Mayflower facts and trivia:

Two ships were originally scheduled to bring the group to America: the Speedwell and the Mayflower. But the Speedwell developed leaks, and the group had to turn back twice, so it was decided to put all the passengers on the Mayflower. The ship finally left England on Sept. 6, 1620.

There were 102 passengers aboard (three of whom were pregnant women) and a crew of 30. A son, named Oceanus, was born to Elizabeth Hopkins during the voyage.

The first half of the journey had good winds and weather, but fierce storms developed about mid-voyage. One swept a passenger named John Howland overboard, but he was able to grab on to some ropes and hang on until the crew could rescue him. Howland went on to live a long life and was ancestor to many people, including Presidents Franklin Roosevelt and George Bush, actor Humphrey Bogart and Mormon prophet Joseph Smith.

Only one person died during the voyage: William Button, a young boy who had come on the ship in the custody of doctor Samuel Fuller.

After traveling 2,750 miles, at an average speed of 2 mph, and after more than two months at sea, the Mayflower anchored in what is now Provincetown Harbor on Nov. 11, 1620.

The original intent of the group was to settle further south, but the first land they spotted turned out to be Cape Cod. When attempts to go further south proved too dangerous, they opted to stay in the Cape Cod area.

They technically did not have permission from the King of England to settle in what would be the Massachusetts Colony, so they drew up the "Mayflower Compact" to give themselves authority to establish a government until an official patent could be obtained. The compact is considered the first written declaration of self-government in the New World and a precursor to the U.S. Constitution.

Of the 102 passengers, only 29 are currently known to have descendants.


Are you the descendant of a Mayflower pilgrim?

To join the General Society of Mayflower Descendants, you must document your direct, parent-to-child lineage from a Mayflower passenger. Acceptable primary sources of documentation include birth, marriage and death records; church and Bible records; marriage bonds and licenses; cemetery records; probate records, deeds and wills; published books and genealogies and other such records. Family group sheets, ancestral files and pedigree charts and family lore are not accepted.

Once your documents bring you within five generations of your Mayflower ancestor, the "Silver Books," published by the General Society of Mayflower Descendants, can usually supply the information required for the rest of your line.

The website of the Utah Mayflower Society — — provides other tips and suggestions on researching your ancestors. Other resources on the Internet include, the official website of the Family History Library of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints;, website of the new England Historic Genealogical Society, which is the oldest genealogical society in the country;, with more than 200,000 links to various genealogical resources.



According to "The Records of the Governor and Company of the Massachusetts Bay in New England," necessary provisions for 100 passengers and 35 returning mariners going to New England in 1629 aboard a ship called Talbot included the following. The Mayflower would have had a similar cargo:

45 tuns beere (tun is a barrel size)

Malaga and Canari 16 a tun (kinds of wine)

6 tuns of water

12 M bread, after 3/4 C. to a man (M=1,000 pounds, C=100 pounds)

22 hheds (hogshead, a barrel size) of bieffe

40 bushells peas, a peck a man ye voyadg

20 bushells oatmeale

14 C. haberdyne (a kind of fish)

8 dussen pounds of candles

2 terces (a barrel size) of beere vyneger

1½ bushels mustard seede

20 gallons oyle, Gallipoly or Mayorke, a qrt a man

2 firkins (a barrel size) of soape

2 runlett (a barrel size) Spanish wine, 10 galls a.p.

4 thowsand of billets (firewood)

10 firkins of butter

10 C. cheese

20 gallons aquavite (a type of liquor)


Picture books about pilgrims

"Felix and His Mayflower II Adventures," by Peter Arenstam

"How Chipmunk Got His Stripes," by Joseph Bruchac

"M is for Mayflower," by Margot Theis Raven

"Three Young Pilgrims," Cheryl Harness


Books for older children

"Mayflower and the Pilgrim's New World," by Nathaniel Philbrick

"National Geographic: Pilgrims of Plymouth," by Susan E. Goodman

"Mayflower 1620: A New Look at a Pilgrim Voyage," by Peter Arenstam

Other resources and fun activities for children can be found at


A brief history of John Alden

John Alden hired on to the Mayflower as a 21- or 22-year old cooper. It was required by law for any ship carrying passengers to hire a cooper to tend to the casks and barrels of food and drink. Alden's job was to ensure that there was no leakage and that seawater did not get into barrels to contaminate the contents.

After the Mayflower landed, Alden was given the choice of returning to England, but he chose to stay where he could own land and have a better future for himself. He was not originally a member of the church but later became one of the religious group.

He married Priscilla Mullins, and their first home was in the stockade of the Plimoth Plantation. The family later built a permanent home on 100 acres granted to them in nearby Duxbury. Because he could read and write, his abilities were much prized in the colony. Alden died in 1688.