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These included Anne Hutchinson and John Wheelwright. In the early s, Mary Dyer returned to England where she was introduced to the Society of Friends. They were widely known as the Quakers. She became a devoted Quaker, committed to spreading her new found spirituality.

When Dyer returned to Boston in , she was immediately imprisoned. Dyer was then banished for both her Quaker beliefs and her attempts to spread her beliefs to others. Dyer defied the banishment order. She returned to Boston with the intention of spreading her religion. She was again banished, and threatened with execution if she returned. Dyer broke the banishment order a third time. However, on the date of her execution, she was pulled from the gallows and given a reprieve. She left Boston, but returned again in the spring of On the day of her execution, Mary was given a chance to recant her beliefs and escape execution.

The statue stands in front of the Massachusetts State House, and was photographed by Peter Dyer in Notes from the Archives: Mary Dyer executed onthisday in June 1, During the voyage to the colonies, she gave birth to their child, whom they named Seaborn. When Cotton left England, Anne Hutchinson described it as a "great trouble unto her," and said that she "could not be at rest" until she followed her minister to New England.

They sailed aboard the Griffin , the same ship that had carried Cotton and their oldest son a year earlier. William Hutchinson was highly successful in his mercantile business and brought a considerable estate with him to New England, [27] arriving in Boston in the late summer of The Hutchinson family purchased a half-acre lot on the Shawmut Peninsula, now downtown Boston. He became a town selectman and deputy to the General Court.

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The Hutchinsons became members of the First Church in Boston , the most important church in the colony. Hutchinson's visits to women in childbirth led to discussions along the lines of the conventicles in England. She soon began hosting weekly meetings at her home for women who wanted to discuss Cotton's sermons and hear her explanations and elaborations. As the meetings continued, Hutchinson began offering her own religious views, stressing that only "an intuition of the Spirit" would lead to one's election by God, and not good works.

Hutchinson responded to this with a verse from Titus , saying that "the elder women should instruct the younger. Hutchinson's gatherings were seen as unorthodox by some of the colony's ministers, and differing religious opinions within the colony eventually became public debates. The resulting religious tension erupted into what has traditionally been called the Antinomian Controversy, but has more recently been labelled the Free Grace Controversy. In September , he told another minister that he doubted Anne Hutchinson's orthodoxy, based on questions that she asked him following his shipboard sermons.

In , a difficult situation occurred when senior pastor John Wilson returned from a lengthy trip to England where he had been settling his affairs. Hutchinson was exposed to his teaching for the first time, and she immediately saw a big difference between her own doctrines and his.

She told her followers that Wilson lacked "the seal of the Spirit. Thomas Shepard , the minister of Newtown which later became Cambridge , began writing letters to Cotton as early as the spring of Shepard went even further when he began criticising the Boston opinions to his Newtown congregation during his sermons.

Wheelwright had been a close neighbor of the Hutchinsons in Lincolnshire, and his wife was a sister of Hutchinson's husband. Vane was a strong supporter of Hutchinson, but he also had his own ideas about theology that were considered not only unorthodox, but radical by some.

Hutchinson and the other free grace advocates continued to question the orthodox ministers in the colony. Wheelwright began preaching at Mount Wollaston , about ten miles south of the Boston meetinghouse, and his sermons began to answer Shepard's criticisms with his own criticism of the covenant of works. This mounting "pulpit aggression" continued throughout the summer, along with the lack of respect shown Boston's Reverend Wilson. Wilson endured these religious differences for several months before deciding that the affronts and errors were serious enough to require a response.

On or shortly after 21 October , Winthrop gave the first public warning of the problem that consumed him and the leadership of the Massachusetts Bay Colony for much of the next two years.

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Hutchinson, a member of the church at Boston, a woman of a ready wit and a bold spirit, brought over with her two dangerous errors: 1. That the person of the Holy Ghost dwells in a justified person. That no sanctification can help to evidence to us our justification. On 25 October , seven ministers gathered at the home of Cotton to confront the developing discord; they held a "private conference" which included Hutchinson and other lay leaders from the Boston church. Wheelwright; so as they all did hold, that sanctification did help to evidence justification.

Hutchinson responded to this only when prompted, and only to one or two ministers at a time. She believed that her response, which was largely coaxed from her, was private and confidential. By late , as the controversy deepened, Hutchinson and her supporters were accused of two heresies in the Puritan church: antinomianism and familism. The word "antinomianism" literally means "against or opposed to the law"; in a theological context, it means "the moral law is not binding upon Christians, who are under the law of grace. By winter, the theological schism had become great enough that the General Court called for a day of fasting to help ease the colony's difficulties.

During the appointed fast-day on Thursday, 19 January , Wheelwright preached at the Boston church in the afternoon. To the Puritan clergy, his sermon was "censurable and incited mischief", [55] but the free grace advocates were encouraged, and they became more vociferous in their opposition to the "legal" ministers.

Governor Vane began challenging the doctrines of the colony's divines, and supporters of Hutchinson refused to serve during the Pequot War of because Wilson was the chaplain of the expedition. By March, the political tide began to turn against the free grace advocates.

Wheelwright was tried for contempt and sedition that month for his fast-day sermon and was convicted in a close vote, but not yet sentenced.


During the election of May , Henry Vane was replaced as governor by John Winthrop; in addition, all the other Boston magistrates who supported Hutchinson and Wheelwright were voted out of office. By the summer of , Vane sailed back to England, never to return. With his departure, the time was ripe for the orthodox party to deal with the remainder of their rivals. The autumn court of convened on 2 November and sentenced Wheelwright to banishment, ordering him to leave the colony within 14 days. Several of the other supporters of Hutchinson and Wheelwright were tried and given varied sentences.

Following these preliminaries, it was Anne Hutchinson's turn to be tried. Hutchinson was brought to trial on 7 November , with Wheelwright banished and other court business taken care of. The trial was presided over by Governor John Winthrop, on the charge of "traducing [slandering] the ministers". Other charges against her were laid out by Winthrop, including being one who "troubled the peace of the commonwealth and churches", promoting and divulging opinions that had caused recent troubles, and continuing to hold meetings at her home despite a recent synod that had condemned them.

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They found it difficult to charge her because she had never spoken her opinions in public, unlike Wheelwright and the other men who had been tried, nor had she ever signed any statements about them. Winthrop's first two lines of prosecution were to portray her as a co-conspirator of others who had openly caused trouble in the colony, and then to fault her for holding conventicles. Question by question, Hutchinson effectively stonewalled him in her responses, [61] and Winthrop was unable to find a way to convert her known membership in a seditious faction into a convictable offence.

Deputy governor Thomas Dudley had a substantial background in law, and he stepped in to assist the prosecution. Dudley questioned Hutchinson about her conventicles and her association with the other conspirators. With no answer by Hutchinson, he moved on to the charge of her slandering the ministers.

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The remainder of the trial was spent on this last charge. The prosecution intended to demonstrate that Hutchinson had made disparaging remarks about the colony's ministers, and to use the October meeting as their evidence. Her defence was that she had spoken reluctantly and in private, that she "must either speak false or true in my answers" in the ministerial context of the meeting. At the end of the first day of the trial, Winthrop recorded, "Mrs. Hutchinson, the court you see hath labored to bring you to acknowledge the error of your way that so you might be reduced.

The time now grows late.

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We shall therefore give you a little more time to consider of it and therefore desire that you attend the court again in the morning. She was confident of herself and her intellectual tools, largely because of the intimacy she felt with God. During the morning of the second day of the trial, it appeared that Hutchinson had been given some legal counsel the previous evening, and she had more to say. She continued to criticise the ministers of violating their mandate of confidentiality.

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She said that they had deceived the court by not telling about her reluctance to share her thoughts with them. She insisted that the ministers testify under oath, which they were very hesitant to do. There were three such witnesses, all from the Boston church: deacon John Coggeshall , lay leader Thomas Leverett, and minister John Cotton.

When Cotton testified, he tended not to remember many events of the October meeting, and attempted to soften the meaning of statements that Hutchinson was being accused of. He stressed that the ministers were not as upset about any Hutchinson remarks at the end of the October meeting as they appeared to be later. There was more parrying between Cotton and the court, but the exchanges were not picked up in the transcript of the proceedings.

Hutchinson asked the court for leave to "give you the ground of what I know to be true. You have no power over my body, neither can you do me any harm—for I am in the hands of the eternal Jehovah, my Saviour, I am at his appointment, the bounds of my habitation are cast in heaven, no further do I esteem of any mortal man than creatures in his hand, I fear none but the great Jehovah, which hath foretold me of these things, and I do verily believe that he will deliver me out of your hands.