Being of course Canadian, my American history is at best foggy.  Other than studying for my citizenship test, I have learned very little about good ole’ Americolgy.  So doing my civic duty I have learned some interesting things about the voyage of the largely unknown partner ship of the Mayflower; the Speedwell.  

Initially, the plan was for the voyage to be made in two vessels, the other being the smaller Speedwell, Separatists bought the ship Speedwell in Holland, and boarded it at Delfshaven. They then sailed to SouthamptonEngland to meet the Mayflower, which had been chartered by the merchant investors. In Southampton they joined with other Separatists and the additional colonists hired by the investors.

The two ships began the voyage on August 51620, but the Speedwell was leaky and returned to Dartmouth to be refitted at great expense and time. On the second attempt, Mayflower and Speedwell sailed about 100 leagues beyond Land’s End in Cornwall, but the Speedwell was again found to be leaky. Both vessels returned to Plymouth where the Speedwell was sold.

It would later be revealed that there was in fact nothing wrong with the ship. The crew had sabotaged it in order to escape the year long commitment of their contract.

Eleven people from the Speedwell boarded the Mayflower, leaving 20 people to return to London while a combined company of 103 continued the voyage. For a third time, the Mayflower headed for the New World.

Source: Wikipedia

Now the rest of the story…  The story (or the myth) of what happened to those who braved the Atlantic was they landed at Plymouth Rock and had a hearty turkey dinner together with the local natives and lived happily ever after in this great land of America.  

True history reveals that only 53 of the original 102 passengers actually survived and were able to call the new frontier home.  Half of the wide eyed adventurers had met their end being ravaged by various contagious diseases such as scurry, pneumenia and tuberculoisis.

But back to those 20 passengers on the Speedwell who chose, well, they chose to go home.  Back to their homes, back to warmth of their fireplace hearths, the comfort of a land that was known.  

Now being the arm chair history quarterback perched on the edge of the Wikipedia universe it is easy for me to see how fortunate those 20 were.  Saved from uncertainty, saved from unease, saved from disease, death and loss.

But I also see how they were saved from the adventure of a lifetime, the chance to make history, the challenge of the unknown, the uncertain and the unseen.  

So for half of the passengers of the Mayflower their end was death, but it was death in the pursuit of something, something greater, something undefined by the conventions of the times.  They died breaking into the New Frontier.  

 History always teaches us that,

“Nothing of the new is ever obtained without there being a dying to the old.”

My problem is that dying is so dang hard.  Guess that is why it is called a life of faith. 

mayflower

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