Pilgrims: A small group of people arrived in the New World from England on a ship named the Mayflower. They landed at Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts. Back in England, everyone had to belong to the Church of England. The Pilgrims did not want to belong to the Church of England. They were seeking religious freedom from the Church of England.
Puritans: About 10 years later, a large group of people called the Puritans arrived in the New World, also from England. They believed everyone should belong to the Church of England or be punished. They left England and came to the New World because they believed the Church of England needed to be purified. In their opinion, the Church was embracing too many Catholic beliefs. They settled in Boston. They practiced religious intolerance. They wanted to be part of the Church of England, but they wanted the church's beliefs purified.
Alike: Both groups spoke English. Both groups arrived from England at about the same time. Both groups thought of themselves as Englishmen and were loyal to the King. Both groups came to the New World because of their disagreement with the Church of England.
Quakers: There was another religious group in the colonies called the Quakers. They also disagreed with the Church of England. Many Quakers left England for the New World. They settled in Pennsylvania in the 1600s. There, they practiced religious freedom for everyone. People were free to believe what they wanted and talk to God in their own way. People from all over Europe poured into their communities, seeking religious freedom. The Quakers believed that violence was not the way to solve problems. The Quakers were known as "The Friends".
Learn More about the Quakers
The Quakers in Colonial Times
Learn More about the Pilgrims
The Pilgrims land in America
Learn More about the Puritans
Puritans - Who were they and what did they believe?
Learn More about the Puritans, Pilgrims, and Quakers
Differences between the Pilgrims and Puritans (video, 3 minutes)
Religions in the 13 Colonies
Daily Life in the 13 Colonies (games & activities)
Puritans & Pilgrims - Free Lesson Plans
13 Colonies - Free Powerpoints
How the Puritans Differ from the Pilgrims
Puritanism, which consists of the Puritans and the Pilgrim, was a group of believers that broke away from the Catholic Church after the English Reformation, which was brought about after the pope of the Catholic Church denied Henry VIII his intended divorce.
Although these two groups originated from the same place, they are having a lot of differences between them. The first notable difference was their timing of arrival into America from England. The Pilgrims, led by Robert Browne came earlier in the year 1620, having travelled from Holland aboard the Mayflower. They were fewer in number having endured a rough voyage and settled at Plymouth. The Puritans led under the leadership of John Foxe, arrived nearly a decade later records showing between the years 1629 and 1630. They arrived in many ships and settled in the Massachusetts Bay. They greatly outnumbered the earlier Pilgrim visitors.
The Puritans were reformers; they had an overall aim to reform the Anglican Church from within. They had a more rational understanding of the relationship between the Church and the State. They also believed that the Church of England was indeed they one true Church and remained loyal to England besides their style of worship. Although the Pilgrims, also known as the Separatists, were once one with the Puritans they broke away from them following the failure to realize certain ideas and also the belief that they shouldn’t compromise on their “purification” in the matter of Church and State. With this discontent they left England and are seen as the first to voyage to America.
The Puritans also gave a lot of emphasis to Religion and Education. Although not all Puritans that travelled aboard the Mayflower came for religious purpose some came to pursue better economic opportunities this made them have an upper hand in the society as they were ranked as the upper middle class. The Pilgrims for the most part were really poor, referred to as yeomen.
The pilgrims had a more democratic system of governance. Having developed a sort of covenant, their leaders and members were equal with clear separation of the State and Church. The puritans system of governance was more theocratic. Having retained the English system in which the leaders were given the divine to rule and authority over the people. In this system of governance the State and Church overlapped.
As much as the two people have the same origin, the puritans and the pilgrims are very much different.