Anne's Beginning, Conversion to the Teachings of John Cotton, and
Move to New England
Francis Marbury was a minister with an outspoken personality. On July 20, 1591, Francis was present at his daughter Anne's baptism at Alford in Lincolnshire, England. Francis' views on religion led him to be labeled a Puritan during the few years before and after Anne's birth. He began speaking out against the Church of England (Williams 12). This led to a revocation of his preaching license until 1594 (Williams 13). Francis taught Anne everything he believed. Anne read her father's pamphlets and letters, taking it all to heart. Francis was eventually awarded the title of rector at St. Martin's Vintry in London. He also became the rector for St. Pancras on Soper Lane and St. Margaret's on New Fish Street (Behling 2). Francis died in 1611and left instructions for Anne to remain with her mother, Bridget Dryden Marbury, until marriage. The time spent with her father prepared Anne to defend her religious beliefs. Francis spent most of his life trying to reform the Church of England and Anne would do the same, only in Boston, Massachusetts.
Anne married William Hutchinson on August 9, 1612 (Anne 2). The newlyweds returned to Alford. In Boston, England, a young preacher, John Cotton, was using his sermons to focus on Puritan ideas and the Hutchinsons listened. Anne and William made the 24-mile trip to Boston to hear the powerful messages of John Cotton often. The Hutchinsons were soon converted to his teachings (Anne 2).
Cotton preached the Covenant of Grace, quite the opposite of the Covenant of Works that was the commonly accepted theology of the day. The Covenant of Grace emphasized salvation through faith alone. Cotton believed a sinner's actions were not as important as a sinner's ultimate faith in God. The leaders of the Anglican Church of England taught that good deeds were the only road to salvation, a Covenant of Works (Anne 2).
Anne was drawn to Cotton because of his belief in the Covenant of Grace. The Anglican Church, however, was not. Cotton was arrested in 1622 for spreading ideas not in accordance with the Church of England's theology. Anne's brother-in-law, John Wheelwright, began preaching the same sentiments as Cotton during this time. His beliefs placed him in trouble with the law as well (Anne 3).
In 1633, Cotton finally decided he needed to leave England and the persecution he faced; therefore, he sailed for New England on the Griffin. Anne was truly troubled by this and disclosed to family ". . . that God instructed her in a revelation to follow Cotton" (Rau 2). She discussed Cotton's departure and stated it was ". . . a great trouble to me . . . I could not be at rest but I must come hither" (Behling 2). The Hutchinsons did not stay in Alford, England much longer. In 1634, they set sail for New England on the same ship that had carried Anne's beloved minister to Massachusetts a year earlier (Rau 2).
Anne's beliefs and the readiness to speak about them led to distress on the Griffin. A minister, Zechariah Symmes, was on the ship and frequently gave ". . . five hour sermons"(Anne 3). Anne disagreed with Symmes constant belittling of women. She promised to disprove his ideas once the ship reached the shores of Massachusetts. Anne also resumed her practice of holding meetings with women and appointed herself the leader. Symmes was absolutely furious and vowed to report her to the authorities when the Griffin reached New England (Williams 74).
Unfortunately for Anne, Symmes possessed more power over her than she realized. Anne and William sought membership with the local church, the First Church of Boston, upon arrival. At that time, all prospective members were subject to an in-depth investigation of their beliefs. William was permitted to become a member immediately; however, Anne's application was rejected by Symmes. Any member of the church could object to an application and Symmes used this rule to his advantage. Anne went through a lengthy hearing with Governor Thomas Dudley, John Cotton, and Symmes as judges. Anne aptly defended herself and within one week was a member of the First Church of Boston (Anne 3).
Anne's Meetings and Statements Enrage Local Officials or
Anne Hutchinson: An Independent, Religious Woman in Early America (main page)