The story of the Mayflower and the Founding Fathers is well documented; but what about the places they left behind?
Any visitor to Plymouth, Massachusetts will soon feel a sense of history. A replica of the Mayflower stands proudly on the harbor, local inns are named after early settlers such as John Carver and Governor Bradford and a few miles up the road the Plimoth Plantation recreates the lives of the early settlers.
Most passengers on the Mayflower were dissident Puritans fleeing persecution by the established Church in England. Many of the leaders came from a small area around where the West Riding of Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire met. Today, the area remains mainly rural with few tourist trappings. Visitors can still explore an area that underplays its important role in world history.
Austerfield the Birthplace of William Bradford
William Bradford the second governor of Massachusetts was born in the village of Austerfield on the Yorkshire / Nottinghamshire border (the English version of a state line). From the age of twelve, he was strongly influenced by the preaching of the Puritan Richard Clyfton. On most Sundays Bradford walked the 10 miles from his home to Babworth to hear Clyfton preach. Bradford was baptized at the Norman Church of St Helena, which dominates the small collection of houses that straddle the A614 just north of the market town of Bawtry.
Scrooby the Home of William Brewster
Between Austerfield and Babworth stands the village of Scrooby, dominated by the medieval parish church of St Wilfrid's. Scrooby was home to Bradford's mentor, friend and confidant William Brewster. Brewster lived at Scrooby Manor and would accompany young Bradford on his Sabbath excursions to Babworth. Later, when Bradford was Governor of Massachusetts, Brewster as the only university-educated passenger of the Mayflower assumed the role of Senior Elder and spiritual leader of the early settlers.
Babworth Church where Richard Clyfton Preached
Richard Clyfton was not a Mayflower passenger, but his preaching was a great influence on young William Bradford. His ministry at Babworth church attracted worshippers from far afield, including Bradford who on most Sundays walked the 10 miles from his Austerfield home to Babworth just to hear Clyfton preach. This routine continued for about three years until Clyfton was dismissed from the parish for refusing to comply with the rituals that the Anglican Church was introducing.
St Nicholas's Church Bawtry.
After leaving Babworth, Richard Clyfton continued his preaching at St Nicholas Church in Bawtry, in blatant defiance of the Church authorities. St Nicholas's Church stands in the centre of this small market town, just a short walk away from the Crown Inn.
By 1609 the persecution of the Separatist Movement was such that many dissidents fled from the area and sailed Lincolnshire town of Boston to Leiden in Holland, and eventually made their epic Atlantic crossing on the Mayflower. The rest is history ....
Visiting the Area where The Pilgrim Fathers Lived
The Great North Road (A1) passes through the region. The nearest railway stations, Doncaster and Retford
, both have regular direct services to London. The Pilgrim Fathers UK Origin's Association offers useful advice.