Cliff McCarthy, 2016
Last Updated 24 March 2019
Our immigrant ancestor in this line was Rev. Joseph Hull, the son of Thomas and Joane (Peson or Pyssing) Hull of Crewkerne, Somersetshire, England. The saga of Rev. Joseph Hull is a story of stubborn determination, perhaps overlaid with certain personality flaws, and a large dose of sadness. He was both an inspiring leader to some and a dangerous pariah to others.
The Early Years
Joseph Hull was born 25 April 1594 at Crewkerne, Somersetshire, England, the son of Thomas and Joane (Peson or Pyssing) Hull, and baptized there in 1595.
Joseph was youngest of eleven children, his oldest brother being 20 years his senior. He was educated at St. Mary’s Hall, Oxford, from which he graduated in November 1614 with a B.A. degree.
During the five years immediately following, he studied theology, teaching and serving as a curate under his elder brother William Hull, vicar of Colyton in Devonshire. During this time, in 1618, Joseph Hull married Joanne (surname unknown) in Somerset, England. (It is stated in the Narragansett Historical Register, Vol. I, that the first wife of Rev. Joseph Hull was named Joanna and that she died in England, but no positive dates are given. Note that Robert Charles Anderson, author of the Great Migration series, states there is no evidence for her name being Joanna.) On the 23 May 1619, Joseph Hull was ordained a clergyman of the Church of England by the bishop at Exeter, Devon. In the winter of 1619/20, Joseph and Joanne Hull welcomed their first child, a daughter they named Joanna.
On Apr. 14, 1621, he was duly installed as rector at Northleigh, diocese of Exeter, where he served for eleven years. During that time, in 1629, Joseph Hull incurred the wrath of the church, when the wardens of Crewkerne were “presented” for allowing him to preach there without signing the Book of Strange Preachers. In 1632, Joseph Hull voluntarily resigned his position, evidently finding himself in disagreement with church authorities.
Leaving Northleigh he moved with his family to the vicinity of his ancestral home at Crewkerne. Unfortunately, Joseph’s wife, Joanne, died shortly thereafter, perhaps giving birth to Dorothy, their last child together. Joanne was buried in 1632, in her hometown of Crewkerne, Somerset, England. Faced with raising several children, Joseph married for the second time on 13 March 1633. He married Agnes Hunt at Wells St. Cuthbert, Somerset, England.
Joseph Hull was cited for illegal preaching at Broadway twice in January 1634/35. Despite the Church’s censure, Joseph Hull continued ministering to the masses. He allegedly preached a controversial sermon at Glastonbury which compounded his difficulties with the church establishment. On 17 February 1634/35, Joseph Hull was expelled from the Church of England for “failing to respond to the court’s citation.”
About one month later, on 26 March 1635, Rev. Joseph Hull gathered a company of 106 others, who set sail with him from Weymouth, England bound for New England aboard the Marygould. The passenger list for this voyage, discovered in 1870, was published in the New England Historic Genealogical Register in 1871. On it, topping the list, we find: “Joseph Hall of Somerset, a Minist., aged 40 yeare” and “Agnis hall his Wife aged 25 yrs.,” followed by the names of five daughters, two sons, and three servants. A note of correction explains that the surname should be recorded as “Hull.” And so, the Hull Colony, as it was called, landed in a new world.
Massachusetts Bay Colony
Hull’s Colony of twenty-one families reached Boston on 6 May 1635 and Governor Winthrop’s Official Journal noted the settlement of “Mr. Hull, a minister in England, & 21 families with him” at “Wessaguscus.” Their arrival there doubled the population of the village and it was soon elevated to a fully-fledged town, invested with municipal rights, rechristened “Waymouth,” and given representation in the General Court. Joseph Hull was made freeman in 1635 in Weymouth. In 1636 or 1637, Rev. Hull moved to Nantasket, then a part of Hingham, where he was twice elected Deputy to the Massachusetts General Court.
Everything seemed to be going well for Rev. Hull; however, his more progressive religious teachings gave offense to the Puritan leaders. Lyman V. Rutledge, in his book, The Isles of Shoals in Lore and Legend, says this about Rev. Hull:
“Reverend Joseph Hull…was a man of exceptional ability who came with his family to the Bay Colony and settled at Wissagusset (Weymouth). There he gathered a church and served as pastor until his liberal views were known. He hoped to bridge the gap between Anglicans and Puritans, but was dismissed by the congregation he had gathered…”
His replacement was a Puritan minister, Thomas Jenner of Roxbury. As Hull had come preaching a gospel closer to the “Established Church” (Church of England), it soon became the goal of the Puritan oligarchy to get rid of him by dividing his parishioners. Rev. Jenner was used for this purpose.
Colonel R. B. Hull, in The Hull Family in America, wrote:
“Mr. Hull was a magistrate and member of the General Court of Massachusetts Bay Colony, as well as minister at Weymouth. He, however, was in antagonism to the Boston Puritanical Party, retaining his attachment for the old establishment. He was the political and religious opponent of Governor Winthrop, being more than suspected of Prelacy. Mr. Hull moved in 1639 to the Old Colony of Plymouth, and there founded the present town of Barnstable, at a place called by the Indians, Mattakeese. The rock still stands in the middle of the highway, from which he preached, surrounded by his armed parishioners.”
Joseph Hull was appointed one of the first two deputies for the town of Barnstable, as noted in the 3 June 1639 session records of the General Court of Plymouth. He was admitted as a freeman on 3 December 1639. In 1640, his name appears on the Barnstable list of “men able to bear arms.”
Colonel R. B. Hull continued, in The Hull Family in America:
“Plymouth Colony was, however, not much more congenial for a man of his political and religious sentiments than the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The Separatist party increased, the opening of the civil war in England checked immigration in 1639; and Mr. Hull and his political friends were left in a hopeless minority.”
On her excellent website, “Princes, Paupers, Pilgrims & Pioneers: Our Predecessors & Me,” KTC writes:
“Meanwhile, Joseph Hull’s preaching again came to the notice of the Puritans. In response, a Puritan minister was sent to displace Joseph Hull. On 11 October 1639, Rev. John Lathrop arrived in Barnstable with his church from Scituate, and on 31 October 1639, a Day of Humiliation was observed. Apparently, Joseph Hull made no effort to perform any ministerial functions after the arrival of Rev. Lathrop…
Then, on 11 December 1639, after the celebration of the first Day of Thanksgiving within the town, the company broke into three sections, one of which dined at the house of Rev. Joseph Hull…
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. However, he neglected to secure the approval of the Barnstable church and was excommunicated on 1 May 1641.”
From the Great Migration database, we have this: “On 1 May 1641, ‘Mr. Hull [was] excommunicated for his willful breaking of communion with us, & joining himself a member with a company at Yarmouth to be their pastor, contrary to the advice and counsel of our Church.’ On 11 March 1642[/3?], ‘our sister Hull renewed her covenant with us, renouncing her joining with the [church] at Yarmouth confessing her evil in doing so with sorrow.’ On 10 August 1643, ‘Mr. Hull, in the acknowledgment of his sin, & renewing his covenant was received again into fellowship with us.'”
But Rev. Hull was a pastor without a church. Apparently, this was a time in which he wandered from place to place — a transient preacher — until he landed in the Isles of Shoals.
Agamenticus (York, Maine)
Col. Hull continued:
“He since after removed to the Episcopal Colony of Sir Ferdinando Gorges in Maine; and under his patronage was minister at Accomenticus [Agamenticus, now York, Maine], and had the Isles of Shoals also under his charge.”
It is important to understand the environment in which Rev. Joseph Hull was living his life. Charles Edward Banks provides some context in his History of York, Maine:
“So much has been written in criticism of the alleged irreligious character of the Maine settlements in early days by prejudiced Puritan authors, that it seems necessary to set forth the essential fundamental differences between the Church history of the Province of Maine and that of the provinces to the south of us, Massachusetts, Plymouth and Connecticut. This difference lay in the relative emphasis placed on Church interests as compared to other concerns of the body politic. Emigration to Maine was not precipitated by religious differences at home. The early settlers did not come hither as crusaders to found a religious commonwealth, and gave to the Church and its requirements only the usual normal place in the life of the people, not the paramount position to which everything else paid tribute. As a consequence the casual or biased historian has conferred an odor of sanctity on Massachusetts, Connecticut and Plymouth, and a blanket of wickedness on Maine and New Hampshire. The West
Countrymen came to carry on the lucrative business of the fisheries…This was their means of livelihood. They had neither time nor inclination to interfere with the religion of others, nor did they ever indulge in persecuting their neighbors for holding religious views different from theirs. Such punishments as they were obliged to inflict on the Quakers were not for doctrinal reasons, but for disturbances raised by them during service time, such as railing at the minister and like misdemeanors. This does not mean that the spirit of religion was lacking, only that it did not overbalance other phases of a well-ordered government. The early settlers were just ordinary English men and women who came here to plant a colony under the English flag, bringing with them the usual habits of a sane English rural life of which the Church was a part, not the whole, of life,”
But to complete a picture of the Isles of Shoals, one needs to consider this passage from, Islands of Maine: Where America Really Began, by Bill Caldwell:
“By 1628, so many fishing crews were using the Shoals, they were able to support two tavern keepers. The needs of the spirit as well as the flesh were catered to. The Reverend Jedediah Morse wrote that a meetinghouse was built before 1640, with the Reverend Joseph Hull as its minister. The good minister was sued by Gorges in 1646 for possession of a 20-acre marsh. Three Kelly brothers, the Oliver brothers and the Seeleys, and the three Cutt brothers from Wales, were all established fishermen who were playing active roles in life on the Shoals during the 1640s.
Men have always loved the Isles of Shoals. But women have not. The early settlers, all male, banned women from setting foot in their Eden. A strange court record of 1647 contains a lawful complaint from Richard Cutts and John Cutting, settlers on Hog Island (now prettily changed to Appledore), against their neighbor, John Reynolds.
‘Contrary to an act of court, which says that no woman shall live on the Isles of Shoals, John Reynolds has brought his wife hither with the intention that she live and abide here … He has also brought upon Hog Island a great stock of goats and swine, which by destroying much fish, do great damage … and spoil the spring water … Your petitioners therefore pray that the Act of Court be put in execution for the removal of women from inhabitating here; and that said Reynolds also be ordered to remove his goats and swine from the island without delay.’
The court ordered Reynolds to get rid of his goats and swine within 20 days, ‘but as to the removal of his wife, she may remain and enjoy the company of her husband, if no further complaint be brought against her.’
That was the end of the ban against women. They came. Soon they had the upper hand on the Isles and in Court. Later court records show many men from the Isles were being sentenced to the lash for abusing their wives. Further, the Isles of Shoals women forced their men to ignore a court order which required them to build a ‘ducking stool for scolds and brawling women.'”
Controversy continued to follow Rev. Joseph Hull. In the book, Pioneers on Maine Rivers, Wilbur D. Spencer wrote:
“May 10, 1643, when Massachusetts and New Hampshire plantations had combined for government, a disparaging allusion to the new municipality was made with these words: ‘Those of Sir Ferdinando Gorge his province, beyond Pascataquack, were not received nor called into the confederation because they ran a different course from us both in their ministry and civil administration; for they had lately made Acomenticus (a poor village) a corporation and had made a taylor their mayor, and had entertained one Hull, an excommunicated person and very contentious as their minister.’ Joseph Hull had become pastor of the new city that year (1643).”
In the History of York, Maine, Banks wrote,
“This disingenuous and discourteous statement concerning an educated university graduate, whose only crime was to belong to the Church of England, serves as an example of the narrow bigotry of that period. This enmity was visited upon his offspring in the same insinuating language…”
“As far as known, about 1648, the service of the Established Church of England familiar to our forefathers was read for the last time by Rev. Joseph Hull in the little ‘chapel or oratory’ on the corner of Clark’s Lane [York, ME]. When Massachusetts Puritans took over the control of the Province four years later they made it impossible by persecution and other means for anybody but there own sectarian followers to conduct religious services publicly. As a consequence, more than two centuries elapsed before the ritual of the Episcopal Church was again heard in the town.”
Returning to the writings of Col. R. B. Hull in The Hull Family in America:
“There he remained until 1653, when the Massachusetts Bay Colony subjected the provinces of Maine to their jurisdiction, and Mr. Hull again felt the power of his old enemies on the Bay. A sound Puritan preacher, Mr. Brock, was sent to supersede him, and shortly afterward, we find, Mr. Hull returned to England and was Rector of St. Burien in Cornwall, near Lands End.
The children of Mr. Hull remained in this country, married here and settled. He again returned and was minister at Oyster River [now Durham, N.H.] for a short period, and then recovered his old parish at Accomenticus, (York, Maine) where he died in 1665.
Reviewing all, it is concluded that in England Mr. Hull was a conformist, and remained within the pale of the church obedient to authority, that in New England he still endeavored to hold to a middle course, as a latitudinarian or low churchman, but that in failing in this, after repeated attempts, he finally withdrew to a province where he was free to practice and profess as best suited his conscience. No whisper has reached us that he was unorthodox or weak in his theology, and of his moral nature we catch glimpses of but three traits; that in habit he was scholarly, in temperament religious, and in spirit contentious.”
Upon Joseph Hull’s return to Oyster River in about 1662, his ministry had “considerable trouble” with Quakers. This has been suggested as the reason why his son Benjamin, who may have worshiped with the Quakers, did not receive a legacy from his father. Joseph’s son, Hopewell Hull, unwittingly created legal precedent when his first marriage was declared null and void because it occurred in a Friends Ceremony, which was not recognized as legal by the the government of New Hampshire, and he and wife had to remarry in New Jersey to keep their children from being declared bastards and ineligible to inherit.
Joseph Hull died on the Isle of Shoals on 19 November 1665. His widow Agnes administered the estate.
The Child Naomi
The History of the Town of Durham, New Hampshire contains the following passage:
“The following deposition sheds some light on the movements of the family. Dec. 28, 1669, John Bickford, aged about 60, and John Simmins (Symonds) aged about 52, deposed that ‘about four and twenty years agoe or there about naomy hulls father and mother they went for England: and they left theyer Children to the wid wilderness: and Left them very young and wear not tutred (tutored) as they ought to have been.’ [N. H. Court Files, Vol. I. p.325]”
“The Hull Family in America,” by Ozra Eugene Monnette, quotes the same passage only the date is given as 1659 and “Naomi” is called “Nancy.” Also the “wid. Wilderness” is presumptively identified as the widow “Waldrons.” Either way, it appears that Naomi Hull had a difficult childhood. John Bickford was married to Temperance Hull and was therefore a brother-in-law to Naomi. From other items in the New Hampshire records, it seems that Naomi Hull had a child out of wedlock and that John Church of Dover was granted sixty acres of land for taking in Naomi’s child and raising her until the age of twenty. However:
“John Church was captured by Indians in the Dover massacre of 1689, and he was killed and scalped, 7 May 1696, at Cochecho. Among the pupils registered at Quebec was Nimbe II, whom Miss Mary P. Thompson thought to be Naomi Hull [Joseph’s daughter]. Is it not more probable that this was Naomi Hull, the ‘Neamy’s child’ brought up in the family of John Church, named for her mother, and captured with him in 1689?”
This would make sense, since it is believed that Naomi Hull, daughter of Joseph Hull, had married Davie Daniel sometime before 1682, and thus, would have been called Naomi Daniel.
Children of Joseph HULL & Joanna[?] & Agnes (Hunt)
JOSEPH HULL was born 1595 prob. in Crewkerne, Somersetshire, England, and died 18 November 1665 in Isles of Shoals, Maine. He married (1) JOANNA[?]. She was born Abt. 1610. She died in in England. He married (2) AGNES HUNT.
Children of JOSEPH HULL and JOANNA[?] are:
i. JOANE HULL, b. Abt. 1620; m. (1) JOHN BURSLEY, 28 November 1639; m. (2) DOLOR DAVIS.
ii. JOSEPH HULL, b. Abt. 1622.
iii. TRUSTRAM HULL, b. Abt. 1624; d. 22 February 1665/66; m. BLANCHE. Leading citizen at Barnstable.
iv. TEMPERANCE HULL, b. Abt. 1626, bap. Northleigh, Devonshire, England, 20 March 1625/26; m. JOHN BICKFORD; b. Abt. 1609.
v. ELIZABETH HULL, b. Abt. 1628, England; m. JOHN HEARD.
vi. GRISELDA HULL, b. Abt. 1630, England; sailed with family to New England, no further record.
vii. DOROTHY HULL, b. Abt. 1632, England; m. (1) OLIVER KENT; m. (2) after 28 June 1670, BENJAMIN MATHEWS.
Children of JOSEPH HULL and AGNES are:
viii. HOPEWELL HULL, b. Abt. 1636; d. 1693; m. MARY MARTIN, daughter of John Martin. One of the founders of Piscataway, NJ.
ix. BENJAMIN HULL, bap. 24 March 1638/39 at Hingham; d. 1713; m. Abt. 1668, RACHEL YORK, daughter of Richard York.
x. NAOMI HULL, bap. 23 March 1639/40 at Barnstable; m. DAVIE DANIEL; d. Bef. 1685.
xi. RUTH HULL, bap. 9 May 1641 at Barnstable.
xii. REUBEN HULL, b. Abt. 1644, York, ME; bap. Launcetown, Cornwall, England, 23 January 1648/49, d. 3 December 1689; m. poss. HANNAH ALCOCK, or more likely, HANNAH FERNISIDE.
xiii. poss. SARAH HULL, b. 1636, d. 1647. [Skillman Family Association researchers say: “Sarah Hull, was not a daughter of the Rev. Joseph Hull, immigrant, but rather the daughter of the son of the Rev. Joseph Hull, who was Trustram Hull.” However, this would necessitate re-thinking the birthdates of either Sarah or Trustram.]
xiv. SAMUEL HULL, m. (1) 16 November 1677 MARY MANNING, at Piscataway, NJ; m. (2) by 1702, MARGARET
xv. poss. DODAVAH HULL, m. MARY SEWARD, b. 1658, daughter of Richard Seward.
xvi. poss. PHINEAS HULL, b. abt. 1647; m. (1) JERUSHA HITCHCOCK, daughter of Richard Hitchcock; m. (2) after 1689, MARY (RISHWORTH) (WHITE) SAYWARD, daughter of Edward Rishworth and widow of John Sayward.
xvii. poss. EPHRAIM HULL, bap. 13 February 1649/50 at Launceton, Cornwall, England.
xviii. poss. PRISCILLA HULL, bap. 30 March 1651 at Launceton, Cornwall, England; buried there in 1652.
- Anderson, Robert Charles, Great Migration, 1634-1635, G-H (Online database, American Ancestors.org, New England Historic Genealogical Society, Boston, 2009.
- Appleton, William S., “More Passengers for New England,” New England Historic Genealogical Society Register, Vol. 25, January 1871.
- Banks, Charles Edward, History of York, Maine, Vol. II, Boston, MA, 1935.
- Caldwell, Bill, Islands of Maine: Where America Really Began, Guy Gannett Publishing Co., Portland, ME, 1981.
- Hughes, Phyllis J., “Common Errors in the Rev. Joseph Hull Line,” Hull Family in America website: http://www.hullfamilyassociation.org/
- Lincoln, George, History of the Town of Hingham, Massachusetts, (New England History Press, Somersworth, NH, 1982).
- Monnette, Ozra Eugene, “The Hull Family in America — New Jersey Branch,” The Old Northwest Genealogical Quarterly, Vols. XII & XIII, 1909-1910.
- Noyes, Sybil, Genealogical Dictionary of Maine and New Hampshire, Genealogical Publishing Co., Baltimore, MD, 1983.
- “Princes, Paupers, Pilgrims & Pioneers: Our Predecessors & Me,” website by KTC, at: https://kindredconnection.wordpress.com/2018/02/19/joseph-hull/
- Province and Court Records of Maine, Maine Historical Society, Portland, 1928.
- Spencer, Wilbur D., Pioneers on Maine Rivers (Genealogical Publishing Co., Baltimore, 1973).
- Stackpole, Everett S. & Winthrop S. Meserve, History of the Town of Durham, New Hampshire, Vol. 2, (Durham, NH).
- Weygant, Charles H., Hull Family in America, (Hull Family Association, The).