Anne Marbury was born in 1591 in Alford, England. The woman who would become an American religious reformer married William Hutchinson, a merchant, in 1612, and together they had fourteen children, loosing three to death very young.
In 1634, Anne and William followed their oldest son to the Massachusetts Bay Colony in Boston. There Anne’s life would undergo a major change.
What led Anne’s life to make such a change from the normal wife’s role, to go against the established way of her time? What caused her to become so outspoken, to take a stand against tradition?
Anne was the daughter of Bridget Marbury and Rev. Francis Marbury, a Puritan clergyman. Rev. Marbury had two children by his deceased wife, and 14 more children by Bridget. Anne was the third child of her mother Bridget. Rev. Marbury died in 1611, when Anne was only twenty years old.
Anne was still unmarried when her father died, and in those days, a female was considered an “old maid” to be unattached at such an age. Within the year, William Hutchinson took her as his bride. The couple returned to Alford, England to make their home.
Soon the Hutchinson’s began to attend a church led by Rev. John Cotton. In 1633, Cotton was disciplined by the Church of England, and fled the country to the newly formed colony in Massachusetts. In 1634, The Hutchinson’s traveled to Boston also.
When Hutchinson, a Puritan, came to America, she came in search of a place where she could worship freely. But when Anne arrived, she found the Bay Colony’s religious rules very intolerant.
The family made a nice home in Boston, and Anne became well known within a short time. She was an excellent midewife and nurse, one reason for her popularity. And she began to hold weekly meetings in her home.
The meetings began innocently enough. Anne organized weekly meetings of Boston women to discuss recent sermons and to give expression to her own theological views. Soon men began to attend also. At times, up to eighty people were in the home at once. The meetings soon became twice weekly. Anne would talk and hold religious discussions, giving her viewpoints on God and the Bible. She held the belief that God spoke to people through the Holy Spirit, not just through the bible alone.
Soon Anne’s meetings were angering Puritan ministers and the local government. Anne’s ideas went against tradition and men’s ideas of the time. Her opponents accused her of antinomianism – the view that God’s grace has freed the Christian from the need to observe established moral precepts.
Her criticism of the Massachusetts Puritans were widely supported by Bostonians. John Winthrop, however, opposed her, and she lost much of her support after his election to the position of governor.
In 1637, Anne was brought to trial, and found guilty. She was banished from the colony. But before she left the colony, Anne was again tried, this time by the Church, and found guilty and kicked out of the church. The family and some of Anne’s followers founded a settlement on the island of Aquidneck, now part of Rhode Island, and helped to found the town of Portsmouth.
William Hutchinson died in 1642, and Anne moved with the children to New York in 1643. Anne and all but one of her children were killed by indians that same year.