It is usual to date the Reformation in England at about the middle of the sixteenth century, and this is supported by the dates when Kings and Queens succeeded or departed, and by acts of parliament, and royal proclamations. This may be correct when applied to London, or the principal towns, or the home or southern counties? but it is unreliable when applied to the northern province, to the hills and dales of Yorkshire, and to the little villages in Nottinghamshire which were then a part of the Diocese of York. There were the chained Bibles in the churches, but very few of the people could read, and the chain was there not because the people valued the book so much that it was feared it would be appropriated for private use, but rather because of the hostility of some of the adherents to the old faith, who would be glad to see the book burn, and it was a long time before in the villages the Reformation became a living reality. Judging by the Nottinghamshire County Records of the seventeenth century, there were in the county a number of persons who were called Popish Recusants, some of them being of the old land-owning county families, who obstinately refused to change the form of religion to which they had been accustomed, notwithstanding the Sovereign, the Council, and Parliament had changed, and had ordered the people to change accordingly. Most of the clergy who had officiated in the reign of Queen Mary retained their offices under Queen Elizabeth, which apparently indicated either that they cared more for the big things of religion, and less for its rites and ceremonies, or that their convictions were not very strong either way. The common people in the villages still clung to the Romish fasts and festivals, to their belief in purgatory, and sundry superstitious practices. There was indeed very little teaching. In some churches a sermon was seldom given, and it became necessary for an order to be issued that there must not be less than one sermon a quarter. But even the Archbishop could not ensure that a sermon given under such circumstances would have much practical value. The amount of Holy Scripture that had to be read in the Sunday services would, however, be of much helpfulness to those hearers who desired to profit thereby, and of course there would be a large proportion of the village clergy who would endeavour to do their duty, and some would be very helpful to their people. While all this was occurring in the villages there were men at the Universities, especially at Cambridge, who were earnestly bent on sending out their students with minds enlightened on spiritual things, and whose souls were fired with a full desire to proclaim the gospel of the grace of God as the Divine remedy for man's sin and misery.

Cambridge. In the providence of God, a boy must go from Scrooby to Cambridge, and possibly his soul would catch the sacred fire. William Brewster, born it is supposed in 1566, was in his fourteenth or fifteenth year when he went. For entrance to Peterhouse College he must have had some education, and some knowledge of Latin, but how or where obtained we have no information. He stayed there, it is thought, about three years, when he seems to have made the acquaintance of Mr. William Davison, a private secretary, afterwards a government official sent on an embassy to Scotland, who it is possible stayed at Scrooby en route; anyhow, William Bradford many years afterwards wrote of him: " He (Brewster) went to ye courte, and served that religious and godly gentleman Mr. Davison, diverce years, when he was Secretary of State, who found him so discreete and faithful as he trusted him above all other that were aboute him, and only imployed him in all matters of greatest trust and secrecie. He esteemed him rather as a sonne then a servante, and for his wisdom and godliness in private, he would converse with him more like a familiar than a maister. He attended his mr when he was sent in ambassage by the Queene into ye Low-countries," etc. "He afterwards remained with him till his troubles, that he (Davison) was put from his place aboute ye death of ye Queene of Scots; and some good time after, doeing him manie faithfull offices of service in ye time of his troubles."

Queen of Scots. How could the death of the Queen of Scots  affect a small village in Nottinghamshire?  Let us see. The presence in England of Mary was a constant source of uneasiness to Queen Elizabeth and the government. Her custodian for fifteen years from 1569 was the Earl of Shrewsbury and his wife "Bess of Hardwick," who constantly changed the place of residence, or prison, shall we call it? Tutbury, Wingfield, Chatsworth, Sheffield, Buxton, being among them. Plot after plot followed each other, culminating in the conspiracy of Anthony Babington, of Dethick and Kingston-on-Soar, for which he was hanged at Tyburn in 1586, followed by the trial of Mary, at which sentence of death was pronounced, whereupon both people and parliament clamoured for execution, and the Queen's ministers deemed it necessary, and on February 1st, 1587, Queen Elizabeth signed the warrant of execution, handed it to Davison with instructions to carry it to the Lord Chancellor for the great seal, then forward it to the Commissioners and to have the execution at Fotheringay. This was carried out a week later, and then the Queen pretended that it was an accident; that Davison had betrayed her and violated her commands, and she ordered him to the Tower, and appointed a Commission of thirteen members—two of whom were Archbishops Whitgift and Sandys—in the Star Chamber. The accusation was of having disobeyed the Queen in showing the warrant to the Council after it had been signed, and sending it to execution without her knowledge and order. Davison was unanimously acquitted of evil intent, but was condemned for malfeasance through haste, fined ten thousand marks, imprisoned, ruined.

Brewster continued with his master for some time after his calamity, and then returned to Scrooby to take charge of his father's business. A year or two after his father's death he married, his wife's name being Mary— that is all we know, for the Register does not help us. They had children born whom they named Jonathan, Patience and, just before they fled, a daughter was given the significant name of Fear. The mother and children passed through all the Pilgrim's troubles to Holland and the United States.

We have seen how Brewster residing several years at Cambridge would have the opportunity of hearing the most enlightened and spiritually developed men. How going into the service and companionship of Mr. Davison he would be able to mix among the most pious and useful men and women around the Court circles, and how going with Mr. Davison to Holland, which was then the asylum for men banished for their religious opinions, he may have had intercourse with them, and have been drawn by the power of sympathy to admiration and adoption of their principles. All this being followed by a great wrong done to his master, whom he regarded with reverence and affection, we can quite understand that when he returned to Scrooby he was a man with an altogether different outlook to the youth who left it. In those years he had passed through an experience which to an observant eye and reflective mind would be equal to more than many years at College would furnish to some young men.

We must now regard him as the farmer, post, and business man generally, but withal with a devoutness towards God and helpfulness to the people. "He did much good," says Bradford, "in the country where he lived in promoting and furthering religion, not only by his practice and example, and provoking and encouraging of others, but by procuring good preachers [in the parish churches] to the places thereabout, and drawing on of others to assist and help forward in such a work, he himself [being] most commonly deepest in the charge, and sometimes above his ability."

Rev. Richard Clyfton. The Rev. Richard Clyfton, a Cam bridge University man, was rector of Babworth, adjoining Retford, described as "a grave and reverend preacher, who by his pains and diligence had done much good and under God had been the means of the conversion of many," and many years afterwards Bradford records that as a boy he heard him preach. Professor Arber, in his valuable "Story of the Pilgrim Fathers," says (page 51) "Going back to the ultimate facts we say that the Pilgrim Movement originated in the Eectory and Church at Babworth, in Nottinghamshire, and that it was mainly a Nottinghamshire movement. * * * * In the main Nottinghamshire men founded the Pilgrim Church." Mr. Clyfton was instituted in 1586, and apparently retired in 1605. He became the senior pastor of the congregation at Scrooby, and went with his wife and children to Amsterdam, where he died in 1616, aged sixty-three. It is to be regretted that so little is recorded of this worthy man.

Rev. R. Bernard. Among the Puritan clergy in the district  the Rev. Richard Bernard, who was Vicar  of Worksop in 1601, appears to have had much influence in promoting the deepening of spiritual life in the hearts and minds of people for many miles round his own parish. He was a Cambridge graduate, and a man of great spiritual insight, and practical ability, for he anticipated Bunyan's "Holy War" by a book entitled, "The Isle of Man, or the Legal Proceeding in Man-shire againstt Sin," and he further anticipated John Howard, the prison philanthropist, in his denunciation of the wicked and wasteful state of the prisons, "a very picture of Hell * * * and a preparation thereto" he says. He took the course in his own parish of forming a select circle of about a hundred persons within the church who were spiritually minded, and who entered into a covenant for more definite religious life than was commonly observed, and he declined to separate from the church.

Bradford's History. Meetings of kindred spirits now began to  be held at William Brewster's house for  the study of the bible, and for prayer and fellowship, at which William Bradford, among others, was a regular attendant. And here we must slightly digress from our narrative in order to see where the material came from forming the story. Thirty years after what has been recorded, William Bradford compiled from his notes a "History of the Plymouth Plantation," that is, the Colony the Scrooby men and and others had formed in the United States, and he, having become Governor of the Colony, had all the materials available. The manuscript he wrote was not printed, but fortunately several authors quoted passages from it, and then in some remarkable way it was lost, and was not found for seventy years. In 1844 Dr. Wilberforce, afterwards Bishop of Oxford, wrote a History of the Protestant Episcopal Church in America, in which he made quotations from an old manuscript he had found in the Bishop of London's Palace at Fulham. This book passed through several editions, and some Americans discovered that the quotations in the new book, and those in the books of two hundred years ago were identical, and this led to enquiries resulting in the discovery that the lost manuscript written by Bradford had been found. It, together with the Log Book of the "Mayflower," was in 1897 by the Bishop of London's Consistory Court handed over to the State of Massachusetts, and the State warmly acknowledged the gift. It is now in the State House at Boston, and a photographic reprint was made at the cost of the State.

In his History Bradford referring to the meetings at Brewster's house says:—" They ordinarily met at his house on the Lord's day, which was a Manor of the Bishop's, and with great love he entertained them when they came, making provision for them to his great charge, and continued to do so whilst they could stay in England." An American gentleman requested the Rev. Joseph Hunter, author of a History of South Yorkshire, and other books of local history, and Assistant Keeper of Her Majesty's Eecords, to try to solve the mystery of where Brewster's house was, and the above passage enabled Mr. Hunter to rediscover Scrooby after it had been lost for two centuries, whereupon he in 1849-54 published Collections concerning the Early History of the Founders of New Plymouth, and this led the Rev. Canon Raine, D.C.L. in his History of Blyth to say, "a family of the name of Brewster occupied the Manor house of Scrooby " (page 129) and again, referring to the congregation at Scrooby, "which was presided over by William Brewster in a farm house, a remnant of the palace of the Archbishop of York." (page 181). There is no documentary evidence of his occupation of any other house.

A revival of religion now took place in the hearts and minds of many thoughtful people. Bradford, referring to the work of the Puritan clergy, says: "by the travail and diligence of some godly and zealous preachers and God's blessing on their labours * * * many became enlightened by the Word of God, and had their ignorance and sins discovered unto them, and began by His grace to reform their lives, and make conscience of their ways." These people now wanted social intercourse, sympathy,—what the New Testament calls "fellowship," and what in the Apostles' Creed is called "The communion of saints," but unhappily all around the ground was frosted.

The adherents in Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire, with Scrooby as their centre, now determined to join forces, and form what they called a Church Estate, or, other words, the power of self government, and this is how they did it:—They agreed "as a body of disciples of Christ who had become united by a covenant of the Lord into a Church Estate in the fellowship of the Gospel to walk in all His ways made known, or to be made known to them according to their best endeavours, whatever it should cost them, the Lord assisting."

In the Scrooby fellowship in 1606 there were individual members residing at Broxtowe Hall, Mattersey, Retford, Scrooby, Skegby, Sturton le Steeple, Sutton, Wheatley, Worksop, and elsewhere. The Rev. Richard Clyfton, who had either surrendered, or been ejected from, his appointment at Babworth, and later the Rev. John Robinson, became ministers unto them.

There were kindred spirits in Gainsborough, and other parts of Lincolnshire, who formed themselves into a distinct body, or church, and doubtless there would be helpful intercourse, but the Scrooby movement appears to have stood on its own resposibility.

The date of the foregoing information is not clear. 1602 is stated in one of the old books, but the Rev. Walter H. Burgess, in his "Smith the se-Baptist and the Pilgrim Fathers" shows that 1606 is much more likely. A period of about a year of happy sunshine and rest was followed by many rude, wintry blasts, for the law required attendance at Church to hear Divine Service, and the Notts. County Records inform us that there were in the County many indictments, or presentations, of persons for refusing to go to church and to receive the Sacrament. This degradation of the institution appointed by our Lord in remembrance of Himself was probably intended as a test to catch the Popish Recusants, but was in some districts applied generally, resulting in places of meetings being watched by paid informers, thus causing the buildings and hours to be changed with a view to avoid detection.

Meetings. The wisdom of holding meetings and forming a church on the premises at Scrooby may be called in question, for it must be remembered that Brewster was a government officer conveying Court officials, whose number, travelling north and south, multiplied greatly after King James' accession, and after Gunpowder Plot suspicion was intensified with regard to all unusual forms of religion. The premises belonged to the Archbishop, who had, however, probably at that time ceased to use Scrooby, but the Sandys' leases continued, and it is possible that some of the members of the Sandys family continued after the Archbishop's death to reside, either usually or occasionally, at the principal house. If this were so, it would be irritating to see people assembling. Policy, however, never entered into the Pilgrims' heads; and really the number of people assembling must usually have been small. The names of members in Scrooby could be counted on the fingers, but a few persons from the villages round would gather, and the visits of more distant members would be only occasional, and probably confined to summer time. Had they been as quiet as modern Free Church Deacons now usually are all the foregoing difficulties might not have arisen, but they were loud in their denunciations of the evils connected with, or being connected with, the State Church, for they thought that they had discovered the true church, the bride of Christ, without making sufficient allowance for poor human nature, or for what in shooting is called "deflection."

The actual room in which their meetings was held is of little importance. The banqueting hall grand and cold, might be used in summer, but a good, old fashioned kitchen, spacious and warm, would be much more likely to be chosen for their bible study, testimony, prayers and thanksgiving.

The edification of the few must also be noted. Wesley, the evangelistic giant of Epworth—fourteen miles off—enlarged the outlook. "The world is my parish." Both spheres are necessary. But at Scrooby there was neither the man nor the audience. The little band of people were regarded as visionaries, and such they were for they had seen God in the face of Jesus Christ, and the glory of the sight had so dazzled their eyes that they saw no beauty elsewhere. Well does Mrs. Browning say :

Earth's  crammed  with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God, But
only he who sees takes off his shoes,
The rest sit round it, and pluck blackberries."

Trouble. This was perfectly true of the people of the district at the time we are considering. With no village schools, few of them could read or write. With scarcely any books, they had little knowledge. With the church asleep, the people perished. The few whose eyes had been opened were therefore to their neighbours a byword, a laughing-stock, and a matter of reproach. This, however, could have been borne, and Bradford likens it to a flea-bite in comparison with what occurred to them locally, being hunted and persecuted on every side, some being put in prison, others having their houses watched night and day, and others so beset that they were fain to fly, and leave both their homes and means of livelihood. The position becoming unbearable, they began to think of going to Holland where there was liberty of conscience, and in September, 1607, this project materialized. It is probable that the fraternity at and about Gainsborough had quietly slipped off without asking leave, and without observation, and it would be comparatively easy to do so singly, or in small groups, in boats going seaward from the Trent or Humber ports or creeks, but this course probably caused the authorities to be the more strictly on the watch, and involved greater hardships on the Scrooby men.

Let us try to imagine the steps now necessary to be taken. The live and dead stock, the tenants' rights, the household furniture, utensils and effects, and all the odds and ends that make up what we call home, and which it might not be convenient to carry, or take on board ship, must be converted into money at whatever sacrifice. This however would be the smallest of their troubles. The law would not allow them to leave the country taking money or deporting goods without official permission, and such license was not available for them. To go to the ports and embark in the ordinary way was not practicable. What was to be done must be done secretly.

Exodus. How they went is not known, nor what provision they took in food or clothing. The women and children may have gone down the Idle in a boat, while a number of the men walked across Lincolnshire towards the Boston coast, and arranged with the owner of a vessel to meet them, and take their goods in at a convenient place in the night, but the rascal got their money and goods on board, and then betrayed them. They were robbed, put in open boats, and taken off to prison, and so kept for a month, while the Privy Council was consulted, when they, including Bradford, were dismissed, but seven of them were kept as prisoners until the Spring Assizes, Brewster being one of them, and he suffered the greatest loss, for among other matters he had many books in the learned languages. The magistrates at Boston were very sympathetic with the prisoners, but they were afraid of the Council. The sufferings of the victims, and their "godly carriage" made a deep impression on the people.

Gervase Nevyle of Scrooby, who had not gone with the others, or had returned, was on November 10th, 1607, summoned to appear at York, was apprehended and charged with holding and maintaining erroneous opinions, and doctrines contrary to the holy scriptures; with frequenting conventicles, etc. At the hearing he certainly was not like a sheep before her shearers dumb, for he violently protested against the authority of the Court, the "anti-christian hierarchic," etc. He refused to take the oath as required of all persons giving evidence and so was committed to prison, from which he was afterwards released. Richard Jackson, William Brewster, and Robert Rochester, all of Scrooby, were summoned, and fined £20 for non-appearance, and attachment ordered, but when the court officer went to arrest them he reported that he could not find them. The magistrates at Boston could have given them some information. Jackson appears to have removed to Tickhill, and his case came up again, as also did Rochester's. Elizabeth Neale went from Scrooby to Holland, but nothing is recorded of her.

In the following spring another company arranged with a Dutchman to take them from a creek on the Humber coast. The women's boat, or boats, may have gone from the Idle or the Trent, but they arrived too soon, and had to spend the night in the boats. The ship arrived the next morning, as did the men who had walked, but the women's boats got fast, and could not be moved. A boat load of men had just got on board when the captain started with the ship, for he saw a great company of horse and foot men with muskets and other weapons approaching, "for ye countrie was raised to take them." Brewster and the other chief men were left, as were the women and children, among whom there were, of course, pitiful sights and sounds, as they cried for fear, and shivered with cold. And now it was the turn of the officers to know what to do with a company of women and children whose only crime was that they wanted to go with their husbands and fathers. Off they went to consult one magistrate after another, who refused to make an order. They could not send them back to their homes, for they had no homes to go to, and the poor souls were let go, "and thus in ye end necessitie forste a way for them."

We must shorten the story. Bradford and others passed through a dreadful storm at sea. Brewster was among the last to pass over, combined emigration was given up, and by the following August it came to pass that they all escaped safe to the land.

Holland. Amsterdam was at that time a great place for trade, and one of the first duties the pilgrims had on arriving was to obtain employment, for most of them were working class people. The course was not altogether easy, for trades in Holland were controlled by guilds of employers, as much as they are now affected by trades unions of workmen. About a hundred of them in 1609 decided to settle at Leyden, Mr. Clyfton remaining as the minister with those who stayed at Amsterdam, and Mr. Robinson going with the others to Leyden, which was a town that some thirty or forty years before had sustained a dreadful siege by the Spaniards, and William of Orange, to mark the bravery of the inhabitants, offered them either a University, or for to be free from taxes, and to their honour they chose the University. Here therefore a number settled. They purchased a house in which meetings were held, and the minister lived upstairs. They remained ten years, when they decided a first instalment of them should go to Virginia.