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The Speech or Sayings of a 17th Century Pilgrim

The speech or sayings of a 17th Century Pilgrim: a proud day for any researcher is finding  family lineage back to the original Pilgrims who arrived to the American shores on 1620. By October 1621 they (the ones remaining) celebrated the first Thanksgiving having survived a very harsh winter in a new land.  The term ‘Pilgrim’ refers to all those who came to America in 1620 – the many families, some who were Separatists (who wanted to break from the Church of England) and non-Separatists including Separatist sympathizers.

Besides those arriving first (about 100) on the ship Mayflower, another ship the Fortune with 34 new settlers arrived in 1621, then the Anne and the Little James brought a total of 85 new settlers to Plymouth in 1623.

Some of the surnames you might want to check against your family tree include: Warren, Cooke, Morton, Oldham, Brewster, Jenney, Sprague, Priest, Hicks, Annable, Cushman, Ford, Winslow, Hopkins, Billington, Standish, Fuller, Tilley, Alden, Rogers and Mullins. On my husband’s side of the family, he is directly related to Stephen Hopkins and Thomas Rogers. The Mayflower Society would be a good starting point to check if your ancestors date back to the early Plymouth settlers.

Not just those who were Pilgrims, but most from England in the 17th century used different words and phrases compared to what would be acceptable several hundred of years later. Look over the sampling to get an idea of the changes.

Some examples are: today you might say; “How are You?” The Pilgrims would say; “How now?” or “What cheer?” or “Good Morrow” or “How do you fare?”.

Examples of individual words being different include: a man’s ‘pants’ would be called ‘breeches’, ‘a fireplace’ was called a ‘hearth’, a food served we name as ‘stew’ was known as ‘pottage’, a bed’s ‘pillowcase’ was called a ‘pillowbere’, or a lady’s ‘skirt’ was referred to as a ‘petticoat’, the pet animal of a ‘cat’ was called a ‘mouser’, or what we say as ‘backward’ the Pilgrims said ‘arsy varsy’.

Being very religious when they needed to state; “excuse me” they would say “Pray pardon me”. When they were leaving instead of saying ‘goodbye’, they would say; ‘Pray remember me’ or ‘Fare thee well’ or ‘God bye to you’.

Take pride in your heritage.

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