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The Pilgrim Fathers
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By 1584, Queen Elizabeth had become very conscious of Puritan agitation and many ‘Brownists’ - who wanted to worship in their own very simple ‘pure’ way - were thrust into The Clink. Brownist leaders, John Greenwood and Henry Barrow and a host of their supporters, were given the harshest treatments by the Queen’s order because they were ‘political irreconcilables’. With heretics - both Catholic and Puritan - added to the usual debtors and petty criminals, this was the busiest period in The Clink’s history.

The Pilgrim Fathers

Religious prisoners were treated worse than all others and seen as subversive and traitorous. Food and drink were regularly taken to Southwark pris¬ons by the Bishop of Winchester’s almoner, but they were not given, to any religious prisoner. In March 1592 there were in The Clink ‘About three¬score and twelve Men and Women, yonge and old lying in colde and hunger in Dungeons and in yrons. For those bloudie men (the keepers) will allow them neither Meate nor Drinke nor Fyre, proposing to imprison them to death as they have done 17 or 18 others’.

In 1593 Greenwood and Barrow were executed ‘to still their tongues’ and hundreds of their followers spent years in The Clink. By 1618 a large number of the Puritan prisoners fled to America, where they set up colonies in Virginia as the Pilgrim Fathers of 1620. A few years later it became official policy to supply the settlers with willing ‘slave labour’, which initiated a lucrative business in shipping convicts to America. .Thousands were sent, including a whole gaggle of ‘Winchester Geese’ – many of whom became settlers’ wives.

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