Saturday, December 23, 2017

The Reverend Stephen Bachiler of England and New England

Stephen Bachiler, variously spelt Bachelor, Bachelder, Bachelor, etc, was a colorful man who lived life the way he saw fit in a turbulent time. He was born about 1561, Queen Elizabeth had been on the throne for only three years. As he reached adulthood in the 1580s, Elizabeth's reign was at its epoch. He lived through the reign of her successor James I and his son Charles I, who was beheaded by a Parliament  led by Oliver Cromwell. Stephen died in London in 1656; England was firmly in the grip of the Protectorate. Cromwell died two years later and the monarchy restored in 1660. 

If Stephen Bachiler had stayed in England we might never had heard his name, but at the great age of seventy, he left England with his third wife and four grandsons, bound for New England. His non-conformist peers in Massachusetts found him a bit too non-conformist and booted him out. He and his followers establish the town Hampton in New Hampshire. He eventually left New England and returned to home, dying at the age of ninety five in London. But, I get ahead of myself.

Bachiler is a well researched ancestor, with many articles and books about him. I have nothing new to add to his story, but since his is family, I will write a synopsis of other peoples work. The very best website is that of the Lane Memorial Library (in Hampton, New Hampshire). It is a goldmine for researching ancestors who resided in the town. Their page on Stephen Bachiler gives links to all the current and past articles on him, I recommend you have a look at it. Link to it is here. But, hey finish reading my article first.

So here's what I know about Stephen Bachiler.

english origins
If you google the names Philip Bachiler and Ann Flanders you will find many websites that claim that they were the parents of Stephen. One site in particular, Miner Descent, builds a whole story about Philip and his family, Wallons apparently, who were kicked out of Flanders by King Philip II of Spain. This highly imaginative story has been disproved.  The origins of Stephen are unknown. Lane Memorial Library says the following about Stephen's origins:
All references that may be found in various places on the Internet to his "father" Philip Bachiler are incorrect and should be ignored or, preferably, corrected. Much research has been done to search for his parentage in England, but to date there has been no success.
St. John's College, Oxford
There, the experts have spoken. Nothing is known about Stephens early life. He must have come from a fairly decent family as he was entered St. John's College in Oxford on 15 November 1581 at the age of twenty. He was awarded a Bachelor of Arts on 3 February 1585/6. A university degree in those days was either preparation for the law or the clergy. St. John's was a 'producer of Anglican Clergyman,' including the arch-nemesis of Puritans, Archbishop Laud.  Stephen was bound for the clergy.

On 15 July 1587 he got his first gig as a minister. He was presented to the living at Wherwell in Hampshire by Lord De La Warr, Lord of the Manor, who held the advowson, or right to nominate a parish priest.  Stephen would have had to pay a tax, known as 'first fruits', to the crown. Every new minister paid this tax when he took up a living. Thereafter he paid one tenth of his salary to the crown.

The Malt House, c. 1550
The church at Wherwell, where Stephen began his career was originally part of Wherwell Priory. The priory was destroyed during the dissolution of the monasteries, during the time of Henry VIII. Stephen's church was replaced in 1857 but many of the tombs and other bits of the original church were retained including the effigy of a 13th century Benedictine prioress, Abbess Euphemia. No records from Stephen's time survive, despite his eighteen years as vicar.

marriage and children
A good minister needs a good wife to help him fulfill his parochial duties and attentions to his flock. It seems that Stephen married about 1590. His wife is a bit of a mystery. According to Robert Charles Anderson, in Bachiler's Great Migration profile, not only do we not know her surname, but even her first name is not known, despite the fact that thousands of ancestries claim that her name was Anne Bate. Anne is said to be the sister of Reverend John Bate, who replaced Stephen as vicar of Wherwell.

This connection between Ann, if indeed that was her name, and John Bate is drawn from a court case in 1614. A Rev. George Wighley sued Stephen, his son Stephen,  John Bate, a clerk of Wherwell, over  poems written by Stephen and his son. It seems that George was once a Puritan minister, but he had 'conformed,' and the poems were not flattering to his person. George alleged that John Bates said he would keep one of the poems, written by his 'cousen.' The use of the word cousin implies a familial relationship between the two families. In a second 1639 court case. Ann Bachiler Sanborn Atkinson and her husband sued Dorcas Bate, widow of Rev. John Bate for money owned the family. The case is convoluted but can be read in greater detail here, but it does not cement the relationship between the two families. It is just as likely that John Bate married the sister of Stephen Bachiler and not the other way round.So for me, the first wife  of Stephen is ?Anne? Unknown.


1. Nathaniel b. abt. 1590, Wherwell, m. (1) Hester Mercer, (2) Margery____. His son Nathaniel Jr. traveled with his grandfather to New England. He was dead by 1645 when his widow was given administration of his estate.

2. Deborah b. abt. 1592, m. by 1611 to John Wing, she and her children immigrated to NE by 1639 and lived in Sandwich.

3. Stephen, b. abt. 1594, matriculated Oxford, Magellan College, age 16, in 1610. He was described as a 'ministers son.' He was ordained a deacon in 1613 and involved in the 1614 court case. No further record of him.

4. Samuel, b. abt. 1567, was also a minister. He lived in Gorcum in Holland with his family.

5. Ann, b. abt. 1601 in Wherwell, m. (1) ___Sanborn, father of her children, (2) Henry Atkinson, Gent. of London, last known alive in 1639, courtcase, d. unknown.

6. Theodate, b. by 1610, m. 1635 Christopher Hussey in New England, d. 20 Oct. 1649.

back to wherwell
In 1593 Stephen was arrested and committed by his boss, the Bishop of Winchester. His crime was delivering a 'seditious' sermon at Newbury, a town about 20 miles from his home in Wherwell. He was ordered brought before the Archbishop of Canterbury by the Privy Council in the Star Chamber. See google books: Acts of the Privy Council of England, Vol. 24. What his punishment, if any was is unknown. But, one biographer writes that John Winthrop spoke that Bachiler suffered at the hands of the Bishops. He was lucky he wasn't executed like fellow dissenters Henry Barrowe and John Greenwood who were put to death in April of that year.

Queen Elizabeth died in 1603 and was followed by her nephew James I. James, raised in Scotland, was a Presbyterian and held different religious views than most of his subjects in England. He certainly did not care for Puritans whom he purged from the pulpit. Stephen was replaced by the Rev. John Bate in 1605. He never held a permanent position in England again.

newton stacey
In 1615 Stephen appears to have been of Newton Stacey, a village about 3 miles to the east of Wherwell. He was a 'free suitor at the view of frankpledge at the manorial court of Barton Stacey. Frankpledge was a system of policing and maintaining order which was administered at the manorial courts. He was recorded in the Hampshire feet of fines as purchasing land in Newton Stacey in 1622 and again in 1629.

Stephen seems to have worked as an itinerant preacher and was known to other influential Puritans. Adam Winthrop recorded in his diary in 1621, that he had Mr. Bachiler, the preacher, to dinner at his home in Groton.

All Saints, Barton Stacey 
No one knows when the first Mrs. Bachiler died, but Stephen remarried on 2 March 1623/4 in Abbots Ann, Hampshire to the widow Christian Weare. It was a short lived marriage and he again remarried on 26 March 1627 to another widow Helena Mason, her husband had been the Rev. Thomas Mason, another puritan.

Bachiler must have continues his fiery seditious preaching as he incited the parishioners of Barton Stacey to wreak havoc on a chapel. Sir Robert Paine, sheriff of Hampton recorded that they had demolished a consecrated chapel at Newton Stacy, neglected the repair of the parish church, maliciously opposed petitioners' intent(that he, Paine, should repair the church at his own expense), and executed many things in contempt of the canons and the Bishop.

coming to new england
Following in the wake of the Pilgrims who left England in 1620, many companies formed and laid plans to immigrate. One such group was the Plough Company, a consortium of London merchants who had a land grant in Saco. John Winthrop and his group has sailed in 1630, the first wave of what is known as The Great Migration. The Plough Company sent a ship in 1631. Stephen Bachiler sold his land in Newton Stacey and in June of 1631 traveled with his wife and daughter Ann Sanborn to Flushing in the Netherlands to visit his son who was living there. Perhaps he went to say farewell to his son.

On 9 March 1631/2 the ship The William & Francis set sail for Boston, docking on 5 June. The Plough Company had folded and its immigrants were unable to occupy their land grant in Saco. The Bachiler clan headed for Saugus, now known as Lynn. At the age of seventy, the Reverend was starting over.

On his arrival at Lynn, Bachiler formed his church. There is a story on the internet that Stephen refused to baptize a child until he had baptized his own. Robert Charles Anderson says this is false, there is no record of any think like that happening. He calls it a 'typical nineteenth-century creation.'
Another creation was a fabricated journal, purported to belong to Obadiah Redpath, described in great detail the physical appearance of the Reverend. The diary was a fake, written by a man named Thomas Newhall. So, no, we do not know what Stephen looked like, short and fat or tall and spare, it's all left to our imagination.

Within months of arrival Stephen was had crossed swords with Winthrop and the General Court. It was ordered that he was only allowed to preach to his family and those who came with him because of his contempt of authority. It also seems he refused to take the freeman's oath, a requirement for full church membership. For the next few years, his differences with the standard theology of the colony grated the court. In January of 1636 things came to a head and Bachiler resigned as minister at Saugus, and removed to Newbury.

Accompanying Bachiler to Newbury was his family and members of his church, possibly fellow immigrants from the Plough Company. In Newbury he received a land grant and resided there for a year or so, preaching to his faithful flock. He managed to stay out of the Antimonian Controversy, a religious feud that wracked the colony in 1638. Bachilers stay in Newbury was short lived. He applied to the General Court to start a new plantation at Winnicunnet in New Hampshire which they readily granted. According to biographer V. C. Sanborn, quoting a letter from Bachiler to John Winthrop Jr.,  on October 14, 1638, Bachiler, his family, and other followers, boarded a scallop and sailed up to New Hampshire and their new home, which they renamed Hampton. Stephen was seventy-seven years old.

According to Robert Charles Anderson, the plantation of Hampton was begun in the summer of 1639. Perhaps the fall trip was just to view the place, starting a new plantation just before the onset of winter would have been a foolhardy beginning.

Stephen Bachiler was not the only minister in Hampton. Timothy Dalton, was not only a strict adherent to the established theology of the colony, but also a relative of Governor John Winthrop. What could go wrong? With Dalton came families from Norfolk and Suffolk who undoubtedly were unhappy with Bachiler and his ideas. Apparently Dalton tattled to Winthrop, sharing any perceived transgressions with the Massachusetts government.

In 1641, Winthrop was apprised of a curious incident which had major repercussions for Stephen. It seems, at the age of eighty, Bachiler lusted after the wife of one of his parishioners. V. C. Sanborn concluded that the tale was merely slander concocted by Dalton to try to ruin his nemesis. True or not, it finished him in Hampton. A fellow rebel minister, and leader of the Antimonian group, left his church in Exeter, New Hampshire, when it fell under the control of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and headed for Maine. The residents of Exeter invited Bachiler to fill the post. Once again, the aged Reverend tried to move on. Unfortunately the controversy would not die down and he was unable to take the job. 

strawberry bank
Stephen Bachiler sold his land in Hampton in 1644 and established a home in Strawberry Bank, now known as Portsmouth, New Hampshire. V. C. Sanborn states that he was accompanied by his grandson and namesake Stephen Sanborn. In his article on Bachiler, Sanborn paints a picture of the inhabitants of Strawberry Bank as rowdy lawless seaman who were not too picky about the theology of their minister. He seemed to have fit right in.

According to Anderson, Helena Mason Bachiler died by 3 May 1647, she was about sixty-four years old. Her widowed husband, now aged eighty-six, could not seem to do without a wife. He made a very unhappy marriage, by 14 Feb 1648 to Mary Beedle, the widow of Robert Beedle.  In April 1650 the Massachusetts Court ordered that Stephen and his wife should live together or they would be taken to Boston to procure a divorce. Mary Bachiler and a George Rogers were presented at a court in York for cohabiting. In October the following year, Mary and George were charged with adultery and ordered to be whipped. Mary was pregnant. The court decreed that her punishment should be delivered six weeks following the birth of the child, and that she be branded with the letter A, for her adultery. It has been posited that Mary Beedle Bachiler was the inspiration for Hester Prynne of The Scarlet Letter. 

return to england
The Tower of All Hallows Staining which burnt in the Great Fire
The date of Stephen's return to his homeland of England is not known, Anderson suggests that the event occurred in 1651. Perhaps the troublesome wife pushed him over the edge, he was done with New England. Details of Stephen's life in England are unknown. I imagine he lived with one of his family members. He was ninety years old, he had outlived three wives, and several of his children. He died in London and was buried on 31 October 1656, All Hallows Staining, age ninety-five.


1. The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England 1620-1633, Volumes I-III. (Online database:, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2010), (Originally Published as: New England Historic Genealogical Society. Robert Charles Anderson, The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England 1620-1633, Volumes I-III, 3 vols., 1995).
2. "Rev. Stephen Bachiler"; web content, Lane Memorial (Hampton, New Hampshire) Library (accessed 2017).
3. George Freeman Sanborn, Jr., “Rev. Stephen Bachiler of Hampton: Some Additional Information,” in ‘’New Hampshire Genealogical Record,’’ 8 (1991):14-17.
4. Charles H. Batchelder (1936) and Carl W. Brage (1985) Batchelder/Bachilder genealogy through Rev. Stephen Bachiler's son Stephen Bachilder : (A correction of the work on this family by Pierce), Carl W. Brage, ed., [manuscript] (1985), 1-5.
5. V.C. Sanborn, ‘’Genealogy of the family of Samborne or Sanborn in England and America. 1194-1898’’ (n.p. 1899).


Karen said...

Would you say that it was an error putting William as Stephen & Ann's son?

Thank you - your site has been very helpful!

Unknown said...

I am the direct descendant of the Reverend Stephen Batchilor, through Deborah Batchilor Wing, who was one of the 48 settlers who established Sandwich, MA. Her descendants eventually came west and ended with my maternal Grandmother in the greater Los Angeles, California area and then I was raised in San Francisco, where my father was a 2nd generation San Franciscan. I am in London today, as I write this, and do business in London and am a member of the In and Out Club there. It would be lovely to meet other descendants of Stephen Bachilor who remained in England.

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