The Voyage of The Elizabeth & Dorcas
Hartford Stanley Families
Elizabeth & Dorcas*


The Elizabeth and Dorcas, along with nine other ships (and two at Ipswitch) sailing from England to Boston Massachusetts, were held from sailing while in the River of Thames on 22 Feb 1634, because an Anglican Bishop was concerned about so many "dissenters" going to Boston at one time. All the men took a loyalty oath, a bond was posted and the ships were released on 28 Feb 1634, and probably sailed within the next several days.

Most of them arrived during the week of May 12 - 17, (according to Gov. Winthrop's journal), a passage of 72 to 77 days (the Mayflower passage was 77 days). Winthrop mentions this as short enough that they had ship provisions left to sell in town. The other ships arrived in time for the men to apply for "freeman" status in the June Court (four Courts were held each year). The "Elizabeth and Dorcas" had a rougher passage. Winthrop does not say exactly when the Elizabeth & Dorcas arrived, but his journal entry is in early July, thereby indicating late June or early July -- a passage of 100 days or more. Well in keeping with a damaged ship.

The Governor relates that the Elizabeth & Dorcas hit a rock in the Scilly Islands. In those days, had they put ashore for repair, the nobleman owing the islands would have claimed the ship as salvage and passengers would have lost their goods and wealth. The Royal Governor of the Scilly Islands, Lord Godolphin, made it a habit to take damaged ships, and their goods, as salvage and those rocks were a major source of income for many years (the oldest known map of the Scilly Islands dates from the late 1700s). An additional month would easily exhaust provisions for the Elizabeth & Dorcas was not a large vessel. It was London owned, 262 tons, and built in 1629 (a little light for an East Indiaman--at this time many of them were running 600 tons). We don't know the owner's original intent for her trade, but a Petition to the Admiralty got her 20 cannon (16 Sakers and 4 Marins, guns about seven feet long-- some of these may have been rail mounted, but some weighed as much as 1400 lbs. and had to be on some sort of carriage.).

Clearly they must have put on a "sea patch" and pressed on, but could not keep up with the rest of the ships. The Governor also notes that the ship was not properly provisioned. Apparently, they drew down rations during the time they were held and did not reprovision. This, coupled with a long passage, made for starvation and probably scurvy.

The latest readings of the Winthrop papers cite six passengers dead on the Elizabeth and Dorcas when she arrived at Boston in late June or early July (earlier interpretations said 60). Since the journal even cites horses and kine dead, and no passengers, for earlier ships, and is careful to note dead colonists aship or on shore, it becomes apparent that the Elizabeth & Dorcas MUST be the ship the Stanleys came over on.

The Winthrop entry on the Elizabeth & Dorcas doesn't finish, as though he was going to write something else but never got back to it. The wording is "six died but all others recovered except....". It is believed that the other impending death was the child of the deceased John Stanley, because records from that time indicate the child was alive upon landing, but, when the estate was divided by the Court in Sept 1634, only John and Ruth were mentioned.

* This information gratefully provided by Roy Morgan Stanley II.


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