Through the courtesy of the Secretary of State, at Washington, President Vrooman (of the Holland Society), received an advance sheet of a consular report which will be of interest to our members, and
is therefore herewith published.
Consul Listoe sends from Rotterdam, under date of February 12, 1898, a description of the town whence the Pilgrim Fathers sailed from Holland to America. Consular reports, it
should be noted, are usually limited to commercial and industrial subjects; but, in view of the general interest of this subject (the consul says he has received several requests from America for
copies of the church records herein given), an exception is made in this case.
The report is as follows:
One of the points within this consular district possessing most interest for citizens of the United States is undoubtedly the ancient town of Delfshaven, situated on the
river Maas (Meuse), a couple of miles below Rotterdam, and, in fact, now a part of this city. The town derives its name (Haven: harbor) from the fact that it formerly was the seaport for the city of
Delft, once an important city, where William the Silent - the liberator of the Netherlands - and most of his descendants lie buried, and in later years famous for its manufacture of the decorated
porcelain known as delftware. Delft is located eight miles inland from its "haven", on the river Schie, which empties into the Maas.
Delfshaven is the place whence the Pilgrim Fathers originally started for America, and here stands yet the old "Hervormde Kerk" (Reformed Church) in which they worshiped and
in which the last sermon was preached to them prior to their departure for the New World. The old pier where they embarked is also still in existence.
In the records of the old church is found an interesting description of the departure of the Pilgrims, of which I am able, through the courtesy of the church authorities
here, to present a copy translated into English:
The Pilgrim Fathers
On the 22nd of July, of the year 1620, the pier of Delfshaven was crowded with people. A vessel was riding at anchor - The Speedwell - waiting for a large number of
passengers. A severe act of Parliament, which had been passed in 1592 in England, caused a cruel persecution of the so-called Puritans. Many of them fled to the hospitable Netherlands, and, having
settled at Leyden, they chose for their minister the Rev. Robinson, belonging to their own church and residing in this country since 1607. They gloried in bearing the name of "Pilgrims." Their stay
at Leyden lasted twelve years. As for religious freedom and toleration, they rejoiced in favorable circumstances, the municipal government having not the slightest reason to complain of their
conduct; but they had hard work in providing for their subsistence.
The fear of being pressed into the military service on account of the war with Spain and the painful feeling of exile made them resolve to found a colony in America. A
vessel was bought and lay ready to sail on the above-mentioned date. The whole congregation, those who were to leave for America and the rest, who were to stay behind waiting for a subsequent
opportunity, was assembled on the quay.
The inhabitants of Delfshaven beheld a scene which should never be forgotten. This scene of parting was touching; but first, the Rev. Robinson, kneeling down, sent up a
fervent prayer, intrusting to the Lord and His grace all the members of his church, as well those now departing as those who hoped to follow their brethren before long.
Once more embracing each other, they bade farewell - for many of them the last farewell on earth - and the Speedwell weighed anchor, steering to Southampton, where another
ship, the Mayflower, was waiting to take them to America. They arrived there safe and sound and founded New Plymouth.