Rev Stephen Bachiler

Stephen BACHILER (c.1561 – 1656) (Wikipedia) was an English clergyman who was an early proponent of the separation of church and state in America. He was Alex’s 11th Great Grandfather; one of 2,048 in this generation.

Morgan ascribed this coat of arms to “Stephen Bachiler, the first Pastor of the church of Lygonia in New England, the plough to signify his ploughing up the fallow ground of their hearts, and the sun in allusion to his motto Sol Justitiae Exoritur.” But its meaning goes beyond that. The motto is translated as “The sun rises equally over all,” and the plow and rising sun together perfectly describe the hopes and aspirations of Bachiler’s Company of Husbandmen, those would-be farmers who in 1630 obtained a 1,600 square mile grant of land on the coast of Maine but never settled upon it.

He was one of our most complicated ancestors and one of my favorites.  His story represents America. He had the most setbacks and the most second, (third, fourth, fifth …. ) acts late in life that I can imagine.

Here’s his story in operatic form:

Prologue – When he was 7, he was kicked out of Flanders with his parents and a small contingent of Huguenots

1st Act Ends  – When he was 44, he was ejected from the peaceful riverside parish where he had preached acceptably for eighteen years

Comic Interlude  – When he was 52, his son was expelled from Oxford and both Bachiler and his son Stephen were sued by a nearby clergyman for libel because it was alleged that father and son had written “some scandalous verse” about the clergyman and had been “singing them in divers places.”

2nd Act Ends  – When he was 70, his Colony of Lygonia failed. Their first little shipload, sent from England six months after Winthrop’s well found colony, appears to have landed on their grant in the hard winter of 1631.   Bachiler had been chosen as the pastor of the colony and invested 60 pounds or more in the enterprise which may explain the sale of his properties in 1630.

When he was 72, ““Mr. Batchel’r is required to forbeare exercising his gifts a a pastor or teacher publiquely in our pattent, unless it be to those he brought with him, for his contempt of authority and till some scandles be removed.”

3rd Act Ends – When he was 75, he was dismissed as pastor from the Church at Saugus Mass

4th Act Ends – When he was 77, he walked 100 miles from Newbury to Cape Cod, but he failed to establish a colony there

5th Act Ends – When he was 80, he was excommunicated by the Hampton church on unfounded charges of scandal

6th Act Ends – When he was 83, the General Court at Boston did not allow Exeter, NH to start a church, thereby preventing them from hiring Bachiler

Epilogue – When he was 90 , his last wife had an affair with another man.  She was sentenced, after her approaching delivery, to be whipped and branded with the letter “A,” the “Scarlet Letter”of Hawthorne’s romance.

Not only was our Stephen fined £10 for not publishing his marriage according to law. (He had performed his last wedding ceremony himself.) but the court ordered “Mr. Batchelor and his wife shall live together as man and wife, as in this court they have publicly professed to do; and if either desert one another, then hereby the court doth order that the marshall shall apprehend both the said Mr. Batchelor and Mary, his wife, and bring them forthwith to Boston.

Denied a divorce by the Massachusetts Court, Bachiler finally returned to England about 1653. He died near London, and was buried at All Hallows Staining on October 31, 1656.

Postcript – His unfaithful wife sued her husband in 1656 for support based on various untrue charges including a claim that Bachiler had married a new wife while still legally married to her.  Stephen had already died a few days before.



Stephen Bachiler was born  in 1561 in  Tournai, Hainaut Province (now Belgium).  His parents were Philip BACHILER and Anne FLANDERS.   A small colony of Walloons came to Southampton about 1568, driven from their shops and studies by Philip II, a devout Catholic and self-proclaimed protector of the Counter-Reformation.  Among them were a father and son named Bachelier from Tournai.

The teacher of this band of Protestants was Adrien de Saravia, a champion of Calvin.  Adrien was born in Artois, his father a Spaniard, his mother a Fleming, and he was a minister in Antwerp until driven to the Channel Islands in 1560. From there he came to Southampton for a few peaceful years, returned to Leyden in 1582 as professor of divinity, and was again driven back to Protestant England, where he ended his days. It’s fun to imagine that Stephen Bachiler was Adrien’s charge and absorbed from him an opposition to tyranny and abuse which marked and marred his life.

During the 16th century, Tournai was a bulwark of Calvinism, but eventually it was conquered by the Spanish governor of the Low Countries, the Duke of Parma, following a prolonged siege in 1581. After the fall of the city, its Protestant inhabitants were given one year to sell their possessions and emigrate, a policy that was at the time considered relatively humane, since very often religious opponents were simply massacred.

First Act

Stephen married Deborah BATES in Hampshire, England, on 7 June 1588.  He was married a total of four times.  After Deborah died, he married Christian Weare 3 Mar 1624 in Suffolk, England.   After Christian died, he married Helena Mason  26 Mar 1627 in Abbots Ann, Hampshire, England.   After Helena died, he married Mary Magdelene [__?__] Beedle widow of Robert Beedle 14 Feb 1648 in Kittery, Maine.   He returned to England probably by Oct 1651.   Stephen died on 31 Oct 1656 at Allhallows Staining, London, England.

Stephen Bachiler – Memorial Stone from Founder’s Park, Hampton N.H. Location: Founder’s Park, Hampton N.H.

Hampton, NH Founders Park

Deborah Bates was born c. 1565 in Hampshire, England and died about 1616.   She was mother of all his children and was probably a sister of Rev. John Bate, Bachiler’ successor at Wherwell, Hampshire.

Helena [__?__] was born 1583 in Hackney, Surrey, England. She first married Rev. Thomas Mason. Helena died 1647 in Hampton, Rockingham, New Hampshire.

Richard Dummer of Roxbury and Newbury married first Jane Mason, a daughter of Reverend Thomas Mason, and resided late in his life at North Stoneham, Hampshire; Stephen Bachiler married as his third wife Helena Mason, widow of Reverend Thomas Mason, and resided just before his departure for New England at South Stoneham, Hampshire. These marriages made Bachiler the step-father-in-law of Dummer, and explains their close connection in the activities of the Plough Company.

Mary Magdelene [__?__] Beedle Bachiler  was born about 1633 in England.  She apparently had two children while she was married to the aged minister, but in view of her adulterous propensities and the fact that she and Mr. Bachiler did not live together at the time, it seems highly likely that those children were not his.   George Rogers of Kittery, Maine, was probably been their father. One of them is never seen by name and may have died young, while the other, Mary, survived and married William Richards.  She died in 1660 in Hackney, Surrey, England.

Children of Stephen and Deborah:

Name Born Married Departed
1. Nathaniel Bachiler c. 1590 Wherwell, Hampshire, England Hester Mercer or LeMercier
Margery [__?__] by 1645
9 April 1645 Southampton, Hampshire, England
2. Deborah BACHILER 23 Jun 1591/92
Wherwell, Hampshire, England
Rev. John WING(E) [Wynge] in 1608. In 1632, shortly after the death of her husband, she emigrated from England to New England with her father Date of death unknown
3. Stephen Bachiler 1594
Wherwell, Hampshire, England
Sarah [__?__] 1680
London, England
4. Mary Batchelder 1596 in Hackney, Middlesex, England
5. Theodate Bachiler 1596 in Wherwell, Hampshire, England Christopher Hussey
15 Jan 1628 in England
20 Oct 1649
Hampton, Rockingham, NH
6. Samuel Bachiler 1597
Wherwell, Hampshire, England
Gorcum, Holland
7. Ann Bachiler 1600/01
Wherwell, Hampshire, England
John Samborne 1619 Southampton, Hampshire, England
Henry Atkinson
20 Jan 1632 in Strood, Kent, England
between 1641 and 1649 at (Unknown), Kent, England.
8. William Bachiller 1607
Wherwell, Hampshire, England
Jane Cowper
7 Oct 1632
Stanford Dingley, Berkshire, England
22 Feb 1669
Charlestown, Mass.

Children of Stephen and Mary Magdelene: (In view of her adulterous propensities and the fact that she and Mr. Bachiler did not live together at the time, it seems highly likely that those children were not his.   George Rogers of Kittery, Maine, was probably been their father. )

Name Born Married Departed
9. Mary Bachiller 1650 William Richards
10. Child Bachiller Died Young

Stephen began his studies at Oxford, St John’s College in 1581 and graduated with a B.A. in Feb 1586.   Perhaps he then became a chaplain to Thomas WEST 1st  Baron of De La War [coincidently, also our ancestor], who presented him in 1587 to the vicarage of Wherwell, Hampshire, a small retired parish on the River Test, whose ” troutful stream,” celebrated by Isaak Walton, is still a favorite of anglers today.  Bachiler preached in Wherewell for twenty years, and  he doubtless hoped to end his days there. No more peaceful and beautiful place is to be found in sunny Hampshire, lying as it does in the middle of verdant and fertile meadows. Wherwell was the seat of an ancient abbey, founded in 986 by Queen Aelfrida, the widow of King Edgar. At the Dissolution, the abbey was granted to Thomas West, Lord La Warr or Delaware, and it soon became the principal seat of that great family.

Stephen was vicar of Wherwell Hampshre (1587 – 1605).   Wherewell Village is very quaint and its houses still has thatched roofs today. Stephen’s church was rebuilt in 1858.

Stephen probably was one of the thousand English puritan ministers who signed the 1603 Millenary Petition to King James, which greeted the Scotch monarch on his coming to the English throne. This carefully worded document expressed Puritan distaste regarding the state of the Anglican Church, and took into consideration James’ religious views as well as his liking for a debate, as written in James’ Basilikon Doron.  The petition urged the King to reform the abuses of the established church, and appealed to him to allow the Puritan pastors to continue their ” prophesyings and preachings” undeterred by the persecutions of their bishops.

As a result of this petition King James called the Hampton Court Conference in 1604.  John Rainoldes, John Knewstub, Lawrence Chaderton, and Henry Sparke  represented the Puritan party.  Against them were ranged eight English prelates, headed by the next Archbishop of Canterbury, Richard Bancroft, their bitter opponent.  Lord Delaware was a member of this conference, which resulted badly for the popular party, for on Rainoldes’s mentioning the word presbyter King James’s wrath was aroused, and he dismissed the conference with bitter reproaches, telling the Puritans that he would ” make them conform or harry them out of the land.”

Even though Stephen would soon be out of a job, the Hampton Court Conference  also bore fruit for the Puritans, who insisted that man know God’s word without intermediaries.  The conference led to James’s commissioning of that translation in English now known as the King James Version..

The following year was marked by the ejection of hundreds of Puritans, who declined to follow the hated ceremonies of the church. In May, 1605, Archbishop Bancroft held an ecclesiastical court at Winchester, and undoubtedly instructed the willing Thomas Bilson, Bishop of Winchester, to dismiss all his non-conforming clergymen. Among these was Stephen Bachiler, who was ejected in August, 1605, from the peaceful riverside parish where he had preached acceptably for eighteen years.

Comic Interlude

In 1610 Bachiler’s son Stephen was entered at Magdalen College in Oxford, the family college of the Wests, Lords Delaware.  His son’s college career was cut short by expulsion and in 1613 both Bachiler and his son Stephen were sued by a nearby clergyman for libel because it was alleged that father and son had written “some scandalous verse” about the clergyman and had been “singing them in divers places.”

2nd Act

We don’t know much about the next twenty years  of Bachiler’s life. Winthrop says he “suffered much at the hands of the Bishops” and family tradition alleges that he fled to Holland like the little band of Separatists from Scrooby, who in 1620 formed the Pilgrim colony at Plymouth. Bachiler was at 45, in the prime of his powers.   We know that many of his parishioners followed him from the church at Wherwell to his ministrations under Puritan auspices at the adjoining hamlet of Newton Stacy. In 1607 Henry Shipton, a wealthy tanner of Shawe, across the border in Berkshire, left him a small legacy, and in 1616 Edmund Alleyn of Hatfield Peverell, a rich Essex squire, bequeathed him a similar sum.

In 1621 the diary of Adam Winthrop, father of the Massachusetts Governor, says that he had “Mr. Bachiler the preacher” to dine with him. That he was not without means is shown by the Hampshire land records, which recite, between 1622 and 1630, his purchase and sale of small properies in Newton Stacy. A petition of Sir Robert Payne, Sheriff of Hampshire in 1632, states that several of his tenants, ” having been formerly misled by Stephen Bachiler, a Notorious inconformist, demolished a chapel at Newton Stacy, and executed many things in contempt of the canons and the bishop.

Thus preaching, persecuted, and adhered to by his former parishioners, Bachiler passed twenty years and reached the age of seventy. His children had grown up and married;  one son had become a chaplain in an English regiment in Holland, and one a merchant in Southampton.  Deborah married Rev. John WING, an English Puritan minister at Flushing and The Hague; and Theodate married Christopher Hussey, perhaps a relative of the mayor of Winchester of the same name, who married a daughter of the Hampshire Puritan Renniger;  Ann married a Hampshire Samborne, probably connected with James Samborne, the Winchester scholar and Oxford graduate, Puritan vicar of Andover and rector of Upper Clatford, neighboring villages to Wherwell.

With the accession of Charles I in 1625 Puritanism received another blow, and many of the English reformers, encouraged by the success of the Plymouth Pilgrims of 1620, decided to seek in the New World a freer atmosphere for their religious opinions. By this time Bachiler had reached an age when most men become weary of struggling, anxious to lay aside contention and strife, and to obtain a few years of rest. Not so Stephen as you will see.

In 1630 a small band of London merchants, perhaps friends of Bachiler’s son Nathaniel, formed a colonizing company, called the “Company of Husbandmen” and obtained from Sir Ferdinando Gorges, a patent to some 1600 square miles in his province of New England south of the river Sagadahock.  The colony was to be called “Lygonia” after Cecily Lygon, mother of New England Council president Sir Ferdinando Gorges.   Bachiler was chosen as the pastor of the colony and invested £60 or more in the enterprise which may explain the sale of his properties in 1630 in Newton Stacy.

Gorges had received his land patent in 1622, along with John Mason, from the Plymouth Council for New England for the Province of Maine, the original boundaries of which were between the Merrimack and Kennebec rivers. In 1629, he and Mason divided the colony, with Mason’s portion south of the Piscataqua River becoming the Province of New Hampshire and Gorges retaining Maine.

This Company of Husbandmen sent to America in the fall of 1630 a small ship called the “Plough,” with a meagre band of colonists to settle on their new patent, probably about where the present city of Portland stands. The grant from Gorges seems to have conflicted with other grants, and the original patent is lost, so that we cannot exactly locate the land, which the Husbandmen thought embraced the seacoast from Cape Porpoise to Cape Elizabeth.

In 1631 Stephen Bachiler was in Holland where he was associated with two well-known dissenting clergymen, Hugh Peters  (given charge of the church in Salem in 1635) and John Davenport (co-founder of the colony of New Haven)

The Plough, sent from England six months after Winthrop’s well found colony, appears to have landed on their grant in the hard winter of 1631, and were much disappointed in the outlook. The upper coast of New England was sterile and forbidding, bare of settlements except for a few scattering fishing stages, and the Husbandmen were probably poorly equipped for colonization. The first letter from the London managers, dated in March, 1631, and sent to their New England colonists, speaks as though Bachiler had been engaged in the Company’s work for some time.  In this letter the London members ask the colonists to remember their duty to return thanks to God who:

“hath filled the heart of our reverend pastor so full of zeal, of love and of extraordinary affection toward our poor society. Notwithstanding opposition yet he remaineth constant, persuading and exhorting, — yea and as much as in him lieth-constraining all that love him to join together with us. And seeing the Company is not able to bear his charge over, he hath strained himself to provide provision for himself and his family, and hath done his utmost endeavor to help over as many as he possibly can, for your further strength and encouragement.”

For another year, or until the spring of 1632, the Plough Company worked in England to secure more colonists and to enlarge their resources. The London members were not rich, but all were bound together by some mystical religious fellowship, the exact significance of which has been lost.     John Dye, Grace Hardwin, and Thomas Jupe, three London merchants of limited education and narrow resources, were the principal factors of the Company of Husbandmen.   John Crispe, Bryan Binckes, and John Carman came over on the first ship and seem to have had some authority in the company, but the records disclose nothing of note about them. The loosely knit little company seems to have been organized and kept alive by the strenuous efforts of Bachiler and his kinsmen.

A second shipment of goods and colonists was sent out in March 1632, on two ships, the “William and Francis” and the “Whale.” The colonists on the former ship were captained by Bachiler, now over 70, and the party on the “Whale” by his relative, Richard Dummer, also a Hampshire man, who had not joined the religious circle of the Husbandmen, but who was doubtless induced by Bachiler to finance the enterprise to some extent. Dummer was a man of breadth and ability, whose connection must have been of value to the struggling company, though he soon foresaw its failure and identified himself with Winthrop’s more permanent enterprise.

While Bachiler, Dummer, and the London members of the Company were thus helping on the enterprise in England, imagining that the colony of the Sagadahock River was firmly planted in the new soil, that poor-spirited crew had left its northern settlement, aghast at the practical difficulties of colonization, and perhaps torn by some dissension. With their shaky little craft, the Plough, they had drifted down the coast looking for more substantial settlements, and Winthrop’s journal of July 6, 1631, records their arrival at Watertown as follows: “A small ship of 60 tons arrived at Natascot, Mr. Graves master. She brought ten passengers from London. They came with a patent for Sagadehock, but not liking the place they came hither. Their ship drew ten feet and went up to Watertown but she ran on ground twice by the way.”

The Husbandmen, with their vague and mysterious religious tenets, were with some reason looked on askance by the compact and intolerant Massachusetts Bay Colony. They had failed in their enterprise, and had come from the neighborhood of those fishing settlements along the north coast, whose rude and lawless members were in bad odor with the magistrates.  John Winthrop wrote in his Journal that most of the passengers on the Plough were Familists. The Family of Love or Familists was a mystic religious sect founded by Henry Nicholis.  Their radical message, based on a traditional mystic Christian idea derived from the writings of Paul, said that a part of God is in every person. They believed they had so much of God’s spirit in them that they were a part of the Godhead.   As the Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition says:

Nicholis’s followers escaped the gallows and the stake, for they combined with some success the wisdom of the serpent and the harmlessness of the dove. They would only discuss their doctrines with sympathizers; they showed every respect for authority, and considered outward conformity a duty. This quietist attitude, while it saved them from molestation, hampered propaganda.

The outward trappings of his system were Anabaptist; his followers were accused of asserting that all things were ruled by nature and not directly by God, of denying the dogma of the Trinity, and repudiating infant baptism. They held that no man should be put to death for his opinions, and apparently, like the later Quakers, they objected to the carrying of arms and to anything like an oath; and they were quite impartial in their repudiation of all other churches and sects.

Reverend Bachiler, his second wife Helena, his daughter Deborah with her four sons (John, Daniel , Joseph and Stephen), son Nathaniel Bachiler, and son-in-law John Samborn with his children, William and Stephen, landed near Boston on 17 June 1632.  The ill-fated little venture was already doomed. The earnest letter which Bachiler brought over from the London merchants was addressed to a band already in disorder, and it seems probable that they remained near Boston only long enough to deliver their patent to the newcomers, coupled with such gloomy reports of the northern coast as effectually put an end to any further attempt at colonization. The Company of Husbandmen was practically dead, its assets in the hands of the Massachusetts court, and its members scattered; some went back to England and some to Virginia.

As the project for establishing the Lygonia Colony had failed, the backers of the company wrote to John Winthrop requesting him to dispose of the goods which had been sent over and use the proceeds to pay off some of the investors including Stephen Bachiler. As late as June 3, 1633, Bachiler was in communication with Winthrop regarding the disposal of part of the cargo.

The £1,400 of joint stock was a complete loss, and apparently the patent was seized on by Dummer as some security for his advances. This Plough Patent was for years a source of dispute, being assigned some time later to one of Cromwell’s commanders, Alexander Rigby, whose agent, George Cleeves, disputed the bounds of the royal province of Gorgeana which fell to the heirs of Sir Ferdinando Gorges. The constant quarrels between the two factions existed until Massachusetts, through its agents in England, bought up their claims and established Maine as a dependency of the Bay Colony.

It seems possible that the only person who derived a profit from the defunct Plough Company was Richard Dummer, who perhaps bought out Bachiler’s interest in the patent, and who sold it through Cleeves to Rigby. Bachiler had disposed of his small estate in Hampshire to provide funds for the colony; had brought over a little company of adherents and his own children and grandchildren; and found himself at 71 stranded in Newtown without a settlement or a pastorate, and equipped with a very moderate sum of money, a library of fair size, and a somewhat legendary coat of arms.

Eventhough Lygonia failed, Stephen still got a coat of arms from the deal.  His coat of arms is real, even if not granted by the College of Heraldry or any other authority. It was included in a 1661 work on the origins of heraldry by Sylvanus Morgan

The motto is translated as “The sun rises equally over all,” and the plow and rising sun together perfectly describe the hopes and aspirations of Bachiler’s Company of Husbandmen, those would-be farmers who in 1630 obtained a 1,600 square mile grant of land on the coast of Maine but never settled upon it.

While some have cited this coat of arms as evidence of Bachiler’s “gentle blood”, he never claimed noble or even “old family” ancestry, nor did any of his contemporaries ever refer to such. His forebears remain unknown, and both his parents must have died when Bachiler was quite young–possibly from the plague that was endemic in England during the year of his birth in 1561. Bachiler’s education at St. John’s, Oxford may have been sponsored by neighbor Sir William West, lst Baron de la Warr, who seems to have been his patron in giving him a “living” upon graduation as Vicar of Wherwell in County Hants (Hampshire). We are left with a remarkable man, “a Man of Fame in his Day” and “a Gentleman of Learning and Ingenuity” (Prince, Annals of New England), but– somewhat unusual for a well-known person– without a visible pedigree.

Even though Lygonia Colony failed, Bachiler’s arrival in the new colony was welcomed. Winthrop mentions it in his journal, and it was undoubtedly a matter of moment that the aged Oxford scholar had chosen to settle in the Bay, with a considerable group of followers. A man of education and cultivation, as his letters show him to have been, was a positive addition to Winthrop’s settlement. Although contrary to the direct statements of Lewis and Newhall, the historians of Lynn, Bachiler and his little colony may not have immediately established a church at Lynn. Bachiler’s own letter to Winthrop shows his first residence was at Newtown, now Cambridge. Here, too, we find the name of John Kerman, one of the Plough Company, as an early settler.  Perhaps Bachiler set up a church with the handful of colonists left of the Plough Company.  The arbitrary General Court of Winthrop’s colony promptly suppressed the influence of these doctrines, which were perhaps more tolerant, and thus more acceptable to many of the newly arriving colonists not yet firmly bound to the compact and narrow limits of the oligarchy. Bachiler and his adherents had not joined the church covenant by taking the “freeman’s oath.” The Court on Oct. 6, 1632, ordered that

“Mr. Batchel’r is required to forbeare exercising his gifts a a pastor or teacher publiquely in our pattent, unless it be to those he brought with him, for his contempt of authority and till some scandles be removed.”

Apparently he had attempted to organize a church without first securing permission from the proper authorities but as to where this was done is not clear from the records.

3rd Act

Saugus, Essex, Mass

Probably after this he moved from Newtown to Saugus (now Lynn) and established his church there. Massachusetts was fast filling up with immigrants, and new settlements were being established. These plantations either kept no records of their first years, or, if such there were, they have been lost. Thus the only definite data of these early years are contained in the records of the General Court, and in the fragmentary notes of Winthrop’s journal. On March 4, 1633, the inhibition of the Court was removed, and Bachiler was free to preach at will.   It is likely he started ministering at Saugus at this time.

He continued preaching to his own little flock for three years, and gradually attaching others to them until his church numbered twenty families.   This increase became less coherent as newcomers settled at Saugus, and on March 15, 1635, Winthrop records that

“divers of the brethren of that church, not liking the proceedings of the pastor and withal making a question whether they were a church or not, did separate from church communion.”

Bachiler and his followers asked the advice of the other churches, who, wishing to hear both sides, offered to meet at Saugus about it. Bachiler then asked the separatists to put their grievances in writing, which they refused to do. At this Bachiler’s quick temper flared up, and he wrote to the other churches that he was resolved to excommunicate these objectors, and therefore the conference at Saugus was not needed. This hasty proceeding (as Winthrop calls it) met with no approval at the lecture in Boston where Bachiler’s letter was read, and the elders at once went to Saugus to pacify the contending parties. After hearing both sides it was agreed that, though not at first regularly constituted as a church, their consent and practice of a church estate had made them a church, and so, Winthrop concludes, all were reconciled.

Probably these reconciling elders pointed out to Master Bachiler that he had not yet conformed to their custom and become a “freeman”; and indeed the Lynn church resembled rather the voluntary assemblings of the early Christians than the formal and solemn installations practised in the Bay.  At all events, on May 6, 1635, Bachiler yielded to their practice, became a freeman and stemming this controversy.

This period was one of extreme danger for the Massachusetts Puritans. The Bay was fast filling up with English settlers from different counties, and each little band was headed by some disestablished or nonconforming clergyman whose dislike for English intolerance was probably equalled by his determination to submit to no arbitrary church government in the new country. Thus, in America the leaders of the Bay Colony were confronted with the opposition of countless involved theological beliefs at variance with their own, while in England the King and Archbishop Laud were determined if possible to suppress the spread of Puritan strength by handicapping the new colony with a Governor-General from England, whose autocracy should be firmly allied with the English church and the Stuart dynasty.

The colony of Winthrop and Dudley was thus attacked from within and from without. Small blame to them for determining actively to expel the contestants here, and passively to ignore the church-and-state rule of England.

Roger Williams’ Statue, no such statue exists of Stephen Batchiler

The banishment of Roger Williams marks the first concerted move to stamp out theological division in their own body. In October of 1635 Williams was expelled from Massachusetts. Stephen Bachiler was the only clergyman to dissent.  In some ways the character of the two men was similar. Both were theorists, both intolerant of arbitrary rule, but history has magnified the success of one and nearly obliterated the record of the other. The constructive talents of Roger Williams resulted in the establishment of the province of Rhode Island where toleration was the rule of life, while the character of Bachiler, always in opposition to authority, made his life work ineffectual.

In January, 1636, Bachiler was called before the magistrates because he and some of his congregation had asked to be dismissed from the Saugus church in order to form a new church presumably in another place. The dismissal was granted but he and his followers, instead of leaving, started a rival church in Saugus. The members of the first church thereupon complained and Bachiler was ordered to desist until the matter had been reviewed. He refused to be bound by the order so a marshal was sent to bring him in, whereupon he agreed to obey and promised to move out of Saugus within three months. Samuel Whiting replaced him in the Saugus or Lynn church   Winthrop records:

” Mr. Batchellor of Saugus was convented before the magistrates. Coming out of England with a small body of six or seven persons and having since received in many more at Saugus, and contention coming between him and the greatest part of his church, who had with the rest received him for their pastor, he desired dismission for himself and first members, which being granted upon supposition that he would leave the town (as he had given out), he with the said six or seven persons presently renewed their old covenant, intending to raise another church in Saugus; whereat the most and chief of the town being offended, for that it would cross their intention of calling Mr. Peter or some other minister, they complained to the magistrates, who seeing the distraction which was like to come by this course had forbidden him to proceed in any such church way until the cause were considered by the other ministers. But he refused to desist, whereupon they sent for him, and upon his delay day after day the marshal was sent to fetch him. Upon his appearance and submission and promise to remove out of the town within three months, he was discharged.”.

4th Act

Among his church, however, many besides his own family disliked the change, and several began a new settlement on Cape Cod, among them John Carman, the Plough Company man.

Bachiler himself is said to have removed in February, 1636, to Ipswich, where the younger Winthrop had established a settlement.   No record exists of this move and it’s possible that he and his son-in-law Christopher Hussey followed Richard Dummer to Newbury, where their cousin had taken up a farm of five hundred acres, and where Bachiler and Hussey likewise received extensive grants of land.

When Rev. Stephen moved away from Saugus, he apparently gave the property to John WING II. This is deduced from the fact that John Wing was the grantor who sold the property to William Tilton after the Wing family moved to Sandwich.

Stephen Bachiler’s chair was on loan to the New Hampshire Historical Society from 1958 to 1986. The loan was returned to the heirs of the lender in 1986 at their request. The chair was then sold by the heirs and is now (2010) at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City

The tyrannical rule of the New England Puritans met with little favor in Old England, where general sentiment favored toleration, and much disapproved arbitrary self-government in a colony. Mr. Stansby, a silenced Puritan in Norfolk, writing to John Wilson, the Boston pastor, in 1637, complains:

” that many of the ministers are much straited with you: others lay down the ministry and became private members, as Mr. Bachiler, Mr. Jenner and Mr. Nathaniel Ward. You are so strict in admission of members to your church that more than one-half are out of your church in all your congregations: this may do you much hurt.”

And now the threatened insurrection broke out into a flame. The Fast Day sermon of John Wheelwright arrayed the Massachusetts settlements in two distinct factions, which we may term Antinomians and Arbitrarians.  While there is wide agreement within  Christianity that “antinomianism” is heresy, what constitutes antinomianism is often in disagreement.  Vane was elected Governor; Cotton as teacher ruled the Boston church; the brilliant, if undisciplined, Ann Hutchinson lent distinction to the party of toleration. To the north lay the fishing settlements of Gorges and Mason, allied with the English church; to the south Roger Williams and his colony of broader views.

The Massachusetts Puritans saw no wiser way of treating the spread of these heretical opinions than by suppression. The new election was won for the Arbitrarians; Winthrop and Dudley went back into office, and the Court of Assistants was theirs by an overwhelming majority. The defeated party did what they could by electing Antinomian deputies, but their power was for the moment gone. After some verbal sparring between Winthrop and Vane, the Massachusetts Synod, entirely Arbitrarian, denounced eighty erroneous doctrines, and at the November session of the General Court the iron hand was applied. The leaders of the opposition were banished, disfranchised, or disarmed. Massachusetts presented a stern front against toleration. Wheelwright and his adherents began a settlement beyond the bounds of Massachusetts, at Squamscott (now Exeter, NH). Richard Dummer, who was among those disarmed, had too much at stake to abandon his possessions at Newbury, but returned to England and brought back with him in 1638 a small band of relatives and friends who strengthened his hand.

Bachiler and Hussey, living quietly at Newbury and having been dealt with the year before, were spared in this dictatorial devastation, but the inaction was not to Bachiler’s liking. In the severe winter of 1637-38,   the venerable Puritan walked on foot through the wilderness to Cape Cod, where he and his little party hoped to begin a settlement near that which had been established a year before by John Carman and the company from Saugus. The rigor of the season and the difficulty of the enterprise discouraged them. Winthrop says:

“The undertaker of this (the settlement at Mattakees, now Yarmouth) was one Mr. Batchellor late pastor at Saugus, being about 76 years of age: yet he walked thither on foot in a very hard season. He and his company, being all poor men, finding the difficulty gave it over, and others undertook it.”

Stephen Bachiler Map

5th Act

As early as 1635 the great Council of Plymouth surrendered its charter to the King, and the Attorney-General, Sir John Banks, began quo warranto proceedings to annul the Massachusetts patent. The whole coast line from Sagadahock to Narragansett was parceled out among the eight remaining members. To Gorges was allotted the northern district, as far south as the Piscataqua. Mason’s share adjoined this and ran south to Naumkeag, now Salem harbor. The coast from there to Narragansett fell to Lord Edward Gorges. Thus a paper division shut out Winthrop’s colony from any Royal privileges, and the proposed appointment of their enemy, Sir Ferdinando Gorges, as Governor-General completed the pen-and-ink overthrow of the Bay Puritans.

But paper was all that Charles could give; money and resources he had none, and he was indeed keeping his own coffers barely filled by illegal and unpopular ” ship money” and other taxes. With a singular lack of perspective, after sweating his English subjects by these money getting tactics, Charles and Laud added the last straw by attempting to force the Anglican church establishment upon Scotland. The storm which this raised at home quite blotted out all plans for colonial government and extension. Sir Ferdinando was left to his own resources to fit out the ship which should carry the Royal Governor to his happy New England tenantry; and the doughty Elizabethan knight foundered in the attempt, just as his newly launched vessel broke to pieces on her way off the stocks.

Meanwhile the narrow limits of the Massachusetts patent “from the Merrimack to the Charles” began to press hard on Winthrop’s expanding colony. Each year new settlers flocked there from England, and new settlements were needed to accommodate them. In 1635 a band of Wiltshire men, headed by Thomas Parker, had planted the Massachusetts flag on the southern bank of the Merrimack at Newbury, and soon the tide overflowed into Salisbury, Haverhill, and Rowley.

Here began the debatable land of Mason’s patent of 1629, stretching from the Merrimack to the Piscataqua and joining Gorges’s province of Maine. Few and scattering were the settlements. Depositions made by early planters say that in 1631 there were but three houses on all that side of the country adjoining the Piscataqua. Captain Neale was sent out by Mason and Gorges in the same month as Winthrop’s fleet, and on June 1, 1630, settled in the stone house built by Thomson, the Scotch trader, in 1623 at Little Harbor. These absentee landlords had large plans, and built a manor house or two, set up sawmills and fishing stages, but their colonies lacked the effective personal element which the Bay Colony possessed, and they came to little.

By the close of 1637 Mason was dead, Gorges was busy in the King’s cause, and the vast regions along the Piscataqua between New Hampshire and Maine contained but a few dismembered plantations. The Antinomian heretics were banished from Massachusetts or disarmed; ship-loads of immigrants friendly to the Bay Colony were arriving, and they must be provided with suitable plantations. The “Lords Brethren” of the Bay scanned their patent and saw that its northern line was the Merrimack.

Merrimack River Basin.  The Piscataqua is between New Hampshire and Maine

Now that river reaches the sea at Newbury, but its head waters lie far to the North. “The wish was father to the thought.” Winthrop and his oligarchy looked the ground over and decided that the King’s intention was that their patent should include all the country south of the headwaters. As early as 1636 the General Court passed an order that a plantation should be begun at Winnicunnet, some fifteen miles north of Newbury, and that Richard Dummer and John Spencer should press men to build a house there. The exact location of this house, intended to mark possession, but afterwards called the ” Bound House,” cannot now be definitely determined. It was, says Wheelwright in 1665, ” three large miles North of the Merrimack,” apparently within the limits of the present town of Seabrook, NH.   The settlement planned was not completed, and in 1637 the inhabitants of Newbury were by court order allowed to settle there. Except for Nicholas Easton and a Mr. Geoffrey the Newbury settlers did not take up the new grant, and the two mentioned were unwelcome to the Massachusetts authorities, Easton (afterwards Governor of Rhode Island) having been disarmed as an Antinomian.

Stephen Bachiler founded  Hampton, Rockingham, New Hampshire

In the autumn of 1638, Bachiler and others successfully petitioned the Massachusetts General Court to begin a new plantation at Winnacunnet, to which he gave the name Hampton when the town was incorporated in 1639.The comany included the adherents of Bachiler, his son-in-law and his four grandchildren, and with them were also one or two Norfolk men who had settled first in Watertown and then in Newbury. The Court ruled also (perhaps remembering past difficulties with Bachiler) that John Winthrop, Jr., [btw John Winthrop Jr was a good friend of Thomas MINER] and Mr. Bradstreet should go with the little band of settlers, and no decisive act should be done without the affirmation of these two Massachusetts officials.

Stephen Bachiler – Hampton Foundation Plaque

Oct 1638 – The reverend Stephen BACHILER and his company, who had received permission from the general court when united together by church covenant, commenced a settlement at Winicowett. He was at this time residing in Newbury. On Mr. Rawson’s request, the place was called Hampton. The following persons, residents of Newbury, went with Mr. Bachiler. John Berry, Thomas COLEMAN, Thomas Cromwell [Giles CROMWELL‘s brother], James DAVIS, William Easton, William Fifield, Maurice Hobbs, Mr. Christopher Hussey [BACHILER’s son-in-law], Thomas Jones, Thomas Marston, William Marston, Robert Marston, John Moulton, Thomas Moulton, William Palmer, William SARGENT, and Thomas Smith. Smith, however, soon returned to Newbury. A few went to Salisbury.

Our ancestos’ lots are underlined in red. Rev. Stephen Bachiler’s lot was on today’s Park Avenue. — Map of the homes of the original settlers of Hampton, NH, recreated from published maps and ancient records in 1892

  • Lafayette Road, and Winnacunnet Road, Hampton, NH on Google Maps
  • The main road going horizontally across the top of the map then, at right, angling down to the right corner, is today’s Winnacunnet Road. At the bottom right corner it leads “To The Sea”.
  • Today’s Lafayette Road/Route One starts in the top left and goes vertically down (south) into the thicker road, then about 2/3 of the way down angles sharply off to the left corner in the small road reading “To Salisbury”. That road today is pretty much straight as an arrow north to south.
  • Midway down that same road a small road angles off to the left that reads “To Drake Side”. That is today’s Drakeside Road.
  • The fat road leading from the point where Route One angles off “To Salisbury” to the right and its meeting with Winnacunnet Road, is today’s Park Ave.
  • The two roads leading off the bottom of the map both say “To the Landing”, and at the time were both ends of a single road that went in a loop. Today they are still there, called Landing Road, but are cut off in the middle by a new highway.
  • Lastly the small road in the top right is Mill Road.

First called the Plantation of Winnacunnet, Hampton was one of four original New Hampshire townships chartered by the General Court of Massachusetts, which then held authority over the colony. “Winnacunnet” is an Algonquian Abenaki word meaning “pleasant pines” and is the name of the town’s high school.

In March 1635, Richard Dummer and John Spencer of the Byfield section in Newbury, came round in their shallop, came ashore at the landing and were much impressed by the location. Dummer, who was a member of the General Court, got that body to lay its claim to the section and plan a plantation here. The Massachusetts General Court of March 3, 1636 ordered that Dummer and Spencer be given power to “To presse men to build there a Bound house”.

The town was settled in 1638 by a group of parishioners led by Reverend Stephen Bachiler, who had formerly preached at the settlement’s namesake:Hampton, England.  Incorporated in 1639, the township once included SeabrookKensingtonDanvilleKingstonEast KingstonSandownNorth Hampton and Hampton Falls.

A letter from Bachiler to the younger Winthrop dated Oct. 9, 1638, still extant, shows that the actual date of the trip from Newbury, which was made in a shallop, was October 14th. On this pleasant fall day the settlement was made, and Stephen probably felt he would spend his remaining days in peace in this new plantation.  His adherents were united to him, a pleasant and fertile spot had been chosen, and one at the farthest northern end of the Massachusetts patent, if not indeed really outside of its limits. To the west lay Wheelwright and his little colony, farther up the coast were the independent settlements of Strawberry Bank and Cocheco. It looked as though liberty indeed lay before him.

Stephen Bachiler – Hampton Meeting House

Rev Timothy DALTON, [our sometimes ancestor] was sent to the town as “teaching assistant” by the Boston church after New Hampshire was absorbed by Massachusetts in 1641. Dalton was a relative of Winthrop, and a man loyal to the Massachusetts doctrines.  He was soon to be Stephen’s nemesis.

Dalton was a Cambridge graduate, ejected from his Suffolk rectory of Woolverstone for non-conformity, who had come to New England in 1635, settling in the Puritan colony at Dedham.  Bachiler and Dalton, nominally head of the church and assistant, were as far apart as the poles. Stephen was old, educated, controversial, versed in polemical discussion, and wedded to his own ideas. Timothy was younger, less cultivated, equally obstinate, and determined to uphold the tenets of his cousin and neighbor, Winthrop. Probably dissension began at once, but time has obliterated nearly all traces of the quarrel. The town records contain no reference to it. The church records have disappeared.

Bachiler was excommunicated by the Hampton church on unfounded charges of “scandal”, but protested to Governor Winthrop and was later reinstated.  The charges involve the disruption of churches and an alleged proposal to commit adultery with the wife of a neighbor in Hampton.

An occasional gleam flashed out until in 1641 the dissensions at Hampton culminated in the sorry incident related in Winthrop’s journal under date of Nov. 12, 1641. No personal criticism of Stephen Bachiler has up to this date been discovered, no breath of scandal has touched his character. That he was opposed to the arbitrary rule of the Bay oligarchy is unquestioned, but it was left to the “reverend, grave and gracious Mr. Dalton” to defame his character and blacken his memory by the story which Winthrop recites with that gusto with which similar incidents, real or falsified, were treated by early Puritan historians. Winthrop says:

“Mr. Stephen Batchellor, the pastor of the church at Hampton, who had suffered much at the hands of the Bishops and having a lusty comely woman to his wife, did solicit the chastity of his neighbor’s wife, who acquainted her husband therewith; whereupon he was dealt with, but denied it, as he had told the woman he would do, and complained to the magistrates against the woman and her husband for slandering him. The church likewise dealing with him, he stiffly denied it, but soon after when the Lord’s Supper was to be administered he did voluntarily confess the attempt, and that he did intend to defile her if she had consented. The church being moved by his full confession and tears silently forgave him, and communicated with him; but after finding how scandalous it was they took advice of other elders, and after long debate and much pleading and standing upon the church’s forgiving and being reconciled to him in communicating with him after he had confessed it, they proceeded to cast him out. After this he went on again in a variable course, sometimes seeming very penitent, soon after again excusing himself and casting blame upon others, especially his fellow elder Mr. Dalton (who indeed had not carried himself in this cause so well as became him, and was brought to see his failing and acknowledged it to the elders of the other churches who had taken much pains about this matter). So he behaved himself to the elders when they dealt with him. He was off and on for a long time, and when he had seemed most penitent so as the church were ready to have received him in again, he would fall back again and as it were repent of his repentance. In this time his house and near all his substance was consumed by fire. When he had continued excommunicated for near two years, and much agitation had been about the matter, and the church being divided so as he could not be received in, at length the matter was referred to some magistrates and elders, and by their mediation he was released of his excommunication but not received to his pastor’s office. Upon occasion of this mediation Mr. Wilson, pastor of Boston, wrote this letter to him.” [Wilson’s letter no longer exists].

Edward Johnson of Woburn, Massachusetts wrote about 1650 of Bachiler as follows:

“Through Ocean large Christ brought thee for to feede,
His wandering flock with’s word thou hast oft taught,
Then teach thy selfe with others thou hast need
Thy flowing fame unto low ebbe is brought”

This detailed account by Winthrop  is all that remains; the court records, district or general, contain no trace of it, no letters mention the case. . No published or manuscript record except Winthrop’s gives us any facts.    During the controversy Bachiler’s house was burned and he lost all of his books and papers.

The story apparently comes from his enemy Dalton, whose writings afford us nothing, unless we may consider a large bequest to Bachiler’s grandson Nathaniel as a tardy attempt at reparation.   It is interesting to note that Dalton and Hugh Peter were also responsible for the slanderous account of Knollys’ and Larkham’s offenses against decency, perpetuated in Winthrop, but now generally disbelieved.

In 1640 Thomas Larkham left with his family for New England, going first to Massachusetts, but moved on to Dover called also then Northam. Here he became minister, ousting Hansard Knollys. Larkham’s conduct in taking on civil as well as religious authority led to much discontent and even open warfare, and commissioners from Boston, of whom Hugh Peters was one, were sent to arbitrate. They found both parties in fault. Larkham remained at Dover until the end of 1642, when, in the account of John Winthrop, he left for England after promising not to; Winthrop also mentions the birth of an illegitimate child of which Larkham was admitted to be the father.

Both Winthrop and Belknap say that “a discovery was made of Knolly’s failure in point of chastity,” and that he himself confessed it before the church, — at least to the extent of some improper “dalliance” with two young women that lived in his family, and that on this account he was dismissed by the church and removed from Dover.

It is unlikely that the ardent and spiritual Knollys, the founder of the Baptist church, could have “sullied with that filthy and indelible stain a life otherwise pure”. Thomas Larkham’s life in England is blameless. The fact is that the settlements north of the Merrimack were looked on by the Bay Puritans as reeking with impurity, and any garbled accounts of misconduct there were exaggerated.

Here’s what Bachiler and his friends and neighbors have to say. Himself, writing to Winthrop in 1643, says:

” I see not how I can depart hence” [that is from Hampton, to accept one of two calls he had received, to Casco and to Exeter], “till I have, or God for me, cleared and vindicated the cause and wrongs I have suffered of the church I yet live in; that is, from the Teacher, who hath done all and been the cause of all the dishonor that hath accrued to God, shame to myself, and grief to all God’s people, by his irregular proceedings and abuse of the power of the church in his hands,–by the major part cleaving to him, being his countrymen and acquaintance in old England. Whiles my cause, though looked slightly into by diverse Elders and brethren, could never come to a judicial searching forth of things, and an impartial trial of his allegations and my defence; which, if yet they might, I am confident in God, upon certain knowledge and due proof before yourselves, the Teacher’s [Dalton’s] act of his excommunicating me (such as I am, to say no more of myself), would prove the foulest matter, –both for the cause alleged of that excommunication, and the impulsive cause,–even wroth and revenge. Also the manner of all his proceeding throughout to the very end, and lastly his keeping me still under bonds,–and much worse than here I may mention for divers causes,–which, to bear on my shoulder in going hence, is so uncomfortable that, tho’ I can refer it to God’s revenging hand and wait on him, yet then I am taught again that such sins endanger the very state of church and commonwealth, for neglecting of the complaints of the afflicted in such a state, wherein Magistrates, Elders, and brethren all are in the sincerest manner set to find out sin, and search into the complaints of the poor,–not knowing father nor mother, church nor Elder. In such a State, I say,–in such a wine-cellar to find such a cockatrice, and not to kill him,–to have such monstrous proceedings passed over, without due justice,–this again stirs up my spirit to seek for a writ ad melius inquirendum. Towards which the enclosed letter tendeth, as you may perceive. Yet if your wisdoms shall judge it more safe and reasonable to refer all my wrongs (conceived) to God’s own judgment, I bless the Lord for his grace, if I know mine own heart herein, I can submit myself to be overruled by you. To conclude,–if the Apostle’s words be objected, that this is thanksworthy, that a man for conscience’s sake shall endure grief, suffering wrongfully,– and therefore I ought in this aforesaid cause of mine to endure the grief thereof in whatsoever I suffer wrongfully, without seeking redress or justice against the offender,–I profess it was more absolutely necessary so to suffer, when the Church had no civil power to seek unto, than in such a land of righteousness as our New England is.”

In the light of the available material we are faced with the question of whether or not Bachiler was guilty of the accusation made against him. His age, for he was about eighty years old, the fact that he won his case for unpaid wages against the town of Hampton and his letter to John Winthrop are in his favor but he did make a confession before the church and that weighs against him, that is if we can believe John Winthrop. Perhaps the best that we can do is give Bachiler the benefit of the doubt and say that the accusation was made but not completely proven and unfortunately not disproven.

So far as we know, Bachiler’s son-in-law Hussey and his grandchildren, who were by this time prominent among the younger Hampton settlers, stood by the slandered patriarch. While the turmoil was at its height Bachiler was asked by Thomas Gorges, deputy governor of the Province of Maine, to act as arbitration “umpire” (deciding judge) in a Saco Court land dispute between George Cleeve and John Winter. His award was adverse to Winter, but the Rev. Robert Jordan, writing to his father-in-law Winter in July, 1642, says:

” Mr. Stephen Bachiler, the pastor of a church in the Massachusetts Bay, was, I must say, a grave, reverend, and good man; but whether more inclined to justice or mercy, or whether carried aside by secret insinuations, I must refer to your own judgment. Sure I am that Cleeve is well nigh able to disable the wisest brain.”

When the five years’ struggle at Hampton was over and the Bachiler party defeated, the 80 year old Puritan minister decided to leave Hampton, and cast about in his mind where to settle. By this time Massachusetts had strengthened its lines, and had reached out to the Piscataqua settlements to take them into its fold. One by one Strawberry Bank, Dover, and Exeter joined the Bay Colony. Wheelwright, the punished heretic, had withdrawn into Maine, and Exeter was without a pastor. The Maine settlements were free from the rule of the Bay, since Alexander Rigby, one of Cromwell’s commanders, had bought the Plough patent from Bachiler’s Company of Husbandmen, was actively at war with the Gorges heirs over his title, and yet was opposed to the arbitrary encroachments of Winthrop’s colony.

6th Act

Both Exeter and Casco’s settlement sought to secure Bachiler for their pastor.  Both were neighboring plantations to Hampton, and must have heard of the Hampton slander. Apparently they disbelieved it, and certainly they invited him to settle with them.

By 1644 Cleeve had become deputy governor of Lygonia, a rival province to that of Gorges’ in Maine established from a resurrected Plough Patent, and asked Bachiler to be its minister at Casco. Bachiler deferred, having already received a call to be minister for the new town of Exeter.

In February, 1644, Bachiler laid the matter before the church at Boston, and the elders apparently advised him merely to remove from Hampton, leaving him to decide between the two calls. In May he decided to accept the call to Exeter; and wrote to Winthrop as an old friend to acquaint him with the decision, asking him to urge ” his brother Wilson” to attend the ordination at Exeter, and ” make it a progresse of recreation to see his ould friend and thus to do me this laste service save to my buriall.”

But the Boston elders, having apparently advised somewhat against his removing to Casco, now looked with dismay at his gathering a church at Exeter, which the Bay authorities now claimed lay within their patent. The General Court held at Boston May 29, 1644, passed this order:

” Whereas it appears to this Court that some of the inhabitants of Exeter do intend shortly to gather a church and call Mr. Bachiler to be their minister: and forasmuch as the divisions there are judged by this Court to be such as for the present they cannot comfortably proceed in such weighty and sacred affairs, it is therefore ordered that direction shall be sent to defer the gathering of a church or any such proceeding until this court or the Court at Ipswich, upon further satisfaction of their reconciliation and fitness, shall give allowance thereunto.”

Winthrop’s journal,mentioning this order, adds,–“And besides Mr. Batchellor had been in three places before, and through his means, as was supposed, the churches fell to such divisions as no peace could be till he was removed.”

Jefferson Street within the Strawbery Banke Historical District

The call to Casco declined, and the gathering of a church at Exeter being forbidden, Bachiler was now 83 years old and quite adrift.  In 1644 he was forced to sell his great farm at Hampton, and went as a missionary to Strawberry Banke [now an outdoor history museum located in the South End historic district of Portsmouth, New Hampshire) ], where he lived for some years, preaching to the godless fishermen of that seaside parish. With him went his godchild and grandson, Stephen Samborne, and they settled on the Kittery side of the Piscataqua. At this time, Richard Gibson’s Anglican church establishment having been disrupted, and James Parker, that ” Godly man and scholar ” having gone to the Barbadoes, the missionary at Strawberry Bank also had the hamlet of Kittery and the fishing settlements of the isles of Shoals. Here dwelt a type of men different from the devout colony of Hampton and of Exeter, a rude, lawless race of deep sea fishermen, often also deep drinkers and roisterers.

In April, 1647, Bachiler gave to the four grandchildren he had brought to New England what remained of his Hampton property. He petitioned the General Court in 1645 for some allowance for his six years’ pastorate at Hampton, but was referred to the district court. While his case was pending he wrote from Strawberry Bank to Winthrop in May, 1647:

“I can shew a letter of your Worship’s occasioned by some letters of mine, craving some help from you in some cases of oppression under which I lay,–and still do,– wherein also you were pleased to take notice of those oppressions and wrongs; that in case the Lord should give, or open a door of opportunity, you would be ready to do me all the lawful right and Christian service that any cause of mine might require. Which time being, in my conceit, near at hand, all that I would humbly crave is this,–to read this inclosed letter to my two beloved and reverend brothers, your Elders (Cotton and Wilson), and in them to the whole Synod. Wherein you shall fully know my distressed case and condition; and so, as you shall see cause, to join with them in counsel, what best to do for my relief.


While he was in Strawberry Bank, he married in 1648 (as fourth wife) a young widow, Mary Beedle of Kittery, Maine. In 1651, she was indicted and sentenced for adultery with a neighbor.

Bachiler wrote:

“It is no news to certify you that God hath taken from me my dear helper and yokefellow. And whereas, by approbation of the whole plantation of Strawberry Bank, they have assigned an honest neighbor, (a widow) to have some eye and care towards my family, for washing, baking, and other such common services,–it is a world of woes to think what rumors detracting spirits raise up, that I am married to her, or certainly shall be; and cast on her such aspersions without ground or proof, that I see not how possibly I shall subsist in the place, to do them that service from which otherwise they cannot endure to hear I shall depart. The Lord direct and guide us jointly and singularly in all things, to his glory and our rejoicing in the day and at the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ! And so, with my humble service to your worship, your blessed and beloved yokefellow, (mine ancient true friend) with blessing on you both, yours and all the people of God with you, I end and rest your Worship’s in the Lord to commend.”

He married this “honest neighbor “Mary surnamed Magdalene,” the widow of an obscure seaman named Beetle, whose adultery with a local rascal, George Rogers, was soon detected. Rogers was a renegade seaman or servant of Trelawny, who had settled at Kittery, across the river from Strawberry Bank.  His affair with Mary Bachiler was punished in March, 1651/52, by the Court at York, which sentenced Rogers to be flogged, and the erring wife, after her approaching delivery, to be whipped and branded with the letter “A,” the “Scarlet Letter”of Hawthorne’s romance.

But before the York court had passed its sentence Bachiler had doubtless discovered his last wife’s true nature and probably left her and returned to Hampton, applying for a divorce. The district court at Salisbury on April 9, 1650, gave him a judgment against the town of Hampton for £40, “wage detained,” and at the same session fined him £10 for not publishing his marriage according to law. It then entered the following atrocious order:

“That Mr. Batchelor and his wife shall live together as man and wife, as in this court they have publicly professed to do; and if either desert one another, then hereby the court doth order that the marshall shall apprehend both the said Mr. Batchelor and Mary, his wife, and bring them forthwith to Boston, there to be kept till the next Quarter Court of Assistants, that farther consideration thereof may be had, both of them moving for a divorce: Provided, notwithstanding, that if they put in 50 pounds each of them, for their appearance, that then they shall be under their bail to appear at the next court; and in case Mary Batchellor shall live out of the jurisdiction, without mutual consent for a time, then the clerk shall give notice to the magistrate at Boston of her absence, that further order may be taken therein.”

By October, 1650, (the next term of court) when the Maine court presented Rogers and Mary Batchellor for adultery, the local justices had probably learned the actual offence and remitted half the fine imposed in April.  Perhaps they ignored the incomprehensible order referred to, for we hear no more of it; but life in New England had become impossible for the venerable Puritan. Old England seemed a sure haven. There Cromwell and the Parliament had overthrown his ancient foes, the bishops, and there he had grandchildren living in comfort. Sometime in 1654, accompanied by one grandson and his family, he sailed from New England, the Arcadia of his hopes, to England, the land of his earliest struggles. His last act on leaving America was to turn over what remained of his property to Christopher Hussey and his wife ” in consideration that the said Hussey had little or nothing from him with his daughter as also that the said son Hussey and his wife had been helpful unto him both formerly and in fitting him for his voyage.” This kindly act is the last that we have of authentic record concerning Bachiler, who it may be hoped returned to prosperous and friendly kindred in old England to linger out his last years.


The graceless Mary Bachiler was sentenced by the Maine courts for sexual irregularities in 1651, 1652, and 1654, and lived to cast one more slander at her aged and deceived victim.  She claimed Bachiler married a new wife while still legally married to her. She petitioned the Massachusetts General Court in 1656, stating:

“Whereas, your petitioner having formerly lived with Mr. Stephen Bachiler in this Colony as his lawful wife (and not unknown to divers of you, as I conceive), and the said Mr. Bachiler, upon some pretended ends of his own, has transported himself into old England, for many years since, and betaken himself to another wife, as your petitioner hath often been credibly informed, and there continues; whereby your petitioner is left destitute not only of a guide to herself and her children, but also made incapable of disposing herself in the way of marriage to any other without a lawful permission. . . . And were she free of her engagement to Mr. Bachiler, might probably so dispose of herself as that she might obtain a meet helper to assist her to procure such means for her livelihood, and the recovery of her children’s health, as might keep them from perishing,– which your petitioner, to her great grief, is much afraid of, if not timely prevented.”

This allegation rests on her unsupported and discredited statement, and may be taken as an utter falsehood. A Dover court record of March 26, 1673, seems to indicate that the daughter of Mary Bachiler (born in coverture and therefore legally Stephen Bachiler’s daughter, though undoubtedly disowned by him) attempted to secure some part of Bachiler’s estate. Her husband, William Richards, was given power of administration to the estate of ” Mr. Steven Batchelor dec’d,” being also prudently enjoined to bring in an inventory thereof to the next court, and to put up ” sufficient security to respond ye estate any yt may make better claim unto it.” As no further record exists of this matter, we may conclude this ” fishing expedition ” resulted in nothing. Tradition states that the ancient Hampshire parson died in England in 1660, having rounded out a century, and that the last six years of his life were spent in tranquility with prosperous descendants in England. Later research proved that the Rev. Bachiler was buried on 31 October 1656 in the Allhallows Staining Church cemetery, in London, England.

Denied a divorce by the Massachusetts Court, Bachiler finally returned to England about 1653. He died near London, and was buried at All Hallows Staining on October 31, 1656.

Stephen Bachiler – All Hallow’s Staining, London, England burial Location

The statements of Winthrop’s journal are diametrically opposed to what we know elsewhere of Bachiler’s life, his spirit and his character.

Two portraits are offered of him. In one, you may see an erring and disgraced old man, hunted from place to place by his own mistakes, fleeing from England to America, and finally hiding in England from the result of his senile misconduct.  In the other a highminded but unsuccessful patriarch, with the defects of his qualities, at variance with the Massachusetts Bay oligarchs, spending his life in the vain search for religious freedom, and rebelling at the limitations and prescriptions which time was to show were impossible in a free and gradually enlightened democracy. Driven from place to place by the autocracy first of the English church and then of the Winthrop colony,  the principles of social and religious enfranchisement, for which he spent his life, his means, and his best ambitions were ultimately triumphant.

Bachiler’s many descendants include James Dean, Winston Churchill, Daniel Webster, and presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. Perhaps the best summation of his career is in the biographical entry in Robert Charles Anderson’s The Great Migration Begins (NEHGS, Boston 1995): “Among the many remarkable lives lived by early New Englanders, Bachiler’s is the most remarkable.”

Stephen Bachiler – Signature


1. Nathaniel Bachiler

Nathaniel wife Hester Mercer was born 1 Aug 1602 in Southampton, Hampshire, England. Her parents were John Mercer and Jeanne Le Clercq. Hester died 1631 in Southampton, Hampshire, England

m. (2) by 1645 Margery _____ (on 9 April 1645 “Margerie Batchellor” the widow of Nathaniel Bacheler of Southampton, Hampshire, was granted administration on his estate [PCC Admon. Act Book 1645, f. 22]); he did not come to New England, but his son Nathaniel did, and resided at Hampton.

2. Deborah BACHILER (See Rev. John WING(E) [Wynge]‘s page)

3. Stephen Bachiler

Stephen’s wife Sarah [__?__]

Stephen matriculated at Oxford 18 June 1610 from Magdalen College, aged 16. “Stephen Bachiler of Edmund Hall” was ordained deacon at Oxford 19 September 1613 [Bishop’s Register, Diocese of Oxford]; with his father, accused in 1614 of circulating slanderous verses no further record.

5. Theodate Bachiler

Theodate’s husband Christopher Hussey was born 18 Feb 1599 in Dorking, Surrey, England. His parents were John Hussey and Mary Wood. He was perhaps a relative of the mayor of Winchester of the same name who married a daughter of the Hampshire Puritan Renniger. Christopher died 6 Mar 1686 in Hampton, Rockingham, New Hampshire,

Christopher was lieutenant and then captain of the train band in Hampton.  A
copy of the book of abatements for Hampton was brought to court in November 1679, indicating that Christopher Hussey of Hampton had been granted one hundred and fifty acres of upland, meadow and marsh, for a farm [EQC 7:285].
On 2 April 1681 Christopher Hussey of Hampton granted to his son John Hussey of Hampton one half acre of land of “my farm in Hampton” in a place convenient for the setting up of a grist mill [NHPLR A:65; EIHC 49:34-35]. On 8 April 1673, Edward Colcord, aged about fifty-six and William Fifield deposed that “when Mr. Steven Batcheller of Hampton was upon his voyage to England they heard him say to his son-in-law Mr. Christopher Hussey that as Hussey had no dowry with Batcheller’s daughter when he married her, and that he had given to said Hussey all his estate” [Essex Ant5:173, citing Old Norfolk County Records].

He was one of the eight purchasers of Nantucket in 1659, and in 1671 sold his land to his sons John and Stephen [Nantucket Land 53, 69]. On 6 December 1681 Christopher Hussey confirmed a deed of 23 October 1671 in which he had sold all his lands and rights on the island of Nantucket to his sons Stephen Hussey and John Hussey [NHPLR 3:168a].

6. Samuel Bachiller

Samuel lived at Gorcum in Holland, where he was a minister, and had a wife and children.

7. Ann Bachiler

Ann’s first husband John Samborne was born 1606 in Brimpton, Berkshire, England. His parents were Edward Samborne and Margaret [__?__].  He was probably connected with James Samborne, the Winchester scholar and Oxford graduate, Puritan vicar of Andover and rector of Upper Clatford, neighboring villages to Wherwell.  John died in 1630 in Hampton, Rockingham, New Hampshire

Ann’s second husband Henry Atkinson was born 1600 in London, Middlesex, England. Henry died in 1640

8. William Bachiller

William’s wife Jane Cowper 1603 in Hurst, Berkshire, England. Jane died 28 May 1676 in Charleston, Suffolk, Mass.

Their first son, named Seaborne was born 12 Dec 1634.


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40 Responses to Rev Stephen Bachiler

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  18. Rev. Stephen Batchelder, John Carman, Thomas Miner are all my 11th great grandfathers.
    Rev. Stephen Batchelder, and Thomas Miner are on my grandfather’s side and John Carman is on my Grandmothers side. These great grandfathers are on my father’s side. Then on my mother’s side my 11th great grandfather John Cass was also living in Hampton, New Hampshire, and sold land to Anthony Taylor, which was also a 11th Great grandfather. Then 327 yeaar later my mother and father get married in Colorado.
    Charleen Schuster

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  34. Peter Hutchinson says:

    Enjoyed your article, appreciated your including my take on Bachiler’s coat of arms (Lane Library article on same by me). I wrote the initial little biog in Wuikipedia, As with you, he and son-in-law Mike Mitton are my ancestors.

    I’m currently writing a little history of Lygonia.

    Bachiler’s late wife Mary was probably Hawthorne’s model for The Scarlet Letter, Bachiler probably married her so that she, a widow, could lay claim to land of her late husband in Kittery.

    Bachiler was probably a “proto-Quaker” or early Baptist. His unknown parents were probably Huguenots come to England from France, possibly died in the plague of that era.

    Bachiler may have been a protege of Lord de la Warre, (which would account for his admission to Oxford’s St. John College) and also account for him getting a job “a living” there as minister.

    Anyone who wants to help me can try to find out the truth of the fire in Hampton that burnt all of Bachiler’s papers, probably just before or after death of B’s wife Helena. I suspect it was probably arson on behalf of Bachiler’s “assistant” (who was a nephew of Winthrop’s there.) Needless to say, anything favorable about our Stephen was conveniently lost in the files. He was most certainly not a “rake”; one must remember that “sin” back then included anything that disagreed with the Puritan paradigm.

  35. Brenda says:

    You might want to look at the Crossrail Bedlam Burial Ground Register. I found Stephen Bachiler (spelled Batchiller, Steeven) listed as having been buried at this burial ground and not at All Hallow’s Staining. He apparently lived in the parish and the death knell was rung there but buried elsewhere. The burial date is October 31, 1656 and he was living at the house of Robert Barber which is consistent with other information. It said he died from “minds fever”.

    • arashctab says:

      I was told this as well from an employee of the Clothworkers Company, which owns All Hallows’ Staining. They also forwarded the link to me showing his burial in the New Churchyard, which is under the Liverpool Underground station.

  36. Debbie Edmondson says:

    I am a relative of many of the founders of Hampton, NH. This site has been very interesting to read! Thank you!

  37. Milly Huntee says:

    This Stephen Bachelor/ Bachiler is my ancestor, on maternal side of the Flurry line. Thank you for your extra information.

  38. Joe Rigdon says:

    Nice writeup. Stephen Bachiler is one of my 10th great grand fathers and his daughter Theodate and her husband Christopher Hussey are my 9th great grand parents. She and her husband later moved to Nantucket Island to escape persecution at the hands of the Massachusetts Puritans. Christopher Hussey was one of the original purchasers of Nantucket from the Indians. There they became Quakers. If you’re interested in their story, you should definitely read ‘In the Heart of the Sea’ by Nathaniel Philbrick. ‘In the Heart of the Sea’ is the true story about the sinking of the whale ship ‘Essex’ after being rammed by a whale in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. It’s the story behind the story ‘Moby Dick’ and contains a great deal of history of Nantucket and the Hussey and related families. Anything by Philbrick is worth reading! I also loved his book ‘Mayflower’. If you want detailed history of early Nantucket then Obediah Macy’s 1835 ‘History of Nantucket Island’ is also required reading. It’s the only place where I have found a complete description of Christopher Hussey killing the first Sperm whale there and of that event in turn leading to the Nantucket whaling industry.

  39. Depairon Sylvain says:

    Je suis douze générations plus bas que le révérand Bachiler…il y a aussi les Hussey et le Otis… Je suis vraiment comblé ce matin avec cette lecture. Merci merci merci. Je souhaite un jour visiter Nantucket. Mettre un peu de lumière sur d’autres personnages de mes ancêtres.

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