The Speedwell, a 60-ton seafaring vessel intended to serve as tender for a larger vessel, set out to accompany the Mayflower in transporting pilgrims to the New World in the late 1500s, but was left behind for taking on water. Passengers who had planned to take the Speedwell across the Atlantic instead boarded the Mayflower with their fellow pilgrims.
The pilgrims purchased the Speedwell in 1620 in Holland.
According to information provided by the Pilgrim Hall Museum, which is located in Plymouth, Mass., this group of pilgrims sailed to Southampton, England where they met the Mayflower. The two ships set sail from Southampton for North America. However, the Speedwell began taking on water, which forced the party to turn back. Once they were back in England, the group sought a cause for the leaking, but were not able to find one.
According to Caleb Johnson, the author and historian behind the MayflowerHistory.com website, the Mayflower and Speedwell once again set sail for the New World, this time making it about 300 miles into the Atlantic before the Speedwell again began taking on water. The two vessels and their passengers once again returned to England. This time, however, the party, frustrated at the time that had been wasted, opted to leave the Speedwell behind. There is no record of the Speedwell being sailed again.