Thankful for My Badass Puritan Pilgrim Ancestors

The terms “badass” and “Puritan” probably shouldn’t go together but for this post, I’m daring to use them side by side. As we prepare our Turkey dinners and get ready to spend time with family and friends tomorrow, we reflect on what Thanksgiving truly means and how it all began.  In doing genealogical research this past year, I’ve discovered several ancestors who arrived to America in the 1600’s during what was referred to as The Great Migration.

During this time, English Puritans arrived to The new world in hopes to free themselves of religious persecution and start anew with a like-minded community. While most people are familiar with the Mayflower, I’d like to share a story of a handful of my awesomely-defiant ancestors who made their way to America during this time.

Reverend John Lathrop/Lothropp
Artist unknown – Boston: John Wilson & Son, 1852.

Reverend John Lothropp (spelled a variety of different ways across historical documents) was arrested in 1632, along with many members of his congregation and was brought before the Court of the High Commission.¹ The charges brought against them were of sedition (“an insurrection against established authority”), and holding conventicles which were considered secret or unlawful religious meetings, typically of nonconformists.² The charges could mean life or death for many of these individuals and such dangerous situations in England propelled the Great Migration.

Among those who were charged were the Reverend’s brother and sister-in-law Samuel Howse/Howes (my 10th-great-uncle) and Pennina Howse/Howes (my 10th-great-grandmother). Along with Lothropp, both siblings were brought before the High Commission and questioned.  They stood firmly by their beliefs and refused to admit to wrongdoing:³

After refusing to take the oath, they were sent to serve time in the New Prison.  Most of the group remained imprisoned until some escaped and others were pardoned by the King in 1634.  They agreed to leave England and to never return again.⁴

As I researched these ancestors, I was amazed when I first discovered their documented words in history.  Like many Puritans, these individuals were willing to risk their lives for what they believed in and ultimately, it paid off.  On Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for these brave, bold and ultimately, badass ancestors.

*For a fantastic Great Migration reference resource, check out Robert Charles Anderson’s The Great Migration Directory on

¹Champlin, Burrage. The Early English Dissenters (1550-1641): Volume 2, Illustrative Documents. (Cambridge University Press, 1912/2012). Google Books, Accessed 22 Nov 2017.
² Oxford Dictionaries. “Conventicle”. Accessed November 22, 2017.
³England and Wales. Court of Star Chamber. Reports of Cases in the Courts of Star Chamber and High Commission. (Camden Society, 1886). Google Books, Accessed 22 Nov 2017.
⁴ Stoughton, John. Ecclesiastical history of England : from the opening of the long parliament to the death of Oliver Cromwell (Jackson, Walford and Hodder, 1867)., Accessed 22 Nov 2017.


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