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Anne Hutchinson Trials: 1637 and 1638

The Aftermath: A Mixed Picture

Reaction to the trials was mixed. Hutchinson herself, as Winthrop recorded, "gloried in her sufferings, saying, that it [her excommunication] was the greatest happiness, next to Christ, that ever befel her." Hutchinson's husband William left the colony at her side; he later explained that "he was more nearly tied to his wife than to the church." Their son Francis later blasted the church as "a strumpet" and was excommunicated and fined 40 pounds. When he refused to pay the fine, he was jailed.

Finally, as Lyle Koehler points out, the church found it necessary to continue disciplining women for similar offenses, especially during the 18 months following Hutchinson's excommunication. Katherine Finch, for example, "spoke against the magistrates, against the Churches, and against the Elders" and was ordered whipped on October 10, 1638. Even after this punishment, Finch failed to conduct herself "dutifully to her husband." She was forced to make a public promise that she would, in the future, comply to his wishes. Phillip Hammond was excommunicated in 1639, in part for publicly declaring that "Mrs. Hutchinson neyther deserved the Censure which was putt upon her in the Church, nor in the Common Weale." In 1646, Sarah Keayne was excommunicated by the Boston church for holding her own mixed religious meetings and "irregular[ly] prophesying." Joan Hogg, found guilty of "disorderly singing and … saying she is commanded of Christ to do so," was also excommunicated.

To Hutchinson's detractors, however, the most stunning commentary on the controversy was when Mary Dyer and Anne Hutchinson became pregnant following Hutchinson's trials, and experienced what Boston clergy described as "monster births" and divine signs of guilt. (Hutchinson's modern diagnosis is of a hydatidiform mole.)

In 1643, when Hutchinson was killed by Indians in what would become New York state, the Reverend Peter Bulkeley delivered the ministers' final summation: "Let her damned heresies shee fell into … and the just vengeance of God, by which shee perished, terifie all her seduced followers from having any more to doe with her leaven."—

Kathryn Cullen-DuPont

Suggestions for Further Reading

Battis, Emery. "Anne Hutchinson," Notable American Women, 1906-1950. Edited by Edward T. James, Janet Wilson James, and Paul S. Boyer. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1971.

Dailey, Barbara Ritter. "Anne Hutchinson," A Reader's Companion to American History. Edited by Eric Foner and John A. Garraty. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1991.

Evans, Sara M. Born for Liberty: A History of Women in America. New York: The Free Press, A Division of Macmillan, Co. 1989.

Flexner, Eleanor. Century of Struggle. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1959.

Hutchinson, Thomas. The History of the Colony and Province of Massachusetts Bay. Edited from Hutchinson's copy of Vols. I and II and his manuscript of Vol. III by Lawrence Shaw Mayo, 1936. Volume II, Appendix II, pp. 366-391, reprint in Nancy Cott, ed. Roots of Bitterness: Documents of the Social History of American Women. New York: E. P. Dutton, 1972.

Koehler, Lyle. "The Case of the American Jezebels: Anne Hutchinson and Female Agitation during the Years of the Antinomian Turmoil, 1636—1640." William and Mary Quarterly, 3d ser., 31 (1974): 55-78, reprint in Linda K. Kerber and Jane DeHart Mathews, eds. Women's America: Refocusing the Past. New York: Oxford University Press, 1972.

Morgan, Edmund S. The Puritan Dilemma: The Story of John Winthrop. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1958.

Stanton, Elizabeth Cady, Susan B. Anthony, and Matilda Joslyn Gage, eds. History of Woman Suffrage, 1881. Reprint Salem, N.H.: Ayer Co., 1985.

Winthrop, John. Winthrop's Journal, "History of New England," 1630-1649 (2 vols.). New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1908.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1637 to 1832Anne Hutchinson Trials: 1637 and 1638 - General Court Summons Hutchinson, Church Of Boston Enters Fray, The Aftermath: A Mixed Picture