The Missing Cross to Purity

The Persecutions of Early Quakers in America


The record of persecutions, testifies to the false salvation of the persecutors;
such persecutions being predicted in Revelation by the Whore of Babylon, drunk on the blood of the saints,
who rode on the back of the beast with horns like a lamb,
with many names, (Protestant and Catholic) imitating Christ's church.
(See Babylon and Apostasy for more.)

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The sufferings of Friends of New England—Hored Gardner's visit to Boston — Her sufferings there—Katherine Scott (sister of Anne Hutchinson) goes on a religious visit to Boston—Is imprisoned and scourged—Her character—The sufferings of Arthur Howland—The sufferings of Friends at Sandwich—The humane conduct of Cudworth and Hatherly, two magistrates of Scituate—The sufferings of Friends at Salem—The case of Edward Harnett—Six Friends of Salem imprisoned for attending a meeting; four of whom are scourged, and two have their ears cut off—The sufferings of Nicholas Phelps —Further persecution of Salem Friends—The persecution of William Shattock of Boston, and William Marston of Hampton—A review of the progress of the Society in the colonies of New England—The population of the province.

OUR attention in the preceding chapters, has been chiefly directed to the proceedings and treatment of those gospel ministers who had crossed the Atlantic, to promulgate the spiritual views of the Society of Friends, among the settlers in New England. We now enter upon the subject of the religious labors and sufferings of those in that land, who had embraced their views. The first of this class to be noticed, is Hored Gardner of Newport, on Rhode Island. In 1658, this faithful woman, under an apprehension of religious duty, left her family, consisting of "many children," to go on a visit to Weymouth, in the province of Massachusetts. This trial of her faith was rendered additionally severe, from her having at the time, a young infant to care for. Concluding to travel on foot, she took a girl with her to assist in carrying and caring for her child. Her journey was through a wilderness of above sixty miles, and "according to man," as a writer of the day remarks, "hardly accomplishable.'' She was, however, to reach Weymouth in safety; her ministry was well received; "the witness in the people answering to her words." It was scarcely to be expected that, traveling thus in the same holy cause which had subjected her friends in the ministry, from England, to fines, whippings, imprisonments and banishments, she should herself escape persecution; and accordingly, on the day after her arrival at Weymouth, she was placed under arrest, and conveyed to Boston. Endicott, who had recently evidenced his hatred to Quakers, by causing Sarah Gibbons and Dorothy Waugh, to be imprisoned and whipped, on seeing a New England proselyte to Quakerism brought before him for publishing its doctrines, broke forth into abusive language to the prisoner, and ordered both her and her young attendant, to receive ten lashes "on their naked bodies." This species of punishment towards females is at all times revolting, but in the present instance,it was rendered additionally so from the fact that during its infliction, the innocent babe of Hored Gardner was on her breast, protected only by the arms of its agonized mother. The whipping being over, the scene was quickly changed, and instead of the sound of the knotted scourge, the voice of prayer arose from the unoffending sufferer, that her persecutors might be forgiven; for she said that "they knew not what they did." The meek christian spirit thus strikingly displayed, struck the bystanders with astonishment. "Surely," said one of them, "if she has not the spirit of the Lord, she could not do this thing." They were at once conveyed to Boston jail, in which they were confined for fourteen days, all communication with her Friends being strictly forbidden. One of the early sufferers in New England, in commenting on this heartless case, observes, that such instances distinctly mark the difference between the faith of those who professed with the maltreated Quakers, and that of their persecutors:—"the one, manifesting theirs through travails, trials, patience and sufferings; the other, through wrath, malice, cruel mockings, reviling language, scourgings, and imprisonments." And he adds, "which ever of these faiths stands in God, seeing there is but one Lord and one faith unto salvation, we leave it unto that of God in all people to judge."

The next sufferer whom we shall notice, is Katherine Scott of Providence, who in the Seventh Month, 1658, proceeded to Boston, to testify against the cruel proceedings of the magistracy towards Friends. Soon after her arrival, Christopher Holder, John Copeland, and John Rous, having been sentenced to the loss of their ears, Katherine Scott believed it to he her religious duty to remonstrate with the rulers on this barbarous act. For her christian boldness, however, she was imprisoned for three weeks, and also subjected to the ignominious torture of the lash. In the course of her examination, being told that they were likely to have a law to hang her if she came there again, she said, "If God call us, woe be to us if we come not; and I question not but He whom we love, will make us not count our lives dear to ourselves, for the sake of His name." Endicott maliciously replied, "And we shall be as ready to take away your lives, as you shall be to lay them down.”

The case of Katherine Scott derives additional interest from the fact of her being a woman of considerable note and standing in New England. She was a sister of the celebrated Anne Hutchinson, the leader of the Antinomians, and of John Wheelwright, both of whom were banished from Massachusetts in 1637, for their religious opinions. A narrator of Katherine Scott's sufferings, describes her as "a grave, sober, ancient woman, of blameless conversation, and of good education and circumstance." Hutchinson the historian says, she "was well bred, being a minister's daughter in England. Her husband, Richard Scott, and eight or nine of her children, also became convinced of our principles. "The power of God," writes John Rous, "took place in all their children." One of her daughters spoke as a minister in the following year, though only eleven years of age. Arthur Rowland, an aged and venerable settler, residing at Marshfield in the colony of Plymouth, was also a sufferer for his conscientious attachment to the principles of the new Society. He was one of those who had long sought the Lord, and "Simeon like," had waited for his salvation. Convinced that a ministry for hire, and of mere human appointment, was a fearful usurpation of the prerogative of the Great Head of the Church, he felt bound to bear a christian testimony against it, by declining any longer to contribute towards its support. His conscientious refusal, however, subjected him to considerable loss. The minister, incensed by this innovation, and copying the example of those of his order in the mother country, forcibly seized upon his property. In 1658, Robert Hodgson, in the course of his religious engagements visited Marshfield, and was warmly received by Arthur Howland. The good old man, believing the stranger to be a disciple of Christ, entertained him gladly; having faith in the declaration of our Lord to his disciples, "He that receives you, receives me: and he that receives me, receives him that sent me." While Robert Hodgson was there, a constable came to the house to arrest him. The aged Friend, feeling bound to do what he could to protect his guest, demanded of the officer a warrant of his authority. The constable replied that he had none, but that the magistrate would justify him in taking a Quaker without one. Arthur Howland, seeing that he had no legal authority for proceeding, told the officer that, in accordance with the constitution of the colony, and the allegiance which he owed to the Protector, he should resist his attempt; and the constable, thus unexpectedly opposed, left the house. The local magistrates, vexed at losing their prey, and at the course adopted by Arthur Howland, fined him five pounds; to satisfy which, a distraint was made upon his cattle. "But such was their rage at the old man," observes Bishop, "that this would not satisfy them." A commitment to prison soon followed the fine. These arbitrary measures, being considered by the sufferer as an invasion of the rights of a British subject, and at variance with the colonial laws of the empire, he demanded his liberty, in order that he might "return to England, to make his case known to the powers." His appeal, however, was unheeded, and had not a brother interfered, and obtained his release "by giving a bond," the aged colonist would have had to endure the severity of a winter season within the precincts of a prison.

Among the early converts to the Society in New England, were some who resided at Sandwich, and who had been convinced in 1657. William Newland and Ralph Allen were two of these, and their attachment to the principles which they had embraced, was soon tested by suffering. Both of them were called to serve on a jury, and, acting on the injunction of their Lord, "Swear not at all," they declined to take the oath. William Newland was fined ten shillings for his refusal; and on his request, during the sitting of the court, that his friends Christopher Holder and John Copeland, might be furnished with a copy of the warrant on which they had been arrested, he was fined another ten shillings for his interference. A distress was levied on his goods for the recovery of these sums. They were then arraigned before the court for keeping disorderly meetings at their houses. The charge, it appears, rested on the fact of a few Friends having met in silence to wait upon God. Their so assembling, however, being viewed by the magistrates as a grave offence, a fine of twenty shillings was imposed on each of the Friends, with an order, that they should find sureties in the sum of eighty pounds for their good behavior during the ensuing six months. As an acquiescence in this demand would imply an acknowledgment of the offence, and a relinquishment of that spiritual worship of the Most High, which had become precious to them, they unhesitatingly refused to comply. They were then committed to the custody of the marshal, and were kept close prisoners for five months. When half the period had expired, they were offered their liberty on engaging not to receive or listen to a Quaker; but the request was met by an immediate and a decided negative. Their settlement in the truth was too firm to be shaken by offers of this description.

Towards the close of 1657, the individuals who had been newly convinced at Sandwich, suffered considerably for continuing to meet for the purpose of religious worship. This little company included the six brothers and sisters of Ralph Allen just referred to. The father of the family, who had been an Anabaptist, had also entertained a conscientious scruple against judicial swearing, had "laid down his head in peace" before Friends had visited those parts. His children had resided upwards of twenty years in Sandwich and its vicinity, and were very respected by their neighbors. But their reception of Quakerism was peculiarly annoying to the ministers and magistracy, whose persecuting hand was specially directed against them. The only individuals to whom the "oath of fidelity" was tendered, being those of this family. In 1658, the sufferings of Friends of Sandwich were much aggravated by increased distraints on their goods, and by being prevented from holding their religious meetings. The levies were made for fines, on account of their conscientious refusal to take the "oath of fidelity," tendered purposely to ensnare them; and also for absence from the public worship. In the Eighth Month, sixteen Friends of this place were summoned to the court held at Plymouth, and were fined five pounds each for refusing to take the oath. Some of them had been fined already on the same charge. Some of these faithful sufferers, alluding to the persecution to which they were subjected for refusing the oath, remark, that it was "contrary to the law of Christ, whose law," they added, “is so strongly written in our hearts, and the keeping of it so delightsome to us; and the gloriousness of its life daily appearing, makes us to endure the cross patiently, and suffer the spoiling of our goods with joy."

Besse records the following distraints made about this period from Friends resident in and near Sandwich, to satisfy the fines imposed :—

Robert Harper £44 0 0
Joseph Allen 5 12 0
Edward Perry 89 18 0
George Allen 25 15 0
William Gifford 57 19 0
William Newland 36 0 0
Ralph Allen, 18 0 0
John Jenkins 19 10 0
Henry Howland 1 10 0
Ralph Allen, Sen 68 0 0
Thomas Greenfield 4 0 0
Richard Kirby 57 12 0
William Allen 86 17 0
Thomas Ewer 25 8 0
Daniel Wing 12 0 0
Peter Gaunt 43 14 6
Michael Turner 13 10 0
John Newland 2 6 0
Matthew Allen 48 16 0
£660 7 6

While recording the sufferings of those who professed with Friends in the colony of Plymouth, we must not omit to notice the case of Cudworth and Hatherly, the two magistrates of Scituate. These worthy men appear never to have become Quakers, but being enlightened on the subject of religious toleration, and rejoicing in the extension of the kingdom of the Redeemer by whatever means He might use, they not only boldly opposed the authorities of New England in persecuting Friends, but also welcomed those who came to Scituate and entertained them at their houses. This liberality was offensive to the rigid professors of Massachusetts, and several attempts were made to displace them from the magistracy; but they both ultimately resigned their offices. "He that will not whip and lash, persecute and punish men that differ in matters of religion," says one of them, "must not sit on the bench." Cudworth, who held a military captainship was discharged because, he says, "I entertained some of the Quakers at my house."

Turning from the Quakers of Plymouth to their fellow believers in the other part of Massachusetts, we find that they also suffered for the cause of truth. The banishment of Nicholas Upshal from Boston in 1656, and the imprisonment of Samuel Shattock, and of Laurence and Cassandra Southwick of Salem in the following year, have already been mentioned. Towards the close of 1657, the Salem Friends suffered severely for maintaining their meetings; and in order, as Bishop says, "to terrify the rest," the magistrates subjected Laurence and Cassandra Southwick, with their son Josiah, to a cruel whipping and an imprisonment for eleven days, for not attending public worship; and in the meanwhile, goods to the value of four pounds thirteen shillings were taken from them for fines on account of such absence.

Another who suffered at Salem, was Edward Harnet, a settler of nearly seventy years in age. So many fines were levied upon him for not attending the authorized place of worship, that it appeared probable that all the little property which he possessed, and which was his main dependence in declining life, would be sacrificed to the cruelty and rapacity of his enemies. To prevent this result, he felt free to emigrate to Rhode Island, after disposing of his house and land; and several others, who were similarly harassed, concluded to leave the scene of persecution. John Small, Josiah Southwick, and John Buffum were of this number, and while proceeding to Rhode Island, in order to find a location in this favored province where they could settle their families, they were arrested and carried to Boston. This, however, was an outrage on the liberty of the colonist, which even the intolerant Endicott refused to sanction; and on appealing to him the Friends were liberated.

Reference has been made in a previous chapter to a meeting held by William Brend and William Leddra, at the house of Nicholas Phelps, in the woods, about five miles from Salem, and to a threat made by one of the authorities who attended, that he would prosecute the Friends who were present. The threatening magistrate, true to his intolerant purpose, applied to the court then sitting at Salem, for an order to arrest six of the Friends who were present at the subject meeting. The application was readily responded to, and in a short time Samuel Shattock, Laurence and Cassandra Southwick, their son Josiah, Samuel Gaskin, and Joshua Buffum, were seized by the officers. After an imprisonment of two days, they were brought before the court for examination. The charges preferred against them were: for absenting themselves from public worship, for assembling by themselves, and for meeting with the Quakers. They were committed and sent to join William Brend and William Leddra, who were already in Salem prison. A few days after the committal of the six Friends, a warrant was issued to convey them all to Boston; and on the 2nd of the Fifth Month, preparations were made for the purpose. The Friends of Salem, finding that their companions were about to be separated from them and conveyed to a place already notorious for scenes of persecution, came to make a sorrowful farewell to the sufferers; and "before our departure," remarks one of them, "the Lord gathered us together, and we had a meeting of Friends some part of the way there." They were all on foot, and as the little company proceeded towards Boston, the solemnity of a religious meeting was maintained. When the time came for them to part, the prisoners engaged in prayer, and committed themselves in faith to the sustaining arm of the Shepherd of Israel. Having arrived at Boston, four of the Salem Friends were sentenced to undergo the cruelties of the lash, which included Cassandra Southwick. For Laurence Southwick and his son Josiah, the remaining two, a more severe punishment was reserved. In accordance with the last revolting law against Quakers, they both suffered the loss of their ears.

Being detained as prisoners after the liberation of the English Friends who were committed about the same period, the six Friends drew up a opposing paper to the court at Salem, under whose authority they had been sent to jail. "Let it not be a small thing in your eyes," they said, "thus to expose, as much as in your lies, our families to ruin. As for our parts, we have true peace and rest in the Lord in all our sufferings, and are made willing in the power and strength of God, freely to offer up our lives in his cause. Yes, and we find (through grace) the enlargement of God in our imprisoned state, to whom alone we commit ourselves and our families, for the disposing of us, according to his infinite wisdom and pleasure; in whose love is our rest and life." The Christian meekness and patience breathed in the language of these faithful individuals, and the inward peace and consolation which they enjoyed amid their sufferings, strikingly exemplifies the gracious promise of our Redeemer, "In the world ye shall have tribulation, but in me peace." The court, on receiving the paper, directed the liberation of the prisoners, excepting the Southwicks, who were continued under close confinement for twenty weeks.

Previous to the meeting held at his house, Nicholas Phelps, being convinced of the spiritual character of divine worship, had not attended the public religious meetings, and had been fined five shillings per week, for being true to his religious convictions. Having rendered himself additionally obnoxious to the magistracy by allowing meetings to be held at his house, he was summoned before the court held at Salem, in the Fifth Month, 1658. The presence of Quakers in New England being referred to, one of the justices, with a view to prejudice the court against them, remarked that they denied both magistrates and ministers. Nicholas Phelps, hearing the charge and being sensible of its injustice, undertook to disprove it, and presented a paper to the bench setting forth the sentiments of the Society on those questions. The document was read, and its contents were found to be opposed to puritan opinions; sothe minds of the bigoted rulers were further incensed, and they determined that Nicholas Phelps should suffer for his boldly advocating heresy. He was now asked if he owned the document, and answering in the affirmative, he was fined forty shillings for the paper; he was also fined forty shillings for having had a meeting at his house, and was finally committed to Ipswich jail for being a Quaker. The jailer of Ipswich, following the example of his fellow-official at Boston, ordered Nicholas Phelps to work, and having received a refusal to his unjust demand, subjected him to three severe whippings in the short space of five days. The punishment inflicted upon this conscientious man was the more cruel in consequence of the very weak state of his health, and a physical deformity under which he labored; but he endured it all with christian meekness and patience, and "being strong in faith, all their cruelty could not bend his spirit, for the Lord upheld him." The magistrates, finding that their prisoner was not to be shaken from his resolutions, either by fines, whippings, or imprisonments, seemed anxious to give up the fruitless task of attempting to reduce him to orthodoxy; and after fourteen days' confinement, he was set at liberty. This imprisonment was in harvest time, and therefore he suffered considerable loss.

In the Seventh Month, 1658, Joshua Buffum and Samuel Shattock, who had only lately been released from an imprisonment of twenty weeks, were committed to Ipswich jail with Nicholas Phelps for holding a meeting in the vicinity of Salem. They were detained on this occasion for three weeks, and were also severely scourged. In addition to these severities, Samuel Shattock had "half of his house and the ground belonging to it" seized for the fines imposed—a very unusual and unwarranted stretch of arbitrary power. He was a man in good circumstances, and is spoken of as "the most considerable man at Salem." In a letter to a friend, said: “In the Lord I rejoice, that I have something to suffer the loss of, for the Truth's sake." Only a few days had elapsed after the liberation of Laurence, Cassandra and Josiah Southwick, when they were forcibly taken and carried to Boston, to hear from the lips of the authorities of that town a law read, which they had just enacted, for banishing Friends on pain of death. Francis Howgill, alluding to the sufferings of Friends at Salem, says, "Now after all this there was a court held at Salem, the last day of November, 1658. For not coming to their meeting, this court sent for about fifteen of the inhabitants, twelve of whom appeared; of these, nine were fined for sixteen weeks' absence £4 a-piece; one was fined £3, 15s, and one £1. The sum of what was fined by this court, was £40,15s.

We now pass on to Boston. This was much the most considerable town in the two colonies of Massachusetts,—the seat of government of one of them, and conspicuous, above all other places in New England, for bigotry and for excessive persecutions. The cruelty of Endicott and Bellingham towards the gospel messengers of the new Society, naturally led to much inquiry respecting the principles of Friends; but the watchful and unceasing efforts of the authorities, prevented those who came from publicly advocating the truth, as they had been enabled to do at Salem, Sandwich, and some other places in Massachusetts. For this reason there were few convinced of the truth in Boston. From the time of Nicholas Upshal's banishment in 1656, to the close of 1658, only one of the inhabitants openly professed with Friends. This individual was William Shattock. Being convinced that the worship of the Divine Being must be performed in spirit and in truth, and that the ability to preach or pray correctly must be waited for, instead of frequenting the usual place of divine worship, he sought retirement for this purpose in his own dwelling. His non-attendance of public worship was soon noticed by the jealous eye of the rulers, and in the First Month of 1658, he was arrested for the offence, and brought before the court. Endicott, who presided, after questioning him on several points, sentenced him to be taken to the house of correction—to be severely whipped, and to be kept from all conversation with his friends and neighbors. William Shattock was poor in the things of this world, and, having a wife and four children who were dependent upon his labor, the case of his family became truly distressing. Under these urgent circumstances, the wife of William Shattock interceded for his liberation, but the authorities, bent on clearing their capitol at least, of "heretics," replied, that until he promised to leave the colony, the prison would be his dwelling, and that his children would be taken and placed in servitude. In this painful situation, William Shattock "sought counsel of the Lord," and, he observes, "their arm of cruelty was so great, I found freedom to depart." The magistrates, impatient for his banishment, allowed him only three days to prepare for his departure. Thus exiled from Massachusetts, he proceeded to Rhode Island, where he found a peaceful home for himself and his family, and once more Boston appeared to be free from the "accursed heretics."

In these details, the case of William Marston of Hampton must not be forgotten. Notwithstanding the precautions taken by the authorities, to prevent the introduction and circulation of the writings of Friends, means had, it appears, been found for their distribution. William Marston was suspected of having some of these in his possession. His house was searched, and a copy of William Dewsbury's Mighty day of the Lord, and of John Lilburne's Resurrection, were found. For this he was subjected to the excessive fine of £10. Subsequently, he was "fined in the sum of £3 to the priest for his wages," and also fined £5 for absence from the authorized worship. To satisfy these claims, goods to the value of £20 were taken from him.

In concluding the present chapter, this brings the narrative down to the close of 1658, which was about two and one-half years from the time of the first landing of Quakers in New England. It may be well to consider the extent of the footing which their principles had obtained in that country. Very early after the landing of the few gospel messengers from the "Woodhouse" small boat from England, meetings for worship were established and regularly kept up at Providence, and on Rhode Island. It is difficult to account with much precision regarding the number of members; however they could not have been inconsiderable. Already several of their number had received a gift in the ministry,* and four had traveled in the exercise of that gift to the neighboring colonies of New England. The official documents of Rhode Island, as early as the First Month of 1658, alluding to the visits of English Friends, state that they had raised up many who seem to be of their spirit.” We must not forget, however, that Friends there, so far from experiencing persecution from the authorities, were received by them with favor. William Coddington and Nicholas Easton, who had both filled the office of governor of the colony, inclined towards them from the first, and soon after, openly professed with them. Meetings for worship, and also the Yearly Meetings, were held at Coddington’s house in Newport until the time of his decease in 1683.

{*According to the Paul in Ephesians, the purpose of teachers, preachers, and pastors, (only those whom the Holy Spirit has taught, gifted, and authorized), is for the perfecting of the saints and to bring people to the fullness and completeness of Christ: (being taught in a seminary or Bible College, is not being taught by the Holy Spirit.)

And he himself [Jesus] appointed [with his authority and power] some as apostles; and some as prophets; and some as evangelists; and some as pastors and teachers;

For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ;

Until we all come to the unity of the faith, and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; Ephesians 4:11-13

How can any so-called preacher perform the function of perfecting the saints and bringing people to the fullness and completeness of Christ unless he has first been perfected to his fullness and completeness himself? Of course, they can't. If anyone preaches or teaches without having been specifically authorized by the Master, they are teaching errors. They are leading others into spiritual captivity, and therefore they are in captivity too, unable to hear the voice of the Lord and progress spiritually to purity.

Jesus spoke of the spiritual condition of any unpurified religious leader, not having been cleansed by him through repentance.
For you clean the outside of the cup and the platter, but within you are full of extortion and excess.
You blind Pharisee! First cleanse what is within the cup and platter, so that the outside of them may be clean also.
For you are like whitewashed tombs, which indeed appear beautiful on the outside, but within are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness.
so, you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but within you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity [sin]. Mat 23:25-28

Beware of false prophets... You shall know them by their fruits.
(Prophesy is to preach; to instruct in religious doctrines; to interpret or explain Scripture or religious subjects; to exhort.)
Christ said, "you shall know them by their fruits;" which Paul explained as love, joy, peace (quietness and confident trust forever), patience (including longsuffering, steadfastness, and perseverance), kindness (including morality and integrity), goodness, faith, gentleness (including meekness and humility), and self-control (mastery of sensual appetites, passions, and desires).

Jesus said,When you bear (produce or bring forth) much fruit, My Father is honored and glorified and you show that you are truly my disciples [true followers]. John 15:8
If someone has not produced fruit, they are not even a true follower of Christ, much less a minister of Christ.
As we continue to read about the fruits of the false prophets, persecuting the true prophets. }

The spread of Quakerism, however, in other parts of New England, was not dependent, as has been already seen, on the smiles of its rulers. An opposite policy in Massachusetts signally failed to suppress the rising society, and the persecutions in its two intolerant colonies, seemed fruitful in results. "Their patience under it," observes James Cudworth, in writing of the sufferers to his friend in London, "has sometimes been the occasion of gaining more adherents to them, than if they had been allowed openly to preach a sermon."* At Sandwich, where the magistracy harassed them with great severity, the largest meeting in New England was held. It is stated that in 1658, no less than eighteen families of this place recorded their names in one of the documents of the Society. Meetings were also held at Duxbury, and some other places in this jurisdiction, while convincements had taken place at Mashsfield and Barn- staple; and at Scituate its ministers found a welcome reception from the local authorities. A magistrate of this latter town, addressing his friend, in 1658, thus remarks in reference to the progress of the Society, "They have many meetings, and many adherents, almost the whole town of Sandwich is adhering towards them." "I am informed," he adds "of three or four-score last court presented for not coming to public meetings." In the more persecuting colony of Boston, many had also received the spiritual views of the Society, and rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer for so holy a cause. It is true, that in the town of Boston, while many sympathized with the sufferers, under the revolting cruelties to which they were subjected, only two individuals openly professed with Friends, and these two had been banished from the colony. At Hampton the truth had found an entrance; during 1658, a family at this place suffered largely in distraints for their testimony. But it was at and near Salem, about sixteen miles north of Boston, that the largest number of convincements in this colony took place. In 1657, it is stated that there were "many Friends" in that locality. During the summer of 1658, the sufferings of eight families are distinctly recorded, and in the Ninth Month, fifteen individuals were summoned at one time to the court held at Salem, for not attending the Puritan meetings. Neal states, that about this time as many as twenty were taken at once from a meeting held at the house of Nicholas Phelps, about five miles from Salem. Joscelyn, in his chronological observations on America at this period, remarks, that "the Quakers' opinions were vented up and down the country,"- and John Rous writing to Margaret Fell, from New England, observes, "the truth is spreadhere above two hundred miles, many are in a fine condition, and very sensible of the power of God, and some of the inhabitants who are Friends, have been forth in the ministry. We have two strong places in this land, the one at Newport in Rhode Island, and the other at Sandwich. At Salem, there are several pretty Friends in their measures—there are Friends, few or more, almost from one end of the land to the other, that is inhabited by the English."

*{Suffering is a mark of a true Christian. Many could see the Truth, validated by their sufferings. Indeed all who delight in piety and are determined to live a devoted and godly life in Christ Jesus will meet with persecution. 2 Tim 3:12.}

In noticing the progress of the Society at this early period in New England, it should be borne in mind, that, being a newly settled country, its towns were few, and the number of its population was comparatively small. In 1643, there were only thirty-six churches, or places of authorized worship, in New England. In 1650, there were forty, containing 7750 communicants. Twenty-five years later, the whole population of Massachusetts and Rhode Island did not exceed 33,000. The settlements were chiefly agricultural communities, planted near the sea-side, or on the rivers, and cultivation had not extended far into the interior.


The priests and rulers of Boston petition the colonial legislature for a law to banish Friends on pain of death—The proceedings of the authorities respecting it—The law is passed by a majority of one vote—A copy of the law.—W. Brend and six Friends of Salem banished under its provisions—Daniel and Provided Southwick, for not attending Puritan worship, are fined and ordered to be sold as slaves —The authorities are unable to carry out the sentence—Samuel Gaskin ordered to be sold as a slave—The constabulary empowered to break open the doors of those suspected to be Quakers—William Leddra and Peter Pearson are imprisoned at Plymouth—Letter of Peter Pearson—William Robinson and Marmaduke Stevenson arrive at Rhode Island—They proceed to Boston, and are imprisoned —Nicholas Davis and Patience Scott also go to Boston, and are imprisoned—Some account of Patience Scott, who came forth in the ministry when eleven years of age—Observations on the ministry of young persons—Extract of a Letter from William Robinson to George Fox, written in Boston jail.

FOR two years the rulers of the church and of the state in New England had been strenuous in their endeavors to check the introduction and spread of Quakerism, and lent themselves to acts of great cruelty in pursuance of their purpose. The various laws, however, which they had passed for this object, all signally failed, for, notwithstanding the opposition which it had to encounter, the little Society rapidly increased in numbers, and neither imprisonments, dismemberments, whippings, or banishments, deterred its ministers from preaching their doctrines among the colonists. "Such was the enthusiastic fire of the Quakers," observes an early historian of the country, "that nothing could quench it. The sect grew under these disadvantages."

The bigoted religionists of Massachusetts, alarmed at the progress of these innovations, and disappointed in their exertions to prevent them, now allowed themselves, in their deep-rooted aversion to dissent from the authorized religion, to be led on to the commission of extreme acts of persecution; and the ministers, among whom the notorious Norton of Boston, was foremost, petitioned the local legislature to banish Friends upon pain of death. The magistrates of the colony, who had shown an eagerness in the work of persecution, listened to the unchristian suggestion; and, at their general court held at Boston in the Eighth Month, 1658, the inhuman statute was enacted for exiling all Friends, both colonists and strangers, on pain of death. The laws of the British nation, based on the foundation of Magna Charta, made it imperative that the life of the subject should not be taken without trial by jury; but the authorities of Massachusetts, to forward their wicked purpose of exterminating this harmless people, thus arbitrarily setting aside this safeguard of liberty, resolved that the awful sentence of death might be passed by a majority of a county court, consisting of even three magistrates only.

The legislature of the colony consisted of two houses, the one composed of the magistracy, and the other of representatives elected by the freemen of the respective towns; each house being independent of the other. To enact a law, a majority of both houses was necessary; the magisterial one, therefore, having passed the law in question, sent it to the representatives for confirmation. The deputies, however, were much divided in opinion on the proposed measure. Several of them had viewed with dissatisfaction the harsh and unchristian laws already passed in reference to Friends; but the extreme severity of the bill in question was such, that, out of twenty-six members of their house, fifteen were decidedly opposed to it. When this become known, the authorities, civil and ecclesiastical, being determined to carry their bold and wicked scheme, exerted all the power and influence they possessed to induce the representatives to pass the extirpating enactment. Their efforts were unhappily successful; two of the deputies were prevailed upon to alter their opinions, and, in the absence, through illness of a third, (a deacon named Wozel,) who was opposed to the proposition, the assembly of twenty-five representatives passed the bloody law by a majority of one; thirteen being for it, while the speaker and eleven others were opposed to it. The absent member, it appears, felt such a conscientious repugnance to the proposed measure, that, although suffering from severe indisposition, he determined, nevertheless, to be present when the votes on the question should be taken; and "he earnestly desired the speaker and some of the deputies, to send for him when the time came;" but to nullify his opposition, care had been taken by those favorable to the bill, to vote before he could arrive. Wozel, being informed of the stratagem which had thus been practiced, and of the law having been carried by a majority of one voice only, which his presence would have negated, hastened to the assembly, and, expressing his sorrow that it should have passed by his absence, desired his vote to be taken; and said that if he had not been able to go, he would have crept on his hands and knees to prevent it. But the exertions of the humane deputy were unavailing; his vote was refused, and the blood-stained and unconstitutional measure was published as the deliberate act of the legislature of Massachusetts.

The twelve deputies who had voted in the minority, having entered their protest against the law, as being repugnant to those of the realm, the magistrates, fearful of proceeding under such circumstances, subsequently agreed to an amendment of the law, and admitted trial by special jury. The lives of some of the most conscientious inhabitants of New England were now placed in the hands of men who were known to be their most determined foes, and who were vindictively bent on their destruction. Such was the legislation of those who, to erect a church free from all the blemishes of popery, and to escape the persecuting hand of Archbishop Laud, had fled to the wilds of America; but, says a modern historian, "Laud was justified by the men whom he had wronged." The "foul enactment," contrary to the laws both of God and man, and from which the mind turns with feelings of abhorrence, will go down to posterity as a monument of lasting disgrace to Puritan New England. What a humiliating proof does this dark transaction furnish, of the extent to which man may err, through haughty self-righteousness, and a mistaken and fiery zeal for certain religious opinions. The law was as follows :—


Whereas, there is a pernicious sect, commonly called Quakers, lately arisen, who by word and writing have published and maintained many dangerous and horrid tenets, and do take upon them to change and alter the received laudable customs of our nation, in giving civil respect to equals or reverence to superiors, whose actions tend to undermine the civil government, and also to destroy the order of the churches, by denying all established forms of worship, and by withdrawing from orderly church-fellowship, allowed and approved by all orthodox professors of truth, and instead thereof, and in opposition thereunto, frequently meeting by themselves, insinuating themselves into the minds of the simple, or such as are at least affected to the order and government of church and commonwealth, whereby several of our inhabitants have been infected, notwithstanding all former laws made upon the experience of their arrogant and bold obtrusions, to disseminate their principles among us, prohibiting their coming into this jurisdiction, they have not been deterred from their impetuous attempts to undermine our peace and hazard our ruin.

*{Notice, there is no mention of persuading people to deny service in the militia.}

For prevention thereof, this court does order and enact, that every person or persons of the cursed sect of Quakers, who is not an inhabitant of, but is found within this jurisdiction, shall be apprehended without warrant where no magistrate is at hand, by any constable, commissioner, or select man, and conveyed from constable to constable to the next magistrate, who shall commit the said person to close prison, there to remain (without bail) unto the next court of assistants, where they shall have a legal trial; and being convicted to be of the sect of Quakers, shall be sentenced to be banished upon pain of death. And that every inhabitant of this jurisdiction, being convicted to be of the before said sect, either by taking up, publishing, or defending the horrid opinions of the Quakers, or the stirring up mutiny, sedition, or rebellion against the government, or by taking up their abusive and destructive practices, namely: denying civil respect to equals and superiors, and withdrawing from our church assemblies, and instead thereof frequenting meetings of their own in opposition to our church order, or by adhering to or approving of any known Quaker, and the tenets and practices of the Quakers that are opposite to the orthodox received opinions of the godly, and endeavoring to disaffect others to civil government and church order, or condemning the proceedings and practices of this court against the Quakers, manifesting thereby their compliance with those whose design is to overthrow the order established in church and state; every such person, upon conviction before the said court of assistants in manner before said, shall be committed to close prison for one month, and then, unless they choose voluntarily to depart this jurisdiction, shall give bond for their good behavior, and appear at the next court, where continuing obstinate, and refusing to retract and reform the before said opinions, they shall be sentenced to banishment upon pain of death; and any one magistrate, upon information given him of any such person, shall cause him to be apprehended, and shall commit any such person to prison, according to his discretion, until he come to trial as before said.

This wicked and bloody measure, although passed into law, from some cause or other, was not brought into operation for more than six months. Although liked by the persecuting church officials and rulers of Boston, it was not liked by the inhabitants generally. The dissatisfaction excited in the colony by the barbarities recently inflicted upon the English Quakers who had been banished, had not yet sufficiently subsided to allow the authorities to exhibit with impunity, the revolting spectacle of the gallows in support of their religion.

The first individual upon whom the efficacy of the new law was tested, was William Brend, while on a visit to Boston in the Third Month, 1659. This aged minister of Christ, whose scarred body testified abundantly to the severity of the persecutors of Massachusetts, was the first Friend who entered its territory after the passage of the act. Having received sentence of banishment on pain of death, and being informed by the authorities, that if within two days he was found within the precincts of their jurisdiction, death would be his inevitable portion, he returned to Rhode Island. His testimony to the truth had been most unflinching among the high professors of this land, and for his faithfulness he had already been brought near the gates of death. His withdrawal to Rhode Island therefore, must not be understood to have been in order to avoid an ignominious death, in violation of his duty, for his former course is opposed to such a conclusion. Rather let us believe that it was in compliance with the apprehended will of his Great Master on that particular occasion, [who had further service in England for him in mind].

The next victims to the application of the barbarous law, were Nicholas Phelps, Joshua Buffum, Samuel Shattock, Laurence and Cassandra Southwick, and their son Josiah. These Friends all resided in and near Salem, and had already been the victims of intolerance and tyranny. They had been twice imprisoned, some for ten, and others for twenty weeks; three had been once subjected to the lash, two others twice, and the remaining one no less than four times. Most of their property had been taken from them; and all for not conforming to the dominant ideas in religion. The date of their arraignment under this act, was the 11th of the Third Month, 1659. Since no specific charge had been made at their arrest, they desired the court to point out the crime of which they had been guilty. The governor replied, that "it was for despising authority, not coming to the ordinances of God, and for rebelling against the authority of the country in not departing according to their order." In answer to this exposition of the governor, they said, "that they had no other place to go to, but had their wives, children, families, and estates, to look after, nor had they done anything worthy of death, banishment, or bonds, or of anything which they had already suffered." Conscience smitten with the truth of the prisoners' reply, the governor remained silent, on which Denison, a Major-general, told them, that "they stood against the authority of the country in not submitting to their laws," adding, "you and we are not able well to live together, and at present the power is in our hand, and, therefore, the stronger must fend off."

If the world hates you, know that it hated me before it hated you.
John 15:18

The six Friends were taken out of court, but in a short time were called back, and received the dreadful sentence of death, should their persons be found within the limits of the colony within two weeks from that day. The following, taken from the records of the General Court at Boston, is a copy of the minute on the occasion :—


It is ordered, that Laurence Southwick, and Cassandra his wife, Samuel Shattock, Nicholas Phelps, Joshua Buffum, and Josiah Southwick, are hereby sentenced, according to the order of the General Court in October last, to banishment, to depart out of this jurisdiction by the eighth day of June next, on pain of death; and if any of them after the said eighth day of June next, shall be found within this jurisdiction, they shall be apprehended by any constable or other officer of this jurisdiction, and be committed to close prison, there to lie till the next Court of Assistants, where they shall be tried, and being found guilty of the breach of this law, shall be put to death.

The prisoners urged the necessity of a longer period to allow them to settle their affairs, and to find an opportunity of proceeding to England, but this reasonable request was denied, and they were ordered summarily to leave their country, their families and friends, to seek a home and subsistence in some land of strangers. Four days after, a vessel being about to sail for Barbados, Nicholas Phelps, Samuel Shattock and Josiah Southwick, embraced the opportunity it afforded for proceeding by that route to England, to seek redress for these despotic proceedings.

The aged Laurence and Cassandra Southwick took their course for Shelter Island, which lay at the eastern end of Long Island, and at that time belonged to Nathaniel Silvester, a Friend; while Joshua Buffum made his way to Rhode Island. The circumstance of being thus suddenly and rudely torn from their children, and banished from a home dear to them by many fond ties and recollections, was too great a shock for the aged Southwicks. Soon after reaching Shelter Island, and within three days of each other, the exiled couple were called from all the tribulations of time, in the good hope of a better and more peaceful inheritance.

The family of the Southwicks, appear to have been the special objects of sectarian malignity; which, not satisfied with driving the aged parents and their eldest son into banishment, now placed its unrelenting hand on the two remaining members of the family, a son Daniel, and a daughter named Provided. Daniel and Provided had wisely "Remembered their Creator in the days of their youth;" the cause of truth had become precious to them, and for its sake they were now orphans in the world. Their absence from public worship continued to bear a clear though negative testimony against its lifeless forms and ceremonies; and for this offence, although it was well known that they had no estate of their own, and it was notorious that their parents had been reduced to poverty by their rapacious persecutors, these innocent young persons were fined ten pounds each, and as an expedient for raising this unjust penalty, the General Court at Boston resolved to sell them as slaves, under the following order.

"Whereas, Daniel Southwick and Provided Southwick, son and daughter of Laurence Southwick, absenting themselves from the public ordinances, having been fined by the court of Salem and Ipswich, pretending they have no estates, and resolving not to work: The court, upon perusal of a law which was made upon account of debts, in answer to what should be done for the satisfaction of the fines resolves, That the treasurers of the several counties, are and shall be fully empowered to sell the said persons to any of the English nation at Virginia or Barbados, to answer the said fines."

The heartless mandate having been issued, steps were now taken to put it in force, and the brother and sister, subjects of the British realm, were offered first to one Barbados captain, and then to another, as slaves for the southern markets. The atrocity of the attempt was, however, too glaring to meet with success, and the refusal of all the sea captains to lend themselves to the furtherance of such barbarity, offered a strong rebuke to the self-righteous ministers and rulers of Boston. One captain, less bold in his refusal than his companions, as an excuse for declining to purchase them, said, "they would spoil the ship's company." "No," said the officer, "you need not fear that, for they are poor harmless creatures that will not hurt any body." The captain, struck with this inconsistent avowal of the truth, at once replied, "Will you then offer to make slaves of such harmless creatures?" Thus foiled in their wicked work, and at a loss how to dispose of their prey, as winter approached, the brother and sister were set at liberty to provide for themselves, until another opportunity could be found to accomplish the cruel purpose.

In framing the laws of New England, the Pilgrim Fathers, enlightened beyond most of their contemporaries on the subject of jurisprudence, had considerably reduced the number of offences, to be punished by the extreme penalty of the law. The abhorrence also, with which they viewed the sinful and disgusting traffic in men, practiced at that period by most, if not every christian nation, prompted them to constitute as one of their capital offences, a participation in this wicked and odious commerce. When, therefore, we compare these bright spots in their history, with the revolting conduct of their successors in the affair of the youthful Southwicks, how is the heinousness of the transaction heightened, and a palliation of such cruel inconsistencies rendered impossible! The authorized commission of a crime, for which their own laws had imposed the forfeiture of life, can only find its explanation in the excesses of a blind and barbarous bigotry, an explanation equally applicable to the darkest deeds of the Roman Catholic inquisition.*

*{Obviously fostered by the same beast, as described in the book of Revelation: a beast with horns like a lamb, with many names.}

The failure of the rulers of Massachusetts to sell the two children of Laurence and Cassandra Southwick into bondage, did not deter them from making a similar attempt respecting others who were older. Edward Wharton and Samuel Gaskin, two Quakers of Salem, who had already suffered severely for their religion, were soon after arrested for the non-attendance of public worship, and fined in the respective sums of ,£5, 10s and ,£8. One of them, having no visible property to distrain upon for the fines, was sentenced to be sent to Barbados and sold as a slave. The cruel order, however, was never executed, arising it is supposed from the same cause which had frustrated the previous attempt. The authorities of Boston, it is evident, had not calculated upon the difficulties which presented in their attempt to make slaves of their conscientious neighbors. Their design undoubtedly was, to carry out to some considerable extent this plan for extinguishing heresy; in pursuance of which the General Court made a law in the Third Month, "That all children and servants and others, that for conscience' sake cannot come to their meetings to worship, and have not estates in their hands to answer the fines, must be sold for slaves to Barbados or Virginia, or other remote parts;" and so unblushingly did the rulers of the province proceed in this disgusting business, that the slave making order was "proclaimed throughout the province." The more effectually to hunt down the poor unresisting Quakers, the officers were instructed to use at their own discretion, all the powers of a search warrant. The following is a specimen of an order of this description given to the constable of Salem.

You are required, by virtue hereof, to search in all suspicioushouses for private meetings; and if they refuse to open the doors, you are to break open the door upon them, and return the names of all you find to Ipswich court.

William Hathorn

While the authorities of the Boston division of Massachusetts, were thus pursuing religious persecution, those of the Plymouth patent, were not idle in the same wicked work. In the Fourth Month, 1659, William Leddra, and Peter Pearson, while traveling in gospel labors in that colony, were arrested, and imprisoned for ten months at Plymouth. The following extract from a letter written by Peter Pearson during his imprisonment, gives a few particulars of the movements of himself and some of his friends prior to his arrest.

Upon the Ninth-day of the Fourth Month, 1659, the Fourth- day of the week, all of us English Friends that were abroad in this country, had a meeting upon Rhode Island. The Sixth-day following, at a Ferry side, upon Rhode Island, one Friend, William Leddra, and I, parted with Christopher Holder, Marmaduke Stevenson, and William Robinson. We were about to pass over the ferry to travel into this part of the country called Plymouth colony. At the end of two days' journey we came to a town therein called Sandwich, and the day following had a pretty peaceable meeting. We planned that if we escaped apprehension in this colony, we were going to travel into Boston's jurisdiction; but in the second meeting that we had at Sandwich, we were apprehended, and had before the governor and magistrates, and by them committed to this prison, where we have remained five months and upward."-

Peter Pearson

Written in Plymouth prison, in New England, the 6th of the Tenth Month, 1659.

Turning again to Boston, we find intolerant zeal fast approaching its climax of atrocity. William Robinson who arrived in New England in 1657, but whose gospel labors had been mostly in Virginia, came in the early part of 1659, to Rhode Island. Here he met with Marmaduke Stevenson, who had recently arrived from Barbados with Peter Pearson. While there, William Robinson was much affected on hearing of the sufferings of his fellow-believers in Massachusetts, under the cruel law of banishment on pain of death, and, under a feeling of deep religious exercise, he believed it was required of him to proceed to that arena of cruelty in order to bear a testimony against such unholy proceedings. In alluding to this prospect of religious duty a short time after, he thus writes:

"On the Eighth-day of the Fourth Month, 1659, in the after part of the day, in traveling between Newport and the house of Daniel Gould on Rhode Island, with my dear brother Christopher Holder, the word of the Lord came expressly to me, and commanded me to pass to the town of Boston, my life to lay down in his will, for the accomplishing of his service; to which heavenly voice I presently yielded obedience, not questioning the Lord, who filled me with living strength and power from his heavenly presence, which at that time did mightily overshadow me; and my life said Amen, to what the Lord required of me." A similar impression of religious duty was felt by his companion Marmaduke Stevenson; who had, even while in Barbados, a sense that such a service might be required of him, but which, he says, "I kept in my heart; and after I had been in Rhode Island a little time, visiting the seed, which the Lord had blessed, the word of the Lord came to me, saying, Go to Boston with your brother William Robinson; and at His command I was obedient, and gave up to his will."

Under these commands from the Lord Jesus, these dedicated men proceeded to Boston, and reached it about the middle of the Fourth Month, 1659. Their arrival was on one of the public fast days, and proceeding to one of the assemblies. After the minister had concluded preaching, they attempted to address the congregation. The presence of Quakers, thus boldly manifested, while it struck the company with surprise, excited the malevolent feelings of the minister and rulers, and, as will be readily supposed, they were quickly arrested by the constabulary, and summarily committed to prison.

It happened that about the same period, Nicholas Davis of Sandwich, and Patience Scott, a young Friend of Providence, were also in Boston, and being Quakers, were committed to prison with William Robinson and Marmaduke Stevenson, under the same warrant; of which the following is a copy :— "


You are by virtue hereof, required to take into your custody the persons of Nicholas Davis, William Robinson, Marmaduke Stevenson, and Patience Scott, Quakers; according to the law made in October, 1658: to be sure to keep them close prisoners till the next Court of Assistants, whereby they are to be tried according to law; not allowing any to come at them, or converse with them, without special order from this court; and allow them only prisoner's food, unless it is in times of sickness.

Boston, June 19th, 1659.

Edward Rawson, Secretary.

The object which drew Nicholas Davis to Boston on this occasion, was one of business only; "to reckon," says Bishop, "with those with whom he traded, and to pay some debts." But that of Patience Scott "was to bear witness against the persecuting spirit" of the rulers. The extreme youthfulness of Patience Scott renders her case a remarkable one, and deserving of further notice. She was one of the children of Richard and Katherine Scott of Providence, already mentioned. Though only a child of eleven years of age, it pleased the Most High to employ her in his holy cause, and to call her to go and plead with the cruel religionists of Massachusetts; and she seems to have been several weeks in the city before her imprisonment. In the course of her examination before the magistrates, she gave evidence of being endued with a wisdom above that of this world, "and spoke so well to the purpose, that she confounded her enemies." A narrative of the sufferings of Friends in New England, printed in 1659, thus mentions her. "They have imprisoned three men and a woman, whom they cast in prison with her clothes wet, and a child between ten and eleven years of age, who was moved of the Lord to travel from her home 105 miles to Boston, where she was cast into prison, and being examined, her answers were so far beyond the ordinary capacity of a child of her years, that the governor confessed there was a spirit in her beyond the spirit of woman; but being blind, and not seeing God perfecting his praise out of the child's mouth, he said it was the devil." William Robinson, in writing to George Fox about a month after their imprisonment, thus alludes to her. "Here is a daughter of Katherine Scott, who is a prisoner in the jailer's house. She is a fine child, and is finely kept. She is about eleven or twelve years of age, and is of good understanding." After an imprisonment of about three months, Patience Scott was brought up for trial. The court, however, was somewhat perplexed with her case. Formally to banish a mere child for professing Quakerism, partook too much of the ridiculous to be enforced, and at last it was concluded to discharge her. The record made on this occasion was singular. "The court duly considering the malice of Satan and his instruments, by all means and ways to propagate error and disturb the truth, and bring in confusion among us,—that Satan is put to his shifts to make use of such a child, not being of the years of discretion, nor understanding the principles of religion, judge proper so far to slight her as a Quaker, as only to admonish and instruct her according to her capacity, and so discharge her; Captain Hutchinson undertaking to send her home." "Strange," observes an historian of the colony, "that such a child should be imprisoned! It would have been horrible if there had been any other severity."

Before we turn from this notice of Patience Scott, it may be observed that the fact of a person young as she was being called to the ministry, is not a solitary one in the history of the Quakers. George Newland, a youth of Ireland, entered upon this gospel service in his twelfth year; he died about the age of nineteen, and about six years before his death, labored in the churches in his native land, to the comfort and edification of his friends. Ellis Lewis, of North Wales, felt constrained to engage in the ministry in his thirteenth year. His first communication was made in the English language, with which he was not familiar, and it is stated to have been "remarkable and tendering." Another instance of early dedication and submission to this divine call, was that of the noted William Hunt, of North Carolina. He entered upon gospel labors when about fourteen. At eleven years of age he had remarkable openings in divine things. Christiana Barclay, the daughter of Robert Barclay the Apologist, also entered on this important work when about fourteen years old. Many other young persons among Friends in the fourteenth, fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth years of their age, it is well known, were also called by Him whose "Spirit blows where it likes to proclaim to others, the unsearchable riches of his heavenly kingdom. As an illustration of the power and efficacy which has attended the ministry of some of our youthful preachers, may be instanced the remarkable fact, that the Society of Friends in the counties of Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, and Cambridge, was first raised, and became very numerous, chiefly through the instrumentality of James Parnell, William Caton, and George Whitehead, before either of them had attained the age of twenty years.

{From George Fox's Cambridge Journal : And this same year Mary Fell, the eight year old daughter of Judge Fell, was moved to go to priest Lampitt, (the priest of the Calvinist Independent church that her family previousl attended), to tell him that the Lord would pour out the vials of his wrath upon him; and when the King came in, he lost his job as a priest.}

Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings
you have ordained praise because of your enemies,
so that you might silence the enemy and the avenger.
Psa 8:2

During his imprisonment, William Robinson, desired that his friends in Great Britain should be acquainted with the state of things in New England, addressed a letter to George Fox, the original of which is still preserved. The rarity of such documents relating to America, together with the interesting particulars it contains, makes it valuable and worthy of being included in these pages.


G. F.

Oh! beloved of God, and highly honored and esteemed among the children of the Lord, who has made you a father unto thousands; and has given you the spirit of wisdom and of understanding. I was refreshed when I was constrained to write, to give you an account of our travels and labors in these countries. I who am one of the least among my brethren, having been for some time in Virginia with Robert Hodgson and Christopher Holder, where there are many people convinced; and some that are brought into the sense and feeling of Truth in several places. We left Thomas Thurston a prisoner in a place called Maryland; his sentence was to be kept a year and a day. We came lately to Rhode Island where we met with two of our brethren, named Peter Pearson and Marmaduke Stevenson, in whom we were refreshed. Friends on the island were glad to see us, and the honest-hearted were refreshed.

Peter Pearson and one William Leddra, are prisoners in this country, at a town called Plymouth, as I did understand by a letter I received from my brother Christopher Holder, who was in service at a town called Salem, last week, some fifteen miles from Boston, where I am now a prisoner, (with my brother Marmaduke Stevenson) for the testimony of Jesus. Soon after I came to Rhode Island, the Lord commanded me to pass to Boston, to bear my testimony against their persecution and to try their bloody law which they have made, with laying down of my life, if they have power to take it from me. For truly I am given up in my spirit into the hand of the Lord to do with me as He sees fit; for verily, my life is laid down, and my spirit is freely given up for the service of God, where he has called me.

The rulers, priests, and people, boast much in their hearts, that they have caused some to flee, for they have banished six Friends upon threat of death from their outward homes, which was at Salem, and they have stooped to them in fleeing the cross in their departures. Three of them have gone towards Barbados, and intend for England, it may be for London, whose names are Samuel Shattock, Nicholas Phelps, and Josiah Southwick; Josiah's father and mother are passed to a place called Shelter Island, which belongs to a Friend, one Nathaniel Silvester, who is a fine, noble man; and the other of the six have gone to Rhode Island. Oh! God knows how near this went to me, when I heard that they had departed, and the Lord soon laid it upon me to try their law; yes, on the same day that I heard of their departure was I constrained, and soon made willing to give up my life in order to try Boston's bloody laws. I was given up frequently in my spirit into the Lord's will, even to finish my testimony for the Lord, against the town of Boston. I was not aware of any Friend to go with me at that time, but the Lord had compassion on me, seeing how willingly I was given up to do his will, not counting my life dear to me, so that I might finish my course with joy; and on the day following, the Lord constrained my brother, Marmaduke Stevenson, to go along with me to Boston, who is freely given up to suffer with me for the seed's sake, who does dearly salute you. Oh! my dearly beloved, you who are endued with power from on High; who are of a quick discerning in the fear of our God; Oh! remember us—let your prayers be put up unto the Lord God for us, that his power and strength may rest with us and upon us; that, faithful, we may be preserved to the end. Amen.

William Robinson

From the Common Jail in Boston, the 12th of the Fifth Mo. 1659.


Mary Dyer leaves her home on Rhode Island, and proceeds to Boston- is imprisoned—M. Stevenson, W. Robinson, N. Davis, and M. Dyer are sentenced to banishment on pain of death—M. Dyer returns home—W. Robinson and M. Stevenson go to Salem, —M. Dyer returns to Boston, and is again arrested—Mary Scott, Robert Harper, Daniel and Provided Southwick, and Nicholas Upshal are imprisoned at Boston—W: Robinson and M. Stevenson return to Boston, and are again imprisoned—Daniel Gould and several Friends of Salem also imprisoned at Boston—W. Robinson, M. Stevenson, and Mary Dyer are sentenced to be executed—The procession to the place of execution described—W. Robinson and M. Stevenson are executed—M. Dyer is reprieved, and returns home—Brief notices of the lives of W. Robinson and M. Stevenson—John Chamberlain, Edward Wharton, Daniel Gould, and several others are scourged—Christopher Holder banished on pain of death — Persecutions in Plymouth Colony — John Taylor visits New England.

MARY DYER has already been noticed, both as an Antinomian exile from Massachusetts, and as having been expelled from Boston in 1657, and from New Haven in 1658, when visiting those places as a minister of the Gospel. This dedicated woman, hearing of the new species of persecution, and of the imprisonment of four of her fellow-professors at Boston, believed herself called to visit them, in order to comfort and encourage them under their trials. On reaching the city, she was very soon brought before the magistrates for examination as a Quaker, which resulted in her committal until the next Court of Assistants. The Court of Assistants referred to, was a court consisting of the governor, deputy governor, and magistrates of Boston. It met in the early part of the Seventh Month, then called September. Before this tribunal the imprisoned Friends, were examined, and, excepting Patience Scott, all received sentence of banishment, on pain of death, if found within the limits of that jurisdiction within two days after their release from prison. William Robinson, being desirous that the magistrate should fully understand that they came to those parts under a feeling of religious duty, and not in their own wills only, pleaded with them on the iniquitous course they were pursuing. "If they did put them to death," he said, "for transgressing their law, they would become guilty of shedding innocent blood;" "with many more expressions," observes Peter Pearson, "that cut them to the quick." But the persecuting court were not inclined to listen to the pleas of their victim, and he was silenced by having a handkerchief rudely thrust into his mouth. Again he attempted to address them respecting their cruel law, when the magistrates " in a great rage," and "looking upon him as a teacher," sentenced him to receive twenty lashes. He was immediately taken into the streets of the city, stripped to the waist, and subjected to the degrading punishment.

The wicked sentence having been passed, Rawson, pursuant to the direction of the court, issued the following warrant to the jailer:— "

You are required by these, presently to set at liberty, William Robinson, Marmaduke Stevenson, Mary Dyer, and Nicholas Davis; who, by an order of the court of council, had been imprisoned, because it appeared by their own confession, words, and actions, that they are Quakers; wherefore a sentence was pronounced against them, to depart this jurisdiction on pain of death; and that they must answer it at their peril, if they, or any of them, after the 14th of this present month, September, are found within this jurisdiction, or any part thereof.


Boston, September 12th, 1659

Having thus received their discharge, Nicholas Davis proceeded to his home at Sandwich, and Mary Dyer felt liberty to return to Rhode Island. But William Robinson and Marmaduke Stevenson, under a deep sense of religious duty, believed it required of them to remain in the colony, and on the day following their liberation they proceeded to Salem, where they endeavored to strengthen and encourage their friends to stand fast in this day of trial. Daniel Gould of Rhode Island, who had become acquainted with these two servants of the Lord, thought it right to be with them under their perilous circumstances, and joined them at Salem. Here, he remarks, "the people were greatly disturbed in their minds concerning them; and some were willing to hear; but by reason of their cruel law, were afraid to have meetings at their houses. They had a meeting in the woods, not far from Salem, and a great flocking of people came there to hear. The Lord was mightily with them, and they spoke of the things of God boldly, to the affecting and tendering the hearts of many." William Robinson, writing to Christopher Holder from this place, says, "we were, and are gladly received here, and the seed has been reached in many—we have had two fine meetings." Leaving Salem, they proceeded northward as far as Piscataqua, and as they went, they "found the people very tender and loving." Their continued presence in the colony was regarded by many of the inhabitants as a proof of great devotion to their Lord; and gave rise to much inquiry concerning the doctrines they were promulgating. "Many," says Peter Pearson, "were convinced, the power of the Lord accompanying them; and with astonishment confounded their enemies before them; great was their service abroad in that jurisdiction for four weeks and upwards."

While William Robinson and Marmaduke Stevenson were thus traveling in the service of their Great Master, Mary Dyer, under a feeling of religious constraint, returned to Boston, accompanied by Hope Clifton, a Friend of Rhode Island. They entered the city on the 8th of Eighth Month, and on the following morning proceeded to the jail to visit Christopher Holder, who, after laboring in the gospel, in the north of Massachusetts, came to Boston, with an intention to take shipping for England, where he was arrested and imprisoned. Mary Dyer was soon recognized and placed under arrest, together with her companion Hope Clifton. On the same day Mary Scott was also committed; she had come to visit Christopher Holder, with whom she was engaged to be marriage. Robert Harper, of Sandwich, who had come to Boston on business, was also arrested as a Quaker, and imprisoned with them. In addition to these, the jailer had in his custody Daniel and Provided Southwick, and the good old Nicholas Upshal, who, after a banishment of three years, had returned to see his wife and family. But although this conscientious man had been an exile for so long a period, it was not considered a sufficient payment for his crime of favoring Quaker opinions, and he was thus given to understand, that he was still regarded as a criminal in their estimation.

But a very few days had elapsed after the committal of Mary Dyer, before William Robinson and Marmaduke Stevenson again made their appearance in Boston. Having finished their religious engagements in the north of the province, they returned by way of Salem, accompanied by several Friends of that place; having been absent rather more than four weeks. The Friends who came with them on this perilous occasion were Daniel Gould, Hannah the wife of the exiled Nicholas Phelps, William King, Mary Trask, Margaret Smith, and Alice Cowland, the latter of whom "brought linen to wrap the dead bodies of those who were to suffer." "These," says Bishop, "all came together, in the moving and power of the Lord, as one man, to look their bloody laws in the face, and to try them."

This return of William Robinson and Marmaduke Stevenson, forms one of the most striking and remarkable incidents in the history of Friends. Banished from the colony of Massachusetts on pain of death, instead of obeying, they disregard the unrighteous mandate, and proceed at once to preach within its limits, and to make converts to the doctrines, for the profession of which, the dreadful sentence had been passed upon them. Engaged thus for the space of a month, they next go, under the apprehended constraints of a divine call, to lay down their lives a willing sacrifice, and to evidence to highly so-called religious New England, the impotence of their persecuting edicts to stop the work of the Lord. The conclusion, thus to offer their lives for the cause of truth, excites in the minds of their newly convinced brethren the most tender emotions, and, regardless of the consequences of the step, seven of them, under a sense of duty, accompanied the exiled strangers to Boston. The mournful little company, as they left Salem, bearing with them the habiliments for the dead, partook much of the character of a funeral procession; and as they drew towards the persecuting city, they felt that they were approaching the spot, where they were to witness the martyrdom of two beloved servants of Christ.

The constabulary, having been apprised of the approach of the banished Friends and their companions, went forth "with a rude company," and arrested them. After a mocking and scoffing examination by the magistrates, the whole of them were committed to prison, the jailer being specially instructed to place William Robinson and Marmaduke Stevenson in chains, and to keep them in a separate cell. They were also searched, and all their papers, including William Robinson's journal, were taken from them. There were now no less than seventeen persons in the jails of Boston for professing Quakerism. "Their prisons," observes Bishop, "begin to fill." Thus, notwithstanding the extreme nature of the persecuting law, at no previous date had the city witnessed the presence of so many of the sect which the rulers were vainly endeavoring to crush. This extraordinary circumstance has attracted the notice of historians. "The Quakers," remarks a modern (1800) writer, "swarmed where they were feared."

The rulers had now in custody three individuals whose continued presence in the colony subjected them, under the previously enactedbloody law, to the forfeiture of their lives. These three, William Robinson, Marmaduke Stevenson and Mary Dyer, were brought before the General Court on the 19th of the Seventh Month, 1659. Endicott, who presided, "demanded why they came again into that jurisdiction after being banished upon pain of death." To this the prisoners severally replied, that they came only in obedience to a Divine call. The situation of the court was peculiar. The law that had been passed for proceeding to the extreme penalty of death, was clearly applicable to the parties arraigned. But vindictive and cruel, as Endicott and Bellingham and their fellow-magistrates had shown themselves, they evidently shrank from the horrible deed of imbruing their hands in blood. After telling the prisoners "that he did not desire their death, and that they had liberty to speak for themselves," and querying with them why sentence of death should not be passed upon them, Endicott directed the jailer to take them away. Baffled as these bigoted and intolerant rulers were, they yet paused, before they put forth their hands to slay their fellow- professors of the christian name, for merely differing from their religious opinions.

On the following day, being one of the public meeting days, the officiating Puritan minister, in addressing his auditory, alluded to the presence of so many of the "cursed sect" (Quakers) among them. Instead of endeavoring to inculcate feelings of tenderness and love, he prostituted his eloquence to the wicked purpose of exciting his hearers to hatred and revenge, and urged them on to one of the darkest deeds of ecclesiastical power. The rulers, says Bishop, thus "incited by their priest, (like the Jews were incited by their priests to kill Jesus), and prepared to shed the blood of the innocent Quakers, sent for the prisoners again."

(Switching to Sewel:)

And on the 20th of October, these three were brought into the court, where John Endicott and others were assembled. And being called to the bar, Endicott commanded the keeper to pull off their hats; and then said, that they had made several laws to keep the Quakers from among them; and neither whipping, nor imprisoning, nor cutting off ears, nor banishing upon pain of death, would keep them from among them. And further he said, that he or they desired not the death of any of them. Yet notwithstanding, his following words without more ado, were, 'Give ear, and listen to your sentence of death.' W. Robinson then desired that he might be permitted to read a paper, giving an account of the reason why he had not departed that jurisdiction. But Endicott would not allow it to be read, and said in a rage, 'You shall not read it, nor will the court hear it read.' Then Robinson laid it on the table.

He had written this paper the day before, and some of the contents were, that when he was in Rhode Island, the Lord had commanded him to go to Boston, and to lay down his life there. That he also had felt an assurance that his soul was to enter into everlasting peace, and eternal rest. That he dared not but obey, without inquiring further concerning it; believing that it became him as a child, to show obedience to the Lord, without any unwillingness. That this was the cause, why after banishment on pain of death, he staid in their jurisdiction: and that now with sincerity of heart he could say, 'Blessed be the Lord, the God of my life, who has called me hereunto, and counted me worthy to testify against wicked and unjust men, etc.' This paper being handed to Endicott, he read it to himself, and after he had done, said to Robinson, 'You need not keep such ado to have it read; for you spoke yesterday more than here is written.' Yet this was not so; for it contained a circumstantial relation of the divine operations on his mind; and that he had not come there in his own will, but in obedience to his Creator; and that traveling in Rhode Island, on the 8th of the Eighth month, he had been moved to that from the Lord, and therefore had submitted to his divine pleasure without murmuring. W. Robinson desiring again that the paper might be read, that so all that were present might hear it, it was denied him, and Endicott said, 'W. Robinson hearken to your sentence of death; you shall be had back to the place where you came, and then to the place of execution, to be hanged on the gallows till you are dead.' This sentence was not altogether unexpected to W. Robinson; for it was four months now that he had believed this would be his fate.

Robinson being taken away, M. Stevenson was called, and Endicott said to him, 'If you have any thing to say, you may speak.' He, knowing how they dealt with his companion, was silent, though he had also written a paper in prison, explaining the cause of his having come there; but he kept it with him, and found afterwards occasion to deliver it to someone else. Then Endicott pronounced sentence of death against him, saying, 'M. Stevenson, you shall be taken to the place where you came, and there to the gallows, and there be hanged till you are dead.' Whereupon M. Stevenson spoke thus: 'Give ear, you magistrates, and all who are guilty; for this the Lord has said concerning you, and will perform his word upon you, that the same day you put his servants to death, shall the day of your visitation pass over your heads, and you shall be cursed for evermore. The mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken it. Therefore in love to you all, I exhort you to take warning before it be too late, that so the curse may be removed. For assuredly if you put us to death, you will bring innocent blood upon your own heads, and swift destruction will come unto you.'

After he had spoken this, he was taken away, and Mary Dyer was called, to whom Endicott spoke thus: 'Mary Dyer, you shall go to the place where you came, (the prison,) and there to the place of execution, and be hanged there until you are dead.' To which she replied. 'The will of the Lord be done.' Then Endicott said, 'Take her away, marshal.' To which she returned, 'Yes, joyfully I go.' And in her going to the prison, she often uttered speeches of praise to the Lord; and, being full of joy, she said to the marshal, he might let her alone, for she would go to the prison without him. To which he answered. 'I believe you, Mrs. Dyer: but I must do what I am commanded.' Thus she was led to prison, where she was kept a week, with the two others, her companions, that were also condemned to die.

The paper of Marmaduke Stevenson, mentioned before, which be gave forth after he had received sentence of death, was thus :

In the beginning of the year 1655, I was at the plough, in the east parts of Yorkshire, in Old England, near the place where my outward being was, and as I walked after the plough, I was filled with the love and presence of the living God, which did ravish my heart when I felt it; for it did increase and abound in me like a living stream, so did the love and life of God run through me like precious ointment, giving a pleasant smell, which made me to stand still; and as I stood a little still, with my heart and mind stayed on the Lord, the word of the Lord came to me in a still small voice, which I did hear perfectly, saying to me in the secret of my heart and conscience,—I have ordained you a prophet unto the nations.—And at the hearing of the word of the Lord, I was put to a stand, being that I was but a child for such a weighty matter. So at the time appointed, Barbados was set before me, unto which I was required of the Lord to go, and leave my dear and loving wife, and tender children; for the Lord said unto me immediately by his Spirit, that he would be as a husband to my wife, and as a father to my children, and they should not want in my absence, for he would provide for them when I was gone. And I believed that the Lord would perform what he had spoken, because I was made willing to give up myself to his work and service, to leave all and follow him, whose presence and life is with me, where I rest in peace and quietness of spirit, (with my dear brother), under the shadow of his wings, who has made us willing to lay down our lives for his own name sake, if unmerciful men are allowed to take them from us; and if they do, we know we shall have peace and rest with the Lord forever in his holy habitation, when they shall have torment night and day. So, in obedience to the living God, I made preparation to pass to Barbados in the Fourth month, 1658. So, after I bad been some time on the said island in the service of God, I heard that New England had made a law to put the servants of the living God to death, if they returned after they were sentenced away, which did come near me at that time; and as I considered the thing, and pondered it in my heart, immediately came the word of the Lord unto me, saying, “You know not but that you may go there." But I kept this word in my heart, and did not declare it to any until the time appointed. So, after that, a vessel was made ready for Rhode Island, which I passed in. So, after a little time that I had been there, visiting the seed which the Lord has blessed, the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, 'Go to Boston with your brother William Robinson.' And at his command I was obedient, and gave up myself to do his will, that so his work and service may be accomplished: for he has said unto me, that he has a great work for me to do; which is now come to pass. For yielding obedience to, and obeying the voice and command of, the ever-living God, who created heaven and earth, and the fountains of waters, do I, with my dear brother, suffer outward bonds unto our death. And this is given forth to be upon record, that all people may know, who hear it, that we came not in our own wills, but in the will of God. Given forth by me, who am known to men by the name of

Marmaduke Stevenson,
But having a new name given me, which the world knows not of, written in the Book of Life.

Written in Boston prison, in the 8th Month, 1659.

Mary Dyer being returned to prison, wrote the following letter, which she sent to the rulers of Boston.

To the General Court in Boston

Whereas I am by many charged with the guiltiness of my own blood; if you mean by my coming to Boston, I am clear in this, and justified by the Lord, in whose will I came, who will require my blood of you, be sure, who have made a law to take away the lives of the innocent servants of God, if they come among you, who are called by you, cursed Quakers. Although I say, and am a living witness for them and the Lord, that he has blessed them, and sent them unto you; therefore be not found fighters against God, but let my counsel and request be accepted with you, to repeal all such laws, that the Truth and servants of the Lord may have free passage among you, and you be kept from shedding innocent blood, which I know there are many among you would not do, if they knew it so to be. Nor can the enemy that stirs you up thus to destroy his holy seed, in any measure countervail the great damage that you will, by thus doing, procure. Therefore seeing the Lord has not hidden it from me, it lies upon me, in love to your souls, thus to persuade you. I have no self-ends the Lord knows; for if my life were freely granted by you, it would not avail me, nor could I expect it of you, so long as I should daily hear or see the sufferings of these people, my dear brethren, and the seed, with whom my life is bound up, as I have done these two years; and now it is like to increase, even unto death, for no evil doing, but coming among you. Has ever the like laws been heard of among a people that profess Christ come in the flesh? And have such no other weapons but such laws to fight against spiritual wickedness withal, as you call it? Woe is me for you! Of whom take you counsel? Search with the light of Christ in you, and it will show you of how, as it has done me and many more, you have been disobedient and deceived, as now you are; which light as you come into, and obeying what is shown to you in the light, you would repent, so that you would be kept from shedding blood, even the blood was of a woman. It is not my own life I seek, (for I choose rather to suffer with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of Egypt), but the life of the seed, which I know the Lord has blessed, and therefore the enemy seeks thus vehemently to destroy the life thereof, as in all ages he ever did. Oh hearken not unto Satan, I beseech you, for the seed's sake, which is one in all, and is dear in the sight of God, which they that touch, touch the apple of his eye, and cannot escape his wrath; of which having felt, I must try to persuade all men around me, particularly you, who name the name of Christ, to depart from such iniquity as shedding blood, even of the saints of the Most High. Therefore let my request have as much acceptance with you if you are Christians, as Esther had with Ahasuerus, whose relation is less than that that is between Christians. My request is the same that her's was; and Ahasuerus said that he had made a law, and that it would be dishonorable for him to revoke it; but when he understood that those people were so prized by her, and so nearly concerned her, as in truth these are to me, you may see what he did for her. Therefore I leave these lines with you, appealing to the faithful and true witness of God, which is one in all consciences, before whom we must all appear; with whom I shall eternally rest, in everlasting joy and peace, whether you will hear or refuse. With him is my reward, with whom to live is my joy, and to die is my gain, though I had not had your forty-eight hours warning, for the preparation of the death of Mary Dyer.

And know this also, that if through the enmity you shall declare yourselves worse than Ahasuerus, and confirm your law, though it only results in the taking away the life of one of us, that the Lord will overthrow both your law and you, by his righteous judgments and plagues poured justly upon you, who now while you are warned thereof, and tenderly sought unto, may avoid the one, by removing the other. If you neither hear, nor obey the Lord, nor his servants, he will still send more of his servants among you, so that your end shall be frustrated, that think to restrain them, who you call cursed Quakers, from coming among you, by anything you can do to them. Yes, verily, he has a seed here among you, for whom we have suffered all this while, and yet suffer; whom the Lord of the harvest will send forth more laborers to gather, out of the mouths of the devourers of all sorts, into his fold, where he will lead them into fresh pastures, even the paths of righteousness, for his name's sake. Oh, let none of you put this good day far from you, which verily in the light of the Lord I see approaching, even to many in and about Boston, which is the most remote and darkest professing place, and so to continue so long as you have done, that ever I heard of. Let the time past therefore suffice, for such a profession as brings forth such fruits as these laws are. In love, and in the spirit of meekness, I again beseech you, for I have no enmity to the persons of any; but you shall know, that God will not be mocked; but what you sow, that shall you reap from him, that will render to every one according to the deeds done in the body, whether good or evil. Even so be it, said.

Mary Dyer

A copy of this was given to the general court after Mary Dyer had received sentence of death, about the 8th or 9th month, 1659.

{And so did Mary Dyer's prophecies of the wrath of God against her judges and the entire Boston area come true; as is detailed in the last web page, Postscript, to these pages of sufferings.}

(Back to Bowden:)

The day appointed for the execution, was the 27th of the Seventh Month, being one week after the condemnation, and the usual meeting day of the Puritan Church in Boston. The week which thus intervened, was a memorable one in the history of that city. The fact of the gallows being about to be called into requisition for the support of religion, produced an excitement of no ordinary character. It was a fresh shock to the feelings of most of the inhabitants. "They stood amazed, and wondered at such cruelty." The thing struck among them," says a narrator of the circumstance, "and struck a fear in the magistrates, where no fear had been." Throughout the persecution of Quakers in New England, it had been a special object with the rulers, to prevent their having any conversation with the colonists, during their imprisonment. On the present occasion, however, the sympathy of the people was stronger than the words of their rulers, and they flocked to the prison windows to hear the ministrations of the conscientious victims." On the morning of the day on which the execution was to take place, "there came," says Daniel Gould, "a multitude of people about the prison, and we being in an upper room, William Robinson, put forth his head at a window, and spoke to the people concerning, the things of God; at which the people flocked about, earnest to hear, and gave serious attention. "But," he continues, "it was quickly noised in the town that many people were around the prison to see the Quakers, and that the Quakers were speaking to them, upon which Oliver came, (a captain, a very fit man for their purpose) and a company with him, to disperse the people; but there were so many of them that wanted to hear, he could not drive them away." The captain, anxious to stop the preaching of the Friends, and finding himself unable to disperse the assemblage, proceeded to take other means to accomplish his purpose. "He came," says Daniel Gould, "in a fret and heat to us within, and furiously hurling some of us down stairs, did not leave us, till he had shut us up in a little low dark hole, where we could not see the people." Although they were persecuted for the cause of their dear Lord, they felt Him near to sustain them and realized his ancient promise, "Lo! I am with you always, even unto the end of the world." "As we sat together waiting upon the Lord," observes one of them, "it was a time of love; for as the world hated us, and despitefully used us, so the Lord was pleased in a wonderful manner, to manifest his supporting love and kindness to us in our innocent sufferings; especially to the worthies who had now nearly finished their course—for God had given them a sure word, that their souls should rest in eternal peace. God was with them, and many sweet and heavenly sayings they gave unto us, being themselves filled with comfort."

While these things were passing at the prison, the magistrates and others were assembled at their meeting. Here, as on the week previous, the minister spoke abundantly of "the diabolical doctrines" and horrid tenets of, as he was accustomed to term them, "the cursed sect of Quakers." "Their lecture being ended; the priest having sharpened and hardened them for the service,the officers, in pursuance of the bloody work, proceeded to the prison with an escort of two hundred armed men, with drums and colors, and halberds, guns, swords and pikes, besides many horsemen.'' "While we were yet embracing each other, and taking leave, with full and tender hearts," observes one of the prisoners, "the officers came in and took the two from us, as sheep for the slaughter." These two were William Robinson, and Marmaduke Stevenson; the house of correction having been selected as the place of Mary Dyer's imprisonment. Everything being prepared, the procession began its march towards Boston Common, the destined place of execution, being about one mile distant. The authorities, as though conscious of the wickedness of the deed, and fearing the excitement of the citizens, directed the course to be taken by a back way, and not through the direct thoroughfare of the city.

The motley concourse, as it proceeded with its Boston priest, and Boston soldiery, the city officials, and the condemned; with colors flying, and drums beating, together with the un marshaled multitude, which the impending demonstration had attracted, presented a scene strongly analogous to the procession of an auto-da-fe of Roman Catholic Spain. Except, indeed, that in the one case, the victims were to be led to the gallows, and in the other to the burning stake, there seems such an identity of proceeding, that it is difficult to realize the idea that the abettors of this revolting spectacle, professed to be the uncompromising opposers of the Roman Catholic faith and persecutions.

It might have been expected that at least some little regard would be paid to the feelings of those who were now so soon to be launched into eternity, but the want of decorum exhibited towards the condemned at this awful period was revolting in the highest degree. The rulers, dreading the voice of public opposition from the victims of their malignity, in order to frustrate any such attempt, directed the drummers to walk immediately before them, with special instructions for a louder beat, should either of them begin to speak. When therefore, William Robinson began to address the people, his voice was quickly drowned in the increased din, and all that could be heard was, "this is your hour and the power of darkness." The drums having ceased a little, Marmaduke Stevenson said, "This is the day of your visitation, wherein the Lord has visited you." He said more, but the drums being beating again so it could not be heard. The pious sufferers, although deprived of outward quiet and solemnity at this awful time, were nevertheless wonderfully supported, and favored with great serenity of mind, and, under the feeling of the Divine presence which was largely vouchsafed to them, they rose superior to all the clamor and indignities to which they were exposed; and, as they proceeded, walking hand in hand, to the place of execution, "glorious signs of heavenly joy and gladness were beheld in their countenances," and they rejoiced that the Lord had counted them worthy to suffer for his name's sake.

It can excite no surprise that many of those engaged in this wicked work were strangers to sensibility of mind, and the marshal appears to have been one of these. This active official, observing that Mary Dyer walked between her condemned companions, coarsely and tauntingly said to her: "Are you not ashamed to walk thus between two young men?" "No,” answered Mary Dyer, to the repulsive observation, "this is to me an hour of the greatest joy I ever had in this world. No ear can hear, no tongue can utter, and no heart can understand, the sweet incomes and the refreshments of the Spirit of the Lord, which I now feel." Wilson, the minister of Boston, appears to have been another of this class. Having made himself conspicuous in urging the rulers to the use of the gallows against Friends, he countenanced the present proceedings in a manner which stigmatizes him as a ruthless and hardened persecutor. While the dismal group was on its way, this high professor [believer] joined in the train, and wickedly glorying in the transaction, began "taunting William Robinson;" and "shaking his hand in a light scoffing manner," in low and vulgar language thus addressed him. "Shall such Jacks* as you come in before authority with their hats on?"

*{The believer is calling the Quakers Jackasses, showing his hate and contempt for them - as all did that approve of murdering them. If a man says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? 1 John 4:20}

Wilson, complaining about their hats being worn, prompted William Robinson to say to the spectators, "Mind you, mind you, it is for not putting off the hat we are put to death."

Having reached the Common, the faithful sufferers now took a final farewell of each other. William Robinson was selected as the first to undergo the sentence, and having ascended the ladder, he thus addressed the multitude: "We suffer, not as evil doers, but as those who have testified and manifested the truth. This is the day of your visitation, and therefore I desire you to mind the Light of Christ, which is in you, to which I have borne testimony, and am now going to seal my testimony with my blood."

While you have light, believe in [depend on, trust and obey] the light,
that you may become the children of light.
John 12:36

Short as the address was, it was too long for Wilson. This implacable professor, vexed at beholding the martyrs display so little fear of death, and the fortitude and joyful resignation with which they were favored, interrupted William Robinson, and vented his impetuous virulence by saying, "hold your tongue—be silent—you are going to die with a lie in your mouth." The executioner having fastened the rope around his neck, bound his hands and feet, and drawn his neck cloth over his face, he said "Now are you made manifest;" his last words being, "I suffer for Christ, in whom I live, and for whom I die." Marmaduke Stevenson was the next to suffer, and having mounted the ladder, he thus addressed the spectators—"Be it known unto you all this day, that we suffer not as evil-doers, but for conscience' sake;" adding a few moments before he was turned off, "this day shall we be at rest with the Lord."

If we have died with him, we will also live with him.
If we suffer, we will also reign with him;.
2 Tim 2:11-12

Mary Dyer, who saw the lifeless bodies of her companions suspended before her, was now called to undergo the like ignominious death. She calmly ascended the ladder—her clothes were bound around her feet—her face was covered and the halter adjusted, andin a few seconds her resigned and purified spirit would have been for ever free from all the trials of time; but at this awful moment the silence which prevailed over the gazing assembly was suddenly broken by the distant cry, "Stop! She is reprieved." Some say her life had been granted due to her husband's Rhode Island government position and his personal appeal to former Governor Winthrop, far more tolerant than Governor Endicott. Her son delivered the reprieve at the gallows. The announcement though heard with gladness by many who witnessed the horrid spectacle, bore no tidings of joy to Mary Dyer.

So entirely resigned was she to the prospect of death, and so favored with divine consolation, that she seemed to be already participating in the joys of eternity. "Her mind," says a historian, "was already in heaven, and when they loosened her feet and told her to come down, she stood still, and said she was there willing to suffer as her brethren had, unless they would annul their wicked law." The officers, however, disregarding her expressions, pulled her down, and under the care of the marshal she was re-conducted to prison, where her son was waiting to receive her.

Having thus sacrificed two victims to their intolerance, these persecutors had done enough to satisfy even an extreme malignity, but not enough it appears, to glut their desires for blood. To add to the atrocities of the spectacle, even the remains of the sufferers were subjected to the revenge which characterized these proceedings. The bodies after hanging the usual time were cut down, and no pains being taken to prevent it, they fell violently to the ground, the skull of William Robinson being fractured by the fall. They were then stripped, thrown into a pit, and there left uncovered. Those who had been denied the request to provide coffins, and to give the remains a decent interment, fearing that the bodies thus exposed would be devoured by the wild animals which then infested the country, requested permission to erect a fence around the pit, but even this reasonable application was disregarded; and had not the hole been soon filled with water, the bodies would in all probability have been food for the beasts of the forest. To complete this wicked and disgusting business, the notorious Wilson, as a yet further exhibition of his malice, actually made a song on the two martyrs. For the cause of humanity and for the cause of religion, it is well that the pages of Anglo-Saxon history are not sullied by many such exhibitions of human malevolence. May it never be stained by a similar exhibition!

{These persecutions, testify to the false salvation of the persecutors; such persecutions being predicted in Revelation by the Whore of Babylon, drunk on the blood of the saints, who rode on the back of the beast with horns like a lamb, with many names, (Protestant and Catholic), imitating Christ's church. See Babylon and Apostasy for more.}

When the people returned from the execution, many seemed sad and heavy; and coming to the drawbridge, one end of it fell upon some, and several were hurt, especially a wicked woman, who had reviled both Quakers that were hung; but now she was so bruised, that her flesh rotted from her bones, which made such a noisome stink, that people could not endure to be with her; in which miserable condition she remained till she died. But the magistrates, instead of taking notice of this, grew more hardened.

Before leaving from the martyrdom of William Robinson and Marmaduke Stevenson, it may be well to notice a few particulars of them that have been preserved.


The earliest notice that we find respecting William Robinson, is that of his voyage to New England in the "Woodhouse," in the year 1657. He was a man of good education, and in very respectable circumstances, his occupation being that of a merchant in the City of London. His father was living at the time of his execution, and instituted some inquiry respecting it. On the day when he received sentence of death, he addressed the following epistle to his fellow-prisoners:—


To whom my love abounds; I am filled with pure love unto you all; dear lambs, feel it in your own lives, and receive it into your own hearts as new oil; for truly the fear of the Lord is our strength, and the blessing of the Lord is our portion, which the Lord does daily give unto us; blessed be his name forever. Oh! let us all keep in lowliness, and holiness, and meekness, and tender love one towards another, which is the seal and witness that the Lord is with us; where the Lord for ever keeps us stayed on him, to receive our daily bread, which satisfies the hungry soul.

Dear friends, brethren and sisters, this I am constrained to let you know, how mightily the love of the Lord our God abounds in my heart, towards you all; it runs forth as a living stream, refreshing the spirit and life—I was the first that our heavenly Father did lay this thing upon, for which I now suffer bonds near unto death. From the first day until now, the weight of the thing lay upon me from the Lord God, and in obedience to his holy will and command I gave up; in which obedience the arm and power of the Lord has been, and is with me this day; and the thing which the Lord had said unto me, still remains with me, that my life must accomplish the thing, and by it must the powers of darkness fall, and yet will they seek and labor to take it from me, and through much difficulty will they be suffered, to the glory of our God, and to the rejoicing of the elect.

So, my dear brethren and sisters, my love and my life feel in your hearts, for I am full unto you all in heavenly joy. The Lord for ever keep us all as we are now, to the glory of his name, Amen. This was I moved to write unto you all, my dear brethren and sisters, my fellow-prisoners, that have any part, or do partake with me in this.

Your dear brother, in holy and heavenly joy, and true love and peace.

William Robinson

Written in the Hole of the Condemned, in Boston jail in New England, the First-day of the week, being the 16th day of the Eighth Month, 1659.

Four days before his death he wrote an epistle "To the Lord's people." The heavenly state of his mind, and the complete resignation with which he was favored at this awful season, is very fully developed in this address, and we cannot better close the notice of him than by inserting the following extract from it:— "

The streams of my Father's love run daily through me, from the Holy Fountain of Life, to the seed throughout the whole creation. I am overcome with love, for it is my life and length of my days; it is my glory and my daily strength.— "

I am full of the quickening power of the Lord Jesus Christ, and my lamp is filled with pure oil, so that it gives a clear light and pleasant smell; and I shall enter with my beloved into eternal rest and peace, and I shall depart with everlasting joy in my heart, and praises in my mouth, singing hallelujah unto the Lord, who has redeemed me by his living power from among kindreds, tongues, and nations. And now the day of my departure draws near. I have fought a good fight. I have kept the holy faith. I have near finished my course; my travailing is near at an end. My testimony is near to be finished, and an eternal crown is laid up for me, and for all whose feet are shod with righteousness, and the preparation of peace, even such whose names are written in the book of life, wherein I live and rejoice with all the faithful for evermore.

Written by a servant of Jesus Christ,

William Robinson

The 23rd of the Eighth Month, 1659.


Marmaduke Stevenson was an agriculturist of Shipton, near Market Weighton, in Yorkshire. The earliest account of him is contained in a paper which he put forth at Boston shortly before his execution, designated his "Call to the work and service of the Lord." It begins thus :—"In the beginning of the year 1655, I was at plough in the east part of Yorkshire, in Old England, and as I walked after the plough, I was filled with the love and presence of the living God, which did ravish my heart when I felt it, for it did increase and abound in me like a living stream, which made me to stand still. And as I stood a little still, with my heart and mind stayed upon the Lord, the word of the Lord came to me in a still small voice, which I heard perfectly, saying to me in the secret of my heart: “I have ordained you a prophet unto the nations;” and at the hearing of the word of the Lord I was put to a stand, seeing that I was but a child, for such a weighty matter. So at the time appointed, Barbados was set before me, unto which I was required of the Lord to go, and leave my dear and loving wife and tender children; for the Lord said unto me, immediately by his Spirit, that he would be as an husband to my wife, and as a father to my children, and they should not want in my absence, for he would provide for them." Notwithstanding the prospect which he thus had in 1655, he did not leave his native land until the Fourth Month, 1658, when he embarked for Barbados with several other gospel messengers.

During his imprisonment at Boston, he wrote his "Call to the work and service of the Lord," already referred to, and also a long address to his "neighbors and the people of the town of Shipton, Weighton, and elsewhere," entitled "A Call from Death to Life, out of the dark Ways and Worships of the world, where the Seed is held in bondage, under the Merchants of Babylon." In this piece he affectionately warns those who were living in forgetfulness of God, "to lend an ear to His call, while he knocked at the door of their hearts." He writes:

"Oh my love runs out to you all in compassion and pity to your souls, which lie in death, as mine has done; but the Lord in his eternal love and pity to my soul, has redeemed me from my fallen estate, and raised my soul from death to life, out of the pit, in which it lay dead in trespasses and sins. And seeing the Lord has done this for me, I cannot but declare it to the sons of men, and praise his Name in the land of the living, who has done great things for me. When I consider, and ponder it in my heart, my soul is ravished with his love, and broken into tears at his kindness towards me, who was by nature a child of wrath as well as others. Oh! the consideration of his love has constrained me to follow him, and to give up all for his sake, if it be the laying down of my life; for none are the disciples of Christ, but they that follow him in his cross, and through sufferings, and they that love anything more than him, “are not worthy of him.” The Lord knows I do not forget you, though I am thousands of miles from you, because of the simplicity that was in some of you, who were my neighbors and acquaintance; for I am one who has obtained mercy from the Lord, through judgment and great tribulation, which all must pass through before they come into the land of Canaan. They must be regenerated and born again, and know a dying to sin, and that which they have delighted in, before they witness a living to righteousness: the old man must be put off with his deeds, before the new man Christ Jesus, be put on, the Son of the living God." "The desire of my soul is," he continues, "that you may not perish in your opposing doctrines, and for this end was this written unto you, as I was moved of the Lord, knowing that you are where I once was, in the perishing state, like the prodigal from the Father's house, in the far country, feeding upon the husks, with the swine. This was my state and condition for many years; but in the time appointed the Lord looked upon me with an eye of pity, and called me home to himself, out of the far country, where I was feeding on the husks with the swine, into the banqueting house, where my soul is refreshed, nourished, and fed with the hidden manna and bread of life."

Marmaduke Stevenson

He also wrote a few days before his martyrdom, a letter "To the Lord's People," which strikingly evidences the prepared state of his mind in the near prospect of death, as will appear from the following extract:—

Oh! my dear and well-beloved ones, who are sealed with me in the holy covenant of our Father's love, my love and life runs out to you all who are chosen of God and faithful; for you are dear unto me, the Lord knows it, and are as seals upon my breast. You lambs of my Father's fold, and sheep of his pasture, the remembrance of you is precious to me, my dearly beloved ones, who are of the holy seed, and bear the right image, which springs from the true vine and offspring of David, the stock of Abraham, the father of the faithful, and the redeemed ones, who are reconciled to God and one to another, in that which sea and land cannot separate; here you may feel me knit and joined to you, in the spirit of truth, and linked to you as members of his body; who is our head, and rock of sure defense to flee unto. Here we are kept safe in the hour of temptation; and in the day of trial shall we be preserved in the hollow of his hand. Here his banner of love will be over us, to compass us about; here we shall have recourse to the living springs, which come from the pure fountain and well-spring of life, which issues forth abundantly to refresh the hungry, and strengthen the feeble-minded. Here you may feel me, my beloved ones, in the green pastures, among the lilies of the pleasant springs, where our souls are bathed and refreshed together, with the overcomings of God's love, and the virtue of his presence, which is as precious ointment poured forth, giving a pleasant smell.

So my dear friends! Let us always wait at the altar of the Lord, to see the table spread; so that we may sit down and eat together, and be refreshed with the hidden manna, and living food of life, that comes from Him who is our life, our peace, our strength, and our Preserver night and day. Oh! my beloved ones! let us all go on in his strength, who is our Prince and Savior, that his image we may bear, who is meek and lowly in heart, and mind the true and sure foundation of many generations, the chief Corner Stone, elect and precious; the Rock of Ages on which the saints were built; and if we all abide in this, we shall never be moved, but stand for ever as trees of righteousness, rooted and grounded in Him, who will be with us in all our trials and temptations; and here will the Lord our God be honored by us all that are faithful unto death: and we shall assuredly have a crown of life which will never be taken from us." Oh! my beloved ones, what shall I say unto you, who drink with me at the living fountain, where we are nourished and brought up? Where I do embrace you in the bond of peace which never will be broken? Oh! feel me and read me in your hearts; for I am filled with love when I think upon you, and broken into tears; for the remembrance of you refreshes my soul, which makes me often think upon you, you jewels of my Father, and first fruits of his increase. If I forget you, then let the Lord forget me. No, truly, you cannot be forgotten by me. So long as I abide in the vine, I am a branch of the same nature with you, which the Lord has blessed, where we grow together in his life and image, as members of his body; where we shall live together to all eternity, and sit down in the kingdom of rest and peace, with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to sing the songs of deliverance to the Most High that sits on the throne, who alone is worthy of all honor and living praise, to whom it is due now and forever.


Marmaduke Stevenson

<Continued American Early Quakers>>>>

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