John Christopher Robinson, Rev (c.1575 - c.1624)

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Nicknames: "Rev. John Robinson"
Birthplace: Sturton, Le Steeple, Lincolnshire, England
Death: Died in Leiden, Zuid-Holland, Netherlands
Occupation: Pastor of the Pilgrims, Reverend, Minister, Pasteur des pelerins du MAYFLOWERS, reverend
Managed by: Susan
Last Updated:

About John Christopher Robinson, Rev

John Robinson (1576 – 1625) was the pastor of the "Pilgrim Fathers" before they left on the Mayflower. He became one of the early leaders of the English Separatists and is regarded (along with Robert Browne) as one of the founders of the Congregational Church.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Writings --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 John Robinson's Farewell Letter to the Pilgrims  

This letter was written by John Robinson, the pastor of the Pilgrims church in Leiden. Since a majority of the church remained behind in Leiden, he made the very difficult decision to stay and minister to those remaining in Holland rather than come on the Mayflower. He planned to come to America as soon as he could get more of his church over, but his untimely death in 1626 prevented his ever making it to the New World. He wrote this farewell letter, which was read by John Carver to the Pilgrims gathered aboard the Mayflower just prior to their first attempted departure on August 5, 1620. This letter had a profound influence on many of the Pilgrims, and the astute reader will see that some of the concepts and wording even made its way into the Mayflower Compact. Loving and Christian Friends,

I do heartily and in the Lord salute you all as being they with whom I am present in my best affection, and most earnest longings after you. Though I be constrained for a while to be bodily absent from you. I say constrained, God knowing how willingly and much rather than otherwise, I would have borne my part with you in this first brunt, where I not by strong necessity held back for the present. Make account of me in the meanwhile as of a man divided in myself with great pain, and as (natural bonds set aside) having my better part with you. And though I doubt not but in your godly wisdoms you both foresee and resolve upon that which concerneth your present state and condition, both severally and jointly, yet have I thought it but my duty to add some further spur of provocation unto them who run already; if not because you need it, yet because I owe it in love and duty. And first, as we are daily to renew our repentance with our God, especially for our sins knn occasions of such difficulty and danger sa lieth upon you, to a both more narrow search and careful reformation of your ways in His sight; let He, calling to remembrance our sins forgotten by us or unrepented of, take advantage against us, and in judgment leave us for the same to be swallowed up in one danger or other. Whereas, on the contrary, sin being taken away by earnest repentance and the pardon thereof from the Lord, sealed up unto a man's conscience by His Spirit, great shall be his security and peace in all dangers, sweet his comforts in all distresses, with happy deliverance from all evil, whether in live or in death.

Now, next after this heavenly peace with God and our own consciences, we are carefully to provide for peace with all men what in us lieth, especially with our associates. And for that, watchfulness must be had that we neither at all in ourselves do give, no, nor easily take offense being given by others. Woe be unto the world for offenses, for though it be necessary (considering the malice of Satan and man's corruption) that offenses come, yet woe unto the man, or woman either, by whom the offense cometh, saith Christ, Matthew 18:7. And if offenses in the unseasonable use of things, in themselves indifferent, be more to the feared than death itself (as the Apostle teacheth, 1 Corinthians 9:15) how much more in things simply evil, in which neither honor of God nor love of man is thought worthy to be regarded. Neither yet is it sufficient that we keep ourselves by the grace of God from giving offense, except withal we be armed against the taking of them when they be given by others. For how unperfect and lame is the work of grace in that person who wants charity to cover a multitude of offenses, as the Scriptures speak!

Neither are you to be exhorted to this grace only upon the common grounds of Christianity, which are, that persons ready to take offense either want charity to cover offenses, or wisdom duly to weigh human frailty; or lastly, are gross, though close hypocrites as Christ our Lord teacheth (Matthew 7:1,2,3), as indeed in my own experience few or none have been found which sooner give offense than such as easily take it. Neither have they ever proved sound and profitable members in societies, which have nourished this touchy humor.

But besides these, there are divers motives provoking you above others to great care and conscience this way: As first, you are many of you strangers, as to the persons so to the infirmities one of another, and so stand in need of more watchfulness this way, lest when such things fall out in men and women as you suspected not, you be inordinately affected with them; which doth require at your hands much wisdom and charity for the covering and preventing of incident offenses that way. And, lastly, your intended course of civil community will minister continual occasion of offense, and will be as fuel for that fire, except you diligently quench it with brotherly forbearance. And if taking of offense causelessly or easily at men's doings be so carefully to be avoided, how much more heed is to be taken that we take not offense at God Himself, which yet we certainly do so oft as we do murmur at His providence in our crosses, or bear impatiently such afflictions as wherewith He pleaseth to visit us. Store up, therefore, patience against that evil day, without which we take offense at the Lord Himself in His holy and just works.

A fourth thing there is carefully to be provided for, to wit, that with your common employments you join common affections truly bent upon the general good, avoiding deadly plague of your both common and special comfort all retiredness of mind for proper advantage, and all singularly affected any manner of way. Let ever man repress in himself and the whole body in each person, as so many rebels against the common good, all private respects of men's selves, not sorting with the general conveniency. And as men are careful not to have a new house shaken with any violence before it be well settled and the parts firmly knit, so be you, I beseech you, brethren, much more careful that the house of God, which you are and are to be, be not shaken with unnecessary novelties or other oppositions at the first settling thereof.

Lastly, whereas you are become a body politic, using amongst yourselves civil government, and are not furnished with any persons of special eminency above the rest, to be chosen by you into office of government; let your wisdom and godliness appear, not only in choosing such persons as do entirely love and will promote the common good, but also in yielding unto them all due honor and obedience in their lawful administrations, not beholding in them the ordinariness of their persons, but God's ordinance for your good; not being like the foolish multitude who more honor the gay coat than either the virtuous mind of the man, or glorious ordinance of the Lord. But you know better things, and that the image of the Lord's power and authority which the magistrate beareth, is honorable, in how means persons soever. And this duty you both may the more willingly and ought the more conscionably to perform, because you are at least for the present to have only them for your ordinary governors, which yourselves shall make choice of for that work.

Sundry other things of importance I could put you in mind of, and of those before mentioned in more words, but I will not so far wrong your godly minds as to think you heedless of these things, there being also divers among you so well able to admonish both themselves and others of what concerneth them. These few things therefore, and the same in few words I do earnestly commend unto your care and conscience, joining therewith my daily incessant prayers unto the Lord, that He who hath made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all rivers of water, and whose providence is over all His works, espeically over all His dear children for good, would so guide and guard you in your ways, as inwardly by His Spirit, so outwardly by the hand of His power, as that both you and we also, for and with you, may have after matter of praising His name all the days of your and our lives. Fare you well in Him in whom you trust, and in whom I rest.

An unfeigned wellwiller of your happy success in this hopeful voyage,

John Robinson

MayflowerHistory.com, Copyright © 1994-2003. All Rights Reserved


To the church of God, at Plymouth in New England.

Much beloved brethren, neither the distance of place, nor distinction of body, can at all either dissolve or weaken that bond of true christian affection in which the Lord by his spirit hath tied us together. My continual prayers are to the Lord for you; my most earnest desire is unto you; from whom I will not longer keep (if God will) than means can be procured to bring with me the wives and children of divers of you and the rest of your brethren, whom I could not leave behind me without great, both injury to you and them, and offence to God and all men. The death of so many our dear friends and brethren; oh I how grievous hath it been to you to bear, and to us to take knowledge of, which, if it could be mended with lamenting, could not sufficiently be bewailed; but we must go unto them and they shall not return unto us: And how many even of us, God hath taken away here, and in England, since your departure, you may elsewhere take knowledge. But the same God has tempered judgment with mercy, as otherwise, soin sparing the rest, especially those by whose godly and wise government, you may be, and (I know) are so much helped. . In a battle it is not looked for but that divers should die; it is thought well for a side, if it get the victory, though with the loss of divers, if not too many or too great. God, I hope, hath given you the victory, after many difficulties, for yourselves and others; though I doubt not, but many do and will remain for you and us all to strive with. Brethren, I hope I need not exhort you to obedience unto those whom God hath set over you, in church and commonwealth, and to the Lord in them. It is a christian's honour, to give honour according to men's places; and his liberty, to serve God in faith, and his brethren in love orderly and with a willing and free heart. God forbid, I should need to exhort you to peace, which is the bond of perfection, and by which all good is tied together, and without which it is scattered. Have peace with God first, by faith in his promises, good conscience kept in all things, and oft renewed by repentance; and so, one with another, for his sake, who is, though three, one; and for Christ's sake who is one, and as you are called by one spirit to one hope. And the God of peace and grace and all goodness be with you, in all the fruits thereof, plenteously upon your heads, now and for ever. All your brethren here, remember you with great love, a general token whereof they have sent you.

Yours ever in the Lord,

John Robinson

Leiden, (Holland) June 30, Anno 1621.


Additional Writings of Interest The Pilgrim Hall Museum has posted 43 essays by Rev. John Robinson. There is additional information about the early Pilgrim settlers at the Pilgrim Hall site. Some further readings of interest are John Robinson's Catechism posted by Caleb Johnson. the Seven Articles of the Church of Leyden and the William Bradford web site both posted by Jay Webber who is also a Robinson Researcher. Mike Paulick sends along further information that should be of interest to this group. There are PDF files available concerning the writings of Rev. John at Libertyfund. Check All Authors in the box on the left of the screen and then scroll down to John Robinson. Enjoy. Here is another link to the Libertyfund collection that may prove to be a bit faster than the one above. Iti is May 2004 Titles: The Online Library of Liberty. I have only looked at it for a brief time but already find one error in one of the articles concerning the family of John Robinson in which it is stated that his wife and two sons came to New England and we know for some certainty that is not the case. So read and enjoy but be cautious.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Contact Information Donald L. Robinson 11915 W. 66th Street Shawnee, KS 66216-2717 blinkybill158@RevJohnRobinson.com -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Rev. John's Church --------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Mr. Paulick, a self described amateur Pilgrim historian living in San Rafael, California, after doing considerable reading concerning the early Pilgrim church in England and then in Leiden, Holland, became intrigued with the unsuccessfil attempts of early researchers to locate the church from which Rev. John Robinson was separated and set forth "to locate the parish register birth records to identify the church that John Robinson referred to" in a letter written from Leiden to a friend about 1609. Mr. Paulick's research resulted in an article, John Robinson, Pastor of the Pilgrims, in Norwich 1603-1607, that appeared in The New England Historical and Genealogicla Register, Vol. 155, Whole No. 620, October 2001, pages 359-366. From that research he found baptismal records for two of the Robinson children, John (1605) and Bridgett (1606/07), and established that Rev. John was in Norwich as late as 1606/1607.

Of particular interest was information regarding the church in which John says he was "sometymes a minister", St. Andrew's, and also the discovery that the children were baptised in a nearby but different parish church, St. Peter's Hundage.

The article is well researched and well written and should be in every Robinson researcher’s personal reference file. Read this article for information about the churches, the community and John's activities at this time. As part of his interest in Rev. John's history, Mr. Paulick took pictures of the two churches and the baptismal font in St. Peter's Hungate where the children were baptized. He has very graciously allowed them to be published on this site. The photos and Mr. Paulick's descriptions follow.

Look at photos in pictures:

Font, St. Peter's Hungate Parish Church, Norwich, Norfolk, England. John Robinson's children, John and Bridgett, were baptised in this font in 1605 and 1606/07. See FHL microfilm # 1526324. Note that wooden cover was added later. Photo taken by Michael R. Paulick, San Rafael, CA March, 2003

St. Peter’s Hungate Parish Church, Norwich, Norfolk, England. Built 1460 on the corner of Elm Hill and Princes Street. This was the parish church of John Robinson who had children John and Bridgett baptised there in 1605 and 1606/07. See FHL microfilm # 1526324. Photo taken by Michael R. Paulick, San Rafael, CA

St. Peter’s Hungate Parish Church tower, Norwich, Norfolk, England. Built 1460 on the corner of Elm Hill and Princes Street. This was the parish church of John Robinson who had children John and Bridgett baptised there in 1605 and 1606/07. See FHL microfilm # 1526324. Photograph by Michael R. Paulick, San Rafael, CA

The Briton Arms, next to St. Peter’s Hungate Parish churchyard (wall). Norwich, Norfolk, England. It is almost certain that John Robinson walked past this building when he lived in that parish during the period 1603 to 1607. Photograph by Michael R. Paulick, San Rafael, CA


Elm Hill District, St. Peter’s Hungate Parish, Norwich, Norfolk, England. It is almost certain that John Robinson walked along this street when he lived in that parish during the period 1603 to 1607. Most of the buildings predate that time. His address is unknown but he might have lived in one of the houses shown. Photograph by Michael R. Paulick, San Rafael, CA

St. Andrew’s Church, Norwich, Norfolk, England where John Robinson was “sometymes a minister” probably during the period 1603 to 1606. He was suspended about 1606. Photograph by Michael R. Paulick, San Rafael, CA


-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Contact Information Donald L. Robinson 11915 W. 66th Street Shawnee, KS 66216-2717 blinkybill158@RevJohnRobinson.com -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Reverend John Robinson's Depiction in Art -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Embarkation of the Pilgrims at Delft Haven Holland, July 22, 1620 by Robert W. Weir

Embarkation of the Pilgrims By Edgar Parker after Robert Weir - 1875

Departure of the Pilgrims from Delft Haven By Charles Lucy - c1847

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Embarkation of the Pilgrims at Delft Haven, Holland, July 22, 1620 by Robert W. Weir Oil on canvas, 12' x 18' Located in the Capitol Rotunda Placed December 21, 1843 (place your cursor over each figure for identification)


In 1836, the United States government commissioned Robert W. Weir to paint The Picture of the Embarkation of the Pilgrims from Delft Haven in Holland "for filling the vacant panels in the rotunda of the Capital" in Washington, D.C. It was one of several large scale (12’ x 18’) paintings chosen to represent significant historical moments leading to the founding of the American Republic. Completed in 1843, it depicts the Pilgrim families gathered around their pastor, John Robinson, for a farewell service on the deck of the Speedwell before its departure from Holland. Weir worked on the Embarkation for over seven years. He produced several small-scale studies that are owned by the Pilgrim Society. Embarkation of the Pilgrims By Edgar Parker after Robert Weir - 1875 Material : Oil on canvas.


The Pilgrim Society commissioned Massachusetts artist Edgar Parker to recreate Weir’s well-known painting for the museum in 1875. This well-known painting can be found on the reverse of the United States $10,000 bill. In the romantic mode of 19th century history painting, the artist has employed symbolism, sentimentality, and theatrical devices for his effect. Arms and armor, for use against the dangers of the New World, lie in the foreground beside a screw that later saved the Mayflower from disaster in a storm at sea. A rainbow, signifying hope, shines brightly through the clouds. (This is on loan by the Pilgrim Hall Museum http://www.pilgrimhall.org/hpweir.htm. Other information can also be found at http://www.aoc.gov/rooms/rotunda.htm and http://xroads.virginia.edu/~CAP/PURITAN/purrot.html.

 

Departure of the Pilgrims from Delft Haven By Charles Lucy (1814-1873) Painted in England, c1847. Material : Oil on canvas


This scene shows the Separatist band praying together just before their departure from Holland. The central figure is their minister, John Robinson, leading them in prayer. Robinson had to remain in Holland and died before he could join his congregation in Plymouth.

English history painter Charles Lucy won a prize for this painting at the Westminster Hall competition in London in 1847, and exhibited it at the Royal Academy in 1848. Lucy also painted a view of the Pilgrims’ landing, but that work has been lost.

This is also owned by the Pilgrim Hall Museum. (http://www.pilgrimhall.org/hplucy.htm)

 
 
 

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Contact Information Donald L. Robinson 11915 W. 66th Street Shawnee, KS 66216-2717 blinkybill158@RevJohnRobinson.com --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

  
 

-------------------- The following information re: John Robinson is taken from the Wikipedia article about him. Be sure to read his personal letter to the travelers aboard the Mayflower after the Wikipedia article.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Robinson_%28pastor%29

John Robinson (1575-1625) was the pastor of the "Pilgrim Fathers" before they left on the Mayflower. He became one of the early leaders of the English Separatists, minister of the Pilgrims, and is regarded (along with Robert Browne) as one of the founders of the Congregational Church.

Early life Robinson was born in Sturton-le-Steeple.

John was educated at Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School, Gainsborough, and at the age of about sixteen, he entered Corpus Christi College at Cambridge University. He remained there for the next twelve years, first as a student, and then later as a teacher. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1596, and his Master of Arts degree in 1599.

Dissent Robinson’s studies were preparing him to become a minister of the Church of England. The religious community in England at the time was in a state of flux, and Puritanism was firmly entrenched at Cambridge. During his years there, Robinson gradually began to accept its principles, having possibly been introduced to it at home in Lincolnshire. Before long, he was a leader in the religious controversy that swept across the land.

The leaders of this movement strongly criticized the Church of England because they believed its beliefs and rituals were too much like those of the Roman Catholic Church. The reforms they advocated would “purify” the established church. It was for this reason that they became known as “Puritans”.

The Puritans believed in the independence of each church congregation, and were opposed to any type of church hierarchy. Each congregation, they believed, should have the power to choose and dismiss their own ministers. Their “meeting houses” were starkly plain, with no pictures, statues, or stained glass windows. The Puritans did not celebrate Christmas, and they enjoyed “strong water” and beer. Unlike other Puritans, however, Robinson's followers had no prohibitions against wearing bright colors as long as it was not done on the sabbath.

Many Puritans despaired of getting any of the changes they favored in the Church implemented. They decided to leave the Church of England and form churches of their own. These people were called Separatists.

Measures against dissent

The monarch, then as now, was the official head of the Church of England. Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603) followed a tolerant policy toward the Puritans and Separatists. King James I (1556-1625), however, ascended the throne in 1603 and quickly instituted a policy designed to enforce religious conformity. The Puritans would, he warned, adhere or he would "harry them out of the land". It was the King's belief that his throne depended on the Church hierarchy, "No Bishops, no King".

James I vigorously enforced The Act Against Puritans (1593), 35 Elizabeth, Cap. 1, making it illegal for separatists to hold their own services. Anyone who did not attend the services of the Church of England for forty days, and who attended private services “contrary to the laws and statutes of the realm and being thereof lawfully convicted shall be committed to prison, there to remain without bail mainprise until they shall confirm and yield themselves to same church.”

The king’s campaign to suppress religious freedom ended academic freedom at the universities. Rather than remain in this environment, John Robinson resigned his teaching position at Cambridge on February 10, 1604, and returned home to Nottinghamshire.

St Andrew's Church Married men were prohibited from teaching at Cambridge, and a desire to marry may have been a factor in Robinson’s resignation. Just five days later, on February 15, 1604, he married Bridget White (1579-1643), the daughter of Alexander and Eleanor (Smith) White. She was born in 1579, to prosperous yeoman farmer parents.

In the latter part of 1604, Robinson became pastor of St. Andrew’s Church in the bustling commercial center of Norwich. This rapidly growing industrial city had contacts on the continent with Holland and Flanders. It also had a considerable number of foreign workers and political refugees. In addition, the most influential political leaders and merchants in Norwich were Puritans.

Soon after he assumed his new duties in Norwich, the king issued a proclamation requiring that all ministers conform to a new book of canons. The deadline was set for the end of November. The bishops, reacting to pressure from King James, made life intolerable for Anglican ministers with Puritan beliefs. For that reason, Robinson left the church at Norwich and returned home to Sturton-le-Steeple, where he and Bridget resided with her parents.

Leaving the established church

The year 1606 was a very important one in his life for it was then that he left the Church of England and became a Separatist. Though vigorously persecuted, Separatist congregations had been active, especially in London, for a number of years. Later that year, a group of Puritans in the nearby village of Scrooby formed a Separatist congregation that came to number about one hundred members. Robinson, it appears, returned to Gainsborough and became a member of John Smyth's Separatist congregation that met,in secret,at Gainsborough Old Hall under the protection of it's Lord, Sir William Hickman and his mother,Rose. However, at some point, he seems to have joined up again with the Separatists in Scrooby.

The congregation met at Scrooby Manor, the home of William Brewster. Brewster was the local postmaster and bailiff, and he was instrumental in the formation of the group. He was an old friend of Robinson as well as a Cambridge alumnus.

Richard Clyfton served as their minister, and John Robinson became the assistant pastor when he united with them. Other leaders included John and William Bradford, the latter of whom gave them the name by which they are known to history when he described himself and his followers as “pilgrims and strangers upon the earth.”

Attempts to leave England In the autumn of 1607, the congregation decided to leave England and emigrate to Holland. Religious freedom was permitted there, and English Separatists had already settled in Amsterdam. The Pilgrims secretly packed their belongings, and set out on foot for the sixty mile trek to the seaport town of Boston on the North Sea in Lincolnshire. Awaiting them there was a sea captain, who had agreed to smuggle them out of the country.

Before the congregation arrived in Boston, the captain had betrayed them to the authorities. The Pilgrims were searched, their money was taken, and their belongings were ransacked. They were then put on display for the crowds and confined in cells on the first floor of the Guildhall. During the month of their imprisonment, the magistrates treated them very well. Richard Clyfton, William Brewster, and John Robinson were the last to be released.

The second attempt to flee to Holland was successful. Robinson was not among the main group that left the country as he, Clifton, Brewster, and other leaders stayed behind until the following year to help weaker members leave the country. Clifton ended up staying behind due to his advanced age.

Period in The Netherlands The congregation initially settled in Amsterdam where Separatists began to settle as early as 1593. The local congregation of Separatists was strife-ridden, and the Pilgrims left Amsterdam after the first year and settled in Leyden.

Leyden was a bustling city of 100,000 inhabitants in 1609. It contained a number of imposing buildings, and it was one of Europe’s most important centers of learning. Some of the most important scholars of the day were on the faculty of the University of Leyden, and it attracted students from all over western Europe.

Soon after the congregation settled in Leyden, John Robinson was publicly ordained as their new minister. William Brewster became their ruling elder. Under the leadership of Robinson and Brewster, the congregation grew steadily. People from all over England made their way to Leyden, and in time, the congregation came to number several hundred.

In January of 1611, Robinson, William Jepson, Henry Wood, and his brother-in-law, Randall Thickins, purchased a large house called Grone Point. It was located almost directly behind St. Peter’s Church on Klok-steeg, which means “Bell Lane.” This site was only a block or two from the university, and it was purchased from John de Laliane for 8,000 guilders. Some 2,000 guilders were paid in advance, and the mortgage was paid off at the rate of 500 guilders per year. It seems apparent that they must have had a hard time raising that sum as they did not take possession of it until May of the following year.

This building served both as a home and a church. Over the next several years, twenty-one apartments were constructed in the garden for the less affluent members.

At the University of Leyden

On September 5, 1615, John Robinson entered Leiden University as a student of theology. He attended the lectures of the noted theologians, Episcopius and Polyander. His entry into the university “freed him from control of magistrates” and entitled him to another privilege of the Dutch intellectuals. Every month he was eligible to receive a half tun (126 gallons) of beer, and ten gallons of wine every three months which were free of all taxes. In addition, no troops could be quartered in his home except during military emergencies. He also became exempt from standing night watch, and making contributions to public works and fortifications.

During his time at the university, Robinson was an active participant in the Arminian controversy, siding with the Calvinists. The former believed in free will, they rejected predestination, and they advocated the possibility of salvation for all. Calvinists, on the other hand, maintained that God is sovereign in the areas of redemption and regeneration. They believed that God saves whom he will, when he will, and how he will. Strict Calvinists rejected evangelism.

Robinson was urged by the noted Professor Polyander and other professors to defend Calvinism in public debates with the noted Professor Episcopius, a member of the university’s faculty. He reluctantly accepted, and began attending the professor's lectures to become well versed in his opponent's views. This preparation, he felt, was necessary if he was to ably refute the noted theologian’s beliefs. The debate lasted for three days. William Bradford, who was present, wrote that the Lord helped Robinson “to defend the truth and fail his adversary, as he put him [Episcopius] to an apparent non-plus in this great and public audience. This so famous victory procured him much honour and respect from those learned men and others who loved the truth.” Robinson was also a rather prolific writer. During various periods, he wrote sixty-two essays, which include his adamant A Justification of Separation from the Church of England (1610), Of Religious Communion, Private and Public (1614), Apologia Brownistarum (1619), A Defence of the Doctrine propounded by the Synod of Dort (1624), Observations Divine and Morall (1625), and his more tolerant A Treatise on the Lawfulness of Hearing Ministers in the Church of England (1624; published after his death in 1634). Several pamphlets were also written defending Separatist doctrine, and their withdrawal from the Church of England. His Works, with a memoir by R. Ashton, were reprinted in three volumes in 1851.

The years spent in Holland were a time of poverty and hardship for a great majority of the congregation. This was in primarily due to the fact that there were not as many English Separatists joining their congregation as anticipated. The congregation was allowed to worship as they pleased, and most found the land of windmills and wooden shoes to be to their liking.

Holland was, however, a land whose culture and language were strange and difficult for the English congregation to understand or learn. Their children were becoming more and more Dutch as the years passed by. The congregation came to believe that they faced eventual extinction if they remained in Holland. Moreover, a war was brewing between the Dutch and Spanish, and the English congregation did not want to become involved in the conflict. These factors caused increasing dissatisfaction, and finally a decision to emigrate again, this time to America.

A minority travel to America

The decision to relocate was made early in 1619, when Deacon John Carver and Robert Cushman, who had business experience, were sent to London to negotiate with the London Company. They carried with them articles of belief, written by Robinson and Brewster, as evidence of their loyalty and orthodoxy.

Only a minority of the congregation (thirty-five members), under William Brewster, sailed on the Mayflower from England to America. They were joined by sixty-six people from Southampton and London who had little or no religious motivation. The majority of the congregation remained in Leyden, and planned to make the voyage at a later date. John Robinson agreed in advance to go with the group that was in the majority, and thus did not make the great historic trip. Before Brewster and his group left Holland, a solemn service was held, at which Robinson chose Ezra 8:21 as his text:

“Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river of Ahava, that we might afflict ourselves before our God, to seek of him a right way for us, and for our little ones, and for all our substance.”

The Pilgrims reached the coast of what is now Massachusetts on December 21, 1620. They named their little settlement “Plymouth” after the city that they had sailed from in England. For the next several years, these Pilgrims awaited the arrival of Robinson and the rest of the congregation.

The departure for most of the rest of the congregation was delayed for several years, and before long, Robinson had died. He became ill on February 22, 1625, and recovered enough to preach twice the next day, which was Sunday. By the next Sunday, Reverend John Robinson, the great "Apostle of Leyden", was dead. His remains were interred at St. Peter's Church.

Posthumous events

After Robinson had died, the congregation began a period of gradual decline. In time, there were only Dutch members left. A group broke away from the rest and moved to Amsterdam. Others, including one of his sons, immigrated to America and joined the Pilgrims at Plymouth. The remaining members finally united with the Reformed Church of Holland in 1658. In 1865, a marble marker was placed on the building occupying the site of Robinson’s home. It was inscribed: “On this spot, lived, taught, and died John Robinson, 1611-1625.”

Marble Marker on John Robinson's home in Leyden A ceremony was conducted under the auspices of the Congregational Church of the United States on July 24, 1891, at which a bronze marker in his memory was placed on the wall of St. Peter’s Church. Present were delegates from the United States and England, the city and University of Leyden, and the city’s clergy. On this marker was inscribed: “In Memory of Rev. John Robinson, M. A. Pastor of the English Church Worshipping Over Against This Spot, A. D. 1609 - 1625, Whence at his Prompting Went Forth THE PILGRIM FATHERS To Settle New England in 1620 - - - - - - - - - Buried under this house of worship, 4 March, 1625 Aet. XLIX Years. In Memoria Aeterna Erit Justus. Erected by the National Council of the Congregational Churches of the United States of America A. D. 1891”

Metal marker in memory of John Robinson on the outside of the Pieterskerk in Leyden The General Society of Mayflower Descendants erected a tablet on the wall of St. Peter’s Church in 1928. It was inscribed: “In Memory of JOHN ROBINSON Pastor of the English Church in Leyden 1609 1625 His Broadly Tolerant Mind Guided and Developed the Religious Life of THE PILGRIMS OF THE MAYFLOWER of Him These Walls Enshrine All That Was Mortal His Undying Spirit Still Dominates the Consciences of a Mighty Nation In the Land Beyond the Seas This tablet was erected by the General Society of Mayflower Descendants in the United States of America A.D. 1928.”

Historical marker to the memory of John Robinson near where he is buried inside the Pieterskirk in Leyden John Robinson and Bridget White were the parents of the following children: Ann, the oldest of the children, born at Norwich, and named in honor of her grandmother in Sturton, married Jan Schetter of Utrecht before 1622, so her name was not listed in the register. She was left a widow by the autumn of 1625. John, born in Scrooby, matriculated at the University of Leyden, April 5, 1633. Bridget, born at Leyden about 1608, married (1) John Greenwood, who studied theology at the University of Leyden in 1629. After his death, she married (2) William Lee of Amsterdam in 1637. Isaac, born at Leyden in 1610. Arrived in Plymouth Colony on the Lyon in 1631. Married (1) Margaret Handford; (2) Mary (last name unknown). Mercy, born at Leyden in 1612, was buried in 1623. Fear, born at Leyden in 1614, married John Jennings, Jr. in 1648 and lived her life in Leyden. He died in 1664, leaving three children. She died before May 31, 1670. Jacob, born at Leyden in 1616, married (name unknown). Died in May, 1638, and is buried in St. Peter’s Church. Bridget Robinson continued to live after her husband's death in the Engelsche Poort at the Green Gate. She had arranged passage for her and the children on the Mayflower (a second ship of the same name) in 1629 to New England, but she changed her mind for some unknown reason at the last minute and did not sail (interestingly, the captain never removed their names from the ship's manifest). She was mentioned as being in Leyden on April 6, 1640 in the Poll Tax Register. Professor John Hoornbeek stated that she and her children joined the Dutch Reformed Church. She died in 1643. On October 28, 1643, Bridget Robinson’s Will was drawn up at the office of notary J. F. van Merwen on the Breestraat. It indicates that she was still a widow and at the time had four children: John, a doctor of medicine, who was married and living in England; Isaac, who was married and lived in New England; Bridget, who had married William Lee; and Fear, who later married John Jennings, Jr.

References

United Reformed Church (2004) A Gift Box. ISBN 0-85346-222-4.

The following letter was found at:

http://worldconnect.rootsweb.com/cgi-bin/igm.cgi?op=GET&db=gillkath&id=I2268

John Robinson's Farewell Letter to the Pilgrims

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This letter was written by John Robinson, the pastor of the Pilgrims church in Leyden. Since a majority of the church remained behind in Leyden, he made the very difficult decision to stay and minister to those remaining in Holland rather than come on the Mayflower. He planned to come to America as soon as he could get more of his church over, but his untimely death in 1626 prevented his ever making it to the New World. He wrote this farewell letter, which was read by John Carver to the Pilgrims gathered aboard the Mayflower just prior to their first attempted departure on August 5, 1620. This letter had a profound influence on many of the Pilgrims, and the astute reader will see that some of the concepts and wording even made its way into the Mayflower Compact.

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Loving and Christian Friends,

I do heartily and in the Lord salute you all as being they with whom I am present in my best affection, and most earnest longings after you. Though I be constrained for a while to be bodily absent from you. I say constrained, God knowing how willingly and much rather than otherwise, I would have borne my part with you in this first brunt, where I not by strong necessity held back for the present. Make account of me in the meanwhile as of a man divided in myself with great pain, and as (natural bonds set aside) having my better part with you. And though I doubt not but in your godly wisdoms you both foresee and resolve upon that which concerneth your present state and condition, both severally and jointly, yet have I thought it but my duty to add some further spur of provocation unto them who run already; if not because you need it, yet because I owe it in love and duty. And first, as we are daily to renew our repentance with our God, especially for our sins known, and generally for our unknown trespasses; so doth the Lord call us in a singular manner upon occasions of such difficulty and danger sa lieth upon you, to a both more narrow search and careful reformation of your ways in His sight; let He, calling to remembrance our sins forgotten by us or unrepented of, take advantage against us, and in judgment leave us for the same to be swallowed up in one danger or other. Whereas, on the contrary, sin being taken away by earnest repentance and the pardon thereof from the Lord, sealed up unto a man's conscience by His Spirit, great shall be his security and peace in all dangers, sweet his comforts in all distresses, with happy deliverance from all evil, whether in live or in death.

Now, next after this heavenly peace with God and our own consciences, we are carefully to provide for peace with all men what in us lieth, especially with our associates. And for that, watchfulness must be had that we neither at all in ourselves do give, no, nor easily take offense being given by others. Woe be unto the world for offenses, for though it be necessary (considering the malice of Satan and man's corruption) that offenses come, yet woe unto the man, or woman either, by whom the offense cometh, saith Christ, Matthew 18:7. And if offenses in the unseasonable use of things, in themselves indifferent, be more to the feared than death itself (as the Apostle teacheth, 1 Corinthians 9:15) how much more in things simply evil, in which neither honor of God nor love of man is thought worthy to be regarded. Neither yet is it sufficient that we keep ourselves by the grace of God from giving offense, except withal we be armed against the taking of them when they be given by others. For how unperfect and lame is the work of grace in that person who wants charity to cover a multitude of offenses, as the Scriptures speak!

Neither are you to be exhorted to this grace only upon the common grounds of Christianity, which are, that persons ready to take offense either want charity to cover offenses, or wisdom duly to weigh human frailty; or lastly, are gross, though close hypocrites as Christ our Lord teacheth (Matthew 7:1,2,3), as indeed in my own experience few or none have been found which sooner give offense than such as easily take it. Neither have they ever proved sound and profitable members in societies, which have nourished this touchy humor.

But besides these, there are divers motives provoking you above others to great care and conscience this way: As first, you are many of you strangers, as to the persons so to the infirmities one of another, and so stand in need of more watchfulness this way, lest when such things fall out in men and women as you suspected not, you be inordinately affected with them; which doth require at your hands much wisdom and charity for the covering and preventing of incident offenses that way. And, lastly, your intended course of civil community will minister continual occasion of offense, and will be as fuel for that fire, except you diligently quench it with brotherly forbearance. And if taking of offense causelessly or easily at men's doings be so carefully to be avoided, how much more heed is to be taken that we take not offense at God Himself, which yet we certainly do so oft as we do murmur at His providence in our crosses, or bear impatiently such afflictions as wherewith He pleaseth to visit us. Store up, therefore, patience against that evil day, without which we take offense at the Lord Himself in His holy and just works.

A fourth thing there is carefully to be provided for, to wit, that with your common employments you join common affections truly bent upon the general good, avoiding deadly plague of your both common and special comfort all retiredness of mind for proper advantage, and all singularly affected any manner of way. Let ever man repress in himself and the whole body in each person, as so many rebels against the common good, all private respects of men's selves, not sorting with the general conveniency. And as men are careful not to have a new house shaken with any violence before it be well settled and the parts firmly knit, so be you, I beseech you, brethren, much more careful that the house of God, which you are and are to be, be not shaken with unnecessary novelties or other oppositions at the first settling thereof.

Lastly, whereas you are become a body politic, using amongst yourselves civil government, and are not furnished with any persons of special eminency above the rest, to be chosen by you into office of government; let your wisdom and godliness appear, not only in choosing such persons as do entirely love and will promote the common good, but also in yielding unto them all due honor and obedience in their lawful administrations, not beholding in them the ordinariness of their persons, but God's ordinance for your good; not being like the foolish multitude who more honor the gay coat than either the virtuous mind of the man, or glorious ordinance of the Lord. But you know better things, and that the image of the Lord's power and authority which the magistrate beareth, is honorable, in how means persons soever. And this duty you both may the more willingly and ought the more conscionably to perform, because you are at least for the present to have only them for your ordinary governors, which yourselves shall make choice of for that work.

Sundry other things of importance I could put you in mind of, and of those before mentioned in more words, but I will not so far wrong your godly minds as to think you heedless of these things, there being also divers among you so well able to admonish both themselves and others of what concerneth them. These few things therefore, and the same in few words I do earnestly commend unto your care and conscience, joining therewith my daily incessant prayers unto the Lord, that He who hath made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all rivers of water, and whose providence is over all His works, espeically over all His dear children for good, would so guide and guard you in your ways, as inwardly by His Spirit, so outwardly by the hand of His power, as that both you and we also, for and with you, may have after matter of praising His name all the days of your and our lives. Fare you well in Him in whom you trust, and in whom I rest.

An unfeigned wellwiller of your happy success in this hopeful voyage, John Robinson -------------------- John Robinson (1575-1625) was the pastor of the separatist Pilgrims' church in Leyden, Holland. The leadership and respect he gained as pastor is the primary reason the Pilgrims were so united together and able to overcome hardships that caused other groups in similar positions to fail. Robinson encouraged the Pilgrim church to move to the New World, but when only a minority of his church decided to emigrate at first, he remained behind with the majority of the congregation in Leyden--planning to come later after the Colony was established and more people emigrated. His unexpected death in 1625 put an end to his plans. The last of the church members remaining in Leyden arrived at Plymouth in 1629.

-------------------- Rev. John Robinson, pastor of the 1620 Mayflower Pilgrims at Leiden, Holland. Since a majority of the church remained behind in Leiden, he made the very difficult decision to stay and minister to those remaining in Holland rather than come on the Mayflower. He planned to come to America as soon as he could get more of his church over, but his untimely death in 1626 prevented his ever making it to the New World.

He became one of the early leaders of the English Separatists and is regarded (along with Robert Browne) as one of the founders of the Congregational Church.

John Robinson's brother-in-law was John Carver, Mayflower pilgrim.

Sources:

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Rev. John Robinson's Timeline

1575
1575
Sturton, Le Steeple, Lincolnshire, England
1576
September 16, 1576
Age 1
Hackness, Yorkshire, England, United Kingdom
1603
February 15, 1603
Age 28
St Marys,Greasley,Nottinghamshire,England
1606
1606
Age 31
Norwich, Norfolkshire, England, United Kingdom
1608
1608
Age 33
Holland, Reusel-de Mierden, Noord-Brabant, Netherlands
1610
1610
Age 35
Sturton, Nottinghamshire, England, (Present UK)
1612
1612
Age 37
Holland, Reusel-de Mierden, Noord-Brabant, Netherlands
1616
1616
Age 41
Leiden, Holland (South), Netherlands
1618
1618
Age 43
Leiden, Holland (South), Netherlands
1620
February 7, 1620
Age 45
Greasley, Nottinghamshire, England, United Kingdom