It's a gorgeous morning on this Thanksgiving Day here in New England. I want to wish all of you (even if you do not celebrate this holiday) a wonderful day. May you be blessed with family and friends, peace and happiness. Many years ago, on November 9, 1620, my ancestors arrived here aboard the Mayflower. So, I thought I would give you a bit of history as to what the Pilgrim is.
King James I took the English throne in 1603 and declared that he would put an end to church reform and deal harshly with radical critics of the Chhurch of England. By 1607, a group of about 50 reform minded individuals began meeting secretly at Scrooby Manor to celebrate the Sabbath, led by Richard Clyfton and also Rev. John Robinson. This group soon decided that reform of the Church of England was hopeless and that they would separate all ties with it. Thus they became known as Separatists.
The weekly meetings of the Separatists soon attracted the attention of the Archibishop of York and many members of the congregation were arrested in 1607. Brewster was found guilty of being "disobedient in matters of religion" and fined. Some members were imprisoned and others were watched, according to Bradford, "night and day" by those loyal to the archbishop. Adding to their concerns, members of the Scrooby congregation learned that other Separatists in London had been imprisoned and left to starve.
When the Scrooby congregation decided in 1607 to leave England illegally for the Dutch Republic (where religious freedom was permitted), William Bradford determined to go with them. The group encountered several major setbacks in trying to leave England, most notably their betrayal by an English sea captain who had agreed to bring the congregation to the Netherlands but instead turned them over to authorities. Most of the congregation, including Bradford, were imprisoned for a short time after this failed attempt. By the summer of 1608, however, the Scrooby congregation, including 18 year old William Bradford, had managed to escape England in small groups and relocated in Amsterdam.
William Bradford arrived in Amsterdam in August 1608. Having no family with him, Bradford was taken in by the Brewster household. The Separatists, being foreigners and having spent most of their money in attempts to get to the Dutch Republic, had to work the lowest of jobs and lived in poor conditions. After nine months, the congregation chose to re-locate to the smaller city of Leiden.
Bradford continued to reside with the Brewster family in a poor Leiden neighborhood known as Stink Alley. Conditions changed dramatically for Bradford, however, when he turned 21 and was able to claim his family inheritance in 1611. Bradford soon bought his own house, set up a workshop as a fustian weaver, and earned a reputable standing.
In 1613, Bradford married Dorothy May, the daughter of a well-off English couple living in Amsterdam. The couple was married in a civil service, as the Separatists could find no example of a religious service in the Scriptures. In 1617, the Bradfords had their first child, John Bradford.
By 1617, the Scrooby congregation began to plan the establishment of their own colony in the New World. Although the Separatists could practice religion as they pleased in the Dutch Republic, they were troubled by the fact that, after nearly ten years in the Netherlands, their children were being influenced by Dutch customs and language. Therefore, the Separatists commenced three years of difficult negotiations in England to seek permission to settle in the northern parts of the Colony of Virginia (which then extended north to what would eventually be known as the Hudson River). The colonists also struggled to negotiate terms with a group of financial backers in London known as the Merchant Adventurers. By July 1620, Robert Cushman and John Carver had made the necessary arrangements and approximately fifty Separatists departed Delftshaven on board the Speedwell.
It was an emotional departure. Many families were split as some Separatists stayed behind in the Netherlands, planning to make the voyage to the New World after the colony had been established. William and Dorothy Bradford left their three year old son John with Dorothy's parents in Amsterdam, possibly because he was too frail to make the voyage.
According to the arrangements made by Carver and Cushman, the Speedwell was to meet up with the Mayflower off the coast of England and both would sail to Hudson's River, now the site of New York City. The Speedwell, however, proved too leaky to make the voyage and about 100 passengers were instead crowded aboard the Mayflower. Joining the Scrooby congregation were about 50 colonists who had been recruited by the Merchant Adventurers for their vocational skills which would prove useful in establishing a colony. These passengers of the Mayflower, both Separatist and non-Separatist, are commonly referred to today as "Pilgrims." The term is derived from a passage in Bradford's journal, written years later, describing their departure from the Netherlands:
...With mutual embraces and many tears, they took their leaves of one another, which proved to be the last leave to many of them...but they knew they were pilgrims and looked not much on those things, but lifted their eyes to heaven, their dearest country and quited their spirits...
The Mayflower reached Cape Cod (now part of Massachusetts) on November 9, 1620 after a voyage of 64 days. For a variety of reasons, primarily a shortage of supplies, the Mayflower could not proceed to Hudson's River and the colonists decided to settle somewhere on or near Cape Cod. They had no permission from the Crown to do so, however, and the legal status of the colony would therefore become void. The leaders of the colony felt this situation might lead to political anarchy and, motivated by mutinous outbursts from some of the colonists, they drafted the Mayflower Compact off the coast of Cape Cod. Through the compact, which all free adult males signed, the colonists agreed to majority rule. Simultaneously, they elected John Carver their first governor.
Yesterday, as I was working on my laptop, a squirrel kept trying to raid the little bird feeder outside my window. I had to keep getting up and going to the door to shoo him away. On one of my trips outside to shoo him, I grabbed my camera. This little bugger runs up the side of my house, across the roof, own the other side and then back to the feeder. Here he is way up on top of the roof looking down at me. Does it look like he's laughing?
Here is another little fellow that I chased away. He thinks he's hiding and that I can't see him. I guess no one told him that I had my cataracts removed quite a long time ago.
I'm saving the best for last. This little fellow came for a peanut, and found out he couldn't fit two peanuts in his mouth at the same time. Awwwww! Poor Baby!!
While Tootsie and I were sleeping in our warm little bed last night, something (gosh, I wonder what?) dug a hole in the wall and came in through my pantry and had a Thanksgiving feast!!!!!!! I'm thinking that maybe I should start throwing the peanuts and other goodies over in the neighbor's yard. Maybe then, the critters will dig their holes over there and leave my house alone. Think it will work?
I will leave you now to your families and the turkey. Tootsie and I are so thankful for all our wonderful family and friends. We are very thankful for this tasty food we are about to eat. We are so very thankful for all our many blessings. And, we are wishing all of you a most wonderful day. Till tomorrow, Y'all don't eat too much turkey!
Hugs, Edna B.