Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Dyers' family timeline

© 2011 Christy K Robinson

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Mary Barrett Dyer was an American pioneer, city co-founder, Puritan and Antinomian Bible study leader, Quaker activist, wife, mother, expelled from Massachusetts Colony numerous times, was twice taken bound to the scaffold, and finally executed by hanging for civil disobedience--NOT for "being a Quaker," as many websites declare. A memorial statue of Mary is located at the Massachusetts State House facing the Boston Common.

William’s and Mary’s timeline:
.....William Dyer born/baptized: 19 Sep 1609, Kirkby Lathrope, Lincolnshire, England. This is modern Kirkby La Thorpe, between Sleaford and Boston. 
.....1611? Mary Barrett born. No record of parents or birthplace, could be London area.
.....June 1625 William apprenticed at age 16 in London, retroactive to 1624. The Worshipful Company of Fishmongers guild was considered prestigious. Though this was the name of the guild, William may have been trained in business and trade as a leather milliner.
.....27 Oct 1633 After his 9 years of apprenticeship, Mary Barrett (approx age 22) marries William Dyer at St Martin-in-the-Fields church, London. William is milliner selling scabbards, leather goods, etc. in New Exchange (a high-end shopping mall on the Strand). This is less than a mile from St Martin-in-the-Fields church, in which parish they lived. 
Marble font at
St. Martin-in-the-Fields
.....24 Oct 1634 Son William born/baptized in London, buried three days later on his parents' first wedding anniversary. This 11th-12th century church was rebuilt to its present form in the 18th century. However, the marble baptismal font and a wooden trunk from 17th century survive to the present. At the time of the baby's burial, the relatively-new churchyard cemetery was across St. Martin's Lane to the west, where the National Gallery sits.
.....1635 summer. 39,000 people die in plague epidemic in London. William and Mary Dyer emigrate to New England, perhaps arriving in October.
.....20 Dec 1635 Son Samuel born and baptized (December) in Boston.
.....3 Mar 1636 William takes Freeman oath in Boston.
.....1636 William granted land in Chelsea, Massachusetts.
.....1636 Mary joins Anne Marbury Hutchinson (whom William’s family probably knew in Lincolnshire) in “heresy” that God speaks intimately to people (“Light”), that we are saved by faith not good works, that Christians are not bound by the moral law (antinomianism), that women and men are equal before God, that each individual should interpret law by own conscience, that Indian slavery was wrong (against Massachusetts Bay Company policy); Mary participates in women’s study/discussion groups, antagonizing Gov Winthrop.
Massachusetts Bay Governor
John Winthrop
.....17 Oct 1637 Mary gave birth to stillborn, deformed girl, two months prematurely. Anne Hutchinson and Jane Hawkins are midwives. Based on Winthrop’s description, fetus had anencephaly and spina bifida malformations, according to a neurologist.
.....15 Nov 1637 William and many other men disarmed and disfranchised from Boston for “seditious writing.”
.....1638 Dyers and Hutchinsons banished from Boston, have deadline of May 1 to be out of Boston. They move in early April, near the time of Passover and Easter, to found Portsmouth, Rhode Island, which at first is called Pocasset, an Indian name.
.....1638 In March at Hutchinson's trial, Gov Winthrop learns of stillbirth. "Monster" fetus exhumed by Gov Winthrop; deformity called evidence that Mary was heretic.
.....7 Mar 1638 William signs Portsmouth Compact. Becomes clerk of Portsmouth; a few years later, William becomes Rhode Island's first Secretary of State.
.....March 1639 Dyers move to southern part of Aquidneck Island and co-found Newport.
.....1640 Son William (second child by that name) born in Newport, Rhode Island.
.....1642 and 1644 Governor Winthrop’s account of stillborn baby’s deformation published in England.
.....1643 Son Mahershallalhashbaz born Newport, Rhode Island
.....1647 Son Henry born Newport, Rhode Island
.....1648 or 1649 Daughter Mary born Newport, Rhode Island.
.....1650 William is Attorney General of Rhode Island, the first to hold that office anywhere in America.
.....1650 Son Charles born Newport, Rhode Island. He is Mary’s last child at about age 39-40.
.....1650 and/or 51 William sails to England with Roger Williams, to revoke some of Gov Coddington’s powers. William Dyer returns same year and continues political and civil career. He probably returned to England briefly in late 1651 or early 1652.
.....1652 English Council of State (including Sir Henry Vane) commissions William Dyer in the Anglo-Dutch War of 1652-54; United Colonies of New England commissions William Commander in Chief Upon the Seas for same war. 
.....early 1652 Mary sails for and stays in England almost five years, studying Quaker beliefs of George Fox, who preached all over England, but seems to have been based in the northwest part of England. More info on George Fox:   This is the Parliamentary period, with Oliver Cromwell, the Lord Protector, ruling after execution of Charles I in 1649.
.....1653-54 William Dyer joins Capt. John Underhill in privateer action against the Dutch of New Amsterdam.
.....1657 Mary sails back to America via Barbados, landing in Boston, despite Gov. Endecott’s new laws regarding Quakers. On arriving in Boston in 1657 she is imprisoned for weeks in dirt-floored cell, until William learns of it and goes to Boston to rescue her. On the petition and bond of her husband she was permitted to go with him to Rhode Island, but never to return to Massachusetts.
..... April 1658 Mary arrested and expelled from New Haven, Connecticut for protesting Humphrey Norton's torture.
.....Summer 1659 Mary walks through forest from Providence to Boston, a distance of 44 miles, to visit fellow Quakers in jail. Mary jailed there, and husband William writes letter in her defense. She and the other Quakers were released  and permanently banished from Massachusetts Colony.
.....October 1659 Mary defiantly returns to Boston to visit Quakers, arrested and sentenced to death. She, with William Robinson and Marmaduke Stephenson, was tried and convicted for "their rebellion, sedition and presumptuous obtruding upon us notwithstanding their being sentenced to banishment on payne of death, as underminers of the government." (Notice that she was not condemned to death "for being a Quaker" as Wikipedia and genealogical sites write.) Robinson and Stephenson were executed October 27, but through the behind-the-scenes petition of John Winthrop Jr., Gov. Temple of Maine, various others, and her 19-year-old son, William Dyre (son William was Mayor of New York two decades later), she was reprieved on the same conditions as before. (A piece of theater arranged by the magistrates before the hanging because they were fearful of civil unrest if they executed a respected woman, for what was basically a misdemeanor.) She was again banished.
.....November 1659 Mary returns to Rhode Island, visits Sandwich in Plymouth Colony and is jailed briefly, then teaches Quaker beliefs on Long Island. She probably lived with the Sylvesters who owned Shelter Island. William Dyer may have arranged Mary's stay here, as he'd had dealings with the Sylvesters previously, and he knew she'd been there for the winter.
..... Early May 1660 After the death of Lawrence and Cassandra Southwick in early May, Mary returns to Boston without telling husband.
.....21 May 1660 Arrested while the General Court was in session. This is probably Mary's intention: to present herself in civil disobedience when it would receive the most public attention.
.....31 May 1660 Convicted in court, sentenced to death.
.....1 June 1660 Mary hanged at gallows on Boston Neck, aged about 49 years, leaving children aged 10 to 25. She may be buried in the Dyer family cemetery, now covered by the Newport naval hospital.
.....1661 William marries Catharine _______. Nothing is known of her background, but she did go to court against Charles Dyer after her husband William's death. She lost her suit, but Charles did provide a financial settlement for his stepmother and his half-sister Elizabeth.
.....1662 William and Catharine have child Elizabeth.
.....1663 Rhode Island Charter of Liberties is written by John Clarke, almost certainly with input from Roger Williams and William Dyer, and is sealed by King Charles II. This charter was used as a template for the United States Constitution's Bill of Rights (specifically the First Amendment). Like he had done with the charters of the 1640s and 1650s, William returned to England to bring home the 1663 charter.
.....1670 William makes formal proposal to King Charles II regarding rights, boundaries, and natural resources in Massachusetts Bay Colony. 
.....1677 William dies and is buried on Dyer farm in Newport.
.....1959 Memorial statue to Mary Barrett Dyer erected in Boston, at the Massachusetts State House facing the Common.

 All of these events are covered in the series of books on the Dyers, written by Christy K Robinson. The first two are novels based closely on fact, and the third is a lively and fascinating nonfiction book on their lives and the people and culture surrounding them.
Mary Dyer Illuminated (The Dyers #1)
Mary Dyer: For Such a Time as This (The Dyers #2)
The DYERS of London, Boston, & Newport (The Dyers #3) 
For ordering info and synopses, click HERE.


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)

How I connect with William and Mary Dyer:
William Dyer b. September 1609, Kirkby LaThorpe, Lincolnshire.
.....Father: William Dyer, farmer/landowner and church warden at St. Denys church in Kirkby LaThorpe
.....Mother: name unknown
Mary Barrett of London (nothing is known of parents)
Children of William and Mary (Barrett) Dyer:
.....William, bapt. 24 Oct 1634; buried 27 Oct1634, London, England
.....Samuel, bapt. 20 Oct 1635, Boston, MA; d. 1678, Kingstown, RI; m. abt 1660, Anne Hutchinson, granddaughter of Anne (Marbury) Hutchinson. Their descendants became governors and officials in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
.....Stillborn daughter, 17 Oct 1637, Boston, MA
.....William, b. abt 1640, Newport, RI; d. 1687/8; m. Mary Walker
.....Mahershallalhashbaz, b. abt 1643, Newport, RI; d. bef 1670; m. Martha Pearce
.....Henry, b. abt 1647, Newport, RI; d. Feb 1690; m. Elizabeth Sanford
.....Mary, b. abt 1648-49, Newport, RI; d. aft 26 Jan 1679, DE; m. by 1675, Henry Ward
.....Charles, b. abt 1650, Newport, RI; d. May 15, 1709; m. (1) Mary; m. (2) Martha (Brownell) Wait
Charles Dyer b. 1650 Newport, Rhode Island d. 5-15-1709
Spouse: (1) Mary, born 1650 died before 1690; married circa 1669 Newport, possibly daughter of John and Rebecca Lippitt, but no proof.
Spouse (2) Martha Brownell born 5/1/1643 Portsmouth Newport RI died 2/15/1743-44 Portsmouth, daughter of Thomas Brownell and Ann Bourne married 3/8/1690-91 Newport. Martha died childless at age 101 but raised Charles' children.
.....Children of Mary and Charles Dyer:
1. James, born 1669 Little Compton Newport RI died circa 1735 Bucks Co. PA married Elizabeth ? 1696 in Little Compton;
2. William, house carpenter, born circa 1671 Little Compton executed 4/21/1719 Newport RI for murder of his wife Hannah Briggs daughter of Thomas Briggs and Mary Fisher;
3. Elizabeth born circa 1677 Little Compton died 7/1715 RI, married Tristram Hull 2/9/1698-99 son of Joseph Hull and Experience Harper;
4. Charles, blacksmith, born circa 1685 Newport RI, died 1/7/1627 Cranston Providence RI, married Mary Lapham 8/26/1709 Dartmouth Bristol MA daughter of John Lapham and Mary Mann;
5. Samuel, born circa 1687 Little Compton died 9/15/1767 Newport RI married Desire Slocum 1/19/1709-10 Jamestown, RI. Samuel cared for his stepmother Martha in her home until she died at age 101 in 1744. He raised his brother William's children after William murdered his wife and was executed in 1718. And Samuel may also have taken in Elizabeth Dyer Hull's children when she and her husband died in 1718 and 1719.
Elizabeth Dyer
m. 12-19-1698 in Newport, RI. Resided in South Kingston, RI. Died 1718.
Tristram Hull b. 10-8-1677 d. 1719.  Barnstable, Massachusetts. Son of Joseph Hull.
Bathsheba Hull May have been raised by her uncle Samuel Dyer in Newport, after her parents died.
Ebenezer Slocum

Capt Edward Slocum, 1748-1822 Captain in Federal Army, American Revolutionary War.
Unknown wife
Oliver Wellington Slocum b. 1794
Persis Felton  (descendant of ultra-Puritan Rev. Samuel Skelton of Sempringham, Lincolnshire and Salem, Massachusetts, who was one of the 1628-29 emigrants to prepare the Bay Colony for Winthrop's arrival in 1630) 
Persis Slocum b. 1834 Ohio
Andrew Wolfe b. 1835 Ohio
Mary Belle Wolfe  b. 1872 Kansas d. 1960 Saskatchewan
Hiram Frank Benner b. 1864 Ohio d. 1924 Eatonia, Saskatchewan
Reita Belle Benner b.1892 Hart, Michigan d. 1949 Owasso, Michigan
Milo Francis Anson  1882 - 1960 
Andrew Anson  
Lois Stone 
Judith Anson 
Kenneth Robinson 
Blog author Christy K Robinson 

Christy K Robinson is author of these books (click the colored title):

Mary Dyer Illuminated Vol. 1 (2013)  
Effigy Hunter (2015)  

And of these sites:  
Discovering Love  (inspiration and service)
Rooting for Ancestors  (history and genealogy)
William and Mary Barrett Dyer (17th century culture and history of England and New England)


  1. Puritan Monster
    The other day, I finished Eve LaPlante's American Jezebel, a biography of Anne Hutchinson:

    I won't review it now, and may not do so here at all. Still haven't decided, though I'll recommend it generally. (I will give in to the temptation to yet again recommend Linebaugh and Rediker's The Many-Headed Hydra:)

    But I did want to share one story from the book that struck me. It concerns a stillbirth of Mary Dyer in Boston in 1637 and the responses to it:

    ...Monster, indeed. The Mid Wife Mrs Hawkins is my 12th great aunt .

  2. I'm exploring whether my ancestor, John Dyer, Sr. (1710-1773), may have been connected to the Dyer family timeline you so eloquently described. Any words of wisdom for a novice ancestor-hunter? Basic information about John Dyer, Sr., is online at

    1. Hello, Joel,
      Based on the information in your Find-a-Grave link, it looks like your ancestors from Virginia and Somerset might have been distant cousins to the Dyers of London, Boston, and Newport. But no one has proved a connection between this blog's William Dyer and the many, many Dyers of Somerset. There seems to be a circumstantial case, but no definitive proof. As I've written elsewhere in this site, there were many unrelated Dyers all over England, since their surname was a trade that was found anywhere you found sheep and wool. It stands to reason that not every Dyer who came to America in the 17th and 18th centuries would have been blood relatives.

      One other thing to remember in your research is that there was no standardized spelling. This blog's William and Mary, husband and wife, spelled their surname differently (he was DYRE, and she was DIRE), so the Dyer surname could be listed in church or civic records in a variety of spellings. I have two friendly words for you: good luck.

    2. Thank you for taking time to reply, Christy! Very helpful information.

  3. The long and short of it now, would BE DNA testing. One first would be a Y DNA test. Make sure you are barking up the right tree.
    Then do the Family Finder autosomal DNA test on
    see what others who are of the similar spelling of DYER/DIRE/DRER etc, may be.
    And how many match.

    It would be most enlightening to say the least.

    And DNA does happly sort us all out very nicely.

    Found that with our MILLS people.

    And settled some arguments, are you and I related, and Yes, we are. so now the 3 of us are cousin's joined in biology as well as a paper trail. : )

    Definitely do at least 37 or 67 marker test. It does define the relationship better the farther out you do in the markers.

    1. DNA analysis is improving and going deeper all the time, so there's hope for those of us who don't have living parents or grandparents to test. As of now, I hear that DNA testing can identify cousins back to about five or six generations, or about 150-200 years. The Dyers were 10-14 generations and 400 years, and we have nothing of their DNA to compare. At their level, there are more than a thousand ancestors. I think the best we can do is carefully confirm each generation on the pedigree chart.

  4. So much fun to find your blog! My Dyer conection goes back to Mary and William through Charles, James, Charles, Preserved, John, John, Jesse, Daniel Porter, George Wilbur and Roger (my maternal grandfather). So much confusing information out there, but you make it a bit more clear.

    1. Glad to help you, Deb. Please bookmark the home page of this site, so you can return and read more of the 185 or so articles posted here! (Maybe you'd be interested in the books I've researched and written on the Dyers, too.)

      And if you're on Facebook, look up our Dyer descendants group at that hyperlink in the article.

  5. My grandmother is a Dyer., via Walter E. Jr., Walter E., Daniel Pierce, William Henry, Dea. Daniel Pierce, Nathaniel....(I believe that is the order) I spent a lot of time as a child at Charles Dyer's Pocasset Nursery/Cemetery with my Grandmother and Great Grandmother in Cranston, RI.

  6. Comment from which I deleted her personal email.

    Unknown has left a new comment on your post "Dyers' family timeline":

    I am very impressed with your site and the research it represents. Before the internet(!) I had a National Endowment for the Humanities Research Grant for public school teachers. All of my research depended on ordering books and personally showing up to search Historical Societies and libraries. I used card catalogs in most!! My subject was Mary Dyer and female activism - religious liberty in Boston during this period. I still enjoy visiting the large stack of photocopies made during that time.

    Today I am exploring your site for the first time. Kindred spirits!! I feel like I have lived with Mary during this entire time. She doesn't haunt me, but she does abide with me.
    I would love to tap into your expertise concerning the following-
    Do you know why she returned to England in 1652?
    You don't mention much about the relationship with Catherine Scott and her daughters, Mary and Patience. Did you find any information to question that Mary was in Providence prior to her final trip to Boston?
    My timeline has her Probably sailing from Shelter Island to Providence and then walking to Providence and then to Boston- in May of 1660.
    Also I did not see any information about her daughter's, birth during my research. Could you share your source for her birth and life? I just was surprised that she is not mentioned in any of the 20 plus resources I found during that time.
    I plan on ordering your books, but I am especially interested in the sources you used. Assuming that each detail is not footnoted, I thought I would come directly to you first.

    Best wishes! Margaret Cotton

    1. Thanks for your thoughtful comments and questions, Margaret. Many of the questions have been covered in the 220+ articles in this website, written from 2010 to the present, and in my Mary Dyer books. Also, I wrote a biography of Anne Hutchinson in 2018 which has a bit more info on Katherine Marbury Scott and Edward Hutchinson, Anne's son. My research, though circumstantial, shows a relationship between the Dyers, Hutchinsons, and Scotts.

      I will answer you at the email you gave me. I just wanted to protect your address from spammers that trawl sites for addresses and names. :)

  7. Email from Thomas D. Ladner:

    I came to tears. When I read the Blog of William & Mary (Barrett) Dyer. Especially as I Scrolled down to William and Hannah (Briggs) Dyer. Note: I'm a Genealogist/Historian where I've been building on my Tree of the McKimmy's which Connects to the Calkins & also the Briggs Surnames. Been going thru the Book (Descendants Directory of John Briggs, the family tree that grew and grew) By Mary L. Moeller and while updating my Gedcom. This is how I found your Blog. What history & pain. Wish to thank you for all your work.

  8. Hi,

    I have been doing my family tree on ancestry. I have noticed that 100s of members trees have Mary & William Dyer having a son William b. 15/05/1656 in England but nowhere in any publications does it mention him. I am wondering if this is a mistake or if this was never recorded? I understand Mary was back in England at this time so i'm unsure if this may be correct? I am a descendant of William Dyer b 1656 but not sure if I connect to THEE Mary & William Dyer or not, any help regarding this would be appreciated. My mother is a Dyer.

    1. Mary and William Dyer did not have a child born in 1656 in England. Those member trees are wrong. They had a son born in October 1634 who died immediately after his infant baptism, and was buried at St Martin-in-the-Fields churchyard in Westminster, London. Then the Dyers emigrated to New England in 1635 and had a son Samuel. Their next son William (who was later Major William Dyer, mayor of New York) was born about 1640, if you go by the property grants his father made in the 1660s. There were more children born, Henry, Mary, and Charles, ending in 1650. Mary went to England in 1652, stayed there without her husband, and returned to New England in the spring of 1657. She did not have any children while in England. And when a Quaker noted that he'd met Mary on her return voyage, there was no baby or child with her.

      As I've noted in several other articles in this extensive site, the Dyer surname was extremely common in England, the names William and Mary were even more common, and there were unrelated Dyer families in New England and Maryland, also Williams and Marys.

      It's possible that you are descended from the William and Mary Dyer that I research and write about in this site, but your dates are wrong; or it's possible that you are descended from a different family entirely.

      In 2013, I posted an article about a William Dyer that an author had written was Mary Barrett Dyer's husband. My concluding paragraph was: "The moral of my story here is that when you turn your attention to researching historical figures or ancestors, keep in mind that there are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people who have the same surname, who are probably not closely related, or not related at all. Do some addition and subtraction and decide if dates are logical, or if a woman has given birth to her own grandfather when she was only three years old. (Yes, I found that in a genealogical page!) Until you’ve sorted them out and confirmed dates and locations, you should not make assumptions that this guy must be the same as that guy."

      Please also see:

  9. Hello Christy, my name is Olivia and I am a Dyers from Cape Town South Africa.
    I have just come across your site. Dyers' on this side of the pond have often struggled for information regarding Samuel/Sampson's history prior to his arrival here. (Not sure if it is the same person)

    I have taken the following from a twitter thread by Stephen Langtry which you may find interesting:

    Dyer Island received its name from Samson Dyer (aka Sampson Dyers), an African-American whale hunter. He was born in Newport in 1773 and left the USA during 1806 for Cape Town. He was employed as a harpooner for a whaling business in False Bay. (1/5)

    His employer later sent him to a then un-named island (Dyer Island) off the coast of Gansbaai, to cull seals and prepare the skins for the company. He also collected guano and sold it to farmers in the Overberg area, to be used as fertilizer. (2/5)

    He married Margaretha Engel in 1813. She came from Elim. They had 4 children born from this marriage, 2 boys and 2 girls. This was the start of a long line of descendants, which includes the rugby legend, Dougie Dyers. (3/5)

    "Johnstone Jardine, a librarian, who interviewed Dyer during 1824, wrote: “Samson Dyer is a most extraordinary man of uncommon industry, honesty and sobriety. He was the first to adventure onto the island at great risk and ever since the islands bore his name. (4/5)

    Dyer owned a number of farms – Platterug and Goedvertrouw where he kept sheep. He also owned plots in Hawston and part owned the farm, Zandfontein. He was baptized in Caledon at the age of 70 years old. He died around 1843. (5/5)


    1. Thanks, Olivia.
      Have you seen my article on Samson Dyer, in this same Dyer blog? I wrote it in 2016. I've never learned if or how Samson was related to William and Mary Barrett Dyer, who co-founded Newport, Rhode Island, in 1639. When I was researching Samson, I couldn't find documented parents for him, which is not uncommon when you're looking for people of color that far back. In addition, vital records for countless births, deaths, and marriages were lost in the American Revolution.

  10. Hello, I have just discovered your page and am thrilled to have found it. I am related to the Dyers via Elizabeth Dyer Hull. I believe my husband may have a connection via the Lippet family. Still researching that one.


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