The painting "Embarkation of the Pilgrims"
by Robert W. Weir, 1836
which shows Rev. John Robinson blessing the
passengers of the Mayflower in 1620
Reverend John Robinson (1576 – 1626) is one of my favorite ancestors. I descend from him on my maternal and paternal lineages. He was most famous as pastor to the Separatist Pilgrims who left on the Mayflower, even though he himself never came to America. He left a legacy that is remembered by Mayflower descendants, members of the churches that evolved from the Separtists (the Congregational and Unitarian Churches), and lovers of New England history.
Rev. John Robinson went to Cambridge University in 1592, but disagreed with the church and resigned on 10 February 1603/4. He joined the Separtists who gathered around William Brewster in Scrooby, England. He became their pastor and the group went to Amsterdam, and then Leyden to set up a church. By 1617 he thought of bringing his congregation to America. When they finally made plans to come on the Mayflower and Speedwell in 1620, Rev. Robinson decided to stay with the majority of his congregation in Holland. He planned to join the group as soon as possible, but he died in 1626. He is buried under the floor of St. Pieterskerk in Leyden, along with about 30 other Pilgrims who remained in Holland. This church is a spot that is popular with American tourists.
The letter that Rev. John Robinson wrote as a farewell to the Pilgrims was read by John Carver (a relative of his wife, Bridget) on board the Mayflower prior to their first attempt to depart on 5 August 1620. You can see that some of his ideas in this letter were written into the Mayflower Compact. This letter is often read (in part) at Mayflower Society meetings and at the opening services of the Triennial Mayflower Congresses in Plymouth, Massachusetts.
Loving and Christian Friends,
I do heartily and in the Lord salute you all as being they with whom I am present in my best affection, and most earnest longings after you. Though I be constrained for a while to be bodily absent from you. I say constrained, God knowing how willingly and much rather than otherwise, I would have borne my part with you in this first brunt, where I not by strong necessity held back for the present. Make account of me in the meanwhile as of a man divided in myself with great pain, and as (natural bonds set aside) having my better part with you. And though I doubt not but in your godly wisdoms you both foresee and resolve upon that which concerneth your present state and condition, both severally and jointly, yet have I thought it but my duty to add some further spur of provocation unto them who run already; if not because you need it, yet because I owe it in love and duty. And first, as we are daily to renew our repentance with our God, especially for our sins known, and generally for our unknown trespasses; so doth the Lord call us in a singular manner upon occasions of such difficulty and danger sa lieth upon you, to a both more narrow search and careful reformation of your ways in His sight; let He, calling to remembrance our sins forgotten by us or unrepented of, take advantage against us, and in judgment leave us for the same to be swallowed up in one danger or other. Whereas, on the contrary, sin being taken away by earnest repentance and the pardon thereof from the Lord, sealed up unto a man's conscience by His Spirit, great shall be his security and peace in all dangers, sweet his comforts in all distresses, with happy deliverance from all evil, whether in live or in death.
Now, next after this heavenly peace with God and our own consciences, we are carefully to provide for peace with all men what in us lieth, especially with our associates. And for that, watchfulness must be had that we neither at all in ourselves do give, no, nor easily take offense being given by others. Woe be unto the world for offenses, for though it be necessary (considering the malice of Satan and man's corruption) that offenses come, yet woe unto the man, or woman either, by whom the offense cometh, saith Christ, Matthew 18:7. And if offenses in the unseasonable use of things, in themselves indifferent, be more to the feared than death itself (as the Apostle teacheth, 1 Corinthians 9:15) how much more in things simply evil, in which neither honor of God nor love of man is thought worthy to be regarded. Neither yet is it sufficient that we keep ourselves by the grace of God from giving offense, except withal we be armed against the taking of them when they be given by others. For how unperfect and lame is the work of grace in that person who wants charity to cover a multitude of offenses, as the Scriptures speak!
Neither are you to be exhorted to this grace only upon the common grounds of Christianity, which are, that persons ready to take offense either want charity to cover offenses, or wisdom duly to weigh human frailty; or lastly, are gross, though close hypocrites as Christ our Lord teacheth (Matthew 7:1,2,3), as indeed in my own experience few or none have been found which sooner give offense than such as easily take it. Neither have they ever proved sound and profitable members in societies, which have nourished this touchy humor.
But besides these, there are divers motives provoking you above others to great care and conscience this way: As first, you are many of you strangers, as to the persons so to the infirmities one of another, and so stand in need of more watchfulness this way, lest when such things fall out in men and women as you suspected not, you be inordinately affected with them; which doth require at your hands much wisdom and charity for the covering and preventing of incident offenses that way. And, lastly, your intended course of civil community will minister continual occasion of offense, and will be as fuel for that fire, except you diligently quench it with brotherly forbearance. And if taking of offense causelessly or easily at men's doings be so carefully to be avoided, how much more heed is to be taken that we take not offense at God Himself, which yet we certainly do so oft as we do murmur at His providence in our crosses, or bear impatiently such afflictions as wherewith He pleaseth to visit us. Store up, therefore, patience against that evil day, without which we take offense at the Lord Himself in His holy and just works.
A fourth thing there is carefully to be provided for, to wit, that with your common employments you join common affections truly bent upon the general good, avoiding deadly plague of your both common and special comfort all retiredness of mind for proper advantage, and all singularly affected any manner of way. Let ever man repress in himself and the whole body in each person, as so many rebels against the common good, all private respects of men's selves, not sorting with the general conveniency. And as men are careful not to have a new house shaken with any violence before it be well settled and the parts firmly knit, so be you, I beseech you, brethren, much more careful that the house of God, which you are and are to be, be not shaken with unnecessary novelties or other oppositions at the first settling thereof.
Lastly, whereas you are become a body politic, using amongst yourselves civil government, and are not furnished with any persons of special eminency above the rest, to be chosen by you into office of government; let your wisdom and godliness appear, not only in choosing such persons as do entirely love and will promote the common good, but also in yielding unto them all due honor and obedience in their lawful administrations, not beholding in them the ordinariness of their persons, but God's ordinance for your good; not being like the foolish multitude who more honor the gay coat than either the virtuous mind of the man, or glorious ordinance of the Lord. But you know better things, and that the image of the Lord's power and authority which the magistrate beareth, is honorable, in how means persons soever. And this duty you both may the more willingly and ought the more conscionably to perform, because you are at least for the present to have only them for your ordinary governors, which yourselves shall make choice of for that work.
Sundry other things of importance I could put you in mind of, and of those before mentioned in more words, but I will not so far wrong your godly minds as to think you heedless of these things, there being also divers among you so well able to admonish both themselves and others of what concerneth them. These few things therefore, and the same in few words I do earnestly commend unto your care and conscience, joining therewith my daily incessant prayers unto the Lord, that He who hath made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all rivers of water, and whose providence is over all His works, espeically over all His dear children for good, would so guide and guard you in your ways, as inwardly by His Spirit, so outwardly by the hand of His power, as that both you and we also, for and with you, may have after matter of praising His name all the days of your and our lives. Fare you well in Him in whom you trust, and in whom I rest.
An unfeigned wellwiller of your happy success in this hopeful voyage,
Descendants of Reverend John Robinson are not eligible for membership in the Mayflower Society. There is no Robinson Society, nor any compiled genealogies. His son Isaac Robinson is not mentioned in the book, New Englanders in the 1600s by Martin Hollick. Isaac arrived in Massachusetts aboard the ship Lion and was made a freeman in Scituate in 1636. He was the only one of his siblings to come to America. Isaac Robinson followed Quaker ideas, and was forced to leave Barnstable and go to Falmouth.
You can read about Isaac Robinson and his family in Banks’ History of Martha’s Vineyard and in Anderson’s The Great Migration Begins. I received a great deal of help on my two lineages from Rev. John Robinson and his son Isaac from the website www.revjohnrobinson.com administered by Donald L. Robinson. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org . This website maintains a message board and a list of ROBINSON researchers. There are also many photographs of sites in England and Holland where Rev. Robinson lived and preached, including St. Pieterskerk.
My Robinson genealogy:
Generation 1: John Robinson, son of John Robinson and Anne Unknown, was born in 1576 and died on 1 March 1626 in Leyden, South Holland (the Netherlands); married on 15 February 1603 at St. Mary’s Greasley, Nottinghamshire, England to Bridget White. She was the daughter of Alexander White and Eleanor Smith, born about 1581 in Sturton, Nottinghamshire, and died after 28 October 1643 in Leyden. Nine children.
Generation 2: Isaac Robinson, born 1610 in Leyden, died 1704 in Barnstable, Massachusetts; married first on 26 September 1636 in Scituate, Massachusetts to Margaret Hanford, daughter of Theophilus Hanford and Eglin Hatherly. She was born about 1619 in England and died 13 June 1649 in Barnstable. Six children. Isaac married second about 1651 to Mary Unknown and had four more children.
Generation 3: John Robinson, born about 1640 and died after 1714 in Connecticut; married 1 May 1667 in Barnstable to Elizabeth Weeks, daughter of William Weeks and Mary Butler. She was born about 1648 on the island of Martha’s Vineyard. Ten children.
Generation 4: Mary Robinson, born 12 December 1683 in Falmouth, Massachusetts, and died in November 1721; married on 22 November 1704 in Falmouth to Benjamin Davis, son of John Davis, Jr. and Ruth Goodspeed. He was born 8 September 1679 in Barnstable, and died in 1754. Nine children.
Generation 5: Ruth Davis m. John Mayhew
Generation 6: Mary Mayhew m. Caleb Rand
Generation 7: Mary Rand m. Asahel Bill
Generation 8: Reverend Ingraham Ebenezer Bill m. Isabella Lyons
Generation 9: Caleb Rand Bill m. Anna Margareta Bollman
Generation 10: Isabella Lyons Bill m. Albert Munroe Wilkinson
Generation 11: Donald Munroe Wilkinson m. Bertha Louise Roberts (my paternal grandparents)
Generation 4: Isaac Robinson, son of John Robinson and Elizabeth Weeks, born 30 January 1670; married first to Hannah Harper on 1 March 1690 in Barnstable. She was the daughter of Robert Harper and Prudence Butler, born May 1670 in Sandwich, Massachusetts. Eight children.
Generation 5: Peter Robinson, born 15 December 1701 in Falmouth, died after 1772; married on 18 July 1724 in Falmouth to Martha Green, daughter of Isaac Greene and Sarah Unknown. She was born 28 October 1705 in Falmouth. Seven children.
Generation 6: Jabez Robinson, born 9 June 1726 in Falmouth; married on 7 January 1748 to Tabitha Green, daughter of William Green and Joanna Mendall. She was born 18 December 1726 in Falmouth. Five children.
Generation 7: Elizabeth Robinson, born 17 June 1750 in Falmouth, died 27 June 1837; married on 8 September 1774 to Ebenezer Crosby, son of Jonathan Crosby and Hannah Hamblin. He was born 26 August 1747 in Mansfield, Connecticut, and died 26 February 1826 in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. Eleven children.
Generation 8. Rebecca Crosby m. Comfort Haley
Generation 9: Joseph Edwin Healy m. Matilda Weston
Generation 10: Mary Etta Healey m. Peter Hoogerzeil
Generation 11: Florence Etta Hoogerzeil m. Arthur Treadwell Hitchings
Generation 12: Gertrude Matilda Hitchings m. Stanley Elmer Allen (my maternal grandparents)
Copyright 2013, Heather Wilkinson Rojo