There are several museums that have researched and brought together information and artefacts related to the original Separatists and the 102 passengers of the Mayflower who became the Pilgrim Fathers.

In the United Kingdom the Bassetlaw Museum in Retford in Nottinghamshire and Gainsborough Old Hall have researched the origins of the local Separatists and their subsequent leadership of the Pilgrim Fathers. They have some archives and Bassetlaw Museum has a document extracting information of local interest from William Bradford's History of Plimoth Plantation. It includes the Obituary of William Brewster and letters from John Robinson.

Dr. Jeremy Bangs, one of the leading historians on the Pilgrim Fathers, has recently published, on the Internet, the first chapter of a new book - 'The Pilgrims, Leiden and the Early Years of Plymouth Plantation' - which provides extensive detail on the heritage of the local Separatists and their reasons for leaving England for Holland. Recently a controversial article has arisen regarding the extent that Sir William Hickman of Gainsborough Old Hall supported the Separatists. Dr, Jeremy Bangs has provided a response to this contoversial article.

Boston on the East coast of Lincolnshire has a strong heritage in the rise of the Puritans, who included the Separatists. Plymouth in Devon, after which the Plimoth Colony was named is twinned with Plymouth, Massachusetts. It has researched the details surrounding the departure of the Mayflower on September 6th 1620. They also organised the construction of the replica Mayflower II which is moored at Plimoth Plantation.

The key institutions in the United States that have extensively researched the heritage of the Pilgrim Fathers are the Plimoth Plantation, the Pilgrim Hall Museum and the Mayflower Society Museum, all of which are located in Plymouth, Massachusetts, which is 40 miles South of Boston. They have extensive archives and artefacts regarding the heritage of the Pilgrim Fathers from their landing at Plimouth Rock on 9th November 1620. Plymouth in Massachusetts celebrates this heritage and their twinned link with Plymouth in Devon.

Robert Browne was the first leader of the English Separatist movement during the reign of Elizabeth I. He lived at Lilford Hall in Northamptonshire, founded his own church and published his principles which became those followed by Richard Clyfton of Babworth Church and William Brewster of Scrooby Manor before they left Lincolnshire with others for Holland in 1608.

In Holland these Separatists eventually settled in Leiden until they sailed to England in the Speedwell in 1620 prior to their departure, as the Pilgrim Fathers, for America. The Leiden American Pilgrim Museum in Leiden, whose Director is Dr. Jeremy Bangs maintains details of their time in Holland together with some artefacts of that time.

There is currently a Plymouth Colony Archive Project in the US and a number of historians have researched the Origins and Development of Thanksgiving. Caleb Johnson brings together externsive information on the Mayflower History.

The First Thanksgiving by Brownscombe
courtesy of the Pilgrim Hall Museum

Numerous articles have been written over the years about the Pilgrim Fathers heritage, the most recent being in the November 2006 issue of the Smithsonian Magazine.

The heritage has also stimulated a historial adventure novel, The Mayflower Maid, which is set amongst the separist Pilgrim Fathers.

To help preserve the heritage in the Pilgrim Father’s materials have been been developed by Sherwood Forest Trust. These heritage activity packs are available for download.

In the USA materials have been developed by a Mayflower descendent for use by both children and their teachers. Additional materials are on the Mayflower Society for Pennsylvania.

There is additional rich heritage connecting Lincolnshire and South Yorkshire to the foundations of the United States. Captain John Smith who was a leader in the foundation of Jamestown, was born in Willoughby in East Lincolnshire and William Wilberforce of Hull in South Yorkshire led the campaign to abolish slavery. The ARIES (American Roots in English Soil) project produces short booklets for schools on aspects of this heritage including 'William Brewster of the Pilgrim Fathers'.


© Pilgrim Fathers UK Origins Association - Photographs courtesy of Dr. Jeremy Bangs copyright reserved