Chapter 19 » 19.18

A gathered people

The Massachusetts legislature had enacted that every Quaker within its jurisdiction should be banished on pain of death. In June 1659 William Robinson, Mary Dyer and Marmaduke Stevenson came into the colony ‘Boston’s bloody laws to try’. They were banished but returned and were condemned to death. The two men were hanged.

Mary Dyer was reprieved and again banished but she returned once more in May 1660. This time there was no reprieve:

Then Mary Dyer was brought forth, and with a band of soldiers led through the town, the drums being beaten before and behind her, and so continued that none might hear her speak all the way to the place of execution, which was about a mile. Thus guarded, she came to the gallows, and being gone up the ladder, some said to her, that, if she would return [home] she might come down and save her life. To which she replied, ‘Nay, I cannot, for in obedience to the will of the Lord I came, and in His will I abide faithful to death’… Then one mentioned that she should have said, she had been in Paradise. To which she answered, ‘Yea, I have been in Paradise these several days’… Thus Mary Dyer departed this life, a constant and faithful martyr of Christ, having been twice led to death, which the first time she expected with an entire resignation of mind to the will of God, and now suffered with Christian fortitude, being raised above the fear of death through a blessed hope and glorious assurance of eternal life and immortality.

After Mary Dyer’s death a member of the General Court uttered one of those bitter scoffs which prove the truest of all epitaphs: She did hang as a flag for others to take example by.

← 19.17 19.19 →