I remember making construction-paper feather headdresses and tall capotain hats to commemorate Thanksgiving, but I have always been a little fuzzy on the hows and whens of the English colonization of the US.
The Mayflower landed on Plymouth Rock, but then what? And that was not 1492, but pretty soon afterwards, right?
And what do I know from Pilgrims?
Which is the kind of direction research will take a person, whether she meant to or not. Especially when researching the first of her European-American ancestors.
So first: the WABAC machine.
Or binge-watch The Tudors.
In the early 1600s, Shakespeare was still alive. Queen Elizabeth's long reign was ending. When I say religious diversity was not welcome, it's helpful to know that King Edward had ejected Jews from England in 1290. Also, Elizabeth's dad, Henry the 8th, had made Roman Catholicism more or less illegal in 1534.
So when a group of folks wanted to "purify" the Church of England by focusing on reading the Bible and doing good rather than supporting a centralized church, they had limited choices. They could try to reform from inside the church (and keep their heads down!) or they could leave England.
About 100 or so of these "Separatists" went first to Holland in 1608. Like many another, the Separatists were shocked –– shocked! –– by the cosmopolitan and hedonistic lifestyle of the Netherlanders.
Having lost a few of their faithful to the fleshpots of Holland, they decided it was time to high-tail it out of there. They went back to England and then set sail for the New World in 1620 aboard the Mayflower.
I was taught that the Pilgrims moved to the New World in search of religious tolerance.
But no, they came so that they could practice their religion without persecution. Big difference.
Fun fact: Nobody called themselves Pilgrims in Colonial America.
The Puritans forbade religious diversity. The Massachusetts Bay Colony put Quakers to death. Quakers! Tortured and hanged, including the Quaker martyr Mary Dyer. Puritans even banned the celebration of Christmas.
To be fair, I should note that some Colonies were formed with the spirit of tolerance built right in, like the Rhode Island Colony. Founder Roger Williams not only believed in religious freedom (with no tax dollars!) and he felt that taking land from the Natives without paying for it was not quite morally right. Heartening news, that.
So meanwhile, back in Merry Olde England, the religious conflict deepened and developed into the English Civil War, 1642-1652. Oliver "Bad Haircut" Cromwell lead the Roundheads against the Royalists of King Charles I.
Cromwell won; Charles was beheaded. There was a short-lived British Republic.
Republican rule in England meant that fewer Puritans felt the need to move West. Some early Colonial settlers even shipped back to England in the 1640's and 1650's.
Then Cromwell died (kidney trouble) and Charles' son, Charles the Second* was restored to the throne in 1660. This is why the following time is known as the Restoration Era –– a small piece of information that surprised me. Did I simply nap through that part of history class?
All this data is place-setting for a tiny slice of family pie that I learned about.
Which I shall serve another day. Thankfully.
•(He of King Charles Cavalier Spaniel fame)