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The Mayflower

Below is William Halsall’s 1882 portrait of the Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor. It is obviously imagined as the original ship was almost certainly broken up at Rotherhithe in 1624, a more extreme case than 

the “Streatham portrait“, which post-dates it’s purported subject’s death by about forty years. From the spelling of the title, the background is evidently Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts, not Drake’s Devonian city. Halsall, who was originally from Kirkdale in Liverpool, spent most of his working life in Boston.

The Mayflower and the Speedwell met at Southampton in July 1620 as a reaction to the religious situation in England. For the two hundred or so Puritans that travelled on this journey, life was easier in many ways under James VI/ I than it had been during the previous century – they were no longer significantly persecu.ted, although many were financially marginalised. Within thirty years, the next generation of Puritans were to rule Britain with James’ son executed and his grandson displaced, but the Leiden Communion of refugees that left Delftshaven on the Speedwell under Captain Reynolds four hundred years ago today were as unhappy with their place in society as were Christopher Jones’ crew on the Mayflower. Jones appears to have been a Harwich man of about fifty, as this Harwich Society plaque implies (right), although Coggeshall also claims him, having been master and part-owner of the Mayflower for eleven years. The dissenter William Bradford, author of the History of Plymouth Plantation, was one of his passengers

Jones sailed from Rotherhithe to Southampton in mid-July to meet Reynolds’ crew, both ships carrying a number of animals. The Speedwell had sprung a leak crossing the North Sea and needed repair so the ships finally set sail on 5 August and finally sighted land – Cape Cod as it now known – on 9 November. Eighteen days later, being unable to settle in Virginia, some of the party sailed in search of a permanent base. Thus began the permanent settlement of European people in North America, following the attempts of Bartholomew Gosnold.

New theories DO turn up, so there’s hope for some Ricardian mysteries….

Another new theory about the fate of Jimmy Hoffa has raised its head. Hoffa’s disappearance in a Michigan parking lot forty-two years ago has always been a mystery. “. Hoffa was a Detroit labor union leader and activist who was well known for his involvement in the Teamsters’ Union as well as the criminal charges that he faced while president of the organization. ” He was also mixed up in the Mob and various other extremely dubious matters. In short, he was very well known and equally as notorious. Then, he simply disappeared, apparently from the face of the earth.

A new theory seeks to explain what might have happened. Read about it here.

Followers of the case, or mob afficionados, will know there are more theories as to Hoffa’s disappearance, and indeed more books for sale than you can throw a stick at.  He went into hiding.  The union had him killed because he threatened to talk.  The mob had him offed because he threatened to reveal their shady dealings with Teamster pension funds.   For years, the most popular theory was that he was buried underneath the Meadowlands Football stadium in New Jersey, but this has been disproven as the above linked story indicates.  

So despite many concerted attempts by law enforcement and cold case amateurs alike, we still don’t know.  

Which inevitably brings us to similar Ricardian “cold cases”.  The boys in the Tower are usually the first to spring to mind. They too seem to have simply disappeared without trace. And then there’s Richard’s last will and testament, which he must have had drawn up before Bosworth, if not well before even that. It disappeared. Whodunnit? No, I won’t mention the word T-d-r! There are other mysteries, of course. What happened to Francis Lovell? He too seems to have simply vanished from the records. What was Buckingham’s real purpose in rebelling against Richard? His own ambitions? We don’t know. And where did Richard’s crown go after being found at Bosworth? Maybe the latter is known, but not to me. I know there are many, many more unknowns from Richard’s life.

So, all in all, some new theories about these Ricardian mysteries are eagerly awaited. They all happened a lot longer than forty-two years ago, of course, but is there a statute of limitation on these things?

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