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This Day in Boston History

October 19th, 1659

Mary Dyer Sentenced to Hang

Mary Dyer

On this day the Mary Dyer was sentenced to hang on Boston Common having been convicted for worshiping as a Quaker.

In 1658 a law was passed forbidding Quaker worship under penalty of death. When she went to visit two friends jailed for their beliefs, Mary Dyer was promptly imprisoned, tried and sentenced to hang with them. After being paraded to the gallows and prepared for hanging, the three were given forty-eight hours to leave Massachusetts and never return.

Seven months later she returned to face this law, and was executed. Massachusetts persecution of dissenters is remembered by statues of Mary Dyer and Anne Hutchinson positioned prominently on either side of the Massachusetts State House.


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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