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to the Separatists at Gainsborough, and through them to those of Basset-Lawe. We are hardly warranted in supposing that he was connected with the Thomas Robinson who was so deeply concerned in the affair of the Bawtry Hospital, but it is far from improbable that that Robinson was originally of Gainsborough, where in the reign of Charles II. Robinsons were chief persons among the dissenters of that town.
We are told that he was beneficed in Norfolk, somewhere near Yarmouth. This is far too vague to satisfy even the most moderate curiosity about such a man. In looking over the list of Norfolk incumbents in Blomefield's history of that county, I meet with only one Robinson of his period who was beneficed in any place which could be said to be near Yarmouth. This was the incumbent of the vicarage, or perpetual curacy of Mundham, which is about fourteen miles distant from Yarmouth. We have no more of his name than “ Robinson ;" but as Mundham was an impropriation of the Hospital of St. Giles in Norwich, and as we have the testimony of Dr. Joseph Hall, that Robinson the Separatist had some expectation of being appointed the master of that hospital, it seemed a reasonable presumption that Mundham was the benefice in Norfolk, which he is said to have held. But Mr. Ashton appears to have discovered that the incumbent of Mundham, whose surname was Robinson, was named Robert. It is, however, singular that there should be two Robinsons at that time, both brought into connection with St. Giles' Hospital at Norwich, and both clergymen.
We know that John Robinson lived for some time in Norwich, "Witness the late practice in Norwich, where certain citizens were excommunicated for resorting unto and praying with Mr. Robinson, a man worthily reverenced of all the city for the grace of God in him." This occurs in Ainsworth's “ Answer to Crashaw," and is cited by Mr. Hanbury. Dr. Young has referred to one of Robinson's Tracts for a more direct testimony. It is his “ People's Plea for the exercise of prophecy," l6mo, 1618. He dedicated it to "his Christian friends in Norwich and thereabouts," and afterwards says, "even as when I lived with you."
We also know that he left Norwich in some disgust. Ephraim Pagitt speaks of "one Master Robinson who, leaving Norwich malcontent, became a rigid Brownist." Dr. Hall, in a passage of his Apology against Brownists, cited by Dr. Young, makes this apparently uncharitable insinuation : “ Neither doubt we that the mastership of the hospital at Norwich, or a lease from that city (sued for with
repulse) might have procured that this separation from the communion, government, and worship of the Church of England should not have been made by John Robinson."
On the whole it may be taken as being very near the truth, that he took the office assigned himn in the Basset-Lawe church in 1606 or 1607.*
Winslowe, who joined his church while it was at Leyden, and who was one of the party of a hundred, the first instalment of the Leyden church to the English population of America, says, "'T is true, I confess, he was more rigid in his course and way at first, than toward his latter end; for his study was peace and union as far as might agree with faith and a good conscience; and for schisms and divisions there was nothing in the world more hateful to him. But for the government of the Church of England, as it was in the Episcopal way, the Liturgy, and stinted prayers of the church thereby, yea, the constitution thereof as national, so consequently the corrupt communion of the unworthy and the worthy receivers of the Lord's Supper, these things were never approved of by him, but witnessed against to his death, and are by the church over which he was to this day.
Here was something of substantial principle, something very unlike the puerile cavils about the few ceremonial acts which were continued from the primeval ages of Christianity, interesting as symbolical, and venerable as of unfathomed antiquity; and we cannot but regard such a man as entitled to a voice in Christian controversies.
With the zeal of Brewster there was, therefore, now united the moderation and prudence, and perhaps the hesitancy, of Robinson. But we have now to introduce upon the stage another person who joined himself to the church when quite a youth, who removed with it to Amsterdam, and from thence to Leyden, and who was in the first ship, the Mayflower, which entered the harbor of New Plymouth. He held no office in the church, but he had the chief share in managing the civil affairs of the colony, and subsequently became the person to whom we are indebted for so much authentic information concerning this movement. This was William Bradford, to whose energy while still quite a young man the church appears to have been greatly indebted in the trying circumstances which attended its removal from England.
It is to Dr. Cotton Mather that we are indebted for what is known of the early life of Bradford. He seems to have owed most of his
* See Bradford's testimony to the character of Robinson.
information to writings of Bradford himself, which are now lost. An unfortunate, but very excusable misprint in Dr. Mather's work, or more probably a mistake in the manuscript, has frustrated all former inquiries into the origin and family connections of Bradford, about which curiosity has been alive. In the Magnalia we read that he was born at Ansterfield. No such place can be found in the villare of England, and therefore the name was no guide to the country in which inquiry might be made about him with any chance of success. But, in fact, what is printed Ansterfield ought to be Austerfield, a village near Scrooby, being about as far to the north-east of Bawtry as Scrooby is to the south. And this point having been ascertained, opportunities were opened for the discovery of the station in life which his family had occupied, to support the representations given in general terms by Dr. Mather, and of the persons with whom the family of the future Governor of New Plymouth were connected by friendship or alliances.
Austerfield is an ancient village, consisting then, as it does now, of a few houses inhabited by persons engaged in the occupation of husbandry, and a small chapel of a very early age. Ecclesiastically, it is dependent on the church of Blythe, and the vicar of that parish appoints the curate. Unlike Scrooby in that respect, whose early registers are lost, Austerfield has preserved them from the beginning in a good state ; and it is chiefly by the help of what is recorded in them that we are able to show that this was the birthplace of Governor Bradford, and to give some account, such as it is, of his family.
Dr. Mather says that he was sixty-nine years of age at the time of his death, May the 9th, 1657. This would carry back his birth to the year 1588-9, and with this agrees with sufficient exactness the following entry among the baptisms at Austerfield :
1589, March 19th. William, the son of William Bradfourth — where 1589 is 1590, according to our present mode of dating.
Dr. Mather further informs us that he was born to some estate, that his parents died when he was young, and that he was brought up by his grandfather and uncles. These statements receive curious support from the entries in the register, and from fiscal and testamentary documents.
On these authorities the following genealogical account of the Bradfords of Austerfield is based :
A William Bradford was living there in or about 1575, when he and one John Hanson were the only persons in the township who were assessed to the Subsidy. Bradford was taxed on twenty shillings
land, and Hanson on sixty shillings goods, annual value. These were the two grandfathers of the future Governor; and the circumstance, trifling as it is, that they were the only assessable inhabitants of Austerfield, shows at once the general poverty of the place, and that they stood in some degree of elevation above all their neighbors, except the incumbent of the chapel, who, like other clergymen, was not subject to the tax. « William Bradfourth the eldest" was buried January 10th, 1595-6. This was the grandfather of the Governor, who was then about six years old.
Dr. Mather informs us, that a portion of the lands of the family descended to William, and that he sold them when he was of full age and was living in Holland.
He was brought up, as the sons of yeomanry in those days were when not sent into the towns, attending to the husbandry operations of the family. But the report of Clifton's awakening ministry reached Austerfield. Young as he was, the voice came home to his heart. Babworth cannot be less than six or seven miles from Austerfield, yet he was a frequent attendant on Clifton's ministry. In going from Austerfield to Babworth, he would pass through Scrooby, where we see Downes, a friend of the family, resided, and where he would meet with several persons, Brewster among the number, who walked across the meadows to Babworth, and who returned, their hearts burning within them and strengthening one another in the persuasion that such were the ministers by whom Christianity put forth its genuine influ
And when Clifton's voice was silenced by authority he would be amongst those who reclaimed against the unwise and oppressive act; and when: Clifton gave up forever his pleasant benefice and separated himself from the church to which perhaps he was in heart strongly attached — his affections drawing him one way and his judg. ment another Bradford, young as he was, would be likely to see that no other way had remained for him, and that it was his own duty and his highest interest to render him all the encouragement and support in his little power, and to abandon the church which one of its best ministers had been driven out from. Opposing himself to the wishes of his family, and daring the derision which would be showered upon him by the clowns of Austerfield, he declared himself a Separatist, joined the Scrooby church, and became a very active and useful person in the difficult operations which they were soon called on to perform. This seems to have been the part he took when he was from fifteen to eighteen years of age.
To complete the early portion of the personal history of this re
markable man, which is the only part of it which belongs to me, it may be added that it has been discovered by the American inquirers into the history of the early settlers, that he married one Dorothy May. She accompanied him to America, one of the memorable hundred who were in the Mayflower. She reached the American coast; but, while the ship was in the harbor at New Plymouth, she fell overboard and was drowned.
Two years after her death, Bradford married Mrs. Alice Southworth, a widow, to whom, according to tradition, he had been attached before he went to America. She had married in the interval, and became a widow. Bradford renewed his proposals by letter. She accepted them, and sailed for New Plymouth in the second year of the existence of the colony. Two sons of hers, Constant Southworth and Thomas Southworth, also came out, who were brought up by Governor Bradford, and became important persons in the colony.
The Southworths were eminently a Basset-Lawe family. We learn from Thoroton that in 1612, there was a Thomas Southworth, who had lands at Clarborough, and a William Southworth a freeholder at Hey
We find, also, in the Visitation of Nottinghamshire, in 1614, that an Edward Southworth was then living, but so little did he care for such things, that all the account of his family which he gave to the Heralds was, that he was the son of Robert Southworth, the son of Richard, the son of Aymond, who lived at Wellam in the reign of King Henry the Eighth. From another source we know that one of the family, a Mr. Robert Southworth, consorted with the extreme Puritans, who were going the way of separation.
The fact that some of the name became early settled in the new country, we cannot err if we claim some of them as lay members of the Scrooby church, perhaps this very Mr. Robert Southworth himself.
We have direct and positive evidence on which to show two other persons who were members of the Separatist church before it left England. These were Richard Jackson and Robert Rochester. They were both inhabitants of Scrooby, and both included with Brewster in the penalties imposed by the Commissioners for Causes Ecclesiastical in 1608. I have not seen any other notice of them. The proceedings of the Separatists were in pointed opposition to the law as it then stood, and can only be justified on the ground that in affairs so sacred and important as those of religion, there is a law which is above all human institutions, to which every man is bound to be obedient, when its requirements are made manifest to his own understanding.