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
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
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.