Friday, June 15, 2012

A peek at Mary Dyer's handwriting

Transcript below of the fragmentary image of Mary Dyer's letter to the Boston court, 26 October 1659.
Image courtesy of Massachusetts Archive.
from marie dire to the generall court now this present 26th of the 8 moth 59
assembled in the towne of boston in new Ingland greetings of grace mercy
and peace to every soul that doth well : tribulation anguish and wrath to all that doth evell. 
Whereas it is said by many of you that I am guilty of mine owne death by my
coming as you cal it voluntarily to boston: I therefore declare unto every one
that hath an eare to hear: that in the fear peace and love of god I came and in weldoing
did and stil doth commit my soul and body to him as unto a faithful creator
and for this very end hath preserved my life until now through many trialls and
temptations having held out his royal scepter unto mee by wch I have accesse
into his presence and have found such favoure in his sight as to offer up my
life freely for his truth and peoples sakes : whom the enimie hath moved you against...

Yes, I have the scan of the entire document, front and back, which I'll be transcribing in my historical novel (now published, see ).

Mary came to the end of the large sheet of textured paper, and turned it over to write six more lines, the ghost image you see behind the words in the middle of this fragment. On the right vertical edge of the paper are water stains which smeared the ink. Perhaps it was raining when the messenger carried her letter from the jail to the Massachusetts General Court, presided over by Governor John Endecott. The letter was folded at some point, and the paper has flaked away at some folds and edges, but for the most part, it's legible, even after more than 350 years!

For a look at William Dyer's handwriting, visit this link: a plea to Massachusetts General Court to redeem Mary Dyer from the death penalty. 


  1. What an amazing find! To think that handwriting is becoming a thing of the past...

  2. Comments from Facebook:

    Stacey Sellards-Robinson
    Veeeerrry Niiiice Christy! excited for you! I would have LOVED to have seen you make that discovery! ;)

    Kai Starr
    I am never annoyed by exclamation marks, when they are used to represent true excitement or joy! ♥

    Christy K Robinson
    Thank you for understanding, Kai and Stacey. I'm so excited to have this primary source: my transcription bears little resemblance to the transcripts I've seen on the genealogy pages--NO SURPRISE THERE.

    Jo Ann Butler
    Holy Guacamole!

    Carolyn Stone
    Very exciting, Christy!!!

    Christine Crocker
    Wonderful! oh, how exciting Christy !!

    Carolina M Capehart

    Richard Cross
    That's some interesting stuff! Really cool.

    Gwynn Bell Coffey
    That is wonderful.

    Stephen Lillioja
    Interesting lady. Is she family?


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