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The Mayflower

The Mayflower

It appears that only one of the Pilgrim Fathers actually came from Southwark. The crew however provide many links to Southwark. The most important is the Captain and part owner of The Mayflower, Christopher Jones.

Captain Christopher Jones

Captain Jones was born in Harwich but by 1611 he was settled in Rotherhithe, (then a popular place for sea captains to live) where some of his children were baptised, at St Mary's Church. The rector at St Mary's from 1611 - 1654 was Thomas Gataker, a man of puritan leanings, and Captain Jones probably learnt about Puritanism from him. Also from Rotherhithe were part owner, John Moore, and First Mate John Clarke, after whom Clarke's Island, Plymouth Bay, Mass is named (Clarke was baptised at St Mary's in 1575). Clarke had spent 1611 - 1616 as a prisoner of the Spanish.


The Mayflower was an old ship more used to sailing to France than to America. She set sail from close to the present day Mayflower Inn and joined The Speedwell at Southampton before they set sail together for America. The Speedwell sprung a leak forcing them to turn back twice before The Mayflower took on her passengers and finally set sail from Plymouth on 6th September 1620. Land was sighted on 29th October but it was not until 21st December that they found somewhere to land.

The Mayflower remained with the settlers until April 1621 before returning to Rotherhithe in May 1621. Captain Jones died the following March and was buried at St Mary's. John Clarke died the following year on a voyage to Virginia. Many more people from Southwark moved to America over the next few years, including John Harvard, founder of the famous University.

St Mary's Church

Although St Mary's Church was rebuilt in 1715, it contains many memorials to sailors from the original church. Captain Jones' grave was lost during the rebuilding however a new memorial was erected to him in 1995, the 375th anniversary of The Mayflower's historic voyage.

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