Thursday, November 9, 2017

Along the Pilgrim Trail ~ William Bradford and St. Helena's Church of Austerfield, Yorkshire, England

Along the Pilgrim Trail, Part 11

Mayflower descendants visiting St. Helena's Church in Austerfield, Yorkshire

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.

We visited Babworth, Scrooby and Austerfield all on the same day with Sue Allan, author, as our guide. Although Babworth and Scrooby are in Nottinghamshire, and Austerfield is in Yorkshire, they are near each other in that corner of England where they all border with Lincolnshire. We learned at Babworth that both Brewster and Bradford would walk to Babworth on Sundays to hear Rev. Richard Clyfton preach about Separatism.  That was a walk of 12 miles for William Bradford.

William Bradford was born in Austerfield, and baptized here on 19 March 1589/90. His father, also named William Bradford, was wealthy, but he died when Bradford was young.  When his mother remarried he was raised by his grandfather, and when his grandfather died he went back to his mother, who died a year later.  Bradford was orphaned in 1597 and went to live with his uncle.

Since Bradford was a sickly child, he spent hours reading the Bible and literature, and was only 12 years old when he first heard Rev. Richard Clyfton at Babworth.  This is where Bradford met William Brewster, and became part of the secret Separatist congregation at Scrooby Manor.  When the Scrooby Separatists decided to leave for Holland in 1607, Bradford joined them. He was only 18 years old.

To be continued in later posts about our visit to Boston, Lincolnshire and Holland.

The church entrance at St. Helena's in Austerfield

Sue Allan gives us a history of St. Helena's church
and the BRADFORD family connections

The baptismal font at St. Helena's,
William Bradford was baptized here
on 19 March 1589/90

A beautiful stained glass window with the story of William Bradford,
Mayflower passenger and signer of the Mayflower compact

Bradford descendants posing for a photo inside St. Helena's church
King Aldfirth had a meeting here in at Austerfield in 702 or 703 AD.  This "Council of Austerfield" synod determined how to calculate Easter on the calendar, and also to decide the fate of Wilfrid, a bishop who had been expelled. The council decided against Wilfrid, who appealed to the pope in Rome.  When St. Helena's church was built in 1080, a medieval calendar was carved above the door to commemorate calculating Easter, but the symbolism of this carving has been lost over time.

Part 1 of this series "Babworth, Nottinghamshire":

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

Part 3 of this series "Gainsborough, Lincolnshire"

Part 4 of this series "Harwich, Essex, home of the Mayflower"

Part 5 this series "Stephen Hopkins of Upper Clatford, Hampshire"

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":


Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Along the Pilgrim Trail ~ William Brewster and St. Helen's Church of Austerfield, Yorkshire, England ", Nutfield Genealogy, posted November 9, 2017, ( accessed [access date]).

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