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Great Migration: Passengers of the Higginson Fleet, 1629

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The fourteenth trip of the Mayflower was part of the Higginson Fleet, leaving England Apr 24, 1629 for the Massachusetts Bay with MasterWilliam Pierce.

Six ships: George Bonaventure, Lyon, Lyon's Whelp, Four Sisters, Mayflower (14), Pilgrim (4)

“Now in this year1629, a great company of people (The Higginson Fleet) of good rank, zeal, means and quality have made a great stock, and with six good ships in the months of April and May, they set sail from Thames for the Bay of the Massachusetts, otherwise called Charles River.

The fleet consisted of, the George Bonaventure of twenty pieces of ordnance; the Talbot nineteen; the Lion’s Whelp eight; the Mayflower fourteen; the Four sisters fourteen and the Pilgrim four, with 350 men women and children, also 115 head of cattle, as horses, mares, cows and oxen, 41 goats, some conies (rabbits), with all provision for household and apparel, 6 pieces of great ordnance for a fort, with muskets, pikes, corselets, drums, colors, and with all provisions necessary for a plantation for the good of man.”

(The True Travels, Adventures and Observations of Captain John Smith – London 1630)

John Endicott, in the ship Abigail, Henry Gauden, master, arrived at Salem September 6, 1628.

Shortly after Endicott’s arrival and the settlement of Salem there “came over from England several people at their own charge, and arrived at Salem”. (Higginson Fleet) There were the 350 passengers on the fleet of six ships listed above. Included in this fleet were the three brothers, Ralph, Richard and William Sprague. These three brothers, with several others, with Endicott’s permission traveled through the woods to the peninsula on which Charlestown is now located. The Town Records refer to this event and from them the following is quoted: “Amongst others that arrived at Salem at their own cost, were Ralph Sprague, with his brethren Richard and William, who with three or four more, by joint consent and approbation of Mr. John Endicott, Governor, did the same summer of Anno 1629, undertake a journey from Salem, and traveled the woods about twelve miles to the westward, and lighted of a place situate and lying on the north side of Charles River, full of Indians called Aberginians. Their old Sachem being dead, his eldest son, by the English called John Sagamore, was their chief, and a man naturally of a gentle and good disposition, by whose free consent they settled about the hill of the same place, by the said natives called Mishawum.”

The following is an excerpt from the first proceedings of the Sprague’s and their associates:

“The inhabitants yet: first settled in this place and brought it into the denomination of an English Towne, was in Anno 1629 as follows, viz: Ralph Sprague; Richard Sprague; William Sprague; John Meech; Simon Hoyte; Abraham Palmer; Walter Palmer; Nicholas Stower; John Stickline. Thomas Walford Smith yet lived here alone before. Mr. Graves who had charge of some, of the servants of the Company of Patentees with whom he built the great house this year for such of the said Company as are shortly to come over which afterwards became the Meeting house. And Mr. Bright Minister to the Companies Servants.”

“By whom it was jointly agreed and concluded that this place on the north side of Charles River, by the natives called Mishawum, shall henceforth from the name of the river, be called Charlestown, which was also confirmed by Mr. John Endicott, governor.”


Higginson sources: