Pilgrim Fathers (1607-1621) Timeline

The Pilgrim Fathers set sail

This timeline details the main events of the Pilgrim Fathers from their departure from England to the Netherlands in 1607 to the celebration of the first harvest in 1621.


1607 (during)
Members of William Bradford’s congregation in Scrooby, Nottinghamshire, began to be persecuted for their Separatist belief. They attempted to leave England for the Netherlands but were caught and arrested – it was illegal to emigrate without permission.
1608 (during)
Members of William Bradford’s Scrooby congregation managed to leave England without being detected and reached Leiden in the Netherlands where they were able to practise their religion.
1617 (during)
John Carver, a rich London merchant who had fled to the Netherlands to escape religious persecutions, began working to get support to found a new colony in America.
1618 (during)
Church elder, William Brewster, was arrested in Leiden by English authorities after he had published a criticism of King James I.
1619 (June)
William Bradford’s congregation in the Netherlands managed to gain a land patent from the Plymouth Company. The patent granted them land at the mouth of the Hudson River. They approached the Merchant Adventurers company for a loan to finance the venture which would be repaid from the profits from the new plantation.
1620 (early)
John Carver chartered two ships the Mayflower and the Speedwell to take the settlers to the New World. The Mayflower was purchased in London and would be captained by Christopher Jones while Captain Reynolds would sail the Speedwell from the Netherlands.
1620 (22nd July)
The emigrants boarded the Speedwell in the Dutch port of Delfshaven and set sail for Southampton.
1620 (late July)
In Southampton the Leiden congregation were joined by another group of religious dissenters, ‘The Strangers’ which included Myles Standish and Christopher Martin and Stephen Hopkins. They were joined by a number of skilled people who had been recruited by the Merchant Adventurers to help found the new colony.
1620 (15th August)
The Mayflower, carrying 90 settlers and the Speedwell carrying 30 people set sail from Southampton bound for Jamestown in the New World. These settlers later became known as pilgrims. They took with then salted meat, dried fish, biscuits, vegetable roots, seeds and beer. However, after going a short distance, the Speedwell was found to have developed a leak and both ships were forced to put in to Plymouth for repairs.
1620 (16th September)
After deciding that it was too costly to repair the Speedwell, The Mayflower left Plymouth and set sail for Virginia, North America. On board were 102 pilgrims and 30 crew.
1620 (9th November)
Land was sighted and the Mayflower dropped anchor off Cape Cod, Massachusetts, around 500 miles north of their intended destination.
1620 (11th November)
Mayflower Compact
This document established how the new colony should be managed and was signed by all male settlers. John Carver was chosen to be governor for the first year.
1620 (15th November)
Sixteen men, led by Myles Standish, rowed to shore to explore the region. but determined that the land was not suitable for a settlement. They returned to the ship and set sail again.
1620 (20th November)
A son, Peregrin, was born to Susanna White. He was the first child born to the pilgrims in New England.
1620 (6th December)
A group of settlers led by William Bradford who were exploring Plymouth Bay in a small boat were caught in a storm. They managed to land on Clark’s island and survive the storm.
1620 (7th December)
William Bradford’s wife, Dorothy, fell from the Mayflower and drowned.
1620 (8th December)
A group of settlers who had gone ashore looking for food were attacked by a group of Nauset Indians. The settlers managed to escape and decided against settling in that location. This is often referred to as ‘the first encounter’.
1620 (16th December)
The Mayflower reached Plymouth Harbour and dropped anchor. They began exploring the area looking for a suitable site for their settlement.
1620 (20th December)
The settlers decided to place their settlement in the village of Patuxet which they renamed Plymouth.
1620 (23rd December)
It had been determined in the Mayflower Compact that each man would build his own shelter and contribute towards the building of a town hall. Work now began on construction of shelters for the settlers. The work was carried out by the men while the women and children remained aboard the Mayflower. Due to the fact that it was already winter they hurriedly built temporary shelters to see them through until spring.
1621 (8th January)
The settlers finally completed their Town Hall.
1621 (13th January)
John Carver was ill and bedridden. He managed to escape when the thatched roof of his home caught fire.
1621 (late January)
45 of the settlers had died during the winter and as a result of sickness and the weather only 7 houses had been constructed. Four common houses had been completed and the settlers began unloading provisions from the Mayflower and storing them in the common houses.
1621 (17th February)
Myles Standish was appointed the first Commander of the Plymouth Plantation, he would hold the position for life.
1621 (16th March)
The settlers were shown how to farm the land by a native American called Samoset. In return he asked that the men helped them fight off a rival tribe and arranged for a meeting between his tribe and the settlers.
1621 (1st April)
The settlers signed a treaty with the Pokanoket tribe.
1621 (5th April)
The Mayflower left Plymouth Harbour and returned to England.
1621 (mid April)
Governor John Carver died. He was replaced as governor by William Bradford.
1621 (late July)
A young boy named John Billington was lost in the woods near the settlement. After it was learned that he had been found by the Nauset Indians, the pilgrims went to rescue John. They agreed to compensate the Indians for goods that the boy had taken and agreed a peace at the same time.
1621 (Autumn)
The pilgrims celebrated their first successful harvest. This was the basis for ‘Thanksgiving’ which is celebrated in the United States every year on 23rd November.


Published Mar 24, 2020 @ 9:20 pm – Updated – [last-modified]

Harvard Reference for this page:

Heather Y Wheeler. (2018 – 2020). Pilgrim Fathers 1607 – 1621 Timeline. Available: http://www.thetimelinegeekhttps://www.thetimelinegeek.com/pilgrim-fathers-1607-1621 Last accessed [date]


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