|Thomas Willett biographical notes (2)|
[p. 2] The John Brown family of Swansea, England, and Leyden, Holland, played a large part in the life of Thomas Willett.
It is unlikely that he knew the Brown family when they lived in Swansea, England, near Cambridge. He most likely met them for the first time in Leyden. Thomas Willett had three sisters, Sarah, Rebecca, and Hester (Banks, pages 7-8).
“In Leyden, young Willett was reared in the congregation of Reverend John Robinson, the beloved pastor of the Pilgrims in Holland. Mr. Robinson had been graduated from Cambridge University in 1599, where he received his Master’s Degree, and removed to Holland in 1608. His son, Isaac Robinson, who was born the following year, became one of Willett’s fast friends, and both boys sailed to New England on the same ship” (Smith, page 42).
The return trip referred to above was the 1632 trip in the “Lion” that Thomas Willett made after testifying at the trial of Isaac Allerton in London.
Reverend Robinson died March 1, 1625, and “was buried with simple ceremony under the pavement in the main aisle of the Pieterskirk, the immense stone catheral [sic] that loomed so high above the Green Gate” (Wilson, page 259).
The land that Thomas Willett decided to move to was not a land overflowing with “milk and honey.”
“Unlike the Chesapeake Bay settlers, the first colonizers of New England found a harsh and forbidding terrain. In 1604, the French planted a short-lived colony near the mouth of the St. [sic] Croix River, now the Maine-Canadian boundary. Three years later, Englishmen led by George Popham planted a fishing settlement on the Maine coast at the mouth of the Kennebec River, but Indian attacks, a bitter winter, and the malice of the devil forced them to leave. Forced by circumstances, separatist Pilgrims tackled the wooded coast of New England in 1620. They had withdrawn from what they regarded as a pudle [sic] of corruption in the English church, and after 12 years of self-imposed exile in Holland, embarked for a more isolated place where they could worship according to their beliefs” (Cooke, page 25).
It was in 1620, that the small ship, Mayflower, crammed with 102 saints and strangers, sighted southern New England just before the onset of winter.
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Updated Mar 2014
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