John Winthrop’s journal of the ship Arbella’s voyage to America, March 29 – July 8, 1630

On April 7, 1630, the Arabella was a week out from its port in England, and the last well-wishers returned to shore. The winds were finally favorable, and the ship weighed anchor and sailed for New England, with Governor John Winthrop and approximately 300 English Puritans on board, leaving their homes in England to settle in a fledgling colony. Here they would work “to do more service to the Lord.” Governor Winthrop shepherded the Puritans through 12 years of enormous hardship. Under his leadership, Massachusetts Bay became the most populous English colony and Boston the largest city in North America.

Puritans leaving for America

John Winthrop’s journal: The Voyage of the Fleet and its arrival in New England

Easter Monday, 29 March, Anno Domini 1630: Riding at the Cowes, near the Isle of Wight, on the Arbella, a ship of three hundred and fifty tons, whereof Capt. Peter Milborne was Master, being manned with fifty-two seamen, and twenty-eight pieces of ordnance, (the wind coming to the N by W the evening before,) in the morning there came aboard us Mr. [Matthew] Cradock, the late Governor, and the Masters of his two ships, Capt. John Lowe, master of the Ambrose, and Mr. Nicholas Hurlston, master of the Jewel, and Mr. Thomas Beecher, master of the Talbot, (which three ships rode then by us, the Charles, theMayflower, the William and Francis, the Hopewell, the Whale, the Success and theTrial being still at Hampton and not ready,) when, upon conference, it was agreed, that (in regard it was uncertain when the rest of the fleet would be ready) these four ships should consort together; the Arbella to be admiral, the Talbot vice-admiral, the Ambrose rear-admiral, and the Jewel a captain; and accordingly articles of consortship were drawn between the said captains and masters; whereupon Mr. Cradock took leave of us, and our captain gave him a farewell with four or five shot. About ten of the clock we weighed anchor and set sail, with the wind at N, and came to an anchor again over against Yarmouth, and the Talbot weighed likewise, and came and anchored by us. Here we met with a ship of Hampton, called the Plantation, newly come from Virginia. Our Captain saluted her, and she us again; and the master, one Mr. Graves, came on board our ship, and stayed with us about two or three hours, and in the meantime his ship came to an anchor by us.

Tuesday, 30 March, 1630: In the morning, about ten of the clock, the wind being come to the West with fair weather, we weighed and rode nearer Yarmouth. When we came before the town, the castle put forth a flag. Our captain saluted them, and they answered us again. The Talbot, which rode farther off, saluted the castle also. Here we saw, close by the shore of the Isle of Wight, a Dutch ship of one thousand tons, which, being bound to the East Indies, about two years since, in passing through the Needles, struck upon a rock, and being forced to run ashore to save her men, could never be weighed since, although she lies a great height above the water, and yet she hath some men aboard her.

Wednesday, 31 March, 1630: The wind continued West and Southwest with rain. Our captain and some of our company went to Yarmouth for supply of wood and other provisions (our captain was still careful to fill our empty casks with water).

Thursday, April 1st, 1630: The wind continued very strong at W and by S with much rain.

Friday, 2 April, 1630: We kept a fast aboard our ship and the Talbot. The wind continued still very high at W and S and rainy. In the time of our fast, two of our landsmen pierced a rundlet of strong water [Rum], and stole some of it, for which we laid them in bolts all the night, and the next morning the principal was openly whipped, and both kept with bread and water that day.

Saturday, 3 April, 1630: The wind continued still at W and with continual storms and rain.

Sunday, 4 April, 1630: Fair, clear weather. In the morning the wind W and by N, but in the afternoon SSW. This evening the Talbot weighed and went back to the Cowes, because her anchor would not hold here, the tide set with so strong a race.

Monday, 5 April, 1630: The wind still W and S with fair weather. A maid of Sir Richard Saltonstall fell down at the grating by the cook-room, but the carpenter’s man, who occasioned her fall unwittingly, caught hold of her with incredible nimbleness, and saved her; otherwise she had fallen into the hold.

Tuesday, 6 April, 1630: Capt. Burleigh, captain of Yarmouth castle, a grave, comely gentleman, and of great age, came aboard us and stayed breakfast, and, offering us much courtesy, he departed, our captain giving him four shots out of the forecastle for his farewell. He was an old sea captain in Queen Elizabeth’s time, and, being taken prisoner at sea, was kept prisoner in Spain three years. He and three of his sons were captains in Roe’s voyage. The wind was now come about to NE with very fair weather. In the afternoon Mr. Cradock came aboard us, and told us, that the Talbot, Jewel, and Ambrose were fallen down into Stoke’s Bay, intending to take their way by St. Helen’s Point, and that they desired we could come back to them. Hereupon we came to council, and wrote unto them to take the first opportunity of the wind to fall down to us, and Mr. Cradock presently went back to them, our captain giving him three shot out of the steerage for a farewell. Our captain called over our landsmen, and tried them at their muskets, and such as were good shot among them were enrolled to serve in the ship, if occasion should be. The Lady Arbella and the gentlewomen, and Mr. Johnson and some others went on shore to refresh themselves.

Wednesday, 7 April, 1630: Fair weather, the wind easterly, in the morning a small gale, but in the afternoon it came about to the south. This afternoon our other consorts came up to us, and about ten or twelve Flemings, and all anchored by us, and the masters of the Jewel and of the Ambrose came aboard us, and our captain and they went on shore. Towards night there came from the west a Fleming, a small man-of-war, with a Brazil man which he had taken prize, and came to anchor by us.

Thursday, 8 April, 1630: About six in the morning (the wind being E and N and fair weather) we weighed anchor and set sail, and before ten we got through the Needles, having so little wind as we had much to do to stem the tide, so as the rest of our fleet (we being nine in all, whereof some were small ships, which were bound for Newfoundland) could not get out all then till the ebb. In the afternoon the wind came S and W and we were becalmed, so as being not able to get above three or four leagues [a league was about 3 nautical miles] from the Needles, our captain tacked about, and putting his fore-sheets aback stays, he stayed for the rest of the fleet, and as they came by us we spoke to them, and about eight in the evening we let fall an anchor, intending to stop till the ebb. But before ten at night the wind came about to the N a good gale; so we put up a light in the poop, and weighed and set sail, and by daylight, Friday, 9 April, we were come to Portland; but the other ships being not able to hold up with us, we were forced to spare our mainsail, and went on with a merry gale. In the morning we descried from the top eight sail astern of us, (whom Capt. Lowe told us he had seen at Dunnose in the evening.) We supposing they might be Dunkirkers, our captain caused the gunroom and gun deck to be cleared; all the hammocks were taken down, our ordnance loaded, and our powder-chests and fireworks made ready, and our landsmen quartered among the seamen, and twenty-five of them appointed for muskets, and every man written down for his quarter.

The wind continued north with fair weather, and after noon it calmed, and we still saw those eight ships to stand towards us; having more wind than we, they came up apace, so as our captain and the masters of our consorts were more occasioned to think they might be Dunkirkers, (for we were told at Yarmouth, that there were ten sail of them waiting for us) whereupon we all prepared to fight with them, and took down some cabins which were in the way of our ordnance, and out of every ship were thrown such bed matters as were subject to take fire, and we heaved out our long boats, and put up our waste cloths, and drew forth our men, and armed them with muskets and other weapons, and instruments for fireworks; and for an experiment our captain shot a ball of wild-fire fastened to an arrow out of a cross-bow, which burnt in the water a good time. The lady Arbella and the other women and children were removed into the lower deck, that they might be out of danger. All things being thus fitted, we went to prayer upon the upper deck. It was much to see how cheerful and comfortable all the company appeared; not a woman or child that showed fear, though all did apprehend the danger to have been great, if things had proved as might well be expected, for there had been eight against four, and the least of the enemy’s ships were reported to carry thirty brass pieces; but our trust was in the Lord of Hosts; and the courage of our captain, and his care and diligence, did much encourage us. It was now about one of the clock, and the fleet seemed to be within a league of us; therefore our captain, because he would show he was not afraid of them, and that he might see the issue before night should overtake us, tacked about and stood to meet them, and when we came near we perceived them to be our friends, the Little Neptune, a ship of some twenty pieces of ordnance, and her two consorts, bound for the Straits; a ship of Flushing, and a Frenchman, and three other English ships bound for Canada and Newfoundland. So when we drew near, every ship (as they met) saluted each other, and the musketeers discharged their small shot; and so (God be praised) our fear and danger was turned into mirth and friendly entertainment. Our danger being thus over, we espied two boats on fishing in the channel; so every of our four ships manned out a skiff, and we bought of them great store of excellent fresh fish of divers sorts.

Saturday, 10 April, 1630: The wind at E and by N a handsome gale with fair weather. By seven in the morning we were come over against Plimouth. About noon the wind slacked, and we were come within sight of the Lizard, and towards night it grew very calm and a great fog, so as our ships made no way. This afternoon Mr. Hurlston, the master of the Jewel, came aboard our ship, and our captain went in his skiff aboard the Ambrose and the Neptune, of which one Mr. Andrew Cole was master. There he was told, that the bark Warwick was taken by the Dunkirkers, for she came single out of the Downs about fourteen days since, intending to come to us to the Wight, but was never heard of since. She was a pretty ship of about eighty tons and ten pieces of ordnance, and was set out by Sir Ferdinando Gorges. Gorges, Capt. Mason, and others, for discovery of the great lake in New England, so to have intercepted the trade of beaver. The master of her was one Mr. Weatherell, whose father was master of one of the cattle ships, which we left at Hampton.

This day two young men, falling at odds and fighting, contrary to the orders which we had published and set up in the ship, were adjudged to walk upon the deck till night with their hands bound behind them, which accordingly was executed; and another man, for using contemptuous speeches in our presence, was laid in bolts till he submitted himself, and promised open confession of his offence.

I should have noted before, that the day we set sail from the Cowes, my son Henry Winthrop went on shore with one of my servants to fetch an ox and ten wethers [sheep], which he had provided for our ship, and there went on shore with him Mr. Pelham and one of his servants. They sent the cattle aboard, but returned not themselves. About three days after, my servant and a servant of Mr. Pelham’s came to us to Yarmouth, and told us they were all coming to us in a boat the day before, but the wind was so strong against them, as they were forced on shore in the night, and the two servants came to Yarmouth by land, and so came on ship-board, but my son and Mr. Pelham (we heard) went back to the Cowes and so to Hampton. We expected them three or four days after, but they came not to us, so we have left them behind, and suppose they will come after in Mr. Goffe’s ships. We were very sorry they had put themselves upon such inconvenience, when they were so well accommodated in our ship. This was not noted before, because we expected daily their return; and upon this occasion I must add here one observation, that we have many young gentlemen in our ship, who behave themselves well, and are conformable to all good orders. About ten at night it cleared up with a fresh gale at N and by W, so we stood on our course merrily.

Sunday, 11 April, 1630: The wind at N and by W a very stiff gale. About eight in the morning, being gotten past Scilly, and standing to the WSW we met two small ships, which falling in among us, and the admiral coming under our lee, we let him pass, but the Jewel and Ambrose, perceiving the other to be a Brazil man, and to take the wind of us, shot at them and made them stop and fall after us, and sent a skiff aboard them to know what they were. Our captain, fearing lest some mistake might arise, and lest they should take them for enemies which were friends, and so, through the unruliness of the mariners some wrong might be done them, caused his skiff to be heaved out, and sent Mr. Graves, one of his mates and our pilot (a discreet man) to see how things were, who returned soon after, and brought with him the master of one of the ships and Mr. Lowe and Mr. Hurlston. When they were come aboard us, they agreed to send for the captain, who came and showed his conclusion he proved to be a Dutchman, and his a man-of-war of Flushing, and the other ship was a prize he had taken laden with sugar and tobacco; so we sent them aboard their ships again, and held on our course. In this time (which hindered us five or six leagues) the Jewel and the Ambrose came foul of each other, so as we much feared the issue, but, through God’s mercy, they came well off again, only the Jewel had her foresail torn, and one of her anchors broken. This occasion, and the sickness of our minister and people, put us all out of order this day, so as we could have no sermons.

Monday, 12 April, 1630: The wind more large to the N a stiff gale, with fair weather. In the afternoon less wind, and our people began to grow well again. Our children and others, that were sick, and lay groaning in the cabins, we fetched out, and having stretched a rope from the steerage to the mainmast, we made them stand, some of one side and some of the other, and sway it up and down till they were warm, and by this means they soon grew well and merry.

Tuesday, 13 April, 1630: The night before it was calm, and the next day calm and close weather, so as we made little way, the wind with us being W.

Wednesday, 14 April, 1630: The wind SW, rainy weather in the morning. About nine in the forenoon the wind came about to NNW a stiff gale; so we tacked about and steered our course WSW. This day the ship heaved and set more than before, yet we had but few sick, and of these such as came up upon the deck, and stirred themselves, were presently well again; therefore our captain set our children and young men to some harmless exercises, which the seamen were very active in, and did our people much good, though they would sometimes play the wags with them. Towards night we were forced to take in some sail to stay for the vice-admiral, which was near a league astern of us.

Thursday, 15 April, 1630: The wind still at NNW fair weather, but less wind than the day and night before, so as our ship made but little way. At noon our captain made observation by the cross-staff, and found we were in forty-seven degrees thirty-seven minutes north latitude. All this forenoon our vice-admiral was much to leeward of us; so after dinner we bare up towards her, and having fetched her up and spoken with her, the wind being come to SW we tacked about and steered our course NNW lying as near the wind as we could, and about four of the clock, with a stiff gale, we steered W and by N, and at night the wind grew very strong, which put us on to the W amain.

About ten at night the wind grew so high, and rain withal, that we were forced to take in our topsail, and having lowered our mainsail and foresail, the storm was so great as it split our foresail and tore it in pieces, and a knot of the sea washed our tub overboard, wherein our fish was a-watering. The storm still grew, and it was dark with clouds, (though otherwise moonlight) so as (though it was the Jewel’s turn to carry the light this night, yet) lest we should lose or go foul one of another, we hanged out a light upon our mizzen shrouds, and before midnight we lost sight of our vice-admiral. Our captain, so soon as he had set the watch, at eight in the evening called his men, and told them he feared we should have a storm, and therefore commanded them to be ready upon the deck, if occasion should be; and himself was up and down the decks all times of the night.

Friday, 16 April, 1630: About four in the morning the wind slacked a little, yet it continued a great storm still, and though in the afternoon it blew not much wind, yet the sea was so high as it tossed us more than before, and we carried no more but our mainsail, yet our ship steered well with it, which few such ships could have done. About four in the afternoon, the wind still W and by S and rainy, we put on a new foresail and hoisted it up, and stood NW. All this day our rear-admiral and the Jewel held up with us. This night was very stormy. All the time of the storm few of our people were sick, (except the women, who kept under hatches,) and there appeared no fear or dismay among them.

Saturday, 17 April, 1630: The wind SW very stormy and boisterous. All this time we bore no more sail but our mainsail and foresail, and we steered our course W and by N. This day our captain told me, that our landsmen were very nasty and slovenly, and that the gundeck, where they lodged, was so beastly and noisome [stinking] with their victuals and beastliness, as would much endanger the health of the ship. Hereupon, after prayer, we took order, and appointed four men to see to it, and to keep that room clean for three days, and then four others should succeed them, and so forth on. The wind continued all this day at SW a stiff gale. In the afternoon it cleared up, but very hazy. Our captain, about four of the clock, sent one to the top to look for our vice-admiral, but he could not descry him, yet we saw a sail about two leagues to the leeward, which stood toward the NE. We were this evening (by our account) about ninety leagues from Scilly, W and by S. At this place there came a swallow and lighted upon our ship.

Sunday, 18 April, 1630: About two in the morning the wind NW; so we tacked about and steered our course SW. We had still much wind, and the sea went very high, which tossed our ship continually. After our evening sermon, about five of the clock, the wind came about to SE a good gale, but rainy; so we steered our course WSW and the ship’s way was about nine leagues a watch [a watch is four hours]. This day the captain sent to top again to discover our vice-admiral. We descried from thence to the eastward a sail, but we knew not what she was. About seven of the clock the Jewel bare up so near as we could speak each to other, and after we bated some sail; so she went ahead of us, and soon after eight put forth her light.

Monday, 19 April, 1630: In the morning the wind was come about to the NW a good gale and fair weather; so we held our course, but the ship made not so good way as when the wind was large. This day, by observation and account, we found ourselves to be in forty-eight degrees north latitude, and two hundred and twenty leagues west from the meridian of London. Here I think good to note that all this time since we came from the Wight, we had cold weather, so as we could well endure our warmest clothes. I wish, therefore, that all such as shall pass this way in the spring have care to provide warm clothing; for nothing breeds more trouble and danger of sickness, in this season, than cold. In the afternoon the wind came to SW a stiff gale, with rain; so we steered westerly, till night; then the wind came about to NW and we tacked again and stood SW. Our rear-admiral being to leeward of us, we bare up to him. He told us all their people were in health, but one of their cows was dead.

Tuesday, 20 April, 1630: The wind southerly, fair weather, and little wind. In the morning we stood S and by E, in the afternoon W and by N.

Wednesday, 21 April, 1630: Thick, rainy weather; much wind at SW. Our captain, over night, had invited his consorts to have dined with him this day, but it was such foul weather as they could not come aboard us.

Thursday, 22 April, 1630: The wind still W and by S fair weather; then WNW. This day at noon we found ourselves in forty-seven degrees and forty-eight minutes, and having a stiff gale, we steered SW about four leagues a watch, all this day and all the night following.

Friday, 23 April, 1630: The wind still WNW a small gale, with fair weather. Our captain put forth his ancient flag in the poop, and heaved out his skiff, and lowered his topsails, to give sign to his consorts that they should come aboard us to dinner, for they were both a good way astern of us, and our vice-admiral was not yet seen of us since the storm, though we sent to the top every day to descry her. About eleven of the clock, our captain sent his skiff and fetched aboard us the masters of the other two ships, and Mr. Pynchon, and they dined with us in the round-house, for the lady and gentlewomen dined in the great cabin. This day and the night following we had little wind, so as the sea was very smooth, and the ship made little way.

Saturday, 24 April, 1630: The wind still W and by N, fair weather and calm all that day and night. Here we made observation again, and found we were in forty-five degrees twenty minutes, north latitude.

Sunday, 25 April, 1630: The wind northerly, fair weather, but still calm. We stood W and by S and saw two ships ahead of us as far as we could descry. In the afternoon the wind came W and by S but calm still. About five of the clock, the rear-admiral and the Jewel had fetched up the two ships, and by their saluting each other we perceived they were friends, (for they were so far to windward of us as we could only see the smoke of their pieces, but could not hear them). About nine of the clock, they both fell back towards us again, and we steered NNW. Now the weather begins to be warm.

Monday, 26 April, 1630: The wind still W and by S close weather, and scarce any wind. The two ships, which we saw yesterday, were bound for Canada. Capt. Kirk was aboard the admiral. They bare up with us, and falling close under our lee, we saluted each other, and conferred together so long till his vice-admiral was becalmed by our sails, and we were foul one of another; but there being little wind and the sea calm, we kept them asunder with oars, etc., till they heaved out their boat, and so towed their ship away. They told us for certain, that the king of France had set out six of his own ships to recover the fort from them. About one of the clock Capt. Lowe sent his skiff aboard us (with a friendly token of his love to the governor) to desire our captain to come aboard his ship, which he did, and there met the masters of the other ships and Capt. Kirk, and before night they all returned to their ships again, Capt. Lowe bestowing some shot upon them for their welcome. The wind now blew a pretty gale, so as our ship made some way again, though it were out of our right course NW by N.

Tuesday, 27 April, 1630: The wind still westerly, a stiff gale, with close weather. We steered WNW. About noon some rain, and all the day very cold. We appointed Tuesdays and Wednesdays to catechize our people, and this day Mr. Phillips began it. Wednesday, 28 April, 1630 All the night, and this day till noon, the wind very high at SW, close weather, and some rain. Between eleven and twelve, in a shower, the wind came WNW, so we tacked about and stood SW.

Thursday, 29 April, 1630: Much wind all this night at W and by N and the sea went very high, so as the ship rolled very much, because we sailed but with one course; therefore, about twelve, our captain arose and caused the fore topsail to be hoisted, and then the ship went more steady. He caused the quartermaster to look down into the hold to see if the cask lay fast. In the morning the wind continued with a stiff gale; rainy and cold all the day. We had been now three weeks at sea, and were not come above three hundred leagues, being about one third part of our way, viz., about forty-six north latitude, and near the meridian of the Terceras. This night Capt. Kirk carried the light as one of our consorts.

Friday, 30 April, 1630: The wind at WNW, a strong gale all the night and day, with showers now and then. We made observation, and found we were in forty-four north latitude. At night the wind scanted towards the S with rain; so we tacked about and stood NW and by N.

Saturday, May 1, 1630: All the night much wind at SSW and rain. In the morning the wind still strong, so as we could bear little sail, and so it continued a growing storm all the day, and towards night so much wind as we bore no more sail but so much as should keep the ship stiff. Then it grew a very great tempest all the night, with fierce showers of rain intermixed, and very cold.

Lord’s day, 2 May, 1630: The tempest continued all the day, with the wind W and by N, and the sea raged and tossed us exceedingly; yet, through God’s mercy, we were very comfortable, and few or none sick, but had opportunity to keep the Sabbath, and Mr. Phillips preached twice that day. The Ambrose and Jewel were separated far from us the first night, but this day we saw them again, but Capt. Kirk’s ships we saw not since.

Monday, 3 May, 1630: In the night the wind abated, and by morning the sea was well assuaged, so as we bare our foresail again, and stood WSW; but all the time of the tempest we could make no way, but were driven to the leeward, and the Ambrose struck all her sails but her mizzen, and lay a hull. She broke her main yard. This day we made observation, and found we were in forty-three and a half north latitude. We set two fighters in the bolts till night, with their hands bound behind them. A maid-servant in the ship, being stomach-sick, drank so much strong water, that she was senseless, and had near killed herself. We observed it a common fault in our young people, that they gave themselves to drink hot waters [rum or other distilled liquor] very immoderately.

Tuesday, 4 May, 1630: Much wind at SW, close weather. In the morning we tacked about and stood NW and about ten in the morning WNW, but made little way in regard of the head sea.

Wednesday, 5 May, 1630: The wind W and by S thick, foggy weather, and rainy; so we stood NW by W. At night the Lord remembered us, and enlarged the wind to the N; so we tacked about and stood our course W and by S with a merry gale in all our sails.

Thursday, 6 May, 1630: The wind at N a good gale, and fair weather. We made observation and found we were forty-three and a half north latitude; so we stood full west, and ran, in twenty-four hours, about thirty leagues. Four things I observed here. 1) That the declination of the pole star was much, even to the view, beneath that it is in England. 2) That the new moon, when it first appeared, was much smaller than at any time I had seen it in England. 3) That all the way we came, we saw fowls flying and swimming, when we had no land near by two hundred leagues. 4) That wheresoever the wind blew, we had still cold weather, and the sun did not give so much heat as in England.

Friday, 7 May, 1630: The wind N and by E a small gale, very fair weather, and towards night a still calm. This day our captain and Mr. Lowe dined aboard the Jewel.

Saturday, 8 May, 1630: All the night calm. In the morning the wind SW a handsome gale; so we tacked and stood NW and soon after, the wind growing more large, we stood WNW with a good gale. About four of the clock we saw a whale, who lay just in our ship’s way, (the bunch of his back about a yard above water). He would not shun us; so we passed within a stone’s cast of him, as he lay spouting up water.

Lord’s day, 9 May, 1630: The wind still SW a good gale, but close weather and some rain; we held on our course WNW. About nine it cleared up, and towards night a great fog for an hour or two. We were now in forty-four and a half north latitude, and a little west of Corvos.

Monday, 10 May, 1630: The wind SSW a good gale and fair weather; so we stood W and by N four or five leagues a watch, all this day. The wind increased, and was a great storm all the night. About midnight our rear-admiral put forth two lights, whereby we knew that some mischance had befallen her. We answered her with two lights again, and bare up to her, so near as we durst, (for the sea went very high, and she lay by the lee) and having hailed her, we thought she had sprung a leak; but she had broken some of her shrouds; so we went a little ahead of her, and, bringing our foresail aback stays, we stayed for her, and, about two hours after, she filled her sails, and we stood our course together, but our captain went not to rest till four of the clock, and some others of us slept but little that night.

Tuesday, 11 May, 1630: The storm continued all this day, till three in the afternoon, and the sea went very high, so as our ship could make no way, being able to bear no more but our mainsail about mid-mast high. At three there fell a great storm of rain, which laid the wind, and the wind shifting into the W, we tacked and stood into the head sea, to avoid the rolling of our ship, and by that means we made no way, the sea beating us back as much as the wind put us forward. We had still cold weather, and our people were so acquainted with storms as they were not sick, nor troubled, though we were much tossed forty-eight hours together, viz., twenty-four during the storm, and as long the next night and day following, Wednesday, 12 May, when as we lay as it were a hull, for want of wind, and rolling continually in a high grown sea. This day was close and rainy. Complaint was made to our captain of some injury that one of the under officers of the ship had done to one of our landsmen. He called him and examined the cause, and commanded him to be tied up by the hands, and a weight to be hanged about his neck; but, at the intercession of the governor (with some difficulty) he remitted his punishment. At night the wind blew at SE a handsome gale, with rain; so we put forth our sails and stood W and by S.

Thursday, 13 May, 1630:Toward morning the wind came to the southwesterly, with close weather and a strong gale, so as before noon we took in our topsails, (the rear-admiral having split her fore topsail) and we stood west-southerly.

Friday, 14 May, 1630: The wind WSW, thick, foggy weather, and in the afternoon rainy. We stood W and by S, and after W and by N about five leagues a watch. We were in forty-four and a half [degrees north latitude]. The sun set NW and by N one third northerly. And towards night we stood W.

Saturday, 15 May, 1630:The wind westerly all this day; fair weather. We tacked twice to small purpose.

Lord’s day, 16 May, 1630: As the 15th was.

Monday, 17 May, 1630: The wind at S a fine gale and fair weather. We stood W and by S. We saw a great drift; so we heaved out our skiff, and it proved a fir log, which seemed to have been many years in the water, for it was all overgrown with barnacles and other trash. We sounded here and found no ground at one hundred fathoms [1 fathom = 6 feet] and more. We saw two whales. About nine at night the wind grew very strong at SW and continued so, with much rain, till one of the clock; then it ceased raining, but the wind came to the W with more violence. In this storm we were forced to take in all our sails, save our mainsail, and to lower that so much as we could.

Tuesday, 18 May, 1630: In the morning the wind slacked, but we could stand no nearer our course than N, and we had much wind all this day. In the afternoon we tacked and stood S by E. Towards night (our rear-admiral being near two leagues to leeward of us) we bare up, and drawing near her, we descried, some two leagues more to leeward, two ships, which we conceived were those two of Capt. Kirk’s, which parted from us in the storm, May 2. We had still cold weather.

Wednesday, 19 May, 1630: The wind SSW; close and rainy; little wind. We tacked again and stood W; but about noon the wind came full W a very strong gale; so we tacked again and stood N by E, and at night we took off our main bonnet and took in all our sails, save our main-course and mizzen. We were now in forty-four degrees twelve minutes north, and by our account in the midway between the false bank and the main bank. All this night a great storm at W by N.

Thursday, 20 May, 1630: The storm continued all this day, the wind as it was, and rainy. In the forenoon we carried our forecourse and stood WSW, but in the afternoon we took it in, the wind increasing, and the sea grown very high; and lying with the helm a-weather, we made no way but as the ship drove. We had still cold weather. In the great cabin, at nine at night, etc., and the next day again, etc. The storm continued all this night.

Friday, 21 May, 1630: The wind still NW; little wind, and close weather. We stood SW with all our sails, but made little way, and at night it was a still calm. A servant of one of our company had bargained with a child to sell him a box worth 3 pence for three biscuits a day all the voyage, and had received about forty, and had sold them and many more to some other servants. We caused his hands to be tied up to a bar, and hanged a basket with stones about his neck, and so he stood two hours.

Saturday, 22 May, 1630: The wind SSW much wind and rain. Our spritsail laid so deep in as it was split in pieces with a head sea at the instant as our captain was going forth of his cabin very early in the morning to give order to take it in. It was a great mercy of God, that it did split, for otherwise it had endangered the breaking of our bowsprit and topmasts at least, and then we had no other way but to have returned for England, except the wind had come east. About ten in the morning, in a very great fret of wind, it chopped suddenly into the W as it had done divers times before, and so continued with a small gale and [we] stood N and by W. About four in the afternoon there arose a sudden storm of wind and rain, so violent as we had not a greater. It continued thick and boisterous all the night. About seven we descried a sail ahead of us, towards the N and by E, which stood towards us. Our captain, supposing it might be our vice-admiral, hoisted up his mainsail, which before was struck down aboard, and came up to meet her. When we drew near her we put forth our ancient, and she luffed up to get the wind of us; but when she saw she could not, she bare up, and hoisting up her foresail, stood away before the wind; yet we made all the signs we could, that we meant her no harm, but she would not trust us. She was within shot of us, so as we perceived she was a small Frenchman, which we did suppose had been driven off the bank. When she was clear of us, she stood her course again, and we ours. This day at twelve we made observation, and were about forty-three, but the storm put us far to the N again. Still cold weather.

Lord’s day, 23 May, 1630: Much wind, still westerly, and very cold weather.

Monday, 24 May, 1630: The wind NW by N a handsome gale, and close weather and very cold. We stood SW. About noon we had occasion to lie by the lee to straighten our mizzen shrouds, and the rear-admiral and Jewel, being both to windward of us, bare up and came under our lee, to inquire if anything were amiss with us; so we heard the company was in health in the Jewel, but that two passengers were dead in theAmbrose, and one other cow.

Tuesday, 25 May, 1630: The wind still NW; fair weather, but cold. We went on with a handsome gale, and at noon were in forty-three and a half; and the variation of the compass was a point and one-sixth. All this day we stood WSW about five or six leagues a watch, and towards night the wind enlarged, with a cold dash of snowy rain, and then we ran in a smooth sea about eight or nine leagues a watch, and stood due W.

Wednesday, 26 May, 1630: The wind still NW a good gale and fair weather, but very cold still; yet we were about forty-three [degrees north]. At night we sounded, but found no ground.

Thursday, 27 May, 1630: The wind NW a handsome gale; fair weather. About noon it came about to the SW, and at night rain with a stiff gale, and it continued to rain very hard till it was near midnight. This day our skiff went aboard the Jewel for a hogshead of meal, which we borrowed because we could not come by our own, and there came back in the skiff the master of the Jewel and Mr. Revell; so our captain stayed them dinner, and sent for Capt. Lowe; and about two hours after dinner, they went aboard their own ships, our captain giving Mr. Revell three shot, because he was one of the owners of our ship. We understood now, that the two which died in the Ambrose were Mr. Cradock’s servants, who were sick when they came to sea; and one of them should have been left at Cowes, if any house would have received him. In the Jewel, also, one of the seamen died — a most profane fellow, and one who was very injurious to the passengers, though much against the will of the master. At noon we tacked about and stood W and by N and so continued most part of that day and night following, and had much rain till midnight.

Friday, 28 May, 1630: In the morning the wind veered to the W yet we had a stiff gale, and steered NW and by N. It was so great a fog all this day, as we had lost sight of one of our ships, and saw the other sometimes much to leeward. We had many fierce showers of rain throughout this day. At night the wind cleared up, and we saw both our consorts fair by us; so that wind being very scant, we tacked and stood W and by S. A child was born in the Jewelabout this time.

Saturday, 29 May, 1630: The wind NW a stiff gale, and fair weather, but very cold; in the afternoon full N and towards night N and by E; so we stood W.

Lord’s day, 30 May, 1630: The wind N by E a handsome gale, but close, misty weather, and very cold; so our ship made good way in a smooth sea, and our three ships kept close together. By our account we were in the same meridian with Isle Sable, and forty-two and a half.

Monday, 31 May, 1630: Wind NW a small gale, close and cold weather. We sounded, but had no ground. About noon the wind came N by E a stiff, constant gale and fair weather, so as our ship’s way was seven, eight, and sometimes twelve leagues a watch. This day, about five at night, we expected the eclipse, but there was not any, the sun being fair and clear from three till it set.

Tuesday, June 1, 1630: The wind NE a small gale, with fair, clear weather; in the afternoon full S, and towards night a good gale. We stood W and by N. A woman in our ship fell in travail [childbirth labor], and we sent and had a midwife out of the Jewel. She was so far ahead of us at this time, (though usually we could spare her some sail,) as we shot off a piece and lowered our topsails, and then she brailed her sails and stayed for us. This evening we saw the new moon more than half an hour after sunset, being much smaller than it is at any time in England.

Wednesday, June 2, 1630: The wind SSW, a handsome gale; very fair weather, but still cold; in the evening a great fog. We stood W and by N and WNW. Our captain, supposing us now to be near the N coast, and knowing that to the S there were dangerous shoals, fitted on a new mainsail, that was very strong and double, and would not adventure with his old sails as before, when he had sea-room enough.

Thursday, 3 June, 1630: The wind S by W a good steady gale, and we stood W and by N. The fog continued very thick, and some rain withal. We sounded in the morning, and again at noon, and had no ground. We sounded again about two, afternoon, and had ground about eighty fathom, a fine gray sand; so we presently tacked and stood SSE, and shot off a piece of ordnance to give notice to our consorts, whom we saw not since last evening. The fog continued all this night, and a steady gale at SW.

Friday, 4 June, 1630: About four in the morning we tacked again (the wind SW) and stood WNW. The fog continued all this day, so as we could not see a stone’s cast from us; yet the sun shone very bright all the day. We sounded every two hours, but had no ground. At night we tacked again and stood S. In the great cabin, fast.

Saturday, 5 June, 1630: In the morning the wind came to NE a handsome gale, and the fog was dispersed; so we stood before the wind W and by N, all the afternoon being rainy. At night we sounded, but had no ground. In the great cabin, thanksgiving. It rained most part of this night, yet our captain kept abroad, and was forced to come in in the night to shift his clothes. We sounded every half watch, but had no ground.

Lord’s day, 6 June, 1630: The wind NE and after N a good gale, but still foggy at times, and cold. We stood WNW, both to make Cape Sable, if we might, and also because of the current, which, near the west shore sets to the south, that we might be the more clear from the southern shoals, viz., of Cape Cod. About two in the afternoon we sounded and had ground at about eighty fathom, and the mist then breaking up, we saw the shore to the N about five or six leagues off, and were (as we supposed) to the SW of Cape Sable, and in forty-three and a quarter. Towards night it calmed and was foggy again, and the wind came S and by E. We tacked and stood W and by N, intending to make land at Aquamenticus, being to the N of the Isles of Shoals.

Monday, 7 June, 1630: The wind south. About four in the morning we sounded and had ground at thirty fathom, and was somewhat calm; so we put our ship a-stays, and took, in less than two hours, with a few hooks, sixty-seven codfish, most of them very great fish, some a yard and a half long, and a yard in compass. This came very seasonably, for our salt fish was now spent, and we were taking care for victuals this day (being a fish day). After this we filled our sails, and stood WNW with a small gale. We hoisted out a great boat to keep our sounding the better [This sentence has a line drawn through it]. The weather was now very cold. We sounded at eight, and had fifty fathom, and, being calm, we heaved out our hooks again, and took twenty-six cods; so we all feasted with fish this day. A woman was delivered of a child in our ship, stillborn. The woman had divers children before, but none lived, and she had some mischance now, which caused her to come near a month before her time, but she did very well. At one of the clock we had a fresh gale at NW and very fair weather all that afternoon, and warm, but the wind failed soon. All the night the wind was W and by S a stiff gale, which made us stand to and again, with small advantage.

Tuesday, 8 June, 1630: The wind still W and by S, fair weather, but close and cold. We stood NNW with a stiff gale, and, about three in the afternoon, we had sight of land to the NW about ten leagues, which we supposed was the Isles of Monhegan, but it proved Mount Mansell. Then we tacked and stood WSW. We had now fair sunshine weather, and so pleasant a sweet air as did much refresh us, and there came a smell off the shore like the smell of a garden. There came a wild pigeon into our ship, and another small land bird.

Wednesday, 9 June, 1630: In the morning the wind easterly, but grew presently calm. Now we had very fair weather, and warm. About noon the wind came to SW; so we stood WNW with a handsome gale, and had the main land upon our starboard all that day, about eight or ten leagues off. It is very high land, lying in many hills very unequal. At night we saw many small islands, being low land, between us and the main, about five or six leagues off us; and about three leagues from us, towards the main, a small rock a little above water. At night we sounded and had soft oozy ground at sixty fathom; so, the wind being now scant at W, we tacked again and stood SSW. We were now in forty-three and a half [degrees north]. This high land, which we saw, we judged to be at the west cape of the great bay, which goeth towards Port Royal, called Mount Desert, or Mount Mansell, and no island, but part of the main. In the night the wind shifted oft.

Thursday, 10 June, 1630: In the morning the wind S and by W till five. In the morning a thick fog; then it cleared up with fair weather, but somewhat close. After we had run some ten leagues W. and by S. we lost sight of the former land, but made other high land on our starboard, as far off as we could descry, but we lost it again. The wind continued all this day at S a stiff, steady gale, yet we bare all our sails, and stood WSW. About four in the afternoon we made land on our starboard bow, called the Three Turks’ Heads, being a ridge of three hills upon the main, whereof the southmost is the greatest. It lies near Aquamenticus. We descried, also, another hill, more northward, which lies by Cape Porpus. We saw, also, ahead of us, some four leagues from shore, a small rock, not above a flight shot over, which hath a dangerous shoal to the E. and by S. of it, some two leagues in length. We kept our luff and weathered it, and left it on our starboard about two miles off. Towards night we might see the trees in all places very plainly, and a small hill to the southward of the Turks’ Heads. All the rest of the land to the south was plain, low land. Here we had a fine fresh smell from shore. Then, lest we should not get clear of the ledge of rocks, which lie under water from within a flight shot of the said rock (called Boone Isle) which we had now brought NE from us, towards Pascataquac, we tacked and stood SE with a stiff gale at S by W.

Friday, 11 June, 1630: The wind still SW, close weather. We stood to and again all this day within sight of Cape Ann. The Isles of Shoals were now within two leagues of us, and we saw a ship lie there at anchor, and five or six shallops under sail up and down. We took many mackerels, and met a shallop, which stood from Cape Ann towards the Isles of Shoals, which belonged to some English fishermen.

Saturday, 12 June, 1630: About four in the morning we were near our port. We shot off two pieces of ordnance, and sent our skiff to Mr. Peirce [William Peirce of the Lyon], his ship (which lay in the harbor, and had been there some days before). About an hour after, Mr. Allerton came aboard us in a shallop as he was sailing to Pemaquid. As we stood towards the harbor, we saw another shallop coming to us; so we stood in to meet her, and passed through the narrow strait between Baker’s Isle and Little Isle, and came to an anchor a little within the islands. After Mr. Peirce came aboard us, and returned to fetch Mr. [John] Endecott, who came to us about two of the clock, and with him Mr. [Samuel] Skelton and Capt. Levett. We that were of the assistants, and some other gentlemen, and some of the women, and our captain, returned with them to Nahumkeck [modern Salem, MA], where we supped with a good venison pasty and good beer, and at night we returned to our ship, but some of the women stayed behind. In the mean time most of our people went on shore upon the land of Cape Ann, which lay very near us, and gathered store of fine strawberries. An Indian came aboard us and lay there all night.

Lord’s Day, 13 June, 1630: In the morning, the sagamore of Agawam (Ipswich) and one of his men came aboard our ship and stayed with us all day. About two in the afternoon we descried the Jewel; so we manned out our skiff and wafted them in, and they went as near the harbor as the tide and wind would suffer.

Monday, 14 June, 1630: In the morning early we weighed anchor, and the wind being against us, and the channel so narrow as we could not well turn in, we warped in our ship and came to an anchor in the inward harbor. In the afternoon we went with most of our company on shore, and our captain gave us [a gun salute of] five pieces.

Thursday, 17 June, 1630: We went to Massachusetts, to find out a place for our sitting down. We went up Mistick River about six miles. We lay at Mr. Maverick’s and returned home on Saturday. As we came home, we came by Nataskott, and sent for Capt. Squib [of the Mary & John] ashore (he had brought the west-country people, viz., Mr. Ludlow, Mr. Rossiter, Mr. [Moses] Maverick, etc., to the bay, who were set down at Mattapan), and ended a difference between him and the passengers; whereupon he sent his boat to his ship, and at our parting gave us five pieces. At our return we found the Ambrose in the harbor at Salem.

Thursday, 1 July, 1630: The Mayflower and the Whale arrived safe in Charlton [modern Charlestown] harbor. Their passengers were all in health, but most of their cattle dead, (whereof a mare and horse of mine). Some stone horses came over in good plight.

Friday, 2 July, 1630: The Talbot arrived there. She had lost fourteen passengers. My son, Henry Winthrop, was drowned at Salem.

Saturday, 3 July, 1630: The Hopewell and William & Francis arrived.

Monday, 5 July, 1630:The Trial arrived at Charlton, and the Charles at Salem.

Tuesday, 6 July, 1630:The Success arrived. She had goats and lost of them, and many of her passengers were near starved, etc.

Wednesday, 7 July, 1630: The Lyon went back to Salem.

Thursday, 8 July, 1630: We kept a day of thanksgiving in all the plantations.


1 thought on “John Winthrop’s journal of the ship Arbella’s voyage to America, March 29 – July 8, 1630”

  1. I am finding so much interesting and useful information on your blog. Some of my ancestors were on the Arbella. My research continues to identify them. Thank you for sharing your research.

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