Leading Separatists in the Pilgrim Roots Region

Pilgrim Roots preacher

William Brewster was born around 1566 in Scooby which forms part of the Pilgrim Roots region.

Brewster was one of the original Separatists who became inspired by the radical words of Richard Clifton, the rector of the nearby village of Babworth. He was instrumental in establishing a Separatist church with Richard Clifton, using Scrooby Manor for meetings with other like-minded people such as John Smyth (from Lincoln) and John Robinson (from Sturton-le-Steeple).

Smyth was a strong influence on the Mayflower Pilgrims and had a large following of 60 or 70 people. They were thought to have worshipped in secret at Gainsborough Old Hall by kind permission of its owner, Sir William Hickman.  

The Separatists were being pushed to conform to the rules of the established Church, and Sir William Hickman found himself under pressure from the Bishop of Lincoln for permitting John Smyth to preach. Unable to emigrate legally without permits and unable to obtain permits, John Smyth and many of his followers slipped away from Gainsborough in 1607, escaping to Holland. Scrooby’s Separatist group also escaped, attempting first but unsuccessfully at Boston before finally escaping from Immingham to Amsterdam.

Some twelve years later, they would return to England to meet the Mayflower which set sail from Plymouth on 16 September 1620 to the ‘New World’ of America.

Pilgrim Roots is a partnership connecting Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire and South Yorkshire telling the story of the Pilgrims before they set sail on the Mayflower who many believe laid the foundations for modern America. Follow the links below to find out more.