Hutchinson #5389

Anne (Marbury) Hutchinson (1591-1643)

Born in Alford, Lincolnshire, England.  Arrived in Massachusetts in 1634, later settling in Rhode Island and New York and

William Hutchinson (1586-1642)

Born in Alford, Lincolnshire, England.  Arrived in Massachusetts in 1634, later settling in Rhode Island.

Hutchinson #5389

There are many books available on Anne Hutchinson and related topics.  Check out my Recommended Reading List.


The descendant lines from Anne‘s father Francis Marbury, mother Bridget Dryden, and some notes on her purported royal ancestry are summarized in selected pages from Marston Watson’s Royal Families: Americans of Royal and Noble Ancestry: Reverend Francis Marbury and Five Generations of the Descendants Through Anne (Marbury) Hutchinson and Katherine (Marbury) Scott, Vol. 2 (Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company) 2004

William Hutchinson (1586-1641) and Anne Marbury (1591-1643) were both born in Alford, Lincolnshire, England and immigrated to Massachusetts in 1634.


The Story of Anne Hutchinson[1]

Anne Hutchinson Statue (Massachusetts State House, Boston)

Anne Marbury (1591–1643), generally remembered in history as Anne Hutchinson, was born 20 July 1591 and baptized in Alford, Lincolnshire, England.  She is thought to be a descendant of several English royal lines[2], and this genealogy has been extensively studied by professional genealogists, due to Hutchinson’s prominence in the history of the English colonies of New England.  One of the most famous of early colonial settlers, Anne Hutchinson used her considerable influence as a woman to defy the intolerant religious laws of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.  This was something of an irony considering that many settlers of that colony had themselves left England because of religious intolerance.  Some twentieth century historians credit her with being the first American woman to lead the public fight for religious diversity and female equality. In his 1971 biography, Eleanor and Franklin, Joseph P. Lash reported that Eleanor Roosevelt began her list of America ‘s greatest women with Anne Hutchinson.

Map of the Massachusetts Bay colony and neighboring settlements

She was a Puritan whose religious ideas were at odds with the established Puritan clergy in the Boston area, and her popularity and charisma created a schism in the Boston church, which threatened to destroy the Puritans’ “holy experiment” in New England.  Creating the most challenging situation for the ruling magistrates and ministers during her first three years in Boston, she was eventually tried and convicted, then banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony with many of her followers.  Her father, Francis Marbury (1555-1611), was an Anglican minister with strong Puritan leanings.  He had been imprisoned for two years and then later put under house arrest, for his overt criticism of the Anglican hierarchy for not staffing churches with better-trained ministers.  Marbury was also a schoolteacher, and while under house arrest, he used his time to teach his children.  Anne grew up with a far better education than most girls, who generally had few educational opportunities in 16th century England.

As a young adult living in London, she married there an old friend from Alford, William Hutchinson, and the couple moved back to Alford where they began a family and visited various churches in the area.  Hearing of a dynamic young preacher named John Cotton[3] in the market town of Boston, Lincolnshire, about 21 miles away, the couple went to hear him preach, and thereafter made the difficult trip by horseback at every opportunity.  Enamored with Cotton’s preaching, Anne was distraught when Cotton was compelled to emigrate following threats of imprisonment for his Puritan messages and practices.

In 1634, after the birth of her 14th child, Anne Hutchinson followed Cotton to New England, with her husband and 11 living children, and soon became well established in the growing settlement of Boston, in the English colonies.  She was a midwife and very helpful to those needing her assistance, as well as being very forthcoming with her personal religious opinions and understandings.  Soon she was hosting women at her house once a week, providing commentary on recent sermons and sharing her religious views, including criticism of many local ministers.  These meetings became so popular that she soon began offering meetings to men as well, to include the young governor of the colony, Harry Vane.  Up to 80 people a week were visiting her house to learn from her interpretations and views of religious matters.  As a follower of Cotton, she espoused a “covenant of grace,” while accusing all of the local ministers (except for Cotton and her husband’s brother-in-law, John Wheelwright) of preaching a “covenant of works.”  Several ministers complained about Hutchinson to John Winthrop, who served several terms as governor of the colony, and eventually the situation erupted into what is known as the “Antinomian Controversy”, resulting in Anne Hutchinson‘s 1637 trial, conviction, and banishment from the colony.

With encouragement from Roger Williams, Anne Hutchinson and many followers established the settlement of Portsmouth in what would become the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.  She lived there for a few years, but after her husband’s death, threats of Massachusetts taking over Rhode Island compelled her to move totally outside the reach of Boston, into the lands of the Dutch.  Sometime in 1642 she settled with her younger children in New Netherland near an ancient landmark called Split Rock in what would later become the Bronx, New York City.  Here she had a home built, but tensions with the native Siwanoy were high, and following inhumane treatment by the Dutch, the natives went on a series of rampages known as Kieft’s War.  In August 1643, all but one of the 16 members of Anne Hutchinson‘s household were massacred during an attack.  The lone survivor, nine-year old Susanna Hutchinson, was taken captive and held for several years before being returned to family members in Boston.

Anne Hutchinson is a key figure in the study of the development of religious freedom in England’s American colonies and the history of women in ministry.  She challenged the authority of the ministers, exposing the subordination of women in the culture of colonial Massachusetts.  Although her religious ideas remain controversial, her implicit rejection of state authority to prescribe specific religious rites and interpretations was later enshrined in the US Constitution.  Massachusetts honors her with a State House monument calling her a “courageous exponent of civil liberty and religious toleration.


Lincolnshire, England map

English Origins

Anne Hutchinson was born Anne Marbury in Alford, Lincolnshire, England, and baptised there on 20 July 1591, the daughter of Francis Marbury (1555-1611) and Bridget Elizabeth Dryden (1563-1645).  Francis Marbury was baptized 27 Oct 1555 at St. Pancras, Soper Lane, London.  He married Bridget Dryden about 1587 at Canons Ashby, Northamptonshire and died January 1610/11 at Alford.  He was the son of William Marbury and Agnes Lenton, Gentleman of Girsby in Burgh-upon-Bain, Lincolnshire.  Agnes was the daughter of John Lenton, Esq., probably of Aldwinkle, Northamptonshire.  Francis was born about eight years after the death of Henry VIII and three years before Elizabeth I was crowned Queen of England, at a time when the Anglican Church shared considerable power in England.  The Queen positioned herself as head of the Church of England and defeated the Spanish Catholics.  England became a country of great religious activity, with Anglican bishops and ministers taking dominant positions in the government and courts.  People loyal to the queen were pressing for church rites, teachings and rituals that would clearly separate their Noel church from Catholicism.  in this atmosphere, some small groups wanted to change the church even more, to rid it of any formal ritual that would suggest a relationship with the Catholics.  these people were called Puritans.  It was during this time that Francis Marbury was matriculated pensioner from Christ College, Cambridge, in May 1571, but did not receive a degree.

Marshalsea Prison, London, where Annes father was detained for two years for "heresy".  The prison occupied two locations, the first c. 1329-1811, and the second 1811-1842. The image above is of the first Marshalsea in the 18th century.

Marshalsea Prison, London, where Annes father was detained for two years for “heresy”. The prison occupied two locations, the first c. 1329-1811, and the second 1811-1842. The image above is of the first Marshalsea in the 18th century.

It was about this time that Francis began to teach and preach at the church in Northampton near the Dryden estate.  Although he had been educated at Cambridge University, he soon found that many of be Anglican ministers were not well educated but appointed to their positions by the ruling bishops for political reasons.  Taking a position commonly used by Puritans, he criticized the church leadership for staffing the parish churches with poorly trained clergy and for tolerating poorly trained bishops.  After serving two jail terms, he was ordered not to return to Northamptonshire, but disregarded the mandate and was brought before the Bishop of London, John Aylmer, for trial in 1578.  During the examination, Aylmer called Marbury a very ass, an idiot, and a fool.  during a period of house arrest, he made a transcript from memory.  He 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, Francis Marbury spent two years in Marshalsea Prison, on the south side of the River Thames, across from London.  While in prison, he wrote an allegorical play entitled A Contract of Marriage between Wit and Wisdom.  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 north of London.  Anne‘s father was soon appointed curate (deputy vicar) of Saint Wilfrid’s, the local church in Alford.  In 1585 he also became the schoolmaster at the Alford Free Grammar School, one of many such public schools, free to the poor, begun by Queen Elizabeth.

St. Wilfrid’s Church, Alford, Lincolnshire, England. The church dates back to the 14th century with some original features: a 14th century screen, a fine Jacobean pulpit, traces of 16th century glass and a 17th century tomb in the chancel. The church was restored in the 1860s when a second north aisle, vestry and organ chamber were added. The tower houses six bells.

About this time Francis 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 Elizabeth Dryden, from a prominent Northampton family.  She was born about 1563 at Canons Ashby, Northamptonshire and died about 1645 at Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire.  She was the daughter of John Dryden and Elizabeth Cope.  She was a skilled midwife, who assisted the women of the community whenever they were giving birth.  As she became older, Anne accompanied her mother on these goodwill visits, and in time she herself became a midwife.  Bridget‘s royal and noble ancestry includes descent from Edward I through his daughter Elizabeth, wife of Humphrey de Bohun, Earl of Hereford and Essex.  She married (2nd) Rev. Thomas Newman of Berkhamsted.  Bridget‘s older brother, Erasmus, later became the grandfather of the famous English poet John Dryden.  Follow the link to his article under “Notable Kin”.  He is my 2nd cousin 11x removed.  Many in Bridget‘s family were Puritans, and at least one relative had been imprisoned in the Tower of London for suggesting religious reforms.  The Dryden ancestry traces back through English nobility and the royal lines of Alfred the Great and Charlemagne.



Anne was the third of 15 children born to this marriage, 12 of whom survived to early childhood.  The Marburys lived in Alford for the first 15 years of Anne‘s life, and with her father’s strong commitment to learning, she received a better education than most contemporary girls.  She also became intimately familiar with scripture and Christian tenets.  While education at that time was almost exclusively offered to boys and men, one reason that Marbury may have focused on teaching his daughters is that his five oldest surviving children were all girls.  Another reason may have been that the ruling class in Elizabethan England began realizing that girls could be schooled, looking to the example of the queen, who spoke six foreign languages.

The year before Anne was born, in 1590, Francis Marbury once again felt emboldened to speak out against his superiors, denouncing the Church of England for selecting poorly educated bishops and poorly trained ministers.  The Bishop of Lincoln, calling him an impudent Puritan, removed him from preaching and teaching, and put him under house arrest.  Without employment, he tended his gardens and tutored his children, reading to them from his own writings, the Bible, and John Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, which, with its gore, was fascinating reading to the Marbury children.  Somehow the family was able to survive, perhaps from borrowing from the Drydens.  Francis Marbury, who had become desperate without a job, pleaded to church officials that he wasn’t a Puritan, and asked to return him to his posts.  He wrote to John Aylmer, the Bishop of London, and also asked other ministers to vouch for his good character.  Finally, in 1594, when Anne was three years old, he was permitted to once again preach and teach.  From this point forward, Francis Marbury resolved to curb his tongue, and not openly question those in positions of authority.  Eventually he was promoted with a position back in London.

Today there is a small park on the former site of the parish church of St. Martin in the Vintry ward of the City of London, England. The church stood at what is now the junction of Queen Street and Upper Thames Street just north of Southwark Bridge. The church was destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666 and never rebuilt (photo 2008 by Bashereyre).

In 1605, when Anne was 14, the family moved from Alford to the heart of London where Francis Marbury was given the position of vicar of the Church of Saint Martin’s in the Vintry.  Here his Puritan views, though somewhat muffled, were nevertheless present and tolerated, since there was a shortage of pastors.  The London that Anne saw was a vibrant and cosmopolitan city, with a population of roughly 200,000 people.  Active playwrights of the time were William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, and Ben Jonson, whose plays were performed just across the river.  The city, about a square mile in size, sat on the north side of the river Thames with three and four-storied buildings positioned along cobbled, refuse-littered streets, and with the skyline dominated by hundreds of church steeples.  The Marburys managed to avoid the bubonic plague that occasionally swept through the city.  Francis Marbury took on additional work in 1608, preaching in the parish of Saint Pancras, several miles northwest of the city, traveling there by horseback twice a week.  In 1610 he was able to replace 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.  Outwardly all seemed to be going well, but in February 1611, when Anne was 19 years old, her father died suddenly at the age of 55.


Rev. John Cotton (1585-1652), engraving made in 1856 by H.W. Smith, copied from a painting

Adulthood – Following John Cotton

The year after her father’s death, Anne Marbury, aged 21, married an old acquaintance from Alford, William Hutchinson, at St Mary Woolnoth Church in London.  Shortly after their marriage on 9 Aug 1612, the couple moved to their hometown of Alford where they visited a variety of nearby parish churches.  It was not long before they heard about a dynamic preacher, John Cotton, who captivated congregations at Saint Botolph’s Church in the large market town of Boston, about 21 miles from Alford.  The year the Hutchinsons were married, Cotton left Emmanuel College in Cambridge where he had been a tutor, to become the minister at Boston.  Though only 27 years old, his vigorous and incessant preaching established him as one of the leading Puritans in England.  Once the Hutchinsons heard Cotton preach, the couple made the trip to Boston as often as possible, enduring the six-hour ride by horseback when the weather and circumstances allowed.  Cotton represented the more mystical element in the Puritan movement, putting less emphasis on man’s struggle to prepare himself for God’s salvation, and more emphasis on the transforming character of the moment of religious conversion “in which mortal man was infused with a divine grace.”  Cotton downplayed the role of works in man’s relationship with God, as he became one of the most distinguished Puritan clergymen.  Anne was particularly drawn to Cotton’s theology of “absolute grace,” and this pointed her life in the direction of study and interpretation of God’s word.  It may be from Cotton that Hutchinson learned to question the significance of the “law” and “works,” and he may also have encouraged her to view the Holy Spirit as “indwelling” in the “elect saint.”  Furthering Cotton’s doctrine of the Holy Ghost dwelling within a “justified person,” Anne Hutchinson took the notion further, seeing herself as a “mystic participant in the transcendent power of the Almighty.”  It was a theology that could empower women in a society where a woman’s status was determined by their husbands or fathers.  In the case of Anne, it gave her a voice.

Rev. John Wheelwright (1593-1679) in later life; he was banished from Massachusetts along with Anne Hutchinson and migrated to what is now Wells, Maine.

Another strong influence on Anne was closer to her home, in the town of Bilsby, where her husband’s brother-in-law, the young minister John Wheelwright, preached a spiritual message similar to Cotton’s.  Just attending services led by reformers such as Cotton and Wheelwright was not sufficient for many Puritan worshipers, who wanted more avenues for expressing their sense of religious rebirth.  This led to the growth of conventicles, which were gatherings of “those who had found grace” to listen to sermon repetitions, discuss and debate scripture, and pray.  Such assemblies were frowned upon by the established Anglican church hierarchy, and even ignored by some of the Puritan clergy.  There is some evidence that women played an active role in these gatherings, being able to speak out and exert religious leadership otherwise denied them within the church hierarchy.  One such person was “the woman of Ely,” whose activities were known to Anne.  Inspired by Cotton and by other women who ran conventicles, Anne Hutchinson began holding meetings in her own house, repeating and offering explanation of sermons.

William Laud (1573-1645) was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1633 to 1645. One of the High Church Caroline divines, he opposed radical forms of Puritanism. This, and his support for King Charles I, resulted in his beheading in the midst of the English Civil War.

By 1633, Cotton’s inclination toward Puritan practices had attracted the attention of Archbishop William Laud who was on a mission to suppress any preaching and practices that did not conform to the tenets of the established Anglican Church.  In that year, Cotton was removed from his ministry and forced into hiding.  Threatened with imprisonment, he made a hasty departure for New England aboard the ship Griffin[4], taking his pregnant wife who was so close to term that she bore her child aboard the ship (and they named the child “Seaborn”).  When Cotton left England, Anne described it as a great trouble unto her, and stated that she could not be at rest until she followed her minister to New England.  Anne now believed that the Spirit instructed her to follow Cotton to America, impressed by the evidence of divine providence.  Detaining her, however, was the fact that she was well into a pregnancy that would result in her 14th child, and she would not travel until after the baby was born.  With the intention of soon coming to New England, the Hutchinsons allowed their oldest son, Edward Hutchinson, to sail with Cotton before the remainder of the family made the voyage.  Then, in 1634, 43-year old Anne Hutchinson, her 48-year old husband William, their other ten living children, aged about eight months to 19 years, and William’s aged mother, Susanna Wheelwright, set sail from England aboard the Griffin, the same ship that carried Cotton and their oldest son to New England a year earlier.


Historical highway marker for William and Anne Hutchinson’s property at Mount Wollaston, later in Quincy, Massachusetts

Historical highway marker for William and Anne Hutchinson’s property at Mount Wollaston, later in Quincy, Massachusetts

Boston (Massachusetts):

The Hutchinson family arrived in Boston in 1634 where William Hutchinson prospered in the cloth trade, made land purchases and investments and became a town selectman and deputy to the General Court.  Anne likewise fit into her new home with ease and devoted many hours to those who were ill or in need.  She took on the role of spiritual advisor to other women, particularly those in childbirth.  Anne‘s visits with others led to discussions along the lines of the conventicles in England, and soon she was hosting meetings, twice a week, with those who wanted to discuss Cotton’s sermons and hear her explanations and elaborations.  Her meetings for women became so popular that soon she had to organize meetings for men as well, and she was hosting 80 or more people per week.  In time, Anne began to give her own views on religion, espousing that an intuition of the Spirit, and not good works, was the only valid proof of one’s election by God.  Often her spiritual interpretation differed widely from the learned and legalistic reading offered from the Puritan Sunday pulpit.  In particular, Anne constantly challenged the standard interpretation of the story of Adam and Eve, which was a vital text for the Puritans and key to the doctrine of original sin.  This biblical story was regularly cited to assign special blame to women as the source of sin and to justify the patriarchal structure of Puritan society.  Anne‘s following increased and soon included the young Governor of the colony, Harry Vane.  Others, particularly merchants and craftsmen, were attracted by Anne Hutchinson‘s ideas of the disassociation of the state of a man’s soul and his outward behavior.

Since Anne Hutchinson had a personal concern for women’s lack of rights and the racial prejudice against Native Americans, she also applied her personal interpretation of the principles of the Bible to those social concerns.  Furthermore, she openly challenged some of the moral and legal codes that the Puritans held, as well as the authority of the clergy, something that would weigh against her later.  Increasingly, the ministers opposed Anne’s meetings, on the ostensible grounds that such “unauthorized” religious gatherings might confuse the faithful.  However, Anne paid no attention to her critics.  When they cited the biblical texts on the need for women to keep silent in church, she countered with a verse from Titus stating that “the elder women should instruct the younger”.


Antinomian controversy

As early as September 1634, the Reverend Zechariah Symmes, who sailed to New England on the same ship as the Hutchinsons, had questioned Anne‘s orthodoxy.  A difficult situation occurred in 1635 when the senior pastor of the Boston church, John Wilson returned from a trip to England where he had been settling his affairs.  Wilson’s sermons stressed the need for preparation and the need for sanctification (“works”) as evidence of salvation.  This view, that man could earn his eternal reward, was shared by all of the clergy in the Bay Colony, except for Cotton and Wheelwright.  Anne and her followers were threatening the “Puritan’s holy experiment.”  Neither would the followers of Anne Hutchinson tolerate the advocates of the covenant of works, nor would the established clergy tolerate the criticisms rendered by Anne Hutchinson and her followers. Anne and her allies disrupted Wilson’s sermons and generated divisive debates in the Boston church.  Members of Anne Hutchinson‘s faction also refused to serve during the Pequot War because Wilson was the chaplain of the expedition.  The doctrine that Cotton, Hutchinson and some of their followers tried to bring to Boston would have profoundly changed the thrust of the Massachusetts experiment.

It wasn’t until the spring of 1636 that other ministers warned Cotton of the strange opinions found among his parishioners, and they began having doubts about his preaching.  In October 1636, Governor Winthrop noted in his journal that Hutchinson had become the cause of a debate over certain points of theology and listed several errors promulgated by Anne Hutchinson, adding that there joined with her in these opinions a brother of hers, one Mr. Wheelwright, a silenced minister sometimes in England.  During the same month, the ministers confronted the issue, and gathered for a private conference with Cotton, Mrs.  Hutchinson and Wheelwright (who was actually her husband’s brother-in-law, who had just arrived in the colony).  In this meeting, agreement was reached, and Cotton gave satisfaction to them [the other ministers], so as he agreed with them all in the point of sanctification, and so did Mr. Wheelwright; so as they all did hold, that sanctification did help to evidence justification.  This, however, did not quell the differences of opinion in the Boston church, and a majority of the members were of the opinion of Anne Hutchinson, and proposed that Wheelwright join the church ministry.  This was an attempt to replace the church’s minister, John Wilson, who was a personal friend of Winthrop.  Taking advantage of a rule requiring unanimity in a church vote, Winthrop was able to thwart Wheelwright’s election and had him sent to another church at Braintree, ten miles away.  The ministers then met again in December and drew up a list of 16 points wherein they suspected that Cotton disagreed with the others, and Cotton was pressed for direct answers, yay or nay, to each point.  In general, they were not trying to overwhelm Cotton with theological arguments, but wanted to alert him to the dangerous conclusions others were drawing from his position.  Additionally, they were trying to vindicate their reputations as orthodox Protestants who still believed in “free grace.”

By late 1636, as the controversy came to a boil, Anne Hutchinson and her followers were accused of two heresies in the Puritan church: antinomianism and familism.  The word “antinomianism” literally means “against or opposed to the law.”  In a theological context it means “the moral law is not binding upon Christians, who are under the law of grace.”  Technically, if one was under the law of grace then moral law did not apply, raising the specter of a range of deviant behavior in the eyes of the church and society.  Familism was named for a 16th century sect called the Family of Love, and Anne Hutchinson and her followers were incorrectly accused of engaging in “free love,” a label that was actually antithetical to their beliefs.

The colonists who embraced the law of grace did not call themselves Antinomians, since to them the term implied licentious behavior and religious heterodoxy.  The term was used by the opponents of the “Antinomians” to discredit them.  The controversy boiled down to a struggle for control of Massachusetts.  It came at a time when the new society was forming, and it had a decisive effect upon the future of New England.  While Hutchinson took a leading role as the chief antagonist of the orthodox party, it was actually John Cotton’s differences of opinion with the other ministers in Massachusetts that was at the heart of the controversy.  The controversy took place over a period of about 17 months, from October 1636 to the time of Hutchinson’s church trial in March 1638.


Perspective of the Puritan ministers

The Puritans believed that absolute truth was revealed to man once and for all in the Word of God, the Bible.  For two generations the Puritans had been revising Calvin’s interpretation of God’s word, and to them their revision was absolute truth, divine, and unquestionable.  This truth eternal was a path to salvation on which they were determined to mold their daily lives, church, and state, and it was their basis for coming to another continent.  Anne Hutchinson, at first considered the godly wife of a pious and successful merchant, espoused a doctrine totally inconsistent with those on which the new colony had been founded.  Her basis for truth was personal communion with the Holy Spirit, resulting in immediate revelation apart from the Word.  This was quite contrary to the Puritan’s truth that was found in the Bible only, and the Puritans saw in her religion a doctrine that would encourage indolence and loose living.  The New England leaders saw her as encouraging a situation where the minister and the church were no longer needed, which would have likewise done away with the state as it then existed.  Because the Puritans had undergone great hardships to put their ideals into practice, they should do their utmost to maintain them.  To them, Anne Hutchinson‘s views were not a mere difference of opinion.  Instead, it was a case of personal opinion against “truth”.  More upsetting to Winthrop was that the Word of God was being undermined by a woman, whose seductive teachings undermined the commonwealth that he helped so earnestly to create.  The Puritans felt that if they were submissive to God that He would make them prosperous, but if they fell into sin, God would instead treat them with wrath.  The magistrates were under pressure because if they did not punish overt breaches of the law, then all the people might suffer at the hands of God.


Anne Hutchinson on Trial, painting by Edwin Austin Abbey (1852-1911)

Civil trial

Ultimately, Anne Hutchinson was brought to civil trial by the General Court in November 1637, presided over by Governor John Winthrop, on the charge of traducing the ministers.  The Court included both government officials and Puritan clergy. She was 46 years old at the time and apparently advanced in pregnancy.  Nevertheless, she was forced to stand for many hours for two days before a board of male interrogators as they tried desperately to get her to admit her secret blasphemies.  They accused her of violating the fifth commandment to “honor thy father and mother”, accusing her of encouraging dissent against the fathers of the commonwealth. It was charged that by attending her gatherings women were being tempted to neglect the care of their own families.

At the end of the first day of the trial, as the hour grew late, Winthrop recorded, Mrs. Hutchinson, the court you see hath labored to bring you to acknowledge the error of your way that so you might be reduced. The time now grows late. We shall therefore give you a little more time to consider of it and therefore desire that you attend the court again in the morning.  The first day had gone well for the prisoner, as Winthrop referred to Anne Hutchinson.  She had outfenced the magistrates in a battle of wits and forced the ministers into publicly revealing a private and confidential conversation.  As LaPlante wrote, “Her success before the court may have astonished her judges, but it was no surprise to her.  She was confident of herself and her intellectual tools, largely because of the intimacy she felt with God.”

The defense’s star witness was Cotton, who was as much on trial as Hutchinson.  Were he to refute the accusations of his fellow ministers, he would have earned their lasting enmity.  But should he repudiate Anne Hutchinson‘s advocacy and devotion, he would destroy his reputation for loyalty and integrity.  Using courage and tact, Cotton was able to deflect the magistrate’s questions, or not remember certain things that Hutchinson supposedly said.  Cotton, in a soft and conciliatory tone, seriously modified the black-and-white version of the conference that the other elders insisted upon, putting the Governor and other magistrates in a very awkward position.

Fearful that Anne Hutchinson‘s example might be imitated by other women, the divines wished to catch her in a major theological error, then subject her to public punishment.  They were not immediately successful, as she was able to parry their verbal thrusts by replying to their many questions with questions of her own, forcing them to justify their positions from the Bible and then pointing out their inconsistencies.  With crucial assistance from a sympathetic Cotton, she left the ministers with no charge to pin on her.

As the trial progressed during the second day, it became apparent where the proceedings were going.  Anne defended herself until it was clear that there was no escape from the court’s predetermined judgment.  Impulsively, she took the load off the consciences of her accusers and asked the court for leave to give you the ground of what I know to be true.  Cornered, she addressed the court with her own judgment:

…you have no power over my body, neither can you do me any harme, for I am in the hands of the eternall Jehovah my Saviour, I am at his appointment, the bounds of my habitation are cast in heaven, no further doe I esteeme of any mortal man than creatures in his hand, I feare none but the great Jehovah, which hath foretold me of these things, and I doe verily beleeve that he will deliver me out of our hands, therefore take heed how you proceed against me; for I know that for this you goe about to doe to me, God will ruine you and your posterity, and this whole state.

The courtroom was stunned.  No man in the colony had ever gone as far as invoking a curse upon the elders of the New Zion.  Following the silence, her outburst brought forth jeers.  The magistrates heard all they needed and were ready to begin sentencing when William Coddington rose to make a last effort on behalf of the prisoner, stating:

I do not see any clear witness against her, and you know it is a rule of the court that no man may be a judge and an accuser too.  I would entreat you to consider whether those things which you have alleged against her deserve such censure as you are about to pass, be it to banishment or imprisonment. I beseech you do not speak so as to force things along, for I do not for my own part see any equity in the court in all your proceedings.  Here is no law of God that she hath broken nor any law of the country that she hath broke, and therefore deserve no censure.

Coddington was ignored.  Anne Hutchinson was called a heretic and an instrument of the devil.  In the words of one minister, You have stepped out of your place, you have rather been a husband than a wife, a preacher than a hearer, and a magistrate than a subject.  In late 1637 she was condemned to banishment by the Court as being a woman not fit for our society.  She was put under house arrest to await her religious trial.

Thus ended the civil trial of Anne Hutchinson, in an infant community whose leaders looked on democracy as the worst form of government.  The Puritans sincerely believed that in banishing Hutchinson they were protecting God’s eternal truth.  Winthrop summed up the case with genuine feeling:

Thus it pleased the Lord to heare the prayers of his afflicted people…and by the care and indevour of the wise and faithfull ministers of the Churches, assisted by the Civill authority, to discover this Master-piece of the old Serpent, and to break the brood by scattering the Leaders, under whose conduct hee had prepared such Ambushment, as in all reason would soon have driven Christ and Gospel out of New England, (though to the ruine of the instruments themselves, as well as others) and to the repossessing of Satan in his ancient Kingdom; It is the Lords work, and it is marvellous in our eyes.



Following her civil trial, Anne Hutchinson would not be released until she underwent a trial by the clergy, and this would not take place until the following March.  In the interim, she was not allowed to return home, but instead was detained at the house of Joseph Weld, brother of the Reverend Thomas Weld, which was located in Roxbury, about two miles from her home in Boston.  While the distance was not great, Anne was rarely able to see her children because of the winter weather, which was particularly harsh that year.  Winthrop, who referred to Hutchinson as the prisoner, was determined to keep her isolated so that others would not be inspired by her.  She was frequently visited by the various preachers, whose intent was to reform her thinking and also to collect evidence against her for use in her church trial set for early spring.


Church trial

When asked, during her civil trial, how she knew that God will ruine you and your posterity… she answered By an immediate revelation, thus proving her heresy to the ministers, leading to excommunication proceedings conducted before the Boston church in March 1638.  They accused Anne Hutchinson of blasphemy.  They also accused her of lewd and lascivious conduct for having men and women in her house at the same time during her Sunday meetings.  On 22 March, this religious court found her guilty and voted to excommunicate her from the Puritan Church for dissenting from Puritan orthodoxy.  Cotton, “smarting from a psychological slap Anne had given him earlier in the exommunication proceedings and in danger of losing the respect of the other ministers,” had now turned against her and admonished her with these words, “though I have not herd, nayther do I thinke, you have bine unfaythfull to your Husband in his Marriage Covenant, yet that will follow upon it.”  He finished his admonition, criticizing her pride in saying, “I have often feared the highth of your Sprit and being puft up with your owne parts.”  By suggesting that Anne Hutchinson supported promiscuity (though far from her intentions), the congregation was distanced from supporting her.  Cotton warned the Boston women that Anne Hutchinson was but a Woman and many unsound and dayngerous principles are held by her.  The Reverend Thomas Shepard warned that intellectual activity did not suit women, and that she was likely to seduce and draw away many, Espetially simple Weomen.  Five supporters of Anne Hutchinson, including Thomas Oliver and her brother-in-law, Richard Scott, were dismissed from the proceedings by Cotton as being either self-interested parties, or having a natural affection for her.  Anne was banished, and her leading supporters, including Coddington and John Coggeshall, were given three months to leave the colony, while others were disenfranchised.  The court ordered that 58 citizens of Boston and 17 from adjacent towns be disarmed unless they repudiated the seditious label given them.


The Portsmouth Compact

Portsmouth Compact

During Anne Hutchinson‘s imprisonment, several of her supporters prepared to leave the colony and settle elsewhere.  A group of her followers, including her husband William, met on 7 March 1638, at the home of the wealthy Boston merchant William Coddington.  Ultimately 23 men signed what is known as the Portsmouth Compact[5], forming themselves into a Bodie Politick and electing Coddington as their governor, but giving him the Biblical title of “Judge.”  Of the signers, 19 of them initially planned to move to New Jersey or Long Island, but Roger Williams convinced them to settle in the area of his Providence Plantations settlement.  Coddington purchased Aquidneck Island, in the Narragansett Bay, from the Narragansetts and the settlement of Pocasset (soon renamed Portsmouth) was founded.  Anne Hutchinson followed in April, after the conclusion of her church trial.

Anne Hutchinson, her children and others accompanying her traveled for more than six days by foot in the April snow to get from Boston to Roger Williams‘ settlement at Providence.  They then took boats to get to Aquidneck Island, where many men had gone ahead of them to begin constructing houses.  In the second week of April, she reunited with her husband, from whom she had been separated for nearly six months.


Final pregnancy

Following the stress of her trial, her imprisonment all winter and the difficult trip to Aquidneck Island, Anne went into labor in May 1638, and delivered a strange mass of tissue that was described by Doctor John Clarke, who had attended to her.  The mass looked like a handful of transparent grapes, known now as a hydatidiform mole, and is a relatively rare condition occurring most often in women over 45, resulting from one or two sperm cells fertilizing a blighted egg.  Anne had been ill most of the winter, with unusual weakness, throbbing headaches and bouts of vomitting.  While almost all writers on the subject agree that she had been pregnant during her trial, Emery Battis, citing expert opinion, suggested that she may not have been pregnant at all during that time, but instead was displaying acute symptoms of menopause.  The following April, however, when she reunited with her husband, she did become pregnant of a “menopausal baby” that aborted as the hydatidiform mole.  A woman who, for 25 years, underwent a continuous cycle of pregnancies, deliveries, and lactations, with the burdens of raising a large family subjected to the extreme stress of her trials would understandably experience severe menopausal symptoms.

The Puritan leaders of the Massachusetts Bay Colony gloated over Anne Hutchinson‘s suffering and also that of Mary Dyer (my 9th g-grandmother, discussed under her own heading), one of her followers who also suffered with the premature and still birth of a severely deformed infant, labeling their misfortunes as the judgment of God.  Massachusetts continued to persecute Anne‘s followers who stayed in the Boston area, and when laymen were sent from the Boston church to Portsmouth to convince Anne of her errors, she shouted at them:

…the Church at Boston? I know no such church, neither will I own it.  Call it the whore and strumpet of Boston, but no Church of Christ!

Mary Dyer statue (Massachusetts State House, Boston)

Mary Dyer statue (Massachusetts State House, Boston)


Dissension in government

Less than a year after Pocasset was settled, there were rifts and civil difficulties. Coddington, who had openly supported Anne Hutchinson following her trial, had become autocratic and began to alienate his fellow settlers.  Early in 1639 Anne 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, and while Hutchinson may not have supported this rebellion, 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 the people grew very tumultuous and put out Mr. Coddington and the other three magistrates and chose Mr. William Hutchinson only, a man of very mild temper and weak parts, and wholly guided by his wife, who had been the beginner of all the former troubles in the country and still continued to breed disturbance.

Coddington left the colony along with some of his followers and established the settlement of Newport at the south end of the island.  The freemen of Pocasset changed the name of their town to Portsmouth and adopted a new government which provided for trial by jury and separation of church and state.  The men who accompanied Coddington to Newport tended to be the strongest leaders.  Many, such as John Coggeshall, Nicholas Easton, William Brenton, Jeremy Clarke, and Henry Bull, became presidents or governors of the entire united colony after 1646.  On 12 March 1640, the towns of Portsmouth and Newport agreed to re-unite peacefully.  Coddington became governor of the island, and William Hutchinson was chosen as one of his assistants.  The towns were to remain autonomous with laws made by the citizens.

During her tenure in Portsmouth, Anne Hutchinson came to a new result of her philosophy.  She persuaded her husband to resign from his position, as Roger Williams put it, because of the opinion, which she had newly taken up, of the unlawfulness of magistracy.  According to Rothbard[6], she had been led by her conscience and by meditation on the Scripture and logic to the conclusion of individualist anarchism.  Amid the Hutchinson’s new life in Portsmouth, a great loss occurred sometime after June 1641, when Anne‘s beloved husband, William, died at the age of 55, the same age at which her father had died.  He was buried in Portsmouth, but no record of his death exists, because there was no established church, which would have been the customary repository for such records.


New Netherland

As the governor of Rhode Island (Aquidneck Island), Coddington made overtures to both the Massachusetts Bay Colony and the Plymouth Colony, wanting his island to become part of the United Colonies.  These two larger colonies would only agree to this if they were allowed to absorb Rhode island, which Coddington would not accept.  Nevertheless, both colonies regularly threatened the sovereignty of the Rhode Island colony and her people, causing Anne Hutchinson and other settlers much anxiety.  This compelled her to move totally out of the reach of the Bay colony and its sister colony in Connecticut and move beyond New Haven into the jurisdiction of the Dutch.  Sometime after the summer of 1642, Hutchinson, seven of her children, a son-in-law, and several servants (16 total persons by several accounts) went to New Netherland where they settled near an ancient landmark called Split Rock, not far from what would become the Hutchinson River in northern Bronx, New York City.   Other Rhode Island families were in the area, including the Throckmortons (for whom Throg’s Neck is named) and the Cornells, and by one account Hutchinson bought her land from John Throckmorton who had earlier been a settler of Providence with Roger Williams.

While staying temporarily in an abandoned house, the Hutchinson’s permanent house was being built with the help of James Sands, who had married Katherine Walker, a granddaughter of William Hutchinson‘s brother Edward.  Sands later became a settler of Block Island (later New Shoreham, Rhode Island), and the Reverend Samuel Niles, another early settler of Block Island, recorded the following about Sands’ experience in New Netherland[7]:

Mrs. Hutchinson…removed to Rhode Island, but making no long stay there, she went further westward to a place called Eastchester, now in the eastern part of the province of New York, where she prepared to settle herself; but not to the good liking of the Indians that lived back in the woods, as the sequel proves.  In order to pursue her purpose, she agreed with Captain James Sands, then a young man, to build her house, and he took a partner with him in the business… there came a company of Indians to the frame where he was at work, and made a great shout and sat down.  After some time, they gathered up his tools, put his broad axe on his shoulders and his other tools into his hands, and made signs for him to go away.  But he seemed to take no notice of them, but continued in his work.

Thus the natives gave overt clues that they were displeased with the settlement being formed there.  While the property had supposedly been secured by an agent of the Dutch West India Company in 1640, 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.  The exact location of the Hutchinson house has been a source of great interest for several centuries.  LaPlante, in her recent biography of Anne Hutchinson, hints that the homestead was near the Indian Trail that went through modern-day Pelham Bay Park, on the east side of the Hutchinson River.  Supporting this was an archeological dig made about 1920 of a house foundation located “close to the bank of the river, and also near the brook that crosses the Split Rock road about four hundred feet south of the rock.”  This site had been described earlier in a 17 Jul 1904 New York Sun article.  Several artifacts found at the site, however, were from a much later date than when the Hutchinson’s lived there, and this may refute the validity of this find.  Lockwood Barr, citing the extensive land title research of Otto Hufeland published by the Westchester Historical Society in 1929, 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, and the two creeks are defunct.


Depiction of the massacre of Anne Hutchinson and her family, found in William Cullen Bryant's "A popular history of the United States," 1878.

Depiction of the massacre of Anne Hutchinson and her family, found in William Cullen Bryant’s “A popular history of the United States,” 1878.


The Hutchinsons were unfortunate in the timing of their settlement in this area.  The Dutch governor, Willem Kieft, had aroused the ire of the natives with his inhumanity and treachery.  Anne Hutchinson, who had a favorable relationship with the Narragansett people in Rhode Island, likely felt a false sense of safety among the Siwanoy of New Netherland.  The Hutchinsons had been friendly to them but following their mistreatment by the Dutch, these natives rampaged the New Netherland colony in a series of incidents known as Kieft’s War.  The fate of the Hutchinson family was aptly summarized by LaPlante[8]:

The Siwanoy warriors stampeded into the tiny settlement above Pelham Bay, prepared to burn down every house.  The Siwanoy chief, Wampage, who had sent a warning, expected to find no settlers present.  But at one house the men in animal skins encounterd several children, young men and women and a woman past middle age.  One Siwanoy indicated that the Hutchinsons should restrain the family’s dogs.  Without apparent fear, one of the family tied up the dogs.  As quickly as possible, the Siwanoy seized and scalped Francis Hutchinson, William Collins, several servants, the two Annes (mother and daughter) and the younger children—William, Katherine, Mary, and Zuriel.  As the story was later recounted in Boston, one of the Hutchinson’s daughters, “seeking to escape,” was caught “as she was getting over a hedge, and they drew her back again by the hair of the head to the stump of a tree, and there cut off her head with a hatchet.

The warriors then dragged the bodies into the house along with the cattle, and then set fire to the place, which burned to the ground.  During the attack, Anne‘s nine-year old daughter, Susanna, is said to have been out picking blueberries, and was found, according to legend, hidden in the crevice of Split Rock, nearby.  She is believed to have had red hair, unusual to the attackers, and perhaps because of this curiosity her life was spared.  She was taken captive and by one account was named “Autumn Leaf,” and lived with the Native Americans for two to six years (accounts vary) until ransomed back to her family members, most of whom were living in Boston.

“Split Rock”, near the supposed spot where Anne Hutchinson and her family were massacred in an Indian attack in 1643 (Bronx, New York City)

“Split Rock”, near the supposed spot where Anne Hutchinson and her family were massacred in an Indian attack in 1643 (Bronx, New York City)

Follow the link for — > more photos of Split Rock

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 recorded as the first entry made for the month of September, though not dated.  Since it took days or even weeks for Winthrop to receive the news, the event almost certainly occurred in August 1643.  While some accounts offer an exact date for the massacre, they provide no source or evidence.  The reaction in Massachusetts to Anne Hutchinson‘s death was predictably harsh.  The Reverend Mr. Weld wrote:

The Lord heard our groans to heaven, and freed us from our great and sore affliction… I never heard that the Indians in those parts did ever before this commit the like outrage upon any one family or families; and therefore God’s hand is the more apparently seen herein, to pick out this woeful woman.  Peter Bulkley, the pastor at Concord wrote, Let her damned heresies, and the just vengeance of God, by which she perished, terrify all her seduced followers from having any more to do with her leaven.  Winthrop wrote, Thus it had pleased the Lord to have compassion of his poor churches here, and to discover this great imposter, an instrument of Satan so fitted and trained to his service for interrupting the passage [of his] kingdom in this part of the world, and poisoning the churches here…  Further, he wrote, This American Jezebel kept her strength and reputation, even among the people of God, till the hand of civil justice laid hold on her, and then she began evidently to decline, and the faithful to be freed from her forgeries…

After the massacre, Wampage, the warrior who claimed to have slayed Hutchinson, had assumed her name, calling himself “Anne Hoeck,” thus being honored by using the name of his most famous victim.  Eleven years after the event, Wampage confirmed a deed transferring the Hutchinson’s former property to Thomas Pell, with his name on the document being given as Ann Hoeck alias Wampage.

Split Rock (Pelham Bay Park, New York City) – Traditionally, the spot where Anne Hutchinson and her family were killed by  Indians

Split Rock is a large dome-shaped granite boulder measuring approximately 25 feet from north to south and 15 feet from east to west.  It is located in the borough of The Bronx in New York City, at the southeast corner of the intersection of the New England Thruway (I-95) and the Hutchinson River Parkway, near the border of the Bronx and Westchester County, and near the village of Pelham Manor.  The GPS coordinates are: 40° 53′ 11.28″ N 73° 48′ 53.59″ W.  The rock is located just outside Pelham Bay Park in an island formed by the two mentioned highways and the off ramp from northbound Hutchinson Parkway to eastbound I-95.  Because of its location, it is only accessible by crossing a usually busy thoroughfare.  A park trail, called the Split Rock Trail, at one time led from Bartow traffic circle to the rock, but the paved trail is now mostly buried underground or in inaccessible growth, and only remnants of it are visible.

Split Rock. In 1911 a bronze tablet was placed, but unfortunately stolen (see above)

Split Rock. In 1911 a bronze tablet was placed, but unfortunately stolen (see above)

In 1911, the Colonial Dames of the State of New York placed a bronze tablet on Split Rock in honor of Anne Hutchinson.  The plaque is now gone, probably due to vandalism.  It read:

ANNE HUTCHINSON / Banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1638 / Because of her Devotion to Religious Liberty This Courageous Woman / Sought Freedom from Persecution in New Netherland / Near this Rock in 1643 She and her Household / were Massacred by Indians / This Tablet is placed here by the Colonial Dames of the State of New York / ANNO DOMINI MCMXI Virtutes Majorurn Filiae Conservant

Cultural Impact

The majority of colonial European settlers who came to America for religious reasons came for the freedom to practice their own interpretation of Christianity and, in some cases, to impose it on others.  In their early years, most colonies enforced a uniformity at least as strict as had occurred in the country they had left.  There was considerable Puritan intolerance in Massachusetts and Connecticut.


Role of women in Puritan society

Anne Hutchinson may have been persecuted because in preaching, she was stepping beyond the gender role then considered appropriate for a woman.  Many historians suggest that she fell victim to contemporary mores surrounding the role of women in Puritan society.  Anne spoke her mind freely within the context of a male hierarchy unaccustomed to outspoken women.  John Winthrop described her as a woman of ready wit and bold spirit.  The extent to which she was persecuted was perhaps proportional to the threat the Puritan clergy saw in her, considering that many people were willing to listen to and follow her.  The close relationship between church and state in the Massachusetts Bay Colony meant that a challenge to the ministers was quickly interpreted as challenge to established authority of all kinds.


Religious and social activist views

Against that background, Anne Hutchinson was outspoken about some of her controversial views.  She was an avid student of the Bible, which she freely interpreted in the light of what she termed her “divine inspiration”.  She generally adhered to the principles of Puritan orthodoxy.  Notably, however, she held enormously progressive notions about the equality and rights of women, in contradiction of both Puritan and prevailing cultural attitudes.  She was forthright and compelling in proclaiming these beliefs, causing a conflict with the Massachusetts Bay Colony’s government, who were accountable to the established Church of England (Anglican Church), and with the clergy.


Heretic label

To the chagrin of clergy and colony officials, Anne Hutchinson interpreted the doctrine of the Perseverance of the saints according to the Free Grace model, which taught that the saved could sin freely without endangering their salvation.  She favored this over the Lordship salvation model prevalent at that time, which noted that those who were truly saved would demonstrate by seeking to follow the ways of their Saviour.  She also claimed that she could identify “the elect” among the colonists.  These positions caused John Cotton, John Winthrop, and other former friends to view her as an antinomian heretic.


Modern interpretation

Upheld equally as a symbol of religious freedom, liberal thinking and Christian feminism, Anne Hutchinson is a contentious figure, having been lionised, mythologised and demonised 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.


Church and secular politics

In his article on Hutchinson in Forerunner magazine, Rogers[9] articulates this view, writing that her interpretations were not “antithetical to what the Puritans believed at all. What began as the quibbling over fine points of Christian doctrine ended as a confrontation over the role of authority in the colony.”  Anne Hutchinson may have criticised the established religious authorities, as did others, but she did so while cultivating an energetic following.  That religious following was large enough to be a significant force in secular politics.  Anne may have doomed herself by her strong support of Vane, who was replaced by Winthrop who presided at her civil trial—as much as for the specific content of her religious views.


Anne Hutchinson Memorial at Massachusetts State House by Cyrus Edwin Dallin.

Anne Hutchinson Memorial at Massachusetts State House by Cyrus Edwin Dallin.

Memorials and legacy

In front of the State House in Boston, Massachusetts stands a statue of Anne Hutchinson with her daughter Susanna as a child. The statue, erected in 1922, has an inscription on the marble pediment that reads:


Another memorial to Anne 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 March 1638 while making the trip from Boston to their new home on Aquidneck Island.  This is close to where the Wheelwrights had a farm, and where John Wheelwright’s wife, Mary, was staying at the same time, waiting for winter to end so she could join her banished husband in Exeter, New Hampshire.

Anne Hutchinson Memorial, Quincy, Massachusetts

Anne Hutchinson Memorial, Quincy, Massachusetts

Anne Hutchinson Memorial (Founders' Brook Park, Boyd Lane, Portsmouth, Rhode Island, 2006); photo credit: Michael Ford

Anne Hutchinson Memorial (Founders’ Brook Park, Boyd Lane, Portsmouth, Rhode Island, 2006); photo credit: Michael Ford


Literary works

Some literary critics trace the character of Hester Prynne in The Scarlet Letter to Hutchinson’s persecution in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.  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 Rev. John Cotton, Governor Harry Vane, and future Quaker martyr Mary Dyer.



  • In southern New York, the Hutchinson River, one of the very few rivers named after a woman, and the Hutchinson River Parkway are her most prominent namesakes. Co-incidentally, another female river namesake, Sacagawea, is her neighbor at table in Judy Chicago’s art installation The Dinner Party in the Brooklyn Museum. Elementary schools, such as in the Westchester County towns of Pelham and Eastchester are other examples.
  • In Portsmouth, Rhode Island, Anne Hutchinson and her friend, Mary Dyer, the Quaker martyr, have been remembered at Founders Brook Park with the Anne Hutchinson/Mary Dyer Memorial Herb Garden, a medicinal botanical garden, set by a scenic waterfall and historical marker for the early settlement of Portsmouth.  The garden was created by artist and herbalist Michael Steven Ford, who is a descendant of both women.  The memorial was a grass roots effort by a local Newport organisation, the Anne Hutchinson Memorial Committee headed by Newport artist, Valerie Debrule.  The organisation, called Friends of Anne Hutchinson, meets annually at the memorial in Portsmouth, on the Sunday nearest to 20 July, the date of Anne‘s baptism, to celebrate her life and the local colonial history of the women of Aquidneck Island.
  • Anne Hutchinson is honoured together with Roger Williams with a feast day on the liturgical of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America on 5 February.


This impressive family tree on the main floor on the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah shows some of the descendants of Anne Hutchinson, including George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Stephen Douglas, Mitt Romney, and Oliver Wendell Holmes.

This impressive family tree on the main floor on the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah shows some of the descendants of Anne Hutchinson, including George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Stephen Douglas, Mitt Romney, and Oliver Wendell Holmes.

Family and Descendants

Anne and William Hutchinson had 15 children, all of them born and baptized in Alford, Lincolnshire except for the last child who was baptized in Boston, Massachusetts.  Of the 14 children born in England, 11 of them lived to sail to New England.  Their oldest child, Edward Hutchinson, baptized 28 May 1613, signed the Portsmouth Compact, and settled on Aquidneck Island with his parents, but soon made peace with the Massachusetts authorities and returned to Boston.  He was an officer in the colonial militia, and died in 1675 from wounds received during King Philip’s War.  Susanna, baptised 4 September 1614, died in Alford during the plague in 1630, and Richard, baptised 8 December 1615 was admitted to the Boston church in 1634, but returned to England, after which no further record has been found.  Faith, baptized 14 Aug 1617, married Thomas Savage, and lived in Boston, dying about 1651.  Bridget, baptized 15 Jan 1618/9, married John Sanford and lived in Portsmouth where her husband was briefly governor of the island, and died by 1698.  Francis, baptized 24 Dec 1620, was the oldest of the children to perish in the massacre in New Netherland, and Elizabeth, baptized 17 Feb 1621/2 died during the plague in Alford, and was buried there on 4 Oct 1630.  William, baptized 22 Jun 1623 died during infancy, and Samuel, baptized 17 Dec 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 Feb 1627/8; Katherine, baptized 7 Feb 1629/30; William, baptized 28 Sep 1631; and Zuriel (daughter), baptized in Boston 13 Mar 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, the 14th child of the Hutchinsons, and the youngest born in England, baptized 15 Nov 1633, survived the Indian attack in 1643, was taken captive, and eventually traded to the English, after which she married John Cole, and with him had 11 children.

Among Anne Hutchinson’s direct descendants are three United States Presidents (Franklin Delano Roosevelt, George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush), three United States Presidential aspirants (Stephen A. Douglas, George W. Romney, and Willard Mitt Romney), one Chief and one Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court (Melville Weston Fuller and Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.), A Lord Chancellor of England (John Singleton Copley, Jr., the first Lord Lyndhurst), and a President of Harvard University (Charles William Eliot), as well as her ill-fated great-great-grandson, Thomas Hutchinson, who in his capacity as Governor of Massachusetts Colony may have done as much as anyone to precipitate the Boston Tea Party, often regarded as the most single important event leading to the American Revolution.  A chart showing the descent of these and others of her ancestors adorns a wall of the main floor at the Family History Library, an arm of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) in Salt Lake City, Utah.  Some of these individuals are featured in articles under “Notable Kin”.



In 1987, Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis pardoned Anne Hutchinson, revoking the order of banishment by Governor Winthrop 350 years earlier.


I am descended from William Hutchinson and Anne (Marbury) Hutchinson through their eldest child, Edward Hutchinson (1613-1675).  Edward married Catherine Hamby, who was also born in Alford, Lincolnshire, England and immigrated to Massachusetts.  The daughter of Edward and Catherine is Anne Hutchison (1643-1718), who married Samuel Dyer (1635-1678), who was the son of Mary Barret and William DyerMary Barrett, known in history as Mary Dyer, the English Puritan turned Quaker who was hanged in Boston, Massachusetts Bay Colony (now in present-day Massachusetts) in 1660 for repeatedly defying a Puritan law banning Quakers from the colony.  Her story is related at length under her own heading.

Capt. Edward Hutchinson (1613-1675); plaque placed at Spring Hill Cemetery, Marlborough, Massachusetts

Capt. Edward Hutchinson (1613-1675); plaque placed at Spring Hill Cemetery, Marlborough, Massachusetts

I am descended from of Anne Hutchinson (1643-1718) and Samuel Dyer through two of their offspring, and their lineage is also discussed under the heading of Mary Dyer.

Anne Hutchinson (1643-1718)

Anne Hutchinson (1643-1718)

Click here to read an article on the recovery of the gravestone of Anne Hutchinson, the granddaughter of Anne Marbury Hutchinson.


[1] Information compiled and integrated from the many sources, including:  Anne Marbury Hutchinson by Susanne Behling, websites, “Anne Hutchinson – Finally the Honor She Deserves” by James Garman (article, Sakonnet Times, 25 Apr 1996), Divine Rebel by Selma R. Williams (New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1981), Demeter’s Daughters, Women Who Founded America, 1587-1787 by Selma R. Williams (publ. 1975), The English Ancestry of Anne Marbury Hutchinson and Katherine Marbury Scott by Meredith B. Colket (The Mager Press, Phildelphia, Pennsylvania,  1936), The Hutchinson Family of England and New England , and its Connection with the Marburys and Drydens by Joseph Lemuel (NEHGR Vol. XX, Oct. 1866).

[2] For details, refer to Appendix VII – Royal and Noble Lines of Anne (Hutchinson) Dyer, 1643-1716 (Anne Hutchinson’s granddaughter).

[3] Rev. John Cotton (1585 – 1652) is my 11th g-grand uncle and the father-in-law of 1st cousin 11x removed, Increase Mather (1639 – 1723), who is discussed in Appendix I – Notable Kin.

[4] Griffin was the name of a 17th century ship known to have sailed between England and English settlements in Massachusetts.  Several historical and genealogical references show the Griffin making such journeys in 1633 and 1634.  The 1633 journey left at Downs, England and landed at Plymouth, Massachusetts on 3 September.  This 1633 journey carried religious dissidents, including Thomas Hooker, and others totaling 200 people.  The ship Griffin weighed in at 300 tons and she saw the birth of at least one child during the 1633 voyage.  There are at least several other ships known to have used the name Griffin in the following centuries. Most if not all such non-17th-century references probably refer to another vessel carrying the same name. 

[5] Direct ancestors of mine who were signers of the Portmouth Compact are: William Dyer (husband of Mary Dyer), William Freeborn, William Hutchinson (husband of Anne Hutchinson), Edward Hutchinson, Jr. (eldest son of William and Anne Hutchinson, called “Jr.” to distinguish him from his uncle Edward Hutchinson Sr.), and John Walker, all of whom are discussed under their own headings.  John Clarke and his brother Thomas (my 8th g-grand uncles – brothers of Joseph Clarke), John Coggeshall (father of my 7th g-grand uncle Samuel Rathbun, brother of Thomas Rathbun), Edward Hutchinson Sr. (my 10th g-grand uncle), and Thomas Savage (husband of my 9th g-grand aunt Faith Hutchinson, brother of Edward Hutchinson Jr.) were also signers.

[6] Rothbard, Murray (1975). “Suppressing Heresy: The Flight of Anne Hutchinson”. Conceived in Liberty. Arlington House Publishers.

[7] Barr, Lockwood (1946). A brief, but most complete & true Account of the Settlement of the Ancient Town of Pelham, Westchester County, State of New York. Richmond, Virginia: The Dietz Press, Inc.

[8] LaPlante, Eve (2004). American Jezebel, the Uncommon Life of Anne Hutchinson, the Woman who Defied the Puritans. San Francisco: Harper Collins.

[9] Rogers, Jay (April 2008). “America’s Christian Leaders: Anne Hutchinson”. The Forerunner. 


One comment

  • Susan Hedges

    I’m descended from Anne Marbury’s granddaughter, Susanna Hutchinson Cole, whose mother Susannah, was the lone survivor of the Indian attack. Susannah Hutchinson married John Cole, whose father, Samuel Cole, opened the first Inn in Boston. John and Susannah had a daughter named Susanna who married Lt. Thomas Eldred. Hopefully the celebration in Boston in 2016 will come to fruition.

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