D. Hamilton (Duane Hamilton) Hurd.

History of Plymouth County, Massachusetts : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men (Volume 2) online

. (page 15 of 118)
Online LibraryD. Hamilton (Duane Hamilton) HurdHistory of Plymouth County, Massachusetts : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men (Volume 2) → online text (page 15 of 118)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


record of the birth of those Pilgrim principles, whose
conception had long before occurred, but whose grad-
ual development demanded a virgin soil and a free
air for their life and growth.

For the date of their birth we must go back at least
as far as the Reformation. Under Henry the Eighth
the seeds of the Reformation were sown. The hand
which sowed them was guided not so much by Protes-
taut impulses, as by a desire to revenge itself against
the Pope. Owing to the determination of Clement
to oppose his divorce from Catherine, Henry shook
oft' his allegiance to Rome aud declared himself the
head of the Church. Afterwards provoked into new
attitudes of hostility, aud tiually exasperated by a re-
taliatory excommunicatiou, he initiated a move-
ment which could not fail to draw the sunlight upon
the seeds of Protestantism which were ready under
favorable conditions to germinate aud grow. Monas-
teries were suppressed, shrines were demolished, the
worship of images was forbidden, and Wolsey, a prince
of the Roman Church, was arrested aud tried for trea-
01



| son. In order that the minds of the people might
I be turned against Rome, the Bible, translated into
j English by Tyndale a few years before, and smuggled
as a prohibited book into Eoglaud from the conti-
nent, was permitted to be printed at home, aud thus
the popular use and reading of the Scriptures became
the corner-stone on which the structure of religious
freedom was destined to be built. But Henry re-
mained a Catholic nevertheless. He was fighting a
battle in his own camp, having raised the banner of
revolt against his spiritual commander, all unconscious
of the enemy of Protestantism at the gates taking
advantage of the dissensions in the citadel to plant its
standards on the walls.

Thus the reign of Heury the Eighth ended in
1547, and that of his sou, Edward the Sixth, began.
The new king, only ten years of age, under the pro-
tectorate of Sir Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford,
and eldest brother of Queen Jane, the mother of
Edward, was placed as a pupil in the hands of John
Cheeke, a Greek lecturer at the University of Cam-
bridge, and Richard Cox, who instructed him in the
Protestant faith. During his short reign the religious
instruction of the people was urged, aud the cause of
Protestantism advanced. The statute of the six arti-
cles, sometimes called the Bloody Statute, enacted
under the reign of his father, was repealed, and a
new liturgy, or Book of Common Prayer, drawn up.
The mass was changed into the communion ; con-
fession to the priest was made optional ; the English
Bible was placed in every church ; marriages by the
clergy were permitted; the removal of all images and
pictures from the churches was ordered ; and the
ceremouies of bearing palms on Palm Sunday, caudles
on Candlemas-day, ashes on Ash Wednesday, aud
some of the rites used on Good Friday and Easter
were forbidden. It could hardly be expected that the
reform would be a radical one. A revolution in
spiritual matters was not attempted, for there was
danger that it could not be sustained. It was a ref-
ormation only that was sought, aud thus in framiug




HATJOHai JaONUiflSNT TQ 7>J2 FDatJATflSBS.



HISTORY OF PLYMOUTH.



64a



the new liturgy many popish superstitiooa were re-
tained, and the Roman manual was, to a great extent,
adopted as its model. But, as in every reform the
most speedy and thorough eradication of old errors
is in the end the surest and safest method, so the
timid or conservative policy pursued under Edward
not only failed to appease the opponents of reform,
but fell far short of meeting the requirements of the
reformers, who were eager to destroy the faintest
relics of Romanism.

The result of this policy was Puritanism ; and the
first Puritan was John Hooper, an Oxford scholar.
Hooper had severely denounced, under Henry, the
provisions of the Bloody Statute and fled to Ger-
many, where he pursued his studies in Greek, Latin,
and Hebrew, and became a learned scholar and divine.
Returning to London under the reign of Edward, he
received orders from the king and Council to preach
before the court once a week during Lent. In 1550
he was appointed bishop of Gloucester, but declined
it on account of the oath of supremacy in the name
of God and the saints and the Holy Ghost, and also
on account of the habits worn by the bishops. The
king respecting his scruples concerning the oath
struck it out, and both the king and Cranmer were
inclined to yield to his scruples concerning the habits
also, but a majority of the Council said, " The thing
is indifferent, and therefore the law ought to be
obeyed." After a contest of nine months, in the
course of which Hooper suffered a short imprison-
ment for his contumacy, a compromise was effected,
by which he consented to be robed in his habits at
his consecration and when he preached before the
king, but at all other times he should be permitted to
dispense with them.

Pending the settlement of this question the Ref-
ormation went on. The doctrines of the church
were yet to be remodeled. Uuder the direction of
Archbishop Cranmer and Bishop Ridley forty-two
articles were framed upon the chief points of Chris-
tian faith, which, after correction and approval by
other bishops and divines, received the royal sanc-
tion. These articles are, with some alterations, the
same as those now in use, having been reduced to
tliirty-uiue at the beginning of the reign of Elizabeth.
The final work of reformation in the reign of Edward
was a second revision of the Book of Common Prayer,
by which some new features were added, and some of
those to which advanced reformers had objected were
struck out.

At the age of sixteen, Edward closed his reign, to
be succeeded by Bloody Mary, under whose auspices
Romauism was again reinstated in England, and the
"4*



reformatory laws of Edward were repealed. The
persecutions which characterized her reign perhaps,
however, were the means of advancing the Protestant
cause more surely than would have been possible un-
der Edward. The reformers, whose moderate de-
mands might have been satisfied by a partial aban-
donment of Romish forms, were forced into exile and
subjected in other lands to new and potent influences,
which only served to make their demauds more ex-
treme when the time should agaiu arise lor them to
be pressed. The current of Protestantism, which
flowed towards the continent to escape the persecu-
tions of Mary, flowed back, after her five years' reign,
on the accession of Elizabeth, in separate streams, —
one to buoy up and sustain the English Church with
all the forms with which the new queen invested it,
and the other to sweep away, if possible, every ves-
tige of Romanism in its ritual. The contumacy of
John Hooper was but a single Puritan wave, which
met a yielding barrier and disappeared. With the
return of the exiles from Geneva a new tide of Puri-
tanism set in, with an ocean of resolute thought be-
hind it, which no barrier was firm enough to stay. It
began its career, as was the case with Hooper, with a
simple protest against forms of worship, a protest
which, when conformity was demanded by the
bishops, gradually expanded into a denial of the
power which demanded it. The more urgeut the
demand the greater the resistance, uutil persecution
converted objection to a ritual into a conscientious
contempt of prelatical power.

Thus Separatism appeared as the full blossom of
the bud of Puritanism. Though the great body of
Puritans remained within the ranks of episcopacy,
desirous only of its reform, here and there were those
who claimed the right to set up churches of their
own, with their own church government, their own
pastors and elders, subject to no control or inter-
ference either from the bishops or the crown. The first
separation from the church worthy of note took place
in 1567. A body of worshipers to the number of
one hundred or more occupied a hall in London in
Anchor Lane belonging to the company of the
Plumbers, and held service in accordance with their
own methods. The clergymen present were Johu
Benson, Christopher Coleman, Thomas Roland, and
Robert Hawkins, all of whom had been deprived of
their livings for Don-conformity. Among the prom-
inent laymen was William White, who was described
as " a sturdy citizen of London and a man of fortuue."
The inquiry naturally suggests itself whether William
White the " Mayflower" Pilgrim may not have be-
longed to the same family, and been perhaps his son,



64b



HISTORY OF PLYMOUTH COUNTY.



Thirty-one of these worshipers were sent to prison,
and, after ten and a half months' confinement, were
warned of greater severity on the repetition of their
objectionable couduct, and then discharged.

In 1576 John Copping, Elias Thacker, and Robert
Brown, all clergymen of the established church who
had been deprived of their livings by the bishops,
became conspicuous in the Separatist movement.
Brown was a man of high family, related to Lord
Treasurer Burleigh, and chaplain to the Duke of Nor-
folk. He fled to Holland, where, while pastor of a
Separatist congregation of English exiles, he wrote
several books expounding Separatist doctrines, which
were surreptitiously distributed in England. At the
time of their publication Copping and Thacker were
in prison, and in some way managed to aid in their
distribution. For this offense they were transferred
from the hands of the bishops, whose prisoners they
were, to the secular power, and tried on the charge of
sedition. In June, 1593, both died on the gallows.
Brown returned to England, and after a sentence of
excommunication finally recanted, and became the
recipient of a living at the hands of those whose
power he had so long denied and resisted. He had,
however, been identified with the new movement
sufficiently long to stamp his followers with the name
Brownists, a name which was for a long period
applied without regard to minor differences of opinion
in matters of doctrine and church government to all
who had separated themselves from the established
church. At a later day John Robinson warned his
congregation to throw off and reject the name, but it
is a reasonable conjecture that he was influenced
more by a disgust at the recantation of Brown than
by any opposition to the views he had promulgated.

But the fate of Copping and Thacker had little eflect
in checking the onward movement of Separatism.
The martyrdom of Barrow and Greenwood and Ap-
Heury followed soon after, and added only fuel to the
flame, which was burning too fiercely for any prelati-
cal tyranny to extinguish. Henry Barrow was a
graduate of Cambridge, a member of the legal pro-
fession in London, and a frequenter of the court of
Elizabeth. John Greenwood, also a graduate of Cam-
bridge, had been ordained in the church, and had
served as chaplain in the family of Lord Rich, a
Puritan noblemau of Rochford in Essex. John Ap-
Heury, or Penry, as he is generally called in history,
was a Welshman, who took his first degree in Cam-
bridge, and the degree of Master of Arts at Oxford.
They had all passed rapidly through the mild stage of
Puritanism, which they found no fit resting-place, and
entered with enthusiasm into the cause of Separatism.



As Separatism grew Puritanism grew also, and as
naturally as fruit follows the flower, Puritanism was
constantly and inevitably swelling into Separatism.
While denouncing Separatism as a schism and hating
schism as a sin, the Puritan, while thinking himself
merely a non-conformist in methods, found himself
drifting as uueonscious of motion as the aeronaut into
a positive repudiation of doctrine. Francis Johnson,
a noted convert to Separatism, illustrated in his career
the attitude and experience of a large number of Puri-
tans. A bitter enemy of Separatism, though a de-
termined Puritan, he lent himself with such earnest-
ness to the suppression of a book published by Bur-
row and Greenwood that only two copies were pre-
served, one for himself aud one for a friend. When
he had done his work, as he said himself, " He went
home, and being set down in his study he began to
turn over some pages of this book aud superficially to
read some things here and there as his fancy led him.
At length he met with something that began to work
upon his spirit, which so wrought with him as drew
him to this resolution seriously to read over the whole
book, the which he did once and again. In the end
he was so takeu, aud his conscience was troubled so
as he could have no rest in himself until he crossed
the sea and came to London to confer with the au-
thors, then in prison." The result of his conversion
was the organization, in 1592, of a Separatist congre-
gation in Southwark, which was the original start-
ing-point of a society still flourishing. In 1616,
Henry Jacob became pastor of this church, followed
by John Lothrop, who eame to America iu 163-1, aud
was settled over the church in Seituate. Johnson,
soon after the organization of his church, was banished
from England and became pastor of a banished church
in Amsterdam, where he " caused the same book which
he had been the instrument to burn to be new printed
and set out at his own charge."

But in the onward movement of Separatism it may
be asked, What was the attitude of Puritanism 1 It
must not be supposed because Separatists were Puri-
tans that Puritans were Separatists, or that there was
the slightest sympathy or friendship between the two.
The Puritans adhered to the church, protesting only
against some of its objectionable forms, aud denounc-
ing Separatism as a schism and a sin, — the Separatists
pushed to the extremes of reform, and denounced those
who tarried by the way. Indeed, iu the Parliament
of 1593, in which the Puritau elemeut predominated
iu the Commons, a law was passed so qualifying the
act of 23 Elizabeth, intended to apply to Papists
only, as to impose the punishment of banishment on
all who were guilty of writing or speaking against the



HISTORY OF PLYMOUTH.



64c



bishops, as well as those who published seditious mat-
ter against the crown. It was this law, sustaiucd as
vigorously by the Puritans as by ecclesiastical au-
thority, which swelled the tide destined to sweep Sepa-
ratism out of England. The Puritans could not
tolerate any opposition to the old idea of ecclesiastical
unity, and believed that the national church, though
perhaps unscripturally organized, contained within
itself the true Church of Christ. They believed,
therefore, that Parliament might rightfully enact laws
for ecclesiastical government and for the punishment
of ecclesiastical offenders. Their approval, therefore,
of this law was entirely consistent with their attitude
of hostility to the Separatists, and should always be
borne iu mind as measuring the distinction bctweeu
two bodies of reformers, which have been persistently
aud ignorantly mingled and confounded.

The next independent church established in Eng-
land was that of John Smith, organized at Gains-
borough in 1602. In early life Smith had been a
pupil of Francis Johnson, and was at one time con-
nected with the Southwark Church. He removed to
Amsterdam with his congregation; afterwards became
a Baptist, removing with his followers to Ley, where
he embraced the views of Arminius, which he ably
defended in a book answered by John Robinson in
1611. The date of the formation of the Pilgrim
Church at Scrooby has been stated incorrectly by Na-
thaniel Morton, in "New England's Memorial," to have
been 1602. The discovery of Bradford's history has
exposed this among other errors, and fixed the year
1606 as the true date. It is known that the de-
parture of the congregation for Holland took place in
the early part of 1608. Bradford says, " So after they
had continued together about a year they resolved to
get over into Holland, as they could, which was in
the year 1607-8." He further says that Brewster
died in 1643, aud " that he had borne his part in
weal and woe with this persecuted church above
thirty-six years in England, Holland, and this wilder-
ness."

The founder of this church was William Brewster,
one who, in the language of an English antiquarian,
" was the most eminent person iu the Pilgrim move-
ment, and who, if that honor is to be given to any
single person, must be regarded as the father of New
England." He was the son of William Brewster, of
Scrooby, who held the position of postmaster for many
years. He was born in 1560, and having spent four
years iu the University of Cambridge, entered in 1584
the service of Sir William Davison, then starting on
an embassy to the Netherlands to prepare the way for
such substantial aid from Englaud as might rescue



that country from the despotism of Catholic Philip
of Spain. Brewster attended him as secretary, aud
wheu the port of Flushing, with important fortresses
iu Holland and Zealand were transferred to Elizabeth
as security for men and money loaned, the keys of
Flushiug were placed in the hands of Brewster, and
held by him until the arrival of Sir Philip Sidney,
who was appointed to its permanent command. On
the return of Davison to England he was made a
secretary of state and one of the Privy Council, and
Brewster continued to act as his secretary. The un-
fortunate death of Mary, Queen of Scots, involving a
misunderstanding between Elizabeth and her secre-
tary of state concerning the issue of the death war-
rant, terminated the official career of Davison and
threw Brewster out of employment. Queen Mary
was executed on the 8th of February, 1586/7, and
Davison was committed to the Tower six days after-
wards. Brewster probably removed to Scrooby about
the year 1588, to take charge of the business of his
father, who was in poor health. It is known that his
father died in the summer of 1590, and that he then
claimed iu his application for the appointment to fill
the vacancy that he had performed the duties of the
office for a year and a half. Through some misunder-
standing Sir John Stanhope, who was appointed post-
master-general June 20, 1500, and knew little of the
circumstances of the case, made another appointment,
from which, however, he sooner or later receded at
the urgent solicitation of Davison, who, notwithstand-
ing his apparent disgrace, seems to have retained in-
fluence at court. It is known that on the 1st of
April, 1594, William Brewster was in full possession
of the office, and remained its incumbent until Sept.
30 : 1607.

To Scrooby then in 1588 William Brewster went,
a small village on the borders of Nottinghamshire,
about three miles from Austerfield, in Yorkshire, with
the river Idle flowing between. He occupied the old
manor-house of the bishops, which as far back as
William the Conqueror had been a possession of the
archbishops of York. Here he lived, as Bradford
says, " doing much good in promoting aud furthering
religion, not only by his practice and example, but by
procuring good preachers to all places thereabouts,
aud drawing in of others to assist aud help forward
in such a work, he himself most commonly deeply iu
the charge, und sometimes above his ability." Here
he remained a mild non-conformist at first, and, as
Bradford again says, " doing the best good he could,
and walking according to the revealed light he saw
until the Lord revealed further unto him." Finally,
the increasing demands of the bishops determined



64d



HISTORY OF PLYMOUTH COUNTY.



him to throw off all allegiance to the church, aud or-
ganize an independent congregation. Sabbath after
Sabbath they met in the manor-house, at first uuder
the ministrations of Richard Clyfcon, and afterwards
of John Robinson. Clyfton had been vicar of Mam-
ham, and afterwards rector of Babworth, and when
deprived of his living on account of non-conformity,
lie took charge of the little congregation at Scrooby.
He went with them to Holland in 1608, but remained
in Amsterdam when they removed to Leyden, and
died in 1016.

Soon after the pastorate of Clyfton began, John
Robinson became associated with the Scrooby Church.
Born in Lincolnshire in 1576, Robinsou entered
Emanuel College in 1592, took the degree of M.A.
iu 1GO0, and B.D. in 1607. He began his minis-
terial labors in Mundham, where, on account of his
Puritan tendencies, he was at length suspended from
his functions. He afterwards retired to Norwich,
where, after laboring for a short time with a small
congregation of Puritans, he at last renounced all
communion with the church. While at Norwich he
was spoken of as "a man worthily reverenced of all
the city for the grace of God in him." Robinson
himself said " that light broke in upon him by de-
grees, that he hesitated to outrun those of his Puritan
brethren who could still reconcile themselves to re-
main iu the Establishment," but that continual per-
secution drove him to the extremes of separation.
Baillie, iu his writings, though an opponent of Sepa-
ratism, called him " the most learned, polished, and
modest spirit that ever the sect enjoyed."

William Bradford was another of the Scrooby
Church. His grandfather, William Bradford, was
living at Austerfield in 1575, the father of three
sons, — William, Thomas, and Robert, — of whom
William, the father of Governor Bradford, married
Alice, the daughter of John Hanson. William Brad-
ford, afterwards the Governor of the Plymouth Col-
ony, was born in 1589, and was consequently about
seventeen years of age at the time of the formation of
the Scrooby Church. His father died in his infancy,
and he was reared and educated under the direction
of his uncle Thomas. Though spriuging from the
ranks of the yeomanry, he became a man of learning,
and while in Holland not only became master of the
language of the country, but added a knowledge of
French, Latin, Greek, aud even Hebrew, which he
studied, as he said, " that he might see with his own
eyes the ancient oracles of God in all their native
beauty." Though a youug man, he resisted the
opposition of his uncle and guardian, and joined the
outlawed church of the Pilgrims, answering to all



remonstrances that " to keep a good conscience and
walk in such a way as God has prescribed iu His
word is a thing which I shall prefer above you all,
and above life itself." Such was the man who in his
youth displayed qualities of mind and heart which,
when fully matured, were for mauy years iu later life
the staff and support of the Plymouth Colony. With
such men as Brewster, Robinson, and Bradford as a
part of its ingredients, it is surely not to be wondered
that the colony was led courageously and safely
through the perilous paths which it was destiued to
tread, and finally planted on permanent foundations
in the wilderness of the western world.

Among the members of the Scrooby Church, after-
wards associated with the settlement of Plymouth, it
may be possible to number George Morton, William
Butten, and the Southworths and Carpenters. The
baptism of a George Morton is recorded in the registry
of the Austerfield Church, under date of Feb. 12,
1598. It does not seem probable that this could
have been the George Morton who was the father of
the Secretary Nathaniel Morton, and who came to
New England in the "Anu" in 1623, for his mar-
riage-record exists in Leyden under date of 1612,
in which he is described as George Morton, of York,
in England, merchant. It is possible, however, that
at the time of his baptism he may have been some-
what advanced in childhood, and that he may have
left his native place to settle in York, the place from
which he afterwards hailed. The baptism of William
Butten, sou of Robert Butten, is also' recorded in the
Austerfield registry, under date of Sept. 12, 158'J,
and that of William, son of William Wright, under
date of March 10, 1589. Butten was probably the
servant of Samuel Fuller, who started iu the " May-
flower," and was drowned on the passage. It is not
improbable that Wright was the William Wright
who came to New England in the " Fortune" in
1621, and that both Butten and Wright were mem-
bers of the Scrooby Church. The Carpeuters and
Southworths are so intimately connected by marriage
with different members of the Pilgrim Colony that
we find it difficult to eliminate them from the band
of worshipers at Scrooby. George Morton, William
Wright, Samuel Fuller, and Edward Southworth all
married daughters of Alexander Carpenter, while
Richard Cooper, another early settler of Plymouth,
married the widow of William Wright; aud Gov-
ernor Bradford, after the loss of his first wife, mar-



Online LibraryD. Hamilton (Duane Hamilton) HurdHistory of Plymouth County, Massachusetts : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men (Volume 2) → online text (page 15 of 118)