A group of people (separatists) who later came to be known as the "Pilgrims" founded the Plymouth Colony. The core group—roughly 40% of the adults and 56% of the family groupings—was part of a congregation of religious separatists (Congregationalists) led by William Bradford. While still in the English village of Scrooby, near East Retford, Nottinghamshire, the congregation began to feel the pressures of religious persecution. In 1607 Tobias Matthew, Archbishop of York, raided homes and imprisoned several members of the congregation. The congregation then left England and emigrated to the Netherlands, first to Amsterdam and then to Leiden, in 1609.
In Leiden, the congregation gained the freedom to worship as it chose, but Dutch society was unfamiliar to these immigrants. Scrooby had been an agricultural community, whereas Leiden was a thriving industrial center, and the pace of life was hard on the Separatists. Furthermore, though the community remained close-knit, their children began adopting Dutch language and customs.Their children were also going into the Dutch Army. The Separatists were also still not free from the persecutions of the English Crown; in 1618, after William Brewster published comments highly critical of the King of England and the Anglican Church, English authorities came to Leiden to arrest him. Though Brewster escaped arrest, the events spurred the congregation to move even farther from England.
In June 1619, after declining the opportunity to settle south of Cape Cod in New Netherland, because of their desire to avoid the Dutch influence, the Congregation obtained a land patent from the London Virginia Company, allowing them to settle at the mouth of the Hudson River. They then sought financing through the Merchant Adventurers, a group of businessmen who principally viewed the colony as a means of making a profit. Upon arriving in America, the Pilgrims began working to repay their debts.
Using the financing secured...