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Anne HutchinsonAnne Hutchinson

Puritan dissenter

Anne Marbury was baptized in Alford, Lincolnshire, England, on July 20, 1591, the second daughter (of thirteen children) of Bridget Dryden and the dissenting Anglican clergyman Francis Marbury. She developed talents for domestic leadership and the use of herbal medicines early in life. From her father she received an education in theology and conscientious dissent. She married merchant William Hutchinson in 1612, and the couple ultimately had thirteen children.

Anne and William were followers of Puritan minister John Cotton, and followed him to the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1634. Her kindness and generous care of the sick made her a popular figure, and before long she was hosting weekly meetings in her home to discuss Cotton's sermons. Initially open only to women, her meetings became so popular that men began attending them as well.

Like Cotton, Hutchinson believed that redemption was God's gift to his elect and could not be earned by human effort. This put her and Cotton in direct conflict with traditional Puritanism, which stressed the importance of good works. What set Hutchinson apart from Cotton was her additional belief that salvation could be achieved without "assistance" from any minister or church. And, since the government of the Bay Colony was directly linked to the Church, it was this belief which led to a split in the Colony.

Although Hutchinson enjoyed support from many colony leaders, including Governor Henry Vane, she also had some powerful enemies. The most powerful of those enemies was John Winthrop, who was replaced Vane as Governor in 1637. In November of 1637, Winthrop led the prosecution of Hutchinson before the Massachusetts General Court on charges roughly equivalent to slander and conspiracy to overthrow the government. Hutchinson and most of her supporters were ultimately found guilty and banished from the colony. The Church of Boston excommunicated them the following year.

Following their banishment, the Hutchinson family and many of their supporters moved to Aquidneck in Narragansett Bay (now part of Rhode Island). After William Hutchinson died in 1642, his widow and six youngest children moved to Long Island, New York, and then to what is now Pelham Bay, New York. Indians killed Anne Hutchinson and all but one of her children there in 1643.

SEE ALSO
Massachusetts Bay Colony
John Winthrop

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The Robinson Library >> American History >> United States: Local History and Description >> New England >> Massachusetts

This page was last updated on January 12, 2017.