On September 15th, 1607, an attachment was awarded to William Blanchard to apprehend “William Jackson and William Brewster of Scrooby, gentlemen, for Brownism, but he certifieth that he cannot find them, nor understand where they are.”

In the spring of 1608, the following return was made to the Exchequer by the Archbishop of York—“Richard Jackson, William Brewster and Robert Rochester, of Scrooby, in the County of Nottingham, Brownists or Separatists, for a fine for amercement of £20 apiece, set and imposed upon every­one of them, by Robert Abbot and Robert Snowdon, Doctors of Divinity, and Matthew Dodworth, Bachelor of Law, Com­missioners for Causes Ecclesiastic, within the province of York, for not appearing before them upon lawful summons at the Collegiate Church of Southwell, the 22nd day of April.”

According to Morton, the secretary of the colony, who gives the church records, Brewster died on the 10th April, 1644, at the ripe age of 84 years.

William Bradford, who afterwards became Governor of Plymouth in New England, was born in 1589 at Austerfield, in the County of York, some three or four miles north of Scrooby. At the death of his parents, while he was yet a child, Bradford inherited a small property. His religious opinions and course were determined when he became an attendant on the preaching of Richard Clifton and John Robinson, pastor and teacher respectively of the Separatists’ Congregation at Scrooby.1

In a “History of the United States for Schools,” by John Fiske, Litt.D., LL.D., a small illustrative map is given, showing the relative positions of Scrooby and Austerfield, and their relation to Leyden in Holland, and the voyage of the Pilgrim Fathers, by Southampton and Plymouth to America . The History says—“At Scrooby, a hamlet in Nottinghamshire, near the edge of Lincoln, there was a congregation of Separatists, who listened to the eloquent preaching of John Robinson. In 1608, in order to escape persecution, they fled in a body to Holland, where there was much more religious liberty than in England , or any other country in the world.”

They seem to have waited at  Leyden until they were apprehensive that their descendants would lose the English language, for the Dutch. When King James, in 1618, published his “Declaration to his subjects, concerning lawful sports to be used,” he classed the Papists and the Puritans together, and directed “the Bishop and all other inferior churchmen and churchwardens to present them that will not conform themselves, but obstinately stand out to our Judges and Justices; whom we likewise command to put the law in due execution against them.” There seemed then to be no hope of liberty; so leaving Leyden on the 6th of September, 1620, the “Mayflower” afterwards sailed from Plymouth with one hundred men, women and children.

A monument now stands at New Plymouth, Massachu­setts, completed after thirty years labour, crowned by a colossal granite statue of Faith, thirty-six feet in height; the pedestal upon which it stands being forty-five feet high.

“On the shore of that (Plymouth) Harbour lies a granite boulder; it is said to be the only one directly on the water’s edge for several miles. According to tradition, the pilgrims landed on that boulder; it is not a large one, only a few feet square, but it fills a greater place in American history than any other rock on the continent, for Plymouth Rock is the stepping-stone of New England.” So says D. H. Montgomery, in “The Leading Facts of American History,” where an illustration is given of the canopy built over the stone.

Educated Americans visit with affection and venera­tion the villages of Austerfield and Scrooby. At the opening of a Cathedral at Chicago in 1867, a column of Scrooby sand­stone was exhibited, forming a part of the building. And in July, 1891, a party of one hundred American pilgrims, together with others numbering 1,000 persons, visited the old palace grounds.

“The old order changeth, yielding place to new,” for now I believe there is neither Roman Catholic nor Independent in the village.

After listening to Mr. Mellors’ paper, an inspection was made of the stable of the Manor house in which some moulded tie-beams from the old palace are still utilised, and Mr. Spencer Lobley kindly permitted the visitors to see over William Brewster’s, “The Pilgrim Father’s,” house, which, as tenant, he now occupies. The river Ryton, which can here be crossed by a ford, runs past the house on the north side. The deep tiled roof, through which rise numerous chimney stacks, the two Tudor windows on the west side, and other items, point to the antiquity of the building. On the wall adjacent to the front door, the Americans have caused to be fixed a bronze plate with the inscription, of which we give an illustra­tion, in sans-serif lettering.

In addition to the upstairs room in which were held the services alluded to in Mr. Mellors’ paper, there, is also another small room on the ground floor, that is pointed out as the office used by Brewster, when he held the office of “Post” on the Great North Road.

The Church was next visited—regarding which the following particulars not mentioned in Mr. Mellors’ paper may be added. This church underwent a restoration in 1862. During last century, the spire was twice struck by lightning, viz. in 1817, and again in 1831. There is some old oak carving on seats in the chancel, probably from the Palace, but the original font has been carried off to America!

Here brakes met the party and conveyed them to Bawtry by the road which William Bradford must have so often traversed on his way from his home at Austerfield, a few miles north of Bawtry, to Scrooby to attend the services conducted at Brewster’s house. On entering Bawtry, the party crossed the border into Yorkshire, in which county the remainder of the day was spent. During the short space of time available at Bawtry, where lunch was taken at the Crown Hotel, the visitors distributed themselves about the town, which was an important place in the coaching days. It was moreover, at one time, an inland port whence ships conveyed merchandise from Derbyshire and Sheffield, and timber from Sherwood Forest to the Humber, since formerly, boats forty-eight feet long, and fourteen feet wide, drawing thirty inches of water, could navigate the river Idle as far as Bawtry.2 The old wharf or quay adjoining the church may still be traced opposite the east end, but it is fast warping up. It is considered very possible, that it was from here that Brewster and his fraternity started by water for Holland in 1608.

Church Street, Bawtry in the 1900s.Church Street, Bawtry in the 1900s.

Bawtry was well known for its fairs. A fair of four days in Whitsun week was procured from King John and Robert De Vipont, lord of the Manor. There is also another fair on old Martinmas Day.3 The place gained further importance also from the fact that it was here that the escorts from the two counties handed over the guardianship of kings, judges, and other notable travellers.

There is a hospital dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene, the original foundation of which dates from a very remote period. It received a large benefaction from Robert Morton in the year 1390, and although it has passed through many vicissitudes it still continues to enjoy its endowment and do useful work. A I4th century canopied niche on the outside of the eastern wall of the chapel, is all that remains of the old structure. The chapel was restored in 1839.

The church of St. Nicholas has some points of interest. It has three doorways on the north side, the westernmost of which is of the late Norman period. There are several mural monuments and floor stopes to members of the Ackloms of Wiseton, who seem to have been at one time an influential local family. One, an heiress, married an Earl Spencer who lived at Wiseton as Lord Althorpe and another the Honourable Robert Dalzell. Their arms are gules, a manche within an arle of cinquefoils or.

From Bawtry, a drive of a few miles along a good road brought the party to Tickhill, the ‘caput,’ in feudal times, of an Honour containing more than sixty knights fees and spreading over no inconsiderable portion of five neighbouring counties including Nottinghamshire. This Honour of Tickhill was founded by Roger de Busli, a Norman noble, who came from Builly-en-Brai, and is thought to have been some connection of William’s Queen Matilda. He is said to have received from her, with his wife, the Manor of Sandford, in Devonshire; and his relationship to Matilda seems to be implied by the terms of his foundation at Blyth. Roger de Busli, and Muriel his wife, gave to the monks of Blyth, the church and the whole town of Blyth, and two parts of the hall-tithe of Laughton, that they might pray “for the stability of William, King of the English, and for the health of the soul of Queen Matilda, and also for the health of their own souls.”

(1) John Robinson is assumed to have been born at Gainsborough, and to have officiated at the Scrooby conventicle as Richard Clifton’s assistant; but there is no positive proof. Yet, the foundation of “The John Robinson Memorial Church” was laid at Gainsborough by the American Ambassador, June 29th, 1896.
(2) Peck’s History of Bawtry.
(3) Topographical History and description of Bawtry and Thorne, With the villages adjacent, by William Peck, 1813.