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Pilgrims - Letter Approving Move to Leiden

Pilgrims - Letter Approving Move to Leiden Famous Historical Events Famous People Government Social Studies Visual Arts

William Brewster, one of the Pilgrim leaders, had previously visited Leiden (in The Netherlands) when he met with the town secretary, Jan van Hout.  When it came time for the Pilgrims to leave Amsterdam, they selected Leiden as their new home.  They needed permission, however, to move there.

Jan van Hout kept the Pilgrims' request and the town's response.  Leiden's mayor and magistrates agreed - on February 12, 1609 - to grant permission, and the response was noted on the letter.  In partial translation, this is what the document says:

To the honorable Gentlemen, Mayors and Court of the City of Leiden

With due respect and submission, John Robinson, Minister of God's Word, together with some members of the Christian Reformed Religion, born in the Kingdom of Great Britain, and numbering one hundred persons or thereabouts, men and women, inform you that they desire to come to live in this city by the first day of May next, and to receive the citys permission to earn their living by carrying on their various trades, without in the least being a burden to anyone. The petitioners, therefore, address themselves to Your Honors, earnestly praying that Your Honors will be pleased to grant them free and unrestrained permission to betake themselves, as aforesaid...

The city's response is noted in the margin:

This Court, in making a disposition of the present Request, declare that they do not refuse honest persons permission to come and take up residence in this city, provided that such persons behave themselves honestly, and submit to all the laws and ordinances here, and that, therefore, the coming of the petitioners will be agreeable and welcome to them.

Thus was resolved in their session at the Town Hall this 12th of February, 1609.

In my presence and signed J. van Hout.

Click on the image for a better view.


Media Credits

Image, courtesy Pilgrim Archives in The Netherlands.

Information and translated passage, courtesy The Society of Mayflower Descendants in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

 

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