William Witter allowed John Clarke, John Crandall, and Obadiah Holmes to come into his house and conduct a Baptist meeting. It was on the night of July 19, 1651. This was more than the authorities could handle, and, while these men were expounding the Scriptures, two constables broke in and arrested them.
They were confined in the ordinary that night and were considered as “thieves and robbers” by the officers. Then they were placed in the Boston jail.
John Clarke, John Crandall, and Obadiah Holmes were brought to a public trial on July 31, 1651. This was executed without a jury and entirely at the mercy of the magistrates. Governor John Endicott charged all three men for being “Anabaptists”. Then, the governor replied,
“…we denied infant baptism, and being somewhat transported, told me I had deserved death, and said he would not have such trash brought into his jurisdiction. Moreover, he said, You go up and down and secretly insinuate into those that are weak, but you cannot maintain it before our ministers. You may try and dispute with them.”
Clarke was about to speak but was suddenly stopped and brought back to prison. That was when Obadiah Holmes stepped forward and said, “I bless God, I am counted worthy to suffer for the name of Jesus.” The Puritan pastor John Wilson cursed and hit Holmes for making this statement and said, “The curse of God or Jesus go with thee.”
The defense attorney appointed to defend these Baptist “dissenters” was John Cotton. Instead of supporting the preachers, he called for their death sentence stating that they were “soul murderers”.
Clarke was fined twenty pounds or to be “well whipped”. Crandall was charged five pounds or to be “well whipped”. Holmes was penalized thirty pounds or to be “well whipped”. Clarke and Crandall were soon released “upon the payment of their fines by some tenderhearted friends”. Holmes refused for his fine to be paid because he felt that he was guilty of nothing but preaching the gospel of the Son of God.
John T. Christian, A History of the Baptists