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Residents Of Coastal English Town Dispute Pilgrim's Launch Site

4:38 PM, Nov 28, 2013   |    comments
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CBS News

When it comes to Pilgrim lore, Plymouth, England, gets most of attention as the town from which the Pilgrims first set sail, but this Thanksgiving you might want to give a little thanks to the town of Harwich on England's east coast, according to CBS News' Charlie D'Agata. 

Irishman Tom Daly - the voice of the Harwich-based Mayflower Project, an ambitious plan to build a full-size replica of the Mayflower and sail it to America - told D'Agata that Harwich "is the birthplace of the ship that brought the Pilgrim fathers across to America."

The story goes that the Mayflower set off from Plymouth, located on England's southwest coast, in 1620 on its journey to the new world. But supporters of the Mayflower Project say that Harwich was the Mayflower's original home port and insist that therefore the ship's real journey began there. They claim the pilgrims boarded in London, made several stops on the south coast and only turned back to Plymouth briefly to pick up passengers because her sister ship sprang a leak.

Nobody can say for sure where the Mayflower came from and, to complicate matters, Mayflower was a popular ship name, with more than two dozen ships of the same name sailing the seas at the time.

There is no doubt, however, that the ship's captain, Christopher Jones, came from Harwich, D'Agata said in a report broadcast Thursday on "CBS This Morning." Citing the town charter, which dates back four centuries, Harwich town historian David Whittle explained, "Thomas Twit was father to Sarah Twit, who married Christopher Jones in 1593."

Whittle joked that without the Twits, without Jones, there would be no Mayflower and no Thanksgiving. "No Thanksgiving ... turkeys would be safe," he told D'Agata. 

But, today, Whittle and other residents of Harwich are looking to the future, hoping to raise the $4 million needed to turn a pile of oak into a 100-foot replica vessel in the next three years.

CBS News

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