The People of Plymouth


The Pilgrims were a group of people who wished to separate from the Church of England. Motivated by a quest for religious freedom, they moved to Holland in 1607-1608, and continued on to America in 1620. They were originally called “Separatists” and “First Comers”. They were not known as pilgrims until the early 1800s.

This group of people arrived at Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1620. The place where they first set foot on shore is now marked as Plymouth Rock. Who were the people of Plymouth?

John Alden is said to be the first passenger of the Mayflower to set foot on Plymouth Rock. He was hired as a barrel maker and was only around 21 years old at the time. In The Courtship of Miles Standish, Henry Wordsworth Longfellow writes about the love triangle between John Alden, Myles Standish, and Priscilla Mullins.

The other party in the love triangle, Myles Standish, was the military leader of the colony. He was invited by the pilgrims to command and train their militia in the new world. Myles Standish was well-known for his short stature, as well as for his military skill and bravery.

The Mayflower Compact was a written agreement drawn up by the new settlers which established fair and equal laws. It also established that the colony was to be free of English law. It was signed by all 41 adult male members on the Mayflower.

The first governor of Plymouth County was John Carver. Carver was a Separatist and very critical of the Church of England. He was one of a group of Separatists who left England for Holland, but when they were unhappy there, headed for America. One hundred two people boarded the Mayflower and set sail for America. The pilgrims intended to live on fish they caught from the sea, but half of them died of starvation or disease. Carver died five months after arriving in America.

The next governor of the colony was William Bradford. After John Carver died, Bradford was elected governor thirty times. He was very actively involved in running the colony and helped develop policies for court, laws, and the colony’s finances. He wrote a history of the colony which is published under the title Of Plymouth Plantation.

William Brewster was instrumental in establishing the Separatist church. He became a much-loved and respected religious leader of the colony. He continued his work as Church Elder throughout his life.

The third governor of the colony was Edward Winslow. He arrived with his brother Gilbert on the Mayflower in 1620.

For more information on the pilgrims and the people who travelled on the Mayflower, visit the following sources:

· Ron Collins has written A Brief History of the Pilgrims.

· Learn about life in Plymouth, including houses, food, clothing, animals, and religion.

· Pilgrim history is a portion of a book written by R. Walton.