The Plymouth colony was founded by the passengers of the Mayflower who traveled on its first voyage in 1620. It continued as a separate colony until 1691, when it was merged with the colony of the Massachusetts bay to form the Province of Massachusetts. Consequently, in addition to the towns in the lower Massachusetts Bay, the new Province was comprised of Plymouth, Maine, Nova Scotia, and all land north of the St. Lawrence.
Many people, if they give the subject any thought, appear to consider Plymouth Colony as consisting of the town of Plymouth, inhabited by “Pilgrims,” all of whom either arrived on the Mayflower or descended
from those who did. In fact, there were scores of ships that arrived during these 71 years, with men and women who established 17 additional towns that increased the population to more than 3,000 inhabitants. These ships brought settlers who would ultimately make enormous contributions to the colony.
By way of example, twelve months after the Mayflower arrived, the Fortune put in at Plymouth harbor with 32 passengers aboard. Among them were individuals who would become important citizens of the colony, skilled in financial and legal matters, and having leadership qualities. But because they arrived some 12 months after the first group, they generally have been overlooked. Within a few years, there were hundreds of pioneers, perhaps not as prominent, but certainly worthy of recognition and commemoration. These people were the heads of families, founders of towns, office-holders and commercial enterprisers.