The Pilgrim Fathers were held in Boston Guildhall's gaol ─ after their first attempt to escape religious persecution failed

In 1607, the Pilgrim Fathers attempted to escape England and start a new life free from religious intolerance. In those days they were known as 'separatists', because of their desire to separate from the Church of England. The plan had been to sail from the Lincolnshire coast, near Boston, to Holland. But they were betrayed, and the party of around 20 men, women and children were arrested by the militia and taken to Boston Guildhall. The spot where they were seized, near Fishtoft, is marked today by the Pilgrim Fathers' memorial.

The two cells in which they were held were small ─ measuring around seven feet by five and a half feet ─ and so they were allowed to use the gaol's kitchen area. The women and children were freed shortly afterwards. The men, who were brought before the magistrates in the Guildhall's courtroom, were charged and released on bail after a month.

Evading the authorities, the group made their way to Holland a year later, where they spent the next 12 years. They returned to England to set sail from Plymouth to the New World, aboard the famous Mayflower, in 1620. 

Crime, punishment and prisoners

6 Connections