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Barrowists were the followers of the basic teachings of Henry Barrow(e) (1550?-1593, a prominent Elizabethan Separatist divine, and a English martyr. The term Barrowist came into general usage after 1590.

Barrowism was formulated by its two principal divines: Henry Barrow (1550?-1593), and John Greenwood (1554?-1593). Others prominent voices also included: Francis Johnson (1562-1618), and Henry Ainsworth (1571-1622?) contributed to the Barrowist literature from 1593-1620; John Robinson (1575?-1625) as pastor of the Scrooby Congregation, and the English Church at Leyden (Leiden) also contributed to the dialogue from 1609-25.

Many of the early English Separatists movement of the late 16th century were often Puritans in broad terms who would separated themselves from the current Church of England for its catholic antecedents. One such radical Separatist group were the Barrowists, named after its founder Robert Barrow (1550?-1633) a former clergyman. Barrow was among one of the first major early English Separatist leaders who established his own sect which the Church of England was concerned. Early Barrowists would have been known as Brownists, Separatists, Independents and later as Congregationalists. Barrow disagreed with the Brownist theology and resented being labelled as having theological ties to them.

Many of the the early English Separatist of the period considered the Barrowist to be quite radical by the standards of the day, and were roundly criticized for their views in print. Most early Puritans, and English Separatists rejected the structure of Roman Church, and its tainted offspring, and the Edwardian Book of Common Prayer. or many the Church of England tenets were considered as being corrupted " by the fruit of the father", i.e. the Catholic Church. Many early non-conformists were Evangelical Protestants with Puritan leanings, who rejected the English state episcopal church administration. Their early rejection of the Church of England did not also extend not their administration of the sacraments, and by extension their own Baptisms, not all were beyond redemption.

During the Lutheran Reformation some aspects of these issues may have been discussed by Luther, Calvin, and Zwingli. The phrase "they did not throw the baby out with the bath water" has been often quoted. They did not want to dig too deep into the weeds for a more workable somewhat moderate compromise to function at the beginning. Theological discussions, and arguments did not stop as their individual power bases increased over time. Luther and Calvin would become very vocal opponents over time. These initial early theological understands would be later questioned by later nonconformists, as new Separatist sects were seeking the "e:True Church"e; that met their own theological and scriptural requirements.

A more radical theology of separation as voiced by Barrow, who had a different vision of what would constitute a "True Church" of God, uncorrupted, and untainted from any lingering traits of Catholicism, the great corrupter of Christianity. For some, the early New Testament congregations would become a standard of the intended original Church structure as outlined in the Gospels.

During Barrows tenure at Cambridge University, there was a very famous series of lectures on the New Testament Gospels being presented by a Chaired University don, Dr. William Cartwright, the head of the Theology Dept., The Rev. Dr. Cartwight was held in high scholarly regard by the University, and in Academia. He was also known to hold certain Puritan tenets, which did not bother many in the University at the time. Historically the lectures were very important for a better understanding of the early Church and how it functioned at the time. They provided a vehicle for looking at the past, and asking new questions, and a few old ones. John Wycliffe, and the Lollards already had this discussion with the Church of England.

Unfortunately for Cambridge University these prominent historical lectures also brought with them a certain amount of theological underpinning, or as a positive bias supporting those dissidents, and nonconformist view points against the current episcopal catholic state church structure. There was an implied argument to return to the original early congregation structure under St. Peter and St. Paul as more scriptural than the current episcopal system. Current critics of the Church of England and its Anglican leaning were more than happy to use these scholarly arguments the Catholic and Reformed Church of England. Queen Elizabeth I had been somewhat moderate about the pro-puritan views coming from Cambridge University. The Cartwright Lectures seemed to crossed theological, or political line in the sand, so to speak. The Queen for her part undertook some housekeeping among the university staff, and policies. The Rev. Dr. Cartwright was an early causality, he was removed from his Chaired Position, the Head of his department, and removed from the staff, and all university privileges, the royal sack, if you will. Other like minded individuals also felt the ire of the Queen, as did some university administrators.

Based on some series of famous lectures on the New Testament community lectures at Cambridge, the Radical Reformation groups often referred to as Anabaptist, who embraced some of these same basic tenets. Later Separatist groups that came to the same conclusions and embraced various aspects of these tenets were often labelled as "Anabaptist" by their critics.

Barrow claimed that the Church of England had been tainted by Catholicism, and was therefore beyond any hope of redemption. Barrow preached a total separation from, and a rejection of the "corrupted" churches. All of their clergy and its sacraments were held to be invalid, nor had they any true religion. Paleo-baptism was rejected for "Believers Baptism":, a public acclamation of faith by immersion. Rather than an episcopal state Church structure, a form of congregational polity modeled on the New Testament format was followed. Congregations were considered as independent religious institution only subject to a vote of the each congregation.

The use of written public services such as the Book of Common Prayer used by the Church of England were rejected. A "New Testament" oriented service was to be embraced by "true churches". Barrow wanted "to reduce all things and actions to the true ancient and primitive pattern of God's word".

Contact by members with the "corrupted" church and its membership was to be avoided at all costs. Excommunication was often the reward for those offenders that fraternized with the enemy.

True religion for the Barrowist could only be fostered in a new congregational structure outside of the control of the State or any other external church authority. Total authority was to reside within each congregation to govern themselves by elections as independent religious bodies. The election of its ministers and elders would rest in the hands of the membership of each individual congregation.

The administration of the congregation was delegated to its elected spiritual representatives: the Pastor, the Elders who assumed the day to day support, and duties of their congregation. The actual limitations of this authority by the Pastor and Elders was not well defined. It was this unclear division of authority that would later result in problems with some of its later congregations.

Additional offices might include a Teacher, Deacons or Deaconess who would minister to the public needs of members of the congregation. These individuals took great pride and dedication in ministering to the needs of their congregation. Barrowists and the earlier Brownists used the same general congregational polity.

Barrowists may share many outward formats with the earlier Brownists, but were different under the skin. Both Barrow and Greenwood rejected any relationship with or influence from Brownist theology. Some might call the Barrowists a more radical theology in Brownist cloths.

Henry Barrow-John Greenwood

Henry Barrow came from an old and privileged family. Barrow matriculated from Clare Hall (Cambridge) in Nov. 1566. He received a B.A. ca. 1569-70 during the lectureships of Dr. Thomas Cartwright (1535-1603), a prominent theologian, on the Acts of the Apostles (Bible), and the history of the early Church.

Barrow was an attorney by profession, and a member of Grey's Inn (London) in 1576. Barrow may not have been overly active in his chosen profession, he seems to have had a independent source of income. Barrow had a reputation as a high roller while at Court, and somewhat loose in his church attendance. After attending a certain service with a dynamic sermon, Browne was converted to a strict Puritan during 1580.

John Greenwood (1554-1593) had matriculated as a sizar, a financially assisted student, from Corpus Christi College (Cambridge) ca.1577-78, with a B.A. from 1580-81. He was ordained at Lincoln in 1582, and served in Lincolnshire from 1582-83. Greenwood was arrested in Norfolk in 1585 probably for preaching without a license, or possibly dissident rhetoric regarding the Church.

Greenwood came to London as chaplain to the family of Lord Robert Rich of Rockford (Essex), 2nd Earl of Warwick and a prominent Puritan. Greenwood parted company from his patron, and started a small Independent or separatist congregation in London in 1585, sometimes referred to as the "Ancient Church".

Barrow became associated with the younger Greenwood and his small London conventicle as an occasional visitor between 1585-87. A friendship developed between the two men. Barrow was coming to the attention of the Church authorities for his dissident religious writings, and preaching.

Henry Barrow probably had been influenced by other nonconformists before meeting Greenwood. Barrow was an active writer before being arrested in October 1587. Many see a more radical leanings in Barrows' writings than in Greenwood.

Greenwood's illegal conventicle was discovered by church authorities on 8 October 1587. Greenwood and members of his congregation were arrested and sent to the Clink (Prison) in Southwark (London). The remainder of the congregation would continue without its pastor for a period of time.

Some members of Greenwood's original "Ancient Church" conventicle had been associated with Robert Browne's Separatist congregation in Middleburgh, Holland. What relationship if any that might have existed between Greenwood's congregation, and Robert Browne (1550?-1593), the former Brownist divine, working in nearby Southwark is only conjectural.

John Whitgift, Archbishop of Canterbury (1583-1604) had a list of prominent dissidents voices which he wanted to silence. Near the top of this list was Henry Barrow (1550?-1593), a radical Separatist writer. On 19 November 1587 while visiting his friend, John Greenwood in the Clink (Prison), Henry Barrow was seized by Church agents, and confined without warrant with Greenwood. Both Greenwood and Barrow were being held basically as political prisoners by the Church of England. After their confinement at the Clink (Prison) at Southwark, Barrow and Greenwood were then transferred to the Fleet[River] Prison (London) probably during 1587-88. Barrow an attorney himself, seems not to have had any ability under civil law to post bond, or obtain bail for either himself, or for Greenwood. It was the Church authorities that kept them confined.

Barrow was being charged under Church authorities regarding his dissident religious writings, and doctrines. Barrow would be held in prison without any warrants until his death. He was being questioned on a regular basis by the Church authorities while under tight confinement. From 1587-1593, Barrow, and Greenwood were basically held as an enemy of the Church and State.

Although confined their jail cells, Greenwood and Barrow were not totally silenced during this period. With some assistance, both Barrow and Greenwood were able to write manuscripts under the eyes of their guards, or were paid to look the other way? Those confined members of Greenwood's congregation were able to assist assisted in the preparation of their manuscripts while they were being held in prison. A small internal publishing house functioned in their prison.

A few of their manuscripts were smuggled out of prison. These found their way to one Robert Stokes a free members of the Greenwood congregation, who would functions as their literary agent. Their manuscripts found their way to receptive English publishers who smuggled them into Holland for printing. Holland was a major book printer for Europe in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries. State and Church authorities had hired agent in the major ports and cities of Holland to confiscated and burned all banned materials. The latter event would open a new chapter in Barrowist history.

Francis Johnson (1562-1617)

Francis Johnson (1562-1617) would become a new member to the Barrowism fold. Johnson came from a respected family in Yorkshire. He matriculated from Christ Church College (Cambridge) with a B.A. (1581). He was elected a Fellow of Christ Church (1584-89), a great honour, and a M.A. (1585). Johnson was reported to have been arrested and imprisoned by University officials for his alleged pro-Presbyterian views in April 1589. He left the University under a cloud in December 1589 after being released from prison with the assistance of his friends.

During 1590, Johnson was allowed to leave England and to secured a position for himself at the pro-puritan Gasthuis Kerk in Middleburg, Zeeland (Holland) as a minister to the local English community. Johnson would take on an additional position in assisting the local and English authorities in Holland in the searching out of, and to confiscation any banned literature for the State Church. One evening while employed at finding banned literature, Johnson came across some dissident printed work to be burned. Johnson found the content of some personal interest which led him to keep two personal copies, one for himself, and one for a friend. The banned work in question was: A Plaine Refutation of the Claims of the Establishment (1591) by Barrow and Greenwood for the English markets.

After having read the work, Johnson became very anxious to meet the authors in person. Johnson was soon on a boat to London. Johnson seems to have been given access to visit with Barrow and Greenwood by the authorities while they were imprisoned in the Fleet (Prison) during July-September of 1592. After their meetings, Johnson decided to embrace Barrowism. Johnson as a professor while at Cambridge University according to John Smyth, a later Barrowist. So Johnson may have been acquainted with Greenwood, or Barrow while at Cambridge University. Johnson decided on a career change after meeting Barrow and Greenwood. Johnson returned, and left his well paying position in Holland and then returned to London.

From 1587-92, the remainder of Greenwood's original London conventicle was still without a minister. In July 1592, Greenwood with a few other members of that congregation were released by the Courts on bail into the custody of responsible member of the community. Greenwood was released into the custody of Roger Rippon, a member of his own congregation. During August 1592, Greenwood finished his work: Notes for a Sermon against Adultery.

Johnson-Greenwood Congregation (London)

In September 1592, a new congregation was being organized under Francis Johnson (1562-1617) as its new Pastor, and John Greenwood acting as its Teacher. The members Daniel Studley (1551?- ) a draper by profession, and George Knyviton (1552?- ) an apothecary were elected as the two Elders. Christopher Bowman (1560?- ), a local goldsmith, and Nicholas Lee were elected as Deacons. This might be considered the first true Barrowist congregation based on the standard Pastor, Elder, and Deacon administrative structure.

This congregation or conventicle continually moved about the London area, often meeting in private homes, or in private rural areas to elude the ever watchful eyes of the church authorities. It was still a crime to conduct religious services not sanctioned by the Church of England. They did not want to repeat the mistake that had happened to Greenwood's original earlier congregation.

In early October 1592, John Penry (1563-1593), a well known dissident, writer and publisher who had been in hiding in Scotland from the Church authorities, arrived in London. Penry had converted to Barrowism during 1591. Penry was able to spent the next five months with his family in the company of the new Johnson congregation.

In October 1592, Robert Stokes, the former book agent, was excommunicated from the Johnson congregation. The charges are rather vague. He eventually returned to the bosom of the Church of England.

John Greenwood, Francis Johnson with other Barrowists conventicle members were arrested in London, early on 6 December 1592 by the Church authorities. Barrow was still being held in Fleet Prison (London). Francis Johnson was held with the other congregation prisoners and questioned by the Church authorities, but not released. Many of the congregation members were imprisoned throughout London, many of whom were quite elderly and in poor health.

On 16 February 1593 with the other Johnson conventicle members, Roger Rippon, Greenwood's former benefactor, died while imprisoned in Newgate Prison probably from a lack of proper medical attention. The next day his coffined body was paraded from Newgate through the streets of London past the home of Justice Richard Young, who had sentence them to jail and confinement. The free members of the Johnson's congregation made a large public spectacle, and protest against Rippon's unwarranted death in prison. Various signs and messages attached to the coffin accused Justice Young and the other public and Church officials for the cruel and unchristian death of Roger Rippon, a Christian gentlemen.

The Rippon incident became a major cause celebre in the eyes of the local London authorities. Government agents were dispatched to find and detain all the individuals involved with or connected with the Rippon incident. Officials were greatly disturbed by the display of public dissidence in the public streets of London.

On 4 March 1593, the residual of Johnson's congregation some fifty-six members were discovered and arrested near the gravel-pits at early Islington (London) where they often congregated. Penry with a few others members were able to make their escape capture from the authorities. On 14 March 1593, Penry had made his escape as far as Reading. Penry for his part tried to keep out from under the ever watchful of the church agents, as best he could.

Barrow-Greenwood Trials

During the month of March 1593 most of the imprisoned Barrowists were being examined by the Church authorities. Between 11-20 March 1593 both Barrow and Greenwood were examined by the authorities. Greenwood was tried on 21-23 March 1593 at the Newgate Sessions and was sentenced to death but he was reprieved. Barrow was tried on 23 March and sentenced to death and was reprieved. On 31 March both Barrow and Greenwood were sentenced and were again reprieved. There was still some outside influences still stalling the rush to judgment by the Church authorities. These may have come from the personal Barrow family connections at Court.

Barrow wrote a number of letters during his last two weeks in prison still seeking intercession on his behalf from influential individuals including this relatives without much success. His family connections were proving of little value against the determination of the Church authorities, and the Archbishop of Canterbury in particular.

In a last final effort, Barrow sent a letter on 4-5 April to a kinswoman at Court, Anne (Russell) Dudley, Countess of Warwick, Lady-in-Waiting to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth I, asking for her good offices and the possibly intercession from the Queen. Questions have been raised about the disposition of this particular letter during those last few days before 6 April 1593.

Barrow and Greenwood were finally hung together at Tyburn on 6 April 1593 for sedition, for attempting to overthrow the government, not as religious heretics. On 10 April 1593, only four days after the hanging of Barrow and Greenwood, the Statute of 35 Elizabeth, Chapter I was issued by the Queen Elizabeth I. It provided for the banishment of nonconformists rather than the use of execution. This was probably meant to have been the assistance requested by Barrow from his letter to Queen Elizabeth that came too late for help.

Charges have been made that the Church authorities and Archbishop Whitgift may have deliberately expedited the final execution proceedings to forestall any additional reprieves or intercessions on the behalf of Barrow and Greenwood from other outside forces. The Church authorities were determined to remove two major radical threats to the nation at any price. Having held Barrow in prison without warrants might seem to indicates a certain philosophical attitude to punish.

What a difference a few days might have made. Why did it take some five days to send a letter from the early Fleet Prison (London) to Court and back again is a question often asked. This was a distance of only a few miles. Some have also question Barrow and Greenwood were not kept in the Tower of London, out of Church control, or reprieved them for simple banishment? The politics of his incident are still debated by some.

John Penry (1563-1593)

John Penry was now in hiding, and also on the Archbishop's most wanted nonconformists. John Penry (1563-1593) was educated at Peterhouse (Cambridge) with a M.A. degree from St. Albans' Hall (Oxford). Penry was a printer by trade and a publisher. He also became a dissident writer in his own right over time, not always under his own name.

Penry was a friend and sometime companion to Job Throckmorton (1545-1601) a country gentleman and influential M.P. from Haseley, Warwickshire who came from an old and influential family. Throckmorton attended Queens College (Oxford) 1562-1565/66. He may have attended New Court, which was attached to Middle Temple (London). Throckmorton was a vocal and well known for his puritan leanings in the House of Commons.

The Martin Marprelate Tracts (1588-89) were seven scathing satires issued against the clergy and the Church of England. They were seeking reforms within the Church based on the Puritan ideal of a new learned ministry. Unfortunately the tracts became a public cause celebre against the writers rather than as a positive message of support for their message. They became major political and religious dissident publications of the period. The search for its author(s) was a major undertaking of the agents of the government. Penry was thought to be a possible author of some of the tracts.

These tracts were erroneously attributed to Henry Barrow, and others during their lifetime. The question of authorship was a major issue for the Church of England. [Ed. note: The true nature of the Marprelate Tracts authorship was not fully established until the published research of the eminent Elizabethan scholar Dr. Leland Henry Carlson. His research and published work Martin Marprelate, Gentleman; Master Job Throckmorton Laid Open in his Colors(1981) confirmed his thesis regarding authorship of the tracts primarily to Throckmorton with some contributions from others.]

John Penry (1563-1593) was arrested on 22 March 1593 and imprisoned in the Counter Poultry (Prison) in London as a prominent Barrowist supporter. He was charged with allegedly publishing dissident Barrowist writings and other seditious works against the State. Penry had become a prominent Barrowist after 1591, and soon became a good friend of Greenwood and Barrow. He was thought to be one of the many suspected contributors of the anonymous Marprelate Tracts, which Church officials wished to identify, and jail.

After Penry's arrest near London, numerous examinations and arraignments followed for a period of time. Penry was finally hanged on 29 May 1593 at St. Thomas-a-Watering on the old Kent Road in Southwark (London). This site had been a pilgrim stop in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. With Penry's' execution, three major Barrowist had been martyred under the authority of the Church of England in a two month period

Johnson's London Congregation in Prison

Francis Johnson, and some fifty-six members of his Barrowist London conventicle found at the gravel pits near Islington (London) would remain in Fleet Prison until early in 1597. Francis Johnson was not charged under Statute of 35 Elizabeth, Chapter I, so he would remain in prison. The Church was still wary of a possible growing Barrowist threat to the England of England.

Some of the Barrowists still being held in prison included: George Johnson (1563-1605 ), the younger brother of Francis, a local school teacher from Southwark who was arrested in March 1593, and sent to the Fleet Prison as a dissident; John Clark(e)(1539?- ), a local farmer arrested in 1587; and Daniel Studley(1551?- ), an Elder of the congregation, who was arrested on 17 December 1592.

One of the Johnson conventicle members still at liberty was a Mrs. Thomasine Boyes, a well-to-do widow of the congregation. Francis Johnson seems to have taken a fancy to the comely widow. There was some criticism raised by some in the congregation against her as being a ":proud" women relating to her worldly manner and fine attire not in keeping with respectful "modest" Christian values of many in the congregation.

In 1594 while still imprisoned in Fleet Prison, Francis Johnson married the widow Boyes under what was known as the "Liberty of the Fleet" a Crown property with special privileges residing there. The "marriage" ceremony was done against the recommendations of his younger brother George and other members of the congregation that considered it very improper, and disrespectful to the membership. The new Mrs. Francis Johnson was still at liberty to come and go at will. Which her husband made the best use as possible

In February 1597, a few of the imprisoned members of the Johnson congregation were released from the Fleet Prison. Upon being released, the authorities pointedly encouraged those to consider leaving England quickly for their own good, so to speak. They were encouraged to followed the example of the 1593 members who departed for Holland on the advise of Penry before he was hanged. A number seem to have taken their advice, or from Francis Johnson too?

Barrowists in Newfoundland

Some in the English government were starting to have second thoughts about keeping the Barrowist locked up in prison. The Statute of 35 Elizabeth, Chapter 1 (10 April 1593) had provided for the possible banishment of nonconformists. This was now being considered as a viable option to prison time. Some in the government were still considering the possible expansion of additional colonization of English North America against the French.

The Crown was considering the possibility of establishing an English colony on Rainea Island, located on the St. Lawrence River, in Newfoundland [Canada]. This could be a double blessing for the government by removing the Barrowists leaders and establishing an additional British presence in North America creeping against France encroachment in a single move.

Four prominent members of the Barrowist leadership currently under confinement, Francis Johnson, Daniel Studley (1551- ) left on the Hopewell(Ship), while George Johnson (1564-1605), the brother and John Clark(e) (1539- ) left on the Chancewell(Ship). Both ships set sail in April 1597.The voyage to Newfoundland seems to have been uneventful according to the available records.

Unfortunately problems did soon developed after their arrival in Newfoundland. Poor weather conditions and navigational problems, problems with local French nationals and the local privateers resulted in both ships being lost, and the crews and passengers were soon stranded. After daring raid a captured bark was secured by one of the English crews, it was used to return the four Barrowist leaders to the Isle of Wight in September 1597. The bark and the crew sailed off into the sunset. From there Johnson and the others made their way via London to the early congregation in Holland.

English Exiled Church in Amsterdam

The Exiled English Church in Amsterdam has its early beginning with members of the 1592 London congregation of Francis Johnson and John Greenwood. Eight imprisoned members of the Johnson-Greenwood congregation were released in April 1593.<John Penry before his death had suggest that they should make their way to Holland, and wait there for more members to eventually arrive.

Others congregation members were released in the fall of 1597, these members would also find their way in Holland. Some groups had settled in the small communities near Campen, Naarden, and then later in Amsterdam. They would maintain a viable congregation in waiting for their pastor, Francis Johnson to return home.

Francis Ainsworth (1570-1622)

Henry Ainsworth (1570?-1622) was an intelligent, and educated person of obscure background. He may had attended Caius College, Cambridge (1587-91)? By 1593, Ainsworth was working in Amsterdam. He may have become acquainted with the local Barrowist congregation before Sept. 1597.

Ainsworth was active in the Amsterdam congregation before Francis Johnson arrived back from Newfoundland. Henry Ainsworth(1570-1622) was to developed a long and somewhat troubled relationship with Francis Johnson (1562-1617) and his Barrowist congregation in Amsterdam over the next twenty years.

By October 1597 Francis Johnson(1562-1617) having escaped from Newfoundland was reunited with his transplanted congregation in Amsterdam. Francis Johnson now went about establishing his new Amsterdam congregation.

Henry Barrow had died a wealthy man. There is good reason to believe that Barrow being a member of the legal profession may have directed some part of his estate to made provisions for Francis Johnson, or other Barrowist congregations. The building of the original meeting house of Johnson's Amsterdam congregation, and its later subsequent replacement unit may have been financed by the Estate of Henry Barrow.

Unfortunately for Francis Johnson, the old criticisms concerning his wife, were again being raised by his own brother George and some others in the congregation, possible the same ones. By 1602, Henry Ainsworth was now acting as the Teacher to his congregation. Ainsworth is reported to have tried to mediate in the dispute between the two brothers over Mrs. Francis Johnson without success. The rift between the two brothers got to the point that Johnson's own father was recalled from England to help mediate the dispute between his two sons, but unfortunately without much success.

George Johnson (1563-1605) would chronicled his experiences leading up to his excommunication in his work: A Discourse of some Troubles and Excommunication's in the Banished English Church at Amsterdam (1603). Francis Johnson, as pastor, and the two Elders excommunicated George Johnson from the congregation over the concerns and objections of many of the other congregation members. Francis Johnson maintained that the pastor and the elders were the sole authority in the congregation regarding this matter. George and his father would return to England, and may have rejoined the Church of England.

The manner in which George Johnson (1564-1605) was treated by his brother Francis and the other two Elders in 1603 left some lingering concerns within the Amsterdam congregation that would manifest itself again later. The nature of the authority exercised by the Elders and the Pastor within the congregation would become a major issue later, but for now the incident was over.

Congregationalism basically held that each congregation was itself an independent free self-governing body not under the control of any external central body, or authority. Each congregation had the power to establish and control of rules and standards within that body by a majority vote. Each congregation could elects its own officers to oversee the daily running of the religious body for the congregation. A minister would be elected to serve, and to perform the assigned religious duties as required by the congregation. Usually two Elders were elected to represent the congregational needs, and perform certain assigned duties which might vary.

How much authority was to be allocated to its officers was often somewhat vague, and often varied within individual congregational policies. Many congregations ofter made policy by majority votes on important matters by the full membership. Some officers had little administrative authority beyond what each congregation allowed them to have. Others congregations once having elected its officers, might empower its officer to act with almost full congregational authority in certain areas. Some officers might simply assumed the authority not specifically given by the congregation. Areas of conflict often resulted in theological divisions within the congregation, or with its officers might divide its membership The arguments between Francis and George Johnson may have left a bad feeling for some. The later conflicts between Francis Johnson, as pastor, and Henry Ainsworth, as its Teacher only brought the feeling back later.

Gainsborough Congregations

In 1608, Johnson's Amsterdam congregation was cohabitated briefly by an influx of another Barrowist congregation from Gainsborough-on-Trent (England), under the leadership of John Smyth, a former clergyman, and former Cambridge University student of Johnson. Smyth was one-half of the original Gainsborough Congregation under the leadership of Richard Clyfton (d. 1616). The Scrooby group was leaving for Holland during 1608-09. The Scrooby Congregation was expected to arrive shortly, but would run into problems avoiding the Church of England agents on trying to disembark.

Gainsborough-Scrooby Congregations

Richard Clyfton (d.1616) or Clifton had been the rector of a small parish at Babworth near Gainsborough-on-Trent, Nottinghamshire from 1586-1605. Clyfton may have been deprived of his parish under the Canons of 1604, or simply left the Church to start a Separatist conventicle.

Between 1605-07 Clifton had attempted to establish his own Independent or Separatist congregation in the Gainsborough area without success. By 1607, the nucleus of a small conventicle was established under Clyfton at Gainsborough-on-Trent. This congregation may have followed a Congregational polity. A nonconformist group had been established along moderate leanings as an Independent, Brownist or a Barrowist leaning. We know they used the church offices of: Pastor, Teacher, Elders, and Deacons.

William Brewster (1590-1657)

The Gainsborough-on-Trent congregation under Clifton grew quickly and was soon divided for security reasons from the Church agents. A portion was moved to the small community of Scrooby some ten miles west of Gainsborough. Important in this decision was the personage of William Brewster(1567-1644 a very prosperous local merchant (1567-1644), a prominent local official, and a friend of Clifton.

The Scrooby congregation in 1607 included a number of future individuals prominent in English and American religious history. William Bradford (1590-1657) a youth of of only seventeen years of age that lived nearby at Austerfield. John Robinson (1575?-1625) a former clergyman from Norwich was now acting as their Teacher (ca. 1607). Thomas Helwys (1550?-1616?) was a prosperous local merchant, and an Elder of the Gainsborough congregation.

William Brewster(1567-1644) was a very important member of the congregation. He came from a respected family from the Scrooby area. He had been a former aide to William Davison, ambassador to the Low Countries, and later Secretary of State under Queen Elizabeth I. Brewster worked for Davidson from 1585-87 where he made valuable political connections which became important factors for the future congregation.

After 1587, Brewster seems to have "retired to the country" being the area around Scrooby, Nottingham-shire, on the road between Doncaster and Tuxford. It is most likely that Brewster came from the area, and may have returned for business opportunities. There are indications that a growing interest in religious matters were taking up more of his own time.

By 1594, Brewster had become the Keeper of the Post Office at the village of Scrooby (1590-1608), a position which his father had formerly held. He was also functioned as the local Bailiff to the Archbishop of York, and was the tenant of the old Scrooby Manor House, a former residence of the Archbishop of York. The later would become the local congregational meeting house that was used by Richard Clyfton (d. 1616).

Some other separatists associated with this congregation were: George Morton (d. 1624); Francis Jessup; Richard Jackson; and Robert Rochester. These men would play a part in the development of English Congregationalism. The local community had become a rallying point for many religious voices under the watchful eye of Brewster, and his ability to keep the Church authorities at bay.

Tobias Matthew, Archbishop of York (1606-1628)as the new invested Archbishop in 1606, he was determined to weed out those marginal nonconforming clergy and any separatist conventicles in his See. Various local members and supporters of the Gainsborough-Scrooby Congregations had already been fined and jailed by agents of the new Archbishop.

Thomas Helwys (1550?-1616?), a wealthy merchant, of Broxtowe Hall had been fined, and his wife had visited York Castle for three days. Other members of the congregation had been fined, or had come to the attention of the local Church authorities. William Brewster (1567-1644), the Scrooby Postmaster, was busy sheltering dissidents voices right under the eyes of his employer, the Archbishop of York.

John Smyth (1570?-1612) and the Gainsborough-on-Trent Connection

After dividing the Gainsborough-on-Trent congregation for safety from the Church authorities, Clifton started a new congregation at Scrooby with some assistance from William Brewster, the local Post Master. Clifton, and older gentlemen with some health issues could not maintain his regular trips between Gainsborough on Trent and Scrooby and back, resulting in the latter did not a full time minister. Thomas Helwys, its Elder, may have undertaken the task of finding a suitable replacement at Gainsborough-on-Trent for Clifton by 1607.

During 1607, we find the former Rev. Mr. John Smyth (1570?-1612) visiting at the manor home of Thomas Helwys, the Elder of the Scrooby Separatist congregation. Smyth was a former clergyman from Lincoln that may have been familiar with the area [Editor Note: Consult the Baptist Dissenters file]. Smyth may have left the Church over the Canons of 1604, or become a Separatist. It is possible that Smyth may have become acquainted with Clifton, or Helwys before 1604. Smyth probably went through a selection process, and was reviewed by Clifton, as the senior minister. Smyth was soon was soon elected as the new pastor of the Gainsborough-on-Trent Congregation with Thomas Helwysas its Elder.

It would appear that Smyth initially had a good working relationship with his new Barrowist congregation. Smyth may have been a recent convert to Barrowist from Brownist in the last few years? It is possible that this move had been contemplated before Clifton moved to Scrooby. The vacancy at Gainsborough may have only postponed the final event? Only a short after the posting of Smyth, a mutual decision was made to move both congregations to Holland for greater safety. The Gainsborough Congregation under Smyth and Helwys would set sail first, and then the Scrooby congregation would follow shortly after Smyth and company had arrived safely in Holland.

John Smyth and Helwys with their flock in hand, arrived in Holland during April 1608. The crossing did not go well, and many in the congregation were very ill after the crossing. Once the congregation was feeling better, Smyth and the Gainsborough congregation headed for Amsterdam. Smyth had hoped to establish a good working relationship with the prominent Barrowist congregation, The Exiled English Church of Amsterdam, under leadership of Francis Johnson (1562-1617). Johnson was an early convert to Barrowist, and a early companion to both Barrow and Greenwood, and a minister one of the first Barrowist conventicles in London with Greenwood. Johnson was also former clergyman, and a Cambridge University professor to Smyth.

Francis Johnson was acknowledged as was one of the foremost Barrowist minister of the day, and was given great respect for his writings, and sermons to spread Barrowism. The Exiled English Church of Amsterdam under Johnson, was also one the largest, and most prominent in Holland. Amsterdam would have been a excellent city to settle in after Gainsborough-on-Trent, and Scrooby.

Clifton had divided Gainsborough-on-Trent due to the increased activities of the new Archbishop of York agents. The travel between Scoorby, ad the old congregations was having an impact on Clifton's own health, so a new minister at Gainsborough was being sought. A decision may have already been decided to move to Holland before Smyth arrived. It might be possible that Smyth's prior associations with Francis Johnson may have been a consideration in Smyth getting his new post? It was Symth's congregations that would lead the way to Amsterdam, and who would negotiate an arrangement with the Exiled English Church of Amsterdam for both congregations, with Smyth's old university professor.

Please remember that Barrowism were Congregational in administration as separate independent religious bodies responsible only to their membership. Johnson may have had certain basic reservations about any formal understanding between three congregations, and sharing his facilities with two other congregations under the same roof? Some sort of accommodations was arrived at between Johnson and Smyth. It might be safe to assume that Johnson may have stipulated the general understand that Francis Johnson was the Senior minister under his own roof in final matter of administration, and church services when both acting jointly.

There does seem to be some indications that the early relationships between Johnson and Symth before the Scrooby Congregations arrive were somewhat amicable for awhile. Some of the early criticisms may have come initially from Smyth about how the Johnson services were being held differently from his own congregational practices. Smyth may have had certain exceptions of more personal input into the formal management of the Exiled English Church in Amsterdam. Johnson for his part may not have seem Smyth as having any formal joint input in the administration of his congregation, which was a basic tenet of Barrowist Congregational polity.

With the arrival of the Scoorby Congregation under the new leadership of John Robinson, its former Teacher, during 1608, the tensions eased somewhat. All three congregations co-existed somewhat smoothly under the same roof for a period of time. The bickering between Smyth and Johnson on how Johnson was operating his own congregation started up again. Smyth seemed to be arguing that Johnson had gotten Barrowism wrong, and Johnson needed to change his old views on a number of areas of interpretation according to Smyth. Johnson did not seem to take too kindly for Smyth observations.

Francis Johnson had been an early Barrowist and a close friend of John Greenwood and Henry Barrow. Johnson had been the pastor of the London Barrowist congregation with Greenwood as the Teacher in September 1593. Smyth was probably seen as a recent convert to Barrowist in Johnson's eyes.

John Robinson (1575?-1625) Congregation

The Scrooby congregation had problems while trying to leave England. Their initial attempt resulted in arrest and jail after being reported by their ship captain. The second attempt resulted in many of the male members being arrested and placed in the Boston Jail while the remainder sailed off for Holland.

Some 125 members did arrive in Amsterdam during 1608 in dribbles and drabs, and by late 1608 most of the Scrooby congregation had arrived. The Scrooby congregation was now under the pastorship of John Robinson (1575?-1625) a former clergyman from Norwich, and the congregations' former Teacher. William Brewster (1567-1644) was now the Elder. Richard Clyfton(d.1616) its former pastor had travelled along as a member of the congregation.

There was a period during late 1608 and the early part of 1609 when John Smyth and the Gainsborough congregation, John Robinson and the Scrooby congregations worshiped together alongside Francis Johnson and his Amsterdam congregation under one roof. This situation would not last for long.

Robinson soon found himself in meshed in an untenable situation between Smyth and Johnson. John Robinson decided to remove himself and his congregation to neutral ground away from Amsterdam, Smyth and Johnson. Robinson started to look for options outside of Amsterdam.

To this end, Robinson sought out and requested residency in the nearby University City of Leyden from its City Council in April 1609. By June of 1609, John Robinson and most of his congregation were residing in Leyden. Richard Clyfton (d.1616), its former pastor had decided to remain behind in Amsterdam with Francis Johnson and his congregation.

Relations in Amsterdam between Francis Johnson (1562-1617) and John Smyth declined after Robinson's departure. Smyth was now questioning the basic Barrowist congregational structure in Amsterdam and its authority. Richard Clifton (d.1616) the founder of the original Gainsborough-Scrooby congregation had denounced John Smyth and his radical new policies.

Smyth had made himself an unwelcome guest, and trouble for Francis Johnson. Johnson's English Exiled Church in Amsterdam withdrew itself from communion with John Smyth and his Gainsborough congregation during late 1609-1610, and was asked to leave town.

Second English Exiled Church in Amsterdam

Unlike Robinson,John Smyth(1570?-1612) was unwilling to leave Amsterdam to Johnson. He proceeded to establish his own new Barrowist congregation the Second English Exiled Church in Amsterdam with himself as its senior Pastor. Smyth was a good preacher, and won over many new converts for his congregations. It may be assumed that Johnson was not singing Smyth's praises.

Smyth was still in the process of rethinking his own religious values while in Amsterdam. Smyth began to rethink the subject of a valid baptism, a major theological issue for many. Smyth had rejected his own baptism from the Church of England as had other later English Separatists as invalid. After some soul searching Smyth had decided to baptized himself from a basin. This single act caused much controversy within and without the religious community in Europe and England. Smyth was soon being called the Se-Baptist, or Self Baptizer.

Smyth soon rejected his recent self-baptism. Smyth was now looking for a "true church" to administer his valid baptism. Smyth was expanding his religious values, he was becoming interested in the local Dutch Waterlanders, a Mennonite sect, and their theology.

In 1609 a Waterlander Confession of Faith was presented to Smyth by Hans de Ries and Lubbert Gerrits, prominent local Mennonite ministers. After having embraced their theology of believer's baptism and immersion, Smyth was baptized by them. Smyth in turn baptized Helwys, and all the members of his own congregation by immersion as "believer's baptism". The Waterlanders also supported pro-Armenians "universal salvation" and "free will" (i.e. anti-Calvinism) tenets.

Smyth and his associated congregations may be broken down into three basic groups: (1) the pro-Memmonite leaning group under Smyth; (2) Helwys and his Scrooby congregation and the anti-Mennonite; and (3)Leonard Busher (1571-??) with his own smaller following.

John Smyth (1570?-1612) was becoming more influenced by the local Waterlanders and their theology. Smyth attempted to enter into full communion with the local Dutch Waterlanders, but Robinson and Helwys interceded against it, and Smyth was turned down.It was at that point both John Robinson(1575?-1625) in Leyden, the former Scrooby Congregation and the remaining Gainsborough congregation under Thomas Helwys had decided to excommunicated Smyth for his heretical views during 1610. John Smyth would continue to minister with his other congregations. Smyth was also known to project a high level of toleration with others.

Helwys and his remaining Scrooby congregation had become influenced by aspects of Smyth's and his Mennonite theology and "free will" ideas. Helwys rejected various aspects of the Mennonite Confession of Faith. They had embraced adult or believer's baptism and immersion. Helwys had assumed the working leadership of the Gainsborough congregation after Smyth's excommunication during 1610.

John Robinson and his congregation having settled in Leyden had maintained their distance from Smyth and Johnson and their disagreements. Robinson's own theology was probably a little more moderate point of view and was considered to be more tolerant than Francis Johnson. Smyth's more radical theological views had little impact on Robinson and his community in Leiden. Calvinism was still a major tenet of the Leiden congregation.

Leonard Busher and his small congregation would appear to had remained behind in Holland. Early tradition attributed a migration to London about the same time as Helwys departure.

After 1610, John Smyth (1570?-1612) continued with his remaining congregations in the Amsterdam area until his death in 1612. Sometime in 1612 a part of Smyth's congregations merged with the local Mennonite congregations. Some of his Barrowist congregation may have continued in Amsterdam after 1612.

Helwys had decided to move his Scrooby congregation back to England as a statement of their faith. By 1611, Helwys and his congregation were established just outside of the old London City walls at Spitalfields.By the time Helwys had settled in Spitalfield, the congregation had changed from its Barrowist origins to a new sect which we know today as Baptist.

John Smyth had a dissident journey from Calvinism, to separatism, to Barrowism, to Arminianism, to the Mennonites. Along the way he had developed a new concept of Christian polity which would developed under Thomas Helwys. Smyth was well respected in Amsterdam and was buried with honors in the Neue Kerk (New Church) on 1 September 1612.

Johnson-Ainsworth Amsterdam Congregations

John Smyth's arrival in Amsterdam in 1608 had short term and long term effects for Francis Johnson (1562-1617), and his Barrowist congregation. Smyth had disrupted Johnson's congregation, and he left as an unwanted guest during 1609-1610 only to establish his own congregation in Amsterdam.

Smyth questioned some traditional Barrowist tenets, and introduced pro-Arminian leanings. Smyth's dissident views may have influenced a number of individuals within Johnson's congregation including Henry Ainsworth, its Teacher.

By 1612, there seems to have been a general falling out within the Amsterdam congregation. The congregation basically divided between Francis Johnson (1562-1617), its Pastor, and Henry Ainsworth (1570-1620) its Teacher. Some of this may be traced back to Smyth and his earlier influences.

A principal area of disagreement centered on the question of Pastor and the Elders authority within the congregation. The office of Pastor, Elder and Deacon were a basic tenet of Barrowist congregational polity. George Johnson, brother of Francis, who had been excommunication earlier, had also raised these same questions of any restraints on the authority of the Pastor and Elders. John Smyth had raised the questioned of greater congregational authority before his leaving in 1609.

Francis Johnson would argue that the Pastor and the Elders having been elected by the congregation were the custodians of the congregational authority. This had been a basic tenet of Barrowism with little guidelines.

Johnson had been criticized in University for holding pro-presbyterian views. It may be argued that Johnson have expected to have a firm hand of the tiller as the Pastor. Or was Johnson was just practicing what Barrow and Greenwood had preached to him? Johnson represented traditional Barrowism views, and the status-quo.

Ainsworth advocated that all true authority came from the congregation itself and that the Pastor and Elders were only the instruments of that authority, but not the actual authority itself. Ainsworth may have been more disposed to a moderate administrative style from Johnson. Ainsworth came to embraced some non-traditional Barrowist tenets that John Smyth had expounder including "believers baptism" and "free will". Brownist polity historically had treated the relationship between the congregation and the pastor and elders on a more democratic basis than Barrowism.

Francis Johnson had been elected minister in Oct. 1593 while in London, after John Greenwood who became its congregational Teacher, one of the founders of their faith. Francis Johnson as Pastor and Studley his Elders argued for the status-quo. Johnson argued that the Pastor's authority had come from the congregation having been duly elected to their respective offices. Until now their decisions and authority had been upheld by the congregation.

Francis Johnson and his Elders had been criticized by some for being too authoritarian. The exact nature of the historic authority exercised by the Pastor and Elders would seem to be somewhat vague or open-ended. Some members might grumble or criticize, but in the main Johnson's decisions were accepted by the congregation.

Added to these concerns were the additional problems that developed withthe Elder, Daniel Studley (1551- ). Studley was one of the original 1593 Johnson-Greenwood congregation Elders.Studley was an early supporter of Francis Johnson, and sometime critic of his younger brother George. George Johnson and their father had been excommunicated by the Pastor and the Elders on renewed charges against the conduct Mrs. Francis Johnson, his sister-in-law of being a proud woman.

Studley had been criticized as a trouble maker and charged with a number of moral offenses. He was defended by Richard Clifton (d.1616), the former Pastor of Gainsborough-on-Trent Congregation in his work: An Advertisement Concerning a Book Lately Published by C[hristopher]. Lawne and others, against the English Exiled Church in Amsterdam (1613), but eventually Studley was excommunicated.

This question over authority resulted in a division of Francis Johnson's original Amsterdam congregation into two separate congregations in 1612. One faction supporting Henry Ainsworth (1570-1620), its former Teacher for Pastor. The remainder of the original Barrowist congregation still supporting Francis Johnson (1562-1617), its original Pastor with Richard Clyfton (d. 1616) as their new Teacher from 1612-16. These groups were referred to as "Ainsworthians Brownists", and "Franciscans Brownists"respectively.

A legal dispute over the ownership of the congregational Meeting Hall developed. Both groups claimed ownership of the property. The Henry Barrow's estate had helped to supported the construction of the original Amsterdam congregation and the later rebuilding of the old Meeting Hall structure. After a contentious legal proceeding before the local courts, the Ainsworth faction was finally given possession of the property by the local Leyden Courts.

Ainsworth had represented his faction to the Dutch Court as the true version of the original Barrowist congregation. This was a strange argument for Ainsworth, since Francis Johnson was the original Pastor of the London Johnson-Greenwood Barrowist congregation in 1593.

Johnson was criticized as holding pro-Presbyterian views which had been also alleged while he was at Cambridge. Ainsworth for his part was characterized as being an Arminian who practiced free-will and "believers baptism". In the end, the Dutch Court found in favor of Ainsworth and against Johnson.

By 1613, Amsterdam had became too small for these two distrustful Barrowist congregations to reside side by side. Johnson and his remaining congregation had decided to move from Amsterdam. They found a new home at Emden in East Friesland, a seaport city some fifty miles North East of Amsterdam.


There are some indications of an active Barrowist conventicle in the London area during 1619-1621 under a certain individual a N[ichiolas] Lee, identity uncertain. Information after 1621, is uncertain? The reports are attributed to a Sabine Staresmore (fl. 1616-1647). Staresmore came into contact with a remnant of a London Barrowist congregation which may have been active during the period during 1619-1621. Information on the conventicle after 1621 is uncertain. Staresmore was a member of the old Henry Jacobs congregation that separated during 1630, and he was also associated with John Robinson's Leiden Congregation in 1618. He became a printer in Amsterdam. Information on the congregation after 1621 is uncertain.

Ainsworth-Canne Congregation (Amsterdam)

After the departure of Francis Johnson from Amsterdam, Henry Ainsworth establish a prosperous independent congregation in Amsterdam. He practiced a more moderate version of Barrowism from Francis Johnson more in the tradition of John Robinson in Leyden and incorporating some of John Smyth's own policies.

Ainsworth was well respected in Amsterdam, and devoted a large portion of his remaining years to the writing of books, papers on theology and the works of the Bible. Over twenty volumes have been attributed to Ainsworth between 1612-20.

The personal rift between Johnson and Ainsworth was never really mended under Ainsworth. With the death of Henry Ainsworth(1570-1620) his Amsterdam congregation languished without a Pastor for a few years.

In 1623,John Canne (d. 1667?) a former minister of a London Independent congregation from 1621-23 arrived in Amsterdam. Canne's own background, his education, and his ordination were somewhat uncertain. There were some allegations that Canne may had been banished to Holland.

Canne became the new pastor of Ainsworth's' Amsterdam congregation. He was to remained for the next seventeen years as its pastor (1623-40). Canne may had attempted to reconcile relations with Johnson's former congregation at Emden.

During his ministry in Amsterdam, John Canne became an active writer of some note, and had some success as a commercial printer. Canne may have had access to some of Ainsworth's earlier writings. Canne visited England for a short period during 1640.

Canne returned to Amsterdam and remained there from 1640-47. Canne published a new translation of the Bible (1647) which was rather popular and appeared in many editions. The status of Canne's Amsterdam congregation after he left in 1647 is still somewhat uncertain.

John Canne in England

Canne returned to England and arrived at Hull during 1649-50. Here Canne continued to write and publisher books especially versions of his Bible(1647) for which he was granted special rights.

John Canne became chaplain to Colonel Robert Overton, the Governor of Hull. Canne became associated with the New Model Army. He developed friends in the government, and wrote a number of publications in support of that government. He became a prominent member of the local community in Hull, and a very popular preacher in the New Model Army.

Canne suffered a great personal tragedy during 1656-57. His young daughter and his wife both died in fires. He may have been become distraught and seems to have become involved with the radical sect the Fifth Monarchy Men during 1657. He developed a certain notoriety and was later banished from Hull over disagreements with another prominent local puritan, John Shaweof Hull.

John Canne resettled to London in 1657 where he published his work: The Time of the End ... (1657) a pro-Fifth Monarchy Men statement. He embraced the sect, and became identified with them until 1559/60. He was arrested and than released for preaching in a London church in 1658. Records of his life in England between 1659-1664 are uncertain.

John Canne returned to Amsterdam by 1664. There he started a new family and a new life around his book business. Canne died there in 1667?

English Exiled Church at Emden

By 1613, Francis Johnson and the remainder of his Amsterdam congregation had made a decision to relocate. They chose the seaport community of Emden in East Friesland as the location.

Emden was an early stronghold of Hendrik Niclaes (1502?-80), and his sect the Family of Love sect to 1540 [Editor Note: See English Dissenters Home Page.]. The area was known to be popular with nonconformists and religious dissenters.

Emden (modern Germany) was a seaport community at the mouth of the Ems River, and a Free City (1595). The city was located some 50 miles NE of Amsterdam on the North coast on the Dollart (River).

The congregation continued under Francis Johnson until his death in 1617. There are some indications that the Emden congregation may have continued there into the 1630's. There are indications that some of Johnson's congregation may have returned to Amsterdam and joined the Reformed congregations of that city.

There are indications that an olive branch may have been offered by Ainsworth to Johnson in Emden at one time without much results. Canne also attempted to reconcile relations with the Emden congregation during his tenure.

English Exiled Church at Leyden

John Robinson (1575?-1625) and his Scrooby Congregation finally arrived in Amsterdam in late 1608. Their first attempt leaving England resulted in jail for most of the congregation. Their second attempt was a little better with only a portion of the men were placed in Boston gaol with the rest coming to Holland. Robinson came with the remained er of the men in late 1608.

What Robinson found when they finally arrived were ruffled relations between John Smyth and Francis Johnson. All three former English Barrowist congregations worshiped together under the same roof for only a few months. Francis Robinson began to seek out surrounding away from Amsterdam.

Robinson petitioned the City Council of the nearby university city of Leyden (Leiden) in April 1609. They were granted permission in mid-1606 to moved his congregation. Robinson established his own congregation here away from the strife and problems of Amsterdam. They became known as the English Exiled Church in Leyden (1609-1625).

From 1609-1625, John Robinson(1575?-1625) maintained a stable Barrowist congregation in Leyden. Civil and economic conditions were hard for his English congregation in Holland. Employment in Leiden was difficult to find at best for the non-artisans, personnel savings only lasted so long.

William Brewster (1567-1644) as the Elder make the best of his own situation. Brewster taught English as a Second Language at the university to Dutch and German students. He would even prepare course books.

Brewster would established himself as a printer and publisher of books and pamphlets in Leyden. His Barrowist press became very prominent, he published many nonconformist or "banned" texts for the English market. Eventually his press became a political liability, the English authorities eventually drove him and his press underground in the Leyden area.

John Robinson was admitted to the Faculty of Leyden University in 1615. He took advantages of this new relationship and became fully involved in the campus life of the University. His new academic position helped to provided a good financial base for his growing family.

Robinson participated in the University discussions of the period between the pro-Calvinism professors and the supporters of the doctrines of the Dutch Reformed theologian, Jacobus Arminius (1560-1609), sometime lecturer of Leyden University (1603-09). Robinson argued for the pro-Calvinistic doctrine of predestination against the freewill doctrines of Arminius, also known as Arminianism. The Leyden Barrowist congregation held many views in common with the Dutch Reformed Church.

Leyden searching for a new home

Between 1617-20 there was a growing unrest within the Leyden English congregation. There was a desire especially among the older generation to find a new home on English soil, or to relocate as free Englishmen to a new English homeland beyond the sea.

They were concerned that their children were becoming part of the Dutch community, rather than as Englishmen. There was also a growing fear of a possible coming war with Spain, and attacks on Leyden.

A number of options were discussed in the congregation including possible resettlement's in New Amsterdam (New York), Dutch Guiana, and a few others placesbut these were finally dismissed. The congregation decided to partition the English Crown for a charter to establish an English colony in the New World on English soil. There was some concerns about approaching the government of King James that had forced them to leave England for Holland.

William Brewster had maintained his political and government contacts in England during his period of service with William Davison, sometime Secretary of State under Queen Elizabeth. Two members of the congregation, John Carver, a Deacon, and Robert Cushman were dispatched to London to act as agents on behalf of the congregation.

A document was drafted by John Robinson, William Brewster, and others in 1617 outlining their current theological positions in an attempt to calm the possible fears of the London-Virginia Company concerning the Leyden congregation theological beliefs. The document Seven Articles (1618) outlined a church theology somewhat similar to the French Reformed Church (Huguenots). There were indication that some French Huguenots may had already become members of Robinson's congregation in Leyden.

An attempt was made to approached the Virginia Company London for a patent of land to establish a colony in the New World. They were to secure a charter in 1619 from the London Company. Problems developed and a charter was not offered to the Barrowist at Leiden, Holland.

In 1620 a group of London merchants, or venture capitalists gave their financial backing for the project with the political assistance by Brewster from his old friend Sir Edwyn Sandys. A joint stock company for seven years was to be formed by these backers. This financial backing helped to secure a charter from the London Company for a track of land at the mouth of the Hudson River. The Leyden congregation purchased a vessel for its members, the Speedwell(Ship) in anticipation for their voyage to England, and on to the New World.

The officials of the Virginia Company were contacted and their preparations for getting underway were begun. One Hundred and twenty members of the Leyden Barrowist congregation under the spiritual leadership of William Brewster as Elder were to set sail on July 1620 from Holland on the Speedwell (Ship) bound for Plymouth, England. In Plymouth, they would meet the London Company representatives, and their sister ship the Mayflower(Ship) that would transport the employees of the London Company to establish their trading post.

Mayflower(Ship) and the Mayflower Compact

When the Leiden Barrowists arrived at Plymouth (England), the Barrowists were welcomed by the local church and its congregation. Before the ships set sail a number of disagreement ensued between the representatives of the London Company, the local merchants and the Leiden colonists.

Some of the London Company representatives were not above making a profit for themselves off the colonists in Plymouth. Early price agreements on goods suddenly increased greatly just before sailing due a sudden lack of adequate supply. Many of the colonists came into disagreement with the London Company employees on the Mayflower. Things were so bad that neither party could reach any agreement with the other. This was the status of their relationship with the two ships when they set sail.

Both the Mayflower (Ship), and the Speedwell (Ship) set sail from Plymouth (England) on 5 August 1620. Problems soon developed on the Speedwell (Ship) after a week at sea, they were forced to returned to Dartmouth Harbor (Devon). The Speedwell was build for coastal shipping rather than Atlantic trading conditions. After various repairs to the Speedwell (Ship), they set sail again for America. After a few days at sea, they both returned to Plymouth for additional repairs to the Speedwell(Ship).

After a month of repairs to the Speedwell, a decision was made to abandoned the Speedwell (Ship) which was not seaworthy for the intended trip. Everyone was re-boarded, and repacked onto the London Company's own ship Mayflower (Ship) along with all of the Speedwell's passengers, goods, and supplies. The Mayflower (Ship) now carried all the employees and goods of the London Company who would establish a working plantation, and the members Leiden Church colonists. The original Mayflower (Ship) was not designed for its current cargo requirements, but they did finally set sail from Plymouth, England on 6 Sept. 1620 for British America.

The sea voyage was very hard on the 102 Leiden passengers, the London Company employees and the crew of the Mayflower (Ship) that had set sail from England. The Mayflower (Ship) was very crowded, and conditions only seemed to get worse over time. The conditions on board ship were very harsh for its passengers, many of whom were quite sick and few died of scurvy while still at sea. The original voyage was conceived for a complement of two seaworthy ships both suitable for the riggers of the passage across the Atlantic Ocean not just one. The initial planning, and the conditions under which the Barrowist found themselves were far less than ideal.

There were some weather, and navigational problems for The Mayflower (Ship). It initial anchoring landed them off modern Martha's Vineyard (Mass). This location was considerably North of the original London Company land grant destination site allocated for them. The captain of the Mayflower (Ship) who was a competent seaman, and who was said to have been familiar with the local waters. The Mayflower lingered off Cape Cod while the colonists reconnoitered the area, taking care of the sick, and hunting for game, and plants to eat, and water. After an unpleasant encounter with some of the local Indians, the Mayflower set sail for a more suitable site in the Cape Cod area. The captain of the Mayflower (Ship) and its crew did not set sail South towards the intended original colony site under the contract.

There seems to have been a fair amount of confusion when the Mayflower (Ship) anchored off modern Cape Cod. There were growing concerns, and anxiety in the company about adequate food supplies, and securing adequate winter quarters before the heavy winter snows came. Some wanted to reconnoiter the local area for another suitable site which was undertaken. Winter was starting to set in and a secure site still had not been found to establish a suitable winter campsite for the women, and children. There was some discussion, and some disagreement in the company as to whether they might find a better site South of them at the legal colony site at the, or to just return to England before the Winter storms began.

Neither the Barrowists Colony members, nor the London Company employees had no legal claim to the land which they now occupied. Out of this general confusion a committee was formed to discuss their situation, and their options. They held a general meeting to discussed their situation. They voted that they would stay in the area, and to find a suitable site nearby to establish their new colony site. And a new charter was then drawn up by the company members, and the Barrowist colonists to that end.

The Mayflower Compact as it became known was drafted and signed on 11 November 1620 as a legal document stating the aims of the company and their desires to establish a legal colony in the New World (America). It was signed by all of the male members of the company. An elected civil government was formed under the leadership of its former deacon John Carver (d. 1621), as their first elected Governor.

New Plymouth Colony

While searching the area for a suitable location, one of the ship's crew led them to a site known to him as Plymouth. The site was originally discovered by Captain John Smith in 1614. On 15 Dec. 1620 the Mayflower (Ship) dropped its anchor in what was to become known as Plymouth Bay for the anticipated winter storms of 1620-21. In retrospect, there were better and more suitable locations available to the colonists both to the North, and South of Plymouth in 1620.

The winter of 1620-21 was rather long and quite bitter. The Barrowists with its one hundred or so odd souls were not adequately prepared or properly provisioned for a harsh Cape Cod winter. It would take its toll on the entire colony.

The lack of any proper shelter on shore or on board the Mayflower for the women, and children were a major problem. The lack of adequate provisions of supplies and clothing for a New England winter took its toll on those not in the best of health. The was also a general lack of basic knowledge of the resources of the area, and its agriculture did not bode well for the community trying to keep body, and soul togeather. Unknown to the local colonists, there present camp site had suffered from local outbreaks of disease. The local Indians had abandoned the present site of that reason. The women and their children suffered the most from the Winter of 1620-21. There were also concerns about the local native tribes, and possible attacks. Only fifty-four members of the original one hundred and two members that set sail on the Mayflower (Ship) from Plymouth, England actually survived the sea voyage and the first winter at New Plymouth to 1621.

William Brewster (1567-1644) as an Elder of the Leyden Barrowist congregation, would act as the designated spiritual leader of the new Barrowist community until the arrival of the remained of the congregation with its minister, John Robinson. Brewster would establish a new functional congregation based on the tenets of Barrowist as practiced by the Leyden community.

On 5 April 1621 the Mayflower(Ship) set sail bound for England. It arrived there on 6 May 1621. The ship was in rather poor operational condition and was later salvaged only for its lumber. The ship's hole was also empty of any goods for the London Company.

Robert Cushman, a member of the congregation and one of the representative to the London Company, left England in July 1621 on the Fortune (Ship) with another fifty-five Barrowists mostly from Leyden. They were looking forward to settling at New Plymouth with their friends and relatives. Cushman carried with him letters of concern from the stock holding company to the Barrowist Colony.

Their merchant stockholders were anxious to see some tangible financial return on their investment from the colony. Cushman sailed back to England with a shipload of trade goods and other commodities in 1621. Unfortunately the Fortune (Ship) was captured by French privateers on its homeward journey, after which the crew and passengers were released.

Over the next five years (1621-26) various groups and individuals would arrive at New Plymouth, some stayed and others moved on to other English colonies. New Plymouth grew and prospered in the proceedings years, which helped to spread its form of Congregationalism to other English settlements in the New World. Whether described as Barrowism or Congregationalism the influences of John Robinson and William Brewster of Leyden (Holland) are apparent by the growth of Barrowism in British America.

John Robinson was buried in the Pieterskerk (Leyden) in 1625 never having reached the New World. The funeral was well attended by members of the University and the community in Leyden. The location of his burial site attests to the high respect in which Robinson was held in Leyden, and its university.

William Brewster (1567-1644) was now left as the spiritual leader of the Barrowist congregation at New Plymouth from 1625-1644. William Bradford (1590-1657) the seventeen year old boy from the original Scrooby congregation would become the next Governor of the Plymouth Colony in 1621. Bradford was regularly re-elected as Governor except for on few periods of retirement and leave his mark on its development. Bradford also kept an active diary of his life at the New Plimoth Plantation.

A small congregation of mostly the elderly membership remained behind in Leyden rather than attempt the long voyage. Eventually most of those that remained including Mrs. John Robinson were to join the local Reformed Church. Both Robert Dury and later Hugh Goodyear were well respected ministers of the English Reformed Church in Leyden. Some Barrowists may have eventually returned home to England.

Barrowist congregations were not necessarily straight laced or limited in their expression of concern for others. The amount of congregational authority exercised by their respective Minister and Elders could vary. Pastors such as Francis Johnson, and John Smyth may have wanted a firm hand at the tiller but could vary in their level of toleration. John Robinson, Brewster, Ainsworth and Canne might hold more moderate and tolerant views. Congregations elected their ministers and elders, they generally got what they wanted.

The exact history of other Barrowist congregations in England after the Greenwood-Johnson congregation, and Canne in the London area is uncertain. The spread of Barrowism in the Lincoln area by the Scrooby or Gainsborough-on-Trent congregations is also uncertain. It would be unreasonable to assume that Barrowism simply died out in England beyond the individuals represented here, or that all English Barrowist in Holland may not have returned back to England to establish new congregations or supplemented those that remained behind.

The doctrine of toleration advocated by some Barrowists in England would have an impact on later Baptist thinking. "The birth of the Separatist idea of religious liberty: the theory of the separated churches". Barrowism would influence the development of Congregationalism in America.

Barrowism and the Pilgrim Fathers

The use of the term "Pilgrim Fathers" in reference to the Mayflower (Ship), Plymouth Rock and the Barrowist congregation at Leyden (Holland) and those that later settled in the New Plymouth Colony dates from 1820. Senator Daniel Webster,a famous American orator, he coined the phrase "Pilgrim Fathers" at a Bicentennial Celebration of the Landing at Plymouth Rock speech.

The phrase was popularized and has become part of the American tradition. Even the events that pre-date the actual landing of these "Pilgrim Fathers" at "Plymouth Rock" have now been re-translated as Pilgrims not as Barrowists locations. There is little or no references to those early English dissenters known as Barrowists in this new view of history. The winners write the history.

These English Barrowists are remembered now only as the ancestors of Americans that landed at what became known as "Plymouth Rock". Pilgrim landmark plaques now dot the English and Dutch countryside in homage to a small group of radical English religious dissenters who have been almost forgotten for who they were rather than where they landed in 1620.


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