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18 June 2014
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Immigration and Emigration
The Scrooby Pilgrims

Unhappy with the situation, Smyth and an undisclosed number of his congregation left for the Netherlands, leaving the Separatist church without a meeting place. Brewster reacted by opening up Scrooby Manor House for the purpose. As a Church of England property, Scrooby Manor's use as a meeting place for a non-conformist congregation is particularly ironic, not to mention brave. At a time, when such behaviour was seen as treasonous, the Separatists were taking a considerable risk to hold their meetings in such a building.

Old Manor House
The Old Manor House in Scrooby, home to John Brewster of the Pilgrim Fathers
© Courtesy of Bassetlaw Museum
The principle members of the Scrooby Separatists were Clifton, as pastor, Robinson, as teacher and Brewster, as the ruling elder. Although meetings were held 'underground' to avoid detection, persecution by the authorities continued relentlessly. Persecution from above was matched by hatred from the average Englishman. For the majority of people, the pulpit was the only source of information about the Separatists, from which an unpleasant picture of arrogance, ignorance and presumed superiority was painted.

Such was the degree of intolerance that the decision was made in 1607 to leave England for the Netherlands and join John Smyth's Gainsborough Separatists. Around 30 individuals from Scrooby were willing to follow Brewster. According to Malcolm Dolby, Retford Museum Archivist and Scrooby resident, the population of the village at the time was approximately 150 - 200 people. As no-one was allowed to travel from England without royal permission, the plan was conceived and executed in secret.

The decision to leave friends, family and their place of birth could not have been easy. An alien language, livelihood and landscape awaited them in Holland.

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