Person:John Lyford (3)

John Lyford, Reverend
b.BEF 1590
d.abt 1628 Virginia
  • HJohn Lyford, ReverendBEF 1590 - abt 1628
  • WSarah OakleyABT 1586 -
m. by 1617
  1. Obadiah LyfordEST 1617 - 1639
  2. Ruth Lyfordest 1619 -
  3. Mordecai LyfordEST 1621 -
  4. Martha Or Mary Lyford1628 - 1693
Facts and Events
Name John Lyford, Reverend
Gender Male
Birth[1] BEF 1590
Marriage by 1617 to Sarah Oakley
Other[1][2] 1624 Plymouth, Plymouth County, MassachusettsMigration
Reference Number? Q6245573?
Death[1] abt 1628 Virginia

the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

The Reverend John Lyford (c. 1580 – 1634) was a controversial figure during the early years of the Plymouth Colony. After receiving degrees from Oxford University (A.B. 1597, A.M. 1602), he became pastor at Leverlegkish, near Laughgaid, Armagh, Ireland. He was the first ordained minister to come to the Plymouth Colony. He arrived in 1624 aboard the Charity and pretended to be sympathetic to the Separatist movement there, while in reality he was allied with the Church of England. In the months ahead, the leaders of the colony discovered that Lyford had been writing letters to England disparaging the Separatist movement at Plymouth. Governor William Bradford seized some of these letters before they were sent, opened them, and confronted Lyford about their contents. Lyford apologized, but later wrote another similar letter that was also intercepted. After the second incident, Lyford was sentenced to banishment.

Before he was banished, Lyford's wife, Sarah, came forward with further charges. Lyford had fathered a child out of wedlock with another woman before his marriage, and after his marriage, he was constantly engaging in sexual relationships with his housemaids. In his famous history, Of Plymouth Plantation, Bradford wrote that Sarah Lyford came forward and explained

how he (Lyford) had wronged her, as first he had a bastard by another before they were married, and she having some inkling of some ill cariage that way, when he was a suitor to her, she tould him what she heard, and deneyd him; but she not certainly knowing the thing, other wise then by some darke and secrete muterings, he not only stifly denied it, but to satisfie her tooke a solemne oath ther was no shuch matter. Upon which she gave consente, and married with him; but afterwards it was found true, and the bastard brought home to them. She then charged him with his oath, but he prayed pardon, and said he should els not have had her. And yet afterwards she could keep no maids but he would be medling with them, and some time she hath taken him in the maner, as they lay at their beds feete, with shuch other circumstances as I am ashamed to relate.

Later, the real reason why Lyford came to New England was revealed. While giving pre-marital counseling to a girl in his parish back in Ireland, Lyford raped her; and when she later told the matter to her husband, he and his friends hunted Lyford down, which resulted in Lyford's departure to Plymouth Colony. Bradford's account of the rape and what followed is rather vivid:

some time after marriage the woman was much troubled in mind, and afflicted in conscience, and did nothing but weepe and mourne, and long it was before her husband could get of her what was the cause. But at length she discovered the thing, and prayed him to forgive her, for Lyford had overcome her, and defiled her body before marriage, after he had commended him unto her for a husband, and she resolved to have him, when he came to her in that private way. The circumstances I forbear, for they would offend chast ears to hear them related, (for though he satisfied his lust on her, yet he indeavored to hinder conception.) These things being thus discovered, the womans husband tooke some godly friends with him, to deale with Liford for this evill. At length he confest it, with a great deale of seeming sorrow and repentance, but was forst to leave Irland upon it, partly for shame, and partly for fear of further punishmente, for the godly withdrew them selves from him upon it; and so coming into England unhapily he was light upon and sente hither.[1]

Accordingly, Lyford was expelled from Plymouth Colony, went to Nantasket, then Cape Ann, and finally moved to Virginia, where he died. Because of his immoral behavior, Lyford is grouped with several other men that the Pilgrims considered detrimental to their project of settling a "godly" community in America; among these were Thomas Granger, Thomas Morton, and John Billington.

Following Lyford's death on March 8, 1649, his widow Sarah remarried Edmund Hobart Sr., a prominent early settler of Hingham, Massachusetts.

Weston's Ships: The Sparrow, the Charity, and the Swan (1622)
Thomas Weston sent three ships - the Sparrow, the Charity, and the Swan - to New England in 1622 carrying men who were to settle at Wessagusset (Weymouth). The men boarded at Plymouth the summer of 1622 before going on to Weymouth. Few of the men have been identified.
Sailed: March(?) 1622 from an unspecified port in England
Arrived: Late May & June 1622 at Plymouth, Massachusetts, before continuing to Weymouth, Massachusetts by August.
Previous Vessel: The Fortune (1621)
Next Vessel: The Anne and the Little James (1623)

Phineas Pratt - John Lyford (probably)

Resources: Primary Sources: Bradford's History of Plymouth Plantation - Mourt's Relation - Pilgrim Hall (wills and other contemporary documents)

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original content was at John Lyford. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with WeRelate, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.
  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 John Lyford entry, in Anderson, Robert Charles. The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England, 1620-1633. (Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1995).
  2. perhaps aboard the Charity