The Rev. Stephen Bachilder is my 11th great grandfather. Although some sources make the claim that he died in his 100th year, it is a claim lacking proof.
Rev. Bachiler, born about 1561, lived a long and most interesting life. He married at least three times in Hampshire and most, if not all, of his children were born there. He came to New England in 1632 and returned to England around 1654, where in died around October 31, 1656, and is buried in All Hallows Staining Tower in London.
In 1581, he matriculated from St John, Oxford, received his B.A. in 1586, and was Vicar of Wherwell, Hampshire, the following year. For reasons unknown, in 1605, he was rejected as Vicar and “deprived of his living.” In 1622 he was at the church located just east of Wherwell, at Newton Stacey, where, between 1622 and 1629, he acquired “considerable property.”
One of the most fascinating pieces of history linked to Barton Stacey church revolves around Rev. Stephen Bachiler, who served as vicar of Wherwell church from 1587 until 1605, when he was ejected from the living for his non-conformist views. From 1614-1631 he lived in Newton Stacey, where he continued to preach unofficially, and gathered adherents amongst the local population. Bachiler was stridently vocal against the role of bishops in the Church, famously declaring ‘The sun rises equally over all’.
In 1632 trouble broke out between Bachiler and Sir Robert Paine, lord of the manor at Barton Stacey. Paine was the Sheriff of Hampshire and Churchwarden of Barton Stacey. The church was in poor repair, and Paine proposed to repair the chancel and add a much-needed buttress to the south wall, all at his own expense. Bachiler objected to the work, and led an angry mob of villagers who stopped construction. He then led the mob on to Newton Stacey and destroyed the chapel. It was never rebuilt.
In 1630, Rev. Bachiler had been chosen as its pastor by the Plough Company of Husbandmen which formed to establish a settlement near the mouth of the Sagadahoc river in Maine. Rev. Bachiler sold his Hampshire property and “adventured a considerable sum in the enterprise.”
However, something went wrong with the deal and the Plough Company failed and Rev. Bachiler’s appearance in 1632 in New England almost immediately ran into “conflict” with the Puritan authorities. He had brought his congregation of friends and family with him and they encountered trouble in Saugus (Lynn), Ipswich, and Yarmouth (on Cape Cod), before founding in 1638 the settlement at what became the town of Hampton. Even here Rev. Bachiler’s troubles did not end. His third wife, Helen, died and his house and library were set fire. He gave up the ministry, removed to Portsmouth, “where he became a private resident.”
Rev. Stephen Bachiler married first around 1590 to Ann Bate, believed to be a relative of the Rev. John Bate. Ann was the mother of all of his children. Ann died before March 1623, when Rev. Bachiler married second, at Abbots Ann, Hampshire, Christian Weare.
His third marriage, in March 1627, was also at Abbots Ann, to Helena Mason, who accompanied him to New England and died there before 1642. Both Christian Weare and Helena Mason were about twenty years his junior yet comfortably beyond their child-bearing years.
Rev. Bachiler, then in his late 80s, “married” fourth, about 1648, the widow, Mary Magdalene (Bailey) Beedle, whom he had taken into his household as a housekeeper. Mary was notoriously the wearer of the Scarlet Letter.
If the timing is correct, the Rev. Bachiler and Mary were “married” at the time she was convicted in October 1651, in Kittery, Maine, of adultery with a neighbor. Mary and George Rogers had been living together in a single room. Rev. Bachiler and Mary were separated, with her residing on a lot granted her by the town.
The term “married” is used here loosely. The aging reverend not only took it upon himself to allegedly “marry” himself to Mary but promptly forgot to publish his marriage as was custom. When Rev. Bachiler attempted to obtain a divorce from Mary, he was ordered to live with her. After he returned to England, Mary did obtain a divorce, in October 1656, by alleging not only had she been abandoned by her husband but also that he had taken another wife back in England. The latter was untrue but most likely helped to secure her decree.
. . .
. The Bachelder Family: Rev. Stephen Bachiler in New England Family History, Vol. 3:366ff.
. Henry F. Waters, Genealogical Gleanings in England, Vol. I:786.
. Rev. Stephen Bachiler in the NEHGR 46 (Jan 1892).
. Bachiler Memorial in Founders Park, Hampton, New Hampshire.