Why were the Pilgrims known as the Separatists?
While they were still in England they had decided that the Church of England was still papist and started practicing their own form of Protestantism.
Late in 16th Century there was a feeling among many people that the church was still too "papist," that is, they were still doing the bidding of the church in Rome.
There was one group of people who believe that the Church of England could be "purified" from within it. This group is known today as the "Puritans." Many English believed the Pope was still trying to influence the Church of England. To stem such beliefs the church changed prayers, in particle the "Lord's Prayer" from Latin to English.
But the "separatists" did not believe the Church of England would ever divorce itself of Catholic beliefs. Those separatists who came to America were lead by William Brewster. Brewster and his followers were convinced that King James 1 with his relaxation of rules concerning Catholics was preparing England for a return to Catholicism. Conversely, James 1 threatened the separatist with jail unless they pledged allegiance to the Church of England.
The separatist first went to Holland to escape the wrath of James. They stayed there a number of years before deciding they needed a place of their own which became the Plymouth Colony.
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