Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Life sketch of Charles Dyer, 1650-1709

© 2017 Christy K Robinson

Charles Dyer was the last child of Mary and William Dyer. He was born the year after King Charles I was beheaded, at the time when the young Charles II was fighting Cromwell’s forces before he fled to exile in France. To name the Dyer baby after the Anglican (with Catholic leanings) king was a rather bold statement in Puritan, republican-leaning New England!
King Charles I of England

1650: Charles Dyer born in Newport, Rhode Island, the last of Mary Dyer’s six living children. His parents were co-founders of Portsmouth in 1638 and Newport in 1639.

1652: He was about one and a half or two years old when both parents went to England. William went as an agent of Rhode Island, and came home after a short time, with a political charter for the colony that replaced their former charter; but Mary Dyer stayed until 1657.  Mary returned when Charles was about seven, so he probably didn’t recognize her.  He may have been fostered with friends when his father had to leave town on business. (Read "Mary Dyer, the mother.")

The Dyer family probably attended the Baptist church of Rev. Obadiah Holmes, in Newport. There’s no record of Charles in the Friends/Quaker books, which is understandable, considering his mother’s actions as a Quaker.  There’s probably no birth record like a Congregational (Puritan) or Anglican family might have, because Baptists didn’t baptize infants—they waited until the teen or adult years when the person reached an age of accountability.

Was Charles educated as well as his parents had been? Mary had been known for her conversational ability and we know she both read and wrote, which was not the usual attainment of most women of her time. William had probably been educated at a grammar school in Lincolnshire before his elite apprenticeship in London, and he had trained as a surveyor and attorney after he emigrated to New England. It was the custom of hundreds of years that boys were educated and/or apprenticed sometime around age 14, but we don’t know about the Dyer boys. But Charles was a farmer by age 18, so perhaps he learned on his father’s Newport farm.

1660: Mary Dyer, a Quaker, was hanged in Boston for religious liberty, having violated her banishment orders and been imprisoned several times between 1657 and 1660.

1661: William Dyer Sr. married a woman named Katherine and they had one daughter, Elizabeth, by 1661-1662. In her twenties, Elizabeth Dyer married John Greenman, they had several children, and she died in 1755. Though Katherine sued her husband’s children after his death (and lost each of her cases), Charles named his only daughter after his half-sister Elizabeth.

Little Compton, Rhode Island 
Photo by LandVest

1668: Charles married very young, perhaps at age 17-18, for his first child, James, was born in May 1669 in Little Compton, Rhode Island. The village is located across the Sakonnet water to the east of Newport, on the mainland. Even today, it’s a rural setting with green farms and a rocky Atlantic coastline. 

For many years, Charles' first wife has been assumed to be Mary Lippett, and there was a  family of Lippetts in Rhode Island, but Mary is not confirmed to be one of them. Did the teenage Charles and Mary fornicate and get pregnant, and marry in haste? How did a teenager come to be a husbandman (a farmer and stock breeder)? Was Charles given the land by his wealthy father, or was the land a dowry of his wife Mary (of whatever surname)? Little Compton is close to Newport as the crow flies (in a sailboat), but they could have farmed in Middletown, between Portsmouth and Newport, or across Narragansett Bay at Kingston. Or perhaps it was the perfect distance to start your family if it came less than nine months after the wedding.

Charles and Mary had children between 1669 and 1687, and Mary must have died between 1687 and 1689,  perhaps in or shortly after childbirth.
Their children were:
1.    James, b. 1669-d. abt 1735
2.    William b. 1671, d. 1719 (executed for murdering his wife)
3.    Elizabeth, b. 1677, m. Tristram Hull 1699, d. 1719
4.    Charles, b. 1685, d. 1726
5.     Samuel, b. 1687, d. 1767. This man raised his brother William’s orphaned children after William was hanged for murdering his wife.
1670: Death of brother Maher Dyer. Maher left a young wife, but no children.

1670: William Dyer Sr. deeds Newport lands to sons Samuel, Henry, and William, but not to youngest son Charles, who was already living in Little Compton with wife and child. Perhaps William Sr. had already provided land to Charles on his wedding.

1676-77: King Philip’s War raged between Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut colonists and Native American tribes.  His oldest brother Samuel evacuated colonists from mainland Rhode Island across Narragansett Bay to Newport.  His brother Henry Dyer supplied horses to the military. Charles, being about 26 years old, would have been very insecure at Little Compton, so he may have moved his family to better-defended Newport during the war. Also, his father’s health may have been failing at this time. Charles moving back to manage the Dyer farm would make sense, but we can’t know. 

1677: Charles’ father, William Dyer Sr., dies in Newport at age 67.
1678: Death of eldest brother Samuel Dyer.
1679: Death of sister Mary Dyer Ward.
1680: Half-sister Elizabeth Dyer receives her £40 inheritance from her father’s estate.
1681: His stepmother Katherine Dyer sues Charles over "trespass" on her land. She loses.
1687: After lawsuits which she lost, Charles buys back Newport land and house from his stepmother Katherine.

Oct. 5, 1687: “Charles Dyre of Newport, Husbandman bought of [nephew] Samuel Dyre of Boston, carpenter, land in Newport RI. Bounded on the East, partly by certain lands in possession Mr. Francis Brinley & Lt . Collo of Peleg Sanford on the South, by land of Late Mr. Nicholas Easton and Mr. Johnson the West, by the sea on North by land of Henry Dyre.—with house, orchards, Gardens, meadows, woods - swamp--layed out unto mis Katharin Dyre [his stepmother] by town of Newport 1681 as her Right of Dower. 5 Oct1687.
Witt[nesses]. Weat Clarke, Robert Little, Daniel Vernon." 
Source: Rhode Island Land Evidence 1648-1696 -Abstracts Vol 1 p. 206.

1687: Grants for land in Delaware secured for Charles and Henry, by older brother, Major William Dyre. Neither Charles nor Henry take possession of the land. [WAD]  But it’s very possible that Charles’ oldest son James did, for James died in Bucks Co., Penn.

1687-89?: Death of Charles’ wife Mary. They’d been married for 20 years.

1688: Death of brother Maj. William Dyer in Delaware/Pennsylvania.

Mar. 8, 1690: Charles married Martha Brownell Wait. Martha was a childless widow who was seven years older than Charles. On the same day they married, Martha bought for £20, of her brother Robert Brownell, 30 acres in Little Compton, RI. Charles and Martha did not have children together, but Martha raised his younger children, and perhaps grandchildren. She died in 1744 at age 100.

In Ancestry.com, there are many "hints" and pedigrees claiming that Martha Wait was the mother of Charles Dyer's children. This is incorrect, and the people claiming Martha as an ancestor have made a mistake in mindlessly copying what other people have written in error. As I wrote, Martha was a childless widow. She became step-mother to Charles' youngest three children by his first wife Mary:

  •      Elizabeth, age 13
  •      Charles Jr., age 5 and
  •      Samuel, age 3.
From age 40 to his death at 59, I've seen no records of Charles and Martha. But it seems from his will that he owned land at Little Compton and Newport, and Martha owned land in Massachusetts, so they would have been very busy managing farms, or possibly leasing them to others.

1690: Death of brother Henry Dyer. Henry (and possibly his wife) had been buried on the Dyer Farm, but after 199 years, his headstone and remains were moved to the Farewell Cemetery in Newport.

1699: Daughter Elizabeth marries Tristram Hull, the grandson of the Quakers Robert and Deborah Harper of Sandwich, who Mary Dyer would have known. Elizabeth and Tristram had nine children, the first named Mary--perhaps after Mary Dyer the great-grandmother, or after Elizabeth's birth mother. Elizabeth and Tristram were Quakers.

1709: Charles dies, age 59, in Newport. He was buried with his brothers and parents on the Dyer family farm in Newport. He'd owned several farms, livestock, and equipment, and he had a respectable amount of money to leave to his children and widow.

Will of Charles Dyer Sr.
Dated May 9, 1709; proved May 12, 1709 Newport.
Overseers: brothers George Brownell, Thomas Cornell & Benjamin Thayer.
Sons James, Samuel, William & Charles; daughter Elizabeth, now wife of Tristram Hull. 

·      To son James, all land and tenements in Little Compton, which he now liveth on, part of which I had with my wife Martha Dyer.  
·      To son Samuel, all my land and homestead that I now live on, with the old end of the dwelling house, barns, stables, &c., to be for him and his heirs unto the third generation, he paying legacies. To him also commonage in Newport and great bible.
·      To son William, £100.
·      To son Charles, £100.
·      To daughter Elizabeth, the now wife of Tristram Hull, £30.
·      My earnest will and desire is (that) piece of ground that is now called the Burying Ground, shall be continued for the same use unto all my after generations that shall see cause to make use of it, and I order that it shall be well kept fenced in by my son Samuel Dyre and his heirs forever.
·      To wife Martha, the new end of Newport house for life, and then to son Samuel. To her also, all my household stuff, plate, cash, bills, bonds, six of best cows of her choice, twenty ewe sheep, best of flock, and two cows and six sheep to be kept for her winter and summer by Samuel, who is to take a reasonable care of her, as food, firing, &c. without any grudging or grumbling.
·      To four sons James, William, Samuel and Charles, rest of stock.
·      To son Samuel, carts, plows, &c.
·      To overseers, £3 each.

The Dyer Farm burying ground was on the coast of Narragansett Bay. Since the early 20th century, it's under what is now the Naval College hospital or clinic.  William and Mary Dyer were buried there, as well as Charles and Henry. Probably Maher and Charles Dyer’s wife Martha, as well as other Dyer generations, were buried there. But the farm was broken into smaller and smaller parcels from the time of the Revolution. In 1889, workmen came across seven graves with headstones, and moved them to the Farewell Cemetery and Common (meaning the common grazing land) Burying Ground near the center of Newport. Among the seven were stones for Mary’s sons Henry (d. 1690) and Charles (d. 1709).  Other graves, unmarked, probably remain there on the former Dyer property. If you're in Newport, you can drive on Cypress Street, right up to the fence, or you can visit it on Google Maps at this link. Then choose Street View.  
Cypress Street fence. Approximate location of Dyer burying ground.
Photo by Christy K Robinson
Charles Dyer's headstone in Newport's Common Burying Ground
I met Bert Lippincott, Newport Historical Society librarian and genealogist, who marked a map of Common Burying Ground so I could visit the grave of Charles Dyer, 1650-1709. Charles may have been buried first on the Dyer home farm, where he lived after his father and brothers died. His remains were moved to the large cemetery later. (Alternatively, the officials took the headstones but not the skeletons.)
Common Burying Ground
click to enlarge
Common Burying Ground, Newport, with inset of Charles Dyer's headstone.

Dyre Avenue in the CBG cemetery

Lovely ancient tree with old headstones in CBG

Headstone of Charles Dyre:
Here Lyeth Ye Body of Charles Dyre Senior, He Dececed May 15, 1709, Aged 59 Years

Christy K Robinson is author of these books with five-star reviews:
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)
Editornado [ed•i•tohr•NAY•doh] (Words. Communications. Book reviews. Cartoons.)

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

International Women's Day celebrates American founding mothers

© 2017 Christy K Robinson 
This article is copyrighted. Copying, even to your genealogy pages, is prohibited by US and international law. You may "share" it with the URL link because it preserves the author's copyright notice and the source of the article.

For more information on their contributions to our human rights and civil liberties, see the "For Educators" tab above. 
Celebrate International Women's Day, March 8, by honoring Mary Dyer and Anne Hutchinson. Religious liberty is STILL not settled, even after nearly 400 years of strife. If you're deeply religious, as Mary and Anne were, or a non-believer, religious liberty covers everyone. Everyone.

ANNE HUTCHINSON (1592-1643) was a Puritan woman who stood for grace against legalism, which she called the Covenant of Works. She's best known for being a Bible teacher in Boston from 1634-1637, then being tried twice for sedition and heresy because she taught in public, and taught men--which was contrary to the ultra-zealous Puritan community of the 17th century. She led a large group of men and women to found a new colony in Rhode Island, that was formed as a social democracy standing apart from religious law.

MARY BARRETT DYER (1611-1660) was a Puritan woman who arrived in Boston in 1635, and became a close friend and follower of Anne Hutchinson. Her first pregnancy in the New World terminated in the miscarriage of an anencephalic (no brain) fetus with spina bifida--and the tiny corpse was considered proof of Mary's heresy in associating with Anne. Mary and her husband William went with Anne and the "Antinomians" to co-found Rhode Island. Mary was held in high regard for her beauty, intellect, and marriage to William, the first attorney general in America. In the 1650s, Mary went back to England for a period, and became a Quaker there. When she returned to New England, she was imprisoned without trial before being rescued by her husband. But she was determined to share the Gospel of grace, or at least support fellow Quaker missionaries (there's no record that she actually preached or what she preached), and she was arrested several times. She was banished "upon pain of death" from Massachusetts Bay Colony, but returned more than once to protest the bloody persecutions of other Quakers, which was what we call civil disobedience. Mary was sentenced to hang in October 1659 but was reprieved against her will. She was released, but then entered Plymouth Colony and was jailed there. She spent the winter on Long Island, and then sailed to Providence, Rhode Island, from where she walked the 44 miles to Boston at the time when more people were in the capitol than any other time of year. She was duly arrested. The court was reluctant to execute her because of her high social status and the danger of making her a martyr, but Mary forced their hand. They hanged her on June 1, 1660. Word quickly sailed to England, where King Charles II ordered that further capital crimes for religion be sent to his court, and Quaker persecutions cease.  (This is what Mary Dyer wanted, so she won!) Her husband was part of the team which wrote the Rhode Island charter of liberties that the King granted in 1663, and the charter, which gives religious liberty and secular government, was used as a template for the US Constitution's First Amendment.

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Share this link with your friends and family, share it with women and girls for their inspiration, and share with the politicians at state and federal levels who represent you in government. http://bit.ly/2lZW81S

HOW TO CONTACT YOUR ELECTED OFFICIALS: https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials