Pilgrims in Leiden Historic Marker
This marker is outside Pieterskerk — St. Peter’s Church — in Leiden, across the street from where John Robinson and many of the Pilgrims lived. It is in front of the plaques to John Robinson and the Separatists that died in Leiden.
Map of the Pilgrim Historic Marker
Pilgrims in Leiden Historic Marker Text
In 1609 a group of English religious refugees arrived in Leiden. Their leaders were William Bradford and John Robinson. These refugees were to become known as the Pilgrims. There were about 300 Pilgrims living in various places in Leiden. John Robinson bought a house with ground near the Pieterskerk. There he had 21 small houses built for his followers. The area became known as the Engelse Poort (English Gate). In 1683 the houses had to make way for the Jean Pesijnhof (Kloksteeg 21), an almshouse.
The Pilgrims feared that they were in danger of losing their identity and so they began leaving Leiden from 1620. They were on their way to the New World: America. There they would later be seen as the founding Fathers of the United States. About half of them stayed behind. Their names were made Dutch. ‘Coit’ became Koet and McRae ‘Makreel’. John Robinson did not get to America. He died in 1625 and is buried with several of his followers here in the Pieterskerk. A number of American presidents have had Pilgrims as ancestors, including Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Bush senior and junior, and Barack Obama. Obama’s forefathers, the Blossoms, lived here, on Pieterskerkhof.
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.