2020 is the 400th anniversary of the "Pilgrims" passage to the New World on the Mayflower
The small village of Sturton Le Steeple and the surrounding area is the very cradle of the Pilgrims movement. This is a timeline of events that led up to the crossing of the Atlantic Ocean on the ship “Mayflower”… and the rest as they say is History!
The lord of the Manor of Sturton in the early part of the reign of Henry VIII was Thomas Lord Darcy (1467-1537), appointed, June 18, 1509, as warden of the forests beyond Trent. He brought himself into trouble through his support of the rebellion known as the Pilgrimage of Grace, that broke out in Lincolnshire in the autumn of 1536 owing to dissatisfaction at the suppression of the religious houses.
George Lassels of Sturton was instrumental in informing King Henry VIII of Darcy's involvement and Darcy was charged with treason, and executed on the last day of June 1537. A scramble for his lands at once ensued. George Lassells was in London in the early days of 1539 suing for " the late Lord Darcy's lands in Sturton." His brother, John Lassells, was in the service of Thomas Cromwell, and the family gained much of the land in Sturton Parish.
Lassels or Lascells
John Lassells (also Lascelles); was an English sixteenth-century courtier and Protestant martyr. His report to Archbishop Thomas Cranmer initiated the investigation which led to the execution of Queen Catherine Howard. This accounts for how the Lassels family gained the lands of Darcy as a reward from the King. John Lassells along with his Brother George had a fearsome reputation as they controlled the farmers of their land in Sturton quite ruthlessly. One notable landmark they owned was the Windmill located on Springs Lane. The origins of religious reform that influenced John Robinson to start the group that became the Pilgrims starts with John Lassels. By 1546 Lassells was dissatisfied with the pace of religious reform, and about 11 May of that year he was arrested and sent to the Tower. He was denounced as a patron of Richard Laynam, 'a London prophet who predicted the imminent overthrow of the King', is described by John Bale as the 'instructour' of his friend, the sacramentarian Anne Askew, and is considered by a modern historian, A.G. Dickens, to have been the ‘leading spirit’ of the radical group at court. Lascells was arraigned for heresy on 12 July, refused to recant, and on 16 July 1546 was burned at Smithfield with Anne Askew and two others. While in prison he wrote a Protestation which was printed after his death. His story is recorded in Foxe's Book of Martyrs.
Edward Fenton was born about 1540 in Fenton Hall. in the Parish of Sturton le Steeple:
In 1577 he sailed, in command of the Gabriel, with Sir Martin Frobisher's second expedition for the discovery of the Northwest Passage, and in the following year he took part as second in command in Frobisher's third expedition, his ship being the Judith.
In 1582 he was put in charge of an expedition which was to sail round the Cape of Good Hope to the Moluccas and China, On this unsuccessful voyage he got no farther than Brazil, and embarked on what can only be described as a life of Piracy. During this period he explored all of the East Coast of America from Newfoundland to Brazil and the Caribbean Islands.
In 1588 he had command of the Mary Rose, (not the preserved vessel), one of the ships of the fleet that was formed to oppose the Spanish Armada. He died fifteen years afterwards, and was buried in St Nicholas's Church in Deptford.
John Smythe and John Robinson
John Smythe, the see baptist was born in Sturton Le Steeple in 1570. Smyth went on to found the Baptist Church and is known as the see Baptist: Smyth was ordained as an Anglican priest in 1594 having studied at Cambridge University, England. He preached in the city of Lincoln in 1600 to 1602. Soon after his ordination, he broke with the Church of England and left for Holland where he and his small congregation began to study the Bible ardently.
John Robinson was born in Sturton Le Steeple in 1576 to a family that owned land in the village. His father was John Robinson who was related to the Fenton Family (See Edward Fenton above) Like John Smythe he was educated in the Church Vestry during his primary years and then went to Gainsborough Grammar School. He entered Corpus Christi College at the University of Cambridge in April 1592. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1596.
1588 The Spanish Armada is defeated by a smaller British Fleet led by Sir Francis Drake with Edward Fenton who captained the Mary Rose in the battle. This brought Fenton much fame and recognition in his home Parish of Sturton Le Steeple. The young John Robinson must have been impressed with his relatives tales of the high seas and Fentons adventures to the New World.
John Quyppe was the Clarke at Stuton Le Steeple Church during the early years of both John Robinson and John Smythe. This early education of Robinson and Smythe took place in the vestry of the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul. This covered only Latin, English and the Bible. Scientific study was not taught in those days. Quyppe must have had a profound influence on all of hip pupils and this is demonstrated with the success of Both Robinson and Smythe.
It becomes obvious that the roots of religious dissatisfaction filtered down from Thomas Darcy's time, through the Lassels family and the growing hatred and contempt of the Roman Catholics following the events of the Armada. The adventures of Robinson's cousin Edward Fenton in America had a profound influence on both Robinson and Smythe. The was added to when they both spent time at Cambridge University where the seeds or puritanism grew.
Smythe moves to Holland
After 1603 Smythe moved to Holland with his small congregation from Lincoln. Here they developed what became the Baptist church in a country well known for religious tolerance.
Robinson moves to Holland
For a time Robinson held a curacy in Norwich, Norfolk; afterwards, Congregational minister at Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, and Scrooby, Nottinghamshire, where William Brewster and Richard Clifton were his colleagues.
He became ever more critical of the established Church and in order to avoid what he described as persecution he fled to Amsterdam, 1608 with his congregation, and joined the Separatists following the lead of John Smythe.
After endless arguments with the separatists in Amersterdam he moved with a section of the community to Leyden and became pastor of the Church there.
Admitted at Leyden University, 05 Sep., 1613, as a student of theology.
Robinson died there in 1625 ans is buried inside St. Peterskirk.
The Jamestown settlement in the Colony of Virginia was the first permanent English settlement in the Americas. It was located on the northeast bank of the James (Powhatan) River about 2.5 mi (4 km) southwest of the centre of modern Williamsburg. It was established by the Virginia Company of London as "James Fort" on May 4, 1607 O.S.; (May 14, 1607 N.S.), and was considered permanent after a brief abandonment in 1610. It followed several failed attempts, including the Lost Colony of Roanoke, established in 1585 on Roanoke Island. Jamestown served as the colonial capital from 1616 until 1699.
Between 1602 and 1620 at least 90 English ships crossed the Atlantic before the Mayflower carrying "Pilgrims", mostly to Virginia but also to Penobscot Bay, Maine and Barklay. This includes the first shipment of slaves from Africa aboard the "White Lion", an English "Pirate" ship that had attacked a Portuguese slave ship and stolen about 20 slaves from them.
Robinsons congregation sails to America.
Robinson and his friends resolved to emigrate to America. A party under William Brewster sailed for New England USA originally in the Speedwell that was not seaworthy so they transferred to the Mayflower, 06 Sep., 1620, and founded New Plymouth. As only a minority had volunteered for emigration, Robinson, as arranged, remained behind in charge of the Leyden community. His pastoral care for the colonists is shown in his letter to the Church of God at Plymouth, New England, 30 Jun., 1621.
Noteable pilgrims from Sturton Le Steeple
John Robinson: The Pastor and founder of the Pilgrims who sailed on the Mayflower to the New World (see above)
John Carver born into an old Sturton family that can be traced back the Henry VIII era. He was born about 1584 and died in 1621 in Plymouth Colony. Carver was the author of the Mayflower Compact and became the fist governor of the Colony. His signature is the first on the Mayflower Compact.
Katherine White was born in Sturton Le Steeple at a house on Freemans Lane, She firstly married a George Leggatt and later in 1615 she married John Carver the first Governor of Plymouth Colony, both sailed on the Mayflower.
Bridgette White, was John Robinson’s wife, and Katherine Whites younger sister both daughters of Alexander and Eleanor White of Freemans Lane Sturton. The house that is reputedly the home of John Robinson is opposite the end of Freemans Lane.