Why Did the Pilgrims Come to the New World ?

Above all, the Pilgrims wanted to be free.embarkation_pilgrims.jpg

They disagreed with the religious teachings of the Church of England. In fact, the Pilgrims were members of a group of people called Separatists. These people had different beliefs than the rest of the English people. In 1606, they formed their own church in a small village called Scrooby.


At this time, the Church of England was the same as the Government of England. In other words, King James I was the head of both the country and the church. Not belonging to the church meant not obeying the king. This was treason.

So the Pilgrims left England, in search of a safe place to practice their religion. They chose to go to Holland and found a home in Leiden. For 12 years, they worshipped under their pastor, John Robinson.

But the Pilgrims were also poor. Many of them were forced to work difficult jobs all day long, for little money. They had found religious peace in Holland, but they were making barely enough money to survive.

What to do?

They finally decided to sail to North America. They didn’t want to join the Jamestown colony, founded in 1607, because they feared that the English people there would treat them badly because of their religious beliefs. So the Pilgrims settled on the northern part of the Virginia Territory, at the mouth of the Hudson River (near what is now New York).

Happily, the Pilgrims found businesspeople who were willing to give them money in exchange for a share of the profits made in America. The Pilgrims bought a small ship called the Speedwell and sailed back to England. They stayed long enough to get more colonists and a larger ship, the Mayflower. They set sail from Southampton on August 5, 1620.


The Speedwell wasn’t in shape to make the journey, and the Pilgrims returned to Plymouth, England. They crowded all 102 people onboard the Mayflower and set sail again, on September 16. This time, they kept going.

Part 2: The New World

The ocean crossing was long and difficult. Many of the Pilgrims wondered if they would ever see land. Two people died, and one baby was born. On November 9, they saw land.

Two days later, they dropped anchor at Cape Cod, which is now in Massachusetts. An advance party soon went ashore and looked for food and shelter, while most of the people stayed aboard the Mayflower. A group of Pilgrims, led by William Bradford, signed the Mayflower Compact, which said that they agreed to govern themselves and not take orders from other people.

More scouting of the new land followed, and the entire group finally went ashore and began to build a settlement. It was December 23, and the place was Plymouth.

The first winter was very hard. More than 40 people died. The rest of the Pilgrims made it through the winter. In the spring, they began to plant food and continued to explore their new home.

On March 16, Samoset and another Native American entered the Plymouth settlement and said, in English, “Welcome, Englishmen.” The Pilgrims were amazed. Samoset explained that he had learned their language from English fishermen who had fished there in the winter. The two peoples exchanged greetings and ideas. They parted as friends.

A few days later, Samoset returned with Squanto, another Native American leader. The Pilgrims welcomed him, too. Soon, Massasoit, the leader of the large tribe the Wampanoag, visited Plymouth. The two peoples signed a peace treaty that would last 50 years.

The Native Americans had taught the Pilgrims how to plant wheat, barley, Indian corn, and peas. Soon, the settlement was growing lots of food. Later that year, in the fall, the Pilgrims celebrated the harvest. They invited their Native American friends to join them. This has become known as the first Thanksgiving.

The Plymouth colony thrived. More people were born, and more people arrived from Europe. Soon, other colonies sprung up. It wouldn’t be long before English colonies filled the entire Eastern coast of North America.

The Pilgrims, in seeking freedom from religious punishment and economic hardship, had found in the New World new friends and a new way of life.

~ by stufffromthelab on November 12, 2007.

45 Responses to “Why Did the Pilgrims Come to the New World ?”

  1. they escaped to get away from the Anglican church because they didnt have the same religious views as those under King james I. they wanted to go to a place where they were in charge of their own lives and how they believed, which is why they got on the Mayflower to com to the New World and have it as they wanted.

  2. why did u guys take the land af the Native Americans and tell me the truth why did you

  3. I am currently making a family history book on the Pilgrims and was wondering if you have a copyrite on the picture of the pilgrims on board the ship or the ship representing the mayflower. Could I use them with permission.

    c stewart

  4. hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi

  5. this was a great site to find research for projects.

  6. [...] labored like a true artist on that mast. Her mast is based on an image we found here. It’s hard to tell in the picture, but the mast is “laminated” in tape. I think [...]

  7. I teach special ed. in SC and found your site from google image. what a great site. I’m going to use it to help answer you question at the top using my smartboard. Thanks for the help.

  8. is that really the Mayflower or is it a replica

  9. i’m doing a research on the tools that was on the mayflower ship before they headed to america. could you please give a respond asap, thanks joy

  10. Thia was a great site!!!!!!
    We are from another country and my sister has a project on the Pilgrims so we don’t really know about the Pilgrims and America, but thanks to this site, now we know like everything about the Pilgrims. Thanks A Lot

  11. [...] hours 29 minutes. The distance from England to the US East Coast is around 3700 miles. It took the 102 Pilgrims about 60 days to travel here from England in 1620. The jaunt across the continent to eat turkey in [...]

  12. lol nimporte koi votre truc

  13. if you want to know why the Pilgrims came read what they had to day. Find a copy of the Mayflower Compact in its original form and read the first paragraph.

  14. very interesting i think

  15. sa dechire

  16. It helped me o9n my report thanks:)

  17. Dear Room 311: Short, accurate, and respectful to all. I am going to copy it and share it with friends this 2009 Thanksgiving. Thank You. Gerry Coleman, Raleigh, NC

  18. pilgrims are asome

  19. Thank you for this! I am an ex-pat living in Switzerland from Massachusetts and was looking for a nice short story of the Pilgrims to share with my European friends for Thanksgiving. This is perfect!

  20. i love food so if u have food give me some lol :) hahahaha
    frome: san benito tx.

  21. This was perfect! I really needed and article that got straight to the point because I have a unit test tomorrow. I’m going to ace the test now! Please visit my blog. Thank You!

  22. Things you never knew about the Pilgrims:

    I have read that the Pilgrims left Holland mainly since it was a place of religous freedom and they were afraid of losing members in the more liberal Dutch environment.

    The pilgrims took the bible very literally and if a holiday wasn’t mentioned in the Bible they wouldn’t recognize it. Only after discovering Sukkot, a harvest festival in the Hebrew Bible ( still celebrated usually in September or October) did they make plans to celebrate Thnaksgiving-they certainly didn’t invent it!

    The real pilgrims wore clothing colored brown, green and other colors. Black dyes were not available in this time period so the pictures of them in black may be an inaccurate translation of the pictures of the pilgrims from early black and white books!

  23. turkeys… :)

  24. Much of this information is false or being hotly debated among many historians and anthropologists.

  25. What an interesting (both content and visually) website! Thanks! I would love to use the graphics (and footnotes) of the Mayflower and the Embarkation-Pilgrims in my family tree on Ancestry.com. This would be for personal use, only. If this is possible do I need special permission? I will definitely give “Source” credits to your website.
    Thank-you again for the great work!

  26. hello fellow classmates! brandon Wright

  27. helped

  28. good info(:

  29. This should be email to millions in America to remind all of us of our foundadtions an fight for FREEDOM!

    Thank you!

  30. [...] http://stufffromthelab.wordpress.com/2007/11/12/why-did-the-pilgrims-come-to-the-new-world/ [...]

  31. Hello There.

  32. very helpful have to write a play and act it out for the nursing home my mom works at….:) Thanks

  33. [...] http://stufffromthelab.wordpress.com/2007/11/12/why-did-the-pilgrims-come-to-the-new-world/ [...]

  34. Plymouth is awesome

  35. this is relly good info about the pillgrams

  36. Cheese is the best thing that has ever happened to me!!!! :) :) :) :) :) :)

  37. In my endeavours to produce a documentary to educate both myself and our viewers for a Christian TV channel in the Uk, Revelation TV, it is my opinion that this is the best site so far. I do feel we are seeing a return of persecution by the UK rulers which may lead to Bible believing Christians having to once again, flee their country. The only problem is that this time there is no where to go ???…. Any help would be most welcome in the making of such a documentary or place to go. Every blessings and thanks, Howard Conder

  38. You ought to take part in a contest for one of the most
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  39. it is a really good site

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  41. why did the indane

  42. i learned alot from that

  43. Thanks for doing a great job it helped me with my essay and dont worry i cited your page

  44. thank you for this information this helped alot for my state report………..:)

  45. Thank you for this helped me for my report

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