones is described as of Harwich, and his ship is called the
'Mayflower' of Harwich.
In 1613 the 'Mayflower,' Christopher Jones as Master, was twice in the
Thames, once in July and again in October and November.
Again the Admiralty Court records in 1620 documents, Christopher Jones
as "Master" and his 'Mayflower.'
So in conclusion, we have the MayFlower documented as a Harwich Vessel
with its Master also living in Harwich.
Christopher Jones instead of carrying wine
and other goods, on this journey would be fare paying passengers.
The responsibility was enormous and
little did he know, how important the journey ahead would be for generations
Indeed, just one wrong decision and the course of History would have been
changed for ever.
Researched Alan Beales
This information has been supplied
Download:- The Genuine MayFlower by R.G.Marsden
Mayflower of Harwich by Paul Simmons
Christopher Jones courtesy of the Harwich Society
USA Connections with acknowledgment to
( Mass) Globe Newspaper 2013
updated 11/12/2016, Project on hold
Update 17/08/2017 Harwich Project appears abandoned