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Pilgrim Fathers

hen the Pilgrims fled from England to Holland to evade persecution they were but one of many groups seeking refuge in Leiden. Holland was tolerant, after feeling the Spanish terror and converting to a sober-minded Protestantism. Also, the economic advantages of this influx of artisans and craftsmen was recognized; the boom in the Leiden cloth industry owed a lot to the arrival of French and Flemish weavers.

The Pilgrims led a quiet life in Leiden between 1609 and 1620. They held their services in a chapel of the university. William Bradford was a member of the wool guild and reverend John Robinson lived in the spot where later the Jean Pesijn almshouses were built. Robinson stayed in Leiden, died and was buried in the Peter's Church in 1625. In the Pieterskerkchoorsteeg one can still find the house where William Brewster's Pilgrim Press produced dissident pamphlets which were smuggled to England. But peace and quiet wasn't enough for the Pilgrims. The tolerance they enjoyed also became a source of irritation. Too many different creeds and lifestyles influenced their offspring and after 12 years they decided to leave for the New World to found a society completely based on their convictions.

The Leiden American Pilgrim Museum in the Beschuitsteeg treats the Leiden stay of the Pilgrims.