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The Pilgrims were a congregation of religious separatists influenced by Robert Browne who traveled 10 hard weeks at sea in the Mayflower and landed at Massachusetts in 1620 to found Plymouth Colony. They were led by pastor John Robinson, John Carver, church elder William Brewster, and William Bradford. They are best remembered for their pious culture and staunch belief in religious freedom from an oppressive establishment. Thanksgiving Day honors them.

It is estimated that 35 million people worldwide are descended from the Mayflower today, and one can search for them using a pre-1910 name.[1]


While still in the town of Scrooby in Nottinghamshire, England, the congregation began to feel the pressures of religious persecution. In the Hampton Court Conference, King James I declared Puritans and Protestant Separatists to be undesirables, and in 1607, the Bishop of York raided the homes of and imprisoned several members of the congregation in a prison in Boston, Lincolnshire.[2] The separatist congregation did not seek to reform the Church of England, so they left England and settled the Netherlands, first in Amsterdam, and finally in Leiden in 1609.[3]

Prayers in the new world

On the day that the Pilgrims disembarked from the Mayflower they prayed for God's Grace upon the new land. William Bradford cataloged the following prayer:[4][5]

Our fathers were Englishmen, which came over this great ocean, and were ready to perish in this wilderness. But they cried unto the Lord, and He heard their voice and looked on their adversity. And let them therefore praise the Lord, because He is good: and his mercies endure forever.


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