Thomas Marsh, Independent

In January 1746 authorities locked up Thomas Marsh because members of a church in Canterbury, Connecticut, were about to ordain him as their pastor. Marsh was not an ordained minister within the colony’s established church. A sizable group in Canterbury were unhappy with the establishment “soul-guide” available to them and wanted someone who would preach truth as their consciences said it should be preached.

Isaac Backus went to visit Marsh during his six months captivity, “and found him comfortable in mind; but his body was closely locked up in prison.” Ironically a physician in the same jail, who had killed an unmarried woman with a drug intended to induce an abortion, was allowed freedom to visit patients. As it turned out, the government of Connecticut continued to harass the independent Christians of Canterbury for fifteen years, confiscating their property and imprisoning some of them.