In 1620, 132 people boarded a ship to sail from England to ‘The New World’. Among these passengers were Separatists fleeing religious persecution, and a crew of 30 men; many of whom were from Rotherhithe. About half of them were ‘Strangers’, people who were not leaving for religious reasons but due to circumstance, trade, or as indentured servants. They arrived off the shore of Cape Cod in December 1620. To bridge their differences and forge a way of living together, they created The Mayflower Compact, which was signed by "men of age". This document, and the story of The Pilgrim Fathers, has become the founding myth of modern America, and the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower voyage is being marked internationally. London Bubble is bringing together historians, artists, volunteers and participants in the build-up to the anniversary to explore the history of the Mayflower voyage and its contemporary resonances, and draw out the bigger questions about our shared world history. We want to gather a wide range of stories, objects, facts and testimonies, both past and present. This material will shape public workshops and events, and culminate in a large scale performance in 2020. The project has three phases, linked to the three stages of the Mayflower voyage. This pamphlet shares some of our findings and reflections from the second phase: Journeys IN THE SECOND PHASE OF THE PROJECT WE HAVE LOOKED AT HOW THE VOYAGE WAS FINANCED, WHERE THE MAYFLOWER VOYAGE SITS ALONGSIDE OTHER EUROPEAN COLONISING MISSIONS IN THE SIXTEENTH AND SEVENTEENTH CENTURIES, AND WHAT IT'S REALLY LIKE TO UNDERTAKE A DANGEROUS JOURNEY OF REFUGE. SOME OF OUR QUESTIONS WERE: 1
WHAT WAS THE POPULAR VIEW OF MIGRATION AT THE TIME? WHAT SORT OF MAPS DID THEY HAVE THEN? WHO WAS POCAHONTAS? WHAT WAS IT LIKE IN ROTHERHITHE IN 1620? WAS MENTAL HEALTH RECOGNISED IN 1620? WHAT ARE THE ONGOING EFFECTS OF COLONIALISM? WHY ISN’T THE ENSLAVEMENT OF AFRICANS A PART OF THE STORY? HOW DOES LEAVING EUROPE ON A SHIP AS COLONISERS COMPARE WITH ENTERING EUROPE ON A SHIP AS A REFUGEE OR MIGRANT?
“I knew nothing of the Mayflower history before getting involved. It's galvanised me around studying the history of migration to and from Britain more broadly.” - Owen
Charting the Mayflower is open to all and new hands on deck are always welcome! See back page for details. 2
London & Explorations
England was a long way behind other European powers in terms of trade and navigation. Spain and Portugal – blessed by the Papacy, had practically carved up the whole world between them. By 1500 Portuguese explorers knew Africa and Middle East and were establishing bases in the East Indies. But, during the sixteenth century the situation changed and the population of London quadrupled - despite the high level of mortality, and persistently low birth rate. This was due to migration. By the 1550’s fewer than two in ten of new men in the freemen in the livery company’s had been born in London. 30% came from the north. And people became concerned that London was ruining the trade of other English towns.
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At the beginning of the 16th Century London was a backwater. English was a minor language spoken by some, but by no means all, of the population of the British Isles – let alone the rest of the world. The great names of the day in art (Botticelli, Durer), church power (De Medici), finance and banking (Fugger), navigation and exploration (Columbus), political analysis (Machiavelli), science and human knowledge (Leonardo Da Vinci) and scholarship (Erasmus) all had one thing in common – they were not English.
Why was London growing? Well, not dissimilar to today - its situation, reputation, infrastructure and the siting of the government. But most significant then was the river Thames. The merchants used it to send out trading ships to the ports of mainland Europe and to launch expeditions to farther flung reaches of the Globe, which led to an extraordinary concentration of money, merchants and privilege entering into London.
"I’m keen to learn about the Mayflower voyage from this side of the Atlantic. I grew up in the western United States, learning about the Pilgrims and their arrival at Plymouth Rock only really in relation to our American holiday of Thanksgiving and the events that led to the development of the United States as a sovereign nation. It’s been exciting to dive into the English political landscape of the early 1600s, the nittygritty of what was happening here in Rotherhithe, and what it might have been like to make that voyage.” - Lexi
The Mayflower wasn’t the first ship to travel to America. There had been many earlier attempts to colonise North America. Humphrey Gilbert, Francis Drake, Sir Richard Grenville, Sir Walter Raleigh and Bertholomew Gosnold had made several attempts to settle there from the mid 1570s, all of which were unsuccessful. Deterred by fierce and brutal conditions, their ships were either wrecked, thrown off course, or the settlers demanded to return home and leave behind what they deemed an uninhabitable environment. 4
Despite these failures, writers and artists were still presenting America as the solution to England’s economic problems. The Colony of Virginia was the first enduring English settlement in North America, chartered by the Virginia Company. Jamestown was founded in 1607, 13 years before the Mayflower arrived at Cape Cod with a charter from the same company.
We marked out the earlier colonising missions, the resources they used, the crew on board and the people that were kidnapped and transported, using props.
“Why is the Mayflower the story that America has chosen as its founding myth?” - Dorothy. What do you think?
“I feel that I learned more about the Mayflower and the people around me.” - James 5
The National Maritime Museum, Greenwich
To find out more about Tudor London and England’s global expansion we went on a trip to Greenwich. At the National Maritime Museum we took a tour of the collections Tudor and Stuart Seafarers and The Atlantic: Slavery, Trade, Empire, Exploration and Cultural Encounters. We learnt about the developments in seafaring and navigation in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and watched a series of interviews with indigenous people from the Americas today, telling of their experience.
The Tulip Stairs, The Queen’s House, Greenwich
We visited the Queen’s House, which is next door to the National Maritime Museum. It was built between 1616 and 1635 and houses the iconic Armada portrait of Elizabeth I and the Tulip Stairs – the first geometric self-supporting spiral staircase in Britain!
Influencers Who were the key people who instigated the Mayflower voyage? How were they changed by meeting each other, and how did their encounters shape the endeavour that they embarked upon together?
Robinson was known as a ‘kindly man’, as well as being an academic and thinker, and Winslow later observed that in the Leiden community ‘never [have] people upon earth lived more lovingly together’. The community and collective endeavour of the Leiden congregation lasted beyond the sailing of the Mayflower. It was John Robinson who suggested they cross the Atlantic, but he would never leave Holland and stayed behind with the remaining congregation. He remained a source of counsel for the Pilgrim leaders on their journey and arrival in New England.
Think about someone you have met who affected the direction that your life has taken in some way. How did they change you?
“We developed images of ourselves with a person in our life that had influenced us. This activity made me realise how many people had influenced my life and I found it hard to pick just one.” - G 8
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Edward Winslow arrived in Leiden around 1617. He joined a Separatist church led by the minister John Robinson, a highly respected theologian of his day. Winslow found there a community of independently-minded people like himself from all over England which would change his life. The core members of the church had arrived in Holland between 1608 and 1609 and initially had no thoughts of emigrating, but by 1620 the mood had changed; a truce with Spain that guaranteed their religious freedom in Holland was nearing its end.
John Robinson meets Edward Winslow: We wrote on large pieces of paper about where each person was from, where they went, what their relationships were, what they did, what their skills were and their beliefs. These were then folded into simple puppets which we used to enact what the meetings between the Pilgrims might have been like.
“It’s not just about one person. It’s complex. Why is there lots of information about some people, and none about others, like the women?” - Vera Portrait of Edward Winslow, from the collection of the Pilgrim Hall Museum, Plymouth, MA 9
Negotiations Once the Pilgrims had decided to leave Holland and emigrate to North America, they had to negotiate a deal. John Carver and Robert Cushman, representatives for the Pilgrims, approached the Virginia Company, who were eager for Colonists. Before a Charter could be granted they needed to get the permission of the King, which he gave, and so in February 1619 the Virginia Company granted the Pilgrims their Charter. However, they would still need to get together the finances. They did this with the help of a young English merchant called Thomas Weston. He attracted investors and it is said he raised £7,000. In the summer of 1620 Cushman and Carver negotiated the final deal, but at the last minute Weston changed the contract. This caused some of the Separatists to pull out. The Pilgrims would need to recruit passengers from outside of their congregation, whom they would call ‘Strangers’.
group Performance of 'the deal' at Bubbling Saturday 10
We shared a performance which explored how the Pilgrims negotiated The Deal at Bubbling Saturday in March 2019 in St Peter’s Church, alongside other Bubble drama groups. The script was written by Simon Startin, and there’s an extract at the back of this pamphlet.
group Performance of 'the deal' at Bubbling Saturday
What stayed with you from the day?
“It’s good to work and perform alongside people of different ages, you learn a lot.” - Joba
“A physical memory in the body of certain moments, such as Thomas Weston snatching the contract out of my hand after we’d agreed it.” - Harriet
Thursday evening workshop
"We imagined that we were passengers setting off for new worlds. We had to create a character, consider our skills and reasons for leaving, and find others within the group who we could travel with. Having found our fellow journey men/women, we had to imagine arriving at our new home: what would happen on the first day, the first year, and what would our legacy be? Â All groups set about envisioning their utopias, a beautiful new blank canvas of a land ready for us to create that perfect society. Our story was complicated when we had to pick circumstances out of a hat that would impact on our arrival, such as infertile soil, monsoon, or hostile locals.
What struck me most in our simulation, though, was the creative and unrealistic response each group had to the challenges. Being plagued by terrible weather, our group decided we would simply be a type of people who enjoyed the rain and would build in it anyway. Simple as that. None of our characters died. None got ill. None of us struggled to create the utopia we left our homelands to find. The exercise made me reflect on the thoughts of the passengers on the Mayflower, were they anticipating the struggles they’d encounter, or were they blinded by the thought of a new life? Who were the realists, and who the idealists? How did they talk about the new community they were setting out to build? And as a parting thought, I can’t help but think of those who arrive to Europe with the same hope of a life with less danger and fear. Do they anticipate the hostility they find here?" - Holly, Bubble blog excerpt What do you think? Is the dream of utopia enough?
“I feel that I learned more about the Mayflower and the people around me” James
Thursday evening workshop
If you were a character in the Mayflower story who would you be and what would your character’s dreams be?
Priscilla Mullins. I dream of what I lost - my family: mother, father, brother, and what I gained: husband, children and new life.
Dorothy Bradford – I dream of an escape. Something better. Something to believe in. Something to give my life meaning.
and s ne o J er ple h o p e o rist the p ss the h C d lea y acro . n el saf ocea
King James. I dream of safety.
Oceanus – Born on the ship, God Willing, I would have loved to grow up in the New World. However He was not willing.
If I were me in the story of the Mayflower I would be dreaming of FREEDOM!
Stranger? Dream of starting a new life. Perhaps reinventing myself.
The Ship & The Journey Maritime historian Brian Lavery came and talked to us about seafaring through the ages, and we went on a trip to the Cutty Sark in Greenwich to find out more about living at sea.
on board the cutty sark
A model of what the Mayflower may have looked like (but no one actually knows!) 15
Here are some of our research discoveries and what they made us think about:
“It took a minimum of 21 crew to sail the ship but also - an unofficial 'extra' crew of local indigenous sailors (LASKERS), not registered or recorded and paid less than the British Crew.” - Tim
“People on ships had no (or very little) personal space. And that is the same for lots of people today (on land). They had to make do with very little 'fresh' water - we are lucky to have plentiful clean water many don't have. People fleeing or migrating today have terrible conditions on boats - worse than the Mayflower.” - Keitha
“It makes me sad that with all the knowledge, technology and fast ways of travel that we have currently, we don't seem to be bothered about destroying the planet at equally fast pace due to not wanting to take the responsibility to sensibly deal with the consequences of this, pollution and climate change.” - Yvonne
Write a journal entry from a day on board the Mayflower:
“I chose to avoid tying my character to any one particular passenger and instead imagined myself as an anonymous ‘Stranger'." - G 17th November 1620 The journey is long and I am tired. My body is freezing and seizing and I can’t seem to relieve the tension. My ankles are full and numb, yet the pain is immense. My hips won’t move and I can’t straighten out my back or neck. And yet my body is almost weightless. The swaying of the boat and the sound of sea and wind holds me. My mind can only focus on either the outside or inside my body. And all the pilgrims do is pray, day and night. Over and over and over and over.”
Stories of Refuge today
For years, the burden of the refugee crisis was largely borne by the developing world, which the UN says is home to 86% of refugees. When visa restrictions changed for Syrian refugees in 2015, refugees began departing en masse from Turkey to the Greek islands, and a problem that was once just a Western European one became a challenge for Eastern Europe too. More and more countries began erecting fences along their borders to direct the flow of refugees, and a few threatened to seal their borders entirely. In a way though, the refugee crisis is something of a contradiction. There is a crisis, but is it one caused by the refugees themselves, or by the way a country responds to them?
"Packed up and leaving Never to return; But a splinter of my heart is deeply buried in my homeland's soil." - Eva
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The world is currently witnessing the biggest wave of mass migration since the Second World War. The refugee crisis spiked in 2014; since then over 1.5 million people have crossed the Mediterranean in leaking boats trying to reach Europe.
“It’s a beautiful sunset, he tells his diary: Just us, the sea, and nothing else.” - Kingsley
Thursday evening workshop
“The investigation of a migrant experience viewed positively by accepted history threw a new light for me upon current migration experiences which are largely seen or portrayed in a negative way. Thinking more about the subject I came to realise that, in fact, world history is also the history of constant migration processes. I myself am a migrant two times over.” - David 20
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We brought to life the story of Hashem, as recorded by Patrick Kingsley, as he crosses the Mediterranean from Libya to Italy, and the trials and ups and downs that he faces. Here he is eventually crossing on to an Italian Coastguard boat, another set of obstacles lying not far ahead.
Write a 20 word poem about migration, as part of Refugee Week’s #Simpleacts campaign. Here are some of ours:
I have travelled from where I lived, learnt, loved and laboured Inertia over-ridden; fear pushing and a small hope pulling Owen
I wish for you ... A smile of welcome A word of greeting in your old language and your new tongue Jane
I migrate from my bed I migrate to the tube I migrate in and out of my shoes I cruise… Hannah O, how very well did I once hear it said: “We die... and the world will be poorer for it.” Oliver
Help change the way we see refugees, and ourselves 21
Our final destination Will be a better situation For you. And for me. If we believe it to be. Utopia Holly
MY HEART'S OWN LAND I might leave my Atlantic shore for any other coast. But what about the cliffs and heather of my heart? Muhammad
A border Who? Why? A definition to define the land to define me to welcome me to reject me Iris Find more information about Refugee Week at www.refugeeweek.org.uk 22
Sharing the Research From the research we are creating workshops and public performance events to bring the story to life. In May 2019 we invited people to participate in The Deal in The City of London, an interactive research performance which took place at The Dutch Church and All Hallows by the Tower. The event explored the motives of the Separatists, their negotiations with King James I and the role of the city of London in the financing of the voyage. We will be touring workshops to schools and community venues in The City in Autumn 2019, as well as more locally in Southwark.
I was so surprised to learn that a baby was born on board. Great name too!
the deal at the dutch church
The following is an extract from the script for The Deal at Bubbling Saturday, written by Simon Startin and Jonathan Petherbridge: ONE We’ve been working on the story of the Mayflower. H History… TWO ‘History’ - ‘the study of past events, particularly in human affairs’. human affairs'. 23
ONE Pilgrims…religious dissidents - ‘Separatists’. English people who fled to people who fled Holland in 1608. TWO ‘History’ - ‘a series of past events connected with a particular particular person or thing’ FIVE: What happened yesterday – is that History? THREE: What happened in 2018? FIVE: What’s going to happen in 2019? ONE ‘History’ - a continuous, usually chronological, record of important or of important or public events’. THREE What’s happening here? Now. In this room. FOUR I just don’t know what’s going to happen anymore. FIVE I want to leave. ONE I want to remain. TWO: I am too young to be given a say. THREE What journeys will I make? FOUR What do I hope for? FIVE: My family deserves better than this. ONE: On greener grass, to sit in peace. TWO: That’s the dream and always has been. ONE ‘History’. SOUND OF SEAGULLS AND THE RIVER. A PILGRIM FAMILY SITS BY THE THAMES, LOOKING AT A THICK, LARGE, LEATHER BOUND ACCOUNTS LEDGER. FIVE: They wanted to leave. FOUR: Desperately. PILGRIM FATHER: My family deserves better than this. TWO: But they didn’t have money or permission or a ship. They They didn’t have…. PILGRIM FATHER: Freedom.
The project has three phases:
Who were the passengers on the Mayflower and why did they leave? Why do people leave?
How was the Mayflower voyage financed? What was it like to be at sea? How has technology changed since then? Whatâ€™s it like to undertake a sea journey today?
What happened when the Mayflower arrived in America? How has this shaped modern history? What experiences do people have of arriving in new countries today?
How can I get involved? There are lots of ways that you can join in and work with history enthusiasts and theatre artists: Come to our free weekly creative workshops where we explore the history through discussion and drama-based activities. These are held during term time on Thursdays 6:30-8:30pm at London Bubble, SE16 4JD Research different aspects of the history through the Internet and archives, and share this with others at our volunteer meet-ups or by contributing to our blog Help us connect with groups who would like to receive our volunteer-led workshops about the Mayflower and migration Take part in our programme of free large scale public events Â No experience necessary, your enthusiasm is the most important thing to bring and your level of participation is completely up to you! Charting the Mayflower is open to all ages but children aged 12 and under should be accompanied by an adult.
For more information visit www.londonbubble.org.uk, call 020 7237 4434 or email firstname.lastname@example.org 26
We would like to thank: All Hallows by the Tower Brian Lavery Callum Coates Dan Copeland Eric MacLennan Funders, United St Saviours Charity and the City of London Graham Taylor Greenwich Tour Guides Association Judy Aitken and the Cuming Museum Lucy Barter Michael Breakey and The Rotherhithe Shed Passamezzo Rachel Essex Rebecca Fraser Rita Cruise Oâ€™Brien Simon Startin Southwark Cathedral Surrey Docks Farm The Clink The Dutch Church The London Sea Shanty Collective The Migration Museum All who helped represent the 132 passengers that boarded the boat, and who took part in The Deal in The City And thank you to everyone who has taken part in a workshop, carried out research, and shared their story so far.
Closing Photo: 'The Deal' 2019 by Muna Liban Cover Image:Â Ortelius World Map, Typvs Orbis Terrarvm, 1570
This pamphlet shares some of our findings and reflections from the second phase of our Charting the Mayflower project: Journeys. Charting...
Published on Sep 3, 2019
This pamphlet shares some of our findings and reflections from the second phase of our Charting the Mayflower project: Journeys. Charting...