Father Tony Currer (41) leads Vatican’s first-ever cricket team. According to a released team list, seven Indians dominate the team and Father Curer is its only Englishman. Also, in the team are two Sri Lankans and one Pakistani. All members of Vatican’s Saint Peter’s Cricket Club are young seminarians training for the priesthood, many of them aged between 24 and 41.
Preparations for the cricket club began around a year ago due to the enthusiasm of Australia’s ambassador to the Holy See, John McCarthy, who said the initiative was an example of “sporting diplomacy”.
Pope Francis, born in Argentina is an avid football fan, but knows little about cricket. He blessed the Vatican’s “underdog” cricket team that will be facing a formidable Church of England XI during their maiden foreign tour to England dubbed “The Light of Faith tour“. The Holy Father signed a cricket bat, which the team will take with them to England.
The papal XI will play matches against chaplains of the British armed forces at Aldershot and the Royal Household Cricket Club at Windsor Castle, as well as two other games. The climax of the tour will be a showdown with a Church of England team in Canterbury on September 19, 2014.
The manager of Papal XI Father Eamonn O’Higgins, and “spiritual director” of the team, said:
“Realistically, we are the rank underdogs with a very outside chance, but that’s OK. None of us has played first class cricket. The boys have not had a lot of time to practice. What we hope for, above all, is a good match.”
The Vatican cricketers will be praying and playing during the eight-day tour of England organized by the Anglican weekly newspaper The Church Times and Kent County Cricket Club. They will be visiting several holy sites and raising money for the Global Freedom Network, which fights against modern slavery and human trafficking.
Father Jery Njaliath (36), a priest from Kerala said:
“We’re going over there to beat them, to play to the maximum. But we’ll certainly play in the spirit of the game.”
Father Tony Currer, the captain of Saint Peter’s Cricket Club said:
“Win or lose, the first cricket match in history between the Vatican and the Church of England will be an event to remember and to build on.”
On September 13, 2014, St. Peter’s XI (Vatican) won the first match of The Light of Faith Tour against the Chaplains of the armed forces played at Aldershot Army Cricket Ground. St. Peter’s XI (Vatican) won the match by 81 runs.
St. Peter’s XI (Vatican) 152/2 (20 overs)
Chaplains XI 71/4 (20 overs).
On September 14, 2014, in the 2nd match played between St. Peter’s XI (Vatican) Vs. St. Peter’s CC (Brighton), the Vatican team won the toss and chose to bowl first. St. Peter’s Vatican lost the T20 game to St. Peter’s Brighton.
St. Peter’s Brighton 168/6 (20 overs)
St. Peter’s Vatican 114/9 (20 overs)
In the third match of The Light of Faith tour played yesterday, September 14, 2014, St. Peter’s XI (Vatican) faced the Authors XI at Ascott House. It was a 30 overs match. The Authors XI won the toss and chose to bowl first. St. Peter’s XI (Vatican) won the match by 4 runs.
St. Peter’s 151 (29 overs)
Authors XI 147/4 (30 overs)
Cricket is a game traditionally played in Rome only by anglophones, eccentric English aristocrats and immigrants from the subcontinent. However, on October 22, 2013, John McCarthy, the Australian Ambassador to The Holy See, Monsignor Sanchez de Toca y Alameda, undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture, Father Eamon O’ Higgins, and Father Theodore Mascarenhas from India, met the journalists and announced the launch of Vatican’s Saint Peter’s Cricket Club.
Saint Peter’s CC is the brainchild of John McCarthy, Australian Ambassador to The Holy See. His son trained for the priesthood in Rome was frustrated by the lack of cricketing possibilities in the Vatican even though there is a significant number of people, mostly seminarians and clerics from cricket-playing countries who are keen to play cricket. McCarthy wanted something similar to the Clericus Cup – a soccer tournament among the religious colleges and seminaries of Rome.
Father Theodore Mascarenhas from India, the club’s chairman, an off-spin bowler, said:
“I think cricket will begin to speak a new language — perhaps Latin, coming into the neighbourhood of the Vatican and beginning to take its first baby steps. We have the expertise. We have the will to do things. And I’m sure we’ll start with our baby steps and we’ll go far ahead. … We hope to have ecumenical dialogue through cricket and play a Church of England side by September.”
In response to a suggestion that cricketing terms and field positions might be translated into Latin or Italian, John McCarthy was firm: “English is the language of cricket and will remain the language of cricket”.
Pope Francis, known for both intercultural and interfaith dialogue, is a known football enthusiast than a cricket watcher. He still supports the San Lorenzo football club of his native Buenos Aires. Father Mascarenhas said he believed the pontiff, as a “very open man”, would come to accept cricket.
Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, head of the pontifical council for culture, praised the launch of Vatican’s Saint Peter’s CC as a chance to celebrate the nobility of “true sport,” an “expression of inter-culturality” and a “dialogue between people”.
Ambassador McCarthy said: “It is certainly the case that the Holy Father has heard of cricket … as a sport that was played in schools conducted by his [Jesuit] order in Argentina.”
Father Eamon O’ Higgins said: “But I think this is something that goes in line with one of the objectives of Pope Francis, which is to reach out and not stay within our own security zone.”
The organizers hope this initiative for forging ties with teams of other faiths, eventually, would lead to interfaith activities involving cricket matches against teams from Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, and Sikh educational institutions.
To begin with, the Vatican cricketers challenged their Anglican counterparts to play cricket at Lord’s Cricket Ground in St John’s Wood, London – the home of cricket. Ambassador John McCarthy said:
“It is hoped there will be a team of sufficient level that, for instance, in the next year they could play a team nominated by the Church of England. … It would be the dearest aspiration of so many of the cricketers here that that game take place at Lord’s.”
Monsignor Sanchez de Toca y Alameda, was not so optimistic. He quietly said the Vatican would try to put together a team which could “lose with dignity” against the English. “I think they’re very strong,” he added.
Responding to the Vatican’s proposal, Mark Rylands, suffragan bishop of Shrewsbury and a keen cricketer, said:
“I am delighted to hear of the formation of Saint Peter’s Cricket Club and look forward to welcoming them to England as brothers. We do not have a national team at present, but I’m confident that it will be possible for an annual fixture to be played in the spirit of ecumenism. To that end I hope we can keep any sledging to a minimum and that neutral umpires will not be necessary.”
On December 20, 2013, the Church of England formally took up Vatican’s challenge to settle scores on the cricket pitch almost 500 years after their split with the Vatican. Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, head of the 80-million strong worldwide Anglican communion, accepted the challenge through his representative to The Holy See and Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome, Archbishop David Moxon, from New Zealand.
Archbishop Moxon said the match would be held at Lord’s in September 2014 after the Anglicans formed a team of amateurs from Lambeth Palace, the residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and nearby theological schools.
When asked if a combination of sports diplomacy and inter-religious dialogue could help improve relations between the two Churches, Archbishop Moxon said:
“It will introduce a conversation piece all over the world whenever Catholics and Anglicans get together. … I think it can only do good and increase the bonds of affection we have for each other.”
Father Eamonn O’Higgins, the organizer of the Vatican cricket team, gave Archbishop Moxon the ball that will be used in the match.
A league composed of best players among priests and seminarians from countries with a cricket tradition – Australia, Bangladesh, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka – form the Saint Peter’s Cricket Club.
The Vatican team will wear the official white and gold colours of The Holy See and their jackets will have two crossed keys – the seal of the papacy,
Brother K.K. Joseph, an Indian who trained a number of future test players while they were in schools run by his religious order in India will coach the Vatican team.
Saint Peter’s CC has already organized trial matches. It aims to have a Twenty20-style tournament between all the pontifical colleges of Rome. A pitch near Ciampino airport on the outskirts of the city has been made available.
While Saint Peter’s CC is currently men only, the organizers are also on the lookout for Indian, Pakistani or Sri Lankan nuns, who have played cricket before, in order to form a women’s cricket team.
At the beginning, the sailing was smooth, but later they met with strong winds and storms. One passenger, John Howland, was washed overboard in the storm. He caught a topsail halyard trailing in the water and was pulled back on board. When they were more than half the way to their destination, a storm caused a main beam to crack, and the possibility of turning back was considered. However, they managed to repair the ship and continued their voyage.
At sea, one passenger and crew member died and a child was born and named “Oceanus”.
After sixty-five days at sea, land was sighted on November 9, 1620. It was the Cape Cod within the New England territory, now called Provincetown Harbor.
Captain Christopher Jones made an attempt to sail the ship around Cape Cod towards the Hudson River, also within the New England grant area, but they encountered shoals and difficult currents around Cape Malabar (the old French name for present-day Monomoy). He then decided to turn around and anchored on November 11 (Old Style) / 21 (New Style) at the harbor at Cape Cod hook, what is today known as Provincetown Harbor.
The Wincob land patent they had was from their abandoned dealings with the London Company. So, in fact, the colonists arrived without a patent because the charter of the Plymouth Council for New England was not completed by the time the colonists departed England. Some of the passengers, aware of the situation, suggested that without a patent in place, they were free to do as they chose upon landing, and ignore the contract with the investors.
To address this issue, a brief contract, known later as the Mayflower Compact, was drafted. This contract in which they agreed to join together in a “civil body politic” that promised cooperation among the settlers “for the general good of the Colony unto which we promise all due submission and obedience.”
This contract was ratified by majority rule, with 41 adult male passengers signing for the 102 passengers.
At this time, John Carver, the most respected and affluent member of the group who was instrumental in chartering the Mayflower, was chosen as the colony’s first governor. Carver’s signature appears first on the Mayflower Compact, the seed of American democracy and the world’s first written constitution.
Landing of the passengers postponed because of the delay in exploring the area. The shallop or pinnace, a smaller sailing vessel, partly dismantled to fit aboard the Mayflower for the voyage was damaged in transit. However, the male passengers waded to the beach in small parties to fetch firewood and attend to long-deferred personal hygiene.
While the shallop was being repaired, exploratory was undertaken by parties led by Myles Standish, an English soldier the colonists had met while in Leiden, and Captain Christopher Jones.
Up to this time, William Bradford, aged 30, who would soon be elected governor, had yet to assume any significant leadership role among the colonists. Bradford volunteered to be a member of the exploration parties.
In November and December, these parties made three separate ventures from the Mayflower on foot and by boat, finally locating what is now Plymouth Harbor in mid-December and selecting that site for settlement.
During one of the exploratory jaunts, the parties came across an old European-built house and an iron kettle, left behind by some other ship’s crew, and a few recently cultivated fields, showing corn stubble of the previous month.
They partially uncovered an artificial mound near the dunes and found it to be a Native grave. On venturing further they came across a similar more recently made grave. The colonists fearing that they might starve, removed the baskets of maize and other provisions placed in the grave. They placed some of the maize into an iron kettle they found nearby, and reburied the rest.
William Bradford later recorded in his book, “Of Plymouth Plantation,” that after the shallop had been repaired,
They also found two of the Indian’s houses covered with mats, and some of their implements in them; but the people had run away and could not be seen. They also found more corn, and beans of various colours. These they brought away, intending to give them full satisfaction (repayment) when they should meet with any of them, – as about six months afterwards they did.
And it is to be noted as a special providence of God, and a great mercy to this poor people, that they thus got seed to plant corn the next year, or they might have starved; for they had none, nor any likelihood of getting any, till too late for the planting season.
They explored the bay and found a suitable place for settlement, now the site of downtown Plymouth, Massachusetts. The location featured a prominent hill (now known as Burial Hill) that was ideal for a defensive fort. There were numerous brooks providing fresh water.
When the exploring party made their way back on board, Bradford learned of the death of his wife, Dorothy. The day after he had embarked with the exploring party, Dorothy had slipped over the side of the Mayflower and drowned.
The Mayflower arrived in Plymouth Bay on December 20, 1620 and the colonists set their foot on New England.
William Brewster led them in prayer with Psalm 100:
A psalm of thanksgiving.
Shout joyfully to the LORD, all you lands; serve the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful song.
Know that the LORD is God, he made us, we belong to him, we are his people, the flock he shepherds.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving, his courts with praise.
Give thanks to him, bless his name; good indeed is the LORD, His mercy endures forever, his faithfulness lasts through every generation.
During the next several months, the settlers lived mostly on the Mayflower and ferried back and forth from shore to build their living quarters. The settlement’s first fort and watchtower were built on Burial Hill.
The entire crew of the Mayflower stayed in Plymouth through the winter of 1620-1621. During that time, about half of them died. The crewmen that survived returned on theMayflower which sailed for London on April 5 1621.
The first colony of the English was founded in Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607.
The colony established in 1620 by the Separatists was the second successful English settlement and is considered the oldest continuously inhabited English settlement in what was to become the United States of America.
During that first winter of 1620-21, more than half of the colonists died as a result of poor nutrition and inadequate housing that proved fatal in the harsh weather. Leaders such as William Brewster, William Bradford, John Carver, Edward Winslow, and Miles Standish, kept the remaining settlers together.
Upon the death of John Carver in 1621, William Bradford was unanimously chosen as governor. Brewster became the senior elder of the colony, serving as its religious leader and as an advisor to Governor William Bradford who served for eleven consecutive years, and was elected to various other terms until his death in 1657.
It was William Bradford who first used the word ‘pilgrims’ for the Mayflower passengers years later in his Of Plymouth Plantation. After he finished recounting his group’s July 1620 departure from Leiden, Bradford used the imagery of Hebrews 11:13–16 about Old Testament “strangers and pilgrims” who had the opportunity to return to their old country, but instead longed for a better, heavenly country. Bradford wrote:
So they lefte [that] goodly&pleasante citie, which had been ther resting place, nere 12 years; but they knew they were ,pilgrimes&looked not much on these things; but lift up their eyes to ye heavens, their dearest ,cuntrie and quieted their spirits.
For over 150 years after Bradford wrote this passage, no one had used the word ‘Pilgrimes’ to describe Plymouth’s founders, except when quoting Bradford. In 1669, historian Nathaniel Morton retold Mayflower’s story, and likewise did historian Cotton Mather in 1702. Both paraphrased Bradford’s passage and used Bradford’s word pilgrims. At Plymouth’s Forefathers’ Day observance in 1793, Rev. Chandler Robbins recited this passage from Bradford.
The following passage from book “The Times of Their Lives: Life, Love, and Death in Plymouth Colony” co-authored by James Deetz and Patricia Scott Deetz provides food for thought to the perennial question “who were the Pilgrims?“
So who were the Pilgrims? This question has been a vexing one for modern historians, and depending on the source consulted, different definitions emerge. Were they all of the Mayflower’s passengers, or were they only the minority of religious dissenters among the group? Does the term refer to those who came on four other ships, the Fortune, Anne, Little James and Charity which arrived during the first seven years of the Colony? Might the term apply to all of the residents of Plymouth Colony during its existence as a separate colony until 1691? There is no modern consensus regarding this matter, and little wonder, for the people of Plymouth never perceived themselves as a group who would at the end of the eighteenth century come to be known as Pilgrims. However, if we change the tense of the verb in the question from weretoare, a reasonably concise definition can be offered. The Pilgrims are a quasi-mythic group of people who are looked upon today as the founders of America, and whose dedication to hard work and noble purposes gave rise to our nation as we know it. What most of us know about them we learned as early as grade school, especially around Thanksgiving time. Stern and godfearing, possessed of the loftiest motives, the women dressed in somber attire with white collars, and the men also dressed in grey and black, with buckles on their hats, belts, shoes, and for all we know, even on their undergarments. Some modern Plymouth residents refer to them as the “Grim Pills.” This is the image with which we are all so familiar, but its origins lie more in early nineteenth century America than in the reality of a time two hundred years earlier.
Around 1617, the group of Separatists living Leiden, afraid of losing their cultural identity decided to set up colonies elsewhere, in some other country. Discussions were held as to where the group should go. The decided not to settle near England since that might closely duplicate the political environment back in England.
Candidate destinations included Guiana, where the Dutch had already established in 1616, Essequibo, a colony on the Essequibo River in the Guiana region on the north coast of South America; or somewhere near the existing Virginia settlements. Virginia was an attractive destination because the presence of the older colony might offer better security and trade opportunities.
At the same time, there were many uncertainties about moving to far-off places such as America because of the stories they heard about failed colonies over there. Also, there were fears of violent natives; scarcity of food and water; the possibility of exposure to unknown diseases; and hazards of distant travel by sea.
The London Company, also called the Charter of the Virginia Company of London, was an English joint stock company established by royal charter by King James I, for the purpose of establishing colonial settlements in North America. It administered a territory of considerable size in the region.
The territory granted to the London Company included the coast of North America from the 34th parallel (Cape Fear) north to the 41st parallel (Long Island Sound), but being part of the Virginia Company and Colony, the London Company owned a large part of Atlantic and Inland Canada. The company was permitted by its charter to establish a 100-square-mile (260 square km) settlement within this area. The company shared the territory, north of the 38th parallel with the Plymouth Company, with the stipulation that neither company should establish a colony within 100 miles (161 km) of each other.
The London Company administered a territory of considerable size in the region. The Leiden Separatists made arrangements with the London Company to establish a new colony in North America. The intended settlement site was at the mouth of the Hudson River, at a distance that allayed concerns of social, political and religious conflicts, but still provided the military and economic benefits of relative closeness to an established colony.
Robert Cushman, a well-to-do wool comber, was the Chief Agent for the Leiden congregation.
John Carver, a successful London merchant, and brother-in-law of John Robinson’s wife, had joined the Pilgrims around 1610.
The New World seemed to offer the opportunity the Leiden congregation needed, but the group had no means for getting across the Atlantic Ocean and establishing a colony. In 1617, the Leiden congregation sent Robert Cushman and John Carver to England to seek financial backing for crossing the Atlantic and to obtain a land patent. But the negotiations delayed because of internal conflicts in the London Company, but ultimately the duo secured a patent in the name of John Wincob on June 9 (Old Style) / June 19 (New Style), 1619.
The charter granted by the king stipulated that the Leiden group’s religion would not receive official recognition.
When the preparations for the voyage stalled because of the continued problems within the London Company, competing Dutch companies approached, and discussed settling in the Hudson River area.
Thomas Weston (born 1584) persuaded Edward Pickering, in 1615, to become his agent in Holland. Together they began to import a variety of nonconformist religious tracts that were seditious. In 1619, he left England and traveled to Leiden, Holland, where his agent Pickering had married a woman belonging to the exiled Separatists, who were then hoping to gain passage to America.
Negotiations with the Dutch broke off when Thomas Weston, the agent for Merchant Adventurer investment group, assured them that he could resolve the delays of the London Company who intended to claim the area explored by Hudson before the Dutch could become fully established. However, the first Dutch settlers did not arrive in the area until 1624.
Thomas Weston told the Leiden group that parties in England had obtained a land grant north of the existing Virginia territory, to be called New England.
While these negotiations were on, William Brewster ran afoul of the English government by involving in the religious unrest emerging in Scotland.
In 1618, King James had promulgated the Five Articles of Perth, which were seen in Scotland as an attempt to encroach on their Presbyterian tradition. Pamphlets critical of this law, King James I and his bishop were published by Brewster and smuggled into Scotland.
By April 1619, these pamphlets were traced back to Leiden. This was at a critical time for the Leideners, as the preparations for their voyage to America had entered a critical phase and William Brewster’s guidance was badly needed. Brewster’s whereabouts between then and the departure of the congregation to New England remained unknown.
Supplies and a small ship Speedwell, originally named Swiftsure, built in 1577 and took part in the defeat of the Spanish Armada by the English fleet , was procured to take some passengers from Holland to England; and from there cross the Atlantic to Virginia where it would be deployed for fishing, with its crew hired for support services during the first year.
Thomas Weston helped them to lease a second larger ship, Mayflower, for transport and exploration services.
There was not enough berths for the whole congregation to depart on the first trip. Many members were not able to settle their affairs within the time for departure. Also, there were constraints such as the budget for travel and supplies. As such, it was decided that the younger and stronger members of the congregation make the first voyage and settlement and the remainder agreed to follow if and when they could.
Robinson opted to remain in Leiden with the rest of the congregation. He intended to make the Atlantic crossing with the rest of his flock as soon as it was financially possible. It was not to be. Robinson died in 1624 in Leiden.
In July 1620, Speedwell set out from Delfshaven with some members of the Leiden congregation. On reaching Southampton, Hampshire, they met with Mayflower and the other colonists hired by the investors. William Brewster joined the first group of Pilgrims aboard the Mayflower and was appointed to lead the voyagers.
After making final arrangements, the two vessels set out of Southampton, Hampshire on August 5 (Old Style) / August 15 (New Style).
Soon afterwards, the crew of Speedwell reported that their ship was taking in water. So, both ships were diverted to Dartmouth in the English county of Devon. There Speedwell was inspected for leaks and sealed, and a second attempt to leave also failed, bringing them only so far as Plymouth, Devon.
Since Speedwell was untrustworthy for the long voyage, they sold it. Speedwell’s master and some of the crew transferred to the Mayflower for the trip.
Again due to limited berths, out of the 121 combined passengers, only 102, seventy-three males and twenty-nine females were chosen to travel on the Mayflower with the consolidated supplies, and a crew led by Captain Christopher Jones.
Half of the passengers had come by way of Leiden. Of these 37 were members of the Separatist Leiden congregation that included about 28 adults. This article “List of Mayflower passengers” mentions the names and details of the passengers on board the Mayflower during its trans-Atlantic voyage.
Mayflower finally set sail from Plymouth, Devon, England on September 6 (Old Style) / September 16 (New Style), 1620.
Shortly afterwards, in 1607, John Smyth and the members of the Gainsborough group moved on to Amsterdam. Brewster was fined £20 (about £3.66 thousand today) in absentia for his non-compliance with the Church of England, and he resigned from the position of postmaster.
Of the lay preachers among the Scrooby congregation, William Bradford was the most prominent next to William Brewster. The members of the Scrooby congregation decided to follow John Smyth’s group to Amsterdam. On arrival in Amsterdam a congregation of English dissenters living and worshiping in Amsterdam for over 10 years greeted them. This group, the earliest to arrive in Amsterdam, was officially titled the “Brethren of the Separation of the First English Church at Amsterdam,” and were known, informally, as the “Ancient Brethren.” By 1607, the members of the Ancient Brethren having attained economic stability constructed of a new church.
Francis Johnson (1562–1618), was the leader of the Ancient Brethren at that time. He was an English Presbyterian minister educated in Cambridge like Richard Clyfton and John Smyth. He first came to Holland in 1590 to serve as pastor of an English-speaking church in Middelburg. Though Johnson was a strong believer in reform, he tenaciously opposed Separatism. He confiscated Separatist books and was about to burn them. However, his intellectual curiosity impelled him to read some of those books. On reading the books, he changed his beliefs. Johnson then left his non-Separating Middelburg congregation and returned in 1591 to London where he was elected the pastor of the separatist congregation later to be named the Ancient Church.
In 1593, Francis Johnson and about 50 of his London congregation were jailed for their religious views. Around this time, two other radical reforming Separatists, Henry Barrow and John Greenwood, the authors of the books that had originally converted Francis Johnson to Separatism, were hanged at Tyburn.
Johnson’s congregation except Francis Johnson himself was gradually freed from jail, and they started to migrate to Amsterdam where, leaderless, they struggled to stay as a community. In 1597, after a failed attempt to establish a colony in Canada, Johnson joined his congregation of exiled separatists who had migrated to the Netherlands to avoid persecution, and resumed his pastorate with Henry Ainsworth as their teacher.
Several years before the arrival of the Scrooby group in 1608, Francis Johnson, had excommunicated his own father and brother for criticizing his wife.
In 1608, the newly arrived Separatists did not officially join the Ancient Brethren. The three congregations: Gainsborough, Scrooby and Ancient Brethren, maintained their independence and for a very short while worshiped peacefully together in the new church building.
By late summer of 1608, the two Separatist congregations – Gainsborough, led by John Smyth, and Scrooby, led by Richard Clyfton – were well settled in Amsterdam.
John Smyth disrupted the unity among the congregations by his disposition and constantly evolving religious views. Henry Ainsworth described Smyth as having published “three sundry books wherein he hath shewedhimselfe of 3 several [different] religions.“
William Bradford described John Smyth as:
“an eminent man in his time, and a good preacher, and of other good parts; but his inconstancy, and unstabble judgment, and being so suddenly carried away with things, did soon overthrow him.“
While Richard Clyfton was battling away with John Smyth, the rest of the Scrooby congregation was becoming increasingly disenchanted with the controversies and disruptions. They quietly reconstituted around John Robinson, their more tranquil teacher and minister.
Soon, Robinson and the more peaceful elements of the Scrooby group began to look for another place to live. It may have been William Brewster, who had visited The Netherlands in the 1580s, who suggested the Dutch city of Leiden.
In February of 1609, Robinson asked the Leiden City Council for permission to move to that city. He described his group as:
“… members of the Christian Reformed Religion, born in the Kingdom of Great Britain, to the number of one hundred persons or thereabouts, men and women.”
The answer came back:
“The Court… declare that they refuse no honest persons ingress to come and have their residence in this city, provided that such persons behave themselves honestly, and submit to all the laws and ordinances here.“
On May 1, 1609, John Robinson and most of the Scrooby congregation arrived in Leiden without Richard Clyfton who remained behind in Amsterdam and joined with the Ancient Brethren. William Bradford wrote:
“Mr. Richard Clifton was a good and fatherly old man when he came first into Holland, having a great white beard; and pity it was that such a reverend old man should be forced to leave his country, and at those years to go into exile. But it was his lot, and he bore it patiently. Much good had he done in the country where he lived, and converted many to God by his faithful and painful ministry, both in preaching and catechising. Sound and orthodox he always was, and so continued to his end. He belonged to the church at Leyden; but being settled at Amsterdam and then aged, he was loath to remove any more; and so when they removed he was dismissed to them there, and there remained [in Amsterdam] until he died.”
Richard Clyfton, lived in Amsterdam until his death on May 20, 1616. He was buried in the Zuiderkerk or “South Church,” beside his wife Ann who had died three years earlier.
At that time, Leiden, a city in the Dutch province of South Holland, was a thriving industrial center with about 100,000 inhabitants. On arrival there, the congregation lived in small houses. Many members were well able to support themselves working at Leiden University or in the textile, printing and brewing trades, while others, hampered by their rural backgrounds and the language barrier, were less able to bring in enough income.
Of their life in Leiden, William Bradford wrote:
For these & other reasons they removed to Leyden, a fair & bewtifullcitie, and of a sweete situation, but made more famous by yeuniversitiewherwith it is adorned, in which of late had been so many learned man. But wanting that traffike by sea which Amerstdam injoyes, it was not so beneficiall for their outward means of living & estats. But being now hearpitchet they fell to such trads & imployments as they best could; valewing peace & their spirituallcomforte above any other riches whatsoever. And at length they came to raise a competente & comforteable living, but with hard and continuall labor.
By 1617, although the congregation was stable and relatively secure in the Netherlands, there were ongoing issues that needed to be resolved.
Bradford noted that the congregation was aging, compounding the difficulties some had in supporting themselves. Some, having spent their savings, gave up and returned to England.
Edward Winslow (October 18, 1595 – May 8, 1655) was a Separatist. In 1617 Winslow traveled to Leiden, Holland and worked with William Brewster as a printer. Winslow’s list of the issues faced by the congregation living in Leiden was similar to that of Bradford. In addition to the economic worries and missionary possibilities, Winslow stressed that it was important for the people to keep their English identity, culture and language. They also believed that the English Church in Leiden could do little to help the larger community there.
The Scrooby congregation found the Dutch morals much too lascivious. Their children were becoming more and more inclined towards the Dutch way of living, “drawn away by evil examples into extravagance and dangerous courses.” The elders of the congregation realized that they faced eventual extinction if they remained there.
Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday in the United States and many people celebrate the day with religious significance. Traditionally, Thanksgiving Day is celebrated in the United States on the fourth Thursday of November.
Several instances of Thanksgiving that were held in early New England have been identified as the “First Thanksgiving.”
The modern Thanksgiving Day celebration is traced to the autumn celebration held in late 1621 at Plymouth in present-day Massachusetts. The feast known as “The First Thanksgiving” was not known as such to the Pilgrims. “Harvest festival” would be a more proper term because a bountiful harvest prompted the 1621 Plymouth feast.
Pilgrims and Puritans who emigrated from England in the 1620s carried the tradition of Thanksgiving with them to New England – a solemn ceremony of praise and thanks to God for the congregation’s good fortune.
The Pilgrim holidays celebrated in Plymouth in 1621 for a plentiful harvest, was probably held in early October 1621. It was celebrated by the 53 surviving Pilgrims, along with Massasoit Sachem the leader of the Wampanoag, and “Massasoit” of the Wampanoag Confederacy and 90 of his men. The celebration lasted three days and featured a feast that included waterfowl, wild turkey and fish brought by the colonists, and five deer brought by the natives.
Three contemporary accounts of the event survive: Of Plymouth Plantation by William Bradford, Mourt’s Relation probably written by Edward Winslow, and New England’s Memorial by Capt. Nathaniel Morton, Plymouth Colony Secretary and William Bradford’s nephew.
The Thanksgiving in 1623 was held in response to the good news of the arrival of additional colonists and supplies. The latter event probably occurred in July 1623 and consisted of a full day of prayer and worship and probably very little revelry.
The story of the Pilgrims seeking religious freedom has become the central theme of the history and culture of the United States and the Thanksgiving Day.
The Pilgrims were the early settlers of the Plymouth Colony in present-day Plymouth, Massachusetts, United States. Their leadership came from the religious congregations of “Brownists” (named after Robert Browne), a common designation for early English Dissenters, and Separatists from the Church of England before 1620.
The Puritans were a significant group of English Protestants in the 16th and 17th centuries, including English Calvinists. Puritanism was founded by some Marian exiles from the clergy shortly after the accession of Elizabeth I of England in 1558, as an activist movement within the Church of England and maintained their membership in and allegiance to the Church of England. The term “Puritan” was coined in the 1560s, as a term of abuse for those who found the Elizabethan Religious Settlement of 1559. Puritans did not originally use the term for themselves.
From the late 16th century onwards, the word “Puritan” was applied to a number of Protestant churches, and religious groups within the Anglican Church. However, the members of churches that did not agree with the Puritans knew themselves as members of particular churches or movements.
In this essay, I use the term “Brownists” and “Separatists” for the English Dissenters who separated from the Church of England in the 16th and 17th century who were not “Puritans”.
Robert Browne of Lilford
Robert Browne (1550 – 1633) considered ‘The Father of the Pilgrims‘ is important in American history because his concept of separation of the Church from the State initiated the first step in American democracy. Hence, he is also known as ‘The Grandfather of the Nation‘.
He was born at Tolethorpe Hall in Rutland, England, into a wealthy, prominent Northamptonshire family, the Brownes (Elmes) of Lilford.
By 1580, Browne became a leader in the movement for a congregational form of organization for the Church of England. He rejected the puritan view of reform from within the Church and started to look outside the established Church. In 1581, Browne attempted to set up a separate Congregational Church in Norwich, outside the Church of England. In April 1581, while preaching in the Bury St. Edmund, Suffolk area, authorities arrested Browne for unlicensed preaching and imprisoned him by the order of Bishop Freake of Norwich. William Cecil, Baron Burghley, his kinsmen, interceded for his release.
Between May and August 1582, due to hostility from the local church authorities most of the congregation moved from the politically volatile England to the relatively calm and tolerant Middelburgh in Zeeland, Holland. On arriving in Holland, members of the congregation suffered from illness. There they formed a church on what they conceived to be the New Testament model. However, within two years the community in Holland broke up due to internal dissensions.
Robert Browne published at Middelburgh two of his most important works: “A Treatise of Reformation without Tarying for Anie” in which he asserted the right of the church to affect necessary reforms without the civil magistrate’s authorisation; and “A Booke which sheweth the life and manners of all True Christians” which set out the theory of Congregational independency.
Both books were immediately banned in England by the English authorities. By the middle of 1583, they issued a Proclamation against buying, selling or possession of the works of Robert Browne. At Bury St Edmunds, the authorities arrested, tried, and hanged John Copping and Elias Thacker, former members of Browne’s Norwich congregation, for selling Browne’s seditious writings.
Browne was an active Separatist from 1579 to 1585 only. He returned to England and to the Church of England and got employed as a schoolmaster and parish priest. Browne’s companions and followers who hung on to his earlier separatist concepts now looked upon him as a renegade.
However, the term “Brownists” became a common designation for early Separatists from the Church of England before 1620. The Brownists are briefly mentioned in Shakespeare’s play, Twelfth Nightwritten around 1600–02, where Sir Andrew Aguecheek says: “I had as lief be a Brownist as a politician‘ (III, ii). The Browne family seat, Tolethorpe Hall, is now home to the Stamford Shakespeare Company.
Richard Clyfton was born around 1553 near the Nottinghamshire village of Babworth. Ordained as a minister in 1586, he was named pastor of All Saints’ Parish Church in Babworth, near East Retford, Nottinghamshire, England. He held this position from 1586 to1605.
In the 1590s, Clyfton started to preach dissenting religious views and conducted services using prayers that were not in the officially authorized Book of Prayers. He soon gathered followers from the surrounding towns and villages. His congregation held Separatist beliefs comparable to nonconforming movements led by Robert Browne, John Greenwood, and Henry Barrowe. In 1593, Barrowe and Greenwood were hung at Tyburn for sedition.
William Brewster of Scrooby and William Bradford of Austerfield who later launched the “Pilgrim adventure” were inspired by the preaching of Richard Clyfton.
Unlike the Puritan group who maintained their membership in and allegiance to the Church of England, Separatists held that their differences with the Church of England were irreconcilable and that their worship organized independently of the trappings, traditions and organization of a central church such as the Church of England.
In 1593, Barrowe and Greenwood were hung at Tyburn for sedition.
Scrooby is a small village, on the River Ryton and near Bawtry, in the northern part of the English county of Nottinghamshire. At the end of the sixteenth century, William Brewster, the Archbishop’s bailiff, who was also the postmaster of the village occupied the Manor House at Scrooby belonging to the Archbishops of York.
William Brewster, heard Clyfton preach. Impressed by Clyfton’s services, Brewster joined Clyfton’s Babworth congregation and participated in Separatist services.
Around 1602, young William Bradford, living in the Yorkshire village of Austerfield some ten miles from Babworth joined Brewster “to enjoy Mr. Richard Clifton’s illuminating ministry.”
From 1595 to 1606 Brewster served Archbishop Matthew Hutton who was sympathetic towards Puritans but not to the Separatists.
In 1604, the Hampton Court Conference denied substantially all the concessions requested by Puritans, save for an English translation of the Bible. In 1605, following the Conference, Clyfton declared a “nonconformist and nonsubscriber” was deprived of his position at Babworth. Brewster invited Clyfton to live at his home.
Services were held with Richard Clyfton as pastor, John Robinson as teacher and William Brewster as the presiding elder.
In 1606, Brewster arranged for a congregation of Separatists, led by John Smyth in Gainsborough, to meet privately at the Scrooby manor house. John Smyth, about 20 years younger than Richard Clyfton was an ordained minister and graduate of Cambridge University. In 1600, appointed as a preacher of the city of Lincoln, he lost the position soon afterwards because of his unorthodox views. Even though both the Scrooby group and the Gainsborough group were Separatists, their views were not entirely and necessarily the same.
Around this time in 1606, after Archbishop Matthew Hutton’s death, Tobias Matthew, one of King James’ chief supporters at the 1604 conference was elected as his replacement. Mathew promptly started a campaign to purge the archdiocese of nonconforming influences, both Separatists and those wishing to return to the Catholic faith.He replaced disobedient clergymen and confronted, fined, and imprisoned prominent Separatists.
Scrooby member William Bradford, who kept a journal of the congregation’s events that was later published as Of Plymouth Plantation wrote:
But after these things they could not long continue in any peaceable condition, but were hunted & persecuted on every side, so as their former afflictions were but as flea-bitings in comparison of these which now came upon them. For some were taken & clapt up in prison, others had their houses besett & watcht night and day, & hardly escaped their hands; and ye most were faine to flie & leave their howses & habitations, and the means of their livelehood.
John Newton, a slave trader wrote the beautiful hymn “Amazing Grace” many decades after he withdrew from seafaring and slave trading, and became a minister of God.
Born in Wapping, London, in 1725, to a shipmaster in the Mediterranean service, and Elizabeth Newton, a Nonconformist Christian, John Newton went to sea with his father at the of age eleven. He sailed six voyages with his father who retired in 1742. Though his father had plans for him to work in a sugar plantation in Jamaica, he signed on with a merchant ship sailing to the Mediterranean Sea.
A year after his father’s retirement while on the way to visit some friends, the Royal Navy captured Newton and pressed him into naval service as a midshipman aboard HMS Harwich. Once when he attempted to desert he got punished in front of the crew. He received a flogging of one dozen lashes and was reduced to the rank of a common seaman. Thoroughly humiliated, Newton thought of committing suicide.
After he recuperated physically and mentally he managed to get himself transferred from HMS Harwich to Pegasus, a slave ship bound for West Africa.
The crew of Pegasus considered Newton a problem. They handed him to Amos Clowe, a slave dealer in West Africa. Clowe gave him to his wife Princess Peye, an African duchess who abused and mistreated Newton along with her other slaves.
Early in 1748, a sea captain rescued Newton at the behest of his father who had been searching for him.
He sailed back to England aboard the merchant ship Greyhound. The ship almost sank on encountering a severe storm off the coast of Donegal. Newton woke in the middle of the night and prayed to God as the ship started filling with water. The cargo of beeswax and Dyer’s wood drifted inside the inundated ship and plugged the gaping hole, and the ship drifted to safety. This experience marked the beginnings of his conversion to Christianity.
As he headed home, Newton read the Bible and other religious literature. By the time he reached Britain, he had accepted the doctrines of evangelical Christianity. From that point on, although he continued to work in the slave trade, he avoided profanity, gambling, and drinking and showed sympathy for the slaves.
In Liverpool, he obtained a position as first mate aboard the slave ship Brownlow bound for the West Indies. While sick with a fever, he professed his full belief in Christ and asked God to take control of his destiny. This happened to be his true conversion, and the turning point in his spiritual life. For the first time, he felt totally at peace with God. Even so, he did not renounce the slave trade until later in his life.
After returning to England in 1750, he went on three more voyages as captain of the slave-trading ships “Duke of Argyle” in 1750, and the “African” between 1752–1753, and 1753–1754.
He suffered a severe stroke in 1754 and gave up seafaring and slave-trading activities. However, he continued to invest his savings in Joseph Manesty’s slaving operations.
In 1755, through the influence of Joseph Manesty he obtained the post of tide surveyor (a form of customs officer) in the Port of Liverpool with the responsibility for searching for contraband and remunerated with half of the confiscated booty.
In his spare time, he learned Greek, Hebrew, and Syriac and eventually became an evangelical minister. In 1757, he applied to be ordained as a priest in the Church of England. However, it took more than seven years for his request to be accepted.
Frustrated during this period of abeyance of the Church of England, Newton applied to the Methodists, Independents and Presbyterians, and even mailed applications directly to the Bishops of Chester and Lincoln and the Archbishops of Canterbury and York.
On 29th April 1764, Newton received deacon’s orders and finally became a priest on June 17. Newton after his appointment as the curate of Olney, Buckinghamshire, got sponsored by an evangelical philanthropist, the wealthy Christian merchant John Thornton, who supplemented his stipend of £60 a year with £200 a year.
Newton soon became well known for his pastoral care. He won the respect of Anglicans and Nonconformists alike for his beliefs and his friendship with dissenters and evangelical clergy. During his sixteen years of service in Olney, he became so popular for his preaching that the church had a gallery added to accommodate the large numbers that flocked to hear him.
William Cowper the poet moved to Olney in 1767. He worshipped in John Newton’s church. Cowper and Newton collaborated on a volume of hymns and eventually in 1779 published the collection as “Olney Hymns”. This much-appreciated compendium included Newton’s well-known hymns:
“Glorious Things of Thee are Spoken”
“How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds!”
“Let Us Love, and Sing, and Wonder”
“Come, My Soul, Thy Suit Prepare”
“Approach, My Soul, the Mercy-seat” and
“Faith’s Review and Expectation”
The hymn “Faith’s Review and Expectation” later became known by its opening phrase as “Amazing Grace”.
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, That saved a wretch like me…. I once was lost but now am found, Was blind, but now, I see.
T’was Grace that taught… my heart to fear. And Grace, my fears relieved. How precious did that Grace appear… the hour I first believed.
Through many dangers, toils and snares… I have already come. T’was Grace that brought me safe thus far… and Grace will lead me home.
When we’ve been here ten thousand years… bright shining as the sun. We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise… then when we’ve first begun.
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, That saved a wretch like me…. I once was lost but now am found, Was blind, but now, I see.