What Ships Came to Plymouth After the Mayflower?

Most people know the story of the Mayflower and the first Pilgrims, but I doubt many know ‘what happened next.’ It was not all good.

Because the Plymouth colony was financed by London-based Merchant Adventurers, who expected some return on their investment, other ships sailed to the New World. In the fall of 1621, the Fortune became the second ship after the Mayflower to make the voyage. Fortune was much smaller than the Mayflower and transported only 35 settlers to the colony, arriving – as had its sister ship – in November, one year later. The ship had been unexpected and it brought no supplies, straining the resource of the colony. It did bring useful settlers, many of whom were young men. The Fortune stayed only three weeks, returning to England with good tail winds in December, and loaded with furs and other goods.

Image result for Pictures of the ship Fortune

Fortune was captured by a French warship and ended up back in London in February of 1622, but without its cargo.  The Merchant Adventurers thus lost their investment for the time being, but some of the passengers on the Fortune would come to play major roles in the history of the colony.

The leader of these passengers was Robert Cushman, who had been the Leiden agent for the Mayflower and Speedwell. He sailed with his son Thomas, whom he left in the care of William Bradford, when he returned to England. Thomas would become the husband of Mary Allerton, the woman whose life I am attempting to recreate. Although Bradford stated that there were thirty-five persons on board Fortune, the names of only twenty-eight persons arriving on the Fortune received lots of land in the 1623 Division of Land.

In 1623 the ships Anne and Little James were the third and fourth ships financed by the London-based Merchant Adventurers sailed to the New World. Anne carried mostly passengers, and the much smaller Little James carried primarily cargo, with a few passengers. After a stormy three-month voyage, Anne arrived at in early July 1623, with the Little James a week or so later.

Pictures of the Anne

Image result for Pictures of the ship Anne

Between them, 90-odd new settlers arrived, along with about thirty others who were not part of the core emigrant group. Some of this emigrant contingent would be judged unfit for the hardships of colony life and be sent back to England.

Little James was sent with the specific purposes of bringing back furs, but things did not go as hoped, so she sailed around Cape Cod as far as what is now Rhode Island, seeking Indian trade relations. Unfortunately, the captain did not have the quality trade goods that the natives wanted in exchange for furs and he was supplanted by very active Dutch traders, who could pay the natives a better price.

When Little James arrived back from Rhode Island and anchored at the entrance to Plymouth harbor, a storm ripped her anchors and drove the ship toward a dangerous sand bank. The crew had to chop down the mainmast and cut away rigging to save the ship. The company was forced to provide Little James with a new mast, and refit her with anchors and rigging. Throughouit the freezing winter of 1623, the crew had to exist on short rations with only cold water to drink, when alcohol was the drink of choice at the time. Discipline on Little James collapsed completely. In the spring of 1624, her captain took the ship to Maine where the crew mutinied and sent the captain back to Plymouth in a small boat. Ultimately, the Little James wrecked during a storm in Maine and once again the colonists made the repairs to make her seaworthy. William Bradford decided to send the ship and its angry crew back to London.

The Charity, which arrived in March of 1624, brought three heifers and a bull, the first of any cattle in the colony.   According to Captain John Smith of Jamestown fame who visited in 1624, there were about 180 people, some cattle and goats, and many pigs and poultry living in Plymouth. There were 32 dwelling houses stretching for about half a mile, and above the town on a high hill was a fort built with wood, loam and stone, containing cannon. The colonists had also made a saltwork, in order to salt and thus preserve the fish they caught to send back to London.



40 thoughts on “What Ships Came to Plymouth After the Mayflower?”

        1. I am enjoying the research, but I do have a sort of deadline: 2020, the quadricentennial of the 1620 landing. Not sure I will make it – I do enjoy writing my mysteries.

      1. Of course one of the reasons for drinking alcohol was that it was either distilled or brewed, and therefore much cleaner and less hazardous to health (despite the side effects) than dirty water!

        1. I think it was a lot like the 3.2 beer they sold to kids between 18 and 21 when I was a kid. But yes, the beer was heathier for them. One of the few survivors at Jamestown during the first year survived because he drank only beer and lived apart from the rest of the colonists.

    1. Tina, the Puritans were a different sect from the Pilgrims – non-separatists who remained part of the Church of England but wanted more reforms and were persecuted for that. They first came to New England to an area which would become Boston in 1629 on the Arabella and three other ships. Then they came in many thousands between 1630-1640, forming the Massachusetts Bay Colony and several other towns in the area. In 1700, the Plymouth Colony became subsumed into the spreading settlements from the north. .
      PS There apparently was a small settlement in Salem, founded in 1626, but struggling until the 1629 contingent of Puritans arrived.

      1. Are you going as far as 1634? Maybe a little less?
        My 9th gg had land in Braintree by 1634 then sold it moved to Farmington CT where he bought swamp land. We suspect he was a basketweaver. Thomas Bird and wife Mary died in 1662 and are buried in “The OLD cemetery” in Hartford CT
        …Jack Burd, Saginaw Michigan

    1. Of course! Just came back from a week of researching in Plymouth and environs – learned a lot and even attended an archeology lecture. I’m almost halfway through with my historical novel and enjoying every minute of it!

    1. Then you’ll probably like the book I am currently writing – The Last Pilgrim – the story of Mary Allerton Cushman, the longest surviving passenger on the Mayflower. I think it may be the f irst book written from a Pilgrim woman’s point of view.

      1. Good for you. It is time history had a woman’s point of view. I recently finished a novel on Alexander Hamilton written from his wife, Elizabeth’s, point of view (based on their letters to each other). I would love to follow you and read your writings.

        1. Thanks for reading my scribblings. I’ll have more excerpts from my book as I get anywhere close to publication time. So far the reaction has been positive, which is great since this is my first foray into historical fiction – I’m a mystery writer at heart.

    1. They are labelled as such but the design could be any ship of that era, even the Mayflower. I’m waiting to welcome home the refurbished Mayflower next year!

    2. Jami Nicole Williams

      Hi Debbie, did your family sail on The Anne? would be interested if so and any information you may have gathered. (My Sprague family was on that ship.) thanks for any history you may have.

  1. petespringerauthor

    Good stuff, Noelle. I had never heard this part of the story. Part of the beauty of history is learning about these lesser-known tales.

    1. Thanks much! I’m doing posts on the settling of the Plymouth Colony as a way to build up interest in my forthcoming (next year) book on one of the Pilgrim women.

  2. Jami Nicole Williams

    Thanks so much for sharing, especially the pictures of The Anne! My Sprague family (Francis Sprague) came over on that ship. I have a few tales to tell, my family definitely was not the Puritan type. Aunt Mercy Sprague was “reprimanded” for “Mixed Dancing” in a tavern and at another time was ordered to return home to her husband, which she didn’t. I look forward to reading the various posts to gather more info. Thanks for sharing!

    1. You’re most welcome. The voyagers on the Anne were MOST welcome to the colony, since at that time there were only 4 or 5 adult women managing for everyone!

      1. Hi…what great info! I’m trying to research ancestors that came on the Anne, either Godbert Godbertson or Cuthbert Cuthbertson, I’very seen both . I’m a Cuthbertson, relatives from North Carolina. This is both fun and frustrating!!

    2. Godbert Godbertson came on the Anne with his wife and his wife’s children from a former marriage and one son of his, Godbert Jr. His wife was the sister of Isaac Allerton, who had been married to Degory Priest, who came alone on the Mayflower but died the first winter. They figure into my now-being-edited book, The Last Pilgrim. I am not sure about the name Cuthbertson.

  3. Keith Wichterman MD

    We really appreciated the succinct and clear history lesson. Please ensure we might know soon as your book on Mary Allerton is available. Look forward to reading it.

    1. The book is out and available on Amazon – paperback or Kindle. The title is The Last Pilgrim. Reviews have been excellent, just not enough of them.

  4. William Clark

    Just read your book. I really enjoyed it and I was sorry it had to end. I am a casual history and genealogy buff and an indirect decendant of Mary, so I found it even more interesting. You must have done an immense amount of research for this book.

    1. I am delighted you liked the book. Yes, I spent four years+ researching as I wrote chapter by chapter, then went back and rewrote. Living in Plymouth and working at what was then Plymouth Plantation, I was more or less steeped in Pilgrim affairs – but I discovered how little I actually knew when I started researching!

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