The English Home of Mr. Timothy Dalton, B. A. : Town of Hampton

Hampton was an offshoot from Massachusetts Bay. Captain Edward Johnson called it " the Seventeenth Church of Christ" in that colony.1 Because of an error in its location, it was finally adjudged to belong to New Hampshire. As Winnacunnet, it had been the seat of an Indian village; and, under the same name, it was settled by the white men. Some of its natural features, such as its marshes and waterways, were likely to remind the newcomers of their homes among the Fens and Broads of East Anglia.2 Its first minister described it, in a letter to Governor Winthrop, as "a reasonable meet place."3 So stimulating and yet so healthful was its climate, that the words of Mr.4 Francis Higginson seem appropriate. "A sup of New Englands Aire is better than a whole draught of old Englands Ale. Here is good living for those that love good fires."5

There is no evidence of its occupation by Englishmen until 1636, when its first house -- called "The Bound House" -- was erected under the authority of the General Court, and at public expense. Two of Mr. John Wheelwright's friends who had followed him into exile, attempted to build here in the early part of 1638; but the court promptly ordered the magistrates to "cleare ye place of ym." At the same time the court encouraged the removal to Winnacunnet from the neighboring town of Newbury, of a large company of new settlers, under the leadership of Pastor Stephen Bachiler,6 who were dissatisfied with their first location. The actual transfer was made on or about October 14, 1638; and that may be considered the date of settlement.7 Shortly afterward it was enacted that "Winnacunnet shalbee called Hampton, the change being made "at Mr. Bachiler's request"8. His last Incumbency in England had been in a parish near to Southampton, then commonly known as Hampton.9

Of the founders of our little New Hampshire town it is alleged that "many were from Norfolk, in England, one of the strongholds of Puritanism."10 Dr. Belknap asserts that they were "chiefly" from that country;11 while Mr. Dow has taken the pains to locate several of them in Norwich, Runham, Topcroft, and Ormesby, of Norfolk, and in Gorleston, Suffolk. Indeed, he places eight adults in the single parish of Ormesby12; and of these eight Mr. Hotton is able to show that five sailed, in April, 1637, from either Yarmouth or Ipswich.13 The four towns of Runham, Topcroft, Ormesby, and Gorleston are near the Waveney, one of the two rivers which separate Norfolk from Suffolk.14 We have had their ancient parish registers examined, with the unsatisfactory result of finding therein only an occasional Dalton, who apparently belonged to some other branch of the family than the one in which we are now interested. Under the circumstances, it was proper that the grand old name of "Northe-folke" should be given (1643) to the new shire, in America, which embraced the Hampton people.

Henry Cabot Lodge says of the Massachusetts Bay colonists: "The leaders were country gentlemen, merchants, and soldiers, men of wealth and position; while the bulk of the emigration was, as a rule, from the farmers and yeomen, who were people of substance. The ministers were men of birth or education and breeding. Many had been driven from the pulpits of the English Church, and all possessed the sternest courage and deepest convictions. To them the people looked up with a voluntary reverence and profound awe; while they wielded an authority and exercised a power which were simply overwhelming."15 Among the builders of Hampton, Stephen Bachiler was the only one who (upon somewhat doubtful evidence) is said to have been "of gentle blood". In the record of the first division of the town lands, in 1640, the word "Master" was confined to Pastor Bachiler, his son-in-law Hussey, and Teacher Dalton. The other settlers were mainly "husbandmen," or "weavears," or "fishermen."16 But the position of the church society in the colonial synods, is shown by the names of the three "judicious ministers" who next succeeded Mr. Bachiler in the pastoral office, to wit: John Wheelwright, Seaborn Cotton, and John Cotton; the latter two being, respectively, the son and the grandson of "Pope John,"17 and all of them eminent for piety and learning and pulpit eloquence.

Parson Bachiler was a cause of frequent anxiety to the head men in Boston. He landed in 1632, and, without a license, pitched his gospel tent in Saugus, now Lynn. The magistrates quickly ordered him to "forebear exercising his guiftes as pastr or teachr in or Patent, unlesse it bee to those he brought wth him." This injunction was afterward dissolved; but in 1635 he was again silenced, and he promised to seek a new field. From Lynn he went to "the large limb'd Ipswich," and thence to Mattakeese -- now Yarmouth -- on Cape Cod. Compelled by the poverty of his surroundings to move on, he rested a while in Newbury, and in 1638 advanced to and settled in Winnacunnet. Three years later the Hampton church deposed and excommunicated him, its action being sustained by the General Court. Having wandered aimlessly about the colony for ten or eleven years, he went home to England; and there he died at the age of one hundred years -- a century of unhappiness. Whether right or wrong, he was always in trouble with the authorities, or his congregation, or members of his family.18

There is an interesting account of the young town in Captain Johnson's curious book. He says: "Much about this time [1639] began the town of Hampton, in the County of Northfolk, to have her foundation stone laid, scituate neare the Sea-coast, not farre from the famous river of Merimeck, the great store of salt marsh did intice this people to set downe there habitations there, for as yet Cowes and Cattell of that kinde were not come to the great downfall in their price,19 of which they have about 450 head; and for the form of this Towne, it is like a Flower-de-luce, two streets of houses wheeling off from the maine body thereof, the land is fertile, but filled with swamps, and some store of rocks, the people are about 60 Families."20

  1. Johnson's Wonder-working Providence of Sions Saviour in New-England, 134.
  2. East Anglia included Norfolk, Suffolk, and a part of Cambridgeshire. Its chief towns were Norwich, Thetford, Ely and Cambridge. "It was the first to stand up, in the face of priest or king, for the truth, -- or what it held to be such." -- Ritchie's East Anglia, 81.
  3. Joseph Dow's History of Hampton, 11.
  4. The title of "Master" was then given to all inferior clergy, as well as to lay commoners of good birth or estate.
  5. Higginson's New Englands Plantation, written in the year 1629. Poor man! He lived only a year in the colony, and it has been said that the hardships of the first winter were the indirect cause of his death.
  6. The name was subsequently written Bacheller or Bachellor, and, still later, Bachelder. [Ed. note: also Batchelder]
  7. Dow's History of Hampton, 10.
  8. Dow's History of Hampton, 12.
  9. "Suppose that you have seen
    the well-appointed King at Hampton pier"
    Henry V., III, Prol. 4.
    But Captain John Smith had given, in his first chart (1616) the name of Southampton to the large extent of territory which included Winnacunnet.
  10. New England Historical and Genealogical Register, I, 323.
  11. Belknap's History of New Hampshire (Farmer's Ed.), 1, 21.
  12. Dow's History of Hampton, 583 et seq.
  13. Hotton's Original Lists of Emigrants to the American Plantations, pp. 289-292.
  14. The spring-heads of these two rivers -- the Waveney and the Little Ouse -- are not more than three yards apart, and in times of flood unite their waters. -- Suckling's History and Antiquities of Suffolk, I, Introd., 1.
  15. Lodge's History of the English Colonies in America, pp. 344, 423. For a further account of the power and influence of the early ministers, see Alice Morse Earle's Sabbath in Puritan New England, 259; Child's Colonial Parson, 75-81; and Fisher's Colonial Era, 168.
  16. The fishing industry extended along the whole coast, and gave profitable employment to hundreds of men and vessels. King James said, "with his ordinary asseveration: 'So God have my soul! 'tis an honest trade; it was the Apostles' own calling.'" -- Edward Winslow's Hypocrisie Unmasked, 89.
  17. There cannot be two queen bees in one hive, nor can there well be more than one master mind in the ecclesiastical order of a petty theocratic state. -- Eggleston's Beginners of a Nation, 280.
  18. Dow's History of Hampton, 345.
  19. This occasioned a great distress. -- Northend's Bay Colony, 173.
  20. Johnson's Wonder-working Providence, 134