Quakers refused to pay tithes or taxes to support the Church of England. As a result, the loathsome jails of the day were soon filled with these objectors, and their property melted away in fines. This contumacy and their street meetings, regarded at that time as riotous breaches of the peace, gave the Government at first a legal excuse to hunt them down; but as they grew in numbers and influence, laws were enacted to suppress them. Some of them, though not the wildest extremists, escaped to the colonies in America. There, however, they were made welcome to conditions no less severe.
The first law against the Quakers in Massachusetts was passed in 1656, and between that date and 1660 four of the sect were hanged, one of them a woman, Mary Dyer. Though there were no other hangings, many Quakers were punished by whipping and banishment. In other colonies, notably New York, fines and banishment were not uncommon. Such treatment forced the Quakers, against the will of many of them, to seek a tract of land and