Did the Mayflower Sail From Rotherhithe?

The Mayflower is a famous ship that carried the English Separatists, also known as Pilgrims, across the Atlantic to the New World in 1620. However, there has been some debate about where exactly the Mayflower sailed from.

While many believe it set sail from Plymouth, others argue that it actually departed from Rotherhithe. So, did the Mayflower sail from Rotherhithe? Let’s explore this intriguing question.

What is Rotherhithe?

Rotherhithe is a district located in southeast London on the banks of the River Thames. It has a rich maritime history dating back to Roman times and was once a bustling port. In fact, many historic ships were built and launched from Rotherhithe, including the famous ship named The Mayflower.

The Case for Rotherhithe

Proponents of the theory that The Mayflower sailed from Rotherhithe have several compelling arguments. First and foremost, there are historical records indicating that The Mayflower was built in Rotherhithe at a shipyard owned by Christopher Jones. In addition to this, some historians believe that Jones himself lived in Rotherhithe and would have been more likely to embark on his journey from there rather than travel all the way to Plymouth.

Moreover, there is evidence that suggests The Mayflower set sail with a smaller crew than originally intended. It is possible that some of these crew members hailed from Rotherhithe and joined the ship when it was docked there before embarking on their journey.

The Case for Plymouth

Despite these compelling arguments for Rotherhithe being The Mayflower’s departure point, most historians agree that Plymouth is actually where it set sail from. There are several reasons for this conclusion.

Firstly, historical records indicate that The Mayflower made several stops along its journey before finally departing from Plymouth. Additionally, there are accounts of the ship being fitted with provisions in Plymouth, suggesting that it was preparing for a long journey.

Furthermore, Plymouth was a major port at the time and was equipped with the necessary facilities to support a transatlantic voyage. This would have been important for a ship like The Mayflower, which was carrying over 100 passengers and crew members.

The Verdict

So, did The Mayflower sail from Rotherhithe or Plymouth? While it is tempting to believe in the romantic notion of The Mayflower embarking on its journey from a small port like Rotherhithe, historical evidence suggests that it actually set sail from Plymouth. The records of its journey and preparations for the voyage indicate that this was indeed its point of departure.


In conclusion, while there has been some debate about where The Mayflower sailed from, most historians agree that it departed from Plymouth. However, Rotherhithe still played an important role in the ship’s history as it was built there and likely had crew members join the ship while docked there. Regardless of its departure point, The Mayflower’s journey across the Atlantic remains one of the most significant events in American history and will continue to be celebrated for generations to come.

  • Key Takeaways:
  • The Mayflower is a famous ship that carried English Separatists to the New World in 1620.
  • There has been some debate about whether it sailed from Rotherhithe or Plymouth.
  • While some argue for Rotherhithe due to historical records showing it was built there by Christopher Jones & smaller crew joining along from there; most historians agree that it actually set sail from Plymouth due to historical evidence indicating several stops before departing and being fitted with provisions there.
  • Regardless, the Mayflower’s journey remains one of the most significant events in American history.
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Michael Allen