Pilgrim Fathers - Seeds

Ask a question about agricultural history or the history of rural economy and society
Post Reply
catherine
Posts: 1
Joined: 28 Jan 2020, 11:27

Pilgrim Fathers - Seeds

Post by catherine » 29 Jan 2020, 13:06

Hi,
I wondered if you could help me.
I am doing some research on behalf of the Friends of Devonport Park,for the Mayflower 400 celebrations.
My research relates to the provisions that were taken on board the Mayflower in 1619 by the Pilgrim Fathers to eat on their journey to America, and to plant up once there.
I would like to be as accurate as possible and therefore use the varieties of the period, if they are still available. If anyone was able to help me that would be fantastic.
We intend to buy the seeds and plant up a display garden for the summer.
The plants include
Beans
Barley
Cabbage/ Kale
Carrots
Mustard seed
Peas
Oats
Rice
Spinach
Turnips
Wheat
Herbs

Many thanks
Catherine

rwhoyle
Posts: 20
Joined: 25 Jun 2017, 13:45

Re: Pilgrim Fathers - Seeds

Post by rwhoyle » 03 Feb 2020, 16:00

I am not sure that I can really advise on this in the depth that you wish.

The question seems to break down into several parts.

i. I think that the food on board would have been pretty thin stuff: bread, biscuit, cheese, weevils. I would doubt if there was anything on board to be eaten that was fresh (hence scurvy), but you might suppose apples.

ii. You have at least a couple of things on your list which I would have thought were unknown at the time, certainly rice, probably turnips, but carrots were familiar in the late sixteenth century.

iii ON the varieties grown, the first problem is that certainly with grains, there was no recognition of varieties before the early nineteenth century when recognized varieties (which brought a premium price) began to appear. MY people (i.e. in the seventeenth century) generally talked about wheat, barley etc. I would not be sure that they took any particular sort of wheat, barley etc. The second problem is that none of these varieties are grown today - you would have to look to wild plants if you wanted something like the sixteenth-seventeenth century originals. If you are interested in what they looked like, then you need John B Letts, Smoke blackened thatch : a unique source of late medieval plant remains from Southern England (1999).

I might point out that if you sailed to America to start a colony, you needed to take everything you might need with you. No B&Q to go out and get the hammer or axe you left behind. I think that there is at least one printed list of what a settler should take with him but off the top of my head I have no idea where to start looking for it.

A final suggestion. Approach this from the other end, and start with the Omohundro Institute of Early American history at College of William and Mary.

Best wishes,

Richard Hoyle

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests