|Bow of the Mayflower II|
- Indentured Servants
- Contracted Mayflower Sailors
The “strangers,” as they are sometimes called, included English families and individuals who were recruited by London merchants to help establish the Colony of Virginia. These individuals outnumbered the group of Separatists.
I can imagine that this group was not overjoyed to find out they had landed outside of the Viginia Colony. Some accounts explain what happed as does this one from History.com's article, "Did the Pilgrims intend to land at Plymouth?"
During their years in exile in Holland, the Pilgrims had heard favorable reports of the lands around present-day New York City visited by Henry Hudson on his Dutch-sponsored voyage in 1609. They sailed from England with a royal patent to settle the region, which skirted the 41st latitude and marked the northernmost point of land chartered by the Virginia Company of London. Since the Pilgrims lacked royal authority to settle in New England, however, some Mayflower passengers threatened to abandon the colony. To ensure the colonists continued to respect the rule of law, 41 of the men aboard the ship signed the Mayflower Compact, which outlined the governing principles of the Plymouth Colony.
Hmm. The Separatists were coming from Holland to a place that would shortly be claimed by the Dutch but the majority of the passengers were contracted with the Viginia Colony. I am guessing there was a lot more going on than the simple story that these people came to America for religious freedom. Could the English merchants have been trying to beat the Dutch to New York?
Twenty of the 104 passengers (or 102 depending where you get your information) were indentured servants. Obviously, this group did not come to America either voluntarily or for religious reasons. The Plymouth Colony Archive Project article, "Servants and Masters in the Plymouth Colony" has this explanation.
The success of Plymouth Colony depended on hard work and cheap labor. For the Colonists in Plymouth, cheap labor came in the form of indentured servants. Twenty of the 104 Pilgrims to arrive on the Mayflower were servants (Stratton 1986: 179). Within the first year of the settlement twelve of these servants had died. In addition to the servants who died, almost half of the non-indentured population perished during the first year in Massachusetts. By the spring of 1621, the surviving Colonists were faced with the daunting task of designing and building a stable, long-lasting Colony.