Sunday, April 25, 2010

William Hutchinson

William Hutchinson (August 14, 1586 – 1642) was a prominent merchant and judge in the Massachusetts Bay Colony and one of the founders of Rhode Island.

Hutchinson was born in Alford, Lincolnshire, England. His parents were Edward Hutchinson (1564-1631) and Susanna Wheelright (1564-1645). On August 9, 1612 he married Anne Marbury (1591-1643), the daughter of Rev. Francis Marbury (1555-1611) and Bridget Dryden (1563-1645). They were married in London, where William had become a merchant.

On September 18, 1634 the Hutchinsons, along with eight other family members, arrived in Boston aboard the ship Griffin. They were devout Puritans and wanted to join Rev. John Cotton who had migrated there earlier.

In 1635 Hutchinson was elected a judge and in 1636 he was elected a deputy.

Hutchinson supported his wife Anne during her conflicts with some of the Puritan authorities, including Governor John Winthrop. Anne was imprisoned and she and her followers were banished. Hutchinson went on a fact-finding tour led by John Clarke to Providence Plantations. After consulting with Roger Williams, they decided to settle on Aquidneck Island, which later became Rhode Island and was a part, first, of the Colony of Rhode Island, and eventually, of the state of Rhode Island.

Back in Boston, Hutchinson and the other supporters of his wife signed the Portsmouth Compact on March 7, 1638. Then they moved to Aquidneck and founded the town of Portsmouth on land that they purchased from the local Native Americans.

After the first leader of Portsmouth, William Coddington moved away to found Newport, Hutchinson became the leader of the Portsmouth settlement. In 1640 He was elected assistant to Coddington, who was now the governor of the Colony of Rhode Island. Two years later he died, and his widow moved with some of her surviving children to New York, where she and all but one of the children with her were killed by Native Americans in 1643.

Hutchinson's son Edward was a military captain who died from wounds suffered at the battle known as Wheeler's Surprise during King Philip's War.

Other children included: Susanna, Richard, Faith, Bridget, Francis, Elizabeth, William, Samuel, Anne, Mary, Katherine, Susanna, and Zuriel.

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