Rev. Joseph Hull

Little is known of Richard Hull, other than he was the grandfather of the emigrant, Rev. Joseph Hull. Richard was of Crewkerne, Somerset, England and was born in 1521. He died there circa 1559. Sometime before 1552, he married a woman named Alice. Alice was born about 1533 and died sometime after Richard.

Richard had at least one son, Thomas, father of Rev. Joseph. Not much is known about Thomas. He was born circa 1552 and was buried December 29, 1636 in Crewkerne, Somerset, England. On January 11, 1572/3 at Crewkerne, he married Joane Pyssing or Peson, daughter of John & Margery (____) Pyssing. Joane was born about 1554 and was buried October 30, 1629.

Rev. Joseph Hull, born in 1595 at Crewkerne, was the colonist and founder of what in later years became known as the Mariner-Quaker branch of the Hull family in America. History seldom records the events of childhood, as they are considered in most cases to be too commonplace to be worthy of note. The early life of Joseph Hull was no exception to this rule, so it can only be surmised that his childhood days were spent in a manner then common in the households of large families living in the quiet English countrysides.

Joseph was educated at St. Mary's Hall, Oxford, from which he received his Bachelor of Arts degree at graduation November 14, 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 in 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. This company arrived in Boston on the 6th of May of that year. 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.

He 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.

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 Rev. Stephen Batchelder was in the vicinity as early as 1636. On the 11th of October 1639, 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 penceŃ10 pounds of which was put down for books, and 20 pounds as due him from the Isles of Shoals for his ministry.

I'd be happy to exchange family information.
Please send e-mail to Sam Behling.

See lineage of Hull Family

Read the Biography of Joseph's son, Capt. Tristram Hull

Read the Biography of Joseph's daughter, Elizabeth Hull Heard

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