Mayflower was an English ship that transported a group of English families, known today as the Pilgrims, from England to the New World in 1620. After a grueling 10 weeks at sea, Mayflower, with 102 passengers and a crew of about 30, reached America, dropping anchor near the tip of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, on November 21 [O.S. November 11], 1620.

Mayflower at sea
NamesakeCrataegus monogyna (may)[1]
OwnerChristopher Jones (¼ of the ship)
Maiden voyageBefore 1609
Out of service1622–1624
FateMost likely taken apart by Rotherhithe shipbreaker c. 1624.
General characteristics
Class and typeDutch cargo fluyt
Tonnage180 tons +
Lengthc. 80–90 ft (24–27.5 m) on deck, 100–110 ft (30–33.5 m) overall.
DecksAround 4
CapacityUnknown, but carried c. 135 people to Plymouth Colony

Differing from their contemporaries, the Puritans (who sought to reform and purify the Church of England), the Pilgrims chose to separate themselves from the Church of England because they believed it was beyond redemption due to its Roman Catholic past and the church's resistance to reform, which forced them to pray in private. Starting 1608, a group of English families left England for the Netherlands, where they could worship freely. By 1620, the community determined to cross the Atlantic for America, which they considered a "new Promised Land," where they would establish Plymouth Colony.[2]:44

The Pilgrims had originally hoped to reach America by early October using two ships, but delays and complications meant they could use only one, Mayflower. Arriving in November, they had to survive unprepared through a harsh winter. As a result, only half of the original Pilgrims survived the first winter at Plymouth. Without the help of local Indigenous peoples to teach them food gathering and other survival skills, all of the colonists might have perished. The following year, they celebrated the colony's first fall harvest along with the Indigenous people, an occasion declared in centuries later the first American Thanksgiving.[3]

Before disembarking the Mayflower, the Pilgrims wrote and signed the Mayflower Compact, an agreement that established a rudimentary government, in which each member would contribute to the safety and welfare of the planned settlement. As one of the earliest colonial vessels, the ship has become a cultural icon in the history of the United States.[4] Celebrations for the 400th Anniversary of the landing were planned during 2020 in the U.S., United Kingdom and the Netherlands, but the COVID-19 pandemic put some of those plans on hold. The U.S. Postal Service issued a new Mayflower stamp which went on sale September 17, 2020.[5]