Earlier Settlers from Lincolnshire played very important parts in the establishment of the early settlements of America and here is a few parts of that story.
John Smyth Influence In a relatively short period of time (1607-1612), John Smyth was used of God to establish what would become the foundational distinctives for Baptist congregations. His influence is still felt to this day in that all Baptists can trace themselves back to his ministry; a single man who stood in the gap of church history and formulated what would become a moving force for centuries to come.
William Brewster In Leiden, Brewster working with Thomas Brewer, Edward Winslow, and others, began working a printing press and publishing religious books and pamphlets that were then illegally conveyed into England. Brewster also employed himself teaching University of Leiden students English. By 1618, the English authorities were onto him and his printing press, and had the Dutch authorities in pursuit of him. Thomas Brewer was arrested and held in the University of Leiden's prison, but Brewster managed to evade the authorities and went into hiding for a couple years.
Winthrop Fleet The Winthrop Fleet of 1630 (an early part of the Great Migration) was the largest fleet ever assembled to carry Englishmen overseas to a new homeland. It was a well planned and financed expedition comprising eleven ships that carried 700 immigrants from England to the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The group, led by Governor John Winthrop, sailed from April to July of 1630. The fleet landed at Salem. Of the 700 on board, 200 died during the voyage, and 100 returned to England soon after arrival. Some of the 400 remaining settlers stayed in Salem, but many moved on to Boston, Watertown, or other settlements.
John Winthrop As a young man, Winthrop became convinced that England was in trouble: Inflation coupled with population growth had led men to pursue wealth at the cost of their souls. Efforts to reform the Church of England had faltered. Zealous bishops hounded religious dissenters who resisted obeying the rules. Puritans like Winthrop were persecuted. As he worried about his future, Winthrop became intrigued by a new venture, the Massachusetts Bay Colony, a commercial enterprise that offered the chance for religious freedom in the New World.
Pilgrim Landings LANDING OF THE PILGRIM FATHERS by: Felicia Dorothea Hemans (1793-1835) HE breaking waves dashed high On a stern and rock-bound coast, And the woods against a stormy sky Their giant branches tossed; And the heavy night hung dark, The hills and waters o'er, When a band of exiles moored their bark On the wild New England shore. Not as the conqueror comes, They, the true-hearted came; Not with the roll of the stirring drums, And the trumpet that sings of fame; Not as the flying come, In silence and in fear; They shook the depths of the desert gloom With their hymns of lofty cheer. Amidst the storm they sang, And the stars heard, and the sea; And the sounding aisles of the dim woods rang To the anthem of the free. The ocean eagle soared From his nest by the white wave's foam; And the rocking pines of the forest roared-- This was their welcome home. There were men with hoary hair Amidst the pilgrim band: Why had they come to wither there, Away from their childhood's land? There was woman's fearless eye, Lit by her deep love's truth; There was manhood's brow, serenely high, And the fiery heart of youth. What sought they thus afar? Bright jewels of the mine? The wealth of seas, the spoils of war? They sought a faith's pure shrine! Ay, call it holy ground, The soil where first they trod; They have left unstained what there they found -- Freedom to whorship God. "Landing of the Pilgrim Fathers" is reprinted from Historic Poems and Ballads. Ed. Rupert S. Holland. Philadelphia: George W. Jacobs & Co., 1912.
John Cotton Born in England, he was educated at Derby School, in buildings which are now the Derby Heritage Centre, and attended Cambridge University, where he also taught, and became a long-serving minister in the English town of Boston, Lincolnshire before his Puritanism and criticism of hierarchy drew the hostile attention of Church of England authorities. In 1633, William Laud was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury, and like numerous other Puritan nonconformist figures, Cotton soon came under his close "eye of scrutiny". In the same year Cotton, his family, and a few local followers sailed for the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
The Mayflower set sail for America in 1620, taking with her families in search of religious freedom. These families would eventually settle in what is now known as New England, but the origins of their religious views lie in the Gainsborough area.
The Separatists' methods of worship evolved in the relatively tolerant times of Elizabeth 1. Seeking the freedom to worship in their own way, separate from the Church of England, many of the Separatists studied at Cambridge, where they developed their religious views under their leader Robert Browne. As the Puritan movement gained a voice in the words of Foxe's Book of Martyrs, so the "Pilgrim" movement could be traced to Robert Browne's book,Reformation Without Tarrying for Anie (1580). Browne shared Foxe's vision, but after more than a decade of seeking reforms within the English church, became disillusioned. He "separated from" the English church, and in 1581 started his own congregation in Norwich, England
William Brewster was the son of the postmaster of Scrooby. Living in Scrooby Manor House and administering the Archbishop of York’s Scrooby estates, the Brewster’s were in touch with all the nation’s official news as it sped north and south on the Great North Road, England’s main communication artery. An intelligent and perceptive man, William studied at Cambridge and became one of ‘Troublechurch’ Browne’s followers. Browne fled to Holland in 1578 and thirty years later his congregation there welcomed Brewster and other fugitives whose story is told here.
After Cambridge, and service to one of Queen Elizabeth’s trusted diplomats, Brewster returned to Scrooby a committed Separatist, and became renowned for “ripping up ye hart and conscience before God”. The Church of England rector of nearby Babworth Church was likeminded Richard Clyfton, another ex-Cambridge follower of Browne. Here Brewster and others worshipped in their own style, joined in 1603 by the 12 year old William Bradford from Austerfield.
John Robinson and his wife Bridget were both from Sturton-le-Steeple, south of Scrooby. He too was educated at Cambridge University and was an inspired Separatist.
Across the River Trent in Lincoln, another ex-Cambridge man, the Separatist John Smyth, was dismissed in 1602 by his employer the Bishop of Lincoln, for preaching “strange doctrines” in church. He moved to Gainsborough and formed the hub of a congregation of 60 or 70 Separatists there. He was allowed to worship secretly in Gainsborough Old Hall by its sympathetic new owner Sir William Hickman and his mother Rose, both themselves former religious exiles. This congregation swelled when Richard Clyfton was forced to resign from his Church of England post in 1604, and members, including William Brewster, came from a wide area on both sides of the river.
In late 1606 Brewester set up a second Separatist Church in his home at Scrooby Manor, despite the possible danger from his landlord the Archbishop of York. Some members of the Gainsborough congregation were now able to worship nearer home at Scrooby, with Richard Clyfton as their pastor, John Robinson their Teacher and William Brewster himself as Elder.
In Gainsborough William Hickman was under pressure from the Bishop of Lincoln for encouraging John Smyth. William Brewster was being harassed by his landlord and employer the Archbishop of York for his own Separatist activities in Scrooby Manor. When he was briefly imprisoned in York and then fined, both Gainsborough and the Scrooby Separatists took fright, and made the decision to abandon their lives and livelihoods in England and to escape to Holland, to join the other Separatists there.
Unable to emigrate legally without permits, John Smyth and at least 40 of his Gainsborough congregation, including his wife and two babies, slipped away quietly in the winter of 1607/8. From the Gainsborough docks they could easily have boarded river barges bound down the Trent to Hull, and then have crossed anonymously from there to Holland. In Amsterdam they joined some 300 or so other English Separatists known as the Ancient Brethren.
In September 1607 the Scrooby congregation sold all their belongings and travelled overland to Boston, 60 miles to the south east. They hired a ship to take them to Holland, but downstream from Boston at Scotia Creek “the captain betrayed them … Bailiffs put them into open boats and there rifled and ransacked them, searching them to their shirts for money … even the women. They carried them back to Boston and made them a spectacle in front of the multitude that came flocking on all sides.”
They were held in Boston Guildhall cells whilst awaiting trial in the court room above, following which they were tried in Lincoln. After a month in prison most were sent back to their own parishes, bur seven, including Clyfton, Robinson and Brewster were kept in prison longer. They too were released under pressure from local sympathisers, and all returned penniless to the Scrooby area for the winter.
Later many of those who failed in the Boston attempts did escape but not without incident, many were parted from their families and only reunited in Holland after the authorities released them as they had no other ideas as to what to do with those left behind as follows.
The women, with the children and their goods, came to the Humber [a river]by boat down the Trent [for centuries a major waterway] from Gainsborough; the men travelled forty miles across country from Scrooby. Both parties got to the rendezvous before the ship, and the boat was run into a creek. This was unfortunate, as when the captain came on the scene next morning the boat was high and dry, left on the mud by the fallen tide, and there was nothing for it but to wait for high water at midday.The delay was worse than "unfortunate." Once again, authorities had learned the Pilgrims were escaping. Before everyone was onboard ship, the captain decided to leave:
Meanwhile the Dutchman set about taking the men on board in the ship's skiff, but when one boatload had been embarked he saw to his dismay, out on the hills in hot pursuit, "a great company, both horse and foot, with bills and guns and other weapons," for "the country was raised to take them." So the laconic historian says, "he swore his country's oath -- Sacramente," and heaving up his anchor sailed straight away with the people he had got. Their feelings may be imagined; and their plight was aggravated by a violent storm, which drove them out of their course and tossed them about for a fortnight, until even the sailors gave up hope and abandoned themselves to despair. But the ship reached port, at last, and all were saved.As Pilgrim men sailed southeast to their new home, their wives and children (who had not yet boarded the ship) were stranded:
The scene ashore meantime had been scarcely less distressing than that at sea. Some of the men left behind made good their escape; the rest tarried with the forsaken portion of the party. The women were broken-hearted. Some wept and cried for their husbands, carried away in the unkindly prudent Dutchman's ship. Some were distracted with apprehension; and others looked with tearful eyes into the faces of the helpless little ones that clung about them, crying with fear and quaking with cold.Women were arrested, but for what crime? Would a judge actually jail them?
The men with the bills and guns arrested them; but, though they hurried their prisoners from place to place, no justice could be found to send women to gaol for no other crime than wanting to go with their husbands. We know not what befell them. The most likely suggestion is that "they took divers ways, and were received into various houses by kind-hearted country folk." Yet this we do know. They rallied somewhere at a later day, and John Robinson and William Brewster, and other principal members of the devoted sect, including Richard Clyfton, "were of the last, and stayed to help the weakest over before them;" and Bradford tells us with a sigh of satisfaction that "notwithstanding all these storms of opposition, they all gatt over at length, some at one time and some at another, and some in one place and some in another, and mette togeather againe according to their desires, with no small rejoycing". . . (Addison, pages 40-43)Having left their English homes, they "met together again" in Amsterdam, before the end of 1608. They remained in the city of canals one year. Let's virtually visit some of the places important to these future American colonists during their Dutch sojourn.
Most of the pilgrims were released fairly soon and the following year, set sail for the Netherlands, settling in Leiden. In 1620, several of these were among the group who moved to New England in the Mayflower. On 22 July (new style: 1 August) 1620 theSpeedwellset sail from Delfshaven to Southampton. On board was a group of English puritans, living in exile in The Netherlands, and now leaving for America. In Southampton, the Speedwell was joined by theMayflower, and the two ships left together, with destination America.
The Mayflower, carrying 102 settlers, left Plymouth on September 6, 1620, without the Speedwell, and sailed for the New World with a land patent allowing them to settle specifically at the mouth of the Hudson River. The voyage took almost two months as it was drawn out by strong westerly winds and by the Gulf Stream. Turbulent seas and storms added to this delay. In one such episode, John Howlandwas thrown overboard, but managed to grab a topsail halyard that was trailing in the water and was hauled back aboard safely. Land was sighted on November 9 off the coast of Cape Cod.
The Mayflower made an attempt to sail south to the designated landing site at the mouth of the Hudson but ran into trouble in the region of Pollack Rip, a shallow area of shoals between Cape Cod and Nantucket Island. With winter approaching and provisions running dangerously low, the passengers decided to return north and abandon their original landing plans.
The location in Cape Cod Bay settled by the Plymouth Colony was outside the territory of the London Company, which had granted its patent. The northern coastal territory had been granted to the Plymouth Company, but this patent fell into disuse after the failure of the Popham Colony. It was reorganized under a sea-to-sea charter under the Plymouth Council for New England. The actual Plymouth Colony would obtain land patents from the Plymouth Council in 1621 and in 1630, but it was governed independently from the Council under the Mayflower Compact.
Although there was not a single Bostonian amongst the original flock that sailed to the New World in 1620, Bostonians played an important role in the early colonisation of New England.
With a strong Puritan tendency among the leading citizens of the town it came as no surprise when many Bostonians decided to follow the Pilgrim Fathers. They were led mainly by the family of the earl of Lincoln and supported by the town’s Vicar, John Cotton.
In March 1629 the Massachusetts Bay Company was formed to organise and govern the planned settlement. The colony was managed by a Governor, a Deputy Governor and a General Court of eighteen Assistants, one of whom was Isaac Johnson. His wife, Lady Arbella, was the sister of the Earl of Lincoln.
In the spring of 1630 a fleet of seven ships crossed the Atlantic, led by John Winthrop in his flagship the Eagle which was renamed the Arbella in honour of Lady Arbella Johnson.
Dissatisfied with his original settlement at Charlestown Hill, Governor John Winthrop was attracted to the Shawmut peninsular, which the Pilgrims had called Tremount, or sometimes Treemoutaine, because of the three small hills on which the settlement had developed. On September 17th 1630 a decree was issued “that Trimountaine shall be called Boston”, naming it after the town in Lincolnshire from which many of its best citizens had emigrated. Four of the men from Old Boston – Bellingham, Dudley, Bradstreet and Leverett, together with Winthrop, controlled Massachusetts for sixty years and served as Governors one after another.
A meeting house which was erected at Boston became the First Church of Boston and when the Reverend John Cotton arrived from Boston, Lincolnshire in 1633, he became the Second Minister of the Church and the spiritual leader of a church-dominated State.
John Cotton (1585-1652): Puritan Vicar of Two Bostons
John Cotton, a gifted preacher and charismatic leader, was born in Derby in 1585. Like many non-conformists before him, he was educated at Cambridge University. Cotton moved on to Boston in 1612 where he was appointed as vicar in spite of initial opposition from the bishop of Lincoln who described him as “ a young man unfit to be over such a factious people who was inclined with the Puritan spirit”.
Even though non-conformity landed him in the court at Lincoln, he continued to rebel against the centralised basis of church government and the religious ceremonies that he thought were ‘so pressed’. John Cotton, the figurehead of Boston’s Puritan movement, had many enemies in the town, who plotted against him. In spite of them – and with the Corporation’s support – he held office for 21 years bringing great changes to Boston and attracting other Puritans to the town.
“A great reformation was wrought by (him) … religion was embraced and practised by the body of the people … the mayor and most of the magistrates were now called Puritans”.
He was eventually forced to flee from Boston to London and in 1633 he sailed to Massachusetts where he was received and ordained Teacher of the Church of Boston. Within three years he had helped compile a code of fundamental laws for the colony.
Cotton caught a cold from which he was never to recover and died in 1652 at the age of 68.