They Knew They Were Pilgrims

The 17th Century Adventures of Plimoth Plantation's Colonial Interpreters


March 25th, 2014 by Sally

If there’s one thing we at They Knew They Were Pilgrims love almost as much as our Plymouth Primary Sources, it’s jumping on the most recently trending bandwagons and relating it to our seventeenth-century existence. We’ve made internet memesPlimoth-Westeros comparisons, commentated on current events and weather events. If you’ve been anywhere near the internet recently, and presumably you have, you cannot possibly have avoided the phenomenon that is The List. You know what I mean. Posts* entitled “13 Ways That Henry Ainsworth Can Change Your Life”, “72 Adorable Pictures Of Native Corn That Will Bring Tears To Your Eyes”, or “265 Reasons Everyone Needs A Fake Husband” are taking over our news-feeds and sucking up our free time.

*These are all fictional titles, but who could not wish they existed for reals?


As if you needed any more proof that we are “down with the kids” (and this time, I don’t mean baby goats), here goes.

They Knew They Were Pilgrims presents:

perhaps I have too much time on my hands?


1) Retro Fashion

Introducing…The Hipster Pilgrim:

O how he doth looketh down his nostrils at he who weareth ye olde-fashioned slopps. Verily, the Hipster Pilgrim, in his skinny breeches and ironic doublet, bringeth retro to its logical conclusion. All of our clothes are handmade from natural fibres, some of our knitted items are even made with hand-spun wool from an historic breed of sheep. If that’s not seriously swag, I don’t know what is.

2) Historic Spellinge

Embracing the true nature of hipness and postmodern thought, in 1627, what is correct spelling to you is not necessarily (that’s one coffee, two sugars) correct spelling to me. The way I see it, it’s a seventeenth-century man’s way of saying YOLO. Who needs to worry about spelling when there’s an ale-house to keep? Therefore, this:

oh Master Bradford, you're so creative.

That is Master Bradford himself, introducing his journal, Of Plymouth Plantation. He says in his own, not so simple, spelling:

And first of ye occatsion, and indusments ther unto; the which that I may truly unfould, I must begine at ye very roote, & rise of the same. The which I shall endevor to manefest in a plaine stile; with singuler regard unto the simple trueth in all things, at least as farr near as my slender judgmente can attaine the same.

Right. Ermm..I mean, Right On!

3) Burning Wood

As it turns out, heating and cooking over a wood fire is where it’s at, yo. Done responsibly, it’s a sustainable fuel source, and cooking like it’s 1627 adds incredible flavour to your food that can’t be simulated. Moreover, every hipster with a back yard homestead wants a wood fired oven. We do our fair share of splitting and storing firewood in the English Village, and our sources tell us that the original settlers did too:

So, being both weary and faint, for we had eaten nothing all that day: we fell to make our rendezvous; and get firewood, which always cost us a great deal of labour.

Our greatest labour will be the fetching of our wood, which is half a quarter of an English mile: but there is enough, so far off.

- Mourt’s Relation

4) Environmental  Friendly Building Methods

Utilising low-impact materials, getting back to basics by using hand tools and living in a structure that is smaller than our society insists you need are bang on trend. As we find in Mourt’s Relation, the colonists quickly realised the value of what they had here in New England, writing “there is much good timber: both oak, walnut tree, fir, beech, and exceeding great chestnut trees.” By December 23rd, 1620, they had already begun working some of that wood:

…so many of us as could, went on shore, felled and carried timber, to provide themselves stuff for building…Monday, the 25th day, we went on shore, some to fell timber, some to saw, some to rive, and some to carry.”

Francis Cooke, his house.

There’s something quite profound about the idea that these houses, one day, could simply biodegrade and become the earth which gives us more trees in order to build more houses. It’s the circle of life. If you are concerned about your carbon footprint, living in a sustainably harvested timber-framed home is the way to go. Furthermore, the stuff our artisans get up to is downright awesome and should be celebrated.

5) Off-Grid Living

1627 Plymouth is lit by candles made from renewable sources (beeswax or tallow). History was the original inventor of composting toilets (aka a dung heap). The water comes from “a very sweet brook [that] runs under the hill side, and many delicate springs of as good water as can be drunk” (Mourt’s, again). What more can you possibly need?

6) Non-GMO Corn

If you’re a follower of the organic food movement, you know what I mean by this. Everyone and their mum wants to eat pesticide-free veggies and drink milk from grass-fed cows. Moreover, these foodies agree that the only food that should contain corn is corn itself, and if at all possible, that corn should not be genetically engineered.

Not only is the native corn untampered with scientifically, it’s grown completely organically. Every year, in the spring time, the herring run up the brook to spawn. And every year, in the spring, the herring was taken from the brook and used as fertiliser.

Isaac de Rasiere, a visitor to Plymouth in 1627 describes the process:

…and they draw out the fish with baskets, each according to the land he cultivates, and carry them to it, depositing in each hill three or four fishes, and in these they plant their maize which grows as luxuriantly therein as though it were the best manure in the world.

We bemesten de grond met haring, Meneer de Rasiere!

7) Hats

It’s hip to be hatted. ‘Nough said.





We’d also very much like to wish you a “Happy New Year” from those of us who keep the Old Style calendar!

It’s 1627 again!




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14 Responses to “PrattleFeed”

  1. Jason says:

    This post is absolutely fantastic. Well done! huzzah!

    • Sally says:

      Thanks, Jason! Fantastic is what we strive for around here.
      They Knew They Were Pilgrims: Never Just Indifferent Good.

  2. Atlas Laster says:

    Very creative and educational, Sally. You continue to do a great job!

  3. Hannah says:

    Ooh I want to be hip! How does one move to 1627? (p.s. That hipster pilgrim is sexy)

    • Sally says:

      Well, I’m not privvy to such information, but we might be hiring soon…come hang out with the hipster pilgrim and his fake wife again soon!

  4. Rae Mattson says:

    Love it! I would truly love to see a post of “Reasons Everyone Needs a Fake Husband” though. Mine were great but the best of the bunch was my Goodman Tracy.

    • Sally says:

      Ooo we haven’t had a Stephen Tracy in the village in a while! Maybe one day that PrattleFeed list will exist, fake husbands are a pretty special breed!

  5. Topher says:

    Wonderful article. I wish we could all still live like that. However without modern technology we could not support the amount of people we have on the planet now. Though I wonder if we can sustain this many forever.

    • Sally says:

      Thanks for reading – That’s an interesting question. Perhaps one day my pilgrim skills will become survival skills, too.

  6. Rick McKee says:

    “Ironic Doublet”, with their new album, “Weary and Faint”–opening at The Sawpit this summer!

  7. Sam Fuller '14 aka Ray Byrne says:

    Terrific, Sally. Was not sure who was writing until you referred to your “mum.” Sooooo how’s blizzard day? Hope life and limbs all survive. See you soon.

    • Sally says:

      Thank you Master Fuller! We’re looking forward to see you around the village again soon! This weather is teaching us exactly how it must have been during the first winter. I’m not surprised so many lives were lost.

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