November 30, 2020|Reports

“Hampshire & the New World: The Mayflower & Beyond” – Dr Cheryl Butler

Dr Cheryl Butler made a very welcome return visit to Wickham History Society on Tuesday, November 24th – this time by Zoom to over 50 WHS members.  Cheryl used the 200th anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower to America in 1620 to explore our local links with the New World.

I was taught in school that the Mayflower sailed from Plymouth but in fact Southampton was its port of departure; the stop at Plymouth was due to the unseaworthiness of its sister ship, Speedwell, which proved too unseaworthy for the Atlantic crossing.

Southampton was already involved with transatlantic trade before 1620 through trade and privateering, making it the obvious departure port for the Pilgrim Fathers.  Cheryl pointed out that it was just as well many of the ‘fathers’ were women or it might have been a short lived colony at Plymouth Bay, Massachusetts!

One local was Stephen Hopkins, born at Upper Clayford.  Although not, as far as we know, particularly religious, he must have been a welcome addition as he had already lived in Jamestown, an existing colony.  He had been shipwrecked off Bermuda on the way to Jamestown and his story was the inspiration of Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’.  His wife give birth to a son on the Mayflower: he was named ‘Oceanus’.

The Mayflower was just one small part of Hampshire’s American connections.  In 1710 Southampton gave a banquet for four Iroquois leaders visiting Queen Anne and ‘New Hampshire’ is a continuing reminder of our seventeenth century transatlantic connections.

If you are interested in knowing more about the Mayflower and its passengers and crew go to:

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