21 Facts About the Mayflower Voyage and the First Thanksgiving

The Separatists planned to settle in the lands explored by Henry Hudson. Wikimedia

2. Thomas Weston and the London Company arranged for the Separatist’s journey to America

Thomas Weston, a successful London merchant of influence at court, encouraged the Separatists to end conversations with the Dutch, promising them a land grant from the London Company in 1619. The London Company, based on the explorations of Henry Hudson, believed a colony near the river bearing his name bore promise as a successful fishery. Far enough from Virginia to be free of its politics, yet near enough for mutual support, Separatist leaders agreed. At the same time, they were aware of the difficulties encountered by the early settlers in Virginia. The London Company knew of the difficulties endured by the early Virginia settlers, and demanded sufficiently skilled men be part of the expedition.

Separatist leaders agreed with the need to include settlers with skills which most of their party did not possess. Their flock for the most part did not. They believed they were on a sojourn like that of the Israelites, tasked by God to build a new temple in the Promised Land. They perceived outsiders as a threat to their congregation and religious belief. Weston insisted, supported by the London Company, which held the purse strings. The Leiden congregations decided that the youngest and strongest would make the first trip to America, with the remainder remaining in Holland. They would make the journey later, after the colony established itself. Outsiders, the Strangers, were hired to increase the chances of success.

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