Anne Marbury Hutchinson

Anne Marbury Hutchinson

(1591-1643)

Anne Marbury was born in Alford, Lincolnshire, England in 1591. Her father and her maternal grandfather were both Anglican priests, and she grew up in a household that was accustomed to religious discussion. The Marburys moved to London in 1605. In 1612, Anne married William Hutchinson, a merchant from Alford, and moved there. The couple had 14 children.

Seeking greater opportunities, the Hutchinson family emigrated to the New World aboard the ship the Griffin in 1634. They arrived in Boston and soon became valued members of the Puritan community.

Sometime in 1636, Anne Hutchinson began to hold religious meetings with women at her home at which the group discussed such issues as the minister’s latest Sunday sermon. Although the meetings began as informal affairs, Anne soon began to speak of a “covenant of grace” rather than the “covenant of works” accepted in Puritan circles. This meant that she believed that God’s grace was large enough to allow each human being to make his or her own peace with God, rather than having to rely upon the intercession of a minister or priest.

She was not rejected at first. John Cotton, one of the most important Puritan ministers, initially agreed with her, and she was protected through the good will of other political leaders, such as Henry Vane. However, after Vane left the colony in 1 637, she came under attack and was eventually charged with Antinomianism—the heretical belief that ministers and the established church were unnecessary.

A meeting of the Puritan churches was held in 1637, and the matter was sent for deliberation to the General Court, the legislature of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Hutchinson was found guilty and sentenced to banishment from the colony After Governor John Winthrop read the sentence, Hutchinson asked for the reasons why she had been found guilty. Winthrop gave the frosty reply that it was sufficient for only the court to know the reasons for her banishment.

In 1638, Hutchinson, her family, and a large number of her associates migrated to Aquidneck, in what would soon become Rhode Island. Her husband died in 1 642 and Hutchinson and some of her children then moved to Pelham Bay on Long Island.

They were surprised by an Indian attack in August, 1643, and Hutchinson and all but one of the children with her were killed in the raid. Some Puritan leaders saw this as proof that God had indeed been displeased by her conduct.A statue to Anne Hutchinson—as a fighter for religious freedom—stands today on the Boston Common in the center of Boston.