DELFSHAVEN - A group of a few dozen religious refugees left Delfshaven today. The group is on its way to America, where they want to build a new life. The group fled from England more than ten years ago and ended up in Leiden.

In Delfshaven, the faithful stepped on board the Speedwell. The freighter Mayflower will join them in Southampton.

The group arrived in Delfshaven last night. Another service was held in the St. Anthony Chapel.

Today an impressive farewell followed. Dominee John Robinson, who has been the leader of the group for years, but who does not travel to America, went to prayer.

The group left in 1607 from the town of Scrooby, at Nottingham, towards Holland. They were persecuted domestically, because of their strict Puritan beliefs. After a short stay in Amsterdam, most of the Puritans ended up in Leiden.


In recent years, Pastor Robinson's community has grown into a congregation of about three hundred followers. They lived in about twenty houses in the vicinity of the Pieterskerk.

Life was no big deal for Robinson's congregation. The houses were small, often no more than one room in size. Most of the Puritans were uneducated people, who were used to working on the land. In Leiden they had to work long hours as a weaver, hatter or wool comb , often six days a week. The time left was spent on faith.

Howel the Puritans in Leiden were given all the space to profess their faith, it was not quite to their liking. They were not pleased with the way of life of the rest of the people in Leiden. They lived, according to the Puritans, not as God intended.


During the last three years in particular, the urge to move on has arisen within the group of Puritans, to a place where they could make a fresh start: America. Part of the group felt that the freedom they were given caused some of them to become too integrated.

The end of the twelve-year truce, next year, and thus a threat of a resumption of war with Spain is also one of the reasons mentioned for moving.

Another argument was the appearance of a comet, end 1618. The appearance of a comet was seen by many people as a disaster tide.

Not all Puritans intended to leave. It would only be a part. In addition to Reverend Robinson, nearly two hundred followers remain in Holland.

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In liaison with the Puritans who stayed behind in England, it was decided to move again. This time Virginia would be the final destination in America.

Via de Merchant Adventurers, an English trading company, the crossing was arranged. The Puritans had to pay a lot for that. They had to sell all their properties, to pay for the crossing.

The trading company is negotiating to relocate the warehouses from Middelburg to Delft, because that city is further north, and most likely less likely to suffer from Spanish troops, when hostilities erupt again. The ships of Merchant Adventurers had therefore been in Delfshaven for some time.

In a few days the Speedwell will arrive in Southampton, wherever the rest of Puritans will join them, on board the Mayflower.

Hoe ging het verder?

The journey was difficult. In Southampton it was discovered that the Speedwell had a leak. Nevertheless, the ship departed from Southampton and returned not much later. There was no waiting for the Speewell and only with the Mayflower the Pilgrim Fathers made, as we know them now, the crossing to America.

That journey did not go well either. A severe storm brought the Puritans much farther north, at Massachusetts. Among other things, the city of Plymouth was founded there.

The Puritans are seen as "the seed of the nation". Many Americans are descended directly or indirectly from these migrants, such as presidents Rooseveld, Bush jr. in Bush mr.

On Thanksgiving (every fourth Thursday in November) is dedicated to the arrival of the Pilgrim Fathers in America. There are also parallels between Thanksgiving and the Relief of Leiden, as is celebrated annually in Leiden.


history – From Leiden to the promised land

Tiogatours – 1620 – De Pilgrim Fathers

Mayflower Leiden – The Mayflower Story

history – Comet caused in 1618 startled (bij)religious Netherlands