You have no power over my body, neither can you do me any harm—for I am in the hands of the eternal Jehovah, my Saviour, I am at his appointment, the bounds of my habitation are cast in heaven, no further do I esteem of any mortal man than creatures in his hand, I fear none but the great Jehovah, which hath foretold me of these things, and I do verily believe that he will deliver me out of our hands. Therefore take heed how you proceed against me—for I know that, for this you go about to do to me, God will ruin you and your posterity and this whole state.— Anne Hutchinson at trial
Anne's father was soon appointed curate (deputy vicar) of Saint Wilfrid's, the local church in Alford, and in 1585 he also became the schoolmaster at the Alford Free Grammar School, one of many such public schools, free to the poor and begun by Queen Elizabeth. About this time, Marbury married his first wife Elizabeth Moore, who bore three children, then died. Within a year of his first wife's death, Marbury married Bridget Dryden, about ten years younger than he and from a prominent Northampton family. Bridget's brother Erasmus was the grandfather of John Dryden, the famous Playwright and Poet Laureate. Anne was the third of 15 children born to this marriage, 12 of whom survived early childhood. The Marburys lived in Alford for the first 15 years of Anne's life, and she received a better education than most girls of her time, with her father's strong commitment to learning, and she also became intimately familiar with scripture and Christian tenets. Education at that time was almost exclusively offered to boys and men. One possible reason why Marbury taught his daughters may have been that six of his first seven children were girls. Another reason may have been that the ruling class in Elizabethan England began realising that girls could be schooled, looking to the Example of the queen, who spoke six foreign languages.
Anne Hutchinson was born Anne Marbury in Alford, Lincolnshire, England, and baptised there on 20 July 1591, the daughter of Francis Marbury and Bridget Dryden. Her father was an Anglican cleric in London with strong Puritan leanings, who felt strongly that clergy should be well educated and clashed with his superiors on this issue. Marbury's repeated challenges to the Anglican authorities led to his censure and imprisonment several years before Anne was born. In 1578, he was given a public trial, of which he made a transcript from memory during a period of house arrest. He later used this transcript to educate and amuse his children, he being the hero and the Bishop of London being portrayed as a buffoon. For his conviction of heresy, Marbury spent two years in Marshalsea Prison on the south side of the River Thames across from London. In 1580, at the age of 25, he was released and was considered sufficiently reformed to preach and teach. He moved to the remote market town of Alford in Lincolnshire, about 140 miles (230 km) north of London.
The family moved from Alford to the heart of London in 1605 when Anne was 15, where her father was given the position of vicar of the Church of Saint Martin's in the Vintry. Here his expression of puritan views was tolerated, though somewhat muffled, because of a shortage of Pastors. Marbury took on additional work in 1608, preaching in the parish of Saint Pancras, several miles North West of the city, travelling there by horseback twice a week. In 1610, he replaced that position with one much closer to home and became rector of Saint Margaret's on New Fish Street, only a short walk from Saint Martin in the Vintry. He was at a high point in his career, but he died suddenly at the age of 55 in February 1611, when Anne was 19 years old.
The year after her father's death, Anne Marbury, aged 21, married william Hutchinson, a familiar acquaintance from Alford who was a fabric merchant then working in London. The couple was married at St Mary Woolnoth Church in London on 9 August 1612, shortly after which they moved back to their hometown of Alford.
The oldest child Edward was baptized 28 May 1613. He signed the Portsmouth Compact and settled on Aquidneck Island with his parents, but he soon made peace with the Massachusetts authorities and returned to Boston. He was an officer in the colonial militia, and died from wounds received during King Philip's War. Susanna was baptised 4 September 1614 and died in Alford during the plague in 1630. Richard (baptized 8 December 1615) was admitted to the Boston church in 1634, but he returned to England and no further record has been found. Faith (baptized 14 August 1617) married Thomas Savage and lived in Boston, dying about 1651. Bridget (baptised 15 January 1618/9) married John Sanford and lived in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, where her husband was briefly governor of the island; she died by 1698.
Francis (baptized 24 December 1620) was the oldest of the children to perish in the massacre in New Netherland. Elizabeth (baptized 17 February 1621/2) died during the plague in Alford and was buried there on 4 October 1630. william (baptized 22 June 1623) died during infancy. Samuel (baptized 17 December 1624) lived in Boston, married, and had a child, but left behind few records. Anne (baptized 5 May 1626) married william Collins, and both of them went to New Netherland and perished in the massacre with her mother. Mary (baptized 22 February 1627/8), Katherine (baptized 7 February 1629/30), william (baptized 28 September 1631), and daughter Zuriel (baptized in Boston 13 March 1635/6) were all children when they went with their mother to New Netherland, and were killed during the Indian massacre in the late summer of 1643. Susanna was the 14th child of the Hutchinsons and the youngest born in England, baptized 15 November 1633. She survived the Indian attack in 1643, was taken captive, and eventually was traded to the English, after which she married John Cole and had 11 children with him.
Hutchinson was born in Alford, Lincolnshire, England, the daughter of Francis Marbury, an Anglican cleric and school Teacher who gave her a far better education than most other girls received. She lived in London as a young adult, and there married her old friend from home william Hutchinson. The couple moved back to Alford where they began following dynamic preacher John Cotton in the nearby port of Boston, Lincolnshire. Cotton was compelled to emigrate in 1633, and the Hutchinsons followed a year later with their 11 children and soon became well established in the growing settlement of Boston in New England. Anne was a midwife and very helpful to those needing her assistance, as well as forthcoming with her personal religious understandings. Soon she was hosting women at her house weekly, providing commentary on recent sermons. These meetings became so popular that she began offering meetings for men as well, including the young governor of the colony Henry Vane.
The Reverend Zachariah Symmes had sailed to New England on the same ship as the Hutchinsons. In September 1634, he told another minister that he doubted Anne Hutchinson's orthodoxy, based on questions that she asked him following his shipboard sermons. This issue delayed Hutchinson's membership to the Boston church by a week, until a pastoral examination determined that she was sufficiently orthodox to join the church.
In 1635, a difficult situation occurred when senior pastor John Wilson returned from a lengthy trip to England where he had been settling his affairs. Hutchinson was exposed to his teaching for the first time, and she immediately saw a big difference between her own doctrines and his. She found his emphasis on morality and his doctrine of "evidencing justification by sanctification" to be disagreeable. She told her followers that Wilson lacked "the seal of the Spirit." Wilson's theological views were in accord with all of the other ministers in the colony except for Cotton, who stressed "the inevitability of God's will" ("free grace") as opposed to preparation (works). Hutchinson and her allies had become accustomed to Cotton's doctrines, and they began disrupting Wilson's sermons, even finding excuses to leave when Wilson got up to preach or pray.
Winship calls Hutchinson "a prophet, spiritual adviser, mother of fifteen, and important participant in a fierce religious controversy that shook the infant Massachusetts Bay Colony from 1636 to 1638", upheld as a symbol of religious freedom, liberal thinking, and Christian feminism. Anne Hutchinson is a contentious figure, having been lionized, mythologized, and demonized by various Writers. In particular, historians and other observers have interpreted and re-interpreted her life within the following frameworks: the status of women, power struggles within the Church, and a similar struggle within the secular political structure. As to her overall historical impact, Winship writes, "Hutchinson's well-publicized trials and the attendant accusations against her made her the most famous, or infamous, English woman in colonial American history."
Hutchinson was brought to trial on 7 November 1637, with Wheelwright banished and other court Business taken care of. The trial was presided over by Governor John Winthrop, on the charge of "traducing [slandering] the ministers". Other charges against her were laid out by Winthrop, including being one who "troubled the peace of the commonwealth and churches", promoting and divulging opinions that had caused recent troubles, and continuing to hold meetings at her home despite a recent synod that had condemned them.
Another memorial to Hutchinson was erected south of Boston in Quincy, Massachusetts, at the corner of Beale Street and Grandview Avenue. This is near the location where the Hutchinsons owned a 600-acre farm with a house, and this is where they stayed for several days in early spring 1638 while making the trip from Boston to their new home on Aquidneck Island.
Less than a year after Pocasset was settled, it suffered rifts and civil difficulties. Coddington had openly supported Hutchinson following her trial, but he had become autocratic and began to alienate his fellow settlers. Early in 1639, Hutchinson became acquainted with Samuel Gorton, who attacked the legitimacy of the magistrates. On 28 April 1639, Gorton and a dozen other men ejected Coddington from power. Hutchinson may not have supported this rebellion, but her husband was chosen as the new governor. Two days later, over 30 men signed a document forming a new "civil body politic". Winthrop noted in his journal that at Aquidneck,
Thus the natives gave overt clues that they were displeased with the settlement being formed there. The property had supposedly been secured by an agent of the Dutch West India Company in 1640, but the negotiation was transacted with members of the Siwanoy people in distant Norwalk, and the local natives likely had little to do with that transaction, if they even knew of it at all. Hutchinson was therefore taking a considerable risk in putting a permanent dwelling at this site.
Hutchinson's husband william died some time after June 1641 at the age of 55, the same age at which Anne's father had died. He was buried in Portsmouth. No record of his death exists because there was no established church, which would have been the customary repository for such records.
Not long after the settlement of Aquidneck Island, the Massachusetts Bay Colony made some serious threats to take over the island and the entire Narragansett Bay area, causing Hutchinson and other settlers much anxiety. This compelled her to move totally out of the reach of the Bay colony and its sister colonies in Connecticut and New Haven and move into the jurisdiction of the Dutch. Hutchinson went to New Netherland some time after the summer of 1642 with seven of her children, a son-in-law, and several servants—16 total persons by several accounts. There they settled near an ancient landmark called Split Rock, not far from what became the Hutchinson River in northern Bronx, New York City. Other Rhode Island families were in the area, including the Throckmortons and the Cornells. By one account, Hutchinson bought her land from John Throckmorton (for whom Throggs Neck is named) who had earlier been a settler of Providence with Roger Williams, but was now living in New Netherland.
The exact date of the Hutchinson massacre is not known. The first definitive record of the occurrence was in John Winthrop's journal, where it was the first entry made for the month of September, though not dated. It took days or even weeks for Winthrop to receive the news, so the event almost certainly occurred in August 1643, and this is the date found in most sources.
In 1914, John Champlin published the bulk of the currently known ancestry of Anne Hutchinson, showing her descent on her father's side of the family from Charlemagne and Alfred the Great. Gary Boyd Roberts and others have published her line of descent on her mother's side from Edward I of England, thus connecting her with Edward's great grandparents, Henry II of England and his wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine. Most of the material in the following ancestor chart is from Champlin, except for the Williamson line which was published in The American Genealogist by F. N. Craig in 1992.
In front of the State House in Boston, Massachusetts stands a statue of Anne Hutchinson with her daughter Susanna as a child. The statue, dedicated in 1922, has an inscription on the marble pediment that reads:
The exact location of the Hutchinson house has been a source of great interest for several centuries. LaPlante hints in her biography of Hutchinson that the homestead was near the Indian Trail that went through modern-day Pelham Bay Park, on the east side of the Hutchinson River. Lockwood Barr offers another hypothesis, citing the extensive land title research of Otto Hufeland published by the Westchester Historical Society in 1929. He concluded that the site of the homestead was on the west side of the Hutchinson River in Eastchester. A map in Barr's book that appeared in the 1929 work shows the property bordering the river in an area that is now called Baychester, between two creeks called Rattlesnake Brook and Black Dog Brook. This area of the Bronx is now highly developed; Rattlesnake Brook is extant, mostly in underground culverts, but Black Dog Brook is defunct.
Anne Hutchinson and her political struggle with Governor Winthrop are depicted in the 1980 play Goodly Creatures by william Gibson. Other notable historical characters who appear in the play are Reverend John Cotton, Governor Harry Vane, and Future Quaker martyr Mary Dyer. In January 2014, Dan Shore's opera Anne Hutchinson, with libretto by william A. Fregosi and Fritz Bell, was performed twice in Boston, Massachusetts by the Intermezzo Opera Company. In February 2015, researcher Claire Bellerjeau discovered and positively identified a tribute poem to Anne Hutchinson written in 1770 by Jupiter Hammon, the first published Black American poet.
In 1987, Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis pardoned Anne Hutchinson, revoking the order of banishment by Governor Winthrop 350 years earlier.
The Hutchinsons became members of the Boston church, the most important church in the colony. With its location and harbour, Boston was New England's centre of commerce, and its church was characterised by Winthrop as "the most publick, where Seamen and all Strangers came." The church membership had grown from 80 to 120 during Cotton's first four months there. In his journal, Winthrop proclaimed, "more were converted & added to that Churche, than to all the other Churches in the Baye." Historian Michael Winship noted in 2005 that the church seemed to approach the Puritan ideal of a Christian community. Early Massachusetts Historian william Hubbard found the church to be "in so flourishing a condition as were scarce any where else to be paralleled." Winship considers it an exceptional twist of fate that the colony's most important church also had the most unconventional minister in John Cotton. The more extreme religious views of Hutchinson and Henry Vane, the colony's young governor, did not much stand out because of Cotton's divergence from the theology of his fellow ministers.
According to Hutchinson biographer Eve LaPlante, some literary critics trace the character of Hester Prynne in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter to Hutchinson's persecution in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Historian Amy Lang wrote that Hester Prynne was the embodiment of a fictional Anne Hutchinson—a Hutchinson created by the early Puritan chroniclers. Lang notes that Hester was what orthodox Puritans said Hutchinson was, either in reality or at least spiritually. The parallel is that Hutchinson was the heretic who metaphorically seduced the Puritan community, while in Hawthorne's novel Hester Prynne literally seduced the minister of her community.
According to modern Historian Michael Winship, Hutchinson is famous, not so much for what she did or said during the Antinomian Controversy, but for what John Winthrop made of her in his journal and in his account of the controversy called the Short Story. According to Winship, Hutchinson became the reason in Winthrop's mind for all of the difficulties that the colony had gone through, though inaccurately portrayed and, with her departure, any other lingering issues were swept under the carpet. Winthrop's account has given Hutchinson near legendary status and, as with all legends, what exactly she stood for has shifted over the centuries. Winthrop described her as "a woman of ready wit and bold spirit". In the words of Winship, to Winthrop, Hutchinson was a "hell-spawned agent of destructive anarchy". The close relationship between church and state in Massachusetts Bay meant that a challenge to the ministers was quickly interpreted as challenge to established authority of all kinds. To 19th century America, she was a crusader for religious liberty, as the nation celebrated its new achievement of the separation of church and state. Finally, in the 20th century, she became a feminist leader, credited with terrifying the patriarchs, not because of her religious views but because she was an assertive, highly visible woman. According to feminist Amy Lang, Hutchinson failed to understand that "the force of the female heretic vastly exceeds her heresy". Lang argues that it was difficult for the court to pin a crime on her; her true crime in their eyes, according to Lang's interpretation, was the violation of her role in Puritan society, and she was condemned for undertaking the roles of Teacher, minister, magistrate, and husband. (However, the Puritans themselves clearly stated that the threat which they perceived was entirely theological, and no direct mention was ever made to indicate that they were threatened by her gender.)