William Dyer, Puritan, former milliner now influential
administrator in Rhode Island, is grave but not severe, a family man,
not very emotional, more cool, rational - and with ambitions and the
gift of the gab! A bit of a "country lawyer".
In his Fifties, his life is once again turned upside down for the
FOURTH or FIFTH time in the last seven or eight years. His problem -
his strong and independently minded wife, who so many times has caught
him flat-footed. The first time, when she refuses to return with him,
in 1653, from Old England; the second when she now a determined Quaker
is immediately arrested when she does return - he has her remanded in
his care; in just over a year, she is back in trouble - expelled from
nearby New Haven for preaching, then banished from Boston for trying
to visit Quakers in the jail; a month later, "to face those unjust
laws", she storms into the hornet's nest, Boston, again - where this
time she is jailed, tried and set to hang.
William and son Will save
her on the gallows tree and again take her home to Rhode Island; six
months later, she vanishes again, is arrested again in Boston, again
set to hang.
This long-suffering husband is torn as to what to do.
"She is Quaker mad, mystical and uncontrollable," say many. But he
knows those views are extreme, just as her actions appear extreme. He
has known for some time that her new religion would bring her to this.
He still cares, maybe loves, maybe he CAN reach her head? He WILL go
jail and try!
Dyer was no grey coloured man. Puritan enough, he left
Old England as corruption spread, to try his fortunes in among the
community building the "Citie on the Hill" in New England.
That didn't last long - the stronger opposition of the open minded
views expressed by Wheelright, Hutchinson - and the Dyers saw William
and Mary leave to help found Portsmouth and Newport in Rhode Island.
William Dyer never regretted that, it gave him his chance to work
hard, worship conventionally, and prosper in his career - Secretary
to' both towns, general recorder, attorney general, an unfortunate
time when he exceeded his authority as 'Commander in Chief upon the
Sea' and caused trouble for Rhode Island; his reputation was, at this
time, strong but there was wariness about his disputatious ways. There
MIGHT be further promotion, dependent on others' help or lack of it.
With help of relatives and friends, HE alone has had to bring up
and hold together his sons and daughters - now, in 1660 aged 25, 22,
19, 17, 11 and 9 - these past seven years.
He knows Endecott and
Norton well from the old days, he has their respect. But this Quaker
business - how can he save her by external pressure? They will not
bend again, as they did when he sent the first lengthy pleading letter
last year. She has 'earned' their displeasure, and punishments are now
brutal. He must persuade her to give up and accept banishment once
again, come home to the family and stay ....
Does he care enough to try again? He will try again, so to Boston
jail once more!