Logo   The Pilgrims in New England
The European colonization of America began with the Pilgrims, English Puritans who emigrated to Massachusetts Bay aboard the Mayflower in 1620.



Puritanism began in the Church of England during the 16th century as a movement to "purify" and simplify the church and bring its practices closer to those described in the Bible.

Unable to reform the Church of England and unwilling to adhere to it, members of a Puritan congregation in Scrooby, near York, emigrated to the Netherlands in 1607.

Dissatisfied after some years there, they set sail from Leiden, stopped in Southampton, and finally 102 of them set sail for the New World in 1620 from Plymouth, England, in a small ship called the Mayflower, along with some other English immigrants not so fervent in their beliefs.

After a difficult voyage of nearly two months, these Pilgrims first landed on Cape Cod but found its soil poor and water scarce. Before sailing to look for better land, they composed the Mayflower Compact to govern their nascent colony.

They landed in Plymouth, on Massachusetts Bay, in December of 1620. During the ensuing difficult winter, with food scarce, scurvy rampant and shelter primitive, about half of the group perished.

The survivors fared better the next year, and by 1640 there were 35 Puritan churches in New England.

(You can relive the early days of Pilgrim America at Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth MA, an authentic recreation of the first Pilgrim village in the New World as it might have been in 1627).

Forcefully led by their ministers, the minority of fervent believers became ever stricter and demanding in their religious and social practices, excluding the majority of the population.

By 1692, however, the population of the New England colonies had grown so large, with so many non-religious immigrants, that Puritan influence waned, and what had been founded as a theocratic society based on religious law became a secular polity based on secular law.


Colonial America

Early Explorers

Mayflower II

Plymouth MA

Plimoth Plantation

Pilgrim Hall Museum

New England History

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Plimoth Plantation, Plymouth MA

Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth MA, an authentic recreation of the first Pilgrim village in America as it might have appeared in 1627.


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