Pilgrims

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Pilgrims,

in American history, the group of separatistsseparatists,
in religion, those bodies of Christians who withdrew from the Church of England. They desired freedom from church and civil authority, control of each congregation by its membership, and changes in ritual. In the 16th cent.
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 and other individuals who were the founders of Plymouth ColonyPlymouth Colony,
settlement made by the Pilgrims on the coast of Massachusetts in 1620. Founding

Previous attempts at colonization in America (1606, 1607–8) by the Plymouth Company, chartered in 1606 along with the London Company (see Virginia Company), were
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. The name Pilgrim Fathers is given to those members who made the first crossing on the Mayflower.

Origins

The nucleus of the group came into being in the meetings of a group of Puritans (see PuritanismPuritanism,
in the 16th and 17th cent., a movement for reform in the Church of England that had a profound influence on the social, political, ethical, and theological ideas of England and America. Origins

Historically Puritanism began early (c.
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) at Scrooby, a village in Nottinghamshire, England. Opposed to the episcopal jurisdiction and the rites and discipline of the Church of England, the group had formed as a separatist church by 1606, with John RobinsonRobinson, John,
1576?–1625, English nonconformist pastor of the Pilgrim Fathers in Holland. In 1592 he entered Cambridge; in 1597 he received a fellowship and was ordained. Soon thereafter he became curate of a church at Norwich.
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 eventually becoming their minister. The congregation was composed mainly of farmers and artisans, men of little education or position, although William BrewsterBrewster, William,
1567–1644, English separatist and Plymouth colonist. After studying briefly at Cambridge he became the chief member of the congregation at Scrooby that broke away, or separated, from the Anglican Church in 1606; the members, after their migration to
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, one of their leaders, was a man of some importance in the town and had spent some time at the Univ. of Cambridge. Although not actively persecuted, the group was subjected to ecclesiastical investigation and to the mockery, criticism, and disfavor of their neighbors.

Emigration to Holland

To avoid contamination of their strict beliefs and to escape the hated church from which they had separated, the sect decided to move to Holland, where other groups had found religious liberty, despite an English law that forbade emigration without royal permission. After several false starts, two of which were frustrated by the law, small groups made their way to the Netherlands in 1607, and by the middle of 1608 most of them had reached Amsterdam. They went from there to Leiden, where they established themselves as artisans and laborers.

Life in Holland was not easy, however, and the immigrants found the presence of radical religious groups there objectionable. Dutch influence also seemed to be altering their English ways, and the prospect of renewed war between the Netherlands and Spain threatened. For these reasons they considered moving to the New World.

To the New World

In 1617, John CarverCarver, John,
c.1576–1621, first governor of Plymouth Colony. A wealthy London merchant, in 1609 he emigrated to Holland, where he soon joined the Pilgrims at Leiden.
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 and Robert Cushman went to London to make arrangements with the London Company, cautiously negotiating the pledges necessary to satisfy the company, king, and bishops and still keep the religion of the dissenters pure. In 1619 a charter was secured from the company in the name of one John Wincob, but it was never used. The matter lapsed until early in 1620, when Thomas Weston, speaking for a group of London merchants, offered them support and the use of a charter already obtained from the London Company. A joint-stock company to last for seven years was arranged. The congregation voted in favor of the voyage, but only about half of the members decided to go.

A small vessel, the Speedwell, was obtained to carry the Pilgrims to England, where that vessel joined the MayflowerMayflower,
ship that in 1620 brought the Pilgrims from England to New England. She set out from Southampton in company with the Speedwell, the vessel that had borne some of the English separatists from the Netherlands back to England for the momentous voyage.
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 for the trip to America. Difficulties arose, however, over restrictive arrangements included by Weston in the agreement in order to guarantee more strongly the investment by the merchants, and the Pilgrims, unwilling to accept the revised agreement, sailed without reaching a settlement. The Speedwell proved unseaworthy and returned to port; many of the passengers and much of her cargo were crowded on the Mayflower, which set out alone.

The Leiden group constituted only 35 of the 102 passengers on the Mayflower; many of the English group gathered for the trip were not even separatists (they were thus called "Strangers"). Nonetheless, the Leiden group (the "Saints") retained control and were the moving force behind the emigration. While most of the Leiden Pilgrims were English, modern scholars have found that several were French-speaking WalloonsWalloons
, group of people living in S Belgium who traditionally spoke a dialect of French called Walloon, but who today for the most part speak standard French. The Walloons, numbering some 3.
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 and one was a Pole. Before landing, an agreement providing for a government by the will of the majority was drawn up and called the Mayflower CompactMayflower Compact,
in U.S. colonial history, an agreement providing for the temporary government of Plymouth Colony. The compact was signed (1620) on board the Mayflower
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. In Dec., 1620, the Mayflower entered Plymouth harbor, where the settlers established the Plymouth ColonyPlymouth Colony,
settlement made by the Pilgrims on the coast of Massachusetts in 1620. Founding

Previous attempts at colonization in America (1606, 1607–8) by the Plymouth Company, chartered in 1606 along with the London Company (see Virginia Company), were
..... Click the link for more information.
.

Bibliography

See W. Bradford, History of Plimouth Plantation (first pub. 1856); H. M. Dexter, The England and Holland of the Pilgrims (1905); R. G. Usher, The Pilgrims and Their History (1918); G. F. Willison, Saints and Strangers (1945, rev. ed. 1965) and The Pilgrim Reader (1953); S. E. Morison, The Story of the Old Colony of New Plymouth (1956); J. Demos, Little Commonwealth (1970); N. Philbrick, Mayflower (2008); N. Bunker, Making Haste from Babylon (2010).

References in classic literature ?
It was evident that Prince Andrew's ironical tone toward the pilgrims and Princess Mary's helpless attempts to protect them were their customary long-established relations on the matter.
These little practical jokes amused us mightily, and doubtless afforded the pilgrims the gratification of considering themselves martyrs.
Ricote and Sancho alone remained awake, for they had eaten more and drunk less, and Ricote drawing Sancho aside, they seated themselves at the foot of a beech, leaving the pilgrims buried in sweet sleep; and without once falling into his own Morisco tongue Ricote spoke as follows in pure Castilian:
Light this halt of the pilgrims by the wild red flames of cressets and torches, streaming up at intervals from every part of the innumerable throng.
Piers described to the pilgrims all the long way that they must go in order to find Truth.
And upward, accordingly, went the pilgrims of the Great Carbuncle, now treading upon the tops and thickly-interwoven branches of dwarf pines, which, by the growth of centuries, though mossy with age, had barely reached three feet in altitude.
The executive officer said the pilgrims had no charity:
Unluckily, the caravan was attacked and pillaged by the Bedouins, and the pilgrims were taken prisoners.
The pilgrims could be seen in knots gesticulating, discussing.
The pilgrims, leaving all their cares at home, the anxieties of their riches or their debts, the wife that worried and the children that disturbed, took only their sins with them, and turning their backs on their obligations, set out with that sole burden, and perhaps a cheerful heart.
Go on, my dear friend, till you, and those who, like you, have been saved, so as by fire, from the dark prison- house, shall stereotype these free, illegal pulses into statutes; and New England, cutting loose from a blood-stained Union, shall glory in being the house of refuge for the oppressed,--till we no longer merely "~hide~ the outcast," or make a merit of standing idly by while he is hunted in our midst; but, consecrat- ing anew the soil of the Pilgrims as an asylum for the oppressed, proclaim our WELCOME to the slave so loudly, that the tones shall reach every hut in the Carolinas, and make the broken-hearted bondman leap up at the thought of old Massachusetts.
While Isaac thus stood an outcast in the present society, like his people among the nations, looking in vain for welcome or resting place, the pilgrim who sat by the chimney took compassion upon him, and resigned his seat, saying briefly, ``Old man, my garments are dried, my hunger is appeased, thou art both wet and fasting.