Friday, March 15, 2019

Women’s History Month Spotlight: Mary Barrett Dyer



© 2018 Christy K Robinson

During Women’s History Month, we often hear the stories of women in recent history.  This article celebrates a woman who gave her life to force the New England theocracy to stop persecuting (fining, beating, torturing, hanging) those who believed differently than the fundamental dogma. Meet Mary Barrett Dyer, 1611-1660.

Mary Barrett was raised in London, to parents history has lost track of. Unusually for a girl of her era, she was well educated and could converse on traditional “men’s” subjects. She could write, which not all men could do, and she had knowledge of several religious denominations: she was married as an Anglican, she was admitted to membership in Boston First Church of Christ (Puritan), joined the Antinomian movement of Anne Hutchinson, and became a Friend (Quaker) in the 1650s.  She married William Dyer, a remarkable man, in 1633, and they joined about 35,000 Puritans in the Great Migration to Boston in 1635.

Boston, Massachusetts Bay Colony, had been founded as the City Upon a Hill by members of the Winthrop Fleet in 1630. It was meant to be a New Jerusalem where the theocratic government and utopian society would usher in the second coming of Christ. They’d seen the signs of the end with blood moons, solar eclipses, starfalls and comets, earthquakes, and believed the Elect (those who God predestined to salvation) would be taken to heaven in their lifetimes.
Mary Dyer at the Friends Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Artist: Sylvia Shaw Judson

The Bay Colony was governed by Puritan ministers and magistrates who were far more zealous or fanatical than English Puritans. Plainly and simply, it was a theocracy. The voters and jurymen were freemen who were members of their churches—and membership was not easy to obtain without an interview, personal testimony, and recommendations. Those who committed adultery were subject to severe whippings and possibly hanging, and members were encouraged to report crimes for the purpose of purifying the church and greater community. They were known to drop in on other members and quiz their children on their catechism. The Massachusetts Bay founders believed that religious error or dissent from their dogma was treasonable.

Along came Anne Hutchinson, who turned Massachusetts on its ear by teaching Bible studies in her home, emphasizing the New Testament covenant and salvation by grace, in contrast to the adherence to Old Testament laws and trying to be saved by keeping religious and ceremonial laws. Mary Dyer was one of Anne’s friends, and Gov. John Winthrop described Mary as “a very proper and fair woman, and both of them notoriously infected with Mrs. Hutchinson's errors, and very censorious and troublesome, (she being of a very proud spirit, and much addicted to revelations)."

One of the main accusers of Hutchinson and Dyer was Rev. Thomas Weld, who accused the Hutchinson followers of gaining adherents by
“Being once acquainted with them, they would strangely labour to insi­nuate themselves into their affections, by loving salutes, humble carriage, kind invitements, friendly visits, and so they would win upon men, and steal into their bosoms before they were aware. Yea, as soon as any new-comers (especial­ly, men of note, worth and activity, fit instruments to advance their design) were landed, they would be sure to welcome them, shew them all courtesie, and offer them room in their own houses, or of some of their own Sect…”

That sounds to my 21st century ears like community outreach  or personal evangelism. To the 17th century Puritans, it was a seditious political movement that threatened the vision of the City Upon a Hill.

Mary’s husband William was involved with Hutchinson’s religious and political movement in Boston, and signed a remonstrance against the government. Just before he had his civil rights revoked, Mary gave stillbirth to the first “monster” in America: a seven-months anencephalic and spina bifida-afflicted girl. Only a few people knew of it in October 1637, but when Anne Hutchinson was excommunicated in 1638, Mary took Anne’s hand as she was told to depart the meetinghouse, and someone told the crowd that Mary was the mother of a monster. The fetus was exhumed and it was pronounced God’s judgment on her heresy. 

Mary and William co-founded both Portsmouth and Newport, Rhode Island, with William taking an active role in government, including being appointed first Recorder, first Secretary of State, first Attorney General, and Commander in Chief Upon the Seas for New England. Rhode Island formed the first democracy disconnected from ecclesiastical control. From 1635-1650, Mary bore six children who lived to adulthood.

In 1652, just before the Anglo-Dutch naval war broke out, William was sent to England to secure a new charter of liberties and his naval commission, and Mary sailed there, too. She stayed, probably with influential family friends, until early 1657. She had been “convinced” as a Quaker during that time. Quakers were not popular in England or America because of their criticism of orthodox religion, their radical behavior in disrupting churches, and because they encouraged women to testify and preach. In 1656, the first Quaker missionaries arrived in southern New England. They were arrested, tortured, suffered confiscations of their farms, and then tried in court. They schooled the magistrates, asking what law they’d broken. The theocrats hastily created laws after the fact, to viciously persecute and kill these nonconformists. 

Mary knew exactly what she was coming home to in 1657. She intentionally sailed for Boston, rather than for her home ports in Rhode Island, a haven for religious nonconformists. The Massachusetts assistant governor promptly cast her into prison because of her Quaker beliefs. Already being famous as the mother of the monster, they knew she had a high social status because of her husband.

Over the next two and a half years, Mary was jailed several times for civil disobedience—not her religion. Surrounding colonies banished her “on pain of death” if she returned. Nevertheless, she persisted. They didn’t want to hang her and create a martyr, so she was released several times. They hanged two Quaker men in 1659, but their deaths had no effect on the bloody laws. Mary decided they needed a woman to protest, and give up her life if necessary—an educated, beautiful woman who was the perfect wife and mother, and famous at that. In May 1660, she returned to Boston at the time when the city was crowded for elections and courts. She showed up at the prison to encourage the Quakers inside, but apparently also to make her presence known. She was cast into prison, given a chance to go home, shut up, and be safe, but she refused.

On June 1, 1660, Mary Dyer marched a mile from the prison to the gallows on Boston Neck, with a large militia escorting her. They weren’t there to protect Mary: the crowd had sympathy for her. The pikemen and musketeers were there as security for the government officers and ministers who reviled her.

Mary recognized her duty to speak to oppression, and to the torture and imprisonment of her fellow believers. Her death was reported to King Charles II, who wrote an order forbidding capital punishment for religion based on a letter Mary wrote. Two years later, he ratified a new, groundbreaking charter (which William Dyer had a hand in) for Rhode Island, guaranteeing religious freedom and liberty of conscience.  It was one of the templates for the U.S. Constitution, 130 years later. Other countries have modeled their constitutions and rights on those of the United States: these liberties have become global.

Does Mary Dyer still have the ability to inspire you, 
400 years later, or are you content to say that she was your ancestor, and then change the subject? 

The battle for religious liberty, though encoded in law and enshrined in the Constitution, rages on even to this day. Stay vigilant. Note that federal and Supreme Courts, Congress, state legislatures, lobbyists, and media influencers have a hard grip on your freedoms. Write or call, and give them a piece of your mind. Do it often. They work for us.

It’s time for you and all of us to summon the courage and vision of Mary Dyer.


 





*****
Christy K Robinson is author of these sites:  
Discovering Love (inspiration)
Rooting for Ancestors (history and genealogy)  
William and Mary Barrett Dyer (17th century culture and history of England and New England)

and of these books:
Mary Dyer Illuminated Vol. 1 (2013)  
Effigy Hunter (2015)  

Friday, March 8, 2019

Women's History Month: America's Founding Mothers

March 8 is International Women's Day, and March is Women's History Month. 



Here are the FIRST WOMEN IN AMERICA to defy oppression and advocate "liberty of conscience," including religious liberty and freedom of speech. 








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Christy K Robinson is author of these sites:  
Discovering Love (inspiration)
Rooting for Ancestors (history and genealogy)  
William and Mary Barrett Dyer (17th century culture and history of England and New England)

and of these books:
Mary Dyer Illuminated Vol. 1 (2013)  
Effigy Hunter (2015)  


Thursday, February 14, 2019

Hutchinsons--a love story



(excerpted from the book Anne Marbury Hutchinson: American Founding Mother, © 2018 by Christy K Robinson, Editornado Publishing)


In 1640, when Rev. John Cotton had turned against Anne and the Boston church had sent a delegation of men to Rhode Island to get Anne to recant and come under submission of the church that had banished her, the men urged William Hutchinson to force his wife Anne to bend. 

William replied, 
“I am more nearly tied to my wife than to the church. I do think her to be a dear saint and servant of God.”

A saint in biblical terms was a person set apart for a holy purpose; all the people who answered God’s call to be holy. A servant of God is one who is humble and committed to obeying the promptings in their hearts. 

Surely when William Hutchinson said that of Anne in her defense, she would have been energized and filled with love.

*****

Anne Marbury and William Hutchinson had been friends since childhood, and they married in 1612. Together, they parented 15 children through bubonic plague, a perilous voyage to New England, the potential death sentence of Anne's trials for sedition and heresy, the separation while she was incarcerated, and another pioneering journey to Rhode Island. They were hounded even there, and were forced to move to New Netherland (later New York), where William died in 1642. Anne and their younger children were slaughtered in 1643, perhaps in a murder contracted or approved by Boston leaders. If you believe in heaven, as I do, you might think that Anne and William were separated for the blink of an eye, before being united for eternity.

Now that's a love story.




Christy K Robinson is author of these sites: 


·       Discovering Love (inspiration)
·       Rooting for Ancestors (history and genealogy)
·       William and Mary Barrett Dyer (17th century culture and history of England and New England)
and of these books:
·       We Shall Be Changed (2010)
·       Mary Dyer Illuminated (2013)
·       Mary Dyer: For Such a Time as This (2014)
·       Effigy Hunter (2015)

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

The Light


© 2018 Christy K Robinson

Early Quakers like Mary Barrett Dyer, John Copeland, Christopher Holder, Humphrey Norton, William Robinson and Marmaduke Stevenson referred to their religious experience of Christ in their hearts as The Light.

They understood the words of Jesus, that while he was in the world, he was “the Light of the world.” (John 9:5)

But Jesus also said, "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)

George Fox, the founder of Quakerism, wrote from prison on 13 August 1656 (while Mary Dyer was still in England), “Now our Friends being come to this light which comes from Christ, and having received power from him by whom all things were created, to whom all power in heaven and earth is given, who is the wisdom of God; we have received wisdom and power from him, by which the Lord does give us to know how to use and order the creatures to the glory of him, the creator of all things.”

Back in America from spring 1657, Mary Dyer wrote to the General Court at Boston in 1659: “Search with the light of Christ in you and it will show you … as it hath done me and many more.”

Fragment from Mary Dyer's letter to the General Court in 1659.

“Turn inward to Christ the light, which shows you the secrets of your hearts, and the deeds that are not good. Therefore, while you have the light, believe in the light, that you may be the children of the light. ” wrote Copeland, Holder, and Doudney from the Boston prison in 1657.  

“In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it... The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.” (John 1:4, 5, 9 NIV)

Because Mary Dyer and others lived in such dark times of religious persecution even unto death, the Light that was real and tangible to themwas life itself. It was light in their mortal lives, even in prison suffering from whippings and unheated, unlit winter. And it was a light shining from the eternal life that has been promised to the children of God.

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. For those who lived in a land of deep shadows— light! sunbursts of light! You repopulated the nation, you expanded its joy. Oh, they’re so glad in your presence! Festival joy! The joy of a great celebration, sharing rich gifts and warm greetings. The abuse of oppressors and cruelty of tyrants— all their whips and cudgels and curses— Is gone, done away with, a deliverance as surprising and sudden as Gideon’s old victory over Midian. The boots of all those invading troops, along with their shirts soaked with innocent blood, Will be piled in a heap and burned, a fire that will burn for days! For a child has been born—for us! the gift of a son—for us!  (Isaiah 9:6 The Message paraphrase) 

Though Quakers, Puritans, Baptists, and other religious groups of the time did not celebrate winter solstice or Christmas, they did treasure the Light in their lives and desired above all things to share that Light.

I hope that you will store these things in your heart, as Mary Dyer and her Friends did, and let God, Yahweh, Jesus, the Universe, or Higher Power—whatever you choose to label it—have a chance with you. Don’t remain in darkness or deep shadows: step out into Light.

May the Light burst forth in your life and bring you peace, kindness, mercy, grace, and compassion.

Happy holy-days!

Christy K Robinson
**********  

Christy K Robinson is author of these sites:
and of these books:
·          We Shall Be Changed (2010)
·          Mary Dyer Illuminated (2013)
·          Mary Dyer: For Such a Time as This (2014)
·          The Dyers of London, Boston, & Newport (2014)
·          Effigy Hunter (2015)
·          Anne Marbury Hutchinson: American Founding Mother (2018)

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Holiday sale for history lovers and gift givers


Pre-Christmas Sale
for History Lovers
and Gift Givers
Books can be autographed by author (free)
for as long as I have them in stock.
Thereafter, please order books through Amazon.


New in 2018!


Title
List Price (Amazon)
Holiday Sale Price
thru Dec. 31, 2018
USPS shipping within United States
Anne Marbury Hutchinson, American Founding Mother
$18.00
$15.00
7 in stock
$4.00

The Dyers Series


Title

List Price (Amazon)
Holiday Sale Price
thru Dec. 31, 2018
USPS shipping within United States
Mary Dyer Illuminated (vol. 1)

$19.99
$15.00
5 in stock
$4.00
Mary Dyer: For Such a Time as This (vol. 2)

$19.99
$15.00
5 in stock
$4.00
The DYERS of London, Boston, & Newport (vol. 3)

$14.00
$12.00
12 in stock
$4.00

Also by Christy K Robinson


Title
List Price (Amazon)
Holiday Sale Price
thru Dec. 31, 2018
USPS shipping within United States
Effigy Hunter
$14.00
$12.00
5 in stock
$3.00



Use your debit or credit card, or an electronic check with PayPal, a secure, encoded checkout system.

Books--Please state WHICH book(s) in "instructions," as PayPal doesn't distinguish them on the purchase order.



*************

16x20-inch reproductions of Dyers' letters
Handwritten by Mary Barrett Dyer (1659) and William Dyer (1660).
Suitable for framing, frames not included.
These are not discounted, but priced slightly above cost.
Stock is unlimited, because I have them printed when you order through PayPal.



Mary Dyer letter repro
$36.99
Shipping included
William Dyer letter repro
$36.99
Shipping included

The letters are available singly or as a pair, at http://bit.ly/DyerHandwriting . (PayPal button for credit/debit cards or electronic check on that page.)

 

Friday, October 26, 2018

New biography: Anne Marbury Hutchinson, American Founding Mother

Anne Marbury Hutchinson: American Founding Mother, by Christy K Robinson



I've emerged from my writer/editor cave and proudly present a NEW BOOK, Anne Marbury Hutchinson: American Founding Mother. It's a nonfiction biography of Anne Hutchinson, and how her experience in the 1630s still resonates in the world today.

Years in the research, and 2.5 years in the writing and editing process, it's now available in paperback (Kindle available after Nov. 3). Mary Dyer, of course, has a larger role in the book than other authors have presented, considering my previous and ongoing research into the 17th-century lives of the Dyers. Another difference is the use of letters and books by people of their time, including a fragment of a letter Anne wrote a few months before her tragic death. The book is written in a conversational, topical style, and there are numerous illustrations and photos. 

An unexpected research find was that several people of Anne Hutchinson's time believed that her death in a Native American massacre may have been orchestrated by fundamentalists who wanted the heretic dead.

I hope you'll purchase a copy for yourself, and if you like it, also buy copies for Dyer and Hutchinson descendants in your family for the gift-giving season approaching. 

The first review, by beta-reader and fellow author Jo Ann Butler, is now posted on Amazon. (Hint: five stars.)

Cover art is an original painting by Newport, Rhode Island artist Valerie Debrule. Isn't it wonderful? I hope it's the "new" portrait that will define Anne Hutchinson for years to come.


Here's a link to the book: 

Back cover endorsements





**********  

Christy K Robinson is author of these sites:
and of these books:
·          We Shall Be Changed (2010)
·          Mary Dyer Illuminated (2013)
·          Mary Dyer: For Such a Time as This (2014)
·          The Dyers of London, Boston, & Newport (2014)
·          Effigy Hunter (2015)
·          Anne Marbury Hutchinson: American Founding Mother (2018)