Anne Hutchinson


Anne Hutchinson was born Anne Marbury, the daughter of a dissident Puritan clergyman who educated her at their home in England. At age 21, she married William Hutchinson in London, where the two followed the sermons of John Cotton. When Cotton was forced to leave England or face religious persecution, the Hutchinson family followed him to Massachusetts.

Puritans of Boston
In America, Hutchinson faced religious rigidity similar to that in England, and she soon became targeted as a religious dissenter. She challenged the traditional story of Adam and Eve, which at that time was used primarily to blame women for original sin, and she questioned the authority of the clergy as well as Puritan moral and legal code. Anne also taught that those already saved could sin freely, and she claimed to be able to identify those chosen for salvation from among the colonists. As her popularity grew, she began holding Bible meetings for women, and these soon extended to men as well. The Puritan ministers increasingly opposed Hutchinsonís teachings, and in 1637 she was brought to trial by the General Court of Massachusetts. She was 46 years old at the time, and in the middle of her fifteenth pregnancy, but nevertheless she was forced to stand for several days before her interrogators, who accused her of blaspheming and disregarding the fourth commandmentóhonoring thy mother and fatheróby leading women to neglect their own families. She was put under house arrest until her religious trial a year later, when she was officially excommunicated from the Puritan Church.

Some time before her trial, Anne and her husband had made plans to leave Boston, and after her verdict was proclaimed she and her followers settled in Rhode Island, where, after some contention, William Hutchinson was made governor. Problems persisted between him and the other candidate for the position, however, and finally Anne asked him to step down from the position. William passed away in 1642, shortly following his resignation, and after his death Anne took her family north to present-day New York, where they were killed by a group of Indians warring with the Dutch settlers there.

Key events during the life of Anne Hutchinson:

Married William Hutchinson.
Moved to Massachusetts with her family.
Brought to civil trial by the General Court of Massachusetts.
Excommunicated from the Puritan Church.
  Moved to Rhode Island.
Husband was made governor.
Husband died.
  Moved north to present-day New York.
Killed by warring Indians.

Other Resources

Story Links
Book Links
Story of Anne Hutchinson  in  This Country of Ours  by  H. E. Marshall

Short Biography
Mary Dyer Quaker woman who publicly preached in Puritan New England and was hanged after repeated warnings to stop.
William Bradford Governor of the Plymouth Colony of Pilgrims. Wrote the Mayflower Compact.
Roger Williams Religious dissident. Founded Rhode Island and asserted freedom of religion.
John Harvard Founder of Harvard University, the first institution of higher education in the colonies.