Pilgrim Press Plaque at William Brewster Alley — Pilgrim Landmark in Leiden

1616–1619

This plaque marks the entrance to the alley where William Brewster lived in Leiden and published books through the Pilgrim Press.

Pilgrim Press Plaque, William Brewster Alley, Leiden

This plaque marks the entrance to William Brewster Alley in Leiden. Image Source: Wikipedia.

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Pilgrim Press Plaque at William Brewster Alley

This marker is above the entrance to William Brewstersteeg — William Brewster Alley — in Leiden. When Brewster lived in the alley, it was known as Stinksteeg — or Smelly Alley.

Map of Pilgrim Press Plaque at Brewster Alley

Text on the Pilgrim Press Plaque at Brewster Alley

SITE OF THE VICUS CHORALI (OR PILGRIM) PRESS, ON PIETERSKERKKOORSTEEG
(ST. PETER’S CHURCH CHOIR ALLEY), LEYDEN, NETHERLANDS, IN THE (1609-1620)
HOME OF SEPARATIST PILGRIM FATHER, ELDER WILLIAM BREWSTER OF SCROOBY,
NOTTINGHAMSHIRE, ENGLAND, THE SPIRITUAL LEADER OF PLYMOUTH IN NEW ENGLAND
UNTIL HIS DEATH IN 1643-44

THE GENERAL SOCIETY OF MAYFLOWER DESCENDANTS (U.S.A., 1897)
WALDO MORGAN ALLEN, GOVERNOR GENERAL
ON THEIR FIRST PILGRIMAGE – 152, BY PLANES – TO THE NETHERLANDS AND ENGLAND
SEPTEMBER 22 – OCTOBER 8, 1955
335 YEARS AFTER THE SAILING OF THE MAYFLOWER

The Pilgrim Press in Leiden

William Brewster printed and published books during his time in Leiden. In 1897, Edward Arber published “The Story of the Pilgrim Fathers, 1606–1623 A.D.: As Told by Themselves, Their Friends, and Their Enemies.” According to Arber, Brewster published books from October 1616 to June 1619. The funding for the Brewster Press — or Pilgrim Press as it is called today — came from another Separatist, Thomas Brewer. Arber says:

“We suppose that we may rightly call that printing organization, which two members of the Leyden Church carried on — Thomas Brewer, the sleeping Partner, finding the money, and apparently asking no questions; and William Brewster, the working Partner, organizing and managing it — the Pilgrim Press. It produced nothing but Pilgrim books: for which cause, it was suppressed.

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…It would seem that Brewer bought type only; and that Brewster arranged with some Dutch Master Printer, to print off the sheets, from the English type sent to him: and this would be quite practical, because the Press was by no means so stringently overseen in Holland as it was in London.”

William Brewster Publishing House, Leiden, 1922
This picture of William Brewster’s publishing house in Leiden it was taken in 1922. Image Source: “The Pilgrim Press” by Rendel Harris and Stephen Jones.

The Brewster Bear, the Signature of William Brewster’s Books

Some of the books that were printed by Brewster were notable for the logo that was used — a “bear with heraldic plumes.”

Brewster Bear, Pilgrim Press Logo, Leiden
The Brewster Bear logo. Image Source: PRHP Books.

A Visit to William Brewstersteeg (William Brewster Alley)

In this video, Michaël Roumen and Marike Hoogduin tell you more about the courtyard and the place where William Brewster laid out his books.

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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.

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Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Pilgrim Press Plaque at William Brewster Alley — Pilgrim Landmark in Leiden
  • Coverage 1616–1619
  • Author
  • Keywords Puritans, Separatists, Pilgrim Fathers, Leiden
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date December 2, 2022
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update November 7, 2022

Pilgrim Press Plaque at William Brewster Alley — Pilgrim Landmark in Leiden is Part of the Following on AHC

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