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Arms and Armor
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Carver Sword
Material: Steel, iron, silver and wood
Ownership attributed to John Carver

The "Carver sword," on loan to the Pilgrim Society from the Massachusetts Historical Society, was donated to the Massachusetts Historical Society by Ichabod Shaw of Plymouth in 1795. The decoration and workmanship are typical of English swords of the early 17th century. Click for Carver Sword Hilt Detail.

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Alden Halberd
Material: Iron head with restored wooden staff
Made in England or New England, 1600-1650
Found in the cellar of the c1653 John Alden House, Duxbury, Massachusetts

Halberds were staff weapons, used for cutting and stabbing. By the 1600s, they were used for ceremony. This thin-bladed decoratively-pierced halberd would not have been very useful as a weapon. Documents show that in Plymouth halberds were used largely as a sign of rank. John Alden served as Assistant Governor of Plymouth Colony.

 

"Lobster tail" Helmet
Zischagge Helmet
Material: Iron
Made in The Netherlands or Germany, 1625-1650

Helmets such as this one, with neck and face protection, were used by many 17th-century cavalrymen. The neck protection looks like a lobster's tail, hence its nickname.

 

Standish Rapier
Material: Steel, iron and wood
Blade made in Solingen, Germany, 1630-1650
Ownership attributed to Myles Standish

A rapier is a sword with a stiff, sharply pointed blade used for thrusting, rather than cutting. The blade of this rapier was made in Solingen, known for its production of edged weapons. Standish probably acquired the sword after arriving in Plymouth. It was probably worn with his finest military dress at musters and official events.

Myles Standish was the Pilgrims' military leader. Standish had joined the English army; many English and Scottish soldiers fought in the Dutch Wars between The Netherlands and Spain. Standish served in and around Leiden until 1616. There Standish met the Pilgrims. When the Pilgrims decided to emigrate to America, they chose Standish as their military leader to train the colonists in self defense.

 

Thompson Pistol
English-lock pistol
Material: Brass, steel, iron and wood - Made in England, probably 1620s
Descended in the family of John Thompson

The pistol is an unusually early example of a pistol with an English-lock firing ignition (commonly called "dog lock"). The "dog" was a catch on the left side of the lock plate that held the "cock" in the safe position. The flint was clasped in the jaw at the top of the cock. When the flint struck the steel frizzen, the resulting sparks ignited the powder and fired the pistol.

The butt of the pistol has a round knop, making it easy to grab. A number of pieces are lost from the lock plate, as is the ramrod.

John Thompson (1616-1696) was born in Wales or in England and had settled in Plymouth by the early 1640s. He served as Town Selectman, juror and constable. He later moved to Middleboro. He also served the Colony in a military capacity. In 1673, Thompson was named sergeant and sent on an expedition to New York to stop the Dutch from harassing Plymouth ships. He was promoted to the rank of lieutenant in King Philip's War. The probate inventory of his possessions at the time of his death lists "arms and ammunition" worth £13, 7 shillings.

 

Thompson Sword
Material: Steel, iron and silver - Made in England, 1630-1650
Ownership attributed to John Thompson

John Thompson (1616-1696) was born in Wales or in England and had settled in Plymouth by the early 1640s. He served as Town Selectman, juror and constable.
He later moved to Middleboro. He also served the Colony in a military capacity. In 1673, Thompson was named sergeant and sent on an expedition to New York to stop the Dutch from harassing Plymouth ships. He was promoted to the rank of lieutenant in King Philip's War. The probate inventory of his possessions at the time of his death lists "arms and ammunition" worth £13, 7 shillings.

 

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75 Court St, Plymouth, MA 02360 | Phone (508) 746-1620