December 3 - 1654: Quakers are not wanted here

Plymouth Court clamps down on Quakers en route to Sandwich
Sandwich meetinghouse on Spring Hill in East Sandwich is the home of the oldest Quaker meeting in America. Courtesy of CapeCodQuakers.org.

1654: Quakers considered heretics by Pilgrims

Most peaceful of Christians viewed as a threat by the Pilgrims

On this day in 1654, the Plymouth Court ordered that any boat carrying Quakers to Sandwich be seized to prevent the religious heretics from landing.

A year earlier, Quakers in Sandwich had established the first Friends' Meeting in the New World.

Magistrates in both Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay colonies were alarmed by Quaker teachings that individuals could receive direct personal revelations from God.

"To protect orthodox Puritanism, the courts passed a series of laws forbidding residents from housing Quakers. Quakers themselves were threatened with whipping, arrest, imprisonment, banishment or death. But driven by conscience, some Quakers repeatedly returned to Massachusetts to preach; four of them, including Mary Dyer, went to the gallows before a shocked King Charles ordered an end to the hanging of Quakers in 1661..." - as described at Mass Moments, a website maintained by the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities.

The photo above shows the East Sandwich Friends Meeting House on Spring Hill Road off Route 6A. Built in 1810, it is the third incarnation of the oldest Quaker Meeting House in continuous use in North America. Services are held every Sunday at 11 a.m.

The photo on right shows the Quaker Meeting House now owned by the Town of Dennis. Photo courtesy of the Historical Society of Old Yarmouth. Although Quakers probably worshipped in Yarmouth as early as 1659, there is no record of a Quaker Meeting House being built until 1714. This early Meeting House was located on the Dennis side of Bass River.


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