Canon A.M.Cook wrote his book "Lincolnshire Links With The U.S.A." in 1956 and is the source for this webpage - producing a timeline linking Lincolnshire with America
A couple of definitions from Cook:
Puritan - an Anglican who wanted to "purify" the church of Catholic influence
Separatist - an Anglican, agreeing with Robert Brown, supporting setting up an independent church
John Smith - a military pioneer colonist
Rev John Smith - a Separatist leader, based at the Old Hall, Gainsborough
1580 Francis Drake sails around the world
John Smith is born in the Lincolnshire Wolds (Willoughby)
1588 Defeat of the Spanish Armada
1603 Rev John Smith arrives to support the Separatist movement at the Old Hall, Gainsborough by building on the Puritan leadership of Rose Hickman. Supported by William Bradford he sets up a Baptist Church and is the first to propose Separatist congregations should migrate to Holland.
1606 The Virginia Company is formed and Newport, Wingfield & John Smith sail for America - with only 35 surviving by the following summer
1607 John Smith & Radcliffe have set up fortifications around this first colony - Jamestown - but Smith is captured by Native Americans and only survives when Pocahontas claims him
Separatists Richard Jackson & William Brewster evade arrest by the Ecclesiatical Court at York for non-attendance at church. They were in Boston, attempting to sail for Holland with a wider group - of which Brewster and John Robinson (a colleague of Rev John Smith) were arrested and held in the cells under the Guildhall.
1608 By the summer - there were no Separatists left at Gainsborough, following a succession of migrations from Immingham & Boston across to Holland. Characters included William Bradford, William Brewster, Richard Jackson, John Robinson, John Smith. Whilst the Dutch churches pleased them in their complete removal of all things Catholic - the prosperous locals were far less frugal and conservative in their tastes and behaviours than the simple folk of the rural Lincolnshire.
1609 John Smith is hurt in a gunpowder accident and returns to England. Lord Delaware replaces him and, with the success of tobacco farming, the Virginia colony grows to become the foundation of the United States of America
The Separatists Robinson & Brewer in Holland, dissatisfied with their hosts churches, apply to set up their own church of 100 folk in Leyden. The church prospered with Winslow, John Carver and William Bradford becoming more prominent.
1614 John Smith, disillusioned with Virginia, gain the support to try again, this time in New England, and returned in August with furs, fish and a newly created map. Backed by Prince Charles, many names on the map were altered but, in its' final form, it sold over 7,000 copies.
1617 The Christian Reformed Church in Leyden (as it has been established) were again struggling. Brewster was in trouble for some of his printing activities and Robinson had been too critical of the Dutch church. Encouraged by John Wincob of Sutterton they started to explore what an emigration to America might involve. They sent an agent, Cushman to England and, with the luke-warm support of King James.
1620 A 7-Year contract was struck between the Separatists and their financiers, enabling the purchase of the Mayflower - which was kitted out and sailed to Southampton. The Pilgrim Fathers left Holland to join it on a smaller ship - the Speedwell - which foundered twice beyond Lands End and so, finally, a capacity filled Mayflower set out alone. Of the Pilgrims - Bradford, Francis Cooke & Mrs Carver were from the Scooby group - there were none from Lincolnshire.
John Smith had earlier attempted another voyage, lost a battle with pirates and eventually returned to England to write - including harsh criticism of the voyage and intentions of the Separatist group.
On November 11th the Pilgrim Fathers sited land at Cape Cod and, before landing wrote and signed the political Compact that would bind them together in the challenges to come. Brewster and Bradford were the leaders as they went ashore.
1621 The Pilgrim Fathers, with Brewster as Ruling Elder and Deacon Fuller in support went about establishing their colony at Plymouth in the depths of winter. Carver was elected Governor but, when he died of sunstroke during the summer, William Bradford was elected successor.
The Fortune arrived during the year, bringing another 30 colonists.
Bradford and Edward Winslow shared offices of Governor and Deputy for many years, except for periods when Winslow returned to England to act as the Colony Agent.
Theophilus inherits the title 4th Earl of Lincoln at 20 years old and his uncle arranges Thomas Dudley to serve as his steward. Theophilus marries Bridget, daughter of Lord Saye and Sele, settling at Tattershall Castle. His mother and the rest of his siblings moved into the Elizabethan part-completed Priory mansion at Sempringham. The eldest sister, Lady Frances Clinton Fiennes, married John Gorges and the Massachusetts Bay Company was created by this extended household. Regulars at Sempringham included John Winthrop, Emmanuel Downing, & Isaac Johnson.
1623 The Katherine left Plymouth, England for the coast of Maine. On board was Rev William Morrell (Boston) and Rev William Blackstone (Horncastle). Morrell soon returned but Blackstone became a trapper in what was to become Boston Common, USA and is recognised as the first inhabitant.
The 2nd eldest daughter at Sempringham, Lady Arbella, marries Rev Isaac Johnson of Stamford
1625 The Anne arrived at Plymouth USA with a further 60 colonists and the future of the colony was secured. Unlike the other colonies further south, Plymouth was independent of England, had its' own governance and therefore independence.
1626 the 3rd daughter at Sempringham, Lady Susannah, married John Humphrey.
1628 Governor John Endicott sailed for America from Weymouth in "Abigail" - fitted out by John Humphrey from Sempringham. He establishes his colony at Salem - 60 miles north of Plymouth.
4th March 1629 marked the Massachusetts Bay Company receiving its charter from Charles 1. Johnson, Winthrop & Dudley had all recently joined and, whilst a trading company, the charter granted many of the powers you would expect from a state. Coupled with the leadership driven by the religious desire to set up a free Puritan Church - it is understandable why Massachusetts grew in such a successful and organised manner. In July - the "Talbot" sailed for Salem from Gravesend. Aboard was Rev Higginson, sent from Sempringham and Rev Samuel Skelton, previously a Rector at Sempringham. In October, the courts confirmed the governance of Massachusetts be transferred to the Massachusetts Bay Company - who went on to appoint John Winthrop as Governor and Dudley as his Deputy Governor of the new Commonwealth.
1630 John Smith writes of Winthrop and his great fleet group, created by the Massachusetts Bay Company, in more positive terms than the 1620 Separatists - congratulating them on their preparations and equipment. 11 ships were kitted out and sailed on Easter Monday. Led by Winthrop in "Arbella" the Lincolnshire contingent included Lady Arbella Johnson & Isaac, Richard Saltonstall, Thomas Dudley with Anne & Simon Bradstreet, Rev George Phillips, William Pelham, William Coddington, Pickworth & the Cheeseborough family, Charles Fiennes & his sister. Rev John Cotton travelled from St Botolphs, Boston to see them off - preaching a sermon of care for the Native Americans.
They arrive gravely ill - with Lady Arbella soon dying and Isaac shortly after. William Blackstone is still trapping on the south side of the Charles River and encourages Winthrop & Johnson to cross and join him to form the colony of Boston.
1631 John Smith dies, but has by now written much about America. Many of his writings have been negative and he has been accused of bitterness but, as Saltonstall wrote, he had done much to defend religion and warn of the harsh realities of being a colonist in America.
1632 Boston is slowly growing - with occasional ships from England, including Boston headmaster Thomas James.
1633 John Cotton has been at Sempringham for a few months and decides to emigrate with a large group from Lincolnshire on the "Griffin". Also aboard was Attherton, Hough, Leverett, Edmund Quincey, Edward Mellows, Truesdale & William Pierce.
1634 John Humprey & Lady Susannah Fiennes, William Hibbins & Anne, Oliver Mellows with Mrs Coney & John all emigrated. Later the "Griffin" made another voyage with Anne Hutchinson and the Heatons.
1640 As the reign of King James I drew to a close there were 20,000 colonists in New England, with the Massachusetts state the largest, best governed and educated. The group at Sempringham, together with the inspirational preaching of John Cotton, ex puritan Vicar of Boston (UK) inspired a core of Lincolnshire Bostonians - used to worshipping together and many of influential families - to take many of the leadership roles in founding Boston USA. However the English civil war was impending - slowing the number of migrants.