Ward's Book of Days.

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What happened on this day in history.


On this day in history in 1643, was born Anne Hutchison.

Hutchinson was an unsanctioned preacher of a dissident religious group who pioneered women’s missionary work. 

Anne Marbury was born in 1591, at Alford, Lincolnshire, the daughter of an Anglican clergyman. She was educated at home, having access to her father’s substantial library, whose volumes comprised chiefly theological works. In 1612, aged twenty-one, she married William Hutchison, a merchant and an outspoken critic of the Anglican Church.

After she married, Hutchison and her husband became adherents of the Puritan preacher, John Cotton, who condemned the hierarchy of the Church of England, with its attendant concern for material matters and its neglect of the congregations. Hutchison went further stating that the church was in profound error in its doctrine.  She stated that ‘He who has God’s grace in his heart, cannot go wrong”, and that God had chosen his elect, and that many of the Anglican clergy were not amongst its number. It is not surprising that Hutchison roused the anger of the established church.

In 1634, the Hutchisons, fearing retribution, immigrated to the American Colonies with their eight children, following Cotton, who had left the year before. Upon arrival at Massachusetts, Hutchison established a bible class, mainly for women of the vicinity. She progressed from bible teaching to commentary and from there to interpretation and then to preaching. This aroused the ire of the governor, John Winthrop, who described her tutorials as ‘ a thing not tolerable nor comely in the sight of God, nor fitting for your sex.” Hutchison responded that authority to preach comes from ‘inner spiritual truth’ and was not the prerogative of men alone.

Hutchison was arraigned before the governor, accused of blasphemy, heresy and lewd conduct. In her defence, she testified that God had directed her efforts by personal communication. She was convicted probably on account of her defiance of authority rather than her alleged heresy. She was banished from Massachusetts’s colony and relocated to Rhode Island and from there to Long Island.

In 1643, Hutchison and her children were captured by the Siwanoy tribe. The family, with the exception of one child, were scalped by the Siwanoy and their bodies never recovered. The surviving child was returned to the colonists, four years later, on payment of a ransom. The Hutchison River in New York State is named in her honour.

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