The Home of Pilgrim Father John Robinson in Leiden
In 1611, John Robinson, William Jepson, Henry Wood, and Jane White bought property in Leiden, near Pieterskerk — St. Peter’s Church. The property included a large 2-story house. Robinson and his family lived on the upper floor and the Separatist congregation held its meeting on Sundays and Thursdays on the ground floor. Over time, they built 21 small apartments were built in the courtyard. Directly across the street is Pieterskerk — St. Peter’s Church — where three historical markers pay tribute to the time the Pilgrim Fathers spent in Leiden. The Jean Pesynhof was built in 1683 as an almshouse for French Huguenots.
Map of the Site of John Robinson’s Home in Leiden
John Robinson Home Historic Markers
There are two small historical markers attached to the building.
The first marker, on the left side of the door, reads:
“Almshouse, founded in 1655 for the benefit of poor people. Until 1625 John Robinson lived in this place. His followers set sail from Leiden to America as the Pilgrim Fathers in 1620.”
The second marker, on the right side of the door, reads:
“On this spot lived taught and died John Robinson. 1611 1625.”
This marker — the John Robinson Stone — was placed in 1865 and is the oldest memorial to the Pilgrim Fathers in Leiden.
A Visit to the Jean Pesynhof Courtyard
Michaël Roumen and Marike Hoogduin visit the location of John Robinson’s home.
Purchase of the Property in Bell Alley, Leiden in 1611
The following account of the purchase of the house and land known as Green Gate is below. It was written by Henry C. Murphy in 1859 and included in Edward Arber’s “The Story of the Pilgrim Fathers, 1606-1623 A.D.: as told by themselves, their friends, and their enemies,” which was published in 1897.
Account of the Purchase of Green Gate
H. C. M. [the Hon. Henry C. Murphy] in the Historical Magazine, Vol. III., pp. 330, 331, Boston and New York, 1859, 4, thus writes:
There is a space of two years, or a little more, between the time of the arrival of Robinson and his flock in Leyden, and the purchase of this house; in which he afterward lived until his death. There is nothing to show where he resided during that short period.
But, on the 5th of May 1611, a Transport Brief or deed, was made to him, in conjunction with three others of his Congregation, of the house and piece of ground in question, nearly opposite the Belfry which stood in the rear of St Peter’s Church, and fronting on Pieter’s Kerckhoff, or the Clock Steech — literally translated Bell Alley — a street between twenty and thirty feet wide…
Now the fact that the title was taken in the name of four persons in connection with another circumstance, disclosed in another Record; namely, that Robinson was the only one of the four who lived in the house — goes to show that the purchase was for a general object; of which he, the Pastor, was the leader.
This deed was found recorded in Register M. M., page 105, of Indemnifications (Protocollen van Waerbrieoen); and was doubtless so recorded as a security to the Granter, for the balance of the purchase money.
Text of the Deed for the Purchase of Green Gate in Leiden
We, Pieter Arentszoon Deyman and Amelis van Hogeveen, Schepens [Aldermen or Town Magistrates] in Leyden, make known that before us came Johan De Lalaing, declaring, for himself and his heirs, that he had sold, and by these presents does sell, to Jan Robinszon [Robinson], Minister of God’s Word of the English Congregation in this city, Willem Jepson, Henry Wood, and Raynulph [Ralph] Tickens, who has married Jane White — jointly and each for himself an equal fourth part — a house and ground, with a garden situated on the west side thereof, standing and being in this city on the south side of the Pieter’s Kerkhoff [grounds of Peter’s Church] near the Belfry; formerly called the Groene Port [Green Gate].
Bounded and having situated on the one side, eastwardly, a certain small room, which the Comparant [the Appearer or Granter] reserves to himself; being over the door of the house hereby sold: next thereto is Willem Simonszoon Van Der Wilde; And on the other side, westwardly, having the Widow and Heirs of Huyck Van Alckemade; and next to him, the Comparant himself; and next to him is the Donckere Graft [the Dark Canal], which is also situated on the west of the aforesaid garden (; and next to it, is the Falide Bagynhoff [Veiled Nuns’ Cloister]) extending from the street of the Kerkhoff aforesaid, to the rear of the Falide Bagynhoff beforenamed.
All, and so, as the aforesaid house is at present built and made, used and occupied; with everything thereto attached [aert-ennagelvast, fastened to the ground or nailed], to him, the Comparant, belonging: subject to a yearly rent charge of eleven stivers and twelve pence [ = say 20 English pence then] payable to the Heer van Poelgeest.
And he, the Comparant, promises the aforesaid house and ground, upon the conditions aforesaid, to warrant and defend from all other incumbrances with which the same may be charged, for a year and a day, and for ever, as is just: hereby binding thereto all his property, moveable and immoveable, now owned, or hereafter to be owned by him, without any exception.
Further making known that he, the Comparant, is paid for the aforesaid purchase, and fully satisfied therewith, the sum of eight thousand guilders [ = £1,400 English then], the last penny with the first: and that with a purchase money lien — two thousand guilders [ = £350 English then], being paid down; and five hundred guilders [ £87, 10s. English then] to be paid in May 1612, and annually thereafter, until all be paid.
And this all in good faith, and without fraud.
In witness of these presents, we have set our seals, the 5th of May 1611.
(Signed) J. Swanenburch.
Ownership of Green Gate Until it was Torn Down
The Grantees in this conveyance, besides Robinson himself, were members of his Congregation; as we find by the Record of Marriages. None of them went to America.
Tickens was the brother-in-law of Robinson; whose wife Bridget was the sister of Jane White. Roger White, who communicated from Leyden, to Governor Bradford, the death of Robinson, was the brother of Mrs. Robinson. From the circumstance that Jane White’s name is mentioned in the deed, it may be inferred that the money for Tickens’ share came from her. Tickens is described as a Looking-Glass Maker.
In 1637, Jepson, who had become the sole owner, having died; the property was conveyed by the Guardians of his children, to Stoffel Janszoon Ellis: and thus ceased to be held any longer by the Brownists.
The house was taken down, with a number of others, in 1681-3, for the purpose of erecting a Hof for the Walloons; still remaining, called Pesyn’s Hof [A Home for aged Walloons.) There are over forty of these Hofs in Leyden.”
Leiden, Netherlands — Where the Mayflower Voyage Started for the Pilgrim Fathers
In 2020 the United States, England, and the Netherlands commemorated the 400-year anniversary of the Separatists — the Pilgrim Fathers — leaving Leiden after 12 years in exile. For the Pilgrim Fathers, the Mayflower journey to America started here. This video provides a quick overview of many of the historic sites in Leiden that are related to the Pilgrim Fathers.