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What happened on the Mayflower in March 1621?

Updated: Aug 17, 2023

Mayflower visual story teller and author of the 'Voices of Mayflower', Richard Holledge, shares significant events in the Mayflower's history from March and April 1621, exactly 399 years ago.

Mayflower ship from Caleb Johnsons's 'Mayflower history'

This very evocative painting of unloading the ship comes from Caleb Johnson’s book, 'Mayflower History'.

On March 21, 1621, the last of the Mayflower's passengers, mostly women, left the ship and joined the rest of the settlers on dry land where, miraculously, considering how depleted by death they were, they had managed to build 19 dwellings.

Only five women had survived the winter. Some suggest that so many women died in the weeks after the landing because they had been forced to spend more time in the dark, damp hold of the ship while the men were on the land building their new homes.

The next significant date came just three weeks later on April 5, with the departure of the Mayflower back to England, to the great relief of the surviving crew who had also lost half their number since making land.

The skipper, Christopher Jones, had delayed returning to England because his human cargo were in such poor shape and he had agreed to see them through the worst of that deadly winter. Needless to say, he and his colourful crew play quite a part in ‘Voices of the Mayflower’ - rough, tough men of the world, two of whom had sailed to New England before.

Jones and the Mayflower went back to working in the French wine trade, but Jones died just a year later, and was buried at Rotherhithe just outside London on March 5, 1622, leaving a widow and seven children.

Some accounts have it that the Mayflower was sold for precisely £128, eight shillings and fourpence.

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