Pilgrims, Not Puritans

By Duane A. Cline

Modern history easily confuses the Mayflower Pilgrims with the Puritans who followed later in the 17th Century.

At the Twenty-Second General Congress of the Society of Mayflower Descendants held in Plymouth on September 13, 1960, the following resolution previously proposed by Deputy Governor General Louis Ellsworth Laflin, Jr., (IL) was adopted:

WHEREAS, William Brewster (1566-1643) and William Bradford (1589-1657) professed to be PURITANS while members of the Anglican congregation (1602) of Richard Clyfton at All Saints' Church, Babworth, Nottinghamshire; and

WHEREAS, The Hampton Court Conference of 1604 forcibly removed 300 clergymen from the Church of England, and from that church's PURITAN faith, including Richard Clyfton and John Robinson, the first two pastors of the Mayflower SEPARATIST "PILGRIMS" of 1620; and

WHEREAS, William Brewster and William Bradford started the 1606 Scrooby, Nottinghamshire, SEPARATIST congregation, the first on English soil, together with Richard Clyfton and John Robinson, as a direct result of forcible ejection from the PURITAN branch of the Anglican Church, and

WHEREAS, There are only two known persons, out of the 104 Mayflower passengers (including the two babies born) who were Anglicans and PURITANS: Christopher Martin, Governor of the ship, and his step-son, Solomon Power, neither of whom left any descendants;

Pilgrim Myth

Pilgrim Fashion Myth

Pilgrim Fashion FactPilgrim Fashion Fact

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, By the General Board of Assistants at its annual meeting in New York, September 19, 1959, that the term "PURITAN" should not be applied to any passengers of the Mayflower of 1620, which carried the first settlers of Plymouth Plantation, except to Christopher Martin and Solomon Power, and in the name of William Brewster and William Bradford, only before the year 1604 or 16 years before the Mayflower sailed. After 1604, all of the 1620 Mayflower "PILGRIMS" were SEPARATISTS.

(see Centennial History - General Society of Mayflower Descendants - 1897-1997; Duane Cline, Compiler/Editor, p. 292)

Arrived 1620 Arrived 1630
Carver and Bradford
Governor Winthrop
Plymouth Colony Massachusetts Bay Colony
Friendly with Indians
for 40 years
Indian problems
from the outset
Paid Indians for land Seized Indian lands
Communal living
first seven years
Individual profit
from the outset
consensus of the governed
Separated from
the Church of England
"Purified" the Church
from within
Not a single
prosecution of witchcraft
Prosecuted and
executed for witchcraft
Representation and
equal inheritance
Nothing to compare
Forerunner of
US Constitution &
Declaration of Independence
Nothing to compare
More tolerant than the Church of England Intolerant