1 June 1660 – Mary Dyer

Mary DyerBeing a Quaker in 17th-century America was a bit of a no-no, so Mary Dyer found on this day in 1660.

A bit of a militant, she did her best to circumvent crushing laws that condemned Quakerism as illegal. She fiestily found ways to sow the oats of Quakerism in New Haven and Massachusetts, before she wound up in Boston decrying the harsh laws against her faith. Of course she was apprehended.

Dyer dying

She was found guilty of heresy and taken to the execution elm tree amid great pomp and ceremony. She was given the chance to absolve herself of her crimes by repenting but she refused, vowing ‘Nay, man, I am not now to repent’. Her decision thus was considered to have taken the situation out of the law-makers hands and Captain Webb, who was presiding over the execution, stated ‘it is you, and you alone, who are guilty of spilling your own blood’.

With that she was strung up from the elm tree and hanged in what became known as one of the first acts of civil disobedience. However her legacy is rich – after her death, Charles II banned the Americans from executing merely for the crime of being a Quaker.

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One Response to “1 June 1660 – Mary Dyer”

  1. The death penalty dehumanizes a society. It also has no deterance value. In Texas what was probably an innocent persons execution five years ago is being reviewed…

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