NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

March 27, 2014

Powow preacher spats with Puritans

(Continued)

Certain commissioners who sided with Pike, such as Thomas Bradbury and William Gerrish, retracted to avoid trouble with the boss-men magistrates. Most became “refractory spirits” and were fined for turning on God’s chosen officials, but 15 men stood their ground after the officials finished their hunt.

Here are a few of the loyal souls who held up their conviction to the court: John Bishop “desired to go to the meeting house and turned his back and went away” (QC 1:367). John Emery and John Bond refusing to comply and did so in “a bold, flouting manner.” Benjamin Swett replied, “Every free subject hath liberty to petition for any that had been in esteem, without offence to any; and the petition itself hath answer in itself sufficient.” John Wolott agreed if he “be called to [a higher] power to answer, he will then answer and so went away very highly” (368).

In 1657, Macy found himself in further turmoil for sheltering traveling Quakers in his barn during a fierce rain storm. For this brief hour of gracious harbor he was ordered to appear in court, but he sent the officials a letter instead.

In 1658, “certain inhabitants” (Macy and Peaslee) filed a petition to break off from the official church of Reverend Worcester, but it was denied. The court demanded attendance to the true fellowship, and fines were issued to the flock of dissenters for “slighting and neglecting the order” and “disorderly practices.” However, Peaslee preached on as the “Come-outer,” and Pike, “the moral and fearless hero of New England,” fought injustice against Quakers and accused witches.

Macy sought religious refuge on a voyage recalled in Whittier’s poem, “The Exiles.” Macy legend states that his wife, Sarah, pleaded with him above the cries of their five tots to curtail his warrior spirit and sail away from an evil storm brewing, but he just replied, “Woman, go below and seek thy God. I fear not the witches on earth, nor the devils in hell.”

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