Anne Marbury was born in Alford, Lincolnshire, England, a daughter of Francis Marbury and Bridget Dryden. Her family history shows that she descended from Charlemagne and Alfred the Great on her father’s side and King Edward I of England on her mother’s side. She was baptized in Alford on July 20, 1591.
Anne’s father was a minister for the Anglican Church in London who leaned strongly toward Puritan thinking. Because of his strong feelings that the clergy should be well educated, he clashed with his superiors. He repeatedly challenged the Anglican authorities and was censured and imprisoned for several years before Anne was born. He was given a public trial in 1578. While under house arrest, he wrote a transcript of his trial from memory; later he used his transcript to educate and amuse his children. He spent two years in the Marshalsea Prison located across the Thames River from London. He was released in 1580 when he was 25 years old because he was “considered sufficiently reformed to preach and teach.” He moved his family to Alford, a market town located 140 miles north of London.
Anne became well educated because she was taught at home by her school teacher father. The family moved to London in 1605 when Anne was 14. Her father passed away when she was 19. When she was 21 years old and a young adult in London, she married William Hutchinson, an old friend from her home town, in St. Mary Woolnoth Church in London on August 9, 1612. The couple soon returned to their hometown of Alford. They eventually became parents of 15 children. Fourteen of the children were born and baptized in Alford. Eleven of the fourteen lived to sail to New England. The last child was baptized in Boston, Massachusetts.
In Alford the couple became followers of John Cotton, a dynamic preacher who was forced to emigrate in 1633. William and Anne, along their 11 living children, also immigrated to America and settled in Boston, New England, where she became a midwife. She also shared her spiritual thinking with anyone who would listen in her home. Her popularity and charisma drew enough people to her “the Puritans’ religious experiment in New England” was “threatened.” She believed in a “covenant of grace” while most of the local ministers – besides Cotton and husband’s brother-in-law – preached a “covenant of works.”
Several ministers became upset with Anne’s teachings, and she became an important participant in the Antinomian Controversy. Anne was tried, convicted, and banished from the colony in 1637. In March 1638 she was excommunicated from the church. Anne and many of her supporters moved to the Colony of Rhode Island where they established the settlement of Portsmouth with encouragement from Providence founder, Roger Williams. After William Hutchinson died a few years later, Anne fled with her younger children to the area that later became The Bronx in New York City.
In August 1643, Anne and “all but one of the 16 members of her household were massacred during an attack of the native Siwanoy. Anne’s nine-year-old daughter, Susanna, was the only survivor of the attack, and she was taken captive.” She lived with the natives for several years until she was rescued and cared for by family members in Boston.
Anne is a “key figure in the development of religious freedom in England’s American colonies and the history of women in ministry. She challenged the authority of the ministers, exposing the subordination of women in the culture of colonial Massachusetts. She is honoured by Massachusetts with a State House monument calling her a `courageous exponent of civil liberty and religious toleration.’ She has been called the most famous, or infamous, English woman in colonial American history.”