FamilyFamily History The Mayflower: Coming to America By Schelly November 21, 2012 Share Share Copy Link Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor by William Halsall (1882). Credit: Wikipedia What do Marilyn Monroe, Clint Eastwood, Richard Gere and Noah Webster (of dictionary fame) have in common? They – and many others – are descendants of passengers who arrived on the Mayflower, which sailed from Southampton, England in 1620, and landed at Plymouth Rock in Cape Cod, Massachusetts in November of that year The first document of the Plymouth Colony was the Mayflower Compact, signed onboard the ship. The total number of passengers was 101 or 102, depending on the source, and the document was signed by 41 adults and dated November 11, 1620, according to the old-style Julian calendar which is 10 days behind today’s Gregorian calendar. Not all the passengers were Pilgrims – some were adventurers, tradesmen and servants. For more information on the Pilgrims, check out the Mayflower Society website or a Wikipedia article. The Pilgrims, originally from England, came to America seeking religious freedom. Their story includes some relocating to Amsterdam, and then to Leiden for some 10 years. Eventually, they decided to settle in the New World, in Northern Virginia but storms blew the ship off course and they landed in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. They sailed in August 1620 from Southampton, England, along with some English colonists. They first sailed in the Speedwell, but it was forced to return to port after numerous problems. In 1620, they tried again in the Mayflower and arrived in New England just as winter began. Although the colony endured many hardships, eventually the Plymouth colony succeeded. The group is credited with establishing religious freedom and creating the democratic foundations of America. And the first Thanksgiving is now a beloved national holiday. If you descend from a Mayflower passenger you may be eligible to join the Society of Mayflower Descendants after documenting your descent from one or more of the passengers. Let us know if you are, in the comments below.