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Hutchinson, Anne

HUTCHINSON, ANNE (c. 1600-1643), American religious enthusiast, leader of the " Antinomians " in New England, was born in Lincolnshire, England, about 1600. She was the daughter of a clergyman named Francis Marbury, and, according to tradition, was a cousin of John Dryden. She married William Hutchinson, and in 1634 emigrated to Boston, Massachusetts, as a follower and admirer of the Rev. John Cotton. Her orthodoxy was suspected and for a time she was not admitted to the church, but soon she organized meetings among the Boston women, among whom her exceptional ability and her services as a nurse had given her great influence; and at these meetings she discussed and commented upon recent sermons and gave expression to her own theological views. The meetings became increasingly popular, and were soon attended not only by the women but even by some of the ministers and magistrates, including Governor Henry Vane. At these meetings she asserted that she, Cotton and her brother-in-law, the Rev. John Wheelwright whom she was trying to make second " teacher " in the Boston church were under a " covenant of grace," that they had a special inspiration, a " peculiar indwelling of the Holy Ghost," whereas the Rev. John Wilson, the pastor of the Boston church, and the other ministers of the colony were under a " covenant of works." Anne Hutchinson was, in fact, voicing a protest against the legalism of the Massachusetts Puritans, and was also striking at the authority of the clergy in an intensely theocratic community. In such a community a theological controversy inevitably was carried into secular politics, and the entire colony was divided into factions. Mrs Hutchinson was supported by Governor Vane, Cotton, Wheelwright and the great majority of the Boston church; opposed to her were Deputy-Governor John Winthrop, Wilson and all of the country magistrates and churches. At a general fast, held late in January 1637, Wheelwright preached a sermon which was taken as a criticism of Wilson and his friends. The strength of the parties was tested at the General Court of Election of May 1637, when Winthrop defeated Vane for the governorship. Cotton recanted, Vane returned to England in disgust, Wheelwright was tried and banished and the rank and file either followed Cotton in making submission or suffered various minor punishments. Mrs Hutchinson was tried (November 1637) by the General Court chiefly for " traducing the ministers," and was sentenced to banishment; later, in March 1638, she was tried before the Boston church and was formally excommunicated. With William Coddington (d. 1678), John Clarke and others, she established a settlement on the island of Aquidneck (now Rhode Island) in 1638. Four years later, after the death of her husband, she settled on Long Island Sound near what is now New Rochelle, Westchester county, New York, and was killed in an Indian rising in August 1643, an event regarded in Massachusetts as a manifestation of Divine Providence. Anne Hutchinson and her followers were called " Antinomians," probably more as a term of reproach than with any special reference to her doctrinal theories; and the controversy in which she was involved is known as the " Antinomian Controversy."

See C. F. Adams, Antinomianism in the Colony of Massachusetts Bay, vol. xiv. of the Prince Society Publications (Boston, 1894); and Three Episodes of Massachusetts History (Boston and New York, 1896).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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