She settled in Cambridge and began organizing meetings of Boston women in her home, leading them in discussions of recent sermons and religious issues. Soon ministers and magistrates began attending her sessions as well. Hutchinson preached that faith alone was sufficient for salvation, and therefore that individuals had no need for the church or church law. By 1637, her influence had become so great that she was brought to trial and found guilty of heresy against Puritan orthodoxy. Banished from Massachusetts, she led a group of 70 followers to Rhode Island—Roger Williams’ colony based on religious freedom—and established a settlement on the island of Aquidneck.
After the death of her husband in 1642, she settled near present-day Pelham Bay, New York, on the Long Island Sound. In 1643, she and all but one of her children were massacred in a Native American attack. She is recognized as the first notable woman religious leader in the American colonies.