Embarkation of the Pilgrim Fathers, 1620. The Pilgrim Fathers, members of the English Separatist Church sect of Puritans fled religious persecution in 1609, becoming exiles in the Netherlands. They decided to seek a new life in the New World, and sailed from Delft in a small ship, the 'Speedwell', to rendezvous with another vessel, the 'Mayflower'. It transpired that only the Mayflower would be able to withstand the rigours of the trnsatlantic voyage, and all the Pilgrims set sail aboard her from Plymouth. They landed in New England 102 days later.