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This Day in Boston History

June 1st, 1660

Mary Dyer

When Anne Hutchinson was banished for her spiritual beliefs in 1638, one person came to her side in support, Mary Dyer. Like many Pilgrims in Boston the Dyer family had become interested in Hutchinson's spiritual thinking, and joined her in exile.

Mary Dyer returned to Boston when she learned two of her friends had been jailed and would stand trail as Quakers. Dyer was jailed for sympathizing with them, and the three were banished. Weeks later they returned to Boston to look what they called an unjust law in the face, and were sentenced to death.

The three were paraded across the Boston Common to the gallows by two hundred guards. Dyer heard her friends profess their faith as they were hung. Next she stood with a noose tightened around her neck, facing the crowd, as her husband begged for her life.

Governor John Endicott stayed her execution and exiled her again with a final warning to be gone. Seven months later she returned to face the law; the middle-aged mother of six was finally executed on this day in 1660.


England's Prime Minister never expected this tea tax to cause an outcry, let alone revolution. In 1767, England reduced its property taxes at home. To balance the national budget they needed to find a mechanism for the American colonies to pay for the expense of stationing officials in them. The officials would generate their own revenue by collecting taxes on all imported goods, and once paid affixing stamps on them. This Stamp Tax generated more in the way of protests and smuggling than added revenue.

Religion. Politics. Rebellion. Boston’s pedigree was forged back in England in the midst of religious dissension, where Puritans and Pilgrims sought religious reform, and Cavaliers and Roundheads vied for political power. The question isn't where did Boston get its name – but how.

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