John Robinson - Why the Pilgrims Came to America

John Robinson - Pilgrim Fathers' Pastor Famous Historical Events Tragedies and Triumphs American History Civil Rights Philosophy

John Robinson was the much-loved pastor of the Pilgrims while they were living in Leiden, The Netherlands. Robinson knew that the people in his church—who later became known as "Pilgrims"—were worried about remaining in The Netherlands (where a new war against Spain seemed possible and their children were becoming more influenced by non-English ways).

Robinson was not a pastor who believed that children should grow-up too quickly. He encouraged his parishoners to let their children be children.

It was Robinson's idea that America could provide a way for his congregation members to remain loyal to their British King while also having the ability to workship as they pleased. People began making plans to leave for America.

It was also Rev. Robinson's plan to sail to America, to join his congregation members, at a later date.  He was unable to follow-through with his plan, however, because he became ill and died in Leiden.  

This image depicts the 1891 memorial plaque, in Leiden, which honors Robinson's memory.  It says:

The Mayflower, 1620
In memory of
Rev. John Robinson, M.A.
Pastor of the English Church worshiping over against
this spot. A.D. 1609–1625, whence at his prompting
went forth
to settle New England
in 1620
Buried under this house of worship, 4 mar. 1625
AEt XLIX years
In memoria aeterna erit justus.
Erected by the national council of the congregational
churches of the United States of America
A.D. 1891

Events in Leiden, which the Pilgrims and their pastor would have observed during their stay in that Dutch city, may have ultimately made their way to America.

During the 16th century, while the Dutch fought for their independence from Spain, people in Leiden had endured a long siege. When that siege was finally broken, in 1574, Leideners were starving. They celebrated their victory with a Thanksgiving festival. Thereafter, this became an annual event lasting several days

Leiden, thus, was a very important stop in the Pilgrims' journey to America. To provide more primary-source information about the Pilgrims' time and life in their town, Leiden officials have digitized some of their "Pilgrim Archives." They're worth checking-out.

Click on the image for a better view.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5186stories and lessons created

Original Release: Sep 04, 2017

Updated Last Revision: Apr 01, 2019

Media Credits

Image online, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.




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