My genealogical researches have uncovered dozens of devout ancestors. This is the fourth installment of a series of posts titled “Doing God’s Work: Our Families’ Faithful”, documenting the lives of those who served God.
In the previous post of this series, I presented the life and times of William Christian, a vicar on the Isle of Man. This one focuses on the life of Rev. Joseph Hull.
Joseph Hull, my 12th great-grandfather, was born in 25 April 1594, in Crewkerne, Somerset, England. He was the youngest child of Thomas Hull, a yeoman, and Joane Peson/Pysing (spelling varies).
Joseph’s siblings were William Hull, who was 20 years his senior; Mary born circa 1576; Agnes, born/died circa 1578; Richard Hull, born circa 1579; Thomas Hull, born circa 1582; Robert Hull, born circa 1584; John Hull, born circa 1586; George Hull, born circa 1590; Francis Hull, born circa 1591; and Joseph Hull, born circa 1593 and who died in 1595, one year prior to my Joseph’s birth.
When Joseph was two years old, his brother Richard Hull died. A year later, in 1597, brother Robert Hull passed away.
Nothing more is known of Joseph’s childhood. The next time he appears in records is on 14 November 1614, when he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from St. Mary’s Hall, Oxford University in Oxfordshire, England. During the next five years, Joseph Hull studied theology, serving as a teacher and curate under his eldest brother, William Hull, who was the vicar of Colyton, a village in Devon, England.
During this time, in 1618, Joseph Hull married Joanne/Joane (surname unknown) in Somerset, England.
On the 23 May 1619, Joseph Hull was ordained a clergyman of the Church of England by the bishop at Exeter, Devon.
On 14 April 1621, Joseph Hull was made rector of Northleigh, a diocese of Exeter, where he would serve for the next 11 years.
In the winter of 1619/20, Joseph and Joane Hull welcomed their first child, a daughter named Joanna.
In 1621, Joseph Hull became the rector for Northleigh, another village in Devon, England. Colyton is approximately four miles away.
A year later, circa 1622, son Joseph was born.
In 1624, the couple welcomed son Tristram (my 11th great-grandfather) to the family.
Daughter Temperance was born a year or two later and was baptized on 20 March 1625/6 in Northleigh.
Daughter Elizabeth was born circa 1628, probably at Northleigh.
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.
Meanwhile, in his personal life, sadness struck Joseph Hull, when his mother Joane (Peson) died on 30 November 1629, in Crewkerne, Somerset, England.
One year later, circa 1630, daughter Grissel/Griselda was welcomed to the family.
In 1632, Rev. Joseph Hull resigned his rectorship at Northleigh and returned to Crewkerne. Joseph and Joanne’s final child, Dorothy, was born in Crewkerne, circa 1632. Unfortunately, either during childbirth or soon thereafter, Joanne Hull died and was buried in 1632, in her hometown of Crewkerne, Somerset, England.
With Joanne’s death, Joseph Hull was left to raise several young children alone. As he was still serving as a rector (probably in somewhere in Somerset), he would have had difficulties being a single parent. Consequently, on 13 March 1633, Joseph Hull married Agnes Hunt in Wells St. Cuthbert, Somerset, England.
Joseph Hull was cited for illegal preaching at Broadway twice in January 1635. Despite the Church’s censure, Joseph Hull continued ministering to the masses. He allegedly preached a sermon at Glastonbury, in which he was quoted as saying that “judgment hung over the land and that first, it would fall on the clergy and then the laity.”
Then, on 17 February 1635, Joseph Hull was expelled from the Church of England–not for his preaching but for “failing to respond to the court’s citation.”
If the Church of England would not let him preach, Joseph Hull determined that he would just go somewhere where he could. On 20 March 1635, Joseph Hull gathered 106 followers at Crewkerne. Together, along with his wife Agnes and seven of his children, they headed to Weymouth, England. Six days later, on 26 March 1635, the group boarded a ship bound for America, arriving in Boston on 5/6 May 1635.
Rev. Hull and his congregation then settled in Wessaguscus, Massachusetts. Governor Winthrop’s Official Journal, under date of 8 July 1635, 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 this group doubled Wessaguscus’ population. The village soon became a full-fledged town, invested with municipal rights, renamed Weymouth, and given representation in the General Court. A church was formed on 8 July 1635, with Joseph Hull installed as its first pastor.
In his family life, son Hopewell was born in 1636.
Everything seemed to be going well for Rev. Hull; however, his more progressive religious teachings were offending the Puritan leaders:
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… (The Isles of Shoals in Lore and Legend, by Lyman V. Rutledge, pg. 39).
His replacement was a Puritan minister, Thomas Jenner of Roxbury.
On 12 June 1636, Joseph Hull received a land grant in Nantasket, then a part of Hingham.
On 2 September 1636, Joseph Hull took the oath as a Freeman of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
Meanwhile, back in England, Joseph Hull’s father Thomas passed away on 29 December 1636, in Crewkerne, Somerset, England.
During this period of his life, Joseph Hull devoted himself to civic affairs. In 1638, Joseph Hull was elected a deputy to the General Court and was appointed a magistrate for the settlement of “small causes.”
A year later, in early 1639, son Benjamin was welcomed to the family and was christened by Rev. Peter Hobart on 24 March 1639.
During that same time period, Joseph Hull represented that town twice as a Deputy in the General Court of Massachusetts in September 1638 and March 1639. He was both a political and a religious opponent of Gov. John Winthrop. Apparently, the “very contentious” Joseph Hull sided more with the Anglican residents than with the Puritan leaders.
Gov. Winthrop retaliated by expelling Joseph Hull from the Massachusetts Colony. On 5 May 1639, it was recorded in Hobart’s Journal that Joseph Hull preached his farewell sermon in the Massachusetts Colony.
After leaving Hingham, the Hull family relocated to the Plymouth Colony. Tradition credits Rev. Joseph Hull with having preached the first sermon in Barnstable; however, as I wrote in an earlier post, Rev. Stephen Bachiler (my spouse’s 11th great-grandfather) was in the vicinity as early as 1636.
While Joseph Hull was in the Plymouth Colony, he began raising cattle. Unfortunately, because of his new endeavor, Joseph Hull was named the defendant in several trespass suits. It is interesting to note that in all but one of these actions, the constable attached two of Joseph Hull’s steers to the ruling. Obviously, Joseph Hull’s cattle were highly desired by the plaintiffs.
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.
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.
On 3 December 1639, Joseph Hull was admitted as a freeman.
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.
In 1640, his name appears on the Barnstable list of “men able to bear arms.”
Daughter Naomi was born that same year and was christened 23 March 1640.
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.
Soon thereafter, Joseph Hull became a transient preacher, moving from place to place.
…After some wandering [he] went to the Isles of Shoals, where he served around the year 1640 (The Isles of Shoals in Lore and Legend, by Lyman V. Rutledge, pg. 39).
From the book, Religion at the Isles of Shoals: Anglicans, Puritans, Missionaries, UUs, and UCCs, by Lois Williams, pg. 10-11:
Although there was no resident clergyman at the Shoals, the Anglican concept of parish included all within its boundaries, and mainland clergy reached out to fishermen on the Isles of Shoals. The Reverend Joseph Hull, an early Church of England clergyman at York…occasionally visited the islands where he preached and administered the Holy Sacraments. In this Hull ran little risk of being disciplined, for he lived in the province of Maine which stoutly supported Episcopalian and royalist friends.
On 7 March 1642, the General Court at Plymouth issued a warrant directing Joseph Hull’s arrest should he attempt to exercise his ministerial duties within the Plymouth Colony, describing him in the warrant as an excommunicated minister. Four days later, Joseph’s wife Agnes was readmitted 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.
Another daughter, Ruth, was born two years later and was christened 9 May 1642 in Barnstable, Massachusetts.
Son Dodavah was welcomed to the family circa 1643.
Joseph Hull was readmitted to the Barnstable church on 10 August 1643 “having acknowledged his sin.”
But this must not have sat well with Joseph Hull, because soon after, the Hull Family relocated; this time to Accominticus (modern-day York, Maine), where Joseph Hull became their 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 Rev. Joseph Hull was also the minister.
In 1643, he accepted a call to York, but he had become so much attached to the islands that he went back often to conduct services (The Isles of Shoals in Lore and Legend, by Lyman V. Rutledge, pg. 39).
Two years later, son Samuel was born 1645.
Then, tragedy struck; Joseph Hull’s daughter Ruth died in 1647 in York, Maine.
Around the same time, in 1647, son Phineas was born.
Son Reuben was born in 1649 and was christened 23 January 1649.
The Hull family remained in this area until circa 1650, when the Massachusetts Bay Colony brought Maine under their jurisdiction. Again, a Puritan minister, this one a Rev. Brock, was sent to supersede Joseph Hull.
Obviously, enough was enough for Joseph Hull. He and his family decided to return to England.
Upon their return, the Hull family settled in Cornwall, England, where Joseph was given the parsonage at St. Buryan.
Son Ephraim was born in early 1650 and was christened 13 February 1650 in Launceston, Cornwall, England.
Son Isaac was born in March 1651 and was christened 25 March 1651 in Launceston, Cornwall, England. Young Isaac died a year later in June 1652 and was buried on 9 June 1652, in Launceston, Cornwall, England.
The couple’s final child, Priscilla, was born in early 1652 and died four months later on 8 June 1652.
The Hull family remained in Cornwall for more than a decade, at which time Joseph Hull was ejected from the parish. In 1660, the Hull Family returned to the Colonies, briefly staying in Oyster River, New Hampshire, before returning to the Isles of Shoals in 1663.
From the book, Religion at the Isles of Shoals: Anglicans, Puritans, Missionaries, UUs (Unitarian Universalists) and UCCs (United Church of Christ), by Lois Williams, pg. 17:
The Reverend Joseph Hull moved to the islands in 1663 to follow the Reverend Brock. Hull died in 1665 without receiving his expected payment of twenty pounds from the Sholaers…Reverend Hull [is credited] with trying to find common ground with both Anglicans and Puritans, and the Shoalers seem to have welcomed his more tolerant approach.
Joseph Hull remained as minister of the Isles of Shoals, where he continued his ministry until his death on 19 November 1665. His estate was valued at 52 pounds, five shillings, and five pence. A learned man, his library alone was valued at ten pounds. Upon his death, Joseph Hull was owed 20 pounds from the Isles of Shoals for his ministry.