Separatists attempt escape from England

Bradford relates an incident where a large group of Separatists had made a secret arrangement with a captain to ship them to Holland. The group gathered their goods at the predetermined meeting place. Many hours late, the ship finally arrived and took all the goods on board. But the captain had informed the government of the arrangement and officials descended on the group and searched them for their papers and money. The ship's captain kept the goods, and Bradford implies the women were assaulted by the government officials. The group was then turned over to local magistrates, who imprisoned them for a month while waiting for a Lord's Council to be summoned. At that time the group was disbanded and sent back to their communities without their money or papers. Seven of the dissenters were kept in prison for several more months.

The next spring (1608) some of these same people attempted to escape with others again. They found a sympathetic Dutch captain who took women and children on board his ship at Grimsby and headed for Hull to rendezvous with the men, who were coming by land. At Hull the men waited on the shore. The women, who were very seasick, asked to regain their stomachs on shore before proceeding with the voyage. The captain complied, pulling his ship into a cove. The women disembarked and a smaller boat ferried a load of men to the ship in return. At this point a small army appeared on the hills, coming to arrest and seize all of them. The captain saw his chances were slim and weighed anchor, leaving the ill women on the shore and taking with him the small group of men who had been ferried over. Some of the men onshore fled as soon as they saw the approaching forces, while the women and remaining men all cried out at being abandoned and separated from their comrades on the ship. The ship sailed 14 days in extremely rough weather before reaching Holland, the men distraught at the separation from their families and not knowing how they fared at the hands of the officials.

Those left on shore were taken into custody, but the sexism of the time actually played in the women's favor. Though they were shuttled from jail to jail, officials felt they could not justifiably condemn women and children who were only following their husbands and fathers. Since women and children had few rights, it was the men who would be held primarily responsible for breaking the law. Likewise, they could not just send the families home, as "home" had been sold to raise money for the voyage. After much confusion and conveyance "from one constable to another," the familes were finally allowed to leave England, though Bradford does not relate their fate.

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