Sir Christopher Wray of Glentworth was a cautious and conservative Lord Chief Justice under Elizabeth I, but his three children used their wealth and prestige to support radical Christianity in its struggle against authoritarian church leaders. These siblings played a key role in the development of the Mayflower Pilgrims, hosted the founders of the Baptist denomination, and trained a generation of radical preachers.
In 1606 the leaders of the ‘separatists’ met at the house of Isabel Wray, a woman from Glentworth, to make the momentous decision to leave the Church of England and therefore to seek refuge in Holland. Key figures like John Smyth, Richard Clifton, John Robinson and Thomas Helwys attended this meeting, and from it came the formation of the Congregational and Baptist denominations, the ‘Mayflower’ voyage and New England.
These men met at the house of a Lincolnshire woman because she, her sister and her brother were significant leaders across the region. Yet although they knew figures of international stature, it is only recently that the impact of this extraordinary family has started to be understood. When history was written by men, the contribution of two women was understated. It is a story marked by the extraordinary family memorials in the churches of Glentworth and Snarford, and now being pieced together for the first time by local historian Adrian Gray. This is a story which is vital to explaining the place of West Lindsey in global history.
Glentworth, St Michael is approxiamtely 20 minutes drive from Gainsborough creating an ideal day out if combined when visiting Gainsborough Old Hall. Snarford, St Lawrence is just a further 20 minutes away.
Pilgrims and Prophets have created ‘Mayflower’ themed tours exploring the Pilgrim Roots region. Head to our Group Travel and Guided Tours page.