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Papers of the Winthrop Family, Volume 3

Roger Williams to John Winthrop1
Williams, Roger Wintrhop, John


New Providence the 2nd of present weeke July 31, 1637 Much honoured Sir,

I am bold to interpose (in all humble respect) a word or 2 concerning the bearer Mr. Greene: Being at Salem this last weeke to take order about the sale of his howse etc. comming away, an ancient acquaintance meetes him (Ed: Batter) and questions whether he would come and Hue there againe vnto which he answered, how could he vnles he might enioy the freedome of his Soule and Conscience. Ed. Batter replied he might so: to which he again replied, he knew that could not be for the power of the Lord Jesus was in the hand of civill authoritie: vpon this came by Mr. Endicot, calls Ed: Batter and questions him (as himselfe related to Mr. Greene) what was their Conference: the Summe whereof being told Mr. Endicot warnd Mr. Greene to appeare at this generall Court.2

Sir For my selfe I have no partiall respect to Mr. Greene nor relation, but of neighbours togeather: Only for the better following of Peace (euen when 459it flies from vs) I am bold to acquaint with passages of Truth (as I can not but hope) before hand: I shall grieue much that any Molestation or trouble should arise vnto you from hence, or that there be the appearance of any further Jarr: Sir I know to whome I speake, Mr. Endicot had neede haue a true Compasse for he makes great way etc: the Father of Lights and Spirits mercifully be pleased to guide all our steerings.

Mr. Greene here is peaceable, a peacemaker, and a lover of all English that visits vs. I conceaue he would not disturbe peace in relating his Judgment to his friend (if I may so call him) demaunding it first allso of him, or els I presume he should not haue heard a word of such matters, if I know Mr. Greene.

Sir I here yet not of any of the runnaway Captiues amongst our neighbours yesterday I heard that 2 scapt from them to the Pequt: If any be or doe come amongst them I suppose they shall be speedily returned, or I shall certifie where the default is.

Sir I desire to be truely thanckfull for the Boy intended: his Father was of Sasquankit where the last fight was: and fought not with the English as his mother (who is with you and 2 children more) certified me: I shall endeavour his good and the common, in him. I shall appoint some to fetch him: only I request that you would please to giue a name to him.

Sir concerning Captiues (pardon my wonted boldnes) the Scripture is full of mysterie, and the old Testament of Types.

If they have deserved Death, tis Sinn to spare:

If they haue not deserved Death then what punishments? Whether perpetuall slaverie.

I doubt not but the Enemie may lawfully be weakned and despoild of all Comfort of wife and children etc: but I beseech you well weigh if after a due time of trayning vp to labour, and restraint, they ought not to be set free: yet so as without danger of adioyning to the Enemie Thus earnestly looking vp to heaven for you and all yours I rest Your worships vnfaigned

Roger Williams

My best respect to Mrs. Wintrop Mr. Deputie Mr. Bellingham etc.


W. 2. 102; 4 Collections , VI. 212–214; N.C. , VI. 52–55.


John Greene was, on August 1, 1637, bound over to the Court of Assistants by the Massachusetts General Court in one hundred marks for having “spoken against the magistrates contemptuously,” and on September 19 was fined £20, committed until the fine should be paid, and banished from the colony. Records of Massachusetts, I. 200, 203. When later, upon his return to Providence, Greene protested in writing that the action taken against him by the Massachusetts authorities was a usurpation of “the power of Christ over the churches and mens consciences,” the General Court, in March, 1637/38, reaffirmed its sentence of banishment. Ibid., 224.