The year is 1620.
The Mayflower is heading for America.
In our cooking class this week, we had a visitor!
Remember Allerton is about 5 years old when she sails to America on the Mayflower. She is traveling with her family: her father Isaac, her mother Mary, her older brother Bartholomew (age 7) and her younger sister Mary (age 3).
The name “Remember” may seem a little strange, but names with other meanings were common among the English pilgrims. Other people had names such as Love, Wrestling, Fear, Resolved and Patience.
Another boy is traveling with Remember’s family on the Mayflower. His name is John Hooke, and he is 12 or 13 years old. John is a new apprentice to Remember’s father – he is learning the trade of tailoring. (Click to learn more about what it means to be an "apprentice.")
None of the rest of John’s family is traveling on the Mayflower. We don’t have any information about how well he gets along with Remember and her family. Traveling for weeks on the Mayflower with them, and not sure what to expect when they finally arrive, he is certainly a long way from home. We imagine he must be feeling a little lonely and afraid at times.
Remember’s family is English, but she was actually born in Holland!
There is no such thing as “freedom of religion” in the 1600s. In most countries, the king decides what religion the country will be, and that’s what everyone is. In England, the official church is called the Church of England (also known as Anglican).
Remember’s family feels that the Church of England has things all wrong. They think Christianity should be different, so they have joined with others and separated into a new church. People in the new church are called Puritans. But starting a new church is against the law. To go against the official church is to go against King James, and people have sometimes been put in jail – or even put to death – for it.
So, some families have moved out of England to Holland. The English king can't punish them there. Puritans who have moved to Holland are sometimes called Separatists. Remember was born in Holland in about 1615.
Over time, the Puritans have decided they don’t want to live in Holland any more. They still feel like they are English, but they can’t go back to England. They have gradually developed the idea of moving to North America, a new world where they can create a new “Community of Saints” just for them and their friends. Some families have volunteered to be the first to go, and Remember’s family is one of them. In 1620, the time has arrived.
This painting shows the emotional goodbye between the Separatists who were leaving for the new world, and their friends who would be staying behind.
When Remember first set foot on the ship that was to take her family to North America, it wasn’t the Mayflower – it was the Speedwell. The plan was for the two ships to sail together. But the Speedwell turned out to be dangerously leaky. After they had already left – twice! – they finally had to return to England and switch ships for good. By this time, much of their food and other supplies had already been used up.
Remember and her family must be very disappointed. The Mayflower was design to carry cargo, not people, so it doesn’t have any nice places to sleep or relax or play. Families have had to create little spaces for themselves in the “tweendecks,” a cold, dark, damp space that doesn’t even have enough room for grownups to stand up straight.
When they finally set sail for good, it was September 6, 1620.
Life aboard the Mayflower is pretty miserable. There is no place to play, and passengers aren’t allowed to get fresh air up on deck very often. The food is horrible, and there are probably big rats running around!
Since they have to spend most of their time in the crowded, dark tweendecks area, there isn’t much space or light for playing. Children mainly entertain themselves with storytelling, riddles, and other games and activities that don’t require much space. Two families have brought their dogs on the Mayflower, so it seems likely the children might have a chance to play with them a little!
Not everyone aboard the Mayflower is friend from Remember’s church. There are business-type people who are going with the Puritans in order to make money. They are often called “strangers” or “adventurers.” And there are the sailors and crew who are there to run the ship.
Sometimes the sailors are mean to Remember and the other passsengers. In the beginning of the trip, one of the sailors was especially mean. He always made fun of them if they got sick, and even joked about how happy he would be if they died! Ironically, he himself was the first to become sick and die aboard Mayflower. The Puritans figure that was God’s punishment for him.
This post originally appeared on 10/4/14.
When Remember Allerton was aboard the Mayflower, this is exactly the type of food she would probably be missing from back home.
In the 1600s, apple tarts just like this one were a common sweet treat in both England and Holland. Click here for the recipe...
- Pastry made with white flour (from wheat)
Every great pie or tart begins with great pastry. Click here for our recipe for Pâte Brisée, the traditional French pie crust pastry.