The English Separatists Find Refuge in Holland

they-came-freedom-milbrandtIn Scrooby [England], the Separatists began preparations for their flight to mainland Europe [due to increasing persecution]. Their escape would need to happen in secret to circumvent England’s severe restrictions – and avoid the undoubtedly painful retribution. First, they needed a destination.

The Separatists chose Holland. The Dutch Republic offered freedom of conscience where religion could be openly practiced. Holland not only spoke of defending religious freedom but had a record of doing it. It had become home to other religious exiles in recent years, including the Huguenots, French Protestants driven out by the Catholic Church. They trusted Holland.

…When they finally limped into the port in Holland, people came flocking, ‘astonished at their deliverance.’ [the ship had come through a horrific storm that blew them 400 miles off course – near to the coast of Norway!] Their arrival was long overdue, and most assumed that the Dutch vessel had been lost at sea. Their survival was a remarkable sight.

For the Separatists now in Holland, they had arrived. While many would wait for loved ones, this offered the chance to start the life and freedom they imagined for many years. They could begin to worship freely, but also build their sacred community. For the foreseeable future, they would call Amsterdam home, and the men would take jobs in this port city’s growing global economy.

Taken from chapter 3 , “Dissenters,” in They Came for Freedom: The Forgotten, Epic Adventure of the Pilgrims by Jay Milbrandt (Nelson Books, 2017), pp.62-67. This is one of my current reads – and a good one.