Mayflower Descendant Captives
By 1606, King James I was the ruling monarch.
Wanting to worship congregationally (void of popish ceremony), the separatist group (future Mayflower passengers) attracted an unwanted following. Their pursuers were enforcers. Apparitors and pursuivants were appointed by the Church of England to maintain conformity, and the separatists were targets of their duty. According to the King, all British inhabitants were to comply with the Church of England's religious ceremonies. When the apparitors witnessed nonconformity, the officers had authority to arrest, persecute, exile, and imprison the disturbers.
In addition to the pursuivant harassment, separatist persecution came in other forms. For instance, congregationalists and separatists were given the unwanted title "Puritan." Today, the term "Puritan" connotes thoughts of righteousness and piety, but in 17th century England, the term was derogatory and debasing. In the 3rd century, a prideful Novatian sect had assumed this name. The separatists were not prideful and resented it.
Constantly harassed, the separatists were determined to flee to Holland, but getting there was challenging. Normal passenger fare was costly and departure required permission from the royal court. Unable to obtain permission, the separatists sought covert escape. The ports were closed to them, and journeying to Holland would come at a high price. Not only were they simple farmers of little means, but escaping covertly would require bribes plus fare.
On their first attempt to escape British captivity, the separatists hired a mariner and his ship. The ship would have no other passengers. It was solely for their journey. They awaited the ship with their goods at the Boston, England port. At nightfall, the ship arrived, The passenger's goods were loaded, and the passengers were next. They were loaded onto open boats and rowed toward the ship. Midway and isolated, the ship's officers robbed them of their money and precious goods. Penniless, the separatists were herded back into town, publicly persecuted, and handed over to the magistrates. After a month of imprisonment, most were set free. Seven remained imprisoned.
The separatists were captive within their own country, but this would not calm their desire to seek religious freedom.