Saturday, June 20, 2015

William Dyer’s boyhood

© 2015 Christy K Robinson

There’s no biography or journal that can describe the boyhood of William Dyer, 1609-1677, but we can learn some details by looking at his background and what he studied as a boy and youth in Kirkby LaThorpe, Lincolnshire, a village and parish about 15 miles west of Boston.
1615, boy with golf club,
unknown artist,
from the blog of
Barbara Wells Sarudy,

bit.ly/1TEOGFk

William Dyer’s father (also William) and grandparents probably came from the southern county of Somerset. The father was a yeoman farmer in Kirkby LaThorpe, which means he owned his farm, in contrast to others who rented, and that was a sign of the rising middle class. It may be that even though he wasn’t the firstborn, William senior's parents set him up with a substantial inheritance. Or maybe the money came from a financially advantageous marriage. Why he moved so far is a mystery, unless the land came to him by marriage or distant relationship (see below).

Our William was born and baptized in September 1609. He had an older brother, a younger sister, and perhaps more siblings who were miscarried or died as infants. In 1624, he was apprenticed in London, in a prestigious guild that produced councilmen and mayors for the city of London, and this was no mean accomplishment. So he must have been a worthy student as a boy. Where was he educated? Where did he learn that elegant penmanship that distinguishes his writing from the undecipherable scratchings of his Massachusetts and Rhode Island contemporaries?

The current location of Carre's Grammar School may not be the exact
location where William Dyer attended school, but it's probably close.

Screenshot from Google Maps, click to enlarge.
Not quite three miles west of Kirkby LaThorpe, where William was born, is the larger town of Sleaford. It was a market and mill town lying near the Great Northern Road built by the Romans, and the Boston Road to the river port that led to the North Sea. After the Norman Conquest, when King William took over the Saxon and Danish holdings, Sleaford and surrounding lands were owned first by appointed barons, and then by the Catholic Church, until the Dissolution under Henry VIII. The church properties (farms, manors, houses) were appropriated by Henry's treasury, and sold off as favors to aristocrats and gentry. The area between Sleaford and Boston was purchased and controlled by the Carre family. And they may have sold a parcel of farmland to William Dyer the elder.

In 1581, during the reign of Elizabeth I, Robert Carre was High Sheriff of Lincolnshire. He’d been treasurer of the army when the Catholics of Northumberland and Durham rebelled against Protestant Queen Elizabeth. Sir Robert was married twice, but had no children. (Robert’s youngest brother, Edward Carre, married for the second time to an Anne Dyer and had three children with her before he died in 1618. There may be a distant relationship between Anne Dyer Carre and our William Dyer, and the Carre family came from Somerset, too, but there’s no proof of a relationship. Dyer was a common name all over England. (If you’re doing genealogy, you need proof. This is circumstantial and does not constitute proof.)

In 1604, in one of many acts of benevolence, Sir Robert Carre founded a school for boys of all the nearby villages, called the Free Grammar School of Sleaford. A hundred-acre estate he’d inherited from his second wife endowed the school, and any excess funds were distributed as alms to the poor. Sir Robert died in 1606. The school has gone through a few tough times in 400 years, but lives today as a boys' school for ages 11-18, Carre’s Grammar School. It's coed in the sixth form (years 12-13). The school's earliest location and building(s) from the 17th century are unknown.

Young William Dyer would have begun his formal education at the Free Grammar School, but at that time, a boy had to be able to read and write before he entered the school, so there would have been home-schooling first. His father was a churchwarden, who recorded births, marriages, and deaths, and the history of the church: he was literate. Teaching little children to write their letters and numbers involved the child tracing large letters with a dry pen or chalk, then writing the figures repeatedly until they’d mastered one letter after the other.

William Dyer's handwriting in the 1640s.
The curricula for the early 17th-century grammar school consisted of religion, grammar (Latin and its translation, literature reading, rhetoric/composition), sciences, history, geography, mathematics, and music.

In the sciences, Botany, Zoology, Physiology and Anatomy were differentiated and developed by classifications which marked the scientific movement away from the old Aristotelian authority in the advance towards the modern treatment. Magnetism, Mechanics, Hydrostatics, Pneumatics, Chemistry and Geology began to claim treatment separately... 

Up to the end of the Commonwealth [1659], the Grammar Schools of England may be regarded as apparently exclusively classical instruction, with the exception — a most important exception — as we shall see, that under medieval Catholicism, and afterwards under 16th and 17th century Puritanism, they were, in intention and largely in practice, permeated with moral, religious, and pietistic instruction. The English grammar schools to 1660: their curriculum and practice 
Writing was sometimes an extracurricular course. Grammar schools from Halifax to Southwark, Guildford to Durham, required that students speak Latin at school, not English. Schoolmasters appointed observers to enforce the practice.

The headmasters of Carre’s Free Grammar School were required to be alumni of Cambridge or Oxford University. Before 1624, when William Dyer left for his apprenticeship, the headmasters were William Etherington of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, from 1615 to 1619, when he was ordained a priest in the Church of England; and John Kitchen of Christ’s College, Cambridge, from 1619 to 1622. Kitchen was an ordained deacon, and the headmaster who followed him was ordained a priest, so religion would have been a large portion of the boys’ studies.

Outside of school terms, the young William Dyer would have done chores on the family farm, and learned to fish and hunt fowl in the fens. He would be adept at rowing and sailing shallops (shallow-draft boats). He'd play ball games, and skate on the frozen fens in winter. If his father took hay, grain, rapeseed, vegetables, or wool to market at Lincoln, Sleaford, or Boston, he’d have learned the skills of bargaining and salesmanship, and the math required for weights, measures, and monetary transactions.

William Dyer was a lifelong learner. After his nine-year London apprenticeship and his marriage to Mary Barrett, he took the huge step of emigrating to the new Boston and was appointed as clerk to a building commission, and was a member of a trading mission to buy food from the Native Americans. Between 1639 and 1650, he was on a road-surveying and land-apportionment commission, he studied law “on the job,” and was appointed Rhode Island’s Secretary of State, Recorder, and the first Attorney General in North America. Also during that time, he was promoted to militia captain, ran his own farm, and traded or invested in the triangle of trade between England and Europe, the Caribbean, and New England. He would have learned how to navigate and sail a ship. In 1652, he was commissioned by the English Council of State as commander-in-chief-upon-the-sea and he was one of the judges of New England's first admiralty court. He was also appointed Solicitor General for Rhode Island. He was instrumental in framing the Rhode Island charter of liberties that became a model for this country’s First Amendment.

William didn’t just fall into those jobs through good looks or inherited wealth and titles. He applied himself to his studies and his work, and earned the results.

Doesn’t that make you want to put down the TV remote?


____________ 
 Christy K Robinson is the author of three books on William and Mary Barrett Dyer, all meticulously researched over years. Find them here: http://bit.ly/RobinsonAuthor


 



Friday, June 12, 2015

How Sabbath and ‘The Book of Sports’ drove 35,000 Puritans to America

© 2015 Christy K Robinson
(Click highlighted words to open a new tab with related article.)

 When we think of "Sabbath" today, we think of taking a break or a sabbatical. When our ancestors "remembered the Sabbath day to keep it holy," they took their lives in their hands.
The English Parliament of 1584-1585, on behalf of the growing Puritan movement, passed a bill requiring strict observance of the Sabbath (Sunday, the first day of the week), which forbade markets and fairs, and recreation such as bear-baiting, hunting, hawking, and rowing barges—during church services (either the afternoon wasn’t as much of an issue, or they intended to take up the matter of the entire day at a later time). It was discussed for eight days over two weeks before passing and being sent to the Queen.
That this Bill concerning the Sabbath, as hath been before observed, was long in passing the two Houses, and much debated betwixt them, being committed, and Amendments upon Amendments added unto it, which as appeareth in this place was the cause of some Disputation between the Lords and the said Commons.  

Queen Elizabeth I vetoed the bill, in line with her policy of religious tolerance in her realm. (Though Catholics were still on the Naughty List for decades to come.)
And yet at last when it was agreed on by both the said Houses, it was dashed by her Majesty at the last day of this Parliament, upon that prejudicated and ill followed Principle (as may be conjectured) that she would suffer nothing to be altered in matter of Religion or Ecclesiastical Government.

(That sounds like the parliamentary recorder/secretary disagreed with the Queen's decision!) 

Puritan Nicholas Bownde wrote a scholarly book in 1595, True Doctrine of the Sabbath, urging Christians to sanctify the Sabbath as a day of meditation and spiritual exercises (morning and afternoon preaching services). These Sabbaths were meant to follow the Old Testament verses about keeping the Sabbath holy by not working or “doing your own pleasure” on that special day, as it was a moral imperative. They were to be solemn and sober, with no secular speech or acts. Queen Elizabeth and the Archbishop of Canterbury decreed that copies of the book be collected and burned in 1600 and 1601.

In 1601, the House of Commons passed a bill that only restricted markets and fairs on Sundays, but the House of Lords killed it. Queen Elizabeth died two years later, and King James I came to the throne. His authority was threatened by Puritans and other Calvinist dissenters (like the group who became the Pilgrims), whose influence was growing ever stronger and whose sermons and pronouncements conflicted with the King’s authority. One of his first acts was to commission a new version of the Bible which stressed the sovereignty of God and the hierarchy of worldly kings and princes, and the Authorized Version (or as many of us know it, the King James Version—KJV) was published in 1611.

However, those dissenters continued to agitate all over England. In 1617-18, the King went on a progress through the country, holding courts and meeting his subjects. One of the complaints he heard was that the usual work week being Monday through Saturday, from dawn to dusk, people needed time for recreation, markets, fun fairs, visiting family, and the like. People were required to attend services on Sunday morning, but needed the afternoon break. And the Puritans were stopping that by holding two long services on Sunday.

As answer to the problem of overwork and an unbalanced life—and that should he need soldiers for war, they’d be puny and weak—King James wrote The Book of Sports. In modern terms, it uses three pages of 12-point, single-space type, so it wasn’t large, but it was mighty! The book directed his subjects to go to church on Sunday morning and religious holidays as required, but to spend the afternoon enjoying life. He commanded that “no lawful recreation shall be barred to our good people,” and listed appropriate activities for those days:
such as dancing, either men or women; archery for men, leaping, vaulting, or any other such harmless recreation, nor from having of May-games, Whitsun-ales, and Morris-dances; and the setting up of May-poles and other sports therewith used: so as the same be had in due and convenient time, without impediment or neglect of divine service: and that women shall have leave to carry rushes to the church for the decorating of it, according to their old custom; but withal we do here account still as prohibited all unlawful games to be used upon Sundays only, as bear and bull-baitings, interludes and at all times in the meaner sort of people by law prohibited, bowling.

Really? Bowling? That could be because one objective was to win the most points by knocking down the kingpin (was that seen as sedition?), or because of this:
The Character of a Bowling-Alley and Bowling-Green A Bowling-Green, or Bowling-Ally is a place where three things are thrown away besides the Bowls, viz. Time, Money, and Curses, at the last ten for one.  

Catholics and non-conformists were barred from Sunday recreation because they didn’t attend approved Church of England services. Further, the King commanded that The Book of Sports be read in every church, and held the bishops, ministers, and churchwardens accountable that it should be done “by the book.”

King James died in 1625, and the book was reissued several times by his son, Charles I. Charles and the Parliament were at odds over authority and taxation, and the Scots and English churches were in conflict with their respective archbishops, Spottiswoode and Laud. In an attempt to control the Puritan (and other non-conformists) uprising, King Charles decreed that The Book of Sports be read again in all churches, and churches must conform to CofE’s Book of Common Prayer—which was also a hated book. If Puritan ministers would not conform, they were “silenced” (removed from the pulpit and not licensed to preach) and some were put in prison. And prison could be a death sentence.
…the Bishop, and all other inferior churchmen and churchwardens, shall for their parts be careful and diligent, both to instruct the ignorant, and convince and reform them that are misled in religion, presenting them that will not conform themselves, but obstinately stand out, to our Judges and Justices: whom we likewise command to put the law in due execution against them.

However, there was a clause in Sports that many Puritan ministers latched onto.
...either constraining them to conform themselves or to leave the county.

Leave the country.

The thing is, the King didn't want them to leave the country because he would lose out on all that lovely tax base. If they sneaked out, they couldn’t go to Catholic France or Spain, and Lutheran (pretty close to Catholic!) Germany and Austria were at war with France, Italy, and Spain. Some, like the Pilgrims of Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire, went to the Netherlands for ten years before they sailed to Plymouth. One of their leaders, their pastor John Robinson, is my ancestor 12 generations back. His chapter on the first-day Sabbath, in his book, A Just and Necessary Apology, was published in 1625, the year he died.

For the vast majority of Puritans, though, there was no place to go but America, still under English rule, but a safe 3,000 miles by ocean journey away from the King and archbishops.

Some ministers escaped the long arm of the law by hiding with the help of sympathizers like the Earl of Lincoln—until the Earl was imprisoned. The senior pastor of the Boston St. Botolph’s, Rev. John Cotton, was one of the many ministers who had to hide before escaping to New England. Ten percent of the citizens of Boston, Lincolnshire, emigrated to Massachusetts Bay Colony with or shortly after John Cotton went there. (Cotton had been asked to come to Massachusetts several times, but declined until he was pushed out of England by fear of prison.)

William and Anne Marbury Hutchinson followed Rev. Cotton to Boston. William and Mary Dyer were married in the Anglican church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, but in 1635 were admitted to the Puritan membership in Boston’s First Church (and they were exiled from it in 1638). 

Entire towns in Essex and many other counties emptied and sailed to the new Boston between 1630 and 1640. It’s estimated that about 35,000 people moved to New England during that decade. When the English Civil Wars began, with Puritans in ascendancy, thousands of the emigrants moved back to England. In May 1643, The Book of Sports was burned by angry Puritans. 

Puritans now controlled the government, and they burned the hated
"Book of Sports" in May 1643.

People who had had such a threat of persecution and death were deeply convicted of the truth of their beliefs. They followed the Ten Commandments and other Old Testament laws to the letter, to prove to God that they were worthy of salvation. The fourth commandment, to keep the Sabbath holy, was one of the factors that caused their persecution in the first place. Obedience to God was worth moving across the world, or dying for.

Both on the ships, and in New England, they followed their stringent regulations about Sabbath-keeping. The English church holidays like Christmas and Easter were prohibited, and people were expected to work as usual. Church services with required attendance were held morning and afternoon on Sundays. During the Sabbath there was no alcohol consumption, no unseemly walking, no court or corporal punishment, no work that could be done another day (like laundry or beer brewing), no swimming, no buying or selling, no games or dances, no unnecessary travel, no hunting or fishing. The music or literature was sacred, never secular. Sabbath began at sundown on Saturday evening and ended during the night before Monday.

I had ancestors in the Salem, Massachusetts, area who emigrated there as Puritans, fleeing The Book of Sports style of Christianity. But at some point they converted to Baptist beliefs and risked beatings, fines, and imprisonment. They moved to New Jersey and formed a town and congregation there. They became Sabbatarians (seventh-day/Saturday was their holy day) in the 1710s and shared their Baptist minister with a first-day congregation. That branch stayed Seventh-day Baptist from then until the 20th century.

Some people who are from, or still in, Sabbatarian denominations (Seventh-day Adventist, Seventh-day Baptist, Church of God, etc.) have experienced that list of prohibitions, and it doesn’t seem foreign at all. Some see that 17th-century culture and marvel at the legalism of the Puritans and their spiritual descendants. But perhaps we can look at that strength of character, that integrity, that obey-God-rather-than-men resolve, and admire them. We can remember that we carry the DNA of those godly pioneers in our bodies and that moral fiber in our culture.

All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. Hebrews 11:13-16 NIV.

Shortened URL: http://bit.ly/2orZZWg

Also published at: http://www.adventistreview.org/1703-32

____________
Christy K Robinson is the author of three books on William and Mary Barrett Dyer, all meticulously researched over years. Find them here: http://bit.ly/RobinsonAuthor

Monday, June 1, 2015

Mary Dyer's execution, 1 June 1660--book excerpt

Mary Dyer was not hanged "for the crime of being a Quaker," despite what Quaker writers have promoted for more than a century. There were hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Quakers in Massachusetts Bay and Plymouth Colonies, who were Quakers. They were persecuted, but not executed, for not attending Puritan/Congregational churches, and for not taking oaths (which meant they couldn't be sworn onto juries). According to Massachusetts court records, Mary and the three male Quakers were hanged because they intentionally broke their banishment law, that was contrary to English law.

Mary never claimed that, either. She committed civil disobedience believing that God had commanded her to go back to Massachusetts to ask them to "repeal your unrighteous laws of banishment on pain of death."

It was no accident that Mary Dyer returned to Massachusetts against her death-penalty banishment--she didn't sneak back, she arrived on a specific date for the purpose of civil disobedience. She forced the theocratic government to execute her, a high-status, well-known woman innocent of anything but carrying out Jesus' commission in Matthew 25, in the hope that her death would be so shocking that the people would cry out to the government to cease their bloody persecution and allow liberty of conscience (what we call religious freedom and separation of church and state).

My extensive research, just for this short section, included books by Quaker historians, and the records of Massachusetts Bay Colony General Court, as well as the backgrounds of all the people involved, from Gov. Endecott to the militia (their formation and purpose), and the hangman.

Excerpt from Mary Dyer: For Such a Time as This
copyright 2014, by Christy K Robinson.

All rights reserved. This book or blog article, or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the author except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

June 1, 1660
Boston, Massachusetts
As she had been last October, Mary was surrounded by a troop of more than a hundred musketeers and pikemen who were there to protect the officials of the court from the angry mob. Captain Oliver was the officer in charge of the guard today.
Word had spread quickly overnight, and this day thousands of men, women, and children were spread out along the streets as if for a parade. Others waited at the gallows for the spectacle to come to them. Should she attempt to speak, before and behind her, military men beat the slow execution drum call to drown out the sound of her voice.
Brrr-tap-tap-rest. Brrr-tap-tap-rest. Brrr-tap-tap-rest. Brrr-tap-tap-rest.
The monotonous, repetitive beat set the pace for the walk along Tremont Road, part of the Common, and finally, to the fortification and gate of the city of Boston. Then they were out on the isthmus, or Boston Neck, where the road led to Roxbury. Hundreds more people surged up from the towns of Roxbury and Weymouth.
Mary remembered that the last execution here had been a chilly autumn day, appropriate, perhaps, for the murder of the two dear young men. Today, though, was a day at the height of spring, with daisies on the Common turning their faces toward the sun, and dandelion seed puffs drifting on the breeze from the bay.
It was just such a day, exactly twenty-two years ago, that the great earthquake had rumbled across New England, and the little group of people praying with Anne Hutchinson had felt the Pentecostal filling of the Holy Spirit.
And thirty years ago this day, Mary remembered seeing the noon-day comet that marked the birth of the future King Charles the Second, and presaged war, famine, and plague. What was it that John Donne had preached at St. Paul’s? That
“all mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; God's hand is in every translation, and his hand shall bind up all our scattered leaves again, for that library where every book shall lie open to one another.”

Like all memories, these flashed through Mary’s mind in still pictures, like landscape paintings. One could view the scene all at once, or stop and decipher the symbolism. She had lived them and learned from them, but were they connected with today?
She and the guard and drummers, and all of Boston behind them, arrived at the gallows. Michaelson ceremoniously handed the end of her tether to Edward Wanton, the man at the foot of the gallows.
Mary climbed the ladder, the drumbeat ended, and she stood ready.
The crowds of men and women, packed shoulder to shoulder on the slim neck of land, jostled one another and a few on the edges of the marsh actually trod in the mud.
“Mistress Dyer,” a man shouted over the din of the people, “if you’d only leave this colony, you might come down and save your life!”
As beautiful as this world is, and as much as I love my life with family, friends, health, and prosperity, what does it avail? How does it compare to the Paradise I’ve already glimpsed? If my momentary death can shine Light on the human right to worship and obey God, then let it be. I shall be with the Lord.  
She answered, projecting her voice while she motioned for silence, “No, I cannot, for in obedience to the will of the Lord I came, and in his will I abide faithful—to the death.”
The man in charge of her execution was Captain John Evered-Webb. She recognized him from 1635, when he and his shipmates had been caught in the great hurricane as they approached Massachusetts, but miraculously avoided shipwreck and limped in with broken masts and mere rags of sails. He and his sister and her husband had settled near Salem, and that made Webb one of Endecott’s men.
He stood on the platform and shouted to be heard. “The condemned woman has been here before, here on this very gallows. She had the sentence of banishment on pain of death, but she has come again now and broken the law. Therefore she is guilty of her own blood. The executioner shall not ask her forgiveness as would be customary.”
The masked hangman bowed as if he were an actor.
At this insult, some in the crowd grumbled at Webb’s lack of godly grace. The angry murmur spread through the crowd like a wave as the nearest told their neighbors behind them what they’d heard.
Mary answered, looking pointedly at Reverend Wilson, Major-General Humphrey Atherton (an assistant to the governor), and others of her accusers, “No, I came to keep blood guiltiness from you, desiring you to repeal the unrighteous and unjust law of banishment upon pain of death, made against the innocent servants of the Lord. Therefore my blood will be required at your hands, who willfully do it; but for those that do it in the simplicity of their hearts, I desire the Lord to forgive them.”
She raised her voice to a victorious shout. “I came to do the will of my Father, and in obedience to his will, I stand even to death!”
“’Tis wrong to murder this innocent woman! Take her down! Let her go home!” came the shouts from every direction.
Edward Wanton tied Mary’s legs together with the rope over her skirts for modesty when she’d be dropped.
John Wilson, the man who had examined Mary and William for church membership, and baptized her baby Samuel nearly a quarter-century before, put on a dramatic act for the audience, far larger than any Sunday congregation he’d ever preached to. He added a sob to his voice: “Mary Dyer, O repent! O repent! And be not so deluded, and carried away by the deceit of the devil.”
It was difficult to control her facial expression at this hypocritical display of concern for her soul, but Mary answered, “No, man, I am not now to repent.”
One of the ministers asked if she would have the elders pray for her soul, if she would not pray for herself. They meant an appointed elder of the First Church of Christ in Boston.
She said, “I do not know of a single elder here.” She meant she didn’t recognize their elders as having authority over her. As Anne Hutchinson had rejected the authority of that body over her.
“Would you have any of the people to pray for you?”
“I desire the prayers of all the people of God.” As she looked over the crowd, she recognized Friends, including Robert and Deborah Harper of Sandwich. She knew they kept her in prayer continually, and being encouraged, she felt warmth and strength fill her.
A scoffer from the church cried out, “It may be she thinks there is none here!”
Mary replied softly, “I know that there are only a few here.”
The Light became brighter now, Mary thought. She was closer to heaven than she’d ever been.
Another from the crowd below her urged, “Woman, you’re about to die, and a heretic at that. Don’t throw away your soul. Ask for an elder to pray, that his effectual, fervent prayer will be heard by God.”
Mary answered, “No, first a child, then a young man, then a strong man, before an ‘elder’ in your Church of Christ.”
“What?” called the critic. “You said ‘an elder in Christ Jesus?’ You don’t want a Christian man to pray for you? If not an elder in Christ Jesus, you prefer to go, then, with your master the Devil?”
She said, “It is false, it is false; I never spoke those words. I said an elder in the church.”
“Are you not afraid to die, knowing that you are a cursed Quaker? A heretic?” said the minister Norton.
“The Lord has said to me, as to all who come to him in repentance and humility, ‘Today shalt thou be with me in Paradise.’”
“You and the dead Quakers said last time that you have been in Paradise.”
“Yes, I have been in Paradise several days,” she said with a blissful smile.
John Wilson, who had a look of fear on his face now, produced a handkerchief from his coat, and young Wanton draped it over Mary’s face and tucked it under the rope before than hangman made it snug.
She remembered what Sir Harry Vane had said, “Death does not bring us into darkness, but takes darkness out of us, us out of darkness, and puts us into marvelous light.”
As she spoke further of the eternal happiness into which she was now to enter, Mary felt that familiar buoyancy of light and love, as if she were being borne away by angels.
“Mary.”
“Yes, Lord?”

***** 
Read everything that led up to this moment, and what transpired afterward, in Mary Dyer Illuminated and Mary Dyer: For Such a Time as This, both by Christy K Robinson.

As I wrote in the foreword to both volumes on Mary Dyer and her husband William, they weren't written to be religious books for a religious market. But I did want to show that though religion in that generation was everything to them (they'd staked their lives, families and possessions on a New Jerusalem in the New World), the colony of Rhode Island, of which William Dyer was an important government member, incorporated itself as a secular democracy, with religion distinctly separate from government matters. Their founding documents influenced and inspired generations to come, and formed a template for the Constitution's Bill of Rights.

Related articles:


The anniversary of our civil rights  (published in Providence Journal)
Mary Dyer’s last 44 miles Mary Dyer’s last journey, toward her death
The great New England quake of June 1, 1638 Mary Dyer and Anne Hutchinson
The 1630 comet of doom Charles II of England was born at the time of the comet, and crowned in 1660 as Mary waited in prison for her execution