As the UK welcomes President Joe Biden, we celebrate Yorkshire’s connection to the Mayflower.
In this post, Welcome to Yorkshire describes the link between our historic county and the Founding Fathers of the USA who travelled on board the Mayflower.
Yorkshire played a significant role in the Mayflower’s journey and the founding of the United States of America. The Mayflower was a ship that carried the Pilgrims, a group of English Separatists who fled religious persecution in England, to the New World in 1620. The Pilgrims established the Plymouth Colony, which became one of the first English settlements in North America.
Several key figures associated with the Mayflower and the founding of the United States had connections to Yorkshire. For example, William Bradford, one of the leaders of the Pilgrims and the governor of Plymouth Colony for over 30 years, was born in Austerfield, a village in South Yorkshire, in 1590. Bradford’s family were tenants on a small farm, and he was orphaned at a young age. He joined the Separatist movement in his youth and was one of the leaders of the group that eventually embarked on the Mayflower.
Another significant figure with Yorkshire connections was William Brewster, who was born in Scrooby, a village in North Nottinghamshire that was part of the historical county of Yorkshire. Brewster was one of the leaders of the Separatist group and served as the religious leader of the Pilgrims. He also played a key role in negotiating the Mayflower Compact, a governing document that established the framework for the Plymouth Colony.
John Robinson, another important Separatist leader who was instrumental in the formation of the Plymouth Colony, was also from Yorkshire. Robinson was born in Sturton-le-Steeple, a village in Nottinghamshire that was historically part of the West Riding of Yorkshire. Robinson was the pastor of the Separatist congregation in Leiden, Netherlands, where many of the Pilgrims lived for over a decade before embarking on the Mayflower.
In addition to these key figures, there were many other Yorkshire residents who were involved in the Mayflower’s journey and the founding of the United States. For example, there were several other Pilgrims who were born or lived in Yorkshire, including Francis Cooke, Degory Priest, and John Turner. Many of the investors who funded the Mayflower’s journey were also from Yorkshire, including Thomas Weston and Christopher Martin.
The connections between Yorkshire and the Mayflower have been celebrated in various ways over the years. For example, the Mayflower Steps in Plymouth, England, where the Pilgrims are believed to have boarded the ship, were gifted to the city by the people of Yorkshire in 1934. The steps are now a popular tourist attraction and a symbol of the enduring links between Yorkshire and the United States.
In recent years, there has been a renewed interest in the links between Yorkshire and the Mayflower as the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrims’ journey approached in 2020. Various events and activities were planned to mark the occasion, including a major exhibition at the Yorkshire Museum in York. The exhibition, which was called “Mayflower 400: Legend and Legacy,” explored the story of the Pilgrims and their impact on both England and the United States.
The Mayflower’s journey and the founding of the United States are significant historical events that have had a lasting impact on the world. The connections between Yorkshire and these events highlight the role that local communities can play in shaping global history. By celebrating these connections and exploring the stories of the people involved, we can gain a deeper understanding of the past and the forces that have shaped our world.