Excerpts on the Rev. Stephen Bachiler from the History of Lynn by Alonzo Lewis (1829)
p.41 (1632) The Reverend Stephen Batchelor, with his family, arrived at Boston on Thursday, the fifth of June. He came in the ship William and Francis, captain Thomas, which sailed from London on the ninth of March, with about sixty passengers. He immediately came to Lynn, where his daughter resided, and fixed his abode here. He was now 71 years of age. In his company were six persons who had belonged to a church with him in England ; and of those he constituted a church at Lynn, to which he admitted such as were desirous of becoming members, and immediately commenced the exercise of the ministerial duties, without installation. One of his first ministrations was to baptize four children, born before his arrival ; two of whom, Thomas Newhall and Stephen Hussey, were born the same week. Thomas, being the oldest, was first presented, but Mr. B. put him aside saying "I will baptize my own child first."
p.42 (1632) Mr. Batchelor had been in the performance of his pastoral duties about four months, when a complaint was made of some irregularities in his conduct. He was arraigned before the court at Boston, on the third of October, when the following order was passed. "Mr. Bachelr is required to forbeare exerciseing his giftes as a pastr or teacher publiquely in or Patent, unlesse it be to those he brought with him, for his contempt of authority, and till some scandles be removed." (Source: Col. Rec.)
p.43 (1633) In the course of a few months, Mr. Batchelor so far succeeded in regaining the esteem of the people, that the court, on the fourth of March, removed their injunction, that he should not preach in the colony, and left him at liberty to resume the performance of his public services.
p.51 (1635) The dissentions which had commenced in Mr. Batchelor's church at an early period, began again to assume a formidable appearance. Some of the members, disliking the conduct of the pastor, and "withall making question whether they were a church or not," (Source: Winthrop) withdrew from the communion. In consequence of this, a council of ministers was held on the fifteenth of March. Being unable to produce a reconciliation, they appointed another meeting, and went to attend a lecture at Boston. Mr. Batchelor then requested the disaffected members to present their grievances in writing, but as they refused, he resolved to excommunicate them, and wrote to the ministers at Boston, who immediately returned to Lynn. After a deliberation of three days, they decided, that although the church had not been properly instituted, yet the mutual exercise of their religious duties had supplied the defect.
p.53 (1635) The difficulties in Mr. Batchelor's church did not cease with the decision of the council, but continued to increase ; till Mr. Batchelor, perceiving no prospect of their termination, requested a dismission for himself and first members, which was granted.
p.54-7 (1636) Mr. Batchelor had been readily dismissed from his pastoral charge, in the expectation that he would desist from its exercise or remove from town ; instead of which, be renewed his covenant with the persons who came with him from England, intending to continue his ministrations. The people opposed this design, and complained to the magistrates, who forbade his proceeding. Finding that he disregarded their injunctions, and refused to appear before them, they sent the marshall to compel him. He was brought before the court of Assistants, at Boston, in January, and discharged on engaging to leave the town within three months. There are reasons for supposing Mr. Batchelor to have been censurable; but the court seem to have been somewhat arbitrary in compelling him to leave the town.
The Reverend Stephen Batchelor was born in England, in the year 1561, and received orders in the established Church. In the early part of his life he enjoyed a good reputation, but being displeased with some of the ceremonies of the Church, and refusing to continue his conformity, lie was deprived of his permission to perform her services. The Church has been much censured for her severity, and all uncharitableness and persecution are to be deprecated ; but in ejecting her ministers for nonconformity, after they had approved her mode of worship, and engaging themselves in the support of her doctrines, the Church is no more censurable than all other communities, with whom the same practice is common. On leaving England, Mr. Batchelor went with his family to Holland, where he resided several years. He then returned to London, from which place he sailed on the ninth of March 1632, for New England. He came to Lynn about the middle of June, and continued his ministerial labours, with interruption, for about three years. He was admitted a freeman on the sixth of May, 1635, and removed from Lynn in February, 1636. He went to Ipswich, where he received a grant of fifty acres of land, and had the prospect of a settlement ; but some difficulty having arisen, he left the place. In the very cold winter of 1637, he went on foot, with some of his friends to Matakeese, now Yarmouth, a distance of about one hundred miles. There he intended to plant a town and establish a church ; but finding the difficulties great, and "his company being all poor men," he relinquished the design. He then went to Newbury, where, on the sixth of July, 1638, the town granted to him and his son-in-law, Christopher Hussey, two portions of land which had formerly been given to Edward Rawson, Secretary of State, and Mr. Edward Woodman. On the sixth of September, the General Court of Massachusetts, granted him permission to commence a settlement at Winicowett, now Hampton in New Hampshire. In 1639, the inhabitants of Ipswich voted to give him sixty acres of land on Whortleberry Hill, and twenty acres of meadow, if he would relinquish their previous grant of fifty acres, and reside with them three years; but he did not accept their invitation. On the fifth of July, he and Christopher Hussey sold their houses and lands in Newbury to Mr. John Oliver, for "six score pounds," and went to Hampton, where a town was begun, and a church gathered, of which Mr. Batchelor became the minister. He had not resided there long before dissentions commenced, and the people were divided between him and his colleague, Mr. Timothy Dalton. In 1641 he was accused of irregular conduct, and was excommunicated. Soon after, his house took fire, and was consumed, with nearly all his property. In 1643, he was restored to the communion, but not to the office of minister. In 1644, the people of Exeter invited him to settle with them ; but the General Court of Massachusetts, on the twenty ninth of May, sent an order to forbid his settlement till they should grant permission. On the twentieth of April, 1647, he was at "Strawberry Bank," now Portsmouth, where he resided three years. In 1650, he married his third wife, being then nearly ninety years of age, and in May, was fined by the court, ten pounds, for not publishing his marriage according to law; half of which fine was remitted in October. In the same year the court passed the following order, in consequence of a matrimonial disagreement.
It is ordered by this Court, that Mr. Batchelor and his wife shall lyve together as man and wife, as in this Court they have publiquely professed to doe, and if either desert one another, then hereby the Court doth order that ye Marshall shall apprehend both ye said Mr. Batchelor and Mary his wife, and bring them forthwith to Boston, there to be kept till the next Quarter Court of assistants, that farther consideration thereof may be had, both of them moving for a divorce, and this order shall be sufficient warrant soe to doe, provided notwithstanding, that if they put in £50, each of them, for their appearance, with such sureties, as the Commissioners, or any one of them for the County shall think good to accept of, that then they shall be under their baile to appear at the next Court of assistants, and in case Mary Batchelor shall live out of the jurisdiction, "without mutual consent for a time," that then the Clarke shall give notice to magistrate att Boston of her absence, that farther order may be taken therein."
Soon after this order, Mr. Batchelor returned to England, where he married his fourth wife, his third wife Mary being still living. In October, 1656, she petitioned the court, in the following words, to free her from her husband.
"To the Honored Govt Deputy Governor with the Magistrates and Deputies at the General Court at Boston.
The humble petition of Mary Bacheler Sheweth
Whereas your petitioner having formerly lived with Mr. Steven Bacheler a minister in this Collany as his lawfull wife & not unknown to divers of you as I conceive, and the said Mr. Bacheler upon some pretended ends of his owne hath transported himselfe unto ould England for many years since and betaken himselfe to another wife as your petitioner hath often been credibly informed, and there continueth, whereby your petitioner is left destitute not only of a guide to her and her children, but also made uncapable thereby of disposing herselfe in the way of marriage to any other without a lawful permission, and having now two children upon her hands that are chargeable to her in regard to a disease God hath been pleased to lay upon them both, which is not easily curable, and so weakened her estate in prosecuting the means of cure that she is not able longer to subsist without utter ruining her estate, or exposing herself to the common charity of others, which your petitioner is loth to put herself upon, if it may be lawfully avoided as is well known to all or most part of her neighbours. And were she free from her engagement to Mr. Bachelor, might probably soe dispose of herselfe as that she might obtain a meet helpe to assist her to procure such means for her livelyhood and the recovery of her children's health, as might keep them from perishing, which your petitioner to her great grief is much afraid of, if not timely prevented. Your petitioner's humble request therefore is that this Honored Court would be pleased seriously to consider her condition for matter of her relief in her freedom from the said Mr. Bachelor, and that she may be at liberty to dispose of herselfe in respect of any engagement to him as in your wisdomes shall seem most expedient, and your petitioner shall humbly pray &c.
Mary Bacheler" (Source: Colonial Files)
At this time Mr. Batchelor must have been in the ninety sixth year of his age. How much longer he lived, and how many more wives he married, is unknown. He has long since gone to his last account, and his errors and follies, of whatever kind, must be left to the adjustment of that tribunal, before which all must appear. He had undoubtedly many virtues, or he would not have had many friends, and they would not have continued with him through all the changes of his fortune. Mr. Prince says that he was "a man of fame in his day, a gentleman of learning and ingenuity, and wrote a fine and curious hand." It was on his separation from the church at Lynn, with his subsequent misfortunes, that Mr. Edward Johnson .wrote the following lines:
"Through ocean large Christ brought thee for to feede
His wandering flock, with's word thou oft hast taught ;
Then teach thy self. with others, thou hast need,
Thy flowing fame unto low ebbe is brought.
Faith and obedience Christ full near hath joined,
Then trust on Christ, and thou again mayst be
Brought on thy race, though now far cast behinde,
Run to the end and crowned thou shall be."
Mr. Batchelor had several children, four of whom, at least, were born in England. 1. Theodata, who married Christopher Hussey. 2. Deborah, who married John Wing of Lynn, and removed to Sandwich in 1637. 3. A daughter who married a Sanborn, and had three sons, whose names were John, Stephen, and William, all born before 1647. 4. Nathaniel, who removed to Hampton, where he had a son Nathaniel, born before 1647, and where some of his descendants remain. 5. A son, who removed to Reading, where he had a son Henry, who came to Lynn, where several families of his descendants remain.
p.150-1 (1720) Whoever has attentively read the lives of the early ministers of New England, as written by the Rev. Cotton Mather, must have observed, that they are represented to have been men of uncommon learning, piety, and worth. This may be imputed partly to the embellishments of his pen, and partly to the fact, that they were born and educated in the bosom of the Church and in the best Universities of Europe. We are greatly indebted to Mr. Mather for his account of these ministers... The Rev. Stephen Batchelor he did not notice ; and the sketch, in the first part of this work, is the first particular account of him that has been given. Since that was written, I have ascertained that he died at Hackney, in England, at the age of about one hundred years. [Editor's note: This date has since been found to be incorrect. See here for further details.]