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The Hutchinson Players


The word literally means 'against the law'. It was used to describe Anne Hutchinson and her followers in a derogatory manner and had connotations of licentious behavior and heretical doctrine.

puritan vs Puritan
The word puritan is used in a general sense to describe intangible characteristics such as character, conscious leanings or allegiance to certain religious beliefs as opposed to Puritan which implies something distinctly set such as membership in an organization or establishment. The puritans were in agreement about the need for further cleansing of the church institutions through evangelical means and held a basic set of common beliefs, but there was never an official institution of puritanism.

Puritan Beliefs

Church Membership

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Stained Glass at Penmynydd

Tudor Monarchs

The Reformation had taken hold in other European countries earlier and with more strength than the Church of England. In fact, Martin Luther had nailed his 95 Theses against the Catholic practice of selling indulgences on the church door at Wittenberg seventeen years before Henry VIII declared himself head of the English Church. Calvinists in Geneva and the Lutherans in Germany, sought radical reformation not only in practice but also in church organization.

Although Henry broke with papal authority, he was a devout Catholic and retained most of the Roman Catholic practices. Perhaps what plagued the Church of England was the fact that it had been declared a structure before having a unified content.

Each succeeding reign swung on the pendulum between more or less affinity with the Roman Catholics. By the time Elizabeth I took the throne in 1558, the puritan movement began to take hold with the general populace pushing for additional reform. Puritanism really began as a movement in response to Elizabeth's attempts to unify the Church of England. Although Elizabeth had no strong religious beliefs, she did adhere to Henrician rule and had been raised Protestant. Daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn she had been treated harshly during her predecessor's reign, Queen Mary I . Born to Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon , Mary I had been a staunch Catholic re-establishing ties with Rome and brutally persecuting those in opposition. Although Mary only ruled for 5 years, by the time Elizabeth took the throne, the country was deeply divided.

Elizabeth responded with what is known as the Elizabethan Religious Settlement using two Acts of Parliament. In 1559 the Act of Supremacy that had been declared during her father's reign was re-established thus nullifying Mary I's reinstatement with Rome. Secondly, the Act of Uniformity was declared setting out the form the English church would now take. The Book of Common Prayer was published and was to be used to regulate the Anglican services. But these actions only put the lid on the underlying conflicts and tensions dividing England.

The reign of Elizabeth I saw the return of those radical Protestants who had fled from Marian persecution to European centers of reformation. They had come in contact not only with sweeping theological reform but also with a fundamental change in church organization. Even as Elizabeth strove for unification, the puritan movement began to gather momentum with the general populace and the movement towards additional reforms continued to build.

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The Stuarts

During the early part of the 17th century, puritans were finding it more and more difficult to practice their beliefs. Increasing numbers of puritan ministers were being silenced and/or imprisoned. James I had succeeded Elizabeth and the puritans had hoped that there would be more reform. Unfortunately, this was not so. And by the time Charles I ascended the throne in 1625, the puritans were well on their way to being silenced.

Charles had disbanded the Parliament because of demands made by the vocal and insistent puritan members. Charles believed in the absolute power of kings along with the disregard for papal authority. He and his close associate and advisor, Archbishop William Laud, were enamored with spectacle, ceremony and extravagances, practices markedly abhorrent to the puritans. And although there were factors other than the religious climate in 17th century England which contributed to the Puritan emigration to New England, the reign of Charles I saw an increasing dissatisfaction within the puritan community and an unwillingness to bend to the dictates of the Church of England.

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more to come . . .

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