Plymouth Colony Timeline

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Plymouth Colony was the first official colony in Massachusetts. It was settled by a group of Separatist Puritans from England in 1620.

Many historic events took place at Plymouth Colony, such as the First Thanksgiving in 1621 when the pilgrims held a harvest celebration and invited the local Wampanoag tribe to the feast.

Plymouth Colony continued until 1691 when it was merged with Massachusetts Bay Colony.

The following is a timeline of Plymouth Colony:

♦ Plymouth Company was chartered by King James I with the goal to establish English colonies along the east coast of North America.

♦ Pilgrims make first attempt to leave England for Holland but are arrested.

♦ Pilgrims leave England seeking religious freedom and settle in Leiden, Holland.

♦ Pilgrims seek investors to help fund their journey to North America.

July 1620:
♦ On July 22, 1620, the pilgrims travel from Delfthaven, Holland to Southampton, England on board the Speedwell where they meet up with the Mayflower. The Speedwell begins leaking en route and needs to be repaired in Southampton.

August 1620:

♦ On August 5, 1620, the two ships set sail for the New World but the Speedwell begins leaking again and pulls into Dartmouth on August 12 for repairs.
♦ On August 21, 1620, the two ships set sail again but the Speedwell begins leaking again and both ships return to Plymouth, England.

September 1620:
♦ On September 16, some of the pilgrims from the Speedwell stay behind in England while the others board the Mayflower. The Mayflower departs Plymouth, England and sets sail for the New World.

Map of Plymouth Colony 1620-1691

Map of Plymouth Colony 1620-1691

November 1620:
♦ On November 6, William Butten dies of illness on board the Mayflower.
♦ Ellen More dies of illness on board the Mayflower.
♦ On November 9, the Mayflower passengers spot Cape Cod.
♦ The Mayflower attempts to sail south to their intended destination of the “northern parts of Virginia,” which the pilgrims had a patent to settle, but are thwarted by dangerous shoals.
♦ On November 11, the Mayflower anchors in Provincetown harbor and the pilgrims create the Mayflower Compact which was a social contract designed to keep law and order in the new colony until a new patent could be obtained.
♦ Susanna White gives birth to Peregrine White on board the Mayflower in Cape Cod Harbor sometime in late November.

December – March 1620-1621:
♦ On December 4, Edward Thompson dies.
♦ On December 6, Jasper Moore dies.
♦ On December 7, Dorothy Bradford, wife of William Bradford, falls overboard and drowns in Provincetown Harbor.
♦ On December 8, James Chilton dies and his wife dies sometime later.
♦ On December 8, some of the pilgrims exploring on land encounter Wampanoag. A skirmish occurs but no one is injured in this “first encounter.” The pilgrims decide to sail further south and arrive in Plymouth that evening.
♦ On December 20, The pilgrims choose an abandoned Wampanoag village, called Patuxet, for their new home.
♦ On December 21, Richard Bitteridge dies.
♦ On December 24, Solomon Prower dies.
♦ On January 1, Degory Priest dies.
♦ On January 8, Christopher Martin dies.
♦ On January 29, Rose Standish, wife of Miles Standish, dies.
♦ On February 21, William White dies.
♦ On February 21, William Mullins dies.
♦ On February 25, Mary (Norris) Allerton, wife of Isaac Allerton, dies.
♦ On March 24, Elizabeth (Barker) Winslow, wife of Edward Winslow, dies.
♦ John Allerton, Mayflower crewmen, dies sometime during the winter.
♦ Robert Carter dies sometime during the winter.
♦ Richard Clarke dies sometime during the winter.
♦ Mrs. James Chilton (first name unknown), wife of James Chilton, dies sometime during the winter.
♦ John Crackstone dies sometime during the winter.
♦ Sarah Eaton, wife of Francis Eaton, dies sometime during the winter.
♦ Moses Fletcher dies sometime during the winter.
♦ Edward Fuller and his wife die sometime during the winter.
♦ John Goodman dies sometime during the winter.
♦ John Hooke dies sometime during the winter.
♦ William Holbeck dies sometime during the winter.
♦ John Langmore dies sometime during the winter.
♦ Edmund Margesson dies sometime during the winter.
♦ Mary (Prower) Martin, wife of Christopher Martin, dies sometime during the winter.
♦ Mary More dies sometime during the winter.
♦ Alice Mullins, wife of William Mullins, dies sometime during the winter.
♦ Joseph Mullins, son of William and Alice Mullins, dies sometime during the winter.
♦ John Rigsdale and his wife Alice die sometime during the winter.
♦ Thomas Rogers, separatist, dies sometime during the winter.
♦ Elias Story dies sometime during the winter.
♦ Edward Tilley dies sometime during the winter.
♦ Ann (Cooper) Tilley, wife of Edward Tilley, dies sometime during the winter.
♦ John Tilley dies sometime during the winter.
♦ Joan (Hurst) (Rogers) Tilley, wife of John Tilley, dies sometime during the winter.
♦ Thomas Tinker dies sometime during the winter.
♦ Mrs. Thomas Tinker, wife of Thomas Tinker, dies sometime during the winter.
♦ Son of Thomas Tinker (name unknown), dies sometime during the winter.
♦ John Turner dies sometime during the winter.
♦ Both sons of John Turner (names unknown), die during the winter.
♦ Thomas Williams dies sometime during the winter.
♦ Roger Wilder dies sometime during the winter.
♦ Thomas English, Mayflower crewmen, dies sometime during that winter or spring before the Mayflower returns to England.
♦ Around March 16, a native named Samoset befriends the pilgrims. He tells them about Squanto and the other natives and arranges a meeting for them.
♦ Squanto, Massosoit and the other Wampanoag meet the pilgrims about four or five days later.

April 1621:
♦ On April 1, Plymouth colonists form an alliance with the Wampanoag and sign the Pilgrim-Wampanoag treaty.
♦ On April 5, Mayflower departs Plymouth and returns to England.
♦ Mid-April, Governor John Carver dies and William Bradford is elected the new Governor of Plymouth Colony.

August 1621:
♦ On August 14, Myles Standish and a handful of Plymouth colonists embark on a rescue mission to save Squanto after he was taken prisoner by a local native tribe. The colonists find Squanto unharmed and bring him back to Plymouth.

September – October 1621:
♦ The pilgrims celebrate their successful harvest with a harvest celebration, now known as the First Thanksgiving, which takes place sometime in late September or early October of 1621.

November 1621:
♦ The ship Fortune arrives bringing 35 new colonists with it but no supplies. With new mouths to feed, rations in Plymouth colony are cut in half.

November 1622:
♦ Squanto dies of an illness during a trading expedition to a neighboring Native-American settlement called Monomoy.

♦ The communal system of labor was abandoned this year because it was interfering with food production. Instead, each colonist was allotted one acre of land and was allowed to plant their own crops and trade the surplus.

July – August 1623:
♦ Two more ships, the Anne and Little James, arrive with around 100 new colonists.

September 1623:
♦ On September 10, Edward Winslow leaves Plymouth aboard the Anne and temporarily returns to England to sell a supply of timber and furs and to report to the colony’s investors.

November 1623:
♦ On November 5, a fire destroys several buildings in Plymouth. A number of pilgrims who lost their homes and possessions in the fire later return to England.

♦ A religious controversy involving Reverend John Lyford prompts many Plymouth colonists to leave for England or other areas of New England.
♦ In March, Edward Winslow returns to Plymouth Plantation with a patent for a fishing center at Cape Ann and brings with him three heifers and a bull, which were the first cattle in the colony.

♦ The colony builds its first trading house at Aptucxet on the south western side of the cape.

May 1627:
♦ Plymouth Colony begins to divide its major assets, beginning with livestock.

January 1628:
♦ The Plymouth court distributes land, about 20 acres per share, to the colonists.
♦ Plymouth builds a second trading post on the east bank of the Kennebec River River in modern day Augusta, Maine.

♦ Plymouth establishes a third trading post on the Penobscot River in modern day Castine, Maine.
♦ The Lyon and the Mayflower (a different Mayflower ship than the 1620 ship) arrive in Salem with some colonists for Salem and about 35 colonists bound for Plymouth.

June 1630:
♦ The Winthrop fleet arrive in Massachusetts Bay with 700 colonists, some of whom settle in Plymouth Colony.

September 1630:
♦ On September 30, 1630, Plymouth colonist John Billington is hanged for murdering a fellow colonist John Newcomen. it is the first official execution in the North American colonies.

October 1630:
♦ The Handmaid arrives in Plymouth with 60 new colonists.

♦ Some Plymouth colonists are granted land at Green’s Harbor, which is later incorporated as the town of Marshfield in 1640.

♦ An outbreak of a disease kills about 20 colonists, including the colony’s surgeon Samuel Fuller, and many natives.
♦ Another trading house is built on the Connecticut River at Manianuck (Windsor, CT.)

♦ Plymouth loses all four trading houses.

♦ A group of 10 men from Saugus receive permission to settle in Plymouth colony and choose the area that is now the modern day Sandwich on Cape Cod.

♦ The cattle trade with the Massachusetts Bay Colonists crashes due to slowing immigration to the colonies. Plymouth goes into economic decline.

♦ The Great Puritan Migration comes to an end due to Puritan success in the English Civil War. Many colonists return to England.

♦ Some Plymouth colonists settle in Nauset on Cape Cod.

♦ Edward Winslow returns to England to work for Oliver Cromwell. Part of his duties includes helping to sell off the estates of Royalists. Winslow plans to return to Plymouth Colony but becomes involved in problems in England and never returns.

♦ Plymouth purchases a tract of land from Massasoit, which is later named Bridgewater.

♦ Tension between natives and colonists increase during this period due to English expansion into native territory.

May 1657:
♦ On May 9, Governor of Plymouth Colony, William Bradford, dies.

June 1657:
♦ Thomas Pence is elected the new governor of Plymouth Colony.

June 1660:
♦ On June 13, Massasoit’s son, Wamsutta appears at the Plymouth court and states that his father is dead and asks to have his named changed “according to the custom of the natives.” He requests English names for him and his brother and receives the name Alexander Pokanokett for himself and Philip for his brother.

♦ That summer, Alexander dies under suspicious circumstances after being arrested in Plymouth on suspicion that he was hatching plans for a war against the colonists. His brother Philip succeeds him as the new Wampanoag leader.

August – September 1671:
♦ Tension between the natives and colonists increase when the colonists fear that Philip’s people, the Pokanoket, are planning an uprising and attempt to confiscate their weapons.

September 1671:
♦ On September 29, Philips signs a new treaty with the English and promises obedience to the Plymouth government.

March 1673:
♦ On March 29, Governor Thomas Pence dies and Josias Winslow succeeds him as governor.

June 1675:
♦ On June 8, three natives are executed at Plymouth Plantation for the murder of Christian native, John Sassamon, who was working as an informer for the colonists. Tension between the the colonists and the natives come to a head.
♦ On June 20, King Philip’s War begins when the Wampanoag attack Swansea.

July 1675:
♦ The war spreads as the Wampanoag attack Taunton, Middleboro and Dartmouth.

May 1676:
♦ Communications are disrupted between Plymouth and Boston as the war continues to spread to other towns.

July 1676:
♦ On July 22, Plymouth court arranges for many Wampanoag children to be placed as servants with colonial families until they reach 24 or 25 years of age.

August 1676:
♦ On August 9, Governer Josiah Winslow approves the sale of 110 natives as slaves to other countries.
♦ On August 12, King Philip and his soldiers are surrounded in a swamp at Mount Hope. A Pocasset native named Alderman shoots and kills Philip and his body is quartered. Philip’s head is displayed on a pike at Plymouth Colony for years after.

♦ Plymouth colony Governor Thomas Hinckley negotiates for a royal charter.

December 1686:
♦ On December 20, Sir Edmund Andros arrives as Governor of the Dominion of New England, which is a merging of New York with the New England colonies into one large royal colony. The Dominion is later overthrown in 1689.

October 1690:
♦ Plymouth troops take part in the Battle of Quebec during King William’s War.

October 1691:
♦ On October 7, King William and Mary issue a new charter that combines Plymouth and Maine colonies with Massachusetts Bay.

June 1692:
♦ On June 9, the last meeting of the Plymouth General Court is held.

Deetz, Patricia Scott and James Deetz. “Population of Plymouth Town, Colony & County, 1620-1690.” The Plymouth Colony Archive Project, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2000,
“The Fortune sails from Plymouth for England.” Mass Moments, Mass Humanities,
“Plymouth Colony Timeline.” Plimoth Plantation,

About Rebecca Beatrice Brooks

Rebecca Beatrice Brooks is the author and publisher of the History of Massachusetts Blog. Rebecca is a freelance journalist and history lover who got her start in journalism working for small-town newspapers in Massachusetts and New Hampshire after she graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a B.A. in journalism. Visit this site's About page to find out more about Rebecca.

4 thoughts on “Plymouth Colony Timeline

  1. Donald E King

    This is a fascinating timeline and includes my ancestors William White and his son Peregrine (other son was Resolved). I will look for other research by Rebecca Beatrice Brooks soon.

  2. Mauree Dinnen

    As a retired history teacher and one who is researching family history I found this very informative and helpful.

  3. Marcia Fiedler

    One of the things I found interesting was that the sons of Massasoit legally requested to change their names after the death of the father., that it was customary in the tribe to do that and that they chose English names.

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