A group of Separatist from the Church of England, later named Pilgrims, left England for Holland in 1608 in settled in Leiden in 1609. After staying there for 11 years, the group sailed back to England on the ship Speedwell, where they joined by more immigrants along with a larger ship, the Mayflower. Although both ships set out together, the Speedwell was unable to continue, but the Mayflower left from Plymouth, England, for America on September 6th, 1620 with 102 passengers. After a voyage of 66 days, they cited the coast of Cape Cod on November 9th, turned South and sailed past this spot in an attempt to reach that original destination of the Hudson River. About 9 miles south east of here the shoal of Pollack Rip forced the Mayflower to turn back and head north, passing this spot again. The ship continued north in search of a safe harbor and on November 11th came around the tip of Cape Cod anchored in what is now Provincetown Harbor.
Because the Pilgrims decided to settle outside the limits of their charter, they believed a written document was needed for self government of the new colony. Thus, the Mayflower Compact was written.
After staying in Provincetown Harbor for five weeks, the Pilgrims sailed across Cape Cod Bay and made a permanent settlement in Plymouth in December, 1620.
Chatham profoundly shaped Pilgrim history because of its dangerous waters offshore. Had the Mayflower been able to continue to the Hudson River area, there would be no Cape Cod, Plymouth or New England Pilgrim story. Nor would there have been a Mayflower Compact, the first self governing document written in the New World.
The story the Mayflower voyage and Cape Cod Pilgrim history is told at the Pilgrim Monument and Museum in Provincetown.
Photo by Sandra Hughes, HMDB.org
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