Reverend Joseph Hull (1595–1665) was born in Crewkerne, Somerset, England. His parents were Thomas Hull and Joane Pyssing. He graduated from St. Mary’s Hall, Oxford with a Bachelor of Arts degree on 14 Nov 1614. During the five years immediately following, he studied theology, serving meantime as a teacher and curate under his elder brother, William Hull, vicar of Colyton, Devonshire.
On April 14, 1621, having been ordained a clergyman of the Church of England, he was duly instituted rector of Northleigh, diocese of Exeter, which was the scene of his labors for eleven years.
In 1632 Rev. Joseph Hull resigned his rectorship at Northleigh and is thought to have returned to the vicinity of Crewkerne. During this rectorship he was married and three children were born of this union. Strange as it may seem, no record has been discovered of the marriage, the maiden name of his wife, or the date of her death, but it is not impossible to consider that the latter occurred at about the time of his resignation, and may have been the reason for it. Just how the next three years were spent by Rev. Joseph Hull is only a matter of conjecture, but during this period he married for a second time. Again there is no record of the marriage, but we do find that his wife bore the given name of Agnes.
At Crewkerne, he gathered a company of 106 souls, who, on March 20, 1635, set said with him from the harbor of Weymouth, bound for New England. The company consisted of 21 families – about 105 individuals – with no definite destination, preferring to leave the precise spot of their location to the direction of Providence. After a passage of 46 days, a fair one for that period, they passed the verdant islands of that beautiful bay, leaving on their left the bustling settlement of Hull, then a harbor for the inner plantations, and after a pleasant sail of about 10 miles cast anchor before Governor Winthrop’s infant village of Boston. This was on May 6, 1635, and it was not until July 2, 1635, that, with the permission of the General Court, they length settled upon Wessaguscus as their future home.
Governor Winthrop’s Official Journal, under date of July 8th of that year, contains the following entry: “At this court Wessaguscus was made a plantation and Mr. Hull, a minister of England, and twenty-one families with him allowed to sit down there.” The arrival of Hull’s Colony at Wessaguscus doubled its population, and the plantation was soon created a full-fledged town, invested with municipal rights, rechristened Weymouth and allowed representation in the General Court. Here, too, a church was gathered from the members of this company and others from Boston and Dorchester. On the 8th of July at the age of forty, Rev. Joseph Hull was installed as its first pastor and on the 2nd of the following September he took the oath as a Freeman of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Some of the Puritans living in the neighborhood looked with disfavor on this church and it was not long before dissension arose within it.
This selection of Wessaguscus was a serious business for the new colonists, whose eyes were familiar only with the highly cultivated fields of old England, who knew little of the capacities of the soil upon which they now trod, of whose history they knew nothing, and whose outlines they could hardly discern, so thickly were they wooded. There was no lack in quantity of land, but there was a choice in quality and location, and even that was left to Providence. So they sailed down the harbor, passing the many islands that thickly dot the surface. Entering Fore River, they came to anchor in a small cove about 4 miles from its mouth, afterward known as Mill Creek, and not far from the spot where Weston’s colony landed 13 years before.
Wessaguscus, present day Weymouth, Mass. not wholly a wilderness, for with the Weston settlement of 1622, scattered remnants of people remained upon the ground and others who had since come in, quite a population had gathered within the limits of Wessaguscus. The Gorges company settled upon the deserted plantations of Thomas Weston’s people in September 1623. This company was wholly broken up in the following spring, yet a number of its emigrants remained and became permanent settlers. These were joined from time to time by single families or small companies, until, upon the arrival of Mr. Hull’s company, the settlement had attained quite respectable proportions. When the Hull company arrived, there were not less than 50 families, and perhaps 70 or 80 already residing there. A flourishing colony already established was sufficient evidence of good soil, a good location, a favorable position for trade with the Indians, for communications with other plantations about the bay, as well as protection from the savages. More than this, many of the previous settlers were relatives or friends of the later arrivals. The land had been so generally taken up, and the plantations were so closely connected that the newcomers were obliged to make their settlement upon territory further south.
There was already religious dissension in the community when Mr. Hull and his families arrived, introducing a new element of discord into the already divided community. The newcomers, not in full sympathy with either faction, deemed themselves strong enough and of sufficient importance to have at least an equal voice in the councils of the town. And as there was no minister at their coming, and as they brought one ready-made at their hands, what better could they do than accept him for all? This at once aroused the opposition of the older settlers, and measures were immediately taken to prevent such a result. Mr. Hull eventually retired from the contest.
Joseph Hull was the political and religious opponent of Governor Winthrop, apparently siding more with the Anglicans than Puritans. If he was of a contentious nature, as some claim he was, it is undoubtedly true that he only contended for what he believed to be right; for his was a moving spirit – the spirit of the pioneer, seeking new fields to conquer, and going forth and preaching the word of God according to his interpretations and the dictates of his own conscience. In less than a year, Joseph relinquished his charge and withdrew when the church called the Rev. Thomas Jenner of Roxbury to be their pastor. He now turned his attention to civil affairs, but apparently the spirit of the pioneer was strong within him as he received on the 12th of June 1636 a grant of land in Nantasket, then a part of Hingham. Here he remained for several years and represented that town twice as a Deputy in the General Court of Massachusetts in September of 1638 and March of 1639. On the 5th of May 1639 it is recorded in Hobart’s Journal that Mr. Hull preached his farewell sermon. Whether this took place at Weymouth or Hingham is not stated.
Apparently his “liberal views” led to his dismissal from his parish, and he moved to Hingham, where he served as its representative in the General Court (Massachusetts legislature). He was the political and religious opponent of Gov. John Winthrop, with the “very contentious” Hull apparently siding more with the Anglicans than the Puritan governor. Winthrop eventually expelled Hull from the colony
As a result of the dispute, the authority of the colonial government was gradually extended over the settlement. The town was reorganized, and September 2, 1635, the name of the settlement was changed from Wessaguscus to Weymouth, the name of which, in pleasant memory of the port in Dorset they had so recently left. It was made a plantation with a privilege of a deputy to the General Court. However, because of the three opposing elements, the little town chose 3 deputies instead of the one to which it was entitled. John Upham [son of Richard UPHAM] was the selection of the Hull emigrants, yet eventually retired, leaving the position to William Reade.
On June 12, 1636, a meeting of the town was held to distribute lots among the settlers. It was decided to “lott unto every compleate person 6 acres, and to every half passenger under 12 yearsrs of age, to have 3 to a head. And the place to begin is at the lower end of the pond and to run 84 Rodd eitherwards to the great plantation lotts.”
The tract selected was situated southerly from Burying Hill (beyond which, to the north, were the larger portion of the older farms), with King Oak Hill for a central point, a sightly, beautiful hill overlooking Boston Bay. The temporary habitations of the Weymouth colonists of 1635 were located in the valley lying along its western base, reaching to Burying Hill. Upon the latter were the meetinghouse, watchhouse, and the burying-place, while the farms were scattered for a distance to the west, south and east. The rude shelters first erected were replaced from time to time by more substantial structures built upon the farms themselves, when the lands had become better improved, and the danger from Indians less imminent.
“Berrying Island” has a history: Wessagusset Colony (sometimes called the Weston Colony or Weymouth Colony) was the second settlement in the colony, after Plymouth. The first settlers have not been held in the highest repute. They landed upon this “burying island”, and lived upon it, and near to it, in 1622-3. They had trouble with the Indians, and Miles Standish came from Plymouth to save them – the story of his march is historical.
The following is a complete list of the Hull company, with notes of correction. Several of the emigrants came from Broadway, Somerset. It is conjectured that most if not all the first settlers of Wessaguscus were West country people, and came from that point where the counties of Somerset, Dorset and Devon join.
BOUND FOR NEW ENGLAND [Reprinted from John Camden Hotten’s “Original Lists of Persons of Quality: Emigrants, Religious Exiles, etc. who went from Great Britain to the American Plantations, from 1600 to 1700”]
WAYMOUTH ye 20th of March, 1635
Joseph Hall of Somerst a Ministr aged 40 year
Agnis Hall his Wife aged 25 yr
Joane Hall his daught aged 15 Yeare
Joseph Hall his sonne aged 13 Yeare
Tristram his son aged … 11 Yeare
Elizabeth Hall his daught aged 7 Yeare
Temperance his daught aged 9 Yeare
Grissell Hall his daught aged 5 Yeare
Dorothy Hall his daught aged 3 Yeare
Judith French his s’vamt aged 20 Yeare
John Wood his s’vaunt aged 20 Yeare
Rob Dabyn his s’vamt aged 27 Yeare (should be Robert Davys)
Musachell Bernard of batcome Clothier in the County of Somersett 24 Yeare
Mary Bernard his wife aged 28 Yeare
John Bernard his sonne aged 3 Yeare
Nathaniell his sonne aged 1 Yeare
Rich pearsons salter & his s’vant: 30: yeare
Francis Baber Chandler aged 36 yeare
Jesope Joyner aged 22 Yeare
Walter Jesop Weaver aged 21 Yeare
Timothy Tabor of Som’st of Batcombe taylor aged 35 Yeare
Jane Tabor his Wife aged 35 Yeare
Jane Tabor his Daughtr aged 10 Yeare Anne Tabor his daughtr: aged 8 yeare Sarah Tabor his daughtr aged 5 Yeare
Willm Fever his s’vaunt aged 20 Yeare
Jno Whitmarck aged 39 yeare (should be Whitmarsh)
Alce Whitmarke his Wife aged 35 yeare
Jmo (John) Whitmarke his sonne aged 11 yeare
Jane his daughtr aged 7 yeare
Ouseph ( or Onseph) Whitmarke his sonne aged 5 yeare
Rich Whytemark his sonne aged 2 Yeare
Willm Read of Batcombe Taylor in Som’stt aged 28 Yeare
Susan Read his Wife aged 29 Yeare
Hanna Read his daughtr aged 3 yeare
Lusan (probably Susan) Read ;his daughtr aged 1 yeare
Rich Adams his s’vante 29 Yeare
Mary his Wife aged 26 yeare
Mary Cheame his daughr aged 1 yeare
Zachary Bickewell aged 45 Yeare
Agnis Bickwell his Wife aged 27 yeare
Jno Bickwell his sonne aged 11 year
Jno Kitchin his servaunt 23 yeare
George Allin aged 24 Yeare (George ALLEN the Elder was a much older man in 1635, closer to 54. He had been preceded by two sons (by a first wife) Henry and Samuel, who came in 1629-30.)
Katherin Allyn his Wife aged 30 yeare
George Allyn his sonne aged 16 yeare
Willm Allyn his sonne aged 8 year
Mathew Allyn his sonne aged 6 yeare
Edward Poole his s’vaunt aged 26 yeare
Henry Kingman aged 40 Yeares
Joane his wife beinge aged 39
Edward Kingman his son aged 16 year
Joane his daught aged 11: yeeare (married fellow passenger Thomas Holbrook in 1653)
Anne his daughtr aged 9 Yeare
Thomas Kingman his sonne aged 7 Yeare
John Kingman his sonne aged 2 yeare
Jn Ford his servaunt aged 30 yeare
William Kinge aged 40* Yeare (* or 30. One figure is written over the other, and it is impossible to tell which is the later.)
Dorothy his wife aged 34 yeare
Mary Kinge his daughtr aged 12 year
Katheryn his daughtr aged 10 Yeare
Willm Kinge his sonne aged 8 year
Hanna Kinge his daughtr: aged 6 year
Thomas HOLBROOKE of Broudway aged 34: yeare
Jane POWYES Holbrooke his wife aged 34 yeare
John Holbrooke his sonne aged 11 yeare.
Thomas Holbrooke his sonne aged 10 yeare (married fellow passenger Joanne Kingman in 1653)
Anne Holbrooke REYNOLDS his daught aged 5 yea[re]
Elizabeth his daught aged 1 yeare
Thomas Dible husbandm aged 22 yeare
Francis Dible soror aged 24 Yeare
Robert Lovell husbandman aged 40 year
Elizabeth Lovell his Wife aged 35 yeare
Zacheus Lovell his sonne 15 yeares
Anne Lovell his daught: aged 17 yeare
John Lovell his sonne aged 8 yeare
Ellyn his daughtr aged… 1 yeare
James his sonne aged l yeare
Joseph Chickin his servant 16 year
Alice Kinham aged 22 yeare
Angell Hollard aged 21 yeare
Katheryn his Wife 22 yeare (Aftter Angel died, Katherine married as his second wife, John Upham, son of Richard UPHAM)
George Land his servaunt 22 yeare
Sarah Land (originally written Lang) his kinswoman 18 yeare
Richard Joanes of Dinder…….
Robt Martin of Badcombe husbandm 44 (Brother of Richard MARTIN)
Humfrey Shepheard husbandm.. 32
John Vpham husbandman 35 son of Richard UPHAM) (note that the letter “U” hadn’t been invented yet)
Joane Martyn 44…. daughter of Richard UPHAM and wife of Robert Martin)
Elizabeth Vpham 32…. wife of John Upham
John Vpham Jun 07…. son of John Upham
William Graue [Grave] 12….
Sarah Vpham 26…. daughter of of Richard UPHAM and wife of Richard ORMSBY)
Nathaniell Vpham 05…. son of John Upham
Elizabeth Vpham 03…. daughter of John Upham
Richard Wade of Simstuly Cop [Cooper] aged 60….
Elizabeth Wade his Wife 6+….
Dinah his daught 22….
Henry Lush his s’vant aged 17….
Andrewe Hallett his s’vaunt 28….
John Hoble husbandm 13…. (should be Hubble)
Robt Huste husbandm 40…. (should be Harte)
John WOODCOOKE …………… 2…. (should be John WOODCOCK)
106-Rich Porter husband………….(age should probably be 23 or 33)
JOHN PORTER Deputy
Cleark to EDW: THOROUGHGOOD
These emigrants were joined on this side of the water by Edward Bennett, Mr. Thomas Jenner, sen., Thomas White, William Frye, Thomas Rawling (or Rawlings), Richard Sylvester, William Smith, Mr. Wright, Thomas Appelgate, Clement Briggs, Arthur Warren, Edmond Harte, Stephen French and others.
Joseph Hull’s Life After Weymouth
Joseph and his family moved in 1639 to Plymouth Colony, and there founded the present town of Barnstable, at a place called by the Indians, Mattakeese. As a part of the July, 1939 tercentenary celebration of the founding of the town, a memorial tablet was dedicated calling attention to Hull’s role in the town’s founding and marking the site of his home there. The rock still stands in the middle of the highway, from which he preached, surrounded by his armed parishioners.
Plymouth Colony was, however, not much more congenial for a man of his political and religious sentiments than the Massachusetts Bay Colony. His name appears as one of the first two deputies for the town of Barnstable in the records of the General Court of Plymouth at the June 3rd session. Whether Mr. Hull actually attended or did not attend the Court at that time cannot be ascertained from the court records. While he and Thomas Dimmock constituted the Barnstable committee, it is very likely that neither attended, as both made their oaths at the session on the 3rd of December 1639, when Joseph Hull was admitted a Freeman. In 1640, his name appears on the Barnstable list of “Men able to bear Arms.”
Tradition credits Rev. Joseph Hull with having preached the first sermon within the town of Barnstable, in spite of the fact that [our ancestor] Rev. Stephen BATCHELDER was in the vicinity as early as 1636. On the 11th of October 1639, [another of our ancestors Rev. John LATHROP arrived in Barnstable with his church from Scituate and on the 31st of that month a “Day of Humiliation” was observed, followed on the 11th of December 1639 by the celebration of the first Day of Thanksgiving within the town. After extended religious services the company broke into three sections, one of which dined at the house of Rev. Joseph Hull. Apparently Joseph made no effort to perform any ministerial functions after the arrival of Mr. Lathrop. Undoubtedly these two men were of very different natures and temperament, Hull being aggressive and of a roaming nature, while Lathrop appears to have been extremely strong-minded. Whether any dissension arose between them or not is not a matter of record, but about a year later Joseph Hull moved into the adjoining town of Yarmouth, where, at the request of some of the residents, he served them in a ministerial capacity. In so doing he neglected to secure the approval of the Barnstable church, and for this act was excommunicated on the 1st of May 1641.
While Joseph was in the Plymouth Colony he engaged in the business of cattle raising, and not unlike some clerics who turn to business affairs, did not have his ventures crowned with financial success. He was the defendant in a number of actions for trespass, and it is interesting to note that in all but one of these actions, the constable attached two of Mr. Hull’s steers. This might lead to the conclusion that his cattle were highly desired by those who initiated the suits.
The Separatist party increased, the opening of the civil war in England checked immigration in 1639, and Joseph and his political friends were left in a hopeless minority. After serving the Yarmouth church for a little over a year he began to journey afield, preaching the Word from place to place in the Colonies. In 1642 on the 7th of March, the General Court at Plymouth issued a warrant directing his arrest should he attempt to exercise his ministerial duties within the Plymouth Colony, and described him in the warrant as an excommunicated minister. There is no evidence that this warrant was ever served, for no return appears to have been made of it, and only four days later his wife was re-admitted to the church in Barnstable. “Our Sister Hull renewed her covenant, renouncing her joining at Yarmouth and confessed her evil in so doing, with sorrow.” To cap the climax, he himself was re-admitted to the Barnstable church on the 10th of August 1643 “having acknowledged his sin.”
A few months prior to this, however, he had journeyed as far afield as the Episcopal Colony of Sir Ferdinando Gorges in Maine, where he later settled. Here at Accomemticus (now York, Maine) he was minister. A “Church-Chapel” was also erected by the inhabitants of the Isles of Shoals on Hog Island for a congregation of which the records say Rev. Joseph Hull was the minister. Here he remained until 1653, when the Massachusetts Bay Colony subjected the provinces of Maine to their jurisdiction and Joseph again felt the power of his old enemies on the Bay. A sound Puritan minister, Mr. Brock, was sent to supersede him, and shortly afterward, Joseph returned to England where he was settled at St. Buryan, Cornwall, and remained there for ten years, at which time he was ejected from the parish. In the same year he returned to the Colonies and settled at Oyster River, now Durham, New Hampshire, from which he shortly thereafter removed to the Isle of Shoals, where he continue his ministry until his death on the 19th of November 1665. His estate was valued at 52 pounds, 5 shillings and 5 pence, 10 pounds of which was put down for books, and 20 pounds as due him from the Isles of Shoals for his ministry.