I was excited to walk in the Pilgrim’s footsteps, because my grandpa’s ancestry descends from several of them. From the Mayflower, he was descended from William and Alice Mullins, John and Priscilla (Mullins) Alden, George and Juliana (Carpenter) Morton, Thomas and Joseph Rogers, and Richard Warren. However, not all of these arrived from Leiden and not all the Leiden Pilgrims travelled on the Mayflower.
They were called Separatists, for they wanted to separate both from the Catholic Church and from the Church of England, which they felt had not reformed enough from Catholicism. Because of this, they found themselves banned from England and persecuted in their congregation in Scrooby, England. In 1607 they booked passage on a ship but were betrayed by the captain. William Brewster, John Robinson and others were imprisoned in Boston, Lincolnshire, England’s medieval guild hall. A year later they tried again and finally made their way to Amsterdam, little by little, in various passages (some had even made the move in the late 1500’s). Here they could practice their religion freely. William Bradford wrote:
They all got over at length, some at one time and some at another, and some at one place and some in another, and met again according to their desires, with no small rejoicing.
After a year in Amsterdam, over 100 of the separatists decided to move to Leiden, Holland, in 1609, which initially worked out very well for them.
Chris and I were there in 2015, and made our way towards Pieterskerk Cathedral, near to their homes and businesses.
Sure enough, we found an alley named after William Brewster, where he lived and worked.
The General Society of Mayflower Descendants placed this sign in 1955, 335 years after the Pilgrims sailed to America.
The alleyway is very narrow and at the very end is a building where William Brewster and Edward Winslow set type for books that were forbidden in England. These books were then smuggled back into England under much danger.
I loved seeing the old brick along this way.
We then turned around and headed back to the archway.
Here I am near Brewster alley.
We also found the area where the Pilgrim Pastor, John Robinson lived, and where he held services. This almshouse replaced his home soon after his death.
Through the archway and back in the courtyard behind his home is where most of the Pilgrims lived, in small homes.
Just imagine all the singing, worship and discussion that took place in this courtyard!