Friday, November 17, 2017

Along The Pilgrim Trail ~ Boston, Lincolnshire, where the Pilgrim Fathers were Jailed

Along the Pilgrim Trail,  Part 15

and others afterwards known as
on the 23rd September 1607
after attempting to escape to
religious freedom

Vincent and I recently took the General Society of Mayflower Descendants Historic Sites Tour of England, Wales and The Netherlands along with 41 other enthusiast participants (known as "The 43").  We traced the footsteps of the Separatists and the Mayflower passengers and crew all around these countries with some amazing tour directors, guides, historians and authors.  We were given access to places off the usual tourist trails, and behind the scenes.  We had a wonderful time, and I will be blogging about it over the next few weeks.

Boston, Lincolnshire has many connections to the Mayflower passengers and to the Great Migration of Puritans to New England.  Our first stop in Boston was to the Guildhall.  In yesterday's post I described how the Scrooby Separatists were arrested at Fishtoft in 1607, and taken to the jail in the Boston Guildhall.  Today's post picks up on the rest of that story.

Boston Guildhall

The Boston Guildhall dates from the late 1300s. It was built for the Guild of St. Mary the Blessed Virgin.  This guild sold indulgences, which provided members with priests to say masses for the deceased for their eternal salvation. Members gave money and land for these indulgences. This practice made the guild very wealthy and influential in the middle ages, and the city of Boston prospered.  But it was also a corrupt system that the Protestants wanted abolished.

After the Guild of St. Mary was abolished, the Guildhall was used for civic purposes, such as the Quarter Session court  where the Scrooby Separatist men were jailed and held for trial. The men were imprisoned a month and since there were many Puritans in town, most of the men were released and returned home to Nottinghamshire and North Lincolnshire.  Seven Scrooby leaders, which must have included Brewster and Bradford were held in jail for the high court. It is unknown if that court session was ever held because the men were free to return with the others soon after.

But, they would try to reach Holland the following year in 1608. Stayed tuned for more about the escape to The Netherlands in the next blog post!

St. Botolph's Church

We also visited St. Botolph's church while we were in Boston. The first church here was built on the site of Botolph's own monastery in 654.  In the 14th century a grand new church was built here to reflect how prosperous Boston had become, thanks to the wealthy Guildhall. It is known as "The Stump" or "The Boston Stump" because of it's tall, 272 foot tower which appears to be unfinished by a spire. The church tower can be seen for miles because the area around the city of Boston is a flat watershed known as "The Fens".

In the 1600s, Rev. John Cotton began preaching his non-conformist ideas at St. Botolph's church.  He was very popular, and gained thousands of followers, including many families of gentry who removed to Boston to be part of his parish.  In 1630 Thomas Dudley, Simon Bradstreet and other Boston leaders removed to Massachusetts with a large number of his congregation, as part of the Winthrop Fleet.  Rev. John Cotton himself removed to Boston, Massachusetts in 1633.

"1630. John Cotton bids farewell to his parishoners on the Arbella"
a window inside St. Botolph's church

The Rev. John Cotton chapel inside St. Botolph's church

The Cotton Chapel inside St. Botolph's church is named for Rev. John Cotton.  There is a "Puritan Pathway" outside of the church with memorial markers for famous Puritans who left Boston, Lincolnshire for Boston, Massachusetts.  You might recognize some of these 12 names - Anne Hutchinson, Lady Arbella Johnson, John Winthrop, and Thomas Leverett (all were influential and important early settlers in the Massachusetts Bay Colony).  In 1999 the Partnership of Historic Bostons was established to help preserve and publicize the relationship between the two Bostons.


For more information:

The Partnership of Historic Bostons:

The Boston Guildhall:

St. Botolph's Church:

A six minute video of the Puritan Path in Boston, Lincolnshire: 

Part 1 of this series "Babworth, Nottinghamshire":

Part 2 of this series “Scrooby Manor, Nottinghamshire”:

Part 6 of this series "William Mullins of Dorking, Surrey":

Part 7 of this series "Edward Winslow of Droitwich, Worcestershire":

Part 8 of this series "The Fullers of Reddenhall, Norfolk":

Part 9 of this series "John Howland of Fenstanton, Cambridgeshire":

Part 10 of this series "Tilley and Sampson of Henlow, Bedfordshire":

Part 11 of this series "William Bradford of Austerfield, Yorkshire":

Part 12 of this series "Francis Eaton of Bristol":

Part 13 of this series "James Chilton, Robert Cushman of Canterbury, Kent, England":

Part 14 of this series "Fishtoft, Lincolnshire where the Pilgrims were betrayed":


Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Along the Pilgrim Trail ~ Boston, Lincolnshire, where the Pilgrim Fathers were Jailed", Nutfield Genealogy, posted November 17, 2017, ( accessed [access date]). 

No comments:

Post a Comment