The Pilgrims in Boston


Boston is known as the port and market town where, in 1607, a group of separatists famously attempted to escape to the Nertherlands, only to be betrayed and arrested.

A new exhibition at Boston Guildhall, Boston: The Pilgrims and the Thread to America, shares a complex and compelling tale of intrigue and influence. Exploring Boston’s role in the Pilgrims’ story and also the later founding of Boston, Massachusetts, in 1630.  The thread that links the story of the Pilgrims in Boston to the puritans, who left for America in 1630, is a Boston cloth dealer, Leonard Beetson.   

Beetson, arrested with known Pilgrims, never joined them in their eventual escape, instead remaining in Boston, England.  Beetson went on to become a Boston councillor and knew John Cotton, the charismatic and influential vicar of St. Botolph’s Church.  Beetson passed away before the Cotton Congregation began their movement in 1630 from Boston, UK over to Boston, America.  Cotton himself settled in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1633.  Famous characters linked to the exhibition include Pilgrims William Brewster, William Bradford and their friends and accomplices.

The exhibition is supported by original documents on loan from the Lincolnshire Archives, which have never been on public display together before, and that help tell these stories. Built in the 1390s, Boston Guildhall is the very building where the Pilgrims were tried and held. Visitors can walk in the footsteps of these characters, view the prison cells and stand in the court room where they were tried. 


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