On 6 September 1620 a brave and determined band of men, women and children set sail from Plymouth on the Mayflower ship, intent on finding a new place in the New World where they could practise their religion in their own way.
The captain of the 180-ton Mayflower was an Essex man - Christopher Jones, a seasoned mariner from Harwich. Among the 102 passengers were six residents from the Great Burstead area including Christopher Martin, the Mayflower's Treasurer who was responsible for provisioning the ship, his wife, stepson and servant, together with two single men from Great Burstead - Peter Browne and Richard Britteridge.
Many of the passengers were from a separatist group that had migrated to Leyden in Holland thirteen years earlier in the hope of escaping further religious persecution. Some of this group that had moved to Holland, returned to England in order to make the Atlantic journey but were unable to do so as the second vessel - the 60-ton Speedwell under the charge of Captain Reynolds - that had been hired, was declared unseaworthy. The excess passengers and some who had second thoughts returned to London on the Speedwell while its sister ship, the Mayflower, left for the New World, with many complete families on board.
The Mayflower, once used to transport barrels of wine from Bordeaux to London, was loaded with the passengers' furniture, pets, pigs, goats and poultry, began its 3,000 mile journey across the Atlantic Ocean more than a month late. This was not a happy ship. Terrible storms, acrimonious behaviour between passengers, seasickness, poor rations and the death of a sailor all contributed to an unpleasant crossing to this New World. However, two baby boys were born on board, one was Peregrine White and the other, the aptly named Oceanus Hopkins.
Then on Thursday, 9 November 1620, the weary passengers sighted land.