Chapter 2




In the days when Captain John Smith was having most wonderful adventures with pirates and Indians, there lived in the pleasant village of Austerfield, in central England, a very bright boy of sixteen, whose name was William Bradford.

At the same time a certain conceited, obstinate, narrow-minded Scotchman, named James Stuart, was King of England. He was the son of that famous Mary, Queen of Scots, whose pitiful story all the world knows.

James Stuart, who was King James VI. of Scotland, was also King James I. of England, succeeding his cousin, Queen Elizabeth. But James Stuart had none of the good sense of Elizabeth Tudor. He had an absurd belief that he was the only man in the world able or fit to be King of England, and that, therefore, whatever he did was right.

But he did many things that were wrong, and one of these was to try




to make all the English people believe just as he did (or say they did), and go to his church. This is a very hard thing to do, as King James soon found out.

As I have told you, he was obstinate as well as conceited. So, when he discovered that there were a number of people who would not do as he commanded in regard to their religion and church-going, he was very angry.

These independent people were called" Puritans," because they demanded that the English Church should be purified; for they believed that certain of its forms and beliefs were superstitious and misleading.

Some of them, indeed, seeing no hope of reform in the church under King James, felt compelled to separate themselves from the English Church. For this reason they were called "Separatists." Their determination made King James more angry than ever, and one day he said in a rage to some of the leading Separatists: "In my kingdom I will have one doctrine, one discipline, one religion, and I will make you conform or I will harry you out of this land, or worse."

And that is just what King James finally did: he "harried" out of England some of the best and bravest and noblest Englishmen.

Just south of the town of Austerfield, ‘in which the boy William Bradford lived, there was a little village called Scrooby. It was on the road between London and Liverpool, and was in the pleasant county of Nottinghamshire, the English county next west of Lincolnshire, where Captain John Smith lived as a boy.

The postmaster of the little village of Scrooby was




named William Brewster. He was one of those who objected to King James’s command. So he, too, had become a Separatist or "Nonconformist," as the sect was sometimes called, because its members would not ‘~conform," or agree, to King James’s tyrannical orders.

William Brewster was so good a Separatist that when those in the neighborhood of Scrooby and Austerfield wished a meeting place, he gave up to them his big house, and there they held Sunday services.

Young William Bradford went to these Separatist services as regularly as he could. His family did not like to have him do this, and tried to stop him. But he believed he was right, and he would not be stopped. He would not stop even when King James sent men to break up the meetings and punish the leaders.

Indeed, the earnest people who went to the Sunday services in William Brewsters house at Scrooby had so hard a time, and were made so very uncomfortable, that at last William Brewster and his friends determined to give up living in England, and go across to Holland, where they knew they would be allowed to worship God as they chose; for the people of Holland had always been what we call "tolerant."

So, in the year i6o8, a number of these Separatists went across the North Sea to Holland, leaving their beloved English homes "for conscience’ sake," and young William Bradford left his home at Austerfield and went with them.

He grew to be an active and earnest member of the English community that had settled in the old Dutch city of Leyden in Holland. But as he grew to man




hood he began to feel, as did some of the older me and women of the congregation, that they had made mistake in settling in Holland.

To be sure, they had freedom to worship God in their own simple way, but they found that instead of remaining Englishmen they were gradually becoming Dutch men. Their daughters grew up and married Dutchmen their sons grew up and became Dutch soldiers or sailor, or merchants. If they staid many years in Holland Bradford and Brewster and the other thoughtful one! said, they would cease to be Englishmen; and next to being good Christians, they desired most to be good and loyal Englishmen.

So, after living twelve years in Leyden, Bradford and Brewster and the others determined to leave Holland and sail across the sea to that great and promising America they had all heard about, there to settle as an English colony under English laws.

You see, therefore, that these people did not come to America simply for "freedom to worship God," as Mrs. Hemans’s poem tells us. They had perfect freedom in this way in friendly Holland. No one there disturbed them or interfered with their religion. They came to America to make a home for themselves and their children, where English should be spoken and England should be served and loved. But one of the things they were determined upon for the new colony was that it should be under the control of those of their own religion and their own faith.

After a great deal of trouble, they succeeded in getting King James’s consent to settle in English territory.




The king said they would be out of England anyway, and that was what he most desired, for thus he would be rid of them.

But they were uncertain just where to settle. At first they thought of going to South America or the West Indies. But they soon gave up that idea. Those hot countries, though rich and fruitful, were unhealthful for Englishmen, and the hostile Spaniards who had settled in that section of America made it still further objectionable to Englishmen. Then they thought of trying Virginia; but the Church of England people were in control there, and the Separatists could hope for no liberty of worship, according to their desires, in a section which the established church controlled.

They had heard from Captain John Smith many pleasant and agreeable things about New England; but they had also heard that it was a cold, bleak country during part of the year, and almost as hard for Englishmen to stand as the Spaniards’ country in the south.

But John Smith had told them, too, about the Hudson River and the pleasant country thereabouts. Moreover, this was included in the section which some explorers referred to as the northern parts of Virginia, but which John Smith had called New England. The Separatists liked that name. It was not New Holland—it was New England.

The arrangements were made, and the day came at last. On the 22d of July, 1619, they left the queer Dutch houses in Leyden which had been their homes so long, and turned their faces toward America, feeling,






as young William Bradford said in the account he wrote of their adventures, that "they were pilgrims, who looked not on the pleasant things about them, but lifted up their eyes to heaven, their dearest country, and so quieted their spirits."

And that is where this division of the Separatists got the name by which we know them best—the Pilgrims. It comes from William Bradford’s diary, a fragment of which is reproduced on the opposite page.

For, years after, that bright boy of Austerfield rewrote his journal into a book, or narrative, which was really a history of the Pilgrims and their settlement in Massachusetts. The original written copy of that book was lost for many years, but it was found a few years ago, and was generously given up to the State of Massachusetts by those who had it in England, for it was considered something very precious.

And now the "Bradford manuscript," as it is called, is kept in an honored place in the library of the State-house in Boston, the capital of that very commonwealth of Massachusetts which John Smith first praised to Englishmen, and which William Bradford and his companions came across the sea on an uncertain pilgrimage to settle and upbuild.