Anne Hutchinson (1591-1643)

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Anne Hutchinson (1591-1643)

Anne Hutchinson was born to a religious family in England in 1591. When she was 21, she married William Hutchinson, and the two eventually had 15 children.

While in England, Anne and William began to follow the religious leader John Cotton, a Puritan who eventually left England to start a Puritan colony in America. In 1634, Anne and her family, like thousands of others, left England to practice their religion freely.

The religious climate in the Massachusetts Bay Colony was very strict. Colonists were expected to follow the teachings of the Puritan Church. As the colony took hold, ministers emphasized everyone's duty to pray, fast and live a very religious life.

In the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Anne led the life of trusted midwife, housewife, and mother. She was very kind, gentle, and well spoken, and her nature drew people to her. After several years in the colony, she started a women’s group, which met in her home to discuss church sermons. At first, the women discussed the previous Sunday’s sermons given by Reverend Cotton, but before long, Anne began telling the women about her own beliefs, which were very different from those of the Massachusetts ministers.

As more and more people started attending her meetings, they became extremely controversial. Male preachers in the colony did not like Anne’s views on the church, and worried that she would upset the religious structure of the colony. What started as a religious point of difference grew into a great divide that threatened the political stability of the colony. To her opponents, questioning the church meant questioning the State.

In November, Anne was put on trial for speaking out against the religious leaders in Massachusetts Bay. The men described her meetings as “a thing not tolerable nor comely in the sight of God, nor fitting for your [gender].” They accused her of breaking the Fifth Commandment by not honoring her superiors (the church elders). The trial became very heated, with arguments from both sides. At the end of the trial, Anne was found guilty and banished from the Massachusetts Colony. She and her family moved to Rhode Island,

When her husband died in 1642, Anne took her children and moved to New York. A year later, Native Americans attached the settlements in New York. Anne’s home was raided, and she was slaughtered along with 13 members of her family. Her youngest daughter was taken captive and adopted by Native Americans.

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