The Pilgrims

Who were the Pilgrims?

The Pilgrims were a group of English people who left England behind and came to America in 1620. They are very famous because they were only the second ever group of English people who reached America and successfully established a new colony.

The Mayflower 1620

The Mayflower was the famous ship that transported the Pilgrims from Plymouth to the ‘New World’ Now known as American in 1620, this ship carried around 102 passengers and there were also 30 crewe members, the passengers were also known as the first English Puritans to arrive in America.

This colony they established at the present-day county of Plymouth in Massachusetts. The total number of pilgrims who arrived at Plymouth to establish a new colony was 102. They left Europe in September 1620 and after travelling for 65 days, reached America in November 1620.

Where did the Pilgrims come from?

In the group of 102 people who were later called the Pilgrims, 35 were of the English Separatist Church. They didn’t follow the Church of England, so the King of England persecuted them. As a result, they first moved away from England in 1607 and came to Netherlands.

Here, they faced no persecution but they feared that they would lose their English cultural identity. So they decided to sail across the seas and establish their own colony in the New World (American continent was called the New World).

Why did the Pilgrims Want to Settle in the New World?

The most important purpose of the Pilgrims was to come to America and establish their own colony. They did this so that they could follow their own Church, stick to their English culture and not face any persecutions or problems.

So they persuaded a group of London investors to procure a ship for them and send them to America. At first, two ships carrying the Pilgrims set sail from Netherlands but one of the ships was found to be leaking, so only one ship then sailed to America.

After the Arrival

After a long journey of 65 days, the Pilgrims arrived in America in mid-November, 1620.

They reached modern-day Plymouth and anchored on the harbour. Here, they had no houses, no food and no one to take help from. Initially, they spent some time on the ship but later, they started venturing on the land to find some food.

Slowly, they built a settlement with a watchtower and houses but they still didn’t have enough food. They were helped by the native Indians who already lived in the area.

The Indians provided them foodstuffs and later helped them grow corn so that the Pilgrims could grow their food on their own.

Turning into a large colony

During the first winter after their arrival, half of the Pilgrims died due to hunger, cold and starvation. The rest survived despite suffering from many diseases. In 1621, William Bradford was chosen as the leader of the Pilgrims.

From 1621 until 1656, he served as the governor of the Plymouth colony. As the Pilgrims continued to live in Plymouth, more people arrived to occupy the colony. The first group of Pilgrims also increased in size.

By 1656, there were thousands of people in the Plymouth colony. The Pilgrims expanded significantly, occupying a large portion of land as more and more people came to live in the colony.

This brought the Pilgrims into conflict with the native Indians and the Plymouth colony lost thousands of men in the fight. Later on in 1692, the colony became a part of Massachusetts.

American Experience: The Pilgrims