Anne Hutchinson

Religious Figure / Activist

Born: July 1591
Died: 20 August 1643
Birthplace: Alford, England
Best known as: Religious midwife banished from colonial Massachusetts

Name at birth: Anne Marbury

Anne Hutchinson was a theologically literate midwife who was banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1638 for her religious views. Hutchinson emigrated with her husband and children from England to the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1634, following religious mentor Reverend John Cotton. Bible-study classes she hosted for women earned her a following that later included men, notably the colony's governor, Henry Vane. But she roused controversy with her criticisms of other ministers and her interpretations of Christian doctrine, including her emphasis on personal revelation over classical church rites. In 1637 John Winthrop, who had replaced Vane as governor, put Hutchinson on trial for heresy. He charged her with violating the Bible's commandment to "honor thy father and mother," arguing that Hutchinson had undermined the fathers of the church with her preaching. Although Hutchinson ably defended herself in court, she was banished from the colony as being unfit for society. She settled in Rhode Island, where she and her husband helped found Portsmouth. After his death in 1642 she and her younger children moved to Dutch territory in what is now New York's Pelham Bay Park. She and all but one of her children were killed in an attack by members of the Siwanoy tribe in 1643.

Extra credit: Hutchinson's exact date of birth is unknown; she was baptized on 20 July 1591 in the town of Alford, a clue that she was likely born a few days earlier. William Shakespeare's birth is dated in the same manner... Hutchinson and her husband had 15 children.

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