Refuge in Leiden
On 12 February 1609 the city government of Leiden granted 100 English religious refugees permission to settle in Leiden. In 1620 a group of these radical refugees left for America as Pilgrims and founded Plymouth Colony there. Most of the roughly hundred Pilgrims who found refuge in Leiden had previously lived off small-scale agriculture in England. Upon arrival in Leiden, they could immediately start working in the city’s textile industry – among the largest in Europe at the time.
A colony of their own
Most Pilgrims had little trouble integrating into this dynamic, multicultural society, and as a result their leaders feared that the group would eventually lose its religious and cultural identity. The establishment of a private colony to which they could retreat and where they could sustain their pure faith community became an increasingly enticing solution. Moreover it was economically attractive for many to leave the arduous textile industry, and build up a new life and home by cultivating new lands in the wilderness of North America.
The history of the Pilgrim Fathers is closely connected with the city of Rotterdam. Indeed, the origin of the name Pilgrim Fathers lies in Delfshaven. It was there that on 22 July 1620, a group of English Puritan Calvinists led by Rev John Robinson set sail for the New World from the Middenkouskade, aboard the less than seaworthy ‘Speedwell’. They had a mission: building a new society, modelled on the Puritan Protestant principles. After a stop in Southampton, where they transferred to the ‘Mayflower’, the Pilgrim Fathers reached Cape Cod in Massachusetts in November. There, these devout and persistent individuals transformed into the ideological founding fathers of the United States.
Leiden in Holland was a city of free-thinkers, relative religious tolerance, and a long tradition of offering shelter to the dispossessed. Following their escape from England, the Mayflower Pilgrims carved new lives here, bought land near Pieterskerk and built houses that became known as the Engelse poort (English Alley). Living here for 12 years, Leiden had a profound influence on the lives of the Pilgrims - even after their departure. 'Civil marriage' was one innovation that the Pilgrims took with them to the new world. Led by John Robinson, the group of refugees were granted leave to settle in the city - the request was answered with... “No honest persons will be refused free and unconstrained entry to the city to take up residence”. From 1620 some of the Pilgrim community emigrated from Leiden to North America.
Smeatons Tower, Plymouth Hoe
The Mayflower and Speedwell were 300 miles clear of Land's End when the smaller ship once more began leaking badly and couldn't risk continuing. They turned about for Plymouth.
The Mayflower trail follows the journey of the Mayflower Pilgrims, the ship and their voyage through villages, towns and cities. You can follow in the footsteps of the Mayflower Pilgrims.
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The story of the Pilgrims, their journey, and the colonisation of New England, is a complex one, spanning hundreds of years. This brief summary will provide an introduction to the Mayflower narrative.
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Austerfield, near Doncaster and the market town of Bawtry. Home of William Bradford who was baptised in St. Helena's Church and later became Plymouth Colony's first elected Govenor.
In the Bassetlaw area of north Nottinghamshire, the beliefs of the leading Separatists who voyaged to American in 1620 were shaped. Explore the Pilgrim Roots.
Gainsborough, Lincolnshire. Close to Scrooby and Retford. Some of the Separatists are thought to have worshipped in secret at the Old Hall with permission of its owner, merchant William Hickman.
The Scrooby congregation - including Williams Brewster and Bradford - made their first attempt to escape to Holland from Boston in Lincolnshire. They were held and tried in Boston Guildhall.
It was from Immingham Creek on the edge of the river Humber that the Separatists made a dangerous, but successful escape from England to Holland in their search for religious freedom.
Prominent Mayflower passenger, Edward Winslow came from Worcestershire - he was schooled in Worcester and came from Droitwich Spa. Following the voyage, he later returned to England.
The Separatists escaped from England to Holland and settled in Leiden - a city of free-thinkers and religious tolerance. It was their resting place for almost 12 years before departing on the Speedwell in preparation for their final voyage to the New World.
The Mayflower is believed to have been built in Harwich sometime before 1600, and was commanded and part-owned by her Master, Captain Christopher Jones, whose house still stands near the waterfront.
The London borough of Southwark, which includes the former docklands of Rotherhithe, has many links with the voyage of the Pilgrims. It was the home port of the Mayflower, and the area was one with its own strong tradition of religious descent.
The Mayflower arrived in Southampton in July 1620 and several days later was joined by the Speedwell, carrying the Pilgrims from Leiden. On 15 August the two ships weighted anchor and set sail.
When the Speedwell began to take on water, both ships and their crew changed course and arrived in Dartmouth on 23 August. They rested here whilst repairs were made in Bayards cove before heading out into the English Channel.
300 miles clear of England, the Speedwell continued to leak and both ships turned about for Plymouth. Eventually, just the Mayflower set sail with up to 30 crew and 102 passengers on board. The final departure city before embarking on life in the New World.
After a storm tossed 66 days at sea, the Mayflower anchored on the tip of Cape Cod, at what is now Provincetown, Massachusetts. The settlers formulated the 'Mayflower Compact'.