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

Tom Winston

Tom Winston is a 45 year old captain, 12 years in the Colony's militia, and well-known and thought of by the leadership. Tallish with a slim disciplined body, brisk even clipped in manner, he is capable of direct honest leadership that attracts loyalty among his men and gives a trustworthy aura which influences others. He can also seem a bit stiff and pompous about 'his duty'.

At the start of the play he lived at home with his parents, whom he had followed to New England. He is close to his father in particular, a ship's chandler and a committed but not narrow minded Puritan, one of the Boston community's leaders. He and his father James questioned much, in the spirit of learning and enjoyment; they were inquisitive, both searching for religious answers; over several years, they talked with relatives, here and in Old England, who seemed to know of and were attracted to the Quaker sect. From these talks arose Winston's contact with the new religion, and his quiet exploration. He was surprised to find he thought well of their eschewing the outward forms of traditional Christianity - theological debates, creeds, sacraments and liturgy; he was unsure of their more controversial denouncements of the Ministers.

They meditated on the Bible, Christ's teachings, waited in silence - so restful, so helpful for quiet thoughts and meditations - if and until they felt the Inward Light dawning, God's true whispers deepening the experience of humility yet loved-ness. Only THEN, they felt or believed, did the Holy Spirit enable them to speak. Mind you, some Quakers did seem to be moved to speak for longer 'ministries' than others - but were still much, much briefer than the wordy Puritan 'Reverends'.

With more and more 'practice' and with growing experience, they could learn to obey conscience as to what was required of them in their everyday actions. These new groups, Winston found, lived a life in friendship - Friend-ship - some called it comradeness; there were many works of charity; far from breaking-up communities, they contributed with an underlying impressive caringness.

He is moved, but still retains a strong sense of duty to the Colony and its positive expanding future.... some months after Mary Dyer was hanged, his father fell ill with fever and died, a blow to the troubled Winston. James Winston, a true generous Christian, had helped Tom much over the son's painful and growing disenchantment with the over-rigid and unyielding Boston leadership, which his father saw "as prickly and uncompassionate as in those other days of controversy and banishments" 25 years ago. The mother Margaret even criticises the intolerance displayed.

Later in the play, he has left Boston for the east coast and peace and quiet - his widowed mother well looked after by relatives. Yet for a boat builder supposedly based at Scituate, Winston travels widely, unobtrusively, around the Colony. His quiet influence is known in many circles of seekers. He has found his life's direction.

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