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Mary Dyer

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Known for: Quaker martyr
Dates: ? - June 1, 1660

Mary Dyer Biography:

Mary Dyer sided with Anne Hutchinson in the Antinomian controversy in 1630s Massachusetts, for which Dyer and her husband, William Dyer, were banished with Hutchinson. The Dyers then settled in Providence, Rhode Island.

In the 1650s the Dyers accompanied Roger Williams and John Clarke to England, where Mary Dyer became a Quaker, influenced by George Fox. Returning to Boston, she was arrested and expelled under a new law outlawing Quakers. (Her husband, who had not become a Quaker, was not arrested.)

Mary Dyer was arrested a year later for preaching Quakerism in New Haven. she returned to Massachusetts to visit two English Quakers held in the jail, and was arrested there. Banished, she returned with other Quakers to defy the law, and was arrested. Two of her comrades were hanged, but she received a last-minute reprieve.

She returned to Rhode Island, then traveled to Long Island, but finally in 1660 returned to Massachusetts to again defy the anti-Quaker law. This time, her sentence was carried out the day after her conviction, and on June 1, 1660, Mary Dyer was hanged for being a Quaker in Massachusetts.

Dyer is now honored with a statue at The State House in Boston.

Bibliography:

  • The Antinomian Controversy, 1636 - 1638: A Documentary History. David D. Hall, editor.
  • Ingle, H. Larry. First Among Friends: George Fox and the Creation of Quakerism Mary Dyer: Biography of a Rebel Quaker.
  • Larson, Rebecca. Daughters of Light: Quaker Women Preacher and Prophesying in the Colonies and Abroad, 1700-1775
  • Plimpton, Ruth T. Mary Dyer: Biography of a Rebel Quaker

Related Resources:

    Mary Dyer of Rhode Island: The Quaker Martyr that was hanged on Boston Common, June 1, 1660.: Image copy of a book written by Horatio Rogers and published in 1896.

    Notable Women Ancestors: Mary Barrett Dyer: Good summary of what is known of Dyer's life, plus a photo of the Dyer statue erected in 1959 in Boston, info on the "Stuart daughter" legend, descendants, and good bibliography.

More About Mary Dyer:

Religion: Quaker

Places: Massachusetts; Providence, Rhode Island; America; England

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