In 1626, this small vessel brought 25 passengers and their possessions from Europe to America. Bound for Virginia, they landed in distress on Cape Cod after the hardships of a stormy voyage of 6 weeks. The details of the shipwreck are found in William Bradford’s Of Plymouth Plantation. Guided to Plymouth by Cape Cod Natives, two survivors told their sad story to Governor Bradford, who immediately sent a shallop to rescue the stranded passengers and crew. The Pilgrims provided food and shelter for the castaways for nine months, at which time two vessels heading for Virginia gave them transport.
The Sparrow-Hawk is the only surviving remains of a 17th century trans-Atlantic vessel. These original timbers exemplify the small, sturdy ships vital to the colonization of America. Their size is evidence of the courage of those who undertook the journey to the New World. The Sparrow-Hawk, of about 36 tons and 40 feet in length, was typical of 17th century vessels. The Mayflower, of 180 tons, was one of the largest. The Fortune, which came to Plymouth in 1621, was about 50 tons.
After being wrecked in 1626, the Sparrow-Hawk was buried in sand and mud in a part of Orleans later known as "Old Ship Harbor." The timbers were visible from time to time until 1862, when they were uncovered in a great storm. The ancient hull was removed and reassembled. After exhibition in many cities, including on Boston Common, it was presented to the Pilgrim Society in 1889.
The Sparrow-Hawk is currently in storage at Pilgrim Hall Museum. A major exhibition focused on the shipwreck is planned for 2018.
Detail Views of Sparrow-Hawk