“…The Captain had aboard his vessels aboute 80 lusty men, who, after they came ashore, did so distemper them selves with drinke as they became like madd-men; and though some of them were punished and imprisoned, they could hardly be restrained…”
-Governor William Bradford, Of Plimoth Plantation
Pirates Ashore in Plymouth is an annual all-day reenactment of the little-known visit of three pirate ships to Plymouth Colony in May 1646 as described in Governor William Bradford’s Of Plimoth Plantation. Visitors of all ages are invited to spend the day downtown at the Mayflower Society House for pirate and pilgrim fun!
The “pirates” were English privateers, just back from capturing a number of Spanish ships in the Caribbean, flush with cargo and cash. Led by Captain Thomas Cromwell, the men were welcomed on shore and spent a month disrupting the quiet Pilgrim town eating, drinking, and paying generously with their stolen gold. There was great mayhem, including one rowdy sailor who died in a swordfight with the Pirate Captain… leading to a trial for murder!
Protecting Plimoth Colony and leading the military tribunal of the Pirate Captain will be our local New Plimmoth Gard and causing trouble as the English privateers will be maritime reenactor groups The Crew of the Raven and the Free Men of the Sea. Along with learning a bit about our local history, visitors are invited to explore the pirate encampment, learn how to use a cannon, and experience the Gard’s musket and pike drills! Colonial artisans and merchants will also be showcasing 17th century craftsmanship throughout the day including local master blacksmith Dean Rantz of Rock Village Forge and sutler Steve Salisbury of Big Bear Trading Company.
While the English privateers who infiltrated our shores stayed in the quiet town of Plymouth causing raucous for a few weeks, we squeeze everything into a single day:
9:45AM - Old Colony Club fires a cannon to alert Plymouth Colony of mysterious visitors in the harbor - start the day with us at the State Pier on Water Street!
10AM - 10:30AM - The English Privateers come ashore and after approval from Captain Miles Standish, follow the Pilgrims and Privateers as they walk to the encampment at the Mayflower Society House.
10AM - 2 PM - Visit the pirate encampment for assorted activities at the Mayflower Society House and witness several sword fights throughout the day, including one between a rambunctious sailor and the Pirate Captain ending in fatality!
2PM - Attend the Murder Trial for the Pirate Captain by the Plymouth Council of War at the Mayflower Society House - will he be convicted? Join us and find out what the witnesses have to say!
Pirates Ashore is not just limited to the Society house, look for the special flag around town to locate more Pirate fun throughout the day!
Please contact Communications@TheMayflowerSociety.org if your downtown Plymouth business would like to sponsor and participate in Pirates Ashore.