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John Robinson (1575-1625) was an English Puritan minister. He is known as the
pastor to the Pilgrim Fathers because of his involvement with the Pilgrims before
and after their journey to New England. Robinson became a curate at St. Andrews
Church, Norwich, in 1602, but was suspended from preaching after refusing to
conform to the Anglican anti-Puritan decrees of 1604. In 1606 or 1607 he joined
the Nonconformist/Puritan congregation at Scrooby, Nottinghamshire. The Nonconformists
wanted to separate from the Church of England in order to follow what they believed
to be purer and more simplified forms of church government and worship. Believing
that the Reformation had not gone far enough, the Puritans wished to remove
all aspects of worship that were not based on the Scripture. Forms of worship
that did not meet this rigid standard were considered popish, superstitious,
Increased persecution forced the Scrooby congregation to flee to Amsterdam
in 1608. In 1609 Robinson settled in Leiden, where he eventually became a member
of the university. The religious community in Leiden was sharply divided. The
English Puritans were opposed to the harsh predestination stance taken by the
Calvinists. Robinson and his congregation were joined in their opposition to
predestination and the deterministic stance of Calvinism by Hugo Grotius (1583-1645),
Dutch reformer Jacobus Arminius (1560-1609), and others. As pastor at Leiden,
Robinson saw his congregation grow to three hundred members, one of whom, William
Bradford (1590-1657), would become the governor of Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts.
By 1617 Robinson and others were discussing the possibility of emigrating to
America. Robinson died in 1625 before he was able to go to New England. Nonetheless,
he was an important moral and spiritual force in the preparations for the voyage
and in inspiring the Pilgrims. His congregation was absorbed into the Dutch
Reformed church in 1658.
Robinson's influence persisted in both the New World and Europe in his writings
and printed sermons, the most famous being A Justification of Separation
from the Church of England (1610), Of Religious Communion, Private
and Public (1614), and his more tolerant On the Lawfulness of Hearing
Ministers in the Church of England (1635).
Works by the Author
Winslow, Edward. Words of John Robinson, Robinson's Farewell Address to
the Pilgrims Upon Their Departure from Holland 1620. Boston: Old South
Works about the Author
Davis, Ozora S. John Robinson, The Pilgrim Pastor. New York:
The Pilgrim Press, 1903.
Powicke, F. J. John Robinson: 1575? - 1625. London: Hodder and Stoughton,
The biographical material about the author originally appeared on The
Goodrich Room: Interactive Tour website.