Friday, February 13, 2015

William Dyer’s most dearly beloved Mary

© 2015 Christy K Robinson

In William Dyer's own hand: "to one most dearely beloved."
In petitions the attorney William Dyer wrote to the General Court of Massachusetts Bay Colony, he described his imprisoned wife in loving terms. William also mentioned their children and the entire family’s grief at being deprived of Mary by Massachusetts’ unlawful, unjust policies.

William appealed to the members of the court as husbands and fathers, to show compassion both to the prisoner and especially to an honorable, Christian woman who was obeying Christ's command (Matt. 25:40) to love one another by visiting the sick and imprisoned. 

These are some of the ways William described his wife of 26 years to men he detested, but to whom he must needs be courteous (intentional use of “court” in courteous) and persuasive, if he was to secure the release of Mary. If William used these terms in a professional communication to his enemies, imagine how he must have spoken to Mary in their home.

" deare yokefellow"

·        tender soul
·        Christian
·        a tender woman
·        came to visit her friends in prison
·        my wife
·        my deare yokefellow
·        mine and my family’s want of her will crye loud in yo' eares
·        my dear wife
·        husband … to one most dearely beloved
·        oh do not you deprive me of her… Pity me, I beg it with tears
To read a full transcription of two letters William wrote, as well as an explanation of words and phrases lost to most of us in the 21st century (Bonner, cobhole, Dr. Bostwick, etc.), purchase the Kindle or paperback of Mary Dyer: For Such a Time as This.  <-- Click the highlighted link. The first of two letters begins on page 227.


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)


  1. I have been researching my family history for the past 20 years and only recently came across the Dyers/Hutchinson's in my tree. On my mother's side - I am descended from the union of their children/grandchildren Samuel Dyer and Anne Hutchinson - they are my 8th Great Grandparents. Count backwards and Anne & William Hutchinson are my 10th / Mary & William Dyer my 9th.

    After realizing this, I went immediately to amazon and purchased and read quickly both books. William & Mary's letters letters especially stood out to me. I could hear them speaking out loud. Their thoughts and feelings became alive. As I continued to read, it was if I were at a family reunion. Dr. John Clark is an 8th Great Grand Uncle!

    William Dyer must have had an amazing love for his wife. His words were eloquent and his actions supported what he wrote. Since discovering who HE was, I have tried to share with my grandsons who THEY are descended from and what sort of man they can ascribe to be.

    I was especially conflicted to discover that on my father's side, Rev John Cotton is my 8th Great Grandfather. Again, the characters in the book played out on the ancient roots of my family tree. Had it not been for these people, I would not exist, yet the actions of some caused great pain to the other.

    I appreciate all your hard work, as well as those from days gone by who had the foresight to keep such treasures and make them available so that we could peer into the past. What a blessing and privilege it is to be able to glimpse into what went into the minds and hearts of these amazing individuals.

    Thank you!


  2. Thank you for commenting so specifically, Charlotte. As I was researching the books, and thinking the research through deeply enough to understand what the characters' motivations were, I was struck by how long and how intimately these people knew each other. Back in England, their families knew each other, or of each other for generations. Once in America, they had shared experiences of extreme hardship, religious beliefs, economic ties, and family ties. So when John Cotton renounced Anne Hutchinson, it was like opening a chasm.

    I tried to write every character according to my research, not made-up fantasy, because they were real, multidimensional human beings who deserve to have their lives reexamined. I found humanity, compassion, and love in John Winthrop based on his letters and personal journal (not the public history one), though he was a villain when it came to Anne Hutchinson and Mary Dyer. Cotton was a man of grace until Rev. Wilson and the Massachusetts Bay government turned him into a hardliner--though I think he stayed friendly with William Hutchinson. But when it came to finding a scrap of decency in John Endecott--I couldn't. I didn't even write from his point of view. I let others describe him.

    The deeper you go in genealogy, the more ties you'll find between unrelated people. They interacted with one another for good or bad, and their descendants married at some point, so you carry the genes of both (or several) facets of the conflict. I decided long ago NOT to take sides with ancestors! What's the point? They did what they did, and we can't change it, or continue the feud. Our characters evolve and learn to see so many more colors and depths than stark black and white.

  3. Anonymous commenter said after reading the books "Mary Dyer Illuminated" and "Mary Dyer: For Such a Time as This,"

    "William & Mary's letters letters especially stood out to me. I could hear them speaking out loud. Their thoughts and feelings became alive. As I continued to read, it was as if I were at a family reunion."

    #HappySigh #SheGetsIt


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