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Essay: 17th Century Puritan Dissenter Anne Marbury Hutchinson

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  • Published: 24 February 2023*
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I was born in Alford, Lincolnshire, England on July 20th, 1591 to a silenced clergyman, who has a history of vacationing in jail – many times. One of his stints landed him in jail for an entire year. Don’t be mistaken, for my father was educated by Cambridge, was a “schoolmaster,” and a “Puritan reformer.” It was perhaps him who helped shape who I became. My parents were Bridget Dryden, and Francis Marbury. My father taught me the scripture, so I was quite the well educated woman. I was baptized quickly after my birth, and was raised by an Anglican Minister. I have seven younger siblings, of which only one being a sister, and the rest are all brothers. I moved to London from Alford in the year 1605. I was 14 years old then. I was married at 21 to a wealthy and prominent London cloth merchant, and with him I moved back to Alford. I bore him “more than a dozen” children. William – my husband, was described to be “more nearly tied to his wife than to the Church.”

I set sail upon the Griffin, escaping taxes – which, all thanks to the English Monarchy for that. I was following Reverend John Cotton – he had moved but only a year prior to I, but not exactly for the same reasons; his views was garnering him threats of imprisonment – and he was whom I had come to see as a mentor during our time at Alford.

It wasn’t just I, or Reverend John Cotton who had made this move – the Puritans committed a mass immigration due to the reasons revolving the English Monarchy and the subsequent taxes. And where I finally set foot upon land once again, it was the 18th of September, 1634. I was 43 years old, and one of my children was born here in this New World. I started making my ties as a midwife, and also a herbal healer.

I have been described to have been, “lionized, mythologized, and demonized,” “unconventional, charismatic,” and a “woman of haughty and fierce carriage of a nimble wit and active spirit, and a very voluble tongue, more bold than a man.” I clung to what I believed what the original teachings of Puritanism was, which means that I believed that it emphasized Grace, God’s generous forgiveness, and in one’s salvation, but especially Grace. I dismissed the idea of Original Sin. I believed that I could have my own relationship with God, and receive personal revelation, however, that was considered blasphemy. It didn’t help that I didn’t think that the common idea of one’s actions determined if he was saved or not was correct, rather that God decided to save those that were already predestined to be saved, or that I was essentially challenging male authority – and therefore, in a way, gender roles. I was charged with 82 “erroneous opinions” and the “heresy of antinomianism.” I was opposed by John Winthrop, who’d won governorship of our colony in 1637, and he had personally accused me of “violating the 5th commandment.” He had also called me an “American Jezebel.” I was publicly announced a “heretic.” I was placed under house arrest, staying with one Joseph Weld, as people had found a way to commence opposing me legally from my work. Reverend John Cotton had also turned against me by this time, trying to save his own skin, but in the process was warning my own sons of me as well.

I was involved in births where the babies were malformed, but one such was labeled as “monster births” and “divine signs of guilt” when my relation with it was found out, and they’d already known of my relation with another similar case scenario. My mere association with that further strengthened my enemies resolve that I was guilty of crimes that were many.

My followers were referred to as the Antinomians, one of them being a Sir Henry Vane. He was a governor in the year 1636. My followers of a 60-70 headcount and I made Portsmouth our new home, and there, we made our own, new government as well.

I was the preeminent female crusader for free society during my time – the 17th Century in New England. My ideas of libertarianism would grow and in fact, even help establish a new nation itself just a little longer than a century afterwards, and I represent many ill treated women in history.

After the death of my husband in 1642, I moved once again and for the last time to what is now the modern day New York. There, in a place now called Pelham Bay Park, I was killed by Indians, them having their own history with the governor of that colony at the time, a William Kieft. I died with a few of my younger children, except for my 9 year old daughter, Susanna. Our bodies were harshly dumped in a house that was soon afterwards set on fire.

John Winthrop rejoiced at the news of my death, and he wasn’t the only one. Thomas Weld wrote of my death as God liberating them from us to his acquaintances all the way in England.

Back to my daughter Susanna, who was out picking berries during the time of my slaughtering, she had hidden herself when she had caught wind of what was happening. Yet, she was eventually kidnapped, and was forced to live with her captors for a few years. She only returned to her family after being ransomed for.

350 years later, that is, in the year, 1987, I was officially pardoned for my crimes. I have a river named after myself now, in modern day southern New York, where I was killed. 259 years after my birth – that is, 207 years after my death, also known as the year 1850 – I am mentioned favorably upon in the novel, “The Scarlet Letter” by Nathaniel Hawthorne. In fact, I was referred to as a Saint in it. A statue of myself has also come to being during the year 1922.

My genealogical descendants from my surviving elder children would become well known figures, socially and politically. You may know a few of them, such as George W. Bush, Mitt Romney, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

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