Mary Dyer

In the 1600s, changing your religion could get you into trouble. Big trouble. But that didn't stop Mary Dyer.

The Puritan Mary Dyer became a Quaker while visiting England. When she returned to Boston in 1657, the Puritans arrested and jailed her. Her husband William came to her rescue. He promised that he would take her out of the colony and not stop anywhere or allow her to speak to anyone.

In 1659, Mary Dyer heard that several Quakers were in the Boston jail. She felt moved by God to visit them. She ended up in jail with them. They were released and warned not to return to Massachusetts on "pain of death." Within thirty days, Dyer and two other Quakers returned to Boston to "look the bloody laws in the face." Authorities imprisoned them and sentenced them to death by hanging. Again, Dyer was saved at the last minute. She tried to refuse her reprieve, but the authorities tied her to a horse and took her out of the colony.

Seven months later, Dyer's conscience forced her to return to Boston. This time, she met the martyr's death for which she seemed so determined. She was hanged on Boston Common and buried in an unmarked grave. People later regretted this execution. Today, a statue of Dyer stands on the Boston Common.



Freedom A History of US close