Rev. Henry Dillingham

Rev. Henry DILLINGHAM (1568 – 1625)  was Alex’s 11th Great Grandfather; one of 4,096  in this generation of the Shaw line.   Two of his children, Edward and John were early immigrants.

Dillingham – Coat of Arms

Henry Dillingham may have been born in 1568, Dean, Bedfordshire, England. His father was William DILLINGHAM (c. 1527 -24 Feb 1602/03, Cotesbach, Leicestershire, England) and Kathrina MARSTON. He married Oseth [__?__] in 1591 in Cotesbach, Leicestershire, England.  After Oseath died, he married Margaret [__?__]. Henry died 4 Dec 1625, Cotesbach, Leicestershire, England at age 57 and was buried 9 Dec 1625, Cotesbach, Leicestershire, England .

St. Mary’s Church, Cotesbach, Leicester, England – Henry Dillingham Rector of Cottesbach who was also patron of the living of Bitteswell in 1606. His son Edward was a Gentleman landowner of Bitteswell before emmigrating to Massachusetts in 1632.

Oseth [__?__] was born in 1568 in Cottesbach, , Leicestershire, England. Oseth died 16 Jun 1609 in Cottesbach, Leicestershire, England

Children of Henry and Oseath:

Name Born Married Departed
1. John Dillingham baptized
17 Sep 1592
Cotesbach, Leicestershire England
2. Henry Dillingham 17 Feb 1592/93
Cotesbach, Leicestershire England
29 Jul 1609
3. Edward DILLINGHAM  baptized on 6 Dec 1595 at Cotesbach, Leicester, England Ursula CARTER at Cotesbach, Leicester, England, on 14 Feb 1614/15.  between 1 May 1666 when he wrote his will and 5 June 1667 when it was proven in Sandwich, Plymouth Colony.
4.  Gilbert Dillingham bapt.
24 Oct 1597
Cotesbach, LeicestershireEngland
19 Aug 1609
5. Mary Dillingham 5 May 1600
Cotesbach, Leicestershire England
21 Oct 1609
Cotesbach, England
6. Catherine Dillingham c. 1600 William Allen
of Burrow, Leics
7. Martha Dillingham 29 Jan 1601/02
Cotesbach, Leicestershire England
11 Jul 1609
Cotesbach, England
8. Oseath Dillingham 12 Feb 1602/03
Cotesbach, Leicestershire England
9. John Dillingham 13 July 1606 Cottesbach, Leicestershire Sarah [__?__] 1635
Ipswich, Mass

Repeated tragedy struck in 1609 when his wife and four of his children died within 4 months.

Rev. Henry Dillingham was the rector of Coltesbach in Leicester and also owned a freehold estate in the neighboring parish of Bitteswell.

Notes prob by Dean Dudley Edward Dillingham … Most probably the son of Edward Dillingham Gent Freeholder in 1630 (see Nichols History of Leicester Vol 4 Part 1 Page 42) Son of Rev Henry Dillingham Rector of Cottesback who was also patron of the living of Bitteswell in 1606 (ditto p 47) Rev Henry Dillingham of Cottesback d.Dec 9 1625 and on his monument is “Henry Dillingham qui his sepullus est Dec 9 1625”. He was Rector of the Parish of Cottesback from 1607 until Dec 1625 (ditto p 148,150). Edward Dillingham of Sandwich named his eldest son after his own grandfather the Rector. Notes by ED Later it seems to have been figured out that Edward Dillingham Gent Freeholder was in fact the immigrant. He married and had one of his sons in England. His brother John came here in 1630 with Gov Winthrop; Edward followed in 1632. Rev Henry b c1555 Rector 1607 d 1625 Edward Gent b c1580 Edward Immigrant b c1605 m c1626 Emigrant 1630 Deputy 1642 d 1667 Henry his son b 1627 in England Rev Henry b c1570 Rector 1607 d 1625 Edward Immigrant b c1600 m c1626 Emigrant 1630 Deputy 1642 d 1667 Henry his son b 1627 in England The latter seems more likely, since all the generations of our family run more than 30 years. The former requires that the Rev Henry was 52 years old when he became Rector. If we could find the Rev Henry’s date of birth it would probably settle the question completely. [WE DID! He was the second of four brothers and was born in 1568, son of William.] But Margaret Haile says Henry received his BA from Christ’s College (Cambridge) in 1574/5; MA 1578; ordained Deacon and Priest 1581; Rector of Cotesbach 1581; died there December 1625. This makes him born c.1550 and getting on when Edward was born 1595, but certainly more likely his father than his grandfather. Based on these arguments I show The Rev Henry as the father of Edward, both Gent Freeholder and Immigrant. Why would a freeholder emigrate? Maybe because the Puritan son of a Church of England clergyman was uncomfortable in England under Charles I, or perhaps because he saw the civil war coming (it started in 1644, I think) and didn’t want to disagree with his father, whom he chose to honor by naming his son Henry. The Reverend Henry Dillingham was born during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I and died (Dec 1625, from his tombstone) during the reign of Charles I. [DILLIN.GED]

1602 Document signed Rev. Henry Dillingham


6. Catherine Dillingham

In 1619 William Camden, Clarenceux King of Arms, made a Visitation of the County of Leicester, and recorded pedigrees of many families. The Dillinghams were not so honored, but two of them married above their station and appear in the Allen and Marstone pedigrees. William Allen of Burrow, Leics married Katherina (or Catherine) daughter of Henry Dillingham of Deane. Was this our Henry? He might have moved from Deane to Cottesbach afterward; alternately this might have been his cousin. Winthrop Alexander has the same source: “William Allen of Burrow, county Leicester, aged 26 in 1619, married Katherine, daughter of Henry Dillingham of Dean. Their first child was born 1619.” Alexander does not identify her father Henry as the father of Edward, etc. and lists his eight children by name. Katherine would fit in the middle of these. Moreover, Henry was Rector of Cottesbach in 1600. Henry father of Katherine may be a cousin of our Henry. [DILLIN.GED]

9. John Dillingham

Edward’s brother John Dillingham also immigrated.  While Edward lived in Plymouth, John was up north in Ipswich.

John Dillingham, brother of Edward, sons of Henry and Oseth. Edward was appointed his executor 6 Sept 1636. Arrived in Plymouth either with Edward or earlier. Possibly John in 1630, Edward in 1632. From a Caldwell genealogy: John Dillingham was from Leicestershire, and came in the fleet with Winthrop. He was first at Boston. He received his title and was made a freeman in 1630. His name appears in Ipswich in 1634, the year following the settlement of the town by Winthrop and twelve others. In November 1634 he had a grant of six acres in Ipswich, lying on the west side of the town and the north side of the great swamp. He sold marsh lands to William Payne. He probably died in 1635. Mr. Savage says that “dead” is written against his name (No.71) in the list at Boston. At the time of his death he had an adventure of 604 pounds 3s 11p on board ship Sea Flower. He left a wife, Sarah, and two children, Edward and Sarah. The wife and son very soon followed him to the grave. July 10, 1636, Widow Sarah Dillingham, made her will being then “weak and sick.” Edward, the son, was then dead, and the little Sarah was committed to the guardianship of Richard Saltonstall, Esquire and Mr Samuel Appleton. Winthrop Alexander quotes historical documents about John and his wife Sarah at some length. (pp 249-253). [DILLIN.GED]

The New England historical & genealogical register and antiquarian …, Volume 7 By New England Historic Genealogical 1853

[Edward Dillingham, gent. Freeholder of Bitteswell, Co. Leicester Eng., about A. D. 1600. Arms :—Argent, ten fleurs de lis   Thomas Dillingham living at. Over Dean, A. D. 1600, had sons, viz.—1 John born 1600, D. D. 2. Theophilus born 1602, Master of Clare Hall, Camb. A. D. 1654, left posterity. Rev. Thomas, of the same family, was Rector of All Saints, Barnwell Co. Northampt. A. D. 1618, left posterity. William wrote a Life of Dr. Chadderton. The family were very numerous in the Parish of Dean about A. D. 1600. • D. D.}

John immigrated in 1630, first living in Boston and then Lynn 1632, and Ipswich 1634. He visited England in late 1631, visiting Essex at least, and returning to New England by 1632. He married by 1634 (and possibly during his visit to England in 1631-2) Sarah Caly; she died at Ipswich between 14 July 1636 (date of will) and 6 September 1636 (court order on estate).   John died betwen Dec 1634 (grant of land in Ipswich) and July 1636 (will of wife Sarah).

He was admitted to Boston church as member #71, which would be in the winter of 1630/31.

FREEMAN: Requested 19 October 1630 and admitted 18 May 1631 (both times as “Mr. John Dillingham”).

EDUCATION: Sarah Dillingham made provision in her will for the education of her daughter Sarah, and the estate papers contain references to payments for the child’s education, and to books which belonged to her .

OFFICES: Jury in trial of Thomas Dexter, 3 May 1631 [MBCR 1:86].

ESTATE: In November 1634 granted “six acres of land, lying at the west end of the town [Ipswich] on the south side of the great swamp”; on 29 December 1634 granted sixty acres of meadow in Rock Meadow, also thirty acres of upland adjoining to it [Ipswich Town Records].

Since John Dillingham died about 1635, and his wife within a year or so, the records of their estates are totally intermingled. In 1645, when most of the accounts had been settled, the General Court ordered that the “wills of John and Sarah Dillingham with the inventory shall be kept by Mr. Nowell and Hibbins and Richard Saltonstall discharged [MBCR 2:145; EPR 1:10]. This implies that only one inventory was taken, apparently after both husband and wife had died; the will of John Dillingham has not survived, although that of Sarah has.

On 14 July 1636 “Sarah Dillingham of Ipswich widow” made her will, bequeathing to “my only child Sarah Dillingham my whole estate in land and goods (except such particular legacies as hereafter are named),” but if she dies before marriage or before reaching the age of twenty-one, the estate is to be equally divided among “my mother Thomasine Caly, my brothers Abraham Caly and Jacob Caly, my sister Bull and my sister Bast, the wives of John Bull and John Bast, and my sisters Rebecca Caly and Emme Caly,” all of whom are now living in England; to Mr. Ward, pastor of the Ipswich church, £5; to Richard Saltonstall Esq., £10, and to Mrs. Saltonstall his wife a silver bowl; to Mr. Samuel Appleton, £5, and to his wife a silver porringer; Mr. Saltonstall and Mr. Appleton to be executors [EPR 1:3-4].

The undated inventory, apparently of the estate of both John and Sarah Dillingham, totalled £385 14s. 5d., of which £130 was real estate: “the house with the appurtenances, viz. fencing, apple trees with other fruits in the gardens with 30 acres of uplands, 60 acres of meadow & 6 acres of planting ground near the house,” £130 [EPR 1:4-5].

1645 – Our ancestor John PERKINS was appraiser to the estate of Sarah Dillingham.

John Perkins’ signature on Sarah Dillingham’s Inventory

On 6 September 1636 the General Court ordered that “Mr. Dudley, Mr. Endecot and Mr. Bradstreete, or any two of them, should examine the accounts between Mr. Richard Saltonstall and Edward Dillingham, and report on the estate of John Dillingham and his wife, deceased” [MBCR 1:177; EPR 1:6]. Edward Dillingham, brother of John, had apparently been bequeathed one-third of the estate of John Dillingham in the latter’s will, and nearly ten years passed before he and Richard Saltonstall settled all outstanding differences, with Saltonstall accusing Edward Dillingham of taking unfair advantage. During this time there were several allowances made to the surviving child, Sarah Dillingham, for her maintenance and education. In 1645 the court allowed Richard Saltonstall £924 2s. 1d. from the estate. Also, Dudley, Endicott and Bradstreet were replaced as commissioners by Increase Nowell and Thomas Mayhew, and Mayhew himself was later supplanted by William Hibbins [EPR 1:5-10; WP 3:384].

ohn Dillingham’s movements during his brief span of years in New England are not well recorded, but the following itinerary is suggested. His appearance in several records in late 1630 and early 1631 (request for and admission to freemanship, admission to Boston church, service on criminal trial jury) all point clearly to his arrival in 1630 as part of the Winthrop Fleet. His only residential connection is with Boston, based on church membership, and this is probably where he spent his first year or so in New England.

In late 1631 John Dillingham appears to have made a trip to England, probably returning to New England in early 1632. In a letter of 20 June 1632, James Wall of Witham, Essex, writing to John Winthrop Jr., speaks of “one Mr. John Dillingham of your plantation that had many goods and all the cows I was to receive, and he owed me money but would not speak me when he was here in England, though he was within 2 miles of my house and spoke with some of my kinsmen,” and then goes on at length about how the debt should be recovered [WP 3:80].

Aside from the implication that Dillingham was in England in late 1631 or early 1632, we may have here a clue as to the time of his marriage and the origin of his wife. We know from her will that John Dillingham’s wife Sarah was a Caly, and there may be some relationship with the Thomas Caley of Little Waldingfield in Suffolk, another correspondent of John Winthrop Jr. Note also that Henry Jacie, for many years a close neighbor of the Winthrops in Suffolk, in a letter of 12 June 1633 to John Winthrop Jr., sends his regards to “Mr. Dillingham of Rocksbury” [WP 3:128]; whether this reference represents an actual brief residence of John Dillingham in Roxbury, or simply confusion on Jacie’s part, we cannot tell.

After his return to New England in 1632, Dillingham seems to have taken up residence in Lynn. On 3 September 1633 the General Court appointed commissioners to hear the differences among John Dillingham, Richard Wright and Thomas Dexter, the latter two being associated with Lynn at this date [MBCR 1:108]. On 4 March 1633/4 the General Court ordered that “Mr. Dillingham shall be rated for the cattle he is possessed of, of Mr. Downeings” [MBCR 1:112; see WP 3:91, 163]; Emanuel Downing’s business interests in New England were carried out in Lynn, prior to Downing’s own arrival. Furthermore, John Dillingham’s elder brother Edward, when he came to New England about 1635, sat down at Lynn.

While John Dillingham was not in the list of the first twelve allowed to settle at Ipswich, he must have followed soon after, for he was receiving grants of land there in 1634.

Savage, and some others writing on John Dillingham in later years, have stated that John Dillingham had a son Edward, who had died by the time of Sarah (Caly) Dillingham’s will in 1636. There is no record evidence for this, and it probably derives from a misreading of the complicated estate proceedings of John and Sarah Dillingham, which frequently mention John’s elder brother Edward Dillingham.

Children of John and Elizabeth

i. Sarah Dillingham, b. say 1634; m. about 1654 John Caldwell (named son Dillingham Caldwell) [Augustine Caldwell, Caldwell Records (Boston 1873), pp. 9-13].


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Puritans v. Quakers – Trials & Tribulations

There’s a kind of sucker punch in many presentations of American history, wherein we are told that the Puritans left England for America because they had suffered religious persecution—and then the Puritans persecuted other religions here!  We’re given the impression that they were looking for freedom of religion and then denied it to others.

In the 1650’s several of our ancestors became Quakers and enduried escalating fines,  prison, banishment, whipping and ear cutting.   Some of these ancestors were closely involved when four Quakers were condemned to death and executed by public hanging for their religious beliefs in Boston in 1659, 1660 and 1661.   Richard SCOTT’s daughter Patience, in June, 1659, a girl of about eleven years, having gone to Boston as a witness against ‘the persecution of the Quakers, was sent to prison; others older being banished.  Today we ask, “What kind of people put an 11 year old girl in jail? ”

In our 2011 imagination, the Quakers are the conscientious objector good guys while the Puritans are the hypocritical tyrants.  Almost any book you read about the Massachusetts Bay Colony gives you the feeling that the moment those people set foot on shore in America they started betraying their own values. Objectivity is hard to come by when you’re reading about the Puritans.  Is our modern perspective accurate?

Navigate this Report
1. Puritan Perspective

2. Quaker Perspective
3. Trials & Tribulations

4. Boston Martyrs
5. Aftermath

3. Trials and Tribulations

It’s interesting to note that many of the our first Quaker converts were the children of New England’s early civic and religious leaders.

The Humble Immortals and Lt. Robert Pike

1653 – George MARTIN and Theophilus SHATSWELL were two of the fifteen “humble immortals” who, in 1653, stoutly and successfully maintained for the first time the right of petition for the subjects of the English crown.  Lt. Robert Pike, of Salisbury, (son-in-law of Joseph MOYCE)  an influential citizen, had denounced a law passed by the General Court, for which he was convicted, fined and disfranchised by the General Court.  Lt. Pike, a prominent town official and later a member of the General Court, denounced the law forbidding to preach if not Ordained. Which law was aimed at Joseph PEASLEE and Thomas Macy, believers in the Baptist Doctrine, with Quaker tendencies. The autocratic General Court resented this and Lieutenant Pike was fined over thirteen pounds and bound to good behavior.   This punishment caused many citizens of Salisbury and the surrounding towns to petition for a revocation of the sentence.  This offended the Court still more, and the signers were called upon to give “a reason for their unjust request”.  Out of the seventy-five who signed, the above mentioned fifteen alone refused to recede or apologize, and they were required to give bonds and to “answer for their offense before the County Court”.  Their cases were never called to trial, and they thus, by their firm stand, laid the foundation for these rights, which are now granted in all the civilized world.

Joseph Peaslee

Joseph PEASLEE  was a lay preacher as well as a farmer, and was reputed to have some skill in the practice of medicine. In the recognition of these natural gifts, he was, undoubtedly, made a citizen of Salisbury “Newtown.”

Later this gift of preaching made trouble in the new settlement and history for Joseph.  Soon after he removed to “Newtown,” the inhabitants neglected to attend the meetings for worship in the old town and did not contribute to the support of the minister. They held meetings for-worship at private houses, and in the absence of a minister, Joseph Peaslee and Thomas Macy officiated.The general court, which had jurisdiction over territory from Salem, Massachusetts, to Portsmouth, New Hampshire (was called Norfolk county), soon fined the inhabitants of “Newtown” five shillings each for every neglect of attending meetings in the old town and an additional fine of five shillings each to Joseph and Macy if they exhorted the people in the absence of a minister. This decree was not heeded. Meetings were held and Joseph and his friend continued to preach. The general court made additional decrees and fines, which also were not heeded.

Ralph Allen

1657 – Ralph ALLEN, his brothers, William and Matthew, as well as his brother-in-law, William Newland, were in trouble with the authorities at one time or another because they were Quakers. Ralph  had numerous difficulties with the authorities because of his conversion to the Quaker faith in 1657. In 1658, he was deprived of his vote in town meeting. In 1658 and 1659, he had  £68 in goods taken from him for refusing to swear to oaths and for attending Friends Meeting. In 1661, he was jailed in Boston.  They were liberated by order of Charles II who came to the Throne in 1660, but were taken from the jail and whipped through several towns before being set at liberty.

Ralph and William were called to serve on the jury but declined to take the oath. They were arraigned before the Court for having “disorderly” meetings at their houses. It was the old story of religious persecution. The charge was based on the fact that a few Friends had met in silence to wait upon God. Assembling like this was viewed by the magistrates as a grave offence and each was fined 20 shillings with an order they should find sureties (bond) in the sum of  £80 for their good behavior in the following six months. If they agreed to this, it would imply acknowledgement of the offence and agreement to stop their Quaker worship, so they unhesitatingly refused to comply. They were then put in jail for five months. After two and a half months in jail, they were offered their freedom if they agreed not to receive or listen to a Quaker but this they promptly refused to do.

Ralph Allen and six of his brothers and sisters continued with their Quaker meetings. The local ministers and magistrates seemed to have especially singled out the Allen family…they were the only individuals required to take the “oath of fidelity.”

See Elder George ALLEN‘s page for the stories of Ralph’s Quaker siblings.  George Sr. was an Anabaptist.  Maybe that’s why many of his children became Quakers.

Ralph’s brother George was fined on 8 June 1651 for failing to serve as a juror, and on 7 Oct 1651 both he and Hannah were fined for failure to attend public worship. George was also fined on several occasions for refusing to take the Oath of Fidelity to the King.

In 1675, however, records indicate that George changed his mind and took the Oath of Fidelity. 23 Feb 1675 – The town recorded the name of George Allen among those who had established their right to the privileges of the town. It may be that the town was admitting him to the franchise which had been taken from him for becoming a Quaker. The list of those voted to have a just right and interest in the town privileges included George Allen plus Caleb, Frederick, John, William, Ralph, and Francis Allen.

George may have been reprimanded by the Quakers for his 1657 marriage to Sarah who was not a Quaker, and later, on 3 June 1687, he acknowledged his wrongdoing. In 1683, George’s relationship with the Quakers of Sandwich became strained over the marriage of their daughter, Lydia, to Edward Wooley who was not a Quaker. [unconfirmed single source]

Ralph’s brother William and William’s wife Priscilla were very active and outspoken supporters of the Quaker movement, and over the years they were often fined for holding meetings and for entertaining visiting Quakers in their home. Aside from the monetary fines, William and Priscilla also had property seized, and on several occasions William had to endure whipping.

The Sandwich Friends Monthly Meeting, held at William Allen’s 4:3mo.: 1683 records on page 33. the intention of marriage of William Gifford to Mary Mills. “both of Sandwich”. At the same meeting, Gifford contributed 50 shillings to the meeting for the purchase of a cow. The marriage took place at the Meeting of 16 day 5mo.: 1683, the couple “having expressed their intentions at two meetings”. Both, again, are called of Sandwich”, and both signed the certificate (not by mark). It is interesting to note that there were thirty witnesses: [our relations are in boldWilliam and John NewlandGeorge. William, Francis, Jedediah, Zachariah AllenStephen WingEdward Perry, Lodowick Hauksie, Jedediah Jones. Thomas Grennell, Isaac Turner and John Goodspeed. Also Rose Newland: Susannah, Hannah and Elizabeth Jenkins: Priscilla, Hannah, Mary and two Elizabeth Allens; Lydia Gaunt, Jane Landers, Sarah Wing. Mary Perry, Mary Hauksie, Experience Goodspeed and Mary Turner. But none of the children of William Gifford signed the document, nor did James Mills, brother of the bride.

In one instance in 1661, Sheriff George Barlow of Sandwich [father-in-law to William’s brother Francis] went to William’s home while William was in jail in Boston. Having already seized the majority of William and Priscilla’s moveable property, Sheriff Barlow went into their home and took Priscilla’s last cooking pot and bag of meal. Upon doing so he sneered;

“Now Priscilla, how will thee cook for thy family and friends, thee has no kettle.”

Priscilla then replied;

“George, that God who hears the young ravens when they cry will provide for them, I trust in that God, and I verily believe the time will come when thy necessity will be greater than mine.”

Edward Perry and Mary Freeman

1654 – By the time Edward Perry, son of our ancestor Edmund PERRY was 23 years old, he had moved to the little town of Sandwich, where many of the Quakers settled.

His name first appears in the records of Sandwich, Plymouth Colony, for November 1652 when he was a member of a committee to acquire and store fish for the town’s use. In 1653 he was appointed a grand juryman. He was surveyor of highways in 1657, 1658, and 1674.

Due to his Quaker beliefs, when Edward married Mary Freeman [daughter of our ancestor Edmund FREEMAN],   he refused the services of the authorized magistrate, choosing a Quaker ceremony instead.  On March 7, 1653/54, the Court fined him five pounds for not being legally married and ordered him to have the marriage ratified. He refused and at the next session of the Court, on June 6, 1654, the Court ordered “Edward Perrry, for refusing to have his marriage ratified before Mr.Prence according to order of Court, is fined five pounds for this present Court and so five pounds for each General Court that shall be during the time of his said neglect for the future.”

Note that Edward employed a Quaker wedding ceremony in 1654, 3 years before the first Quaker congregation was established in Plymouth Colony, and 4 years before he formally joined that organization. The Quaker religious movement had been going since the late 1640’s, so there is nothing strange about him being a practicing Quaker before a Quaker “meeting” (congregation) existed in his area. The fact that his father-in-law, a very tolerant Puritan, was Lt Governor helped to deflect some of the Puritan anger, but the fines were still massive.

The Plymouth Colony records contain an entry for 7 Mar 1654 under the heading of “fines”: “Edward Perry, for unorderly proceeding, contrary to order of the Court, about his marriage, is fined five pound.” On the same date: “Thomas Tupper, for his negligence in not causing Edward Perry, of Sandwidg, to bee by him orderly married, being by the Court appointed to merry persons there, was required henceforth to desist, and is not intrusted with that business any more.”

On 6 Jun 1654 the Court again imposed a fine: “Edward Perry, for refusing to have his marriage rattifyed before Mr. Prence according to the order of Court, is fined five pounds for this present Court, and soe five pounds for every Generall Court that shall bee during the time of his said neglect for the future.”

On August 1, 1654, Edward was again fined. The final outcome of the conflict isn’t know but Edward’s difficulties didn’t cease.  At the beginning of June 1658, he and thirteen other men from Sandwich appeared before the Court to give reason for refusing to take the oath of fidelity. Because of their religion, they replied that it was unlawful for them to take the oath. The Court fined them 10 pounds apiece.

About 1657, he joined the newly formed Society of Friends. In 1658, the Quakers in Sandwich began having monthly meetings and the Court issued the third decree against them. It forbid, under severe penalties, holding or attending meeting. Following the decree, the fines and complaints against Quakers became so numerous that in June (1658), a marshal was chosen to help the constable.  That October, Edward and ten other men appearaed before the Court “to answer for their refusing to take the oath of fidelity and remaining obstinate.” The Court fined each of them ten pounds. In addition, “Edward Perry for using threatening speeches to abuse the marshal is fined to the use of the colony twenty shillings.”

Regularly throughout the years Edward’s name appeared in the court records. In 1658, 1659, and 1660 he and other Quakers were fined for refusing the oath of fidelity. In 1659 he was fined for “using threatning speeches” to the marshall. In 1663 he was called to account for a “rayling letter which hee wrote to the Court”. Nevertheless, he was respected enough to be appointed to share in community duties.

March, 1659/60 – The Court summoned Edward and six other men to answer about whether they would take the oath of fidelity. Edward and another man didn’t appear. The men who did appear said that they had not been duly summoned. There isn’t a record of them being fined.

13 Jun 1660 – The Court summoned Edward and eleven other men and asked them if they would take the oath. After all of the men refused to do, the Court fined them five pounds each. That is the last record of them being summoned or fined for refusing to take the oath of fidelity. The cause for some of the relief from fines and punishments appears to be due to interference from King Charles.

Arthur Howland and Elizabeth Prence

1657 –  Arthur Howland Jr.,  an ardent Quaker and son of Arthur HOWLAND Sr., was brought before the court.  Elizabeth Prence, daughter of Gov. Thomas PRENCE (also our ancestor)  and Arthur Howland Jr., fell in love. The relationship blossomed and matrimony seemed inevitable. However, it was illegal and punishable by court sanction for couples to marry without parental consent. Thomas Prence urged Elizabeth to break off the relationship, but to no avail. He then used powers available to him as Governor. Arthur Howland, Jr., was brought before the General Court and fined five pounds for

inveigling of Mistris Elizabeth Prence and making motion of marriage to her, and prosecuting the same contrary to her parents likeing, and without theire mind and will…[and] in speciall that hee desist from the use of any meanes to obtaine or retaine her affections as aforesaid.”

2 Jul 1667 – Arthur Howland, Jr., was brought before the General Court again where he “did sollemly and seriously engage before the Court, that he will wholly desist and never apply himself for the future as formerly he hath done, to Mistris Elizabeth Prence in reference unto marriage.” Guess what happened! They were married on December 9, 1667 and in time had a daughter and four sons. Thus a reluctant Thomas Prence acquired a Quaker son-in-law, Quaker grandchildren and innumerable Quaker in-laws of Henry Howland.

22 Dec 1657 – Arthur, his brother Henry and Henry’s son Zoeth were called before the Plymouth court to answer for entertaining a Quaker, and suffering and inviting sundry to hear said Quaker.  They were fined for using thier homes for Quaker meetings.’   The families of Arthur Howland and his brother  Henry, were two Plymouth families most identified as practicing Quakers. The families ceased attending Plymouth religious services and allowed their homes for the conduct of Quaker meetings.  Throughout his life, Arthur’s brother John HOWLAND (also our ancestor)  remained faithful to Separatist belief and practice, but his compassion for Quakers is not known.

1659 –  Arthur Jr.’s freeman status was revoked and in 1684 he was imprisoned in Plymouth.

1669 – Arthur was arrested for neglecting to pay his minister-tax; due to his advanced age and low estate he was excused from paying.

Sandwich Quakers

In 1657, “the people called Quakers” made their first appearance in Sandwich. In Bowden’s “History of the Society of Friends in America,”it is mentioned that two English Friends named ‘Christopher Holden  (See Puritans v. Quakers – Boston Martyrs) and John Copeland came to Sandwich on the 20th of 6th month ,1657, and had a number of meetings, and that their arrival was hailed with feelings of satisfaction by many who had long been burdened with a lifeless ministry and dead forms in religion. But the town had its advocates of reliigous intolerance and no small commotion ensued.” The Governor issued a warrant for their arrest, but when a copy of the warrant was asked for by William Newland at whose house the meetings had been held, it was refused and its execution was resisted. A severe rebuke and a fine was then inflicted upon them. The two prisoners were sentenced to be whipped, but the selectmen of the town declined to act in the case and the marshal was obliged to take them to Barnstable to find a magistrate willing to comply with the order.

Tradition reports that many meetings were held at a secluded spot in the woods which from the preacher’s Christian name was afterwards known as “Christopher’s Hollow.” Numerous complaints were made against divers persons in Sandwich for “meetings at private houses and inveighing against magistrates;” and several men and women were publicly whipped for “disturbing public worship, for abusing the ministers,” for “encouraging” others in holding meetings, for “entertaining the preachers and for unworthy speeches.”

Robert Harper

It seems probable that much of Edmund PERRY’s son-in-law Robert Harper’s land and personal property was taken from him because of his refusal to take the oath of Fidelity and for absenting himself from the authorized church worship. His name appears at the head of a list of Quakers, with fines of £44.  It may be that because of this he had few worldly goods to leave, as no record of the probate of his estate has come to light, nor can we find the date of his death.

1 June 1658 – Robert appeared before the court for failure to take the “oath of fidelitie”, and was fined £10  on at Plymouth, Plymouth Co., MA, New England.

2 Oct 1658 – Robert Harper was fined £5 for refusing to take the “oath of fidelitie”, along with twelve others of Sandwich, and was fined £5.

7 Jun 1659 – Robert appeared before the court for failure to take the “oath of fidelitie”, and fined £5  at Plymouth, Plymouth Co., MA, New England.

6 Oct 1659 – Robert appeared before the court for failure to take the “oath of fidelitie”, and fined £5 at Plymouth, Plymouth Co., MA, New England.

8 or 13 June 1660 – Robert Harper was fined fined £5 for refusing to take the “oath of fidelitie”. This fine was imposed by the court in regards to the 7 Mar 1660 appearance. on  at Plymouth, Plymouth Co., MA, New England.

2 Oct 1660 – Robert was convicted for refusing to take the “oath of fidelitie”, at the General Court in Plymouth; fined £6 at Plymouth, Plymouth Co., MA, New England.

2 Oct 1660 – Robert Harper and Deborah Perry were fined £4, “for being att Quakers meetings”.

1 Mar 1663/64 – Robert Harper appeared before the court for “intollorable insolent disturbance” and was ordered to be publicly whipped at Plymouth, Plymouth Co., MA, New England.

Henry DILLINGHAM and Elizabeth PERRY 

1659 – Henry DILLINGHAM and his wife  Elizabeth PERRY were early adopted the Quaker faith and suffered persecution in common with others of that sect.  Henry was son of  Edward DILLINGHAM  and Elizabeth was the daughter of Edmund PERRY., The trouble seems to have begun about 1656. In 1657 neither he nor his father appears on a list of those subscribing to support the minister.

Sandwich was the site of an early Quaker settlement. However, the settlement was not well-received, as their beliefs clashed with those of the Puritans who founded the town. Many Quakers left the town, either for further settlements along the Cape, or elsewhere.

7 June 1659 – Henry was fines 50 shillings “for refusing to serve in the office of constable,being chosen by the town of Sandwich”In the same year he was again fined 2 pounds, ,10 shillings.

In 1659 he was fined 15 Shillings ” for refusing to aid the Marshall in the execution of his office” (relating to Quakers) and in the same year his wife was fined 10 shillings for being at a Quaker’s meeting.

Henry seems later to have mortified his views,or possibly the authorities had grown more tolerant,as in 1666 he served a constable.

Daniel and Stephen Wing

Daniel and  Stephen Wing, two sons of John WING refused to take the “oath of fidelity,”not on the ground that they declined all oaths, but because this particular oath pledged them to assist in the execution of an intolerant enactment.

Among the fines inflicted on Daniel Wing we find March 1658 for entertaing Quakers, 20 shillings. For refusing to take the oath of fidelity, £5. imposed 4 times: Oct 1658, Oct 1669, Mar 1660, Jun 1660. December, 1658, excluded from the number of freemen.
For refusing to aid the marshal, £10.

Indeed, so generally were the laws against free worship condemned in Sandwich, that the constable was “unable to discharge his duty by reason of many disturbent persons there residing,” and itwas enacted that “a marshal be chosen for such service in Sandwich, Barnstable and Yarmouth.” In 1658 a list was made out by the Governor and other magistrates of “certain persons who refused to take the oath of fidelity” and for that reason had no legal right to act as inhabitants. They were, therefore, each fined five pounds to the colony’s use, and it was ordered that each and every one of them should henceforth have no power to act in any town meeting till better evidence appeared of their legal admittance, nor to claim title or interest in any town privileges as town’s men, and that no man should henceforth be admitted an inhabitant of Sandwich, or enjoy the privileges thereol, without the approbation of the church and of Mr. Thomas PRENCE (the Governor and also our ancestor), or of the assistants whom they shall choose. Many were summoned to Plymouth to account for nonattendance upon public worship, and distraints were exacted from these recusants in Sandwich to satisfy for fines to the amount of six hundred and sixty pounds. Of these fines Daniel Wing paid not less than twelve pounds.

Up to this time Daniel Wing, with others who acted with him appear simply as friends of toleration and resisters of an oppressive law. But it was not long before he and most of these sympathizers became active converts to the persecuted sect. “In 1658 no less than eighteen families in Sandwich recorded their names” in one of the documents of the Society. Writers of that period (1658-60) say: “We have two strong places in this land, the one at Newport and the other at Sandwich; almost the whole town of Sandwich is adhering towards them,” and the Records of Monthly Meetings of Friends show that “the Sandwich Monthly Meeting was the first established in America.”  Its records extend as far back as 1672, which is earlier than any other known in this country. It was not until the accession of King Charles the Second (about 1660) that these proceedings against the Quakers were discontinued by the royal order, and the most obnoxious laws were repealed in the colony of Plymouth, when we are told that “the Quakers became the most peaceful, industrious and moral of all the religious sects.” la the fervor of religious zeal, and while smarting under severe injuries, they doubtless at this early period provoked the authorities by indiscretions which none ofIheir successors inthe faith would attempt to justify, and yet every descendant of the Puritans must regret that those who had themselves suffered so much for their conscientious convictions should have inflicted such severities upon dissenters from their own views.

Daniel Wing officially declared his affiliation with the Quakers who had established a Friends meeting at Spring Hill in Sandwich, the first in America, and between the months of March to December, was arrested and brought before the Courts a total of five times and fined extensively. By October of that year, he, his brother Stephen, Thomas Ewer, and six others were not only no longer legally given admittance into the town of Sandwich, but risked execution, for on the 19th of that month, the Court order was passed that “banish both resident and visiting Quakers by pain of death if they return”. Ingeniously, however, by early December with the aid of his brother John, Daniel with foresight had his estate confirmed to his children in order to escape the fines levied due to his Quakerism, thereby preserving his home and personal assets, and in light of the Southwicks, his family, as his seventh child, Beulah was born just a month later.

Daniel embraced the new Quaker religion and suffered greatly under the Quaker persecution. The constant fines had come to the point where he was afraid of losing his homestead. In order to escape that fate, he had his estate probated during his lifetime and given to his children. This event has caused much confusion to family historians ever since.

Stephen Wing, with his brother Daniel, embraced the new Quaker faith around 1658. He was repeatedly fined for his beliefs, but not to the same level that his brother faced. After the Quaker percecution ended Stephen became the Town Clerk for Sandwich. Stephen was probably the last surviving original settler of Sandwich. He died on 24 APR 1710. He almost certainly lies in an unmarked grave at the original Friends’ Cemetery at Sandwich.

Rose Allen Holloway Newland

2 Oct 1661 – Rose Allen HOLLOWAY Newland and her second husband, William Newland, were fined 10 shillings for being at a Quaker meeting, and that same year, William Newland was complained of for having entertained a Quaker in his home.

Anthony Colby and Thomas Macy

1661 – The year after Anthony COLBY’s  death, his widow, Susannah sold 60 acres near Haverhill, MA to her son Isaac to pay for her board. From the public divisions she received land in 1662 and 1664. In the latter year she married William Whitridge, a carpenter from Gloucester, and he died in 1669. In the meantime, Susannah had to defend her homestead against the claim of Thomas Macy from whom it had been purchased. At about the time of the sale, Macy had fled to Nantucket to escape the penalty of sheltering two Quakers during a thunderstorm, but later he denied the sale and tried to expel the widow and her family by legal process. He was unsuccessful and the premises were in the possession of Susannah’s descendants as late as 1895. In 1678, the son of Thomas Macy was deeded half of all the lands remaining in consideration of services rendered to the widow, and in 1682 the homestead was deeded to Susannah’s son, Samuel Colby, who cared for her during the infirmities of old age.

259 Main Street, Amesbury, MA The Macy-Colby house is open on Saturdays from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm during the summer. Other times are available by appointment. To arrange an appointment contact: Kathy Colby 978-388-3054

Captains Of Industry Or Men Of Business Who Did Something Besides Making Money – James Parton 1884 – 1891

In August 1659 in Salisbury, Mass, Thomas Macy was caught in a violent storm of rain, and hurried home drenched to the skin. He found in his house four wayfarers, who had also come in for shelter. His wife being sick in bed, no one had seen or spoken to them. They asked him how far it was to Casco Bay [Maine]. From their dress and demeanor he thought they might be Quakers, and, as it was unlawful to harbor persons of that sect, he asked them to go on their way, since he feared to give offense in entertaining them. As soon as the worst of the storm was over, they left, and he never saw them again. They were in his house about three quarters of an hour, during which he said very little to them, having himself come home wet, and found his wife sick.

He was summoned to Boston, forty miles distant, to answer for this offense. Being unable to walk, and not rich enough to buy a horse, he wrote to the General Court, relating the circumstances, and explaining his non-appearance. He was fined thirty shillings, and ordered to be admonished by the governor. He paid his fine, received his reprimand, and removed to the island of Nantucket, of which he was the first settler, and for some time the only white inhabitant.

William Hammond

William HAMMOND’s independence in religious matters  may have made him unpopular with his more puritanical neighbors, although he does not appear to have been so unpopular as some of his most intimate friends. His near neighbor and most intimate friend appears to have been John Warren, who came from the same locality in Suffolk County, England, and between whose family and his own there appears to have been considerable intimacy for several generations prior to the settlement in America.

On occasion there were fines “for an offense against the laws concerning baptism,” and “for neglect of publick worship” 14 Sabbaths at 5 shillings each. Warnings were given “for not attending publick worship”.

27 May 1661 – The houses of “old Warren and goodman Hammond” were ordered to be searched for Quakers, for whom they were known to have considerable sympathy. Considerable independence in religious matters, great love of liberty and sympathy for all who are persecuted for conscience sake seem to have been inherent family traits for generations past. It is probable that William Hammond and his intimate friend, Warren, were both inclined toward the religious teaching of Roger Williams, but were too conservative to subject themselves to the persecution that his more radical followers were compelled to endure. This view is supported by the fact that many of their descendants were rigid adherents of the Baptist Church. The tendency, however, in this family has been toward great liberty of thought in religious matters and many of the descendants have been connected with the Unitarian and Universalist denominations, while many in the later generations have held membership in no church

Daniel Butler

Thomas HOWES’ son-in-law, Daniel Butler was arrested by marshal George Barlow for entertaining a strange Quaker in his house and for resisting arrest, for which the court sentenced him to be whipped on 13 Jun 1660.

At a court of 5 Oct 1663, “Mr. Thomas Hawley complained against William Allen and Daniell Butler… to a damage of £40, with all other damages, for taking away his mare in a violent and royetous maner.” The jury found for the plantiff and awarded fifty shillings damages and costs “if the mare and colt delivered to the plaintiffe. otherwise £16.” This item is interesting for two reasons: (1) As we have seen, Thomas Butler had appeared on behalf of his son Daniel in the tar case of 5 May 1663. This would imply that Daniel Butler may have reached his majority between the two dates, so that his father was not responsible for the son in Oct 1663. (2) The implication is that the parties concerned did not consider this a case of theft. One wonders whether this mare may not have been one which was taken from the Quakers by the marshall since, if so, the question of maral ownership by Hawley may have been in doubt, which would explain the comparative mildness of the award to the plaintiff, as well as the wording of the entry. William Allen was a leader of the Quaker faction.

With the outbreak of the Pequot War in 1675, Daniel Butler was required to serve in the militia. As a Quaker he could not do so, and was fined £8 as a “deliquent soldier” 10 Mar 1675/6.

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Puritans v. Quakers – Aftermath

There’s a kind of sucker punch in many presentations of American history, wherein we are told that the Puritans left England for America because they had suffered religious persecution—and then the Puritans persecuted other religions here! We’re given the impression that they were looking for freedom of religion and then denied it to others.

In the 1650’s several of our ancestors became Quakers and enduried escalating fines, prison, banishment, whipping and ear cutting. Some of these ancestors were closely involved when four Quakers were condemned to death and executed by public hanging for their religious beliefs in Boston in 1659, 1660 and 1661. Richard SCOTT’s daughter Patience, in June, 1659, a girl of about eleven years, having gone to Boston as a witness against ‘the persecution of the Quakers, was sent to prison; others older being banished. Today we ask, “What kind of people put an 11 year old girl in jail? ”

In our 2011 imagination, the Quakers are the conscientious objector good guys while the Puritans are the hypocritical tyrants. Almost any book you read about the Massachusetts Bay Colony gives you the feeling that the moment those people set foot on shore in America they started betraying their own values. Objectivity is hard to come by when you’re reading about the Puritans. Is our modern perspective accurate?

Navigate this Report
1. Puritan Perspective

2. Quaker Perspective
3. Trials & Tribulations

4. Boston Martyrs
5. Aftermath

5. Aftermath

The executions of Mary Dyer in 1660 and William Leddra in 1661, both in Boston, caused an amazing addition to the number of converts to Quakerism. The same year monthly meetings were established in several places in New England, and not long afterwards quarterly meetings were organized.

On hearing of the death of Leddra, Charles II. sent an order to Endicott to stop the persecutions and to send all accused persons to England for trial.  In 1684 England revoked the Massachusetts charter, sent over a royal governor to enforce English laws in 1686, and in 1689 passed a broad Toleration act.

King Charles’ order was sent by the hand of Samuel Shattuck, a banished Quaker, who appeared before Governor Endicott with his hat on. The incensed governor was about to take the usual brutal steps to send him to prison, after ordering an officer to remove Shattuck’s hat, when the latter handed the magistrate the order from the throne. Endicott was thunderstruck. He handed back Shattuck’s hat and removed his own in deference to the presence of the King’s messenger. He read the papers, and, directing Shattuck to withdraw, simply remarked, ” We shall obey his Majesty’s commands.” A hurried conference was held with the other magistrates and ministers. They dared not send the accused persons to England, for they would be swift witnesses against the authorities of Massachusetts; so they ordered William Sutton, keeper of the Boston jail, to set all the Quakers free. So ended their severe persecution in New England; but the magistrates continued for some time to whip Quaker men and women, half naked, through the streets of Boston and Salem, until peremptorily forbidden to do so by the King.

After Massachusetts had suspended its laws against Quakers, Parliament made a law (1662) which provided that every five Quakers, meeting for religious worship, should be fined, for the first offence, $25; for the second offence, $50; and for the third offence to abjure the realm on oath, or be transported to the American colonies. Many refused to take the oath, and were transported. By an act of the Virginia legislature, passed in 1662, every master of a vessel who should import a Quaker, unless such as had been shipped from England under the above act, was subjected to a fine of 5,000 lbs. of tobacco for the first offence. Severe laws against other sectaries were passed in Virginia, and many of the Non-conformists in that colony, while Berkeley ruled, fled deep into the wilderness to avoid persecution.

By 1671 Quaker founder George Fox had recovered from his prison ordeals and Margaret had been released by order of the King. Fox resolved to visit the English settlements in America and the West Indies, remaining there for two years, possibly to counter any remnants of Perrot’s teaching there.  After a voyage of seven weeks, during which dolphins were caught and eaten, the party arrived in Barbados on 3 October 1671.  From there, Fox sent an epistle to Friends spelling out the role of women’s meetings in the Quaker marriage ceremony, a point of controversy when he returned home. One of his proposals suggested that the prospective couple should be interviewed by an all-female meeting prior to the marriage to determine whether there were any financial or other impediments. Though women’s meetings had been held in London for the last ten years, this was an innovation in Bristol and the north-west of England, which many there felt went too far.[3]

Fox wrote a letter to the governor and assembly of the island in which he refuted charges that Quakers were stirring up the slaves to revolt and tried to affirm the orthodoxy of Quaker beliefs. After a stay in Jamaica, Fox’s first landfall on the North American continent was at Maryland, where he participated in a four-day meeting of local Quakers. He remained there while various of his English companions travelled to the other colonies, because he wished to meet some Native Americans who were interested in Quaker ways—though he relates that they had “a great dispute” among themselves about whether to participate in the meeting. Fox was impressed by their general demeanour, which he said was “courteous and loving”. He resented the suggestion (from a man in North Carolina) that “the Light and Spirit of God … was not in the Indians”, a proposition which Fox refuted.  Fox left no record of encountering slaves on the mainland. [Our Quaker ancestor Edward WANTON owned a slave]

Elsewhere in the colonies, Fox helped to establish organizational systems for the Friends, along the same lines as he had done in Britain.  He also preached to many non-Quakers, some but not all of whom were converted.

Fenwick, one of the purchasers of west Jersey, made the first settlement of members of his sect at Salem. Liberal offers were made to Friends in England if they would settle in New Jersey, where they would be free from persecution, and in 1677 several hundred came over. In March a company of 230 came in the ship Kent. Before they sailed King Charles gave them his blessing. The Kent reached New York in August, with commissioners to manage public affairs in New Jersey. The arrival was reported to Andros, who was governor of New York, and claimed political jurisdiction over the Jerseys. Fenwick, who denied the jurisdiction of the Duke of York in the collection of customs duties, was then in custody at New York, but was allowed to depart with the other Friends, on his own recognizance to answer in the autumn. On Aug. 16 the Kent arrived at New Castle, but it was three months before a permanent place was settled upon. That place was on the Delaware River, and was first named Beverly. Afterwards it was called Bridlington, after a parish in Yorkshire, England, whence many of the emigrants had come. The name was corrupted to Burlington, which it still bears. There the passengers of the Kent settled, and were soon joined by many others. The village prospered, and other settlements were made in its vicinity. Nearly all the settlers in west Jersey were members of the Society of Friends, or Quakers. One of the earliest erected buildings for the public worship of Friends in New Jersey was at Crosswicks, about half-way between Allentown and the Delaware River.

Roger Park

In 1690 Roger PARK lived in a Quaker settlement on Crosswick’s Creek, but he traveled so often to Wissamonson [Woodbridge] to study medicine under old Indian squaws and medicine men that his path was called “Roger’s Road.”

Richard Scott

1660 – While Richard SCOTT was the first Quaker resident of Providence. His wife seems to have changed her views after a time. Roger Williams said, September 8, 1660, in a letter to Governor John Winthrop, of Connecticut:

“What whipping at Boston could not do, conversation with friends in England and their arguments have in great measure drawn her from the Quakers and wholly from their meetings.” .

Scott was a deputy to the general assembly in 1666. He was an earnest Quaker. In a letter published in 1678 in George Fox’s book, A New hugland Firebrand Quenched,” in answer to Roger Williams’ “George Fox Digged Out ot His Burrow,” Scott arraigns the petty vanities of Williams.

Edward Perry

1665 – Edmund PERRY’s son Edward’s legal troubles didn’t end with King Charles’ legal protections. In 1665, he was fined for writing a “railing letter to the Court of Plymouth.” In 1658 -60, his fines amounted to 89 pounds, 18 shillings and several head of cattle – at the time five pounds was considered a fortune. Edward’s fines were the heaviest imposed in the colony.

Edward published religious writings between 1767 and 1690, with titles such as “A Warning to New England,” “To the Court of Plymouth, this is the Word of the Lord,”  “A Testimony Concerning the Light,” “Concerning True Repentance,” etc. The “Warning to
New England” was a series of visions and prophecies against the sins of the day.  The Court fined him £50 for such words as “The Voice that called unto me: Blood
toucheth Blood, and Blood for Blood. The Word spoken: O, what lamentation shall be taken up for New England to Countervail or equalize Abominations in drunkenness, swearing, lying, stealing, whoredoms, adultery and fornication, with many other Abominations, but above all Blood, Blood, even the Blood of My Children, and servants which my cruelty and cruel hands have been shed in the midst of her.

Edward Wanton

As a teacher of Quakerism Edward WANTON was quite successful,  and soon gathered a large congregation, and won many  followers from the prominent families of the town. He had  nothing to fear now, except the minor persecutions, as corporal punishment, in this connection, was forbidden by King Charles.  In 1676, the Society became so numerous as to necessitate the building of a house of public worship, and a small piece of land was purchased that year, of Henry Ewclly and a house erected. This was located on the site of the garden of the late Judge William Gushing. Later, another house of worship was erected on the Wanton estate. This house is now in Pembroke, part of it having been removed, and now occupied as a residence by Charles Collamorc. The remainder is still used by the Society of Friends, who worship there, having at the present day between twenty and thirty mcmbers.  Tradition says the house was moved from the old Wanton estate to its present location, via North Rivcr, on “gundalows.”

Tradition says the Pembroke Meeting House was moved from the old Wanton estate to its present location, via North Rivcr, on "gundalows."

The Pembroke Friends Meetinghouse is an historic Quaker church at Washington Street and Schoosett Street in Pembroke, Massachusetts.   The meeting house was built in 1706 by Robert Barker with later 19th-century additions. It is the oldest Quaker meetinghouse in Massachusetts and the third oldest in the United States. This meetinghouse was used by local Quakers from 1706 until 1874 when the meetinghouse was closed and the Quaker meeting was moved to the Sandwich Meeting. Today the Meetinghouse is owned by the Pembroke Historical Society and is used during the summer months by area Quakers.

One of the many persecutions Wanton and his followers were subjected to, was, in ” 1678 Edward Wanton (of Scituate) for disorderly joining himself to his now wife in marriage in a way contrary to the order of Government is fined £10;”

1671 – Westbury, NY Meeting House

Robert TITUS’s son  Edmond came to Nassau Co., NY in 1650 and became prominent in the Quaker movement.  He settled in Hempstead, Nassau Co., NY by 1658 when he was given 10 acres on a list compiled on Nov. before moving to Westbury, Nassau Co., NY. As described in the book, Adam and Anne Mott, Their Ancestors and Descendants,

“A meeting had been established at Westbury, when the place was still called Plainedge, on the 25d of 3d month, 1671. The meeting was to begin on the 25th of 4th month, and so every fifth First day, and was held at Westbury or ‘Plainedge,’ at the house of Edmond Titus. Other meetings were held on the intervening First days at other Friends’ houses in other neighbourhoods at Jericho, Bethpage, &c. After the coming of Henry Willis in 1677, the meetings were sometimes held at his house instead of the house of Edmond Titus in Westbury. In 1697, the Monthly Meeting revised the rule, and it was directed that ‘a meeting shall be held every five weeks, on the First day, to begin at Edmond Titus’, the next First day at Jerusalem, the next at Bethpage, next at Jericho, and next at Hempstead. Traveling ministers, when they reached Westbury, usually stopped at the house of Edmond Titus, and after the coming of Henry Willis they sometimes stopped with him

John Rogers – founder of the Rogerine Quakers 

Matthew BECKWITH’s son Mathew Jr. had a rather interesting marital history.  Elizabeth Rogers, daughter of Mathew Griswold, was the widow of Peter Pratt.  She remarried to John Rogers,  the founder of the Rogerine Quakers on 17 Oct 1670.  She was granted a divorce from her husband, John Rogers, 12 Oct 1676.   In 1691 she married Mathew Beckwith Jr.   She had children by each husband. In 1703, Rogers made a rash attempt to regain his divorced wife, then married to Beckwith; Beckwith complained that he laid hands on her, declaring she was his wife, threatened Beckwith that he would have her in spite of him , all of which Rogers confessed to be true. But he defended on the plea that she was really his wife. In June, 1703, Mathew Beckwith, Sr appeared in court and swore that he was in fear of his life of him.

The Rogerenes (also known as the Rogerens Quakers or Rogerines) were a religious sect founded in 1674 by John Rogers (1648–1721) in New London, Connecticut.   Rogers was imprisoned and spent some years there. He was influenced by the Seventh Day Baptists and the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) and opposed the Established Puritan church. Rogerenes initially held to a Seventh Day (Saturday) Sabbath, but over the years began to regard each day as equally holy. Their disdain for Sunday worship often brought them into sharp conflict with their neighbors. Increasingly they adopted a Pacifist stance, including war tax resistance,  which further brought them the ridicule of the larger community. Some of the Rogerenes left Connecticut and migrated to New Jersey settling in parts of present-day Morris County. One such group settled in what is presently the Landing section of Roxbury Township, New Jersey near Lake Rogerine, then known as Mountain Pond in about 1700. Another smaller group of Rogerenes in about 1734 settled on the eastern side of Schooley’s Mountain near present-day Hackettstown, New Jersey.  Rogerene worship services continued through the early 20th Century in Connecticut.


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Puritans v. Quakers – Boston Martyrs

There’s a kind of sucker punch in many presentations of American history, wherein we are told that the Puritans left England for America because they had suffered religious persecution—and then the Puritans persecuted other religions here!  We’re given the impression that they were looking for freedom of religion and then denied it to others.

In the 1650’s several of our ancestors became Quakers and enduried escalating fines,  prison, banishment, whipping and ear cutting.   Some of these ancestors were closely involved when four Quakers were condemned to death and executed by public hanging for their religious beliefs in Boston in 1659, 1660 and 1661.   Richard SCOTT’s daughter Patience, in June, 1659, a girl of about eleven years, having gone to Boston as a witness against ‘the persecution of the Quakers, was sent to prison; others older being banished.  Today we ask, “What kind of people put an 11 year old girl in jail? ”

In our 2011 imagination, the Quakers are the conscientious objector good guys while the Puritans are the hypocritical tyrants.  Almost any book you read about the Massachusetts Bay Colony gives you the feeling that the moment those people set foot on shore in America they started betraying their own values. Objectivity is hard to come by when you’re reading about the Puritans.  Is our modern perspective accurate?

Navigate this Report
1. Puritan Perspective

2. Quaker Perspective
3. Trials & Tribulations

4. Boston Martyrs
5. Aftermath

4. Boston Martyrs 

In 1649, John Endicott succeeded John Winthrop as Governor in and he was far more intolerant of religious dissention. He feared that if he permitted the Quakers to express their views in Massachusetts Bay Colony, the whole structure of the Church-State partnership might collapse.

Gov. John Endecott

Jul 1656 –  Two Quaker missionaries, Anne Austin and Mary Fisher landed in Boston  to bring the message of the “inner light” to the New World and immediatley became targets of the civil government.   These two members of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) left England, where Fisher had suffered beatings because of her beliefs, and sailed to Barbados. After apparently finding success in Barbados, the two missionary women set sail in July 1656 aboard the Swallow. They landed in Boston and immediately became targets of the civil government. Deputy-governor Richard Bellingham, in charge during the absence of Governor William Endicott, ordered the women confined to the ship. Their books and belongings were taken and searched. News of the heretical views of the Quakers had preceded these women across the Atlantic. Ann and Mary had brought approximately 100 books or writings with them, and these were burnt, and the pair cast into prison. Fines were levied against anyone speaking to them, and the women were stripped and searched for any evidence of witchcraft, and their prison window was boarded up so that no one could see them.

One man, Nicholas Upsall, came to their rescue, and paid the fine either to be permitted to speak with them and/or provide them with food. The women were kept confined in this manner for five weeks, then shipped back to Barbados. Governor Endicott is reported to have stated that he would have had the women beaten. Fear of the Quaker “heresy” was indeed great. Ann Austin and Mary Fisher were persecuted before there were any laws enacted against the Friends in America

On August 9, 1656, the port authorities were alerted to search the Speedwell as it entered Boston Harbor before anyone landed. The passenger list had “Q’s” beside the names of four men and four women, and Endicott ordered these eight brought directly to Boston court. Christopher Holder (later to marry Richard SCOTT’s daughter Mary) and John Copeland led the group and they dumbfounded Endicott and the local ministers with their familiarity with the Bible. More irritating to Endicott was Christopher Holder’s knowledge of the law. When they were marched off to jail, Holder and Copeland made immediate demands for their release, stating that there was no law that justified their imprisonment.

Gov. John Endecott

Governor Endicott knew this was true. There was nothing in the Massachusetts Bay Colony Charter which permitted the imprisonment of anyone merely on grounds of their religious beliefs, and so he devised a tactic to get rid of the Quakers. The Massachusetts General Court met in mid-October of 1656 and 1657 and succeeded in passing several laws against “the cursed sect of heretics … commonly called Quakers” which permitted banishing, whipping, and using corporal punishment (cutting off ears, boring holes in tongues). On October 14, 1656 the Court ordered:

That what master or commander of any ship, barke, pinnace, catch, or any other vessel that shall henceforth bring into any harbor, creeks, or cove without jurisdiction any known Quaker or Quakers, or any other blasphemous heretics shall pay … the fine of 100 pounds … [and] they must be brought back from where they came or go to prison.

After trying to cover all the loopholes in any possible entry to Boston, the Court addressed what it would do with anyone who persisted successfully. It was decided that such a person should go to the House of Correction and be severly whipped, kept constantly at work, and not allowed to speak to anyone. They set up certain fines: 54 pounds for having any Quaker books or writing “concerning their devilish opinions,” 40 pounds for defending any Quaker of their books, 44 pounds for a second offence, and the “House of Corection for a third offence … until there be a convenient passage for them to be sent out of this land.” These laws were read on the street corners of Boston with the beat of drums for emphasis.

Christopher Holder and John Copeland sat in their cells where they could hear the rattling of the drums and realized they were going to have to leave on the next available ship departing for England.  After eleven weeks Holder, Copeland and the other six Quakers of the Speedwell were deported to England, but they immediately took steps to return.

In October 1656  Massachusetts Bay Colony established the following law:

“Whereas there is a cursed sect of heretics lately risen up in the world, which are commonly called Quakers…” upon entering within a jurisdiction, “shall be forthwith committed to the house of correction, and at their entrance to be severely whipped, and by the master thereof be kept constantly to work, and none suffered to speak with them…” and it is ordered “that what person or persons soever shall revile the office or person of the magistrates or ministers, as is usual with Quakers, such person or persons shall be severely whipped, or pay the sum of five pounds.”

Mary Dyer’s return to New England in 1657 was ill-timed.  Upon her return to America from England, unaware of the new laws,  Mary Dyer, accompanied by Ann Burden, made a stop-over in the Massachusetts Bay Colony on her journey home to Rhode Island so that Ms Burden could settle the estate of her deceased husband in Boston.  Mary Dyer and Ann Burden were arrested almost immediately upon setting foot on Massachusetts soil as undesired missionaries of the outlawed religion.  Despite their protests, they were kept in jail incommunicado in darkened cells with boarded up windows. Mary’s books and Quaker papers were confiscated and burned. Mary finally was able to slip a letter out through a crack to someone outside the jail, but it took a long time to reach William Dyer in Newport.

Two and a half months later, Governor Endicott was startled when William Dyer barged into his home, demanding that his wife should be freed immediately. While Endicott knew that William had been disenfranchised by Boston, he was still highly respected by the Boston authorities for his prominent position in Rhode Island. They would have to free Mary Dyer because of William’s prestige, but only on a condition. William was put under a heavy bond and made to “give his honor” that if his wife was allowed to return home, he was “not to lodge her in any town of the colony nor to permit any to have speech with her on the journey.” Under no condition should Mary ever return to Massachusetts.

Back in Rhode Island, Mary became a prominent Quaker minister, traveling over the new country. Preaching “inner light,” Mary rejected oaths of any kind, taught that sex was no determinant for gifts of prophecy, and contended that women and men stood on equal ground in church worship and organization. In 1658 she was expelled from New Haven for preaching.

At the end of 1658 the Massachusetts legislature, by a bare majority, enacted a law that every member of the sect of Quakers who was not an inhabitant of the colony but was found within its jurisdiction should be apprehended without warrant by any constable and imprisoned, and on conviction as a Quaker, should be banished upon pain of death, and that every inhabitant of the colony convicted of being a Quaker should be imprisoned for a month, and if obstinate in opinion should be banished on pain of death. Some Friends were arrested and expelled under this law.

Meanwhile, Christopher Holder and the seven other banished Quakers had returned to England. Christopher wasted no time in getting in touch with George Fox,  in order to secure a ship for a return trip to New England. While Mary was being rebuked in New Haven, Christopher Holder and John Copeland were being ordered to leave Martha’s Vineyard. Hiding in the sand dunes for several days, they met up with friendly Indians who volunteered to help them cross over to Massachusetts.

They landed in Sandwich where they found a community of people unsettled in their religious affiliations and had who had just lost their minister. Holder and Copeland were received with enthusiasm by about eighteen families who were ready to become Quakers. Many of these families were our ancestors and their relatives.  You can see their stories in my post Puritans V. Quakers – Trials and Tribulations.

Finding a beautiful dell by a quiet stream in the woods, they called their enchanted hideaway “Christopher’s Hollow,” a name which has remained with the place. (See Google Maps Christopher Hollow Road). A circle of Friends gathered together and sat on a circle of stones to share their religious convictions. It was the first real Friends meeting in America, and the start of regular meetings.

Happy with this success, Holder and Copeland moved from Sandwich to Duxbury, from town to town in Massachusetts, leaving fifteen converted Quaker “ministers” in their wake. Eventually, Governor Endicott got wind of their activities and alerted scouts throughout New England to arrest them, but they remained free until they walked into Salem, Endicott’s home town.

When Holder arrived at the Salem Congregational Church, he listened to the sermon of the day, then arose from the rear of the church to challenge what had been said and present Quaker alternatives. One of Endicott’s men seized Holder, hurled him bodily to the floor of the church and stuffed a leather glove and handkerchief down his throat. Holder turned blue, gagged, and gasped for life. He was close to death when Samuel Shattuck, a member of the congregation, pushed Endicott’s man aside and retrieved the glove and handkerchief from Holder’s throat and worked hard to resuscitate him. A lifelong friendship between Shattuck and Holder started at that moment.

Preceding Ms. Dyer’s and Ms Burden’s arrest by two days, Holder, Copeland and Shattuck were all taken to Boston prison.  Starved, beaten and whipped, the three men spent the next two and half months in jail. Shattuck was freed by paying a 20 shilling bond. Holder and Copeland were brought before Endicott who ordered that each should have thirty lashes. After several months, they were released from prison, but were soon to return.

Also jailed were Holder and Copeland’s host, Salem church members, Lawrence and Cassandra Southwick . Though Lawrence was released, his wife remained imprisoned for seven weeks for having in her possession a paper written by their guests.

Shortly after their release from jail, Christopher Holder and John Copeland first went to Martha’s Vineyard but was turned away by Thomas Mayhew, and then on August 20, 1657, arrived in Sandwich where they were welcomed by many families.  On April 15, 1658, Endicott’s spies arrested them in the middle of a meeting and marched them to Barnstable where they were stripped and bound to the post of an outhouse. With the standard three-corded rope, they were each given 33 lashes until the bodies ran with blood. The Friends of Sandwich stood in horr as “ear and eye witnessses” to the cruelty.”

After recovering from the scourging, Holder and Copeland returned again to Boston on June 3, 1658 where they were once again arrested. On September 16, 1658 by the order of Governor Endicott, Christopher Holder, a future son-in-law of Richard SCOTT, had his right ear cut off by the hangman at Boston for the crime of being a Quaker. Richard’s wife, Katherine MARBURY SCOTT  (Anne Hutchinson ‘s sister), was present, and remonstrating against this barbarity, was thrown into prison for two months, and then publicly flogged ten stripes with a three-corded whip.   Mrs. Scott protested

“that it was evident they were going to act the work of darkness or else they would have brought them forth publicly and have declared them offences, that all may hear and fear.”

For this utterance the Puritan Fathers of Boston

“committed her to prison and they gave her ten cruel stripes with a three-fold corded knotted whip” shortly after “though ye confessed when ye had her before you that for ought ye knew she had been of unblamable character and though some of you knew her father and called him Mr. Marbury and that she had been well bred (as among men and had so lived) and that she was the mother of many children. Yet ye whipped her for all that, and moreover told her that ye were likely to have a law to hang her if she came thither again.”

To which she answered:

“If God calls us, woe be unto us if we come not, and I question not but he whom we love will make us not to count our lives dear unto ourselves for the sake of his name.”

To which vow, Governor icott, replied:

“And we shall be as ready to take any of your lives as ye shall be to lay them down.”

On October 19, 1658, the Massachusetts authorities during a stormy session had passed by a single vote a law banishing Quakers under pain of death.

June 1659 – Two Friends, William Robinson and Marmaduke Stephenson, felt called to go to Massachusetts, although a new law imposed the death penalty on Friends.  Richard SCOTT’s daughter,  Patience , only eleven years old at the time, went to Boston as a witness againt the persecution of the Quakers, and was sent to prison; others older being banished.

“and some of ye confest ye had many children and that they had been well educated and it were well if they could say half as much for God as she could for the Devil.”

This prompted Mary Dyer to return and protest their treatment. For this action, she was put back in jail. Dyer was released after her husband wrote a letter to Endicott.

William Dyer wrote a letter to the Massachusetts authorities, dated August 30, 1659, chastising the magistrates for imprisoning his wife without evidence or legal right. “You have done more in persecution in one year than the worst bishops did in seven, and now to add more towards a tender woman,” wrote William, “… that gave you no just cause against her for did she come to your meeting to disturb them as you call itt, or did she come to reprehend the magistrates? [She] only came to visit her friends in prison and when dispatching that her intent of returning to her family as she declared in her [statement] the next day to the Governor, therefore it is you that disturbed her, else why was she not let alone.” (Click here to read full text of William’s letter.)

On Sep 12 1659, the Quakers were released from prison and banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony under threat of execution should they return. Nicholas Davis and Mary Dyer obeyed, but Robinson and Stephenson felt it their duty to remain and continue their ministry, deteremined to “look [the] bloody laws in the face.” Within a month they were again arrested. When it was learned Christopher Holder was again in jail and threatened with further torture, Mary Dyer, Hope Clifton and Mary Scott (future wife of Christopher Holder and Anne Hutchinson’s niece) walked through the forest to Boston from Providence to plead for his release and that of others. Mary Dyer was arrested while speaking to Holder through the prison bars.

There was no mistaking the moves of Holder, Robinson, Stephenson and Mary Dyer. They deliberately challenged the legal right of Endicott to carry out the death penalty. Doing what their compatriots were doing in England, they returned to the field as soon as they were released, willing to lay down their lives, if necessary, yet never striking a blow in retaliation. Passive non-resistance and religious appeals constituted the ammunition and weapons of this Colonial Quaker army. They had all been banished with the assurance that if they returned death awaited them.

On Oct 19 1659 Mary Dyer was brought before the General Court with Robinson and Stephenson. Asked why they had returned in defiance of the law, they replied that “the ground and cause of their coming was of the Lord.” When Gov. John Endicott pronounced sentence of death, Mary Dyer replied, “The will of the Lord be done.” “Take her away, Marshal,” commanded Endicott. “Yea and joyfully I go,” responded Mary Dyer.

That week in jail, Mary, William Robinson and Marmaduke Stephenson sat in their cells writing pleas to the General Court to change the laws of banishment upon pain of death. (Click here to read the full text of Mary’s letter.)

On October 27, the three Quakers were led through the streets to the gallows with drums beating to prevent them from addressing the people. Robinson and Stephenson were hanged, but Mary Dyer, her arms and legs bound and the noose around her neck, received a prearranged last-minute reprieve as a result of intercession of Gov. John Winthrop, Jr. of Connecticut, Gov. Thomas Temple of Nova Scotia and her son.

Mary Dyer, her arms and legs bound and the noose around her neck, received a prearranged last-minute reprieve as a result of intercession of Gov. John Winthrop, Jr. of Connecticut, Gov. Thomas Temple of Nova Scotia and her son.

Back in her cell, Mary composed another letter to the General Court, from which comes the inscription on her statue at Boston: “Once more the General Court, Assembled in Boston, speaks Mary Dyar, even as before: My life is not accepted, neither availeth me, in Comparison of the Lives and Liberty of the Truth and Servants of the Living God, for which in the Bowels of Love and Meekness I sought you; yet nevertheless, with wicked Hands have you put two of them to Death, which makes me to feel, that the Mercies of the Wicked is Cruelty.” (Click here to read this second letter in its entirety.)

On October 18, 1659, William Dyer, Jr.’s petition on behalf of his mother to Mass. authorities, was thus answered: “Whereas Mary Dyer is condemned by the General Court to be executed for her offence; on the petition of William Dyer, her son, it is ordered the said Mary Dyer shall have liberty for forty-eight hours after this day to depart out of this jurisdiction, after which time being found therein she is to be executed.”

Mary returned unwillingly back to Rhode Island. She was accompanied by four horsemen who followed her fifteen miles south of Boston. From there she was left in the custody of one man to escort her back to Rhode Island.

Once home, Mary longed for the companionship of other Quakers. She busied herself across Long Island Sound on Shelter Island where a group of Indians had approached her, asking if she would hold Quaker meetings with them. Although Mary was out of danger in this environment, she was not content. She made it known that she must return to Boston to “desire the repeal of that wicked law against God’s people and offer up her life there.” In late April, 1660, in obedience to her conscience and in defiance of the law and without telling her husband, she returned once more to Boston.

It took a week for the news to reach William Dyer that Mary had left Shelter Island. Quickly, he wrote again to the magistrates of Boston. (Click here to read William’s moving letter.) Governor Endicott received the letter and presented it to the General Court. Too bad if William was having trouble with his wife. She was giving them trouble, too. She had no right to come back and defy their orders. The General Court summoned Mary before them on May 31, 1660.

“Are you the same Mary Dyer that was here before?” Governor Endicott asked her.”I am the same Mary Dyer that was here at the last General Court,” she replied.

“You will own yourself a Quaker, will you not?”

“I am myself to be reproachfully called so,” Mary said stiffly.

Governor Endicott said, “The sentence was passed upon you by the General Court and now likewise; you must return to the prison and there remain until tomorrow at nine o’clock; then from thence you must go to the gallows, and there be hanged till you are dead.”

Mary Dyer did not flinch. “This is no more than what you said before.”

“But now it is to be executed,” said Endicott. “Therefore prepare yourself tomorrow at nine o’clock.”

“I came in obedience to the will of God to the last General Court desiring you to appeal your unrighteous laws of banishment on pain of death,” said Mary, “and that same is my work now, and earnest request, although I told you that if you refused to repeal them, the Lord would send others of his servants to witness against them.”

“Are you a prophetess?” asked the Governor.

“I speak the words that the Lord speaks in me and now the thing has come to pass.”

Endicott reached his saturation point and, waving to a prison guard, yelled, “Away with her! Away with her!”

At the appointed time on June 1, 1660, Mary was escorted from her prison cell by a band of soldiers to the gallows a mile away. Apprehensive that a gathering crowd might become uncontrollably compassionate, the Magistrates took every precaution to cut off communication between Mary Dyer and her followers. Led through the streets sandwiched between drummers, with a constant rat-a-tat-tat in front and behind her, Mary Dyer walked to her death.

When Mary Dyer returned to Boston, protesting the harsh laws against the Quakers, she was arrested again. Once more, she was sentenced to hang.

Despite these precautions, some of the followers were able to get close enough to appeal to her to acquiesce in banishment. “Mary Dyer, don’t die. Go back to Rhode Island where you might save your life. We beg of you, go back!” “Nay, I cannot go back to Rhode Island, for in obedience to the will of the Lord I came,” Mary said, “and in His will I abide faithful to the death.”

At the place of execution the drums were quieted and Captain John Webb spoke, trying to justify what was about to happen. “She has been here before and had the sentence of banishment upon pain of death and has broken the law in coming again now,” he said. “It is therefore SHE who is guilty of her own blood.”

Mary contradicted him. “Nay, I came to keep bloodguiltiness from you, desiring you to repeal the unrighteous and unjust laws of banishment upon pain of death made against the innocent servants of the Lord. Therefore, my blood will be required at your hands who wilfully do it.” Mary then turned towards the crowd and continued, “But, for those who do it in the simplicity of their hearts, I desire the Lord to forgive them. I came to do the will of my father, and in obedience to this will I stand even to death.”

Pastor Wilson cried, “Mary Dyer, O repent, O repent, and be not so delued and carried away by the deceit of the devil.” Mary looked directly at him and said, “Nay, man, I am not now to repent.”

John Norton stepped forward and asked, “Would you have the elders pray for you?” Mary responded, “I desire the prayer of all the people of God.” A voice from the crowd called out, “It may be that she thinks there is none here.” John Norton pleaded, “Are you sure you dont’ want one of the elders to pray for you?” Mary answered, “Nah, first a child, then a young man, then a strong man, before an elder in Christ Jesus.”

Someone from the crowd called out, “Did you say you have been in Paradise?” Mary answered, “Yea, I have been in Paradise several days and now I am about to enter eternal happiness.”

Captain John Webb signalled to [our ancestor] Edward WANTON (1632 – 1716),, officer of the gallows, who adjusted the noose.  He was “so affected at the sight” of Mary’s courageous sacrifice “he became a convert to the cause of the Friends ” He was a prominent Boston shipbuilder who converted to Quakerism and moved to Scituate, Massachusetts in 1661. The Wanton family was among the most prominent families of colonial Rhode Island, Two of his sons, one nephew and one grandson become Governors of Rhode Island and were known as the “Fighting Quakers.”    Three years later Wanton was arrested in Boston for holding a Quaker meeting in his home.

Mary needed no assistance in mounting the scaffold and a small smile lighted her face. Pastor Wilson had his large handkerchief ready to place over her head so no one would have to see that look of rapture twisted to distortion – only the dangling body. As her neck snapped, the crowd stood paralyzed in the silence of death until a spring breeze lifted her limp skirt and set it to billowing. “She hangs there as a flag for others to take example by,” remarked an unsympathetic bystander. That was indeed Mary Dyer’s intention – to be an example, a “witness” in the Quaker sense, for freedom of conscience.

Mary Dyer

Despite all the frantic attempts of the Boston magistrates to rid themselves of the challenging Quakers, they failed. Mary’s death came gradually to be considered a martyrdom even in Massachusetts, where it hastened the easing of anti-Quaker statutes. In 1959 by authority of the Massachusetts General Court, which had condemned her nearly 300 years before, a bronze statue was erected in her memory on the grounds of the State House in Boston. A statue of her friend, Anne Hutchinson, stands in front at the other wing. The words of   Mary Barrett Dyer, written from her cell of the Boston jail are engraved beneath:

My Life not Availeth Me
In Comparison to the
Liberty of the Truth’

Mary Dyer - Massachusetts State House Statue

William Leddra

William’s home was in Barbados, but he is said to have been by birth a Cornishman; and his occupation, it appears, was that of a clothier. We find him engaged very early in visiting the West Indies as a minister, and in 1657 he proceeded in that character to New England.

Reaching Salem [in July 1658], William Brend and William Leddra were warmly welcomed by the few faithful Friends of that place, with whom they were favored to hold several meetings to their mutual refreshment and comfort.

On First-day, the 20th of Fourth Month, they attended one held at the house of Nicholas Phelps, in the woods, about five miles from Salem. A magistrate of the town hearing of the intended meeting, came with a constable, for the purpose of breaking it up, and securing the two strangers; but failing in his purpose, he left the company, with a threat that he would prosecute the Friends who were present. From Salem the two gospel messengers traveled to Newburyport, where also they had some religious service. Their passing thus from place to place, in the very heart of the Puritan population of New England, and by their powerful ministry making converts to the doctrines they professed, aroused the fears of the local magistracy to this new state of things.

After leaving Newburyport, they were soon overtaken by a zealous ruler of the place, who arrested them and carried them to Salem. The court, which was then sitting in the town, had the Friends brought up for examination. Here they were interrogated respecting the doctrines they were promulgating, but their answers were so clear and convincing, and they appealed so effectually to the consciences of the magistrates, that the latter confessed they discovered nothing heretical or dangerous in their opinions.

The court, however, told the prisoners that they had a law against Quakers, and that law must be obeyed. An order for their committal immediately followed, and in a few days they were removed to Boston prison. Six Friends of Salem were also committed for having attended the meeting at the house of Nicholas Phelps.

William Brend and William Leddra, who were deemed special offenders, were separated from their companions. They were placed in a miserable cell, the window of which was so stopped, as not only to deprive them of light, but also of ventilation, while all conversation between them and the citizens was strictly forbidden. The jailer, following the cruel course which he had pursued towards Thomas Harris, refused to allow them an opportunity of purchasing food,  though they offered to pay for it. But he told them, it was not their money, but their labor he desired. Thus he kept them five days without food, and then with a three-corded whip gave them twenty blows. An hour after he told them, they might go out, if they would pay the marshal that was to lead them out of the country. They judging it very unreasonable to pay money for being banished, refused this, but yet said, that if the prison-door was set open, they would go away.

The next day the jailer came to W. Brend, a man in years, and put him in irons, neck and heels so close together, that there was no more room left between each, than for the lock that fastened them. Thus he kept them from five in the morning, till after nine at night, being the space of sixteen hours. The next morning he brought him to the mill to work, but Brend refusing, the jailer took a pitched rope about an inch thick, and gave him twenty blows over his back and arms, with as much force as he could, so that the rope untwisted; and then, going away, he came again with another rope, that was thicker and stronger, and told Brend, that he would cause him to bow to the law of the country, and make him work. Brend judged this not only unreasonable in the highest degree, since he had committed no evil, but he was also altogether unable to work for he lacked strength for want of food, having been kept five days without eating, and whipped also, and now thus unmercifully beaten with a rope. But this inhuman jailer relented not, but began to beat anew with his pitched rope on this bruised body, and foaming at his mouth like a madman, with violence laid ninety-seven more blows on him, as other prisoners that beheld it with compassion, have told ; and if his strength, and his rope had not failed him, he would have laid on more; he threatened also to give him the next morning as many blows more. But a higher power, who sets limits even to the raging sea, and has said, “to here you shall come, but no further,” also limited this butcherly fellow; who was yet impudently stout enough to say his morning prayer. To what a most terrible condition these blows brought the body of Brend, who because of the great heat of the weather, had nothing but a serge cassock upon his shirt, may easily be conceived. His back and arms were bruised and black, and the blood hanging as in bags under his arms; and so into one was his flesh beaten, that the sign of a particular blow could not be seen; for all was become as a jelly. His body being thus cruelly tortured, he lay down upon the boards, so extremely weakened, that the natural parts decaying, and strength quite failing, his body turned cold. There seemed as it were a struggle between life and death; his senses were stopped, and he had for some time neither seeing, feeling, nor hearing; till at length a divine power prevailing, life broke through death, and the breath of the Lord was breathed into his nostrils.

Now, the noise of this cruelty spread among the people in the town, and caused such a cry, that the governor sent his surgeon to the prison to see what might be done; but the surgeon found the body of Brend in such a deplorable condition, that, as one without hopes, he said, his flesh would rot from off his bones, before the bruised parts could be brought to digest. This so exasperated the people, that the magistrates, to prevent a tumult, set up a paper on their meeting-house door, and up and down the streets, as it were to show their dislike of this abominable, and most barbarous cruelty; and said, the jailer should be dealt withal the next court.

But this paper was soon taken down again upon the instigation of the high priest, John Norton, who, having from the beginning been a fierce promoter of the persecution, now did not hesitate to say, “W. Brend endeavored to beat our gospel ordinances black and blue, if he then be beaten black and blue, it is but just upon him; and I will appear in his behalf that did so.” It is therefore not much to be wondered at, that these precise and bigoted magistrates, who would be looked upon to be eminent for piety, were so cruel in persecuting, since their chief teacher thus wickedly encouraged them to it.

24 Mar 1661 – After several other arrests and jailings, William Leddra stood at the foot of the tree where he was to be hanged. As his arms were being tied he said, “For bearing my testimony for the Lord against deceivers and the deceived, I am brought here to suffer.” His final words were, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”

A few moments later, he became the last Quaker to swing in Boston for the crime of returning from banishment. Even the court acknowledged that it “found nothing evil” in William. Even so, he had suffered beatings and banishment for preaching in Massachusetts. When he dared to return in 1660, Puritan authorities arrested him. The charges against him were typical. He had sympathized with the Quakers who were executed before him; he had refused to remove his hat, and he used the words “thee” and “thou,” which, to Quakers, implied the equality of all people. William lay in prison all that winter without heat. But on the last day of his life, chained to a log in a dark cell, he wrote to his wife:

“Most Dear and Inwardly Beloved, “The sweet influences of the Morning Star, like a flood distilling into my innocent habitation, hath filled me with the joy of [God] in the beauty of holiness, that my spirit is, as if it did not inhabit a tabernacle of clay. Oh! My Beloved, I have waited as a dove at the windows of the ark, and I have stood still in that watch, wherein my heart did rejoice, that I might in the love and life speak a few words to you sealed with the Spirit of Promise, that the taste thereof might be a savor of life to your life, and a testimony in you, of my innocent death.”

Edmund PERRY’s son-in-law Robert Harper,  a prominent Quaker in Boston caught Leddra’s body under the scaffold when the hangman cut it down. For this sign of respect toward his dead friend, Robert and his wife, were banished. Our Quaker ancestors were also hounded in the courts.


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Puritan v. Quakers – Quaker Perspective

There’s a kind of sucker punch in many presentations of American history, wherein we are told that the Puritans left England for America because they had suffered religious persecution—and then the Puritans persecuted other religions here!  We’re given the impression that they were looking for freedom of religion and then denied it to others.

In the 1650’s several of our ancestors became Quakers and enduried escalating fines,  prison, banishment, whipping and ear cutting.   Some of these ancestors were closely involved when four Quakers were condemned to death and executed by public hanging for their religious beliefs in Boston in 1659, 1660 and 1661.   Richard SCOTT’s daughter Patience, in June, 1659, a girl of about eleven years, having gone to Boston as a witness against ‘the persecution of the Quakers, was sent to prison; others older being banished.  Today we ask, “What kind of people put an 11 year old girl in jail? ”

In our 2011 imagination, the Quakers are the conscientious objector good guys while the Puritans are the hypocritical tyrants.  Almost any book you read about the Massachusetts Bay Colony gives you the feeling that the moment those people set foot on shore in America they started betraying their own values. Objectivity is hard to come by when you’re reading about the Puritans.  Is our modern perspective accurate?

Navigate this Report
1. Puritan Perspective

2. Quaker Perspective
3. Trials & Tribulations

4. Boston Martyrs
5. Aftermath

2. Quaker Perspective

The “Friends”, “Children of the Light” or “Quakers” were the most libertarian and fanatical of Protestant reformers, rejecting in toto formal religion. Anathema to the original English Quaker, George Fox, were priests in any form of employ of the state (“hirelings”). Moved by his own “direct revelation of the divine” – aren’t they all – he eschewed “steeplehouses” (churches) and relied on his charisma alone to draw vast outdoor crowds. The hot gospelling, spirit-filled hysteria attracted a following and alarmed the Puritan elite, not least because the Friends refused any form of deference, oaths or tithes.

George Fox

Among Fox’s ideas were:

  • Rituals can be safely ignored, as long as one experiences a true spiritual conversion.
  • The qualification for ministry is given by the Holy Spirit, not by ecclesiastical study. This implies that anyone has the right to minister, assuming the Spirit guides them, including women and children.
  • God “dwelleth in the hearts of his obedient people”: religious experience is not confined to a church building. Indeed, Fox refused to apply the word “church” to a building, using instead the name “steeple-house”, a usage maintained by many Quakers today. Fox would just as soon worship in fields and orchards, believing that God’s presence could be felt anywhere.
  • Though Fox used the Bible to support his views, Fox reasoned that, because God was within the faithful, believers could follow their own inner guide rather than rely on a strict reading of Scripture or the word of clerics.
  • As the Bible makes no mention of the Trinity, Fox also made no clear distinction between Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

In 1647 Fox began to preach publicly: in market-places, fields, appointed meetings of various kinds or even sometimes “steeple-houses” after the service. His powerful preaching began to attract a small following. It is not clear at what point the Society of Friends was formed but there was certainly a group of people who often travelled together. At first, they called themselves “Children of the Light” or “Friends of the Truth”, and later simply “Friends”. Fox seems to have had no desire to found a sect but only to proclaim what he saw as the pure and genuine principles of Christiani in their original simplicity, though he afterward showed great prowess as a religious legislator in the organization he gave to the new society.

There were a great many rival Christian denominations holding very diverse opinions; the atmosphere of dispute and confusion gave Fox an opportunity to put forward his own beliefs through his personal sermons. Fox’s preaching was grounded in scripture but was mainly effective because of the intense personal experience he was able to project.  He was scathing about immorality, deceit and the exacting of tithes and urged his listeners to lead lives without sin, avoiding the Ranter‘s antinomian view that a believer becomes automatically sinless. By 1651 he had gathered other talented preachers around him and continued to roam the country despite a harsh reception from some listeners, who would whip and beat them to drive them away  The worship of Friends in the form of silent waiting seems to have been well-established by this time, though it is not recorded how this came to be.

Fox was first arrested for blasphemy in October 1652, but was released on a technicality.  He was arrested again for blasphemy in 1653. It was even proposed to put him to death but Parliament requested his release rather than have “a young man … die for religion”. Further imprisonments came at London in 1654, Launceston in 1656, Lancaster in 1660, Leicester in 1662, Lancaster again and Scarborough in 1664–66 and Worcester in 1673–75. Charges usually included causing a disturbance and travelling without a pass. Quakers fell foul of irregularly enforced laws forbidding unauthorized worship while actions motivated by belief in social equality—refusing to use or acknowledge titles, take hats off in court or bow to those who considered themselves socially superior—were seen as disrespectful.

In prison George Fox continued writing and preaching, feeling that imprisonment brought him into contact with people who needed his help—the jailers as well as his fellow prisoners. He also sought to set an example by his actions there, turning the other cheek when being beaten and refusing to show his captors any dejected feelings.

Parilamentarians grew suspicious of monarchist plots and fearful that the group travelling with Fox aimed to overthrow the government: by this time his meetings were regularly attracting crowds of over a thousand. In early 1655 he was arrested at Whetstone, Leicestershire and taken to London under armed guard. In Mar he was brought before the Lord ProtectorOliver Cromwell. After affirming that he had no intention of taking up arms Fox was able to speak with Cromwell for most of the morning about the Friends and advised him to listen to God’s voice and obey it so that, as Fox left, Cromwell “with tears in his eyes said, ‘Come again to my house; for if thou and I were but an hour of a day together, we should be nearer one to the other’; adding that he wished [Fox] no more ill than he did to his own soul.”

Cromwell was sympathetic to Fox and almost agreed to follow his teaching—but persecution of Quakers continued.

This episode was later recalled as an example of “speaking truth to power”, a preaching technique by which subsequent Quakers hoped to influence the powerful. Although not used until the 20th century, the phrase is related to the ideas of plain speech and simplicity which Fox practiced, but motivated by the more worldly goal of eradicating war, injustice and oppression.

The persecutions of these years—with about a thousand Friends in prison by 1657—hardened George Fox’s opinions of traditional religious and social practices. In his preaching, he often emphasized the Quaker rejection of baptism by water; this was a useful way of highlighting how the focus of Friends on inward transformation differed from what he saw as the superstition of outward ritual. It was also deliberately provocative to adherents of those practices, providing opportunities for Fox to argue with them on matters of scripture. This pattern was also found in his court appearances: when a judge challenged him to remove his hat, Fox riposted by asking where in the Bible such an injunction could be found.

In  July 1656,the first Quaker missionaries, Anne Austin and Mary Fisher landed in Boston  to bring the message of the “inner light” to the New World and immediatley became targets of the civil government.  For their story, see Puritans V. Quakers – Boston Martyrs

John Ap John

John was the brother of our ancestor Mary JOHNSON PEASLEE.

Born: 1625
Died: 1697
Place of Birth: Cefn Mawr
Famous For: First person to become a Quaker in Wales.
Biography: Local historian Howard Paddock writes about the religious pioneer from Cefn.
It is generally accepted that John ap John was born about 1625 at a freehold property called Pen y Cefn in the county of Denbighshire. The son of a yeoman farmer, he became one of the country’s leading dissenters. It was John ap John who first brought Quakerism into Wales and because of this he is commonly called ‘The First Apostle of Welsh Quakerism.’ The very first Quaker Meeting in Wales was held at his home in Cefn Mawr, an area which was then known as Cristionydd Kenrick, a township within the Parish of Ruabon.
John ap John was educated at Wrexham where he possibly came under the influence of Walter Craddock, a leading Puritan preacher. During the Civil War it is thought that John ap John served as a Chaplain with the Parliamentarian Army at Beaumaris, Anglesey. After the war, he joined Morgan Llwyd’s Church at Wrexham, where he soon became a leading member and travelling preacher.
It was through Morgan Llwyd that he met George Fox, the founder Of the Society of Friends. In 1653, John ap John stayed at Fox’s headquarters in Swarthmore, Lancashire where he learned about the philosophy of ‘The Inner Light’ and the teachings of George Fox. When John ap John was convinced of the truth he became the very first Welsh Quaker.
To say simply that he spent the greater part of his life tramping through Wales preaching the Quaker message would be to ignore the bravery of this man. For these were the days of religious intolerance, when heretics were condemned to death and the Law Courts threatened to burn Quakers. He spent a life-time being persecuted and was incarcerated because of his beliefs in the jails of Cardiff, Usk, Tenby, Swansea, Welshpool and possibly Carmarthen. He was gaoled for such offences as refusing to remove his hat in the presence of a social superior and fined for holding religious services inside his own home
In 1681, John ap John met William Penn in London and was instrumental in persuading Penn to allocate 30,000 acres of his American land to Welsh Quakers.

John ap John died in 1697 at the home of son in law, John Mellor of Ipstones, Staffordshire, and was buried in nearby Basford. He lies in an unmarked grave in what today simply looks like a field.

Anne Hutchinson

There was dissent to Puritan beliefs in New England almost from the beginning and Anne Hutchinson, the daughter of our ancestor Rev. Francis MARBURY played an important role.

Anne Hutchinson (1591–1643) was one of the most prominent women in colonial America, noted for her strong religious convictions, and for her stand against the staunch religious orthodoxy of 17th century Massachusetts. She was a Puritan whose religious ideas were at odds with the established Puritan clergy in the Boston area, and her popularity and charisma created a schism in the Boston church which threatened to destroy the Puritans’ religious experiment in New England. Creating the most challenging situation for the ruling magistrates and ministers during her first three years in Boston, she was eventually tried and convicted, then banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony with many of her followers.

Anne Hutchinson figures prominently in an excellent book , The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell.

Anne is a key figure in the study of the development of religious freedom in England’s American colonies and the history of women in ministry. She challenged the authority of the ministers, exposing the subordination of women in the culture of colonial Massachusetts. Although her religious ideas remain controversial, her implicit rejection of state authority to prescribe specific religious rites and interpretations, was later enshrined in the American Constitution. The State of Massachusetts honors her with a State House monument calling her a “courageous exponent of civil liberty and religious toleration.”

Anne Hutchinson Massachusetts State House Monument

Born in Alford, Lincolnshire, England, Anne was the daughter of Francis Marbury, an Anglican minister with strong Puritan leanings, who had been imprisoned for two years, and then later put under house arrest for his overt criticism of the Anglican hierarchy for not staffing churches with better trained ministers. Marbury was also a school teacher, and when under house arrest, he used his time to teach his children, and Anne grew up with a far better education than most girls, who generally had few educational opportunities in 16th century England. As a young adult living in London, she married there an old friend from Alford, William Hutchinson, and the couple moved back to Alford where they began a family and visited various churches in the area. Hearing of a dynamic young preacher named John Cotton in the market town of Boston, Lincolnshire, about 21 miles away, the couple went to hear him preach, and thereafter made the difficult trip by horseback at every opportunity. Enamored with Cotton’s preaching, Anne Hutchinson was distraught when Cotton was compelled to emigrate following threats of imprisonment for his Puritan messages and practices.

In 1634, after the birth of her 14th child, Hutchinson followed Cotton to New England with her husband and 11 living children, and soon became well established in the growing settlement of Boston, in the English colonies. She was a midwife, and very helpful to those needing her assistance.  In 1637, Anne delivered a stillborn, deformed baby of her friend and future Boston Martyr, Mary Dyer.  Puritans believed that birth defects were punishments for the parents sins. See below for the story of Mary and Anne’s troubles with the Puritan authorities.

She was very forthcoming with her personal religious opinions and understandings. Soon she was hosting women at her house once a week, providing commentary on recent sermons, and sharing her religious views, including criticism of many local ministers. These meetings became so popular, that she soon began offering meetings to men as well, to include the young governor of the colony, Harry Vane, and up to 80 people a week were visiting her house to learn from her interpretations and views of religious matters. As a follower of Cotton, she espoused a “covenant of grace,” while accusing all of the local ministers (except for Cotton and her husband’s brother-in-law, John Wheelwright) of preaching a “covenant of works.” Several ministers complained about Hutchinson to John Winthrop, who served several terms as governor of the colony, and eventually the situation erupted into what is known as the Antinomian Controversy, resulting in Hutchinson’s 1637 trial, conviction, and banishment from the colony.

Anne Hutchinson Preaching

With encouragement from Roger Williams, Hutchinson and many followers established the settlement of Portsmouth in what would become the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. She lived there for a few years, but after her husband’s death, threats of Massachusetts taking over Rhode Island compelled her to move totally outside the reach of Boston, into the lands of the Dutch. Sometime in 1642 she settled with her younger children in New Netherland near an ancient landmark called Split Rock in what would later become Bronx, New York City. Here she had a home built, but tensions with the native Siwanoy were high, and following inhumane treatment by the Dutch, the natives went on a series of rampages known as Kieft’s War, and in August 1643, all but one of the 16 members of Hutchinson’s household were massacred during an attack. The lone survivor, nine-year old Susanna Hutchinson, was taken captive, and held for several years before being returned to family members in Boston.

Anne Hutchinson’s brother-in-law, Richard SCOTT Sr. (1605 – 1680) was one of the first Quakers in the Rhode Island colony.  He came over in 1634 on the ship “Griffin” and was admitted to the church at Boston, 28 Aug 1634.  His wife, Katherine Marbury’s father was also the daughter a London clergyman, Rev. Francis Marbury.

Governor John Winthrop relates:

“One Scott and Eliot of Ipswich were lost in their way homewards and wandered up and down six days and ate nothing. At length thoy were found by an Indian, being almost senseless for want of food.”

Richard removed in 1634 to Ipswich and before 1637 to Providence, Rhode Island. 20 Aug 1637 – Richard signed the famous Providence Compact.  Roger Williams established a settlement with twelve “loving friends.” He called it “Providence” because he felt that God’s Providence had brought him there.  He said that his settlement was to be a haven for those “distressed of conscience,” and it soon attracted quite a collection of dissenters and otherwise-minded individuals. From the beginning, the settlement was governed by a majority vote of the heads of households, but “only in civil things,” and newcomers could be admitted to full citizenship by a majority vote. In August of 1637 they drew up a town agreement, which again restricted the government to “civil things.” In 1640, another agreement was signed by thirty-nine freemen, which declared their determination “still to hold forth liberty of conscience.” Thus, Williams had founded the first place in modern history where citizenship and religion were separated, a place where there was religious liberty and separation of church and state.

Richard Scott - Signature on Providence Charter

16 Jan 1639 – Governor Winthrop says of Mrs. Scott:

“At Providence things grew still worse, for a sister of Mrs. Hutchinson, the wife of one Scott, being affected with Anabaptistery and going to live at Providence, Mr. Williams, was taken (or rather emboldened) by her to make open profession thereof and accordingly was re-baptised by one Holyman, a poor man late of Salem. Then Mr. Williams re-baptized him and some ten more. They also denied the baptism of infants and would have no magistrates.”

1655 – Scott was admitted a freeman. He and his family were constantly subjected to religious persecution.

Mary Dyer – Future Boston Martyr

William and Mary Dyer were open supporters of Anne (Marbury) Hutchinson (sister of our ancestor Katherine MARBURY SCOTT)  and the Rev. John Wheelwright during the Antinomian controversy. Mary and Anne were friends, and when Mary went into premature labor on October 17, 1637, Anne, an experienced midwife, was called to her side. After hours of agonizing labor, Mary’s body gave forth a stillborn daughter. The child was badly deformed. Also present at the stillbirth were the midwife Jane Hawkins, and at least one other unnamed woman, who was reputed to be the source of the information later spread about the monstrous birth that, one observer later wrote, was “whispered by s[ome] women in private to some others (as many of that sex as[semble] in such a strang business).” William Dyer and Anne agreed that the birth must remain a secret, knowing that the unfortunate birth could play into the hands of the Boston magistrates. Mary herself could be personally blamed for the malformed baby.

While English law permitted a midwife to bury a child in private, a midwife could not lawfully deliver or bury a child in secret. Anne Hutchinson immediately sought the counsel of Rev. John Cotton about whether the stillbirth should be publicly recorded. Although he had betrayed her politically, Anne felt she could count on him in this crisis. Cotton, with a flash of nonconformity, dismissed the ancient folk wisdom that held that infant death was conspicuous punishment for the parents’ sins and advised her to ignore the law and to bury the deformed fetus in secret.

Acting on this special dispensation, Jane Hawkins and Anne buried the stillborn child – exactly as they had always done in old England where custom-imbedded law dictated to the midwife: “If any child be dead born, you yourself shall see it buried in such secret place as neither hog nor dog, nor any other beast may come unto it, and in such sort done, as it may not be found or perceived, as much as you may.” The birth and burial remained a secret for five months.

Gov. John WinthropIn November, 1637, William was disenfranchised and disarmed along with dozens of other followers of Anne Hutchinson. On March 22, 1638, when Anne Hutchinson was excommunicated from the church and withdrew from the assemblage, Mary Dyer rose and accompanied her out of the church. As the two women left, there were several women hanging around outside the church and one was heard to ask, “Who is that woman accompanying Anne Hutchinson?” Another voice answered loud enough to be heard inside the church, “She is the mother of a monster!” Governor Winthrop heard this and was excitedly questioned Cotton, who broke down and confessed that “God, Cotton and Anne Hutchinson” had buried a deformed child five months ago. Although the child had been buried “too deep for dog or hog,” it was not too deep for Winthrop who ordered it exhumed. Winthrop and the clergymen who examined it showed an inordinate interest in the physical characteristics of the “monster.” According to John Winthrop’s Journal, Mary Dyer, who was “notoriously infected with Mrs Hutchinson’s errors,” was divinely punished for this sinful heresy by being delivered of a stillborn “monster.” Winthrop included gruesome, detailed descriptions in his journal and in letters sent to correspondents in England and New England:

It was a woman child, stillborn, about two months before the just time, having life a few hours before; it came hiplings [breach birth] till she turned it; it was of ordinary bigness; it had a face, but no head, and the ears stood upon the shoulders and were like an ape’s; it had no forehead, but over the eyes four horns, hard and sharp, two of them were above one inch long, the other two shorter; the eyes standing out, and the mouth also; the nose hooked upward all over the breast and back, full of sharp pricks and scales, like a thornback; the navel and all the belly, with the distinction of the sex, were where the back should be; and the back and hips before, where the belly should have been; behind, between the shoulders, it had two mouths, and in each of them a piece of red flesh sticking out; it had arms and legs as other children; but, instead of toes, it had on each foot three claws, like a young fowl, with sharp talons.

Excommunicated and banished in their turn, the Dyers followed Anne Hutchinson to Rhode Island where William became one of the founders of Portsmouth. On 7 March 1638 he was one of the eighteen who signed the companct and he was elected Clerk. The Dyers ultimately settled in Newport where by 19 March 1640 William had acquired 87 acres of land. He served as Secretary for the towns of Portsmouth and Newport from 1640-47; General Recorder 1647; Attorney General 1650-1653.

In 1652 William and Mary Dyer accompanied Roger Williams and John Clarke (1609-1676)  on a political mission to England. Mary remained for five years, becoming a follower of George Fox, founder of the Society of Friends, whose doctrine of the Inner Light was not unlike Mrs. Hutchinson’s “Antinomianism

Continue to my post Puritans V. Quakers – Boston Martyrs for more of Mary’s story and her sad end.


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Puritans v. Quakers – Puritan Perspective

There’s a kind of sucker punch in many presentations of American history, wherein we are told that the Puritans left England for America because they had suffered religious persecution—and then the Puritans persecuted other religions here!  We’re given the impression that they were looking for freedom of religion and then denied it to others.

In the 1650’s several of our ancestors became Quakers and enduried escalating fines,  prison, banishment, whipping and ear cutting.   Some of these ancestors were closely involved when four Quakers were condemned to death and executed by public hanging for their religious beliefs in Boston in 1659, 1660 and 1661.   Richard SCOTT’s daughter Patience, in June, 1659, a girl of about eleven years, having gone to Boston as a witness against ‘the persecution of the Quakers, was sent to prison; others older being banished.  Today we ask, “What kind of people put an 11 year old girl in jail? ”

In our 2011 imagination, the Quakers are the conscientious objector good guys while the Puritans are the hypocritical tyrants.  Almost any book you read about the Massachusetts Bay Colony gives you the feeling that the moment those people set foot on shore in America they started betraying their own values. Objectivity is hard to come by when you’re reading about the Puritans.  Is our modern perspective accurate?

Navigate this Report
1. Puritan Perspective

2. Quaker Perspective
3. Trials & Tribulations

4. Boston Martyrs
5. Aftermath

1. Puritan Perspective

The Puritan’s secular life went hand in hand with their spiritual life.  You had to be a church member in order to become a “freeman.”  It seems that every other immigrant to New England in the 17th C. held public office.    I’ve tagged over 150 of our ancestors with the category “Public Office”  With annual terms for selectman, constable, fence viewer, grand jury, general court, etc. everyone who wanted to had a chance to participate.  I think this participation is one of the most important sources of the American identity.  Here are definitions of a few of the terms:  Early New England Public Offices

The Puritans were members of the official state church of England, the Anglican Church, but they felt it needed to be reformed and restructured (purified) to be more Protestant.

When Charles I took the throne and in 1630 and made William Laud, a pro-Catholic, anti-Puritan church leader the Archbishop of Canterbury much of England’s Puritan population fled England. Laud harried them out, putting a price on the heads of more outspoken and powerful Puritan ministers, making it a criminal offense to attend Puritan worship services, and generally doing his best to squash all opposition to the Anglican Church.

In 1630 the Great Migration of Puritans under John Winthrop headed to what is now Boston, and formed the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The Puritans were forced out because they wanted to reform human civilization through religion, to wipe out poverty, and to make a heaven on Earth in which everyone was free to discover God’s will for themselves.

But these were not generalized goals; that is, the Puritans did not believe that any or every religion, diligently applied, could result in such a paradise. They believed that only their reformed version of Anglican Christianity could put such goals within reach. They were not completely crazy for thinking so. In the world they knew, the world of European and especially English Christianity, the Puritans were the only group calling for an end to poverty, the only group demanding that all people, even women, be taught how to read (so they could read the Bible, God’s word), and the only group that required its members to work hard to improve the world on a person-by-person basis.

Puritans were supposed to live exemplary lives in every respect so that anyone they dealt with—their customers, friends, even strangers they met—would see God through them, and be inspired to seek God themselves. Thus the Puritans might be excused for thinking their religion was the only one that could save the world. In their limited experience of the world, theirs was the most actively reformist faith. They left England to preserve that faith, so that Puritanism would not be diluted or destroyed.

The Puritans did not encourage religious diversity or practice religious tolerance in New England, not because they were terrible, hateful people, but because they were on a mission, and they feared God’s wrath upon themselves if they failed in that mission to create a holy nation on Earth. They left England to establish a Puritan state where Puritan Anglicanism—Congregationalism—could be practiced. They did not leave England to establish a state where people were free to practice whatever religion they wanted. It is incorrect to say the Puritans wanted freedom of religion; they did not. They wanted to be able to practice their own religion freely. Those are two very different things.

In the brave new Christian colony of Massachusetts Bay government and church were as one. The state existed only to further God’s purpose. New England’s very existence was a covenant with God. Thus heresy was a civil offence, as was profanity, blasphemy, idolatry, adultery, sodomy, Sabbath-breaking – and of course, witchcraft. A misjudged curse – “willful blaspheming the holy name of God” – would merit a painful sojourn in the stocks.

The small townships established across the New England landscape clustered about their church/meeting halls, snuggled up to Jesus. With a profane, carnal, wilderness all about them, theirs was a citadel of God-fearing self-control and restraint. Authority came directly from God, not a king or a bishop, and was entrusted to the Elders who interpreted His Holy Book and guided self-governing communities of the pure. A minority of Puritans supported a limited form of centralised leadership, Presbyterianism, but most favoured “each congregation an entire and independent body-politic under Christ” –Congregationalism. Wary of outsiders, the Congregational churches accepted a member only if he could demonstrate that he was indeed among God’s elect.

As believers in “predestination” the Puritans suffered the psychotic torment of never being really sure that they had received the “gift of God’s grace” and were forever striving for more diligent standards of biblical behaviour. A sumptuary law of 1634 forbade “rich apparel” – woollen or linen clothes trimmed with silver, gold, silk, or lace. Another in 1651 expressed “utter detestation” that men and women “of mean condition” should be wearing the garb of gentlemen (those with “visible estates of £200” or more).

The first Puritans of New England certainly disapproved of Christmas celebrations, as did some other Protestant churches of the time. Celebration was outlawed in Boston from 1659. The ban was revoked in 1681 by the English-appointed governor Sir Edmund Andros, who also revoked a Puritan ban on festivities on Saturday nights. Nevertheless, it was not until the mid-19th century that celebrating Christmas became fashionable in the Boston region.  Likewise the colonies banned many secular entertainments, such as games of chance, maypoles, and drama, on moral grounds.

They were not, however, opposed to drinking alcohol in moderation.  Early New England laws banning the sale of alcohol to Native Americans were criticized because it was “not fit to deprive Indians of any lawfull comfort aloweth to all men by the use of wine.” Laws banned the practice of individuals toasting each other: it led to wasting God’s gift of beer and wine, as well as being carnal. Bounds were not set on enjoying sexuality within the bounds of marriage, as a gift from G  In fact, spouses (albeit, in practice, mainly females) were disciplined if they did not perform their sexual marital duties, in accordance with 1 Corinthians 7 and other biblical passages. Puritans publicly punished drunkenness and sexual relations outside of marriage.

New England differed from its mother country, where nothing in English statute required schoolmasters or the literacy of children. With the possible exception of Scotland, the Puritan model of education in New England was unique. John Winthrop in 1630 had claimed that the society they would form in New England would be “as a city upon a hill;” and the colony leaders would educate all. These were men of letters, had attended Oxford or Cambridge, and communicated with intellectuals all over Europe; and in 1636 they founded the school that shortly became Harvard College.

Besides the Bible, children needed to read in order to “understand…the capital laws of this country,” as the Massachusetts code declared, order being of the utmost importance, and children not taught to read would grow “barbarous” (the 1648 amendment to the Massachusetts law and the 1650 Connecticut code, both used the word “barbarisme”). By the 1670s, all New England colonies (excepting Rhode Island) had passed legislation that mandated literacy for children. In 1647, Massachusetts passed a law that required towns to hire a schoolmaster to teach writing.

Alexis de Tocqueville suggested in Democracy in America that Puritanism was the very thing that provided a firm foundation for American democracy. As Sheldon Wolin puts it, “Tocqueville was aware of the harshness and bigotry of the early colonists”; but on the other hand he saw them as “archaic survivals, not only in their piety and discipline but in their democratic practices”.  The theme of a religious basis of economic discipline is echoed in sociologist Max Weber‘s work, but both de Tocqueville and Weber argued that this discipline was not a force of economic determinism, but one factor among many that should be considered when evaluating the relative economic success of the Puritans.

Rev. John Lathrop

In 1623 Rev. John LATHROP renounced his orders and joined the cause of the Independents. Lothropp gained prominence in 1624, when he was called to replace Reverend Henry Jacob as the pastor of the First Independent Church in London, a congregation of sixty members which met at Southwark. Church historians sometimes call this church the Jacob-Lathrop-Jessey Church, named for its first three pastors, Henry Jacob, John Lothropp and Henry Jessey.

Rev. John Lothrop - Portrait -

They were forced to meet in private to avoid the scrutiny of Bishop of London William Laud. Following the group’s discovery on April 22, 1632 by officers of the king, forty two of Lothropp’s Independents were arrested. Only eighteen escaped capture. They were prosecuted for failure to take the oath of loyalty to the established church. They were jailed in The Clink prison. All were released on bail by the spring of 1634 except Lothropp, who was deemed too dangerous to be set at liberty. While he was in prison, his wife Hannah House became ill and died. His six surviving children were according to tradition left to fend for themselves begging for bread on the streets of London. Friends being unable to care for his children brought them to the Bishop who had charge of Lothropp. The Bishop of London ultimately released him on bond in May of 1634 with the understanding that he would immediately remove to the New World.  With his group, John sailed on the Griffin and arrived in Boston on 18 Sep 1634.

Gov. Thomas Prence

Thomas PRENCE was not part of those religious dissenters who sought religious freedom in America, but he apparently sympathized with them. Perhaps not knowingly, he took two steps that led to his leadership role. He married Patience BREWSTER, daughter of the community’s religious leader, Elder William BREWSTER , and in 1627 he became one of eight colony members who assumed the pilgrims’ debt to the London merchants who had backed establishment of the colony.

He became governor of Plymouth, for the first time, in 1634; he was elected again in 1638 and served from 1657 to 1673. After the death of Governor Bradford in 1653, he became the leader of the Plymouth Colony serving in that capacity until his death.

He was distinguished for his religious zeal, and opposed those that he believed to be heretics, particularly the Quakers. He became infamous for the banishment of those who would not conform to his specific church law, including Samuel Gorton, the first governor of Rhode Island. He restructured the local government to secure his position and led the persecution of numerous people for offenses such as smiling in church, harboring non-church members, and tending garden during the Sabbath.

He also procured revenue for the colony’s grammar schools so future generations would be better educated.

George Willison in Saints and Strangers noted that in 1646, Thomas Prence was opposed to religious tolerance and, in 1657, was a leader in Quaker and Baptist persecutions. In Duxbury, the policy of Gov. Prence “met stiff opposition led by Henry and Arthur HOWLAND [our ancestors] and others. Henry Howland was up on the malicious charge of ‘improperlie entertaining’ a neighbor’s wife, and his young son, Zoeth, was put in the stocks for saying that he ‘would not goe to meeting to hear lyes, and that the Divill could preach as good a sermon as the ministers,’ with which many townspeople seemed to agree, choosing to pay a fine rather than attend public worship.”

Imagine Gov. Prence’s feelings when he discovered that “one of his chief enemy’s sons, young Arthur Howland [also our ancestor], was surreptitiously courting his daughter Elizabeth. As the law forbade ‘making motion of marriage’ to a girl without her parents’ consent, the irascible old governor promptly hauled the ‘impudent’ youth into court and fined him five pounds for ‘inveigeling’ his daughter. The young lovers were not discouraged and remained constant, for seven years later Arthur was again in court, was fined and put under bond of 50 pounds ‘to refrain and desist.’ The couple continued to behave ‘disorderlie and unrighteously,’ finally breaking the iron will of the old governor.” They were married and, “in good time the names of their children, Thomas Howland and Prence (Prince) Howland, were inscribed on the baptismal roll of the church.”

1657 –  Arthur Howland Jr.,  an ardent Quaker and son of Arthur HOWLAND Sr., was brought before the court.  Elizabeth Prence, daughter of Gov. Thomas PRENCE (also our ancestor)  and Arthur Howland Jr., fell in love. The relationship blossomed and matrimony seemed inevitable. However, it was illegal and punishable by court sanction for couples to marry without parental consent. Thomas Prence urged Elizabeth to break off the relationship, but to no avail. He then used powers available to him as Governor. Arthur Howland, Jr., was brought before the General Court and fined five pounds for

inveigling of Mistris Elizabeth Prence and making motion of marriage to her, and prosecuting the same contrary to her parents likeing, and without theire mind and will…[and] in speciall that hee desist from the use of any meanes to obtaine or retaine her affections as aforesaid.”

2 Jul 1667 – Arthur Howland, Jr., was brought before the General Court again where he “did sollemly and seriously engage before the Court, that he will wholly desist and never apply himself for the future as formerly he hath done, to Mistris Elizabeth Prence in reference unto marriage.” Guess what happened! They were married on December 9, 1667 and in time had a daughter and four sons. Thus a reluctant Thomas Prence acquired a Quaker son-in-law, Quaker grandchildren and innumerable Quaker in-laws of Henry Howland.

22 Dec 1657 – Arthur, his brother Henry and Henry’s son Zoeth were called before the Plymouth court to answer for entertaining a Quaker, and suffering and inviting sundry to hear said Quaker.  They were fined for using thier homes for Quaker meetings.’   The families of Arthur Howland and his brother  Henry, were two Plymouth families most identified as practicing Quakers. The families ceased attending Plymouth religious services and allowed their homes for the conduct of Quaker meetings.  Throughout his life, Arthur’s brother John HOWLAND (also our ancestor)  remained faithful to Separatist belief and practice, but his compassion for Quakers is not known.

Major Richard Waldron

1662 – Richard SCAMMON’s son-in-law, Major Richard Waldron was the local magistrate whose stern Puritan action  toward three persistent Quaker women proselytizers became the stuff of condemnatory poetry by Whittier. He ordered them to be marched behind a cart through eleven townships and stripped to the waist and whipped in each. When released in the third township they were marched into, the women left for Maine


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Great Swamp Fight – Aftermath

The Great Swamp Fight on December 19, 1675 was the most significant battle of King Philip’s War, what has been called the bloodiest (per capita) conflict in the history of America.  It was a critical blow to the Narragansett tribe from which they never fully recovered.  In April 1676, the Narragansett were completely defeated when the Wampanoag sachem Metacom was shot in the heart by John Alderman, a Native American soldier.  The Narragansett tribe was not recognized by the Federal Government until 1983 and today includes 2,400 members.

As I worked out our family genealogy, the Great Swamp Fight kept appearing again and again.  Our family seems to have an especially intimate relationship with this battle, but I’m beginning to think that every family was equally involved.  Nine direct ancestors participated, four were officers and one was killed.  27 close relatives were part of the fight of whom 6 were officers, six were killed or died of their wounds and six were wounded and survived.  Of the three small regiments involved, eleven officers were our ancestors or their children.

Navigate this Report
1. Overview
2. Background
3. The Battle

4. General Staff
5. Massachusetts Regiment
6. Plymouth Regiment
7. Connecticut Regiment

8. Joshua Tefft – the Only American Drawn & Quartered

9. Aftermath

9. Aftermath

The Indians retaliated in a widespread spring offensive beginning in February 1676, in which they destroyed all English settlements on the western side of Narragansett Bay. They burned Providence on March 27, 1676, destroying Roger Williams’ house, among others. Across New England, Indians destroyed many towns, and the attackers raided the suburbs of Boston. In spite of waging a successful campaign against the colonists, by the end of March, disease, starvation, battle loses, and the lack of gunpowder caused the Indian effort to collapse.

Rading parties from Connecticut composed of the colonists and Indian allies, such as the Pequot and Mohegan, swept into Rhode Island and killed substantial numbers of the now-weakened Narragansett. A mixed force of Mohegan and Connecticut militia captured Canonchet, the chief sachem of the Narragansett, a few days after the destruction of Providence, and delivered him to Connecticut authorities. When he was told he was to die, he replied, “I like it well that I should die before my heart has grown soft and I have said anything unworthy of myself.” He asked to be executed by Uncas, chief sachem of the Mohegan. Uncas and two Pequot sachems closest to Canonchet’s rank among his captors executed him in Indian style. The English treated Canonchet as a traitor, and had his body drawn and quartered. A mixed force of Plymouth militia and fellow Wampanoag hunted down Metacomet. He was shot and killed by John Alderman, an Indian soldier who had earlier served with him. The war ended in southern New England, although in Maine it dragged on for another year.

After the war, some surviving Narragansett were sold into slavery and shipped to the Caribbean; others became indentured servants in Rhode Island. The surviving Narragansett merged with local tribes, particularly the Eastern Niantic. During colonial and later times, tribe members intermarried with Europeans, Africans, and African-Americans. Their spouses and children were taken into the tribe, enabling them to keep a tribal and Native American cultural identity.

Maine Townships

In 1727, after many delays and discouragements, the Legislature of Massachusetts performed the tardy act of justice granting to the officers and soldiers, or their legal representatives, who served in the arduous Narragansett expedition during King Philip’s War, a township equal to six miles square in the Province of Maine, to each 120 persons whose claims should be established within four months from the passage of the act. It was found that the whole number amounted to 840. Seven townships were granted, called Narragansett No. 1 (now Buxton, Maine), 2 (now Westminster, Mass), 3 (now Amherst, New Hampshire), 4 (now Goffstown, N. H.; In 1735, however, some grantees “found it so poor and barren as to be altogether incapable of making settlements,” and were instead granted a tract in Greenwich, Massachusetts.), 5 (now Bedford, New Hampshire), 6 (now Templeton, Mass.), 7.,  assigned to the company of Capt. John GORHAM and a few others, which was afterwards incorporated as the town of “Gorham,” by which name it is now known. The Gorham grantees commenced their settlement in the year 1736. They were from the towns of Yarmouth, Barnstable, Eastham, and a few from Sandwich.

John Gorham’s grandson Col. Shubael Gorham

Shubael was a military officer and had sailed with Colonel John March in 1707 and then again as an ensign in Captain Caleb Williamson’s Barnstable Company with Nicholson when the English took Port Royal in 1710.

His greatest service, however, was his successful effort  in obtaining the grants of Nargansett Townships to the heirs of the soldiers who fought in King Philip’s War.  Col. Gorham spent much time and money promoting the settlement of Gorhamtown.  He bought the shares of many who did not desire to emigrate, but his speculations in the wild lands proved unfortunate.  Buying such lands is like lottery tickets, a few get prizes.  Col Gorham was not one of the lucky ones.  He died insolvent in 1746, his own children being his principal creditors.

During the 1745 Siege of Louisbourg, Shubael Gorham of Barnstable was Colonel of the Seventh Massachusetts Regiment. His son, John Gorham, was Lieut. Colonel and became Colonel upon Shubael’s death.

The names of the grantees from Yarmouth were as follows, though what proportion of them settled there we have no means of ascertaining :

From Yarmouth— Samuel Baker, William Chase, John Thacher, John Hallet, John Matthews, Thomas Thornton, Edward Gray, Samuel Hall, Jona. Smith, Sam’l Jones, John Taylor, Thomas Fulton, John Gage, William Fellows, William Gage, Ananias Wing [son of John WING II], John Pugsley, Daniel BAKER, Rd. Taylor, Wm. Gray, Capt. John GORHAM, Thomas Baxter, James Maker, James Claghorn, Joseph Hall, Nath’l Hall, Elemuel Hedge [son of Captain William HEDGE], Joseph Wildens, Sam’l Thomas, John Crowell, John CHASE, Henry Golds, Rd. Lake, Jabez Gorham [Son of Capt. John GORHAM], Henry Gage, Everton Crowell, Jona. White. [In 1741, Wm. Gray is put down for his father’s, Edward Gray’s, heirs ; Sam’l Baker, for his father, Samuel (Francis BAKER‘s son); and Shubael Gorham, for his father, John GORHAM]

Voluntown, Connecticut

Most of the land which makes up the present town of Voluntown was granted in 1700 by the Court to the Volunteers of the Narragansett War in 1700, thus the name “Voluntown.”

Voluntown, New London, Connecticut

In 1705 the town was surveyed and boundaries were established. The plot was drawn up into lots, with each eligible volunteer receiving a lot. The land was rough terrain, although fertile soil, and was in a remote location.

In May 1708 the settlement was called the Plantation of Voluntown. It became the town of Voluntown, Connecticut in 1721. Town vital records begin 1708. Barbour collection records cover 1708-1850.

From History of New London county, Connecticut, with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men (1882)

VOLUNTOWN lies in the extreme northeastern part of the county, and is bounded as follows : on the north by Windham County, on the east by the State of Rhode Island, on the south by North Stonington, and on the west by Griswold. The surface of the town is uneven, but the soil is generally fertile.

The Volunteers’ Grant. — The greater part of the tract embraced within the bounds of the present town of Voluntown. was granted in 1700 to the volunteers in the Narragansett war, from which circumstance the town derives its name. From the organization of the colony it had been customary to make grants to officers and soldiers who had distinguished themselves in the service of their country. Major John MASON and, others engaged in the Pequot war were granted lands, which stimulated those who had performed such signal feats in the Narragansett war to ask for a grant of a town in acknowledgment of their services. The petition to the General Court for the grant was presented in 1696 by Lieut. Thomas Leffingwell, of Norwich, and Sergt. John Frink, of Stonington, “that they with the rest of the English volunteers in former wars might have a plantation granted to them.” The petition was formally received, and a tract six miles square was granted, ” to be taken up out of some of the conquered land.”

A committee ” of discovery” was at once sent out in search of suitable land for a plantation, but found their choice very limited, as most of the conquered land had already been appropriated by Major FITCH, the Winthrops, and others. The committee reported that the only available land remaining within the Connecticut limits was lying a short distance east of Norwich, bordering on Rhode Island. A committee consisting of Capt. Samuel Mason [John MASON’s son], Mr. John Gallup, and Lieut. James Avery was appointed to view the said tract and report whether it ” would accommodate a body of people for comfortable subsistence in a plantation way.”

After a deliberation of three years the committee reported favorably, and in October, 1700, Lieut. Leffingwell, Richard Bushnell, Isaac Wheeler, Caleb Fobes, Samuel Bliss, Joseph Morgan, and Manasseh Minor [Thomas MINER’s son] moved that the grant be confirmed. The original bounds of the grant were nearly dentical with those of the present township, except it extended on the east to Pawcatuck River.

Voluntown was a barren tract of but little value, and after the Narragansett war was claimed by the Mohegans. The Quinnebaug sachem Massashowitt also laid claim to it.

The first meeting of the proprietors or grantees was held at Stonington, July 1, 1701, to make arrangements for survey and appropriation. Richard Bushnell was chosen clerk of the company, and S. Leffingwell, James Avery, John Frink, and Richard Smith were appointed a committee ” to pass all those that offer themselves as volunteers.”

A number of years, however, passed before the division was completed, as the territory was still in dispute, and it was not until 1705 that the Mohegans’ claim was adjusted. In that year the town was formally surveyed and the bounds established.

But a narrow strip of land was accorded to the Mohegans under this survey, but during the same summer a considerable portion of the town was taken by Rhode Island. So greatly did it damage the grant ” that they feared their intended purpose of settling a plantation so accommodable for a Christian society as they desired was frustrated.”

At a meeting of the volunteers, held Nov. 14, 1705, it was decided to have the town resurveyed, computed, and laid out in as many lots as there was volunteers, and to number them, etc.

April 17, 1706, a meeting was held, when it was voted ” to go on and draw lots upon that part of the land laid out,” and the grant was made to one hundred and sixty persons who had enrolled their names as desiring to share the benefit of the grant. These were residents of New London, Norwich, Stonington, Windham, Plainfleld, and other neighboring towns. The list embraced officers, soldiers, ministers, chaplains, and others who had served the colony in a civil capacity during the war.

Notwithstanding the survey of the town had been made and the various lots designated, very little progress was made for several years in its settlement. Its soil was poor and its location remote and inconvenient. ” A pair of come four year old steers” was once given in exchange for eighty-six acres.

The first settler of Voluntown was Samuel Fish, soon followed by John Gallup, John and Francis Smith, Robert Parke, Thomas Reynolds, Thomas Coles, John Campbell, John SAFFORD Jr, Obadiah Rhodes and Samuel Whaley.

The loss of so important a portion of the town as that taken by Rhode Island caused the volunteers at once to appeal to the General Assembly for an equivalent and they petitioned that body that the vacant colony land lying on the north might be annexed. After various earnest petitions, four years later, 1719, the prayer of the petitioners was granted, and what is now the present town of Sterling, except a small strip on the north border, was annexed to Voluntown.

The annexed territory was surveyed as rapidly as possible by John Plumb, surveyor for New London County. Thirty lots were laid out and assigned to nineteen persons.

The first Congregational Church of Voluntown was established in 1720 upon the employment of a Reverend Wilson.

1696 – John WILLEY I ( deceased)  granted lands in Voluntown, Conn., in 1696, for their services in the Connecticut volunteers in King Philip’s War [Narragansett Hist. Beg., 1882, p. 146.]

Samuel PERKINS of Ipswich, Mass. was a cordwainer by trade. He served as a soldier in the Narragansett war, for which he received a portion of land at Voluntown, on the eastern border of Connecticut, which land afterward came into possession of his son Ebenezer PERKINS, who settled upon it, and in 1735 sold it to John Wildes of Topsfield, Mass.

Clement MINER was a Lieutenant in the Militia which was a considerable honor in his day. In the records of New London, Clement is mentioned as “Deacon” or “Ensign”, but the record of his appointment as Ensign has not been found. With his father and brothers, he served in King Philip’s War in 1676, and as a volunteer, was granted a lot in Voluntown, Connecticut. Clement’s brothers Ephraim and Joseph also received land in Voluntown.

Ephraim Miner lived at Stonington, CT, was a farmer, freeman, 1669, deputy to the general court, 1676, 1677, 1681, 1690093, 1699, 1701-05, 1713; lieutenant of train band. He served in the King Philip war and for his service received arable land and cedar swamp in Voluntown, CT.

Joseph Miner lived at Stonington and was a farmer and physician. He became a freeman 1669; deputy to the general court, 1696, 1706; selectman, 1694-98, 1704, 1709, 1719. He served in King Philip war and for his services received arable land cedar swamp in Voluntown, Connecticut.


In the 1740s during the First Great Awakening, colonists founded the Narragansett Indian Church, to try to convert more natives to Christianity. The church and its surrounding 3 acres were the only property never to leave tribal ownership. This continuous ownership was critical evidence of continuity during the tribe’s long documentation and success in gaining federal recognition in 1983.

he Narragansett Indian Church in Charlestown was founded in the 1740s. Constructed in 1994, this building replaced one that burned down.

In the 19th century, the tribe resisted repeated state efforts to declare it no longer valid because of intermarriage with other settlers. Tribal leaders resisted increasing legislative pressure after the Civil War to “take up citizenship” in the United States, which required them to give up their treaty privileges and Indian nation status. In testimony to the legislature, a Narragansett spokesperson explained that they saw injustices under existing US citizenship, and pointed to Jim Crow laws in effect that limited citizenship of blacks despite their rights under the law. They also resisted the idea that black ancestry was more important than all other ancestry in defining tribal identity. As the Narragansett saw it, they had brought people of European and African ancestry into their tribal nation by marriage and they became culturally Narragansett.

“We are not negroes, we are the heirs of Ninagrit, and of the great chiefs and warriors of the Narragansetts. Because, when your ancestors stole the negro from Africa and brought him amongst us and made a slave of him, we extended him the hand of friendship, and permitted his blood to be mingled with ours, are we to be called negroes? And to be told that we may be made negro citizens? We claim that while one drop of Indian blood remains in our veins, we are entitled to the rights and privileges guaranteed by your ancestors to ours by solemn treaty, which without a breach of faith you cannot violate.”]

The state persisted in its efforts at “detribalization” from 1880-1884. While the tribe agreed to negotiations for sale of its land, it quickly regretted its action and set about to try to regain the land. In 1880 the state recognized 324 Narragansett tribal members as claimants to the land during negotiations. Although the state put tribal lands up for public sale in the 19th century, the tribe did not disperse and its members continued to practice its culture.

Bella Machado-Noka, a Narragansett woman dressed for a powwow.

In 1978 the Narragansett Tribe signed a Joint Memorandum of Understanding with the state of Rhode Island, Town of Charlestown, and private property owners in settlement of their land claim. A total of 1,800 acres was transferred to a corporation formed to hold the land in trust for descendants of the 1880 Narragansett Roll, in exchange for agreeing that, except for hunting and fishing, the laws of Rhode Island would be in effect on those lands.

The tribe prepared extensive documentation of its genealogy and proof of continuity with the 324 tribal members of treaty status. In 1979 the tribe applied for federal recognition, which it finally regained in 1983 as the Narragansett Indian Tribe of Rhode Island.

Narragansett Tribal Seal

The state and tribe have disagreed on certain rights on the reservation. On July 14, 2003, Rhode Island state police raided a tribe-run smoke shop on the Charlestown reservation, the culmination of a dispute over the tribe’s failure to pay state taxes on its sale of cigarettes. In 2005 the U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals declared the police action a violation of the tribe’s sovereignty. In 2006, an en banc decision of the First Circuit reversed the prior decision, stating the raid did not violate the tribe’s sovereign immunity because of the 1978 Joint Memorandum of Agreement settling the land issues, in which the tribe agreed that state law would be observed on its land.

After trying to develop 31 acres of land in Charlestown which the Narrangansett purchased in 1991 for elderly housing, in 1998 they requested the Department of Interior (DOI) to take it into trust on their behalf to remove it from state and local control. The state of Rhode Island sued the DOI over its authority to take land into trust on behalf of certain American Indians. While the authority was part of the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act, the state argued that the process could not hold for tribes that achieved federal recognition after 1934. In Carcieri v. Salazar (2009) the US Supreme Court ruled in favor of Rhode Island.

The Narragansett Tribe is negotiating with the Rhode Island General Assembly for approval to build a casino in Rhode Island with their partner, currently Harrah’s Entertainment.

American English has absorbed a number of loan words from Narragansett and other closely related languages, including quahog, moose, papoose, powwow, squash, and succotash.

Sources: – Most contemporary accounts of these events are base on two letters written by Joseph Dudley and one written by Captain James Oliver. Joseph Dudley served as a chaplain for the army and was also on General Winslow’s staff. Captain Oliver was in command of the Third Company if the Massachusetts regiment. – Joshua Tefft’s Story

History of New London county, Connecticut, with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men (1882) by Hurd, D. Hamilton (Duane Hamilton) (Story of founding of Voluntown)

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