By Dqfn13 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Pilgim fathers in the Netherlands

Did you know that the Pilgrim Fathers spend some time in the Netherlands in the city of Leiden?

These Separatists or English Dissenters were religious refugees who had fled England to Amsterdam in 1608 and moved to Leiden in 1609. They bought a lot of land at the Pieterskerk and built 21 houses. They lived and worked in that city for about 12 to 20 years. However, they often lived in poor conditions. That’s why they spared to buy a shoemaker, who they called Speedwell, which took them to Southampton. However, the boat did not prove to be seaworthy, and in 1620 some of them chose to leave for America with the “Mayflower” from Southhampton. The “Mayflower” undertook the famous voyage to New England in 1620.

There were 102 people aboard, of which 41 pilgrims. After sixty days, Mayflower came to Cape God in Massachusetts. In 1632 the last pilgrims left Leiden to that country.

By Dqfn13 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

But they did not leave all. Some died in Leiden, as well as their leader John Robinson. He was buried in the Pieterskerk after his death and in the case of the church there is still a plaque for him. Most other pilgrims who died in Leiden were buried in or around the Pieterskerk.  The first pilgrims from Leiden were: Isaac Allerton, John Allerton, William Bradford, William Brewster, John Carver, James Chilton, Francis Cooke, Humility Cooper, John Crackstone, Moses Fletcher, Edward Fuller, Samuel Fuller, William Holbeck, John Hooke, Desire Minter, Degory Priest, Thomas Rogers, Edward Tilley, Thomas Tinker, John Turner, Thomas Williams and Edward Winslow.  Several boats were used to transport the group of English from Leiden to America, the Speedwell (departed from Delfshaven, Passengers switched to Mayflower) (1620), Fortune (1621), Anne and Little James (1623) and the second Mayflower (1629).  On the last boat were Thomas Blossom and his family.

Thanksgiving Day

In the 19th century the colonists’ first harvest festival after their arrival at Plymouth Colony was identified as the origin of the annual Thanksgiving celebration in the United States. It was shaped after the Leids Ontzet festival that is annually celebrated in Leiden at October 3rd with a thanksgiving ceremony in the Church and a shared meal.

In the footsteps of the Pilgrim fathers

Even now there are some interesting locations in the Netherlands you can visit

By Herenld (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

  • Leiden American Pilgrim Museum (above) – located in a house of the 16th century

Link to museum website

See page for author [CC BY-SA 2.5 nl (], via Wikimedia Commons

  • Pieterskerk Leiden (above)

By Jvhertum (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

  • The remains of the Vrouwekerk Leiden (above)

By F.Eveleens (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC BY 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

  • Old or Pilgrim fathers church (above) in Delfshaven (Rotterdam)

Link to church website

Source: Tulips in Holland
Photo credits: Wiki Commons

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