The Speedwell was actually a 60 ton pinnace built in 1577 with the name Swiftsure. It was used against the Spanish Armada in 1586, it's captain was Sir Gilly Merick. After the conflict, the ship was decommissioned and named the Speedwell in 1605. The ship was purchased by Separatists from Leiden, Holland, refitted with two masts and left Delfshaven on 22 July 1620 under Captain John Thomas Chappell. They sailed to Southampton to meet the Mayflower where they awaited at anchor at Rotherhithe on the Thames, and pick up more Separatists. The Speedwell was already leaking at this point, both ships remained in harbour for two weeks while repairs and port fees were paid by the passengers who sold some of their belongings and goods. At long last, both ships set sail on the 5th of August, 1620, but turned about quickly to Dartmouth as the Speedwell was still taking on water. Another try proved to be equally disastrous, both ships turned around a few hundred miles off shore of Land's End, returning to Plymouth. Eleven of the Separatists boarded the Mayflower for the voyage to the colonies, twenty returned to London including Cushman Robert. Thomas Blossom and his son returned to Leiden, and arrive at the colonies on the Mayflower's second trip.

The Mayflower left Plymouth a third time without the Speedwell on 06 Sept 1620. Speedwell's replacement, the Fortune, including Philippe de Lannoy and presumably the remaining 102 Speedwell pass angers) arrived at the colonies the following year on November 9th.

According to Governor Bradford, the Speedwell was repaired, made several trips for her new owners, and was finally sold at auction in London. A 1635 trip was captained by the same John Thomas Chappell. It was suspected that the leaks might have been caused by the crew in order to avoid the trip.

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