Iowa Society
of Mayflower Descendants


Why did the Pilgrim’s choose Plymouth to settle?

They were partially financed by the same group of people in England that financed the Jamestown settlement. One person on board, Stephen Hopkins, had lived at Jamestown. The Jamestown site had several deficiencies and the town was later moved 6 miles because of them. So they had knowledge of what local geography would and would not be best for them. They spent almost a month looking around Cape Cod Bay. They wanted:

·       A sheltered harbor for large ships. Anywhere in Cape Cod Bay would provide this.

·      A spot where they could get their 21 foot fishing boat ashore and safe from storms. The shoreline was gentle and also the creek
allowed them to safely bring the boat upstream. There was even a prominent rock to step off onto.

·     A dependable source of fresh water. They found that the Cape Cod hook had only small or seasonal water sources. Plymouth had

springs including a very good one in the center of town. Also there was a brook in the center of town that was the outlet of a spring

feed lake.

A defensible location against pirates and ships from unfriendly nations. The hill just above the bay now known as Burial Hill gave

 them an excellent location for a block house and provided elevation for their cannon that gave it greater range than shipboard

 cannons. Yes, the Pilgrims brought a very big cannon with them.


A place where the Indians were friendly. They had some less than friendly encounters exploring around the bay. The tribe that lived

at Plymouth had completely died out from disease a few years before and the site was abandoned. Neighboring tribes considered

the land cursed and did not want it. They would sign a peace treaty with the closest tribe that lasted 75 years.


Land that they could quickly plant crops in to feed themselves the next year. Plymouth had good soil and trees had been cleared

from some of it. Other areas around the bay were too sandy or had poor drainage.


Oh by the way, the Pilgrims didn’t name it Plymouth. It was already named on early maps.



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