Although only Edward Southworth has so far been identified as part of the exodus of ‘dissenters’ who fled England, Clarborough is part of the locality from which many of the key dissenters were drawn to make their flight from King James I.
James I insistence, enforced almost mercilessly, on obedience to the Church of England - and therefore himself - led many to try to find ways to carry out their own form of worship and beliefs - to dissent from ‘official’ practices. Recognising that this was becoming increasingly dangerous, moves developed to flee their homeland.
For key players in the future Mayflower adventure, this initially meant fleeing to Holland, a country at the time relatively free of the sorts of pressures in England. The separatists initially fled to Amsterdam in 1608 and then to Leiden the following year. In Leiden they settled - some permanently - and established working lives there.
As the 17th Century unfolded, the separatist leaders became increasingly troubled by their young family members leanings towards the more liberal, looser morals (as they saw it) gained from the local population. The elders began looking for somewhere new to emigrate to.
In 1620 Separatists from Leiden made their way to join the small sailing ship Speedwell for the voyage across from Holland to rendezvous with the Mayflower which had sailed down the River Thames. Both ships set sail for America in early August, but the Speedwell soon sprang a leak, and both ships stopped in Dartmouth for repairs. They made a new start after the repairs but beyond Land's End, Speedwell sprang another leak. It was now early September, and they had no choice but to abandon the Speedwell and make a determination on her passengers. This was a dire event, as the ship had wasted vital funds. Both ships returned to Plymouth, where some of the Speedwell passengers joined the Mayflower and others returned to Holland. The Mayflower then continued on her voyage to America, and the Speedwell was sold soon afterwards.
The voyage to America took Mayflower many weeks, arriving in early November, 1620.
For more on the local story of the Mayflower Pilgrims, explore our website’s links here...
For the wider perspective, the following links add much more detail to the Pilgrims’ story: