By: Scott RossPublished: August 5, 2022

Captain Christopher Jones

Christopher Jones' life was plagued by false starts.

The son of a sailor, he became a sailor himself, and then married the daughter of a sailor, Sara Twitt, on December 27, 1593, in Harwich, England. The first Mrs. Jones gave him a son, Thomas, so named for his wealthy maternal grandfather. Tragically, Sara died in 1603.

Jones wasted no time, however, in finding Mrs. Jones 2.0, the widow Josian Grey, herself having been born into a seafaring family as well as marrying into another and then another. She bore eight children between 1604 and 1621.

Not long after his second marriage, he became part owner of a ship called the Mayflower and two years later moved to Rotherhite*, a neighborhood on the banks of the Thames, about a mile east of the Tower of London. Then, around about 1620, Jones and his ship were hired by a group of plucky, disaffected Brits, some of whom had been living in Holland in self-imposed exile and now sought passage to The New World.

The Mayflower was to meet on July 22 with the Speedwell and its passengers from Leyden, Netherlands, to set sail across the Atlantic, but the Speedwell sprang a leak, delaying their departure for two weeks. Finally, on August 5, 1620, the two ships shoved off from Southampton, on the southern coast of England, ready for a great adventure and the promise of religious freedom.

But as luck would have it, the Speedwell sprang a second leak! The two ships had to make shore in Dartmouth, not 150 southwest of Southampton. The two boats set sail once again, and once again the ironically Speedwell sprang yet another leak. The two ships were forced to retreat to Plymouth, England, where it was decided that 20 passengers from the Speedwell would cram into the Mayflower, while the rest would head back to Holland. Finally, on September 16, the Mayflower, now with 102 passengers shoehorned into just 1,600 square feet, headed west to the great beyond.

This is all to say that the grand project that is America was a total clusterfuck from the jump and that for all her faults and egregious missteps, she's still pretty sweet.

*Upon her return from America, the Mayflower parked near Jones' home in Rotherhite. Jones died in 1622, while his ship sat there until about 1624, when it was likely stripped for parts. Not far from that spot stands a pub that dates back to 16th century and was originally called The Spread Eagle, but has since been renamed The Mayflower, and it widely consider one of the city's finest.


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