Mayflower Namesakes

By Stacy B. C. Wood, Jr.

Over the years, the historic ship Mayflower that brought the Pilgrims to New England in 1620 has been honored by various namesakes, Of course there was another 17th century ship of that name that brought Separatists to settle in Salem, Plymouth Colony in 1629, but she was probably just one of many of that name back then for we are told that “Mayflower” was a common ship name.

More recently there have been other ships and an endless number of namesakes including an America’s cup Defender/Winner, a US presidential yacht, a large houseboat in Sausalito, California, lighter than air craft (blimps), locomotives, a car, farm equipment, a naval communications system, hotels, theatres, songs, and probably many more objects. Some may not have been actual namesakes. Don’t forget that the 1620 Mayflower was herself a namesake of the flower known as Trailing Arbutus.

The earliest that we have found is the Plymouth, MA, whaler Mayflower launched in 1821. We have found no image of it to date. The most recent one is the Chinese six-legged ship Mayflower Resolution built to act as a platform from which off shore windmill farms can be constructed. Obviously this is a work in progress and we ask that anyone who knows of others examples to please advise the Webmaster so that we may add them to this site.


1820 — Mayflower of Liberia
The American Colonization Society, with $100,000 from the U.S. Congress, arranged for 88 free blacks and three ACS agents to sail to West Africa aboard the “Elizabeth,” nicknamed the “Mayflower of Liberia,” on Feb. 6, 1820. On arrival at a small island off the coast of present day Liberia, the group started a colony which was ravaged by malaria over the course of a year. The following year one of the ACS agents purchased a piece of land in present-day Liberia, which became the colony’s home.


1821 — Mayflower
Mayflower was the name of the first Plymouth whaler. Plymouth historian William T. Davis says that previously “no persistent effort was made in Plymouth to engage in the whale fishery.” The 345 ton whaler Mayflower was built in 1821 in Berkley (north of Fall River), Bristol Co., MA, for a Plymouth whaling company formed by twenty-three individuals. She sailed for the Pacific in September, 1821, perhaps to the same area where the whaler Essex was lost. Mayflower did not return until nearly three years later. When she did there were between two and three thousand barrels of oil aboard. An oil and candle factory had been established in Plymouth during her absence and was located between Winslow Street, where the 1754 Mayflower Society House stands on former Howland land, and the shore. The Mayflower made two more three-year trips to the Pacific. She was sold in 1830 to a New Bedford owner although an interest in her was maintained by three Plymothians. In 1822 another Plymouth company was formed and it contracted to have a bark built for whaling. Her name: the Fortune!

1852 — Mayflower
This namesake was the “propellor [sic] Mayflower,” a 415 ton tug built in 1852 in the Buffalo, NY, shipyard of F. N. Jones. Apparently a “propeller/propellor” was generally a large tugboat. The NY Times of November 5, 1883 reported that the propellor Mayflower had to be run ashore due to major leaking on the 4th during a terrible gale. It was five hours before the crew was successfully rescued. Four barges loaded with lumber being towed had to be abandoned. The Mayflower was breaking up and there was little hope of saving the $18,000 uninsured boat.

1853 – Mayflower
An ad for the Great Central Route – New York Central – Michigan Central Railroads lists “The splendid fast steamers May Flower, Buck-Eye State and Ocean leave Buffalo at 8 ½ o’clock PM on the arrival of the Express Trains from the East – making the trip to Detroit in 16 hours.” The New York Times, November 15, 1853.

1854 – Mayflower
A Mississippi Paddle “High Pressure” Steamer, this Mayflower was the first packet ship between St. Louis and New Orleans on the Mississippi River and was captained by Joseph Brown. It was built for Brown in Brownsville, PA, by Samuel Walker for $286,000. Howard Louis Conrad, in his Encyclopedia of the History of Missouri called it “the finest boat that ever ran in the St. Louis and New Orleans trade” and “had more good points than any other steamboat of her day.” It had fine cabins and held 2,500 tons of freight. It was burned by in 1861. The image is a hand-colored lithograph published by Nathaniel Currier, working on his own between 1835 and 1856 before being joined by James Merritt Ives.


1866 — USS Mayflower
Another Mayflower was a screw tug built for the Navy in 1866 at Chelsea, Massachusetts. Duty in Norfolk Navy Yard, VA, until 1870 when it was sent to Annapolis, MD, for fitting out for service on the expedition to Tehauantepec, Mexico, to survey the isthmus for a possible interoceanic canal. Upon completion of assignment, it returned to Washington Navy Yard on May 25, 1871. It was next sent to Portsmouth, NH, for duty as a dispatch boat. Served at Norfolk, Annapolis and Washington until she was decommissioned on October 20, 1874. It was repaired in Camden, NJ, and recommissioned in 1876 and sent to Annapolis for duty as a Naval Academy training ship. There it was active until struck from the navy list on September 23, 1892 and sold to Thomas Butler & Co. of Boston, MA, on December 27, 1893. [Extracted from Centennial History: General Society of Mayflower Descendants 1897-1997, Duane A. Cline, Compiler/Editor]

1867 — Mayflower Steam Plow
The "Mayflower" steam plow was built by Philander H. Standish in his shop in Pacheco, CA. It won awards in 1868 and 1869. His design was patented in the U.S. , England , France and Russia , Probably the only known picture of Standish's first steam plow, this photograph was published in the California Farmer in 1948. Standish completed a second steam plow, the " Sonoma ," in the early 1870s. Initially well received. Standish's steam plow was never fully developed. Standish was also involved in chain making. It is unknown if Standish (1835-1918) was a Myles Standish descendant.


1886 — Mayflower 
The America's Cup defender for 1886. Designed by Edward Burgess who had designed the Puritan which had successfully defended the Cup the previous year against Britain's Genesta, 2-0. This was the second consecutive beating of British designer J. Beavor Webb who this year entered the cutter Galatea. The result was the same: US 2-0. The Mayflower was 100' and had a broad beam and shallow draft that was referred to as a "skimming dish." Burgess won again in 1887 with his Volunteer with which he defeated the Scottish entry Thistle 2-0.


1890 — Mayflower 
This namesake was built with its sister ship, the Primrose, by the Doty Engine Company, from the designs of W. E. Redway, for the Toronto Ferry Company. The Mayflower was christened by Miss Jenny Doty on 28 June 1890. She was 140.2’ in length with steel hulls and wood upperworks. She was powered by coal-fired boilers and was lighted throughout by electricity. She could carry 900 passengers. She was retired from service in 1938 and redecked as a barge.


1896 — USS Mayflower (PY-1/WPG-183)
A luxurious steam yacht built in Scotland in 1896 that was purchased by the US Navy in 1898 and fitted out for the impending war with Spain. En route to take part in the blockade of Havana, Cuba, it took as a prize a British blockade runner that was also named the Mayflower! In 1902 it served twice as Admiral Dewey's flagship. In 1904 it carried Secretary of War William Howard Taft on a tour of the West Indies. In November 1904, it was decommissioned for conversion to a presidential yacht. President Theodore Roosevelt used it in 1905 as the site of the bringing together of the Russian and Japanese delegations in preparation for the Russo-Japanese peace conference. In 1907 it carried President Roosevelt to Provincetown, MA, for the laying of the cornerstone of the Pilgrim Monument. On August 1, 1921, accompanied by six torpedo boat destroyers and the battleships USS Delaware and North Dakota plus the HMS Cambrian, it carried President Warren Harding and his official party (including Vice President Calvin Coolidge) to the Plymouth Tercentenary Celebration. President Hoover had the ship decommissioned in 1929 as an economy measure. It was sold, repurchased by the US Government and named the Butte, recommissioned as USS Mayflower (WPE-183) and transferred to the Coast Guard in October 1943 and patrolled the Atlantic coast against German U-boats. It was decommissioned in 1946 and sold in 1947, refitted in 1948, and renamed the Malla to sail under the Panamanian flag. In September, 1948, she secretly sailed from Marseilles, arriving in Haifa, Palestine, with Jewish refugees of the ill-fated Exodus. Her later history is unknown.


1897 — Mayflower (LHT)
The third Mayflower was a light house tender built by the Bath Iron Works in Bath, ME and commissioned in Nov 1897. She was 164’ in length with a 30’ beam and had two reciprocating steam engines powered by twin coal fired boilers and two screws. Her crew consisted of 6 officers and 24 men. Because of the Spanish-American War she was almost immediately transferred from the US Light House Service to the Navy and her name was changed to Suwannee because there was already a USS Mayflower, the same ship that later became the presidential yacht. She took part in two actions along the Cuban coast and was cited for “conspicuous service.” In December 1898 she returned to USLH service and resumed her original Mayflower name. During WW I she patrolled of the Atlantic coast. Decommissioned in 1939 she was transferred to Boston for service with the Maritime Training Service. She was recommissioned in 1940 as the US Coast Guard Cutter WAGL-236 and sent to Norfolk. In 1943 her name was again changed, this time to the USCGC Hydrangea, because the USS Mayflower was back on service as a patrol craft. Her end came in October 1945 when she was transferred to the Maritime Commission for disposal.


Circa 1898 — Mayflower
An engine powered yacht Mayflower was owned by Charles I. Litchfield who lived in Chiltonville, Plymouth County, MA and was in the real estate business. He was a master of the Plymouth Masonic Lodge and also grand commander of the Grand Commandery of Knights Templars of MA and RI.

1898  Mayflower 
A 140” long paddle wheeler steamer, originally a pleasure vessel, this Mayflower was converted into a hospital ship to hold 52 (72 maximum) sick and wounded, with two medical officers and eight men of the Royal Army Medical Corps and two nurses. It was chartered by the National Society for the Aid to the Sick and Wounded in the War (Sudan Expedition) with the intent to move the sick and wounded British troops by river instead of by a 600 mile hot and dusty rail journey from Assouan (Aswan) to Cairo, Egypt. The British Medical Journal, Oct. 1, 1898. p. 1003.

1910s — Mayflower
An excursion side wheel steamer, Mayflower was one of the fleet of the Nantasket Beach Steamship Company that operated hourly service between Nantasket Beach, Hull and Boston for 25 cents. On August 11, 1917, during a thick fog with 1,500 passengers aboard, a hole was stove in her side near the paddle box by the Navy submarine L-10 (SS-50) in Boston Harbor between Spectacle Island and Long Island. The submarine was running on the surface. The sister ship Rose Standish was nearby and took aboard the passengers. The only injury was to a seaman who suffered a broken leg. On Thanksgiving Day, November 28, 1919, the entire fleet burned with the exception of the Mayflower. The loss included the Rose Standish, Betty Alden, Old Colony, The Nantasket, and Mary Chilton. In 1948 the Mayflower was pulled ashore on Nantasket Beach, renamed the Showboat and became nightclub until it burned in 1979. The New York Times, August 12, 1917and other sources.


1911 — Mayflower
A New York – Bridgeport, CT, Daily Excursion Line had a steamer Mayflower. She was built in 1911 as the Moosehead at the Bath Iron Works for the Maine Central RR. She operated on the Maine coast until the 1920s and later was an excursion boat on Long Island Sound from New York. In a New York City Guide Vol. 1 published in 1939, it is listed as leaving from the Battery in NY City at 10 AM daily. On its correspondence/address side, a postcard showing the steamer states that the ship left daily from Hoboken, NJ at 9:45, Battery at 10:30 AM, and Bridgeport at 4:30 PM. During WWII she hit rocks and sank in the Sound.


ca. 1912 — Mayflower
Captain John Hudson’s sternwheeler Mayflower plied the waters of the Madawaska River between Barry’s Bay and Combermere, Ontario, Canada, until its sinking under mysterious circumstances on November 12, 1912. Capt. Hudson was drowned in the sinking of the scow.


1925 — Mayflower Hotel 
Washington, DC's famous hotel. The site of presidential inaugural balls for more than sixty years, and guest home for royalty, world dignitaries for generations.


1927 — Mayflower Transit 
This household goods transportation company was founded by Conrad M. Gentry, an Indianapolis, Indiana grocer, and his friend Don Kenworthy, in 1927. In 1940 they obtained the first nationwide household goods authority certificate issued by the Interstate Commerce Commission. In 1995 the company was acquired by UniGroup, Inc. and in 1997 the corporate headquarters was relocated from Indiana to St. Louis, Missouri.


1928 — Mayflower Theatre
Theatre Built in 1928 in the center of Southampton, this is the largest theatre in the south of England. It presents touring musicals from the West End (London's theatre district), opera, ballet, etc.


1929 — Mayflower
One of the Goodyear Rubber Company airships (lighter than air craft or "blimp"). It was christened on May 22, 1929 and was one of the five blimps named for America's Cup defenders, the first being the Puritan, which had been the first commercial non-rigid airship to use helium. The other blimps named for the yachts were VolunteerVigilant and Defender. During World War II the blimps were used to patrol the US coasts against German U-boat attack.


1931 — Mayflower
A single deck, 125’, 350 ton wooden fishing vessel, this Mayflower was built by the Campbell Machine Co. of San Diego, CA for the Mayflower Operating Co. She was powered by a diesel engine made by the Union Diesel Engineering Co. of Oakland, CA.

1941 — HMCS Mayflower (K191)
This Mayflower, one of the Flower Class of Corvettes built during 1939-1940 for the Canadian Navy, was built at the Montreal, Quebec yards of Canadian Vickers Ltd. The keel was laid on 20 February 1940 and she was commissioned on 15 May 1941. She had a displacement of 950 tonnes, a length of 205.1', breadth of 33.1' and draught of 11.5'. In February 1944 her focsle was extended in Baltimore, MD. Her top speed was 16 knots. Her armament consisted of 1-4" gun, 1-2 pdr, 2-20mm, and Hedgehog. She had a complement of 6 officers and 79 men.


1948 — Mayflower
English B1 Class, 4' 8.5" gauge, steam locomotive No. 1306, previously BR no. 61264, LNER no. 1264. Built by the North British Locomotive Co. Ltd. in 1948. Has 4-6-0 wheel arrangement. Preserved in 1967. Originally part of Great Central Railway. Currently (1999) reported to be undergoing a major overhaul at the Nene Valley Railway at Wansford Station, near Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, England. The Nene Valley Railway currently makes a 15 mile trip between Peterborough and Yarwell Junction.


1949 — Mayflower
The English Triumph Motor Car. Co. introduced its Mayflower in 1949 as a relatively cheap entry-level classic car. Its razor-edge styling mimicked the Bentley and Rolls Royce and was referred to as “the watch chain Rolls Royce. It was 156" with only two doors and was available in the following models: saloons, drophead coupés (approximately ten were made), plus 150 pick-up versions sold in Australia. 35,000 were produced, the last in 1953.


1957 — Mayflower II
A gift to the American people in 1957 by the English as a gesture of Anglo-American friendship. It was a result of the cooperation between the English Project Mayflower and the Plimoth Plantation to achieve a common goal. The keel was laid in 1955, it was launched in 1956, and arrived following a 55 day voyage across the Atlantic with Captain Alan Villiers and a crew of 33.


1961 – Mayflower
The tanker Mayflower was built 1961 by the Mayflower Steamship Corporation. She was sold in 1966 to the Overseas Oil Carriers Inc. which was managed by Maritime Overseas Corporation who also just happened to be the agents for Mayflower Steamship Corporation.

1963 — Mayflower
A second blimp by Goodyear of the same name made its debut in 1963. It was later fitted with an electric light advertising display. It was retired in the 1980s and replaced by the Enterprise.


1988 — Mayflower College
There is even a Mayflower College in Plymouth, Devonshire, England, that is designed to teach the English language, including General English, Academic English, English for Professionals, and Specialized English (i.e., for Aviation, Football and even Horse Riding!).


1996 — Mayflower III 
Yet another attempt in England to recreate the Mayflower, this one was to begin construction at Chamber's Warf in Southwark on the Thames in the summer of 1996 with the launching and departure for America in 1999. It apparently failed to materialize due to inadequate funding.

1997 — Mayflower/Merlin 
Mayflower is a High Frequency Report Back Communications Channel from Automatic or Manually Launched Buoys. As Merlin, it is used by Trident submarines (SSBNs) to report "in extremis" conditions to the National Command Authority (NCA).


2003 – Mayflower Resolution
This ship was built in Shanhaiguan shipyard in Qinhuangdao, China, to install wind turbines in hostile coastal environments. It is 428’ long and carries a regular crew of 34 plus an erection team. It has six legs that, when lowered to the bottom, can lift the vessel out of the water to create a level working platform. On board are two cranes: one rated at 300 ton capacity and the other at 50 tons.