Villagers set up link between East Budleigh and American city founded by Devon-born settler 400 years ago

A group of residents have set up a link between East Budleigh and an American city founded by a Devon-born settler some 400 years ago.  

The Conant 400 project aims to celebrate Roger Conant, who left the village and set sail across the Atlantic in 1623.

East Devon MP Simon Jupp has praised the initiative.

It has been set up to coincide with Mayflower 400 – the Plymouth-based organisation commemorating the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the Pilgrim Fathers in the New World.

None of the Mayflower Pilgrims came from Devon, but the 1620 voyage was followed by many other groups in a phenomenon known as the Great Puritan Migration.

Among them was Roger Conant, the youngest son of East Budleigh’s miller who sailed to America in 1623.

Three years later, he founded the city of Salem Massachusetts.

Conant initially joined the Plymouth Pilgrims, but apparently found them too strict for his liking.

He has been admired by Americans for his attitude of tolerance and conciliation at a time when the early settlers faced so many dangers.

Professor Stanley Roberts, chairman of the Conant 400 group, said that positive contact had been made with City of Salem officials and with Salem State University.

He added that various ways of commemorating Roger Conant were being explored.

The group has also been in contact with Tourist Information Centres in East Devon to discover how the area can benefit from the Mayflower 400 celebrations.

East Devon MP Simon Jupp said of the project: “East Devon should be proud of its pilgrim, Roger Conant.

“He was a leader with vision.

“I congratulate members of East Budleigh’s Conant 400 project for their initiative in developing transatlantic links which I hope will benefit local tourism and education.”

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