A dramatisation of the story surrounding the death by hanging of the Quaker Mary Dyer in 1660

John Winthrop

John Winthrop the Younger, governor of Connecticut Colony at the time of this play, is "one of the most engaging New Englanders of his day" and certainly the most versatile.

He is dark complexioned, long nosed, arched eyebrows and by no means handsome. But he has "a winning personality" and is noted for his tolerance, kindliness and "tenderness towards men's souls". He possesses many influential friends. By 1660, he is known and highly esteemed throughout New England.

Son of a most distinguished father - Winthrop who led the Bay Colony in its early years - Winthrop the Younger is very well educated, has served in the Navy in Old England during hostilities, and is well travelled throughout Europe by the age of 26. He lands in Boston in 1631 and while serving the Bay Colony for 18 years as an Assistant (equivalent to 'one of the directors') he is also Governor for the first year of Connecticut, of which he was one of the founding members.

Later in life after many years as permanent governor of Connecticut, he is not allowed to be relieved of that office, such is the esteem in which he was held. He is of a more scientific bent than theological, though a devout Puritan. He received support and finance to process salt, and to attempt to start up a glass works and an iron mill, neither succeeding because of 'technical' problems.

Winthrop the Younger is slight, sensitive in features, cool-ish in manner but of proven compassion. He has an able, flexible and complex mind, which enables him (in 1663) to become a Member of the Royal Society in Old England - the first "American" to be accepted. His interests are wide, and that clever mind has been used, on behalf of the United Colonies and in his correspondence with people of influence in Old England, to explore development of trade, banking, manufacture - even astronomy. He has a proven record of initiatives in helping establishment and expansion in Salem, Ipswich, New Haven and many other places in the United Colonies. He does not see the Quakers as Norton's Devils, but is not willing to see his Connecticut Colony invaded, so they may not enter, but if they do, they are fined and thrown out.

However, he is no dogmatic Puritan leader and is certainly no persecutor of conscience. His apparent support for the Quakers - calling at their trials for "other ways" to deal with them and their invasion - has been noted by Endecott and Norton; hence, despite his popularity and influence, their underlying antagonism to his appearance in the play, and call for further banishment, the night before her hanging.

As proof of his recognition and influence (this is mentioned later in the play) he finally gains the favour of the new King Charles 11 who granted him the most liberal Royal Charter of any that the Colonies were granted.

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