The Mayflower Pilgrims and the Nottinghamshire Separatists by Adrian Gray



The only two primary accounts of the ‘Mayflower’ are:

Edward Winslow (attrib): Mourt’s Relation was the earliest account of the Mayflower settlers, probably written with some input from Bradford

William Bradford: History of the Plimouth Settlement. The original manuscript was lost for many years, then rediscovered and published in the late 1800s. It says very little about Nottinghamshire. Available online including at:

Several of those involved in the two congregations wrote published books. Most of these are available online. The most interesting include:

John Robinson - A Justification of Separation from the Church of England (1610)

Richard Clifton -  A Plea for Infants and elder People concerning their Baptisme. Or a Processe of the Passages between M. John Smyth and Richard Clifton (1610) and An Advertisement concerning a book lately published by Christopher Lawne and others, against the Exiled English Church at Amsterdam (1612)

John Smyth – the collected works of Smyth have been published on a number of occasions

Thomas Helwys - A Short and Plain Proof, By the Word and Works of God, That God's Decree Is Not the Cause of Any Man's Sin or Condemnation: And That All Men Are Redeemed by Christ; As Also That No Infants Are Condemned (1611); A Short Declaration on the Mistery of Iniquity (1612)

John Murton - Persecution for Religion Judg’d and Condemn’d (1616, some have taken this to be by Helwys)

The many published books of Richard Bernard emphasise his importance as a writer, though many were written after his move to Somerset.


Mayflower Pilgrims

All historians have struggled with a lack of primary resources. The glut of new books that emerged for the 2020 anniversary therefore tended to repeat what had been said before, but sometimes with a slightly varying emphasis. Much recent writing has also concentrated on the genealogy of various Mayflower passengers reflecting the commercial imperative to sell books in America. As a result, only really the books below by Bunker and Gray have a specific interest in Nottinghamshire. However, books can be of historiographical interest for how they shaped the story – for example, the persistent local legend that the Pilgrims escaped down the River Ryton from Bawtry seems to have grown from a novel published in 1941 by Eva Goggin.

Joseph Hunter, Early History of the Founders of New Plymouth (1849) – this was the first significant work to develop the connection to specific places in Nottinghamshire.

William Henry Bartlett, The Pilgrim Fathers, or, The Founders of New England in the Reign of James the First (1854) – confirmed the role of Scrooby but noted that none of the Palace remained

Henry Dexter, The England and Holland of the Pilgrims (1906)

Marcus Huish, The American Pilgrim’s Way in England (1907) – an example of a guide book approach for visitors

Albert Christopher Addison, The Romantic Story of the Mayflower Pilgrims (1911)

Martin Briggs, The Homes of the Pilgrim Fathers in Britain and America (1932)

Nathaniel Philbrick, Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community and War (2006)

Jeremy Bangs, Strangers and Pilgrims, Travellers and Sojourners: Leiden and the Foundation of Plymouth Plantation (2009)

Nick Bunker, Make Haste from Babylon: The Mayflower Pilgrims and Their World (2010)

Derek Wilson, The Mayflower Pilgrims: Sifting Fact from Fable (2019)

Michael Haykin (ed.), Strangers and Pilgrims on the Earth: Remembering the Mayflower Pilgrims, 1620–2020 (2021)

John G Turner, They Knew They Were Pilgrims: Plymouth Colony and the Contest for American Liberty (2020)

Martyn Whittock, Mayflower Lives: Pilgrims in a New World and the Early American Experience (2021)


There is a greater reserve of material about the early Baptists, though still significant gaps in what we know.

Stephen Wright, The Early English Baptists, 1603-49 (2006) is the best introduction to early Baptist history though recent research has suggested a greater continuity for the Helwys church than Wright had assumed.

Adrian Gray, Restless Souls, Pilgrim Roots (2020) explains the development of the Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire Baptists in detail. This story is also told in a Youtube video: