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In the 16th and 17th centuries and years before, one could not hear of heroines born to challenge the essentials of the Christianity in America and England until Anne Hutchinson. Perhaps it is because she came from England, a nation that had already undergone a church revolution under the rule of King Henry VI or maybe it is because of her absolute theological background, studies and knowledge that gave her a chance to voice her religious concerns and understanding. Indeed, Anne was a woman who in one way or another challenged a number of religious factors that affected mankind as whole a revelation that earned her a number of followers and foes alike.  Therefore, this essay will try to define the religious assertions and engagements of Anne Hutchinson as from she was a child in England up to her influence in Massachusetts Bay Colony, her trial and achievement.

Not many biographers talk about Anne Hutchinson’s youth and upbringing, but much that could be gathered indicates that Anne was born in Alford, Lincolnshire as Anne Marbury to a father Francis Marbury. Anne’s father was a clergyman who worked for the local gentry, and it is believed that he was educated at Cambridge. Moreover, her father was a radical who more than once went to prison for his views resulting in losing his office. Her mother, on the other hand, was his second wife called Bridget Dryden who is said not to have been of much influence on Anne Hutchinson. Perhaps, in later years, two ministers had a strong impact on her religious theories (Gomes, 2002). First is believed to be minister John Cotton; Anne and her husband travelled great distances to hear him preach and hence influencing her to join women prayers and participate in church activities. Another acclaimed mentor is her brother-in-law John Wheelwright who in much provided Anne Hutchinson with Bible teachings and theological explanations, which were instrumental in her future.  These two ministers are indeed the same people who led Anne Hutchinson and her family to immigrate to Massachusetts; after the ministers were banned from preaching in England hence moving to a new home in Massachusetts.

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Religious and Authority Conflict

Anne Hutchinson, with her theological background and self study under the long time guidance of her father, became one of the few intelligent, well read and informed women of her time. This attracted attention and leading roles in the community as she was also a successful midwife and a wife of a prosperous merchant. Hence, in no time after moving to Massachusetts to follow her great ministers, she soon started to attend weekly discussion meetings and influenced many women to do the same. Her theological education and experiences led her to follow her father’s way, and she started to reinterpret the basic church ideologies (Bremer, 1981). Her ideas that were later defined as antinomianism sought to challenge the basic religious doctrine of salvation on its essentials, as she claimed direct relationship with God and salvation should be sought of grace. 

Therefore, she thought that the Holy Spirit was much more above the Bible; also she challenged the absolute control of the clergy over an individual. Her teachings grew popular, and she was soon attending two meetings a week and had a large number of men and women attending the meetings including the then Massachusetts Bay colonial Governor Henry Vane. However, her teachings were not received well as she was accused of preaching non-orthodox ideologies, which were based on the anti-legal basis; hence the local authorities feared her teachings would turn people against the authorities and the church. That was soon discovered when adherents of Anne refused to take arms to fight the Pequot who were in war with the colonial authorities. This led to local confrontations as Wheelwright who was brought to preach a unifying sermon escalated the matter and was found guilty of sedition and contempt by the General Court. It became worse when in the following May elections, in 1937, Governor Henry Vane lost to his deputies John Winthrop and Thomas Dudley who were ardent opponents of Anne Hutchinson, hence Henry Vane went back to England the following August.

Excommunication and Death

Therefore, after Henry Vane’s leaving, the new Governor held a synod and found out that her views were heretical hence leading to her trial, which from the point of view of many of his followers was unfair as it was unjust and already predetermined. She was accused of heresy and sedition by the General Court which was full of her opponents as her supporters were deterred from the hearing. Her views were found heretical; hence she was taken to her long time model minister Cotton who tried to convince her of the error of her views, but she refused to heed and was excommunicated in 1638 and moved with her family to Rhode Island. In Rhode Island, her husband William met his death. This made her move again to Long Island and later to New York. It was where Anne met her death when she and all other members of the family except one were killed in a dispute of Native Americans and the colonials.

This became good news to her opponents who explained that her death was of divine intervention. Nevertheless, Anne Hutchinson remains the remarkable woman who championed the standards of the church and managed to inspire a number of individuals and thus should be remembered throughout the history. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts and Anne Hutchinson Memorial Association have now and again remembered her name and contributions.

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