Will Dyer is Mary Dyer's bustling, energetic 19 year old son who
agitates for her release on banishment when she is first sentenced to
hang. When reprieving her, Endecott and Norton admit it is because of his
petition, though others say the Court plays politic, in that the
leaders feared William Dyer's influence in several of the Colonies.
In the play, as she awaits hanging again Will - strong, lively,
positive, a handful, sometimes too boisterous, troublesome! - is
everywhere. He visits the governor's secretary Rawson to petition for
her release again, is among the leaders of protestors at the jail, at
the governor's house, in the streets. He also sees her in jail,
brow-beats his way before the governor for a final appeal, is thrown
out, joins up with the protestors again.
He is forthright, full of
life and passion. Away from this life-saving activity, he is captain
of a small coastal trading vessel, part financed by his father
William, part by Boston merchants he has persuaded into partnership.
He and a crew of three ply around the numerous town and village
'ports' - Newport in Rhode Island, along the West and South Coast and
into Boston. Business is good, Boston and the districts particularly
need distribution of lumber, food and incoming goods from Old England.
He is popular, friendly and a fairly regular churchgoer. He was ten
when his mother vanished, to Old England. The children were
bewildered, shattered. They questioned William constantly. At first
they were told, “She is gone to her family.... she has business
there.... she will be returning soon...” Five to six years passed.
News arrived, from Old England, “She is a Quaker.... she will return
soon...” She did, to be arrested, as she stepped off ship.
them all, grieved the most at her absence. The bond between he and his
father William grew stronger. Will's natural exuberance took him away
from the family home and farm in Newport - sometimes into trouble. By
19 he was sailing out of several harbours as a crew-member, then as a
young master, proudly in and out of the busy Boston harbour.
Now, at the time of the play, his vessel sails without him. He
works to free his wilful but well loved mother again. His anxiety is
pushing his actions and leading to impetuosity. He remembers that the
fight for her freedom had been won - she WAS reprieved, even if she
stayed away only seven months; can Endecott be influenced again? If
she dies this time, life will never be the same for Father or him. His
memories, and the sea, will make for a lonely life for him.