The Shaping of a Pilgrim: A Discussion of the English and Continental Religious Literature Influencing Separatism and the Pilgrims
Francis Cooke, an ancestor of mine, was one of that small band of struggling and straggling "saincts," better known as Separatists, who came t o America on the Mayflower in 1620. Presumably Cooke was one of the original Scrooby congregation which was motivated and led by William Brewster, ruling elder of the group. It is believed that Cooke was born in Blyth, a small hamlet near Scrooby, one of the posts along the Great North Road leading from London to Scotland and the original home of Brewster. Undoubtedly of the yeoman class, Cooke came to embrace the religious principles of the Separatists, although his background may have been Roman Catholic or Anglican. This thesis deals with that part of the religious Literature of Tudor and Jacobean England, as well as that of the European continent of those days, which presumably could have reached the small villages on or near the Great North Road. Such literature could and undoubtedly did influence Francis Cooke's thinking to such an extent that the would leave all that he had known and possessed to risk his life in order to seek elsewhere the religious liberty he was determined to have. A trip to England corroborated and substantiated for me many of the pertinent historical facts and provided me an insight into the geographical and environmental factors which helped to influence Francis Cooke, serving in this work as a synthesis of Pilgrim thought, to make the greatest decision of his life.