The Mayflower makes her first attempt to sail from England to the New World – On this day in history


05 August 2016
5-August-Mayflower-61205.jpg The Mayflower
On 5 August 1620, the Mayflower, carrying some of the English Separatists who were to become known as America's Pilgrim Fathers, departs from Southampton, but was forced to turn back...

On 5 August 1620, the Mayflower, carrying some of the first English Separatists seeking religious freedom – and later celebrated as America’s Pilgrim Fathers – departs from Southampton, England on her first aborted attempt to reach the New World, along with a ship of English migrants from The Netherlands, the Speedwell. However, the Speedwell proved unseaworthy and the ships had to pull into Dartmouth for repairs, setting sail again around 21 August. 

With the Speedwell still suffering leaks, the ships returned to Plymouth, England, and decided the Mayflower would go it alone, with some of the Speedwell’s cargo and passengers transferred.

Finally leaving in September, the Mayflower endured harsh seas to reach the shores of North America and eventually formed a colony in present-day Plymouth, New England. Although around half the original 102 passengers plus crew died in that first winter, the enduring story of the Mayflower is iconic in American history and culture, with the surviving colonists establishing religious freedom and an early form of democracy.

The Mayflower’s passengers included others wishing to leave England so only 41 were, in the end, Separatists, but all became known as Pilgrim Fathers.

Many Americans today can trace their ancestry back to one or more of the Pilgrim Fathers. Are you related? Find the General Society of Mayflower Descendants at

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Search a list of those who sailed from Southampton via the Hampshire History website at

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