Henry Martyn Dexter.

The England and Holland of the Pilgrims online

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home before the child, William Bradford, was born \vithin
three miles from the manor-house, with whom he was to be as-
sociated afterwards more intimately than vnth. any other person
outside of his own family.

Just northeast of the railway station at Bawtry a by-path
leads across the country to Austerfield. It conducts one over
rustic stiles and, in the season, through fields of waving grain
towards a small hamlet, the dwellings of which intimate poverty

1616 confederated thus in London: "Standing' together, they joined hands, and
solemnly covenanted with each other, in the presence of Almii;hty God, to -walk
together in all Gods ways and ordinances, according as he had alreadv reveale<l, or
should farther make them known to them." Winslow also describes {IIi/poc. i'?iin.
92) the Massachusetts men, who, we know, copied in some degree from Plymouth,
as covenanting " to walke in all his wayes revealed, or as they should bee made
knowne unto them, and to worahip Him according to his will revealed in His writ-
ten Word onely."

^ Son of Tliomas, of Norraanton, Derbyshire. Married Anne Stuffen, of Work-
sop, in Sept., l.iSi", two or three months after becoming rector of Babworth. Had
three sons and three daughters, all born in Babworth ; the youngest, Eleazer, born
Nov. 1, 1.^98. An old family Bible in the Taylor Institution, Oxfurd. contains
details of his history and family, but gives no clue to his university. Dr. Dexter
had a complete transcript of these notes, and Arber cites them. Slorij of Pibj.
Faths. 95.


but not pauperism, with a few of larger suggestiveness. After
passing two thirds of the way through the village, he will discover
on his right the little churchyard and the quaint old parish
church, St. Helen's.^ Some things about it are unchanged since
long before the date to which we now are taken back. It was
built by John de Builli in the latter half of the twelfth century,
and its Norman doorway, at the side, with a compound arch,
zigzag and beak ornaments and a rude carving of a dragon, is
assigned to that date. The exterior has not been greatly altered.
In Bradford's time the inside evidently was a plain, bo^dike
room, with a narrow chancel extension. The rude oaken chancel
railing apparently is several himdred years old, and some panes
of glass in the windows must have let in the light upon services
here 300, or even 400, years ago. Within the last seven or
eight years the church has been restored, and enlarged to its
earlier size and shape by the addition of an aisle on the outside
of the old north wall. Several pillared arches in that wall, filled
in and plastered over, have been reopened. They seem to have
been built up before his time.^

There were li\ang in Austerfield about 1575 a William Brad-
ford ^ and a John Hanson. Apparently they were better off than
their neighbors. They were the only residents assessed to the
subsidy, Bradford being taxed on twenty shillings' annual value
of land and Hanson on sixty shillings of goods, which implies
that the former was the leading farmer and the latter the shop-
keeper of the village. Hanson had married Margaret (or ]Mary)
Gresham, July 23, 1560, and they had a daughter, Alice, born
Dec. 8, 1562. No record of Bradford's marriage is known, but
he seems to have been married and had three sons, William,
Thomas and Robert, each of whom married and had issue. Wil-
liam married ^Vlice Hanson on June 21, 1584. Thomas's mar-

^ So called as early as 1471, according to a will of that date.

' The old baptismal font is a hollowed block of stone some twenty-three inches
in diameter at the top and about nine inches deep at the centre. It was superseded
Borae years ngo by a smart new one in Gothic style, and was appropriated by *he
clerk as a trough for his poultry. But since American attention has been attracted
to the spot, it has l)een replaced in the church.

* These facts as to the Bradford family are mainly from Hunter's Cuilctions
and C. Mather's Magnolia, supplemented by Dr. Dexter's personal researches in
the records. •


riage is not recorded, but he had a daughter, Margaret, baptized
Mar. 9-19, 1577-78. Robert married Alice Waigestaff on Jan.
31-Feb. 10, 1585-86.

"William and Alice Bradford had three children. The eldest
was Margaret, baptized Mar. 8-18, 1585-86, who was buried
the next day. The second was Alice, baptized Nov. 30, 1587.
Nothing more about her is knowTi positively, but various circum-
stances imply that she died while comparatively young, and the
records note the burial, on Jan. 30-Feb. 9, 1607-8, of an
Alice Bradford not otherwise accounted for. The third child,
baptized at the old stone font, on "Wednesday, Mar. 19-29,
1588-89, was to become historic. The record, made by the
rector, Rev. Henry Fletcher, who performed the service, runs
thus : " AVilliam sone of AVillm Bradfoui-th baptized the x\x^^
day of March Anno dm. 1589."

Evidently this Bradford family had neither poverty nor large
riches. Yet Robert Bradford plainly was of some consequence,^
and his will suggests something as to the family from which the
future Governor of the Plymouth Colony came. The testator
describes himself as " Robert Bradfourth. of Austerfield, yeo-
man." He makes an energetic declaration of his Christian faith,
and leaves ten shillings to the chapel in Austerfield. He gives
small legacies to two servants and to Thomas Silvester, rector
of Aukley. He then bequeaths to his eldest son, Robert, the
reversion of two leases held by him in Austerfield and ^Martin,
his best yoke of oxen, certain household furniture, " the counter
where the evidences are," and his corselet with all its belongings.
The residue of the propei'ty is divided equally among his four
children, who are made executors : Robert, then ahnost eighteen ;
Mary, about sixteen ; Elizabeth, about twelve ; and Margaret,
about nine. He requests his neighbor, Mr. Richardson, of Baw-

1 Re was buried Apr. 23, 1G09. Aust. Par. Recs. Hunter {Colls. 105-109) gives
an abstract of his ■will. Aukley. or Alkley, was a hamlet four or five miles north-
■west from Austerfield. Silvester's will, in 1G15, indicates that he had a libniry of
English and Latin books, larsj-e for such a place in those days and possibly of some
value to William Bradford in his youth. Martin, or !Morton. is an old family seat,
possibly then a parish or hamlet, adjoining- Austerfield and Bawtry. George Mor-
ton, the Pilgrim, probably was born there. It still is so much of an estate that it.
was sold in 1S91 for $150,000.


try, to take charge of Robert and Margaret during their mi-
norities ; William Downes, of Scrooby, of Elizabeth ; and Mr.
Silvester of ^Nlary. Hunter sums up his discoveries about the
Bradford family thus : —

"Yeoman" [by which name they called themselves] implies a con-
dition of life a little better than that which would now be indicated by
the word. The yeomanry of England in the reign of Elizabeth formed
the class next to those who were the acknowledged gentry using coat-
armour of right. They lived for the most part on lands of their own.
. . . This will [that just referred to] shows the Bradfords to have
been at tliis time intimately acquainted with tlie best of the people liv-
ing in their neighborhood, if it be allowed that holding a lease from
the Catholic family of Morton implies acquaintance with them. The
Mr. Richardson, to whom he commits two of the children, was, next to
the Mortons, the most considerable person then at Bawtry. . . . On
the whole it appears that the Bradfords of Austeriield, dm-ing the
eighteen years that he [WilUam] was living amongst them . . . asso-
ciated with the best of the slender population by whom they were sur-

Local tradition associates a house still standing in Austerfield
with this family. The lack of records of real estate transfers
makes it impossible to demonstrate the truth of this tradition.
Probably it deserves little credit, yet it has endured for two or
three generations, at the least. There are inscribed stones in the
little churchyard but none of any Bradfords. In fact, excepting
in the cases of the more recent graves or of a few comparatively
older ones protected by monuments, to identify any grave is
almost hopeless.^

Bradford was hardly more than sixteen when the Scrooby
church was formed. Orphaned - while yet a lad, his grandfather,
WiDiam, and his uncles, Thomas and Robert, intended him for

' In English churchyards stones more than from 75 to 100 years old seldom have
legible inscriptions. Moreover. Gervase Mihier, then parish clerk and sexton at
Austerfield, said in ISCo that he seldom buried any one -without dig-ging; np a part
of some one else. On the previous day, in opening a grave for an interment, he
had exhumed bones and part of a coffin, and had thrown earth over them until the
funeral party was gone, and then replaced them upon the top of the new body iu
the old grave !

^ His father was buried on July lo, 1591, when the son was less than two years
old. 'His mother appears to have been married again, on Sept. 23, 15'J3, to Robert
BriggB, and may have died soon after.


" the affairs of Husbandry " upon the farm which he inherited.^
But as a boy he was weak, and " soon and long sickness " indis-
posed him to farming, while also turning his thoughts and tastes
from " the Vanities of youth." About 1602 the Scriptures made
a lasting mipression upon his mind, and soon after, under the
influence of Clyfton's illuminating ministry, he decided that it
was his duty to withdraw from the State Church, and to unite
with the Separatists.

In this he encountered the bitter opposition of his uncles and
neighbors,^ but his answer was : —

Were I like to endanger my life, or consume my estate by any un-
godly Courses, your counsels to me were very seasonable : But you
know that I have been diligent and provident in my calling, and not
only desirous to augment what I have, but also to enjoy it in your
Company ; to part from which will be as great a cross as can befal
me. Nevertheless, to keep a good conscience, and walk in such a way
as God has prescribed in his Word, is a thing which I must prefer be-
fore you all, and above Life itself. Wherefore, since 't is for a good
cause that I am like to suft'er the disasters which you lay before me,
you have no cause to be either angry Avith me, or sorry for me ; yea. I
am not only willing to part with everything that is dear to me in tliis
world for this cause, but I am also thankful that God has given me an
heart so to do, and will accept me so to suffer for liim.

There also are brief allusions to several others of the Scrooby
company. Richard Jackson was one, and seems to have lived
there. Late in 1607 he was cited ^ before the High Court of
Commission " for his disobedience in matters of religion," fined
twenty pounds, and an attachment was ordered. The next
August his case came up again and he was described as " late
of Scrooby, now of Ticklull." Robert Rochester also was a resi-
dent of Scrooby, who, Hunter says,* was dealt with as a Sepa^

^ We are remitted for most of the details of his life to the N. E. Memorial of
Sec. Morton, of the Plyra. Col., and to Cotton Mather's Magnalia. But Morton's
mother was a sister of Bradford's second wife, and Morton had custody " of such
Manuscripts as he [Bradford] left in his study, from the year 1G20, unto 1046."
It is likely that Mather had the benefit of some of these private sources of history,
as Prince afterwards liad.

2 Mag. ii : ?..

« Act-hooks of Comnu'ssion, Dec. 1, 1607 ; Aug. 2, 1608.

* Colls. 128," 126, 127.


ratist by the Commissioners in 1608. But no other mention of
him appears. Francis Jessop also was one. He was a younj^er
son of a good family in ^^'orksop. Hunter says that it was
literary 1 and religious, professing itself Puritan, but. only in the
case of Francis going so far as Separation. He was married
at Worksop, on Jan. 24-Feb. 3, 1604-5, to Frances White,
supposed to have been a sister of Bridget White, who married
John Robinson, Jane White, who married Randall Thickins,
and Roger White, a member of the Leyden company after 1621,
and perhaps earlier. Worksop is only nine miles from Scroobv,
and Jessop, who must have been about twenty-eight, and these
Whites may have been among those who formed the church.

Gervase Ne\'ille was another. Although in Amsterdam he
went all lengths with Smyth into Anabaptism and Se-baptism,
he deserves mention here, not only as one of the company, but
also because there is a fuller account in his case than in that of
any one else of the manner in which the Ecclesiastical Causes
Commission Court dealt with these men. The following extract
is from the official documents : ^ —

Nov. 10. 1607. Office of Court against Gervase Nevyle of Scrooby.
Informacion hathe bene geuen and presentment made that the gald
Gervase Nevjde is one of the sects of Barrowists, or Brownists. hould-
ing & mainteining erronious opinions & doctrine repugnant to the Holie
Scriptures & Worde of God, for which his disobedience & schismaticall
obstinacie an attachment was awarded to William Blanchard messen-
ger, etc., to apprehend him ; by vertue whereof being by him brought
before his Grace & saide Associates [the High Court], & charged
with his errors & daingerous opinions & disobedience, his Grace in tlie
name of himself haveing charged him therewith, as also with certain
contemptuous speeches & frequenting of conventicles and companie
of others of his profession, he reipiired him to take an oath to make
answere (so farr as he ought & was l)ounde by lawe) to certaine interro-
gatories or questions by them conceived & sett downe in writeing to be
propounded & [adjministred unto him & others of liis bretheren of the
separation & sect aforesaid, which he obstinatelie & uterlie refused,

' Hunter is mistaken in calling Francis the author of the Discovert/ of the Errors
of the English Anabaptists, IG'S-]. 4to. That was '" by Edmond Jessop. who some-
time walked in the said errors with them.'' It mav be added that Francis is re-
corded at Leyden as from " Rotherham and Sheffield."

^ Act-books, 8. d.


denying to geve his Grace answere, & protesting very presumptuousUe
& insolentlie in the presence of God againste his authoritie (and as he
tearmed it) his Antic hristian hiekarchie ; but yet yealded to
answere to the rest of the said Commissioners (excepting his Grace
oneHe) although it was by them shewed unto him that his Grace was
cheefe of th' Ecclesiastical! Commission, by vertue whereof he was
convented, & they aU did then & there sit. And then, after divers
godly exortacions & speeches to him, they did propound & reade the
said interrogatories unto him, and presentlie sett downe his answere
unto the same in their presences under his hand. And forsomucii as
thereby, as also by his unreverent, contemptuous & scandalous speaehes
it appeared that he is a very daingerous schismaticall Separ[at]ist,
Browneist, and irreligious subject, houlding & mainteyning divers
erronious opinions, the said lord Archb. with his colleagues aforesaid
have by their strait warrant committed him, the said Gervase. to the
custodie of the said William Blanchard by liim to be therewith deliv-
ered to the handes, warde & safe custody of the keeper or his deputie
keeper of his Highnesses Castle of Yorke, not permitting him to have
any libertie or conference with any, without spetiall license from three
at the least of the saide Commissioners (whereof one to be of the

As Neville was in York Castle in the March foUowincr. the
church, while in Scrooby, did not see much of him. Elizabeth
Neal also is recorded in Leyden as from Scrooby, but no details
are given.

One remains, chiefest of aU, John Robinson. Apparently he
was born in Lincohishire,i and perhaps at Gainsborough,'2 in
1576 or 1577.3 Of his parentage or early training no account
is kno^vn. He appears first at Corpus Christi, or Benet,^ College,
Cambridge, in 1592.^

1 The Corp. Chris, register (Masters's Wst. Corp. Chris. List of Members, 41)
says Lincolnshire, and Bishop HaU (ApoL against Brownists, 98) says: " Lincoln-
enire was your Country."

2 So Hunter judges {Colls. Q-P,). The Gainsborough parish records go back to
lo&ibut the first volume is so illegible that the record, if there, cannot be iden-

« An inference from the record of his matriculation at Levden : "Sept. 5 1CI5

Coss. permissu [by leave of the m.-igistrates] Joannes Robints [onus- evidently

added afterwards] ; Auglus. An. xx^ix. Stud. Theol. Alitfamiliam [has a familv]."

So called because it had for its chapel the church of St. Benedict (St. Benet),

and was bounded on one side by a street of that name.

* Masters (41) notes of one of five John liobinsons, connected with the colle'-e
before IGTT, '"beneficed near Yarmouth in Norf. but being molested by the Ecclesi-


Corpus Christi is north of Peterhouse on the other side of
Trumpinjjton St. Of the fifteen colleges ^ it was fifth in age,
having been founded in 1352 by members of the Guilds of Cor-
pus Christi and the Blessed Virgin, apparently so that priests
there educated might be obliged to celebrate without fees any
masses desired.^ In 1573 ^ it had had ninety-one members, and
in 1621 it had but 140 — a Master, twelve fellows, thirty-three
scholars and ninety -four students — the average membership of
the fifteen colleges then being about 180. John Jegon, to be-
come Bishop of Norwich, was Master and Vice-chancellor of the
university as well. Lord Burgliley still being Chancellor. The
college had a good, but not brilliant, record. Among its gradu-
ates were Kichard Woluian, one of the canonists in the matter
of the divorce of Henry VIII., a signer of the letter to the Pope,
and part author of ^ The Institution of a Christian Man ; " Mat-
thew Parker, afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury ; Sir Nicholas
Bacon, Lord Keeper of the Great Seal ; Richard Fletcher, Bishop
of Bristol and then of London ; Christopher Marlowe, already
mentioned ; John Copcot, in his day Master of the College ; and
Thomas Cavendish, the third circumnavigator of the globe.

The church of St. Benedict, adjoining it, long served for its
chapel, vmtil Sir Nicholas Bacon built one. This was begun
in 1579, but not finished until many years later, so that it is
doubtful whether it were in use in Robinson's time. It was not
consecrated until long afterwards. Hardly a fragment of the
original church of St. Benedict now remains, excepting the
square west tower, which is thought to be the oldest structure
in Cambridge. Robinson must have been famihar with it. The
Library then was an attic over the new chapel.

No important change had occurred in the university since
Brewster's time. In 1588 the Vice-chancellor had complained
of " the excesse and disorder of apparell," * and Lord Burghley

astical Courts, removed to Leyden, where he sat up a Congreg'ation upon the Model
of the Brownists." ,

^ One, Emanuel (15S4), had been established since Brewster was matriculated
in 1580.

2 MulUnger, i : 247-'2-t9. J-

* Wordswortli. Soc. Life at Eng. Univs. 641. Found<ttion of Univ. Camb. Brit.
Mus. Add. Ms. 11,720.

< Z-ans. 3/s. h-ii: S3 ; J/ar/. 3/s. 7041 : 199.


had issued strict orders for reform. The most significant
event had concerned Francis Johnson. In January, 1588-89, he
preached a sermon which angered the authorities. With Cuth-
bert Bainbridge, who had offended similarly, he was imprisoned.
Lord Burgldey thought that the Heads took -'a verie hard course,"'
but they replied that the offenders assumed to possess new light
from heaven, so that it seemed best to make an example of them.^
Johnson then appealed directly to Burghley.

It looks as if, by Burgldey's ad\'ice, he made some recantation ; -
but it was insufficient, and the Heads expelled him from the uni-
versity. He appealed to the imiversit}- itself, but was disallowed,
and, as he would not depart, he was confined again. He appealed
once more to Lord Burgiiley, and his appeal was seconded by
" a supplication of Lxviij. scholars of the University of Cam-
bridge," all masters of arts and mostly fellows, urging the dan-
gers threatening the whole university if appeal from the sentence
of the Vice-chancellor, expressly permitted by the statutes, should
be disallowed. Of the signers, fourteen — one .of whom was An-
thony AVotton, afterwards first professor of divinity in Gresham
College — were of King's CoUege ; twelve of Emanuel ; eleven
of St. John's; eleven of Trinity; nine of Clare Hall; seven —
including William Perkins, and Thomas jNIorton, afterwards
Bishop successively of Chester, Lichfield and Coventry, and
Durham — of Christ's ; and four — of whom Thomas Brightman
was one — of Queen's. This " supplication " was accompanied
by a note from William Branthwayte — then fellow of Emanuel
and afterwards a translator of the Bible, Master of GonviUe
and Caius, and Vice-chancellor — who declared that " the cause
doth greatly concerne the hole body of the University, it being
for the retayning of such privileges as by statute are graunted
unto us." 3 A new Vice-chancellor, Thomas Preston, now had
assumed office, and the matter ended in Johnson's resigning his
fellowship, and leaving the university early in 1590.

The Vice-chancellor's special anxiety was excited because, as
he assented, the Puritan members in their sermons claimed the
right of private judgment in religion, encouraged the persecuted,

1 Lans. Ms. Ixi : 8, 10, 12, 15, 10.

2 Brook, ii : 93. » j^ans. Ms. cvii : 28.


and compared tlie State Churcla unfavorably with the Presby-
terian. ^ This exal condition he ascribed principally to " Mr. lolin-
son's complottinge with his associates ; " which indicates that, for
a young man under thirty, Jolmson had a large influence ; and
that Robinson stood a fair chance of becoming leavened with
Puritanism during his stay at Cambridge.

We can recover a few incidents which diversified his univer-
sity career. He liaraiy had settled down to work when a wave
of excitement swept over the colleges because of "■ the makeing
of shewes, and playing of enterludes," with " bearebaytings and
bulbaytiugs," etc., at the time of Sturbridge Fair. The Privy
Comicil interfered after the players had become so insolent as
to set up their bills upon the college gates. During his second
year his own college. Corpus Christi, also was agitated by a con-
troversy between Master Jegon and a majority of the fellows
over the choice of a proctor. There was a gi-eat tumult in
the Regent-house, " with laughinges, hemminges, hissinges, and
clamorous speeches, violently keeping the doare against the said

Id December, 1595, Dr. William Whitaker, Master of St.
Jolm's, died. A controversy on predestination and free-will had
been disturbing the university, which led to a conference at Lam-
beth between the Archbishop and Drs. Whitaker and Tyndal,
and this produced the famous Lambeth Articles.^ The filling
of Whitaker's place led to a struggle between the Puritans and
non-Puritans, the latter triumphing and electing Dr. Richard
Clayton. Moreover, there soon followed a contention almost
precisely foreshadowing that to which Robinson himself was to
become a party later at Leyden. Peter Baro, a Frenchman, had
been made Margaret professor of divinity at Cambridge. After
nearly twenty years of service, objections by the more rigid
Calvinists led to his withdrawal. His general doctrine appears
to have been an anticipation of some tenets of Arminianism.

Robinson's later undergraduate years were marked by re-
peated conflicts between town and gown. In November, 159*3,

1 Lans. Mss. Ixii : 42 ; Ixxi : 83 ; Ixxv : 7 ; Ixxvii : 6 ; Ivii : 87 ; Ixxix : 59-00 ;
ciii: 8.3,84.

' Schaff, Creeds of Christendom, i : 658.


tbe civil authorities of Cambridge complained to Lord Burghley
of many misdemeanors on the part of members of the university ;
and he instructed the masters of the colleges to correct them.
But they disputed the charges. A year later, however, matters
came to such a pass that the Heads notified him that they could

Online LibraryHenry Martyn DexterThe England and Holland of the Pilgrims → online text (page 39 of 65)