Persecution was not the only reason the Puritans left England. England’s Puritans simply felt the Anglican Church resembled the Catholic Church. Indeed, the Puritans and many other religions came to America to worship God as they wished. immigrating to America was their first step in cleansing religion of the varied and splintered versions that developed in Europe.
Once the Puritans established their community in Massachusetts, they were intolerant of all other religions. The Quaker religion was the complete opposite socially. The Quaker worship was the most liberal with the pastor coordinating worship activity and members participating in ordained duties. John Winthrop, a Puritan, was elected governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony twelve times. He was simply intolerant of all opposing religious, social, economic or governmental views. The Puritans concentrated all power in a few called, “The Godly”.
Ann Hutchinson, a fellow Quaker dissident, was warned by John Winthrop’s successor to leave town and she took the warnings to heart and moved to Rhode Island. Roger Williams was one of the Godly but too tolerant. He was cast off to Rhode Island and established a more relaxed religious community. He remained a devout Puritan .
Mary Dyer defied the Massachusetts Bay Colony three times. At her third trial the hangman’s noose was placed around her neck before a reprieve was forced upon her by her persecutors. Mary returned from England a fourth time insisting on her Quaker beliefs. Mary Dyer and her three associates were hanged in 1660 as they insisted on their right to directly worship God. All of this took place thirty-two years before the Witch-Trials.
For one-hundred and fifty years, from 1630 to 1780, a Catholic priest was not permitted in New England. The Massachusetts Constitution (the forerunner to the United States Constitution) finally permitted a Catholic priest to conduct Mass and give last rights. Yet, it was not until 1830, that the Massachusetts Legislature granted Catholics the right to vote and to teach in public schools.
I know what you are thinking. It may be difficult to separate Puritans from Pilgrims but there are a few clear differences. The Pilgrims were poor, the Puritans were wealthy. The Pilgrims were not well educated, believed in a total split with the Church of England and had secular citizens among their followers.
As you might have guessed the two sects merged in 1689, as King Charles revoked the Puritans charter as a result of insubordination. The Puritans had denied the King a burial ground for his citizens and servants. Of course, this was the straw that broke the camel’s back.