The following is a copy of the warrant issued by Major Waldron, of Dover, in 1662. The Quakers, as was their wont, prophesied against him, and saw, as they supposed, the fulfilment of their prophecy when, many years after, he was killed by the Indians.
To the constables of Dover, Hampton, Salisbury, Newbury, Rowley,
Ipswich, Wenham, Lynn, Boston, Roxbury, Dedham, and until these
vagabond Quakers are carried out of this jurisdiction. You, and
every one of you, are required, in the King’s Majesty’s name, to
take these vagabond Quakers, Anne Colman, Mary Tomkins, and Alice
Ambrose, and make them fast to the cart’s tail, and driving the
cart through your several towns, to whip them upon their naked
backs not exceeding ten stripes apiece on each of them, in each
town; and so to convey them from constable to constable till they
are out of this jurisdiction, as you will answer it at your peril;
and this shall be your warrant.
Dated at Dover, December 22, 1662.
This warrant was executed only in Dover and Hampton. At Salisbury the constable refused to obey it. He was sustained by the town’s people, who were under the influence of Major Robert Pike, the leading man in the lower valley of the Merrimac, who stood far in advance of his time, as an advocate of religious freedom, and an opponent of ecclesiastical authority. He had the moral courage to address an able and manly letter to the court at Salem, remonstrating against the witchcraft trials.
THE tossing spray of Cocheco’s fall
Hardened to ice on its rocky wall,
As through Dover town in the chill, gray dawn,
Three women passed, at the cart-tail drawn!
Bared to the waist, for the north wind’s grip
And keener sting of the constable’s whip,
The blood that followed each hissing blow
Froze as it sprinkled the winter snow.
Priest and ruler, boy and maid
Followed the dismal cavalcade;
And from door and window, open thrown,
Looked and wondered gaffer and crone.
“God is our witness,” the victims cried,
We suffer for Him who for all men died;
The wrong ye do has been done before,
We bear the stripes that the Master bore!
And thou, O Richard Waldron, for whom
We hear the feet of a coming doom,
On thy cruel heart and thy hand of wrong
Vengeance is sure, though it tarry long.
“In the light of the Lord, a flame we see
Climb and kindle a proud roof-tree;
And beneath it an old man lying dead,
With stains of blood on his hoary head.”
“Smite, Goodman Hate-Evil!–harder still!”
The magistrate cried, “lay on with a will!
Drive out of their bodies the Father of Lies,
Who through them preaches and prophesies!”
So into the forest they held their way,
By winding river and frost-rimmed bay,
Over wind-swept hills that felt the beat
Of the winter sea at their icy feet.
The Indian hunter, searching his traps,
Peered stealthily through the forest gaps;
And the outlying settler shook his head,–
“They’re witches going to jail,” he said.
At last a meeting-house came in view;
A blast on his horn the constable blew;
And the boys of Hampton cried up and down,
“The Quakers have come!” to the wondering town.
From barn and woodpile the goodman came;
The goodwife quitted her quilting frame,
With her child at her breast; and, hobbling slow,
The grandam followed to see the show.
Once more the torturing whip was swung,
Once more keen lashes the bare flesh stung.
“Oh, spare! they are bleeding!”‘ a little maid cried,
And covered her face the sight to hide.