ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS FROM OUR READERS
THE PILGRIM SABBATH
Question: I heard recently that the Pilgrims who sailed to America on the Mayflower in 1620 were seventh-day Sabbathkeepers. Is this true?
Answer: The idea that the Pilgrims observed a seventh-day Sabbath seems to originate in the book A History of the True Church Traced From 33 A.D. to Date by Andrew N. Dugger and Clarence O. Dodd (1936). 1 In chapter 21 of this book, Dugger and Dodd state,
However, despite the claims of Hugh Sprague, there is strong evidence that the Pilgrims actually observed a Sunday Sabbath. One good source of information on this question is the Journal of the English Plantation at Plimoth, which was published in London in 1622. This book is our earliest record of the voyage of the Mayflower and the establishment of the Plymouth colony. It gives a first-hand, day-to-day account of the experiences of the Pilgrims.
Two of the entries in this journal indicate that it was the custom of the Pilgrims to rest and meet for worship on Sunday. In early December 1620, the Mayflower was off the coast of what is now Massachusetts as the Pilgrims looked for a good location for a settlement. According to the journal,
Then for January 1621, the notes include the following:
All the sources on the Pilgrims that I have examined agree that the Plymouth Colony kept a Sunday Sabbath. It is true, though, that Edmund Dunham, the grandson of Plymouth settler John Dunham, later became a prominent Saturday Sabbatarian [2, pp. 111-112]. Dunham, a Baptist who lived in New Jersey, once reprimanded Hezekiah Bonham, his brother-in-law, for working on Sunday. When Bonham challenged Dunham to find a biblical command prohibiting Sunday work, Dunham began a study of the scriptures and soon became convinced that he should observe the Sabbath on Saturday. In 1705, Dunham founded the Piscataway, New Jersey, Seventh Day Baptist congregation. Several other members of this congregation were also descendants of Plymouth colonists.
For more information on seventh-day Sabbathkeepers in Puritan England and colonial America, I recommend  and . Both of these books are carefully researched, and they agree that the first known Saturday Sabbatarians in America were Stephen and Anne Mumford, who arrived in Rhode Island in 1665.
In investigating history, it is important to seek out reliable and well-documented sources. We have found that the aforementioned book by Dugger and Dodd is often not reliable, and we recommend that one should carefully corroborate its claims before giving credence to them.
1See http://www.giveshare.org/churchhistory/DuggerDodd/Dugger0.html. This book was reprinted in 1996 by Giving & Sharing, P.O. Box 100, Neck City, MO 64849.
File translated from TEX by TTH, version 3.01.On 27 Nov 2002, 18:00.