There were a number of children among the passengers of the Mayflower. This was of great importance to the survival of Plymouth Colony. Many of the children had become accustomed to hard labor since they needed to work in Leiden to help support their families. As with many immigrant families in 17th century Holland, the Pilgrim fathers were generally hired for the lowest paying occupations.
When the struggling group of colonists faced the cruelties of the first New England winter with its illnesses and deaths, it was the children who many times stepped in to assist the adults. Undoubtedly, brave young souls were kept busy tending the sick, fetching firewood and water, helping to prepare food and doing whatever was necessary.
There were fewer deaths among the children that first cruel winter, which ultimately increased the chances of survival for the struggling colony.
Children on the Mayflower who left descendants with approximate ages at time of Mayflower journey:
To help today’s young students learn more about the struggles and accomplishments of the Pilgrims, the Mayflower Society offers an educational packet called “Coming to America.” It is available from the Society and may be ordered from our Books – Educational Materials shopping page.