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"There is no creature so perfect in wisdom 
and knowledge but may learn something for 
time present and to come by times past." 

John Robinson. 


The following pages give an independent study of 
the work of the Pastor of the Pilgrim Fathers and 
those associated with him. Robinson and his com- 
panions loved England with a passionate love, yet 
they were compelled to leave the land of their birth 
to secure freedom to worship according to the dictates 
of their conscience. Two sentences from Robinson's 
writings will explain the position : " For the common- 
wealth and kingdom, as we honour it above all the 
States in the world, so would we thankfully embrace 
the meanest corner in it, at the extremest conditions 
of any people in the kingdom." Again he says, 
" For our country we do not forsake it, but are by it 
forsaken, and expelled by most extreme laws and 
violent prescriptions, contrived and executed by the 
prelates and on their own behalf." To say, as has 
recently been said, that it was their own intolerance 
which drove these pilgrims to Holland is a gross 
misinterpretation of the facts. 

Besides the identification of the early home and the 
parentage of John Robinson, these pages throw a 
little fresh light upon the Southworths and Carvers 
and others connected with the Pilgrim Father move- 
ment. Gervase Neville is identified, and the anony- 
mous opponent of Robinson in one of his earliest 
controversies is named. The history of the obscure 
Church in the western parts of England is unfolded, 
and an attempt made to settle the vexed question of 
the identity of John Smith. The Appendices give 
illustrative extracts from contemporary documents. 

Given time and means, no doubt further facts 
concerning members of the Pilgrim Church could be 



recovered. It should be possible to identify the 
actual site of the Robinson homestead — or toftstead, 
to use the old word — at Sturton. But sufficient is 
known now to set the story out in fair proportions. 

I desire to thank all who have helped in my work 
of research, and to express my deep obligation to the 
writings of the late Dr. H. M. Dexter and his son 
Morton Dexter, on whom I have mainly relied for the 
Ley den period of this narrative. To the Hibbert 
Trustees I am also much indebted. It is in great 
part due to their encouragement and support that 
the publication of this volume has been made possible. 

Walter H. Burgess. 





ROBINSON ....... 1 

ii. john robinson's wife . . . . .17 




AND JAMES ...... 42 


LEYDEN ....... 49 








BURGESS ....... 94 




AND JACOB ....... 123 




ROBINSON ....... 143 






xix. robinson's plea for lay preaching . . 204 


FLOWER " 236 









ESSAYS — HIS DEATH ..... 290 

CHISM ....... 314 


AND LIFE OF HIS AGE ..... 322 








DAY 369 




1604 407 




ROBINSON ....... 418 

INDE^S 421 


Facing page 

sketch plan of corpus christi college, cambridge . 32 

letter from the fellows of corpus christi college, 
bearing Robinson's signature, preserved at hat- 
field HOUSE ........ 40 

greasley church ........ 46 

sketch map of the pilgrim district .... 74 

sturton-le-steeple church as robinson knew it . 84 

facsimile of a document, by an anonymous opponent 

of robinson, in the bodleian library ... 99 

ST. Wilfrid's church, scrooby ..... 187 


PLYMOUTH, DEVON ....... 263 



dissenters, 1698-1700 354 







On the last day of May 1919, Lieutenant- Commander 
A. C. Read, the first man to cross the Atlantic entirely 
by air, landed at the historic Barbican jetty in 
Plymouth. He and his gallant companions brought 
their seaplane down in a graceful sweep to the mouth 
of the Cattewater, and after a welcome from their 
compatriots, on board a naval vessel of the United 
States, they were received, as they stepped ashore, 
by the Mayor of the ancient borough, at the " May- 
flower stone." One's thoughts naturally turned to the 
little company of Englishmen, known as the Pilgrim 
Fathers, who sailed from that spot three hundred years 
ago on a venture scarcely less daring. It is of the 
Pastor of the Pilgrim Fathers, his life, his times, his 
work, his friends and his influence, that we tell in 
the following pages. 

The men of the Mayflower, who made the first 
effective settlement on the shores of New England 
in 1620, were sustained and inspired by religious 
convictions arrived at under the guidance of John 
Robinson, their pastor. Robinson was a remarkable 
man. He left the impress of his thought upon much 
of the religious life of America and England. In the 
tenacity of his nature and the solidity of his judg- 
ment, he was essentially English. In the depth and 
range of his spiritual experience he was essentially 


Christian. Though his life only extended to a bare 
half-century, it was crowded with incident and marked 
by an unwearied industry. He came into contact 
with many men and women, who took an active and 
decided part in the religious movements of his age. 
He himself tells us, in one of his latest writings, how, 
in the days of his " pilgrimage," he had enjoyed 
" special opportunity of conversing with persons of 
divers nations, estates and dispositions in great 
variety." x This gave a wider range to his outlook 
than was usual amongst the Puritans. We find him 
domiciled at Cambridge, at Norwich, at Amsterdam, 
at Leyden, in each case in the midst of a stimulating 
environment, each a centre where the principles of 
political and religious liberty were brought under dis- 
cussion and hammered into practical shape. Any one 
desiring to gain a thorough understanding of the 
religious history of England in the Stuart period, or 
of the origin of the Free Churches of the English- 
speaking world, cannot afford to ignore the personality 
of John Robinson or the books which came from his 

When the " first collected edition of the Works of 
the Pastor of the Pilgrim Fathers" 2 appeared, in 
1851, Robert Ashton, the editor, prefixed a Memoir, 
which claimed to contain " all that can be learned 
respecting Mr. Robinson." He justly remarked that 
" the parentage, education, youthful predilections, and 
exploits of a distinguished man, are important to be 
known; they give an interest and specificness to his 
biography, and take it out of the mere generalizations 
of an everyday memoir," but he went on to say, " un- 
happily, none of these things can be learned respect- 
ing Mr. Robinson." 3 Even so recently as 1910 a 
writer on this subject says, " considering 4 all the time 

1 Observations Divine and Moral, 1625, preface. 

2 The Works of John Robinson, 3 vols., preface, p. vii. This edition is 
referred to in these pages as Works. I have consulted original editions on 
vital points. 

3 Ibid., vol. i. p. xiii. 

4 Burrage, New Facts Concerning John Robinson, 1910, p. 5. 


that has been spent in studying Robinson's life, it is 
surprising how slight is our present knowledge of his 
early years." 

In the following pages something will be done to 
fill in the gaps in the biography of John Robinson. 
The time has arrived for a fresh study of his life and 
work. We must consider him in connexion with the 
men and movements of his time. We must picture 
him against the background of rural, academic, civic, 
social and religious life in the midst of which he lived. 
We must look at his works in due perspective, and 
judge them in relation to the controversies of the time 
in which they appeared, remembering that the topics 
handled were then of living interest, though in these 
days they may seem to be remote and moribund. 

Hitherto the Scrooby district of Nottinghamshire, 
and the village of Austerfield in the adjoining county 
of Yorkshire, have received special attention as the 
cradle-home of the church of the Pilgrim Fathers. In 
the former parish lived the Brewster family, and in 
their roomy house the early religious meetings of 
the society were held; in the latter parish William 
Bradford, 1 the historian and " governor " of Plymouth 
Plantation, was born. To Joseph Hunter belongs the 
credit of identifying the homes of these two eminent 
lay leaders in the " Pilgrim movement," and he fondly 
designated the district as maximce gentis incunabula. 
But for the early home of John Robinson, the 
" Pilgrim pastor," the clerical leader of the move- 
ment, we must journey a few miles to the eastward 
from Scrooby, to the little town of Sturton-le-Steeple. 
In this part of Nottinghamshire there is a range of hills 
running north and south, almost parallel with the 
Trent, a few miles to the westv:ard of that noble river. 
These hills slope down gently to the broad Trent 
Valley, and from their heart flow many streamlets of 
clear, sweet water to join the brimming river. The 

1 Bradford was baptized in the Chapel of St. Helen, Austerfield. March 19, 
1589-90; died at New Plymouth, May 9, 1657. Both he and Brewster 
were on the Mayflower. 


soil is fertile, and the firm ground of the foothills 
between the marshy lands nearer the river and the 
more exposed hill-tops was early chosen as a desirable 
place of habitation. The earth is here friable and 
easily worked, and the pasturage is good for cattle. 
The Trent afforded a fine waterway, giving access 
down-stream to the ports of the north and the 
Humber, and up-stream to Newark, Nottingham, and 
the heart of England. 

The old Roman road from Lincoln to Doncaster 
crossed the river by a ford at Agelocum, now known 
as Littleborough, and passed in a north-westerly 
direction over the water-logged ground near the river. 
Two miles from the ford, the Roman " ramper," as 
it is still called, joined the road connecting the home- 
steads and hamlets lying north and south along the 
foot of these hills that form the watershed between 
the Trent and Idle valleys, and here a village grew up, 
to which the name Estretton — the town on the Street 
— was given. In due course a fine parish church was 
built and dedicated to St. Peter and St. Paul. It 
was embellished with a magnificent pinnacled tower, 
which serves as a landmark for miles around. This 
striking feature of the village gives the definitive term 
to its present title, Sturton-le-Steeple, and so distin- 
guishes it from other Sturtons in that part of England. 
The village, geographically, was in the North Clay x 
division of the wapentake or hundred of Bassetlaw. 
Its position, like that of the neighbouring manors, was 
fairly well defined even at the time of the great survey 
embodied in Domesday Book. The Archbishop of 
York held large estates in the neighbourhood, granted 
to his See before the Conquest, and represented to-day 
by the " Liberty of Southwell and Scrooby." 2 

The district was well peopled, and there were many 
small freeholders. I am inclined to think, from a 

1 Hence the alternative designation — Sturton-in-the-Clay — which was 
sometimes used. 

2 The Charter by which King Edgar made this grant may still be read in 
the Liber Alius at York. 


perusal of Subsidy Rolls for the locality, that Sturton 
and its neighbourhood carried a larger population in 
the days of Henry VIII and Elizabeth than it does 
to-day. Three of the old parishes adjoining the 
Sturton of John Robinson's time have in modern days 
been merged in neighbouring parishes, and the churches 
of West Burton, Habblesthorpe and South Wheatley, 
on which Robinson's eyes must often have rested, have 
fallen into ruin, and were long ago dismantled. 

In mediaeval times, if resident incumbents were not 
available for these small parochial cures, they were 
served by priests from the neighbouring religious 
houses, of which there was an abundance. At Matter- 
sey stood the Gilbertine Priory of St. Helen, granted 
at the Dissolution of the Monasteries to Anthony 
Nevill and Mary his wife, 1 members of a family to whom 
we shall have further occasion to refer. Blyth was the 
seat of a Benedictine settlement, while Worksop had 
an active colony of Augustinian monks, with a noble 
priory church. The trouble was that these religious 
houses engrossed for their own purposes the Church 
revenues of such parochial " livings " as were granted 
to them. The tithes, levied in the first instance for 
the maintenance of a resident parish clergyman, were 
in these cases collected for a distant monastery, and 
the parish had to be content with the perfunctory ser- 
vices of a visiting priest, or depend on an ill-paid vicar. 
If these revenues had been restored to parochial Church 
uses at the Dissolution of the Monasteries, as the Puri- 
tan clergy later on desired them to be, the smaller 
parishes would not have languished. Their position 
in respect to religious services was often rendered 
worse than before, because the rectorial and vicarial 
tithes held by the monasteries were now granted for 
the most part to laymen, and diverted altogether from 
ecclesiastical uses. 

The tithes of Sturton itself were farmed out by the 

1 Grant of the house and monastery of the Priory of Matte rsey and the 
manor of Mattersey, as Thomas Norman, late prior, hold the same. November 
1539, Letters and Papers of Henry VIII, vol. xiv. p. 220. 


Dean and Chapter of the cathedral church at York, 
the clerical patrons of the living, and it must have 
been necessary for the parishioners to supplement the 
scanty revenue assured to their vicar by substantial 
voluntary offerings. 

The social life of Sturton in Robinson's boyhood was 
still largely conditioned by feudal ideas and practices. 
The " great family " was that of the Manners, the 
Earls of Rutland, whose seat was at Belvoir Castle. 
They had a finger in the affairs of Sturton and Little- 
borough in virtue of holding the Manor of Oswaldbec 
Soke (which extended into those two parishes) and 
owning rights in Littleborough Ferry. They appointed 
bailiffs to look after their interest in the Soke. | 

In Sturton itself, with its dependent township of 
Fenton, there were three leading families — Lassells, 
Fenton and Thornhagh, with a goodly sprinkling of 
yeomanry of lesser rank, such as the Whites, Smyths, 
Sturtons, Flowers, Dickons, Bellamys and Eatons. 

The Lassells Family 

The lord of the Manor of Sturton in the earlier part 
of the reign of Henry VIII was Thomas Lord Darcy 
(1467-1537), appointed, June 18, 1509, as warden of 
the forests beyond Trent. He took a prominent part 
in public affairs in the North, but brought himself into 
trouble through his support of the rebellion known 
as the Pilgrimage of Grace, which broke out in 
Lincolnshire in the autumn of 1536 owing to dissatis- 
faction at the suppression of the religious houses. 
He was charged with treason, and executed on the 
last day of June 1537. A scramble for his lands at 
once ensued. We find that George Lassells was in 
London in the early days of 1539 suing for " the late 
Lord Dersy's lands in Stirton." His brother, John 
Lassells, was in the service of Thomas Cromwell, and 
the family gained some pickings from the confiscated 
monastic lands. George Lassells had been busy in 
March 1538, with Sir John Markham, Sir John Hercy 


of Grove, and John Babyngton of Rampton, in sup- 
pressing Lenton Priory and bringing the Prior to trial 
and execution in accordance with the powers of a 
commission from the King. It was he who carried 
the report of their proceedings to London. 1 A letter 
from Sir John Hercy to Thomas Cromwell, dated from 
Grove, October 31, 1538, has survived, in which Hercy 
refers to his " cousin John Lassells," and then goes 
on to say, " I beg you will remember your servant 
Lassells to have the preferment of Beyvall Abbey 
for the setting forward of a faithful brother, and you 
shall command me, having no children, to help him." 2 

Beauvale Abbey will come into our story again, as 
it was thence that John Robinson took his bride to 
be married in 1604. 

A landmark in the township of Sturton was " Mr. 
Lasseles wyndmylne." 3 Some of his lands in Sturton 
and Fenton were sold away by George Lassells on 
August 10, 1545, for £68 to " Anthony Thorney." 4 
In Robinson's time the Lassells family moved to 
Gateford, near Worksop, but they continued to exert 
an influence as landowners in Sturton. The ancestors 
of Robinson's wife bought their homestead in Sturton 
from this family. 5 

The Fenton Family 

The Fentons of Fenton Hall were of good old stock 
long settled in the parish of Sturton, and supplied 
their country with several men who did good work 
in the public service. Two branches of the family 
appear in the Heralds' Visitations of the county, one 
descended from Sir Richard Fenton, Knt., Lord of 
Fenton, to which belonged Captain Edward Fenton, 

1 Letters and Payers of Henry VIII, vol. xiii. Pt. I. pp. 225, 294, 388. 

2 Ibid., vol. xiii. Pt. II, No. 726. This request was not granted. Beau- 
vale Abbey was allowed to continue another two years, and was surrendered 
by the Prior, Thos. Woodcock, July 18, 1540. 

3 Vide Will of Wm. Flower of Sturton, husbandman, 1602. 

4 Add. MS., Brit. Mus. 30,997, f. 17. 

5 Exchequer Depositions, Notts. Mich. 5, xi., Chas. I. 


who commanded the Mary Rose with gallantry in the 
great Armada fight, and won distinction as a navigator 
and explorer. Tales of his adventures and the strange 
lands he visited would filter through to his old home 
and be talked over round the winter firesides in 
Sturton, and so reach the ear of young John Robinson. 
Another member of this branch was Sir John Fenton, 
who filled the difficult post of Secretary for Ireland 
with credit. This family of Fentons intermarried 
with the Disneys and Nevilles. 

The second branch, of humbler station, looked to 
Thomas Fenton, of Fenton, Notts., as its founder. 
One of its members, Lawrence Fenton, married 
Catherine Leggatt of Sturton, a sister of George 
Leggatt, the first husband of Catherine Carver. There 
is evidence that the Robinsons also were in some way 
connected with these Fentons, for John Robinson, the 
father of the " Pilgrim Pastor," appointed William 
Fenton, his " lovinge Cozen," as one of the " overseers " 
of his will. 

The Thornhagh Family 

The Thorney or Thornhagh family 1 were also of 
old local stock. They acquired land in Fenton by 
the marriage of John Thornhagh with Katherin, the 
daughter of Francis Paine of Fenton before the year 
1440, and continued to add to their possessions in 
the locality by purchases from various small yeomen 
and landowners. In the period with which we are 
concerned the family was further enriched by the 
marriage of John Thornhagh with Elizabeth, the 
daughter and heiress of Brian Bailies, who had made 
a fortune in Yorkshire as a merchant by dealings in 
Leeds, Wakefield and Hull, to which towns he left 
bequests. With their rising fortunes a grant of arms 
was applied for and secured, and the son, John Thorn- 

1 An excellent account of the Thornhagh family, drawn up by B. G. in 
the year 1683, based on " their old Evidences and other Authorities," is 
contained in Add. MS. 30,997 in the British Museum. 


hagh the younger, served as a cadet in the Manners 
household at Belvoir Castle, and was knighted. When 
John, the fourth Earl of Rutland, died, John Thorn- 
hagh the younger was in attendance on the family. 
The Countess Elizabeth was then in residence at 
Winkburn. 1 There she gave birth (October 17, 1588) 
to a posthumous daughter, who was baptized twelve 
days later as Frances. In the same church, on the 
following February 5, " Francis, son of John Thorn- 
haighe, gentleman," was baptized. 

The elder John Robinson was brought into close 
association with John Thornhagh. The will of Richard 
Worsley of Sturton, 1588, contains this clause, " I 
desyere Mr. John Thornhaghe esquier, John Robinson, 
and William Hunter of Fenton, yoman, to be the 
supervisors of this my last will." 2 As a Justice of the 
Peace, Thornhagh had much of the public work of 
the locality to attend to, and in this he was assisted 
by a young ward of his, Edward Southworth 3 by 
name, between whom and young John Robinson a 
firm and fast friendship grew up. Young Sir John 
Thornhagh went on the grand tour to Italy in 1596, 
and became member of Parliament for Retford in 
1603. His son Francis went up to Cambridge about 
the year that the " Pilgrims," under Robinson's lead, 
were leaving their old homes for Holland. He was 
there in April 1608, and subsequently travelled, 
writing home from Orleans September 4, 1611, to his 
father. His life crosses the thread of our story in 
later years. 

We may note that when Roger, Earl of Rutland, 
was made Chief Justice of. Sherwood Forest, he 
appointed John Thornhagh, senior, his Deputy and 
Lieutenant for the forest by a deed dated June 18, 

Old John Thornhagh lived on till 1614, and so long 

1 Winkburn was a Donative, and had been a Cell or Camera of the Knights 
Hospitallers, dependent on their Commandery, at Newland, Yorkshire. 

2 Wills at York, vol. xxiii. f. 735. 

3 His widow, Alice, and his sons Constant and Thomas .Southworth, subse- 
quently went to Plymouth, New England. 


as he lived he rather overshadowed his son Sir John. 
He directed that his body was to be buried " within 
the Chancell of the parish church of Sturton," and 
left the bulk of his property to his " beloved son, Sir 
John Thornagh, Knight," with £1000 to his grandson 
Francis, and £700 and £500 respectively to the grand- 
children Elizabeth and " Brigett " Thornhagh. The 
vicar, Christopher Fielding, witnessed the will, along 
with Gregory Starky and Wm. Webber, " my man." 
At the Inquisition Post Mortem, held at East Ret- 
ford September 23, 1614, the jury presented that he 
held Fenton Hall "as of y e King's Manor of Oswald- 
beck Soke in free Socage by Fealty and Suit of Court 
to y e said Manor and by y e rent of 15s. 7|d. p. 
annum." Other of his lands in Sturton were held of 
" the King's Manor of Bassetlawe parcell of his Duchy 
of Lancaster by fealty and suit of Court to the said 
manor twice a yeare." 

The Robinsons of Sturton 

Perhaps it was in connexion with some of the 
changes resultant upon the forfeiture of the Darcy 
estates or the enclosure of fresh lands in the locality 
that the Robinson family became established in 
Sturton. There were those of the name among the 
landholders of several parishes within easy distance 
of Sturton, but I do not find it among the names 
of the " Archers " and " Billmen " of Sturton and 
Fenton in the thirtieth year of King Henry's reign 
(1537), nor does it occur in the list of Sturton residents 
who contributed to a " Benevolence " for that monarch 
in 1543. When we turn to a list of Sturton taxpayers 
for the next year, however, we find Christopher 
Robinson amongst those assessed on the value of their 
lands. The nominal annual value of his holding is 
given as £l 6s. Sd. 9 while that of Anthony Thorney, 
the highest in the parish, is £10. In 1571 Christopher 
Robinson still held his place in the parish, and under 
a new assessment he paid his subsidy on lands then 


valued at £2. x When we reach the year 1585 Chris- 
topher Robinson has dropped out, and " John Robin- 
son " takes his place, paying the same tax of five 
shillings and fourpence on lands of the same value as 
Christopher Robinson had held. It is natural to infer 
that in the intervening time Christopher had died, and 
that John Robinson, who declared in 1603 that he was 
born at Sturton, was the son who succeeded to his farm. 

One glimpse we have of Christopher Robinson in 
his lifetime which shows him in touch with the Fenton 
family. This was at the signing of the will of Thomas 
Fenton, July 25, 1552, when Christopher Robinson, 
Alexander Nevell and Wm. Wollay attended and 
signed the document as witnesses. 

I take it that John Robinson the elder, as we must 
call him, to distinguish him from his gifted son, was 
born about 1550, 2 and had come to man's estate and 
married shortly after the death of Christopher Robin- 
son. Soon a son was born to him and his good wife 
Ann, and the young father settled down to steady 
work to win a livelihood for his growing household. 
To the eldest son the name John was given. Doubtless 
he was taken to the parish church for baptism in the 
ordinary way by the vicar of the parish. The registers 
of Sturton are not extant for this period, in fact they 
do not begin till the year 1638, so we gain no help 
from them, and can only say that young John Robin- 
son was born about the year 1576. Other children 
came to brighten the home of this Nottinghamshire 
yeoman : a son William, a daughter Mary and another 
daughter. These lived to manhood and womanhood, 
surviving their parents. When the future Pastor of 
the Pilgrims was about seven years old, Sturton was 
afflicted with an infectious sickness, which swept 
away many of its inhabitants, but he and his father's 
family happily survived. 

1 Lay Subsidies in the Record Office, Bassetlaw, Notts. Roll 160-206. See 
Appendix A. 

2 He deposed in 1591 that he was " thirty-six years or thereabouts " ;"> in 
1603 that he was fifty-three years of age, and in 1609 that he was sixty. 
There was no exactitude. 


I have found several contemporary references to 
the elder John Robinson which go to show that he 
was a man of probity and dependable character, win- 
ning the regard and esteem of neighbours and fellow- 
parishioners. Richard Worsley, yeoman, of Sturton, 
in making his will, March 26, 1588, appointed this 
John Robinson as " supervisor," that is to say, he 
trusted him to see the provisions of the will duly 
carried out. Three years later we find Robinson 
giving evidence at East Retford on behalf of the 
Dowager Countess of Rutland. 

In 1599 he and Robert Poole were nominated as 
" supervisors " of the will of Ellen White of Fenton, 
one of whose sons appears to have crossed in the 
Mayflower. Then in the will of William Flower of 
Sturton, dated June 29, 1602, " John Robinson, 
yeoman," was appointed, together with " John Quippe, 
Clerk, our vicar," to receive a bond from Margaret 
Flower as an assurance that she would keep her son 
and his houses and lands " sumcientlie according to 
the order of the la we " till he was of age. Flower 
refers in a codicil to " my lovinge neighbour, John 
Robinson." The will itself concludes with these 
terms — 

" I desire John Quippe, Clerk, and John Robinson to be the 
supervisors of this my last will and testam* to see all things 
p' formed in it to the pleasure of god and my soules healthe. 
These being witnesses John Quippe, George Smyth, John 
Bate." 1 

If Margaret Flower declined her obligation, then 
William Flower directed that " John Quippe, Clerke, 
and John Robinsonne shall have the tuicon of my 

In 1604, the year of his son's wedding, old John 
Robinson witnessed the will of Thomas Sturton of 
Sturton, signing the document along with " Christopher 
ffieldinge, clerke, George Diccons, Will m Ha worth, 
Thomas Lassells, Robert Heppenstall, and Dennis 

1 Probate Registry at York, vol. xxviii. f. 830, 


Barmbie." Six years or so later he did a similar service, 
together with " Christofer ffeildinge, Cler.," and Robert 
Bishop, for one of his humbler neighbours, John 
Cawthorne. I also find him mentioned in connexion 
with the vicar of Sturton in the will of Anne Padley, 
which was executed March 11, 1610-11. Both of 
them sign as witnesses to this document. 

" Itm I give unto Christopher ffeildinge, clerke, tenne 
shillings and unto John Robinson three shillings fourepence 
and I do desire the said Christopher ffeilding and John 
Robinson that they would be the supervisors of this my 
last will and testament to see the true performance thereof." 

Now it is clear from these references that John 
Robinson the elder was held in good esteem by those 
amongst whom he lived, and was accustomed to act 
in close association with John Quipp, who was vicar 
of the parish in the boyhood of young John Robinson, 
and with Fielding, his successor in the benefice of 
Sturton. In all likelihood young Robinson received 
some of his early education under the guidance of 
John Quipp. Moreover, he had the priceless advan- 
tage of having constantly before him the example of 
the industry and integrity of his father — a man whose 
judgment was sought and trusted in the valuation of 
the cattle and effects of his neighbours, and whose 
testimony was recognized to be of weight in affairs 
concerning the interest and welfare of the locality. 

The wills of both parents of the Pastor of the 
Pilgrims I found registered in York. They give us 
authentic information as to the family, and throw 
fresh light on the position it held in the Sturton 

The Will of John Robinson's Father 

Extracted from the District Probate Registry at York 
attached to His Majesty's High Court of Justice. 

" In the Name of God Amen the fourteenth daye of March in 
the yeare of or Lorde God one thousand sixe hundred and 


thirteene I John Robinson of Sturton in the Countie of 
Notts Yeoman beinge weeke of bodie but of good and perfect 
memorie praise bee given to God therefore doe make and 
ordaine this my last Will and Testament in manner and 
forme followinge That is to say First I bequeathe my soule 
to Almightie God my Creator and to Iesus Christ my Re- 
deemer by whose precious blood sheading I have an assured 
hope of salvation and my body to the earth from whence it 

Itm I give to the poore of Sturton and Fenton sixe pounde 
thirteen shillinge fourpence to bee payed w fch in one yeare after 
my decease 

Itm I give and bequeathe unto John Robinson my eldest 
sonne five marks and his wife xx 8 and to John theire sonne 
fourtie shillings and to everie of their other children xx 8 

Itm I give and bequeath unto William Robinson my 
Younger sonne one hundred and five pounds and to the wife 
of the said William xx 8 to everie of their children xx 8 . 

Itm I give to my sonne in lawe Roger Lawson xx 11 wch 
he owed me upon condicon that he performe a will and a 
guifte w ch he made to William Pearte. 

Itm I give to William Pearte my sonne in lawe xx 8 to his 
wife xx 8 and to everie one of theire children xx 8 . 

Itm I give and bequeath to Richard Barke and his wyfe 
x 8 . 

Itm I give and bequeath to John Mytton my servant tenne 
shillinge and to Joane Greene ij* vi d . 

Itm I give to my Cosen William Fenton x s and to his 
Daughter my Goddaughter ij* vj d . 

Itm I ordaine and make my lovinge wyfe Anne Robinson 
my whole and sole Executrix of this my last Will and Testa- 
ment to whome I doe give and bequeath all the residue of my 
Goods and Cattels not before by me given and bequeathed 
she to see my debts and legacies satisfied and my funerall 
expenses discharged And lastly I desyre my lovinge Cozen 
William Fenton my lovinge sonne William Peart to bee 
overseers of this my last Will and Testament in Witness 
whereof I have hereunto set my hand the daye and yeare 
above written. Red signed and acknowledged in the p'nce 
of William Fenton Robert Bishopp." 

On the 19th day of August 1614 the Will of Iohn 
Robinson late of Sturton in the County of Nottingham 
Yeoman deceased was proved by the oath of Anne 
Robinson the Relict and sole Executrix. 


Will of John Robinson's Mother 

" In the name of God, Amen, the sixteenth day of October 
in the yeare of our Lord God 1616. I Ann Robinson of 
Sturton in the countye of Nottingham widowe beinge aged 
and weake in body but whole and sound in mynd and of good 
and p'fect remembrance thankes be to Almightye god and 
perceiving and consideringe the instabilitye of this vaine 
and transitory world and the shortness of mannes lyfe therein 
doe ordaine and make this my last will and testament heareby 
revoking and absolutely adnullinge thereby all and everye 
former will and testament by me in anywise heretofore made 
in manner and forme followinge that is to say ffirst and 
principally into the hands of Allmightye Godd my creator 
redeemer and sanctifier I commend my soule assuredly hope- 
inge and trustinge in and by the meritts death and passion 
of his deare sonne Jesus Christ my onely lord and Saviour 
to be one of his electe and blessed Companye in the kingdom 
of heaven and by noe other way or meanes whatsoever. 

And my body I committ to the earth to be interred or buried 
in the p'ish church of Sturton be foresaid or else wheare it shall 
please God to call me to his mercy. 

Itm I give and bequeath unto the poore people of Stourton 
and ffenton fortye shilling of lawfull money of England to 
be given and bestowed at my funerall at the disposition of my 
sonne in lawe William Pearte. 

Itm I give unto my sonne John my sonne and heire apparent 
the some of fortye shillings of lyke lawfull money of Englande. 

Itm I give and bequeath unto Bridgett Robinson wife to 
my said sonne John one paire of lynninge sheets and one silver 

Itm I give and bequeath to John Robinson sonne of my 
said sonne John Robinson the some of fortye shillings and 
to every one of my said sonne John his children the some of 

XX s . 

Itm I give and bequeath unto my said sonne John Robinson 
all the pailes railes stoupes gates and all fences round about 
the messuage or Toftstead wherein I now dwell w th all and 
singular rackes and maingers beastes houses and plowhows 
w th all the glasse about the said messuage to remaine and be 
to him and his heires for ever. 

Itm I give and bequeath unto Ellen my sonne William his 
wife one paire of lyninge sheets and a silver spoone and to 
every one of his children twenty shillings. 

Itm I give unto fower of the children of my sonne in law 


William Pearte that is to say to William, Thomas, Originall 
and John Pearte everye of them the some of xx 8 . 

Itm I give and bequeath unto Mr. Charles White of Stourton 
ten shillings And I appoint and make him (as I trust he will 
be) to be super v r and overseer of this my said last will and 

Itm I give and bequeath to Marye my daughter and wife 
to the said William Pearte all my wearinge app'ell wolle 
and lynnen. 

Itm I give and bequeath unto John Robson ijs & vj d . Itm 
unto Jone Greene s'vante other two shillings and sixpence 

Itm I give and bequeath unto my said sonne William 
Robinson, my debts legacies and funerall expenses pd and 
discharged all and singular the motye [moiety] and halfe 
p'te of all my goods cattails and chatties quicke and deade 
moveable and unmoveable of what kynd quantity or quality 
soe r they be and unbequeathed. 

And I make and ordaine my said son in law William Pearte 
my sole executor of this my laste will and testament and doe 
give and bequeath unto the said William Pearte all and 
singular the other motye and halfe of all my said goods 
cattells and chattells quicke and deade moveable and un- 
moveable of what kynd quantytye or qualitye soever they 
be and unbequeathed. 

In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and scale 
the day and ye are ffirste above written. These beinge 
witnesses George Dickons Robt Byshopp George Halton." 

This will was proved by the oath of William Pearte 
on January 16, 1616-17, and probate was granted 
by the Exchequer Court of York. 


john robinson's wife 

Another household of Sturton with which our 
story is concerned is that of the Whites, for it was 
from this family that John Robinson, the pastor, 
eventually took his bride, in the person of Bridget 
White. She made an excellent wife and mother. 
The White family was settled at Sturton earlier than 
the Robinsons. While we can point with proba- 
bility to the grandfather of John Robinson, we can 
do so with certainty to the grandfather of his wife, 
who was Thomas White, sometime bailiff for the 
manor of Sturton. He made his will, October 14, 
1579, directing that he was to be buried " in the 
churche or churche yeard of Sturton." He was then 
a widower, and his will gives no indication of his 
wife's name or family. The main bequests are as 
follows — 

" I will and bequeath to Alexander Whyt my eldest sonne 
all my Glass and paile aboute the nowe dwellingehouse of me 
the abovesaid Thomas White his ffaither and also my best 

To his son "John Whyte " he left his " ffurred 
gowne " ; to his son William " a Satten dublet and 
a sleveles damaske coote and a Jackett of marble and 
a pair of my best slivinge hoise " ; to each of his three 
daughters, Elizabeth, Mary and Jane, "two kyne " ; 
to Jane Davis, his servant, he bequeathed " a yonge 
waill headed white cowe and xl s for her two yeares 
waiges and four quarters of barlye and the bedd which 
I lye in and all the furnyture thereunto belonging." 
Other of his servants were suitably remembered with 
c 17 


gifts of cattle or " freese cootes." Then, after a 
bequest of xiij 3 iiij d " to the poore people " of Sturton, 
"to be distributed among them the day of my 
funerall," the residue of his goods he gives " unto 
Alexander Whyte John White and William Whyte 
my three sonnes to be equallie divided amongst 
them," and with a schedule of debts 1 owing and due, 
and instructions to Alexander to " maike John Bowles 
lease according to the articles before drawn for xxi 
yeares," and to let " Will m Davis have his house for 
the terme of his lyfe payinge for the same xx s by the 
yeare," the document ends. It reveals an estate of 
a value rather higher than those of the average 
yeomen in the district. 

Soon after his father's death, Alexander White 
married Eleanor Smith and brought her to his home in 
Sturton. It was a good match. Eleanor Smith was 
the daughter of William and Katherine Smith of 
Honington, in the county of Lincoln. If you visit 
the pleasantly-situated church of St. Wilfrid at 
Honington, standing on the hill behind the vicarage, 
you can see the tomb erected to the memory of her 
father, with a full-length brass representing William 
Smith in his long robe, " guarded " with fur or velvet 
trimming and graced with a collarette. A monogram 
is on each side of his head, one combining the initial 
letters of the Christian names of himself and his wife, 
the other his own. 

The inscription tells us something of the family. 


1 " Itm I owe unto John Curnell for a horse lvs," gives us an idea of the 
current value of horses. 


Something, I say, but not all, for Katherine Porter 
was a forceful woman, and after the death of William 
Smith, she married Thomas Disney of Carlton-le- 
Moorland, who sat in the Parliament of 1563 as member 
for Boroughbridge. She had borne six children to her 
first husband, and now had another family of equal 
number, five sons and a daughter, by her second. 
The Disneys played a prominent part in Lincolnshire 

By his marriage with Eleanor Smith, Alexander 
White was brought into touch with several prominent 
local families. His wife's sister of the full blood, 
Elizabeth Smith, married Edward Saltmarshe of 
Strubby, in the adjacent county of Lincoln; while 
her sister of the half-blood was married, at St. 
Margaret's, Lincoln, in 1577, to William Monson, a 
clergyman, a poorish member of a powerful county 
family, who, perhaps owing to his large number of 
children, or a reckless habit of spending, does not 
seem to have made much of things, and died early. 

Remembering the hospitable customs of the time, 
it will be realized that there were plenty of good 
homes in the counties of Notts, and Lincoln open to the 
visitation of the Whites. But the energies of the 
young couple would soon be absorbed in the affairs 
of their own household, for year by year it increased 
in number. First came a daughter, who was named 
Catherine, after her grandmother. She was destined 
to cross the Atlantic in the Mayflower on its memorable 
voyage. Then came a son, who was christened 
Charles; a daughter, Bridget, followed, in whom we 
are specially interested, then three younger sons, 
Thomas and Roger (of whom we shall hear again in 
Holland), and Edward, and the family closed with 
daughters, Jane and Frances, both of whom went to 
Leyden with the Pilgrim Church. In spite of the 
increased charges and responsibilities which his 
growing family brought, Alexander White and his 
wife prospered and ventured to take on lease proper- 
ties at some distance from Sturton, amongst them 


Beauvale Abbey, in the parish of Greasley. When John 
Thornhagh, the elder, bought eight acres of land on 
October 26, 1591, from George Eaton and Francis 
Eaton, of Fenton, for £30, Alexander White, together 
with John Thornhagh, junior, witnessed the deed. 

In March 1594-5 Alexander White drew up his will, 
and must have died soon after, as it was proved by 
his widow in May of the following year. An abstract 
of the document will give us an idea of the standing of 
the family and the piety of the household. 

I have identified the residence of the Whites as 
the house and farm known as Wybornedale. The 
form now used in the parish terrier is Wyberton, and 
in going through the old " Town's Book " the variants 
Wybendale, Wibaldon, and Warbendale can he traced. 1 
Fields to the west of the village, bounded by Freeman's 
Lane on the north and W T ood Lane on the east, still 
perpetuate the name. 

The Will of John Robinson's Father-in-Law 

" In the name of God Amen the xv tb day of Mche in the 
yeare of or lord 1594 I Alexander White of Sturton in the 
County of Notts beinge holl in health and perfect memory 
praised be God therefore, do ordaine constitute and make this 
my last will and testament in mann r and forme followinge. 
First I comend my soule into the hands of the liveinge god 
my Creat? and maker most humbly beseechinge him for his 
deare Sonn Jesus Christ his sake my Redeemer to accept 
the same by whose death and passion I stedfastly believe my 
sinnes shalbe remitted and pardoned and the wrath of God 
his father against me for the same appeased and by whose 
resurrection and assention I likewise stedfastly trust before 
his matte both in soule and body at the last day to be justified 
in the meantime my body to be buried in the earth when and 
where it shall please God to appoint and for such porcon of 
these vaine transitory and earthly goods as it hath pleased 
the lord in his goodness to make me Steward of for the 
stablishinge of my conscience and quietinge of my wyfe and 
children so farr as the same shall extend I will shall be 
divided and bequeathed in such sorte as in this my pn)te 
will shalbe declared and appointed First I will that all my 

1 Letter dated September 15, 1916, from Mr, S, Ingham, of Sturton-le- 


debtes be dewly and truly paied at such dayes and tymes 
as the same is or shalbe dew Item I give to the poore people 
of Sturton xx s to my sister Palliley xx s and every one of her 
and my Sister pooles children one ewe lamb To Thomas 
Laicock over and besides his child parte in my handes xx s 
Item I give unto the Children of my brother John White 
and Willm White foure pounds yearely of the cofnoditie of 
my lease at Wragby equally to be devided amongst them 
dureinge the continuance of the said lease. Item I give unto 
my sonn Charles White all my seelinge stuffe timber stone 
troughes glass pale and Rale about my house Item I give 
unto every one of my Daughters Katherin Bridget Jane and 
Frances one hundred marks of lawful English money to be 
paid them when they shall accomplish the age of xxj tie years 
and if any of them dye before that age then the parte of that 
dead one to be devided amongst the rest of my Children 
Item I give to every one of my young r Sonnes Thomas, Roger, 
and Edward White Two yeares profitt of my lease at Muskhm 
and Carleton and to every one of them one annutie or yearely 
Rent of five poundes of lawfull English money to be taken 
out of my lands and tenem ts in Sturtonne to have and to hold 
severally unto every one of them and their assigns after such 
tymes as he or they shall accomplish the age of xxj tie yeares 
the said Annall rent of v 11 yearly to every one of them for 
and during their naturall lives provided alwaies that my 
meaninge is that the survivors of them shall have but his or 
their onely rent of v 11 yearly and the particular v 11 to sease 
at the death of every one of them. The Residew of all my 
landes Messuages tenem ts and other hereditaments whatsoever 
in Sturton and Littlebrough and also of all my Goods and 
cattells moveable and immovable I give and bequeath unto 
Ellene r my loveinge wife whome I make sole Executrix of 
this my last will and Testament and tutor and garden of all 
my said Children towards her maintennce and bringing 
up of my said Children and dureinge her naturall life yielding 
& paying unto my said sonne Charles and if he die unto my 
next heir twentie marks yearly at the Feast of St Michael 
the Archangell and annunciation of the blessed Virgin Ste 
Marie after such tyme as he or they shall accomplish the age 
of xxi years and also the said annuities of v 11 yearly to my 
young 1 sonnes as is aforesaid and if it please God my wyfe be 
married after my said sonne and heir shall accomplish his 
said [age] of xxj tie yeares then my will is that my said sonne 
and heir shall have and hold all my said lands messuages and 
tenements in Sturton and Littlebrough if he will and pay 
therefore unto my said Wyfe dureinge her naturall life xx 1 * 


yearcly of lawfull English money and also the said annuities 
of v 11 yearly unto my said Younger children and if the said 
annuities of v 11 yearly be not payd unto my said Young r 
sonne[s] yearely as I have appointed at the Feast of St 
Michael and thannunciation of the Blessed Virgin St Marie 
or w th in xv dayes after either of the said Feastes by even 
porcons then my finall will is that my said Youngr Sonnes 
Thomas Roger and Edward shall have and hould all that my 
Messuage in neth r Sturton and all lande meadows and pastures 
thereto belonging untill they be satisfied of the said yearly 
rent and the arrerages thereof if any be. 

Witnesses Robert Poole Charles White. 

On the 6th day of Maij 1596 the Will of Alexander 
White late of Sturton in the County of Notts was proved 
by the Oath of Ellcnore White widow the Relict and sole 

Soon after her father's death Catherine White was 
married to George Leggatt, a member of a yeoman 
family long settled at Sturton, and soon the widowed 
Eleanor White attained the dignity of " grandmother " 
by the advent of a daughter to the home of the 
Leggatts, who was named Marie. Before many 
years had passed Catherine Leggatt lost her husband, 
and in course of time she married John Carver. It 
was a happy choice. Carver I take to have belonged 
to a family represented in the Sturton district in the 
time of Henry VIII, at which period the name occurs 
in the Rolls. I do not think the Carvers held land. 
But Carver was skilled in farm management, and 
Catherine found him of the greatest possible service 
in the management of the estate which her first 
husband left her. Carver, quiet and dependable, had 
sound common sense, and made her a good husband. 
He won the affection and regard of John Robinson, 
and it was on account of his solid merit that he was 
chosen as the first governor of the Plymouth Colony. 

With the marriage of her eldest sister a great deal 
of responsibility would be thrown upon Bridget, 
the second daughter in the White family. There 
were many mouths to provide for, many limbs to 


clothe, and a large house, for those days, to be kept 
in order. Bridget received a thorough drilling in 
all household arts under her mother's careful guidance, 
much to the advantage of the future home of the 
pastor of the Pilgrim Church, where the cares of the 
house were lifted from the master's shoulders, and 
his mind left free for his pastoral work. 

But the health of Eleanor White was failing under 
the strain of caring for so large a family, and, like the 
wise woman that she was, she sought to set her 
affairs in order and make what provision she could 
for the welfare of her infant children. On April 7, 
1599, she made her will, and died within the next 
few months. The document, with its concern for 
details of the house and its furnishing, bears the 
woman's touch, and gives us a good idea of the 
plenishing and equipment of the home in which John 
Robinson was, no doubt, a frequent visitor. 

Eleanor White here describes herself as " late wife 
of Alexander White of Sturton." The preamble 
follows the same form as that in her husband's will. 
We may note the following bequests — 

" I give to my daughter Janie * White over and besides 
the porcon given her by her father xxxiij 11 vjs viij d " and a 
like amount in like terms " to my daughter ffrancis White." 

To " my sonne Charles White fowerr standing bedsteades, 
fower covred stooles of one sorte, fower cushens sutable, one 
cupbord in the best chamber and another cupbord in the 
great chamber two tables w th there frames and two joyned 
ch aires there ; one great chist in my owne chamber . . All 
the tables cupboarde stooles and formes in the Hall a Vallence 
of needlework five silk curtaines two of my best fether- 
bedds two bolsters two payre of fustian pill owes two good 
mattresses two pair of my best blankitts my best counterpoint 
w th three of my best covrlets six paire of lynnen sheets and 
six paire of pillow beares marked with a C two dozen of table 
napkins two broad table clothes two cupbord clothes my 
maryage Ringe, my silver salte, one bowl one pott p'cell 
guilt and six silver spoones, all his fathers bookes, all my 

1 The mother's affectionate diminutive for her daughter in place of the 
father's plain Jane. 


brassc and my pewther w th dishbricke 1 and all boords and 
cupbords in the kitchen and buttry, all my housells Imple- 
m[en]ts of husbandrie, ymplements belonging to the stable 
to the brewhouse to the backhouse kilnehouse, oxehouse and 
cowhouse and evrye of them. 

Itm all the rest of the benefitt and yearly profitt of my 
lease at Muskham 2 not given by my husband I give and 
bequeath to my three sonnes Thomas, Roger and Edward 
whereof my will is that as ev'ry of my said sonnes shall 
accomplish the aige of xiiij yeares xx» shalbe bestowed 
towards the binding of them apprentices at London in sure 
good places .... if my Executors and Supervisors shall 
think them fitt to be put for prentices and if not then the 
said money to be bestowed for there best advantage .... 
till they come to xxj tie yeares of aige. 

Itm I give to my said three sonnes Thomas, Roger, and 
Edward besides all the benefltt of my lease of MuskEm 
evrye one of them xx 1 * to be put furth by my exors . . to 
there best p'fitt and advantage as they shall accomplish there 
sevrall aiges of fifteene yeares. 

Itm I give to my sonne Legatt and his wife [Catherine] 
tenne pounde betwixt them and to theire daughter Marie 
Legatt x 11 w ch I will shalbe putt furth for her best advantage 
when shee shall come to her aige of tenne years ...... 

to my five youngest children Thomas, Roger, Edward, 
Janie, and ffrancis xij 11 x s a yeare out of my lease at Beavall 
for seven yeares after my deathe. 

To my daughter Legatt two paire of lynnen sheets one longe 
needleworke cushen and two paire of pillowbeares 3 in full 
satisfaccon of her childes porcon. 

Itm I give to my daughter Bridgett fiftie pounde in money 
ij paire of lynnen sheets ij paire of pillowbeeres two table- 
clothes one longe needleworke cushen a dozen of napkins 
two lynnen towells and my newe silvr bowle .... to my 
daughter Janie one silv r spoone two paire of lynnen sheetes 
and two paire of pillowbeeres ... to my daughter Francis 
one silv r spoone guilt, ij paire of lynnen sheets and two paire 
of pillowbeeres. 

Itm I will that the porcon given to my daughter Janie by 
her father's will and myne shalbe paid within one yeare 
after my death and put furth ... to her best profitt and 

1 Earthenware or crockery. 

2 There are two Muskhams, North and South, parishes of Notts., near 

3 Pillow-cases in modem English. 


advantage till her maryage or full aige of xxi yeares . . . 
of the profitt I do allott v 11 yearlie for her maintenance and 
the rest to go forward to the increase of her porcon. 

Francis her full porcon shalbe paid within one yeare next 
after my death to my sonne Leggatt to her use if his wife 
be then livinge unto whom I committ the bringinge upp of my 
said daughter [I allot] v u yearlie for her bringing up and 
mayntenance [the balance was to go forward] 

I bequeath to my brother *■ Willm Smith vj 11 xiij 9 iiij d 
to be paid within one yeare after my deathe if he depart this 
life before receipt thereof then I will it shalbe equallie divided 
amongst his children. 

Itm I give to my sister 2 Saltmarshe one hooped gold 
ringe ... to my nephew Thomas Dysney 3 xx s in money 
... to every one of my sister Mounsons children v s a peice 
.... at their several! aiges of xxi te yeares ... to my 
servante Anthony xl 8 in money . . . every one of my other 
servants ij s vj d apeice to the poore of Sturton x 8 . . . every 
one of my god children ij 8 vj d ... to my cosen Robert Poole 
my best gelding or ells in money vj 11 xiij 8 iiij d . . . my cosen 
Thomas Laycocke 4 x 8 ." 

Eleanor White left all the residue to her son, Charles 
White, and makes him sole executor, committing — 

" the tuicon custody and bringing upp of all my five youngest 
children unto him and I appoint my brother Edward Salt- 
marshe, my brother Thomas Dysney 5 and my cosen Robert 
Poole sup'visors thereof to whom I committ my said sonne 
Charles and the execucon of my Will untill by lawe my said 
sonne Charles may . . . execute the same And I give to either 
of my said brethren two Aungells of gold. 

[Signed] In the presence of Bridgett White, George Legatt, 
Anthony Greene smith." 

1 This was William Smith of Honington, Co. Lincoln, her old home. 

2 Her sister Elizabeth. 

3 This was Thomas Disney (bap. September 8, 1579), a much married 
man: (1) to Ursula Peterson of Deptford, (2) Elizabeth Denman of Notts., 
(3) Bridget, daughter of Anthony Nevile, of Mattersey Abbey. 

4 The Lacocks possessed land in Sturton in the time of Henry VIII and 
served under him in France. Their motto was " Verus Honor Honestas." 

5 Thomas Disney, half-brother of Eleanor White, fourth son of her mother 
Katherine (Porter) (Smith). He settled at Newark, and was buried there 
May 31, 1623. 


Probate of the will was granted August 2, 1599, 
by Dr. George Ormerod, Dean of Retford, to Charles 

Nothing could give us a better idea, in the same 
compass, than this document, of the type of home 
from which John Robinson took his bride. Later 
on we shall see how some of the money here be- 
queathed was eventually invested in the purchase 
of the house at Leyden, which became the dwelling- 
place of John and Bridget Robinson and the home of 
the Pilgrim Church. 


john robinson's boyhood 

We have said enough about the locality in which 
John Robinson was brought up, and the families of 
Sturton and the district, to enable us to picture him 
in his boyhood. There was plenty to interest a 
bright lad in the life of the district. We can picture 
him running round to John Halton, the shoemaker, 
with his sister's shoes to be mended, or watching 
Richard Smyth, the painter, at his work. When the 
perambulation of the parish boundaries took place 
he would be there, tramping along with John Quipp 
and his parish officers " to the middle of Stafford 
Bridge." He would help to drive stray cattle and 
horses to the Sturton pound with the pinder, and 
accompany his father at times to Gainsborough 
market to sell the corn, or to Retford to sell their 
kine. Above all, we think of him on the quiet Sunday 
mornings accompanying his father and mother to 
the fine old parish church, where the child's sense of 
awe and wonder would be drawn out into reverence 
as his thoughts were turned to the sacred mysteries 
and awful responsibilities of life. 

He, with other village children, was there when 
weddings were afoot, and when the bells tolled for 
a funeral 1 he went hushed yet curious to the grave- 
yard to see the last burial rites, and then turned with 
his playmates to catch the minnows in the Oswald Beck. 
That stream has run on from Saxon times to these in 
the same channel and under the same name, a type 

1 " Four shillings to them that helpe to ringe the bells for me the day of 
my buriall." Will of Wm. Flower of Sturton, June 29, 1602. 



of the children of our race — ever changing yet ever 
the same, ever passing yet always renewed. 

If you want to know how the people talked in 
Sturton in those days, here are two illustrative bits 
of conversation straight from the time — 

" Memorandum, 22 Jan. 1608, William Hopkinson of North 
Leverton husbandman being weak in body but of sane 
memory did by word of mouth declare his last will . . in 
this wise, vidz Edmund Greene first and then John Roydhous 
moving him to make his will (quod hee the said Willm.) 
I will make no scribble scrabble I geve to my son and 
my daughter either of them two shillings and my blessinge 
in satisfaction of their portions and so god speed them well 
and I give to Christopher Bomby one bushell of wheate 
when god sends it of the ground. 

" And being then minded of his wife he answered and said 
she knoweth my debts I know not hers she shall have the 
rest of my goods and be my executor." Act Book, Southwell 
Peculiar, vol. B. f. 685. 

" Memorandum that upon the 18th day of January 1609 
Robert Shacklock, Jenat Webster and Katherine Murre 
beinge att the house of one Willm. Smyth of Sturton whoe 
then lyinge under the visitacon of the Allmighty the said 
Jannatt Webster being sister to the said Will"*, asked him 
how he felte himselfe he answered c sister I sente for you 
that I mighte take my leave of you for I felte my paines 
soe great that I am not in hope to recover.' Then she 
willed him to remember his daughters he aunswered againe 
and saide as for my daughter Harrison I have remembered 
her alreadye. Then his wief standing by said unto him 
' husband whatsoever you will give them I will p' forme yt ' 
who answeringe againe said ' Doll I found the[e] lyke a 
woeman and I will leave the lyke one therefore I leave all 
and give all unto the to dispose of all as thou shalte think 
good. And I make the my executor." * 

It is not known what school John Robinson attended. 
There were schools at Retford, Gainsborough and 
Lincoln of some standing, where a preparation for 
the University and a grounding in Latin could be got, 

1 The Court took this as a good will, and granted probate to Dorothy 
Smyth accordingly. York Probate Registry, Register Book, Wills, vol. xxxi. 
f. 317. 


and I have thought that the references to Robinson 
as from Lincolnshire may have arisen from his atten- 
dance at the Gainsborough or Lincoln schools, but 
the Admission Registers of these grammar schools do 
not go back sufficiently far to decide the point. He 
refers in his works to the " posing of schoolboys " as 
though it were something familiar in his experience. 
We may take it that his progress in school-learning, 
whether at Sturton or elsewhere, led his parents to 
feel that he was fitted to take advantage of a further 
course of study. If the Smiths could send their boy 
to college, surely the Robinsons could do the same. 
So when the time came to decide on young John 
Robinson's course after his schooldays, his parents 
resolved to send him to Cambridge. His father was 
still in the prime of life and well established in Sturton, 
so he would have less desire to retain the young lad 
to help him on his land. There must have been 
consultations with his schoolmaster and probably 
with the vicar of the parish as to the boy's capacities 
and future career. His bent for books and love of 
learning pointed to a college course as promising good 
results. When once that was determined on, the 
choice of Cambridge would naturally follow, for the 
tradition and custom of the district had brought it 
into closer touch with that University than with 
Oxford. The Neviles of South Leverton had gone 
up to Cambridge and were doing well. Antony 
Hickman of Gainsborough was there, and young 
John Smith of Sturton had by this time taken his 
degree of Bachelor of Arts and was well on the way 
to a fellowship. Moreover Roger (&.1576) and Francis 
Manners (b. 1578), sons of the late Earl of Rutland, 
were both at Cambridge. Roger had been at Queen's 
College under John Jegon, and moved with him when 
he became Master of Corpus Christi in 1590, and there 
Francis joined him. Thither it was decided John 
Robinson should go. We can picture the excitement 
in the Robinson household at Sturton when the 
arrangements for young John's journey to Cambridge 


were complete and the day of his departure drew near. 
His mother's distress at parting from him would be 
tempered by a feeling of pride at his becoming a 
collegian and by her hopes for his future. In all 
likelihood she pictured him already in the pulpit. 
There were leave-takings with companions in the 
village,and presents of money from old John Thornhagh 
of Fenton Hall and other of his father's friends to 
help him on his way. And as he left bright and early 
in the fresh spring morning to join other hopeful 
scholars on the great North Road bound for the 
University, I think it likely that little Bridget White, 
seeing but unseen, would watch him out of sight. 

The students in those days arranged to travel up 
together, both for the sake of company and for safety. 
They often carried with them their allowance for 
the term, and highway robbers were well aware of 
the fact. Journeying southward through Newark, 
Grantham, Stamford and Peterborough by easy stages 
they would at last strike the old Roman Road, the 
Via Devana, which ran across country from Chester 
to Colchester. Following this ancient line of traffic, 
they soon reached Huntingdon, and continued on the 
road thence towards Cambridge. As they came over the 
hill by Cambridge Castle, the town on the far side of 
the river, with its noble buildings, was spread out 
before them. No young lad coming up to the Univer- 
sity could fail to be impressed by his first view of the 
town. Young Robinson, it is true, would know the 
magnificent cathedral of Lincoln and the fine parish 
churches of the district in which he was reared, but 
this wonderful assemblage of collegiate buildings, 
hostels, and churches was bound to arrest his attention. 
How eagerly he would look about him as he and his 
new friends came down the Castle Hill and through 
Monks' Place to the Great Bridge ! Crossing the river 
he would pass along to St. Sepulchre's Church, where 
he probably turned to the right into what was then 
the High Street, leading to the heart of the town. 
Then, passing round by the old church of St. Benedict, 


familiarly known as Benet Church, into Luthburne 
Lane, he would find the approach to the College of 
Corpus Christi on his right. It passed beneath a 
gallery leading from the college to an oratory con- 
nected with the church. Turning up this somewhat 
narrow approach, he came to an arched entrance on 
his left hand, which led him into the courtyard of the 
college which was to be for him a second home for 
many years to come. 

Note. — From evidence given in a dispute as to a u close " 
of land on the borders of Sturton and South Wheatley in 
1638 we have a glimpse of Sturton life in Robinson's boyhood. 
The close known as " Woodhouse Field," " Woodhouse Waste," 
or " Beck Close," was claimed by Sir Francis Thornhagh as 
parcel of his manor of Oswaldbeck. Richard Smyth of 
Sturton, 4t paynter," aged about seventy-two, testified that 
in or about 1578 it was unenclosed, and he had known 
" John Toppin and after him Willm Midleton, heardsmen of 
Stourton, staffe-heard and keepe swine in the saide p'cell of 
ground in the fallowe yeares and in the open time of the 
yeare." And Richard Spencer of North Leverton, " laborer," 
aged sixty, said that about 1591 he had seen " the swine- 
heard of Stourton keepe the Town swine in the place now 
in question, and that he did so long agoe kepet a flocke of 
sheepe in the same ground without interupcon of any." l 
We may be sure that John Robinson, as a boy, would be in 
at the pig-killings, and be ready to lend a hand in driving 
the swine and sheep to and from the waste. 

In another case, of the year 1636, Laurence Smith of 
Sturton, husbandman, sixty-six years and more, deposed that 
about 1603 he had been bailiff of the ct Manor of Oswaldbecke." 
He mentioned the "common pound in Stourton" reputed 
to be within the Manor of Oswaldbec Soke. It was always 
repaired by the tenants of that Manor. He declared " the 
said Comon Pounde hath stood in the place where it now is 
for aboue fiftie yeares to this deponent['s] remembrance." 2 
The pound was there, then, in Robinson's youth. 

1 Exchequer Depositions, Notts. 13, Charles I. Mich. The evidence was 
taken at East Retford, Sept. 28, 1638. 

2 Ibid., Notts., Mich. 5, xi. Charles I. 



" The House of Scholars of Corpus Christi and Blessed 
Mary " was already a venerable institution in Robinson's 
day. It could boast of no royal or lordly founder, for 
the initial impulse which led to its foundation came from 
the brethren and members of the Guild of Corpus 
Christi. The idea of forming a college seems to have 
been broached about the year 1342, when preparatory 
steps for securing and clearing a site were taken by 
members of this guild living in the parishes of St. 
Benedict and St. Botolph. They were soon joined 
in the scheme by the members of another Cambridge 
guild — the Guild of St. Mary the Virgin. Their joint 
efforts were successful in securing letters patent from 
Edward III in 1352 establishing the college. Formal 
recognition by the Chancellor and Masters of the 
University and by the Bishop and Prior of Ely 
followed three years later. It was not long before 
the collegiate buildings of Corpus Christi were put up in 
the form of a quadrangle — a style that became preva- 
lent in later colleges — much on the lines of the larger 
manorial houses of the period. If the visitor pene- 
trates to the " Old Court " of the college, he will see 
around him to-day substantially the same set of 
buildings as those originally put up, and on which the 
eyes of Robinson also rested. The southern range of 
buildings held the kitchen, buttery, Hall, and Master's 
Lodge, which communicated both with the library 
at the junction with the eastern range and also with 
the common parlour below. The chambers of the 





14" * IS" Centuries. 

A Tower circa 
Nave circa 
C Chambers, 

D. Kitchen. 

E. Buttery & Pantry 

F. Old Hall. 

G. Masters Lodge & Parlour 
H. Library. 
I . Gallery Corridor. 
J. Chapels in two stories. 
K. Entrance to College 
L.S' Bernards Hostel, founded by 

Andrew Dockett, incorporated 1445. 
the precurror of Queen's College. 
M Corpus Chnsti Coll. Bakehouse 1457. 
Tennis Court 1474. 
Pensionary 1569 
Removed in 1823 when the 
New Court was designed t built. 
M Masters Gallery 1544-54. 
Old Houses. 

John Bartholomew & Son. Ltd 


other members of the college ran round the other sides 
of the " quad." There was no elaborate gateway or 
tower, but a simple arched entrance in the northern 
range of building giving on to Benet churchyard. 
Though the work is said to have been finished " in 
the days of Richard Tret on, the second Master," the 
walls were bare, the windows imperfectly glazed, and 
mother earth served as the floor for the ground storey 
until the mastership of Matthew Parker, 1544-53, 
when much was done to add to the comfort and home- 
liness of the college. A bequest by Henry Aldrich 
of Norwich in 1593 seems to point to the remembrance 
of cheerless and shivery days in Hall : " out of his great 
regard for his old college of Corpus Christi, he left £40 
to provide charcoal for the Hall fire from Candlemas 
till thirty days after." The college was small, but had 
been greatly helped by the benefactions of Archbishop 
Matthew Parker and Sir Nicholas Bacon, and had the 
promise of a good training-ground for such a youth as 
John Robinson. 

The church of St. Benedict was closely associated with 
the college, and was used in place of a college chapel 
for over a hundred years, but some time between 1487 
and 1515 two chapels, one above the other, were built 
for the use of the collegians, adjoining the south wall 
of its chancel. By special licence in 1578 St. Benet's 
was appropriated to Corpus Christi College, on condition 
that the college authorities maintained the services and 
kept the church in repair. Thenceforward the services 
were taken, for the most part, by the fellows, while the 
parishioners supplemented the small stipend by volun- 
tary contributions. Here, no doubt, Robinson would 
take his turn in preaching after his election to a fellow- 
ship. In St. Benet's tower — the most ancient building 
in Cambridgeshire — still hangs one of the bells (1558) 
used by the University before the tower of St. Mary's 
was built. Its tones, as well as those of the mediaeval 
ring of four in St. Botolph's tower, must often have 
fallen upon young Robinson's ears, calling him to 
study or to prayer, or to some University Act. 



The " Admission Book " of Corpus Christi College, 
under the heading " Sizatores " and the date April 9, 
1592, has the entry — 

" Johannes Robinson Eboracensis admissus est. 
Tutore Mro Jegon." 

Either the young student in his nervousness mum- 
bled the name of his county indistinctly, or else, as 
looks more likely, the person making the entry, having 
to write Eboracensis just below in admitting a lad 
from Yorkshire, carelessly gave the term through 
inadvertence in the entry relating to Robinson. He 
probably asked the next man his county before com- 
pleting the entry of the particulars about our man. 
The first part of the word has been corrected rather 
roughly in a later hand, so as to read Nottingacensis, 
which we must take in good faith for Nottinghamiensis. 

Robinson, then, entered the college as a " sizar," 
that is to say, he was one of that large class of students 
who secured the advantages of a college education in 
return for the services he rendered in Hall and to the 
college community to which he belonged. His tutor 
was Thomas Jegon, a younger brother of John Jegon, 
the Master. While the tutor exercised oversight over 
the sizar and directed his studies, the sizar waited on 
him at table, attended to his lodgings, cleaned his 
boots, wakened him in time for morning chapels, 
accompanied him on request when he went out into 
the countryside, or with his permission ran on errands 
for the college into the town. This was all honourable 
service, and the " sizar " had a well-recognized place 
in the college society, with good opportunities of rising 
to a post of greater consideration if he had diligence 
and ability. 

They kept early hours in the Cambridge of those 
days. Morning chapel was at five; lectures in Hall 
began at six. Here Robinson's knowledge of " gram- 
mar " attained at school would be tested and en- 
larged, and he would be initiated into the arts of logic 
and rhetoric. Extraordinary attention was paid to 


the work of setting out in logical form the laws of 
reasoning which are implicit in human speech. A 
breath of new life had come into the study of logic 
at this period owing to the boldness of the new line 
taken by Peter Ramus, who disengaged himself to 
some extent from the scholastic Aristotelian methods 
which had been in vogue in mediaeval times. The 
system of Ramus won a ready acceptance in Protestant 
centres of learning, and attracted much notice in 
Cambridge. It was an age of discussion, and hence 
great importance was attached to the work of secur- 
ing a sound method of argumentation and a ready 
aptitude for detecting all defective, misleading and 
inconclusive statements. 

Robinson probably found the lectures on this 
subject rather stiff and dry. They were given, like 
the other instruction in the University, in the Latin 
tongue, and involved a lot of strange terminology. But 
as he attended day after day, the meaning of the con- 
ventional phrases would gradually dawn upon him, 
and after a while the gist and drift of the whole 
business would become clear to him. I think he took 
a greater interest in the lectures on the books of the 
Old and New Testaments, which were made the subject 
of special and continued study. He took some pains 
to acquaint himself with the original Hebrew, and in 
course of time gained a considerable knowledge in 
New Testament Greek. 

There were two regular meals in the course of the 
day, but these were supplemented by " be vers " in 
the early morning and other snacks. After the morn- 
ing lectures dinner was served in Hall at ten o'clock, 
the sizars taking their share after waiting on the fellows, 
fellow-commoners, tutors and pensioners. Then came 
formal disputations on set subjects, in which the 
freshmen would play the part of listeners while the 
u sophisters " exercised themselves in the art of 
discussion ; or it might be an afternoon for further 
lectures on rhetoric, geography and philosophy, or it 
might be a free afternoon, on which the sizar would 


attend his tutor at a game of quoits or field out for 
him at tennis. 

The members met again in chapel for Evensong as 
the afternoon wore on. Then came the evening meal 
at five o'clock, and when that was over the sizar would 
withdraw to con the passages his tutor had set, prepare 
himself for the work of the morrow, and enjoy the 
opportunity of the evening hours for intercourse and 
sky-larking with his fellow-sizars. But the rule was 
early to bed — at nine in winter and ten o'clock in 
summer he had to retire. It would be a matter of 
interest to young Robinson that his tutor, Thomas 
Jegon, was elected " proctor " in the long vacation 
of his first year, through the influence of Dr. John 
Jegon, the Master of his college. 

We do not get many personal glimpses of Robinson 
during his college career. He followed the course of 
most other students of his station. After his first 
year as freshman he would become a " junior sophister " 
and put in attendances as a listener at the disputations 
in the " Schools." The " Regent Walk," by which the 
" Schools " were approached, had been made by a 
former Master of " Corpus," Matthew Parker. The 
old Regent House and Divinity School still stand, and 
are incorporated with the University library buildings. 
The ancient ceiling exhibits the arms of Jegon in the 
western bay. Through diligent attendance at the 
" Schools," Robinson would qualify in his fourth year 
as a " senior sophister," and prepare to become a 
" questionist." His ability and steadiness gained 
recognition. When he had nearly completed his 
fourth year as sizar, he was elected to the rank of a 
" scholar " on the foundation. The " Order Book " 
of his college has the entry — 

" Johannes Robinson Nottingh. electus in Scholarem, 
Jan. 23, admissus Febr. 16, 1595 " (i. e. 1596 in modern 

The " scholar " received an allowance from the 
college chest for his commons, and also free quarters 
in the college buildings. The entry of his admission 


to the standing of " scholar " in the Register of his 
college, however, shows some slight variations from 
that in the " Order Book." It runs, dated a week 
later, in this way — 

" Johannes Robinson, Lincolniensis, admissus est 
in Scholarem, Februarii 23°." 

There was evidently an impression in some minds 
that he came from Lincolnshire. But then the Register 
a little further on gives his county correctly in noting 
that " Dns. Robinson Nottinghamiensis " was 
approved for his Bachelor's degree, " approbatus pro 
gradu Bacchal. Februarii 25°, 1595 " (i. e. 1596). 

The proceedings for securing this degree took place 
at the beginning of Lent, when Robinson would present 
himself in the " Schools" prepared to "respond" to 
such propositions as might be put to him. The " bedell " 
of the University led the procession of aspiring candi- 
dates into the presence of the Vice-Chancellor on 
Ash- Wednesday. They were in due course presented 
to him as to a " father," and kneeling down were 
received by him and admitted (incepit) to the degree. 
Then through Lent the " incepting bachelors " acted 
as " determiners " in respect to the questions raised 
in the " Schools," leaving to the senior sophisters the 
work of " responding." 

After passing through these ceremonies Robinson 
would discard the " round cap " of the undergraduate, 
and be entitled to wear the square cap and lined hood 
of his degree. 

The next stage in his college career was the course 
of studies leading up to his Master's degree. 

As a scholar and Bachelor of Arts, Robinson 
would enjoy a good deal more freedom than he had 
been allowed as a sizar. He would be in a position 
to take advantage of the lectures by the different 
University professors, and pursue the study of themes 
which specially attracted him. The old foundation 
of the " trivium " — grammar, logic and rhetoric — was 
now supposed to be securely laid as a solid basis for 
further studies. After three more years of University 


training Robinson duly " commenced Master of Arts." 
But before that time arrived he had been chosen 
fellow of his college. In the " Order Book," under 
date 1597, his name stands first among those elected 
to vacant fellowships — 

" Joh. Robinson, Lincolniensis, admissus et juratus, 
Martii 27." 

Was it needful to pass a year's probation before 
entering on the full privileges of the post ? The entry 
in the Register of the college exactly a year later 
points in this direction : " Martii 27°, ano Dni. 1598, 
Johannes Robinson, Notinghamiensis in artibus Bac- 
chalaureus admissus est in socium Coll 11 .," i. e. John 
Robinson of Nottinghamshire is admitted into a 
fellowship of the college. It was quite usual for those 
elected to fellowships to be Bachelors of Arts. Next 
year, 1599, on " Martii 28," " Mr. Robinson, Notting- 
ham," x took his Master's degree. It would be a 
memorable day for him. The ceremony of " the Great 
Commencement," as it was called, usually took place 
in Great St. Mary's Church, where, after disputations 
in divinity and philosophy, the candidates in those 
subjects received their degrees. The company then 
crossed over to the Regent House, where Robinson, 
with other Bachelors of Arts, would kneel 2 before the 
Vice-Chancellor and be graduated, and so " commence 
Master of Arts." 

In the oath taken by the candidates for this degree 
they undertook to remain in Cambridge for two years 
to take their part in tuition and the work of the 
University. Robinson was now ranked as a " regent 
master." As a junior graduate it was his duty to give 
instruction in the subjects in which he himself had been 
taught. The " Order Book " of Corpus Christi College 
shows that he fulfilled the duty. It notes that he was 

1 Corpus Christi Register, sub dato. See also letter, pe?ies me, March 16, 1911, 
from Mr. A. J. Wallis, Bursar of the College, whose help for this period I 
gratefully acknowledge. 

■ Joseph Hall knew John Robinson's University status. He refers to 
this : " You have twice kneeled to our Vice -Chancellor when you were ad- 
mitted to your degree." — A Common Apologie for the Church of England, 
1610, p. 90. 


elected " Praelector Grsecus," or Reader in Greek, 
in 1599, and in 1600 " Decanus," that is, " Dean," 
an office involving some special oversight over the 
students. His name does not occur in the lists of 
college officers for 1601-3, though we find it duly 
entered fifth in the list of fellows given in the college 
Register under the date 4th February 1602 (i. e. 1603) — 

" Johannes Robinson Nottinghamiensis Artium Mag r 

The description " sacerdos " is interesting. Robin- 
son no doubt took orders on election to his fellowship 
according to the rule. 1 He would take his part in the 
services of the college chapel and his turn in supplying 
the pulpit of Benet Church. He may also have given 
occasional help in other churches where the living was 
in the gift of his college. But this definite description 
of him as "sacerdos" — priest — points to his having 
by this time taken up some regular duty in the Church 
of England while still holding his fellowship. 

Affairs at Corpus Christi College were coming to a 
period. The Master, John Jegon, had been appointed 
Dean of Norwich, July 22, 1601, and seemed marked 
out for higher honours, which would take him away 
from Cambridge. The call of the outside world began to 
appeal to Robinson with increasing strength . He desired 
to make a home and carve out a career for himself. 

Towards the close of the year 1602, the news leaked 
out that Jegon was likely to be appointed Bishop of 
Norwich. The fellows lost no time in addressing the 
following letter to Sir Robert Cecil. It is signed, 
among others, by John Robinson, and gives us the 
names and standing of some of his fellow-collegians — 

" Right Honorable. o r dutie most humblie remembred. 
wee beseech yo r Honor [give] us leave to become humble 
suitors to you in a cause w ch we hope will to yo r Ho bIe wise- 
dome appeare reasonable, we the fellowes of Corp 8 Christi 
Colledge in Camb. have gotten knowledge that by yo r HoMe 

1 Edmund Gurnay {d. 1648), one of the Fellows of Corpus Christi College 
in Robinson's time, was suspended from his Fellowship in 1607 for not being 
in " Orders." See Diet. Nat. Biog. under Gurney. 


suite and mediacon to her Ma fcl e our worthie M r - [Master], 
D r - Jegon is like to be advaunced to the sea of Norwych, 
and so thereby his place in governement of vs like thereby 
to become voyde : wee and this or poore Coll. have received 
much good by his wisedome and p'vident care over vs and 
it, in that he hath restored it, w ch was neere fullie ruined by 
some needie and careles M«». before him. From whence 
havinge taken a dew consideracon (as is behovefull for vs) 
we are desirous and well advised to make choyce of such a 
one to succeede him, as is for his learninge & degrees, 
experience, gravitie, and wisedome verie meete and suf- 
ficient to guide vs and or little cofnon wealth; and in his 
owne estate so well settled as he shall not neede to pray 
vppon vs, butt wilbe able and carefull to vphold or howse 
in the p'sent flourishinge estate. 

" Now therefore this is or must humble suite, that it 
would please Yor Honor ( a s or noble Chauncelor, to whose 
will we humbly submitt o^selves) to vowchsafe yo' allow- 
ance, that accordinge to or oathes and the statutes of o r 
howse, we may be p'mitted (when or Master shall leave 
this place) to proceede freelie to a new election, wherein 
we wilbe so carefull, as we doubte not, but that Yo r Hono r 
shalbe fullie satisfied; both in o* generall respect to this 
howse and the good government thereof; and also in or 
pticuler to yor Hono r , when yo u shall see, that both he and 
wee have or myndes bente to doe vo* Honor all services. 

" And so prayinge pdon for this o? boldnes, and humbly 
beseechinge two lynes from yow to allow o r free election, 
(as in that case you have most honourably done to others) 
we recomend you to the Almightie, who graunte yo* longe 
life and continuall encrease of hono r and happines. 

" At Cambrydge December the 22th, 1602. 

" Yor Honors most humblie at cofnaun dement. 

" Anthonius Watson, Proprceses. George Hall. 

" Henry Buttes. Decanus. / Marlian Higden. p r lector grec[i], 

" William Starkey. p r lector Rhet. 

" Edward Gent. p r lector. / 

"Edmund Gurnay. p r l : top. 

" John Robinson." 1 

1 MSS. at Hatfield House, 136, 108. By the courtesy of the Most. Hon. 
the Marquis of Salisbury we are enabled to give a facsimile of this document 
with Robinson's signature. 

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In the following month John Jegon was elected 
(January 18, 1602-3) Bishop of Norwich. He so 
managed affairs as to secure the election of his brother 
Thomas, the former tutor of Robinson, to succeed 
him as Master of the college. Whitgift was greatly 
nettled at this, as he wished the post to be conferred 
on his chaplain, Dr. Carrier, in whose interest he was 
bestirring himself when he found himself forestalled. 
Jegon's mastership at Corpus had been a success. He 
retrieved the financial position of the college by his 
careful and businesslike administration. He brought 
several students with him from Queen's College when 
he took up the post. Thrice he held the office of Vice- 
Chancellor, and he made the influence of Corpus felt 
in University affairs. In person he was short and 
stout, and his appearance, to judge from his picture, 
not very engaging. Such was the Master under 
whose oversight Robinson ran the whole of his college 
career. Jegon was a married man, and the presence 
of his wife, Lilia, with her little girl and two boys, 
gave the one domestic touch to the college society. 




The position with regard to matters of religion in 
England at the opening of the seventeenth century 
was full of interest. The situation was felt to be 
charged with important possibilities. Queen Elizabeth 
was drawing to the close of her life, and men could 
not help wondering what would happen in the Church 
after her death. A long and brilliant chapter in the 
national history was coming to an end, and it was a 
matter for speculation as to how the story would be 
continued. For over forty years Elizabeth had pur- 
sued a policy with regard to religion largely based 
upon that of her father, and of all her work this 
has left the most lasting impress upon the life of our 
land. Her position as " Supreme Governor of the 
Church " was secured by the Act of Supremacy, 1559, 
and the Church government and worship to be followed 
throughout the land were determined with equal 
promptitude by the Act of Uniformity, passed in 
April of the same year. The title of the Act gives 
us one key to Elizabeth's policy. She bent her 
energies with remarkable pertinacity upon securing 
a uniform practice in worship throughout her domin- 
ions. In this she was seconded by the firm adminis- 
tration of John Whitgift, whom she appointed Primate 
in 1583. She did not concern herself much with 
men's private convictions, but insisted at the least 
upon an outward conformity with the established 
plan of worship. Any attempts to express antagon- 
istic opinions, either by means of the Press or by 
organizing meetings for worship apart from the 
established and legal form, were rigidly put down. 



Roman Catholics, on the one hand, and Puritans on 
the other, were alike restrained; while Separatists 
met with drastic treatment, and were, by the law of 
1593, banished the realm when found to be irrecon- 
cilable to the Anglican Church. The Puritans had 
struggled manfully for a further reformation of 
religion. They had looked to Parliament for redress 
of what they considered flagrant evils in the con- 
stitution of the Church and for the removal of 
" popish " elements in her worship. Elizabeth in 
her masterful way peremptorily forbade Parliament 
to meddle with matters of religion, and proceeded 
to manage ecclesiastical affairs by means of Royal 
Commissions. For a time the struggle had been 
severe, but with the closing years of the reign and 
the opening of the new century there came a lull 
in the storm. It almost looked as though the policy 
of enforcing outward assent to the established worship 
was at length going to secure an inward assent. 
To some extent this was the case. By use and 
wont the very words of the Book of Common Prayer 
became dear to the ears of Englishmen. But the 
Puritan movement was really far from being crushed. 
The principles involved in it were bound to find 
expression. There were those also who felt that 
the English Common Law and the power of Parlia- 
ment must be secured in a position of supremacy 
as against the absolutist tendencies of the Crown 
and the Church, and these saw most hope in the 
Puritan movement. If that movement could not be 
accommodated within the borders of the Anglican 
Church, then it must find some other means of 
organizing itself. 

The Puritans were quiet at the opening of the 
century, because they hoped for much from James 
of Scotland. Whitgift and the Bishops also were 
less stringent for the time, because they too had an 
eye on Scotland, and did not quite know what would 
come out of " the Scotch mist." In the last Parlia- 
ment of Elizabeth (October 27, 1601, to December 19, 


1601) a note of greater independence of the Crown 
was heard. With the accession of a new monarch a 
fresh Parliament would be summoned. Who could 
say what it might not accomplish in the way of 
reform in religion ? So there w T as a period of hushed 

Early in the morning of March 24, 1603, Elizabeth 
died. Whitgift at once sent off Dr. Neville, Dean of 
Canterbury, to wait upon James, and recommend the 
Church of England to his protection and favour. Both 
parties in the Church were busy. The Puritans were 
active in promoting petitions for reformation and in 
issuing treatises, and strenuous efforts were made to 
secure capable party representation in the new Parlia- 
ment. The Humble Petition of the thousand ministers, 
known as the Millenary Petition, expressed the 
Puritan demands in moderate terms. The King 
summoned a Conference to meet at Hampton Court 
to consider matters concerning the Church and 
worship, but the issue of that gathering clearly 
indicated that the Puritans had nothing to hope 
for from James. The democratic tendencies inherent 
in the Puritan movement were instinctively recognized 
by James and magnified by Bancroft. A pliant 
Episcopacy was precisely the type of Church govern- 
ment that suited the ideas of the King. The Puritans 
of England appeared to him to be too much like the 
Presbyterians of Scotland, of whom he had had 
bitter experience, and he saw in the episcopate a 
bulwark for the monarchy. Wliitgift died February 
29, 1604, and when Richard Bancroft was appointed 
Archbishop, the hopelessness of effecting any imme- 
diate change in the form of worship must have been 
apparent to all observers. Bancroft had been the 
strenuous opponent of the Puritans throughout his 
career. His labours in that direction had been the 
very ground of his promotion to episcopal rank. 
An extraordinary document was drawn up by Whitgift, 
after the death of Aylmer, Bishop of London, for 
presentation to the Court as a recommendation of 


Bancroft for the vacant See. It is for the most 
part a statement of Bancroft's work in opposition 
to the movement for a further reformation in religion. 
His qualification for a seat on the Bishops' Bench 
was not so much his eloquence or learning, or a 
spiritual frame of mind and Christian temper of 
heart, but this : " that since he had professed divinity- 
he had ever opposed himself against all sects and 
innovations." Thus did Bancroft win his mitre. 
As Bishop of London he had backed up Whitgift, 
and now (1604), on promotion to the Primacy, assured 
of the support of King James, he tightened the cords 
of subscription and worked for a stricter uniformity. 
Bancroft had presided at the Convocation called at 
the opening of the reign, as the Primacy was vacant. 
Here, too, he was active against the Puritans. 
Licence was secured from the King to make canons, 
and Bancroft introduced a Book of Canons to the 
Lower House on May 2, 1603, to which he sought 
to give the force of law, and by which he hoped to 
keep the clergy of his Church in bounds. It became 
evident that the terms of conformity were going 
to be more rigidly enforced, and all variation from the 
established order in Church affairs repressed. A 
requisition was sent out to the masters and heads 
of colleges in Cambridge requiring them to certify 
as to the conformity of fellows, scholars and students 
in regard to the regulation dress and " due observa- 
tion of the Communion Book," and the authority 
upon which any of their fellows engaged in preaching. 
The reply from Corpus Christ i is extant, but, as 
Robinson was not in residence, it gives no particulars 
as to him — 

" Corp Christi Coll : in Camb Jan 8 1604. This Chrmas 
time o^ fellows are mostle abroade./Onely fower now in the 
Colledge vidz. 

" Mr Watson who J was made master b Y Y e B - of Lincolne / 
Mr. Watson who | preacheth b y or University licence. 

" Mr Walsall who i was made minister b Y Y 6 B - of Lincoln 
Mr. Walsall who | preacheth by or University licence. 


{was made minister by ye B. of Carlile 
preacheth by licence from ye late B. of 

"Mr Hidden i w . as orde y ned Deacon by ye B. of 
g \ Lincolne / preacheth not as yett. 

" We have 8 fellows more abroade and 3 pensionars that 
bee M rs of Arts of all wch number there bee 6 ministers 
more, where ordered (sic) or how licenced I know not yett till 
they come and shew ; but I see they doo all approve them- 
selves very formall and forward to good order established. 

T. JegonM*. Colt"." 

This tightening up of the strings of conformity in 
Cambridge may have influenced Robinson in his 
decision to resign his fellowship, but a more potent 
reason was his desire to marry, settle down to regular 
ministerial work and form a home of his own. A 
fellowship could not be held by a married man. 1 
Matrimony meant resignation. Hence the entry in 
the Corpus Christi Register under date February 10, 

" Thomas Knolles, Norfolc, electus et admissus est in Socium 
Collegii unanimi consensu M ri et 9 Sociorum, cessante et in 
scripto resignante M r0 - Robinson." 

That is to say, " on the withdrawal and resignation 
in writing of Master Robinson, Thomas Knolles, of 
Norfolk, was elected and admitted to a fellowship 
of the college, by the unanimous consent of the 
Master and nine fellows." Five days later Robinson 
was married at the parish church of St. Mary at 
Greasley, Nottinghamshire, to Bridget White, who 
was then living at Beau vale in that parish. Beau vale 
was a Carthusian Priory dedicated to the Holy 
Trinity, founded by Nicholas de Cantelupe in 1343. 
In 1540 the Priory was dissolved, the monks pensioned 
off and the lands leased out. When the mother of 
Bridget White died she was in possession of a lease 
of Beauvale. It would be from the farmhouse 

1 Robinson refers to this, he says the Church forbids " marriage to fellows 
in colleges." Justification of Sejjaration, Works, ii. p. 399. 


k JhI 


IILl "" 


' :'. -..-, 1 



adjoining the ruins of the Priory, perhaps from the 
Prior's house itself, the shell of which is still standing, 
that the wedding party would set out. May is the 
month in which to visit this " beautiful valley," but 
this was a winter wedding, and the young couple 
would be lucky if the day was brightened by a gleam 
of sunshine. 

The entry in the Register is of : " Mr. John Robyn- 
son and Mistress Bridget Whyte," February 15, 
1603-4. Both the "Mr." and the "Mistress" are 
distinctive in the entry, and indicate that the parties 
were considered, in local esteem, to be of importance. 
The entries of the weddings of ordinary parishioners 
give the bare names. Not till 1608 does this formula 
occur again at Greasley, when " Mr. John Trymming- 
ton and Mistress Ann Poole " were married. 

Robinson took his bride off with him to Norwich, 
and in that city a son and daughter were born to them, 
and named John and Ann after the grandparents. 

This meant good-bye to Cambridge and the open- 
ing of a new chapter in Robinson's life, but before 
leaving this period behind it will be well to glance 
at two of the men of the Cambridge of Robinson's 
day who exerted an influence upon him and moulded 
to some extent his thought. The religious problems 
which were under discussion at Cambridge in his time 
will be dealt with in the next chapter. 

Among the outstanding men on the Puritan side at 
Cambridge was Laurence Chaderton or Chadderton 
(1537-1640), who came of a Lancashire family. He was 
selected by Sir Walter Mildmay to be the first Master 
of Emmanuel College, in 1584, a post which he held 
for thirty-eight years. Chaderton opposed any varia- 
tion from the Calvinism embodied in the Anglican 
Articles, but, being a man of moderate temper and 
some caution, he retained his post with honour, and 
only resigned it (1622) to let in Dr. John Preston, 
u lest he should be succeeded by a person of Arminian 
principles." Throughout the whole of Robinson's 


Cambridge career Chaderton was active in the affairs 
of the University, and was looked up to by the young 
men of Puritan sympathies as a leader and guide. 
From the press which members of the Pilgrim Church 
controlled in after years in Leyden, an edition of 
Chaderton's sermon on Romans xii. 3-8 was issued 
in 1618, and Robinson refers to it on more than one 
occasion in his Works. 

But the man by whom Robinson was most pro- 
foundly influenced was William Perkins (1558-1602), 
a Warwickshire man, educated at Christ's College, 
and appointed lecturer in the church of Great St. 
Andrews. His preaching was marvellously effective, 
and left a permanent mark upon the life of many a 
young man who attended on his ministry during 
the impressionable days at college. Townsmen and 
collegians alike were attracted and stirred by the 
preaching of Perkins. His well-balanced mind and 
fervent spirit appealed with power to the average 
Englishman of the time. He expounded Calvinism 
in a form which they could grip and make available 
for life. What other English preacher of the time 
had his sermons translated by enthusiastic followers 
into Welsh and Irish ? Robinson was deeply indebted 
to Perkins for the general structure of his scheme of 
religious thought and his interpretation of Christi- 
anity. The fact that Arminius had assailed Perkins 
" with some acrimony " x would act as a spur to 
Robinson in his chivalrous championship of the 
Calvinistic cause against the Arminians in the Uni- 
versity of Leyden in later years. 

1 In his Examen, 1612, vide Perkins in Did. Nat. Biog., by J. Bass Mullinger. 




One may well ask what were the questions in 
divinity which interested the minds of men in Cam- 
bridge in Robinson's day? They were questions 
concerning election and justification and points in 
controversy between the Protestant and Roman 
Churches. While Whitgift was strong for the episco- 
pacy and the established order in the Anglican 
Church, he was at the same time an advocate for the 
Calvinistic theology embodied in its Articles, indeed 
in his " Lambeth Articles " he presented the Calvinistic 
positions in an uncompromising form. But a reaction 
had set in against the extreme Calvinism which had 
marked the lectures and sermons of many eminent 
divines in the University. The case of Peter Baro 
has been frequently brought forward by writers on 
the period to illustrate this reaction. 

In 1595 William Barrett of Gonville and Caius 
College preached a sermon ad clerum in St. Mary's 
which was judged unsound. In the action taken against 
Barrett by the University, Dr. Soame and Peter Baro 
fell out, and all Cambridge became involved in a wordy 
dispute over abstruse points of Calvinistic doctrine. 
The Heads of the Colleges appealed to Whitgift. It 
seemed needful to define the position with authority 
and lay down what must be believed and taught. 
Accordingly Whitgift framed the Lambeth Articles, 
and sent them down to Cambridge with precise 
instructions that " nothing should be publicly taught 
to the contrary." The question became a matter of 
public interest, and the Court got wind of it. Eliza- 

E 49 


beth quickly let Whitgift know who had the final 
authority in determining the doctrine of her Church. 
She sent him word (December 5, 1595) that she 
" misliked much that any allowance had been given 
by his Grace and the rest of any such points to be 
disputed, being a matter tender and dangerous to 
weak, ignorant minds." 

In nervous haste the Archbishop sent down a 
warning note to the University; but his new Articles 
were now spread abroad; the most he could do was 
to try to stop discussion upon them. This was 
difficult, as Roger Goade, the Vice-Chancellor, was 
determined to deal with the lapses of Baro on the 
points concerned, and Cambridge was given up to 
a carnival of theological disputation. A less familiar 
case exhibiting this tendency to break away from 
Calvinism, and one moreover in which Robinson would 
be specially interested from the actors concerned in it, 
was that of Dr. John Overall. It will give an insight 
into the discussions of the times if we describe this 
case in some detail. 

John Overall (1560-1619) * was appointed to the 
Regius Professorship of Theology in 1596, in succession 
to Dr. William Whitaker, and became Master of 
Catharine Hall in 1598. He thus held a prominent 
position in the University. Early in June 1599, 
some of his auditors were alarmed at opinions expressed 
by him " upon certain points of doctrine publicly 
delivered in the Schools in his Divinity lectures and 
determinations." There are always those keen to 
scent any departure from the beaten track. Complaint 
was made to Dr. Jegon, the Master of Benet College, 
who was Vice- Chancellor of the University for that 
year. He thought it well to refer the points in dispute 
to a conference. Accordingly on June 20, 1599, 
Dr. Roger Goade (1538-1610) and Mr. Laurence 
Chaderton were appointed to confer with Overall 
on three main heads of doctrine — 

1 For Overall consult the excellent article by Rev. Alexander Gordon in 
Diet. Nat. Biog. 


(1) Concerning justification and faith. 

(2) Concerning Anti-Christ. 

(3) Concerning the descent into hell. 

Sixteen subordinate propositions under these main 
heads were drawn up. The ground for discussion 
was thus thoroughly mapped out, and the way 
prepared for testing Overall's " soundness " according 
to the preconceived notions of the Calvinists. A 
meeting was held on August 31, 1599, and the upshot 
was that after discussing these sixteen propositions 
they agreed in eight and disagreed in the other eight, 
out of which eight wherein they differed were then 
set down by common consent the state, words, and 
sense of these five questions to be conferred upon — 

1. An elect justified man fallen into grave sin lacks imputed 
justification until he repents. 

He becomes condemned or liable to eternal punishment 
until through repentance and faith he is restored. 

2. An elect justified man fallen into grave sins loses for 
the time being justifying faith. 

3. It is likely that Mahomet or the Turk and the Pope 
equally constitute that Anti-Christ foretold in Scripture. 

4. Nothing in the Scriptures hinders the view that the soul 
of Christ departed as well to the assembly of the damned as to 
that of the blessed. 

5. It is certain that the souls of the fathers before Christ's 
Ascension, although they were in the bosom of Abraham and 
a place of bliss, yet were not in heaven properly so called. 1 

Dr. Overall held the affirmative of these pro- 
positions, Dr. Goade and Mr. Chaderton the negative. 
They agreed to put down in writing brief reasons 

1 1. Homo electus justificatus lapsus in gravia peccata justificatione im- 
putata caret, donee resipiscat. Fit reus sive obligatus ad pcenam aeternum 
donee per penitentiam et fidem restauratur. 

2. Homo electus justificatus lapsus in gravia peccata amittit ad tempus 
fidem justificantem. 

3. Mahometem sive Turcam et Papam simul constituere Antichristum 
ilium in Scripturis prsedictum, est verisimile. 

4. Animam Christi tarn ad Ccetum damnatorum quam beatorum con- 
cessisse, nihil in scripturis impedit. 

5. Animas patrum ante Christi ascensionem, etsi fueriut in linu Abraha? 
et loco beatudinis, non tamen fuisse in ccelo proprie dicto, constat. 


for their contention by September 6, 1599, and 
several meetings to discuss the points at issue followed. 
Dr. Goade and Mr. Chaderton state in their report 
of the affair — 

" Finally, on October 20, we delivered up in writing in 
the Consistory to Mr. Vice -Chancellor and his assistants 
(being then present with him) D rs Goade, Soame, Barwell, 
Clayton, Overall, Montague and Mr. Chaderton, our reasons 
and brief answers according to his [Overall's] brief marginal 
answer, then signifying that we intended a larger answer by 
the end of that Michaelmas term. Both which were then 
publicly read, and Dr. Overall then openly acknowledged 
that he had consented to the words and state of the five 
questions as they were set down and there read, albeit (as 
he then said) 4 they were not by him alone so conceived ' ; 
to which we answer that neither were they conceived by us 
[alone], but jointly agreed upon by us all. At which meeting 
he seemed only offended at our reference of [to] Amandus 
Polanus, his answer to Bellarmine's arguments terming him 
4 a scarecrow not meet to be accounted among divines and a 
shame to have such alleged.' . . . About the end of Michael- 
mas term we delivered to Mr. Vice-Chancellor the whole 
conference in writing, together with our larger answer, 
praying him to acquaint the Heads therewith by his discretion, 
that it might in time convenient be brought to the first 
intended issue. Signed : Roger Goade 

Laur. Chaderton." * 

After the presentation of this report the matter 
simmered for awhile. Jegon did not find any " time 
convenient " for settling the dispute. He left it for 
his successor in the office of Vice-Chancellor, Dr. 
Soame, to deal with. It was a knotty problem. 
The case came up in the summer of the next year, 
as we learn from " A note what was done at the 
meeting in the Regent House the 4th June, 1600, by 
M r D r Soame, Vice-Chan% and his assistants, D ors 
Goade, Tyndall, Barwell, Jegon, Clayton, Overall and 
Mr. Chaderton, touching the end of the conference with 
D or Overall." At this meeting the Vice-Chancellor read 
out " the five questions," stated this time in the 

1 Calendar of Salisbury Papers, 139, 120. 


negative form, in order that those present might give 
their opinions. All save Overall " joined in one 
opinion that the propositions were true, and rightly- 
defended. " The report, under the hands of Goade and 
Chaderton, giving an account of their conferences 
with Overall, was handed in. Then we read — 

" Mr. Vice-Chancellor earnestly desired Dr. Overall to join 
with him and the rest in the acknowledgment of the same 
truth, whereof all present would be most glad. To which 
he answered ' he was not so persuaded in his conscience, and 
therefore could not.' Then Mr. Vice- Chancellor, first wishing 
that God would enlighten his mind, did, both in regard of the 
common peace of the University and also of a precedent in 
like case occasioned by a letter from the Lord Grace of Canter- 
bury [Whitgift] then read, require Dr. Overall to forbear 
impugning the said points of doctrine in any his public 
exercises, considering that thereby, not only ourselves then 
present, but many others of that University could not be 
but greatly offended and excited to a needless and dangerous 
contention." x 

The dispute still smouldered, and broke out again 
into flame at the " Commencement," in the year 1600, 
of which an interesting account has survived. At this 
ceremony, in which in all likelihood John Robinson was 
an active participant, Dr. Soame, the Vice-Chancellor, 
was " Moderator of the Divinity Disputation on the 
Commencement Even," June 30, 1600. The Latin 
speech he then delivered is still extant. " In his 
moderating," we are told, " he preserved the truth 
and good order of the disputation soundly, briefly 
and perspicuously. When the disputation was 
ended the Vice-Chancellor determined of the last 
question [Animce piorum fuerunt in ccelo ante Christi 
ascensum.] against the Popish sort, soundly and 
perspicuously. . . . When the Vice-Chancellor had 
ended, Dr. Overall was called by the Beadle, as the 
manner is, ad commendationem." The opportunity 
thus presented for wiping off old scores was one 
he could not pass by. " Forgetting himself," he 

1 Salisbury Papers, 139? 123, 


" entered into a refutation of the Vice-Chancellor's 
determination, which action of his was very offensive 
to the auditory, in regard both of matter and manner. 
Of matter, for he dealt against truth. Of manner, 
for the like was never done before, and is flat against 
all order of disputation." 

" The Vice-Chancellor, seeing Dr. Overall (which had 
been required before the Heads of Colleges to forbear public 
opposition) to carry himself as he did, commanded him 
silence, adding that God's book and the ancient writers 
were flat against him, and that the Lords Archbishops of 
both the Provinces, and the rest of the learned Bishops of 
our Church, were of another judgment than he was, and 
that all such as know and love the religion in the University 
and abroad and the Reformed Churches dissented from him." 

The conclusion of the Vice-Chancellor's speech was 
that "he wished with all his heart that Dr. Overall 
had not nourished any errors, at the least that he 
had forborne the publishing of any in that excellent 
assembly, which assembly did justly and generally 
condemn Dr. Overall's action." 

Thus, at the outset of the " Commencement pro- 
ceedings," a good deal of heat was engendered over 
this abstruse point in divinity. It was felt necessary 
by the dominant party of reformers to put Overall in 
his place, and check any tendencies to countenance 
an opinion which leaned towards the position held by 
Rome. They asserted themselves on the next day, as 
we gather from the following account — 

" On the Commencement Day, Dr. Playfere, one of the 
Divinity Readers, was moderator of the disputation. He 
entered into a defence of the Vice-Chancellor's reasons, and 
discovered and refuted Dr. Overall's dealing the day before, 
with such soundness, learning and perspicuity as did greatly 
content and satisfy the assembly. If some of his speeches 
were somewhat sharp in regard of the manner, they which 
love truth will bear a little with him, because he dealt against 
him [Overall] which had faulted both in matter and manner, 
and whose public oppositions against the truth are most 
notorious. Dr. Overall's unsoundness and obscurity in his 


lectures and ' determinations ' have grieved the hearts and 
opened the mouths of very many against him." 

The fact of the matter was that, with the growing 
sense of security in regard to the settlement in Church 
and State, after the collapse of the Spanish Armada 
and the failure of the papal plots against England, it 
was felt to be less necessary to accentuate points of 
difference between the Anglican and Roman Churches. 
There was a shrinking from the extreme logical 
conclusions of a strong Calvinism. Indications ap- 
peared of an incipient Arminianism. This puzzled 
and alarmed men of the old guard like Dr. Soame, 
Dr. Goade and Laurence Chaderton, who had borne 
the brunt of the battle against the plotting Catholics, 
and had been bred in the atmosphere of the Thirty-nine 
Articles. The independence of judgment shown by 
Overall by no means prejudiced his future. He was 
made Dean of St. Paul's in 1602, received the See of 
Coventry and Lichfield in 1614, and finished up as 
Bishop of Norwich. 

The fact that Robinson was at Cambridge when 
these questions of predestination, election, reprobation 
and justifying faith were so eagerly debated was not 
without effect upon his mind. The influence of this 
period is strongly marked in his writings. He was 
unmoved by the wave of Arminian opinion which 
now began to set in. He held to the general scheme 
of theology in which he had been instructed, and 
which he had learned to defend in the schools. It 
seemed to him to have ample scriptural warrant in 
the Pauline epistles, and that was enough for him. 

If we bear in mind how thoroughly John Robinson 
had been steeped in the discussions on the leading 
points in the Calvinistic theology during his course 
at Cambridge, we shall be better able to understand 
an incident during his residence at Leyden related 
of him in after days. By strange fortune both the 
University and the city of Leyden were deeply 
stirred by keen disputations over these very same 


questions in theology during the period in which the 
" Pilgrim Church " found refuge there. Here also, 
just as at Cambridge, the dispute was complicated by 
political and personal cross-currents, which tended 
to make it exceedingly keen. Robinson in the course 
of his ministry at Leyden had not forgotten his 
old love. He had entered himself in 1615 as a 
" student in theology " at Leyden University, and 
interested himself in the controversies which then 
agitated its members. Edward Winslow, looking 
back to that time, says — 

" Our Pastor, Master Robinson, in the time when Armin- 
ianism prevailed so much, at the request of the most orthodox 
Divines, as Polyander, Festus Hommius, etc., disputed daily 
in the Academy at Leyden against Episcopius and others 
the grand champions of that error ; and had as good respect 
amongst them as any of their own Divines. Insomuch as 
when God took him away from them and us by death . . . 
some of the chief of them sadly affirmed, ' that all the Churches 
of Christ sustained a loss by the death of that worthy Instru- 
ment of the Gospel.' " 1 

William Bradford gives us a more detailed descrip- 
tion of these encounters — 

" In these Times " [that is, during the stay of their Church 
in Leyden], he says, " were the great troubles raised by the 
Arminians, who, as they greatly molested the whole State, 
so this city in particular, in which was the chief University ; 
so as there were daily and hot disputes in the Schools there- 
about. And as the students and other learned were divided 
in their opinions herein, so were the two Professors or Divinity 
Readers themselves, the one daily teaching for it, the other 
against it, which grew to that pass that few of the disciples 
of the one would hear the other teach. 

" But Master Robinson, though he taught [i. e. preached] 
thrice a week himself, and writ sundry books, besides his 
manifold pains otherwise, yet he went constantly to hear 
their Readings [lectures], and heard the one as well as the 
other. By which means he was so well grounded in the 
controversy, and saw the force of all their arguments, and 
knew the shifts of the adversary. 

" And being himself very able, none was fitter to buckle 

1 Winslow, Hypocrisy Vnmmked, p. 94 (1646), 


with them than himself; as appeared by sundry disputes, 
so as he began to be terrible to the Arminians. Which made 
Episcopius, the Arminian Professor, to put forth his best 
strength and set forth sundry Theses, which by public dispute 
he would defend against all men. 

" Now Polyander, the other [Calvinist] Professor, and the 
chief Preachers of the city, desired Master Robinson to 
dispute against him. But he was loath, being a stranger. 
Yet the other did importune him, and told him, * that such 
was the ability and nimbleness of the adversary that the 
truth would suffer if he did not help them.' So as he con- 
descended and prepared himself against the time." 

It was just here, we may suppose, that the notes 
and memories of his University days at Cambridge 
helped him. 

" When the day came," continues Bradford, " the Lord 
did so help him to defend the truth and foil this adversary, 
as he put him to an apparent non 'plus, in this great and 
public audience. And the like he did a second or third time, 
upon such-like occasions. The which, as it caused many to 
praise God that the truth had so famous victory, so it pro- 
cured him much honour and respect from those learned men 
and others which loved the truth." x 

Some students of Robinson's life have been inclined 
to regard the account of these disputations as some- 
what apocryphal, on the ground that the pastor of 
an obscure refugee church was hardly likely to be 
called upon to champion the cause of orthodoxy in 
this way. But the identification of John Robinson 
with the fellow of that name of Corpus Christi College, 
and a consideration of the topics that came to the 
front for discussion in the Cambridge of his day, 
removes the difficulty. He would be excellently 
fitted for the task. We may, I think, take the account 
of this affair given by Bradford as being substantially 
correct. The discussion, after the manner of the time, 
would be in Latin, and Robinson, being familiar with 
that tongue from its use in Cambridge, would find 
his English birth no bar to participation in the debate 
on a level with the Dutch members of the University, 

1 Bradford's Plimouth Plantation. 



When John Robinson settled at Norwich he would 
find himself in an atmosphere of busy, practical life. 
It was the chief manufacturing centre of provincial 
England. There was a large population, a thriving 
industry and a keen interest in both politics and 
religion. The commerce of the place brought it into 
close touch with Holland and Flanders, and there 
were many foreign workmen settled in the city, some 
of whom were religious refugees. It was a stimulating 
experience to step from the academic life at Cambridge 
into the strenuous existence which Norwich then 

The Reformation was accepted wholeheartedly by 
the leading townsfolk and the commercial community 
in Norwich. Under the guidance of John More 
(d. 1592), vicar of St. Andrews, and Thomas Roberts 
(d. 1576), rector of St. Clements, the Puritan party 
gained a strong hold upon the city. The clergy 
advocated a further reformation of the Church, and 
projected a plan for its discipline and governance by 
deans and superintendents instead of Bishops. They 
objected to the " imposition of ceremonies " and every- 
thing savouring of " popery." x 

Norwich was a city of many churches, but the pro- 
vision for the maintenance of its clergy was poor in 
the extreme. A petition x from " the poor and pain- 
ful ministers of the City of Norwich," presented to 
Burghley about the year 1592, throws light upon this 

1 " Humble Supplication against the Imposition of Ceremonies," September 
25, 1576. 
8 Hist. MSS. Com. Report on the Salisbury Papers, Pt, 13, p. 461. 



matter. The petitioners point out that there are 
forty parishes, but the income was ill provided and 
uncertain, consequently " we that serve at the altar 
live on the basket, and our people that should maintain 
us cannot agree about our maintenance ; the rich will 
give little, the meaner sort less and the rest nothing 
at all." They asked for some scheme to be devised 
to give a reasonable certainty of income. 

There was not much prospect of worldly advantage 
then in Robinson's move to Norwich, and one may 
speculate as to the influences which induced him to 
turn his face thither. For one thing, Norwich was 
closely associated with Cambridge. Those who framed 
the petition to Burghley just cited, say, " We are all 
of us of your University of Cambridge." Many 
Norwich men had been trained in Robinson's college, 
and the knowledge that he would find a circle of 
sympathetic friends there might be a factor in deter- 
mining him to fix his home in that city. I rather 
think, however, that it was his close acquaintance with 
Thomas Newhouse and the opportunity of what 
promised to be congenial work in fellowship with him 
that led him thither. Newhouse l was one of the 
circle of earnest Cambridge men profoundly influenced 
by the teaching of William Perkins, and to that circle 
John Robinson also belonged. He was some five or 
six years Robinson's senior at the University, graduat- 
ing from " Christ's " about 1590, and securing a 
fellowship in that college a few years later. The 
parishioners of St. Andrew's, Norwich, invited him 
to become their minister in 1602. His known Puritan 
leanings would be a recommendation in their eyes. 
They had been indoctrinated with similar opinions by 
John More, who refused to wear the surplice, and took 
his own line in ecclesiastical matters. The people 
of the parish bought the advowson of the church in 

1 A letter from Newhouse, dated " Norw* 11 feb. 15, 1610," directed to his 
" approved good freind the L[ady] Knyvett," is in the British Museum. 
He was very ill. He says : "I have used your Electuarie, wch I hold to be 
verie soveraigue against a cosumption," He died 1611. 


order to secure the right of presenting a man of their 
own choice to the living. They seem to have given 
attention to a stricter discipline in their parish than 
was customary, and arranged for the maintenance of 
assistant ministers to help the incumbent in the 
preaching and pastoral work. It is quite possible that 
Newhouse, from his personal knowledge of Robinson, 
invited him to come over to Norwich and help in the 

A few particulars of Robinson's life at Norwich 
may be gathered from the manuscript copy x of a 
controversy in which a clerical friend engaged him 
soon after he had definitely separated from the 
Anglican Church and migrated to Holland. To the 
main points in this controversy we shall refer on a 
later page. We only note here that Robinson's 
antagonist in this argument refers to him as " some- 
time a preacher in Norwich." 2 He incidentally lets us 
know that it was St. Andrew's Church to which 
Robinson was there attached. In order to give definite- 
ness to their discussion, this friend charged Robinson 
with schism in leaving St. Andrew's Church, and 
Robinson for his part undertook to justify his action 
in so doing. They agreed to discuss this special case 
of the larger problem of the lawfulness of separation 
from the Church of the Realm. In expressing his 
agreement as to the scope of the discussion, Robinson 
gives us a glint of light upon his Norwich days — 

" The instance you propound," he says, " for the specyall 
subiect of the question in hand I agree to, which is St. 
Andrewes in Norwich, wherof indeed I was sometymes a 
minister (as you saie), but never anie member, having my 
house-standyng (which is the infallible determinacion of 
members) within another parish, and my children baptized 

From this we gather that though minister of St. 
Andrew's, Robinson lived in another parish in Norwich, 

1 Jones, MS. 30, Bodleian Library. 

3 An advertisement, etc., prefixed to the MS ; 


and was so far observant of the recognized custom of 
the Anglican Church that he had his children baptized 
in the church of the parish in which his house stood, 
though he himself was officially connected with another 
parish church in the same city. We also note that 
Robinson mentions his "children"; more than one 
child, therefore, was born to cheer the Norwich home 
of his good wife Bridget. Here was a change from 
the cloistered academic life of Cambridge. To all 
appearances Robinson was now well started on the 
useful and respectable career of the diligent parish 

Changes, however, were pending. On the one hand, 
there was a general screwing up of ecclesiastical 
affairs to the standard indicated in the Book of Com- 
mon Prayer. A proclamation was issued in July 1604 
requiring all ministers to conform to the new Book of 
Canons before the end of the following November. 
The Bishops were stirred to action, and were now less 
ready to overlook neglect or defiance of the rubrics. 
John Jegon, the Bishop of Norwich, sought to bring all 
the refractory clergy in his diocese into line. The 
fact that Robinson had known him so well in Cam- 
bridge may have made him less ready to bow to his 
authority in Norwich. He was led to question the 
scriptural authority for diocesan Bishops in the Chris- 
tian Church. When it came to the point as to whether 
he should obey his Bishop or his conscience, and the 
plain injunctions of the New Testament in regard to 
Church organization and discipline, Robinson did not 
hesitate. This brought him into conflict with his 
Bishop. We do not know the details of the case. 
We only know, on the authority of Joseph Hall, 1 that 
he was suspended from the exercise of his ministry by 
episcopal authority. Denied the liberty of preaching, 
he gathered friends about him more privately for prayer 
and conference. But those who thus resorted to him 

1 A Common Apologie, 1610, p. 114. Compare also Jones MS. 30 p. 50, 
where the author, addressing Robinson, says : " You and I and others, be- 
cause we could not obserue all other things required, were put from preaching." 


were promptly excommunicated. Henry Ainsworth 
referred a few years later to these incidents — 

" If any among you not medling with the publik estate of 
your Church, but feeling or fearing his own particular soul- 
sicknes, doe resort to a physician (whose receipts are not after 
the common sort) for advise about his health, or of freindship 
and acquaintance to see him, he is subject to the censure 
and thunderbolt of your Church. Witnes the late practice 
in Norwich, where certeyn citizens were excommunicated 
for resorting vnto and praying with M r> Robfinson], a man 
worthily reverenced of all the city for the graces of God in 
him (as your self [Richard Bernard] also, I suppose, wil 
acknowledge) and to whom the cure and charge of their sowles 
was ere while committed." * 

On the other hand, along with this screwing up of 
episcopal authority there was a development going on 
in Robinson's own thought in regard to the right 
ordering of the Church and the nature of Church 
ceremonies according to the terms of the New Testa- 
ment. He was no willing deserter from his old Church. 
He was inclined to regard " the ceremonies " as 
matters " indifferent." Hall says that on his suspen- 
sion Robinson " submitted to the prelates' spirituall 
jurisdiction." He was not contumacious, but the ban 
upon his ministerial activities — his chosen life-work — 
led him to review the whole position. Nor did he 
hastily come to a decision to separate from the Church 
of England. The Bishops insisted that the " cere- 
monies " of their Church were not matters of indiffer- 
ence, but matters of necessity. Robinson, as a result 
of three months' consideration of the question, also 
came to the conclusion that they were not matters of 
indifference, but that they were wrong. That being 
so, to participate in them was evil. 

The question of his future career, as well as his 
position in relation to the Church, would demand his 
attention at this period. His growing family had to 
be provided for. The mastership of a hospital offered 
some attractions to a man of his tastes. He would be 

1 Counterpoyson, 1608, p. 246. 


less directly under the eye of the Bishop, and have 
greater freedom and security in such a position than 
as an ordinary parish priest. Norwich had more than 
one " hospital " x of ancient foundation, where the 
aged poor found an asylum from the cares of the 
world. There was St. Stephen's Hospital, which 
stood without St. Stephen's Gate; there was St. 
Giles's Hospital, currently known as " The Old Men's 
Hospital," to the mastership of which the Mayor and 
Aldermen of the city had the right of election; there 
was " the Hospital or Spittel hous of St. Mary Mag- 
dalene, near Norwich." Robinson, however, if he 
sought such an appointment did not secure it. It 
was a scandal of the time that these ancient charities 
were too often perverted from their intended uses 
and the offices connected with them put into the 

1 The State Papers contain the report of an inquiry into the abuse of the 
funds of such a Norwich hospital at this period. The Corporation had failed 
in its trust. " The Master of the house of they 1 appoyntment hath only a 
bare pension. The manors and revenues are graunted privily among them 
selves. All fines of the land come to theyr owne purses without regard of the 
poore or the King's foundation." State Papers, Domestic, James I, vol. v. p. 57. 
On February 5, 1603-4, the "keeping and governorship of St. Stephen's 
Hospital, Norwich," was granted to Matthew Barber. Then, on April 11, 1604, 
there was a grant to Thomas Oglethorp of " the guidership " of St. Stephen's 
Hospital, Norwich, for life, and a similar grant to " John Palmore " on 
April 14; while on January 27, 1605, there was again a "grant to John 
Palmer of the guidership of St. Stephen's Hospital, Norwich, for life." See 
the State Papers, Domestic. These entries suggest a scramble for the post. 
Perhaps some local antiquary will look into the matter. 

The following document illustrates the kind of post Robinson may have 
sought — 

Petition, dated April 1604, to " The Master of ye Roles." 

" Good sir where the berer here of Oliver Lloyd Doctor of the oivill la we is 
a suter unto yo u for yo r meanes unto his Ma tye for a dispensacon to enable 
him to hould an hospitall prebend or other promotion spirituall havinge not 
cure of Souls yf heareafter hee happen to obtayne anie such. I have thought 
good to signifie unto you that I understand by S r Richard Swayle, Judge of 
the faculties, that his suite is convenient and honest and that hee and manie 
other Doctors have the like and that in regard of the necessarie use the publique 
estate hath of men of that profession and the small pferremts incident unto 
them. It is fittinge to give them that incouragement. And so recomending 
him and his desire unto you I comitte you to thalmightie ffrom Courte Aprilis 
xiiij 1604." — State Papers, Domestic, James I, vol. vii. p. 28. 

The Hospital of St. Paul in Norwich, called " Norman's Spital," had been 
leased to the Corporation in 1575 by the Dean and Chapter of Norwich for 
500 years, at a rent of one penny per annum. The Corporation sublet the 
lands attached to it. 


hands of place hunters or of those who made traffic of 

It is also hinted that Robinson applied to the Cor- 
poration at this time for " a lease," which would 
probably have secured his material necessities, by 
sub-letting the property which it covered. Joseph 
Hall makes the gratuitous and ungenerous suggestion 
that had either of these applications been granted 
Robinson would never have " separated " from the 
Anglican Church. He launches it as a Parthian shot 
at the close of his controversy with Robinson in the 
concluding words of his Common Apologie — 

"... neither doubt we to say that the Mastership of the 
Hospital at Norwich, or a lease from that City (sued for, with 
repulse), might have procured that this separation from the 
communion, government, and worship of the Church of 
England should not have been made by John Robinson." 

Clerical Subscription discussed at Norwich 

Bancroft's energetic demand for submission to the 
Canons, and his insistence upon subscription, threw 
the Puritan clergy into dismay. Pamphlets upon the 
question of conformity came from the press in quick 
succession. It was made the theme of many sermons. 
The constitutional aspect of the matter was closely 
debated. " We know no kind of law, whereby we 
may be required to subscribe unto the three articles," * 
said certain ministers of Devon and Cornwall, for the 
Canons had not received Parliamentary sanction. 
They were told for answer that they were required 
to subscribe " by virtue of a Canon, which is 
to us a law, being ratified as it is under the King's 
Majesties hand and seal." 2 The one party was con- 
tent with the exercise of "the royal prerogative," the 
other party looked for definite Parliamentary enact- 
ment. The whole subject was thoroughly discussed 

1 " Reasons for Refvsal of Svbscription to the booke of Common praier 
. . . with an Ansvvere by Thomas Hvtten, 1605, p. 18. 

2 Ibid., p. 38. " I take it I am not compellable by any law to subscribe," 
said another minister, ibid., p. 43. 


at Norwich, where resistance to subscription was 
marked. Francis Mason handled the matter in a 
sermon delivered in the " Greene Yard " there on the 
third Sunday after Trinity, June 1605. He published 
it "in sundrie points by him enlarged," in 1607, 
under the title " The Authoritie of the Church in 
making Canons and Constitutions concerning things 
indifferent, and the obedience thereto required, with 
particular application to the present estate of the 
Church of England." 1 

It is quite possible that Robinson was present at 
this discourse — 

" The principall marke I shoote at," says Mason, "is to 
doe my endevour to settle the tender and trembling consciences 
of those which are not wedded to their owne conceits, but have 
been carried away rather of weaknesse than of wilfulnesse, 
that such of them as it shall please the Lord may be reduced 
to the Tabernacles of peace and follow the trueth in love." 2 

He felt that these internal disputes in the Church 
of England gave an opening to the Roman Catholics 
on the one hand, and to Brownists on the other, but 
he had no proposals to make to remove the difficulties 
which stood in the way of the Puritans' conformity. 
Peace in the Church was desirable, but there was 
no meeting of the Puritans half-way to secure it. 
Their absolute submission was demanded. The 
absence of all recognition of the unreasonableness of 
this attitude on the part of the prelatical party is 
remarkable. Mason writes in a moderate strain, but 
gives not the slightest hint of any possible concession 
to the demands of the Puritan party. He felt that 
those demands, carried to their logical conclusion, 
would lead to Brownism, of which the people in 
Norwich had some practical experience. 

" As you reioice the Papists, so you encourage the Brown- 
ists, who builde their conclusions vpon your premises and 
put your speculations in practice. For haue not your ring- 

1 Dr. Williams' Library, Pamphlets, 9. 4. 8. 
T 2 The Epistle Dedieatorie. 


leaders proclaimed that our gouernment by Bishops is popish, 
our liturgie popish, our ministring of baptisme with the crosse 
popish, our kneeling at the Communion popish ; our garments 
for publike administration, popish; our holidaies, popish and 
almost euerie thing popish ? Wherefore the Brownists, hauing 
learned that the Pope is Antichrist and the present Church 
of Rome Babylon; and hearing a voice from heauen crying, 
4 Goe out of her, my people, that you be not partakers in her sinnes, 
and that yee taste not of her plagues,' haue, vpon your former 
premises, gathered a practicall conclusion and made an 
actuall separation and rent from the Church of England. 
And surely, my brethren, as they had their original from your 
positions, so now they are strengthened by your practices : 
for they may well thinke that such learned and vertuous 
men, so famous and renowned Preachers, knowing a Woe 
pronounced against them if they preach not the Gospell, would 
neuer suffer themselues to be silenced for matters which they 
iudged indifferent, and therefore they will take it as granted 
that the things you sticke at are in your opinion simplie 
vnlawfull. Vpon this dangerous position they will builde 
an other, for if the Liturgie of the Church of England as it is 
inioined at this day to be performed, be such as a Minister 
cannot execute his function with a good conscience : then 
they conclude that neither may the people heare it with a good 
conscience because their presence were an approbation of 
it. Thus the vnquiet wit of man will still be working euen 
till it runne it selfe vpon the rocke of his owne destruction. 
Wherefore (my deare brethren) I beseech you, as you tender the 
good of the Church, to lay aside all contentious humors. Let 
there not be found in you a spirit of contradiction and singu- 
laritie : but follow those things which concerne peace and 
wherewith one may edifie an other " (pp. 67-68). 

Robinson was not convinced by this appeal, and 
stood firm, suffering suspension from preaching rather 
than give way contrary to his convictions. It 
does not appear that he consulted at this time with 
the obscure Brownist congregation in Norwich, to 
which Robert Browne and Richard Harrison, and 
after them Clement Hunt, had ministered. As yet he 
was not prepared to separate from Anglicanism. 





As the avenues for useful work or for securing a 
livelihood at Norwich were now closed to him, Robin- 
son settled up his affairs there and left the city. Where 
did he go ? Hall says : " You went from Norwich to 
Lincolnshire after your suspension." I think he went 
home to Sturton-le-Steeple, just across the border 
from Lincolnshire, in the county of Nottingham. 
What more natural than that he and his wife should 
take their children to the grandparents at Sturton 
till the way should open for fresh work ? It would be 
a refreshing change for them all to get into the restful 
quiet of the country, after the turmoil of Norwich. 

But Robinson's mind was too full of the problems 
of Church reform according to Scriptural methods to 
allow him to rest long here. He visited places " where," 
says he, " I hoped most to fynde satisfaction to my 
troubled heart." He talked over the difficulties 
which were weighing upon his mind with clerical 
friends and neighbours, and especially with those 
who had a real concern for a further reformation in 
the Church. Now, as it happened, in the immediate 
neighbourhood of his old home at Sturton there were 
those whose thoughts were occupied r>y the same 
problems, and who were faced by similar difficulties to 
those which beset his mind. At Gainsborough John 
Smith had been checked in his efforts to minister help- 
fully to the parishioners in the absence of their vicar ; 
at Scrooby William Brewster had organized house- 



meetings for religious conference and worship in the 
Manor House, which he occupied ; at Babworth Richard 
Clifton was bringing trouble on himself by refusal to 
observe the ceremonies of the Church; at Worksop 
there was agitation against episcopal requirements, 
and a prospect of independent action on the part of 
the pious and energetic vicar, Richard Bernard. The 
Puritan clergy were restive under the demand made 
upon them to acknowledge the lawfulness of the cere- 
monies and the requirement to observe them to the 
letter. The whole question of the nature and con- 
stitution of the Christian Church according to the 
Scriptural teaching was being passed in review. 

During this period of freedom from definite minis- 
terial duties Robinson took the opportunity of revisit- 
ing Cambridge, and he is reported f to have told " one 
of his acquaintance " on the occasion of this visit 
" that he had been amongest some company of the 
seperation before his comming to Camb., and, exercising 
amongst them, had renounced his former ministery." 
Robinson, in noticing this report, denies that he had 
at that time renounced his orders or finally severed 
his connexion with Anglicanism, but he does not deny 
his " exercising," that is to say, preaching, praying 
and exhorting amongst the Separatists at their meet- 
ings. He admits he had " made question " of " sepera- 
tion " at that time, or, as we should say, had made it 
a subject of discussion and had " disputed for it," 
but had not " otherwise professed it." Though he 
might then have been pretty well convinced of the 
need and obligation of separation from a corrupt 
Church, he had nox as yet acted fully upon that con- 
viction. What he neard at Cambridge only served 
to strengthen his growing resolution on this point. 
Twice does he refer to it as a sort of providential 
message. As he relates the incident in some detail, 
we may give his account in full. It gives us a picture 
of what, so far as we know, was his last Sunday in 
Cambridge — 

1 A Second Manvdvction, by Wm. Ames, 1615, p. 29. 


" Coming to Cambridge * (as to other places, where I hoped 
most to find satisfaction to my troubled heart), I went the 
forenoon to Mr. Cha : [i. e. Laurence Chaderton] his exercise, 
who upon the relation which Mary made to the disciples 
of the resurrection of Christ, delivered in effect this doctrine 
— that the things which concerned the whole Church were to 
be declared publicly to the whole Church and not to some 
part only; bringing for instance and proof the words of 
Christ, Matt. 18.17: ' Tell it to the Church ' ; confirming therein 
one main ground of our difference from the Church of England, 
which is, that Christ hath given his power for excommunica- 
tion to the whole Church gathered together in his name, as 
1 Cor. 5, the officers as the governors, and the people as 
the governed in the use thereof; unto which Church his 
servants are commanded to bring their necessary complaints. 

" And I would desire mine opposite [i. e. his opponent, the 
Puritan, William Ames] either to shew me how and where 
this Church is (having this power) in the parish assemblies; 
or else, by what warrant of God's word I (knowing what 
Christ the Lord commanded herein) may with good conscience 
remain a member of a Church without this power (much less 
where the contrary is advanced), and so go on in the known 
transgression of that his commandment : Tell the Church ? 

" In the afternoon I went to hear Mr. B., the successor of 
Mr. Perkins [i. e. Paul Baynes], who. from Ephes. 5 and verse 
7 or 11, shewed the unlawfulness of familiar conversation 
between the servants of God and the wicked, upon these 
grounds or the most of them — 

" (1) That the former are light and the other darkness between 
which God hath separated. 2 

" (2) That the godly hereby are endangered to be leavened with 
the othefs wickedness. 

" (3) That the wicked are hereby hardened in receiving such 
approbation from the godly. 

" (4) That others are thereby offended, and occasioned to think 
them all alike, and as birds of a feather which so flock together. 

"Whom afterwards privately I desired, as I do also others, 
to consider whether these very reasons make not as effectually 
and much more, against the spiritual communion of God's 
people (especially where there wants the means of reformation) 
with the apparently wicked, to whom they are as light to 

1 A Manvmission to a Manvduction, 1615, p. 20. 

2 Robinson took the text here alluded to as a motto for the title page of 
his Justification of Separation, 1610: " God separated between the light and 
between the darkness." Gen. i. 4. 


Robinson was alert enough to see that the arguments 
of Laurence Chaderton and Paul Baynes told with 
greater force for the Separatist position than for that 
of the Puritans. The fact that he sought out Baynes 
after his sermon and privately pressed this point upon 
him is testimony to his earnestness. 

I take it that, on his return from this Cambridge 
visit, Robinson threw in his lot whole-heartedly with 
the little group of devout folk in the neighbourhood 
of his old home who had by this time separated from 
the Church of England on grounds of conscientious 
conviction. John Smith led them into the way of 
separation. When once Robinson had taken the de- 
cisive step he did not look back, but shared in all the 
tribulation which befell his fellow-members on account 
of their fidelity. According to William Bradford's 
narrative " these people became two distinct bodies 
or churches in regard of distance of place, and did 
congregate severally, for they were of several towns 
and villages, some in Nottinghamshire, some in 
Lincolnshire and some of Yorkshire, where they 
bordered nearest together." 

Geographically it was more convenient for Robinson 
to go over to Scrooby than to Gainsborough. On 
the latter journey, though the mileage was less, the 
Trent had to be crossed. The friends at Gainsborough 
enjoyed the resolute guidance of Smith; there was 
less need then for Robinson's help in that centre, and 
he gravitated to the Scrooby group. This was for- 
tunate, for it drew him into close touch with Brewster 
and Bradford, men of good sense and sound judg- 
ment, with whom he maintained a lifelong friendship. 

Moreover, there were differences of accent between 
Smith and Robinson which, in spite of their general 
agreement as to the necessity and obligation of separa- 
tion from the Anglican Church, might have led to 
friction if the two men had been called to labour in 
close conjunction. Smith, with the downrightness 
of the pioneer, forswore all communion in religious 
matters with any members of a Church which he now 


deemed to be false in its constitution. Robinson, 
though he would not participate in the public worship 
of such a Church, was ready to join privately in prayer 
and religious conference with any sincere and godly 
member of it. 

I think it quite likely that he held meetings for 
religious worship and conference in Sturton itself. 
Several relations of his wife, including her brother- 
in-law, John Carver, accompanied Robinson to Am- 
sterdam from the Sturton district. It is reasonable 
to suppose that they had already formed the habit of 
worshipping together. 

The actual separation of John Smith and John 
Robinson from the Church of England, and the 
renunciation of their " orders " as priests of that 
Church, created some stir in the locality, especially 
in clerical circles, but they did not draw into the 
new movement so many of the local clergy as they had 
hoped to do. Richard Clifton, the earnest rector of 
Bab worth, was convinced by Smith, and joined them. 
Hugh Bromehead, the curate of North Wheatley, 
threw in his lot with them, but Richard Bernard, 
the vicar of Worksop, of whom they had great expecta- 
tions, and who went with them up to a point, drew 
back, and soon became a strenuous opponent of the 
aims and policy of the Separatists. Some of Bernard's 
parishioners, however, were led by the earnestness 
and eloquence of Smith to follow the new path. It 
is possible that this new religious movement would 
have made headway in England if it had been given 
a free field, for it was full of force and vitality, and 
could boast of capable leaders. It was a movement 
that could not be ignored. The Archbishop of York and 
the Bishop of Lincoln would know that if these meet- 
ings for worship apart from the Established Church, 
led by men who had deliberately renounced their 
orders, were overlooked, their own authority would 
be seriously weakened. In those days neither the 
law of the land nor the law of the Church allowed 
any place for such meetings or such " churches." 


The machinery of the Ecclesiastical Commission was 
set in motion to crush the movement. As Bradford 
puts it — 

" They could not long continue in any peaceable condition; 
but were hunted and persecuted on every side; so as their 
former afflictions were but as flea-bitings in comparison of 
these which now came upon them. For some were taken 
and clapt up in prison. Others had their houses beset and 
watched, night and day, and hardly escaped their hands; 
and the most were fain to fly and leave their houses and 
habitations, and the means of their livelihood. Yet these, 
and many other sharper things which afterwards befell them, 
were no other than they looked for; and therefore were the 
better prepared to bear them by the assistance of God's grace 
and Spirit." * 

Gervase Neville 

The records of the Court of the Ecclesiastical Com- 
mission for the Northern Province of England, of 
which the Archbishop of York was a chief member, 
give one or two flashes of light upon the story of the 
" Pilgrim Church " at this period from the official 
side. One of those cited to appear before it was 
Gervase Neville. 2 He was a man of some standing 
in the locality, and as his case is dealt with more fully 
than usual in the " Act Books " of the Court, we may 
as well give the record. Preceding writers have not 
identified this Gervase Neville. He was the Neville 
of that name who held a considerable extent of land 
in Ragnell, Dunham, South Leverton and adjacent 

Being a son of Robert Neville, he came of a good 

1 Bradford's History of Plimouth Plantation, f. 31. 

2 An early reference to Neville I find in the will of Augustine Pickhaver, 
dated December 27, 1598— 

" I give and bequeath unto my verie good frende Mr. Gervase Nevell one 
frenche crowne trustinge hee wilbee a guide and staye in givinge advise and 
counsell to my wife and children from time to time." He nominates his 
brother, Richard Pickhaver, and William Hawkesmore as supervisors of his 
will, and continues : "I also ordaine and appointe my verie good frende 
Mr. Gervase Nevell umper over my said sup'visors ... to advise and directe 
them from time to time in and about this my will or testament." — " Act Book " 
of the Southwell Peculiar Court in Notts. Probate Registry, B., f. 284. 


family. His grandfather, George Neville, was High 
Sheriff of Nottinghamshire in 1581. x In the Subsidy 
Roll for 1599 2 I find the entry under " Ragnel " : 
" Gervasius Nevill in terris xl s -viij 8 ," indicating that 
he was already assessed on lands there. His title 
to the house and lands which he occupied in Ragnell 
was disputed early in the reign of James I, and 
this gave rise to much irritating litigation. The 
question appears to have been as to whether the land 
he held was " Auncient demeasin as of his Ma ts royall 
Crown of England," or was dependent on the Manor of 
Dunham. Commissioners were appointed on February 
12, 1606, to inquire into the matter, and on the follow- 
ing 26th of March John Thornhagh of Fenton and 
Edward North sat at East Retford to examine wit- 
nesses about it. Some of the depositions give us 
fresh information in regard to Neville and his family. 
One of the interrogatories was as to whether the 
messuage, lands and tenements " in the holding of 
Jervase Nevill " were " lyable to all paies and layes 
to Church and kinge w th the towne of Ragnell or 
w th the towne of Dunham, and whether hath the said 
Jervase Nevill or his ancestors served as constable 
and churchwarden for the said Messuage for the towne 
of Ragnell or for the town of Dunham." Apparently 
Neville would have been subjected to a stiff fine to 
quiet his title to the property he had inherited if 
it were proved to be Crown land. One of his witnesses, 
" Pawle Taylor of Darlton," deposed that the lands 
in dispute were " holden of the mannor and soke of 
Dunham," and further, " he knowxth that the said 
Gervase Nevill did, after the death of his ffather, 
paye to this deponent to the use of Sir John Munson, 
then Lord of the Mannor of Dunham, for the foresaid 
lands a Relief of fortie nine shillings and fowre pence, 
w ch was a whole yeres rent. 

" The said Gervas Nevill doeth paie and his An- 

1 Cf. Letter from the Queen to George Nevill, Brit. Mus. Add. MS., 33, 
594, f. 8. 

2 Lay Subsidies, Bassetlaw, Notts., 39 Eliz. h§ ^, Record Office. 


cestors dureinge the space of eighteen yeres or there- 
about have used to paye tofte penies, otherwise called 
comon ffyne, and that the same hath been yerelie 
gathered at mychaellmas by the ffreeborrowes and 
payed to this deponent, bailiffe to the lord of the 
mannor of Dunham." He said the lands of Gervase 
Neville were not subject to the annual " king's rent " 
of £5 12s., paid from Ragnell to the sheriff of the county 
at Retford Sessions. 

Henry Howett of Dunham, husbandman, of the 
age of fourscore years, or thereabouts, sworn and 
examined sayeth : " that he knoweth the messuage 
that Gervase Nevill holdeth and occupieth in Ragnell, 
and saieth that the said Gervase did build that messuage 
wherein he dwelleth and that the sayd messuages did 
discend to the said Gervase Nevill from his father and 
his grandfather." 

Another witness, " Richard Unwine of Ragnell, 
laborer," sixty years of age, deposed that Gervase 
Neville " is heire vnto another messuage in Ragnell 
w ch his mother in la we no we hath for her lyef." And 
that " he hath knowne the sayd Gervis by the space 
of Thirtie yeres or more." This shows us that Gervase 
Neville was in the prime of life, and already married, 
and distinguishes him from his cousin of the same name 
who became Rector of Grove in 1611. 

We have to remember, then, that Gervase Neville had 
this trouble with the civil courts on his hands when he 
was cited before the ecclesiastical authorities on account 
of his religious opinions. I find from the will of Robert 
Wood of Dunham, Notts., gentleman, dated September 
6, 1607, that Neville had by that time disposed of some 
of his property. But the fact that he was appointed 
"overseer" of this will by the testator, and also 
signed it as a witness, seems to indicate that as yet 
there was no settled determination to leave for Holland. 
Robert Wood says in his will — 

" Whereas it hath pleased god not to blesse me with anie 
children of my bodie lawfully begotten, except my wief bee 






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now with childe, which is uncertaine ... I geve unto Eliza- 
beth my wife one messuage or tenement . . . with the appur- 
tenances therto belonginge which was lately purchased of 
Gervase Nevile of Ragnell gent. ... I make and ordaine 
Cervase Nevile of Ragnell gent., and Hugh ffoxe of ffenton 
yoman overseers or supervisours of my will." x 

Soon after this, information was laid against Neville 
in the Court of the Ecclesiastical Commission for the 
Northern Province at York. From the Record it is 
clear that he had already identified himself closely 
with those in his locality who met separately from 
the Anglican Church for worship and the discussion 
of religious matters, renouncing the authority of 
the Bishops and Archbishops. He was evidently in 
touch with the Scrooby, Sturton and Gainsborough 
groups of Separatists. His characterization of the 
episcopal order of Church government as an " Anti- 
christian Hierarchie," reminds us of the decisive 
language of John Smith. The fact that the Record 
describes him as of " Scrooby," points to that little 
town as a recognized centre for this religious move- 
ment. I do not think Neville had any permanent 
connexion with that parish. He had probably taken 
up temporary residence in Scrooby in order to be in 
closer touch with Smith, Clifton, Robinson, Brewster, 
Helwys and the friends who there foregathered. 
Neville would know that if he did not conform in 
three months after conviction he would have to abjure 
the realm. Here is the record of his case — 

"Nov. 10, 1607. Office of the Court v. Gervase Nevyle of 

" Information hath been given and presentment made 
that the said Gervase Nevyle is one of the sect of Barrowists 
or Brownists, holding and maintaining erroneous opinions, 
and doctrine repugnant to the Holy Scriptures and Word of 
God, for which his disobedience and schismatical obstinacy 

1 " Act Book " of the Southwell Peculiar Court, in the Nottingham Probate 
Registry. This will was proved April 20, 1612, by which date the widow 
Elizabeth Wood, had re-married and was Elizabeth Worsley. 


an attachment was awarded to William Blanchard messenger 
... to apprehend him : by virtue whereof being by him 
brought before His Grace [the Archbishop of York] and said 
Associates [the Court of Ecclesiastical Commissioners for the 
Northern Province] and charged with his errors and dangerous 
opinions and disobedience, his Grace in the name of himself 
having charged him therewith, as also with certain contemp- 
tuous speeches and frequenting of conventicles and company 
of others of his profession, he required him to take an oath 
to make answer (so far as he ought and was bound by law) 
to certain interrogatories or questions by them conceived 
and set down in writing to be propounded and ministered unto 
him, and others of his brethren of the separation and sect 
aforesaid, which he obstinately and utterly refused, denying 
to give his Grace answer, and protesting very presumptuously 
and insolently in the presence of God against his authority 
and (as he termed it) his Antichristian Hierarchy; but yet 
yielded to answer to the rest of the said Commissioners [the 
laymen] (excepting his Grace only), although it was by them 
shewed unto him that his Grace was chief of the Ecclesiastical 
Commission by virtue whereof he was convented and they 
all did then and there sit. 

" And then, after divers godly exhortations and speeches 
to him, they did propound and read the said interrogatories 
unto him and presently set down his answers unto the same 
in their presences under his hand. 

w And forsomuch as thereby, as also by his unreverent, 
contemptuous, and scandalous speeches, it appeared that he 
is a very dangerous schismatical Separatist Brownist and 
irreligious subject, holding and maintaining divers erroneous 
opinions, the said lord Archbishop with his colleagues have 
by their strait warrant committed him, the said Gervase, to 
the custody of William Blanchard, by him to be therewith 
delivered to the hands, ward and safe custody of the keeper 
or his deputy keeper of his Highness' s Castle of York, not 
permitting him to have any liberty or conference with any, 
without special licence from three at least of the said Com- 
missioners, whereof one to be of the Quorum." 1 

On his release from York Castle Neville must 
have made his way almost at once to Amsterdam, where 
he attached himself to the Church which had John 
Smith, Hugh Bromehead and Thomas Helwys as 
its prominent leaders. We have one or two glimpses 

1 Dexter's England and Holland of the Pilgrims, p. 392. 


of him in Holland, and it will be simplest to refer to 
them here, while his case is under our consideration. 

When John Smith arrived at the conviction that 
he and his companions were in error in constituting 
themselves into a Church by a u covenant," and that 
the right procedure was by means of baptism, after 
repentance and profession of faith, he carried Neville 
with him, and baptized him with the rest of the com- 
pany, after the manner of the Dutch Anabaptists, 
by affusion. Closer acquaintance with the Amsterdam 
Mennonites soon led Smith and his company to ques- 
tion whether they had done the right thing in reviving 
the practice of baptism for themselves, when there 
was here a Church already in existence constituted 
by the baptism of believers after the New Testament 
method. The point was carefully discussed, and the 
majority, with Smith, resolved to disavow their action 
in this matter, dissolve their Church and apply for 
admission to the Mennonite Church in Amsterdam, 
under the pastoral care of Hans de Hies. 

Though Thomas Helwys and a handful of members 
dissented from this step, and maintained the validity 
of the Church position at which they had arrived, 
and their right to recover the ordinance of baptism 
for themselves, Smith again carried Neville with him. 
His name, " Jervase Nevill," is included by Smith 
in the list of those who petitioned for union with the 
Mennonites and acknowledged their error in taking 
into their own hands the task of constituting themselves 
into a Church by baptism when a Church of that type 
was already accessible. Nor was Neville daunted 
by Smith's advance towards the doctrinal position 
of the Mennonites and his desertion of the Calvinism 
which marked the Puritan preachers of England in 
that day. His signature, " Garvase Neuile," heads 
the second column 1 of the names of those in John 
Smith's Church who subscribed to the articles con- 
tained in A Short Confession of Faith, which had been 
drawn up to serve as a general indication of the belief 

1 Burrage, Early English Dissenters, vol. ii. p. 200. 


of the Mennonite churches. 1 But his name is struck 
out by a stroke of the pen. This indicates that he had 
either died or withdrawn from the society at the time 
the roll was revised. I think in his case it was an 
early withdrawal, for we have an intimation in a book 
published in 1611 by Thomas Helwys that Neville had 
by that time fallen away. His difficulty was on the 
point of " Succession." Smith argued that they had no 
right to constitute the Church anew if a true Church was 
already in being to which they could affiliate, and from 
which, in some sense, they could derive authority. Such 
a Church he held the Mennonite Church to be. Well, 
then, what about the origin of the Mennonite Church 
itself? How did that derive? Could it trace a 
clear succession from Apostolic times and the primitive 
Church? It seems a singular crotchet to worry the 
minds of these Anabaptists, but we find another group 
in London a few years later discussing the same point. 
Helwys lets us see pretty plainly that Neville was 
not satisfied on the matter. The passage will bear 
quoting, as it testifies to Neville's intrepid opposition 
to the ecclesiastical authorities in England, and on 
this point Helwys had access to first-hand information, 
for his own brave wife, Joan Helwys, was a prisoner 
at York for conscience' sake at the period when Neville 
was imprisoned there. 

" Mr. Jarvase Nevile, having witnessed not only this, but 
divers other truths for the which he hath been long imprisoned 
and condemned to perpetual imprisonment, yea, expecting 
death for the same, yet notwithstanding all his former fidelity 
and constancy whereby his bonds were famous through the 
whole land falling with Mr. Smyth upon this your blind suc- 
cession (forsaking the rock whereon he stood) is now returned 
beyond his vomit, exclaiming against your Succession, and 
strives to build up the Succession of Rome which he hath 

1 Helwys, writing to the Mennonites, shows that Neville once accepted 
their position that magistrates are unfit for Church membership, and quotes 
him as saying that " Magistrates are no otherwise the ministers of God, but 
as the devils are." This, he says, " one of our own countrymen, the forenamed 
Mr. Jervase Nevile (falling upon this and other your errors), most blasphemously 
hath affirmed/' Advt. unto the New Fryesers, 1611, p. 73. 


formerly with all zeal and holiness pulled down, and so is 
become a hissing of men and a reproach unto all the godly, 
and is made a scorn of the wicked, a just reproach for all that 
fall away." 1 

The following reference also pictures Neville as a 
backslider from the Separatist cause, which he first 
espoused with ardour. 

On July 8, 1611, new style, Matthew Saunders and 
Cuthbert Hutten wrote a letter 2 to their Pastor, 
Francis Johnson, and the elders of his church at 
Amsterdam, renouncing their separation from the 
Church of England. In the course of this letter, in 
pointing to the many varieties of separation, they say : 
" The ground of Master NeviPs errors was also separa- 
tion, though now he be further run backward than ever 
he was forward." Thus he disappears from our story. 

William Brewster 

Action was also taken against Richard Jackson and 
William Brewster of Scrooby. They had been served 
with a " process " to appear before the Court on 
December 1, 1607, and gave their word to attend, 
but they did not put in an appearance, consequently 
they were each fined £20 and their arrest ordered. 
The next reference to their case is significant — 

" Dec. 15th, 1607. Office v. Richard Jackson & Wro. 
Bruester of Scrowbie. For Brownisme. An attachment 
was awarded to W. Blanchard to apprehend them, but he 
certifieth that he can not finde them, nor understand where 
they are." 

The fines, however, were duly levied, for in the 
following spring the Archbishop returned into the 
Exchequer fines of £20 apiece which had been taken 

1 An Advertisement or Admonition unto the Congregations which Men call 
the New Fryesers, by Thomas Helwys (1611), p. 35. 

2 Lawne, PropJiane Schism, pp, 55-57. 


from " Richard Jackson, William Brewster and Robert 
Rochester of Scrooby, in the county of Nottingham, 
Brownists or Separatists," for non-appearance " upon 
lawful summons at the Collegiate Church of South- 
well." i 

Brewster (c. 1567-1644) was one of the leading 
spirits in the Separatist movement, and closely asso- 
ciated with the Pilgrim Church from its inception. 
He stood at Robinson's right hand in many a time 
of difficulty, and gave the Church the benefit of his 
experience and wise counsel in the office of ruling elder. 
Brewster's father was of the same name, and I think 
the conjecture that he was connected with the family 
of Brewsters, long seated at Wrentham, in Suffolk, 
and with Henry Brewster, the vicar of Sutton-cum- 
Lound from 1565 to 1598, and the James Brewster 
who then succeeded to that benefice, has great pro- 
bability. William Brewster senior held the office 
of postmaster at Scrooby, and the responsible position 
of Receiver and Bailiff to the Archbishop of York 
for his " Lordship and Manor of Scrooby, and all the 
liberties of the same in the County of Nottingham." 
He had power to distrain for any arrears of customary 
dues and payments that might accrue in the Arch- 
bishop's manors in Askham and Laneham. He was a 
well-known man in the district. When Thomas Went- 
worth of " Scrowbie Manor " died (will dated March 
27, 1574), Brewster took on the tenancy of the Manor 
House, as its roomy outbuildings were suited for the 
stabling of the post horses. His gifted son was sent 
to Cambridge, and matriculated at Peterhouse Decem- 
ber 3, 1580, but did not stay at the University long 
enough to graduate. Entering the service of William 
Davison, one of Her Majesty's Secretaries of State, 
young Brewster gained an insight into public affairs 
and saw something of foreign parts. When Davison 
lost favour with the Queen, and was deprived of his 
office, Brewster was free to go home to Scrooby and 
assist his father in his declining years. The old man 

1 Hunter's Collections concerning Founders of New Plymouth, p. 131. 


died in the summer of 1590, 1 leaving his wife Prudence 
to the care of his son. Young William Brewster 
succeeded him in the office of " Post of Scrooby," 
though he was nearly ousted through not taking pains 
to get his appointment confirmed at once. 2 The fact 
that no mention is made of brothers or sisters in the 
Grant of Administration does not necessarily imply, 
as American writers have imagined, that there were 
none. It is not at all unlikely that James Brewster, 
Vicar of Sutton, was a brother. 

We must not linger here over the interesting details 
of Brewster's career. Suffice it to say that he showed 
a marked interest in matters of religion, and gave of 
his substance to secure effective preachers for the 
locality. He married as soon as his position was 
assured, and had children at Scrooby, Jonathan, 
Patience and Fear, all of whom accompanied him and 
their mother, Mary Brewster, 3 to Holland, and in 
due course went on to New England — the girls follow- 
ing their parents and brother thither in the good ship 
Anne in 1623. Such was the man who gathered 
friends and neighbours in his house for religious meet- 
ings and entertained them with generous hospitality. 
He was now compelled to look abroad for the liberty 
denied at home, and in his next venture he went hand 
in hand with John Robinson. 

1 I have examined the "Act Book" of the Deanery of Retford -cum- 
Laneham, where the Note of Administration, July 24, 1590, to William 
Brewster is given. The old man had not made a will. 

2 The position of postmaster became a sort of family possession if the 
duties were faithfully attended to. Fosters held the position for years at 
Tuxford, the stage south of Scrooby, and Hayfords at Doncaster, the stage 
to the north. I find in the will of " John Nelson of Scrooby, in the County 
of Notts., postmaster," dated April 25, 1617, the following bequest : "to my 
eldest son, Will m Nelson X s and the revercon of my office in full satisfaction 
of his child's porcon." And the bequest held good, for, turning to the accounts 
of the Postmaster- General, I find that William Nelson received the salary for 
Scrooby from July 1, 1617 to Sept. 2, 1630. 

3 The maiden name of Mary Brewster has not been handed down. I 
suggest Mary Wentworth of Scrooby. 

% 55 a a- 


"an adventure almost desperate" 

William Bradford 

The little company of fellow-believers had managed 
to continue together in England about a year, and 
" kept their meetings every Sabbath in one place or 
another, exercising the worship of God amongst 
themselves," but now, finding there was no hope of 
liberty for their separate worship at home, they dis- 
cussed the possibility of emigrating to Holland. " By 
a joint consent," says Bradford, " they resolved to 
go into the Low Countries, where, they heard, was 
freedom of religion for all men, as also how sundry, 
from London and other parts of the land, had been 
exiled and persecuted for the same cause, and were 
gone thither, and lived at Amsterdam and in other 
places of the land." Preparations were at once 
made to act upon this resolution. Brewster gave up 
his office as " Post " of Scrooby at the end of Septem- 
ber in 1607; arrangements were made with reliable 
friends to take charge of property that could not be 
realized immediately. Thomas Helwys was specially 
active and useful in furthering this passage into a 
strange country. " If any brought oars, he brought 
sails," was the picturesque phrase with which Robin- 
son described his eager help. But there was great 
difficulty in getting away, " for though they could 
not stay, yet they were not suffered to go; but the 
ports and havens were shut against them, so as they 
were fain to seek secret means of conveyance, and to 
bribe and fee the mariners, and give extraordinary 



rates for their passages. And yet were they often- 
times betrayed, many of them, and both they and 
their goods intercepted and surprised, and thereby 
put to great trouble and charge." 

Bradford gives an instance or two of these diffi- 
culties. In one case " a large company " of them 
were betrayed after they had got on board a ship 
near Boston, in Lincolnshire. This led to their im- 
prisonment for a month at Boston, and even when 
the main body were released and sent to their homes, 
seven of the leading members were kept in prison 
and bound over to the Assizes, amongst the number 
being William Brewster. In the following spring 
another concerted attempt to embark between 
Grimsby and Hull in a Dutch ship was foiled by the 
authorities, who swooped down on the party after 
the first boat-load of men had got on board. The 
Dutch ship-master sailed away with those who 
had reached his vessel, while the rest of the men on 
shore, and the women and children stranded on the 
mud-bank in a small bark, waiting for the rising tide, 
were left behind. Hence arose more anxiety and 
delay. " Notwithstanding all these storms of opposi- 
tion, they all gat over at length, some at one time 
and some at another, and some in one place and 
some in another, and met together again, according 
to their desires, with no small rejoicing." Two of 
those who went over in the summer of 1608 from 
Sutton-cum-Lound, where James Brewster was vicar, 
were married in Amsterdam soon after their arrival. 
Here is the record — 

" 1608, July 5. — Henry Cullandt of Nottinghamshire, 
bombazine worker, 20 years old, — producing certificate under 
the hand of Richard Clyfton, preacher at Sutton, that his 
banns had been published there, — and Margarete Gryms- 
diche of Sutton, 30 years old." 

They had evidently prepared for marriage in Eng- 
land, but, owing to persecution or to an opportune 
chance of a safe passage, they hasted away. 


It was only after much trouble and with greatly 
diminished resources that the Pilgrims reached their 
haven of refuge in Holland. We have no account of 
Robinson's crossing. A memorandum in the Clifton 
family Bible tells us that " Richard Clifton, with 
his wife and children, came into Amsterdam, in 
Holland, August 1608." Probably Robinson got over 
about the same time, for Bradford tells us " Master 
Robinson, Master Brewster, and other principal mem- 
bers . . . were of the last, and stayed to help the 
weakest over before them." x After the harassing 
months of the preceding winter and spring, the 
re-united friends now had a breathing space. They 
were at last free to give attention to the better 
ordering of their Church affairs. Already they had 
" joined themselves, by a covenant of the Lord, into 
a Church estate in the fellowship of the Gospel to 
walk in all his ways made known or to be made 
known." John Murton, referring to Robinson, says : 
" Do we not know the beginning of his Church, that 
there was first one stood up and made a covenant 
and then another, and these two joined together and 
so a third, and these became a Church say they." 2 
The indications are that this group of refugees now 
became more closely organized, and definitely chose 
John Robinson as pastor and John Carver as deacon. 
Not until they got to Leyden, however, was Brewster 
appointed " ruling elder." They were content with 
Robinson's ministrations and did not elect any 
" teacher " as colleague. 

1 History of Plimouth Plantation, fo. 41. 

2 John Smith the Sebaptist, Thomas Helivys and the first Baptist Church 
in England, etc., Burgess, 1911, p. 84. 




The stay of Robinson and his company at Amster- 
dam was of short duration. The religious refugees 
from Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire and Norfolk who 
gathered round him found other groups of English 
religionists already settled in this thriving city. 
There was the Church under the pastoral care of 
Francis Johnson, with Henry Ainsworth serving 
it as doctor or teacher. This was the Separatist 
Church, constituted in London under the leadership 
of Henry Barrow, John Greenwood and John Penry, 
whose members found a refuge in Amsterdam when 
persecution made it impossible for them to meet in 
peace at home. Representing the first body of 
English religious refugees, it took the name of the 
" Ancient Church," to distinguish it from other and 
more recent societies. There had been another early 
group of Separatists, described in 1597 as " that 
poore English Congregation in Amstelredam to whome 
H[enoch] C[lapham] for the present administreth the 
Ghospel." * Yet another group had come from the 
west of England under the leadership of Thomas 
White. These west-countrymen first joined in fellow- 
ship with Johnson's Church, but differences arising, 
they soon parted company, and set up a meeting 
among themselves. The story of the Ancient Church 
has been fully and frequently told, but that of the 
Separatist Church in the western parts of England 
has received less attention. A few fresh details con- 

1 Theologicall Axioms, by Henoch Claphain, 1597. 


cerning it, throwing a sidelight on our story, will not 
be out of place. 

This western Church was active in the district 
where the counties of Wilts, Gloucester and Somerset 
meet together, and from that neighbourhood there 
were some who in later years joined the Pilgrim Church 
at Leyden. This congregation in the west paved the 
way for the sturdy nonconformity which marked the 
locality in after years. A hostile writer, referring to 
the Separatists as early as the year 1588, says — 

" Though their full swarm and store be (as it is most likely) 
in London and the parts near adjoining, yet have they sparsed 
of their companies into several parts of the Realm and namely 
into the West almost to the uttermost borders thereof." 

Then again, in 1593, when John Penry was under 
sentence of condemnation, and standing in the shadow 
of death, he wrote to his fellow-believers in these 
terms — 

" I would wish you earnestly to write, yea, to send, if you 
may, to comfort the brethren in the West and North countries, 
that they faint not in these troubles, and that also you may 
have of their advice and they of yours what to do in these 
desolate times." 

The question naturally arises as to whether we can 
learn anything of the leaders and members of this 
early Congregational Church in the west. From 
recent investigations I have been able to recover 
something of its history. 

The course of development of this western Church 
runs parallel with that of Separatist Churches in other 
parts. There was a feeling that the Reformation had 
stopped half-way. People desired to see the Church 
order brought into closer accord with that indicated 
in the New Testament as instituted in the Primitive 
and Apostolic Churches of Christ. They considered 
that the ceremonies retained in the State Church 
savoured too much of papal practices. For example, 
Thomas Baslyn, a schoolmaster of Wiltshire, and his 


wife got into trouble with the authorities in 1588, 
because they declined to have the sign of the cross 
used in the baptism of their daughter. Baslyn's 
parish minister would not undertake to " baptyze his 
child accordyng to Christe's institution onlie," so he 
arranged for the baptism to take place " at his 
dwelling-house, by M r Thomas Hickman, a minister 
... in the presence of divers other faithful people." 
From opposition to the ceremonies of the Established 
Church the more earnest of the reformers passed on 
to a deliberate separation and a refusal to recognize 
the authority of the Bishops to prescribe their religious 
belief and practice. Christ alone was the Head of His 
Church. Those holding such views began to meet 
together for conference and worship, and thus we have 
a nascent Congregational Church coming into being. 
The references to this western Church in contem- 
porary literature are given in general terms. Names 
and places are seldom mentioned. To give precise 
details would only bring the brethren under the 
clutches of the ecclesiastical courts. 

Still, a few names may be recovered. One of the 
leaders in this western movement was undoubtedly 
William Smith. He was born about 1563, and 
entered the ministry of the Church of England. He 
received " orders " from the Bishop of Coventry and 
Lichfield. Subsequently he secured a licence to 
preach from the Bishop of Salisbury, and then 
settled at Bradford-on-Avon in Wiltshire. But he 
was uneasy in his mind. He desired the further 
reformation of the Anglican Church. Somehow he 
heard of the Separatist Church in London, and he 
came up in 1593 for the express purpose of conferring 
with its leaders, John Greenwood and Francis John- 
son. While he was attending a meeting of this 
religious society at the house of Nicholas Lee, in 
Smithfield, " to see and hear their order," the as- 
sembly was disturbed and he suffered arrest. Smith 
was thrown into prison. Refusing to conform, he 
was banished. He seems to have withdrawn to 


Holland, where he exercised some oversight of 
the exiled congregation during the incarceration of 
its pastor, Francis Johnson, in the Fleet prison. Some 
writers have confused him with John Smith the 
se-baptist, but William Smith was an older man, and 
threw in his lot with the Separatists while John Smith 
was still at Christ's College in Cambridge. There 
is reason to think that William Smith afterwards 
conformed, while John Smith never returned to the 
Church of England after he renounced his " orders." 

The next glimpse we have of this western Church 
is in the district of Wiltshire within easy reach of 
Bradford-on-Avon. Here a group of clergy and lay- 
men were actively interested in the religious questions 
which were pressing upon the consciences of earnest- 
minded men of the day. What was a true Church of 
Christ ? What constituted a true ministry ? Which 
was of higher authority, the word of the Prelates, or 
the Divine Word of the New Testament? These 
questions were discussed in conferences and debated 
in many a home. 

One of the most strenuous advocates of religious 
reform in the west was a young minister, Thomas 
White, curate of Slaughterford, a tiny village on the 
north-western confines of Wiltshire. He advanced to 
the conclusion that the ministry of the Church of 
England had no valid standing. Consequently, early 
in the year 1603, he gave up his cure. He then 
joined himself to that Church in the west parts of 
England which held the same faith with the English 
Separatists of London and Amsterdam. White was 
opposed by John Awdrey, vicar of Melksham, who 
went over to Slaughterford and delivered a special 
lecture in the church there to refute the position 
taken up by White and his friends. Some of White's 
leading parishioners adopted his views, and his suc- 
cessor in the cure of St. Nicholas at Slaughterford, 
Thomas Powell by name, also became his follower, 
and would have replied to Awdrey from the Slaughter- 
ford pulpit had he not been prevented. 


At this juncture, " about the time of the new King's 
coming into England," Francis Johnson took the daring 
step of coming over from Amsterdam to England, 
with a view to presenting a petition to James for 
toleration on behalf of the exiled Church, and to see 
what prospect of liberty there might be at home under 
the new condition of things. He took the oppor- 
tunity of going down into the west to confer with 
fellow-believers there, and actually ventured to hold 
religious meetings at the jeopardy of his life. The 
renewed activity of the western Separatists at this 
period stirred up the authorities to action, and led to 
the migration of a small company from this part of 
Wiltshire to Amsterdam in 1604. 

One of the places of meeting at Slaughterford was 
at the house of Thomas Cullimer, a member of a 
good old local yeoman family. He, with his wife 
Ann, were ardent supporters of the cause, and at 
their house Francis Johnson preached. Another 
place of meeting in the same parish was at the house 
of William Hore, a fuller by trade. Here a memorable 
meeting was held on Sunday, February 26, 1604, at 
which Thomas White preached. " There were as- 
sembled about three score persons to hear him." He 
preached with effect, and at this gathering received 
Thomas Powell, his successor in the cure of Slaughter- 
ford, into the fellowship of his new Church. One 
present at the gathering described the incident a few 
days later in these terms — 

" Thomas Powell, late preacher at Slatenford, was at the 
preaching of White upon the XXVIth of Feb. : and there 
made a public confession that he had heretofore spoken 
against their courses, but that from that time he would 
manifest love and fellowship with them by defending and 
maintaining of their doctrine. And he was admitted by 
White into the society of their Church. . . . When Powell 
was so admitted he promised to leave the fellowship and 
communion of this Church of Fmgland." * 

1 Sessions Roll for Wiltshire, Easter Term, sub dato. I consulted this at 


One of the lay members of this congregation, Sil- 
vester Butler by name, a weaver of Castle Combe, 
was examined by the Bishop of Salisbury. He was 
firm and resolute in his convictions. The note of his 
examination tells us " he professeth that he will 
continue one of the same Church while he liveth, and 
will not conform himself to come to any other Church." 
Another weaver, John Harford of Eaton, was equally 
brave. He was brought before the Bishop and — 

" being demanded when he was at the parish church where 
he dwelleth, or at any other parish church to hear divine 
service, saith he resorteth to the ' Church of God,' but for 
the temple made with hands he alloweth it not for a church." 

Fleeing from persecution at home, White and 
Powell, with a handful of companions, arrived safely 
at Amsterdam, and joined the exiled Church already 
settled there. Francis Johnson entertained White in 
his own house for nine or ten weeks, but the two did 
not get on well together. The Wiltshire men did not 
feel quite at home with the older Separatists. On a 
closer acquaintance the discipline and order of the 
exiled Church did not impress them favourably. 

With Thomas White himself matters moved swiftly. 
He quickly fell in love with a young English widow, 
Rose Philips, who was under sentence of excommuni- 
cation by the Church of Johnson for trivial reasons. 
This will account in some measure for White's sub- 
sequent bitterness against the English exiled Church 
at Amsterdam. In April 1604 they published the 
intention of their marriage at Amsterdam. The 
Dutch clerk was puzzled by the word Slaughterford, 
and he entered it as Sachtenfort. White gave his 
age as twenty-six years, and the maiden name of his 
betrothed is set down as Rose Grimbrye, or Grempre, 
and her place of origin as London, while her descrip- 
tion is " widow of John Philips." 

Johnson tells us that White — 

" coming over to Amsterdam and desiring to be partaker of 
the Lord's Supper with us, did in our public meeting before 


us all, with his own mouth testify his consent with us in the 
same faith we profess." 

But this union did not last long, for White and 
Powell soon organized their little company as a dis- 
tinct Church. They sent word to England of their 
doings in a letter addressed to their " brethren, the 
Church in the west, partakers of the same heavenly 
vocation," in which they say that, though their hope 
of forming a distinct body in their own country was 
frustrated, yet it was now accomplished in a strange 
land. White's Church soon collapsed. The diffi- 
culties of his position led him to reconsider his 
action. He determined to return to the Anglican 
fold. One of the easiest ways of regaining favour 
with the prelates would be to write against his 
Separatist associates. It was this mean course that 
Thomas White took. He issued, in 1605, with the 
encouragement and connivance of the prelatical party, 
an ill-natured and slanderous little book entitled, 
A Discoverie of Brownisme, in which he presented in 
the worst possible light any story he could gather to 
the detriment of Johnson's Church and its members. 
His work naturally raised a storm of protest against 
him amongst his old friends, and he was glad to get 
away from their midst to England. Eventually he 
secured preferment in the Anglican Church, and be- 
came rector of St. Mary Woolnoth in Lombard Street, 
London, on November 14, 1609. He did not long 
enjoy his benefice. His health was broken, and he 
died on November 20, 1611. " When he had gotten 
a benefice," says Richard Clifton, " in such sort as 
he did, the Lord soon ended his days." 

His defection from the cause, though disappointing 
to his new friends, did not mean the extinction of 
that Church of Christ in the west which he had first 
joined on giving up his country cure. The points 
in question between the Separatists and the adherents 
of the Episcopal Church were still eagerly discussed 
in Wiltshire. Johnson indicates that John Jesop, 


incumbent of Maningford Bruce in that county, 
" and other his fellows there have bestowed much 
labour in reading our writings." Joseph Hall, after- 
wards Bishop of Norwich, refers scornfully to this 
religious society as a Church meeting in a " parlour 
in the west." It was small, and it was persecuted, 
but it persisted, and, to some extent, leavened the 
religious thought of the district. When liberty was 
secured and the power of the prelacy for the time 
being broken Congregational and Baptist pioneers 
found Wiltshire, Gloucestershire and Somersetshire 
fruitful fields for their labours. The obscure " Church 
in the western parts " of an earlier day had prepared 
the ground. 

The story of the little company of refugees led by 
White, from the western parts of England, and their 
relations with the " Ancient Church " under Francis 
Johnson, will help us to understand the position and 
feeling of the group under Robinson's leadership. 
They wanted freedom to work out their position in 
their own way. To some extent the movement was 
still experimental. They did not wish to be abso- 
lutely tied to Johnson's conclusions. Though they 
had come to a settled conviction on the main points 
of separation, there were related matters which they 
desired to consider together at leisure and explore 
more thoroughly in the light of Holy Scripture. 

Differences between John Smith and the leaders of 
the Ancient Church had already become apparent, 
and there were threatenings of discord and conten- 
tion in the Ancient Church itself. It was partly to 
avoid entanglement in these actual and potential 
controversies that Robinson and his friends decided 
to leave Amsterdam. Already Smith had come to 
the conclusion that, as the Church of England was 
wrongly and falsely constituted, it had no more 
power to bestow valid baptism than it had to bestow 
valid " orders " on the ministry. Just as they had 
renounced their " orders," they ought also to renounce 
their baptism and start afresh. He discussed the 


matter with Richard Clifton, and was eager to talk 
it over with other leaders among the Separatists, but 
they were chary, and he " had neither conference 
with them by speeches nor writing about these matters, 
save only with Mr. Robinson." l The Pilgrim Pastor 
recognized the disintegrating and explosive forces 
latent in the ideas which now claimed the attention 
of John Smith's active mind. Amsterdam was likely 
to become a storm centre. He felt he would be more 
able to hold his flock together if they moved out of 
its range. 

1 Clifton's Plea for Infants, 1610, Epistle to Reader. 


robinson's controversies with Joseph hall and 
john burgess 

The number of religious refugees who fled from 
England and gathered round John Smith and John 
Robinson in Amsterdam was but small — a " handful," 
as Joseph Hall put it — and consequently many con- 
sidered the movement too insignificant for serious 
notice. " Many laugh at it," said Bernard, and 
" some account it a matter scarce worthy thinking 
upon." * But those who knew the standing of the 
leaders recognized its importance. Smith and Robin- 
son were soon called upon to justify their separation 
and defend their new position. Their old friend and 
neighbour, Richard Bernard, vicar of Worksop, 
quickly issued a little book deprecating what he 
called the " Separatists' schism." News of this breach 
with the Anglican Church came through to Joseph 
Hall (1574-1656), then rector of Halstead in Essex. 
He would know something of the leaders in the 
movement from his acquaintance with them in 
Cambridge, and he lost no time in sending them what 
he described asa" loving monitory letter," in which 
the monition is more conspicuous than the love. 
Hall had accompanied Sir Edmund Bacon on a journey 
to Spa in 1605, and on the way back he apparently 
fell in with one whom he calls a " harbinger " of the 
nonconformists — some one who was arranging a 
refuge in Holland for those clergy in England who 
were harassed and troubled about the ceremonies 
enforced by the Bishops. Hall connected this incident 

1 Christian Advertisements, 1608, Epistle Dedicatorie. 



with the " separation " of which he now heard. So 
long as the Separatist movement was made up, in 
the main, of craftsmen and tradesmen, the Anglican 
priesthood could affect to ignore it, but when men who 
had held fellowships and were well known in Uni- 
versity circles led a Separatist exodus it called for 
remark. Hall's letter was addressed " to Mr. Smyth 
and Mr. Rob[inson], ringleaders of the late separation 
at Amsterdam." It was written in vigorous style, 
" setting forth their injury done to the Church, the 
Injustice of their Cause and Fearfulness of their 
Offence : censuring and advising them." They were 
reported to him not as " parties in this evil, but 
authors." If they had gone over quietly to Holland 
by themselves it would not have excited much remark. 
Many Puritan clergy had taken that course. It 
was an ominous point that they had led companies 
of fellow-believers with them. " Your flight," he 
says, " is not so much as your misguidance." * That 
curious tone of airy superiority peculiar to the con- 
troversial writings of those who hold clerical offices 
protected by the State, runs through the whole of 
this forceful letter. Not without reason did Robinson 
call it a " censorious epistle." The intense aversion 
amongst the Anglican clergy from anything in the 
nature of " separation " from the Church of England 
is reflected in Hall's parting warning to his two 
" brethren " and former " companions," in which he 
says, " Your souls shall find too late that it had been 
a thousand times better to swallow a ceremony than 
to rend a Church; yea, that even whoredoms and 
murders shall abide an easier answer than separa- 
tion." 2 

Robinson soon penned a reply to this singular letter. 
He declared that Hall had been too forward in 
censuring a cause of which his discourse showed him 
to be " utterly ignorant." For it was not merely a 
distaste for the ceremonies that had led to his separa- 
tion, but a conviction that the Anglican Church, from 

1 Works, vol. iii. p. 401. 2 Ibid., p. 404. 


the Scriptural point of view, was radically wrong in 
its make-up and constitution. Hall had not appreci- 
ated the point that it was something more vital than 
the ceremonies that was in question. Robinson freely 
and thankfully acknowledged the graces and good 
things in the Anglican Church, of which he had par- 
taken when he was in communion with it, just as Hall 
acknowledged the good things in the Church of Rome, 
from which, nevertheless, he also separated ! He 
had not entered the way of separation lightly; he 
" durst never set foot into this way, but upon a most 
sound and unresistible conviction of conscience by 
the Word of God." 2 If he and his friends had to 
answer for their separation in " the Consistory Courts " 
or before " the Ecclesiastical Judges " in the Church 
of England, then they might find Hall's threat, that 
it would be easier to answer for murder and unclean 
living, perfectly justified. " But," says Robinson 
in conclusion, " because we know that not Anti- 
Christ, but Christ, shall be our Judge, we are bold upon 
the warrant of his Word and Testament ... to 
proclaim to all the world separation from whatsoever 
riseth up rebelliously against the sceptre of his 
Kingdom; as we are undoubtedly persuaded the 
communion, government, ministry, and worship of 
the Church of England do ! " 

Robinson expressed the wish that his answer might 
" come to the hands of him that occasioned it." 
His wish was satisfied. On receipt of it Joseph Hall 
took up his pen again and set to work on an elaborate 
reply to the general position of the Separatists. This 
time he took pains to make himself more thoroughly 
acquainted with their arguments by reading the 
published works of Francis Johnson, Henry Ains- 
worth, John Smith, and other leaders in the move- 
ment. The result was his book entitled A Common 
Apologie of the Chvrch of England Against the Vnjnst 
Challenges of the overjvst Sect commonly called 
Brownists. It represents the attitude of those in the 

1 Works, vol. iii. p. 406. 


" central line " in the Anglican Church towards 
Separatists and thorough-going reformers, and gives 
a fair view of the state of the controversy in 1610. 

Meanwhile Robinson was engaged in a discussion 
with another old acquaintance, a minister of Puritan 
leanings who, though an advocate for further reform 
in the Anglican Church, was startled by Robinson's 
definite act of separation. The record of this con- 
troversy remains in manuscript in the Bodleian 
Library at Oxford. 1 My own conjecture was that 
Robinson's friendly antagonist in this discussion was 
John Burgess (1563-1635), who had been educated at 
St. John's College, Cambridge, and then made rector 
of St. Peter Hungate in Norwich. He refused to 
subscribe to the new Book of Canons in 1604, was 
silenced, withdrew to Leyden, and there studied 
medicine. Returning to England he received in due 
course the degree of Doctor of Physic from the 
University of Cambridge. Eventually he conformed 
and accepted the benefice of Sutton Coldfield. Burgess 
seemed to me to fit the conditions which the identi- 
fication of this anonymous opponent of Robinson 
demanded. The conjecture was justified and turned 
into a certainty on a comparison of the handwriting 
of the author with that of Burgess. John Burgess, 
though serving in Holland as chaplain to Sir Horace 
Vere, the governor of Brill, was kept informed of 
Norwich affairs. He was much upset by the news 
of Robinson's " falling of[f] from the Churche of 
England." In conversation with Matthew Slade (an 
English schoolmaster, formerly in fellowship with the 
Church of Francis Johnson), he expressed his feeling 
in regard to Robinson's " rupture," or act of separa- 
tion, and his wish to " speake with him " on the 
subject. Slade passed the word on to Robinson, who 
soon sent a letter to his worthy friend, setting out 
the grounds for his action. John Burgess replied, 

1 Jones, MS. 30. Attention was directed to this MS. by Mr. Champlin 
Burrage, who published extracts from it in New Facts Concerning John 
Robinson, Oxford, 1910. I have studied the document independently. 


indicating that it was not a question of Robinson's 
faith, but his " rupture from the Churche " that he 
was concerned about. Could he justify his separa- 
tion? Let them discuss the particular case of his 
separation from " that churche or parishe of St. 
Andrewes in Norwich of which he had lately beene a 
minister." Robinson willingly accepted the challenge : 
" The instance you propound for the specyall subiect 
of the questyon in hand I agree to, which is St. 
Andrewes in Norwich." His antagonist argued that 
"St. Andrewes parish in Norwich is a trewe church 
of Christe with which a christian man maie lawfullye 
communicate in the worship of God." Robinson 
argued that it was a false Church, because it was not 
rightly constituted, and was involved in all the 
defects and corruptions inherent in the Church of 
England as a whole, of which it was part and parcel. 
Burgess at this stage left for a brief visit to England, 
and had no opportunity of answering Robinson's 
arguments till his return. He then drew up a reply, 
incorporating, after the manner of the time, the main 
part of Robinson's statement of his case. A copy of 
this reply he arranged to be carefully written out, 
as though for the Press, and after adding a prefatory 
" advertisement " and a few marginal notes, it was 
sent on to some friend at Reading, possibly William 
Burton, for his consideration and perusal. Thence 
it passed through various hands to its present resting- 
place in Oxford. The preface will put us at the right 
angle of vision — 

" An Advertisement of the Ans wearer servinge for 

" M r - Robinson sometimes a preacher in Norwich fell to 
Brownisme and became a pastor to those of the seperation 
at Leyden. I bewayled to M r - Slade of Amsterdam this his 
fallinge of from the churche of England wishinge that I 
mighte speak w th him. Uppon notice hereof Mr. Robinson 
wrote to me and propounded certayne reasons for his sepera- 
tion. I returned a letter, praying him to interpret my 

T^*/' /* f -* , r** k i , £** ■ *Vte*^ ****** ix^- . 

fyh *\?**tr * L r~*yfr~ of- f l j^iy^sr 
^ \*k***S of- ^55 ^£~ J&y &6~£ C^-^*^ 

PAGE 408. 


speeche to m r - Slade not as a chalenge, but a fruit of my 
auncient love to him ; confessed my greife at his rupture fro 
the churche, desyred him to frame his argument logically & 
that (because the woorde church is of sondry significations) 
our question myghtc bee of his seperation fro that churche 
or parishe of St. Andrewes in Norw ch of w ch he had lately 
beene a minister. Herevppo he wrote his objections & I, 
after a time, myne answear and sente it to him written together 
w th his reply as followes." 

Then comes the little treatise in which the author 
endeavours to counter Robinson's arguments. He 
concludes it in these friendly terms — 

" I heartily commend you to the Lord God of mercy and 
truth and beseech him to open your eyes that you may see 
your errors made and to give you a true humble spirit that 
you may not be ashamed to become wise and [may come to] 
a worthy resolution to give God glory in returning [to the 
Church of England] and causing those poor souls that depend 
upon your lips to return, that you may find peace in the end 
which in this course [of separation] I am persuaded you 
cannot. And thus praying you to pass by any escapes of 
the writer with love and to believe that I love your person 
for the Lord Christ his sake, whose wandering servant I 
still esteem you, I end and rest your fellow- servant and 
loving friend desirous to embrace you in the fellowship of 
the Church of Christ." 

Burgess then added a postscript, indicating that 
after he had penned his answer he was in two minds 
about sending it on, but hearing " on every side of 
great braggs cast out " to the effect that he could 
not meet Robinson's reasoned argument for separa- 
tion, he decided to forward it to him, " that I might 
not," says he, " be guiltie of hardening them in their 
sinne whose error I so much bewayle : farewell." 

By the time that this reply was forwarded to 
Robinson he and his company of adherents had left 
Amsterdam for Ley den. In the next chapter we 
shall follow them and trace their fortunes in that fair 



Not many months had passed after their arrival 
in Amsterdam before this Pilgrim company under 
Robinson's leadership came to the decision to settle 
in Leyden, if the way were clear and permission to 
do so could be secured. They weighed up the advan- 
tages and disadvantages of the move. On the one 
hand, Leyden " wanting that traffic by sea which 
Amsterdam enjoys, it was not so beneficial for their 
outward means of living and estates," on the other 
hand, the University at Leyden was an attraction to 
Robinson and Brewster, and moving thither, their 
Church would be more likely to escape the contentions 
which marred the harmony of the other English 
refugees at Amsterdam. Early in 1609 the decision 
to make the move was arrived at, and steps were 
taken to prepare the way. A formal petition was 
presented to the authorities, of which the Registrar 
made the following note in the Court " Day-book" on 
February 12, 1609— 

" To the Honourable the Burgomasters and Court of 
the City of Leyden : 

" With due submission and respect Jan Robarthsefn], 
Minister of the Divine Word, and some of the members of 
the Christian Reformed Religion, born in the Kingdom of 
Great Britain, to the number of one hundred persons or there- 
abouts, men and women, represent that they desire to come 
to live in this City by the first day of May next, and to have 
the freedom thereof in carrying on their trades, without being 
a burden in the least to any one. They therefore address 



themselves to your Honors, humbly praying that your 
Honors will be pleased to grant them free consent to betake 
themselves as aforesaid. 
" This doing, etc." 

The decision of the Burgomasters upon this petition 
is inserted by the Registrar in the margin against the 
entry — 

" The Court in disposing of this present Memorial declare 
that they refuse no honest persons free ingress to come and 
have their residence in this City, provided that such persons 
behave themselves and submit to the laws and ordinances. 
And, therefore, the coming of the Memorialists will be agree- 
able and welcome. 

" This done by the Burgomasters in their sitting at the 
Council House the 12th day of February 1609. 

" In my presence, 


" Secretary.'''' 

So far so good. The question about freedom to 
exercise their crafts was important. In English 
corporate towns at this period there were all sorts of 
irritating restrictions imposed by the " guilds " upon 
strangers coming into their bounds to work. If 
anything of the same kind existed in Leyden it was 
well they should know it before moving. They would 
be reassured by the friendly response to their petition, 
and emboldened to push on with their preparations 
for removal. Late in April, when all the countryside 
was showing promise of new life, and the fields were 
decked in the beauty of spring, the Pilgrims made their 
way by road and quiet waterways to the new city of 
their abode. It was an auspicious time, for in that 
very month (April 9) a truce between Holland and 
Spain was signed which gave good hope of peace and 

It is not yet known where Robinson first had his 
dwelling in Leyden. Probably he rented some roomy 
building in which his flock could meet for worship 
and the transaction of their Church affairs. Not 


many weeks passed, however, before entries concern- 
ing members of the Pilgrim company began to be 
made in ordinary course in the various record books 
of the city in relation to the civil side of their life. 
Thus, in the large " Procuratie Book," which recorded 
grants of " powers of attorney," under date June 12, 
1609, is an entry of the grant by " Ann Pecke, 1 born at 
Launde, Notts." [i. e. Lound, near Retford], and her 
guardian, William Brewster, to Thomas Simkinson, 
a merchant of Hull, of power to receive on their be- 
half seven pounds sterling, which she had left with 
"Mr. Watkin," pastor of Clarborough, when she left 

Clarborough is the next parish over the hill to the 
west of Sturton, where Robinson lived. Nicholas 
Watkins 2 had been instituted as vicar there May 21, 
1577, and held that benefice till his death in 1617. 
He was well known to the leaders in the Pilgrim com- 
pany. Ann Peck, on December 24, 1616, became the 
second wife of John Spooner, a ribbon weaver at 
Ley den. 

The Registers of St. Pancras, Leyden, record the 
burial, on Saturday, June 20, 1609, of a child of William 
Brewster. A few days later his name occurs in another 
record. It appears that Bernard Rosse, an English 
cloth merchant of Amsterdam, had taken a bale 
containing five pieces of cloth to Brewster's house 
in St. Ursula's Lane. When the bale was opened, 
one piece of cloth was found to be damaged. The 
damaged portion had to be jobbed off at a reduced 

1 Thomas Pecke of Hayton, by will April 15, 1602, bequeathed £20 to 
Anne Pecke, his third daughter. His four daughters were then " under 
age." Thomas Southworth was a supervisor of this will. " Richard Pecke, 
my younger son," is mentioned, but no Robert Pecke. 

2 There are frequent references to Watkins in the wills of his parishioners. 
Take one instance from the will of Thomas Southworth of Wellam in Clar- 
borough, dated 1612 : " Item I give and bequeath to Nicholas Watkins, 
vicar of Clarebrough, for tyethes forgotten vj s viij' 1 1 will and doe give towarde 
the repaire of the North Cawsey in Clarebrough meadowe and the way over 
Clarebrough more leadinge from Clarebroughe Church to Moregate xx s which 
I will shalbe paid to the surveyors of the wayes and the vicar of Clarebroughe 
. . . to be imployed by them to the use aforesaid." — York Probate Registry, 
vol. xxxii. f. 278. 


price. Rosse claimed against those who supplied the 
cloth to him, and he needed the evidence of Brewster's 
family in support of his claim. He got the bailiff 
to summon them before the court to testify to the 
facts. Accordingly on June 25, 1609, there appeared 
before the Aldermen Jaspar van Vesanevelt and 
P. van de Werff, " William Brewster, Englishman, 
aged about forty-two years ; Mary Brewster, his wife, 
aged about forty years, and Jonathan Brewster, his 
son, aged about sixteen years," who confirmed on 
oath the statements set out in Rosse's claim. This 
gives us a clue to Brewster's age. In the autumn, 
Robert Peck, brother of Brewster's ward, Ann Peck, 
having got a job in Ley den as a fustian worker, decided 
to venture on marriage. On October 1, 1609, he 
and Jane Merritt, with friends as witnesses, went before 
the proper official to record their betrothal. They 
were married on the following November 21. Robin- 
son and his Church were in hearty agreement with the 
form of civil marriage in vogue in Holland, in accord- 
ance with which many couples of their society were 
united in wedlock during their stay in Leyden. 
Robinson, in common with other Separatists of the 
time, held that marriage was not a function of the 
pastoral office. The only recorded instance even of 
his witnessing to a betrothal amongst his flock is in 
the case of his sister-in-law, Jane White. It was 
one ground of his objection against the Anglican 
Church that marriage was there " made a ministerial 
duty and part of God's worship without warrant." 1 
In Holland this was not required, but the parties, 
appearing before the magistrates in due form, gave 
their faith and fealty to one another, pledging them- 
selves never to desert one another, but to live peace- 
ably, lovingly and in concord together as true children 
of God and in awe of Him, following His ordinance 
until death should them part. In testimony of their 
pledge they called upon Almighty God to bless their 
marriage, grant them His Holy Spirit and crown 

1 Works, vol. iii. p. 413. 


their union with His grace and favour, and then 
they signed the book. 

The Pilgrims carried with them to New England 
the form and custom of marriage before the magistrate 
with which they had become familiar in Holland. It 
scandalized Archbishop William Laud in after years 
when he found that Edward Winslow, a mere layman, 
in his position as magistrate, had celebrated marriage 
in the Plymouth Colony. 

Among other weddings in the early years at Leyden 
was that of William Pontus with Wybra Hanson, 
whose betrothal took place November 13, 1610. Three 
weeks later comes the record of their marriage. Their 
good faith and intentions were vouched for by William 
Brewster, Edward Southworth, Roger Wilson, Mary 
Butler, Anna Fuller and Jane W T hite. Pontus eked 
out a poor but respectable living in Leyden, first as a 
weaver of fustian, and then as a wool-carder, subse- 
quently following the Pilgrims to Plymouth, New 

Another marriage, on December 31, 1610, was that of 
John Jennings, who hailed from the Colchester district, 
and Elizabeth Pettinger, who I take to have come 
from the northern part of Nottinghamshire, where 
the name was familiar. Edward Southworth, Roger 
Wilson, Jane Peck and Anna Ross attended as their 
witnesses. In the next year, 1611, there were no less 
than five weddings of members of this Church, indicat- 
ing that they were beginning to feel their feet in Leyden 
and were prepared to settle down there for some time. 
London, Suffolk and Kent were represented by the 
parties to these marriages, as well as Sturton and 
Scrooby. The original company was quickly being 
leavened by recruits from other parts of England. 

Occupations and Trades 

One of the first problems of those who were led 
by Robinson and Brewster to Leyden was how to 
win a decent livelihood. There was a considerable 


demand for labour in the various trades of the town, 
particularly in that of weaving and dressing cloth, and 
there were plenty of openings for unskilled labour. 
The lower-paid classes of labour were open to 
those who had physical strength. The crafts involving 
more skill were regulated by " guilds," and it was 
necessary before one opened a shop or engaged in 
trade on one's own account to become enrolled 
as a citizen. The candidate for citizenship had to 
find two or more citizens as sureties, and pay the 
admission fee. He took an oath to be loyal to the 
country of Holland, and to stand up for the rights 
and privileges of Leyden and his fellow-citizens. 
He was not eligible till he had attained the age of 
twenty-five. There were Englishmen already settled 
in Leyden who would put these new-comers in the 
way of things. Roger Wilson, from Sandwich, at- 
tached himself to the Pilgrim company, and on becom- 
ing twenty-five (he was baptized at St. Clement's, 
Sandwich, in 1584), he took up his citizenship. He was 
a baker by trade, and was guaranteed by Matys Ians 
(Matthias Jones) and Pieter Boey (Peter Bowie), paying 
his fee of three florins and twenty stivers on December 
7, 1609. 

In the course of the next year, six members of this 
Church became full citizens, for five of whom Roger 
Wilson stood in turn as one of the guarantors — 

1610. April 2. Bernard Ross, cloth and leather merchant. 
June 21. William Lisle, from Yarmouth. 
June 25. Abraham Gray, from London, cobbler. 
Sept. 27. John Turner, merchant. 
Dec. 3. William Robertson, leather-dresser. 
Dec. 10. Henry Wood, draper. 

Every succeeding year till the year of the departure 
of the Mayflower saw one or more members of Robin- 
son's Church qualifying for citizenship in Leyden. 
The uncertainty of their affairs in 1620 will account 
for the blank in that year. From that time down to 
the year of Robinson's death the names of fourteen 


more members of his company appear as citizens. 
They displayed the English instinct and capacity 
for trading and handicraft work. 

The House of the Green Door 

As the members of this little company of religious 
refugees in Leyden became more accustomed to their 
surroundings, and gained confidence in their power to 
win a living in their new home, they began to look 
round for more suitable quarters for the worship and 
activities of their Church than the temporary premises 
or the houses of various members in which they had 
hitherto been content to hold their meetings. After 
consideration they decided to buy a house fronting 
on the Kloksteeg, or Bell Alley, over against the 
cathedral church of St. Peter. The house had a fair- 
sized plot of ground at the end of its garden, opening 
out behind the adjoining properties, and bounded on 
the west by a covered canal (Donckeregracht), on 
the east by grounds of the Commandery, and on the 
south by the grounds and tenements of the Veiled 
Nuns. This plot of ground at the rear presented 
possibilities for the erection of small dwellings in 
which members of the Church might make their 
homes. In many an English country town in the 
old days you could find at the rear of buildings 
fronting the main street a court of tiny cottages, built 
on what had been the garden or orchard, and ap- 
proached by a passage. It was not fresh air so much 
as cosy companionship that people sought, and a 
rent within their scanty means. The property on 
the Kloksteeg, viewed by the experienced eye of 
William Jepson, a house-carpenter by trade, seemed 
suited for such an arrangement. There must have 
been a good deal of discussion of ways and means, 
for, after all the expenses of the enforced removal to 
Amsterdam and the voluntary migration to Leyden, 
it was necessary to husband their resources. Probably 
both Robinson and his wife were able to raise some- 


thing towards the expense. His wife's sister, Jane 
White, was entitled under the will of her mother to 
a certain sum either on her marriage or her coming 
of age. Jepson and Henry Wood, the draper, were 
men of some substance. These four clubbed together 
to buy the property. The contract to purchase was 
made on January 27, 1611, between John Robinson, 
minister of God's Word of the English congregation, 
William Jepson, Henry Wood and Jane W T hite — not 
married at this time, but assisted by Nicholas White, 
jeweller, of the one part, and Johann de Lalaing of 
the other part. The entry in the Register noting the 
conveyance of the property and completion of pur- 
chase, subject to a mortgage of three-fourths of the 
agreed price, was not made till May 5. In the mean- 
time, Jane White had married Randall Thickins, a 
looking-glass maker, who hailed from London. They 
were betrothed on April 1, with an intimate group of 
relations and friends as witnesses — William Brewster, 
Robinson and his wife, and Rosamund Jepson — and 
wedded on April 21, on the expiration of the customary 
three weeks. Consequently the name of Thickins 
was entered as the fourth party to the purchase : 
" Raynulph Tickens who has married Jane White." 
The property was subject to an annual rent charge of 
eleven stivers and twelve pence to the manorial lord 
of Polgeest, a village a few miles out of Ley den. The 
price was 8000 gilders, 2000 paid down on the spot, and 
500 to be paid on May Day 1612, and a like amount 
annually till the whole was paid off. De Lalaing 
reserved for his own use a small room over the door of 
the house. From this latter feature the house had 
long been known as the Green Door [Groene Port]. 
It was probably the door giving access not directly to 
the house, but to the passage or entry leading to the 
premises behind. On those premises twenty-one little 
tenement houses were in due course built, and there 
various members of the Pilgrim company had their 
dwelling. Robinson occupied the main building, and 
looking back in memory Winslow pictured it as roomy. 


There the Pilgrims took their parting meal before 
leaving for their venturesome voyage to the shores of 
New England. Eventually Jepson, on December 13, 
1629, bought out the shares of the other three pur- 
chasers. Thickins, on June 1, 1621, then living at 
Amsterdam, and being about to return to England, 
had given Robinson authority to deal with the part 
of this property he owned in right of his wife. On 
February 2, 1622, Henry Wood gave Henry Jepson, 
the brother of William, power of attorney to sell his 
portion, but the matter was not settled up till four 
years after Robinson's death, when Jepson came to 
terms with his widow, Bridget Robinson, and secured 
all rights in the Groene Port property. After Jepson's 
death, another Englishman, Christopher Ellis, bought 
the portion of this estate which he left from the 
guardians of his only surviving child, Martha Jepson, 
June 25, 1637. For nearly sixty years this property 
was in the hands of those of English birth. 

This little colony of houses down the entry through 
the Green Gate was the home of some of the leading 
members of the Pilgrim company. Isaac Allerton, 
from London, lived there 1620. John Allerton also, 
1616. Thomas Blossom, from Cambridge, 1617; 
Jonathan Brewster, son of Elder Wm. Brewster, 1619 ; 
Samuel Fuller, from London, 1615; Edmond Jessop, 
1618, and Wm. White in the same year. 

The census of October 15, 1622, refers to several 
English households as living in Zevenhuysen Ward, 
without any mention of the particular lane, street or 
" hof " in which their dwelling was situated. Prob- 
ably some of them were residents in the Pieterskerkhof, 
at the rear of Robinson's house of the Green Gate. 
There was Zechariah Barrow, the wool-carder, and 
Joan his wife; Roger Chandler, from Colchester, a 
say weaver, and his wife Isabella (Chilton), from 
Canterbury, with their children Samuel and Sarah; 
Joseph and Christina Crips, from Chichester, with their 
children Anna and Jeremiah; he was a card-maker. 
In this ward also lived Daniel and Rebecca Fairfield, 


with their children, Daniel, Rebecca and John; he 
was a say weaver from Colchester. Another of the 
same trade was Stephen Tracy, living in the same 
quarter, with his wife Tryphosa. They crossed to 
New England with their daughter Sarah along with 
the company which went by the Anne and the Little 
James. Then there was Thomas Willet, from Norwich, 
and his daughter Hester, and Roger Wilkins, a wool- 
carder, with his wife Margaret (Barrow) and their 
daughter Sarah. He is noted in the census as " too 
poor to be taxed." Besides these, we hear of the 
widow Josephine Brown and her four children; 
Albert and Susanna Garretson, with their five boys and 
girls ; Susanna, the widow of Clement Halton, and her 
two children, and John Smith, from Yarmouth, a 
say weaver, all living in the Zevenhuysen Ward. 

Next door but one to Robinson Thomas Brewer 
had his dwelling, with his wife and six children. We 
see, therefore, that a good number of the Pilgrim 
Church lived close at hand to their place of meeting. 


Robinson's " justification of separation " 

In his first year at Leyden Robinson was busied 
in preparing and seeing through the Press his longest 
literary work, which was at once a defence of the 
Separatist position on the matter of Church order 
and a rejoinder to the criticisms directed against it 
by his old University friend, Richard Bernard, the 
vicar of Worksop. It is a solid quarto, bearing the 
title "A Ivstification of Separation from the 
Church of England, against M r Richard Bernard his 
invective Intitvled ' The Separatists' Schisme.' ' 
This book finds its place in a long and wordy con- 
troversy in which several writers took a hand. It 
does not appeal to the modern reader, but at the 
time it was issued the topics it dealt with were 
of living interest, and further editions were called 
for in 1639 and 1644. To understand the circum- 
stances of its composition and publication, in 1610, 
we must turn for a minute to Bernard's book, 
against which it was expressly directed. Bernard 
had leaned in the direction of separation from the 
Church of England on account of its corruptions and 
need of further reformation. He eagerly discussed 
the questions at issue with John Smith, Robert 
Southworth, John Robinson, Richard Clifton and 
other clergy and laity of the Puritan party in his 
locality. They exchanged papers in which the argu- 
ments for and against the order of Bishops were set 
out and the nature of a true Church, according to the 
Biblical evidence, was depicted. But Bernard drew 



back from the absolute and uncompromising position 
which Smith took up, and on suspension from his 
vicarage he thought the matter over again and yielded 
to the authority and jurisdiction of his diocesan. 
He did not think the corruptions and admitted 
defects in his Church justified the extreme step of 
separation from her. As Robinson put it, he was 
" loth to leave that Church and to join us when 
he thought we had the truth." x 

The fact that Bernard had in his hands certain 
documents which John Smith had sent him describ- 
ing the form and nature of a true Church of" saints," 
gave him an advantage in writing against his old 
associates. Moreover, some of Bernard's parishioners, 
baptized long before he saw their faces, " some 
twenty, some thirty, some forty years," 2 had been 
captured by the forceful eloquence of Smith and 
the influence of Robinson, and drawn into the 
Separatist Churches. This induced Bernard to raise 
a " hue and crie " after them in his Christian Adver- 
tisements and Counsels of Peace. Of this " breach " 
and separation he says, " To me hath it been just 
cause of sorrow, and therefore could I not lightly 
passe it by, but in love to such as yet abide with 
us, and in desire to doe my best to recover againe 
mine owne whom God once gave me, I have pub- 
lished these things." 3 His little book was a composite 
volume. After the opening " counsels of peace " there 
came " Disswasions from the way of the Separatists," 
or, as the title page phrased it, " Dissuasions from 
the Separatist's Schism, commonly called Brownisme," 
This formed the bulk of the book. The whole was 
rounded off by " Certaine Positions held and main- 
tained by some godlie Ministers of the Gospell against 

1 Works, vol. ii. p. 294. Bernard's Puritan leanings are shown by the 
fact that he was indicted at the Notts. County Sessions, July 11, 1611, "for 
refusing to use reverence in administering baptism," i. e. he objected to 
making the sign of the Cross. Notts. County Records, by H. H. Copnall, 
p. 139. 

2 Ibid., p. 10. 

3 Christian Advertisements, Epistle Dedicatorie, dated from Worksop, 
June 18 [1608]. 


those of the separation and namely against Barrow 
and Greenwood." 

To the leaders in the Churches which had found 
refuge in Holland this book seemed to demand instant 
reply. Henry Ains worth was first in the field with 
an answer. He was engaged in bringing out a volume 
when Bernard's book came to his hands, and he 
seized the opportunity of incorporating with it a 
refutation of Bernard's arguments and a survey of 
his objections. 1 

Next we find John Smith tackling the subject and 
giving a reasoned reply to Bernard's onslaught. He 
felt specially called to the task, inasmuch as Bernard 
had taxed him by name and used some of his writings 
(including a long letter written hurriedly in the closing 
months of 1607) as the target for his criticisms. 
Smith, speaking of his reply to Bernard, says — 

" I have attempted it vppon two private groundes wherein 
I am especially interessed to this busines. One is certayne 
aspersions by you personally cast vppon mee : Another is 
certayne particular oppositions directed against some of my 
writings." 2 

Accordingly, in 1609, Smith issued his — 

" Paralleles, Censvres, Observations aperteyning to 
three several Writinges — 

"1. A Lettre written to M r - Ric. Bernard by Iohn 

" 2. A Book intituled, The Separatists' Schisme published 
by M r Bernard. 

" 3. An Answer made to that book called the Sep. Schisme 
by M r - H. Ainsworth." 

Smith says he added his observations on this last 
writing because there were " some particulars wherein 
Mr. Ainsworth hath left me and the truth in the 
open playne field to shift for our selves." 

1 " Counter poison . . . Mr. Bernard's Book intituled 'The Separatists' 
Schisme' . . . examined and answered by H. A.," 1608. 

2 Smith, Paralleles, § 1 } 1609. 


I think Smith was aware that Robinson also 
intended to reply to Bernard's book, yet he felt it 
laid upon him especially to enter the lists, " although 
it be once answered," he says, " by another : and 
happily may receave a third answer [Robinson's] 
yet I cannot overpasse it least [I] seme to betray the 
truth who am by name singled out to the cobat." 
In due course, then, he published his book with 
some of the primary documents in the controversy. 

We may take it that Robinson was engaged on his 
reply to Bernard in 1609, and we find that news of it 
reached Worksop in the following year. This we gather 
from the preface to Bernard's rejoinder to Ains worth 
and Smith, in his Plaine Evidences : The Church of 
England is Apostolicall the seperation Schismaticall 
directed against Mr. Ainsworth the Separatist and 
Mr. Smith the Sebaptist ; Both of them severally 
opposing the Booke called the Separatists' Schisme. . . . 
Set out by Authoritie Anno 1610. " I heare," says 
Bernard, " of Mr. Robinson's answere also; if it had 
come in hee should also have been replyed vpon. 
Though I be a weake man and my weapons be against 
these three Captaines of three Companies and but a 
stone in a sling yet shall Israel prevaile." x 

While Robinson's Justification of Separation was 
passing through the press a copy of Bernard's rejoinder 
to Smith (the Blaine Evidences of 1610) came to his 
hands. He accordingly took the opportunity of giving 
an answer to " all the particulars which are of weight " 
in that " second treatise." In a note to the " Chris- 
tian reader " at the end of his volume 2 Robinson 
explains the circumstances and adds, " For that I 
have been occasioned by the one and other book 
to handle all the points in difference, I intreat thee 
to compare with this my defence, such other oppo- 
sitions especially as respect myself, whether in print 
or writing, till more particular answer be given." 
This " defence against Mr. Bernard's] Invective " 

1 Plaine Evidences, 1610, preface, p. iii. 

2 In edition of 1639, p. 388. 


would serve, then, in addition, as a sufficient answer 
to such opponents as William Ames, Robert Parker, 
John Paget, John Burgess and other forward Puritan 

We can now see pretty well the place in order of 
time which this work occupies in the controversy 
between the Anglican and the Free Churchman. 
What about its matter and form? Robinson follows 
Bernard with remarkable pertinacity and calm insist- 
ence from beginning to end of his book. He enters 
upon " an examination of the particulars, one by 
one, that so in all points the salve might be answer- 
able to the sore." x He aimed at producing " a 
familiar and popular kind of defence " in the style 
adopted by Bernard for his attack. But Robinson 
had not the swiftness and lightness of touch which 
his opponent had at command. The questions at 
issue were too near to his heart for him to treat them 
in anything but a sober and serious strain. Still, 
keeping in view his intention of writing a " popular " 
defence of his position, he avoided the syllogistic style 
of argumentation in vogue amongst scholars of his 
day, and produced a book, lit up with many a homely 
touch and proverbial saying, which would appeal to 
the plain man interested in the matters handled. 
Put shortly, the main difference 2 between Bernard 
and Robinson was about the nature and constitution 
of a true Church according to the teaching of the 
New Testament. Robinson maintained that the 
authority for constituting a genuine Christian Church, 
and the pattern which such a Church was to take 
in perpetuity, were to be sought for in the Bible. 
He declared that the Church of England was not 
framed according to the model of the New Testament 
Churches; consequently it was a duty to separate 
from it. The true Church was constituted of those 
who made a voluntary profession of faith and separ- 

1 Works, vol. ii. p. 1. 

2 " The gathering and governing of the Church ... are the main heads 
controverted betwixt you and us." — Justification of Separation, p. 49. 


ated themselves from the world " into the fellowship 
of the gospel and the covenant of Abraham." 1 
Robinson poured scorn upon the legal conditions for 
membership in the Anglican Church. " A man," he 
says, " may go out of these countries [Holland] 
where I now live, as many do, and hire a house in 
any parish of the land," and then become " by the 
right of his house or farm, a member of the parish 
church where he dwells, yea, though he have been 
nursled up all his life long in Popery or Atheism, 
and though he were formerly neither of any Church 
or religion. Yea, though he should profess that he 
did not look to be saved by Christ only and alone, 
but by his good meanings and well doings; yet if 
he will come and hear divine service he is matter 
true as steel for your Church ; yea, be he of the King's 
natural subjects he shall, by order of law, be made 
true matter of the Church, whether he will or no." 
To Robinson this seemed to be putting the conditions 
of Church membership upon an entirely wrong foot- 
ing. In his judgment membership of a Christian 
Church involved definite personal responsibility in 
regard to matters of faith and conduct. Only those 
who made a voluntary profession of Christian faith 
and undertook to follow the Christian way of life were 
fitted for the high privilege of membership in a Church 
of Christ. Any two or three making sincere pro- 
fessions of religion in this way could join together 
and so constitute a true Church. 

" This we hold and affirm," says Robinson, " that 
a company consisting though but of two or three, 
separated from the world . . . and gathered into 
the name of Christ by a covenant made to walk 
in all the ways of God known unto them, is a Church, 
and so hath the whole power of Christ." 2 Judged 
by this standard the " parish assemblies " in England 
were not Churches at all. 

The most fruitful point about the conception of 

1 Works, vol. ii. pp. 232, 288. 

2 Ibid., p. 132. 


the Church which Smith and Robinson brought into 
prominence was that the authority for Church govern- 
ment, for electing officers and for exercising disci- 
pline, rested with the members themselves. The seat 
of authority was to be found in the w T hole body 
of members, acting under the governance and rule of 
Christ. It did not rest with Archbishops or Bishops ; 
it did not reside in a college of presbyters or elders, 
but was vested in the corporate society of Church 
members. " This opinion," said Bernard, " is indeede 
the first A.B.C. of Brownisme whereupon they build 
al the rest of their untrueths. . . . This is the ground 
of their outbreaking from al the Churches in the 
world." * The assertion of this democratic principle 
of Church government struck the hesitating Puritans 
with amazement, and they at once pointed out the 
dangers of this " popularity." Smith manfully stood 
to his position, and in this particular was followed 
by Robinson. They both upheld the privileges and 
rights of the humblest and meanest Church member. 
Every member was interested in the work of the 
Church — in its choice of pastor and officers and in 
its exercise of discipline. Every male member also 
had the right of speaking in an orderly way in the 
Church meeting. The Pauline prohibition closed the 
mouths of women members in the full meeting, but 
they were free to assemble by themselves for religious 
discussion and prayer. Robinson put the matter in 
this way — 

"The Lord Jesus is the king of his church alone, upon 
whose shoulders the government is, and unto whom all 
power is given in heaven and earth ; yet hath he not received 
this power for himself alone, but doth communicate the 
same with his church as the husband with the wife. And 
as he is ' anointed by God with the oil of gladness above 
his fellows ' so doth he communicate this anointing ... to 
every member of the body and so makes every one of them 
severally kings and priests and all jointly a kingly priesthood 
or communion of kings, priests and prophets. And in this 

1 Bernard's Separatists' Schisme, 1608, p. 90. 



holy fellowship by virtue of this plenteous anointment every 
one is made a king, priest and prophet not only to himself 
but to every other, yea, to the whole — a prophet to teach, 
exhort, reprove and comfort himself and the rest ; a priest, 
to offer up spiritual sacrifices of prayer, praises and thanks- 
giving for himself and the rest ; a king to guide and govern 
in the ways of godliness himself and the rest. . . . And as 
there is not the meanest member of the body but hath 
received his drop or dram of this anointing, so is not the 
same to be despised either by any other or by the whole 
to which it is of use daily in some of the things before set 
down and may be in all. ... So that not only the eye, a 
special member, cannot say to the hand, a special member, 
I have no need of thee ; but not the head, the principal member 
of all, unto the feet, the meanest members, I have no need 
of you." J 

Smith and Robinson went together in this asser- 
tion of the high privileges and responsibilities of 
membership in the Christian Church — 

" You are to remeber that 
Christ's Church in several 
respects is a Monarchie, an 
Aristocraty, a Democratic. 
In respect of Christ the King 
it is a Monarchy, of the 
Eldership an Aristocratie, of 
the brethren joyntly a Demo- 
cratic or Popular govern- 
ment. . . . Wee say that the 
body of the Church hath all 
powre immediately from 
Christ : and the Elders have 
al their powre from the body 
of the Church. . . . Wee say 
that the definitive sentence, 
the determining powre, the 
negative voice is in the body 
of the Church, not in the 
Elders." — Smith, Par alleles, 
1609, pp. 416-7, Whitley's 

" Wise men having written 
of this subject have approved 
as good and lawful three 
kinds of polities : monarchi- 
cal where supreme authority 
is in the hands of one ; aris- 
tocratical when it is in the 
hands of some few select 
persons ; and democratical 
in the whole body, or multi- 
tude. And all these three 
forms have their places in 
the Church of Christ. In 
respect of him the head it 
is a Monarchy, in respect 
of the eldership an Aristo- 
cracy, in respect of the body 
a popular state." — Robinson, 
Justification of Separation, 
1610, Works, vol. ii. p. 140. 

1 Works, vol. ii. p. 141. 


This clear conviction of the democratic nature of 
Christ's Church and the feeling that authority was 
vested in the whole body of its members by divine 
sanction had an effect in moulding the civil polity 
of the Pilgrim company in later years. 

The call to face danger and take risks in the effort 
to build up on earth the ideal Church according to 
the New Testament pattern made a strong appeal 
to men and women of earnest religious temper. It 
rang with a deeper note of sincerity than the " rhym- 
ing rhetoric " in which Bernard urged his readers to 
tread the beaten path of conformity — 

" Goe even 
Be no Atheistical Securitane 
Nor Anabaptisticall Puritane; 
Bee no carlesse Conformitant 
Nor yet preposterous Reformitant : 
Be no neuterall Lutheran 
Nor Hereticall popish Antichristian : 
Be not a schismaticall Brownist 
Nor fond and foolish Familist : 
Be not a new Novelist, 
Nor yet any proud and arrogant Sectarie 
To draw disciples after thee. 
Be no follower of any such 
Beware of them all carefully." x 

Bernard, in the course of his argument, gives us a 
reminiscence of one remark made by John Robinson 
before the time of his separation, and though it 
was misapplied and misreported, we get a glimpse 
through it of Robinson's feeling at the period when 
he was meditating a severance from the Anglican 
Church. Robinson observed how men of sincere 
religious conviction were attracted to the Separatist 
cause in those parishes where it was discussed, and 
remarked upon the fact. Bernard gave his version 
of the remark at the close of his list of " likelihoods " 
that the way of separation was not a good way. 

1 Bernard's Christian Advertisements, etc., 1608, p. 2. 


Here we print the thrust and parry side by side — 

"To conclude they [the 
Separatists] leave rather a 
curse than a blessing where 
they come, so as good things 
little prosper after them. 
They are like a scorching 
flame swinging where it com- 
eth [so] that the growth of 
things are hindered by it. 
So said one (that is now 
amongst them) before hee 
went that way : thus can 
men so observe and discerne 
before and be blind after- 
wards." — Bernard, Separa- 
tists' Schisme, p. 43. 

"Mr. B. concludeth his 
likelihoods with ' a cursed 
farewell, which,' said he, ' we 
leave in all places like a 
scorching flame singeing where 
it comes, so as the growth of 
all things are hindered by 

" And this observation he 
fathers upon me, though in 
truth it be his own bastard. 
I affirmed indeed that where 
this truth [concerning the 
need of gathering the Church 
by a covenanting together 
of faithful people to walk 
in all God's ways] came, it 
left the places barren of good 
things, in taking away the 
best sort of people. But 
this I spake to no such pur- 
pose as is here insinuated. 
The scorching flame which 
hinders all things in the 
Church of England is the 
prelacy, to which by universal 
and infallible observation no 
man applies himself, no, nor 
inclines but with a sensible 
decay of the former graces 
which he seemed to have. 
He that but once enters into 
the high priest's hall to warm 
himself at the fire there, 
shall scarce return without: a 
scorched conscience." — Rob- 
inson, Justification of Sep- 
aration, Works, vol. ii. pp. 

No one was in a better position than Bernard to 
make the application implied in the retort of his 
old friend. 


Before Robinson's Justification saw the light John 
Smith had moved on along a line of theological develop- 
ment where Robinson could not follow him. "His 
instability and wantonness of wit," said Robinson, 
" is his sin and our cross." 1 Some of his arguments 
against Bernard were expressly disavowed by Robin- 
son. For example, in countering the objection that 
his definition of a Church would exclude the heroes 
of the Old Testament who " committed and suffered 
knowne sinne," Smith asserted that the Church of 
the Old Testament was merely " typical and cere- 
monial," 2 " the worship of the old testament a cere- 
monial worship ; the ministry a typical ministry ; the 
government a typical government ; the people a typical 
people; the land or country a ceremonial country 
and so forth of the rest by proportion." And he 
went on to frame a fearful and wonderful syllogism, 
so that on this point Bernard should " never be able 
to reply or once to mutter against the truth any 
more." Bernard, however, was equal to the occa- 
sion. He picked out this choice example of wordy 
argumentation and made fun of it in his own way — 

" But to stop my mouth, that I shall not once mutter, 
as he saith (oh the admirabilitie of the man I), he reads 
me as he thinks a riddle to the amazement of all his intoxicated 
Disciples and frames his argument both against the truth 
and me thus. ' If in the Old Testament their visible typicall 
Mr< communion was typically polluted by typicall and 

Smith's ceremonial uncleannesse uncleansed : then in the 
Riddlement new Testament our spiritual! visible communion is 
really polluted by morall uncleannesse uncleansed; that is, 
sinne unrepented of. But in the Old Testament their visible 
typicall communion was typically polluted by the typicall 
and ceremoniall uncleannesse uncleansed : Ergo.' . . . Surely, 
such as of his as were blinded with his Heresie and affected 
with his folly were too-tooly moued with a merry conceit at 
this riddlement as not to be answered ; through the obscure 
profunditie of his reason over reaching our poore apprehen- 
sions : which made him say he would stop my mouth for 
muttering. But let vs see how I can mutter against it. 

1 Works, vol. ii. p. 62. 2 Smith, Paralleled, p. 376. 


What ! a Goliath ? Then see the strength of a pibble stone 
in a sling. Have at a Goliath. Let him save his head; 
for by his contrarying so daily himselfe it seemes his braines 
be already crackt. But ere I answere, I read him againe this 
riddle. ' If in his last old yeares, their Separatisticall com- 
munion was Brownistically polluted, by a Schismaticall rending 
of themselves from the Church of England for some supposed 
ceremoniall and Antichristian uncleannesse uncleansed : then 
in this his new yeare their Anabaptisticall Communion is 
Smithically polluted by their but halfe Anabaptistrie, new 
unheard of Heresies, even spirituall and morall uncleannesse 
uncleansed, that is, their sinne not yet repented of. But in 
his last old yeares, their Separatisticall Communion was 
Brownistically polluted, by a Schismaticall rending of them- 
selves from the Church of England for some supposed cere- 
moniall and Antichristian uncleannesse uncleansed : Ergo. 5 
And now to his argument. . . . Observe reader that the proofe 
stands vpon his owne coyned Analogie and proportion." — 
Plaine Evidences, p. 170. 

Robinson characterized this argument of Smith as 
" erroneous and Anabaptistical," x and for his part 
kept nearer to general opinion in regard to the historical 
value of the Old Testament. Nor did he follow Smith 
in his renunciation of the baptism received in the 
Anglican Church, and his contention that the true 
Church was to be constituted by baptism and confes- 
sion of faith, and that consequently the rite of baptism 
was not to be administered to infants. In another 
point there was an early divergence between the two 
men. The question arose as to whether a Church — 
a company of faithful people covenanted together — 
since it had the " power of Christ," had not, therefore, 
authority to administer the sacraments of baptism 
and the Lord's Supper even though it had not a 
pastor, elder or teacher. To this Robinson said no. 
He held to the policy indicated in the Confession of 
the earlier Separatists, that " no sacraments are to be 
administered until pastors or teachers be ordained in 
their office." 2 Bernard, he declared, knew as well 

1 Works, vol. ii. p. 111. 

2 See Sec. 34 of A True Confession of the Faith, 1596, p. xix. 


as themselves that they had not " practised other- 
wise." 1 To this position the Pilgrim Church adhered 
years afterwards in America. 

But Smith took a more independent line, and would 
not bar the liberty of the Church as a spiritual cor- 
poration even in this matter — 

" It may be questioned," he says, " whether the Church 
may not as well administer the Seals of the Covenant [i. e. 
baptize and celebrate the Lord's Supper] before they have 
Officers as Pray, Prophecy, Elect Officers and the rest; 
seeing that to put the Seals to the Covenant is not a greater 
work than publishing the Covenant, or Election of Officers, 
or Excommunication." 2 

The companies of Anabaptists which arose here and 
there in England through the influence of Smith took 
advantage of the liberty he thus allowed, and did 
not hesitate to administer baptism and celebrate the 
Lord's Supper among themselves even at times when 
they had no pastor. 

1 Works, vol. ii. p. 130. 2 Smith, Paralleled, pp. 419-20. 


robinson's intercourse with ames, parker and 


Holland was a place of refuge, not only for English 
Separatists, but also for many Puritan clergy who were 
unable to conform to the ceremonies of the Anglican 
Church, yet still counted themselves as members 
thereof, and shrank from separation from it. Amongst 
these was William Ames (1576-1633). He had some 
discussion with Robinson upon a point which he felt 
contained " the very bitterness of separation." The 
rigid Separatists in their rebound from the older 
Church organizations laid it down that it was wrong 
to have religious communion with those they did 
not consider to be in a true Church fellowship, even 
though they might be recognized as personally devout 
Christians. This struck Ames as harsh. It hurt. 
Apparently Robinson had written to Ames urging 
him to pass in review his position in relation to the 
Anglican Church, and consider whether he ought not 
to throw in his lot with the Separatists. In his 
reply, February 25 [1610-11], Ames, omitting criticism 
of Robinson's contention that his separation was 
similar to that of the first reformed Churches in 
Holland and France, " for you have irons enough in 
the fire about that question," concentrated upon this 
one point : he argued that if you recognized any 
people to have inward communion with Jesus Christ, 
it was permissible to have external communion with 
them in religious matters, though they were not in 
due Church order. Had not the members of Robin- 
son's own Church, when they came together for their 



" covenant making," joined together " in prayer for 
direction, assistance and blessing " ? Yet they were 
not a Church until they had entered into covenant, 
" which you hold to be the form of a Church," there- 
fore, argued Ames, " it is not only lawful, but necessary 
also that there be a communion out of a visible 
Church." Robinson did not agree with this. In his 
rejoinder, dated " Ley den, this second of the week " 
(names of the days of pagan origin were avoided), he 
declared that visible Churches " have not only internal 
communion with Christ, but external also in the 
order which he hath set; for which we stand and for 
the want of which alone, we withdraw ourselves, as 
we do in this case, not daring to break Christ's order 
for men's disorder." As for prayer together by those 
who intend to join by covenant into a Church, it was 
not on all fours with the case of one in true Church 
order engaging in religious acts with any one out of 
that order. " And when men are so met with a 
purpose to unite, and do begin prayer for the sanctifi- 
cation of it, they are in the door coming into the 
house and not without." * 

It looked as though the efforts of Ames to modify 
Robinson's attachment to the rigid position of the 
Separatists on this point were to be fruitless. Yet 
such was not the case. We are frequently influenced 
by after-reflection upon points brought up in an 
inconclusive discussion. It was so in this instance. 
Not many months passed before Robinson modified 
his opinion, and returned to a more charitable view in 
regard to religious intercourse between members of 
such Churches as his own and the godly members of 
the parish assemblies in England. He is perfectly 
frank about the change. The unauthorized publica- 
tion of his correspondence with Ames gave him an 
opportunity of explaining his new position. 

The letters appeared in a scurrilous book put forth 
under the names of "Christopher Lawne, Clement 
Saunders and Robert Bulward," who left the Church 

1 Works, vol. iii pp. 87-89. 


under Francis Johnson, and issued this work, entitled 
The Prophane Schisme of the Brownists, to justify their 
defection. It was entered at Stationers' Hall July 6, 
1612. Robinson naturally objected to his name and 
Church being associated in any way with charges 
against the Amsterdam society, with which they had 
nothing to do. He thought Ames himself was re- 
sponsible for the publication of his correspondence. 
He "hath published to the world," says Robinson, 
" in the body of that book, without my consent, privity, 
or least suspicion of such dealing, certain private 
letters passing between him and me about private 
communion betwixt the members of the true visible 
Church and others." 1 

I am inclined to think that John Paget had a hand 
in the matter. William Best, writing in after years, 
exclaimed, " What consent had hee [Paget] of Mr. 
Robinson when hee printed certain letters of his sent 
privately to Dr. Ames ? " 2 However that may be, 
Robinson made it the occasion for a fuller explanation 
of his position, in a book issued in 1614, entitled, 
Of Religious Communion Private and Public. The 
preface to this volume indicates the change in his 
point of view, and has in itself an autobiographical 
value, as the following extensive extracts will show — 

" Great offence hath been taken by many at our extreme 
straitness in respect of the order wherein we walk : and 
more especially for refusing communion in the private and 
personal exercises of religion with the better sort in the 
assemblies [i. e. the English parish churches] as wherein we 
have not only made a separation from the wicked and from 
the godly also in things unlawful or unlawfully performed, 
but even in their lawful actions. This Mr. Ames calls the 
bitterness of separation : and for it, as it seems, thinks it 
lawful to cast upon me the reproach of the sins of other 
churches and persons. . . . Whether or no there were in the 
assemblies faithful and godly persons, and the same so 
appearing unto men, I never called in question, nor could 
without sinning greatly against mine own conscience : the 

1 Works, vol. iii. p. 96. 

2 Best, The Churches Plea for her Right, 1635, p. 10. 


thing I feared, was the violation and breach of order in the 
communion between the members of the true visible church 
[a church constituted on New Testament lines like Robin- 
son's] and others out of that order, or in the contrary. . . . 
Here was use of a distinction of religious actions into personal 
and church actions : which if either Mr. Ames had observed 
unto me, or I myself then conceived of, would have cleared 
the question to my conscience : and with which I did wholly 
satisfy myself in this matter when God gave me once to 
observe it." 

When this distinction between personal religious 
acts and Church actions became clear to Robinson's 
mind it eased his position, and he felt it was legitimate 
to join in private prayer with those who were " joint 
members of the mystical body of Christ by faith," 
even though they were not duly constituted in the true 
Church order. He went thoroughly into the matter 
in this book — 

" The thing I aim at in this whole discourse," he says, " is 
that we who profess a separation from the English national, 
provincial, diocesan and parochial church and churches, in 
the whole formal state and order thereof, may notwithstanding 
lawfully communicate in private prayer and other the like 
holy exercises (not performed in their church communion 
nor by their church power and ministry) with the godly 
amongst them, though remaining, of infirmity, members 
of the same church or churches." x 

This intercommunion in personal religious acts 
they might practise, so Robinson now argued, " except 
some other extraordinary bar come in the way 
between them and us." 

" My judgment therein," he says, " and the reasons of it 
I have set down in the first part of the book : unto which I 
bind no man further to assent, than he sees ground from the 
Scriptures. f . . I myself, and the people with me generally, 
did separate from the formal state of the parish assemblies 
in this persuasion, and so practised all the while we abode in 
England, as some there continuing have done to this day : 
there having been sundry passages between Mr. Smith, and 

1 Of Religious Communion Private and Public, Works, vol. iii. p. 105. 


me about it; with whom I also refused to join, because I 
would use my liberty in this point ; and for which I was by 
some of the people with him excepted against when I was 
chosen into office in this Church. Indeed afterwards finding 
them of other churches [Johnson, and Ainsworth, and Smith] 
with whom I was most nearly joined, otherwise minded for 
the most part, I did through my vehement desire of peace, 
and weakness withal, remit and lose of my former resolu- 
tion and did (to speak as the truth is) forget some of my 
former grounds ; and so have passed out upon occasion, some 
Arguments against this practice. Which yet notwithstanding 
I have, in the same place, so set down as all may see I was 
therein far from that certainty of persuasion, which I had and 
have of the common grounds of our separation of which I 
think this no part at all. But had my persuasion in it been 
fuller than ever it was, I profess myself always one of them, 
who still desire to learn further, or better, what the good will 
of God is. And I beseech the Lord from mine heart that there 
may be in other men (towards whom I desire in all things 
lawful to enlarge myself) the like readiness of mind to forsake 
every evil way, and faithfully to embrace and walk in the 
truth they do or may see as by the mercy of God, there is 
in me ; which as I trust it shall be mine, so do I wish it may 
be their comfort also in the day of the Lord Jesus. 

" [Signed] John Robinson." * 

The moderation of Robinson in comparison with 
some of the other zealous leaders in the way of 
separation was well recognized. Bernard referred 
to him as early as 1610 as " one yet nearest the truth 
unto us, as I heare, and not so Schismaticall as the 
rest." 2 His readiness to fraternize with the devout 
members of other religious societies in private religious 
acts brought him into collision, on the one hand, 
with the hard-shell zealots of the separation, both 
in his own Church and at Amsterdam, and, on the 
other hand, encouraged his Puritan friends to en- 
deavour to convince him of the lawfulness of join- 
ing with them in public religious actions. John 
Paget refers to both these results in his Arrow against 

1 Closing sentences of the Preface Of Religious Communion, pp. v. and vi., 
edition of 1614. 

2 Plain Evidences, p. 73. 


the Separation of the Brownists, published in 1618. 
Addressing Henry Ains worth, he says, " You have 
been openly, in your own congregation, by your own 
people, desired and urged to answer Mr. Robinson," * 
on this point of the legitimacy of religious com- 
munion with those out of due Church order. He 
refers to the Puritan effort also in these terms — 

" Do you not consider that upon the coming forth of this 
book [Robinson's Religious Communion] there was presently 
published a Manuduction for M r - Robinson to lead him unto 
public communion and this by the same person that had 
convinced his private separation to be unlawful?" 2 

The reference is to a little tractate appended to 
Bradshaw's Vnreasonablenesse of the Separation, which 
came out in 1614. It appears that a correspondent 
at Dort wrote to Ames asking his opinion " touching 
that partition wall which M. Robinson hath lately 
reared up for to make a separation with betwixt 
privat and publick communion." Accordingly Ames 
penned a criticism of Robinson's position, and sent 
it on to his correspondent with a letter concluding 
in these terms — 

" Wishing to M. Rfobinson] from the god of all grace, the 
same light and enlargement of heart for this, which hee hath 
received for the other part of communion, I commend my 
epistle to your friendly censure and myself to vour accustomed 
love. November 23 [1614]." 

The tract reached Dort in time to be issued with 
Bradshaw's treatise against Johnson : 3 "A Manv- 
diction [error for Manuduction] for M R - Robinson 
and Such as consent with him in privat communion, 
to lead them on to publick. Briefly comprized in a 
letter to M r R. W., At Dort. Printed by George 
Waters And are to be sould at his shop at the signe of 
the Snuffers on the fish market. 1614." 

The argument in this letter appeared to Robinson 

1 Paget, Arrow against the Separation of the Brownists, p. 60. 2 Ibid, 

3 Neither treatise is paged, but the signatures of the two are continuous. 


weak and unconvincing. He considered that " this 
manuducent " or " hand-leader " would have done 

" to guide men by the plain and open way of the Scriptures 
. . . beaten by the feet of the apostolical churches and not 
by subtle quaeries and doubtful suppositions and such under- 
hand conveyances as may lead the unwary into a maze and 
there lose him." 

So he soon issued " A Manvmission to a Manv- 
dvction or answer to a letter inferring publique com- 
munion in the parish assemblies upon private with 
godly persons there. Stand fast in the liberty where- 
with Christ hath made you free. Gal. 5. 1. Be not 
partaker of other men's sinns : keep thyself pure. 
1 Tim. 5. 22. By Iohn Robinson. Anno Domini 
1615." 1 

Robinson argued that to remain in fellowship with 
the Church of England or to exercise one's ministry 
in virtue of the prelate's licence was to uphold a system 
of Church government and order not sanctioned by 
the New Testament, and opposed to the order there 
laid down. " All the parochial ministers," so he had 
contended in his book on Religious Communion, 
" are subject unto the jurisdiction of prelates spiritu- 
ally." But Ames rejoins with a supposition which 
reminds us of his own position. Suppose if a deprived 
minister " now rejected by the prelate and witnessing 
against his corruptions shall, without seeking any new 
licence, find place to preach the Gospel in occasionally 
elsewhere, why should any refuse to hear him? ' : 

" Mine answer is," says Robinson, " that this man, 
remaining by the prelate's ordination a minister of 
the Church of England, and as he was before his 
institution or licence and so preaching by that calling, 
communion cannot be had with him therein without 
submission unto and upholding of the prelate's anti- 
Christian authority which in that way he exerciseth." 

1 Only two copies of this tract by Robinson have come to light. I have 
consulted the copy procured for the British Museum by the late R. W. Dale. 
It formerly belonged to Nicholas Munt (d. February 2, 1803) of Harwich. 


To evade the difficulty in regard to the authority 
and rule of the prelacy, Ames pleaded that — 

" the greatest part of this jurisdiction being external and 
coactive or forcing is from the King derived unto those that 
doe exercise the same and therefore must of necessitie bee 
a civill power. . . . Now though some corrupt vsurpations 
and abuses bee mingled with that civill power, yet that doeth 
not make all subjection to it unlawfull much less perniciously 
infecting by contagion, as M. Robinson will have it, especially 
in those that refuse to execute vnlawfull commaunds." x 

To this Robinson could not assent. He had no 
regrets about the renunciation of his " orders," and 
with a reminiscence of his Norwich experience he 
rejoined — 

" The Bishops may and do exercise all and every part of 
their episcopal authority where they have not the least civil 
authority, viz. in the cities and corporations within their 
provinces and dioceses ; as for example the Bishop of Norwich 
in the city of Norwich where his civil authority is no more 
than mine." 

Again he says — 

" The prelates' power in their provinces and dioceses is 
not civil, but a kind of external spiritual power which I have 
also in my former book proved antichristian as usurping upon 
Christ's royal prerogatives, subverting the order of true 
Church government and swallowing up, as with full mouth, 
both the people's liberty and elders' government wherewith 
Christ the Lord hath invested the true Church." 

The Manumission is a forceful little tract, written 
with spirit. Robinson evidently felt pretty strongly 
on some of the points in question. His opponent 
penned " A Second Manvdvction for M r Robinson 
or a confirmation of the former in an answer to his 
Manumission. Anno Domini MDCXV"; but it 
added little that was fresh to the discussion. 

1 Manuduction, Sig. Q. 3. 


Lawfulness of Hearing Ministers in the 
Church of England 

This controversy led up to a further modification 
in Robinson's opinion in regard to the fitting relation- 
ship between members of such Churches as his own 
and the faithful in the Church of England. He would 
not go so far as to countenance participation with them 
in the service of the Common Prayer-Book or the 
sacraments, but he advanced to the conclusion that 
it was lawful on occasion to resort to the parish 
assemblies to listen to the sermons of godly and 
helpful preachers of the Anglican Church. Though 
it carries us out of the chronological sequence of 
Robinson's works, it will be as well to touch on his 
Treatise of the Lawfulness of Hearing of the Ministers 
in the Church of England in this place, in order to 
complete our survey of the development of his opinion 
on this point. 

The very buildings which had been devoted to 
Roman Catholic worship were regarded by the more 
rigid Separatists with aversion, and it was regarded 
as a sin to resort to such " idol houses." Robinson 
himself had used strong language against them, but 
by 1617 he had come to a more reasonable and kindly 
judgment. As Paget tells us — 

" M r - Robinson though he have written in such high words 
against these temples . . . yet hath he for this long time 
tolerated M r - Brfewster] to hear the word of God in such 
places," and " now of late this last month [i. e. July 1617] 
as is witnessed unto me he . . . begins openly in the midst 
of his congregation to plead for the lawful use of these 
temples." * 

He also came to the conclusion that it was allowable 
to resort to such churches or temples to listen to the 
sermons of godly and faithful ministers. His views 
on the point were set out in the Treatise " printed 
according to the copie that was found in his studie 

1 Paget' s Arrow against the Separation of the Brownists, pp. 28, 29. 


after his dec[e]ase." The fact that it was held back 
from publication for nine years, and did not appear 
till 1634, possibly indicates that some in the Leyden 
Church were not altogether satisfied on the point, 
though when Robinson was with them he secured 
" the whole consent of the Church " to the sending 
of a letter, drawn up by himself and dated Leyden, 
April 5, 1624, to the ancient Separatist Church in 
London, wherein judgment in a case of this nature 
is given in accordance with the more liberal principles 
embodied in this posthumous treatise. There is no 
reason to question the authenticity of this work or 
the good faith of those who put it to the press " for 
the common good." It reveals Robinson in a pleasant 
light, and is valuable as giving us a clear view of his 
feeling and conviction on a much-controverted point. 
He professes himself both a companion and guide of 
such as " seek how and where they may finde any lawfull 
dore of entry into accord and agreement with others." 

" I have still opposed," he says, " in others and repressed 
in myne own (to my power) all sowre zeal against, and 
peremptory rejection of, such as whose holy graces chalenged 
better use and respect from all christians. 

" And in testimony of my affection this way and for y e 
freeing of mine owne conscience, and information of other 
men's, I have penned this discourse, tending to prove the 
hearing of the word of God preached by the ministers of the 
Church of England (able to open and apply the doctrine of faith 
by that Church professed) both lawfull and in cases necessary for 
all of all sects or sorts of christians havinge opportunitie or 
occasion of so doing, — though sequestring themselves from all 
communion with the formall and hierarchicall order there 
established" l 

In the course of his argument Robinson refers to 
some of the works we have already touched on, and 
gives us his estimate of them — 

" There is in the hands of many," he says, " a Treatise 
published by a man of note, containing ' certain reasons to 

1 MS. copy, Of the Lawfulness of Hearing the Ministers of the Church of 
England, British Museum, Add. MSS. 24,666. 


prove it unlawful to hear, or have spiritual communion with 
the present ministry of the Church of England.' This hath 
been answered, but indeed sophistically and in passion. 
Neither hath the answerer much regarded what he said, or 
unsaid, so he might gainsay his adversary. With that 
answer was joined another, directed to myself and the 
same doubled, pretending to prove public communion upon 
private, but not pressing at all, in the body of the discourse 
that consequence, but proceeding upon other grounds, and 
in truth consisting of a continued equivocation in the terms 
4 public licence,' ' government,' 6 ministry,' and the like, 
drawn to another sense than either I intended them, or than 
the matter in question will permit. Whereas he that will 
refute another, should religiously take and hold to his ad- 
versary's meaning, and if, in any particular, it be not so 
plainly set down, should spell it, as it were, out of his words. 
But it is no new thing even for learned and godly men to take 
more than lawful liberty in dealing with them, against whom 
they have the advantage of the times favouring them like 
the wind on their backs ; but God forbid I should follow them 
therein ! I will on the contrary use all plainness and sim- 
plicity as in the sight of God that so I may make the naked 
truth appear as it is to the Christian reader's eye what in 
me lieth." 1 

He goes on to show that Francis Johnson, in the 
treatise mentioned, had confounded " hearing of " 
and " having spiritual communion with " the ministry 
of the Church of England as though they were one 
and the same thing. The mere hearing a clergyman 
preach, Robinson contended, was no act of spiritual 
communion for those who were neither " members 
of, nor in ecclesiastical union or combination with, 
the said Church " — 

"... hearing simply, is not appointed of God to be a 
mark and note, either of union in the same faith or order 
amongst all that hear ; or of differencing of Christians from 
no Christians, or of members from no members of the church : 
as the sacraments are notes of both [i. e. notes of union in 
both faith and order] in the participants. The hearing of 
the Word of God is not so inclosed by any hedge or ditch, 

1 Works, vol. iii. p. 361. 


divine or human, made about it, but lies in common for all, 
for the good of all." 1 

Sixteen objections to such hearing of the sermons 
of Anglican ministers are carefully considered and 
met by Robinson, who then entreats — 

" the differently minded one way or other that they would 
exercise mutually that christian charity one toward another, 
and compassion one of another's infirmities, which become 
all that will be in truth and deed followers of Christ Jesus; 
and which is most needful, specially in things of this kind, 
for the preserving of the unity of the spirit in the bond of 
peace. Which bond of peace whilst men are not careful to 
keep inviolated, by brotherly forbearance in matters of this 
nature, they miserably dissipate and scatter themselves and 
one another, even as the ears in a sheaf are scattered when the 
bond breaketh." 2 

With a warning against making "a hearing course " 
a substitute for entering into true church-order this 
treatise draws to a close — 

" This hearing is only a work of natural liberty in itself. 
... It is lawful to use it upon occasion, as it is to borrow of 
other men ; but to make it our course, is to live by borrowing, 
which no honest man that can do otherwise possibly, would 
do. Yea, what differs it from a kind of spiritual vagabondry 
in him that can mend it, though with some difficulty, to live 
in no certain church-state and under no church order and 
government ? " 

One of the most arresting parts in this tract is 
Robinson's penetrating analysis of the various classes 
of opponents to the practice he here vindicates. He 
hits them off to the life. Their characters are vividly 
presented. Have we not all met with those of whom 
it may be said, it is not " their manner to read or 
willingly to hear that which crosseth their prejudices," 
and those " who think it half heresy to call in question " 
any of the practices of those whom they look back 
upon with veneration as religious leaders ? 

1 Works, vol. iii. p. 363. 2 Ibid., p. 375. 


" We must not think that only the Pharisees of old and 
Papists of later times are supcrstitiously addicted to the 
traditions of the elders and authority of the church. In all 
sects there are divers . . . that rather choose to follow the 
troad x of blind tradition, if beaten by some such foregoers as 
they admire, than the right way of God's word by others to 
be shown them afterwards. 

" Some again are as much addicted to themselves as the 
former to others, conceiving in effect . . . the same of their 
own heads which the Papists do of their head — the Pope — 
viz. that they cannot err or be deceived and this especially 
in such matters, as for which they have suffered trouble and 
affliction formerly and so having bought them dear they value 
them highly." 

These, also, we know, as well as another sort — 

" highly advancing a kind of privative goodness and religion, 
and who bend their force rather to the weakening of other 
men in their courses than to the building up of themselves in 
their own . . . half imagining that they draw near enough 
to God, if they can withdraw far enough from other men." 

And those too — 

" so soured with moodings and discontentment as that they 
become unsociable. . . . If they see nothing lamentable, they 
are ready to lament. If they take contentment in any, it is 
in them alone whom they find discontented. If they read 
any books they are only invectives especially against public 
states and their governors. All things tending to accord and 
union any manner of way are unwelcome unto them." 2 

Men and women of the temper indicated in these 
character sketches were an abomination to Robinson, 
and a vexation to his spirit. 

John Robinson and Robert Parker 

Another Puritan minister with whom Robinson came 
into touch in Leyden was Robert Parker (c. 1564- 
1614). He had been a student at Magdalen College, 
Oxford, where he got into trouble in 1588 for not don- 
ning the surplice. He was beneficed at Patney, in 

1 Troad == the trodden path, the track. 2 Works, vol. iii. pp. 356-7. 


Wiltshire, in 1591. In 1607 he published A Scholas- 
ticall Discourse against Symbolizing with Antichrist 
in Ceremonies, especially the Signe of the Crosse. He 
wished to differentiate the Anglican Church more 
sharply from the Roman Catholic Church, and to 
avoid all appearance of participation in what he 
deemed to be her erroneous practices. This work 
brought him into disfavour with Bancroft, and the 
King was persuaded to issue a proclamation offering 
a reward for his arrest. Parker accordingly withdrew 
to Holland after an exciting period of hiding in London. 
Nethenus, the biographer of Ames, says that some 
wealthy merchants sent Parker and Ames to Leyden 
for the purpose of engaging in controversy with the 
supporters of the English Church. We may take 
it that some assistance was given in this way for their 
support while they were preparing and printing books 
upon the Puritan side. Parker busied himself in 
Leyden in a controversy (which excited much atten- 
tion at the time) about the bodily descent of Christ to 
Hell. Bilson, Bishop of Winchester, pleaded in 1598 
for the reality of this descent as stated in the Apostles' 
Creed. Amongst those opposed to him on this point 
was Hugh Samford, who, however, died before he 
could finish his reply. The work of Samford was put 
into Parker's hands for completion, and he spent four 
years in the task. During that time it is probable 
he enjoyed much friendly intercourse with Robinson. 
In 1611 he brought out his work " De Descensu 
Domini Christi ... ad inferos." He then passed on 
from Leyden to Amsterdam. There he joined John 
Paget, who gives us a picture of him. It is clear that 
at his coming from Leyden he was under the influence 
of Robinson's ideas concerning the independency and 
self-sufficiency of each rightly ordered Church of 

" When he came from Leyden, where he and M r - Jacob had 
sojourned together for some time, he professed at his first 
coming to Amsterdam, that the use of synods was for counsel 
and advice only, but had no authority to give a definitive 


sentence. After much conference with him when he had 
more seriously and maturely considered this question, he 
plainly changed his opinion, as he professed, not only to me, 
but to others : so that some of M r - Jacob's opinion were 
offended at him and expostulated, not only with him, but 
also with me for having occasioned the alteration of his judg- 
ment. I had the means of understanding his mind aright, 
and better than those who pervert his meaning, since he was 
not only a member of the same church, but a member of 
the same family and lived with me under the same roof; 
where we had daily conversation of these things, even at the 
time when M r - Jacob published his unsound writing upon this 
question. He was afterwards a member of the same elder- 
ship, and, by office, sat with us daily to hear and judge the 
causes of our church, and so became a member of our classical 
combination ; yet did he never testify against the ' undue 
power ' of the classis, or complain that we were not a ' free 
people ' though the classis exercised the same authority then 
as it doth now. He was also for a time the scribe of our 
consistory, and the acts of our eldership and church were 
recorded by his own hand." x 

There was a prospect of Parker being chosen into 
ministerial office in Amsterdam, but the burgomasters 
vetoed the plan in order to avoid offending King 
James, who frowned upon any favour shown to refugee 
Puritans. Consequently he moved in 1613 to Does- 
burg, to serve as preacher to the English troops, and 
there died in 1614. 

He left behind an incomplete work in Latin, on 
" The Ecclesiastical Polity of Christ and the opposed 
Hierarchical Polity." I am inclined to think the 
manuscript of this work was entrusted to John Robin- 
son for editing. It appeared from the press of Godfrey 
Basson at Frankfort in 1616, with an admonition to 
the reader prefixed from John Robinson in the name 
of himself and his Church. Parker had mapped out a 
work of six books to cover the ground, but when he 
had finished three " he was translated to that purer 
Church in heaven, whose image he was seeking so 
diligently on earth." The book assumes the ultimate 
authority of the Scriptures for a fixed Church order 

1 Paget's Defence of Church Government. 


and polity. It expounds the Presbyterian system 
against the advocates of episcopacy. But Robinson 
considered that in his occasional references to Brown- 
ists and Separatists, Parker had spoken too sharply, 
and as though they were guilty of an unrighteous 
schism from the Anglican Church. He points out 
that Parker's description of the Church government 
adopted by the Separatists as democratical needs 
some qualification. He denies that their separation 
is so absolute as Parker insinuates, or that their 
secession is principally based upon those grounds which 
Parker imagines. Robinson and his Church acknow- 
ledge the existence of many excellent doctrines and 
persons in the so-called Churches of England — 

" In short," says he, " we do not separate ourselves in the 
proper sense or especially because ' the discipline of Christ is 
rejected or corrupted in the Anglican Church ' (as it seems to 
M r - Parker, Book I, chapters 13 and 14) but because the dis- 
cipline and rule of Antichrist is received and sanctioned by 
royal statutes and ecclesiastical canons. And it is a matter 
of conscience with us not to submit ourselves in any way 
to him. And seeing that Parker himself (like others in other 
books) in this most learned treatise of his asserts in many 
words and argues that this Hierarchical Government obtaining 
in these Churches is unlawful, papal and Antichristian, how 
can our submission to the same be lawful and Christian, or 
how can there be any communion in ecclesiastical ordinances 
(to each and all of which the government of the Church 
necessarily extends) without this unlawful submission. 
With the best will in the world we cannot really see how the 
latter contention is consistent with the former. We seek 
enlightenment on the point from others who, as is quite 
possible, see further into the matter, for we are always 
prepared (by the grace of God) to give way modestly to those 
who teach better things. Farewell." * 

1 "Denique non nos propria, aut praecipue nosmet sejungimus, propter 
Christi disciplinam repudiatam aut corruptam (sicuti illi videtur lib. 1, cap. 13 
et 14) sed propter disciplinarn et regimen Antichristi receptum et sancitum 
statutis regijs et canonibus Ecclesiasticis : cui nos nosmet ullo modo subjicere 
religio est. Et quandoquidem Regimen hoc Hierarchicum in hisce Ecclesijs 
obtinens (ut alibi alij) Parkervs ipse, vel in hoc suo doctissimo scripto 
et multis verbis asserat et doceat argumentis, illegitimum, papale, et Anti- 
christianum esse, quae nostra eidem subjectio legitima et Christiana; aut quae 



Thomas Drakes of Harwich, an old associate of 
John Smith at Cambridge, was quick to seize upon 
Robinson's admissions, as the following passage from 
his Ten Counter demaunds propounded to those of 
the Separation reveals. We may place the extracts 
in parallel columns. Drakes sings the praises of 
the Churches of England as a set-off to the criticisms 
of Separatists, and continues — 

" In which Churches (as 
one of the princi[p]all Separ- 
atists I[ohn] R[obinson] in 
his admonition ad lectorem 
in his owne name and in the 
name of his faction, lately 
prefixed before the third 
booke [three books] of M. 
Robert Parke [r] de politia 
ecclesi[ce] confesseth that[)] 
the grace of God by the 
Gospell in respect of the 
chiefe heads of true Christian 
faith by diuers of the faithfull 
preached, doth so abound, 
that there are very many 
godly and holy men in these 
assemblies both of Reformi- 
tants and Conformitants 
which they acknowledge for 
brethren in Christ etc." — 
Drakes' Ten Counter demaunds, 
1618, Sig. A 3. 

"Verum quidem est nos 
separationem instituere ab 
Ecclesiarum (vti appellant) 
Provincialium, Dioccesanar- 
um, cathedralium & parroch- 
ialium formali statu; vtpote 
quae & conflatae sunt ex 
omnibus & singulis regni sub- 
ditis sine vllo discrimine, vi 
pcenarum legalium in easdem 
coactis. ... In qua tamen 
et rerum & personarum con- 
fusione, Dei Gratia, per Evan- 
gelium (quo ad capita summa 
verse fidei Christianas a non- 
nullis fideliter annunciatum) 
ita exuberare, & firmiter cre- 
dimus, & libenter profitemur 
ut plurimi in istis ccetibus 
pij & sancti viri existant, 
cum reformistae turn con- 
formistae (uti vocant) quos 
& pro fratribus in Christo 
habemus & quibuscum com- 
munionem in omnibus licitis 
(nostro saltern judicio) pie 
colimus." — Robinson's Ad- 

communio in institutes Ecclesiasticis (in quae omnia et singula Regimen 
Ecclesise se necessario diffundit) sine hac illicita submissione esse poterit ? 

Nobis certe videre non est, licet maxime velimus, quomodo posterius priori 
conveniat; ab alijs audire cupimus, qui (quod facile fieri potest) plus vident : 
semper parati meliora docentibus (per Dei gratiam) submisse cedere. Vale." 
— Robinson's Admonitio ad Lectorem, prefixed to Parker's De Politeia, closing 


John Robinson and Henry Jacob 

Intercourse with such men as Ames and Parker 
kept the mind of Robinson fresh and alert, and helped 
him in hammering out his own position. A third 
Puritan clergyman over whom he exercised consider- 
able influence was Henry Jacob (1563-1624), a refugee 
in Holland on account of religion, who issued at Ley- 
den, in 1610, a little treatise on The Divine beginning 
and institution of Christ's true, visible and material 
Church. Jacob had turned his attention to the 
questions at issue between the Church of England 
and the Separatists as early as 1599, when he defended 
the Anglican Church and ministry against Francis 
Johnson, who contended that neither Church nor 
ministry was true. Jacob at that time hoped for a 
further reformation in the Anglican Church and 
earnestly laboured to that end. Years went by, and 
reform seemed more remote than ever, so in 1616 he 
came over to London and gathered an " independent " 
congregation. It is clear that in this action he was 
guided by the example of Robinson. The covenant 
of this new society was based on the covenant which 
Robinson and his company had derived from John 

Jacob ignored the older Separatist Church in London, 
formed in 1592, the remnants of which, even after the 
migration of the major part to Amsterdam, kept up its 
meetings. The members of that older society con- 
demned the Anglican Church as a false Church, and 
had no fellowship with its adherents. Jacob would 
not go to those lengths, and, as we have seen, Robinson 
had returned to a more genial view, and permitted 
private communion with its members and occasional 
hearing of its pious ministers. From different direc- 
tions Jacob and Robinson had moved to the same 
position. When Sabine Staresmore and his wife went 
over to Ley den, Robinson received them into fellowship 
in virtue of the covenant they had taken in the Church 
of Jacob. And when the rigid Separatists of the older 


London Church put the question " whether M r Jacob's 
congregation be a true Church or no ? " Robinson 
replied, " We have so judged . . . and so do we judge 
still." * This was no hasty conclusion, but a con- 
sidered judgment. He enclosed with this letter to 
the Londoners from himself and his Church at Leyden 
" certain papers in which that matter is handled." 

The memory of Robinson's association with these 
Puritan ministers remained fresh in the minds of 
the members of his Church in after days, and from 
their lips John Cotton of Boston obtained first-hand 
information of their intercourse and the modification 
that ensued in their views. " We some of us knew 
M r Parker, Doctor Ames, and M r Jacob in Holland, 
when they sojourned for a time at Leyden," says 
Bradford, looking back in 1648 to that earlier period, 
and he tells us that " Doctor Ames was estranged from 
and opposed Master Robinson, and yet afterwards 
there was loving compliance and near agreement 
between them." 2 

When that sturdy and zealous Scots Presbyterian, 
Robert Baillie, in his Dissuasive from the Errors of his 
times, identified in Robinson's doctrine of the Church 
" the womb and seed of that lamentable Independency 
in Old and New England which hath been the fountain 
of many evils already," it gave John Cotton an oppor- 
tunity of stating Robinson's position more exactly. 

This is how Cotton put the matter. It is a very 
fair summary — 

" As a fruit of his [Robinson's] studious inquisition after 
the Truth hee resorted (as I have understood) to many 
judicious Divines in England for the clearing of his Scruples 
which inclined him to separation; and when hee came into 
Holland hee addressed himselfe to Doctor Ames and Mr- 
Parker ; rather preventing [i. e. anticipating] them with 
seeking counsell and satisfaction then (sic) waiting for their 
compassion. But as they excelled in learning and godlinesse 

1 " Letter to our Beloved in the Lord the Church of Christ in London," 
dated Leyden, April 5, 1624. 

2 Young's Chronicles of the Pilgrims, Dialogues, pp. 435, 439. 


so in compassion and brotherly love also, and therefore as they 
discerned his weanednesse from selfe-fulnesse so did they more 
freely communicate light to him and received also some things 
from him. 

" The fruit of which was (through the Grace of Christ) that 
the Disswader himselfe confesseth ' hee [Robinson] came backe 
indeed the one halfe of the way : acknowledging the lawfulnesse 
of communicating with the Church of England in the Word and 
Prayer but not in the Sacraments and Discipline, which was 
(saiih hee) a faire Bridge, at least a faire Arch of a Bridge for 
union.' But when hee [Baillie] saith * hee came on to communi- 
cate with the Church of England in the Word and Prayer, 9 it 
must not bee understood of the Common-Prayer-Book, but 
of the Prayers conceived by the Preacher before and after 
Sermon. And yet in comming on so far as he did, he came 
more then halfe way of any just distance. 

"It is true M r - Robinson did not acknowledge a Nationall 
Church governed by the Episcopacy to be a Church of Divine 
Institution. But though he acknowledged the stile and privi- 
lege of a Church in the New Testament to belong to a particu- 
lar Congregation of visible Saints ; yet such Nationall Churches 
French or Dutch, as were governed by Presbyters and separate 
from the world at the Lord's Table he did not disclaime 
Communion with them. I have been given to understand 
that when a Reverend and godly Scottish Minister came that 
way (it seemeth to have been M*- Iohn Forbes) he offered him 
Communion at the Lord's Table, though the other for feare 
of offence to the Scottish Churches at home excused himselfe. 

" Yea, when some Englishmen that offered themselves to 
become Members of his Church, would sometimes in their 
confessions professe their Separation from the Church of 
England M r - Robinson would beare witnesse against such 
profession avouching they required no such professions of 
Separation from this or that or any Church but onely from 
the world. All which doe argue that his comming on to 
Protestant Churches was more then the half way." * 

1 Cotton's Way of the Congregational Churches Cleared, 1648, pp. 7-9. 
This work was put to the press for Cotton by Nathaniel Homes, who signs 
the " Epistle Pacificatory." It was printed by Matthew Simmons for John 
Bellamie. The " Imprimatur," dated January 1, 1647, by " John Bachiler " 
is phrased in cordial terms. 




While Robinson sustained a controversy with 
representative Puritan ministers on the one hand, 
he was also engaged in a disputation with old asso- 
ciates on the other. John Smith, through a fresh 
study of the Gospels, had disengaged himself from 
the Augustinian and Calvinistic theology in which 
he had been reared. He gave up the practice of bap- 
tizing infants. The New Testament, it seemed to 
him, pointed to the constitution of Churches not by 
means of a covenant, but by the assumption of baptism 
after repentance and profession of faith. He and 
his followers accordingly dissolved their Church 
estate entered into by covenant at Gainsborough. 
He " dispastored " himself and made a fresh start. 
His company being gathered together for the purpose 
in their place of meeting, Smith first baptized him- 
self, and then baptized Thomas Helwys, and so John 
Murton and the rest, each " making their particular 
confessions." * The method of the baptism was 
undoubtedly that in vogue amongst the Anabaptists, 
viz. by affusion, not by immersion. The candidate 
knelt down, and the administrator, taking a handful 
of pure water from the basin, applied it to his head, 
baptizing him into the name of the Lord Jesus. 

Criticism was at once directed against Smith's act 
of self-baptism. " Why," said John Hetherington, 
" would you not receive your baptism first from some 

1 Works, vol. iii. p. 168. 


one of the Elders of the Dutch Anabaptists ? " Smith 
pondered the question, and becoming convinced that 
the Mennonites were indeed a true Church, he felt 
that he and his friends ought to have applied to them 
for baptism, and not resuscitated the rite for them- 
selves. It is testimony to the force and charm of 
Smith's personality that he was able to lead the 
majority of those still associated with him to join 
him in a declaration of regret that they had taken 
their baptism into their own hands, and in applying 
for admission to membership with the Mennonites. 
The Dutch took time — plenty of time — for considera- 
tion. Before the application was granted, John 
Smith had died. His death must have raised feelings 
of affectionate regret in Robinson and those at 
Leyden who had known him so well in the old days 
in England. Smith left behind a remarkable " Con- 
fession of Faith " and a short tract reviewing the 
controversies in which he had been engaged. These 
were published in a tiny volume " by the remaynders 
of Mr. Smithe's company," and Robinson felt it neces- 
sary to take some notice of the publication. 

He also entered into controversy with Thomas 
Helwys on the subject of baptism and the question of 
flight in time of persecution. Helwys went a long way 
with Smith in his religious progress, but parted com- 
pany with him when he entered into negotiation with 
the Dutch Anabaptists. He and Murton, with a 
few others, were satisfied that their recovery of bap- 
tism for themselves was quite permissible. They 
were content with the Church order into which they 
had thus entered. Instead of disavowing it, they 
justified it. Nay, they carried the war into the 
enemy's camp, pleading with the Mennonites to reject 
Smith's petition for union, and at the same time 
pointing out to Brownists and Separatists the incon- 
sistency of their attitude about baptism. The 
Separatists stigmatized the Anglican Church as a 
false Church, yet they retained its baptism as true. 
How could the baptism of a false Church be true? 


Or, if the baptism were true, how could the Church 
which bestowed it be false? It took all Robinson's 
skill in making " distinctions " to parry this attack. 

The practice of Robinson's Church in regard to 
those admissible to baptism can be briefly stated in 
his own words : " We profess withal," he says to 
Helwys, " that no infant ... of any parents, the 
one whereof is not faithful, is to be baptized; and 
practise accordingly, as he knew well." x Either the 
father or mother, if not both, were required to be 
in Church fellowship before the child was accepted 
for baptism. To this position Robinson's Church 
consistently adhered, both in Holland and in New 
England. Helwys characterized it as an absurd 
notion that Christians beget Christians by generation. 
It is this idea, he said, " which hath brought in such 
madnes amongst men as the Brownists hold and pro- 
fess, that no infants that die are under the Covenant 
of grace and salvation but such as they beget. Thus 
do they only beget infants that are heirs of salvation." 2 
In his book, issued in 1612, entitled A Short Declara- 
tion of the Mistery of Iniquity, Helwys devotes a 
section to laying open " some particular errors in 
M r Robinson's book of Justification of Separation." 

Robinson argued that in its " essential causes " 
the baptism received in the Anglican Church was all 
right, though it was administered in a false Church. 
The spiritual grace it conferred was made effective for 
believers by their after-repentance. He compared it 
with the vessels of the Temple which, "carried into 
Babylon, remained still, both in nature and right, the 
vessels of the Lord's house ; though in respect of their 
use, or rather abuse, they became Belshazzar's quaffing 
bowls." 3 Helwys sliced through this analogy. " It 
is evident that it was moulded and made," he said, 
" in the Church of England, which you confess is 
Babylon ; Mr. Rob[inson], had not you and all your 

1 Of Religious Communion. Works, vol. iii. p. 197. 

2 Helwys, A Short Declaration of the Mistery of Iniquity, 1612, p. 172. 

3 Justification of Separation, Works, vol. ii. p. 299. 


congregation the true matter (as you call it) and true 
form of your baptism in England, and was it not 
administered upon you all in the assemblies of Eng- 
land ? Then was your vessel of baptism made there. 
See your deceit herein, if there be any grace or under- 
standing in you." * Helwys hits out gamely, and 
presses Robinson with a dilemma which Joseph Hall 
had put to him two years before — 

" This strait are you now driven unto either to confess 
that before your separation you were infidels or unbelievers, 
and then you must believe and be baptized, or else that you 
were believers and faithful and then have you Separated 
from a faithful and believing people and not from the world, 
and you must return to your vomit with the false prophet 2 
[Robert Browne] your first and chief shepherd that hath 
misled you upon these false grounds, who not being able 
(through his infidelity) to keep his face towards Ierusalem 
and the Land of Canaan hath fainted in the way and rebelled 
in the wilderness and is returned to his so much formerly 
detested Babylon and Egypt." 3 

Helwys acknowledged that he had " written in 
some things sharply," but it was wholesome medicine, 
and should be taken in good part. 

" There are divers of you both near and dear unto us whom 
we require in love (as we do all) to apply the sharpest reproofs 
to themselves for they had need. And touching you M r 
Robfinson] remember that you have a letter of most loving 
respect in your hands concerning these things to which you 
have not made answer whereby to prevent the publishing of 
this that especially concern[s] you." 4 

This book of Helwys closed with a postscript 5 of 
some eight pages, in which the question of " flight 

1 Mistery of Iniquity, p. 145. 

2 The reference is to Robert Browne (c. 1550-c/. 1633) who had been edu- 
cated at Corpus Christi, Robinson's old college, and subsequently gathered 
a religious society denominated by outsiders as " Brownists." He pub- 
lished at " Middelbvrgh," in 1582, a treatise on Reformation without tarying 
for anie. In 1591, however, he conformed, received orders, and was pre- 
sented first to the living of Little Casterton, in Rutland, and then to that 
of Achurch in Northamptonshire. He held the latter till his death. Browne 
was twice married : (a) to Alice Allen, (6) to Elizabeth Warrener, a widow. 

3 Mistery of Iniquity, p. 126. 4 Ibid., p. 156. 5 Ibid,, pp. 204-12. 


in persecution " is handled. He there deals with 
" the perverting of those words of our Saviour Christ, 
6 when they persecute you in one city flee into 
another,' contrary to all the meaning of Christ." He 
had come to the conclusion that it was wrong to flee 
in the face of persecution. Christ did not intend by 
that precept that they were " to flee to save them- 
selves, but to flee or go to another City to preach the 
gospel. . . . But when will these men according to 
this rule of Christ shake off the dust of their feet for 
a witness against Amsterdam and Leyden which 
Cities neither receive them nor the word they bring 
otherwise than they receive Turks and Jews and all 
sorts who come only to seek safety and profit ? . . . 
How much better had it been that they had given 
their lives for that truth they profess in their own 

Helwys had the courage of his convictions. He 
crossed over to London with Murton and a few faithful 
associates apparently in the winter of 1612-13. Bonds 
and imprisonment awaited him. By the spring of 1616 
he was dead. The copy of his book which he had the 
daring to present to the King remains in the Bodleian 
Library, with an inscription in brave terms on its 
flyleaf, in his own hand, to testify to his intrepid 

The advance of Smith to the Anabaptist position, 
the approximation of his views to the Mennonite 
doctrines, and the attack by Helwys, seemed, in the 
opinion of Robinson, to demand some attention. 
" Divers weak persons," he says, " have been troubled 
and abused " by some things in Helwys's book, and 
" two or three simple people " were affrighted by his 
" loud and licentious clamours " from their baptism 
received in the " assemblies " in England. 

Accordingly he issued, along with his treatise on 
Religious Communion, four additional chapters, which 
are really separate tracts, one dealing with " flight in 
persecution," the next asserting that " the outward 
baptism received in England is lawfully retained," 


another treating the general question " of the baptism 
of infants " at large, and lastly " a survey of the 
confession of faith published in certain conclusions 
by the remainders of M r Smith's company after his 
death," which rounds off the volume. These tracts 
take up far more space in the book than the one on 
" Religious Communion," which gives the leading title. 
In regard to flight in persecution, Helwys had 
referred to the commendation given to the Churches 
of Thessalonica and Pergamos for their patience in 
affliction, and set them up as an example. Robinson 
rejoined 1 — 

" As those churches knew not, haply, whither to go to be 
better in those days, so neither was their persecution such, 
but that they might enjoy their mutual fellowship and 
ministers, and bring up their children and families in the 
information of the Lord and his truth . . . which in England 
all men know, we could not possibly do." 

And he concludes — 

" For flight then thus much. As we read that Christ our 
Lord, the prophets, and apostles did at some times and 
ordinarily avoid and flee persecution and at other times not ; 
so are we to know that there are times and occasions season- 
able for both. ... As we, then, shall perceive either our 
flying or abiding to be most for God's glory and the good of 
men, especially of our family and those nearest unto us, and 
for our own furtherance in holiness ; and as we have strength 
to wade through the dangers of persecution, so are we with good 
conscience to use the one or other. Which (our hope and 
comfort also is) we have done in these our days of sorrow; 
some of us coming over [to Holland] by banishment and 
others otherwise." 2 

Though this conclusion may not reach the heroic 
level, it certainly contains much sound common 

With regard to the nature of the rite of baptism 
and the distinctions about it which justified to 
Robinson's mind the retention of the " outward 

1 Works, vol. iii. p. 163. 2 Ibid., pp. 162, 164. 


baptism " received in the national Church, we may- 
give his own words * — 

" I conclude," he says, " that there is an outward baptism 
by water, and an inward baptism by the Spirit : which though 
they ought not to be severed in their time by God's appoint- 
ment, yet many times are [so severed] by men's default : 
that the outward baptism in the name of the Father, Son, 
and Holy Ghost, administered in an apostate Church is false 
baptism in the administration, and yet in itself and [its] 
own nature a spiritual ordinance, though abused : and whose 
spiritual uses cannot be had without repentance; by which 
repentance and the after-baptism of the Spirit it is sanctified 
and not to be repeated." 

This " double consideration " of baptism saved the 
situation for Robinson and his associates, but it struck 
laymen like Helwys as somewhat sophistical. 

In his reply to Helwys on the general question of 
the baptism of infants, " a point of both great differ- 
ence between us and weight in itself," Robinson makes 
the admission that he had drawn out the thread of 
his answer further than he intended. He does indeed 
make various digressions in the course of his answer, 
" for the bettei clearing of things thereabout " (notably 
an excursion in respect to the nature of the covenant 
with Abraham, which he identifies with the covenant 
of the Gospel), but the upshot of his argument was, that 
the children of believing parents were proper subjects 
for baptism. There was difficulty in finding plain 
Scriptural support for the practice. It was difficult to 
parry the argument that baptism, according to the 
New Testament, was to be administered to those 
who had been brought into discipleship to Christ by 
instruction, and had made a voluntary repentance 
and profession of faith, of which infants were incapable. 

" Whereas some marvel," says Robinson, " why the Holy 
Ghost speaks not more plainly and expressly of the admission 
of infants into the Church and baptism thereof. They must 
remember — 

" (1) That none must presume to teach the Lord how to 

1 Works, vol. iii. p. 185, 


speak but that all are with reverence to search out his 

" (2) That they may with as much reason marvel, why 
there is no express mention made of the casting out of the 
Jewish infants with their unbelieving parents." x 

He concluded that " God ordinarily includeth in the 
parents the infants, as branches in the root either for 
blessings or judgments." He ran an elaborate parallel 
between baptism and circumcision, the one coming 
in the place of the other, but though this might serve 
his argument in respect to the boys, the retort was 
quickly made, "What about the girls?" The fact 
of the matter is that the renunciation of infant bap- 
tism was such a violent break with long-established 
Christian usage, that very few reformers were pre- 
pared to make it. The shock would be too great. 
Moreover, for social, political and doctrinal reasons, 
there was a strong prejudice against the Anabaptists. 
The average man made no discrimination amongst 
them. As Robinson rejected the denomination 
" Brownist," he might well shrink from any practice 
by which he would be associated with a name in 
deeper disfavour. It was too much to expect Robin- 
son to base his retention of infant baptism on the 
natural grounds of fitness and the desire of the parents, 
when a fresh young life has been entrusted to them, 
to publicly express their thanks and their vow to do 
their best for the child. He comes nearest to an appeal 
to common sense in the matter when he says it is 
" absurd " to exclude infants " from the Church or 
state of grace because they cannot themselves make 
profession of faith and repentance." 2 According to 
the method of his time, he was mainly concerned about 
finding Scriptural authority for his practice. 

The closing tract included in this volume is a 
" survey " by Robinson of the remarkable " Confession 
of Faith " drawn up in a hundred " propositions " by 
his old companion, John Smith, and published soon 

* Works, vol. iii. p. 213, 2 Ibid., p. 235. 


after his death by the remainder of his company, under 
the editorship of Thomas Piggot. This survey is penned 
in a calm and even tone, with a studied absence of all 
invective, and with some approach to the recognition 
that all who are sincere seekers after God's truth are 
worthy of brother] y regard and stand within the 
compass of God's love. The serene Christian temper 
which marked the last writings of Smith was not 
without effect upon the tone of his critic. It goes 
without saying that Robinson defended the Calvin- 
istic doctrines of predestination and election. He is 
not afraid to face some of the repellent consequences 
which flow from an extreme application of those 
doctrines. He is jealous of any teaching which would 
derogate from the absolute sovereignty and majesty of 
God. The old-world problem of how the presence 
of evil and sin is to be reconciled with the existence of 
an Almighty and Loving God is still with us, as it was 
with our fathers. 

"This 1 sin he doth also suffer," says Robinson, " not as 
men oft suffer things to come to pass, without care or con- 
sideration of it, but of purpose and with infinite wisdom, as 
knowing how to bring light out of darkness, and by the crea- 
ture's sin, to effect his most holy work according to his 
unsearchable counsel : the depth whereof may swallow up 
the mind, but cannot be sounded by it, and in meditation 
whereof, the best bound and bottom is for man to consider 
and confess that God is both more wise and holy than he." 

Holding fast to the Calvinistic theology of the 
Anglican Articles, in which he had been exercised and 
instructed from youth, Robinson opposed Smith's 
contentions — 

" That original sin is an idle term and that there is no such 
thing as men intend by the word, because God threatened 
death only to Adam, not to his posterity, and because God 
created the soul ; . . . that as there is in all the creatures a 
natural inclination to their young ones, to do them good, so 
there is in the Lord toward man ; for every spark of goodness 

1 Works, vol. iii. p. 241. 


in the creature is infinitely good in God : — that as no man 
begetteth his child to the gallows, nor no potter maketh a pot 
to break it, so God doth not create or predestinate any man 
to destruction, . . . that although the sacrifice of Christ's 
body and blood offered up unto God his Father upon the 
Cross be a sacrifice of a sweet-smelling savour and that God 
in him is well pleased, yet it doth not reconcile God unto us, 
which did never hate us nor was our enemy, but reconcileth 
us unto God and slayeth the enmity which is in us against 

This last contention, which reminds us of the teach- 
ing of Socinus as to the efficacy of Christ's death on 
the Cross, is characterized by Robinson as "most 
untrue, and indeed a very pernicious doctrine, destroy- 
ing the main fruit of Christ's sacrifice and death." 

Both Robinson and Smith back up their respective 
opinions by abundant references to Scripture, and this 
" survey " shows us very well how sincere men may 
frequently draw opposite conclusions and different 
meanings from the same texts, according to the 
different standpoint from which they are viewed. 

The Soul and Religious Liberty 

Before we leave this book, we may touch on two 
minor points in this section on which Robinson gives 
his opinion. 

First, in regard to the nature of the soul. The 
Mennonites and Anabaptists, in order to evade the 
doctrine of the fall of man, asserted that God created 
the soul, and that " the soul, coming from God, must 
needs be good and therefore without sin until it be 
joined to the body." * Robinson considered the point, 
and came to the conclusion that God had given virtue 
and power unto mankind to beget and generate both 
soul and body. This he thought Adam had done 
" after a manner convenient to either nature." He 
goes on to say — 

" If these two positions cannot stand together that God 
createth the soul immediately and that there is original sin : 

* John Murton, quoted by John Wilkinson in 1613, 


where these men [the followers of Smith and Helwys] conclude 
that there is therefore no original sin, / conclude contrari- 
wise, that, therefore, the soul is not immediately created." * 

Second, in the section criticizing Smith's proposi- 
tions relating to the magistracy and the taking of 
oaths, Robinson gives us his views as to the duty and 
powers of the magistrate or civil ruler in regard to 
religion. John Smith and Thomas Helwys had come 
to the conclusion that Kings and magistrates were 
going beyond their function in meddling with matters 
of religion and coercing men in spiritual things by 
means of civil penalties. Both of them pleaded for 
full religious liberty for all peaceable citizens. Their 
plea bore fruit in after days. Smith contended — 

" That the magistrate is not by virtue of his office to 
meddle with religion or matters of conscience to force and 
compel men to this or that form of religion or doctrine ; but 
to leave Christian religion free to every man's conscience and 
to handle only civil transgressions . . . for Christ only is 
the King and lawgiver of the Church and conscience." 2 

Robinson was not prepared to uphold that position. 
Like the Puritans, he was still disposed to look to 
the civil power for assistance in promoting a further 
reformation of religion. The text (James iv. 12) 
brought by Smith to support his position does not 
prove, in the judgment of Robinson, that the magis- 
trate may not use — 

"his lawful power 3 lawfully for the furtherance of Christ's 
kingdom and laws. ... It is true they [the magistrates] 
have no power against the laws, doctrines and religion of 
Christ : but for the same, if their power be of God they may 
use it lawfully, and against the contrary." 

Robinson was apparently unconscious that in writ- 
ing thus he was justifying the action of the Bishops in 
persecuting those holding similar opinions to his own. 

1 Works, vol. iii. p. 248. 

2 John Smith the Se-baptist, etc., p. 255, Proposition 84. 

3 Works, vol. iii. p. 277, 


Murton and the followers of Helwys were not slow 
in pointing this out. In a forceful argument issued in 
1615, " that no man ought to be persecuted for his 
religion," they refer to " some that make more show of 
religion " than the Anglicans, but " although them- 
selves be now persecuted . . . maintain the same 
thing." And " if Kings were of their mind " they 
would be as cruel as the Anglican prelates. 1 The 
reference is to Robinson and those Separatists who 
agreed with his opinion on this matter. 

While John Robinson was engaged in writing the 
collection of tracts which ends with his review of 
Smith's Confession of Faith, he received a paper 
from another Anabaptist of Amsterdam. It came 
from Mark Leonard Busher, citizen of London, a man 
who held some peculiar millenary views and published 
a forceful Plea for Liberty of Conscience in 1614. 
We do not know the nature of the inquiry he put, 
but Robinson did not think it worth while to reply. 
He was probably too busy, or felt that a sufficient 
answer would be found in the tracts he was about to 
issue. Busher was rather nettled at his silence. He 
refers to the matter in connection with a suggestion 
that none should be allowed to " confirm their religion 
and doctrine by the Fathers and by prisons, burning 
and banishing, etc., but by the holy scriptures; then 
error will not be written or disputed." This prohi- 
bition would happily reduce the number of books. 

" Yea, I know by experience among the people called 
Brownists, that a man shall not draw them to write, though 
they be desired; for one of their preachers called Master 
Rob[inson], hath had a writing of mine in his hands above 
six months [Note in margin : " Now above twelve months "] 
and as yet I can get no answer. It seems he knoweth not 
how better to hide his errors than by silence. And this will 
be the case of all false bishops and ministers who had rather 
be mute and dumb than to be drawn into the light with 
their errors." 2 

1 Objections Answered by Way of Dialogue, 1615, reprinted in Tracts on 
Liberty of Conscience, Hanserd Knollys Society. 

2 Religions Peace, a Plea for Liberty, etc., p. 52, 


The Brownists were in general ready enough with 
their pens, and we may well forgive Robinson for his 
self-restraint in respect to Busher's paper of inquiry. 
We come, indeed, now to a period in which for some 
four years Robinson published no fresh books of his 
own beyond his brief " Manumission " already noticed. 
It gives us an opportunity of turning again to a con- 
sideration of the life of himself and his friends in 



The year of the publication of Robinson's tracts 
on Religious Communion saw the election of a new 
Parliament in England. Men's hearts were full of 
hope that the evils in Church and State would be 
swept away. There was great excitement at the 
polls, and the election saw the birth of a popular 
party, led by men of high principle, prepared to vindi- 
cate the liberties of the nation and oppose the arbi- 
trary policy of the Court and the Prelacy. Petitions 
for the redress of grievances poured in from all sides ; 
amongst them was presented the Plea for Liberty of 
Conscience, which Mark Leonard Busher had penned. 
James was alarmed at the spirit displayed in the 
new House against his policy. He was not the man 
to deal with opposition, nor had he the gift of 
gauging popular feeling which marked the statesman- 
ship of Elizabeth. As soon as a pretext presented 
itself he dissolved Parliament. It had only sat for 
two months. The fact that it had shown its teeth 
was enough for King James, and for seven long years, 
from 1614 to 1621, he ruled as an absolute and 
despotic monarch. In that interval no Parliament 
was summoned. 

The expectation of Robinson and his Church that 
through the initiation of a new policy by the Parlia- 
ment they might soon be allowed to return to their 
beloved Motherland was dashed. It became clear 
that they must continue to abide in Holland for a 
while longer. 



Fresh members came dropping over from England 
to fill the gaps caused by deaths and removals. The 
strength of the Church was thus well maintained. 
Men like Joseph Crips from Chichester, Robert 
Cushman and John Keble from Canterbury, Thomas 
Blossom of Cambridge, Richard Masterson of Sand- 
wich, Alexander Price, the camlet merchant, Edward 
Pickering of London, Degory Priest, the hatter, of 
the same place, Stephen Butterfield from Norwich, 
Samuel Lee, a hatter, James Kingsland, a clothier, 
John Jennings and Roger Chandler from the Col- 
chester district, and George Morton, the merchant, 
from York, all added fresh experience to the religious 
society under Robinson's pastoral care and gave it 
stability. One or two members came to them from 
Amsterdam. Of such were Alexander Carpenter and 
his family, originally from Wrington in Somerset- 
shire, and Thomas Smith, a cloth merchant from 
Colchester, who had been a deacon in the English 
Church at Amsterdam. Particulars relating to all 
these and many others connected with the Pilgrim 
Church have been lovingly gathered from the town 
records of Leyden by Dr. H. M. Dexter and his son, 
Morton Dexter, enabling us to form a clear view of 
their trades and occupations, their marriages, their 
bereavements, and, in some cases, their purchase of 
houses and cottage homes. 

In the year 1615 we come upon the name of a 
member of rather higher social standing than those 
mentioned. This was Thomas Brewer, who belonged 
to a land-holding family of the county of Kent. He 
was keenly interested in religion and theology. 
Though he was then thirty-five years of age and the 
father of a family, he matriculated as a student in 
" Letters " at Leyden University on February 17, 
1615. He evidently felt there would be no chance 
of a safe return to England for some time, for on 
June 17, 1617, he bought the residence known as 
the " Green House " (Groenehuis), next door but 
one to Pastor John Robinson's, for 3,200 guilders 


from Johann de Lalaing. When the census of 1622 
was taken he was described as an English nobleman 
(Engelsch Edelman). He became one of the Merchant 
Adventurers, and so had a direct business interest, 
as well as a personal concern, in the project for 
colonizing New England. He sold his house in 
Leyden July 15, 1630, when presumably he returned 
to England. We shall hear of him again. The 
registrar of the University entered his name on the 
record as " Thomas Braeber." Robinson soon fol- 
lowed the example of Brewer in matriculating in the 
University. Robert Durie, minister of the Scots 
Church in Leyden, had matriculated at the age of 
fifty-five in the spring of 1610, being described in the 
record as " Anglicanse Ecclesiae Minister]." To be- 
come a member of the University gave admission to 
the academic circles of the city and conferred certain 
privileges. It exempted one from service in the civic 
guard, and permitted the purchase of certain quan- 
tities of wine and beer free from duty. 

Robinson applied for permission to matriculate to 
the Burgomasters. Apparently no objection was 
raised, and on August 5, 1615, they gave their con- 
sent. In due course Robinson's name was enrolled 
on the list of University students. The entry of 
matriculation runs as follows — 

" 1615 Joannes Robintsonus. Anglus 

Sept. 5° Ann. xxxix 

Coss. permissu. Stud. Theol. alit Familiam." 

It will be seen that the permission of the magistrates 
is noted, as well as the fact that Robinson sup- 
ported a family and was in his thirty-ninth year. 
This is the only direct testimony we have to his 

Robinson attended some of the Divinity lectures, 
notably those of John Polyander, who had come from 
Dort in 1610 to be Professor of Sacred Theology at 
Leyden, and with whom he was familiar, and those 
of Simon Biscop, better known by his Latin name of 


Episcopius, who championed the Arminian system of 
doctrine. These lectures would remind Robinson of 
his old days at Cambridge, and be of service to 
him both in his pulpit work and his controversial 

The points at issue between the rival Dutch factions 
of Arminians and Gomarists were discussed with 
extraordinary passion in the towns and Universities 
of Holland. Political feeling was drawn in to reinforce 
religious zeal. Calvinism became a badge of the 
supporters of Prince Maurice and Arminianism a 
token of sympathy with the political aims and aspira- 
tions of Barneveldt. Leyden was a storm centre in 
the bitter disputes that resulted. 

There, in the year that the Pilgrims settled in the 
city, Arminius, 1 the gifted leader of the liberal 
theologians, had died. In July 1610 the Curators of 
the University elected Conrad Vorstius as his suc- 
cessor, but the appointment roused a violent opposi- 
tion, and King James of England actually took a 
hand in the resultant controversy. Robinson and the 
leaders of his Church must have been interested 
in the religious disputations taking place at their 

Conrad Vorstius, born at Cologne July 19, 1569, 
had a distinguished career as a student. He 
gave courses of lectures in the Academy of Geneva 
at the request of Theodore Beza. In 1605 he was 
appointed Professor of Theology at Steinfurt, in 
spite of some suspicions of Socinianism, which had 
been aroused by his volume of Theses on Various 
Points of Dogmatic Theology, printed in 1596. He 
had issued at Steinfurt in 1602 a treatise on The 
Nature and Attributes of God. It was a subject 
upon which he had deeply meditated. In the year 
of his appointment to Leyden he published an en- 
larged edition of this work, with copious notes. The 
title is Tractatus Theologicus de Deo. Editions appeared 

1 James Harmensen, better known as Arminius, born at Oudewater, 1560, 
died 1609. 


at Steinfurt and Hanover in 1610. His opponents at 
Leyden seized on this book with avidity. They drew 
from it matter for their attack on the new professor. 
He was charged in May 1611 by six ministers with 
publishing heretical doctrine, and a regular storm of 
opposition broke upon the poor man's devoted head. 
It must have been something of a surprise to Vors- 
tius, " a lover of peace and moderation," to find what 
a stir his book created, and to learn that a royal antago- 
nist had entered the lists against him. King James 
was not content with writing a Confutation of Vorstius 
and ordering his treatise De Deo to be burnt at St. 
Paul's Cross and at Oxford and Cambridge; but 
brought pressure to bear on the States of Holland, 
through Winwood, his ambassador, to prevent the 
preferment of Vorstius. Winwood was to let them know 
" how infinitely " His Majesty would be displeased 
" if such a Monster receive advancement in the 
Church." The act was unspeakably petty and un- 
kingly. The States and University authorities 
thought it wisest to bar Vorstius from lecturing, 
and sent him honourably to Gouda for a year to 
prepare an answer to the accusations brought against 
him. The malignity of James pursued him even here, 
and we find the English deputies at the Synod of 
Dort putting in extracts from his famous book, on 
May 3, 1619, and demanding that it should be 
solemnly burnt. The next day the Synod of Dort 
passed sentence on Vorstius in his absence. It 
charged him with calling in question " most of the 
fundamental doctrines of the Reformed Religion . . . 
as the Most Potent King of Great Britain and several 
Divines had shewn." He was accordingly deprived 
of his professorship and banished from the United 
Provinces. He withdrew at length into Holstein, 
and there died, September 29, 1622. 

Amongst those who joined in the hue and cry 
against Vorstius was Matthew Slade, sometime an 
elder in Johnson's Church at Amsterdam, but now in 
fellowship with the Dutch Church. Slade was well 


known to Robinson, who would probably hear of his 
Disputation on the Blasphemies, Heresies and 
Atheisms distinguished with a Black Mark by James, 
King of England, in Vorstius's Treatise concerning 
God. It was something great for a religious refugee 
at Amsterdam to endorse the judgment of his King. 

On the withdrawal of Vorstius from Leyden in 
1612 the Curators of the University elected Simon 
Episcopius (1583-1643) to lecture in theology. He 
gave his inaugural address on February 23, 1612, on 
How best the Kingdom of God may be built up among 
Men. It was hardly to be expected that a young 
man of liberal outlook, such as he was, would in those 
days escape the charge of heresy. He inherited 
some of the troubles of his predecessors. Festus 
Hommius, pastor of the Walloon Church in Leyden, 
and later on one of the two secretaries of the Synod 
of Dort, a great stickler for orthodoxy, brought a 
charge of Socinianism against him in 1615, but was 
unable to substantiate it before the Curators of the 
University and Burgomasters of the city. 

We may assign to this period the incident of 
Robinson's disputation in the University of Leyden 
against the Arminians. 1 

When in later years a slanderous report was cir- 
culated by opponents of the Pilgrim Fathers to the 
effect that they had been driven out of Leyden by 
the civic authorities and had not left of " their own 
free choice and motion," Bradford referred to this 
disputation in rebutting the slander, and gave it as 
an example of the regard in which Robinson was 
held in Leyden. The Pastor's successful advocacy of 
the Calvinistic scheme of theology, says Bradford, 
procured him much honour and respect amongst 
lovers of truth in Leyden. 

" Yea, so far were they from being weary of him and his 
people or desiring his absence ; as it was said by some of no 
mean note ' that were it not for giving offence to the State 

1 See above, p. 57. 


of England they would have preferred him otherwise if he 
would : and allowed them [i. e. his religious society or 
Church] some public favour.' Yea, when there was speech 
of their removal into these parts [New England] sundry of 
note and eminence of that nation would have had them 
come under them [colonize under the Dutch flag], and for 
that end made them large offers." 

This, amongst other instances, Bradford thought 
would suffice " to show the untruth and unlikelihood 
of this slander " against the pioneer Pilgrims. 

It is clear from this account that Polyander 
and the Calvinistic party were pleased with the 
assistance that Robinson had afforded them, and 
that the members of the little Church, meeting in 
Robinson's house, were proud of the part he had 
taken in the controversy. Some of the honour their 
pastor had deservedly won was reflected upon them- 
selves. It is possible the authorities might have 
granted them the use of some convenient public 
building for their worship as a mark of their favour, 
as they had done in the case of the Scots Church 
under Robert Durie; but they had to keep an eye 
on England. They knew well how James had inter- 
fered to bar William Ames from preferment in their 
University. They knew of his deep displeasure 
against Vorstius. They knew of his annoyance that 
Puritan clergy found a refuge in Holland. If they 
gave any official encouragement to this company of 
Englishmen and their pastor, who had renounced 
their allegiance to the Anglican Church, it would be 
likely to breed trouble. They had to show their 
regard in other ways. When Sir Dudley Carleton 
succeeded Winwood as English Ambassador at the 
Hague, in March 1616, he received special instructions 
from his Royal master, who reminded him of " the 
violent and sharp contestations" among the towns of 
Holland in regard to religion. "If," he says, " they 
should be unhappily revived during your time, you 
shall not forget that you are the minister of that 
master whom God hath made the sole protector of 


his religion." Carleton's dispatches make reference 
to the differences at Ley den " betwixt the orthodox 
and Arminian factions," so there was real ground for 
the caution of the city authorities about extending 
any official recognition to Robinson's Church. 



William Bradford, in giving an account of 
Brewster and his life at Leyden, tells us that during 
the latter part of his time there, in addition to teaching 
English to the sons of Danes and Germans, " he also 
had means to set up printing by the help of some 
friends ; and so had imployment enough : and by 
reason of many books which would not be allowed 
to be printed in England they might have had more 
than they could do." The Separatists at Amsterdam 
had already run a press for some years, under the 
direction of Giles Thorpe, who turned out some very 
good work. Men who hold opinions which they deem 
to be of importance to the world always desire to 
spread them. It was natural that the company 
under Robinson should avail themselves of the first 
opportunity to control a press of their own. I think 
it is quite possible that Robinson added to his income 
in Leyden by reading and correcting for the press 
before Brewster embarked on his venture. Thomas 
Brewer found the bulk of the capital for the new 
press, and the attic of his house seems to have been 
used for part of the work. They got John Reynolds, 
a printer by trade, over from London to help in the 
work, and he felt sufficiently secure in his job to 
betroth himself to Prudence Grindon (also from 
London) on July 28, 1617, and to marry on August 18. 
Jonathan Brewster and Mary Allerton, with Mary 
Brewster, the wife of his master, came along to witness 
his betrothal. After the " Pilgrim Press " was broken 
up Reynolds moved on to Amsterdam. It was 



probably in the autumn of 1616 that Brewster began 
this venture, for on October 22, 1619, Carleton says 
that Brewer " for the space of these three years 
hath printed prohibited books and pamphlets." A 
good, clear fount of type was bought, similar to some 
that Thorpe had used at Amsterdam, with some 
distinctive ornamental " rules," initials and " tail- 
pieces." English books had already come out at 
Leyden, in the production of which the Pilgrims 
probably had some hand. Amongst the volumes left 
by William Brewster, for example, was a copy of 
" The Revelation of S. John Illustrated . . . by Thomas 
Brightman. Imprinted at Leiden by John Claesson 
van Dorpe," in this very year of 1616. Now, however, 
they were to command a press of their own for a few 
years, till the printing of a book obnoxious to King 
James brought them into trouble. 1 Two of the books 
issued were in Latin and bear Brewster's imprint; 
those printed by him in English give no direct indica- 
tion of the press from which they came. Among the 
first of his productions was an unexceptionable volume 
of Cartwright's Commentaries on the Book of Proverbs, 
to which John Polyander, Professor of Sacred Theology 
in the University of Leyden, supplied a preface, 
dated December 31, 1616. This was followed by a 
controversial work, from the pen of William Ames, 
entitled Guilielmi Amesii ad Responsum Nicolai 
Grevinchovii Rescriptio contracta, 1617. Both of these 
indicate the printer thus: " Apud Guilielmum Brew- 
sterum. In vico Chorali." That is to say, " at 
William Brewster's office in Choir Alley." 

There seems to have been a demand for reprints 
of some of the earlier Puritan controversial literature, 
and these were supplied from Brewster's press in 
handy form and sent over to England. In 1618 he 
took in hand a larger work from a manuscript left by 
Thomas Cartwright, entitled A Confutation of the 

1 The Hon. Henry C. Murphy, Historical Magazine, vol. iv., Boston and 
New York, 1860, and Professor Edward Arber, The Story of the Pilgrim 
Fathers, 1897, p. 195, have unravelled this narrative for us. 


Rhemists' Translation, Glosses and Annotations on 
the New Testament, a bulky book of folio size. 

The next year a Scotsman appeared in Leyden 
with some manuscripts he wished to get quietly 
printed. Brewer and Brewster undertook the work, 
and this proved their undoing. How did this come 
about? What were the books in question? 

We must remember that King James was at this 
time bent upon breaking the spirit of the Scottish 
Presbyterians and enforcing episcopacy upon the 
Church of Scotland. He pressed his plans with vigour 
at the General Assembly of the Kirk at Perth in 
August 1618. David Calderwood voiced the resent- 
ment of the militant Presbyterians in a tract entitled 
Perth Assembly, in which " he demonstrated the 
utter nullity of that meeting and all its proceedings." 
He also penned a Latin treatise giving an exposition 
of the form of government in the Scottish Church, 
De regimine Ecclesice Scoticance, brevis relatio. He 
sent these writings over to Holland by a trusty friend, 
who got Brewster to print them. The copies of 
Perth Assembly " were smuggled over into Scotland 
in April 1619 with great risk and difficulty — in short, 
the pamphlets were packed up in vats as if they had 
been a mercantile consignment of French wines or 
strong waters." * They were landed at Burntisland, 
and in June passed into general circulation. The 
style of the book revealed its authorship, and Calder- 
wood, after remaining in hiding for a time, fled in 
August 1619 to Holland. James was furious; he 
spoke of him as " that knave who is now loupen 
over sea, with his purse well filled by the wives of 
Edinburgh." The King thought James Cathkin, 
the Edinburgh bookseller, might have had a hand in 
printing the obnoxious tract, and the poor man, 
being in London on business, was arrested in June 
1619, and brought before His Majesty. An extra- 
ordinary cross-examination followed. Cathkin denied 

1 "Life of Calderwood," by Thomson, in Calderwood's History of the 
Church of Scotland. 


all share in the publishing of Perth Assembly, but, 
questioned as to whether Calderwood had been at his 
house, Cathkin confessed that he had slept there 
occasionally, " and that he had spoken with him 
within these fifteen days." 

" We have found the taed ! " exclaimed the King, 
and Cathkin was remanded to prison for further 
examination. He cleared himself of the imputation 
of issuing Perth Assembly, and in three weeks was at 

King James, soon after this, heard of the real source 
of this annoying pamphlet. Sir Dudley Carleton, 
his Ambassador at the Hague, was shown a copy 
of Perth Assembly about the middle of July 1619, 
and was informed that it was " printed by a certain 
English Brownist of Ley den." As the " States 
General " of the Netherlands had issued an Edict 
or " Placaat " in the preceding December against 
unlicensed printing, Carleton thought he had just 
ground to complain to them about this issue. On 
July 17, 1619, he sent a copy of the book in question 
over to Sir Robert Naunton, the Secretary of State, 
with a covering letter explaining what he proposed 
to do in the matter when he had obtained " more 
particular knowledge of the printer." He lost no 
time in making further inquiry. On July 22 he sent 
a despatch from the Hague in which he says — 

" I sent your Honour a book intituled Perth Assembly, 
of which, finding many copies dispersed at Leyden and from 
thence some sent into England, I had reason to suspect it 
was printed in that town; but upon more particular inquiry 
do rest somewhat doubtful. Yet in search after that book I 
believe I have discovered the Printer of another, De regimine 
Ecclesice Scoticance ; which His Majesty was informed to be 
done at Middelburg; and that is one William Brewster, a 
Brownist, who hath been for some years an inhabitant and 
printer at Leyden : but is now within these three weeks 
removed from thence and gone back to dwell in London; 
where he may be found out, and examined, not only of this 
book De regimine Ecclesice Scoticance, but likewise of Perth 
Assembly ; of which, if he was not the printer himself, he 


assuredly knows both the Printer and the Author. For, as 
I am informed, he hath had, whilst he remained here, his 
hand in all such books, as have been sent over into England 
and Scotland. As particularly a book in folio intituled A 
Confutation of the Khemists* Translation, Glosses and Annota- 
tions on the New Testament, anno 1618, was printed by 

" So was another in decimo sexto, De vera et genuina Jesu 
Christi Domini et Salvatoris nostri Religione ; of which I send 
your Honour herewith the Title Page. And if you will com- 
pare that which is underlined therein with the other De 
regimine Ecclesia? Scoticano3 of which I send your Honour 
the Title Page likewise; you will find it is the same char- 
acter. And the one being confessed as that, De vera et genuina 
Jesu Christi, etc., Religione, Brewster doth openly avow; the 
other cannot well be denied." 

With regard to Carleton's assertion that Brewster 
had gone back to London at some time in the early 
weeks of July, we know from other sources that he 
was there in May of this year, along with Robert 
Cushman, negotiating with a view to forming a colony 
for the " Pilgrim Church " in America. When Cush- 
man wrote to the Leyden friends on May 8, he reported 
" M r B[rewster] " to be " not well at this time ; whether 
he will come back to you or go into the North I yet 
know not." It is possible that he visited his old 
friends about Scrooby, and then had crossed to Leyden 
to report, and returned to London early in July. 
But when Sir Robert Naunton, acting on Carleton's 
suggestion, sought for him in London at the end of 
that month, he could not be found. " I am told," he 
says, writing on August 3, " William Brewster is 
come again for Leyden; where I doubt not but your 
Lordship will lay for him if he come thither; as I 
will likewise do here; where I have already com- 
mitted some of his complices and am commanded to 
make search for the rest." 

On both sides of the North Sea, therefore, a sharp 
watch was kept for Brewster. By this time I think 
he was aware that the authorities were on his track, 
and that it would be the safest course to remain quiet 


for a time. His name disappears for the present 
from the list of those actively promoting the plan for 
emigration. Carver, Cushman and Christopher Martin 
were left to attend to the public business which that 
plan entailed. 

The Leyden friends would naturally do what they 
could to put Carleton off the scent. On Friday, 
August 20, 1619, he reports " after good enquiry " 
that he had been assured that Brewster had not 
returned to Leyden and was not likely to, because 
he had removed his family and goods thence. 

King James was eager to mark down his victim. 
A despatch sent from Whitehall on Monday, August 
23, 1619, by the Secretary of State to Carleton, in- 
formed him how much annoyed the King was by 
the underhand printing of Puritan pamphlets abroad 
and " the practices of Brewster and his complices in 
those parts." Information had come to hand that 
several of Brewster's accomplices had " very lately " 
made an escape and slipped over to Holland with 
him. His Majesty desired his Ambassador " to deal 
roundly " with the Dutch States- General in pressing 
for the arrest of Brewster as they tendered His 
Majesty's friendship. 

The information as to Brewster's withdrawal from 
London was probably correct, for on Saturday, 
August 28, Carleton writes from the Hague : " Touch- 
ing Brewster I am now informed that he is on this 
side the seas and was seen yesterday at Leyden, but 
as yet is not there settled." On the following Friday 
he writes again, reporting that Brewster " keeps most 
at Amsterdam, but, being incerti laris, he is not yet 
to be lighted upon," and adds, " I understand he 
prepares to settle himself at a village called Leer- 
dorp [Leiderdorp] not far from Leyden, thinking there 
to be able to print prohibited books without dis- 
covery : but I shall lay wait for him both there and 
in other places, so as I doubt not but either he must 
leave this country; or I shall, sooner or later, find 
him out." 


The Ambassador did not let the grass grow under 
his feet. He went to work to effect his Royal master's 
will through the instrumentality of Jacob von Brouck- 
hoven, the representative for the city of Leyden 
in the Council of the provincial State of Holland, 
who lived at the Hague. Brouckhoven brought the 
matter to the notice of the Leyden authorities, who 
summoned Thomas Brewer before them, September 9, 
1619, to be examined in reference to the King's com- 
plaint. Brewster was the man wanted, but it is 
Brewer who is examined. It looks as though Brewer 
came forward to shelter the Elder of his Church. 
He told the magistrates that his business heretofore 
had been printing or having printing done, but he 
had stopped the printing office in consequence of the 
Proclamation about the printing of books. At the 
time of the issue of the Proclamation or " Placaat " 
the business was mostly his own. His partner, William 
Brewster, was then in town, but sick. 

As Brewer was a matriculated member of the 
Leyden University, the aldermen and magistrates 
of the city decided to hand him over to the University 

The Council resolved, Thursday, September 9, 1619, 
" in regard to William Brewster to bring him, inasmuch 
as he is sick, into the Debtor's Chamber provisionally, 
where he went voluntarily." This was clearly no 
arrest. It appears to me that the Council merely 
took this course to save their face, and were quite 
lukewarm in this action against Brewster. He 
evidently was not detained, and had an opportunity 
of getting away before Sunday. Carleton, however, 
on Brouckhoven' s report to him, jumped to the con- 
clusion that Brewster had actually been arrested, 
and was inclined to take the credit for that to 

" Fri. 10 Sep. I have at length found out Brewster 
at Leyden whom the magistrates of that town at my 
instance apprehended yesternight though he was sick 
in bed." Brouckhoven went over to Leyden on this 


Friday, and on his return would report the true state 
of affairs to the Ambassador, or, at any rate, tell him 
that Brewster was not really under arrest. 

So on Sunday, September 12, Carleton forwarded a 
correction to England — 

" In my last [10 Sep.] I advertised your Honour that 
Brewster was taken at Ley den : which proved an error in 
that the Scout [bailiff] who was employed by the Magistrates 
for his apprehension being a dull, drunken fellow took one 
man for another." 

Well, that story was good enough for Carleton and 
King James. 

Meanwhile, when Carleton heard of the action of 
the Leyden City Council in the case of Brewer and 
Brewster, he had at once sent Brouckhoven over from 
the Hague to Leyden to secure the seizure of their 
books and type, and to press for their examination 
about all the books, Latin or English, printed by 
them in the past " eighteen months or two years." 
No time was lost. On the following day, Saturday, 
September 11, Loth Huyghenszoon Gael, bailiff of the 
University, applied to have an assessor and a magis- 
trate associated with him for seizing Brewer's type, 
and any books " printed or caused to be printed by 
him within a year and a half or thereabouts," and 
examining him on the matter. It will be observed 
that the authorities took the shortest period suggested 
by Carleton for this investigation and ignored his 
" two years." Take this in conjunction with the 
fact that they appointed Dr. John Polyander, who 
had written a preface for one of the first books printed 
by Brewster, as " assessor," and its significance will 
be seen. Dr. William Bontius was joined with Poly- 
ander in the business. 

In pursuance with the power granted to them, they 
visited Brewer's house. "The types found in the 
garret were seized : the garret door nailed in two places 
and the seal of the Officer impressed in green wax 
over paper is placed upon the lock and nails, a cata- 


logue is made of the books, and the chamber where 
the same were found is sealed with the aforesaid seal 
upon the lock and nails." 

All this was promptly reported to Carleton, who, 
though nettled at the escape of Brewster, was gratified 
at the detention of Thomas Brewer, and was now 
inclined to think the latter was the more responsible 
of the two, for he, " being a man of means, bare the 
charge of his printing." " I intend," he says, writing 
on Sunday, September 12, " to send one expressly 
to visit his books and papers; and to examine him 
particularly touching Perth Assembly, the discourse 
De regimine Ecclesice Scoticance, and other Puritan 
pamphlets which I have newly recovered. 

The next day, Monday, September 13, the Uni- 
versity appointed Dr. Cornelius Swanenburg in the 
place of Polyander to join with Bontius in the examina- 
tion of Brewer, and further, they ordered his type 
"to be brought for better keeping from his house to 
the University Rooms." Jacob V. Vervey noted 
on the records that this was accordingly done on that 
very day. 

In the course of the same week, in fulfilment of his 
intention, Carleton drew up a list of interrogatories 
to be put to Brewer in his examination, and sent them 
over to Leyden, with one of his staff and a Dutch 
Advocate of the Hague who understood English. He 
was not pleased with Brewer's replies, " which," 
says he, " are so indirect that they give no man satis- 
faction that sees them." He reports this in a long 
despatch, written on Saturday, September 18, 1619, 
in which, after remarking on the unsatisfactory 
nature of Brewer's answers, he goes on to say — 

" Therefore I have now used the Prince of Orange's 
authority : who hath spoken himself to the Rector of the 
University not to give the prisoner any liberty until His 
Majesty's pleasure be known concerning him : which the 
Rector doth promise shall be fulfilled notwithstanding that 
the whole Company of Brownists doth offer caution [to go 
bail] for Brewer. And he being a University man the 


scholars are likewise stirred up by the Brownists to plead 
Privilege in that kind when caution is offered. 

" Wherefore I am requested by the Rector and by the 
Deputy of the town of Leyden, Monsieur Brouckhoven, 
residing here, in the Council of Holland (whose serious care 
in this business I cannot but commend to His Majesty), to 
know His Majesty's pleasure with the soonest, whereby to 
prevent some disorder which may happen upon this occasion. 

" Meantime I intend to have him further examined, which 
Monsieur Brouckhoven will give order for on Monday next 
when he goeth to Leyden for two or three days : And if 
there be any things more particular in his Confession I will 
send the same speedily to your Honour; as with these 
[papers] which go herewith, I thought it my duty to despatch 
this bearer expressly. 

" Amongst the books touching which I have caused him 
to be examined I have inserted some as that Amesii in 
Grevinchovium which as he cannot deny so he may and doth 
confess it without difficulty; but by that character [style of 
type] he is condemned of the rest. And certain experienced 
printers which have viewed the letters affirm that all and 
every one of the books with which he is charged, particularly 
those De regimine Ecclesice Scoticance and Perth Assembly 
were printed by them. And it appears that this Brewer, and 
Brewster whom this man set on work, having kept no open 
shop nor printed many books fit for public sale in these 
Provinces, their practice was to print prohibited books to be 
vented underhand in His Majesty's Kingdoms. 

" And if hereupon, His Majesty will be pleased that I 
move the States General to take some strict order therein, 
through all their Provinces; either by further explanation 
of their late Placaat concerning printing of Books and Libels, 
[i. e. pamphlets] or some other way ; as I believe they will 
do it very willingly, so will it serve for preventing of the 
like inconvenience hereafter. 

" What this Brewer is, and what fantastical courses he hath 
run heretofore, your Honour will see by an ' Information ' 
which hath been given me concerning him. 

" Thus I humbly take my leave 

"From the Hague the 18th of September 1619. 

" Postscript. Upon some just ground of suspicion that 
Master Ames hath his hand in many of these books, which 
your Honour will find specified in these ' Interrogatories.' 
I have desired the Curators of the University of Leyden not to 
admit him to a place of Public Professor, to which he doth pre- 


tend and [for which he] hath many strong recommendations, 
until he hath given His Majesty full satisfaction; which 
they do very willingly yield unto : and I am very well assured 
his preferment will here stay, unless His Majesty give way 
unto it. 

" Thus I rest your Honour's, etc. 

" Dudley Carleton." 

Where Brewster remained in hiding all this time 
does not appear. His friends and fellow-members 
kept a discreet silence and loyally screened him. 
We may be sure that on the next day after the above 
despatch, being Sunday, fervent prayers would be 
offered up in the meeting in Robinson's house for the 
safety and welfare of both these members of the 
Church who were now in peril. 

In the meantime Carleton had made inquiry for 
Brewster at Amsterdam, and on Saturday, Sep- 
tember 18, Matthew Slade addressed a note to him 
in these terms — 

" Right Honourable. My duty remembered unto your 
good Lordship. 

" May it please the same to understand that I have made 
the best enquiry that I could, concerning William Brewster, 
among them that know him well. But cannot hear otherwise 
than that he is yet dwelling and resident at Leyden. 

" Neither is it likely that he will remove his dwelling hither, 
there being another English printer named William [Giles] 
Thorp also a Brownist, settled here ; and for that there is also 
variance about religion between the Separatists at Amsterdam 
and them of Leyden. 

"If he lurk here for fear of apprehension, it will be hard 
to find him. But I will speak with our Burgomaster about 
that business, at his return; who is not yet in two or three 
days expected." 

At Amsterdam, therefore, Carleton drew a blank, 
and he now waited instructions from England as to 
procedure against Thomas Brewer. These were soon 
forthcoming in a despatch dated at Hampton Court 
on Tuesday, September 28, 1619, from Sir Robert 
Naunton, as follows — 


" Sir : For answer to your last of the 18th of September, 
it is His Majesty's pleasure that you present his princely 
thanks to that noble Prince [Maurice] also to Monsieur Brouck- 
hoven and the Rector [of the University] for their serious 
care and respect, shewed in the apprehension and examina- 
tion of Brewer. From whom His Majesty hopes well that 
you will draw more particularities in his after [i. e. later] 
Confessions than yet he sees in those you have sent over, 
which meanwhile he takes in good part as a fair beginning 
and introduction to the rest. 

" When you shall have discovered all you can there, His 
Majesty would have you move the States earnestly in his 
name, that he [Brewer] may be remanded hither. Which 
he promiseth himself, that they will not take it for an un- 
reasonable request since he is his own native subject : they 
having formerly remanded some of their own hither upon 
His Majesty's like motion. 

" But if any fond scruple or difficulty should be made 
herein in respect of the scholars there pleading their privilege 
in that tumultuous town, especially in these troubled times, 
or otherwise; His Majesty will have you (rather than you 
should fail in his design) to descend thus much further as to 
promise them — that if they [the members of the University] 
shall so require, he will return him back again, after he shall 
have informed himself from him of divers things merely 
concerning his own personal service : His Majesty having no 
intention to touch him, either in body or goods, or to punish 
him further than with a free confession of his own mis- 
demeanours and those of his complices. 

" And for the time to come you are required to move the 
States to take some strict order through all their Provinces, 
for the preventing of the like abuses and licentiousness in 
publishing, printing and venting underhand such scandalous 
and libellous pamphlets. 

" For Ames his preferment, His Majesty doth utterly 
distaste it; as if a new Vorstius were reviving in him, and 
would in no sort have any way given unto it." 

On receipt of these instructions Carleton made a 
request for the extradition of Thomas Brewer, but 
the University and town of Leyden, being jealous 
for their privileges, were loth to surrender a prisoner 
at the request of King James. "An extraordinary 
meeting " of the Curators of the University and 
Burgomasters of the city was held on October 11, 


1619, according to English reckoning, to consider the 
question, and the following resolutions were arrived 
at — 

(a) To offer Brewer, as before, for further examina- 

tion in the presence of any one whom the 
Ambassador might appoint; 

(b) Or to cause him to go for examination before 

the Ambassador himself. 

(c) If neither of these suggestions was accepted as 

sufficient, then before giving up Brewer a 
formal bond should be demanded from His 
Excellency the Ambassador that he should be 
restored in safety to Leyden again within two 

If Carleton did not consent to this, the matter 
would have to be referred to their High Mightinesses 
the States of Holland and West Friesland, as founders 
and patrons of the University. The Ambassador saw 
that he would have to walk warily if his Royal master 
was not to be baulked in his desire to have Brewer 
sent over to England. From his next despatch, 
dated October 13, it is clear he saw which way the 
wind was blowing, though he does not seem to have 
yet heard the result of the " extraordinary meeting " 
at Leyden. In this despatch he reports — 

(1) In regard to further examination of Brewer 
that he finds it lost labour, he persisting in his former 
answers. The only fresh point was that Brewer had 
written him a long, impertinent [irrelevant] letter 
which he encloses. 

(2) With regard to Brewer's extradition, " I know," 
says he, " it will be a matter of much difficulty to 
effect His Majesty's desire, in regard of the scrupu- 
losity of the Town and University of Leyden in point 
of Privilege, both which are interested herein as a 
mixed cause; he being apprehended by the Public 
Escoutete [City Bailiff] and kept in the University 

Carleton had thought it best to begin the matter 


in Leyden rather than in the assembly of the States- 
General of Holland. He had " prepared " the Curators 
of the University, and got Brouckhoven to do the 
same with the magistrates of the town. He had also 
spoken to the Prince of Orange on the matter. 
" The Curators," he goes on to say, " are now at 
this present at Leyden, upon the admission of some 
of their new Professors, and have promised me their 
endeavours to give His Majesty satisfaction." 

(3) When he knew the decision of the Curators 
he could then make proposals to the States-General 
for the prevention of this unlicensed printing in all 
the provinces of the Netherlands. 

After making this report, and before sending his 
next despatch, dated October 22, 1619, Carleton was 
waited on by two deputations from Leyden, who 
made known to him the decisions of the authorities 
there. The first deputation consisted of two of the 
Curators of the University, who talked over with 
the Ambassador a possible means of getting round the 
difficulties which the surrender of Brewer presented. 
They asked if he " would give them an act in writing 
in manner of a Safe Conduct for Brewer's return in 
case they should send him into England." He 
replied that His Majesty's word given by any of his 
Ministers should be sufficient. The second was a 
deputation of five from the town and University, 
consisting of the Rector and one of the Curators of 
the University, with two Assessors and a deputy 
from Leyden. 

" They alleged unto me," says Carleton, " these diffi- 
culties — 

" First — the Privilege of the University which any man 
that is matriculated, as this Brewer is, may plead, upon any 
accusation, for his trial upon the place without having his 
cause or person removed elsewhere contrary to his own mind. 

" Secondly — the nature of their University : consisting 
chiefly of strangers, to whom if they should not carefully 
preserve their privileges in a matter of this consequence, 
they would all fly their University. 

" Thirdly — the condition of the time there being now newly 



a Reformation made [i. e. the Arminians having been purged 
out after the decisions of the Synod of Dort], and if they 
should neglect the preservation of their privileges they 
should expose themselves unto the scandal of such as are 

" Lastly — the example of one Cluverus a German, who 
having printed a book against the Emperor Rodolph and 
thereupon being required of the States to be sent to Prague 
there to be punished, the University made an absolute 
refusal, as that which could not be granted without breach 
of their privileges." 

Carleton replied to all these objections with much 
astuteness, pointing out, among other things, that, 
though Brewer " were a matriculate man, his printing- 
house, where he for the space of these three years 
hath printed prohibited books and pamphlets (not for 
the use of the University of Leyden, or these Pro- 
vinces; but for His Majesty's disservice and the 
trouble of his Kingdoms) was in the town," and not 
in the University precincts. 

" I asked them if some busy or factious Arminian, a 
subject of these Provinces, should matriculate himself in 
one of the Universities of Oxford or Cambridge; and there 
print and send over hither, books of that argument; of 
which their Ambassador should complain and desire to have 
him remanded [back to his own country] how they would 
take it, if they should be answered by a plea of Privilege ? " 

The members of the deputation seemed to be 
impressed by Carleton's arguments, but desired him 
" to forbear pressing this matter any further " till 
the assembly of the " States " or Provincial Council of 
Holland, which was due in two or three weeks. He 
agreed, but told them, had they readily consented to 
Brewer's extradition, he " made no doubt but that 
Brewer might be in England and returned again 
before the meeting of the " States " of Holland. 

At the close of this despatch Carleton indicates 
the course which the authorities at Leyden were now 
taking in the matter — 


" I understand they have privately appointed Polyander 
and Walaeus to deal with Brewer of his own accord to desire 
to go into England whereby to satisfy His Majesty and 
preserve their privileges, which I do not mislike. For if he 
yield thereunto His Majesty hath what he requires. If he 
make difficulty I have the more just subject to press his 
remanding which at the time of the assembly of the States 
of Holland I will not fail to do." 

It was well for Carleton that he got this despatch 
off when he did, for on the very next day, Saturday, 
October 23, Sir Robert Naunton sent him a line from 
Whitehall to hurry matters up — 

" His Majesty hath charged me, once more, to require 
you, as from himself, that you press with all earnestness, 
the matter of Brewer in all three points I recommended to 
you from Hampton Court 28° Septembris." 

Before this reminder reached him Carleton for- 
warded to England a letter 1 from Polyander, with 
this covering note — 

"What is done about Brewer at Leyden; your Honour 
will see by a letter I have even now received from Polyander. 
" Thus I humbly take my leave. 

" From the Hague, this 25th of October, 1619." 

A week later (Monday, November 1, 1619) another 
deputation came over expressly from Leyden Uni- 
versity to the Hague to let Carleton know " their 
resolution to send Brewer into England." It con- 
sisted of one of the Curators and the Rector of the 
University, with John Polyander and Daniel Heinsius. 
They brought a document in Brewer's handwriting, 
in which he stated his own desire to go into England 
"as a dutiful subject to His Majesty." This safe- 
guarded the privileges of the University, which could 
not be said to have given up a prisoner at the demand 
of the King of England if the man went of his own 
free will. But Brewer was not prepared to blindly 

1 The Secretary of State, in a despatch of November 20, reported His 
Majesty's assent to the course proposed in Polyander's letter, but by that 
date Carleton had arranged matters. 


play the "fly" to King James's "spider." The 
memory of the burning fate of Bartholomew Legate 
and the imprisonment of John Murton and others 
was too fresh for that. So he expressed his readiness 
to go — upon conditions. 

Let Carleton tell us about the stipulations and how 
the matter was eventually arranged. Brewer, he 
tells us, required, " in the said Writing " to be 
assured by the University on the following points — 

" (a) [That] it is His Majesty's own pleasure to have him 

(b) Next, that he may go as a free man under caution of 

his lands and goods; not as a prisoner. 

(c) Then that he may not be punished during his abode in 

England either in body or goods. 

(d) And that he may be suffered to return hither in a 

competent time. 

(e) And lastly, that his journey be without his own charge. 

" These things were requested of me by the Curator, the 
Rector, and the rest in his behalf. 

;c Wherein I made them this verbal promise, without being 
further moved by any of them, as I was formerly, to give 
them my act in writing — 

(a) That for the first : it was His Majesty's express will 
and pleasure : which I might the better assure them having 
the same now a second time reiterated unto me by your 
Honour's letter of the 23rd of October; which at that 
instant I received. 

(b) Next, that if they would take caution of him of his 
lands and goods for his rendering himself to His Majesty in 
England, I left it to their discretions. But to send him as 
a free man could not well be, as long as he remained in reatu 
[in the position of one charged with an offence]. 

(c) Then — that for his body and goods during his abode 
in England. I undertook he should not be touched, being 
so warranted by your Honour's former letter of the 21st of 

(d) And for his return, — that it should be within the space 
of three months at the furthest, and sooner if he dealt in- 
genuously and freely in his Confessions. 

(e) Touching the charge of his journey I made no difficulty 
to free both him and them thereof: not doubting but His 
Majesty will be pleased to allow it. 


" So as there [was] remaining this only point of difference 
between us, whether he should go as a prisoner or as a free 
man? In the end we concluded of a middle way betwixt 
both — that he should go sub libera custodia, being attended 
from Ley den to Rotterdam by one of the Beadles with another 
Officer of the University, and be there delivered to some 
such person as I should appoint for his safe convoy into 
England; where I have undertaken for him, he shall not be 
cast into any common prison, nor be ill used. Though for 
his libert}% I let them know, he must not expect it, but 
according as he shall merit it by the satisfaction he shall 
give His Majesty. Wherein if he fail of what he now seems 
willing to perform, the fear of being returned back and 
thither again to the place where he hath lain ever since his 
first apprehension; (and where he may lie long enough 
unless he be delivered by His Majesty's grace and favour) 
will be a sufficient torture. 

" But on the other side, if he carry himself well and duti- 
fully, I beseech your Honour to be a means to His Majesty 
that he may be well treated and sent back with contentment : 
the rather because he hath taken his resolution of present- 
ing himself unto His Majesty, against the minds of some 
stiff-necked men in Leyden, who endeavoured to dissuade 

" And it will give all inferior persons encouragement by 
his example according to the like occasions, willingly to 
submit themselves ; he being a Gentleman of a good house, 
both of land and living which none of his profession [in 
religion] in these parts are — though through the reveries of 
his religion (he being, as I advertised your Honour, a pro- 
fessed Brownist) he hath mortgaged and consumed a great 
part of his Estate. 

" This noble Gentleman Sir William Zouche, being to go 
into England upon his own affairs, hath, upon my intreaty, 
willingly undertaken the charge of conducting Brewer to 
your Honour. For which purpose, he hath stayed his 
journey until this time when I am promised Brewer shall 
meet him at Rotterdam. And he being a Gentleman of 
His Majesty's Privy Chamber, as well as a servant to this 
State, His Majesty may be pleased to take notice of his 
readiness to do His Majesty service. 

" Thus I humbly take leave. From the Hague, the 3rd 
of November, 1619." 

An interesting letter of Sir William Zouche to 
Carleton, dated November 13, 1619, shows that, 


even after the plan was adopted, Brewer was in no 
hurry to leave Ley den. 

" Right Honourable. I did purpose to have advertised 
your Lordship of our proceedings. I was last night almost 
out of hope of having my expected company, but about ten 
of the clock Master Brewer arrived, conveyed hither by the 
Beadle of the University, Master Robinson and Master 
Kebel, accompanied by two other of his friends, their names 
I think are not worth the asking. 1 

" We go forward about two or three of the clock, and if we 
find not a boat of Terveer ready to go away we intend to 
lie at Dort this night. 

" The Gentleman seems very ready and willing to go with 
me, and hath good hope of his despatch and happy issue, 
if he be not referred to the judgment of the Bishops ; con- 
cerning which he says he made caution before his departure, 
and if you have not written so much already he desires you 
will do so much when you write next to Master Secretary. 
He excuses his long stay by reason of the sudden warning to 
provide him [for the passage into England]. He demanded 
of me if I had order to defray him ? I have told him ' Yes.' 
He says he is contented; but says it was not his desire 
nor mentioned by him. I assure your Lordship I will make 
no delay; but take the speediest opportunities to be rid of 
this employment. 

" My best service humbly remembered to your Honour 
and my honourable Lady. I take my leave and rest, 
" Ready to observe and serve you, 

" W. Zouche. 

"Rotterdam, the 13th of November, 1619." 

Zouche and Brewer journeyed by Middleburg, 
where they were entertained at a dinner arranged by 
Brewer's friends on Monday, November 15. Here 
Zouche met the Treasurer-General and his two 
brothers, and one " Master Vosberghe, Chief Reckon- 
Master [accountant], who was on the way towards 
Holland to speak to His Excellency [the Prince] in 
Master Brewer's behalf, and to have advised him to 

1 " Yet I will inquire of them by the way," is a note that Carleton makes 
here. Zouche supplied the names in his letter of November 26 : " The 
names of the other two that came with Master Brewer to Rotterdam are 
Jenkins and Lile." 


have challenged the privileges of the University and 
of the town by which he should have had his trial 

" They did expostulate the business," says Zouche, 
who found them " exceedingly earnest " in Brewer's 
cause and concerned at the great power the English 
King had in their land, " to have a prisoner, after he 
had been kept in prison longer than the law of the 
land doth allow, to be sent to him." All this Zouche 
reported to Carleton from Flushing on November 26, 
where they had been delayed for ten days by contrary 
winds and foul weather. 

At length, on November 28, there came a favour- 
able easterly wind, and Carleton writes — 

" I hope it will carry over Sir William Zouche and Master 
Brewer to your Honour; who have lain long together at 
Flushing : and his fellow-Brownists at Ley den are somewhat 
scandalized because they hear Sir William hath taught him 
to drink healths." 

The turn in the wind enabled them to make the 
crossing, for on December 3 Sir Robert Naunton 
advised Carleton that Sir William Zouche had at 
length arrived with his charge, and that he was 
daily awaiting the King's directions for proceeding 
in that business. 

What was the upshot, now that James had got his 
man? The King showed a petulant annoyance that 
Brewer should have come over in the way he had 
done, protected by pledges for his safe conduct and 
return. Brewer seems to have enjoyed the situation, 
and was inclined to ride the high horse. It went 
against the grain with James to have any one who 
had annoyed him surrender himself for examination 
on terms and conditions. Forgetful of the instruc- 
tions sent to his Ambassador, he sent this message 
to Carleton — 

" Thurs. 16 Dec. 1619. 

" His Majesty's pleasure is and I am commanded to in- 
struct you, that you should take heed of being too forward 


hereafter in confounding matters so different and so punc- 
tually to be distinguished as are the overtures of treating 
with a free State and the accepting of capitulations from a 
subject delinquent." 

If the States- General of Holland had sent Brewer 
" by their own authority, whether he had been 
willing to have come or not," His Majesty would have 
given them thanks, but his manner of coming " a 
little troubled His Majesty." It put him at a dis- 
advantage. As to Brewer, he was put in charge of 
one of the Messengers of the Chamber, and was to 
be examined by Sir John Benet and Sir Henry 
Martin. James was mean enough to try to evade the 
cost of Brewer's voyage, " for the charge of his 
journey His Majesty hath no purpose to take it 
upon him longer than whiles he is within his 

Sir John Benet, one of the examiners of Brewer, 
had some experience already in examining men of 
religion with whom the authorities were at logger- 
heads. In 1599 he was placed on a commission to 
enforce the Act of Uniformity in the Province of 
York, and in 1617, when a pamphlet satirizing King 
James and his Court, entitled Corona Regis, appeared, 
he was sent over to Brussels on a special mission to 
secure the punishment both of the printer and of 
Henri Dupuy, the author. His colleague, Sir Henry 
Martin, was also an expert examiner from his varied 
experience in the Admiralty Court. But they do not 
seem to have got much satisfaction out of Brewer, 
judging from the following despatch — 

" Sir Robert Naunton to Sir Dudley Carleton, White Hall, 
Friday, January 14, 1619-20. 

" My Lord Ambassador, 

" I have cleared His Majesty's construction the 
best I can, touching Brewer, who did all that a silly creature 
could to increase his unsatisfaction : viz. standing upon 
Terms of Covenant publicly passed by your Lordship, and 
I know not what, as he saith Heinsius, Polyander and I know 


not who assevered it unto him. But I have beaten him from 
his asse and drawn something from him that hath in part 
contented his Majesty : who bade me tell you that he gives 
no credit to this fool's confident and improbable assertions; 
and that he will be very good friends with you, if you can 
procure Brewster to be taken, wherein he makes no doubt of 
your careful endeavour." 

Naunton added a postscript — 

" I thought fit to let you know by this Postcript that I 
have discharged Brewer; who hath hitherto been defrayed 
by His Majesty, but offered to return upon his own charge. 
I doubt he will advise Brewster to conceal himself and there- 
fore have thus forewarned your Lordship. He [Brewer] will 
be known of no privity or so much as conjecture that he can 
make, how their pamphlets have been vented : which I 
presume will be better learned from him there upon the 
place [University of Leyden] before he shall be discharged 
by perusing his papers and other examinations." 

James appears to have been effectually baffled here, 
but he had the satisfaction of learning from his 
Ambassador, in a despatch dated January 13, 1619-20, 
that the States- General had "finally published a Placaat 
against licentious printing of libels and pamphlets, 
either in strange languages or their own, which doth 
concern strangers in amity with this State as well 
as themselves." 

It does not appear that Brewer returned at once 
to Leyden, where the authorities were still keeping 
his type and papers. John Polyander, writing from 
Leyden, January 12/22, 1620, to Sir D. Carleton, 
says — 

" Monseigneur. Les characteres de Thomas Brewer sont 
bien gardes en la chambre de Messieurs les Curateurs ; et ses 
livres et papiers en sa propre maison." 

Carleton reported from the Hague, January 29, 
1620, as follows — 

" I have acquainted the Curators of the University of 
Leyden with the good treatment which hath been given unto 
Brewer far beyond his deserving and with his delivery. For 


which they render His Majesty their humble thanks. And, 
at his return hither, unless he undertake to them to do his 
uttermost in finding out of Brewster — wherein I will not fail 
likewise of all other endeavours — he is not like to be at 
liberty. The suspicion whereof, I believe, keeps him from 
hence, for as yet he appears not in these parts." 

As late as April 29, 1620, a memorial from Carleton 
was read at a University meeting, that the types and 
papers of Brewer might remain in the keeping of the 
University, upon which it was resolved " to keep the 
said types as hitherto." Nothing is said of the 
"papers"; these being at Brewer's house, he may 
have already resumed possession. 

All this time Brewster keeps silence. He may have 
been in England quietly furthering the preparations 
for the Pilgrims' colonial enterprise, or may have 
found refuge for a time with friends in Essex or in 
Nottinghamshire. We do not know. The next 
mention of him which I have noted is on June 14, 
1620, when John Robinson refers to him in a letter 
to John Carver, in which he endeavours to account 
for Thomas Weston suddenly withdrawing his capital 
from the venture on which the Pilgrims were about 
to embark. He wonders whether Weston " hath 
thought by withholding to put us upon straits, 
thinking that thereby Master Brewster and Master 
Pickering would be drawn by importunity to do 
more." Clearly Brewster was at that time making 
ready to give substantial help to their contemplated 





The responsibility of leadership in the Separatist 
movement must have come home more forcibly to 
Robinson as the pioneers were one by one called away 
by death. John Smith, as already noted, had died 
in 1612, and now, on May 20, 1616, Richard Clifton 
passed away at Amsterdam. The news would be 
received with regret by his old friends and associates 
at Leyden. He left a fragrant memory with those 
who had known him. Clifton has frequently been 
mentioned as " the original pastor or teacher of the 
Scrooby church." 1 Professor Edward Arber went so 
far as to say that " the Pilgrim Movement originated 
in the rectory and church of Babworth," of which 
Clifton was incumbent. 2 I do not think Clifton was 
ever in office in the Pilgrim Church. He is, indeed, 
mentioned in connexion with its early days by Brad- 
ford in these terms, after referring to the Church at 
Gainsborough under John Smith — 

" In this other church [the Scrooby group] besides other 
worthy men, was Master Richard Clifton, a grave and 
reverend Preacher; who by his pains and diligence had 
done much good; and under God, had been the means of 
the conversion of many." 

But there is no mention of his call to the pastor- 
ship. I take it that when Clifton was deprived of 

1 Dexter's England and Holland of the Pilgrims, p. 561. 

2 He was instituted to the living on July 11, 1586. 



his " living " at Bab worth, on account of his non- 
conformity, he threw in his lot with the neighbouring 
group of religiously-minded friends at Scrooby, and 
gave them the benefit of his help and experience in 
their meetings for worship, and quietly assisted 
sympathetic Puritan clergy in the district as occa- 
sion offered, among them James Brewster, the vicar 
of Sutton-cum-Lound. 

Clifton was strongly influenced by John Smith, who 
convinced him that the Separatist Church he had 
gathered was, indeed, a true Church. They had some 
friendly conference upon the question of the Church's 
power of excommunication * and other outstanding 
points of difference between them when in England, 
apparently to mutual satisfaction, for when Clifton 
passed over to Holland in the summer of 1608 it was with 
the intention of joining the Church under the pastoral 
care of Smith. Owing to the latter's rapid change of 
views, however, Clifton associated himself with the 
" Ancient " or first Separatist Church in Amsterdam, 
and when Henry Ains worth, the " Teacher " in that 
Church, withdrew, on account of differences with its 
" Pastor," Francis Johnson, Clifton was chosen to 
fill his place, and admitted to exercise the office 
without re- ordination, which marked a modification 
in Johnson's practice and the previous requirement 
of his Church. Ains worth points to this when, in 
speaking of the members remaining with Johnson — 
the Franciscan Brownists, as they were scomngly 
called — he says they — 

" have placed over them one that was made Priest by a 
Lord bishop's ordination, so as because of it they did not 
ordeyn or impose hands on him when at the same time 
they ordeyned and imposed hands on others whom togither 
with him they set over the Church." 2 

All the testimony to Clifton's character points to 
him being a man of earnest and lovable disposition. 

1 Clifton's Plea, for Infants, 1610, p. 4. 

2 Ainsworth's Animadversion to Master Richard ClyftorCs Advertisement. 
1613, p. 59. 


He had the gift of winning regard alike from young 
and old. Bernard wrote of him after his separation 
as one — 

" whom I truely and entirely loued in our way [i. e. when 
he was an Anglican minister], as a man deuoted to God 
and every way worthy of loue for his vn-reprouable life and 
conuersation." x 

Christopher Lawne in 1612 contrasted his bearing 
favourably with the " loftie lookes " of Francis 

" Master Clifton," he says, " though a Teacher of the 
Franciscanes, yet is he knowne to be farre from the arro- 
gance of the other ; yea, he is pitied as being a bondslaue 
vnto S. Francis." 2 

Bradford as a youth had enjoyed the advantage of 
" Master Richard Clyf ton's illuminating ministry not 
far from his abode," 3 and he looked back in venera- 
tion to him as one who had strengthened his religious 
life. His reminiscence gives us a detail as to Clifton's 
personal appearance — 

" He was a grave and fatherly old man," says he, " when 
he came first into Holland, having a great white beard; 
and pity it is that such a reverend old man should be 
forced to leave his country and at those years to go into 
exile. But it was his lot and he bore it patiently. Much 
good had he done in the country where he lived and con- 
verted many to God by his faithful and painful ministry 
both in preaching and catechizing." 4 

He issued a " Catechism " for the use of his parish- 
ioners. His Plea for Infants and Elder People con- 
cerning their Baptism, 1610, has already been noticed. 
In reply to Lawne's venomous book he published 
in 1612 " An Advertisement concerning a Book lately 
published . . . against the English exiled Church at 

1 Bernard's Plaine Evidences, 1610, p. 57. 

2 The Prophage Schisme, 1612, p. 64. 

3 Mather's Magnolia, Bk. II. p. 3, ed. 1702. 

4 First Dialogue, Young's Chronicles of the Pilgrims. 


Amsterdam. By Richard Clyf ton, Teacher of the same 
Church." His death was a distinct loss to the cause 
of the Separatists, and it would stir many memories 
in the mind of John Robinson. 1 

Francis Johnson survived Clifton by nearly a year 
and eight months. Matthew Slade attended his 
funeral and reported his death to Carleton — 

" Amsterdam. Saturday, January 10, 1617 [1618]. 

" This day we have buried master Francis Johnson, a 
man that hath many years been Pastor of the Brownists 
and (having cast himself and drawn others, into great 
troubles and miseries for their oppressions and schism) 
did, a few days before his death, publish a Book, wherein 
he disclaimed most of his former singularities and refuted 
them. To which Work he hath also annexed a brief Refuta- 
tion of the Five Articles." 

The book here referred to is made up of three tracts, 
the second of which contains the refutation of the 
Five Points of the Arminian doctrinal system to which 
Slade refers. The volume is entitled " A Christian 
Plea conteyning Three Treatises : (1) Touching the 
Anabaptists. ... (2) Touching such Christians as 
now are here commonly called Remonstrants or 
Arminians. (3) Touching the Reformed Churches 
with whom myself agree in the faith of the Gospel 
of our Lord Jesus Christ. Made by Francis Johnson, 
pastor Of the Ancient English Church now sojourning 
at Amsterdam, in the Low Countreys . . . 1617." 
It proves that Johnson, like Robinson, modified some 
of his previous opinions. In order to counter the 
conclusions of the Anabaptists he now asserted that 
the Romish and Anglican Churches were true (though 
corrupted) Churches, and consequently their baptism 
was valid. But he did not give way in regard to 

1 An interesting sidelight on Clifton's work in England has recently been 
drawn from the Sessions Rolls of Notts., from which we learn that " Johes 
Broome of Bab worth " and his wife were presented to the Court October 12, 
1617, " for Brownists." Broome was fined 10s. vide Notts. County Records, 
p. 140, and Letter penes me from H. Hampton Copnall, Clerk of the Peace, 
July 17, 1919. 


the general grounds on which he had separated from 
the Church of England. 

His later views about the place and power of the 
" eldership " in the Church led to the shipwreck and 
weakening of his own Church and to acute differences 
on the point between himself and Robinson, to which 
we may here briefly refer. It will be remembered 
that one of the reasons inducing Robinson and his 
friends to move on to Leyden was that they foresaw 
the probable outbreak of contention in the Amster- 
dam Church. They were right. Before many months 
the brethren at Amsterdam were rent asunder by a 
fierce dispute about the authority of the " elders " 
in Church government. Johnson had a most difficult 
flock to lead. Their practice of bringing cases of 
discipline before the whole Church for consideration 
on every Lord's Day gave too many openings for 
bickering and strife. It needed a charitable temper 
and a generous spirit of forbearance for such a system 
to work with success. In the first glow of the new 
movement the restraining force of religious and 
brotherly feeling brought out the advantages of this 
careful watch over one another's conduct, but 
the disadvantages became more evident as the early 
fervour waned. Johnson came to feel that the 
Presbyterian plan of leaving the discipline of the 
Church in the hands of the Pastor, Teacher and 
lay elders was the better course. They had resisted 
the tyranny of the Prelacy in the Church of England ; 
it now seemed to him that the Church of Christ was 
being subjected to an equally dangerous tyranny — 
the tyranny of the rank and file in the Church. The 
people participating in the exercise of discipline 
might overrule the judgment of the " eldership " in 
matters of excommunication. " We have lately been 
taught," says Johnson, referring to Robinson's Justifi- 
cation of Separation, " that the people as kings have 
power one over another, and that the saints, being 
kings, are superior to their officers." His claims to 
authority on the part of the college of " elders," the 


officers, or " the presbytery " of the individual Church, 
under Christ, " the only King and Lord of His Church " 
were stoutly resisted by a strong body of the members, 
headed by Ainsworth, who were jealous for their 
new-found freedom. Efforts at accommodation were 
unavailing. If the Church was to have any being 
at all it must have some government and order; the 
point at issue was the extent of the members' liberty 
within that order and how best to secure it. How 
was a due balance between the power of the eldership 
and that of the people to be maintained ? Happily 
Robinson's Church solved the question in a practical 
way for themselves, but the members of Johnson's 
Church could not adjust the rival claims. 

An appeal was made to Robinson and the friends 
at Leyden for advice and assistance. He and Brewster 
afterwards furnished an account of their part in the 
discussions at the request of Ainsworth, " that the 
ages present and to come may have true information 
of these matters." 1 It is headed M The Testimonie 
of the Elders of the Church at Leyden," and signed 
by Robinson and Brewster. 

From this document we learn that a letter subscribed 
by " some thirty " members of Johnson's Church was 
sent over to Leyden invoking aid. Some of them had 
charged as an error Johnson's exposition of Matt, 
xviii. 17, in which he took the words " Tell the 
Church " as equivalent to " Tell the elders." They 
were now called upon to substantiate the charge, 
and wanted Robinson's " help in that great business." 
They were the more earnest in this request " because 
Mr. Ainsworth was so sparing in opposing of Mr. 
Johnson's new doctrine (though always misliking it) 
as they scarce knew how he was minded in the things ; 
so loth was he to come to any professed and public 
opposition with him [Johnson] whom he rather hoped 
to pacify by moderation than by opposition to stop 
in his intended course." The Leyden friends did not 
go over in response to this letter, " but wrote to the 

1 Ainsworth's Animadversion, p. 123. 


Church and showed them what the substance of the 
letter was." They said they were unwilling to inter- 
pose unless they were called in by the general consent 
of the Amsterdam Church as a whole, and under 
conditions giving " best hope of good issue." The 
Amsterdam friends declined to approve officially of 
the Leyden elders coming over ; they " would only 
permit it " ; and they insistently asked to be furnished 
with a copy of the letter which the dissidents had 
sent to Leyden. After some demur and delay this 
point was conceded, and a copy was forwarded, It 
had only been withheld from reluctance " to minister 
matter of further scanning " amongst them. 

After further consideration the Leyden friends 
resolved, even without any official invitation, to send 
a delegation with a view to composing the differences 
in a friendly way, and they wrote to Amsterdam con- 
veying news of their intention in these terms — 

" Our purpose therefore is (according to the request of 
the brethren which have moved us, and our duty), to send 
or come unto you : not to oppose any person or to main- 
tain any charge of error, but by all other brotherly means 
to help forward your holy peace (if so the Lord's will be); 
which how precious it is unto us, we hope to manifest to 
the consciences of all men; than which we know nothing 
in this world we have more cause to endeavour both with 
God and yourselves. Of which our coming we pray you to 
accept, and to appoint us some such time as seems to 
you most convenient. Where also we shall satisfy you to 
the utmost, both touching the letter and other particulars 
in all equity, yea, so far as we can without apparent 

Still the Amsterdam Church, say Robinson and 
Brewster in their Testimonies " would not approve, 
but only permit of our coming, as men use to permit 
of that which is evil and which indeed they could 
not hinder." Apparently when the Leyden Church 
had already come to the decision to send a deputation 
to Amsterdam, Henry Ainsworth came over in person 
to urge them to come. 


" When no means among ourselves," says Ainsworth, 
" could end the strife they know how I both intreated them 
to consent [that] they [the pastor and elder of Leyden] 
might be sent for, and when they would not, my self went 
and obteyned their coming." x 

Robinson and Brewster continue their narrative 
with an account of their interview with Johnson's 
Church. They acknowledge they spoke with some 
heat, and give testimony to Johnson's moderation in 
proposing that the unsatisfied members should be 
peaceably dismissed to the fellowship of the Church 
at Leyden — 

"And so we came unto them; first of ourselves and 
afterwards at the request of M r . Ainsworth and them with 
him, being sent by the Church whereof we are : and so 
enforcing ourselves upon them for the delivering of the 
Church's message did reprove what we judged evil in them, 
and that, we confess, with some vehemency. And in that 
regard it was that (upon the motion made by Mr. Johnson 
for the free dismission of such members with them, unto 
us, as could not there walk with peace of conscience, there 
lying no other cause against them, which should also be 
mutually performed on our part) we signified, as he writeth, 
that ' We little thought they had been so inclinable to peace, 
and that if we had so thought we would have carried ourselves 
otherwise towards them than we did. 9 

" And good cause had we so to speak. For neither is 
the same carriage to be used towards men prosecuting 
their purposes and persuasions with all violence and 
extremity, and towards them which manifest Christian 
moderation in the same. Neither had we before, [n]or have 
we since found the like peaceable inclination in them." 

Johnson's proposal was received by the members 
of his own Church with general assent, but, coming 
as a surprise to Robinson and Brewster, they felt it 
necessary to refer the matter for consideration to the 
members of their Church at Leyden. The proposal 
was understood at first to involve the transference 
of the dissatisfied members of Johnson's society to 

1 Ainsworth's Animadversion, p. 109. It is possible, however, that this 
refers to a second visit. 


Leyden to live. This would mean the breaking up 
of homes in Amsterdam, and " that those by them 
dismissed should remain at Leyden with us notwith- 
standing their want of means of living." It would 
cast a burden on the Leyden friends until the new 
adherents found fresh employment. But, in spite of 
this, on consideration " the church also at Leyden 
condescended " to the proposal — 

" and so sent back the officers [Robinson and Brewster] 
for the further ratification of it, and for some other purposes 
tending to the establishing of peace amongst them. Where- 
upon it was also the second time by them confirmed, always 
indeed with submission to the Word of God as was meet, 
and that if either they or we minded otherwise we should 
so signify." 

The agreement between the two Churches was to 
cover the case of the friendly dismission from either 
of them to the other of such members as were not 
satisfied in conscience in regard to the government 
and Church discipline in vogue in the respective 
Churches. Some members were content in cases of 
difference on such points with making a formal 
" protestation " and statement of their objection and 
then continuing in fellowship. The difficulty was 
with those who could not quiet their consciences in 
this way. 

But when the terms of the agreement were under 
discussion a fresh point emerged. One * amongst 
Johnson's party said that if this " dismissal" of mem- 
bers took place the Church at Leyden " should not 
dismiss them back ... to live a distinct congrega- 
tion in the same city [Amsterdam] with them." 
Robinson and Brewster say that Johnson and his 
elder, Daniel Studley, immediately replied " that 
that concerned not them but that they would leave 
it unto us." But the inconveniences of such an 
arrangement, which some of the members of John- 
son's Church evidently now contemplated, became 

1 This person is indicated by the initials I. O., see Ainsworth's Animad- 
version, p. 136. Who was he ? Was it John Oldham ? 


more apparent on further reflection. If it were 
needful to remain in Amsterdam to earn a livelihood, 
could they not hold together as one society in two 
sections ? In the case of a charge being brought 
against a member who accepted their pastor's theory 
it could be dealt with in camera by the eldership; 
and if a charge were brought against one who accepted 
the theory of Ainsworth the " teacher," it could be 
considered by the whole section of members in 
agreement with him, and the " admonition " be given 
in public before them. These suggestions were put 
forward in the following letter — 

Letter from the Church at Amsterdam to that of Ley den 

" Beloved, touching the things that have now lately 
been spoken of between the two churches, yours and ours, 
about the dismission of such, on either part, as are not 
content with protestation peaceably to walk in their 
difference of judgment, we have occasion to entreat the 
continuance of your consideration yet further thereabout. 

" First — Because yourselves signified it came suddenly 
upon your church ; and if either you or we minded other- 
wise by the Word of God we should after signify it. Where- 
fore we expect to hear whether you continue like-minded 
as heretofore. 

" Second — Because there is with us a new motion [pro- 
posal] of walking together thus, — by bearing one with 
another, so as, for peace, to permit of a double practice 
among us, that those that are minded either way should 
keep a like course together, as we would do if we were 
asunder, according as the persons shall be that have 
the causes. Which way, if it may be found warrantable 
by the Word of God, and peaceable unto and among 
ourselves, we hope all that love peace in holiness will accord. 

" These things as we are to consider of, so pray we you to 
do the like with us and for us, that we may do that which 
is most to God's glory and our mutual comfort. 

" Thus, etc., 

" Amsterdam, November 5, old style, 1610." 

The friends at Leyden soon replied ; they did not 
encourage this new proposal; they were content to 


stand by " the agreement " into which they had 
entered, but they proposed a third course of pro- 
cedure, based on their own practice, which might 
solve the difficulties at Amsterdam. Here is their 
letter — 

Reply of the Church at Leyden to that of Amsterdam 

" Touching the agreement, brethren, between the 
churches for our mutual peace and the relief of the con- 
sciences of our brethren, we did and do repute the same 
as full and absolute on both sides, except either some 
better course can be thought on, or this manifested to be 
evil, and that it be reversed with the mutual consent of 
both churches. 

And for this last motion, about a double practice, as we 
are glad of the great and godly desire to continue together, 
in it manifested, so we do not see how it can stand either 
with our peace or itself; but [we see] that it will not only 
nourish, but even necessarily beget endless contentions, when 
men diversly minded shall have business in the church. 

" If therefore it would please the Lord so far to enlarge 
your hearts on both sides, brethren, as that this middle way 
be held, namely, that the matter of offence might first be 
brought for order, preparation, and prevention of unnecessary 
trouble unto the elders as the church governors (though it is 
like we for our parts shall not so practice in this particular) 
and after, if things be not there ended, to the church of elders 
and brethren, there to be judged on some ordinary known 
day ordinarily : the admonition being carried according to 
the alteration practised and agreed upon by all parts, till it 
shall please the God of wisdom and Father of lights by the 
further consideration and parties discussing of things, either 
in word or writing, to manifest otherwise for our joint accord. 

" It would surely make much to the glory of God and the 
stopping of their mouths which are so wide opened upon us 
in respect of our daily dissipations, and should be to us 
matter of great rejoicing whose souls do long after peace and 
abhor the contrary : and that thus walking in peace and 
holiness we might all beg at God's hands the healing and 
pardon of all our infirmities, and so be ready to heal and 
forgive the infirmities of one another in love. 

And with this prayer unto God for you and for ourselves 
we re-salute you in the Lord Jesus. 

" Leyden, November 14, 1610." 


The " middle course " of procedure in Church 
discipline suggested by Robinson was the course 
followed in his own Church, though his society did 
not regard it as fixed and unalterable. Probably now 
that the question was raised there were some, even 
in Robinson's company, who were unduly jealous for 
the kingly rights of the individual Church member, 
and sought to protect them from all encroachment, 
and the insertion of the saving clause, " though it is 
like we for our parts shall not so practice," would, 
in the event of the Ainsworthian party joining the 
Leyden Church, leave the way open for a further 
consideration of the matter, and a settlement of the 
point more distinctly on the lines favoured by them. 

The Amsterdam friends under Ainsworth, however, 
rejected this proposal. They also rejected the sug- 
gestion of following a " double practice " by which 
both sections should continue together after a sort. 
Some of the friends under Johnson for their part 
" became more opposed " to the suggested union of 
the dissatisfied members with the Leyden Church 
and their immediate return to live in Amsterdam as a 
separate religious society. The more they thought 
about it the less they liked it. Would this second 
society be a true Church? They might keep up 
business relations with their old friends, but could 
they legitimately continue in spiritual communion 
with them ? Their letter speaks for itself — 

Reply of the Church of Amsterdam to that of Leyden 

" Your letter, brethren, we received and read publicly. 
Concerning which we have occasion to signify some things 
unto you thereabout. 

" And first, touching the agreement treated of between us; 
that for such of us as will not come thither to remain with 
you, but purpose still to live here in this city apart from us. 
Albeit there be some that could be content notwithstanding, 
so to dismiss them, yet there are others of us that having 
more considered of it, think it not lawful to have any hand 
in consenting thereunto, and mean therefore to reverse our 


former agreement, unto it. Besides that, divers of us say, 
they never consented hereunto. 

" And further, some of us also begin to think that it will 
be found unlawful to keep spiritual communion with them 
in such estate, however we may still retain with them civil 

"The reasons minded, why [we ought] not so to dismiss 
them, nor to have spiritual fellowship with them in such 
estate and walking, are these — 

1. Because we cannot find warrant for it in the Word of 

2. Because they refuse, disobey and speak evil of the truth 
and way of God. 

3. Because they refuse to continue and keep communion 
with us, though they may be suffered to walk with us in 
peace with protestation in their difference of judgment. 

4. Because some of them profess they will not deal in causes 
(as may fall out between us) by way of protestation neither 
when they are with us nor when they are from us. 

5. Because they go not from one church and pastor to 
another so to live and remain ; but purpose, when they have 
come and joined unto you, then presently [at once] to return 
and live here in this town apart from us. 

6. Because by such walking of theirs great reproach will 
come upon us all, with much dishonour to God and hindrance 
to the truth what in them lieth. 

7. Because we think there should alway be somewhat in 
such cases used, as whereby the Lord may work upon their 
consciences to consider their estate and to repent and yield 
to the truth and way of God which they have hitherto 
refused and oppugned, &c. 

" Thus we thought to acquaint you with these things and 
the reasons thereabout : which yet are so minded of us as, 
if either among ourselves, or by others we shall hereafter 
better discern what is according to the will of God herein, 
we shall, God willing, be ready so to receive and walk. 

" As touching the double practice misliked by you, although 
indeed it may seem somewhat strange and difficult, yet, 
for the present, some of us could like better of it than of a 
parting : but the brethren differing from us will not admit 
of it. 

" Neither will they yield to that middle course propounded 
in your letter. Yet have we left it, with the former things 
to their further consideration. 

" And howsoever it pleaseth the Lord to dispose of us, our 
trust is, that he will work all in the end to the furtherance 


of his truth and [the] peace of his church in Christ Jesus. 
To whose gracious protection and guidance we commend 
you, &c. 

" Amsterdam, November 19, 1610." 

To the " reasons " in this letter the friends at 
Leyden made no answer. In a week or two after the 
despatch of this letter the old Separatist Church at 
Amsterdam split asunder, the dissidents going off 
with Ainsworth and finding temporary quarters next 
door but one to the meeting-house of their old com- 
panions. Why was no reply sent from Leyden? 

" The causes were," say Robinson and Brewster, in their 
Testimonie — 

" First — For that they [the members of Johnson's church] 
continued not long together after they [the ' reasons '] came 
to our hands. 

" Secondly — We had upon occasion of the motion made for 
a double practice, propounded another course, both more fit 
and warrantable, as we thought, than that, for the bringing 
of things first to the elders as appears in our letter. 

" Unto which course, though we do not bind our brethren, 
yet may we safely say, so far as we remember, that there 
never came complaint of sin to the church since we were 
officers, but we took knowledge of it before either by mutual 
consent on both sides or at least by the party accused ; with 
whose Christian modesty and wisdom we think it well sorteth 
that being condemned by two or t\ree brethren he should 
not trouble the church or hazard a public rebuke upon him- 
self, without counseling with them who are set over him and 
who either are or should be but able to advise him. 

" Thirdly and which was the chief course, we were without 
all hope of doing good when they once misliked the motion 
which made it [i. e. made the proposal to dismiss the Ains- 
worth party to Leyden]. Whilst they liked it we had hope, 
though it were with hard measure to the other [the Ains- 
worthians] and so did further it to the utmost of our power ; 
but when they laid it down, we knew all our labour would 
be lost in endeavouring their second liking of it." 

The intervention of Robinson and his fellow-mem- 
bers was not successful in preventing the breach 
in the Amsterdam Church. They were evidently in 


agreement with Ainsworth and his party on the 
point at issue, and held to the position of the early 
Separatists that, though the body of Church members 
delegated power for governing and discipline to their 
elected officers, yet they did not thereby surrender 
the ultimate authority in Church matters which 
under Christ rested in them. 

A remarkable letter, 1 dated " The eighth of July 
1611, new style," from Matthew Saunders and Cuth- 
bert Hutten, two members of Johnson's Church, gives 
us the picture of the position of affairs at that date. 
Referring to " the many sorts of the separation at 
this day cursing or rejecting one another, others think- 
ing but basely one of another," they proceed in these 
terms : " To begin with ourselves, whom Master Ains- 
worth and his followers hath left and rejected as 
false Christians; master Robinson holding but key- 
cold brotherhood with vs, and master Ainsworth and 
he and we jarring about ruling Elders." 

It was indeed a pitiful dispute. Echoes of it 
were heard amongst the Separatists in London, who 
wrote to inquire how matters stood and what was 
the nature of " the differences that be amongst you." 

" Thos[e] that come over [to London] of M. J[ohnson] his 
side say they hold no more concerning the Eldership then 
M. A[insworth] hath written against Mfaster] Smyth : others 
say to the contrary, we doo therefore intreat M. A[insworth] 
to certifie us of the truth." 2 

There was ground for uncertainty in regard to 
Ainsworth' s opinion. He had shied at the charge of 
" popularity " when Bernard brought it against the 
Brownists, and dissociated himself then from the 
full democratic position which Smith frankly accepted. 3 

The rift between the Ainsworthian and Franciscan 
Brownists was widened when " two brethren and a 
widow " among the former instituted a civil suit 

1 Lawne's Prophane Schism, pp. 55-57, 1612. 

2 Animadversion, 1613, p. 1. 

3 See Ainsworth's Counterpoison, p. 159, and Smith's Paralleles, p. 67, 1609. 


for the possession of the old meeting-house in the 
Brownists' Alley. This place of worship, put up by 
the joint efforts of the brethren, with assistance from 
England, in 1607, seems to have been held on a pro- 
prietary basis. The land on which it stood was 
held in the name of a member adhering to the party 
of Johnson, and they pleaded " that they which 
build on another man's ground are by law to lose 
their building." The three chief shareholders or 
proprietors of the building disputed this plea, and 
the matter was referred to the Burgomaster. Sug- 
gestions for arbitration were rejected. Ains worth's 
party contended that they held the opinions of the 
original founders, and that the name of the person 
in whom the land was vested " was but used in 
trust." They won their suit. Johnson and his friends 
were dispossessed. 

When Robinson and Brewster wrote their Testi- 
monie Johnson and his Church were " about to 
leave " Amsterdam " and to settle their abode else- 
where." * They removed to Emden, but appear to 
have returned before long to Amsterdam again. After 
Johnson's death the remnants of his broken Church, 
under their elder, Francis Blackwell, " prepared for 
to go to Virginia." Blackwell was not the right 
stamp of man to lead such a venture. Moreover 
misfortune dogged their steps. Their expedition came 
to grief, most of them perishing from want, dysentery 
and sickness on a miserably prolonged voyage. It is 
to the credit of the members of Robinson's Church 
that this failure did not daunt them in their pre- 
parations for a similar effort to effect a settlement 
in America upon which they were soon to be engaged. 

By the death of Francis Johnson Henry Ainsworth 
and John Robinson were left as the conspicuous 
leaders of the Separatist Churches. Ainsworth busied 
himself in the intervening years till his death in 
preparing and issuing from the press his " Annota- 
tions vpon the five Bookes of Moses, the booke of the 

1 W orks, vol. iii. p. 475. 


Psalmes and the Song of Songs or Canticles." These 
appeared separately at various dates from 1612 to 
1623, and collectively in one large folio in 1627. They 
embody a fresh translation of each chapter, followed 
by annotations. The difference in tone between 
Ains worth's controversial writings and his Biblical 
annotations is remarkable. In the latter he writes 
with detachment from current controversies, and 
restrains himself from taking advantage of the many 
openings his exposition afforded for pressing his own 
peculiar views about Church government. Here the 
party spirit was happily absent. 

His excessive application to study brought on 
bodily weakness, and he suffered much in his last 
years. In 1619 he speaks of " the extreme infirmity 
of my body." 1 He died in 1622, as one who knew 
him well tells us " from that sore perplexing and 
tedious disease of the stone." 2 

1 Annotations upon . . . DEVTERONOM1E, 1619, ad fin. 

2 " Epistle," by Sabine Staresmore, prefixed to Notes ofM. Henry Aynsworth, 
His Last Sermon, printed 1630. His Song of Songs in English Metre, published 
in 1623, is prefaced by a letter to the "Christian Reader" from one who 
describes him as : " Full of faith and good works, fruitfull in his life, comfort- 
able hi his death to all beholders, of which there were many, my selfe being 
one amongst the rest." We have full particulars of Ainsworth's illness, as 
details of it were recorded in a contemporary medical text- book as an in- 
teresting case. A stupid and wicked story was set afloat in after years that 
he was poisoned by Jews jealous of his Rabbinical knowledge. It has taken 
a long time to kill that lying fabrication. 


robinson's plea for lay preaching 

John Robinson was remembered by some of his 
old flock in Norwich and the neighbourhood long after 
he had left their midst. His books were circulated 
and read amongst them and had some influence upon 
their religious practice. They even ventured to hold 
meetings at which ordinary members exercised their 
gifts of preaching and expounding the " Word of God " 
to the edification of the assembled company. This 
was regarded as a grave irregularity by the ordained 
clergy. The Rev. John Yates was then minister of 
St. Andrew's, where Robinson had formerly laboured, 
and he undertook the task of reproving those who 
upheld what he regarded as a dangerous and disorderly 
practice. One of their number, whose initials only 
are given, justified their action by an appeal to the 
arguments in favour of lay preaching by ordinary 
Church members set out in Robinson's book on the 
Justification of Separation. This appears to have 
been one William Euring, who, to use his own words, 
had been brought up not " among the Muses, but 
Mariners." He subsequently engaged in religious 
controversy with Thomas Drakes, "preacher of the 
Word at Harwich and Dovercourt." Euring turned 
to Robinson's book for support in the practice of 
" prophesying," of which he was an ardent advocate. 
He abstracted Robinson's arguments, and the Scrip- 
ture texts on which they were based, and sent them 
on to Yates. 1 The matter was not allowed to rest 
there. Yates promptly laid down ten arguments 

1 The Peoples Plea, 1618, p. 47. 


" to prove ordinary prophecy in public out of office 
unlawful," and appended an answer to the reasons 
and texts brought forward by Robinson in his 
book in favour of that practice. 1 It was a weighty 
and skilful production, and deserved careful con- 
sideration. Euring felt this was a case for Robinson 
himself to handle. He obtained the consent of Yates 
to the despatch of his manuscript, duly attested be- 
fore a magistrate, to Leyden for Robinson's perusal. 
Robinson was stirred up to reply, and soon issued 
The People's Plea for the Exercise of Prophesie against 
M r John Yates his Monopolie. Curiously enough, 
some have taken the word " Monopolie " as the title 
of Yates's treatise. Clearly it is used by Robinson 
in reference to the claim made, on behalf of the clergy 
and ordained ministry, by Yates to a " monopoly " 
in the work of preaching or prophesying. The book, 
" printed in the yeare 1618," was issued from the press 
of William Brewster. Robinson was evidently in 
good heart at the time of penning this treatise. He 
handles his subject with ease and confidence. He 
writes as one who is sure of his ground and satisfied 
with the position he holds. He had a sincere respect 
for John Yates, and speaks of him as " a man of 
good gifts in himself and [of] note amongst " 2 the 
friends in Norwich, but he does not spare him when 
pressing home his refutation of the arguments Yates 
had brought forward to overthrow the practice of 
prophesying by ordinary Church members. 

In a preface, addressed "to my Christian Friends 
in Norwich and thereabouts," Robinson declared it 
was " matter of unfeigned, rejoicing " to him " to 
hear how God hath of late stirred up amongst you 
divers instruments " in the work of prophesying, whose 
zealous labours God had blessed. It would be gratify- 
ing to Robinson to learn that his Norwich friends had 
not forgotten him, and that his labours amongst them 
were bearing fruit so long after he had been forced to 
leave them. 

1 Works, vol. iii. p. 309. 2 The People's Plea, 1618, Preface. 


The matter of the book need not detain us long. 
Both Yates and Robinson agreed that the Scripture 
was the final court of appeal. The question, then, was 
whether Scripture sanctioned the exercise of prophecy 
or preaching by men out of office. Yates alleged that 
Christ had granted the power of prophecy in public 
" to none but such as he sends and ordains thereunto." 
Robinson had no difficulty in bringing forward numer- 
ous Scriptural cases of ordinary people out of office 
exercising the gift of prophecy. Yates rejoined that 
all these cases were extraordinary and, in his opinion, 
were specially warranted " by the secret motion of 
the Spirit," consequently they were not to be made 
the example for ordinary practice. Robinson, for 
his part, took them in the plain sense as cases of ordin- 
ary men exercising the gift of exhortation or prophecy 
in the public assembly, and accordingly affording 
ample warrant for the practice he advocated. 

In the course of his argument he gives a picture, 
for Mr. Yates' benefit, of the course followed in this 
matter in his own Church at Leyden — 

" Thus we practise. After the exercise of the public 
ministry [is] ended, the rulers in the Church do publicly exhort 
and require that such of their own or other Church as have 
a gift to speak to the edification of the hearers should use 
the same; and this, according to that which is written 
Acts xiii. 14, etc., where Paul and Barnabas coming into the 
synagogue, the rulers, after the work of the ordinary ministry 
was ended (considering them not as apostles, which they 
acknowledged not, but only as men having gifts), sent unto 
them, that if they had any word of exhortation to the people 
they should say on." x 

Throughout the controversy Yates has his eye 
fixed on the ministerial office. Robinson looks first 
to the man : " The gift of prophecy comes not by the 
office," he says, " but, being found in persons before, 
makes them capable of the office by due means." 2 

The discussion of various texts and arguments 
bearing on the subject is carried on at considerable 

1 Works, vol. iii. p. 292. 2 Ibid., p. 293. 


length, and the modern reader will be tempted to say 
of the whole controversy, as Robinson himself said 
in reference to the second argument of Mr. Yates, 
" Here is a long harvest for a small crop." 1 The 
book, however, gave a sound and sensible defence 
of lay preaching and the layman's right to exercise 
his gift of exhortation on religious themes. It was in 
virtue of its argument for lay preaching that a second 
edition 2 of this work was called for in the year 1641. 

William Euring and Thomas Drakes 

We have referred to the suggestion that William 
Euring was specially interested in this vindication of 
the layman's right to speak in the church. He was 
concerned also in a controversy with Thomas Drakes. 
Drakes had rejoined to Seven Demands of the Separa- 
tists with Ten Counter-Demands, and in 1619 Euring 
brought out his Answer to the Ten Counter-Demands 
propounded by T. Drakes. In this work we have an 
interesting reference to Virginia. Drakes, in his 
last " Demand," suggested that if the Separatists 
could not see their way to return to the Anglican 
Church, it might be a good thing for them, " for the 
avoiding of scandal, and in expectance of some pros- 
perous success, by the permission of our noble King 
and honourable Council, to remove to Virginia and 
make a plantation there, in hope to convert infidels 
to Christianity." 

To this Euring replied — 

" Not only I myself, but all of us that now are separated 
from you, would much more willingly and gladly return again, 
and labour to plant ourselves again in the meanest part of 
England to enjoy peace with holiness (Heb. xii. 14), and to 
follow the truth in love, among our kindred and friends in 
our own native country, than either to continue where now 

1 Works, vol. iii. p. 291. 

2 The British Museum Copy, E 1093, has a MS. note on the title page after 
the author's name thus : " y e Brownist at Leyden." The book is 16mo, 
pp. vi, 72, a.d. 1641. 


many of us as yet live, or to plant ourselves in Virginia, or in 
any other country in the world, upon any conditions or hope 
of any thing in this life whatsoever. 

" Yet even for Virginia, thus much — When some of ours 
desired to have planted ourselves there, with His Majesty's 
leave, upon these three grounds — 

"(1) That they might be means of replanting the Gospel 
amongst the heathen. 

" (2) That they might live under the King's government. 

" (3) That they might make way for, and unite with, others, 
what in them lieth, whose consciences are grieved with the 
state of the Church in England : 

" the Bishops did by all means oppose them and their 

friends therein." 



John Robinson. 
William Robinson. 

We have already referred to the venture at colon- 
izing which the members of John Robinson's Church 
contemplated. In order to understand the nature of 
that venture and the inception of the idea of forming 
a colony in America we must go back a step or two 
in our story. The notion seems to have presented 
itself to the mind of Robinson early in 1617, and was 
discussed by him privately with Brewster and " sundry 
of the sagest members." There was a great call for 
colonists to settle in Virginia at this time, and it seemed 
not unreasonable to think they might be allowed to 
settle together in those new lands and enjoy there 
that religious liberty which was denied them at home. 

The ten years' truce between Holland and Spain 
would run out in the spring of 1619, and the indications 
were that hostilities would then be renewed. The diffi- 
culty of securing a decent livelihood in Holland for 
English refugees deterred many who desired a further 
reformation in religion from throwing in their lot 
with Robinson. This was a disappointment to him. 
He often used to say " that many of those who both 
wrote and preached now against them; if they were 
in a place where they might have liberty and live 
comfortably they would then practise as they did." 

Furthermore, it seemed unduly difficult for them in 
Holland to bring up their children in the nurture and 
admonition of the Lord, as they desired. They were 
in danger of losing their name and nation and being 

P 209 


merged in the Dutch. " Lastly," says Bradford, 
" and which was not least, a great hope and inward 
zeal they had of laying some good foundations, or at 
least to make some way thereunto, for the propagating 
and advancing the Gospel of the Kingdom of Christ 
in those remote parts of the world ; yea, though they 
should be but even as stepping-stones unto others 
for the performing of so great a work." 

This missionary note in their project must never 
be forgotten; it was a dominant note in all their 

After the proposal had been discussed by Robinson 
and the leaders of the congregation, it was brought 
before the members of the whole Church, and laid 
open " to the scanning of all." The difficulties in 
the way of carrying it out were at once stated by those 
averse to the scheme. But the plan appealed to the 
imagination of the bolder spirits. To the objectors 
it was answered — 

" That all great and honourable actions are accompanied 
with great difficulties; and must be both enterprised and 
overcome with answerable courages. It was granted the 
dangers were great, but not desperate; the difficulties were 
many but not invincible. For though there were many of 
them likely, yet they were not certain. It might be sundry 
of the things feared might never befall ; others by provident 
care and the use of good means might in a great measure be 
prevented ; and all of them through the help of God by forti- 
tude and patience might either be borne or overcome. . . . 
Their ends were good and honourable ; their calling lawful and 
urgent ; and therefore they might expect the blessing of God 
in their proceeding. Yea, though they should lose their lives 
in this action, yet might they have comfort in the same, and 
their endeavours would be honourable. . . . After many 
other particular things answered and alleged on both sides, 
it was fully concluded by the major part ' to put this design 
in execution, and to prosecute it by the best means they could.' " 

Having come to this resolution, the next thing was 
to decide upon the place for their colony. " Some, 
and none of the meanest, had thoughts for Guiana 
. . . others were for some parts of Virginia, where 


the English had already made entrance and beginning." 
The voyages of Raleigh had roused much interest 
in Guiana, and men's eyes were now turned in that 
direction, because at this very time the veteran 
explorer was making his last venture to the Orinoco, 
hoping, if successful, to be reinstated in the Royal 
favour. Some of the Pilgrim company, too, may have 
heard at first hand from Captain Charles Leigh of the 
richness of those sunny lands and the needs of their 
natives. Leigh had been well known to some of the 
Separatists at Amsterdam. He had voyaged to 
Guiana in 1604, and sent home a request to the Privy 
Council that " able preachers " might be sent out, 
as " the Indians were anxious for instruction." x 

The danger from the jealousy of the Spaniards 
against any successful colony in those parts turned the 
scale of decision against Guiana. 

But suppose they went to Virginia; if they lived 
under the Government of that colony they would be 
"in as great danger to be troubled and persecuted 
for Cause of Religion as if they lived in England, and, 
it might be, worse," and yet if they lived too far off 
they could not expect help from that colony when 
danger threatened. 

"At length," says Bradford, "the conclusion was to live 
as a distinct body by themselves, under the general Govern- 
ment of Virginia; and by their friends to sue to His Majesty 
that he would be pleased to grant them Freedom of Religion. 
And that this might be obtained, they were put in good hope 
by some Great Persons of good rank and quality that were 
made their friends.' , 

They little knew what a serious bar to securing 
official sanction for their venture this claim for " free- 
dom of religion " was destined to be. 

The Leyden Church, having thus decided to go and 
where 2 to go, the next step was to sound the authori- 
ties upon the plan, and see if permission to go could 

1 State Papers, Domestic, James I, vol. viii. No. 87. 

2 " Our eye," says Winslow, " was upon the most northern parts of 


be got. The members accordingly chose John Carver 
and Robert Cushman to act as agents, and sent them 
over to England at the expense of the Church to 
further the project. They made application to the 
First or London Virginia Company, which had juris- 
diction over the Jamestown district and adjacent 
parts. They went to Sir Edward Sandys, with whom 
William Brewster had an old acquaintance, and met 
with a friendly reception. In order to overcome 
possible objections to their plan from those hostile 
to their religious opinions Carver and Cushman were 
supplied with a paper of " Seven Articles," subscribed 
by Robinson and Brewster, in which the position of 
the Ley den congregation is defined. 

The differences between them and the Anglican 
Church are made to appear as small as possible, and 
the civil authority of the Bishops, as derived from the 
Crown, is acknowledged. The document reminds me 
of views expressed by Henry Jacob, and marks a 
recession from the position of the earlier Separatists. 
As we read it the purpose for which it was expressly 
intended must be kept in view — 

" Seven Articles which the church of Ley den sent to the 
Council of England to be considered of in respect of their 
judgments occasioned about their going to Virginia, Anno 1618. 

"1. To the confession of faith published in the name of the 
Church of England and to every Article thereof we do, with 
the Reformed Churches where we live, and also elsewhere, 
assent wholly. 

"2. As we do acknowledge the doctrine of faith there taught, 
so do we the fruits and effects of the same doctrine to the 
begetting of saving faith in thousands in the land (conformists 
and reformists) as they are called, with whom also, as with 
our brethren, we do desire to keep spiritual communion in 
peace, and will practise in our parts all lawful things. 

"3. The King's Majesty we acknowledge for Supreme 
Governor in his Dominion in all causes and over all persons, 
and that none may decline or appeal from his authority or 
judgment in any cause whatsoever, but that in all things 
obedience is due unto him, either active if the thing commanded 
be not against God's word, or passive if it be, except pardon 
can be obtained. 


" 4. We judge it lawful for his Majesty to appoint Bishops, 
civil overseers or officers in authority under him in the several 
provinces, dioceses, congregations or parishes, to oversee the 
churches and govern them civilly according to the Laws of 
the Land, unto whom they are in all things to give an account, 
and by them to be ordered according to godliness. 

"5. The authority of the present Bishops in the Land we do 
acknowledge so far forth as the same is indeed derived from 
His Majesty unto them, and as they proceed in his name 
whom we will also therein honour in all things and him in 

"6. We believe that no Synod, Classes, Convocation or 
Assembly of Ecclesiastical Officers hath any power or authority 
at all, but as the same by the magistrate [is] given unto them. 

" 7. Lastly, we desire to give unto all Superiors due honour, 
to preserve the unity of the spirit with all that fear God, to 
have peace with all men what in us lieth, and wherein we err 
to be instructed by any. 

" Subscribed per 

"John Robinson 

" Will yam Brewster." x 

We catch a glimpse of the course of the negotiations 
from a letter dated " London, November 12th, anno 
1617," addressed by Sir Edwin Sandys to " Master 
John Robinson and Master William Brewster," in 
the course of which he commends the " good discre- 
tion " of Carver and Cushman as doing both themselves 
and their society credit — 

" After my hearty salutations," he says, " the agents 
of your Congregation, Robert Cushman and John Carver, 
have been in communication with divers select Gentlemen of 
His Majesty's Council for Virginia; and by the writing of 
Seven Articles subscribed with your names, have given them 
that good degree of satisfaction which hath carried them on 
with a resolution to set forward your desire in the best sort 
that may be for your own and the public good." 

Sandys goes on to say that particulars would be 
reported to them by their agents, and he con- 
cludes a friendly letter by commending them and their 

1 State Pa/pers, Colonial, vol. i. p. 43, The document is a copy, not the 
original, and its spelling is quaint. 


design, which he hopes verily is the work of God, " to 
the gracious protection and blessing of the Highest." 

The negotiations had begun hopefully, and the letter 
of Sandys encouraged the friends at Leyden to press 
on with the matter. Their reply to Sandys is a 
memorable document, and brings clearly to his notice 
various points to prove that they were the right stamp 
of folk to build up a permanent colony — 

Letter to Sir Edwin Sandys 

" Right Worshipful, 

" Our humble duties remembered in our own, our 
Messengers', and our Church's name. With all thankful 
acknowledgment of your singular love expressing itself, as 
otherwise, so more specially in your great care and earnest 
endeavour of our good in this weighty business about Virginia, 
which, the less able we are to requite, we shall think ourselves 
the more bound to commend in our prayers unto God for 
recompence : Whom, as for the present, you rightly behold 
in our endeavours ; so shall we not be wanting on our parts, 
the same God assisting us, to return all answerable fruit and 
respect unto the labour of your love bestowed upon us. 

" We have (with the best speed and consideration withal, 
that we could) set down our Requests in writing, subscribed, 
as you willed, with the hands of the greatest part of our 
Congregation, and have sent the same unto the Council by 
our Agent and a Deacon of our Church, John Carver, unto 
whom we have also requested a gentleman of our Company 
to adjoin himself, to the care and discretion of which two, we 
do refer the prosecuting of the business. 

" Now we persuade ourselves, Right Worshipful, that we need 
not provoke your godly and loving mind to any further, or 
more tender care of us ; since you have pleased so far to interest 
yourself in us that, under God, above all persons and things 
in the world, we rely upon you; expecting the care of your 
love, counsel of your wisdom, and the help and countenance 
of your authority. 

" Notwithstanding, for your encouragement in the work, so 
far as probabilities may lead, we will not forbear to mention 
these instances of Inducement — 

"First — We verily believe and trust the Lord is with us 
(unto Whom and Whose service we have given ourselves in 
many trials), and that He will graciously prosper our endeavour 
according to the simplicity of our hearts therein. 


"Secondly — We are well weaned from the delicate milk of 
our mother country, and inured to the difficulties of a strange 
and hard land ; which yet, in great part, we have by patience 

" Thirdly — The people are, for the body of them, [as] indus- 
trious and frugal, we think we may safely say, as any company 
of people in the world. 

" Fourthly — We are knit together, as a body, in a most strict 
and sacred Bond and Covenant of the Lord ; of the violation 
whereof we make great conscience, and by virtue whereof 
we do hold ourselves straitly tied to all care of each other's 
good and of the whole by every one, and so mutually. 

"Lastly — It is not with us as with other men whom small 
things can discourage or small discontentments cause to wish 
themselves at home again. We know our entertainment 
in England and in Holland. We shall much prejudice both 
our arts and means by removal. If we should be driven to 
return, we should not hope to recover our present helps and 
comforts : neither, indeed, look ever, for ourselves, to attain 
unto the like in any other place during our lives, which are 
now drawing towards their periods. 

" These Motives we have been bold to tender unto you, 
which you, in your wisdom, may also impart to any other 
our worshipful friends of the Council with you : of all whose 
godly and loving disposition towards our despised persons 
we are most glad; and shall not fail by all good means to 
continue [to deserve] and increase the same. We will not 
be further troublesome ; but, with the renewed remembrance 
of our humble duties to your Worship — and (so far as in 
modesty we may be bold) to any other of our well -will ers 
of the Council with you — we take our leaves : committing 
your persons and counsels to the guidance and direction of 
the Almighty. 

" Yours much bounden in all duty, 

" John Robinson 
"William Brewster. 

" Leyden, December 15th, anno 1617." 

Sandys got Sir Robert Naunton, the Secretary of 
State, to sound the King about granting protection 
to these would-be colonists. " By what means will 
they exist there?" asked His Majesty. When it was 
answered, " Fishing," he replied with his ordinary 
asseveration, " So God have my soul ! 'tis an honest 
trade. It was the Apostles' own calling," At first the 


King assented to the request, but when he reflected 
further upon their petition " to enjoy their liberty of 
conscience under his gracious protection in America," 
he referred them on this point to the " Bishops of 
Canterbury and London." There was not much hope 
of favourable consideration from that quarter, yet 
Sandys did approach the Archbishop, George Abbot, 
on the subject. His action was misconstrued. An 
opponent asserted that he moved the Archbishop to 
" give leave to the Brownists and Separatists to go 
to Virginia and designed to make a free popular State 
there, and himself and his assured friends to be the 

Their suit to the King for liberty of religion failed. 
Bradford says, " There were divers of good worth 
laboured with the King to obtain it, amongst whom 
was Sir Robert Naunton, one of his chief Secretaries, 
and some others wrought with the Archbishop to give 
way thereunto, but it proved all in vain." The 
matter was discussed also in the Privy Council, as we 
learn from letters sent through Sabine Staresmore 
to Sir John Wolstenholme. 

Here again the stumbling-block was the peculiar 
views in regard to religious polity held by the Leyden 
Church. Some of the Council wanted to know the 
views of the Leyden congregation with regard to the 
nature of the ministry, the sacraments and the oath 
acknowledging the King as supreme over the Church. 
Staresmore stood by and watched the Privy Councillor 
read the papers on these points which Robinson and 
Brewster sent over. He pictures the scene for us. 
Wolstenholme evidently felt that neither of the papers 
was suitable for helping the business through, and 
hoped to get the matter settled without making them 

Here is an extract from Staresmore's vivid letter 
to the Leyden friends, dated February 14, 1617-8 — 

" Your Letter to Sir John Wolstenholme I delivered, 
almost as soon as I had it, to his own hands ; and stayed with 
}}im the opening and reading. 


" There were two Papers inclosed. He read them to him- 
self, as also the Letter; and in the reading he spake to me 
and said, ' Who shall make them ? ' viz. the Ministers. 

" I answered his Worship, ' that the power of making 
[ministers] was in the Church, to be ordained by the Imposi- 
tion of Hands by the fittest Instruments they had. It must 
either be in the Church or from the Pope; and the Pope is 

" ' Ho ! ' said Sir John, ' what the Pope holds good, as in 
the Trinity, that we do well to assent to ; but,' said he, ' we 
will not enter into dispute now.' 

" As for your Letters, he would not show them at any hand ; 
lest he should spoil all. He expected you should have been 
of the Archbishop's mind for the calling of Ministers ; but it 
seems you differed. I could have wished to have known the 
contents of your two inclosed [notes] at which he stuck so 
much, especially the larger. 

" I asked his Worship ' what good news he had for me to 
write to-morrow ? ' 

" He told me, ' Very good news, for both the King's 
Majesty and the Bishops have consented.' 

" He said he would go to Master Chancellor, Sir Fulke 
Greville, as this day [i. e. Saturday, Feb. 14], and next week 
I should know more. 

" I met Sir Edwin Sandys on Wednesday night. He wished 
me to be at the Virginia Court the next Wednesday, where I 
purpose to be. 

" Thus, loath to be troublesome at present, I hope to have 
somewhat next week, of certain, concerning you. I commit 
you to the Lord. 

" Yours, 

" Sabine Staresmore." 

We are more favoured than Staresmore, and can 
look into the letter and notes which Sir John Wolsten- 
holme thought might endanger rather than help 
forward the delicate negotiations for securing per- 
mission to migrate. Here they are — 

The Copy of a Letter sent to Sir John Wolstenholme 

" Right Worshipful, 

" With due acknowledgment of our thankfulness 
for your singular care and pains in the business of Virginia ; 
for our, and, we hope, the common good, we do remember 


our humble duties to you; and have sent inclosed, as is 
required, a further explanation of our Judgements in the 
Three Points specified by some of His Majesty's honourable 
Privy Council. And though it be grievous unto us, that 
such unjust insinuations are made against us, yet we are most 
glad of the occasion of making our just purgation unto so 
honourable Personages. 

" Two Declarations we have sent inclosed; the one more 
brief and general, which we think the fitter to be presented ; 
the other something more large, and in which we express some 
small accidental differences ; which, if it seem good unto you 
and others of our worshipful friends, you may send instead 
of the former. 

" Our prayer unto God is that your Worship may see the 
fruit of your worthy endeavours, which on our parts we shall 
not fail to further by all good means in us. 

" And so praying that you would please, with the con- 
venientest speed that may be, to give us knowledge of the 
success of the business with His Majesty's Privy Council, 
and accordingly, what your further pleasure is, either for our 
direction or furtherance in the same. 

So we rest. Your Worship's in all duty 

"John Robinson 
"William Brewster. 

"Leyden, January 27th, anno 1617, old style [i.e. Feb. 6 

The first brief Note was this — 

" Touching the Ecclesiastical Ministry, namely, of Pastors 
for Teaching, Elders for Ruling, and Deacons for distributing 
the Church's contribution : as also for the two Sacraments — 
Baptism and the Lord's Supper; we do wholly and in all 
points agree with the French Reformed Churches, according 
to their public Confession of Faith. 

" The Oath of Supremacy we shall willingly take, if it be 
required of us, and that convenient satisfaction be not given 
by our taking the Oath of Allegiance. 

" John Robinson 

" William Brewster." 

The second was this — 

" Touching the Ecclesiastical Ministry, etc. ... (as in the 
former) ... we agree in all things with the French Reformed 
Churches, according to their public Confession of Faith, 


though some small differences be to be found in our practices, 
not at all in the substance of things, but only in some accidental 

" As first — Their Ministers do pray with their heads covered, 
ours uncovered. 

" Secondly — We choose none for Governing Elders but 
such as are able to teach ; which ability they do not require. 

" Thirdly — Their Elders and Deacons are annual, or at 
most for two or three years ; ours perpetual. 

** Fourthly — Our Elders do administer their Office in 
Admonitions and Excommunications for public scandals, 
publicly, and before the Congregation ; theirs more privately 
and in their Consistories. 

" Fifthly — We do administer Baptism only to such infants 
as whereof the one parent at the least is of some Church; 
which some of their Churches do not observe; though in it 
our practice accords with their public Confession and the 
judgment of the most learned amongst them. 

" Other differences worthy mentioning we know none in 
these Points. (Then about the Oath as in the former [note].) 

" Subscribed, 

"John Robinson 
"William Brewster." 

Though their attempt to gain toleration and allow- 
ance by the King's public authority failed, they 
gathered that " he would connive at them, and not 
molest them, provided they carried themselves peace- 
ably. . . . This was all the chief of the Virginia 
Company or any others of their best friends could 
do in the case." 

When the messengers returned to Leyden with this 
answer, it naturally " made a damp in the business." 
Though the project was hung up for a time, it was 
kept alive by frequent discussion amongst the friends, 
and by interest in the similar venture of the rem- 
nants of the Church of Francis Johnson at Amster- 
dam, who got away for Virginia in the summer of 
1618, under the leadership of their elder, Francis 

44 Some of the chief est " in the Leyden congregation 
thought they might proceed on the King's promise 
of connivance. "If," said they, " there were no 


security in this promise intimated, there would be no 
great certainty in a further confirmation of the same. 
For if, afterwards, there should be a purpose or desire 
to wrong them, though they had a seal as broad as the 
house floor, it would not serve the turn, for there would 
be means enough found to recall or reverse it. And 
seeing therefore the course was probable, they must 
rest herein on God's providence, as they had done in 
other things." 

Accordingly, other messengers passed " too and 
again " about the business between Leyden and 
London. But when they returned once more to 
London in the spring of 1619, " to end with the 
Virginia Company as well as they could, and to procure 
a Patent with as good and ample conditions as they 
might by any good means obtain," they found the 
Virginia Company distracted by disputes, and unable 
to give immediate attention to them. One of Cush- 
man's letters preserved by Bradford tells us all 
about it — 

Letter from Robert Cushman in London to the Church in Leyden 

" To his Loving Friends, etc., 

" I had thought long since to have writ unto you, but 
could not effect that which I aimed at, neither can yet set 
things as I wished. Yet, notwithstanding I doubt not but 
Master B[rewster] hath written to Master Robinson, I think 
myself bound also to do something, lest I be thought to 
neglect you. 

The main hindrance of our proceedings in the Virginia 
business is the dissensions and 4 factions,' as they term it, 
amongst the Council and Company of Virginia; which are 
such as that ever since we came up, 1 no business could by 
them be despatched. 

" The occasion of this trouble amongst them is, for that a 
while since, Sir Thomas Smith, repining at his many Offices 
and Troubles, wished the Company of Virginia to ease him of 
his Office in being Treasurer and Governor of the Virginia 
Company. Whereupon the Company took occasion to dis- 
miss him, and chose Sir Edwin Sandys Treasurer and 

1 Cushman and Brewster had evidently been in the country for some time, 
before going up to Town. 


Governor of the Company; he having 60 voices, Sir John 
Wolstenholme 16 voices, and Alderman Johnson 24 voices. 

" But Sir Thomas Smith, when he saw some part of his 
honour lost, was very angry ; and raised a faction to cavil and 
contend about the election, and sought to tax Sir Edwin with 
many things that might both disgrace him, and also put him 
by his Office of Governor. In which contentions they yet 
stick, and are not fit nor ready to intermeddle in any business ; 
and what issue things will come to, we are not yet certain. 

" It is most like Sir Edwin will carry it away ; and if he do, 
things will go well in Virginia; if otherwise they will go ill 
enough. Always we hope in two or three Court Days things 
will settle. 

" Mean space I think to go down into Kent and come up 
again about fourteen days or three weeks hence, except either 
by these aforesaid contentions or by the ill tidings from 
Virginia, we be wholly discouraged. Of which tidings I am 
now to speak. 

" Captain Argall is come home this week. He, upon notice 
of the intent of the Council, came away before Sir George 
Yeardley came there; and so there is no small dissension. 
But his tidings are ill, though his person be welcome. 

" He saith, Master Blackwell's ship came not there till 
March. But going towards winter they had still north-west 
winds, which carried them to the southward, beyond their 
course. And the Master of the ship and some six of the 
Mariners dying, it seemed they could not find the Bay till 
after long seeking and beating about. Master Blackwell is 
dead and Master Maggner the Captain, yea, there are dead, 
he saith, 130 persons one and other in that ship. It is said 
there were in all 180 persons in the ship, so as they were packed 
together like herrings. They had amongst them the flux 
and also want of fresh water ; so as it is here rather wondered 
at that so many are alive, than that so many are dead. 

" The Merchants here say, ' It was Master Blackwell's 
fault to pack so many in the ship.' Yea, and there were 
great mutterings and repinings amongst them, and upbraiding 
of Master Blackwell for his dealing and disposing of them 
when they saw how he had disposed of them, and how he 
insulted over them. Yea, the streets at Gravesend rang of 
their extreme quarrellings, crying out one of another, 
' Thou hast brought me to this ! ' and ' I may thank thee 
for this ! ' Heavy news it is, and I would be glad to hear 
how far it will discourage [you]. I see none here discouraged 
much, but [they] rather desire to learn to beware by other 
men's harms, and to amend that wherein they have failed. 


"As we desire to serve one another in love, so [let us] take 
heed of being enthralled by any imperious person ; especially 
if they be discerned to have an eye to themselves. It doth 
often trouble me to think that, in this business, we are all to 
learn and none to teach ; but better so, than to depend upon 
such teachers as Master Blackwell was. 

44 Such a stratagem he once made for Master Johnson and 
his people at Emden; which was their subversion. But 
though he then cleanly, yet unhonestly, plucked his neck 
out of the collar, yet, at last, his foot is caught. 

" Here are no letters come [from the survivors of Blackwell' s 
party]. The ship Captain Argall came in, is yet in the West 
parts. All that we hear is but his report. It seemeth he 
came away secretly. The ship that Master Blackwell went in 
will be here shortly. It is as Master Robinson once said, 
4 he thought we should hear no good of them.' 

44 Master Bfrewster] is not well at this time. Whether he 
will come back to you, or go into the North [to Scrooby and 
Sturton], I yet know not. For myself, I hope to see an end 
of this business ere I come, though I am sorry to be thus from 
you. If things had gone roundly forward, I should have 
been with you within these fourteen days. I pray God 
direct us, and give us that spirit which is fitting for such a 

44 Thus, having summarily pointed at things, which Master 
Brewster, I think, hath more largely writ of to Master 
Robinson, I leave you to the Lord's protection. 
" Yours in all readiness, etc., 

"Robert Cushman." 

May 8th anno 1619. 

If Cushman kept to his plan he would be up in 
London again from Kent in time to attend " Master 
John Wincob " at the meeting of the Virginia Company 
on May 26, 1619, to secure the endorsement and seal 
of the Company to their Patent, granting permission 
to settle in New England. By the advice of some 
friends the Patent was not taken out in the name of 
any member of their own congregation. They shel- 
tered under the name of Wincob, who belonged to 
the household of the Countess of Lincoln, and who 
intended to accompany them. 

The minutes of the London Virginia Company, 
under date Wednesday, May 26, 1619, record that — 


" One Master Wencop, commended to the Company by 
the Earl of Lincoln, intending to go in person to Virginia, 
and there to plant himself and his Associates [Robinson 
and his congregation] presented his Patent now to the Court ; 
which was referred to the Committee that meeteth upon 
Friday morning at Master Treasurer's house to consider, and 
if need be to correct the same." 

A fortnight later, Wednesday, June 9, 1619, the 
minutes record — 

" By reason it grew late and the Court [being] ready to 
break up, and as yet Master John Whincop's Patent for him 
and his Associates [remained] to be read ; it was ordered, 
That the seal should be annexed unto it, and have referred 
the trust thereof to the Auditors to examine that it agree 
with the original ; which if it do not they have promised to 
bring it into the Court and cancel it." 

The Pilgrims had now got some sort of authority 
for making the settlement they desired, but, in the 
event, John Wincob, or Whencop, never went with 
them, nor did they ever make " use of this Patent 
which had cost them so much labour and charge." 

I think the main reason which prevented them from 
taking immediate advantage of this Patent of June 
1619 was the fact that Brewster was in trouble about 
printing books distasteful to His Majesty. In a week 
or two after this Patent was signed the authorities 
in England and Holland were searching for Brewster. 
Until that cloud had blown over it would be folly 
to proceed with their project. The angered King, 
so far from conniving at their scheme, would now 
be actively hostile. Robinson, despairing of support 
or allowance from the home authorities, turned to 
the Dutch. 

On February 2, 1619-20, the directors of the New 
Netherland Company, trading to the parts " in latitude 
from 40 to 45 degrees between New France and Vir- 
ginia," presented a petition to the Prince of Orange, 
in the course of which they say — 

" It happens that there is residing at Leyden a certain 
English Preacher versed in the Dutch language, who is well 


inclined to proceed thither to live, assuring the Petitioners 
that he has the means of inducing over four hundred families 
to accompany him thither, both out of this country and 
England, provided they might be guarded and preserved from 
all violence on the part of other Potentates by the authority, 
and under the protection of, your Princely Excellency and the 
High and Mighty Lords States-General in the propagation 
of the true, pure Christian religion, in the instruction of the 
Indians in that country in true learning, and in converting 
them to the Christian faith, and thus through the mercy of 
the Lord, to the greater glory of this country's Government, 
to plant there a new Commonwealth, all under the order and 
command of your Princely Excellency and the High and 
Mighty Lords States-General." 

The Petitioners go on to refer to the English efforts 
to settle in those parts, and they ask that for the 
preservation of Holland's rights there — 

" The aforesaid Minister [John Robinson] and the four 
hundred families may be taken under the protection of this 
country, and that two ships of war may be provisionally 
despatched to secure to the State the aforesaid countries; 
inasmuch as they would be of much importance whenever 
the West India Company is established, in respect to the large 
abundance of timber fit for ship-building." 

Bradford, in writing his History, slurred over these 
negotiations with the Dutch, merely noting that, 
about the time of the Pilgrims' perplexity with the 
proceedings of the Virginia Company, " some Dutch- 
men made them fair offers about going with them." 
Winslow indicates that if they would have stood in 
with the Dutch they might have been transported 
to the Hudson River free of charge, and every family 
provided with cattle 1 — a most important provision 
for a colony. 

The petition of the New Netherland Company 
directors for the support of two men-of-war was twice 
rejected. But Robinson and his congregation had 
by this time broken off the negotiations with the 
Dutch on the advice of Thomas Weston — 

1 Hypocrisy Vnmasked, 1646, p. 91. 


" One Master Thomas Weston, a Merchant of London, 
came to Leyden about the same time, who was well acquainted 
with some of them and a furtherer of them in their former 
proceedings. Having much conference with Master Robinson 
and others of the Chief of them [he] persuaded them to go 
on as it seems; and not to meddle with the Dutch or too 
much to depend on the Virginia Company. For if that 
[Company] failed [them], if they came to resolution, he and 
such Merchants as were his friends, together with their own 
means, would set them forth. And they should make ready, 
and neither fear want of shipping nor money, for what they 
wanted should be provided. 

" And not so much for himself, as for the satisfying of 
such friends as he should procure to adventure in this business, 
they were to draw such Articles of Agreement and make such 
Propositions as might the better induce his friends to venture. 

" Upon which, after the former's conclusion [i. e. in accord- 
ance with Weston's suggestions], Articles were drawn and 
agreed unto, and were shown unto him and approved by him, 
and afterwards by their Messenger (Master John Carver) sent 
into England. Who, together with Robert Cushman, were to 
receive the monies and make provision both for shipping 
and other things for the Voyage; with this charge, not to 
exceed their Commission, but to proceed according to the 
former Articles." 

Weston's plan was to form a sort of joint stock 
company to raise funds to equip the venture and 
support the projected Plantation. Those who invested 
in the scheme were called the " Adventurers," those 
who actually sailed were called the " Planters." The 
shares in the venture were fixed at £10. Every 
Planter of sixteen years or upwards was allotted 
one share without payment, in virtue of his or her 
personal interest in the matter. A Planter could 
also take up shares as an Adventurer by investing 
his cash, either £10 or multiples of £10, in the scheme, 
or by bringing in approved goods to the value of £10 
for the general use of the Plantation. The Plantation 
was to be run as a joint stock corporation for seven 
years. As originally arranged, at the end of the seven 
years the capital and accumulated profits were to be 
divided amongst the shareholders, or Adventurers 


in proportion to their several holdings of shares, but 
the houses and the land brought under cultivation 
(particularly the gardens and home lots) were to be 
left undivided and in the possession of the Planters. 
While the Planters were to work in general for the 
Company, or Corporation of Adventurers, they were to 
have two days a week for their own private employment. 

The alteration of these last two points in the agree- 
ment at the instance of Weston, without consultation 
with the Leyden friends, caused great friction and mis- 
giving. John Robinson especially opposed the change, 
and promptly sent over a paper of Reasons against it. 
But Cushman, who wanted to get things done, saw that 
the whole venture would be imperilled unless he agreed 
to the alteration. The new proposals were, that the 
houses and lands should be included in the division 
of assets at the end of the seven years, and that all 
the labour of the planters should be credited in that 
time to the common stock. Robert Cushman was 
a thorough believer in the community idea. He 
felt that by working for the good of all, the welfare 
of each would be promoted. He made a spirited 
defence of his concession to Weston's proposals. 

The amended Articles and Conditions were as 
follows — 

"Anno 1620. 

" 1. The Adventurers and Planters do agree : That every 
person that goeth being aged sixteen years and upwards, 
be rated at £10 : and £10 to be accounted a Single Share. 

" 2. That he that goeth in person and furnisheth himself 
out with £10 either in money or other provisions, be accounted 
as having £20 in Stock : and in the Division shall receive a 
Double Share. 

" 3. The persons transported and the Adventurers shall 
continue their Joint Stock and Partnership together the space 
of Seven Years : except some unexpected impediment do 
cause the whole Company to agree otherwise : during which 
time all profits and benefits that are got by trade, traffic, 
trucking, working, fishing or any other means of any person 
or persons [are to] remain still in the Common Stock until the 


" 4. That at their coming there [to America] they choose out 
such a number of fit persons as may furnish their ships and 
boats for fishing upon the sea; employing the rest in their 
several faculties upon the land; as building houses, tilling 
and planting the ground and making such commodities as 
shall be most useful for the Colony. 

" 5. That at the end of the Seven Years the Capital and 
Profits (viz. the houses, lands, goods and chattels) be equally 
divided betwixt the Adventurers and Planters. Which 
done, every man shall be free from other of them, of any debt 
or detriment concerning this Adventure. 

" 6. Whosoever cometh to the Colony hereafter, or putteth 
any [goods or money] into the Stock, shall, at the end of 
the Seven Years, be allowed proportionately to the time of 
his so doing. 

" 7. He that shall carry his wife and children or servants 
shall be allowed for every person now aged sixteen years and 
upward a Single Share in the Division, or, if he provide them 
necessaries, a Double Share : or if they be between ten years 
old and sixteen, then two of them to be reckoned for a person 
both in Transportation and Division. 

" 8. That such children as now go, and are under the age 
of ten years, have no other Share in the Division but fifty 
acres of unmanured land. 

" 9. That such persons as die before the Seven Years be 
expired, their executors to have their part or Share at the 
Division proportionately to the time of their life in the Colony. 

" 10. That all such persons as are of this Colony are to have 
their meat, drink, apparel and all provisions out of the Common 
Stock and goods of the said Colony." 

The clause struck out relating to time for private 
use was to this effect : " that they should have two 
days in a week for their own private employment, for 
the more comfort of themselves and their families; 
especially such as had families." 

The following letter, written on Wednesday, May 31, 
1620, from four who had resolved to join the venture, 
illustrates the feeling on these points — 

To their loving friends John Carver and Robert Cushman, 
these, etc. 

" Good Brethren. After salutations, etc. We received 
divers letters at the coming of Master Nash, and our Pilot, 
which is a great encouragement unto us, and for whom we 


hope after times will minister occasion of praising God. And 
indeed had you not sent him, many would have been ready 
to faint and go back ; partly in respect of the new Conditions 
which have been taken up by you, which all men are against, 
and partly in regard of our own inability to do any one of 
those many weighty businesses you refer to us here. 

" For the former whereof : — Whereas Robert Cushman 
desires reasons for our dislike, promising thereupon to alter 
the same ; else saying we should think he hath no brains : 
we desire him to exercise them therein, referring him to our 
Pastor's former reasons; and them to the censure of the 
godly wise. But our desires are that you will not entangle 
yourselves and us in any such unreasonable courses as these 
are, viz. — 

" That the Merchants should have the half of men's houses 
and lands at the Divident. 

" And that persons should be deprived of the two days 
in a week agreed upon, yea, every moment of time for their 
own particular [i. e. their own private concerns]. 

" By reason whereof, we cannot conceive why any should 
carry servants for their own help and comfort; for that 
[since] we can require no more of them than all men one of 

" This we have only by relation from Master Nash, and not 
from any writing of your own ; and therefore hope you have 
not proceeded far in so great a thing without us ; but requiring 
you not to exceed the bounds of your Commission, which 
was to proceed upon the things or Conditions agreed upon, 
and expressed in writing at your going over [to England] 
about it. We leave it ; not without marvelling that yourself 
(as you write), knowing how small a thing troubleth our 
consultations and how few (as you fear) understand the 
business aright, should trouble with such matters as these 
are, etc. 

" Salute Master Weston from us ; in whom we hope we are 
not deceived. We pray you make known our estate unto him, 
and, if you think good, show him our letters. At least tell 
him that under God, we much rely upon him and put our 
confidence in him. And as yourselves well know, that if he 
had not been an Adventurer with us we had not taken it in 
hand, presuming that if he had not seen means to accomplish 
it, he would not have begun it. So we hope in our extremity 
he will so far help us as that our expectation be no way made 
frustrate concerning him. 

" Since therefore, Good Brethren, we have plainly opened 
the state of things with us in this manner, you will, etc. 


" Thus beseeching the Almighty, Who is all sufficient to 
raise us out of this depth of difficulties, to assist us herein, 
raising such means, by his Providence and fatherly care for 
us, his poor children and servants, as we may with comfort 
behold the hand of our God for good towards us in this our 
business which we undertake in his name and fear, we take 
leave, and remain, 

" Your perplexed, yet hopeful brethren, 

" Samuel Fuller. 

"Edward Winslow. 

"William Bradford. 

"Isaac Allerton. 

" June 10th, new style, anno 1620" 
[i. e. May 31, in English reckoning.] 

I gather that one clause in the Conditions — the 
one relating to the division of houses and lands — 
was altered; and one clause (that relating to the two 
days free labour a week) was struck out. This was 
done to conciliate opposition and induce hesitating 
investors to venture their money. Cushman felt that 
the elimination of the latter clause left the question 
of the free labour for the benefit of one's family 
open — 

" c You may have three days in a week,' he says, ' for me, 
if you will.' And when I have spoken to the Adventurers of 
times of working they have said, ' They hope we are men of 
discretion and conscience, and so fit to be trusted ourselves 
with that.' " 

Robinson, however, was far from satisfied. He was 
greatly concerned about the change in the agreement. 
It was objected to the plan accepted by Cushman 
that all members of the Colony would be placed 
thereby on the same footing, whereas in fact " all 
men are not of one condition." His answer to this 
objection shows his point of view — 

"If by condition you mean wealth, you are mistaken. If 
you mean, by condition, qualities, then I say : He that is 
not content his neighbour shall have as good a house, fare, 
means, etc., as himself is not of a good quality. 


" Secondly — Such retired [unsocial] persons as have an 
eye only to themselves are fitter to come where catching is 
than closing, and are fitter to live alone than in any society 
either civil or religious." 

The reply of Cushman to the brethren at Leyden, 
written on Sunday, June 11, 1620, tells of the resolve 
of himself and Thomas Weston to hire a ship for the 
voyage. They had one in view — the Mayflower, I 
take it — of which they had got the refusal till the next 
day. She had discharged a cargo of " french wyne " 
the previous month at London. 

" Salutations, etc. I received your letter by John Turner, 
with another the same day from Amsterdam by Master W. 
savouring of the place whence it came. 

" And indeed the many discouragements I find here together 
with the demurs and retirings there [amongst those in Holland] 
had made me to say ' I would give up my accounts to John 
Carver, and at his coming acquaint him fully with all courses ; 
and so leave it quite, with only the poor clothes on my back.' 

" But gathering up myself, by further consideration, I 
resolved yet to make one trial more : and to acquaint Master 
Weston with the fainted state of our business. And though 
he hath been much discontented at something amongst us 
of late, which hath made him often say 4 that save for his 
promise he would not meddle at all with the business any 
more,' and yet (considering how far we were plunged into 
matters ; and how it stood both on our credits and undoing) 
at the last, he gathered up himself a little more ; and coming 
to me, two hours after, he told me, he would not yet leave it. 

"And so, advising together, we resolved to hire a ship; 
and have took liking of one till Monday, about sixty last, 
[in burden] for a greater we cannot get, except it be too great. 
But a fine ship it is. And seeing our near friends there [at 
Amsterdam] are so strait-laced ; we hope to assure [to secure 
this ship] without troubling them any further; and if the 
ship fall too small, it fitteth well, that such as stumble at 
straws already, may rest them there awhile, lest worse blocks 
come in the way ere the Seven Years be ended. 

" If you had beaten [discussed] this business so thoroughly 
a month ago, and writ to us as you now do, we could thus have 
done [i. e. hired shipping] much more conveniently. But it 
is, as it is. 

" I hope our friends there [in Holland], if they be quitted 
of the ship hire, will be induced to venture the more. 


All that I now require is that salt and nets may there be 
bought ; and for all the rest, we will here [in England] 
provide it. Yet if that will not be, let them but stand for 
it a month or two, and we will take order to pay it all. 

44 Let Master Reynolds tarry there and bring the ship [i. e. 
the Speedwell] to Southampton. We have hired another 
Pilot here, one Master Clarke, who went last year to Virginia 
with a ship of kine. 

44 You shall hear distinctly by John Turner, who, I think, 
shall come hence on Tuesday night. I had thought to have 
come with him, to have answered to my complaints [i. e. 
the complaints against me], but I shall learn to pass little 
for their censures, and if I had more mind to go and dispute 
and expostulate with them, than I have care of this weighty 
business ; I were like them who live by clamours and jangling. 
But neither my mind nor my body is at liberty to do much ; 
for I am fettered with business, and had rather study to be 
quiet than to make answer to their exceptions. If men be 
set on it, let them beat the air. 

44 I hope such as are my sincere friends will not think but 
I can give some reason of my actions. But of your mistaking 
about the matter, and other things tending to this business : 
I shall [in my] next inform you more distinctly. Mean space 
entreat our friends not to be too busy in answering matters 
before they know them. If I do such things as I cannot give 
reasons for, it is like you have set a fool about your business ; 
and so turn the reproof to yourselves and send another, and 
let me come again to my combs [Cushman was a wool-comber]. 
But (setting aside my natural infirmities) I refuse not to 
have my cause judged, both of God and all indifferent [im- 
partial] men ; and when we come together I shall give account 
of my actions here. 

44 The Lord, who judgeth justly without respect of persons, 
see unto the equity of my cause, and give us quiet, peaceable, 
and patient minds in all these turmoils, and sanctify unto us 
all crosses whatsoever ! 

44 And so I take my leave of you all, in all love and affection, 

44 Your poor Brother, 

" Robert Cushman. 
" June 11, 1620. 

44 I hope we shall get all here ready in fourteen days." 

Cushman felt that he had done the best he could 
in difficult circumstances to further their plan. His 
letter would probably go by John Turner on the 


following Tuesday night. On the Wednesday John 
Robinson, with anxious care, was penning the accom- 
panying letter to his quiet and faithful brother-in-law, 
John Carver, unaware, of course, that the hiring of the 
Mayflower was so imminent — 

A Letter of Master Robinson's to John Carver 

" My dear Friend and Brother, whom with yours, I always 
remember in my best affection, and whose welfare I shall 
never cease to commend to God by my best and most earnest 

" You do thoroughly understand, by our general letters, 
the estate of things here, which indeed is very pitiful, especi- 
ally by want of shipping and not seeing means likely, much 
less certain, of having it provided [free of charge to the 
colonists] though withal there be great want of money and 
means to do [other] needful things. 

" Master Pickering you know before this will not defray 
a penny here, though Robert Cushman presumed of I know 
not how many £100 from him and I know not whom, yet it 
seems strange we should be put to him to receive both his 
and his partner's Adventure; and yet Master Weston writ 
unto him that in regard of it [i. e. on account of Pickering's 
promised investment in the venture] he hath drawn upon 
him a £100 more. But there is in this some mystery, as indeed 
it seems there is in the whole course. 

" Besides, whereas divers are to pay in some parts of their 
money yet behind, they refuse to do it till they see shipping 
provided, or a course taken for it. Neither, do I think, is 
there a man here would pay anything if he had again his 
money in his purse. 

" You know right well we depended on Master Weston 
alone; and upon such means as he would procure for this 
common business ; and when we had in hand another course 
with the Dutchmen broke it off at his motion, and upon the 
Conditions by him shortly after propounded. He did this 
in his love, I know, but things appear not answerable from 
him hitherto. That he should have first put in his monies 
is thought by many to have been but fit ; but that I can well 
excuse [i. e. I can excuse him for not yet paying his money 
into the hands of our agents] he being a Merchant and having 
use of it to his benefit ; whereas others, if it had been in their 
hands, would have consumed it. But that he should not 
but have had either shipping ready before this time, or at 


least certain means and course, and the same known to us, 
for it, or have taken other order otherwise, cannot in my 
conscience be excused. 

" I have heard that when he hath been moved in the busi- 
ness he hath put it off from himself and referred it to the others ; 
and would come to George Morton and inquire news of 
him about things; as if he had scarce been some accessory 
unto it. Whether he hath failed of some helps from others 
which he expected and so be not well able to go through 
with things; or whether he hath feared lest you should be 
ready too soon and so increase the charge of shipping above 
that [which] is meet ; or whether he hath thought by with- 
holding [his money] to put us upon straits, thinking that 
thereby Master Brewster and Master Pickering would be 
drawn by importunity to do more; or what other mystery 
is in it we know not. But sure we are, that things are not 
answerable to such an occasion. 

" Master Weston makes himself merry with our endeavours 
about buying a ship ; but we have done nothing in this [pur- 
chase of the Speedwell] but with good reason, as I am per- 
suaded, nor yet that I know [of] in anything else, — save in 
those two — 

" [1] The one, that we employed Robert Cushman, who 
is known, though a good man and of special abilities in his 
kind, yet most unfit to deal for other men, by reason of his 
singularity and too great indifferency for any conditions, and 
for (to speak truly) that we have had nothing from him but 
terms and presumptions. 

" [2] The other that we have so much relied, by implicit 
faith as it were, upon generalities, without seeing the par- 
ticular course or means for so weighty an affair set down 
unto us. 

" For shipping Master Weston it should seem is set upon 
hiring, which yet I wish he may presently [immediately] 
effect. But I see little hope of help [for the ship-hire] from 
hence if so it be. Of Master Brewer you know what to expect. 
I do not think Master Pickering will engage, except in the 
course of buying in former letters specified. 

" About the Conditions you have our Reasons for our judg- 
ments of what is agreed. And let this specially be borne 
in mind — -that the greatest part of the Colony is like to be 
employed constantly not upon dressing their particular 
land and building nouses, but upon fishing, trading, etc.; 
so as the ' land and house ' will be but a trifle for advantage 
to the Adventurers, and yet the division of it, a great dis- 
couragement to the Planters, who would [if land and house 


were to remain their own] with singular care make it comfort- 
able with borrowed hours from their sleep. 

44 The same consideration of common employment con- 
stantly, by the most, is a good reason not to have the two 
days in a week denied the few Planters for private use, which 
yet is subordinate to common good. Consider also how much 
unfit [it is] that you, and your likes, must serve a new prentice- 
ship of Seven Years, and not a day's freedom from task ! 

" Send me word what persons are to go; who of useful 
faculties and how many ; and particularly of everything. 

" I know you want not a mind. I am sorry you have not 
been at London all this while but the provisions [the pur- 
chasing of stores and necessaries] could not want you. Time 
will suffer me to write no more. Fare you and yours well, 
always in the Lord, in whom I rest, 

44 Yours to use, 

44 John Robinson." 

Reading between the lines we can see the anxiety 
of Robinson for the welfare of his people. He does 
not like to show distrust of Thomas Weston, whose 
large and general promises when at Leyden had led 
the friends there to come to the definite resolution 
to go forth to colonize in New England, and yet he 
feels that Weston had not done all that might have 
been reasonably expected to further their project. 
Delay was dangerous ; a spirit of misgiving was spread- 
ing amongst those who had sold up their possessions, 
invested their money in the common stock and pre- 
pared themselves for the voyage. The Pilgrims 
were dependent on the help of others to set forth their 
expedition and supply the needs of the Colony in its 
early years. They were too poor to undertake such 
a venture alone, and when a merchant like Edward 
Pickering, one of their own religious fellowship, showed 
reluctance to help to the limit of his means, we need 
not wonder that there was difficulty in raising the 
needful capital from outsiders. 

I take it that William Brewster, Thomas Brewer, 
George Morton, John Carver and his wife, William 
Bradford, John Turner, William White, Edward 
Winslow and Isaac Allerton all contributed sub- 


stantially to the venture. We must not forget the 
difficulties which Weston and John Peirce would have 
to overcome in forming the company of Adventurers 
in England to support the enterprise. Commerical 
and religious motives intermingled. Some investors 
were more swayed by the one than the other. Captain 
John Smith, who was keenly interested in New England, 
watched the efforts to form this colony with close 
attention. He describes the " Company of Adven- 
turers " who set the colonists forth, as a body of about 
seventy, "some Gentlemen; some Merchants; some 
Handicraftsmen ; some adventuring great sums, some 
small, as their estates and affection served. These," 
he says, " dwell most about London. They are 
not a Corporation, but knit together by a voluntary 
combination, in a Society without constraint or 
penalty, aiming to do good and to plant Religion." x 
They elected a President and Treasurer annually, to 
whom the transaction of ordinary business was left, 
" but in more weighty affairs the assent of the whole 
Company is required." If the minutes of the pro- 
ceedings of this company of Adventurers had survived, 
we should have had the business counterpart to Brad- 
ford's History of the early years of the colony, but given 
from the point of view of London. Here and there 
we get a glimpse of their activities until the Adventurers 
went into voluntary liquidation and wound up the 
company by a composition with the colonists on 
November 15, 1626. By that time some of the 
Adventurers, like Weston, had unloaded their shares. 
Only forty -two signed the Composition Deed. One 
or two of these, such as William Collier and Timothy 
Hatherley, subsequently crossed to New Plymouth 
and became useful colonists. Shareholders were ready 
to dispose of their rights under the Composition Deed 
for an immediate cash payment. James Sherley, who 
had faith in the venture, bought many of them out, 
and in 1627 became " y e receiver of most part of y e 

1 General History of Virginia, 1C24, p. 247. 



Meanwhile friends at Leyden were making their 
preparations for the voyage. On September 19, 1619, 
Cushman had sold some property in Leyden, held 
by him since 1611, to John de Later, and on April 1, 
1620, Thomas Rogers, who sailed in the Mayflower, 
sold his house in Barbara's Lane for 300 gilders to 
Mordecai Cohen. To meet the immediate need for 
money Robinson, Brewster and William Jepson 
mortgaged property in Leyden in 1620. This tided 
them over the occasion, and six months later they 
were able to pay off the mortage. 1 The Leyden friends 
were keen on buying shipping, and purchased a little 
vessel of some sixty tons, named the Speedwell, intend- 
ing to use her for trading purposes on the New England 
coast . Reynolds was sent over from London to navigate 
her to Southampton. The preparations in England 
were made under considerable difficulty. In order to 
act fairly by those Planters who were joining the ven- 
ture in England, one from their number, Christopher 
Martin 2 by name, was appointed to act as agent with 
Carver and Cushman. They did not find him easy 
to work with. He went his own way, with little 
regard to their advice, which led Cushman to say of 
him, " he that is in a Society and yet regards not 
counsel may better be a king than a consort." 

The main preparations were made at Southampton. 
It does not appear why that port was chosen. My own 

1 Information from Dr. Rendel Harris. 

a Martin belonged to a church at Billericay, Essex, and was summoned 
before the Archidiaconal Court for allowing his son to answer " that his 
father gave him his name." He fled to Leyden and joined Robinson's Church. 
He died January 8, 1621, on the Mayflower. Transactions of Congregational 
Historical Society, vol. vii. p. 243. 



conjecture is that they regarded it as less dangerous 
for the religious refugees than London. They would 
be less likely to suffer arrest there, and be less under 
the eye of the ecclesiastical authorities. With Carver 
at Southampton, Cushman and Weston hiring shipping 
and getting stores in London, Martin collecting pro- 
visions in Kent and the Leyden contingent equipping 
the Speedwell at Delftshaven, there was too little 
room for concerted action and too much room for 
misunderstanding . 

When, by the report of one of their messengers from 
England, it seemed that the way was at last clearing 
for the realization of the plan so long cherished in 
their minds, Robinson called his flock together to hold 
a solemn " Meeting and keep a Day of Humiliation, 
to seek the Lord for his direction." He took for his 
text the words — 

" And David's men said unto him, See, we be afraid here in 
Judah : how much more if we come to Keilah against the host 
of the Philistines? Then David asked counsel of the Lord 
again " (1 Sam. xxih. 3, 4). 

" From which text," says Bradford, " he taught 
many things very aptly, and befitting their present 
occasion and condition, strengthening them against 
their fears and perplexities and encouraging them in 
their resolutions." 

We may be sure that Robinson laid stress upon 
the ideal side of their venture, which was ever upper- 
most in his mind. 

After this religious service — 

" they concluded both what number and what persons 
should prepare themselves to go with the first, for all that 
were willing to have gone could not get ready ... in so 
short a time, neither, if all could have been ready, had there 
been means to have transported them all together. 

" Those that stayed, being the greater number, required 
the Pastor to stay with them ; and, indeed, for other reasons 
he could not then well go; and so it was the more easily 
yielded unto. 

" The others then desired the Elder, Master Brewster, to go 
with them; which was also condescended unto." 


Bradford does not specify the other reasons pre- 
venting John Robinson from joining the Pilgrims. 
I fancy they arose from hostility to the Pastor's 
religious views on the part of some of the London 
merchants who were supporting the venture with 
their money. We shall see how this religious prejudice 
blocked Robinson's plan of joining Brewster in New 
England a year or two later. The Leyden friends thus 
separating agreed that each part should be considered 
" an absolute Church of themselves," since " it might 
come to pass they should for the body of them never 
meet again in this world." But they were to have a 
right of membership in either Church, so that if 
any went to or fro to Leyden or New England they 
would need no " dismission or testimonial." Winslow 
records a mutual agreement between them — 

" If the Lord should frown upon our proceedings, then 
those that went were to return and the brethren that remained 
still there to assist and be helpful to them. 

" But if God should be pleased to favour them that went, 
then they also should endeavour to help over such as were 
poor, and ancient and willing to come." 1 

The pledge recorded by Bradford shows the same 
spirit of comradeship and the same desire to help — 

" It was promised to those that went first, by the body of 
the rest, that if the Lord gave them life, and means, and oppor- 
tunity, they would come to them as soon as they could" 2 

Nor were these idle words, as the sequel abundantly 

When the news reached Robinson that the good ship 
Mayflower had been hired, and would go round from 
London to Southampton to await the colonists from 
Leyden, the preparations for departure were soon 
completed — 

'* So, being ready to depart, they had a day of Solemn 
Humiliation : their Pastor taking his text from Ezra viii. 21 : 
4 And there, at the river by Ahava, I proclaimed a Fast that 
we might humble ourselves before our God ; and seek of him 

1 Hypocrisy Vnmasked, p. 90. 2 History, f. 73. 


a right way for us, and for our children, and for all our sub- 
stance.' Upon which [passage] he spent a good part of the 
day very profitably and suitable to their present condition. 
The rest of the time was spent in pouring out prayers to the 
Lord with great fervency, mixed with abundance of tears. 
And the time being come that they must depart, they were 
accompanied with most of their brethren out of the City unto 
a town sundry miles off, called Delftshaven, where the ship 
[the Speedwell] lay ready to receive them. So they left that 
goodly and pleasant city, which had been their resting-place 
near twelve years, but they knew they were Pilgrims, and 
looked not much on these things, but lift up their eyes to the 
heavens, their dearest country, and quieted their spirits." 

These are the words of William Bradford. On his 
companion, Edward Winslow, also, the events of that 
time made an ineffaceable impression. The parting 
service, the farewell feast, the scenes at the departure 
on the quay and on the boat were all charged with 
strong emotion — 

" They that stayed at Leyden," he says, " feasted us that 
were to go at our Pastor's house, being large, where we refreshed 
ourselves after our tears with singing of Psalms, making joyful 
melody in our hearts as well as with the voice, there being 
many of the Congregation very expert in music ; and indeed, 
it was the sweetest melody that ever mine ears heard." 

It was Winslow also who set down in after years, 
perhaps from notes taken at the time, his recollections 
of Robinson's farewell address — 

"The wholesome Counsel Master Robinson 

gave that part of the church whereof 

he was Pastor at their departure 

from him to begin the great work 

of Plantation in 

New England 

" Amongst other wholesome instructions and exhorta- 
tions he used these expressions, or to the same purpose — 

'We were now ere long to part asunder; and the Lord 
knoweth whether ever he should live to see our faces again. 
But whether the Lord had appointed it or not ; he charged 
us, before God and his blessed angels, to follow him no further 
than he followed Christ : and if God should reveal anything 


to us by any other instrument of his, to be as ready to receive 
it, as ever we were to receive any truth by his Ministry. For 
he was very confident the Lord had more truth and light yet 
to break forth out of his holy Word. 

44 He took occasion also miserably to bewail the state and 
condition of the Reformed Churches, who were come to a 
period in religion ; and would go no further than the Instru- 
ments of their Reformation. As, for example, the Lutherans : 
they could not be drawn to go beyond what Luther saw, for 
whatever part of God's will He had further imparted and 
revealed to Calvin, they will rather die than embrace it. ' And 
so also,' saith he, • you see the Calvinists. They stick where 
he left them, a misery much to be lamented. 

4 1 r< For though they were precious shining lights in their Times, 
yet God had not revealed his whole will to them ; and were 
they now living,' saith he, ' they would be as ready and 
willing to embrace further light, as that they had received.' 

"Here, also, he put us in mind of our Church Covenant; 
at least that part of it whereby ' we promise and covenant 
with God and one with another to receive whatsoever light 
or truth shall be made known to us from his written Word ; ? 
but withal exhorted us to take heed what we received for 
truth ; and well to examine and compare and weigh it with 
other Scriptures of truth before we received it. 4 For,' saith 
he, 4 it is not possible the Christian World should come so 
lately out of such thick antichristian darkness; and that 
full perfection of knowledge should break forth at once.' 

44 Another thing he commended to us was, that we should 
use all means to avoid and shake off the name of 4 Brownist,' 
being a mere nickname and brand to make religion odious 
and the Professors of it, to the Christian world. 

44 4 And to that end,' said he, 4 I should be glad if some godly 
Minister would go over with you before my coming. For,' 
said he, 4 there will be no difference between the unconform- 
able Ministers and you, when they come to the practice of 
the Ordinances [of religion] out of the kingdom.' 

44 And so [our Pastor] advised us, by all means, to endeavour 
to close with the godly party of the Kingdom of England [the 
Puritans]; and rather to study union than division, viz. 
How near we might possibly, without sin, close with them; 
than, in the least measure, to affect division or separation 
from them. 4 And be not loath to take another Pastor or 
Teacher,' saith he, 4 for that Flock that hath two Shepherds 
is not endangered, but secured by it.' 

44 Many other things there were of great and weighty 
consequence which he commended to us. But these things 


I thought good to relate at the request of some well-willers 
to the peace and good agreement of the godly — so distracted 
at present about the settling of Church Government in the 
Kingdom of England — that so both sides may truly see what 
this poor despised Church of Christ now at New Plymouth in 
New England, but formerly at Leyden in Holland, was and is — 
how far they were and still are, from separation from the 
Churches of Christ, especially those that are Reformed." 

We have to bear in mind, when reading this summary 
of Robinson's farewell address, that Winslow does 
not profess to give the Pastor's actual words. It is 
evident also that he desires to minimize the differences 
between the Pilgrim Church and the Puritan members 
of the Church of England, and to emphasize the points 
of agreement. But I think, allowing for this, he 
gives us in this report a good representation of the 
spirit of Robinson's teaching and of his general out- 
look. Though the Covenant of their Church had a 
definite reference to the Bible, or the " Word of God," 
as the ultimate source of religious truth and light, 
yet it was free from finality. It left the way of 
advance open. It left room for fresh interpretations 
and new applications of the Divine Word. Robinson 
was not without a consciousness of the freshness of 
their religious venture, and was too clear-sighted to 
imagine that the Reformers had attained to the 
whole truth of religion at a bound. Those who have 
read Robinson's Works with attention will notice 
several points of connexion with his thought in the 
summary which Winslow gives of his memorable 
farewell address. 

In the very year before this occasion, Robinson 
had issued in Latin A Just and Necessary Apology, 
or defence of his Church against slanderous reports 
raised against it by opponents. Those false reports 
had blocked the negotiations for permission to cross 
to Virginia, with allowance to exercise their religion 
according to their convictions. It seemed needful 
to rebut the charges laid against them. In this 
book Robinson lays stress upon the points of agree- 


merit with the forward members of the Anglican 
Church and with the published Confession of the 
" Belgic Reformed Churches," while frankly setting 
out some of the points of difference in practice. He 
tells us that some of those in England, " reputed the 
chief masters and patrons both of religion and truth," 
had framed against him and his Church " a solemn 
accusation to them in special authority." Robinson 
here refers to the charges made against them in the 
Privy Council, to meet which he and Brewster sent 
the two written " Papers " to Sir John Wolstenholme 
by Sabine Staresmore already referred to. 
The accusation he tells us was — 

" First — that we (lewd Brownists) do refuse and reject one 
of the sacraments. 

44 Secondly — that we have amongst us no ecclesiastical 
ministry, but do give liberty to every mechanical person to 
preach publicly in the church. 

44 Thirdly — that we are in error about the very Trinity. 

44 Fourthly and lastly — that being become so odious to the 
magistrates here, as that we are by violence to be driven the 
country, we are now constrained to seek some other and far 
part of the world to settle in." * 

In the " Apology " designed to clear himself and 
his Church from these misreports Robinson says, " Such 
is our accord in the case of religion with the Dutch 
Reformed Churches as that we are ready to subscribe 
to all and every article of faith in the same Church as 
they are laid down in the Harmony of Confessions of 
Faith, published in their name," with one slight modi- 
fication in respect to the Apocryphal Books. 

Again, in the last chapter of this Just Apology, in 
treating directly of their " secession and separation " 
from the Church of England, " a great matter of 
exception against us and the same the fountain well- 
nigh of all our calamity," Robinson says — 

44 Our faith is not negative, as papists used to object to the 
evangelical churches; nor which consists in the condemning 
of others, and wiping their names out of the bead-roll of 

1 Works, vol. iii. p. 8. 


churches, but in the edifying of ourselves ; neither require 
we of any of ours in the confession of their faith, that they 
either renounce, or, in one word, contest with the Church of 
England, whatsoever the world clamours of us this way. . . . 
If by the church be understood the Catholic Church dispersed 
upon the face of the whole earth, we do willingly acknowledge 
that a singular part thereof , and the same visible and conspicu- 
ous, is to be found in the land [of England] and with it do 
profess and practise, what in us lays, communion in all 
things, in themselves lawful and done in right order. 

" If in anything we err, advertise us brotherly, with desire 
of our information, and not, as our countrymen's manner 
for the most part is, with a mind of reproaching us or grati- 
fying of others ; and whom thou findest in error, thou shalt 
not leave in obstinacy, nor as having a mind prone to schism." * 

The spirit and tenor of such statements, in which 
Robinson seeks to draw as near as possible to 
godly men in other Churches, are quite in line 
with Winslow's recollections of the farewell address 
delivered in the following year. 

One point in Winslow's report of Robinson's fare- 
well words of advice to the departing Pilgrims is sup- 
ported by an incidental remark in one of Cushman's 
letters. I refer to the passage in which Robinson 
recommends them to choose a second pastor or 
teacher to accompany them. His own going was 
opposed. If one of the Puritan clergy would consent 
to go with them it might conciliate opponents and 
disarm the hostility which was manifested against 
them on religious grounds. Arrived in New England, 
far from the episcopal eye, Robinson was confident 
that such a minister would fall in with the method and 
practice of his own Church. 

Now in Cushman's letter of June 10, 1620, to John 
Carver, we find this passage — 

" For Master Crabe of whom you write he hath promised 
to go with us : yet I tell you, I shall not be without fear till I 
see him shipped; for he is much opposed. Yet I hope he 
will not fail." 

1 Works, vol. iii. pp. 63, 78. 


Bradford notes in the margin of his History against 
this name : " He was a Minister." His sailing with 
them was evidently contemplated, but the opposition 
to his going, as Cushman feared, proved to be too 
strong, and he was prevented. 

Note on the " Mayflower " 

The Mayflower was a staunch little square-rigged 
vessel (Bradford casually mentions her " topsail halli- 
ards "), double-decked, broad in the beam and tubby, 
with upper works rising rather high at the stern. 
It was an obligation on the passengers to construct 
their own cabins between decks. Her tonnage is 
variously given as " about sixtylast " = 120 tons, 
"140 tuns," and " about nine score in burden " = 
180 tons. She was partly owned x by her Master, 
Christopher Jones, and seems to have been registered 
at Harwich, where the Jones family were settled as 
merchants. Christopher Jones was a good seaman. 
He was not a raw hand at the job. As early as 1606 
we find him making a voyage in command of the 
Jason to Bordeaux. Later on he was engaged in 
the Greenland whale-fishery. He had confidence in 
his vessel. When the " Pilgrims " were a bit daunted 
by the Atlantic storms he told them " he knew the 
ship to be firm and strong under water." Jones was 
a good shot and a kindly man. Going ashore from 
the Mayflower, on Friday, February 9, 1621, he 
" killed five geese, which he friendly distributed 
among the sick people." When the " Pilgrims' " 
own stock of beer ran out, on Christmas Day, of all 
days, and they began " to drink water aboard," 
Bradford says, " at night the Master caused us to 
have some beer. And so on board we had divers 
times, now and then, some beer : but on shore none 
at all." Jones helped the Planters in their work of 
exploration, and allowed them to use the Mayflower 
as their rendezvous till their humble dwellings were 
made ready on shore. They held their Sunday 

1 Roland G. Usher thinks she belonged to Thomas Goffe, one of the 
Adventurers. But it was the Mayflower of 1629 in which Goffe was 
interested. Even if she were the same ship, he had no share in her in 1620. 


services on board till Sunday, January 21, 1621, 
when, they say, " we kept our Meeting on land." 
The colonists named the first considerable stream 
they found after the Captain, and it bears his name, 
" Jones River," to this day. 

Of the crew carried by the Mayflower we hear of 
Robert Coppin, " our pilot," and John Clarke a 
second pilot. These two ranked as "master's mates." 
I think the third mate was " Master Williamson," 
who accompanied Miles Standish, March 22, 1621, 
to meet the Indian " King " "at the brook," on the 
first approach of the Indians to the infant colony. 

We may construct a rough log of the Mayflower 
for her memorable voyage as follows — 

" 1620. June or July. Mayflower chartered. 
,, July 19. Arrived at Southampton. 
„ July 26. Joined there by the Speedwell. 
„ Aug. 5. Sailed from Southampton. 
„ Aug. 13. Put into Dartmouth. 
„ Aug. 23. Left Dartmouth. 
„ Sept. 6. Sailed from Plymouth. Wind E.N.E. 
„ Nov. 9. Made Cape Cod at daybreak. Shape 

courseS. S.W. for the Hudson, but owing to shoals 

and contrary winds put about at night. 
„ Nov. 11. Dropped anchor in Cape Cod Bay. 
„ Nov. 15-27, Dec. 5. Exploring parties sent out. 
„ Dec. 8. Friday, at nightfall an exploring party 

landed on an island in Plymouth bay. It was 

named after John Clarke, and is still known as 

Clark's Island. 
„ Dec. 11. Landing of the exploring party on the 

mainland at Plymouth. 
„ Dec. 14. Exploring party returns to the Mayflower. 
„ Dec. 15. Weighed anchor at Cape Cod and made 

an abortive attempt to get into Plymouth 

Bay. Wind N.W. Course West. 
„ Dec. 16. Mayflower dropped anchor in Plymouth 

Bay, New England, and there wintered. 
" 1621. April 5. Sailed for Old England. 

„ May 5 or 6. Arrived in London. Refit and 

sail for Rochelle. 
„ Oct. 19. Discharging cargo of Bay Salt in London." 

Christopher Jones did not long survive this voyage. 
He died the next summer, and on August 26, 1622, 


letters of administration for his estate were granted 
to his widow, Joan Jones. 

The ship's surgeon on the Mayflower was one Giles 
Heale, who, with John Carver and " Christopher 
Joanes," witnessed the nuncupative will of William 
Mullins of Dorking, one of the Pilgrims who died on 
board in the sickness of that first winter. The May- 
flower was in poor trim when she lay at Rotherhithe in 
1624, and was valued, with her " one suit of worn 
sails " and her fittings, at £138 8s. Whether she was 
made seaworthy again and was the same Mayflower 
which carried other colonists to New England, does not 
certainly appear. 1 On her voyage in 1620 she carried a 
Master Gunner and some good ordnance, designed for 
the defence of the Planters. One of her crew died on 
the outward voyage. In addition to her ordinary ship's 
company and the Pilgrim passengers the Mayflower 
carried five hired men, one of whom was John Alden, 
" hired for a cooper at Southampton ... a hopeful 
young man." He elected to stay in the colony, and 
married Priscilla Mullins. The other four were sailors, 
John Allerton, " reputed one of the company," and 
Thomas English, engaged to be the Master of their 
shallop at New Plymouth for coasting and fishing 
(these two died in the first sickness), William 
Trevore and one Ellis, both of whom were " hired 
to stay a year in the country," but returned when 
their time was out. Trevore pitched some fine yarns 
about New England when he got back to London. 
His reports stimulated interest in the colonization 
of those parts. These four extra seamen w r ould be 
a help in working the Mayflower on her passage out. 

Wherever the Englishman goes there goes his dog, 
and the Mayflower had dogs aboard. There is no 
mention of goats or swine or poultry. It is possible 
that a couple of goats were carried, as the Planters 
had a herd of goats in 1623, when Bradford and 
Allerton wrote from Plymouth that goats " will 

1 Dr. Rendel Harris thinks she was the same — Last of the Mayflower, 
1920, p. 48. 


here thrive very well . . . and live at no charge 
ether wenter or sommer . . . also they are much 
more easily transported . . . then other kattle, yet 
tow of those which came last dyed by the way." 
But I fancy these were not on the Mayflower, as the 
colonists had their minds intent upon fishing at the 
outset. Not till the spring of 1624 had the Planters 
any neat cattle. Then Edward Winslow took back 
with him three heifers and a bull, and Bradford's 
anticipation that " it might be a good benefite after 
some encrease that they might be able to spare some 
to others that should have thoughts this way," x 
was amply verified. The trade in cattle was a main 
source of wealth to Plymouth Plantation in after days. 
Of course the greatest of the assets carried on the 
Mayflower were not the stores for the Plantation, 
but the intangible cargo. The Planters went out 
with wives and children. They went to found homes, 
not to seek fortunes. There were Pilgrim Mothers 
in the company skilled in all the arts of housewifery. 
These English folk carried their language, their laws, 
their traditions, and their native capacity for orderly 
administration with them. They were deeply re- 
ligious, and their convictions in matters of religion 
had been tempered to a fine edge by the experiences 
through which they had passed and by the wise 
guidance of John Robinson, their pastor. Nor must 
we forget the broadening effect which ten years' 
residence in Leyden had wrought upon the civic and 
political ideals of their leaders. Narrow in some 
respects they were, it is true, when judged from the 
modern standpoint. They were severely Biblical. 
They had their share of cranky people. But for 
their time they had a remarkable breadth of view. 
They sought liberty, indeed, for themselves first, but 
they already had their faces set in the direction which 
would lead them in time to grant that liberty to others. 

1 Letter of Bradford and Allerton, September 8, 1623, in Public Record 
Office. For information as to the Mayflower see an article by R. G. Marsden 
in the English Historical Review, October 1904. 




The time of parting from the Leyden friends at 
length arrived. It was with a wrench that they 
said farewell at the waterside in Delftshaven. With 
tears and choking voices, and many " lively and 
true expressions of dear and unfeigned love," they 
separated. Some of the members of Ainsworth's 
Church at Amsterdam had also come over to wish 
them Godspeed, and sundry Dutch strangers, who 
stood on the quay as spectators, were deeply moved 
by the scene. 

" The tide," says Bradford, " which stays for no man, 
calling them away that were thus loth to depart, their 
Reverend Pastor falling down on his knees, and they all 
with him, with watery cheeks, commended them with most 
fervent prayers to the Lord and his blessing. And then, 
with mutual embraces and many tears, they took their 
leaves one of another, which proved to be the last leave 
to many of them." 

Bradford notes in the margin of his History that 
the date of the sailing of the Speedwell was " about 
22nd of July." This was a Saturday, and with a 
favouring wind they made a quick passage to South- 
ampton, " where they found the bigger ship come 
from London, lying ready, with all the rest of their 
Company." Thomas Prince tells us the Mayflower 
" had been waiting there with Master Cushman seven 
days." Cushman, then, for his part, was up to time. 

Further delays now followed. For one thing, the 



Speedwell was not in fit trim for the Atlantic voyage, 
and had to be overhauled: for another, it was im- 
portant to come to some definite understanding with 
the general body of Adventurers about the Con- 
ditions on which the Planters or Colonists joined in 
the venture, and this involved more discussion. They 
evidently expected the leading Adventurers would 
come down to Southampton to attend a joint meeting 
to settle the terms. Apparently only Thomas Weston 
turned up, and he came not to discuss, but to get 
their signatures to the altered Conditions. I take 
it that Robinson had advised them on no account 
to consent to the new terms, for they refused to 
sign, and told Weston — 

" He knew right well that these were not according to 
the first Agreement. Neither could they yield to them 
without the consent of the rest that were behind, and, in- 
deed, they had special charge when they came away, from 
the Chief of those that were behind, not to do it. At which 
he was much offended, and told them, c they must then 
look to stand on their own legs,' so he returned in displeasure." 

The Pilgrim company wrote a letter from South- 
ampton to the " Merchants and Adventurers," ex- 
plaining the position of affairs. They did not wish 
to be thought unreasonable — 

August 3rd, anno 1620. 

" Beloved Friends, 

44 Sorry we are that there should be occasion of 
writing at all unto you, partly because we ever expected 
to see the most of you here, but especially because there 
should any difference at all be conceived between us. But 
seeing it falleth out that we cannot confer together, we 
think it meet, though briefly, to show you the just cause 
and reason of our differing from those Articles last made by 
Robert Cushman, without our consideration or knowledge. 
And though he might propound good ends to himself [in so 
doing] yet it no way justifies his doing it. 

" Our main difference is in the Fifth and Ninth Articles 
concerning the dividing, or holding, of house and lands, 
the enjoying whereof, some of yourselves well know, was 


one special motive amongst many others to provoke us to 
go. This was thought so reasonable, that when the greatest 
of you in adventure [Thomas Weston], whom we have much 
cause to respect, when he propounded Conditions to us [at 
Leyden] freely of his own accord, he set this down for one. 
A copy whereof we have sent unto you, with some additions 
then added by us, which being liked on both sides, and a 
day set for the payment of monies, those of Holland paid in 

" After that, Robert Cushman, Master [John] Peirce, and 
Master Martin brought them into a better form, and writ 
them in a book now extant and upon Robert's showing 
them [i. e. on Robert Cushman showing them to Mullins] 
and delivering Master [William] Mullins a copy thereof 
under his hand, which we have, he paid in his money. 

" And we of Holland had never seen other before our 
coming to Hampton but only as one got, for himself, a 
private copy of them. Upon sight whereof, we manifested 
utter dislike, but had put off [sold] our estates, and were 
ready to come; and therefore it was too late to reject the 
voyage. Judge, therefore, we beseech you, indifferently 
[impartially] of things ; and if a fault have been committed, 
lay it where it is, and not upon us, who have more cause to 
stand for the one [set of Conditions] than you have for the 
other [altered Conditions]. 

"We never gave Robert Cushman commission to make 
any one Article for us, but only sent him to receive monies 
upon Articles before agreed on, and to further the pro- 
visions [preparations] till John Carver came, and to assist 
him in it. 

" Yet, since you conceive yourselves wronged as well as 
we, we thought meet to add a branch to the end of our 
Ninth Article, as will almost heal that wound of itself, which 
you conceive to be in it. 

" But that it may appear to all men that we are not lovers 
of ourselves only, but desire also the good and enriching 
of [you] our friends, who have adventured your monies with 
our persons ; we have added our [ ? one] last Article to the 
rest, promising you again by letters in behalf of the whole 
Company — 

" That if large profits should not arise within the Seven 
Years, that we will continue together longer with you, 
if the Lord give a blessing. 

This, we hope, is sufficient to satisfy any in this case, 
especially friends, since we are assured that if the whole 


charge were divided into four parts [the Adventurers or 
Shareholders], of three of them would not stand upon it 
[the alteration in the Conditions], neither do regard it, etc. 

" We are in such a strait at present as we are forced to 
sell away £60 of our provisions to clear the haven, and withal 
put ourselves upon great extremities, scarce having any 
butter, no oil, not a sole to mend a shoe, nor every man a 
sword to his side, wanting many muskets, much armour, 
etc. And yet we are willing to expose ourselves to such 
imminent dangers as are like to ensue, and trust to the good 
providence of God rather than his name and truth should 
be evil spoken of, for us. 

" Thus saluting all of you in love, and beseeching the 
Lord to give a blessing to our endeavour, and keep all our 
hearts in the bonds of peace and love, we take leave, and 

"Yours, etc." 

This letter was " subscribed with many names of 
the Chief est of the Company." 

Robinson's Parting Counsel 

After they had at length despatched all their 
business and were ready to leave Southampton, the 
company was called together to listen to a letter 
from John Robinson, giving them helpful advice as 
to the manner and spirit it would befit them to show 
in their great adventure. They were to display a 
loving forbearance ; they were to avoid taking offence 
at trifles, and were to subordinate their own interests 
to the general good of the society to which they 
belonged. Robinson refers to this " large letter " in 
a short private communication to his brother-in-law, 
John Carver, which may first be read — 

" My dear Brother, 

" I received enclosed your last letter and note of 
information, which I shall carefully keep and make use of, 
as there shall be occasion. I have a true feeling of your 
perplexity of mind and toil of body, but I hope that you, 
having always been able so plentifully to administer comfort 
unto others in their trials are so well furnished for yourself, 


as that far greater difficulties than you have yet undergone 
(though I conceive them to be great enough) cannot oppress 
you, though they press you as the apostle speaketh. 4 The 
spirit of a man (sustained by the Spirit of God) will sustain 
his infirmities ' (Prov. xviii. 14). I doubt not so will yours, 
and the better much, when you shall enjoy the presence and 
help of so many godly and wise brethren for the bearing of 
part of your burden ; who also will not admit into their 
hearts the least thought of suspicion of any the least negli- 
gence, at least, presumption, to have been in you, whatsoever 
they think of others. 

" Now, what shall I say, or write unto you, and your good 
wife, my loving sister ? Even only this, I desire, and always 
shall, mercy and blessing unto you from the Lord as unto 
my own soul, and assure yourself that my heart is with you 
and that I will not foreslow my bodily coming at the first 

" I have written a large letter to the whole, and am sorry 
I shall not rather speak than write to them, and the more 
considering the want of a preacher, which I shall also make 
some spur to my hastening towards you. 

" I do ever commend my best affection unto you, which, 
if I thought you made any doubt of, I would express in more 
and the same more ample and full words. 

" And the Lord, in whom you trust, and whom you serve, 
ever in this business and journey, guide you with his hand, 
protect you with his wing, and show you and us his salva- 
tion in the end, and bring us in the meanwhile together in 
the place desired (if such be his good will), for his Christ's 
sake. Amen. 

" Yours, 

" John Robinson. 
"July 27, 1620." * 

Of the " large letter " we have three versions, 
one printed in what is known as Mourfs Relation in 
1622, one given in Bradford's History and a third 
in Nathaniel Morton's New England's Memorial, based 
on Bradford. The first gives the best text. Doubtless 
it would be read to the assembled company by 
William Brewster. It shows us incidentally that the 

1 I take this date to be new style. If this is so the letter was probably 
written in view of the departure of the Speedivell and sent by her. Catherine 
Carver was very likely already in England with her husband. 


form of government under which they were to order 
themselves had been carefully discussed. The demo- 
cratic principles familiar in their Church order were 
to be applied to their civil government, and the voice 
of the majority was to regulate their public affairs. 
They were to initiate a bold experiment for which 
their close association in Church life had prepared 
them. The introduction of a contingent from London 
and Essex into the society, however, called for all the 
more care in ordering their estate, so that the new 
elements might be safely and securely absorbed into 
the general body. In Mourtfs Relation the author- 
ship of this letter is not stated. Initials only, " I. R.," 
are given. The prejudice against Robinson on the 
part of bigoted religionists was too strong to be 
stirred up without good warrant. 

" Certain useful Advertisements sent in a Letter 

written by a discreet Friend unto the Planters 

in New England, at their first setting sail from 

Southampton, who earnestly desireth the 

Prosperity of that, their new, 


44 Loving and Christian Friends, 

44 I do heartily, and in the Lord, salute you all : as 
being they with whom I am present in my best affection, 
and most earnest longings after you, though I be constrained, 
for a while, to be bodily absent from you. I say, con- 
strained : God knowing how willingly much rather than 
otherwise, I would have borne my part with you in this first 
brunt, were I not, by strong necessity, held back for the 
present. Make account of me in the mean while, as of a 
man divided in myself, with great pain, and as, natural 
bonds set aside, having my better part with you. 

44 And though I doubt not but, in your godly wisdoms, 
you both foresee, and resolve upon, that which concerneth 
your present state and condition, both severally and jointly ; 
yet have I thought [it] but my duty, to add some further 
spur of provocation unto them who run already, if not 
because you need it, yet because I owe it in love and duty. 

44 [1] And first, as we are daily to renew our repentance 
with our God, special, for our sins known, and general, for 
our unknown trespasses : so doth the Lord call us, in a singular 


manner, upon occasions of such difficulty and danger as lieth 
upon you, to a both more narrow search, and careful refor- 
mation, of our ways in his sight, lest he (calling to remem- 
brance our sins forgotten by us, or unrepented of) take 
advantage against us; and, in judgment, leave us for the 
same to be swallowed up in one danger or other. Whereas, 
on the contrary, sin being taken away by earnest repentance, 
and pardon thereof from the Lord sealed up unto a man's 
conscience by his Spirit, great shall be his security and peace 
in all dangers, sweet his comforts in all distresses, with happy 
deliverance from all evil, whether in life or in death. 

44 [2] Now next after this heavenly peace with God and 
our own consciences, we are carefully to provide for peace 
with all men, what in us lieth, especially with our associates : 
and, for that end, watchfulness must be had, that we neither 
at all in ourselves do give, no, nor easily take offence being 
given by others. Woe be unto the World for offences ! 
For though it be necessary (considering the malice of Satan, 
and man's corruption) that offences come; yet woe unto 
the man, or woman either, by whom the offence cometh ! 
said Christ (Matt, xviii. 7). And if offences, in the un- 
seasonable use of things in themselves indifferent, be more 
to be feared than death itself, as the Apostle teacheth (1 Cor. 
ix. 15), how much more in things simply evil, in which neither 
honour of God, nor love of man, is thought worthy to be 

44 Neither yet is it sufficient that we keep ourselves, by the 
grace of God, from giving offence; except withal, we be 
armed against the taking of them, when they are given by 
others. For how unperfect and lame is the work of grace 
in that person who wants charity to cover a multitude of 
offences, as the Scriptures speak. 

44 Neither are you to be exhorted to this grace, only upon 
the common grounds of Christianity, which are, That persons 
ready to take offence, either want charity to cover offences, 
or wisdom duly to weigh human frailty ; or lastly, are gross, 
though close, hypocrites, as Christ our Lord teacheth (Matt, 
vii. 1, 2, 3). As indeed, in mine own experience, few or 
none have been found, which sooner give offence, than such 
as easily take it ; neither have they ever proved sound and 
profitable members in societies, which have nourished in 
themselves that touchy humour. 

44 [3] But, besides these, there are divers special motives 
provoking you, above others, to great care and conscience 
this way. 

44 As, first, you are, many of you, strangers as to the 


persons so to the infirmities one of another, and so stand 
in need of more watchfulness this way, lest when such things 
fall out in men and women as you suspected not, you be 
inordinately affected with them, which doth require at your 
hands much wisdom and charity for the covering and 
preventing of incident offences that way. 

" And, lastly, your intended course of Civil Community 
will minister continual occasion of offence, and will be as 
fuel for that fire, except you diligently quench it with brotherly 
forbearance. And if taking offence causelessly, or easily, at 
men's doings be so carefully to be avoided, how much more 
heed is to be taken that we take not offence at God himself, 
which yet we certainly do, so oft as we do murmur at his 
Providence in our crosses, or bear impatiently such afflictions 
as wherewith he pleaseth to visit us. Store we up therefore 
patience against the evil day ! without which, we take offence 
at the Lord himself in his holy and just works. 

" [4] A fourth thing there is carefully to be provided for, 
to wit, That with common employments, you join common 
affections truly bent upon the general good, avoiding (as a 
deadly plague of your both common and special comfort) 
all retiredness of mind for proper [i. e. for one's own 
personal] advantage, and all [persons] singularly affected 
any manner of way. Let every man repress in himself, and 
the whole body, in each person (as so many rebels against 
the common good) all private respects of men's selves not 
sorting with the general conveniency ! And as men are 
careful not to have a new house shaken with any violence 
before it be well settled, and the parts firmly knit, so be 
you, I beseech you, brethren, much more careful that the 
House of God, which you are, and are to be, be not shaken 
with unnecessary novelties, or other oppositions, at the first 
settling thereof. 

" [5] Lastly, whereas you are to become a Body Politic, 
using amongst yourselves Civil Government, and are not 
furnished with any persons of special eminency above the rest to 
be chosen by you into Office of Government, let your wisdom 
and godliness appear, not only in choosing such persons as do 
entirely love, and will diligently promote, the common good ; 
but also in yielding unto them all due honour and obedience 
in their lawful administrations. Not beholding in them the 
ordinariness of their persons, but God's ordinance for your 
good, nor being like unto the foolish multitude, who more honour 
the gay coat than either the virtuous mind of the man, or 
glorious ordinance of the Lord. 

" But you know better things, and that the Image of the 


Lord's power and authority, which the Magistrate beareth, 
is honourable in how mean persons soever. And this duty 
you both may the more willingly, and ought the more con- 
scionably to perform, because you are, at least for the present, 
to have only them for your ordinary Governors which your- 
selves shall make choice of for that work. 

" [Conclusion] Sundry other things of importance I could 
put you in mind of, and of those before mentioned in more 
words, but I will not so far wrong your godly minds, as to 
think you heedless of these things, there being also divers 
among you so well able to admonish both themselves and 
others, of what concern eth them. 

" These few things, therefore, and the same in few words, 
I do earnestly commend unto your care and conscience, 
joining therewith my daily incessant prayers unto the Lord, 
that he (who hath made the heavens and the earth, the sea 
and all rivers of water, and whose Providence is over all his 
works, especially over all his dear children for good) would 
so guide and guard you in your ways (as inwardly by his 
Spirit, so outwardly by the hand of his power) as that both 
you, and we also for and with you, may have after matter of 
praising his name, all the days of your, and our, lives. 

" Fare you well in him in whom you trust, and in whom I 
rest ! 

" An unfeigned well- wilier of your happy success in this 
hopeful voyage, 

" I[ohn] R[obinson]." 

This letter " had good acceptation with all and 
after fruit with many." It is not too much to say 
that some part of Bradford's own charitableness in 
judgment and equable temper in the face of many 
provocations was due to the influence of John Robin- 
son upon his character, exerted through such teaching 
as this letter embodies. The need and pertinence of 
the advice here given is made manifest by the letter 
of Robert Cushman from Dartmouth quoted below. 

The Pilgrims had occasion at once to exercise the 
power of election to which Robinson refers. They 
" chose a Governor and two or three Assistants for 
each ship to order the people by the way and see to 
the disposing of the provisions and such-like affairs." 

At last they weighed anchor and dropped down 


Southampton Water to the Channel, " about the 5th 
of August." But they had not got far on their voyage 
before Reynolds, Master of the Speedwell, reported 
that she was so leaky that he durst not face the 
open sea with her till she was mended. Christopher 
Jones, the Master of the Mayflower, was consulted, 
and it was resolved to put into Dartmouth. Here 
the Speedwell was " thoroughly searched from stem 
to stern," and some leaks repaired. All this meant 
loss of time, further expense to the Pilgrims, and 
loss of a favourable wind. While the repairs were 
in execution at Dartmouth, Cushman wrote a long 
letter to Edward Southworth in London. He felt 
impelled to pour out an account of their troubles to 
some sympathetic ear. It was a grief to Cushman 
that they started on their venture under a cloud of 
misunderstanding and ill-feeling between Weston and 
other of the Adventurers and themselves. The poor 
man was ill and disheartened. Here is his vivid 
letter — 

" To his loving friend, Ed. S., at Henige House, in the 
Duke Place, these — 

" Loving Friend, 

" My most kind remembrance to you, and your 
wife, 1 with loving E. M., 2 etc., whom in this world I never 
look to see again. For, besides the eminent dangers of this 
voyage, which are no less than deadly, an infirmity of body 
hath seized me, which will not in all likelihood leave me till 
death. What to call it, I know not. But it is a bundle of 

1 Southworth married Alice Carpenter on May 28, 1613, at Leyden. He 
was now living at Heneage House in Duke's Place, Aldgate Ward, London. 
The house had belonged to the Abbots of "Bury St. Edmunds, and had passed 
from them to Thomas Heneage. It had a special advantage for Separatists, 
for it stood in the parish of the Priory of Holy Trinity. This religious house 
was dissolved in 1531 and granted to Sir Thomas Audley, through whose 
daughter it came to Thomas, Duke of Norfolk. Hence the title Duke's 
Place. Those dwelling there, says Stow, " became utterly destitute of any 
parish church," so the Separatists in that parish escaped indictment under 
the Act enforcing attendance at one's parish church. A new church, built 
on the site of the old Priory, was consecrated January 2, 1622, by George 
Abbot, assisted by Sir Henry Martin, the Bishop's Vicar-General in Spirituals. 

2 I think these initials refer to Experience Mitchell. 



lead, as it were, crushing my heart more and more these 
fourteen days, as that, although I do the actions of a living 
man, yet I am but as dead. But the will of God be 
done ! 

44 Our pinnace will not cease leaking, else, I think, we had 
been half way at Virginia. Our voyage hither hath been so 
full of crosses as ourselves have been of crookedness. We 
put in here to trim her, and I think, as others also, if we had 
stayed at sea but three or four hours more she would have 
sunk right down. And though she was twice trimmed at 
Hampton, yet now she is as open and leaky as a sieve, and 
there was a board, two feet long, a man might have pulled 
off with his fingers, where the water came in as at a mole 

44 We lay at Hampton seven days in fair weather, waiting 
for her, and now we lie here waiting for her in as fair a wind 
as can blow, and so have done these four days, and are like 
to lie four more, 1 and by that time the wind will happily 
[haply] turn, as it did at Hampton. Our victuals will be 
half eaten up, I think, before we go from the coast of England, 
and if our voyage last long, we shall not have a month's 
victuals when we come in the country. 

44 Near £700 hath been bestowed at Hampton upon what 
I know not. Master Martin 2 saith, He neither can, nor 
will give any account of it. And if he be called upon for 
accounts, he crieth out of unthankfulness for his pains and 
care, that we are suspicious of him, and flings away, and 
will end nothing. Also he so insulteth over our poor people 
with such scorn and contempt, as if they were not good 
enough to wipe his shoes. It would break your heart to 
see his dealing, and the mourning of our people. They 
complain to me, and alas, I can do nothing for them. If 
I speak to him, he flies in my face as mutinous, and saith, 
4 No complaints shall be heard or received but by himself,' 
and saith, 4 They are froward and waspish, discontented 
people, and I do ill to hear them.' 

44 There are others that would lose all they have put in, 
or make satisfaction for what they have had, that they 
might depart ; but he will not hear them, nor suffer them to 
go ashore lest they should run away. 

1 Four days more would bring them to August 21. Captain John Smith, 
in New England's Trials, says, " They left the coast of England on August 23." 

2 Bradford, on inserting this letter into his History, gives this note on 
Martin : "He was Governor in the bigger ship and Master Cushman Assist- 
ant." As Cushman had remitted the money " adventured " in London to 
Martin at Southampton he wanted an account. 


" The sailors also are so offended at his ignorant boldness 
in meddling and controlling in things he knows not what 
belongs to, as that some threaten to mischief him. Others 
say they will leave the ship, and go their way. But at the 
best, this cometh of it, that he makes himself a scorn and 
laughing-stock unto them. 

" As for Master Weston, except grace do greatly sway 
with him, he will hate us ten times more than ever he loved 
us, for not confirming the Conditions. But now since some 
pinches have taken them, they [i. e. the opponents of the 
altered Conditions] begin to reveal the truth and say, Master 
Robinson was in the fault, 1 who charged them never to 
consent to those Conditions nor choose me into Office; but, 
indeed, appointed them to choose them they did choose. 
But he and they will rue too late. They may now see, 
and all be ashamed when it is too late, that they were so 
ignorant, yea, and so inordinate in their courses. I am 
sorry, as they were resolved not to seal those Conditions, 
I was not so resolute at Hampton [as] to have left the whole 
business, except they would seal them. And better the 
voyage to have broken off then, than to have brought such 
misery to ourselves, dishonour to God, and detriment to 
our loving friends, as now it is like to do. 

" Four or five of the Chief of them which came from 
Leyden, came resolved never to go on those Conditions. 
And Master Martin, he said, ' He never received no money 
on those Conditions. He was not beholden to the Merchants 
for a pin. They were bloodsuckers,' and I know not what. 
Simple man ! He, indeed, never made any Conditions with 
the Merchants, nor ever spake with them. But did all that 
money 2 fly to Hampton or was it his own ? 

" [Firstly] — Who will go and lay out money so rashly 
and lavishly as he did, and never know how he comes by it, 
or on what conditions ? 

" Secondly — I told him of the alteration long ago, and he 
was content. 

" But now he domineers, and said, I had betrayed them 
into the hands of slaves ! He is not beholden to them ! 
He can set out two ships himself to a voyage ! When, 
good man ! he hath but £50 in [i. e. invested in this 

1 Bradford adds a note here : ''I think he was deceived in these things." 
Robinson was clearly opposed to the altered Conditions, but he would hardly 
nominate in Leyden those to be elected into office on shipboard at South- 

2 The £700 invested by the London merchants and remitted by Cushman 
to Martin and Carver. 


venture], and if he should give up his accounts, he would 
not have a penny left him, 1 as I am persuaded, etc. 

" Friend, if ever we make a Plantation God works a 
miracle ! specially considering how scant we shall be of 
victuals, and, most of all, ununited amongst ourselves and 
devoid of good tutors and regiment. Violence will break 
all. Where is the meek and humble spirit of Moses? and 
of Nehemiah, who re-edified the walls of Jerusalem, and the 
State of Israel ? Is not the sound of Rehoboam's brags 
daily heard amongst us? Have not the philosophers and 
all wise men observed that, even in settled Common Wealths, 
violent Governors bring, either themselves or people, or both, 
to ruin ? How much more in the raising of Common Wealths, 
when the mortar is yet scarce tempered that should bind the 
walls ? 

" If I should write to you of all things which promiscuously 
forerun our ruin, I should overcharge my weak head and 
grieve your tender heart : only this I pray you, Prepare for 
evil tidings of us, every day ! But pray for us instantly ! 
It may be the Lord will be yet intreated, one way or other, 
to make for us. I see not, in reason, how we shall escape, 
even the gasping of hunger-starved persons, but God can do 
much, and his will be done ! 

"It is better for me to die, than now for me to bear it, 
which I do daily, and expect it hourly, having received the 
sentence of death, both within me and without me. Poor 
William Ring and myself do strive who shall be meat first 
for the fishes ; but we look for a glorious resurrection, know- 
ing Christ Jesus after the flesh no more, but looking unto the 
joy that is before us, we will endure all these things and 
account them light in comparison of that joy we hope for. 

" Remember me in all love to our friends as if I named 
them, whose prayers I desire earnestly and wish again to 
see, but not till I can, with more comfort, look them in the 
face. The Lord give us that true comfort which none can 
take from us ! 

u I had a desire to make a brief Relation of our estate to 
some friend. I doubt not but your wisdom will teach you 
seasonably to utter things, as hereafter you shall be called 
to it. That which I have written is true, and many things 
more, which I have foreborne. I write it as upon my life 

1 Bradford notes here in the margin, " This was found true afterward." 
In A Relation . . . of the Proceedings of the English Plantation . . . at Plymouth, 
1622, we read : " Saturday, January 6 [1621], Master Martin was very sick, 
and to our judgment no hope of life, so Master Carver was sent for to come 
aboard to speak with him, about his Accounts." 


and last confession in England. What is of use to be spoken 
of presently, you may speak of it, and what is fit to conceal, 
conceal ! Pass by my weak manner ! for my head is weak, 
and my body feeble. The Lord make me strong in him, 
and keep both you and yours ! 

" Your loving friend, 

" Robert Cushman. 
" Dartmouth, 

"Augusta, 1620." 

The repairs at Dartmouth being finished, they again 
put to sea, and the two vessels kept together well out 
into the Atlantic ; but again the Speedwell proved leaky 
— " they could scarce free her with much pumping." 
Jones and Reynolds, after consultation, resolved that 
both ships should " bear up back again and put into 
Plymouth." The fact that the Mayflower, having got 
thus far, did not proceed with her voyage, but turned 
back with the Speedwell, indicates that the latter was 
in a dangerous condition, and that it was desirable to 
stand by her to render help in case of need. The 
root of the trouble seems to have been that the 
Speedwell was not in fit trim for the Atlantic voyage. 
She was overmasted, and when her canvas was 
spread the strain on the hull was too great and 
opened her timbers. After she was sold and put 
back into her former trim she made many profitable 
voyages in safety. It is also alleged that Reynolds 
and his crew were none too eager to face the voyage, 
as they were hired to stay with the Planters in 
New England for a year. 

The two little ships made Plymouth Sound without 
mishap and came up into Sutton Pool, where the 
Speedwell was searched, but no special leak could be 
found. It was concluded she was not equal to the 
voyage, and accordingly it was resolved to send her 
back to London with those least willing and least fit 
" to bear the brunt of this hard adventure." Robert 
Cushman and William Ring were amongst those who 
returned. " Thus, like Gideon's army, this small 
number was divided, as if the Lord, by this work of 


his providence, thought these few too many for the 
great work he had to do." Such of the stores as 
could be stowed in the May-flower were transferred 
to her, together with some of the passengers from 
the Speedwell. The Mayflower thus had one hundred 
and two souls, men, women and children, belonging 
to this "Pilgrim company," crowded between her 
decks, besides the Master, Christopher Jones; the 
ship's surgeon, Giles Heale; the two pilots, and the 
crew. She was dangerously crowded, and it was a 
mercy that sickness did not break out on board. 
So far as we know only one of the crew died on the 
voyage, and one of the Pilgrim company, William 
Butten, a man-servant, died as they drew " near the 
coast." To Elizabeth Hopkins, wife of Stephen 
Hopkins, was born a son on the Mayflower, to whom 
the name Oceanus was given. 

I am confident that Jones and his pilots would 
take the opportunity of their enforced visit to the 
port of Plymouth to make inquiry of the seamen and 
ship-masters there about the coast and harbours of 
the New England shore for which they were bound. 
Captain Dermer had returned to Plymouth, in Devon, 
from the very district where the Mayflower was shortly 
to make her landfall, but a few months before this time. 
It is not impossible that Carver, a quiet, undemon- 
strative, but far-seeing man, who could keep his own 
counsel, gained some information from friends in 
Plymouth about the locality visited by Dermer, where 
the Pilgrims eventually seated themselves. If the 
Hudson River district, at which they aimed, should 
prove impracticable this other region might afford 
them a home. 

The Second, or Plymouth Virginia Company, to 
which some of the leading men in Plymouth, Devon, 
belonged, was interested in these more northerly 
parts of the American coast, and the question of the 
most fitting destination for the Pilgrims was bound 
to be discussed amongst them. One man in Plymouth, 
we may be sure, was interested in the Mayflower and 





her venture, and that was David Thomson, a Scot 
by birth, but domiciled in Plymouth. He married 
Amy as Colle at St. Andrew's, Plymouth, July 18, 
1613. He secured a grant, November 16, 1622, of 
6000 acres in New England, and a month later con- 
tracted with the Plymouth merchants, Abraham Col- 
mer, Nicholas Sherwill and Leonard Pomeroy, for 
the transport of himself and five of his men on the 
Jonathan and the Providence to New England. He 
settled at the mouth of the Piscataqua River. Abra- 
ham Jennens, 1 of Plymouth, was also interested in 
the New England trade and seated a plantation at 
Monhegan Isle in 1622. Did these friends talk matters 
over with Carver and Brewster? 

At last, according to their own relation, on — 

" Wednesday, the sixth of September, the wind coming 
East-North-East, a fine small gale, we loosed from Plymouth, 
having been kindly entertained and courteously used by 
divers friends there dwelling, and, after many difficulties in 
boisterous storms, at length, by God's providence, upon the 
9th of November following, by break of the day, we espied 
land, which we deemed to be Cape Cod, and so afterward it 

They thus made their landfall far to the north of the 
territory over which the First, or London Virginia Com- 
pany, had jurisdiction, and for which their "patent" 
was drawn. They accordingly tacked and put to 
the southward, " to find some place about Hudson's 
River for their habitation." But the Mayflower soon 
got into dangerous waters off Monamoy Point, and 
it was resolved to bear up again for the Cape. If the 
map of the New England coast drawn by Captain 
John Smith is consulted, it will be seen that the 
eastern shore of the Cape Cod peninsula below its 
northern point is not charted. These were strange 
waters, and Jones prudently put about and got the 
Mayflower round the Cape into the snug harbour 

1 Apparently his son, Gulielmus Jennens, Anglus, Plimutensis, matriculated 
at Leyden University November 1, 1*628. 


encircled by its hook-like terminal promontory. Smith 
had marked this bay upon his map as " Milford 
hauen " ; it is now known as Provincetown Harbour. 
The eyes of the Pilgrims were refreshed with the 
sight of land ; there would be eagerness to get ashore ; 
the season of the year was late ; it was needful to act 
at once if any shelter against the winter was to be 
provided, but the coast upon which they now rested 
their eyes was in territory covered by the charter of" 
the Second, or Plymouth Virginia Company, to which 
their " patent " gave them no rights. Moreover, 
there were indications that some of the party were 
" not well affected to unity." They " gave some 
appearance of faction." To be boxed up together on 
shipboard for a long voyage is a bit trying, even for 
saints. What was to be done? With the English- 
man's usual genius for ordered self-government, and 
with the words of Robinson, " you are to become a 
Body Politic, using amongst yourselves Civil Govern- 
ment," still fresh in their memory, they met in the 
cabin of the M ay flower and entered into a memorable 
compact. They were equal now to the work of 
erecting a Commonwealth as they had been equal to 
the task of building themselves by covenant, in 1606, 
into a Church of Christ — 

" It was thought good there should be an Association and 
Agreement that we should combine together in one body, 
and to submit to such Government and Governors as we 
should, by common consent, agree to make and choose." 

So the following document was drawn up and 
signed — 

" In the name of God, Amen. We, whose names are under- 
written, the loyal subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord King 
James, by the grace of God, of Great Britain, France, and 
Ireland King, Defender of the Faith, etc. 

" Having undertaken for the glory of God, and advance- 
ment of the Christian faith, and honour of our King and 
country a Voyage to plant the first Colony in the northern 
parts of Virginia do, by these presents, solemnly and mutually, 


in the presence of God and one of another, covenant and com- 
bine ourselves together into a Civil Body Politic for our 
better ordering and preservation, and furtherance of the 
ends aforesaid, and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute, 
and frame such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, con- 
stitutions, offices, from time to time, as shall be thought 
most meet and convenient for the general good of the Colony, 
unto which we promise all due submission and obedience. 

" In witness whereof, we have hereunder subscribed our 
names. Cape Cod, 11th of November, in the year of the 
reign of our Sovereign Lord King James, of England, France, 
and Ireland, 18 and of Scotland 54. Anno Domini 1620. 

" John Carver John Turner 

William Bradford Francis Eaton 

Edward Winslow James Chilton 

William Brewster John Craxton 

Isaac Allerton John Billington 

Miles Standish Moses Fletcher 

John Alden John Goodman 

Samuel Fuller Degory Priest 

Christopher Martin Thomas Williams 

William Mullins Gilbert Winslow 

William White Edmund Margeson 

Richard Warren Peter Brown 

John Howland Richard Britteridge 

Stephen Hopkins George Soule 

Edward Tilly Richard Clarke 

John Tilly Richard Gardiner 

Francis Cooke John Allerton 

Thomas Rogers Thomas English 

Thomas Tinker Edward Dotey 

John Ridgdale Edward Leister." 
Edward Fuller 

The signatures of heads of families were evidently 
deemed sufficient to cover sons and men-servants. 
The question of woman's part in civil government 
had not yet risen above the horizon of politics. The 
women were covered by their husbands' names. 

The drawing up and signing of this Compact must 
not be taken as an indication that these pioneers 
sought to dissociate themselves from the English 
State. Far from it. They desired the support of 


England in their loneliness. As soon as the May- 
flower arrived at London again, in May 1621, and 
reported as to the situation of the new Plantation, 
steps were taken to regularize the position of the 
Planters with regard to the English Government. 
The " grant " or " patent " taken from the London 
Virginia Company, with which they sailed, was of no 
use, so application was made to the authority having 
jurisdiction over the territory where they had seated 

The position was somewhat complicated here in 
England also, because the Second, or Plymouth 
Virginia Company had been superseded, soon after 
the Mayflower left the shores of England, by a " Coun- 
cil for New England," constituted on November 3, 
1620. To this Council, therefore, the London Ad- 
venturers interested in the Pilgrim Colony had 
to apply for a " patent " to give their Plantation 
a colourable legal standing. On June 1 such a 
" patent " was granted by the " Council for New 
England " to " John Peirce and his Associates," in 
behalf of the Adventurers and Planters. This docu- 
ment was sent off by the little ship Fortune, which 
carried Robert Cushman and a further small con- 
tingent of Ley den friends to join the new colony. 
She called at Plymouth on her way down Channel, 
and made a good passage, arriving at New Plymouth 
on November 9, 1621. This " patent " gave the 
colonists some sort of legal title and recognition by 
the English State. It secured them from the in- 
trusion of interlopers, prevented other patentees from 
getting authority over them or dispossessing them, 
and gave them a ground of appeal to the English 
Government in case they were interfered with by 
Frenchmen, Spaniards or Dutchmen. They were 
still amenable to English law, and they themselves 
had the right of turning to the Courts of the Mother- 
land for protection and redress of injuries. 



It does not come within the scope of our study of the 
life and influence of John Robinson to deal in detail 
with the struggles and hardships of the Pilgrim 
Fathers in laying the foundations of their new colony. 
For that story the remarkable History of Plimouth 
Plantation, by William Bradford, one of the classic 
narratives in our tongue, should be consulted. Suffice 
it to say that after exploration the Pilgrims eventually 
fixed on Patuxet, or New Plymouth, 1 as the site of their 
settlement. They had no time to provide adequate 
protection against the rigours of the New England 
winter, and though the season was really a mild one 
as winters go in that region, yet, owing to sickness and 
exposure, no less than forty-seven of the colonists 
had died before the Mayflower left for the Homeland 
on April 5, 1621. Fortunately, the real leaders in the 
venture for the most part survived. 

We can imagine the anxiety with which Robinson 
and the Leyden friends would await news of their 
brethren. With Robert Cushman it would be almost 
like hoping against hope to hear of their safety, and 
when the Mayflower got back into port he would send 
the letters she brought post-haste to Leyden. 

Wlien the Fortune sailed Cushman went with her 
and carried the following letter, addressed by Robinson 
to the portion of his flock in distant Plymouth. It 

1 The name Plimouth appears on the map of " New England observed and 
described by Captayn John Smith " in 1614, for this spot, and the Pilgrims 
retained it, noting the coincidence that Plymouth was the last port they left 
in Old England. 



is one of the three letters that have survived from 
the " mail " she carried. Robinson was anxious to 
join his friends in the New World, but, like the good 
pastor he was, he felt responsible for the wives and 
children left behind at Leyden under his spiritual 
oversight. He recognized that the first contingent 
of his little army had won a victory over adverse 
circumstances, and, like a brave leader, he does not 
mourn unduly over losses, but comforts his brethren. 
He exhorts them to peace and unity. We do not 
know what the " token " of love sent by the Leyden 
friends was — perhaps a parcel of cloth or goods to meet 
the Pilgrims 5 special needs. 

To the Church of God in Plymouth, New England 

" Much-beloved Brethren, 

" Neither the distance of place nor distinction of body, 
can at all either dissolve or weaken that bond of true Christian 
affection in which the Lord by his Spirit hath tied us together. 
My continual prayers are to the Lord for you; my most 
earnest desire is unto you ; from whom I will not longer keep 
(if God will) than means can be procured to bring with me 
the wives and children of divers of you and the rest of your 
brethren, whom I could not leave behind me without great 
injury both to you and them, and offence to God and all 

" The death of so many, our dear friends and brethren, 
oh ! how grievous hath it been to you to bear, and to us 
to take knowledge of; which, if it could be mended with 
lamenting, could not sufficiently be bewailed ; but we must 
go unto them, and they shall not return unto us. And how 
many, even of us, God hath taken away here, and in England, 
since your departure you may elsewhere take knowledge. 
But the same God has tempered judgment with mercy, as 
otherwise, so in sparing the rest, especially those by whose 
godly and wise government you may be, and (I know) are 
so much helped. In a battle it is not looked for but that 
divers should die; it is thought well for a side if it get the 
victory, though with the loss of divers, if not too many, or 
too great. God, I hope, hath given you the victory, after 
many difficulties, for yourselves and others ; though I doubt 
not but many do and will remain for you and us all to strive 


44 Brethren, I hope I need not exhort you to obedience 
unto those whom God hath set over you in church and 
commonwealth, and to the Lord in them. It is a Christian's 
honour to give honour according to men's places; and his 
liberty to serve God in faith, and his brethren in love, orderly, 
and with a willing and free heart. 

" God forbid ! I should need to exhort you to peace, which 
is the bond of perfection, and by which all good is tied 
together, and without which it is scattered. Have peace 
with God first, by faith in his promises, good conscience kept 
in all things, and oft renewed by repentance, and so, one with 
another, for his sake who is, though three, one; and for 
Christ's sake, who is one, and as you are called by one Spirit 
to one hope. 

44 And the God of peace and grace and all goodness be with 
you, in all the fruits thereof plenteously upon your heads now, 
and for ever. All your brethren here remember you with 
great love; a general token whereof they have sent you. 
44 Yours ever in the Lord 

44 Jn° Robinson. 

"Leyden, Holland, June 30, Anno 1621." 

When this letter was written the Leyden friends 
were not aware of the death of John Carver, the first 
" Governor " of the new Plantation. The colonists 
re-elected him to that office as " a man well approved 
amongst us," 1 on March 23, 1621, some thirteen days 
before the Mayflower sailed for home. But a few 
weeks later he came in from working on the land 
complaining of his head, lay down, lost consciousness, 
and died in a few days. It was a grievous loss to the 
little colony. Carver's skill in husbandry and farm 
management, gained by his experience in earlier days 
at Sturton, would have been of great value to the 
Planters. A few weeks later, in June 1621, his widow, 
Catherine, the sister of Bridget Robinson the Pilgrim 
Pastor's wife, also died. They were not long divided. 
The records of the Church at Plymouth, in referring 
to Carver, say — 

44 This worthy gentleman was one of singular piety, and 
rare for humility, which appeared, as otherwise, so by his 

1 A Relation or Journal . . . of the English Plantation . . . at Plymouth, 1622. 


great condescendency, whenas this miserable people were in 
great sickness, he shunned not to do very mean services 
for them — yea, the meanest of them. He bare a share like- 
wise of their labor in his own person according as their great 
necessity required. Who, being one also of a considerable 
estate, spent the main part of it in this enterprise, and from 
first to last approved himself not only as their agent in the 
first transacting of things, but also all along to the period of 
his life, to be a pious, faithful, and very beneficial instrument. 
He deceased in the month of April in the year 1621, and is now 
reaping the fruit of his labor with the Lord." 

While the Fortune lay at New Plymouth Cushman 
exercised his gifts on one Sunday in their meeting 
by preaching a sermon " On the Sin and Danger of 
Self-love," based on the text, " Let no man seek his 
own, but every man another's wealth." The subject 
was pertinent to the main object of Cushman's visit. 
He was the one man amongst them who was sincerely 
convinced that the communistic principle of ordering 
their society would be best for all concerned if given 
a fair trial. Unfortunately, Weston and other of the 
Adventurers in London made use of Cushman's strong 
convictions on this point to further their own prospects 
of personal gain. He was commissioned to get the 
assent of the colonists to the altered Conditions 
which they declined to sign at Southampton. In this 
he was successful. The great need in which the 
colonists stood of further supplies compelled them 
to assent to those hard terms in the hope and expecta- 
tion of the good-will and continued support of the 
company of Adventurers and merchants in London. 

The Fortune was loaded up with such goods as the 
colonists had managed to get ready for shipment, in 
spite of their hardships — clapboard, or rough-sawn 
timber, and some hogsheads of beaver skins. She 
sailed for home about December 11, 1621, carrying 
letters and a Relation of the Planters' proceedings, 
written by Bradford. As she drew near to the mouth 
of the Channel a French man-of-war, captained by 
Fontenau de Pennart, a Breton, took her as a prize. 
She and her company, thirteen souls all told, were 


detained thirteen days and then released, and with 
loss of some of their lading and personal belongings 
they got back to London on February 14, 1622. Thus 
Robinson would get further news of the distant 
section of his flock in New England. 

In Weston's letter to Carver, sent by the Fortune, 
dated London, July 6, 1621, he said, " I pray 
you write instantly for Mr. Robinson to come to 
you." 1 

But Robinson's intention of joining them, with the 
rest of the Leyden Church, was frustrated, and mainly 
for two reasons. 

First — on account of poverty. The Pilgrim company 
were not rich in this world's goods. They had not 
sufficient capital of their own to pay for the equip- 
ment and transportation of their Church as one body. 
Nor had they enough whole-hearted supporters in 
England with sufficient means to set them out. The 
fact that they had received support for the initial 
venture from sundry London merchants not of their 
religious fellowship was already involving them in 
difficulty. To some extent it put the Pilgrims in the 
power of these unsympathetic strangers. 

Secondly — hostility to Robinson's convictions in 
regard to Church government and order was a great 
barrier in the way of his removal. There was an 
extraordinary and unreasonable prejudice against 
his religious movement on account of its affinity with 
" Brownism," which had been made odious to the 
public mind by ridiculous slanders. Brownism was 
the whipping-stock alike of Puritans and Prelatists. 
God forbid that respectable London merchants should 
do anything to further it — at a less rate than twenty 
per cent. ! 

Weston himself, who had promised to stand by the 
new colony, early contemplated breaking away, and 
for his greater gain starting a colony of his own. A 
letter of his, dated April 10, 1622, sent to New Ply- 
mouth by a fishing-vessel called the Sparrow, which 

1 Bradford, MS. History, fol. 67. 


he and Beauchamp, a " Salter," had bought and fitted 
out, reveals something of the feeling in London — 

" Most of them [$. e. the Adventurers] are against ye 
sending of them of Leyden, for whose cause this bussines was 
first begun e, and some of y e most religious (as m r ; Greene by 
name) excepts against them, so y* my advice is (you may 
follow it, if you please) that you forthwith break of [f] your 
joynte stock, which you have warente to doe both in law and 
conscience, for y e most parte of y e adventurers haue given 
way unto it by a former letter." l 

When the Charity and the Swan, the vessels fitted 
out by Weston for his own new colony, arrived at 
New Plymouth, June 1622, they brought a letter sent 
privately by Cushman to Bradford, putting him on 
his guard against Weston and his people, but speaking 
hopefully of the prospect of their Leyden friends 
joining them. 

" Our friends at Leyden are well, and will come to you as 
many as can this time. I hope all will turn to the best; 
wherefore I pray you be not discouraged, but gather up 
yourself to go through these difficulties cheerfully and with 
courage in that place wherein God hath set you, until the day 
of refreshing come. And the Lord God of sea and land bring 
us comfortably together again, if it may stand with his 

These hopes of Cushman were not realized in 1622, 
but the next year a further contingent from Leyden 
went out, though Robinson's way was still barred. 

1 Bradford, MS. History, fol. 75. 


opposition to robinson's migration — his concern 
for the indians his last letters 

Preparations were in hand in the spring of 1623 
for sending reinforcements and supplies to the infant 
colony. A letter was sent to the Planters, dated 
April 9, 1623, stating, " We have agreed with 2 
merchants for a ship of 140 tunes called y e Anne 
which is to be ready y e last of this month to bring 
60 passengers and 60 tune of goods." The Anne 
arrived at Plymouth " about the later end of July 
and the James a fourthnight after." * The Little 
James, a fine new pinnace, was to remain in the 
colony for fishing and trade. By the Anne came a 
letter in which excuse is made for the absence of 
Robinson from the party. 

" We have in this ship sent shuch women as were willing 
and ready to goe to their husbands and freinds, with their 
children, etc. We would not have you discontent e, because 
we have not sent you more of your old freinds, and in spetiall 
(J. R.) him, on whom you most depend, farr be it from us to 
neclecte you, or contemne him. But as ye Intente was at 
first, so y e evente at last shall shew it that we will deal fairly, 
and squarly answer your expectations to the full." 2 

The initials J. R. placed by Bradford in the margin 
indicate the pastor of their Church. Among those 
who went out in the Anne and the Little James were 
George Morton and his family; Alice, the widow of 
Edward South worth, who shortly after arrival was 

1 MS. letter of Bradford and Allerton, dated September 8, 1623, discovered 
by Mr. R. G. Marsden in Public Record Office. 

2 Bradford, MS. History, fol. 101. 

T 273 


married to William Bradford, and Experience Mitchell, 
together with two of William Brewster's daughters, 
" Patience " and " Fear " by name. William Hilton, 
Robert Hickes, Thomas Flavell and William Palmer, 
who had crossed in the Fortune, were now joined by 
their wives. Bridget Fuller, wife of the good deacon 
who sailed in the Mayflower, and Barbara, who became 
the second wife of Miles Standish, were also of this 
company, so there must have been a joyful reunion 
on the landing from the Anne and the Little James, 
Bradford arranged with William Pierce, the master 
of the Anne, " to lade him back for a . 150 . pounds," * 
and with her he sent " one of our honest freinds 
Edward Winslow by name . . . unto whom we 
refferr you in all partickulars . . . expecting his 
returne by the first fishing-shipes." In the letter 
from Bradford and Allerton, dated " Plimouth, Sep- 
tember 8, 1623" (two days before the Anne sailed), 
they say — 

" For our friends in Holland we much desired their company 
and have long expected the same. If we had had them in the 
stead of some others we are persuaded things would have been 
better than they are with us, for honest men will ever do their 
best endeavour, whilst others (though they be more able of 
body) will scarce by any means be brought to [do so]. But 
we know many of them [at Leyden] to be better able, either 
for labour or counsel than ourselves. And indeed if they 
should not come to us we would not stay [her]e, if we might 
gain never so much wealth. But we are glad to take know- 
ledge of what you would write touch[ing] them, and like well 
of your purpose not to make the general body bigger, save 
only to furnish them with useful members for special 

" Touching those Articles of Agreement, we have taken 
ourselves bound by them unto you, and you unto us. Being 
by M r - Weston much pressed thereunto we gave Mr. Cochman 
[i. e. Robert Cushman] full commission to conclude and con- 
firm the same with you. For anything further thereabout 
we refer you to our Messenger [Winslow]; though in any 
bond made or to be made between you and us we take our 
friends at Leyden to be comprehended in the same, and as 

1 MS. letter in the Public Record Office. 


much interested as our selves; and their consents to be 
accordingly had. For though we be come first to this place, 
yet they are as principal in the action and they and we to be 
considered as one body." x 

The return of the M ay flower, the Fortune and the 
Anne to London undoubtedly quickened interest in 
the colonization of New England, and the news from 
the Pilgrim colony led many to turn their eyes in that 
direction. There was something like a scramble to 
secure grants and patents for the more desirable sites 
for settlement. But with the increased popular inter- 
est, the opposition to Robinson amongst the Puritan 
and Anglican section of the Company of London 
Adventurers for Plymouth Plantation seems to have 
sensibly hardened. 

Some of those who had gone over in the Anne — 
notably a little group of settlers under John Oldham 
— had gone on their own footing, as " particulars," to 
use Bradford's phrase, that is to say, they were 
not incorporated in the " general " company on the 
accepted conditions for a seven-years' co-partnership. 
They were received in a friendly manner and allotted 
lands, but sent home complaints, and some returned 
in discontent. They said, amongst other things, that 
in the Plymouth colony there was " wante of both the 
Sacrements." To this the colonists justly replied — 

" The more is our greife that our pastor is kept from us, 
by whom we might Injoye them, for we used to haue the 
Lord's supper every saboth, and baptisme as often as ther 
was occasion of children to baptize." 2 

The opposition to Robinson is referred to in a letter 
from himself to William Brewster, written when 
Winslow was preparing to return from England to 
the colony. In it his judgment on the question of 
the Sacraments is given. It was his settled conviction 

1 MS. letter of Bradford and Allerton, 1623, in Public Record Office, 

2 Bradford's MS., History, fol. 112. 


that they pertained to the ministerial office alone. 
Here is the letter — 

" Loving and dear Friend and Brother, 

1 ' That which I most desire of God in regard of you, namely 
the continuance of your life and health and the safe coming 
of those sent unto you, that I most gladly hear of and praise 
God for the same. And I hope M rs - Brewster's weak and 
decayed state of body will have some repairing by the coming 
of her daughters and the provisions in this and other ships 
sent, which I hear are made for you ; which makes us with 
the more patience bear our languishing state, and the deferring 
of our desired transportation, which I call desired, rather than 
hoped for, whatsoever you are borne in hand with by others. 

" For, first, there is no hope at all that I know nor can 
conceive of, of any new stock to be raised for that end ; so 
that all must depend upon returns from you, in which are so 
many uncertainties, as that nothing with any certainty can 
thence be concluded. 

" Besides, howsoever, for the present the Adventurers 
allege nothing but want of money, which is an invincible 
difficulty ; yet if that be taken away by you, others without 
doubt will be found. 

" For the better clearing of this, we must dispose the 
Adventurers into three parts; and of them some five or six 
(as I conceive) are absolutely bent for us above others. Other 
five or six are our bitter professed adversaries. The rest, 
being the body, I conceive to be honestly minded and lovingly 
also towards us ; yet such as have others, namely the forward 
preachers nearer unto them than us, and whose course so 
far as there is any difference they would advance, rather 
than ours. 

" Now what a hank these men [i. e. the forward Puritan 
preachers] have over the professors you know, and I persuade 
myself that for me, they, of all others are unwilling I should 
be transported, especially such as have an eye that way 
themselves, as thinking, if I come there, their market will be 
marred in many regards. And for these adversaries, if they 
have but half the wit to their malice, they will stop my course 
when they see it intended, for which this delaying serveth 
them very opportunely. And as one restie jade can hinder, 
by hanging back, more than two or three can (or will, at least 
if they be not very free) draw forward, so will it be in this 

" A notable experiment of this they gave in your messenger's 
presence, constraining the Company to promise that none of 


the money now gathered should be expended or employed 
to the help of any of us [in Leyden] toward you [in New 

" Now, touching the question propounded by you, I judge 
it not lawful for you ; being a ruling elder (Rom. xii. 7-8 and 
1 Tim. v. 17) as opposed to the elders that teach and labor in 
word and doctrine to which [office] the sacraments are 
annexed — to administer them, nor convenient if it were 

4 Whether any learned man will come unto you or not, I 
know not. If any do come you must consilium capere in 

tc Be you most heartily saluted, and your wife with you. 
both from me and mine. Your God and ours, and the God 
of all his, bring us together if it be his will, and keep us in 
the meanwhile and always to his glory, and make us service- 
able to his majesty and faithful to the end. Amen." 

James Sherley * wrote to the colonists on January 25, 

" We have some amongst vs which undoubtedly aime more 
at their owne private ends, and y e thwarting and opposing of 
some hear, and other worthy Instruments of God's glory 
elswher, then at y e general good and furtherance of this noble 
and laudable action." 2 

In transcribing the letter into his History Bradford 
explains who was the " Worthy Instrument " thus 
thwarted, by adding the note " he means m r Robinson." 

The Puritan element amongst the London Adven- 
turers succeeded in blocking the way for Robinson 
and in securing the transportation of a more pliant 
minister to the colony — one John Lyford. He struck 
Cushman as being " none of the most eminent and 
rare," and he says — 

" About choosing him into office use your own liberty and 
discretion. He knows he is no officer among you, though 

1 The name is frequently given as Shirley, but he himself used the form 
Sherley. He was a goldsmith, and carried on a profitable business at the 
sign of "The Golden Horseshoe" on London Bridge. His town house was 
near by, in " Crooked Lane," a thoroughfare still bearing that name. Later 
on we have a glimpse of him in his house at " Clapham," to which he with- 
drew when the plague was hot, and there busied himself with the accounts 
of this Colonial venture. 

2 Bradford's MS., History, fol. 110. 


perhaps custom and universality may make him forget him- 
self. Mr. Winslow and myself gave way to his going to give 
content to some here; and we see no hurt in it, but only 
his great charge of children." 

As a matter of fact, John Lyford * was one of those 
unctuous hypocrites who are too often found battening 
upon fervent religious movements. A sensual, un- 
principled rogue, he was a disgrace to his profession. 
When aboard the Charity at Gravesend in readiness 
to sail, and while Winslow was busied about final 
preparations, Lyford's eye caught sight of two letters 
in the cabin. He slyly broke the seals of both, took 
copies and sealed them up again. One was a letter 
from Winslow addressed to Robinson at Leyden, 
telling him how their affairs stood in England on the 
eve of his return to New Plymouth. Lyford little 
thought that by the same trick played upon himself 
a few months later in warrantable circumstances, his 
own roguery would be exposed. On arrival at the 
colony, Lyford soon entered into intrigue with the 
discontented " particulars," who urged that " m r * 
Robinson and his company may not goe ouer, to our 
plantation, unless he and they will reconcile them- 
selves to our church by a recantation under their 
hands, etc." 2 

Lyford sent home letters by the return of the ship 
Charity from New England in which he advised his 
partisans and backers in London — 

" that y e Leyden company (M>- Robinson and y e rest) must 
still be kepte back, or els all will be spoyled. And least any 
of them should be taken in priuatly somewher on y e coast of 
England (as it was feared might be done) they must chaing 

1 So far as I know, Lyford has not been identified. I fancy he was the 
John Lyforde of Magdalen College, Oxford, admitted B.A. December 16, 
1597, licensed M.A. June 26, 1602, and that the correspondent in England 
to whom he wrote his disparaging account of the Pilgrim Church at Plymouth 
was John Pemberton from county Durham, who matriculated March 8, 
1604-5, at Broadgate's Hall, Oxford. Cf. Clarke's Register of the University 
of Oxford, vol. ii. pp. 206, etc. 

2 Bradford's MS, History, fol. 134, 


the m r of y e ship (m r - William peirce) and put another allso 
in Winslow's stead for marchante or els it would not be 

Though the effort to impose " the French Discip- 
line " or " Presbyterianism " or a modified " An- 
glicanism " upon the Church of the infant colony 
failed, the opposition to Robinson and his democratic 
principles of Church government was sufficiently 
strong to prevent his ever joining his friends and his 
flock in New England. 

Robinson's Concern for the Indians 

Robinson's missionary spirit and concern for the 
natives of America were evinced in one of the last of 
his letters that have come down to us. It will be 
remembered that Thomas Weston made an attempt 
to plant a colony at Wessagusset. His men were of 
the wrong stamp for colonizing, and soon got into 
difficulties with the Indians. This led to a general 
conspiracy against the English settlers, both at 
Wessagusset and at Plymouth. Through the friend- 
liness of their ally " Massacoyte," the Plymouth 
Planters were warned. Let Bradford tell what 
followed — 

" We went to reskew the lives of our countrie-men, whom 
we thought (both by nature and conscience) we were bound 
to deliver, as also to take vengeance of them [the Indians} 
for their villanie entended and determened against us, which 
never did them harme, weaiting only for opertunite to execute 
the same. But by the good providence of god they were 
taken in their owne snare, and-ther wickednes came upon their 
own pate ; we kild seven of the cheif e of them, and the head 
of one of them stands still on our forte for a terror unto 
others." 1 

News of this affray was brought over by Winslow, 
and it caused Robinson much uneasiness. His letter 
of remonstrance does credit to his heart and shows his 

i MS, letter from Bradford, September 8, 1623, 


humane feeling. Had he been on the spot he might 
have realized more fully the peril in which the Pilgrim 
Colony then stood. Yet we may be sure his moderating 
word would not be without good effect in the councils 
of the infant state. 

" My Loving and Much-beloved Friend, whom God hath 
hitherto preserved, preserve and keep you still to his glory 
and the good of many ; that his blessing may make your godly 
and wise endeavours answerable to the valuation which they 
[the colonists] there [in New England] set upon the same. 

" Of your love to and care for us here we never doubted; 
so we are glad to take knowledge of it in that fullness we do. 
Our love and care to and for you is mutual ; though our hopes 
of coming unto you be small and weaker than ever. But of 
this at large in M r - Brewster's letter with whom you — and 
he with you mutually — I know, communicate your letters, 
as I desire you may do these. 

" Concerning the killing of those poor Indians of which we 
heard at first by report, and since by more certain relation, 
oh ! how happy a thing had it been if you had converted 
some before you had killed any ! Besides where blood is 
once begun to be shed, it is seldom stanched of a long time 
after. You will say they deserved it. I grant it : but upon 
what provocations and invitements by those heathenish 
Christians ! [i. e, by the crew of Planters sent out by Weston], 
Besides, you being no magistrates over them, were to con- 
sider not what they deserved, but what you were by necessity 
constrained to inflict. Necessity of this, especially of killing 
so many (and many more it seems they would if they could) 
I see not. Methinks one or two principals should have been 
full enough, according to that approved rule ' The punish- 
ment to the few, and the fear to the many.' Upon this 
occasion let me be bold to exhort you seriously to consider the 
disposition of your Captain [Miles Standish] whom I love, 
and am persuaded the Lord in great mercy and for much good 
hath sent you him, if you use him aright. He is a man humble 
and meek among you and toward all, in ordinary course : 
but now, if this be merely from a human spirit [if there is no 
divine quality about his humility] there is cause to fear that, 
by occasion especially of provocation, there may be wanting 
that tenderness of the life of man, made after God's image, 
which is meet. It is also a thing more glorious in men's 
eyes than pleasing in God's or convenient for Christians, to 
be a terror to poor barbarous people, and, indeed, I am afraid 


lest, by these occasions, others should be drawn to affect a 
kind of ruffling course in the world. 

" I doubt not but you will take in good part these things 
which I write, and, as there is cause, make use of them. It 
were to us more comfortable and convenient that we com- 
municated our mutual helps in presence, but seeing that 
cannot be done, we shall always long after you and love you, 
and wait God's appointed time. 

" The Adventurers, it seems, have neither money, nor any 
great mind of us [at Leyden] for the most part. They deny 
it to be any part of the covenants between us that they should 
transport us ; neither do I look for any further help from them, 
till means come from you. We here are strangers in effect, 
to the whole course ; and so both we and you (save as your 
own wisdom and worth have interested you further) of 
principals, [as was first] intended in this business, are [now 
become] scarce accessories. 

" My wife, with me re-salutes you and yours. Unto him 
who is the same to his in all places, and near to them who are 
far from one another I commend you and all with you. 


"December 19, 1623." [John Robinson.] 


robinson's household at leyden — later con- 
troversies ROGER WHITE 

We must turn away from the fascinating story of 
the activities of that portion of Robinson's Church 
now planted in New England to deal with the pub- 
lications of Robinson himself in his last years, and the 
history of the Leyden section of his religious society. 

The last five years of Robinson's life must have 
been busy years both for him and for his good wife 
Bridget. They brought both sorrows and joys. The 
eldest girl Ann (named after her grandmother at 
Sturton), now grown to woman's estate, married Jan 
Schetter of Utrecht before 1622, but was left a widow 
by the autumn of 1625. John, the eldest son, was 
quickly growing to manhood. His father designed 
him for the ministry, and would doubtless give a 
personal oversight to his studies. 

What Church, however, was open to the son of 
the Separatist pastor? It appears that Robinson 
favoured his preparation for the ministry of the 
Dutch Reformed Church rather than for the pulpits 
of those English congregations in Holland which 
still kept in touch with the Episcopal Anglican 
Church. The other alternative was that fresh 
churches might be built up in America, on the prin- 
ciples which Robinson laid down. To one or another 
of such churches young John Robinson might be 
joined as a member, then be called to exercise his 
gifts in prophesying, and finally be ordained either as 
a pastor or teacher. That is the interpretation I give 
to the following document, discovered by Dr, Dexter 



among the papers of the English Reformed Church 
at Amsterdam, and thus translated — 

" I, the undersigned, hereby certify that Dfomine] Rub- 
bensonus, pastor of the English Church here which is called 
the Brownists', has at divers times conversed with me con- 
cerning the separation between their congregation and the 
other English congregations in this country, and that he has 
at divers times testified that he was disposed to do his utmost 
to remove this schism ; that he was also averse to educating 
his son for the work of the ministry in such congregations 
[English Puritan congregations], but much preferred to have 
him exercise his ministry in the Dutch Churches; that to 
this end, by the help of Domine Teellinck and myself, he had 
also begun to move some good people in Middelburg to 
provide some decent support for his son's studies for a few 
years ; that he, moreover, at divers times assured me that he 
found in his congregation so many difficulties in connexion 
with this [Query, the proposed education of his son for the 
ministry in the Dutch Church] that he, with a good part of his 
congregation, was resolved to remove to the West Indies, where 
he doubted not he should be able to accomplish his desires. 

" This has passed between us at divers times. 

" Given at Leyden, May 25, 1628. 

" Antonius Walaeus. 
(Professor of Theology in the University). 

44 That which is above testified concerning the union of 
the English Churches in this country, I, the undersigned, 
likewise certify that I have divers times heard from the late 
D [omine] Robinson. 

44 At Leyden, May 26, 1628. 

" Festus Hommius, 1 
(Rector of the Theological College)." 

This document bears testimony to Robinson's 
friendly intercourse with those on the professorial 

1 Festus Hommius was incorporated of the University of Oxford, June 6, 
1620 ; perhaps it was to that year of the Mayflower's sailing that the following 
incident is to be referred — 

" When proposals were made to put D r Ames into a Professor's Chair at 
Leyden, the motion was stopped by the English Prelates. Festus Hommius 
took the occasion of a visit to England to wait upon the Archbishop of Canter- 
bury to beg him not to obstruct the appointment of Ames, but he told him 
' that upon his own particular knowledge D r Ames was no obedient son 
unto his mother, the Church of England.' " Quick's 1 cones Sac. Angl. MSS., 
D.W.L., p, 33. 


staff of the University and with the Rev. William 
Teelinck, who, it is well to remember, was keen in 
championing the cause of Thomas Brewer in 1619 
against the demand of King James for his extradition. 

The educational career of young John Robinson, 
like that of his father, covered a long period. Per- 
haps it was interrupted by his father's death. It was 
not till April 5, 1633, that " Joannes Robinsonus, 
Nordovico-Anglus " [Englishman born at Norwich], 
graduated at Ley den. Research in the archives of 
the Dutch Church might throw further light upon 
his career. 

A few other details concerning the history of the 
Pilgrim Pastor's household in the last years of his 
life have been recovered. 

On February 1, 1621, " the English preacher " 
living in the Pieterskerkhof, undoubtedly Robinson, 
buried one of his children in St. Peter's. The town 
census of October 15, 1622, gives his place of residence 
as Zevenhuysen, in the same ward of the city, and 
mentions his wife Bridget with the children, John, 
Bridget, Isaac, Mercy, Fear and James, with their 
maid-servant, Mary Hardy. It was a good long 
family, but one of these children of " the English 
preacher dwelling by the Bell Tower " was buried on 
March 27, 1623. This was probably the little girl 
Mercy, of whom there is no further record. In a 
subsequent section we shall set out what is known as 
to the after career of the survivors and connexions 
of the Robinson household. 

The pen of Robinson in these last years was partly 
engaged on a controversial work x entitled — 

" A / DEFENCE / of the Doc / trine Propovn / ded 
by the Synode / at Dort / Against / Iohn Mvrton 
and / his Associates in a / Treatise in[ti]tuled A 
Description / what God, etc. / with / The Refvtation 
of / their Answer to a Writing touching / Baptism / 
by Iohn Robinson / Printed in the year 1624." 

1 Preface, p. ii., the book, p. 203. 


A note on the last page excuses misprints on the 
ground of "the Author being absent"; the work 
therefore was not printed at Leyden. 

To understand the circumstances which called 
forth this work we must look back for a year or two, 
and take up once again the threads of the story of 
the group of English refugees who gathered round 
John Smith. Through the influence of that remark- 
able man the main body of the Church that he 
gathered abandoned Calvinism and adopted a theology 
akin to that professed by the Mennonites. They 
proclaimed the doctrine of general redemption as 
opposed to particular redemption. They asserted 
that the efficacy of the redemptive work of Christ 
extended to all men and not to the elect alone. 
Thomas Helwys and John Murton, or Morton, 
accepted these views when propounded by Smith, 
and submitted to the baptism which he revived. 
They returned to England full of zeal for their con- 
victions, and made London the centre for their 
propaganda. Robinson had some controversy with 
them in 1614, and in 1615, when issuing their " Ob- 
jections answered by way of Dialogue, wherein is 
proved . . . that no man ought to be persecuted for 
his religion," they took the opportunity of pointing 
" at the principal things of M r Robinson's late book 
till further time." * 

Helwys soon died, but Murton and his friends 
continued their work by issuing a book entitled 
Truth's Champion in 1617, which upheld the Arminian 
scheme of doctrine; and by publishing in 1618 A 
Plain and W ell-grounded Treatise concerning Baptism, 
translated from the Dutch. Robinson, in opposition 
to these old friends, upheld the practice of baptizing 
infants one or both of whose parents were Church 
members. He argued that baptism by any one not 
a Minister or not specially deputed for the duty by 
the Church was invalid, and printed a leaflet setting 
forth his views on this point. Murton puts a reference 

1 Postscript to Objections Answered, 1615. 


to this leaflet into the mouth of an objector in the 
dialogue now to be noticed — 

" Ereunetes (loquiter). I am every way satisfied in this 
[viz. in the point that infant baptism is a late invention] only 
Iohn Robinson, Preacher to the English at Leyden, hath 
printed half a sheet of paper, who laboureth to prove that 
none may baptize but Pastors and Elders of a Church (for 
other officers to baptize I conceive not that he meaneth) and 
consequently that you [John Murton] and all your companies 
in England wanting Pastors are unbaptized." 1 

This " half a sheet " by Robinson received atten- 
tion in a spirited little book by Murton in 1620, 
entitled : " A Discription (sic) what God hath Pre- 
destinated concerning Man in his creation, transgres- 
sion, regeneration . . . as also an Answere to John 
Robinson touching Baptisme." 

The book, greatly daring, applies the principles of 
common sense and common affection governing the 
thought and feeling of the ordinary layman to the 
deep problems which the Synod at Dort essayed to 
solve. It is written in dialogue form, and livens up 
towards the end, when it comes to deal with the 
" little printed writing of John Robinson's touching 

No copy of Robinson's pamphlet has so far come to 
light, but we can gather its drift from the references 
made to it in other works. It contained two main 
propositions — 

(1) " That there is no lawful Baptism but by him that 
hath a lawful calling to baptize. 

(2) " That only he hath an ordinary lawful calling to 
baptize who is called thereto by the Church." 

These " grounds " Robinson supported by six 
" proofs." He argued that, as John Smith, " their 
first baptizer," had no ordinary lawful calling to 
baptize, John Murton and his associates were not 
" lawfully baptized, and so, by the verdict of their own 

1 A Description what God hath Predestinated, 1620, p. 154. 


quest, [were] unbaptized persons." This controversy 
between the followers of Smith and John Robinson had 
shown singular vitality. It went on for more than 
a dozen years. Murton's intimate acquaintance with 
Robinson's writings enabled him to turn some of the 
latter's arguments in favour of the Separatist posi- 
tion against himself on this point of infant baptism. 
For example, Robinson, in support of his separation, 
quoted 1 the opinion of William Perkins — 

"If in Turkey, or America, or elsewhere, the gospel should 
be received of men, by the counsel and persuasion of private 
persons they shall not need to send into Europe for conse- 
crated ministers, but they have power to choose their own 
ministers from within themselves; because where God gives 
the word he gives the power also." 2 

Murton, in 1615, argued in the same way — 

" Many famous men, as M r - Perkins and others, confess 
that if a Turk should come to the knowledge of the truth in 
Turkey, he might preach the same to others, and converting 
them, baptize them, though unbaptized." 3 

Again, in his Manumission, Robinson had argued 
against Ames that it was needful to renounce his 
so-called " orders," received in the Anglican Church, 
and to be rightly " ordained " by the Church which 
called him to the pastoral office in Holland. Murton 
skilfully framed a similar argument to show that 
Robinson ought also to renounce his baptism received 
in England, and submit to baptism according to the 
New Testament order. 

In his reply to " Murton and his Associates," 
Robinson, according to his plan in answering Bernard, 
followed his adversaries through the many subjects 
touched on by the way — 

"As he that will overtake and hold a malefactor," he 
says, " must follow him, not only in the high and beaten way, 
whilst he keeps it, but in all the out-leaps also, and turnings 

1 Works, vol. ii. chap. 3, Justification of Separation, 1610, also Works, vol. 
i. p. 468. 

2 Perkins on Galatians, 1604, p. 35. 3 Objections Answered, 1615. 


which he makes, so, God assisting me, purpose I, though it 
be troublesome, to follow and prosecute these adversaries in 
this, and other their particular stragglings, if any way perti- 
nent to the general controversy." 1 

The effect in the subsequent discussion of predes- 
tination, election, falling away, free-will, and the 
original state of mankind is tedious. Robinson is at 
too great pains to set his adversaries right in every 
detail. The Synod of Dort, which had met at his 
doors with the benediction of King James, had 
tuned up the Calvinistic system of theology to a 
pitch which Calvin himself would not have recognized, 
and Robinson in general assented to its conclusions. 
To put the matter shortly, Murton, approaching the 
subject from the layman's standpoint, looked at the 
problems at issue in the light of his faith in God's 
love and his own sense of justice and liberty; while 
Robinson, from the position of the trained theologian, 
viewed them in the light of God's sovereignty. The 
difference in the way of approach to these questions 
led to divergent conclusions respecting them. 

There is one point touched on in the latter portion 
of his book which had a practical bearing upon the 
position of affairs in the section of Robinson's Church 
under the oversight of Brewster as ruling elder in 
New England. Murton argued that any man making 
a convert might, according to examples given in the 
New Testament, forthwith baptize him. Now, if 
that position were conceded, might not Brewster 
equally well baptize such infants as were presented 
to the Church in New Plymouth, and so remove 
one of the objections brought against the Plymouth 
Plantation? From what Robinson says in explana- 
tion of his position that only one lawfully called by 
the Church can baptize, it is clear that he attached 
the function of baptism to the office of the " teaching 
elder," or the pastor, but he left a loophole for the 
possible appointment of his " ruling Elder," Brewster, 
as " a member able to teach," to perform that duty— 

1 Works, vol. i. p. 274. 


" My meaning was not to deny, that a church wanting 
pastors may appoint a member able to teach (though out of 
office) to baptize : for which much may be said, and hath 
been by some so minded. Which though I do not simply 
approve of ; yet, neither did, neither had I occasion to deal 
there against, but only against the wild course of these All- 
alikes ; of whom any that can wrest a few Scriptures intended 
of men of years only, against the baptizing of infants, to the 
corrupting of some simple man, or woman, thinks himself 
another John Baptist, as their practice and profession 
manifests." 1 

Among the events in his congregation during the 
last years of his life Robinson would be specially 
interested in the marriage of his brother-in-law, 
Roger White, who was now beginning " to make 
good " in Ley den. He was a younger brother of 
Bridget Robinson, born at Sturton, probably in 1589, 
and as a youth went over to Ley den. He eventually 
started business as a grocer. Not till he was thirty- 
two years old did the way seem clear for him to 
marry. He was betrothed at Amsterdam on February 
20, 1621, to Elizabeth Wales, aged twenty-two, and 
married at Ley den on the following March 14. Two 
years later (May 5, 1623) he was admitted to citizen- 
ship on the guarantee of Edmund Chandler and 
Anthony Clement, and thenceforth took a leading- 
part in the affairs of the congregation and the English 
colony in Leyden. He, in turn, guaranteed others 
for admission to citizenship, amongst them his 
brother-in-law, Francis Jessop, on May 5, 1625, who 
was also a shopkeeper in Leyden. As late as May 26, 
1631, he guaranteed William Jackson. I discovered 
a reference to him in the will of his eldest brother, 
Charles White, drawn up in 1633, wherein is the 
bequest, " to my brother Roger ffower pounds." 

1 Robinson's Works, vol. i. p. 446. 




Two letters from Robinson and his Church at 
Leyden of the year 1624 may be briefly noticed here. 
The earlier of the two, dated April 5, 1624, 1 was 
addressed " To our Beloved in the Lord, the Church 
of Christ in London," and was printed in 1634 as an 
appendix to Robinson's Treatise on the Lawfulness of 
Hearing Ministers in the Church of England. The 
circumstances were as follows : In the old Separatist 
Church of Barrowe and Greenwood, which still kept 
up some sort of meetings in London, trouble had 
arisen over a maid who had attended worship at the 
meetings of the Independent Church gathered by 
Henry Jacob in London in 1616. The more rigid 
members of this older Separatist Church carried things 
to such a pitch that they regarded Jacob's Church as, 
in effect, idolatrous, because its members did not 
utterly renounce the Church of England. The erring 
maid was brought before the Separatist Church to 
which she belonged and admonished. She promised 
to give up going to the meetings in Jacob's Church, 
and was accordingly retained as a member in fellow- 
ship. The extremists were not satisfied. St. Paul 
had plainly laid it down (1 Cor. v. 11) that if any 
called a brother be an idolater they were " not to 
keep company " with him, " no, not to eat " with 
such a one. The girl ought to have been excom- 
municated. Feeling on the matter ran high. The 

1 See above, chap. xiv. 


" teacher " of the old Separatist Church, with some 
of the brethren, renounced communion with those 
who retained the maid in fellowship and, though they 
were in a minority, claimed still to be the " Church " 
on the ground that they held the " truth." 

It was felt that outside advice might smooth over 
the difficulty. Accordingly a letter was sent from 
the more moderate section of the London Church to 
the sister Churches of Amsterdam and Leyden con- 
taining six inquiries. The letter went first to the 
Amsterdam Church, which was now, after Ains worth's 
death, under the guidance of Elders. There this 
missive acted with explosive force. The rigid Lon- 
don Separatists found their counterpart in Amsterdam. 
The kernel of the matter was as to the standing of the 
Congregational or Independent Church founded by 
Henry Jacob. In the Amsterdam Church Sabine 
Staresmore and his wife were in fellowship. They 
had first been members of Jacob's Church in London, 
and in virtue of that membership had been received 
into Robinson's Church at Leyden, and thence had 
been commended to the Amsterdam Church. This 
was tantamount to a recognition of Jacob's congre- 
gation as a true Church of Christ. When the question 
put by the Londoners as to " whether Mr. Staresmore 
and his wife are received and retained ... by that 
covenant which they made with God in Mr. Jacob's 
Church, or whether they have renounced it as false 
and made another," was brought up for consideration 
at Amsterdam it led to heated disputes. A series of 
" interrogatories " was put to Staresmore on his 
position, and when he declined to answer them he 
was censured and " cast out." The matter led to 
correspondence between the Churches at Amsterdam 
and Leyden. 

When it became evident that there was no possi- 
bility of the Churches at Leyden and Amsterdam 
returning a joint reply to London, as there was a 
hopeless divergence between them on the points at 
issue, Robinson wrote this letter in answer, which 


was " read in public, and by the whole consent of 
the Church was sent to London." x It is too long 
to quote in full, but we may extract from it the six 
questions upon which the London Separatists sought 

" (1) Have we done well in retaining the maid about 
whom the difference was, she leaving off her attendance 
at the meetings of Jacob's congregation according to her 
promise ? 

" Robinson answered yes. Even c though she had con- 
tinued her practice upon occasion, and without neglect of 
the Church whereof she was a member,' they would have 
done well to retain her. 

" (2) Whether Mr. Jacob's congregation be a true Church 
or no? 

" (3) Whether Mr. Staresmore and his wife are received 
and retained in the Ley den and Amsterdam Churches by 
that covenant which they made with God in Mr. Jacob's 
Church or whether they have renounced it as false and made 
another ? 

" (4) How ought we to carry ourselves towards our 
4 Teacher ' and other brethren renouncing communion 
with us? 

" (5) Whether their pretence of having the truth be 
sufficient to make them the ' Church ' and to warrant their 
above-mentioned dealing, \i. e. their renunciation of com- 
munion with the majority of the old members]? 

" (6) Whether women have voices [i. e. votes] with men 
in the judgments of the churches ? " 

To the last question Robinson replied that " if a 
woman may not so much as move a question in the 
Church for her instruction, how much less may she 
give a voice or utter a reproof for censure." John 
Smith took up a more liberal position in regard to 
this question. In his Principles and Inferences of 
1607 he left the matter open with a " Queer e" but 
in his Par alleles of 1609 he decided it in the affirma- 
tive, and gave allowance to women members to take 
part in the " Censures " of the Church. The general 
tenor of the letter, however, manifests the moderate 
and sensible temper of Robinson and his associates. 

1 W orks, vol.. iii. p. 379. 


The second letter of the year 1624, dated Sep- 
tember 18 from Leyden, is addressed to the Amster- 
dam Church, and deals with Staresmore's case. It 
appears that, after Staresmore had been censured and 
cast out, some steps had been taken to review the 
judgment of the Church in the matter, but this course 
was broken off on the ground that the decision, once 
given, must stand. 

Whereas Leyden acknowledged the congregation 
gathered and covenanted together under Henry Jacob 
as a true Church, Amsterdam took the opposite view, 
and agreed to support those Londoners who desired 
the excommunication of the maid resorting to its 
services. Staresmore, dissenting from this judgment, 
greatly daring, had written a letter on his own account 
from Amsterdam to London " in opposition to the 
Church's agreement." This was regarded as a grave 
offence and a mark of rebellion. Robinson supported 
Staresmore's position, and in his letter pleaded for 
a more moderate and reasonable course to be taken 
by the brethren at Amsterdam. There is a note of 
tiredness and disappointment in this letter at the 
bickerings which marked the Church " nearliest 
united " unto his own religious society. The Separa- 
tist movement had more than a fair share of self- 
sufficient and impossible saints. Robinson showed 
remarkable patience in dealing with them — 

44 To our Beloved, the Elders and Church at Amsterdam, 
grace and peace from God the giver thereof, and in 
him our salutations. 

44 We received your letter, brethren, but not answering 
either our expectation or the weightiness of the business in 
hand; and are withal rather driven to gather your meaning 
out of it, than finding the same in it expressed. Only we see 
plainly your intent of imputing special blame to one [Sabine 
Staresmore], by you accounted the chief adversary, as offer- 
ing boastingly (as you say), to prove that he doth worship 
the God of his fathers in writing a letter in opposition to the 
church's agreement, and in 4 rebellious refusing and despising 
of the same Church.' 


" First, touching the person intended by you. It should 
not seem strange to any, if he were most forward, who was 
deepliest interested in the business; and that so far, as his 
church estate and membership must necessarily stand or fall 
with that covenant [i. e. the covenant of the Church founded 
in London by Jacob in 1616] impugned by you, as the branch 
with the root. As Zilpah was not, nor could be, rightfully 
Leah's handmaid, except she had been Laban's first, right- 
fully (Gen. xxix. 24) by whose gift she was transmitted and 
conveyed unto her ; so neither could he [Staresmore] be truly 
a member there [in Amsterdam] with you but by transmission, 
dismission, or conveyance (call it as you will) from this 
church [Leyden] to that, and so from that at London first 
to us here, by virtue of that first covenant there made by 
profession of faith; which covenant, howsoever by some 
light person accounted no better than the Turks might make, 
was by the churches both there [in London] and here also [in 
Holland], in the time of those worthy governors [Jacob and 
Ainsworth] now at rest in the Lord, esteemed truly Christian. 

11 [Secondly] The party intended by you should, by your 
grounds, not have been cast out, but left out of the church. 

" [Thirdly] And for the things by you imputed unto him, 
we are certified by many eye and ear witnesses that his 
speech was as f olloweth : ' As Paul in his case when he was 
accused unjustly, said, In the way they call heresy, worship 
I the God of my fathers, so haply I in this, that which you 
call and have censured for faction, or a factious action tending 
to the breach and division of the Church, I judge to be nothing 
less, but rather a Christian duty, tending to love and not to 
division in the Church in the least, either in action or inten- 
tion. And if way may be given to speak our minds freely, 
without interruption, as hath been solemnly granted, it may 
and will so appear, I doubt not, to the heart, etc., etc.' 

" And that this speech he [Staresmore] used not till all hope 
was taken away of any moderate course of proceeding, or 
of [any] other [way of satisfying the Church] than by simple 
confession of the sin of faction. 

" And surely, brethren, it is not credible that he would 
speak of the worshipping of the God of his fathers, or that 
any one endued with common sense would offer to prove 
unto others that he worshipped God by that which he knew 
they esteemed sinful and evil. If he had proved that he had 
so worshipped God, what else had it been, but to have 
proved that he had worshipped God by doing evil in their 
conscience, with whom he had to do? This had been an 
offer fit for him to make that meant to prove himself guilty, 


and so to persuade others that he was ; but not for him who 
means, as he did, to avow his innocency in the thing. 

[' Brethren, let us be mindful, as we ought, that no relation 
of a cause, nor plea for or against it, can make either ours the 
better, or our adversaries' the worse, in the eyes of the 
Supreme Judge both of our persons and judgments and all 
other our actions. 

" And whereas the course, well begun and tending to 
pacification, was (as we understand) interrupted and broken 
off upon a ground [or reason] taken from the course of not 
calling again into question civil judgments once passed by 
the Judge according to right ; let it not be grievous unto you 
if we a little warn you of that dangerous foundation, upon 
which, it seems, you too much build your manner of pro- 
ceeding in the church. And to let pass that it were more for 
the true peace of the Judges of the world with God (though 
some diminution of their credits in the eyes of vain men) if 
they not only revised, but often, upon better information or 
advice, even reversed their former sentences. We pray you 
call to mind how grievous it was unto the body of you [fol- 
lowers of Ainsworth] and dangerous in itself, when some of 
place [Francis Johnson and his Elders] amongst you, a few 
years since, would pattern the government of the church 
now, by the government of the elders in Israel, which is in 
truth to transform a service into a lordship. 

" More specially for the matter in hand. When the civil 
Judge hath passed sentence, and that execution is done 
accordingly, and that every one hath his due, there is an 
end of the matter; but in spiritual judgments there is a 
further thing which the Magistrate meddles not with — the 
repentance of the censured to follow in time by God's blessing. 
The end of excommunication is not that the person might 
be excommunicated, but that repentance might follow; for 
the furthering whereof many things may and ought to be 
done in Christian discretion by the church towards the ex- 
communicated, as being, as it were, the church's prisoner 
(1 Cor. v. 5), by which he and his sins are bound upon earth, 
as our Lord teacheth (Matt, xviii. 18). And a larger extent 
of discretion this way, few cases in an age can persuade to, 
than this in hand, considering both the ground and carriage 
of the thing, and the number of the persons opposite, and 
with these the interest of all other churches in the business. 

And now understanding, brethren, that competent satis- 
faction for the manner of the carriage hath been tendered by 
the parties censured, for the matter (to be reduced, as we 
conceive, to these two heads following) we can do no less, in 


honour of the truth, discharge of our own consciences before 
God, and due respect unto them in their distressed state, 
than to signify and profess. 

" 1. That in a matter of mere counsel and advice, more 
than which neither the church of London required nor you 
could afford them, any particular persons advised with and 
having their reasons of difference from the church's per- 
suasion, may, and, in cases of weight, such as this was, 
ought by speech or writing as there is occasion, signify that 
their different judgment and advice to them whom it con- 
cerns, provided the same be done in good manner and with 
due respect to the church. Solomon saith (Prov. xi. 14), 
that ' in the multitude of counsellors there is safety ' ; and 
every man's common sense teacheth, that he who propounds 
a thing to others for counsel, should hear every man's 
opinion, and the reason thereof for his help and direction. 
To deny this is to deprive him of liberty that should give 
counsel, and him of help that should receive it. The church 
was not in this case to use authority, but to show reason. 

" 2. That, seeing both Moses in the law (Deut. xix. 15), 
and Christ in the gospel (Matt, xviii. 15-17) ordains that 
every matter should be established by two or three witnesses, 
and that, in that order the church should be told or com- 
plained to of a brother ; for the officer to traduce or complain 
of a brother to the church, without witness of an offence 
done, and to proceed with him by questions and inter- 
rogatories, tending to his prejudice, and for the church to 
censure him for refusing to answer such interrogatories so 
ministered, is both against Moses and Christ, and the law of 
nature itself (Acts xxiv. 8, 13; and xxv. 15, 16), which 
taught the wise of the heathen not to proceed in judgment 
with any but by way of accusation and proof of evil against 
him. And these persuasions of the things and defence of our 
own and all other Christians', yea, of all men's lawful liberty, 
we are willing and able, by the grace of God, to justify against 
all gainsay ers. 

" And now, brethren, what shall we say more unto you? 
Our and all other churches' advice you reject, in confidence 
of your own unerring judgment and proceeding in this 

" In your letter you mention the great weakness of the 
church. Oh, that you would indeed manifest such persuasion 
of yourselves ! Then would you not proceed with that 
confidence in a matter and manner before unheard of in 
the churches; then would you both be glad of and desire 
the advice and counsel of others, able and willing, in the 


fear of the Almighty and in a good conscience, to afford 
you the best help they can ; and not so carry things as if 
the Word of God either came from you or unto you alone. 
And for the church here, which is nearliest united unto 
you, what other use have you had of us, since the death of 
your wise and modest governors, in all your differences 
and troubles, save to help to bear part of that scandal and 
opprobry wherewith, specially in the public carriage of 
matters, you have laden the ordinances of God and pro- 
fessors of the same in the eyes of all, within and without. 
But in vain we speak unto you, whose ears prejudice hath 
stopped. We purpose not henceforth to trouble you any 
more in this kind; but taking part on occasion in the good 
things amongst you, and professing ourselves innocent of 
the things amiss, will bewail your state, which is indeed to 
be bewailed, and commend it, as we do, to the Lord for 
bettering. His grace be with you always more and more. 
" Your loving brethren, 

" The Pastor and Church at Leyden, 

" John Robinson. 
"Leyden, September 18, 1624." 

It will be remembered that there was issued from 
the Pilgrim Press of Brewster at Leyden in 1619 a 
Defence or " Apologia " of Robinson's Church and its 
opinions, in Latin, compiled by Robinson himself. 
This book gave a useful account of the position taken 
up by his congregation. It was felt that an English 
edition would be helpful in spreading the light and 
removing prejudices. Robinson accordingly pre- 
pared a translation for the press, and this was issued 
in 1625 with the title " A / Iust and Necessarie / 
Apologie / of Certain Christians / no lesse con- 
tumeliously then commonly called / Brownists or 
Barrowists / By M R Iohn Robinson, Pastor of the 
Eng/lish Church at Leyden, first published in Latin 
in his and the / Churches name over which he was 
set, after translated into / English by himself, and 
now republished for the / speciall and common good 
of our / own Countrimen // Psal. 41. 2/0 Blessed is 
he that prudently attendeth to the poore weakling // 
Printed in the yeare of our Lord / M.DC.XXV." 

The work runs to seventy-two pages. It is printed 


in good, clear type, similar to that used by Brewer and 
Brewster in earlier days. My own conjecture is that 
Brewer had recovered possession of the type im- 
pounded in the University of Leyden at the instance 
of the English Ambassador, and now, in conjunction 
with the members of his congregation, procured the 
publication of this work as a pious duty immediately 
after Robinson's death. 

Robinson was probably engaged in seeing through 
the press his volume of Essays when he was seized 
with his last illness. The volume seems to me to 
have had his careful oversight for the most part, and 
has a brief preface from his own hand. Whether he 
lived to see a completed volume is doubtful. His 
name is printed as " Robbinson " on the title page 
of the first edition and in the signature to the preface 
— the latest portions to be set up, which looks as 
though they had not been submitted for his revi- 
sion. The title of the first edition runs as follows : 
" Observati/ons Divine / and Morall / for the 
furthering / of knowledg, and vertue / By John 
Robbinson / Prov. 9. 9. / Give Instruction to a wise 
man, and he will be yet / wiser : teach a just man and 
he will en / crease in learning / Printed in the year 
M.DC.XXV." The volume is a quarto of 324 pages, 
with a preface of four pages, and at the end is " The 
table Conteyning the Contents of everie Chapter," 
two pages. This volume was frequently re-issued. 
Its solid merit and its practical treatment of a variety 
of subjects of perennial interest commended it to a 
wide public. The fact that it contained a large 
amount of valuable sermon matter was not without 
influence on its circulation. A second issue appeared 
in 1625, another came out in 1628, with an expanded 
title based on Robinson's preface, " New Essayes or 
Observations Divine and Morall collected out of the 
Holy Scriptures, Ancient and Modern Writers, both 
divine and human; as also out of the great volume 
of men's manners tending to the furtherance of 
knowledge and virtue." It appeared again in a 


volume of smaller page in 1638, styling itself " The 
second edition." Again in 1642 and in 1654 as 
" Essayes and Observations Theologicall and Morall, 
by a Student in Theologie," without Robinson's 
name. The labour lovingly spent on these essays 
was not labour in vain, though the author did not 
live to see the fruits of his work. They testify to 
Robinson's wide reading, his unflagging industry, 
and his care in noting anything which had a bearing 
upon those points in life and manners in which he 
was specially concerned. His preface shows that in 
this line of work he took real pleasure and delight. 
It would be a relief to turn from the field of 
controversy to this labour which he loved. Here is 
his preface — 

" In framing these mine Observations, Christian Reader, 
I have had, as is meet, first and most regard to the Holy 
Scriptures ; in which respect I call them divine : next, to 
the memorable sayings of wise and learned men, which I 
have read or heard, and carefully stored up as a precious 
treasure for mine own and others' benefit ; and lastly, to 
the great volume of men's manners, which I have diligently 
observed and from them gathered no small part thereof ; 
having also had, in the days of my pilgrimage, special oppor- 
tunity of conversing with persons of divers nations, estates 
and dispositions in great variety. The names of the authors, 
specially known, out of whom I gathered anything, I have, 
for the most part expressed : partly to give them their due ; 
and partly, that the authority of their persons might procure 
freer passage for their worthy and wise sayings, with others ; 
and make the deeper impression of them in the reader's 

" In the method I have been neither curious nor altogether 
negligent, as the reader may observe. Now, as this kind of 
study and meditation hath been unto me full sweet and 
delightful, and that wherein I have often refreshed my soul 
and spirit, amidst many sad and sorrowful thoughts unto 
which God hath called me, so, if it may find answerable accept- 
ance with the Christian Reader, and a blessing from the 
Lord, it is that which I humbly crave, specially at his hands, 
who both ministereth seed to the sower, and fruit to the 
reaper. Amen. 

" John Robinson." 


The essays, sixty -two in number, range over a wide 
field, from the opening one on " Man's Knowledge of 
God," to that on " Death," which closes the book. 
Such topics as "Labour," "Sobriety," "Prayer," 
"Flattery," "Conscience," "Anger," "Modesty," 
" Marriage," " Envy," " Peace," receive special and 
separate treatment. Robinson is fond of balancing 
qualities one against another, or dealing with a pair 
of either related or opposed subjects, e. g. " Truth and 
Falsehood," "Wisdom and Folly," "Speech and 
Silence," " Authority and Reason," " Contempt and 
Contumely," " Books and Writings," " Knowledge 
and Ignorance." This gave him the opportunity of 
elucidating his subject by way of contrast, of which he 
took full advantage. The essays vary considerably 
in length; on such topics as "Religion, and the 
Differences and Disputations thereabout," and " The 
Holy Scriptures," Robinson has a good deal to say, 
while of such subjects as " Health and Physic," 
" Zeal," " Rewards and Punishments," he completes 
his study in a page or two. 

In his essays, while giving many references to books 
and authors, Robinson makes but few references to 
persons. Twice he quotes sayings of Lord Willoughby, 
whom I take to be Robert Bertie, Lord Willoughby, 
born in 1582, who went up to Corpus Christi College, 
and must have been well known to Robinson. His 
allusion to " the wily fox who being once caught hath 
his skin plucked over his ears, wherewith every fool 
will have his cap furred," remained in Robinson's 
memory, and was used in illustration of the downfall 
waiting on craftiness. We may note that John Jegon 
sent a letter * to Robert, Lord Willoughby, October 9, 
1601, dated from Corpus Christi College, condoling 
with him on the death of his father, and referring to 
Robert himself as one who " lived so longe with me 
in such excellent moderation." 

The essay on " Riches and Poverty " has an incidental 
allusion to Robinson's University days in these terms — 

1 MSS. of the Earl of Ancaster, Hist. MSS. Corn., 1907, p. 351. 


" A friend of mine in the University was wont to tell me 
merrily and wittily, that surely there was something in this 
money more and better than he and I saw; seeing such a 
great, wise and learned man, whom he would name, loved it 
so well ; and such another, as wise and learned as he, as well 
as he; and so a third, and a fourth. He knew well enough 
it was not any good in it, which we saw not ; but lust and 
filthy covetousness in them, whose learning and wisdom 
should have taught them to despise and hate such base- 
mindedness." l 

In another place Robinson makes a casual reference 
to the " many dangers and calamities " to which in 
his " afflicted state " he had been exposed, counting 
it in one way a mercy that he had not had many 
bosom friends to be thrown into " excessive sorrow " 
by the " misery " that had befallen him. But in 
general the allusions to his own condition are indirect 
and indefinite. We have a shrewd contrast between 
the esteem in which labour was held in England and 
Holland respectively in the following passage, but the 
places are not named — 

" This difference I have observed . . . that whereas in 
plentiful countries, such as our own, it is half a shame to 
labour : in such others, wherein art and industry must supply 
nature's defects, as in the country where I have last lived, 
it is a shame for a man not to work and exercise himself in 
some one or other lawful vocation." 2 

Here and there Robinson's humour and sense of 
fun peeps out, and here and there we come upon 
proverbial sayings which have the tang of the soil in 
them, e, g. " He that makes a bridge of his own shadow, 
cannot but fall into the water." " Living springs 
send out streams of water, dead pits must have all 
that they afford drawn out with buckets." " He that 
hath but half an eye, is a king amongst them that 
are blind." Make a friend of a man after you have 
" eaten a bushel of salt together." But the essays 
are most noteworthy for their plain good sense and 
the firm ethical note which is struck throughout them. 

1 Works, vol. i. p. 122. 2 Ibid., p. 114. 


Robinson's Death and Funeral 

These gleanings from his ministry and meditation 
were garnered by Robinson just in time for posterity. 
To his friends he seemed in quite his usual health, but 
probably he himself had an instinctive feeling that his 
time was short. He died on March 1, 1625. We have 
a touching account of his last days by Roger White of 
Leyden, in the following letter — 

To his loving Friend Mr. William Bradford, Governor of 
Plymouth, in New England, these be, etc. 

" Loving and kind Friends, etc., 

" I know not whether ever this will come to your 
hands, or miscarry, as other of my letters have done; yet 
in regard of the Lord's dealings with us here, I have had a 
great desire to write unto you, knowing your desire to bear a 
part with us, both in our joys and sorrows, as we do with 

" These, therefore, are to give you to understand that it 
hath pleased the Lord to take out of this vale of tears, your 
and our loving and faithful pastor, and my dear and reverend 
brother M r . John Robinson, who was sick some eight days, 
beginning first to be sick on a Saturday morning; yet the 
next day, being the Lord's day, he taught us twice, and the 
week after, grew every day weaker than other, yet felt no 
pain, but weakness all the time of his sickness. The physic 
he took wrought kindly in man's judgment, yet he grew every 
day weaker than other, feeling little or no pain, yet sensible 
to the very last. He fell sick the twenty-second of February, 
and departed this life on the first of March. He had a con- 
tinual inward ague, but I thank the Lord was free of the 
plague, so that all his friends could come freely to him ; and 
if either prayers, tears, or means would have saved his life he 
had not gone hence. 

" But he having faithfully finished his course, and per- 
formed his work, which the Lord had appointed him here to 
perform, he now rests with the Lord in eternal happiness; 
we wanting him, and all church governors, not having one at 
present that is a governing officer among us. 

" Now for ourselves here left (I mean the whole church) 
we still, by the mercy of God, continue and hold close together 
in peace and quietness, and so I hope we shall do, though we 
be very weak, wishing (if such were the will of God) that 


you and we were again together in one, either there or here ; 
but seeing it is the will of the Lord, thus to dispose of things, 
we must labour with patience to rest contented, till it please 
the Lord otherwise to dispose of things. 

" For news at present here, [there] is not much worth the 
writing ; only, as in England we have lost our old King James, 
who departed this life about a month ago, so here we have 
lost Grave Maurice the old prince here, who both departed 
this life since my brother Robinson. And as in England 
we have a new king, Charles, of whom there is great hope of 
good, so here likewise we have made Prince Hendrick, general 
in his brother's place, who is now with the Grave of Mans- 
field with a great army, close by the enemy, to free Breda, if 
it be possible, which the enemy hath besieged now some nine 
or ten months, but how it will fall out at last is yet uncertain. 
The Lord give good success, if it be his will. The king is 
making ready about one hundred sail of ships ; the end is not 
yet certain, but they will be ready to go to sea very shortly. 
The king himself goes to see them once in fourteen days. 

"And thus fearing lest this will not come to your hands, 
hoping as soon as I hear of a convenient messenger, to write 
more at large and to send you a letter which my brother 
Robinson sent to London, to have gone to some of you, but 
coming too late, was brought back again. And so for this 
time I cease further to trouble you and rest 
" Your assured loving friend, 

" Roger White. 

'« Leyden, April 28, 1625." 

Robinson was buried on March 4 in St. Peter's 
Church, as the record discovered by Mr. Sumner in the 
register of burials discloses — 

" 4 Maart Jan Roelends Predicant van de Engelsche 
Gemeente by het Kloekhuijs — begraven in de 
Pieters Kerk." 

That is, " John Roelends [Robinson] Preacher of 
the English Congregation by the Belfry — buried in 
Peter's Church." 

We have it on the authority of Edward Winslow 
that — 

" The University and ministers of the city accompanied 
him to his grave with all their accustomed solemnities, bewail- 


ing the great loss that not only that particular church had 
whereof he was pastor, but some of the chief of them sadly 
affirmed that all the churches of Christ sustained a loss by 
the death of that worthy instrument of the Gospel." 

Making some allowances for the natural tendency to 
give as impressive and dignified an account as possible 
of the obsequies of his beloved minister, we may, I 
think, take Winslow's account as substantially correct. 
It was a laudable custom to pay a tribute of respect 
for the memory of friends by attendance at the 
funeral, and in all likelihood some of Robinson's 
acquaintances in the University and amongst the 
ministers of the city were present at his burial. The 
fact that the low fee x of nine florins only, was paid 
on the following Monday, in discharge of the cost of 
opening and hiring the grave for his interment, has 
been taken as pointing to a ceremony of quite a 
different type from that suggested by Winslow's 
words. No doubt simplicity and absence of needless 
expense would be in keeping with Robinson's own 
feeling, but Dexter has pointed out that nine florins 
was the usual fee for funerals at the accustomed time, 
i. e. before half-past one, and that in the case of such 
a distinguished preacher as Arminius the fee paid 
was only six florins. It would not trouble Robinson 
or his friends that the hired grave in which his body 
was laid would be used again and again for burials in 
successive periods ; " the dust returns to dust, and 
the spirit unto God who gave it." 

From Governor William Bradford's Dialogue, or the 
Sum of a Conference between some Young Men born in 
New England and sundry Ancient Men that came out 
of Holland and Old England, compiled in 1648, and 
subsequently transcribed into the records of the 
Plymouth Church by Nathaniel Morton, we have a 
pen-picture of Robinson's character as viewed by a 
devoted disciple in the light of a long experience of 
men and manners — 

1 [1625] \ Openen en huer van Jan Robens. 
10 Mart. J Engels predekant — 9 florins. 


" M r . John Robinson," he says, " was pastor of that famous 
Church of Leyden, in Holland; a man not easily to be paral- 
leled for all things, whose singular virtues we shall not take 
upon us here to describe. Neither need we, for they so well 
are known both by friends and enemies. As he was a man 
learned and of solid judgment and of a quick and sharp wit, 
so was he also of a tender conscience and very sincere in all 
his ways, a hater of hypocrisy and dissimulation, and would 
be very plain with his best friends. He was very courteous, 
affable and sociable in his conversation, and towards his 
own people especially. 

■' He was an acute and expert disputant, very quick and 
ready, and had much bickering with the Arminians, who stood 
more in fear of him than any of the University. 

" He was never satisfied in himself until he had searched 
any cause or argument he had to deal in thoroughly and to 
the bottom ; and we have heard him sometimes say to his 
familiars that many times, both in writing and disputation, 
he knew he had sufficiently answered others, but many times 
not himself ; and was ever desirous of any light, and the more 
able, learned, and holy the persons were, the more he desired 
to confer and reason with them. 

" He was very profitable in his ministry and comfortable 
to his people. He was much beloved of them, and as loving 
was he unto them, and entirely sought their good for soul 
and body. 

In a word, he was much esteemed and reverenced of 
all that knew him and his abilities — both of friends and 
strangers. But we resolved to be brief in this matter, leaving 
you to better and more large information herein from 
others." x 

News of Robinson's death did not reach the Pilgrim 
colony for over a year. It was carried by Captain 
Miles Standish, who had been sent by the colonists to 
England in the summer of 1625, with a view to settling 
up affairs with those " Adventurers " in London still 
interested in the colony. When he got to London the 
plague was raging, and the most he could do was to 
put things in train for a general composition. He had 
brought with him letters for friends at Leyden, one 
in special inquiring their mind and their prospects 
as to migrating to New England, and expressing the 

1 Chronicles of the Pilgrim Fathers, Alexander Young, 1844, p. 452. 


desire to have Robinson with them soon. The mem- 
bers of the Church in New Plymouth longed for the 
presence and fellowship of their Leyden brethren. To 
this letter the leading members of the Leyden con- 
gregation wrote the following reply, sending it over to 
Standish in London in good time for his return — 

The Leyden people to Bradford and Brewster 

" To our most dear and entirely beloved Brethren, Mr. 
William Bradford and Mr. William Brewster, grace, mercy, 
and true peace be multiplied from God our Father, through 
our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. 

" Most dear Christian Friends and Brethren, as it is no 
small grief unto you, so is it no less unto us, that we are 
constrained to live thus disunited each from other, especially 
considering our affections each unto other, for the mutual 
edifying and comfort of both in these evil days wherein we 
live, if it pleased the Lord to bring us again together, than 
which, as no outward thing could be more comfortable 
unto us, or is more desired of us, if the Lord see it good, so 
see we no hope of means of accomplishing the same except 
it come from you; and therefore must [we] with patience 
rest in the work and will of God, performing our duties to 
him and you asunder ; whom we are not any way able to help 
but by our continual prayers to him for you, and sympathy 
of affections with you for the troubles which befall you ; till 
it please the Lord to reunite us again. 

" But, our dearly beloved brethren, concerning your kind 
and respective letter (howsoever written by one of you, yet 
as we conceive with the consent, at least in affection, of you 
both) although we cannot answer your desire and expecta- 
tion, by reason it hath pleased the Lord to take to himself 
out of this miserable world our dearly beloved pastor, yet for 
ourselves we are minded as formerly to come unto you, when, 
and as, the Lord affordeth means ; though we see little hope 
thereof at present as being unable of ourselves; and that 
our friends will help us, we see little hope. 

■' And now, brethren, what shall we say further unto you? 
Our desire and prayer to God is (if such were his good will 
and pleasure) we might be reunited for the edifying and 
mutual comfort of both, which, when he sees fit, he will 
accomplish. In the mean time, we commit you unto him 
and to the word of his grace, whom we beseech to guide and 
direct, both you and us, in all his ways according to that 


his Word, 1 and to bless all our lawful endeavours for the glory 
of his name and the good of his people. 

" Salute, we pray you, all the church and brethren with 
you, to whom we would have sent this letter, if we knew it 
could not be prejudicial unto you, as we hope it cannot; 
yet, fearing the worst, we thought fit either to direct it to 
you [Bradford and Brewster], our two beloved brethren, 
leaving it to your godly wisdom and discretion to manifest 
our mind to the rest of our loving friends and brethren, as 
you see most convenient. 

" And thus entreating you to remember us in your prayers, 
as we also do you, we for this time commend you, and all 
your affairs, to the direction and protection of the Almighty, 
and rest, 

" Your assured loving friends 

" And brethren in the Lord, 

" Francis Jessop. 

" Thomas Nash. 

" Thomas Blossom. 

" Roger White. 

" Richard Maisterson. 

" Ley den, November 30, a.d. 1625." 

Of the signatories to this letter, Jessop and White 
were brothers-in-law of Robinson. The latter has 
already been noticed. Jessop, according to Dexter, 
was from Rotherham and Sheffield, and a son of 
Richard Jessop. But Worksop was probably his 
birthplace, for I find he was baptized there on 
November 12, 1568. He married Frances White, the 
youngest sister of Bridget Robinson, at Worksop, 
January 24, 1604-5. Charles White, the eldest brother 
of his wife, was still under obligation to him in 1633 
for some of the moneys left to little Frances White 
by her father and mother. The will of Charles White, 
proved October 9, 1634, has the direction " for that 
fifteene pounds per annum due to my Cosen Jessopp 
for eight yeares to come, my will is that it shalbe 
paid out of the Castle Rents [i. e. rents of Greasley 
Castle Farm] if Mr. Poole soe long live, but if hee dye 
before those yeares be expired my wife shall discharge 

1 There is an echo here of the terms of their Church Covenant. Notice 
the hesitation about publicly addressing the Plymouth Colonists as a 
" Church " lest it should bring trouble upon them from England. 


it out of my goods." It also contains the bequest, 
" Item to my brother Jessops children I give Tenn 
pounds." x This proves they had a family. They 
were still in Leyden in 1624, when, on October 27, 
Frances Jessop witnessed the betrothal of Thomas 
Nash. Returning to England they settled at Beccles 
in Suffolk. Frances died in 1636, and her husband 
married again the next year. 

Thomas Nash is first heard of in connexion with the 
Pilgrim Church in 1620, when he went over to Holland 
with the pilot for the Speedwell. His first wife was 
Margaret Porter. His second wife, whom he married 
November 11, 1628, was Margaret Stuart, widow of 
Simeon Stuart, a niece of Roger White's wife. Nash 
was connected with Leyden for at least twenty years. 
There is a record of his witnessing, on March 17, 1640, 
the betrothal of his stepson Simon Stuart, a tobacco- 
pipe maker, born at Yarmouth, to Mercy Jennings 
at Leyden. 

Richard Masters on was one of the Kentish group 
of Separatists, who attached himself to Robinson's 
Church soon after its formation in Holland. He was 
a "wool-carder" by trade, and probably worked in 
close association with Robert Cushman, for whom he 
stood surety on his buying a house, April 19, 1612. 
Two years later (January 2, 1614) Masters on himself 
bought a house on the Uiterstegracht for 800 gilders 
from Robert Wilson, who, like Masterson, hailed from 
Sandwich. On November 8, 1619, Masterson was 
betrothed to Mary Goodale of Leicester. They both 
migrated to Plymouth, New England, in 1630. It 
appears from the letter of Sabine Staresmore, Sep- 
tember 4, 1618, dated from prison in W T ood Street, 
London, that " brother Maistersone " stood in similar 
peril to the writer, and would " have tasted of the 
same cup had his place of residence and his person 
been as well known." 

1 Extracted from the Register of Wills in the Probate Registry at York, 
vol. xlii. fol. 306. The term " cousin " was used for connexions by marriage 
and other ties of relationship. 


Thomas Blossom we have already referred to as 
from Cambridge. He was living in Ley den in the 
first year of the Pilgrim's settlement in that city, for 
when George Rogers matriculated as a student in 
medicine, October 27, 1609, he stated that he lived 
with Thomas Blossom. He was one of the little 
colony of English folk in the Pieterskerkhof, whence, 
on April 12 in 1617, he buried one of his children. 
Blossom and his wife with their sons, Thomas and 
Peter, crossed to New England in 1629. He was inti- 
mate with Robinson, for whom he had a high regard, 
as the following letter shows — 

Thomas Blossom to Governor Bradford 

" Beloved Sir, 

" Kind salutations, etc. — I have thought good to 
write to you, concerning the cause as it standeth both with 
you and us. We see, alas, what frustrations and disap- 
pointments it pleaseth the Lord to send in this our course, 
good in itself, and according to godliness taken in hand and 
for good and lawful ends, who yet pleaseth not to prosper 
[us] as we are, for reasons best known to himself ; and which 
also nearly concerns us to consider of, whether we have 
sought the Lord in it as we see, or not. 

" That the Lord hath singularly preserved life in the busi- 
ness to great admiration giveth me good hope that he will 
(if our sins hinder not) in his appointed time, give a happy 
end unto it. 

" On the contrary, when I consider how it pleaseth the Lord 
to cross those means that should bring us together, being 
now so far off, or farther than ever in our apprehension ; as 
also to take that means [John Robinson] away which would 
have been so comfortable unto us in that course, both for 
wisdom of counsel, as also for our singular help in our course 
of godliness ; whom the Lord (as it were) took away even as 
fruit falleth before it was ripe, when neither length of days, 
nor infirmity of body did seem to call for his end. The Lord 
even then took him away, as it were in his anger, whom, if 
tears would have held, he had remained to this day. 

" The loss of his ministry was very great unto me, for I 
ever counted myself happy in the enjoyment of it, not- 
withstanding all the crosses and losses otherwise I sustained. 
Yet indeed the manner of his taking away hath more troubled 


me, as fearing the Lord's anger in it, that, as I said, in the 
ordinary course of things might still have remained, as also 
the singular service he might have yet done in the Church 
of God. 

Alas ! dear friends, our state and cause in religion by his 
death, being wholly destitute of any that may defend our 
cause as it should [be defended] against our adversaries; 
that we may take up that doleful complaint in the Psalm 
[74.] that 8 there is no prophet left among us, nor any that 
knoweth how long.' 

" Alas ! you would fain have had him with you, and he 
would as fain have come to you. Many letters and much 
speech hath been about his coming to you, but never any 
solid course propounded for his going. If the course pro- 
pounded the last year had appeared to have been certain, 
he would have gone, though with [but] two or three families. 
I know no man amongst us knew his mind better than I did 
about those things. He was loth to leave the church, yet 
I know also, that he would have accepted the worst conditions, 
which in the largest extent of a good conscience could be 
taken, to have come to you. 

" For myself, and all such others as have formerly minded 
coming, it is much- what the same — if the Lord afford means. 
We only know how things are with you by your letters ; but 
how things stand in England we have received no letters of 
anything, and it was November before we received yours. 
If we come at all unto you, the means to enable us so to do 
must come from you. For the state of our Church, and how 
it is with us, and of our people, it is wrote of by M r . [Roger] 

u Thus praying you to pardon my boldness with you in 
writing as I do, I commend you to the keeping of the Lord, 
desiring, if he see good and that I might be serviceable 
unto the business, that I were with you. 

cc God hath taken away my son, that was with me in the 
ship when I went back again. I have only two children, 
which were born since I left you. Fare you well. 
" Yours to his power, 

" Thomas Blossom. 

" Ley den, December 15, anno 1625." 

The letters from New Plymouth to the friends at 
Leyden referred to by Blossom as coming to hand 
in November 1625 were penned before the news of 
Robinson's death had reached the colony, Amongst 


these letters was one from Bradford, probably ad- 
dressed to Robinson, asking advice as to the desir- 
ability of allowing himself and Allerton to be elected 
as Governor and Assistant year after year; and 
earnestly pleading that Robinson and the remaining 
members of the Church at Leyden should cross to 
join their brethren in America. 

Roger White, after the Church had drawn up its 
official reply on Sunday, November 30, to the greet- 
ings from New Plymouth, wrote a private covering 
letter in answer to Bradford's inquiries. He and 
others were dubious whether it would be possible to 
maintain the liberty of exercising their religion, accord- 
ing to their conviction and present practice, in New 
England under the sway of King Charles, so soon had 
their hopes of the new king begun to droop. 

Roger White to Governor Bradford 

44 To his very loving friend Mr. William Bradford, Governor 
of Plymouth in New England, these be, etc. 

" My loving, kind Friend and Brother in the Lord, 
44 My own and my wife's true love and hearty salutations 
to yourself and yours and all the rest of our loving friends 
with you ; hoping in the Lord of your good health, which I 
beseech him long to continue for the glory of his name and 
good of his people. 

44 Concerning your kind letter to the Church, it was read 
publicly ; whereunto (by the Church) I send you here enclosed 
an answer. Concerning my brother Robinson's sickness and 
death and our practice, I wrote you at large, some five or six 
months since ; but lest it should miscarry, I have now written 
to M r Brewster thereof, to whom I refer you. 

44 Now concerning your course of choosing your Governors 
yearly, and in special of their choosing yourself year after 
year (as I conceive they still do) and Mr. Allerton your 
Assistant; howsoever, I think it the best way that can be, 
so long as it please the Lord to continue your lives and so 
good governors offer you, yet, considering man's mortality, 
whose breath is in his nostrils, and the evils of the times 
wherein we live, in which it is ordinarily seen that worse follow 
them that are good, I think it would be a safer course for after 
time, [if] the government was sometime removed from one to 


another ; so the Assistant one year might be Governor next, 
and a new Assistant chosen in his place, either of such as have 
or have not been in office ; sometimes one, sometimes another, 
as it shall seem most fit to the Corporation. My reasons 
are — 

44 First, because other officers that come after you, will 
look (especially if they be ambitiously minded) for the same 
privileges andcontinuance you have had ; and if he have it 
not, will take great offence, as though [thought] unworthy 
of the place and, so greatly disgraced, whom to continue 
might be very dangerous, and hazard (at least) the over- 
throw of all ; men not looking so much at the reasons why 
others were so long continued as at the custom. 

" Secondly, because others that are unexperienced in 
government might learn by experience, and so there might 
be fit and able men continually, when it pleaseth the Lord to 
take any away. 

44 Thirdly, by this means you may establish things begun or 
done before; for the Governor this year that was Assistant 
last, will in likelihood rather ratify and confirm and go on 
with that he had a hand in the beginning of when he was 
Assistant, than otherwise, or persuade the new to it ; whereas 
new Governors, especially when there are factions, will many 
times overthrow that which is done by the former, and so 
scarcely anything goeth forward for the general good; 
neither, that I see, can this be any prejudice to the Cor- 
poration ; for the new may always have the counsel and 
advice of the old for their direction, though they be out of 
office. These things I make bold to put to your godly wisdom 
and discretion, entreating you to pardon my boldness therein, 
and so leaving it to your discretion to make use of as you 
see it fitting, not having written the least inkling hereof to any 

44 Now, I entreat you, at your best leisure to write to me 
how you think it will in all likelihood go with your Civil 
and Church estate : whether there be hope of the continu- 
ance of both or either : or whether you fear any alteration 
to be attempted in either. 

44 The reason of this my request is, the fear of some amongst 
us (the which, if that hinder not, I think will come unto you), 
occasioned partly by your letter to your father-in-law, M r - 
May, 1 wherein you write of the troubles you have had with 
some, who it is like (having the times and friends on their 
sides) will work you what mischief they can ; and that they 

1 Henry May, from Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, whose daughter, Dorothy, 
Bradford married. 


may do much many here do fear; and partly bjr reason of 
this king's proclamation, dated the 13th of May last, in 
which he saith that his full resolution is : to the end that there 
may be one uniform course of government in and through 
all his whole monarchy — that the government of Virginia 
shall immediately depend on himself, and not be committed 
to any Company or Corporation, etc., so that some conceive 
he will have both the same civil and ecclesiastical govern- 
ment that is in England, which occasioneth their fear. 

" I desire you to write your thoughts of these things for 
the satisfying of others. For my own part and some others 
we durst rely upon you for that, who (we persuade ourselves) 
would not be thus earnest for our Pastor and Church to come 
to you if you feared the danger of being suppressed. 

" Thus desiring you to pardon my boldness and remember 
us in your prayers, I for this time and ever commit you and 
all your affairs to the Almighty, and rest, 

" Your assured loving friend and brother in the Lord, 

" Roger White. 

" Ley den [Monday] December 1, Anno 1625. 

" P.S. — The Church would entreat you to continue your 
writing to them, which is very comfortable." 



We are apt to think of the Pilgrim colonists as so 
absorbed in battling with the difficult conditions of 
establishing their Plantation that they would have 
little time for books or for the discussion of those 
religious problems which were of supreme interest to 
them in Ley den. It comes almost as a surprise, 
therefore, to find a reference to Ainsworth's and 
Robinson's books being available for the perusal of 
visitors to New Plymouth in the infant days of the 
colony. Yet such was the case, as we learn from a 
letter, dated " August 28, 1622," from John Pory to 
Governor William Bradford. 

Pory was a man of affairs, and a graduate of Cam- 
bridge University. On April 18, 1610, he was also 
incorporated at the University of Oxford. He was 
returned to Parliament for Bridgwater in 1605, and had 
travelled extensively in Europe. Pory became closely 
concerned with affairs in Virginia. He was at " James 
City " in the summer of 1619 when the representative 
" General Assembly " of Virginia met, and he sent an 
account of its proceedings to Sir Dudley Carleton, 
with whom he had an acquaintance. Several times 
he passed to and from the homeland and Virginia. 
A warrant bearing the sign manual of King James 
still exists, dated July 20, 1624, granting him £150 in 
payment of his expenses and " as x a reward for his 
service when employed in Virginia about the King's 
special affairs." Now Pory put into New Plymouth 
on one of his voyages, and had some time to stay there 

1 Cal, of Colonial Papers, p. 65, 


while his ship watered and made ready to continue 
her Atlantic passage. The friend of Carleton meets 
in the New World Brewster, the Leyden printer, 
whom Carleton three years before had sought in vain. 
How strangely the threads of life are crossed ! 

Here was an opportunity to remove misunder- 
standings and overcome prejudices. Pory's inter- 
course with level-headed men like Brewster and 
Fuller and Bradford would be helpful to both sides. 
Here was a visitor who could appreciate the contents 
of those weighty cases of Elder William Brewster's 
books with which the May-flower had in part been 
ballasted. Leisure time at Plymouth was pleasantly 
employed by Pory in looking over Brewster's library 
and dipping into the books that had come from the 
press of the Separatists at Leyden and Amsterdam. 
A present of spare copies of Robinson's and other 
volumes at parting did not come amiss. Hence 
this postscript to his letter — 

" To yourself and M r Brewster I must humbly acknow- 
ledge myself many ways indebted, whose books I would 
have you think very well bestowed, who esteems them such 
jewels. My haste would not suffer me to remember, much 
less to beg M r - Ains worth's elaborate work on the five books 
of Moses ; both his and M r - Robinson's do highly commend 
the authors, as being most conversant in the Scriptures of 
all others ; and what good who knows it may please God to 
work by them through my hands, though most unworthy, 
who find such high content in them. God have you all in 
his keeping. 

" Your unfeigned and firm friend, 

" John Porey." 

The close association of Pory with Virginian affairs 
made his friendliness towards the Pilgrim colony all 
the more valuable. One of the earliest descriptions 
of the Plymouth Colony that has come down to us 
is by him. It gives us a glimpse of the Planters and 
their Fort in the summer of 1622. Bradford grate- 
fully notes " the credit and good that he procured 
unto the plantation of Plimouth after his return, 


and that amongst those of no mean rank." In 1624 
he was active in securing a commission for a " Council 
in Virginia." " Mr. 1 Pory," we read, " has spared 
no attendance nor diligence in the matter." He 
settled in London, and died in 1635. 

The desire on the part of the Pilgrims at New 
Plymouth that their Leyden friends should join 
them in America was not lessened by Robinson's 
death. From the letters given above it is clear that 
the members of the Church at Leyden saw but little 
prospect of arranging for the passage by themselves. 
But Bradford and his associates kept that end steadily 
in view. The Plantation was gradually disengaging 
itself from the entanglement with the odd lot of 
Adventurers in London. The " composition " sug- 
gested to the Londoners by Standish was furthered 
by Allerton in the next year (1626), and was at last 
happily concluded in 1627. By this voluntary agree- 
ment, the joint-stock company of Adventurers was 
wound up. They agreed to accept £1800 in nine 
annual instalments of £200 in full discharge of the 
moneys they had ventured to equip, transport and 
supply the colonists. 2 While this placed a heavy 
obligation on the young colony — honourably met — it 
gave the colonists greater freedom of action. Stumb- 
ling-blocks could not now so easily be thrown by 
fanatical and fearsome Anglicans and Puritans in the 
way of transporting the people from Leyden. 

Before sending Allerton over to England to act for 
them again in 1627, the colonists not only considered 
how they might best discharge their debts and engage- 
ments, " but also how they might (if possibly they 
could) devise means to help some of their friends and 
brethren of Leyden over unto them, who desired so 
much to come to them and they desired as much of 
their company." 

1 Secretary Conway, State Papers, Colonial, p. 69. 

2 Captain John Smith contrasts this arrangement favourably with the 
issue of Ventures in Virginia, whereafter an expenditure of more than £200,000, 
the Adventurers or Investors " had not sixpence."— Advertisements, 1631, p. 19, 


James Sherley, the London goldsmith, one of the 
few Adventurers who was heart and soul with the 
Planters, had brought maledictions upon his head for 
supporting them in this matter. He says, " y° sole 
cause why they maligne me (as I & others conceived) 
was y* I would not side with them against you & the 
going over of y e Ley den people." 1 

When Allerton got back to New England, in the 
spring of 1628, and gave an account of his steward- 
ship he was not only able to tell of satisfactory 
financial arrangements, but of the intention of their 
true London friends " to send over to Ley den for a 
competent number of them to be here the next year 
without fail — if the Lord pleased to bless their journey." 

Eagerly and hopefully those at New Plymouth 
awaited their coming. It was not till August 1629 
that the first considerable batch of those left at Leyden 
managed to reach their destination. They had a 
tedious journey. There were, says Bradford, " thirty- 
five of our friends, with their families." They first 
crossed to England, and then " shipped at London in 
May, with the ships that came to Salem, which bring 
over many pious persons to begin the churches there. 
So that their being long kept back is now recompensed 
by heaven with a double blessing ; in that we not only 
enjoy them beyond our expectation, when all hope 
seemed to be cut off, but with them many more godly 
friends, as the beginning of a larger harvest for Christ, 
in the increase of his people and churches in these 
parts of the earth, to the admiration of many and 
almost the wonder of the world." 

Arrived at Salem, it was some weeks before this 
party could be transported to New Plymouth. There 
they had to be supplied with corn " above thirteen or 
fourteen months before they have a harvest of their 
own production." 

It is noteworthy that most of this party were on 
the old Mayflower, which thus for a second time carried 

1 Bradford's MS., reverse of fol. 154. Sherley's letter, dated December 27 


over a company of the Pilgrim Church. Sherley, 
writing May 25, 1629, says — 

" Here are now many of your and our friends from Ley den 
coming over, who, though for the most part be but a weak com- 
pany, yet herein is a good part of that end obtained which 
was aimed at, and which hath been so strongly opposed by 
some of our former adventurers. But God hath his working 
in these things which man cannot frustrate. . . . These 
come in the May Flower" 

Some " servants " for the Plymouth colony had been 
sent, he says, in the " Talbut that went hence lately." 

The next year another party from Leyden made 
the voyage. Sherley, writing from London on March 
8, 1629-30, to Bradford, says, " Most of those who 
came in May last unto you, as also of these now sent, 
though (I hope) honest and good people are not like 
to be helpful to raise profit, but must somewhile be 
chargeable to you and us." This further company 
from Leyden also came with a large body of Puritan 
planters under the Massachusetts Company. They 
and their goods were set ashore in the Bay, and 
arrangements had to be made to fetch them thence to 
the Plymouth Plantation. They arrived " at the latter 
end of May " 1630, and in their case their maintenance 
had to be provided for sixteen months before they 
reaped a harvest of their own. 

The twelve " Undertakers " in America and London 
met the heavy costs and charges of these two trans- 
portations. 1 It is testimony to the strength of the tie 
which bound the members of the Leyden Church in 
religious fellowship that those who had migrated to 
America should make such sacrifices to help their 
weaker brethren and fulfil their promise to assist 
them across the Atlantic. Bradford, with just pride, 
referred to it as "a rare example of brotherly love 
and Christian care in performing their promises and 
covenants to their brethren." Sherley was rather 
disappointed with this last batch of Leyden friends. 
He added a postscript to his letter of March 8, 

1 For these Undertakers consult the Index. 


1629-30, to Bradford, in which he expressed his feeling 
in regard to their long wait in London and their 
equipment for the voyage — 

" Indeed, they have been unreasonably chargeable, yet 
grudge and are not contented. Verily their indiscreet carriage 
here hath so abated my affection towards them, as, were M rs - 
Robinson well over, I would not disburse one penny for the 
rest." 1 

Sherley evidently had regard for Robinson's widow, 
and probably talked over with her the possibility of 
her migrating to New Plymouth during his lengthy 
visit to Holland and Amsterdam on business in the 
preceding summer, but he did not think much of the 
rank and file. Bradford, with more kindly judgment, 
says, " This offence was given by some of them, which 
redounded to the prejudice of the whole." 

A short catechism prepared by Robinson to explain 
the distinctive features of his teaching in regard 
to the constitution of a true Church of God was re- 
printed more than once after his death. I conjecture 
that he issued it first with a view to sending copies 
over to New England for the use of his followers there. 
The texts chosen for the title page and set out separ- 
ately support this opinion. Here is the title of the 
edition of 1642— 

A Briefe / Catechisme / concerning / Chvrch / 
Government / By / That Reverend Divine M r Iohn 
/Robinson and may fitly be / adjoyned to M r - Perkins 
six Prin / ciples, as an Appendix thereto. 

1 Tim. hi. 14. 
"These things I write hoping to come unto thee shortly." 

1 Tim. hi. 15. 
" But if I tarry long that thou mayst know how thou / ought - 
est to behave thy selfe in the house of God which is / the 
Church of the living God the pillar and ground of the truth." 

Printed in the year 1642. 

1 See Bradford's Letter-book 1, Mass. Hist. Coll., vol. iii. p. 69. 


A manuscript note to Robinson's name in the British 
Museum copy of this work identifies him as "a 
Separist at Leyden." The preface gives us a picture 
of Robinson as the faithful pastor catechizing the 
youthful part of his flock in private, and grounding 
them in the principles of religion by the use of 
William Perkins's Catechism on The Foundation of 
the Christian Religion gathered into six Principles, 
issued in 1606. It was a work designed to make 
" ignorant people .... fit to hear sermons with profit, 
and to receive the Lord's Supper with comfort." 
The additions by Robinson may be illustrated by 
quoting the teaching concerning the Church and its 
officers — 

"Q. What is the church? 

"A. A company of faithful and holy people with their 
seed, called by the Word of God into public covenant with 
Christ and amongst themselves, for mutual fellowship in 
the use of all the means of God's glory and their salvation. 

" Q. How many are the offices of ministry in the church? 

" A. Five, besides the extraordinary offices of apostles, 
prophets and evangelists, for the first planting of the churches, 
which are ceased with their extraordinary gifts. 

" Q. Show me which those offices be, with their answerable 
gifts and works? 

" A. (1) The pastor (exhorter), to whom is given the gift of 
wisdom for exhortation. (2) The teacher, to whom is given 
the gift of knowledge for doctrine. (3) The governing elder, 
who is to rule with diligence. (4) The deacon, who is to 
administer the holy treasure with simplicity. (5) The widow 
or deaconess, who is to attend the sick and impotent with 
compassion and cheerfulness." 

The little tract occupied sixteen pages, and bore the 
name " I. Robinson " at the end. 

A curious metrical piece, entitled " The Spy dis- 
covering the Danger of Arminian Heresie and Spanish 
Trecherie, written by I. R.," appeared at Strasburgh 
in 1628. Mr. Sayle, in the Cambridge University 
Library List of Early English Printed Books, vol. iii. 


p. 1563, asks if this was not by John Robinson, and 
points out that an edition of his New Essays appeared 
in the same year from the same press. Mr. Sayle 
assumed that Robinson was living in that year, whereas 
he died in 1625 ; and the signature to the address " To 
the zealous Professors and all true-hearted Patriots in 
Great Britaine," which runs — 

" Strasborgh Aug. 23 sty. vet. 

" Your affectionate though afflicted 

" Servant and Countreyman 

" J. R.," 

does not point to Robinson with any clearness. 
Here is a sample of the verse — 

" Yet though Arminius Holland had infected, 
Since we his poysonous doctrine had detected, 
And that blest King most learnedly repelPd 
Those false positions seduc'd Vorstius held : 
What madnes was't for vs to foster here 
Those errours that our Church condemned there? " 

The British Museum catalogue assigns this book to 
John Rhodes, minister of Enborne, near Newbury, 
who issued volumes of topical verse in 1602 and 1606. 




The influence of Robinson's work was felt long 
after his death in both hemispheres. It was exerted 
mainly in three directions : through his books, through 
the practical example of Congregational Church order 
which the religious societies at Leyden and New 
Plymouth afforded, and through the democratic 
ideals with which he had inspired his friends and 

I. We have already noticed that Robinson's volume 
of Essays and his brief catechetical pamphlet on 
Church Government were several times reprinted after 
re-issued, in an edition " printed in the yeere 1639," 
when the question handled was again coming promi- 
nently to the front, and again in 1644. The Puritans, 
who had formerly treated the Separatists with scant 
consideration, were driven to review their position 
as Laud tightened up the machinery of the Anglican 
Church. Their hope of capturing this Church and 
reforming it from within had been rudely dashed. 
Churches on the model of Robinson's congregation 
seemed to do very well in New England. After all 
there might be something to be said for the " Con- 
gregational way," when the State Church allowed 
no deflection from the high-road of Laudian ceremony 
and doctrine, which appeared to be heading straight 
for Rome. They were prepared to read A Justifica- 
tion of Separation through fresh spectacles. The 




booksellers, with their fingers on the pulse of the 
market, were ready to meet the need. Since the days 
of the Pilgrim Press at Leyden, a large traffic had 
grown up between Holland and England in political 
and religious books and pamphlets, which it was 
inconvenient to print under the eye of the Bishop 
of London and His Grace of Canterbury. When 
Matthew Simmons was over in the Low Countries 
in November 1637 he gathered information about 
English books printed there. Amongst them he 
notes a Scottish book, entitled The English-Popish 
Ceremonies ; many Bibles in quarto and folio " with 
notes"; the News from Ipswich in Dutch, and in- 
tended to be printed in French, " to make the bishops' 
cruelty known to all nations," and a tract on The 
Practice of Piety, printed by ten thousand at a 

" Robinson's Justification of Separation" he informs us, 
" is going in hand. All the shipmasters are engaged in 
the traffic, and they have a way, as they say, to cozen 
the devil. They strike upon the sands at Queenborough 
and send away their passengers and deliver all their pro- 
hibited goods in some small boats, and then come off the 
sands without danger." x 

Thus the printers and booksellers got Robinson's 
book out of hand and into general circulation 

Not long after this the English Parliament dis- 
carded episcopacy as the form of government for 
the State Church, and the question as to the most 
appropriate form of Church order to take its place 
arose. There was a conflict of opinion between those 
who favoured the Presbyterian and the Congrega- 
tional ways of Church government respectively. Here 
again Robinson was appealed to by the latter and 
opposed by the former. His painstaking study of 
the question from the New Testament standpoint, 

1 State Papers, Domestic, Charles I, 1638. 


in answer to Richard Bernard, proved to be a useful 
armoury from which the controversialists of the next 
generation drew effective arguments. 

Samuel Rutherfurd, Professor of Divinity at St. 
Andrew's, in his work on The Due Bight of Presbyteries, 
1644, turned his attention to Robinson, and tells us 
that in his book " the arguments of Mr. Robinson 
in his Justification of Separation are discovered, and 
his treatise called The Peoples Plea for the Exercise of 
Prophecy is tryed." Rutherfurd used the reprints 
of Robinson's books. He noted the coincidence of 
the brethren in New England with the teaching of 

In another direction the work of Robinson exerted 
a moderating influence on those who would otherwise 
have gone to the extremes of " rigid separation." 
Perhaps his spoken word, his personal example and 
the general tone of his later writings had as much to 
do with this as his actual arguments written to this 
end, but the publication of his treatise on the Law- 
fulness of Hearing the Ministers in the Church of 
England in 1634 was not without effect. It helped 
to bridge the gulf between the Separatists and the 
" forward preachers " in the Puritan party, and to 
pave the way for the formation of a strong Congrega- 
tional party in the Commonwealth period to serve 
as an effective check upon the drastic and sweeping 
plans of the Presbyterians. 

About half a century later this treatise of Robinson 
was re-issued under very different conditions. It 
was a period of bitter persecution of the Dissenters. 
They were not allowed to hold office in the State 
unless they took the Communion in the Anglican 
Church, and when they occasionally resorted to their 
parish church for the Communion they were charged 
with deserting their principles and acting as hypo- 
crites. In these circumstances some one bethought 
him of this treatise by Robinson and another on 
similar lines by Philip Nye, and reprinted them 
under the following title — 


" The / LAWFULNES / of / Hearing the Publick 
Ministers / of the / Church of England, / proved, / 

r Mr. Philip Nye 
By 1 and 

[ Mr. John Robinson 

Two Eminent Congregational Divines. 

London : Printed for Jonathan Robinson at the 
Golden Lion in St. Paul's Church Yard 1683." 

The object of the reprint is explained in the following 
prefatory note — 


" To stop the Mouths of many especially those Ministers 
that continually from Press and Pulpit do maliciously, 
as well as ignorantly, tell the People that the Dissenters 
(especially Independents and Anabaptists) do act contrary 
to their own Principles in Communicating sometimes 
with the Church of England and that they do so meerly 
to qualifie themselves for an Office to serve a Turn (as 
they spitefully phrase it) or to save themselves from the 
penal Laws, I have here inserted in what follows, the 
Opinion not only of the Independents, but even of the 
Brownists themselves, many years since about this matter." 

It must not be supposed that Robinson would have 
countenanced the use of his treatise for the purpose 
of bolstering up the practice of occasional conformity 
with the Communion Office of the Anglican Church. 
He argued for the legitimacy of occasional hearing, 
but did not sanction participation in the parochial 
Communion services. To participate in order to 
qualify for office would have been abhorrent to him. 

Another of Robinson's books was called for almost 
as soon as the Long Parliament got to work and made 
it safe to issue such publications. I refer to his 
spirited little defence of lay preaching in The People's 
Plea for the Exercise of Prophesie. The pent-up 
feelings of the people found vent in an outburst of 


lay preaching on the fall of Laud and the restriction 
of the power of the Bishops, and in Robinson's book 
was to be found a reasoned argument, supported by 
ample Scriptural quotations, upholding the practice. 

II. The second direction in which Robinson's in- 
fluence was felt in after times was in the organization 
of Congregational Churches in England and America. 
There was direct intercourse between Henry Jacob 
and John Robinson, and the Congregational Church 
gathered by the former in London in 1616 owed not 
a little to the ideas concerning Church government 
which Robinson expounded and followed. It may be 
noted also that the Baptist Churches which sprang, 
in course of time, from Jacob's congregation followed 
the same principles of Church order, while the old 
General Baptists, derived more directly from the 
movement started by Smith and Helwys, evolved a 
system of Church government virtually episcopal in 
form, by which an order of " Messengers," ordained 
to supervise and serve the churches of a wide district, 
was set up. 

In New England the effect of the example of the 
Church at Plymouth was most striking, and there 
the principles of Church order enunciated by Robinson 
were widely adopted. When John Endicot, Charles 
Gott and others from the Dorchester district went 
over in 1628 to Naumkeak (afterwards called Salem) 
as pioneers for the Massachusetts Bay Company, 
they found Roger Conant, who had recommended the 
site, holding on there with the remnants of a previous 
colonizing venture, at the adjacent Cape Ann, till 
their arrival. Now Conant already had some acquaint- 
ance with the Church and Planters of New Plymouth, 
and was able to contrast their dependableness with 
the instability of John Lyford. Lyford, on his dis- 
grace and expulsion from New Plymouth, had become 
minister of the Cape Ann settlers and those " lately 
removed out of New Plymouth out of dislike of their 
principles of rigid separation," but on receiving " a 
loving invitation " to Virginia he induced the main 


part of them to go off with him, " for fear of the 
Indians and other inconveniences," x and thus left 
Conant in the lurch to stay at the hazard of his life. 
He might well begin to think the Planters of Ply- 
mouth, in spite of their separation from the Anglican 
Church, were more desirable neighbours and friends 
than men of the Lyford stamp. He would tell 
Endicot on his arrival that the Brownists, after all, 
were not so black as they had been painted. Endicot 
soon had a chance of judging for himself. Sickness 
broke out amongst his company of Planters, and in 
his need he sent over to New Plymouth for help. 
Samuel Fuller, deacon of the Plymouth Church, 
had some skill in medicine, and was accordingly sent 
to Salem on a healing mission. He was also skilled 
in the Scriptures, and well grounded in the principles 
of Church order set forth by his pastor at Leyden. 
The questions at issue in respect to Church govern- 
ment came up for discussion between him and Endicot, 
and it was soon made plain that they both held 
practically identical views. The following letter from 
Endicot to Bradford speaks for itself. It was pre- 
served especially because it showed " the beginning 
of their Christian fellowship." 

" Right Worshipful Sir, 

"It is a thing not usual, that servants to one 
master and of the same household should be strangers. 
I assure you I desire it not. Nay, to speak more plainly, 
I cannot be so to you. God's people are all marked with 
one and the same mark, and have, for the main, one and 
the same heart guided by one and the same spirit of truth ; 
and where this is, there can be no discord, nay, here must 
needs be a sweet harmony. And the same request with 
you I make unto the Lord, that we may, as Christian 
brethren, be united by an heavenly and unfeigned love, 
binding all our hearts and forces in furthering a work 
beyond our strength, with reverence and fear, fastening 
our eyes always on Him that is able to direct and prosper 
all our ways. 

" I acknowledge myself much bound to } T ou for your 

r Leonard Bacon, Genesis of the New England Churches, p. 448. 


kind love and care in sending M>. Fuller amongst us, and 
rejoice much that I am by him satisfied touching your 
judgment of the outward form of God's worship ; it is, 
as far as I can gather, no other than is warranted by 
the evidence of truth, and the same which I have pro- 
fessed and maintained ever since the Lord in mercy revealed 
himself unto me, being far from the common report that 
hath been spread of you touching that particular, but 
God's children must not look for less [than misrepresenta- 
tion] here below, and it is a great mercy of God that he 
strengtheneth them to go through with it. 

44 I shall not need, at this time, to enlarge unto you, for 
(God willing) I purpose to see your face shortly. In the 
meantime I humbly take my leave of you, committing you 
to the Lord's blessing and protection : and rest, 
" Your assured loving friend, 

" John Endicot. 

44 Neamkeak, May 11, 1629." 

When this letter was being written reinforcements 
on a large scale were already on the way from the 
Mother Country to the new colony at Naumkeak. 
The supporters of the movement in England had 
secured (March 4, 1629) a Royal charter confirming 
their 44 patent," and incorporating their society under 
trie title of " The Governor and Company of Massa- 
chusetts Bay in New England," and they were plan- 
ning big things. Three ministers were sent over to 
serve the colonists, Francis Higginson, Samuel Skelton 
and Francis Bright. With these ships there also 
travelled several members of Robinson's old Church 
at Leyden with their families, and one Ralph Smith, 
a Separatist minister, who was granted a passage 
before " his difference in judgment in some things 
from our ministers " was understood. The inter- 
course on shipboard would do something to over- 
come the prejudices between the Puritans and 
Separatists thus embarked on a common venture. 
Higginson and Smith were together on the Talbot. 

44 When they came to the Land's End M r . Higginson, 
calling up his children and other passengers unto the stern 
of the ship to take their last sight of England, said, We 


will not say as the Separatists were wont to say at their 
leaving of England, Farewell, Babylon ! farewell, Rome ! 
but we will say Farewell, dear England, farewell the Church 
of God in England and all the Christian friends there." 

Higginson put into the mouth of the Separatists 
at this juncture the sentiment he thought appropriate 
to the character as popularly conceived, and as 
pictured in his own imagination. I think he soon 
realized that he had done them an injustice. In the 
course of the voyage a day of fasting and prayer 
was kept, and the two ministers joined together in 
the solemnity. " There being two ministers in the 
ship," says Higginson, " Mr. Smith and myself, we 
endeavoured, together with others, to consecrate 
the day as a solemn fasting and humiliation to 
Almighty God, as a furtherance of our present work." 
They spent seven Sundays together on board, time 
enough to get to understand one another. On 
June 29, 1629, they safely entered Salem harbour 
and landed from their voyage. 

Ralph Smith, after trying the ground at Nantasket 
amongst a few " straggling " settlers, found his way 
to Plymouth. Here he joined the Church as a member, 
and assisted Brewster in the exercise of " prophesying." 
When the Church had made sufficient trial of his 
gifts he was duly appointed minister. 

Meanwhile the newly arrived colonists, together 
with the settlers already at Salem under John Endicot, 
proceeded to set their ecclesiastical affairs in order. 
It was just here that the example of the Plymouth 
Church as a self-governing, reformed Christian society 
had telling effect. The colonists were bent on " set- 
tling a reformed congregation." The Bishops of 
England were now far away, and there was a clear 
field for a fresh start. After conference on the matter 
and looking into the New Testament for guidance 
the majority came to conclusions very similar to 
those at which Robinson had arrived. We are 
fortunate in having a contemporary letter describing 


the first steps taken to lay the foundation of their 
new Church order. It was not to be expected that 
all would be satisfied with the changes made. Francis 
Bright withdrew to Charlestown, and after a year 
returned to England ; the Browne brothers, John and 
Samuel, " men of parts and port in the place," stood 
out for the use of the Book of Common Prayer and 
the customary Offices for Baptism and Communion. 
As they were creating a faction in the infant colony 
Endicot promptly shipped them back to England 
on the return of the vessels in which they had come. 
The election and ordination by the people of Skelton 
as " pastor " and Higginson as " teacher " was a 
close approach to the practice of the Plymouth 
Church. Gott reports the matter for us from the 
spot — 

" To the worshipful, his worthy and much respected 
friend, Mr. Bradford, Governor of Plymouth, these : 

" I, with my wife, remember our service unto you and 
yours, thanking you most humbly for your great kindness 
when we were at Plimouth with you. 

" Sir — I make bold to trouble you with a few lines, for 
to certify you how it hath pleased God to deal with us 
since you heard from us, [and] how, notwithstanding all 
opposition that hath been here and else where, it hath 
pleased God to lay a foundation, the which I hope is 
agreeable to his Word in everything. 

The 20th of July it pleased the Lord to move the heart 
of our Governor to set it apart for a solemn day of humilia- 
tion for the choice of a pastor and teacher; the former 
part of the day being spent in prayer and teaching, the 
latter part about the election which was after this manner. 

" The persons thought on (who had been ministers in 
England) were demanded concerning their callings. They 
acknowledged there was a twofold calling; the one an 
inward calling when the Lord moved the heart of a man 
to take that calling upon him and fitted him with gifts 
for the same; the second was an outward calling which 
was from the people, when a company of believers are 
joined together in covenant to walk together in all the 
ways of God and every member (being men) are to have 
a free voice in the choice of their officers, etc. 

" Now, we being persuaded that these two were so 


qualified, as the apostle speaks of to Timothy where he 
saith 4 a bishop must be blameless, sober, apt to teach,' 
etc., I think I may say, as the eunuch said unto Philip, 
' what should let him from being baptized seeing there 
was water and he believed ' ; so these two servants of God 
clearing all things by their answers (and being thus fitted) 
we saw no reason but we might freely give our voices for 
their election after this trial. 

" Their choice was after this manner. Every fit member 
wrote in a note his name whom the Lord moved him to 
think was fit for a pastor, and so likewise whom they 
would have for teacher. So the most voice was for M 1 
Skelton to be pastor and M 1 '- Higginson to be teacher, 
so M r - Skelton was chosen pastor and M r - Higginson to 
be teacher ; and they accepting the choice, M r - Higginson, 
with three or four more of the gravest members of the 
church, laid their hands on M r - Skelton, using prayer 
therewith. This being done there was imposition of hands 
on M r - Higginson also. 

" Then there was proceeding in election of elders and 
deacons 1 but they were only named and laying on of 
hands deferred, to see if it pleased God to send us more 
able men over; and since that time, Thursday (being as 
I take it y e 5 August 2 ) is appointed for another day of 
humiliation for the full choice of elders and deacons and 
ordaining of them. 

" And now, good Sir, I hope that you, and the rest of 
God's people (who are acquainted with the ways of God) 
with you, will say that here was a right foundation laid 
and that these two blessed servants of the Lord came in 
at the door and not at the window. 

" And thus I have made bold to trouble you with these 
few lines, desiring you to remember us to M 1 - Brewster, 
M r [Ralph] Smith, M r - Fuller and the rest of the church ; 
so I rest, 

" At your service in what I may till death, 

" Charles Gott. 

" Salem, July 30, 1629." 

Whether the Plymouth people made any suggestion 
as to laying the foundation more truly and securely 
does not appear, but it is noteworthy that the Salem 

1 Henry Houghton was selected as " ruling Elder " and Gott himself was 
eventually ordained deacon of Salem Church. 

2 Gott was a day out in his reckoning. Thursday was August 6 in 1629. 


people advanced yet another step nearer to the 
polity advocated by Robinson before they completed 
their Church organization. I think it quite likely 
that there had already been some discussion about 
the covenant of Robinson's Church. In the forma- 
tion of the Separatist Church at Gainsborough under 
John Smith, and in the Leyden Church under Robin- 
son, the members had first constituted themselves 
as a Church by mutual covenant with God and one 
another. Not until that was done did they proceed 
to elect and ordain officers from among their members. 
The Church came before the officers. Membership 
in the true Church was a pre-requisite to bearing office 
in the Church. These points were now discussed at 
Salem. It was a question whether the colonists 
were in true Church order when they first elected 
and ordained their pastor and teacher. The defect 
ought to be remedied. It was therefore agreed to 
constitute the Church by covenant and repeat the 
ordination, imperfectly effected on July 30, on another 
day. For this purpose August 6 was set apart, and 
notice of the event sent to the Church of Plymouth . The 
settlers at Cape Ann and Naumkeak under Conant and 
Endicot had certainly met together from time to time 
for religious worship, but up to now they were merely 
a congregation and not a " Church." Francis Higgin- 
son, at the request of those who held this view, wrote 
out thirty copies of a simple Church covenant, which 
was owned on the appointed day by as many persons, 
and the business of electing and ordaining pastor, 
teacher and other Church officers was then proceeded 
with in order. William Bradford and other delegates 
from the Plymouth Church set out with the intention 
of joining the friends at Salem on this historic occa- 
sion, but they " coming by sea were hindered by 
cross winds that they could not be there at the 
beginning of the day, but they came into the assembly 
afterward and gave them the right hand of fellowship, 
wishing all prosperity and a blessed success unto 
such good beginnings." 


From the outset, therefore, the New England 
Churches constituted by the Puritan refugees were 
influenced by the example and practice of the Ply- 
mouth Church. The very covenant adopted at Salem 
was based on that formulated by John Smith, and 
taken as the basis of his Church by John Robinson — 

"We covenant with the Lord and one with another; 
and doe bynd our selves in the presence of God to walke 
together in all his waies, according as he is pleased to 
reveale himself unto us in his Blessed word of truth." 

The Church formed in the next year (July 30, 1630) 
at Charlestown followed the same lines as that at 
Salem. Here again the influence of Samuel Fuller 
of Plymouth was felt, and his advice was reinforced 
by Endicot, who had become an ardent advocate of 
the Congregational way. Fuller, writing on June 28, 
1630, to Bradford, says, " The Governor [John 
Winthrop] hath had conference with me both in 
private and before sundry others." These conferences 
bore fruit. A few weeks later, on Sunday, July 25, 
after " the evening exercise," a letter arrived at 
Salem from Winthrop asking the advice of the friends 
there as to the best course of procedure for setting 
themselves in Church order in view of the mortality 
afflicting the newly-landed colonists. Now, when 
this letter came to hand at Salem, it happened that 
Fuller, Edward Winslow and Isaac Allerton of the 
Plymouth Church were present. The Salem friends 
at once took them into consultation in the matter, 
and it was resolved to advise Winthrop and the 
Charlestown settlers to set apart — 

" the 6 day (being Friday) [July 30, 1630] of this present 
week . . . that they may humble them selves before God 
and seek him in his ordinances ; and that then also such 
godly persons that are amongst them and known each to 
other may publicly at the end of their exercise make known 
their godly desire, and practice the same, viz. solemnly 
to enter into covenant with the Lord to walk in his 


The Church at Plymouth, also, was asked to speci- 
ally observe the same day on their behalf. The 
following covenant was accordingly adopted by the 
Charlestown-Boston Church. It is still in use in the 
First Church, Unitarian, in Boston, the direct descend- 
ant of that religious society — 

" In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and in Obedience 
to his holy Will and divine Ordinance — 

" We whose names are hereunder written, being by His 
most wise and good Providence brought together into 
this part of America in the Bay of Massachusetts, and 
desirous to unite ourselves into one Congregation or 
Church under the Lord Jesus Christ our Head in such sort 
as becometh all those whom He hath redeemed and sanc- 
tified to himself, do hereby solemnly and religiously (as 
in his holy presence) promise and bind ourselves to walk 
in all our ways according to the Rule of the Gospel, and in 
all sincere conformity to his holy Ordinances and in mutual 
love and respect each to other, so near as God shall give us 

William Bradford in his Letter -Book noted the 
course of affairs with approval. He pointed out 
how the new-comers in 1629 " quickly grew into 
Church order, and set themselves roundly to walk in 
all the ways of God" 

Salem and Plymouth friends also advised the 
Charlestown people not " rashly to proceed to y e 
choyce of officers " on the day of covenanting. It 
was not till August 27, 1630, that officers were chosen 
from the covenanted members and set apart for their 
duties by laying on of hands. John Wilson was set 
apart to the office of " teacher," but he stipulated 
that this appointment was not to be taken as a 
renunciation of his orders received in the Anglican 
Church. Two years later (November 22, 1632) he 
was chosen " pastor," an office which he held till his 
death (August 7, 1667). In consulting with the 
people at New Plymouth about their Church affairs 
the Puritan colonists were following the advice of an 
eminent minister, John Cotton, who was soon to 


join them. At their leaving England he urged them 
to " take the advice of them at Plymouth," and 
when he himself came over and was chosen as colleague 
with John Wilson in the Boston Church he followed 
the principles which Robinson had advocated, and 
was duly ordained to his new post of teacher by the 
imposition of the hands of the pastor and elders 
and special prayer (October 10, 1633). It was in 
virtue of this ordination, and not of that received 
in the Episcopal Church at home, that he henceforth 
carried on his ministry. 

It was not only in the matter of setting up and 
ordering the " Church " that the new-comers coincided 
with the practice of Robinson and his followers. 
Morton tells us, in his New England's Memorial, 1 that 
Higginson and Skelton took into consideration " the 
state of their children." Were they members of the 
Church along with their covenanted parents ? " Con- 
cerning which letters did pass between Mr. Higginson 
and Mr. Brewster, the reverend elder of the Church 
at Plimouth, and they did agree in their judgments, 
namely, concerning the Church membership of the 
children with their parents; and that baptism was 
a seal of their membership; only, when they were 
adult, they being not scandalous, they were to be 
examined by the Church officers, and upon their 
approbation of their fitness, and upon the children's 
public and personal owning of the covenant they 
were to be received unto the Lord's Supper." This 
course was followed in the case of Higginson's son 
John, then about fifteen years old. In practice " the 
parents, owning and retaining the baptism which 
they themselves received iri their infancy in their 
native land, as they had any children born, baptism 
was administered unto them, namely, to the children 
of such as were members of that particular Church." 
This is precisely the position which Robinson laid 
down and defended. 

Seeing that there was such a close agreement between 

1 Sub Anno 1629. 


Plymouth and the other Churches of New England, 
it is strange to find how touchy the latter were upon 
the point. They did not like being reminded of the 
fact. They argued that they were simply following 
the plain teaching of the New Testament — which 
argument, by the way, only served as a fine vindication 
of Robinson and his followers. 

Puritans and Presbyterians at home soon saw 
which way the wind was blowing in New England. 
As a writer put it in 1659 — 

" M r - Hildersam did much grieve when he understood 
that the Brethren in New England did depart from the 
Presbyterian Government and he said : ' This mischief 
had been prevented if my counsel at M r Higginson's 
going over had been taken, which was that brethren driven 
thither by Episcopal persecution should agree upon Church 
Government before they depart from hence.' And it is 
well-known that many presbyterian non-conformists did 
by a letter sent into New England bewaile their departing 
in practice (as they heard) from the way of Church Govern- 
ment which they owned here." x 

Cotton and Winslow, in rebutting the charge 
brought against them on this head, in which there was 
nothing to be ashamed of or to make apologies for, 
in effect admit the truth of the statement made about 
the influence of the Plymouth Church on those 
Churches subsequently formed in New England. 

Robert Baillie had declared " the congregation of 
Plymouth did incontinently leaven all the vicinity." 
To this Cotton rejoined there was no vicinity to 
leaven. " Salem itself, that was gathered into Church 
order seven or eight years after them, was above 
forty miles distant from them. And though it be 
very likely that some of the first comers might help 
their theory by hearing and discerning their practice 
at Plymouth, yet therein the Scripture is fulfilled, 
' The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a 

1 Irenicum, or an Essay towards a brotherly peace . . . between those of the 
Congregational and Presbyterian Way, "Epistle to the Reader." London, 


woman took and hid in three measures of meal till 
all was leavened.' " 1 

Winslow, for his part, concedes all that I wish to 
claim. He, like Cotton, took up his pen in 1646 
against Baillie, and this is what he said — 

" For the many Plantations that came over to us upon 
notice of God's blessing upon us, whereas 'tis falsely said 
they took Plymouth for their precedent, as fast as they came ; 
'tis true, I confess, that some of the chief of them advised 
with us (coming over to be freed from the burthensome cere- 
monies then imposed in England) how they should do to fall 
upon a right platform of worship, and desired to that end, 
since God had honoured us to lay the foundation of a Common- 
wealth and to settle a Church in it, to show them whereupon 
our practice was grounded; and if they found, upon due 
search, it was built upon the Word, they should be willing to 
take up what was of God. We accordingly showed them the 
primitive practice for our warrant, taken out of the Acts of 
the Apostles and the Epistles written to the several churches 
by the said Apostles, together with the commandments of 
Christ the Lord in the Gospel and other our warrants for 
every particular we did from the book of God. Which being 
by them well weighed and considered, they also entered into 
covenant with God and one another to walk in all his ways 
revealed or as they should be made known unto them, and to 
worship him according to his will revealed in his written word 
only, etc. 

" So that here also thou may est see they set not the church 
at Plymouth before them for example, but the primitive 
churches were and are their and our mutual patterns and 
examples, which are only worthy to be followed, having the 
blessed Apostles amongst them, who were sent immediately 
by Christ himself, and enabled and guided by the unerring 
spirit of God. And truly this is a pattern fit to be followed 
of all that fear God, and no man or men to be followed further 
than they follow Christ and them." 2 

In other words, the Puritan settlers recognized the 
form and order of the New Testament Church when 
it was indicated for them by members of the Plymouth 
Church who had been schooled in the teachings of 

1 Cotton's Way of the Congregational Churches Cleared, p. 16. 

2 Winslow' s " Narration " appended to his Hyjiocrisie Vnmasked, 1646. 


Robinson, and when they saw it exemplified in the 
Plymouth Plantation. 

There was a reaction from New England upon the 
religious life of Old England under the tolerant sway 
of Cromwell, and thus the fundamental ideas of the 
Congregational Church order, which Robinson had 
done so much to bring out into strong relief, gained 
a firm footing in his Homeland. Let one example 

John Phillip, beneficed at Wrentham, who had 
married (January 6, 1611-12) Elizabeth Ames, became 
obnoxious to the clerical authorities on account of 
his Puritan proclivities, and was deprived of his 
living in 1638. Now, Joan Ames, the widow of his 
brother-in-law, William Ames, had gone over to 
America in 1637 and settled at Salem; to that place 
John Phillip followed her, crossing the Atlantic in 
1638. When news of the great turn of affairs and the 
election of the Long Parliament came to hand Phillip 
resolved to return to Old England, and took ship on 
October 26, 1641. After a perilous voyage he went 
back to his old post at Wrentham, and began to model 
the Church affairs in his parish on lines with which 
he had become familiar in New England. When, 
on May 29, 1644, a move was made in Norwich by 
certain Congregationals, " to incorporate into a 
Church," they "gave notice thereof to Mr. John 
Phillip," and desired his assistance. It was only 
" infirmity of body " that hindered his attendance 
at this " inchurching " of a Congregational society 
amidst the scenes of Robinson's first ministry. Phillip 
was appointed a member of the Westminster Assembly 
of Divines in 1643, where he acted with the Congre- 

After William Ames, son of William Ames, the 
friend of Robinson, had graduated at Harvard, in 
1645, he, too, returned to the Mother Country, and 
went down to Wrentham to help John Phillip in his 
ministerial work. Here, in due course, he was made 
" Teacher " of the "Church " which his uncle served 


as " Pastor," and on February 1, 1649-50 the Church 
itself was reconstituted on more definitely Congrega- 
tional lines in accordance with the model followed 
by the English Churches set up in Holland and New 
England. The Wrentham people were careful to 
disclaim any implication of censure on others who did 
not see their way to follow this method of reform. 
They sought to prevent " misconstructions of medling 
with or censuring any churches by o r course the 
grounds whereof we doe she we." But they used their 
liberty to reform the Church order in their parish, and 
they desired their action to be understood only " as 
y e reforming of o r selves according to that Church 
estate, the patterne whereof is set before us in the 
words of Ct. according to y e measure of o r enlightening 
therein." The point, however, to which I would 
specially draw attention is, that the members banded 
themselves together in a covenant, which, both by its 
brevity and its terms, reminds us of the covenants of 
the Church of Robinson and that at Salem — 

' Wee doe agree to give up ourselves unto y e Lord in 
p'fessed subiection to his gospell; and promise by the help 
of his grace whereupon wee trust, to walke together in his holy 
ordinances and wayes, to watch over one another in love, and 
submit to the government of Christ in this society.''' 

The Brewsters of Wrentham Hall were patrons of 
the living, of Wrentham, and throughout the seven- 
teenth century presented preachers of Puritan type 
to that rectory. One cannot help suspecting that 
there was some connexion, more than that of name, 
between these Suffolk Brewsters and the families of 
the Pilgrim Elder, seated in Nottinghamshire at 
Scrooby, and of James Brewster, the incumbent of 
Sutton-cum-Lound, adjacent to Scrooby. 

Robert Brewster, who presented Thomas King to 
the living, after John Phillip " fell asleep y e 2 of 
September 1660," was apparently the Robertus 
Brewster, Anglus, who matriculated at Leyden Uni- 
versity " 22 Maij 1619." When the Act of Uniformity 


was passed Thomas King was ejected. Then, in 
1664, Henry Wotton became rector, on the presenta- 
tion of Francis Brewster, apparently the Franciscus 
Brewster, Anglus, who matriculated at Leyden " 1 
Mart. 1645." Ames and his flock enjoyed the pro- 
tection of this influential family, and Wotton showed 
a politic " forbearance towards the wandering sheep 
of his own parish." x 

Though William Ames the younger was ejected 
from the benefices he held when the Act of Uniformity 
came into force, he continued in the neighbourhood 
under the shelter of the Brewsters and exercised his 
" office of Doctor," i. e. teacher, in the Congregational 
Church here till his death. In 1672 he was licensed 
as a " Presbyterian teacher," an indication that the 
term " Presbyterian " was already loosely used in 
England and without care for exactness. On July 21, 
1689, he died, and is described on his tombstone as, 


wrentham." He carried the traditions of Holland 
and New England on to the period of the Revolution. 
Thus he affords a notable link in the religious history 
of the East Anglian district, besides illustrating the 
way in which the principles of Church order and 
government put into practice in the " plantations " 
in New England reacted on the religious life of the 
Old Country. 

Enough has been said to show that the influence of 
Robinson's ideas upon the right ordering of Christian 
Churches was felt as a potent and constructive force 
in the religious life of England and America long after 
his death. 

III. A third direction in which Robinson's influence 
was exerted in after years — less obvious perhaps, but 
none the less real — was through the democratic ideals 
with which he inspired his friends and connexions. 
His example and teaching remained as an abiding and 
stimulating memory with men like Brewster, Brad- 

1 Edm. Bohurts Diary, quoted by Browne, History of Congregationalism 
in Norfolk and Suffolk, 1877, p. 431. 


ford, Allerton, Blossom, Winslow and others, who had 
been closely associated with him. It was not without 
effect also on kinsfolk and connexions at home. 

His wife's nephew, Charles White, the younger, 
took a prominent part on the side of the Parliament 
in the great Civil War. Bridget Robinson's eldest 
brother, Charles White, took up his residence at 
Beauvale Abbey in the parish of Greasley, which was 
more convenient for the county town of Nottingham 
than his old home at Sturton. 1 He continued at 
Beauvale till, " sicke in body but of perfect memory," 
he made his will in 1634 and died. To his son of the 
same name he left his " lease of Beavall." 

When the Civil War broke out this Charles White 
the younger actively bestirred himself in the Parlia- 
mentary interest. He is frequently mentioned by 
Lucy Hutchinson in her Memoir of Colonel Hutchinson, 
but was not in her good books. She did not like him, 
and did him less than justice, speaking of him in 
rather disparaging terms. With Lucy Hutchinson 
her husband was the only hero. No one could be 
allowed to shine near him or diminish his glory, so 
when she mentions White she uses him as a foil to 
show up the virtues and graces of Colonel John 
Hutchinson. Still less did she like Charles White's 
choice of a wife. She says that he and Gilbert 
Millington, the Member for Nottingham in the Long 
Parliament, picked up with " a couple of ale-house 
wenches." Well, the choice of Millington seems to 
have satisfied not only himself, but his constituents, 
for we find the Corporation of Nottingham making a 
present to Mrs. Millington, and we may take it that 
White's choice also turned out pretty well. We must 
read Mrs. Hutchinson's character-sketch with caution. 
She tells us White " was of mean birth and low 
fortunes, yet had kept company with the underling 
gentry of his neighbourhood." Furthermore " he 

1 He was still described as "of Sturton " in 1620, when he was appointed 
" Treasurer " for the north part <?f ISJotts for the fund raised for the relief 
of " maymed souldiers." 


gave large contributions to Puritan preachers," but 
she unkindly imputes this to a desire " to keep up a 
fame of godliness." She could not deny his popu- 
larity, but declared he won it "by a thousand arts." 

64 This man," she continues, " called Charles White, at 
the beginning of the Civil War got a troop of dragoons, who 
armed and mounted themselves out of devotion to the 
Parliament's cause, and, being of his neighbourhood, marched 
forth in his conduct, he having procured a commission x to be 
their captain." 

He did good service in the war and saved Notting- 
ham at one critical juncture by his timely arrival with 
troops from Leicester and Derby. 

Here is a despatch of his, hitherto unpublished, 
addressed to that resolute soldier, Francis Thorn- 
hagh 2 of Fenton, in the parish af Stvrton, with 
which the Whites and Robinsons were connected. 
Thornhagh and White were closely associated in their 
campaigning — 

Add. MS. 34,253, f . 38. 

" ffor the Honbie Col. Thornhagh 
at the Kings Head 
in the Strand 

r Sealed with I w th m y humble 

dark red wax J . 

| coat of arms J SerVlCC 

" Since yo r depture hence Parties have beene sent out 
every night but the enemie have drawne into thiere Guarrisons 
continually that nothing could be attempted onely on Friday 
morning last Corporall Crofte who is one of my Corp 18 w fch 
20 Horse of Capt Pendocks and mine did fall into Bridgeford 
long mour whither the Queens Regmt were newly come and 
all mounted, they charged through them routed the whole 
Regmt killed 8 beside what were wounded and brought off 
16 prisoners and 28 Horse w th out loss of one man And on 

1 He was " one of the Captains appointed by the Earl of Essex." See a 
letter of Francis Pierrepont, December 13, 1642, Hist. MSS. Covin. Report 13, 
Pt. I. p. 79. 

2 Francis Thornhagh was killed August 17, 1648, in the pursuit of the 
Soots after the Battle of Preston, His body was taken to Sturton for burial, 


Saturday following my L* w<* 42 men going to secure the 
market^ fell into Langer where the Earl of Northtons Regimt 
were drawing out to a Randervous being about 200 Horse. 
30 of o r men charged about 80 of them and routed them and 
falling into the Towne w th them they killed betwixt 20 and 
30 and a Capt they tooke a Maj* 9 others and 27 Horse 
w th out loss of one man I desire that God may have the praise 
of all for he is worthy. 

" On Sunday Capt Pendock and my L d with 150 Horse 
went to Ekrin [Eakring] to gain Intelligence and the king 
quartered at Tuxford Laxton and Egmonton [Egmanton] 
w th his whole Army but they wanted men to fall upon any 
Quarte" I am just now sending a small pty to Ekrin. 

1 [" Since I begun this lttre I heare y fc the king quarts this 
night about Welbeck and Worksopp and (as Report gives it) 
he is for the North. 

" S r be pleased to pcure some Armes if it be possible and 
some money for the country is impoverished and the souldiers 
in great wante. S r I have noe more but to assure y u that I 


" Yo r humble servant 

" Cha: White. 

" Nott. Oct. 13. about 8 at night 

" S r I beseech yo u psent my service to m r Millington and 
excuse my not writing to him." ] x 

With Millington, who was his neighbour at Felley 
Priory in Greasley parish, White was on terms of 
intimate friendship. From 1654 to 1656 White was 
knight of the shire. He served on many County 
Committees and took his full share in public work. 
Apparently he had some offer of service about this 
time in Russia, for on March 26, 1655, he sought a 
passport for himself, his wife Deborah, and their child 
Sarah, with a maid and two menservants, " to repair 
to Moscow." If he took the journey his stay was 
short, for on June 4, 1656, he was approved as an 
" elder " for Greasley parish, and signed his name, 2 

1 This part is written along the side of the page. 

2 A facsimile of the signatures to this document is given in the Transactions 
of the Unitarian Historical {Society, vol. i. ? 1917. 


next after Millington, to the agreement to form a 
" Classis " or " Classical Presbytery " for Nottingham. 

Charles White fell in with the Presbyterian system 
of Church order as then adopted in England, and not 
with the Congregational way. He was one of those 
Presbyterians who were disappointed at the outcome 
of the war on the practical side, and at the breakdown 
of Parliamentary government. He came to feel that 
the best hope for settled peace in England lay in the 
restoration of the King and the summons of a Parlia- 
ment free from the domination of the Army. When 
Sir George Booth made his premature rising on behalf 
of Charles II in Cheshire, White, according to Mrs. 
Hutchinson, "thinking he could sway the scales of 
the country, raised a troop, brought them into Derby, 
and published a declaration of his own for the King." 

His action created such a stir that the day was long 
known in Derbyshire as White- Friday. It was an 
abortive movement, and brought him and his friends 
into serious danger. Those implicated were sum- 
moned to appear before the County Committee of 
Notts, on November 26, 1659, or in ten days there- 
after. On December 5 the Committee returned the 
name of Colonel Charles White amongst those who did 
not appear, but there was a reason, " Col. White, 
we hear, is prisoner at the Gatehouse, Westminster." x 
Already, in October, information had been sent up 
as to some of White's possessions : he " rented a coal 
delph of the Earl of Rutland . . . there are many coals 
on the bank which winter will prevent the carrying 
away of." 2 His property was to be sequestered. 

But meanwhile the tide of popular feeling was fast 
turning. White had only anticipated by a few months 
a general movement throughout the country. The 
power of the old Parliamentary party was crumbling 
away. It had done its work, and lost favour the longer 
it now clung to office. A letter 3 from Major James 

1 Calendar of the Proceedings of the Committee for Compounding, ed. by M. A. 
Green, p. 769. 

2 Ibid,, Letter of James Fulwood, October 7, 1659, p. 756. 3 (bid,, p. 773, 


Fulwood, one of the County Commissioners for Derby, 
dated January 14, 1659-60, shows how things were 
going in that locality. He reports that Colonel 
Thomas Sanders, who had been an eye-witness of 
White's " rebellion " in Derby, had actually given 
power to Captain Greenwood and Captain Samuel 
Doughty to secure all the arms of the county and 
send the soldiers home, which left the Parliamentary 
Commissioners bereft of authority. He goes on to 
say that both Greenwood and Doughty — 

44 were notorious in the rebellion raised by Col. White at 
Derby . . . where there were cries for a king and for a free 
Parliament and for the Cheshire Declaration . . . that Col. 
Sanders should give such power to these men has discouraged 
many that were faithful to Parliament." 

At the Restoration, according to Mrs. Hutchinson, 
White " was rewarded for his revolt with an office, 
which he enjoyed not many months, his wife and he 
and some of his children dying altogether in a few 
days of a fever little less than a plague." He died in 
1661, and was buried at Greasley. 

So ended the life of Bridget Robinson's militant 
nephew — a man ready to strike a blow for civil and 
religious liberty, ready to adventure his life for what 
he esteemed a worthy cause. 

If we turn from " Notts, and Derby " to the neigh- 
bouring shire of Lincoln, we there find a nephew of 
John Robinson taking an equally prominent part on 
the Parliamentary side in the Civil War. Mary 
Robinson, sister of the pastor of the Pilgrim Church, 
married William Peart. Peart evidently won the 
affection and confidence of the Robinson family. 
Old John Robinson, the father of the Leyden pastor, 
appointed him " overseer " of his will. His widow, 
Ann Robinson, in the absence of her eldest son in 
Holland, made her son-in-law Peart her executor. 
This was in 1616, and already there was a brave little 
family of grandchildren, for she left to every one of 
Peart's four sons, ■" William, Thomas, Originall, and 
John Pearte everye of them the some of xx s ." • 


The surname Peart is itself unusual, and conjoined 
with Original it makes a singular combination. This 
lad made his way in the world. He was apprenticed 
in the summer of 1620, at the age of fifteen, in Lincoln. 
When his seven years' apprenticeship was over in 
1627 he married. 

The clerk put him down as prosaic " Reginald ' : 
in the licence — it was the best he could make of 
Original. In 1640 he was Sheriff, and went out in his 
official capacity to meet King Charles on his visit to 
Lincoln. Unfortunately the minutes of the Lincoln 
Corporation are missing for the Commonwealth 
period, so the materials for a full-length portrait of 
Peart are lacking. He held a commission as " Cap- 
tain " in the army under Fairfax, and saw service 
with Cromwell in the north in 1648. During his 
absence there was a Royalist raid on Lincoln. Edward 
Reyner of St. Peter at Arches, appointed Corporation 
Lecturer in 1627, a post once held by John Smith, 
was attacked in this raid, and Peart's house, in 
the parish of St. Peter at Gowts, was wrecked. He 
received a grant from Parliament in compensation 
out of moneys derived from the sale of Bishop's lands, 
and built himself " a delicate fine house, which cost 
him about £900." The citizens chose him as Mayor 
for 1650-51, and he represented Lincoln both in the 
" Short Parliament " (September 3, 1654- January 27, 
1655); and in the second Parliament of the Pro- 
tectorate (1656-58). After the Restoration and the 
return of a Bishop to the See of Lincoln he was soon 
turned out of his house. He is said to have inter- 
ceded successfully with Cromwell for the preservation 
of the magnificent Lincoln Cathedral, in which the 
citizens took a just pride. 

These examples from amongst the kinsfolk of John 
Robinson of the second generation show us how the 
ideals that stirred the minds of Englishmen in his day 
lived on and worked themselves out. A study of 
the family history of those prominent in the strife 


between Crown and Parliament goes to show that the 
causes of the struggle were of no sudden growth. 
The principles inculcated in the Puritan households 
of England in the days of Elizabeth and James came 
to fruition in the time of the Long Parliament. 
Through much striving and blood and tears those 
principles were at length recognized and embodied 
in the working constitution of the country. The 
leaven had long been at work in silence. There were 
those who thought the principles of absolutism in 
politics and religion were going to be a success in 
England. William Laud had spent his tireless energy 
in compelling the clergy to toe his own special ecclesi- 
astical mark. Outwardly he got things in some 
measure to his satisfaction. Open opposition seemed 
to die down. But nothing convicts Laud more com- 
pletely with narrowness of vision than the fact that 
he mistook the lull before the storm as evidence of 
the triumph of his policy of repression. Sincere and 
devout though he was, yet he was incapable of 
recognizing the intensity of religious conviction in 
those who could not keep step with him in matters of 
ritual and doctrine. In the great Civil War in Eng- 
land, by means of which great constitutional issues 
were decided, the driving force in the conflict was 
religion. The ideals and principles, drawn out into 
definite shape by such men as Robinson, in regard to 
the rights of the individual Christian, " the visible 
saints " in the Church, reacted upon the current ideas 
of the rights and privileges of the citizen in the State, 
and gave the stiffening for the struggle. 





Of the members of Robinson's own family we have 
but little information beyond what has already been 
given in these pages. In a paper on " The Descend- 
ants of the Rev. John Robinson," by William 
Allen, D.D., prefixed to Ashton's reprint of Robin- 
son's Works, it is said that his eldest son John " settled 
at or near Cape Ann, and had a son Abraham, who 
died at the age of one hundred and two." This, 
though often repeated, has not been substantiated. 
And as John Robinson junior matriculated at 
Leyden, April 5, 1633, the statement that he came 
" to Plymouth, Mass., in 1630," x can hardly be correct. 

Ann, the eldest of Robinson's children, seems to 
have married into a Dutch family. 

Bridget, born in 1608, the year of migration to 
Holland, was twice married — 

(a) First, to John Greenwood, born in London about 
1605. He matriculated at Leyden University in 
philosophy July 9, 1625, at which time he boarded 
with John Keble, and thither also he took his young 
bride after the wedding, on May 26, 1629, for he was 
still living in Keble's house when, on May 22, 1634, 
he matriculated in theology at the University, giving 
his age then as twenty-eight. Before long, however, 
he died, and his young widow married — 

(b) William Lee of Amsterdam on July 25, 1637. 

* The Robinson Family, New York, 1902, Paper by W. A. Robinson, p. 29, 



The next in age in John Robinson's family was 
Isaac, born in 1610. Of him more is known, for he 
crossed over, when he came of age, to Massachusetts 
in the good ship Lion in the year 1631, and then made 
his way to the Plymouth colony to the old friends of 
his father. He did not take a very prominent part in 
colonial affairs. He was busied in making his foot- 
ing good in the New World, and when that was done 
he married, in 1636, Margaret Hanford. On her 
death, after bearing him five children, he married a 
second wife in 1649, who bore him other four. It 
is his descendants who carry on the line of the Pilgrim 
Pastor in New England. He settled first at Scituate, 
where in 1633 he was on the list of freemen. In 1639 
he removed to Barnstable. It is of interest to note 
that Isaac Robinson moved on to the Quaker position 
in religion. When the Quakers turned their attention 
to New England as a field for missionary enterprise, 
in 1656, they found Plymouth more congenial ground 
for their message than Massachusetts. The tradition 
of the place was in their favour. The mother Church 
had long been served by the ministration of laymen, 
and the members were encouraged to exercise their 
gifts. There was not quite the same view of the 
ministry as an exclusive and peculiar class which 
prevailed in the Puritan colonies. Writing to Mar- 
garet Fell from Barbadoes in 1657 Henry Fell says, 
" In Plimouth patent there is a people not soe ridged 
as the others of Boston, and there are great desires 
among them after the Truth." Indeed there had 
already been " a crying downe of minnestry and min- 
nesters " in Plymouth Colony. 1 But having said this, 
we must not suppose that the Quakers, with their then 
extravagant methods, were welcome visitors. Indeed 
" the General Court " of the colony, in order to stem 
the tide of Quakerism, appointed in 1659 Isaac Robin- 
son, J. Smith, J. Chipman and J. Cooke to attend the 
Quakers' meetings, " to endeavour to reduce them 
from the error of their ways." It was a good thing 

1 Colony Records, vol. ii. p. 156. 


to put the son of their old pastor on to the deputa- 
tion. He, if any one, ought to be well grounded in 
their principles. Besides, he was a solid sort of man, 
who had served the Governor twice as Assistant, and 
would not easily be rattled. The upshot, however, 
was that Robinson himself was " convinced " of 
" truth," and became a member of the Society of 
Friends. He, like his father, was ready to suffer for 
his convictions. He and Cud worth, the " assistant " 
from Scituate, where Timothy Hatherley, one of the 
original London Adventurers for the colony, had also 
joined the Quakers, were left out of office and dis- 
franchised. Under the governorship of the Hon. 
Josias Winslow (elected June 3, 1673) their rights 
as " freemen " were given back to them. 

Isaac Robinson, with thirteen other colonists, 
founded the town of Falmouth, in Plymouth Colony, 
and took the lead in a small Quaker meeting in that 
place. 1 He lived to a great age. Prince, who was born 
at Sandwich, New England, in 1687, remembered him 
as " a venerable man," whom he had often seen. 
When Judge Sewell was on circuit in the old colony in 
1702, he visited Isaac, and made the following entry 
in his Journal under date April 4 — 

"Visit Master Robinson, who saith he is 92 years old; 
is the son of Master Robinson, Pastor of the Church of 
Leyden, part of which came to Plymouth. But, to my dis- 
appointment, he came not to New England till the year in 
which Master Wilson was returning to England after the 
settlement of Boston. 

" I told him [I] was very desirous to see him, for his father's 
sake and his own. Gave him an Arabian piece of gold, to 
buy a book for some of his grandchildren." 2 

That is the last picture we have of him — the aged 
grandfather with the little ones about him. Did no 
one think it worth while to gather his reminiscences 
of the life at Leyden and his recollections of his 

1 For these details I am mainly indebted to an excellent work by Rnfus 
M. Jones, Quakers in the American Colonies, pp. 60-64. 

2 Quoted in Arber's Pilgrim Fathers, p. 160. 


father? Isaac Robinson died at Barnstable, full of 
years and honour. 

The next child, Mercy Robinson, ten years old at 
the census of 1622, was probably the child of Robinson 
buried in 1623. Of her younger sister Fear more can be 
said, thanks to the researches of Dr. Dexter and his son. 

Fear Robinson, born in 1614, remained in Leyden 
for life. She was in no hurry to marry, and would 
be a help and comfort to her mother during her widow- 
hood. At last, on August 21, 1648, she was betrothed 
to John Jennings the younger, a wool-comber by 
trade, whose father, of the same name, had been con- 
nected with the congregation from its earliest days 
in Leyden. The witnesses at the betrothal were Elias 
Arnold, a watchmaker, and Rose Jennings. The 
marriage of John and Fear took place on September 8. 
For sixteen years they lived together, then John 
Jennings fell ill. He drew up his will, December 1, 
1664, a necessary act, as he was leaving three little 
children behind. Six days later his body was carried 
out from his house on Molesteeg for burial in St. Peter's 

Fear Jennings was not left altogether unprovided 
for, and by the death of Rose Jennings, her mother- 
in-law, in 1668, further property came to her in right 
of her husband, in the shape of a house on Coepoorts- 
gracht. Having inherited this property, she in turn 
made a will, March 20, 1669, and added a codicil in 
the following January. Before May 31, 1670, she 
was dead, and on that date the guardians of her three 
children, still under age, sold her house for 3790 
gilders. It is noteworthy that John Butterfield, one 
of the English colony in Leyden, was the purchaser. 

James, or Jacob, Robinson (the name was recorded 
as "Jacobus"), the youngest surviving son, barely 
lived to man's estate. He died in May 1638, and was 
buried from Engelschepoort on the 26th of that 
month in St. Peter's. 

Bridget Robinson still lived on in the Pieterskerkhof, 
where her husband had spent the best years of his 


life. She was there in 1635, ten years after John 
Robinson's death. The last notice of her recorded by 
Dexter is as a witness at the betrothal of George 
Materse6 to Elizabeth Loder, April 6, 1640. She 
spent her declining years with her kinsfolk in the fair 
city of Holland which had given them asylum in 
earlier days. Only within the last few weeks, through 
the diligent research of Professor Eckhof, her Will 
has come to light. 

The indications are that she remained in Holland 
and identified herself more and more with the Dutch 
Church, as her husband's Church departed from his 
liberal principles, and became too weak to sustain 
a regular pastorate. In a work on the Sum of 
the Controversies of Religion, issued in 1658, by 
John Hoornbeck, a professor at Leyden University, 
it is recorded that after Robinson's death " conten- 
tion and schism having arisen in his congregation 
about communion with the Anglican Church in hear- 
ing the word, his widow, children, and the rest of his 
kindred and friends were received into the communion 
of our Church." x We may be sure that at times her 
thoughts would go back to the old homestead at 
Sturton, the green fields of Fenton, the flowing waters of 
the Oswald Beck, running down to the river of Trent, 
and to the scenes amidst which her girlhood was spent. 

Of John Robinson's younger brother William, and 
of his younger sister, who married Roger Lawson, I 
can get no further information than that contained 
in the wills of their father and mother. The Christian 
name of William Robinson's wife was Ellen, and by 
1612 they had a family, for old John Robinson in that 
year left " to everie of their children xx s ." I do not 
think he remained in Sturton. As a younger son he 
went out into the world, possibly to Hull or Gains- 
borough. Hunter pointed out 2 that " in the reign 

1 Oborta in ccetu contentione et schismate super communione cum Ecclesia 
Anglicana in auditione verbi D. Robinsoni vidua, liberi, reliquique propinqui 
et amici in communionem ecclesia? nostra? recepti fuerunt. Summa Contro- 
versiarum Religionis, 1658, p. 42. 

8 Collections Concerning the Founders of New Plymouth, 1854, p. 93. 


of Charles II Robinsons were chief persons among 
the Dissenters " in the latter town. Possibly further 
research may establish some connexion between these 
Robinsons and the family from which the pastor of the 
Pilgrims sprang; but to identify with certainty one 
bearing the designation William Robinson is only a 
degree less difficult than the identification of any 
particular John Smith. 

No doubt there were those in the Gainsborough, 
Sturton, Retford and Worksop district who treasured 
the memory of John Smith and John Robinson after 
their removal into Holland, and continued to act on 
their principles. When Hanserd Knollys held the post 
of usher, from 1625 to 1629, in the Gainsborough 
Grammar School, he became acquainted with one of 
these " Separatists," and sometimes resorted to his 
house to hear him expound and preach. The fact that 
these house -meetings were open to an outsider indi- 
cates that there was a group of religious folk in the 
place holding kindred views with those of Smith and 
Robinson, the originators and leaders of the Separatist 
movement in the locality. 

When the era of toleration came a General Baptist 
Church sprang into being at Retford, embodying some 
of the principles advocated by John Smith. At 
Gainsborough the Dissenters met in the house of 
Matthew Coats, when the brief Indulgence of 1672 
gave them liberty to gather together. After the 
Toleration Act was passed, they felt free to set their 
Church affairs in order and build a chapel. This 
Church has continued down to the present time, its 
direct representative to-day being the Unitarian con- 
gregation in Gainsborough. Among the records of 
this congregation is an interesting document 1 giving 
a list of preachers and the fees paid to them for the 
period Dec. 1698 to May 1700, when Ambrose Rudsdell 

1 A facsimile of this document is given by Rev. W. R. Clark-Lewis in his 
Foundation and History of Beaumont Street Church, Gainsborough, 1912. I 
have consulted the original. Through the courtesy of Mr. Lewis we are able 
to reproduce it here. 


settled as pastor, and a list of contributors to the 
expenses . The name of " Mr. Quip " 1 occurs more than 
once among the former. No doubt he was a descend- 
ant of the Quipps beneficed at Sturton, Littleborough 
and Leverton in the days of John Robinson. Amongst 
the contributors the names of " Robisson " and 
" Hopkinson " are prominent, while a payment ap- 
pears to " Thomas Robinson, 4 Nights' Grass 1-4," 
for grazing the horse of the preacher. 

The Hopkinson family, which was closely associated 
with the parish of Sturton, 2 presented this congregation 
with two silver chalices, which bear the inscriptions — 

E A and E.H. 


The latter has the London date -letter of 1709-10, 
the initials being those of Elizabeth Hopkinson. The 
trust deed (dated July 12, 1701) of the building " lately 
erected in a place called the Ratten Row in Ganes- 
burgh aforesaid, now used and intended to be used 
as a Chappell or meeting-house as by the lawes of this 
kingdom the same is now permitted and authorized," 
indicates that the congregation was of that broad 
inclusive spirit which John Robinson exemplified in 
his later years. Using the current nomenclature of the 
time for the English Nonconformists, the deed sets 
apart the building " for such Protestant Dissenters, 

1 This was William Quipp, who was minister of Newton-on-Trent in 1664. 
He was constantly in hot water with his Bishop for nonconformity. He 
was articled against for officiating in the churches of Marton and Torksey 
without a licence. In 1673 and 1679 he was articled against for non-observance 
of certain rubrics, and in 1685 " as a revolter from the doctrine and discipline 
of the Church of England." The Register of Marton, under date December 
10, 1707, has the entry of the burial of " M r - Wm. Quipp, Minister." Palmer's 
Nonconformist's Memorial, London, 1775, vol. ii. p. 166, and letter from Mr. 
A. R. Corns, City Librarian of Lincoln, penes me, September 3, 1919. 

2 Humphrey Hopkinson, son of John Hopkinson, dwelt in a messuage 
adjoining the east side of Sturton churchyard in 1655. His father's will 
was executed April 1, 1652. Notts. County Records, Copnall, p. 62, and 
information from Mr. S. Ingham. Sarah Leggatt, widow, by will in 1730 left 
part of the rent of a close of land in Morton for the support of a " preacher 
or teacher " of this Gainsborough congregation, Transactions of the Unitarian 
Historical Society, Dec. 1919, p. 21. Any connexion with the family into 
which Catherine Carver married ? 


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persons or people to meet, assemble and worshipp 
God in or [ ? as are] distinguished or goe under the 
names of Congregationall Independents or Presby- 
terians " ; which means that the Congregation assented 
to the " Happy Union " of the Congregational and 
Presbyterian sections of Dissent which took place 
after the Toleration Act. This union persisted longer 
in the country than in London, where it was first 
mooted. Amongst the trustees we find Francis Hop- 
kinson, mercer, and Nathaniel Robinson, mercer, both 
of " Ganesburgh." 

Francis Hopkinson left a bequest to this congre- 
gation on his death in 1728, and it is noteworthy that 
he did not forget the old association of his family with 
Sturton and its neighbourhood, for he founded a 
charity there to provide clothing for the poor, which 
still continues its beneficent work. Elizabeth Hopkin- 
son, his widow, was also a benefactor to this con- 
gregation. " Nathaniel Robinson, Senior," was 
described on his tombstone as "wholesale mercer in 
Gainsburgh." He died January 31, 1730, aged fifty- 
nine; Mary, his wife, died June 11, 1743, aged sixty- 
seven years. It remains for some local antiquary to 
discover whether or no he was a descendant of William 
Robinson of Sturton or any connexion of the family 
from which our John Robinson was derived. 1 

To exemplify the persistence of a deep concern for 
civil and religious liberty in the same families through 
several generations, I may instance a document pre- 
served amongst the papers of the Earl of Ancaster 
relating to the stir caused by the Jacobite rebellion 
of 1745, when the work of the " Glorious Revolution," 
as the Whigs termed it, seemed to be endangered. 
On October 1, 1745, a "general and numerous " meet- 
ing was held at Lincoln Castle, a loyal address voted 
to the King and a resolve made to raise " A Voluntary 

1 There is in Gainsborough a "John Robinson Memorial Church," but 
its association with Robinson's name is simply a matter of sentiment, as 
the congregation for which it was built only came into being during the 
Evangelical Revival of the eighteenth century. It was opened on June 11, 
1902, by the Hon. Francis T. Bayard, the United States Ambassador. 


Subscription for the security of his Majesty's person 
and Government and for the payment of such forces 
as shall be raised within the county of Lincoln." 
Among the contributors are the names of several 
families whose interests had been enlisted on the side 
of progress and reform from the days of Elizabeth and 
James and the period in which John Robinson lived 
and wrote, e. g. — 

" John Peck, £15. 
John Robinson, £15. 
Joshua Peart, 2 £10. 
Cranwell Coats, £25. 
J. Crompton, £25. 
Benjn. Bromhead, £20. 
NathL Robinson, £10 10s. 
F. Flower, £50. 
Fitz. White, £21. 
Jonathan Rudsdell, £10. 
John Baxter, £4 4s. 
John Smith, £10. 
Jno. Disney, £80." 

The history of Robinson's Church at Leyden after 
his death is obscure. The remnant of his congregation 
evidently held together for some years, but they were 
never able to appoint another minister. With the 
removal of many of the members to Plymouth in New 
England the Leyden Church was greatly weakened, 
and by the year 1634 its roll of members was reduced 
to a fifth of what it had been in Robinson's time. 
Moreover, on the withdrawal of Robinson's moderat- 
ing influence differences had broken out amongst 
the members themselves, leading to a " breach." The 
occasion of this " rent in the Church " is explained 
by the " printers " of Robinson's treatise on the 
Lawfulness of Hearing Ministers in the Church of 
England, which they issued in 1634. They tell us 
that " some, though not many, were contrary minded " 

1 Hist. MSS. Com., Report on MSS. of the Earl of Ancaster, 1917, pp. 444-5. 

2 As late as October 23, 1783, I notice Edward Peart, from the county of 
Lincoln, graduated at Leyden. 


to Robinson's judgment on this point. While " their 
chief if not their only teacher " adhered to the opinion 
of their late pastor, some " four or five men " in the 
congregation leaned to the stringency observed by 
the Amsterdam Separatists. When they heard that 
two of their fellow-members in the Leyden Church had 
on occasion " heard some of the ministers in England 
preach " they demanded that the Church should 
straightway deal with them " as for sin," and if they 
did not repent, after the admonition of the Church, 
that the delinquents should be excommunicated. The 
majority in the Church were so far true to the tradi- 
tion set by Robinson that they were " not willing to 
consent " to this drastic procedure. Accordingly the 
minority who stood out for the stiff er course withdrew, 
made a " rent in the Church," and apparently joined 
themselves to the Separatist Church at Amsterdam. 
We soon find John Canne, the minister of that Church, 
taking up his pen in defence of the position held by 
these seceders from Leyden, and in opposition to the 
treatise in which Robinson argued that hearing the 
sermons of godly Anglican divines was on occasion 
quite permissible. His Stay against Straying put 
a ban upon all attendance at the services or sermons 
in the Anglican Church. 

Samuel Gorton has a singular reference to the 
relations between the " Church in Holland " and the 
" Church at Plimouth " about the year 1636. He was 
mistaken in regarding the Church in Holland to which 
he refers as the "mother" of the Plymouth Church, 
for the incident he relates evidently concerned the 
Amsterdam Church — high, dry and rigid ; but it shows 
the disfavour which the Leyden -Plymouth Church had 
drawn upon itself in the eyes of the strict Separatists 
on account of the more liberal spirit and practice it 
had displayed, in accordance with the example of its 
beloved pastor in his later years. We have a glimpse 
here, too, of the kindly William Brewster interpreting 
the matter in the better part and dealing skilfully 
with a difficult situation. 


This is what Gorton wrote, in 1669, to Nathaniel 
Morton, the historian of New England — 

" I would say some thing of the foundation of your Church 
at Plimouth if I thought it were not a matter too low to talke 
of, for when suit was made to the Church in Holland, out of 
which your Church came, to procure a dismission of a sister 
there to the Church of Plimouth, though the Gentlewoman 
vpon ocation had bin in New England diuers yeares : yet a 
dismission would not be granted. Their preaching minister 
then with them, I knew to be a godly man and was familiarly 
acquainted with him now aboue half e a hundred yeares agoe, 
in Gorton [Lancashire] where I was born and bred and the 
fathers of my body for many generations. . . . The ruling 
Elders when this dismission was earnestly sought for, as I 
take it, were frenchmen [Jean de PEcluse] zealously affected, 
the Church vnanimously being against a dismission, the 
Elders gave this ground and reason, that they could not dis- 
misse their sister to the Church of Plimouth in New England 
because it consisted of an Apostatized people fallen from the 
faith of the Gospell ; and when, through much importunitie, 
a writing was procured, properly of advice to their Sister 
how to carry her selfe among them, being already married 
there, her husband being the Solicitor [i. e. the one who 
desired the dismission] whom you know I need not to name. 
And I thinke you know after what manner the writing was 
read in your Church by your ancient Elder — part concealed 
and part expounded to the best. If you know not I doe 
for I was then present." 

To be stigmatized as an Apostate Church was to 
be ranked about on the same level, thought Gorton, 
as that on which the Plymouth people would place 
the Church of Rome. Though this testimony is 
evidence of the singular strictness of the Church of 
refugee English Separatists in Amsterdam, it is at 
the same time testimony to the more liberal spirit 
of the first Church in Plymouth, New England. 

The lack of regular pastoral oversight told heavily 
against the already diminished Church at Leyden, and 
the stream of refugees from England with which it 
had been refreshed in the time of Robinson slackened 
as the power of Laud began to wane, and the fitness of 


New England for permanent settlement became better 

Nor did all of those English members of the Church 
who remained in Leyden continue faithful to its 
fellowship. The minutes of the Church Council of 
St. Peter's have an entry under date June 17, 1639, 
concerning an application for membership from John 
Masterson, a native of Henley, and his wife Catherine 
(Lisle), and Stephen Butterfield from Norwich, who, 
after earning his living for a time as a " say weaver," 
had become a bookseller — 

" John Meester and his wife, also Steven Butterfield, — 
English, from the congregation of the sainted Robinson, com- 
plaining of a lack of appropriate exercises since his death, 
so that they cannot be edified in the way they might be were 
they members of some other Church provided with a pastor ; 
request that they may be allowed to become members of our 

" Their request is granted by the brethren." 

These two families became absorbed by the Dutch. 
Butterfield bought property in Leyden and settled 
down as a citizen. He was buried in St. Peter's 
December 24, 1652. Morton Dexter gives references 
to his descendants at Leyden down to 1672. 

As late as 1644 there is a reference to this congre- 
gation of " Brownisten " at Leyden. In that year 
it is recorded they took a collection at their meeting 
in Vrowencamp on behalf of the Protestants in 
Ireland who had suffered at the hands of the 
" Papists." Possibly the small remnant of Robin- 
son's Church met at this time either in the house of 
Peter Wood or in that of John Keble, both of whom 
lived in that part of Leyden and were actively inter- 
ested in the affairs of the Church. 

Of the Church at New Plymouth a more satisfac- 
tory account can be given. It has had a continuous 
existence down to the present time, and its story has 
been told by more than one writer. The original 
covenant of 1606 remains to-day as the basis of its 


fellowship, but, in common with many of the old New 
England Churches, in the exercise of the liberty 
the founders won, this Church has gone through a 
gradual doctrinal development to the Unitarian posi- 
tion, while preserving its continuity. In this respect 
it affords a remarkable parallel to the old congrega- 
tion of Puritan origin at Gainsborough and similar 
Churches of a kindred type in Old England. 

The Pilgrim Church was admirably served by its 
" elder," William Brewster, and its deacons, John 
Carver and Samuel Fuller. After the death of the 
latter there were appointed to the deacons' office 
" Richard Masterson and Thomas Blossom, two ex- 
perienced saints, the former especially a man of rare 
abilities, a second Stephen to defend the truth against 
gainsayers, and one who had expended most of his 
estate for the publick good." 1 

Brewster died on April 16, 1644, but it was not till 
five years afterwards (April 6, 1649) that the Church 
ordained his successor to the eldership in the person 
of Thomas Cushman. He had come over with his 
father in the Fortune, and was left in the charge of 
Brewster and Bradford on his father's return. Robert 
Cushman 's last letter to the colony, written in 1626, 
is full of manly and tender solicitude on behalf of his 
son. He begs that he may be afforded time and 
opportunity for exercise in writing. The example 
of the father was not lost, as the following account by 
John Cotton will show — 

" After M>. Brewster's decease, the church chose M r - 
Thomas Cushman as his successor in the office of ruling 
elder, son of that faithful servant of Christ, M r - Robert Cush- 
man, who had been their chief agent in transacting all their 
affairs in England both before and after their leaving of 
Holland till the year 1626. And this his son inheriting the 
same spirit, being competently qualified with gifts and graces, 
proved a great blessing to this church, assisting M r - Reyner 
not only in ruling, catechising, visiting, but also in publick 

1 " An Account of the Church of Christ in Plymouth, the first church in 
New England ... by John Cotton, Esq., Member of said Church," written 
in 1760, Mass. Hist. Soc. Coll., vol. hi. p. 107, 


teaching as M r - Brewster had done before him. It being the 
professed principle of this church in their first formation 
' to choose none for governing elders but such as are able 
to teach.' Which ability (as M r - Robinson observes in one 
of his letters) other reformed churches did not require in 
their ruling elders." 

The Mr. Reyner here referred to was John Reyner, 
who became pastor of the Pilgrim Church, after an 
interval, in succession to Ralph Smith. I believe 
Reyner was connected with a family of that name 
closely associated with Rampton, and the locality 
immediately to the south of Sturton in Old England. 
The colonists were anxious to supplement the moder- 
ate abilities of Ralph Smith by appointing a de- 
pendable " teacher " as his colleague. The brilliant 
Roger Williams did them good service for a time by 
way of supply, but Brewster deemed him too unstable 
to be elected and ordained to office. Accordingly 
Edward Winslow, on his next visit to England, was 
commissioned " to procure them a teaching elder to 
be joined with Mr. Smith." He agreed with one 
" Mr. Glover, an able dispenser of the word, to come 
over to them, but he ended his life in London before 
he came on board." * Winslow, however, returned 
in the same ship with John Norton, and treated with 
him " about supplying Plymouth." They landed 
together at Plymouth, and Norton preached for that 
winter to them, but " declined settling." 

Then it was that Reyner became pastor. With him 
in 1633 there was associated as colleague Charles 
Chauncy. Though he remained three years he de- 
clined an invitation to become the regular " teacher " 
of the Church. 

Reyner was succeeded in the pastoral office by 
John Cotton, son of the famous John Cotton, whose life- 
work was bound up with the Churches at Boston, 
both in England and America. John Cotton junior, 
after his gifts had been duly tested for a period, was 
ordained at Plymouth June 30, 1669. We need not 

1 Cotton's Account, etc., p. 110, 


carry the succession of the ministry in this Church 
further, but a reference to one or two events in Cot- 
ton's time will show how the old traditions and customs 
of the Leyden period persisted. 

On August 1, 1669, Robert Finney and Ephraim 
Morton were elected deacons and ordained. The 
catechism adopted by Robinson was then still in use, 
for under date November 1669 we read, " began 
catechizing of the children by the pastor (constantly 
attended by the ruling elder) once a fortnight, the 
males at one time and the females at the other. The 
Catechism then used was composed by the Rev. Mr. 
William Perkins." 1 

On December 11, 1691, Thomas Cushman, " the 
good elder," died, aged eighty-four. He had married 
Mary, a daughter of Isaac Allerton, and their son, 
Isaac Cushman, carried on the family tradition of the 
" Pilgrims," and its interest in religious work, by 
becoming the first minister of the daughter Church at 
Plympton, in Plymouth colony. 

It is perhaps more than a coincidence that six 
months after Cushman's death there was a proposal 
to supplement the Psalm-book brought from Holland 
by the one in vogue in the Massachusetts Churches. 
Here is the record — 

" June 19, 1692, the pastor propounded to the church 
that, seeing many of the psalms in M r - Ainsworth's trans- 
lation which had hitherto been sung in the congregation had 
such difficult tunes that none in the church could set [them], 
they would consider of some expedient that they might 
sing all the psalms. After some time of consideration on 
August 7 following, the church voted, that when the tunes 
were difficult in the translation then used they would make 
use of the New-England psalm-book, long before received 
in the churches of the Massachusetts colony, not one brother 
opposing this conclusion. But, finding it inconvenient to 
use two psalm-books, they at length, in June 1696, agreed 
wholly to lay aside Ainsworth, and with general consent 
introduced the other, which is used to this day. ... It 

1 Cotton's Account, etc., Mass. Hist. Soc. Coll., vol. iii. p. 124. The 
Catechism of the Westminster Assembly was afterwards introduced. 


was their practice from the beginning till October 1681 to 
sing the psalms without reading the line; but then, at the 
motion of a brother, who otherwise could not join in the 
ordinance (I suppose because he could not read), they altered 
the custom and reading was introduced ; the elder perform- 
ing that service, after the pastor had first expounded the 
psalm, which were usually sung in course, so that the people 
had the benefit of hearing the whole book of psalms 
explained." x 

Thus the laudable custom of expository preaching, 
upon which Robinson and Brewster set such store, 
was long continued in the Church of their foundation ; 
but the old Psalm-book gave place to a new one. 
We may take this as symbolic of the gradual change 
which takes place in a living Church in its practice 
and its doctrine according as new needs arise and 
fresh knowledge is opened up for man. 

There was implicit in Robinson's system of thought 
a strong vein of what we may describe as religious 
rationalism. He felt that if men and women would 
but apply their reason and common sense to the 
interpretation and understanding of the Divine mes- 
sage enshrined in the Scriptures, they would soon 
grasp the truths it conveyed. It is true he limited 
the exercise of the reasoning faculties, so far as the 
elucidation of religious truth was concerned, almost 
entirely to the canonical books of the Bible. Reason 
was to be applied in a reverent way to the rich field 
of the Biblical writings, and a harvest of truth in 
regard to life, duty, and God was the reward to be 

The limitation to Scripture was the common axiom 
of nearly all Protestant leaders in the seventeenth 
century. From the standpoint of the twentieth 
century that may seem somewhat narrow, but we 
must judge Robinson by the standards of his own 
age. And the limitation to Scripture interpreted by 
reason as the final court of appeal in matters of 
religion carried with it the advantages of concen- 

1 Cotton's Account, etc., Mass. Hist. Soc. Coll., vol. iii. p. 127. 


tration and definiteness. Robinson and his friends 
drew from this source a scheme of religious thought 
which gave coherence for them to life as a whole, 
and left their minds free for the tasks of the world. 

In course of time, as fresh problems rose over the 
horizon of the mind of the average man and fresh 
realms of knowledge were opened up for his con- 
sideration by the discoveries of science and the study 
of other races and religions, the question came to be 
put as to whether the reason of man was not com- 
petent to elicit the Divine message from these fresh 

If Robinson was justified in declaring that man, by 
the exercise of right reason, could arrive in some 
measure at a true apprehension of the light that is 
enshrined in the Divine Word of the Scriptures, was 
not man also capable, by the same means, of gathering 
some part of the Divine light and truth which the 
facts of nature, science and history express ? The 
reverent use of reason, valid for drawing truth from 
the field of Scripture, must be valid also for the 
larger book of life and nature. 

The high place and responsibility which Robinson 
accorded to every member of his Church, rich or 
poor, high or low, was a feature in his system note- 
worthy, on account of its reaction upon the political 
thought of his followers. It was a recovery of the 
New Testament ideal. Every member of the Church 
was responsible for its good name, and had the right 
to participate in its affairs and its government. 
Churches based on the model laid down by John 
Smith and John Robinson (according to their 
interpretation of the relevant passages in the New 
Testament) indirectly fulfilled an important function 
as training places for the cultivation of gifts of 
administration which proved of good service when 
applied to civic affairs. The Independent or Con- 
gregational Churches of Old England and New 
England, as well as those designated as Baptist, 
were the nurseries of British and American democracy. 


They trained the champions of civil and religious 
liberty. They helped to draw out into explicit form 
those principles of political and religious freedom 
which have at last been embodied in the Covenant 
of the strongest League of Nations the world has 
ever seen. Robinson and his associates were pioneers 
in a great venture, the end of which they could but 
dimly discern. If, in accordance with his spirit, we 
read into his utterance concerning the revelation of 
truth the widest possible meaning, and interpret it 
of the book of nature, as well as of the Sacred Book 
of the Christian Church, it will still serve to voice 
the conviction of men of the forward -look and the 
open-mind. " He was very confident the Lord had 
more truth and light yet to break forth out of his 
Holy Word." 




suits at law of the time of queen elizabeth and 
king james, illustrating the life of sturton 
in john robinson's day 

In the Record Office are to be found some deposi- 
tions made in one or two legal cases, which throw 
light on the life of Sturton and the neighbourhood 
in John Robinson's time. These documents bring 
matters home to us more vividly than pages of 
descriptive writing. They show the customs of the 
locality about pasturing cattle on the commons and 
reveal to us the occupations of the people. For 
many purposes the village community acted to- 
gether, and the parishioners were quite familiar with 
the practice of levying a " rate " to meet a common 
expense. There is the additional advantage in quoting 
these documents, that the father of John Robinson was 
personally interested in three of the cases to be cited . 

The first case x relates to lands in Littleborough, or 
lying between that parish and Sturton. It appears 
from the evidence that about the year 1541 the 
people of Littleborough, finding it inconvenient to 
tether their cattle on the lands in question, by a 
joint consent resolved to enclose them " for a cowe 
pasture for them to eate in common." Accordingly 
they ran a ring fence round these lands, taking in at 
the same time a smaller lot of about four acres known 
as " The Hermitage and Demmes." It was remem- 
bered that " Sir John Hearcye did give certayne 
wood towards the first takinge in thereof." The 

1 Exchequer Depositions, 33 Eliz. Notts., Easter Term, 14. In the 
Public Record Office. 

BB 369 


whole thus enclosed was known as " Barcroft," or 
" Littleborough Rayles," x and consisted of about 
forty acres. The enclosure did not extinguish the 
rights of the owners of certain strips and patches of 
land embraced within it, but a working agreement 
was come to by the village community of Little- 
borough for the common use of this land, which met 
the general convenience. At length, about the year 
1589, one Leonard Dennis claimed three acres scat- 
tered about in patches in this enclosure as his absolute 
property, and desired to take the profit of those three 
acres severally to himself. He objected to the cattle 
of the Littleborough people roaming over what he 
considered to be his own particular plots. As David 
Harrison (one of the witnesses, who described himself 
as a " labourer,") put it, Dennis disturbed the in- 
habitants " by offeringe to drive their Cattell out of 
the said pasture w th a pyke staff." It was the 
women of the place who offered a spirited resistance. 
Robert Gringley of " Littleborowe," a " laborer," 
aged seventy years, deposed that when Dennis " went 
about to have put out the cattell of the said inhabi- 
tants out of the pasture called Barcroft ... he was 
lett of his purpose by the women of the Towne of 
Littleborrow." The dispute grew warm. Leonard 
Dennis brought a suit at common law against William 
Harpur, Jeffry Harpur, Nicholas Wryght, William 
Harrison, David Harrison, John Nicholson and Robert 
Gringley, all of Littleborough, " touch inge the use of 
the said common." This did not end the matter. 
William Harrison, " clerke," the incumbent of the 
parish, joined with others in lodging a complaint 
against Dennis, and in consequence a commission 
was issued out of the Queen's Court of Exchequer to 
George More, Esq., Henry Norwall and Michael 
Bland, gents., to inquire into the facts of the case. 

1 Mr. S. Ingham, who has kindly examined the modern Enclosure Award 
Map of Littleborough for me, says, the names Horse Rails, Cow Rails and 
Hermitage still appear on it. The Hermitage is marked as an old enclosure. 
This is an example of the persistence of English field-names. 


Accordingly, these gentlemen sat and examined wit- 
nesses at East Retford on " the xvj th daye of Aprill," 
1591. From the interrogatories administered to the 
witnesses and the evidence given we have first-hand 
information about the matters in dispute. The people 
of Littleborough claimed that this enclosure was 
managed in the following way. From the feast of 
the " Annunciation of our Lady " (March 25) up to 
Pentecost it was " layed severall as a cowe pasture " 
by the tenants, inhabitants and freeholders of 
Littleborough; then (as "Brian Ricrofte of Litle- 
borowe fysher " deposed), " between Whitsunday or 
thereabouts, and Lammas " (August 1) those who 
owned ground within the compass of Barcroft were 
entitled " for every acre that they had there to put 
on twoe beaste, or one horse, to feede there till 
Lammas," and in the same period the general in- 
habitants of the village, also, were entitled to put on 
their kine at the rate of one cow for every house or 
cottage. After Lammas Day the ground was thrown 
open for the villagers to pasture not merely their 
cows, but " all manner of cattle commonable until 
the feast of the Annunciation of our Lady next 

Now it is clear that this amicable arrangement 
between owners and commoners for the joint use of 
this enclosure would be upset if any of those who had 
rights there in strips of land claimed the privilege of 
ploughing or mowing their plots and taking for them- 
selves the crop of corn or hay which their particular 
strips produced. If that were allowed, the inhabitants 
of Littleborough would have to tether their cattle on 
the other parts of the enclosure till the crops of corn 
or hay on the patches of land claimed by individual 
owners were gathered in. With the passage of time, 
however, rights in certain pieces of land in this 
enclosure had passed to those who no longer lived in 
Littleborough. Thus, George Dickons of Sturton, 
yeoman, " of the age of fyftie yeeres, or thereabout," 
testified " there are divers freeholders dwelling out 


of Littleborough which have ground in the ground 
called Littleborowe Rayles." He himself had come 
into three acres there and had passed them by 
" demise " (according to Brian Ricroft) to Leonard 
Dennis, who was now asserting that he had a right 
to take the profit of his own particular pieces exclu- 
sively. Outsiders could not go down to Littleborough 
conveniently to look after their cattle. They wanted 
to cut and carry off their hay. The villagers, for 
their part, wanted the old joint arrangement, which 
had worked fairly well for fifty years, to continue. 
The dispute was further complicated by some un- 
certainty as to whether " Barcroft," or " Little- 
borough Rayles," was not after all in Sturton parish. 
Brian Ricroft asserted it was in the " lordship of 
Littleborough and Sturton," others declared that 
such tithes as had been paid upon the produce of 
this land had gone to " the farmer of the parsonage 
of Sturton " — that is, to the lay impropriator of the 
tithes of that parish. Amongst the witnesses called 
was John Quipp " clarke," the vicar of Sturton, 
whom John Robinson must often have seen and 
heard. He gave his age as about fifty-four years. 
According to his testimony, " the ground called the 
Rayles lyeth w th in the p'she of Sturton." He said 
he had " heard that one Will m More and one Turnell 
of great Markham have ground within the Rayles, 
he knoweth that More did demyse some there unto 
George Eaton of Fenton for years, which he passed 
on to George Dickons of Sturton, and that it was 
demysed either all or some part thereof to the now 
defendant [Dennis]." 

Quipp in his evidence gives a curious story of a 
wager laid with Thomas White (presumably the 
grandfather of Robinson's wife). The question arose 
as to whether the land in dispute, or any part of it, 
had ever been ploughed. Quipp said he had — 

" knowne one pte of the ground within the Rayles plowed 
and sowen by Thomas Burton of Littleborowe, or his assignes, 
in one year, and that he sayth that he heard the said Burton 

A WAGER 373 

saye he did so plowe and sowe yt by reason of a wager of 
x 1 * layde w th one Thomas Whytt, then Baylyff there, that 
he, the said Thomas Burton, would plowe and sowe the same 
grounde before Mydsomer daye to his remembraunce and 
the said Thomas Whyte layde he should not, and that this 
said wager was about xviij yeares synce." 

But, after all, John Quipp had to confess " that, to 
his knowledge, the said Burton received not any 
p'fitt by that plowinge and sowinge." He declared 
he had seen some part of the land " mo wen and in 
heye coks betweene Maydaye and Lamas " in two 
recent years, and that Walter Popp and John Deane 
" did one time about viii or ix yeares synce plowe and 
sowe some pte of the said ground . . . and of any 
more plowinge, soweinge, moweing, or tethering he 
cannot tell." 

William Harrington of North Leverton, husband- 
man, aged sixty, said " the ground called the Rayles 
lyeth within the parishe of Sturton, as he very lye 
thinketh, for he saith that he hath seene the p'ambu- 
lacon of Sturton goe to the myddest of Stafforde 
bridge." 1 

No doubt John Robinson in his boyhood had been 
an interested participator in the annual perambula- 
tion of the parish boundaries in Rogation week. He 
refers to the " parishional assemblies " in England as 
being " gathered by their parish perambulation " 
(Works, vol. iii. p. 131). 

The people of Littleborough certainly had the best 
case, if customary usage was to count for anything. 
But the dispute was not altogether a new one, and 
seems to have been smouldering for years, for Brian 
Ricroft testified that — 

1 In 1607 the people of Littleborough were ordered to repair Stafford 
Bridge before Michaelmas Day. In 1611 they were indicted because "its 
use by the King's subjects " was not possible, but the jury acquitted them. 
Early in 1615, on the petition of the inhabitants of Littleborough, the Lord 
Chief Justice Coke ordered that this bridge, " leading from very many northern 
parts into and towards the several counties of Lincoln and Norfolk," was to 
be repaired by the whole county. This order was reversed in 1635, and the 
charge of maintaining the bridge " for ever " was placed, on the people of 
Sturton, Fenton, and Littleborough, 


44 between xxxiiij and fortie yeares agoe the Rayles of the 
said pasture of Barcrofte were cut downe, as he hath heard 
say, by m r Brian Lassells and others and that the same was 
set up agayne by the Inhabitants of Litleborowe." 

Those, said Ricroft, who " hyred any gates there " 
usually contributed to the making and maintenance 
of the fence "by a comon laye . . . reatablye 
accordinge to their beaste-gates." 

It is reasonable to suppose that John Robinson 
heard this case discussed in his father's household. 
It gives us incidentally some light upon the life and 
people of Sturton, and shows us the relation in which 
they stood to the neighbouring parish of Littleborough. 

When in after years the colonists of Plymouth 
Plantation became the possessors of cattle they 
remembered the customs of the homeland in regard 
to joint ownership and pasturage in common. 

One of the witnesses in this case was " Alexander 
Ry croft of Littleborowe, fisher of the age of eighty 
yeares." He and Brian Ry croft fished the Trent 
and supplied the neighbourhood with fresh- water 
fish. Even a little place like Scrooby had its " fisher," 
Thomas Justice x by name, who in his will, dated 
May 16, 1601, left to his son " all . . . my beste new 
nette not yet fynished." * The inland fisheries were 
of value in Tudor times ; no one could get a living 
in that way to-day in England. 

Elizabeth, Countess Dowager of Rutland, and 
Roger, Earl of Rutland v. Leonard Dennis 

After evidence had been taken on April 16, 1591, 
in reference to the dispute between the Littleborough 
people and Leonard Dennis, the same Commissioners 
sat again at East Retford on the next day to inquire 
into charges brought against Dennis by " Elizabeth, 
Countess Dowager of Rutland, and Roger, now Earl 
of Rutland, and others," 2 touching his execution of 

1 Vol. xxviii. fol. 540, York Registry. 

2 Exchequer Depositions, Notts., 33 Eliz., Easter, 22. 


the office of deputy bailif for the manor of Oswald- 
beck Soke. There seems to have been an effort to 
get rid of Dennis. Amongst the witnesses examined 
was " John Robynson of Sturton in the countye of 
Nott., yoman of the age of thirtie vj yeares, or 
thereabouts." This was the father of the pastor of 
the Pilgrim Fathers. He testified that he knew 
Dennis and " the mannor of Osweldbecke Sooke, and 
that Jeffrey Harpur of Grantham in the countye of 
Lincoln, was baylyff for the same Sooke." Dennis 
executed the office of bailiff under Harpur. Robinson 
said that Dennis some three years before collected 
such yearly rents, profits, fines, issues and amercia- 
ments of Court as happened and grew within that 
Soke, and continued to do so for a year and a half; 
but he could not depose as to the value or amount of 
such rents and fines. He also testified that Dennis, 
in virtue of his office, "did take one saddell and a 
brydell, a payer of Boots and spurres, and a Cloake 
bagge of ffelons goods w th in the said Sooke about ij 
yeres synce, but to whose use he knoweth not." 
This was the sum of his evidence. Another witness 
from Sturton was Henry Ridley, aged fifty-five years, 
a tailor, who himself appears to have once held the 
office of deputy bailiff for Oswaldbec Soke, and asserted 
that he knew both the Dowager Countess of Rutland 
and Roger, the then earl. He gave evidence as to 
certain " estrayes " which Dennis had received from 
his hands, and declared his judgment as to the amount 
of rents, fines and amerciaments which Dennis had 
collected during his time of office. He notes by the 
way that Dennis received " from George Netleshipp 
about twoe yeres synce for a fould breach made in 
Sturton w th in the Sooke about three pounds and 
three shillings and fourpence." 

Dennis, for his part, was able to call some good 
witnesses. He had been under-bailiff successively to 
Francis Barker, gentleman, of East Retford, and 
Robert Southworth of " Wellom," both of whom had 
held the office of bailiff of Oswaldbec Soke under the 


Right Honourable Edward, Earl of Rutland. Barker 
himself and Thomas South worth, son of Robert (who 
was now dead), testified that the accounts of Dennis 
while he served in this way were all in order, and 
they held " acquittances " from the " Auditor or 
Receivor " of the Earl for these accounts. Dennis 
apparently had not been able to work under " Jeffrey 
Harpur " without friction. 

A Burglary near Sturton 

The next case, 1 which also touched the lives of 
Sturton people, is of a singular nature. One " Ruben 
Wright," who " dwelt in the personage house in 
Burton " (that is, West Burton, the next parish to 
the north of Sturton) and occupied the land there- 
unto belonging, was arrested on suspicion of having 
committed, " about fryday at night in the week before 
Easter 42 Eliz." (1601), a burglary upon one " wydowe 
ffoxe " at Drayton. 

He was brought before John Thornhagh, senior, 
one of the nearest Justices of the Peace, and examined 
in his house at Fenton, " in the presence of Mr. Thorn- 
hagh 's clerk, one John Turnell, and others." After- 
wards Mr. Thornhagh examined him privately, when 
he confessed his guilt. Now, the goods of any one 
convicted of felony were forfeit to the Crown, or to 
the overlord. The Sheriff for the county of Notting- 
ham, who happened that year to be Brian Lassells 
of Sturton, a neighbour of John Thornhagh, would 
have to seize the goods of the felon if they were on 
" Crown land " ; but if they were in the township of 
Sturton, or liberty of Oswaldbec Soke, they would be 
forfeit to Roger, Earl of Rutland, who was then lord 
of that liberty. 

Thornhagh appears to have desired to help Reuben 
Wright out of the mess and save him from the 
extreme penalty of the law. It was alleged that, 
after Wright confessed his guilt, Thornhagh told him — 

1 Exchequer Depositions, 43-44 Eliz., Notts, and York, Mich. 3, 


'* That yf his goodes were within that Townshipp of 
Sturton and libertye of Oswaldbecke Soake belonging, as he 
sayd, unto the Earl of Rutland that then he could and would 
helpe the sayd Ruben Wright so as he should be well delte 

Then " John Cowper and Hunter's son-in-law " 
came to Wright to persuade him to bring his goods 
into Sturton liberty, " for yf he [Lassells] the said 
Sheryf once seased them, he, beinge a hard man, 
would do hym no favour." Wright, in order to save 
something from the wreck of his fortunes, fell in with 
the suggestion. John Cowper and James Harpam, 
the Burton blacksmith, fetched Wright's cattle and 
stock into Sturton, where " they were praysed by 
the order of the Baylyf of the libertie of Oswaldbec 
soake by one John Robinson," father of the Pilgrim 
pastor, with the help of " Olyver Gybson " and two 
others, 1 " to the valewe of xxvj u , or thereabouts . . . 
and were afterwards disposed into the hands of John 
Thornhagh the younger." 

Reuben Wright at the time of his apprehension 
was possessed of — 

Syxtie yeowes, twenty-seaven lam 
then thought to be worthe 


. £20 

ffoure oxen 

. £14 

Syxe horses and mares 

. £17 

Syxe kyne .... 

Syxe yonge Cattle 

One Bull 

. £23 

. £6 
. £1 6s. 

And tenne Swyne 

. £3 6s. 8d." 

Some of this stock was over at Gringley, and we 
have a graphic picture of the. way it was brought in 
by " John Jackson of Sawnby [Saundby] laborer," 
servant of Reuben Wright. He said he was driving 
it from Gringley to Mr. Lassells' when — 

" he receaved worde from his Master by one Bannby 
that he should dryve them to Sturton whiche he dyd accord- 
ynglye and putt them into Cowper' s ffolde. And as [he] was 

1 The membrane is damaged here, and the other names are not clear. 


returnynge from Sturton towards West Burton the said Cowp. 
dyd take from this deponente one blacke baye mare of the 
Cattle of the said Ruben." 

Jackson then had to tramp home on foot. The next 
step in the case we learn from the testimony of Wright. 
He had his " mittimus " made out committing him 
to prison — 

" and he goynge towards the gaole the said John Cowp. dyd 
take this deponent into his yarde where the Cattle of this de- 
ponent then were and dyd pswade hym to make a deed of 
guyfte to such psons as hee Cowp. woulde nomynate wher- 
uppon this Depon* did delyver a horse and twelve pence in 
money to the hands of one George Knagge and for the use 
of hym George Knagge in the name of the reste of the goods 
and Chattels of hym" (Reuben Wright). 

Knagge, it should be noted, was brother-in-law to 
Reuben, and said he had advanced money to him. 
George Lassells, son of the sheriff, declared that — 

" John Thornhaghe had some of the said Cattle for that 
the wief of Ruben Wright had the mylke of twoe of the kyne 
whiche were the goods of the said Ruben Wright by the per- 
myssion of the said John Thornhaghe." 

It was not likely that the sheriff would allow things 
to be thus " managed " under his very nose. He 
lodged a complaint against " John Thornehaghe 
the father and John Thornehaghe the sonne, George 
Gilbye Esquires and William Noddle and Martyn 
Challendge " in the matter. A Commission, dated 
July 1, 1601, was accordingly issued from the Court of 
Exchequer to Gervase Neville, Gervase Eyre, Gervase 
Helwys and John Marshall, " to four, three or two of 
them " to inquire into the case and take evidence. 
The two first-named accordingly held an inquiry 
at East Retford on the " xxiiij th day of Sept. in the 
xliij th year " of Elizabeth's reign, and it is from the 
depositions then taken that the information given 
above is gathered. Besides the witnesses already 
mentioned the following gave evidence — 


" Gregory Starkye of Burton, gent, 38 years 

" Dorothy Wright, wife of Reuben, late of Burton, aged 40 
years (her husband gave his age as " 30 years or thereabout ") ; 

" Robert North of Sturton, laborer; 

" William Mylnes of West Burton, laborer, 45 years old ; 

" John Quippe of Sturton, clerke, of the age of lx yeares or 
thereaboute and Edward Southworth of ffenton yeoman aged 
34 years." 

It will be remembered that an Edward Southworth 
was one of the Pilgrim company in Leyden, who there 
married, in 1613, Alice Carpenter. Their sons Constant 
and Thomas went over to Plymouth in New England, 
the former in 1628, the other soon after. I venture 
to identify this Edward Southworth of Fenton with 
the Edward Southworth of Leyden. The will of 
" Robert Sowthworthe of Wellam in the parishe of 
Clarebrowghe," who I take to have been the father of 
this Edward Southworth, is an interesting document. 
It is dated November 20, 1580, and besides bequests 
of lands in East Retford, Ordsall and " Gringley in 
the hoole," to his son Edward Southworth, it contains 
this clause — 

" I make the right worshipfull m r - Thornaghe of ffenton 
esquier Gardiner unto the said Edward my sonne yf yt would 
please his worshippe to take the paines." 

He also bequeathed " to the foresaid m r - thorneaighe 
for his paines an angell of gould." This relation of 
guardianship will account for Edward Southworth's 
presence at Fenton, where he would make the acquaint- 
ance of the Robinsons. It may be of interest to give 
the testimony of Edward Southworth in full, as it 
throws light upon the life and the local administration 
of the district — 

" Edward Southworth of ffenton in the Countie of Nott. yeo- 
man of the age of xxxiiij yeares or thereabouts saieth he doth 
knowe the Manno r or Soake of Oswaldbecke in the Countye of 
Nott. and that the same soake doth extende as well into the 
towne of Sturton as into dyvers other townes and that the 
same doth belong to her Ma tie in the righte of her highnes 


crowne of England and that the said soak ys accompted to 
be a specyall libtie or Bayly wick exempt from the Sherif. 
And that the Baylyffe of the said libtie, or his deputy (by 
reason of the said Baylywicke) have vsed to take or seaze 
wayves, estrayes, felons goods and such like usuall pffyts 
happenynge w th in the same. And hath not knowen or heard 
that the sherif hath vsed to doe the like there. And that her 
Ma*™ hath graunted or comytted the said soake to Roger 
Earl of Rutlande or his predecessors. And that the said 
Earle hathe appoynted John Thornhaghe the yong r Esquier 
as a pryncipall offycer under hym in the said Soake. He 
saith that in the weeke before Easter in the 42 yeare of her 
Ma ties raigne [1601] the said John Thornhagh the yonger 
was at the Castle of Belvoyre in the Countye of Lyncolne 
and there stayed about e a fortnighte and that the said 
Castle ys about xxiiij myles distante from the towne of Sturton. 
And sayeth that the said John Thornhaghe the yonger had 
no knowledge or gave any direction towchinge the examyn- 
ynge of Ruben Wright for the Burglarie or ffelony w ch he 
and others had than comytted in the towne of Drayton, or 
towching the seasynge of any of his goods in Sturton at or 
before the tyme of the said examynacon or seazinge; and 
doe verilie thynke that the said John Thornhaghe the yonger 
was altogether vnacquaynted therew th for that he wente to 
the said Castle of Belvoyre before the said Burglarie was 
comytted and came not home agayne till after the said Ruben 
Wright was sent to the gaole. . . . He saith that the said 
Burglarye and ffelony was comytted in the towne of Drayton 
by the said Ruben Wright and others vppon ffrydaye at nyghte 
in the weeke before Easter in the xlij^ yeare of the Quenes 
M aties raigne. And that Ruben Wright came before John 
Thornhaghe the elder to his howse at ffenton w th the constable 
of west burton vppon mondaye nexte after the said burglarie 
was comytted. And saith that he was p'sente when the 
said John Thornhaghe the elder did examyn the said Ruben 
Wrighte towchinge the same and wrytt downe his examyna- 

" And saith that the said John Thornhaghe the elder 
presentlie vppon the said Wright's confession of the offense 
dyd cause a Mittimus to be made for the sendynge of hym to 
the gaole w ch this examte did wryte, and as sone as the 
Mittimus was made the said John Thornhagh the elder did 
delyver the said Ruben Wrighte to the constable there and 
did charge hym (as his manner is in that case) to take heede 
and looke well to hym and to carrye hym saffe to the gaole 
or to the like effecte. And saith that to his remembraunce 


the said Constable and Wrighte did not staye w th the said 
John Thomhaghe the elder after that he was delyvered to 
the Constable and had receaved his Mittimus. But howe 
longe they stayed at his howse this exante knoweth not, but 
thinketh yt was aboute halfe an hower. And the reason of 
this staye was (as he verelie thynketh) to make a deede of 
guyfte to Knagge of all his goods for that this examte was 
entreated to make the same w ch he refused by reason he knew 
not howe to make the same substancyallie. But lent them 
pen Incke and pap. to make the same and sayeth that he 
wente from thence to the towne of Sturton. 

" He thinketh that Willm Hunter did firste enforme the 
said John Thorn hagh the elder of the Wrights goods that 
they were in the Soake, but what direction he gave for the 
seasynge of the same he knoweth not, nor how muche was 
seased in the righte of the said soake this examte certeynlie 
knoweth not, nether knowethe by whom they were seased 
and thynketh they were indyfferentlie and accordinge to 
their true values prysed. And that they were prysed by f oure 
men. And sayeth that there were foure oxen prysed at ix 1 *, 
ffoure kyne a Bull and a Calf e at vij 11 , ffyftie olde sheepe and 
xviij lambes at viij 1 *, A Blynde mare and two old horses at 
iij 11 , All which amounted to the Sume of xxvij^or thereabouts. 
And this he knoweth for that the prysers did entreat hym to 
set downe their prysement in wrytinge. And lastlie saieth 
that he thynketh that dyvers of the sheepe did myscarrye 
or prove worth lytle or nothynge. And the reason that moves 
hym to thynke so ys, for that this exaiate hath hearde one 
John Harryson a Butcher say that he dyd buy the moste or 
all of them, the beste for three shillynges a peece, others 
for two shyllyngs a peece, and some for twentye pence a peece. 
And many of them, as he said, were Rotten and died." 1 

Besides the sheriff of the county and the bailiff 
of Oswaldbec Soke there was another authority which 
had an eye on Wright's goods. "The Bailywicke of 
Bassettlawe accompted p[ar]cell of her Ma ties Honor 
of Tickhill in the countye of Yorke pcell of her highnes 
Duchye of Lancaster," extended to parts of West 
Burton and Sturton. In virtue of this " George Gil- 
bye " of Bole, to whom this bailywick was entrusted, 
by and through his deputy, William Nodell, seized 
" one co we and fyve calves " of the goods of Reuben 

1 Exchequer Depositions, ut supra, Membrane 5 dorso. 


Wright after he was committed to gaol. The sheriff 
disputed his authority to do this. Evidence was given 
by William Wright of Stirrop, yeoman, aged sixty, 
who deposed that " Noddle seized the ffyve calves in 
the yarde of one Robt. ffytzwillms * at Sturton." 

" Thomas Wylton of Sawneby yeoman," aged 
twenty-eight years, said, " Noddle seized the cow 
nere vnto one Ryalls yarde in Westburton w ch ys 
accompted to be w th in the libtie of the Baylywicke 
of Bassetlawe." He himself was present at the seizing 
of this cow and the calves. " He, this deponent, by 
the appoyntment of George Gilbye did re-delyver vnto 
the wief of Ruben Wrighte one of the sayd Calves for 
that she said it was her daughters calfe." " Robert 
Syms of Sturton labourer aged xxx yeares or there- 
abouts " was also examined, and said that, being then 
the " freeboroughe of Sturton," he was " w th the sayd 
Noddle at the seazynge of the Calves and that the sayd 
Calves came to the dysposynge of George Gylbye." 2 

The matter did not end with this inquiry, for a 
further Commission was issued in Easter term in the 
following year, 1602, to " Johe Hellves, Jervasis 
Eyre ar., Robt. Eyre armiger, and George Nevill 
generoso," to determine to whose hands the cattle of 
Reuben Wright had come and their right value. 
Accordingly an inquiry was held and witnesses exam- 
ined before Robert Eyre and George Nevile 3 which 
elicited one or two fresh points. In addition to the 
cattle which came to the hands of John Thornhagh 
the younger and George Gilbie, it was deposed by 
" Thos. Lasselles of Sturton gent, (aged 34) " that 
" one red-cow and two couples of the said Ruben his 
Shepe came to the hands and possession of John Cowp 
together with one horse and tenn swine w ch horse and 
Swine the said Cowp sould vnto one Stokham of 
Retford." Lassells valued this red cow at five nobles, 

1 An inquisition into the possessions of John Fitzwilliam, dated September 
21, 14 Henry VIII, says he, " had long possessed the Manors of Styrton and 
Hey ton." 

2 Exchequer Depositions, ibid., Membrane 7 ultimo. 

3 Exchequer Depositions, Notts., 44 Eliz., Easter, No. 29. 


and " tow couple of Shepe w ch Cowp had thirteene 
shillings fourpence and the said horse three poundes 
ten shillings." Dorothy Wright lets us know that 
Martin Challendge was associated with Cowp in seizing 
her husband's goods " about Sturton." " She saieth 
she had of M r Thornhaghe the younger thirtie shillings 
forth of the sd goodes towards the Reliefe of her 
sd husband in his imprisoning " She, too, gave an 
estimate of the value of the cattle seized. 

What the upshot of the case was does not appear. 
I do not know whether the sheriff made good his case, 
and compelled the value of the goods seized to be 
handed over to the Crown, or whether the bailiffs of 
Oswaldbec Soke and the Bassetlaw Liberty of the 
Duchy of Lancaster established their right to seize 
felons 5 goods in Sturton and West Burton, or whether 
any compensation was paid to poor old widow Fox of 
Drayton, who had suffered from the burglary. I have 
instanced the case as one in which old John Robinson 
was interested. He is mentioned in the evidence. 
And it is a case which brings vividly before us some of 
the Sturton and Fenton people with whom John 
Robinson the pastor must have been well acquainted. 

Dispute as to Land between Littleborough 
and Fenton 

The records of another case 1 to which I would draw 
attention relate to a dispute between the people of 
Littleborough and those of the hamlet of Fenton, in 
the parish of Sturton, as to common rights and rights 
of way, and as to whether the lands in question were 
really in Sturton or Littleborough. The documents 
are rather voluminous in this case, but they illustrate 
the social economy of the locality. John Robinson, 
the father of the " Pastor Pilgrim," was a witness, and 
from his depositions one or two details concerning his 
life can be gathered. 

The evidence informs us that Littleborough was 

1 Exchequer Depositions, Notts., 1 James I, Michaelmas Term, No. 14. 


" parcel of the manor of the Soke of Oswaldbec." 
John Harewood of Lea, in the county of Lincoln, 
wheelwright, aged seventy years, who was born at 
Littleborough, took it to be the chief manor of the 
Soke, " for the King's Leet is kept there " ; while 
Alexander Robson, husbandman, about eighty-seven 
years of age, said " the great Leete for the King is 
there houlden." He testified that the " King hath viij 
ferme houses over and besides his Ma ties frehoulds " 
in Littleborough, and that the place had " xxij 
households at the least and above seaven score Inhabi- 
tants." With the growth of the population of the 
district there was a tendency to overstock the 

The people of Littleborough complained that the 
men of Fenton, " under the countenance of Mr. Thorn - 
hey," had barred them from their right of way over 
Breamore Syck for ten years past, and had driven 
their own " herdshippe of cattell into the common of 
Littleborough " between May Day and Midsummer 
Day, when it was reserved for the cattle of the people 
of Littleborough alone. They asserted that Nicholas 
Fenton, Robert Poole, Oliver Gibson, William Farra 
and Seth Woode " did fourcably put their herdshippe 
of ffenton into the comon of Littleburgh, sekinge and 
endeavoringe by stronge hande to kepe them there," 
and they alleged that " Mr. Thornhey hath of late 
yeares brought a flocke of shepe thither eatinge there- 
with so neare and bare that the cattell of Littleburgh 
can hardly lyve thereupon." They declared that 
the perambulation in Rogation week for their parish 
encompassed the disputed lands. 

Acting in virtue of a Commission issued from the 
Court of Exchequer, and dated " xiij July 1603," 
Sir Henry Ayscough and Sir George Gilbie, knights, 
together with Thomas Mountfort and Henry Broome, 
gentlemen, sat at Gainsborough on the last day of 
October 1603 to inquire into the matter. The com- 
plainants were Robert Cherbery, John Deane, Thomas 
Burton and Nicholas Wright. The defendants were 


Sir John Thornhagh, Nicholas Fenton, Robert Poole, 
Oliver Gibson, William Farra and Seth Woode. It 
was an occasion when the testimony of the old men 
was called upon. We can picture them journeying 
in to Gainsborough on that October morning. There 
was " Bryan Rycrofte," fisherman, whom we have 
met before; he testified that between March 25 and 
May Day, in which period Littleborough Common was 
" layed " (that is, either left for the grass to grow, or 
pastured only by those who had special rights of owner- 
ship), " y e Pinder of Littleburgh used to ympound all 
such horses and other cattell as came upon y e comon 
which wear not the townes of Littleburgh ... he 
knoweth this to be true because he hath beene sworne 
the pinder in the Leet and hath knowne it ever since 
he was of discresion." 

David Harison of Littleborough, described as 
" badger," i. e. a corn dealer, and sixty-six years old, 
gave evidence, and so did John Robson of " Skelling- 
thorpp," Lincolnshire, labourer, aged seventy-four 
years or thereabout. He was born, he said, at 
Littleborough, " and after, kept the herdshipp of 
Littleburgh w th his father." William Cowly of Hab- 
stropp (Habblesthorpe), Notts., yeoman, aged seventy, 
thought the people of Littleborough would not be 
able to live and pay rent without the use of these 
common lands. Antony Spencer of Gamston, laborer, 
an old native of sixty years, and Richard Rawlyn of 
Littleborough, husbandman, came forward to give 
evidence, the latter asserting that he had " paid tythe 
to the vicar of Littleburgh for his cattel goinge on the 
comon on the easte syde of Sudcrofte Lews," and 
" John Deane thelder ffisherman lx yeares " testified 
in the same sense. Another witness described as 
" fisherman " was Alexander Turner of Coote. Old 
John Nicholson, a " laborer of the age of lxxviij years," 
said the people of Littleborough only had one other 
piece of common besides those referred to, and that 
was " lowe ground w ch they eat w th their swyne and 
goest " (goats), and " that there belongeth scarce xl 
c c 


acres of arrable land " to the said town, which must 
have been a very low estimate. " Richard Harington 
of Gainsburgh glover of the age of liiij " said he 
knew the parties, " and hath knowne most of them 
longe tyme for that he was in Sturton and heretofore 
hath dwelt in Littlebroughe." 

The answer of " Sir John Thornhagh esquire and 
Nicholas ffenton, gent.," with the other defendants 
to the bill of complaint, was that the parcels of ground 
in dispute lay within " the bounds and precyncts or 
perambulacon of the parishe of Sturton," that the 
inhabitants of Sturton and Fenton had the right of 
turning their cattle on the waste ground or common in 
dispute from May Day until Midsummer, as well as 
after that date until Lady Day, and they had done so 
" without disturbance until now of late "; that the 
alleged right of way granted by the Littleborough 
people to Stafford bridge and the Trent was a highway 
for all other strangers and passengers to pass to the 
River of Trent ; that as to the parcel of ground called 
Horse Leys, the men of Sturton and Fenton had used 
it " as their common, and staff e hearded their cattell 
there, from Midsummer yearly until the Annunciacon 
of our Lady," and that the Littleborough cattle 
used to run or go there no " otherwyse than by rake " 
during that time. If the people of Littleborough were 
freeholders and tenants of the King, those of Fenton 
and Sturton were so likewise, and that the commons of 
Littleborough besides the grounds in question " for 
the number of households there before it was soe 
increased, and the quantitie of theire tillage was more 
then the comons of ffenton and Sturton are for 
th'inhabitants there and the quantity of theire tillage 
with the said grounds in question." They alleged 
that the Littleborough cattle had been impounded 
when found on some of the grounds in question and 
that they had no rights of pasturage " in the Upper 
Inge of Sturton other wayes than by waye of rake." 

The witnesses called on this side were John Dammes 
of Askham, yeoman, aged fifty, who used to live at 


Sturton ; George Smyth, aged forty years, of Gringley 
on the Hill, yeoman, who knew the places in question, 
" for y t he was borne in Sturton " ; Robert Shacklock 
of Misterton, labourer, aged eighty-five years, who was 
" born in Sturton, and contynued there until he was 
xx tie y ears f a g e » . John Poole of Everton, yeoman, 
sixty years or thereabouts, and Thomas Copland of 
Sturton, labourer, of the same age. This last witness, 
who had known the " several parcels of ground " for 
the previous forty years, gave important evidence. 
He " and one Leonard Cockes underbailiffe at that 
tyme of the socke of Oswelbecke . . . about xi yeares 
last part " impounded some of the Littleborough cattle 
" for depasturing on Horse Leas after Mydsomer in the 
open tyme of the year, and the owners did compound 
with M r John Thorney x for their said cattell." 

Anthony Richardson of Littleborough, " Taylior," 
aged fifty years, gave a lively account in his evidence 
of the fray, which brought the dispute to a head. This 
is what he said — 

" Nicholas Fenton, Robert Poole, William Farra and 
Seth Wood the first day of May in the 43rd year of the reign 
of our late sovereign Lady Queen Elizabeth did drive their 
cattle into some part of the common adjoining the parcel of 
ground called Fenton Thornhill 2 as the herdsmen of Fenton 
did use to do the like at other times, and that the Complain- 
ants and others [of Littleborough] did resist and drive back 
the said cattle which Nicholas Fenton and the rest did drive 
into the said common and that they were resisted and their 
cattle driven back again by John Deane the younger and his 
wife, and Thomas Burton his wife's son, and Nicholas Wright 
and one of his sons, and Richard Rowland and his daughter. 
And that they did drive and burke the said cattle with staves ; 
. . . and Nicholas Fenton did serve process upon some of them 
for the same." 

1 Thorney was an alternative spelling of the name Thornhagh. Among 
the Adventurers who invested money to send out the Pilgrim Colony, was 
one John Thorned or Thornell. Was he of this family ? Bradford, in his 
Letter-book, refers to him in 1625 as prominent amongst the opponents of 
the religious aims of the Plymouth Plantation. 

2 The road from Littleborough to Cottam and Leverton is still known as 
"Thornhill" Road. 


This must have been an exciting May Day. It 
evidently led up to the bill of complaint from Little- 
borough which was now being considered. 

The next witness called was John Robinson, the 
father of the Pilgrim Pastor. His evidence was re- 
garded as important. He is described as of Sturton, 
in the county of Notts., yeoman, " of y e age of liij tie 
yeares or thereabout." On being sworn and examined 
he gave testimony as follows — 

Imprimis ... he saith he knoweth all ye pties pl[aintiffs] 
and defendants] and yt he hath knowne the moste of them 
xxx tie yeares and doth know y e townes of Littlebroughe and 
Sturton and hamlett of ffenton in y e county of Nott. and doth 
know evrie of them because he was borne at Sturton." 

He supported Thomas Copland's testimony that 
the grounds in dispute were really in Sturton parish, 
and said further — 

" yt he hath heard y e late viccar of Sturton called John 
Quipp confesse yt he hath had one rowe and a halfe of hey 
ground of John Quipp now pson of Littlebroughe in Liewe 
and satisfacon of y e renewes and tythes w ch did fall and was 
due on ye ground in variance and hath also heard the p[ar]son 
of Littlebrough confesse ye payment thereof." 

He further testified — 

" yt the Inhabitants of Sturton and ffenton have used to 
keep sheepe and other cattell upon the grounds in variance 
called Sudcrofte and horselews from mydsom r untill Thannun- 
con of o r lady and yt the said Inhabitants of Sturton and 
ffenton have Stockhirded their cattell on ye said grounds 
in all that tyme ... he saith yt he hath heard his ffather 
and others say that the Inhabitants of Littlebroughe kept 
no herdshipp of Cattell upon the comon w ch lyeth on the weste 
syde of Stafford Bridge or Cartbridge when y e said Inhabitants 
did eat severally or by way of tetheringe Sudcrofte lewes, 
savinge y fc after Mydsom r the Inhabitants of Littlebroughe 
had rake w th their cattell on y e said ground called Sudcrofte 
... he saith yt ye Cattell of Littlebroughe have beene 
impounded after Mydsomer and in the open tyme of the 
year of some of y e said grounds in controversie by some of y e 
servants of m r Thorney and that the owners thereof have paid 


poundshipp for them, some of them id and some ija accordiiige 
to the nomber of their cattell impounded ... he saith 
y fc John Thorney Esquire and the Inhabitants of Sturton and 
ffenton keepeth sheepe now upon the said comon no other 
wyse then they have formerly used to doe. ... he saith y* 
the Inhabitants of Littlebroughe never at any tyme had 
any use of comon in the Over Inge of Sturton neyther did 
he ever hear yt they did make any clayme or title thereunto 
and that he knoweth upon his owne knowledge that their 
Cattell have been impounded and paid poundshipp if they 
have beene taken there by way of rake." 

The next witness called was " Christopher Fielden 
of Sturton, clerke of y e age of xxxiiij tie years or there- 
about," the vicar of the parish. He knew the plain- 
tiffs and some of the defendants and had so known 
some of them " y e space often yeares " and the locali- 
ties in question for a like time. He said — 

" yt John Quipp now vicar of Littlebroughe hath dy verse 
tymes of late and namely upon Mychaelmas even last paste 
offrede him composicon for the renewinge of all such Cattell 
belonginge to the towne of Littlebroughe as eyther did or should 
depasture and renue of any of those grounds on the West 
syde of Stafford water sayinge further yt all such tythes 
except corne and hay as did renew or fall on the West syde 
of Stafford Water was due unto the vicare of Sturton and yt 
y e said John Quipp did heretofore give a certaine pofcon of 
medowe ground unto the laste vicar of Sturton for the yearly 
composition thereof." 

The next witness to be sworn and examined was 
" John Quipp, Clerke of the age of xxxiij tie yeares," 
who had known the persons and places " by the space 
of eight yeares." As to the parcel of ground between 
the " Cartbridge and Sudcrofte leaes," he did not 
certainly know in which parish it was, but had heard 
Robert Cherbury say " y t the Renewinge w ch fell in 
y* place came to Littlebroughe." As to — 

" Sudcrofte, Burcrofte and horse leaes the tythe hay, if 
there were any, went to y e pson of Sturton or his fermer to 
the said deponents knowledge, for other renewinge of cattell 
belonging to the p[ar]ishioners of Littlebroughe fallenge w th in 
y e pishe of Sturton he beinge Mynister at Littlebroughe for 


y e space of eight or ix yeares last past did agree w th the vicar 
of Sturton by letting hym have medowe for them ... he 
saith yt he did see a copie of an agreement in ye church [Bible ?] 
of Littlebroughe betwixt Wittm Harison Mynister of Little- 
brough deceased and John Quipp minist r of Sturton deceased 
for ye renewinge w th in Sturton p ish . . . for ye pmbulac 
[perambulation] he said y* he w th y e rest of his neyghbours 
went about all the said pcelles yearly to his knowledge for 
the space of viii or ix yeares or thereabout last paste, when 
they could for water, exceptinge in the year as he remembreth 
1602 when they were phibited by ii of M>. Thorn eyes men at 
ye Cartbridge." 

William Twelles, a labourer of Fenton, aged sixty, 
corroborated the statement that the vicar of Sturton 
had from the vicar of Littleborough one acre of meadow 
by way of composition for the " tythes and renewes ' : 
of the parcels of ground in variance. Then the herds- 
man of Fenton, William Harington, aged sixty years, 
who had lived there for eight years, was called. It 
was he who at divers times had impounded cattle of 
the Littleborough men found straying on " Sudcrofte 
and Horseleaes," for which some of them had " paid 
poundship to the pinders within this three years." 
George Toppyn of Thrumpton and William Cooke of 
Fenton, both of them " labourers," also gave evidence. 

The upshot of the case does not appear. 

The Littleborough Ferry 

The next case to which I would draw attention is 
of interest both because it brings before us several of 
the inhabitants of the district and deals with one 
of the chief means of communication of the locality, 
and also because old John Robinson again came for- 
ward to give evidence. His gifted son, it is true, had 
left the country for Holland by this time, but the 
evidence refers to the conditions in which the Trent 
was crossed in the preceding years. The ferry over 
the Trent usually landed travellers, passengers, pack- 
horses and other horses and cattle with their packs 
and burthens on the Lincoln side of the river, at 


" the great highwaye called Marton Streete," which 
was in the parishes of Marton and Burton, in the 
county of Lincoln. This was the old Roman road. 
But when this highway was " overflowen or daun- 
gerously covered either by spring tydes from the 
sea or by meanes of the swellings of fresh watters," 
the ferrymen and boatmen, " when they thought good 
or convenyently might w th safetye, used to sett on 
land and disburden and also to take in and loade 
at a bancke or place known by the name of Marton 
Bancke and the passengers after that they have been 
there sett on shoare quyetly passed uppon the same 
banke with their horses or other cattell withoute 
interrupcon." Of late, however, the Marton people 
had blocked up this way. They said there was an 
alternative passage at " a place called Red Hill neere 
adjoyning to Littlebroughe ferrie," and that the 
ferryboat was usually kept there when the " great 
ordinarie Calsey or highwaye was w th waters over- 
flowen," and that the ferrymen had " there made to 
themselves for shilter a Cabbin or Lodge under the 
said Red hill." They further asserted that when 
both these places were inundated the ferry used to 
land passengers and goods "at a place called the 
street yate or streete end lyinge at the East end of 
the calsey in Marton." They recognized no obligation 
on their part to keep Marton Bank in repair, and 
the ferryman had only been allowed to land people 
there on terms which he had not observed. He was 
to keep the bank in repair in order to protect Marton 
Marsh, and put a " sufficient Slewce " with a door 
to keep out the water from the marsh, and clean the 
ditch alongside the bank, receiving " a halfpenny 
for every Roode of the said ditche soe often as he 
did skower the same," and this agreement was only 
for eight years. 

Edward Howley, who rented the ferry (of which, 
by the way, the King was part owner), lodged a bill 
of complaint against " Edward Fletcher, Roger Smith 
the elder; Willyam Harryson, Clarke; Roger Smith 


the younger, John Sherieffe and Henry Rogers of 
Marton." A Commission * was accordingly issued 
from the Court of Exchequer to investigate the case, in 
virtue of which witnesses were examined and deposi- 
tions taken at " Gainsburgh " on April 19, 1609, 
before " Sir John Thornagh, knight, Sir John Thorold, 
knight, Sir Thomas Darell, knt., and ffrancis Bussye, 

The first witness was " David Harrison of Little - 
brough, laborer of the age of threscore years or there- 
abouts." He testified that the farmers of the ferry 
(i. e. those who rented it) had been at great charges 
" to maintaine and repaire great staires chardgable 
ferry boats and servants to attend and labor in 
them." He knew this because he had been " many 
tymes used as a workman for repairing of the same." 

The second witness was " John Robinson of Sturton 
in the County of Nott. yeom. of thage of threscore 
years or thereabouts." He deposed that he knew 
the parties to the suit. The towns of Marton and 
Littleborough he had known by the space of forty 
years. He also knew Marton Bank, and described it 
as " neare adioyning to the great highway and served 
w th a dike of the North side of the said Banck." 
Further he said— 

" that the farmers and ferrymen of the ferry of Littlebrough 
and their servants and boatmen when the great highway 
called Marton Street hath bene overflowne w th water had 
used, as nede did require, to sett on land, disburden and 
also to take in and load as well all or any of the passingers 
at the said ferry passing either on horseback or on foote as 
also all or any packhorses or other horses or catle w th their 
Packes and their Burdens upon the said Banck or place called 
or knowne by the name of Marton banck. And that he hath 
knowne it soe used by the space of 40^ years. And that 
the passingers have quietly passed upon the said Banck to 
and fro w^ their horses and other cattle and their packes 
and other Burdens w h out Interrupcon to his knowledge at 
such tymes." 

1 Exchequer Depositions, 7 James I, Easter, No. 12, Lines, and Notts. 


The next witness was old " Brian Ry croft " of 
Littleborough, aged 88 years, and there is a pathetic 
touch in his evidence, that he — 

" knoweth not what the defend ts have latly done by cause 
he hath bene six years blind but saith the said passage was 
never before that tyme stopped to his knowledge and that 
he knoweth this to be true because he hath alwaies lived in 
Littlebrough as an Inhabitant and hath many tymes bene 
used as a ferryman." 

The next witness was Richard Thornton of North 
Leverton, aged seventy years, and then came " William 
Sowbye of Haplesthorpe yeoman of the age of fower- 
score yeares or thereabouts," who for threescore years 
had never known the passage by Marton Bank to 
be interrupted, " and this he knoweth to be true for 
that he hath most comonly in y e winter tyme weekly 
gone on that Banke w th his horses loaded w th 
Corne to Gainsburgh M r kett." In the last two or 
three years, however, " stoopes and rayles was sett " 
by some of the defendants, as he thought. The 
remaining witnesses were John Harewood of " Leigh," 
in the county of Lincoln, and Robert Cherebury, a 
yeoman of Littleborough, aged sixty years, whom 
we have met with before. 

It seems to me likely that the fact that Sir John 
Thornhagh had been granted a lease of the Manor 
of Oswaldbec by Letters Patent dated August 15, 
4 an. James I, to which the ferry rights were attached, 
had something to do with this endeavour to put things 
on a satisfactory footing. In the State Papers there 
is a petition x from Sir John Thornhagh, assigned to 
December 3, 1608, addressed " To the righte honour- 
able Robert Earle of Salisbury Lord Highe Treasuror 
of England." The following extract throws some 
light on the matter — 

" In all humblenes sheweth to yo r good Lop, John Thorn- 
hagh of ffenton in the countie of Nott. Knighte. That 
where it hath pleased his Ma tie of late under the great seale 

1 State Papers, Domestic, James I, vol. xxxviii. 


of England to demyse to yo r Lo ps supp lfc the Manno r of 
Oswardbysoke in the said countye for fortie yeares under 
the yearly rente of xxxiiijii a great parte of w c ^ rente is 
cheefely raised yearely out of the profitts that aryse of an 
oulde decayed house called the Manno r house and some other 
poor oulde houses and of the passage over the River of Trente 
by twoe fferry boates as well for cartes as for horses and f ote- 
men out of the said countie of Nott. into the count ie of 
Lyncolne and soe back againe from the one countie to the 
other. . . ." 

The petitioner goes on to say that the houses 
are ruinous ..." also the saide boates are both 
so rotten and utterly decayed y fc they must be p'sntly 
new made," and he therefore prays for a grant of 
timber for the needful work from the Royal forests. 
A note is endorsed on the petition, " Lett M r Baron 
Altham consider of this suitor and certifie me his 
opinion. R. Salisbury." Accordingly James Altham 
got the opinion of two local Justices of the Peace, 
Sir Richard Williamson and Mr. Symcocke, on the 
matter. He then reported in favour of a grant, 
pointing out, however, that the King was in " no way 
tyed unto yt by any clawse in the lease." The 
upshot was that a warrant was issued for 150 tons 
of timber to be delivered from Sherwood Forest 
to Sir John Thornhagh for the repair of the Manor 
House and Ferry Boats. 

From another source 1 I find that the remainder 
of this lease of Oswaldbec Soke and the ferry rights 
was made over by Sir John Thornhagh to his son 
Francis on October 29, in the third year of Charles I, 
by " act and deede." Christopher Fielding, clerk, 
of Treswell and Sturton, and Godfrey King witnessed 
the " deed of gift." 

1 Exchequer Depositions, Notts., 13 Charles I, Michaelmas. 



Several good lists of residents in Sturton, the 
neighbours of the Robinson family, are extant, from 
the time of Henry VIII down to the reign of Charles. 
Most of these I have transcribed, but the space at 
my disposal only permits the printing of a selec- 
tion. Here is a Muster Roll for the parish headed as 
follows — 

" Certyfycate of Musters takyn the xxiiijte daye Marche the 
xxx te yere of oure sufferand Lord Kyng Henry VIII th by 
Gerves Clyftone, John Hercy, John Babyngton, George Was- 
tenes, Antony Nevyll, Chareles Morton esquiers commys- 
syoners of oure sufferand Lorde the kyng by v'tue of hys 
commyssyon to them derectyd ffor the Northe claye p'cell 
off the Wapyntake of Barsett-Law for the county of Nottyng- 
hm accordyng to the devytyon of syd the commyssyoners 
unto y em allottyd 

Sturton cum Fenton 

b x George Lassells harnes for iij men 
a 2 Antonye thorney harnes for a man 
a Thorns ffenton harnes for a man 
a Rauffe hogson harnes for a man 
b John Drap coman harnes for iij me 

1 b stands for billman. 

2 a stands for archer, Harness = armour or fighting equipment. 




b Thoma Stourton 
b James Tomson 
b John chadkerye 
b John corbrygge 
b Wyllm Hawton 
b Robt Sturton 
a Wyllm Sowbe 
b Ry chard shakloke 
b Robt Ha worth 
b Robt Wolley 
b Robt hynd 
b John Stene 
b Thorns baleme 
b Andyedykcons 
a Rychard Smyth 
a An'y harynton 
a John Smythe 

horse & harnes for a man 

b Wyllm Stort 
b Wyllm Kechyng 
b And Tomson 
a Rychard Saunbe 
b gylles browyll 
a Thorns Saunbe 
a Wyllm kyrkbe 
b Thorns bynghm 
b henry fflowefr] 

horse and harnes for a man 

Vidua clarke 
Wyllm bynghm 
george Nysyo r 
Thomas Rake 
John Smythe 
Wyllm Lawcoke 
olyv' Boythe 
Wyllm Atton 

a John legett 

b John corver 

b Rauffe cawthorne 

b Robt Smyth 

, horse and harnes for a man 



b Thorns Smythe 
b Rychard cawtorn 
a Henry browne 
a Rychard dogeson 
b Matthewe Roger 
b Wyllm Crofte 
a Thomo 8 Whyt 
b John Shawe 
b Rychard Alyn 
b george cawtorne 
b Roger yewett 
b John powyll 
b Wyllm Wyvyll 
b Wvllm ffenton 
b Wyllm Eyton 
b george cosyn 
b Thorns Wensley 
b Wyllm bee [?Lee] 
b Wyllm byrkyll 
b Ric. Mare 
a hugh unvyn 
b Thorns spense 
a Thorns Joye 
a Edward Or wen e 
a Wyllm Atkynson 
a Thorns catlyn 
b Rychard carver [ ? 
b Robt Stafforth 
a Rye bylle 
a george dewyt 

\ horse and harnes for a man 

Some of y e harnes ys for xiij men 
Some of y e archers ys xxij^ 
Some of y e byll men ys xxxvij^.' 

The clerk has made an error in the addition. The 
list gives fifty billmen wha, with the twenty-two 
archers and the widow Clarke, give a total of seventy- 
three names. If we multiply the total of able-bodied 
men by six to give the women, children and aged 
men, we get a population for the parish of 432, 
as compared with an estimated population for the 
present year of 455. 

The names in this list may be checked by an 


excellent list of Sturton taxpayers for the thirty-fourth 
and thirty-fifth years of King Henry VIII, containing 
sixty-two names. 1 Forty-one of the names in this 
second list correspond with names given above, 
seven others merely show a change of Christian name, 
leaving a balance of only fourteen entirely fresh 
names since the muster roll was compiled. Widow 
Clarke is again the only woman in the list, and we 
get her full name " Eliz. Clerke." She paid a subsidy 
of 6s. 8d. on goods valued at £10. In both lists the 
names of Thomas White, the grandfather of John Robin- 
son's wife, and John Legatt, the father of Catherine 
White's first husband, occur. The John Corver or 
Carver mentioned in both lists I take to have been 
the father of John Carver, the second husband of 
Catherine White and the first Governor of Plymouth 

In a list 2 of Sturton residents who contributed to a 
" benevolence " 3 for King Henry VIII in the thirty- 
sixth year of his reign we have the following names 
and the respective amounts which were given. Old 
John Carver joined in this loyal gift — 

" Antony Thorn ey off Sturton 
Thomas Fenton de ead. 

XX 8 

xxiij 8 iiijd 

John Legatt 

de ead. 

XX s 

Geo. frlowere 

de ead. 

vjs viij d 

Andr. Dickson 

de ead. 

iiij 8 

Wyllm Eyton 
John Cawver 

de ead. 
de ead. 

ix 8 

viij 8 

Thorn @ Bynghm 
Elizabethe Clerke 

de ead. 
de ead. 

V 8 

vjs viijd 

Wyllm Wolley 
Wyllm Kyrkbye 
Wyllm ffenton 

de ead. 
de ead. 
de ead. 

iij 8 iiijd 
xiij 8 iiij d 

X 8 ." 

John Carver's name also appears in the roll 4 for the 
thirty-seventh year of Henry VIII as paying a tax of 

1 Lav Subsidies, Notts., Bassetlaw, ]f !J, Record Office. 

2 Ibid., 36 Henry, Notts., Bassetlaw Hundred, ££$. 

3 Benevolence from the inhabitants of Notts, town and county, Membrane 1. 

4 Lay Subsidies, 37 Henry VIII, Notts., Bassetlaw J$£. 


13s. on goods (not lands) of the value of £13. This 
roll is the first in which I have noted the Robinson 
family name in connexion with Sturton parish. 
Christopher Robinson paid 2s. Sd. on lands of the 
annual value of £l 6s. Sd. 

There is a good list of names * for the first year 
of Elizabeth's reign — 

Bryan Lassells 

in lands 


xiij 8 iiij 1 

I XVJj 8 X d 

Larance f enton 

in lands 


— v s iiij a 

Thomas Sturton 

in lands 


— v 8 iiija 

Thomas White 

in lands 


— iiij 8 

Edmunde Mering 

in lands 

xl s 

~ ij s viijd 

George Dyckons 

in lands 


— iiij 8 

Raffe Dyckons 

in lands 

xl 8 

— ij 8 viija 

George flow er 

in lands 


— ij 8 viija 

Robert Sturton 

in lands 

xl 8 

— ij 8 viija 

George Motson 

in guds 

V li 

v 8 

George Eaton 

in lands 

xl s 

— ij 8 viija 

Xpoi er Robbinson 

l in lands 



— xxja° b 

George kyrkeby 

in lands 



— XX j ob 

Rye. Smyth 

in lands 

XX s 

— xv j a 

Cicilly Smyth 

in lands 

XX s 

— xvja 

Antony Powle 

in lands 

XX s 

— xvja 

Henry Sturton 

in guds 


v 8 


iijii vijs iiija." 

It will be noticed that the assessment on Bryan 
Lassells was not quite exact, and that the odd half- 
penny in the charge on John Robinson's grandfather 
(the obolus) was apparently neglected in collection, 
as it is not included in the sum total. The rate was 
sixteen pence in the pound on lands and a shilling 
in the pound on goods. 

On the roll 2 for the subsidy of the thirteenth 
year of Elizabeth we have another good list of 
" Sturton-cum-Fenton " inhabitants. The clerk in 
this instance affected the Latin form for Christian 
names — 

1 Lay Subsidies, 1 Eliz. *{$, Notts., Bassetlaw. 

2 Ibid., i{$, Notts., Wapen. de Bassetlawe. 


4 Brianne Lassells, 

Armig 1 

in terr. 


— liii s iiijd 

Johes Thornagh 

in terr. 


— xx s iiij d 

Thomas Sturton 

in terr. 


— xiij s iiij d 

Georgius Eyton 

in terr. 

xl s 

— v s iiij d 

[Rob]tus Sturton 

in terr. 

xl 8 

— v 8 iiij d 

Radus Dicons 

in terr. 

xl 8 

— v 8 iiijd 

Lawrence Smith 

in terr. 

xl 3 

— v 8 iiijd 

Xpoievus Robinsor 

l in terr. 

xl 8 

— v 8 iiijd 

Jaina Mering 

in terr. 

xl 8 

— v 8 iiijd 

Georgius Sturton 

in terr. 

XX s 

— ii s viijd 

Antonius Poole 

in terr. 

XX s 

— ij 8 viijd 

Dionisius Bameby 

in bon. 


X 8 

Wiftus Sturton 

in bon. 


v 8 

Henr : Sturton 

in bon. 


— vj 8 viijd 

Johes Smith 

in bon. 


— vj 8 viijd 

Jacobs Wakef eld 

in bon. 


v 8 

Lawrenc ffenton 

in terr. 


— viij 8 

Thomas White 

in terr. 

xl 8 

— v 8 iiijd 

Radus Wastnes 

in bon. 

iiij 11 

— vj 8 viijd 

Willo Bennington 

in terr. 

xl 8 

— v 8 iiijd 

Georgius Dicons 

in terr. 

xl 8 

— v 8 iiijd 

Georgius fflower 

in terr. 

xl 8 

— v s iiij 

Giving a total of \ijxu xiiij 8 viij d ." 

The roll x for 1585 gives one or two unusual details. 
It indicates that Sturton had suffered from some 
epidemic, and notes that the raising of the subsidy 
in East Retford was " greatly hindered by casualty 
of fyer." It will be noted that the names of " John 
Smyth, John Robynson and Alexander Whyte " here 
actually occur in juxtaposition, and that the vicar 
of the parish is included in the list. The heading to 
this roll runs as follows — 

" Nottingham 

" North-clay e. The Taxacion for the first payment of the 
Subsidye graunted to the Queenes Ma tie in the xxvij th 
yeare of her highnes Raigne p'sented and taxed before us 

1 Lay Subsidies, 27th Eliz. -//, Notts., Bassetlaw. 


Sir Willm Hollis knight and Robert Markam esquier two of 
the Queenes Ma tie3 Commissioners appointed for the same 
taken at Estretford the xxviij th day of maye in the sade 
xxviju* yr of her highnes Raigne for the wapentake of 
Bassetlawe 1585." 

The Commissioners appointed Edward North of 
Walkeringham, gent., as " high collector " for the 
Wapentakes of Bassetlaw and Newark and for Newark 
Town, and granted an allowance for the " petty 
collector " and to the clerk for engrossing the roll, 
according to Act of Parliament. The list for Sturton 
is as follows — 

" Sturton com 

ffenton vissited 

w th sicknes 

John Thorn ey Ar. 

in terr. 


— xxvj 8 vii 

Wriim Remington 

in terr. 

v ii 

— ■ xiijs iiijd 

Thomas Sturton 

in terr. 

v ii 

— xiij 8 iiijd 

George Dickens 

in terr. 


— x s viijd 

George Eaton 

in terr. 

xl 8 

— v s viij d 

Radus Dickens 

in terr. 


— viij 8 

Nicus ffenton 

in terr. 


— viij 8 

Johnes Smyth 

in terr. 


— viij 8 

John Robynson 

in terr. 

xl 8 

. — v 8 iiijd 

Alexander Whyte 

in terr. 


— viij 8 

Bryanus Sturton 

in terr. 

xl 8 

— v s iiijd 

Ricus Smyth 

in terr. 

xl 3 

— v s iiijd 

Laurance Smyth 

in terr. 

xl s 

— v s iiijd 

Anthony Poole 

in terr. 

XX s 

— ij s viij d 

George fflower 

in terr. 

xl 8 

— v 8 iiijd 

Dennes Barnebye 

in bon. 


— X 8 

John Barneabye 

in bon. 


— vi 8 viijd 

Johes Turnell 

in bon. 

v u 

— viij 8 iiijd 

Johes Cowper 

in bon. 


— vj 8 viijd 

Wittms Walker 

in bon. 


v 8 

weadowe Halton 

and her sonn 

in bon. 


— vj 8 viijd 

Nicus Dickens 

in bon. 


V s 

John Quipe, Clarke 

in terr. 

XX s 

— ijs viijd 


ixii xx d . 


D D 


In the roll x of subsidy payers dated October 7th, 
36 Elizabeth (1594), we find another excellent list 
of Sturton names. The name of John Robinson's 
father is not far away from that of Alexander White, 
the father of his wife (Bridget White), while next to 
this name comes Brian Smith, the oldest brother of 
John Smith, of Christ's College, Cambridge, who led 
the Separatist movement in this district. 

Sturton cum ffenton 

" Johannes Thorn ehaghe af 
Georgius Lassells gen 
Thomas Sturton gen 
Wm. Rmmington 
Nicus ffenton 
Allexaund r White 
Brianus Smithe 
Georgius Dickons 
Radus Dickons 
Johannes Robinson 
Laurentius Smithe 
Ricus Smith 
Thomas Markham af for the 

lands of George Eaton 
Robte Sturton 

Sfna xijii." 

These payments were for the second of three 
entire subsidies granted to the Queen in the Parlia- 
ment of 1593. The Commissioners " appointed for 
assessing, rating and taxing " this part of Notts, for 
this subsidy were " Sir John Holies, knight, Peter 
Roos, Brian Lasseles and John Thornhagh esquiers." 

After a considerable gap we come upon another 
good list of Sturton names in the subsidy roll 2 for 
the thirty-ninth year of Elizabeth's reign as follows — 

1 Lay Subsidies, Roll 35, Eliz. Notts., Bassetlawe £§§, Membrane 6. 

2 Lay Subsidy |g£, Bassetlaw, 39 Eliz. 

in ter. 
in ter. 




XX s 

in ter. 


XX s 

in ter. 


XX s 

in ter. 

V H 

XX s 

in ter. 
in ter. 
in ter. 



xl 8 

xij 3 
xij 8 
viij 8 

in ter. 
in ter. 
in ter. 
in ter. 

xl s 
xl 8 
xl 8 

viij 8 
viij 8 
viij 8 
viij 8 

in ter. 
in ter. 

xl 8 
xl s 

viij 8 
viij 8 


" Sturton cu 


Johes Thornhagh Ar 

in Terr. 



Georgius Lassells gen 

in Terr. 

V n 

XX s 

Thomas Sturton 

in Terr. 


XX s 

Nichus ffenton 

in Terris 


xvj 8 

Charolus White 

in Terr. 


xij 8 

Brianus Smith 

in Terr. 


xij 8 

Robtus Pennington 

in bon. 

xl 8 

viij 8 

Georgius Dickons son 

in ter. 

xl 8 

viij 8 

Radus Dickons 

in Ter. 

xl 8 

viij 8 

Johes Robinson 

in Terris. 

xl 8 

viij 8 

Robtus Sturton 

in Terr. 

XX s 

iiij 8 

Thomas ffox 

in Terris. 

XX s 

iiij 8 

Johes Barmeby 

in bonis. 


viij 8 

Sum x 11 viij s ." 

This subsidy of four shillings in the pound on 
lands was taken up at one collection. Frequently 
a subsidy was taken up in instalments. This roll is 
signed at the foot by Brian Lassells and John 

When we reach the reign of James I we have 
further lists. Parliament granted this King "three 
entire subsidies " in the third year of his reign. The 
" Commissioners for assessing, rating and taxing of 
the first payment of the third subsidy " x in the 
Bassetlaw Wapentake in Nottinghamshire were 
" Henry Pierpoint, Bryan Lassells and John Thorn- 
hagh knights and William Coop esqr." Two of these 
were connected with Sturton and Fenton, and thus 
we may be sure the assessment in that parish would 
be carefully made. They appointed Gervase Bellamy 
of Laneham their " high collector." We can picture 
him going round for the tax and drawing up his 
roll, which is dated March 10 in the sixth year of 
James I. 

1 Lay Subsidy if£, Bassetlaw, Notts. 3, James I. The rolls for the first 
two of these subsidies are missing. 

in terr. 


liij 8 iiijd 

in terr. 

XX 11 

liij s iiijd 

in terr. 


viij 8 

in terr. 


viij 8 

in terr. 


viij 8 

in terr. 

xl 8 

v b iiijd 

in terr. 

xl 8 

v 8 iiijd 

in terr. 

XX s 

ij 8 viijd 

in terr. 

XX 8 

ij 8 viijd 

in bonis. 


V 8 

in bonis. 


V 8 

xxj 8 viij 

d ." 


" Sturton cum 

Johes Thorn hagh, miles 
Geor. Lassells, miles 
Roger Sturton, sesso 
Carolus White, sessor 
Richo et Willm ff enton 
Tho : Dickons, sesso r 
Johes Robinson, sesso r 
Johes Cowp 
Johes Barmeby 
Robtus Sturton 
Grego Steedman 


We also have the names of those assessed for this 
subsidy 1 who paid their second instalment in the 
following year (seventh James I), 1610. The name 
of Robinson's father still appears — 

" Sturton with Johes Thornhagh miles 
ffenton Georgius Lassels miles 

Roger Sturton 
Carolus White 
Rich et W. ffenton 
Thomas Dickons 
Johes Robinsonne 
Johes Coop 
Johes Barmeby 
Robtus Sturton 
Gregorius Steedman." 

All were assessed on lands except the last two, who 
were assessed on goods (in bonis). The roll is 
damaged at the edge, so the individual payments 
cannot be recovered. The sum total from the parish 
was iij ]i x s . 

When we come to the next available list of inhabi- 
tants and landowners in Sturton in a subsidy roll 2 
of the eighteenth year of James I, we notice that 
the name of Robinson has died out, though that of 

1 Lay Subsidies £f£, Bassetlaw, 3 James I. 

2 Ibid., $$#, Bass*etlaw, Notts, 18 James I. 


Charles White, the brother-in-law of the pastor of 
the Pilgrim Fathers, still appears — 

" Sturton cu 


Johannes Thornhagh mil. 

in ter. 


— xxxvjs viij d 

Wittms ffenton 

in ter. 


— ij s 


Carolus White 

in ter. 

xl s 

_ ij a 


Gregorius Steedman 

in ter. 


— ij e 

1 viijd 

Robtus Byshopp 

in ter. 

XX s 



Vidua Brian i Smith 

in ter. 

XX s 



Robtus Sturton 

in ter. 




WiUms fflower 

in ter. 

XX s 



Thomas ffox 

in ter. 

XX s 



Nieus White 

in ter. 

XX s 



Thomas Nayler 

in bon. 




Sma xlv s viijd." 

For the names of leaseholders and tenants -at-will 
in the Sturton of Robinson's day other sources must 
be consulted. For example, a family of Lamberts is 
disclosed in the will of William Lambert of Sturton, 
dated October 9, 1592. 1 This document is witnessed 
by Robinson's father-in-law, " Alexander Whyte," and 
by the vicar, " John Quipe," amongst others. Its 
provisions indicate the custom of leases and one of 
the quarterly terms for wage -paying. 

" The lease of Willowes Farme I give unto Robt. Lambert, 
Edward Lambert, Thomas Lambert my children. 

" Whereas yt hath pleased my good and worshipfull maister 
of his good and benevolent will to grant unto me the dis- 
posinge of the farme wherin I now dwell for and duringe his 
naturall lyef, I give and bequeathe the same farme during 
the tearme and tyme unto William Lambert George Lambert 
and Ralfe Lambert three of my eldest sonnes. 

" My servants to have ther quarters wages payde duely 
unto them att Martinmas nexte. 

" I humblely desyre my good maister, Maister Bryan 
Lassels and Mr. Jarvase Lassels and Mr. Alexander Whyte 
to be the supervisors of this my last will." 

i Probate Registry at York, Vol. 25, f. U9? 


It seems to me that the Whites were more closely 
associated with the Lassells family and the Robinsons 
with the Thornhagh family in the parochial and public 
affairs of Sturton. 

A bequest in the will of " Henrie Broomehead," 
clerk or parson of North Wheatley, dated 20 October, 20 
James, i. e. 1623, may help local antiquaries to deter- 
mine the site of the Robinson holding in Sturton. 
" I give unto my brother Henrie Bromehead (sic) 
[apparently there were two brothers Henry in one 
family] one acre and a halfe of meadow lyeinge in 
Storton overinge, thre Rood lyeinge in littlemarsh at 
Littlebrough bancke, one Rood above little marsh 
furlonge, 1 half acre buttinge on Robinson close 
nooke." 1 Can this last spot be identified ? 

Note. — In the Subsidy Roll for 1585 only two taxpayers 
are mentioned under Scrooby and Ranskill. one of whom 
was the father of William Brewster, the "Elder" of the 
Pilgrim Fathers' Church. 

" Scrobe j M wmim Bruster i n bonn. vjii-x 8 
"R im k 11 " I J° nn Danson in terr. xx 8 -ij 8 viij d ." 
Among other names in this roll for the parish of Ragnall 
we have a reference to Robert Neville, the father of Gervase 
Neville. He had recently died, and his children were under 

44 Robtes Nevell . in terr. Ixls-vsiiia" 

beinge deade & his childerne infants/ J 

1 York Probate Registry, Vol. 37. f. 157. 



Dr. Augustus Jessop contributed a good account of 
John Burgess to the Dictionary of National Biography, 
He had in his possession a manuscript of the sermon 
preached by Burgess at Greenwich. He tells us 
that while Convocation was deliberating on the 
" Canons," Burgess " was called upon to explain 
the ground he took, and to preach before the King 
at Greenwich on June 19, 1604. Burgess chose his 
text from Psalm cxxii. 8-9 : For my brethren and 
companions' sake I will now say Peace be within thee. 
Because of the house of the Lord our God I will seek 
thy good. 

" The sermon," says Jessop, " was a poor performance 
and somewhat offensive in its tone, but one passage seems 
to have provoked the king beyond measure, though it is 
difficult to say why. Burgess likened the ceremonies to 
Pollio's glasses 4 which were not worth a man's life or liveli- 
hood,' and for this and other expressions he was sent to the 
Tower."— Article on "Burgess, John" (1563-1635), in Diet 
Nat. Biog. 

The following document in the State Papers in 
Burgess's handwriting refers to this occasion. It 
illustrates the position of one who opposed John 
Robinson's separation from the Anglican Church, 
and yet was far from comfortable himself within her 
borders — 


I doe thinke & beeleive touchinge the governmente of 
the churche by Bishops as w th us in Englande, or by rulinge 
elders as in other churches of god : that neither of them was 



prescribed by the apostles of Christ, neyther of them is 
repugnant to the woorde of god, but may be well & pro- 
fitably used if more faulte bee not in the persons then in the 
orders themself es 

" I doe houlde & am pswaded of the crosse in baptisme & 
the surples that as our church useth them, they bee not 
unlawfull; though in some men & places so inexpedient, as 
I think no man's ministery lykely to doe so much good as 
some mens sodeyne use of theis thinges mighte doe hurte 

" ffor the subscription to the articles of 62 [i.e. 1562] as 
the lawe requireth it, & to his Ma tie s supremacie, I approve 
it w^out any deception or qualification : And touchinge the 
thirde article about the book of common prayer & booke of 
ordination doe houlde that howsoever they have some thinges 
in them w ch cannot simply bee allowed as false translations 
&c yet considered in the porpose & entention of the churche 
of Englande, & reduced to the -prositions [propositions] & 
doctrines w ch it publiquely pfessethe, they conteyne nothing 
contrary to the woorde of god. 

" And in witnes that this is my unfayned iudgment in the 
p r misses I have sett to my name this 2 of July 1604 

" t and will be all waves reddy to pfesse by any meanes at 
his Maties commande j * 

" John Burges 

" ffor my sermon preached before his excellent Ma tie [I] 
doe take god to witnes, that I was not incited advised or moved 
thereto, by any but myne owne hearte, that I had no porpose 
to glaunce at such pticulareties, as his Ma tie (very pbably) 
conceived me to ayme a[t] that I had not so wicked a thought 
in me, as to compare his Ma tie to any evel example w ch I 
alleaged, no porpose to gall or discipher pticuler psons, that 
I spake nothinge but out of the deernes & integretie of my 
affections to his Ma tie and the state & out of opinion that it 
was such a dutie, as I ought to psew to all myne owne hopes 
or possibilities of p r ferment, or els let the god of truth cut 
me of from his favour for ever 

" John Burges." 2 

The paper is endorsed in a later hand " Mr. Burgess 
his profession." 

1 The words between daggers were evidently interlined after the signature 
was appended. 
i State Papers, Domestic, James I, vol. viii. No. 8fi : 

A \\ ' 


4% P 

. rS ? .tvJk 5 fej Q^, 





- v<x 











There was another family in Sturton with a member 
of which our story concerning Robinson is inter- 
twined : I refer to the Smiths, Smyths or Smythes — 
the name is one, though the spelling varies. There 
were indeed two families of Smiths in Sturton with 
various branches, the one in quite a humble station, 
the other a trading and yeoman family in comfortable 
circumstances and of equal station with the Whites 
and Robinsons. It is of the latter I write. 

In 1537 Richard Smyth and John Smythe appear 
in the list of " archers " for Sturton. In 1544 " John 
Smythe " was assessed on a substantial amount of 
goods in the same parish. The name is still there in 
1571. This John Smith, who paid tax in that year, 
had a goodly family of boys. There was Brian, the 
eldest, so named perhaps in honour of the local mag- 
nate Brian Lassells, then came George, born about 
1563, who went to a farm at Gringley-on-the-Hill. 
He testified at Gainsborough in 1603 * that he was 
then forty years old and born at Sturton. Next came 
Thomas Smith. The fourth son was John Smith, 
and I venture to identify him with John Smith the 
pioneer in the Separatist movement in this part of 
England, who took the lead in moulding distinct 
" Churches of Christ " on the New Testament model, 
apart from the Anglican and Catholic Churches. 
The last boy in the family was Anthony, and there 

1 Exchequer Depositions, Notts., 1 James I, Michaelmas Term, No. 14^ 



was one girl, Katherine, who, we may be sure, had 
a lively time amongst her brothers. If I am right 
in my identification John Smith, the fourth son, was 
sent up to Cambridge, and matriculated as a sizar at 
Christ's College early in 1586, when John Robinson 
was about ten years old. Two years later (June 1, 
1588) John Smith of Sturton, yeoman, made his 
will. To Brian Smith, his heir, he left " lands and 
tenements," to his other children " 40" apece," and 
to each of his four sons, other than Brian, " xx s yerely 
after the death of Alice Smith," his wife; to her he 
left a third of his lands and a third of his lease of 
Torksey, a few miles up the Trent, on the Lincolnshire 
side of the river, the port of the cathedral city. To 
the " poor people of Sturton " he left xl s , to John 
Quipp, the vicar, who witnessed the will, x s and " to 
Brian Lassels, Esq., xx s ." As young John Smith 
had a year or two to run before he came of age his 
father entrusted him to the guardianship of his eldest 
brother, Brian, while for him there was a special 
bequest which would help him with his expenses at 
Cambridge : " To John Smith my son xl 8 yerely out 
of a close called Intake Close." 

Though the five younger children (if Brian re- 
nounced the duty) were nominated as executors, 
yet when the will was proved (October 9, 1589) it was 
only George and Thomas who acted. John was away at 
Cambridge and still under age, but power was reserved 
to him, with Anthony and Katherine, the other exe- 
cutors. In due course young John Smith took his 
degree, was elected to a Fellowship in his college, 
and was then ordained by Wickham, Bishop of Lincoln. 
When he married the problem arose as to where he 
and Mary his wife should settle. Now Brian Smith, 
his eldest brother, had married into another family 
of Smiths connected with Welton and Lincoln. This 
leads to a multiplication of Smiths, and is rather 
confusing, but a careful study of the adjoining tables 
(Smith pedigrees II., III., IV.), will help to make the 
matter clear. Brian's wife was Jane Smith, eldest 





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IV. Smith of Lincoln 

(Arms, argent, a chevron between three roses gules) 

Richard Smith, = Mary, daughter of Wm. Bay ley 

Attorney and Town of Louth, at St. Margaret's, 

Clerk of Lincoln, Lincoln, Oct. 21, 1576. 

Warden of St. Peter's 
at Arches, Executor 
of Dr. Richard Smith. 
Mentioned in will 
of Brian Smith of 
Sturton, 1621. 

Robert Smith of = Susan, daughter of 

Lincoln, At- 
torney. Appointed 
" City Attor- 
ney-General" in 
the room of his 
father, 1618. 

Gervase Wastneys 

of Headon, Notts., 


(1) Robert, d. s.p., 1627. 

(2) Elizabeth, m., 1627, Sir Charles Dalyson, 

Recorder of Lincoln. 

daughter of Robert Smith of Lincoln, a nephew of 
the Richard Smith of Welton and London who had 
amassed a fortune in the metropolis as " Doctor of 
Physick." This marriage of Brian Smith with Jane 
Smith of Lincoln brought him into touch with a group 
of prominent citizens of that city actively interested 
in civic affairs. 

Dr. Richard Smith * died in 1603, without children. 
He left munificent bequests, which to this day help the 
education of the boys of Potter Han worth and Lincoln, 
and in his will he remembered the children of his 
grand-niece Jane, the wife of Brian Smith of Sturton. 

One more point. He appointed a namesake (though 
no apparent blood relation), as executor of his will, 
a Richard Smith, attorney and town clerk of Lincoln, 
one whose legal knowledge ought to have been of 
service in settling the educational trusts of the will. 
This Richard Smith was also Warden of the Church 
of St. Peter at Arches, which the Corporation of the 
City of Lincoln attended. The indications are that 

1 In a list of Recusants in and about London committed to Prison, dated 1592, 
I find " Richard Smith of Christ Church, Doctor of Physic." Is it the 
man ? Calendar of Salisbury Papers, Pt. IV, p. 267. 


Brian Smith was acquainted not only with Richard 
Smith the physician, whose relative he married, but 
also with Richard Smith the attorney. He certainly 
had intercourse with him on legal business. 

What more natural than that Brian Smith should 
suggest his younger brother, John Smith, to the 
warden of St. Peter's as a suitable candidate for the 
post of " lecturer "or " preacher to the City of 
Lincoln " ? It is a fact that with the powerful backing 
of the clan of Smiths, and others in Lincoln, John Smith 
was elected to that office on September 27, 1600, 
though not without strong opposition. His forceful 
and searching sermons made for him both friends and 
enemies. The ecclesiastical authorities came down 
upon him and he lost his post. Moving to Gains- 
borough, within easy reach of his brother George 
at Gringley, he took upon him to expound the Psalms 
to the congregation in the parish church in the absence 
of Jerome Phillips, the vicar. In this good work too 
he was stopped. It was out of order. Then it was 
that, following the example of Francis Johnson, his 
Cambridge tutor, he deliberately severed his connexion 
with Anglicanism and gathered a separate Church 
at Gainsborough, of which he was made " Pastor." 
Toleration for his movement was not accorded, and 
he removed with his followers to Amsterdam, where 
he advanced to the theological position of the liberal 
Mennonites, practised physic for a livelihood and 
died of consumption. His books show him to have 
had an intimate knowledge of the Sturton district. 
He was aware of the clerical gossip of the locality, 
and refers to Richard Bernard's " vehement desire " 
to secure the living of " Sawenbie," i. e. Saundby, 
between Gainsborough and Sturton. He had some 
knowledge of the state of feeling in regard to religion 
among the people of Worksop. He was intimate 
with the Helwys, Hamerton and Neville families, 
which had connexions with Broxtowe, Askham, 
Habblesthorpe, Saundby and Ragnell. When Richard 
Clifton was deprived of his living at Babworth, the 


arguments of John Smith won him to his side. He 
was intimate with Hugh Bromehead, " curate " of 
North Wheatley, the next parish but one to Sturton, 
and induced him to break with Anglicanism and join 
the new " Church of Christ " in its migration to Holland. 
Last, but not least, he exerted a marked influence 
upon John Robinson, the Pastor of the Pilgrim Church, 
who writes of him as of one with whom he had been 
long acquainted. 

Dr. W. T. Whitley, in his recent biography of " John 
Smyth," is baffled by the problem of his identity. 
What other John Smith meets the requirements of the 
case so well as this one ? The evidence is not decisive, 
but the indications point to this John Smith of Sturton 
as the one who stands in the ranks of the originators 
of the Free Churches of the English-speaking world ; 
the one who left the mark of his thought upon the 
minds of his followers and the sweet influence of the 
gracious Christian temper of his last days as a whole- 
some leaven in their hearts. 

A paragraph from the will of Brian Smith, the 
eldest brother of John Smith, illustrates and confirms 
part of what I have said. It is dated at Sturton, 
June 20, 1621— 

" To Marie and Faith Smith my daughters £50 a piece . . . 
in consideration of a legacy bequeathed unto them amongst 
my other children by . . . Richard Smith late of Welton . . . 
Doctor of Phisicke deceased and since his death was ordered 
unto the said Marie and Faith ... by the charitable dis- 
position of Richard Smith of the Cittie of Lincoln, Gent., . . . 
unto whom I stand bound in the sum of £300 to pay and 
discharge the same." 

One more point. I discovered the will of a son of 
Brian, and nephew of John Smith of Sturton, in the 
Probate Registry at Lincoln. It was proved in that 
diocese because the young man apparently died at 
the house where his Aunt Faith (nee Smith), his 
mother's sister, who married Anthony Monson of 
Carlton in Lincolnshire, had resided. Remember 


there was a tendency to consumption in the family. 
" Robert Smith of Sturton in the County of Notts, 
sonne of Bryan Smith yeoman, sicke in body but whole 
of minde," made his will October 7, 1620. I only 
cite one sentence of this document — 

" Itm I give and bequeath the O* pound w ch my uncle 
George Smith did give unto me w ch now remayneth in my 
father's hands and my uncle John Smith's exequtors to my 
uncle George Smith." 

The reference to the executors of John Smith accords 
with our provisional identification ; because the Free 
Church pioneer (called for the sake of distinction 
John Smith the Se- baptist) had died at the end of 
August 1612, 1 leaving young children to be provided 
for. Pending further discoveries I suggest that John 
Smith and John Robinson were natives of the same 

1 The will of Nicholas White of Sturton, dated December 14, 1638, refers 
to lands " which I lately purchased of William Smyth and the heires of John 
Smyth ... as also all and singular Muniments touching and concerning the 
same." It also refers to a piece of land " in the lowe meld " of Sturton 
abutting on " the lande of Mary Smyth." This date, however, allows time 
for another generation of Smyths to have come on the scene. 



Sometime Fellow of Corpus Christi College, 

The extent and range of the writings of Robinson which 
have survived afford ample testimony to his industry and 
scholarship. He was thoroughly well versed in the theo- 
logical literature of his day and a keen student of Biblical 
and theological topics to the end of his life. We may note 
that he accepted and made use of the Authorised Version 
of the Bible almost as soon as it appeared. The Genevan 
Version had previously been favoured by the Puritan wing 
in the Anglican Church. 

1. Controversy with John Burgess embodied in Jones 

MS., 30, "in the Bodleian Library, Oxford . .1608-9 

2. ,, An Answer to a Censorious Epistle." A " pam- 

phlet " replying to a " monitory letter " from 
Joseph Hall, then Rector of Halstead . . 1609 

3. " A Justification of Separation from the Church of 

England." A reply to Richard Bernard . . 1610 

4. Letter to the Church at Amsterdam concerning 

Dismission of Members and method of handling 
cases of Discipline. 14 Nov. .... 1610 

5. Letter on Christian Fellowship to W T illiam Ames, 

printed in The Prophane Schism of the Brownists 1611 

6. "Testimonie of the Elders of the Church at 

Leyden." This was by Robinson and Brewster 
jointly 1612 

7. A Brief Answer to the Exceptions of Francis 

Johnson against points in Robinson's Justifica- 
tion of Separation. This is printed in Ains- 
worth's Animadversion to Mr. Richard Clyfton, 

1613 1612 



8. A volume of Five Tracts : — 

(a) Of Religious Communion Private and Public. 

(b) Of Flight in Persecution. 

(c) The Outward Baptism received in England 

Lawfully retained. 

(d) Of the Baptism of Infants. 

(c) A Survey of the Confession of Faith published 
in certain Conclusions by the remainders 
of Mr. Smyth's Company . . 1613-14 

9. " A Manumission to a Manuduction or answer to a 

Letter inferring public communion in the parish 
Assemblies upon private communion with godly 
persons there "...... 1615 

10. Admonitio ad Lector em prefixed to Robert Parker's 

De Politeia Ecclesiastica Christi . . .1616 

11. Seven Articles sent to the Privy Council giving the 

judgment of the Leyden Church on matters of 
religion, occasioned by their proposal to migrate 
to Virginia ....... 1617 

12. Letter to Sir Edwin Sandys by Robinson and 

Brewster, Leyden, 15 Dec. . . . .1617 

13. Letter to Sir John Wolstenholme with Two 

Declarations, Robinson and Brewster. Feb. . 1618 

14. " The People's Plea for the Exercise of Prophecy 

against Mr. John Yates " 1618 

15. Apologia Justa el Necessaria quornndam Christiano- 

rum . . . per Johannem Robinsonum, Anglo- 
Leidenensem, suo et Ecclesia nomine, cut prae- 
ficitur 1619 

16. Letter to John Carver. June 14 1620 

17. " The Wholesome Counsel Master Robinson gave 

that part of the Church whereof he was Pastor at 
their Departure," reported by Edward Winslow. 
July 1620 

18. Letter to John Carver. Dated Leyden, 27 July . 1620 

19. " Certain useful Advertisements sent in a Letter 

. . . unto the Planters . . . at their first setting 

sail from Southampton." July . . . 1620 

20. Letter "to the Church of God in Plymouth." 

30 June 1621 

21. Letter to William Brewster on the faint prospects 

of Robinson joining him and giving advice on 
church matters ...... 1623 

22. Letter to William Bradford pleading for a moderate 

and Christian course with the Indians. 19 Dec. 1623 

EE 2 


23. A Briefe Catechism concerning Church Govern- 

ment, an appendix to Mr. Perkins' Six Principles 

of the Christian Religion ( ?)1623 

24. " A Defence of the Doctrine propounded by the 

Synod at Dort " 1624 

25. A Letter to the Church of Christ in London. 

5 April 1624 

26. " An Appeal on Truth's Behalf," being a Letter 

" to the Elders and Church at Amsterdam." 

18 Sept 1624 

27. " Treatise on the Lawfulness of Hearing the 

Ministers of the Church of England " (not 
printed till 1634) 1624 

28. " Observations Divine and Moral " . . 1625 

29. "A Just and Necessary Apology of certain Chris- 

tians . . . commonly called Brownists or Bar- 
rowists." English Translation by Robinson 1625 


Abbot, Archbishop George, 257 

Act of Supremacy, 42, 216 

Adventurers, 225, 249; composition 
with, 316 

Ainsworth, Henry (1570-1622), 
scholar of Gonville and Caius Coll., 
Cambridge, 1587-1591, son of 
Thos. Ainsworth, yeoman, of 
Swanton Morley, where he was 
educated by Mr. Clephamson for 
three years. Went first to St. 
John's Coll., Camb. ; transferred 
to Caius. Left without a degree. 
Ministered for a time amongst 
religious refugees in Ireland. Ap- 
pears at Amsterdam in poverty. 
Married there March 29, 1607, to 
Margery Appleby, a widow. Elected 
"teacher " of the Separatist Church 
of which Francis Johnson was 
pastor, 85; reply to Bernard, 112, 
128, 188, 192, 202 ; death of, 203 
note, 291, 315, 362 

Alden, John, 246 

Aldrich, Henry, bequest of, 33 

Allerton, Isaac, 229, 316, 333, 362 

John, 108, 246 

Mary, 362 

Ames, Elizabeth, 338 

Joan, 338 

Wm., 123, 165, 173, 283 note, 


Wm., jun., 338 

Amsterdam, 71, 79; refugees at, 85, 
93 ; letter from, 196, 391 

Articles of Association for the Plan- 
tation, 226, 259, 274 

Argall, Captain Saml., 221 

Arminius, 159 

Austerfield, 3 

Aylmer, Bishop, 44 

Babworth, 68, 71, 188, 190 note 
Baillie, Robert, 141, 336 
Bancroft, Richard, 44, 64 

Baro, Peter, 49 
Barrett, William, 49 
Baslyn, Thos., 86 
Baynes, Paul, 69 
Beau vale Abbey, 7, 20, 46, 341 
Belvoir Castle, 6, 380 
Benet (Benedict) Church and College, 
33, 39, 146 

Sir John, 184 

Benevolence to Henry VIII, 10, 

Bernard, Richard, 71, 94, 111 note ; 

his Plaine Evidences, 113; rhyming 

rhetoric of, 118 
Best, Wm., 125 
Billericay, 236 

Blackwell, Francis, 202, 219, 221 
Blossom, Thos., 307, 309, 360 
Bontius, Dr. Wm., 171 
Boston, 83 
Bradford, Wm., 3, 56, 161, 265; his 

History of Plimouih Plantation, 

267 ; opinion of Robinson, 305, 332 
Bradshaw, Wm., 128 
Brewer, Thos., 109, 157, 171 scq. 
Brewster, James, 83, 188, 339 

Jonathan, 164 

Mary, 81, 103 

Robert, 339 

William, the Pilgrim Elder, 67, 

79, 102-3; his press, 164, 209, 

Wm., senior, 80, 406 

fright, Francis, 330 
Bromehead, Hugh, 71 
Broome, John, 190 note 
Brouckhoven, Jacob von, 170, 177 
Browne, Robert, 66, 146 note 
Burgess, John, 97, 406 
Burton, William, 98 
Busher, Mark Leonard, 154 
Butler, Silvester, 90 
Butten, Wm., 262 
Butterfield, Stephen, 359 
Buttes, Henry, 40, 46 




Cambridge, 29 ; Life at, 35 

Canne, John, 357 

Canons, Book of, 45 

Cape Cod, 263 

Carleton, Dudley, 162, 314 

Cartwright, Thos., 165 

Carver, Catherine (White), 269 

John, 212, 225, 251, 269, 398 

Castle Combe (Wilts), 90 

Cathkin, James, 166 

Chaderton, Laurence, 47, 50, 55 

Charlestown, 333 

Chauncy, Charles, 361 

Church Order, 337 

Clapham, Enoch, 85 

Clarke, John, 231, 245 

Clifton, Richard, 71; arrives a>' 
Amsterdam, 84, 110, 187, 190 

Coats, Matthew, 353 

Common Apologie, A, 96 

Conant, Roger, 326 

Conditions of Association of Ply- 
mouth Plantation, 249 

Coppin, Robert, 245 

Corpus Christi College, 32, 45; 
Fellows of, 46 

Cotton, John, 141, 334 

John, jun., 361 

Covenant of the Pilgrim Church, 115, 
215, 241, 332, 339 

Crabe, Master, a minister, 243 

CuUimer, Thos., 89 

Cushman, Isaac, 362 

Robert, 157, 212, 220, 225, 230, 

236, 261 

Thomas, 360 

Dartmouth, 257, 261 
Davison, Wm., 80 
Delftshaven, 237, 248 
Dermer, Captain Thos., 262 
Disney, John, 256 

Thos. 19,25 

Dort, Synod of, 160, 288 
Drakes, Thos., 139, 204, 207 

Emden, 202 
Endicot, John, 326 
English, Thos., 246 
Episcopius, 159, 161 
Euring, Wm., 204, 207 

Falmouth, New England, 350 
Fenton, 383 

family of, 7 

Hall, 30 

Fenton, Wm., 14 

Fielding, Christopher, 12, 389, 394 

Forbes, John, 142 

Fuller, Samuel, 229, 327, 333. He 
is referred to by an opponent as 
one that " had taken the oath of 
abjuration " (Morton's New English 
Canaan). This means that on 
account of his nonconformity he 
had to abjure the realm and was 
banished from the homeland on 
the expiration of three months 
after sentence of the Court. 

Gainsborough, 27, 67, 75, 353, 384, 
386, 415 

Goade, Roger, 50, 55 

Gorton (Lanes.), preacher at, 358. 
Mr. Ernest Axon suggests to 
me that the " preaching minis- 
ter " here referred to may 
have been Thomas Paget, 
sometime curate of Blackley, 
Manchester, who was sus- 
pended for nonconformity and 
withdrew to Amsterdam. 

Samuel, 357 

Gott, Charles, 326; letter to Wm. 
Bradford, 330 

Gouda, 160 

Greasley, 20, 46, 307, 343 

Greenwood, John, 348 

Gringley-on-the-Hill, 387 

Guiana, 211 

Gurnay, Edmund, 39, 40 

Habblesthorpe, 5, 385, 393 
Hall, Joseph, 38, 64, 94, 146 
Halton, John, shoemaker, 27 
Hampton = Southampton, 258 
Harrison, David, 385 

Richard, 66 

William, 370, 390 

Hatherley, Timothy, 350 
Heale, Giles, 246 
Heinsius, Daniel, 179, 184 
Helwys, Thomas, 77, 82, 143, 285 
Heneage House, 257 
Hetherington, John, 143 
Higden, Marlian, 40, 46 
Higginson, Francis, 328, 335 
Hildersham, Arthur, 336 
Hommius, Festus, 16.1, 283 
Honington, 18 
Hopkins, Elizabeth, 262 
Oceanus, 262 



Hopkinson, Francis, 354 

Wm., 28 

Hudson River, 262 
Hunt, Clement, 66 

Indians, 211, 279 

Jacob, Henry, 137, 140, 212, 291 
James, King, 159, 166, 175, 183, 303 
Jamestown, 314 
Jegon, John, 29, 40, 50, 61, 300 

Thos., 46 

Jennens, Abraham, 263 
Jepson, Henry, 108 

Rosamund, 107 

William, 106 

Jessop, Francis, 289, 307 
Johnson, Francis, 79, 87-9 
Jones, Christopher, 245, 257 
Justice, Thos. (of Scrooby), 374 

Keble, John, 359 
Knollys, Hanserd, 353 

Lalaing, Johann de, 107 
Lambeth Articles, 49 
Lassells, Brian, 376, 399, 402-3 

family of, 6 

Thos., 12, 382 

Laud, Archbishop Wm., 104, 347 
Lawne, Christopher, 189 
Lawson, Roger, 14 
Legate, Bartholomew, 180 
Leggatt, George, 22, 25 
Leigh, Captain Charles, 211 
Leverton, North, 28 

South, 29 

Leyden, 100; letter from, 197 
Lincoln, 28, 414 
Lyford, John, 277, 326 

Maisterson (Masterson), John, 359 

Richard, 307-8, 360 

Manners, Roger, 29, 374 
Marriage, form of, 103 
Martin, Christopher, 169, 236, 258 
Martin, Sir Henry, 184, 257 note 
Marton, 392 
Mason, Francis, 65 
Mattersey, 5 
May, Henry, 312 

Mayflower, 230, 238, 244 ; log of, 245 ; 
compact and signatories, 265, 267 
Middelburg, 283 
Millenary Petition, 44 
Millington, Gilbert, 341 

Mitchell, Experience, 257, 274 
Monson, Wm., 19 
More, John, 59 
Morton, George, 273 
Mullins, Priscilla, 246 

William, 246 

Murton (Morton), John, 143, 154, 180, 

Nash, Thos., 227, 307 
Naumkeak, vide Salem 
Naunton, Sir Robert, 167, 215 
Nelson, John, post of Scrooby, 81 

Neville, Anthony, 5 

Gervase, 72 seq. 

Robert, 72, 406 

Newhouse, Thos., 59 
Norton, John, 361 
Norwich, 58 seq., 204 

Occupations of the Pilgrims, 104 
Oldham, John, 275 
Ormerod, George, 26 
Oswald Beck, 27 
Overall, Dr. John, 50 

Paget, John, 125, 136 
Parker, Matt, 33 

Robert, 135 

Patent for the Colony, 266 
Patuxet, 267 
Pearte, Original, 346 

Wm., 15, 345 

Pecke, Anne, 102 

Robert, 103 

Peirce, John, 235, 266 

William, 275-9 

Penry, John, 86 

Perkins, William, 48, 59, 320, 362 
Perth Assembly, 166 
Phillip, John, 338 
Pickering, Edward, 186, 233 
Piggott, Thos., 151 
Pifiowbeeres, 24. This word was 
" carried to Plymouth, N.E., where 
it occurs in a Will of the year 
Plymouth (Devon), 261 
(New England), 241, 266, 267 

note, 314 ; Church at, 326, 332, 

Polgeest, 107 
Polyander, John, 57, 158, 171, 179, 

Pomeroy, Leonard, 263 



Porter, Katherine, 19 
Pory, John, 314-16 
Powell, Thos., 88 
Psalm Book, 362 

Quakers, 349 

Queenborough, 323 

Quick, John, 283 note 

Quipp, John (of Littleborough), 388-9 

John (of Sturton), 12, 373, 379, 

401, 409 
William, 354, 388 

Ragnell (Notts), 73 

Rampton (Notts), 361 

Religion, disputations on, 51 seq. 

Reyner, John, 361 

Reynolds, Captain, 231, 257 

John, printer, 165 

Rhodes, John, 321 

Ring, William, 260 

Robinson, Ann, junior, 282, 348 

Ann, senior, will of, 15, 345 

Bridget the younger, 348 

Bridget (vide Bridget White), 

15, 108, 307, 352 

Christopher, 10, 399, 400 

Ellen, 15, 352 

Fear, 351 

Isaac, 349 

John, junior, 15, 348 

John, senior, 9, 12, 375, 377, 

388, 392, 401, 403, 404; will 
of, 13 

John, the Pilgrim Pastor, 1 1 ; 

admission to College, 34 ; takes 
his degree, 37 ; elected Fellow, 
38; signs letter to Cecil, 39; 
resigns Fellowship and mar- 
ries, 46; religious discussion 
by, 56; at Norwich, 58; re- 
visits Cambridge, 67; leaves 
Anglican Church, 70; confer- 
ence with John Smith, 93; 
controversy with Hall and 
Burgess, 95-7 ; house at Ley- 
den, 106 ; replies to Bernard, 
113; opinion on Church order, 
116; follows Smith, 117; dis- 
cussion with forward Puritan 
preachers, 123 ; his Manumis- 
sion, 129; on baptism, 143; 
limits of religious liberty, 152 ; 
matriculates at Leyden Uni- 
versity, 158 ; his advice sought, 
192; plea for lay preaching, 

204; intercourse with the 
Dutch, 224 ; letter to Carver, 
232; parting counsel of, 239, 
251 ; letter to colonists, 268 ; 
to Brewster, 276 ; concern f or 
Indians, 279; his household 
in 1622, 284; letter to Am- 
sterdam, 293; essays, 298; 
death of, 302; Bradford's ap- 
preciation of, 304; his Cate- 
chism, 319, 362; books re- 
printed, 323 

Robinson, Mary, 11, 16, 355 

— — Mercy, 351 

Nathaniel, 355 

William, 11,352-3 

Rogers, Thos., 236 

Rutherfurd, Samuel, 324 

St. Andrew's Church, Norwich, 58, 

Plymouth, 263 

St. Benet's (Benedict's), Cambridge, 

St. Botolph's, Cambridge, 33 
Salem (Naumkeak), 317, 327-9, 333, 

Saltmarshe, Edward, of Strubby, 

Lines., 19 
Sandys, Sir Edward, 212; letter to, 

214, 217 
Saundby, 377, 382, 415 
Scrooby, 3, 70, 75, 80, 104, 374 
Sherley, James, 277, 317 
Sherwill, Nicholas, 263 
Ships : — 

Anne, 81, 109, 273, 275 

Charity, 272, 278 

Fortune, 266; captured, 270, 360 

James, or Little James, 109, 273 

Jonathan, 263 

Lion, 349 

Mary Rose, 8 

Mayflower, 1, 19, 105, 244, 264, 
266, 275 

Providence, 263 

Sparrow, 272 

Speedwell, 233, 261 

Swan, 272 

Talbot, 349 
Simmons, Matt., 323 
Skelton, Samuel, 328 
Slade, Matthew, 97, 160, 174, 190 
Slaughterford, identified with Sech- 

tenfort, 88 
Smith, Brian, 402, 409, 415 



Smith, Captain John, of Lines., navi- 
gator, 235, 263 

George, 387, 417 

John, senior, of Sturton, 400, 


John, the Sebaptist, 67 ; his 

Paralleles, 112, 126; death of, 
144 ; Confession of Faith, 151 ; 
influence on Clifton, 188, 285, 
292 ; did he spring from Stur- 
ton ?, 409 

Mary, wife of John the Sebap- 
tist, 410 

Ralph, 328, 331 

Richard, of Sturton, painter, 27 

Richard, of London and Welton, 

Lines., Doctor of Physic, 413- 

Richard, Town Clerk of Lincoln, 


— Robert, 417 

Thomas (deacon at Amsterdam), 


Wm. (Bradford-on-Avon), 87 

Wm. (Honington, Lines.), tomb 

of, 18 

Wm. (Honington, Lines.), jun., 


Wm. (Sturton), 28 

Southampton, 237 

Southworth, Alice, 273 

Edward, 9, 104, 257, 379 

Robert, 110 

Stafford Bridge, 27, 373 

Standish, Miles, 274, 280, 305 

Staresmore, Sabine, 140, 203 note, 
217, 291, 293 

Studley, Daniel, 195 

Sturton-le-Steeple (Notts.), 4; infec- 
tious sickness at, 11; life at, in 
Elizabethan times, 369; residents 
in, 395 

Teellinck, Wm., 283 
Testimonie of Leyden Elders, 192 
Thickins, Randall, 107 
Thomson, David, 263 
Tithes, 5, 389 
Thornhagh family, 8 

Francis, 9 

John, senior, 9 : 20, 376, 378, 384 

Sir John, 20, 378 ; petition of, 

Thorpe, Giles, 174 
Trevore, Wm., 246 
Turner, John, 231 

Undertakers, 318. This was the 
name given to the eight leading 
colonists in Plymouth Plantation 
and the four London merchants 
who undertook to be responsible 
for the debts of the Colony under 
the Composition Deed of November 
1626. In return they were granted 
the privilege of managing the trade 
of the Plantation. They were 
sometimes called the "Purchasers." 
The four in London were Richard 
Andrews, Timothy Hatherley, John 
Beauchamp, James Sherley. Beau- 
champ was a drysalter and a 
grantee of land in New England; 
Hatherley subsequently crossed to 
the Plymouth Colony ; Sherley was 
treasurer of the Plymouth Adven- 

Unitarian Church, Boston, Mass., 
334; Gainsborough, 353; New 
Plymouth, Mass., 359 

Virginia, 202, 208-9, 241, 258, 313 

Company, 220, 225 

Vorstius, Conrad, 159, 321 

Walrus, 179, 283 

Watkins, Nicholas, 102 note 

Watson, Anthony, 40, 45 

Wessagusset, 279 

Weston, Thos., 186, 224-8, 234, 249, 

259 271 
Whitgif t, John, 42, 49 
White, Alexander, 17 ; marriage, 18; 

will of, 20, 401 

Bridget, 21, 25, 46-7, 402 

Captain Charles, 341 ; dispatch 

from, 342 
Charles, 16, 22, 25, 289, 307, 


Catherine, 19, 24 

Edward, 19, 24 

, Eleanor, 22 ; will of, 23 

Frances, 19, 25, 307 

Jane, 19, 23, 104, 107 

Nicholas, 107, 417 note 

Roger, 19, 24, 289 ; letters from, 

302, 307, 311 

Thos., of Sturton, 17 

Thos., of Slaughterford, 88, 91 

Willet, Thos., 109 
Williams, Roger, 361 
Williamson, Mr., 245 



Wilson, John, 334 

Roger, 105 

Wincob, John, 222 
Winkburn, 9 

Winslow, Edward, 229, 247, 303 
Winthrop, John, 333 
Wolstenholrne, Sir John, 216 
Women in the Church, 293 
of Littleborough, 370 

Wood, Henry, 105, 108 
Worksop, 5, 71, 415 
Wrentham, 338 
Wright, Reuben, 376 
Wrington, 157 

Yates, John, 204 

Zouche, Sir William, 181 


For an account of the relation between the work of John Smith and 
John Robinson and the influence of their respective churches the reader is 
referred to the author's little volume on John Smith, the Sebaptist, Thomas 
Helwys and the first Baptist Church in England, with fresh light upon the 
Pilgrim Fathers' Church, 1911. 

PBrarJED in Great Britain ey Richard Clay & Sons, Limited, 


University of