1656 - In this year, began, what is
generally and properly termed, the persecution of the Quakers. A
fine of ten pounds was inflicted on any person, who harbored a
Quaker. In October of this year, eleven of the sect, received
sentence of banishment; and the master of the ship, which brought
them from England, was required to bind himself with sureties to the
amount of 500 l. to carry them all out of the country. (See Hutch.
Vol. .I p.97)
observes, that "he could not find what law they had for this." In
this month also, an act passed imposing a fine of 100 l. upon any
master of a vessel, who should bring a Quaker into the colony, and
that if a Quaker should arrive, he should be immediately sent to the
house of correction, receive twenty stripes, and be confined to hard
labor until he could be transported.
At the next session,
an act passed, by which all persons were liable to a fine of forty
shillings for harboring a Quaker one hour. After the first
conviction under this act, the offender, if a man, was to lose one
ear, and upon the third conviction, the other; if a woman, she was
for each offense to be whipped, and upon the fourth conviction, the
offender, whether man or woman was to have the tongue bored through
with a hot iron.
In May, 1658, a
penalty was inflicted upon every person, who should attend a Quaker
meeting. Under this act, a child only eleven years old, by the name
of Patience Scott, was tried and imprisoned. The imprisonment
of such a child was as strange as any further severity would have
1660 - Two Quakers, by the names of William Robertson
and Marmaduke Stevenson, were executed on the 27th of
October. Several persons were fined to the amount of 10 l. for
entertaining Quakers at their houses, and one man, of the name of
Wharton, for piloting them from one port to another, was ordered
to receive twenty stripes.
Several others were
executed, banished or whipped. Bishop says, "they cut off the
ears of Holden, Capeland, and Rouse in prison, and
that others were whipped and banished upon pain of death." In this
inquisitorial persecution, the clergy were the most active.*
The sufferings of the
victims excited the compassion of the people, many of whom resorted
to the prisons by day and night, so that the keepers were forced to
establish a constant guard to restrain them. Wendlock
Christopherson among others was sentenced to die. This man
implored the court to consider, whether they gained anything by the
For the last man,
said he, that was put to death, five rose up in his stead; and
although you have power to take my life, God can inspire the same
principles into ten more of his servants and send them among you,
that you may have torment upon torment. This man was executed June
13th, 1660. Some of his persecuted companions were tried at Hampton.
May those unhappy days never return, when men suppose they are doing
God service by sporting with the lives of his children.
*The pillory served George Fox for his pulpit. From this he
harangued the populace. Inflamed by his eloquence, they raised a mob
and released him, and set in the same pillory a certain clergyman,
who had been instrumental in imprisonment of Fox.
Source: The Gazetteer of the
State of New Hampshire by Eliphalet Merrill & Phinehas