Bassetlaw’s greatest contribution to history is perhaps not the ‘Mayflower’ Pilgrims but the movement that also developed in the early 1600s to give people freedom of choice over their religion.
Two men with Bassetlaw origins — John Smyth of Sturton and Thomas Helwys of Askham — were the first Englishmen to publish books arguing for an end to Government interference in religion — at a time when you could be imprisoned for not going to church. Helwys is of huge importance for arguing this freedom should extend to any religion, for which he died in prison. But the ideas travelled to America with the Worksop-born daughter of an old friend and her new husband, Roger Williams. There they created Rhode Island, the first American colony to have full religious liberty, and the ideas survived to influence the USA First Amendment and the UN Declaration of Human Rights. In the 21st century, these ideas are more important than ever.
Bassetlaw now has an annual event to mark this extraordinary story and here about the continued need for tolerance and freedom today. The free event will be held on 10th March at The Well, Retford, from 10.30am. Amongst the fascinating range of guest speakers is the historian from the Civil War Museum in Newark, the CEO of the National Holocaust Centre, and an Iranian refugee and human rights campaigner. For further details contact firstname.lastname@example.org.