There were many ships called Mayflower in 1620 and it is not know for certain which one was the actual ship that took the pilgrims to America. However extensive research by academics and enthusiastic has resulted in a common belief that it was ship which had previously been used in transporting goods, mainly between London and Bordeaux in France.
A journal recorded by one of the pilgrims puts the size as a capacity of between 180 and 200 tons. From these specifications, and based on ship design of the period, specialists have been able to estimate the dimensions. According to the Mayflower expert, Caleb Johnson, ‘The length of the deck from stem to stern was about 80 feet, of which about 12 feet at the back belonged to the gun room and was off-limits to the passengers. The width at the widest part was about 24 feet. This means the living space for all 102 people was only about 58 feet by 24 feet!’. However this space was not even all available as there were storage, working components and a 30 foot small single sail boat.
To put this into comparison, this is less this the length of a cricket pitch, or railway carriage, and offers about the same space as 57 single beds. Now, consider that there were 102 passengers and between 17 and 30 members of crew, plus some animals. There are records of two dogs, an English mastiff and an English spaniel. However it is likely that there were chickens as reference is made to chicken soup, possibly pigs and cats to control the rodents on the ship.
Living conditions would have been very cramped with none of the luxuries or privacy we all take for granted today. As part of our Mayflower 400 in Harleston programme, we intend to draw the outline of the ship on the recreation ground where local people will board this ship. We can then appreciate what our Fuller families and the other passengers experienced on their 66 day journey to America. We will be asking for volunteer passengers, so please keep looking at our website, or follow us on Facebook for updates.