The Lilburne family was one of the wealthiest and most powerful families in Sunderland in the seventeenth century, making their money in the coal trade. John Lilburne, also known as Free-born John (1616-1657), was a puritan who stood for freedom of the individual against the state and promoted the idea of people having freeborn rights. He became one of the leaders of the Levellers. His radical puritan views brought him into conflict with the authorities many times. As a radical puritan pamphleteer he was sentenced in 1637 to be whipped through the streets of London, pilloried and imprisoned. He was later released and fought in the Civil War on the side of Parliament. However, he fell out with Cromwell and was exiled, returning later to live out his last days as a Quaker. The boots are one of the few survivors of one of the museum's early collections being listed in a catalogue of 1825.