My paternal ancestor, William Hulbert, is believed to have been born in England in the early 17th century, possibly being the son of Richard and Ann (Bower) Hulbert, of County Wiltshire, England. Some sources have given his date of birth as being May 2, 1612, but a more probable year would be by 1606 (William was shown as being above the age of 60 on 13 March 1666/67.)
“On the twentieth of March, 1630, a group of men and women, one hundred and forty in number, set sail from Plymouth, England, in the good ship, the “Mary and John.” The company had been selected and assembled largely through the efforts of the Reverend John White, of Dorchester, England’ with whom they spent the day before sailing, “fasting, preaching, and praying.” These people had come from the western counties of England, mostly from Devonshire, Dorsetshire, and Somerset. They had chosen two ministers to accompany them: “men who were interested in the idea of bringing the Indians to the knowledge of the gospel.” The Reverend John maverick was an elderly man from Devon, a minister of the Established church. Reverend John Warham was also an ordained minister of the church of England, in Exeter, eminent as a preacher. There is some evidence that both of these men were in some difficulties with the church on account of their sympathies with the Puritans….” (The “Mary and John”: A Story of the Founding of Dorchester, Massachusetts, 1630, Kuhns, Maude Pinney, Tuttle Pub. Co., 1943, p. 1)
Being a young man at a time of political and religious turmoil in England, there are any number of reasons why William may have decided to leave his home and travel across the ocean, the most plausible being the group of Puritans who came from England with The Winthrop Fleet. The Puritans had a desire to change the Church of England (unlike the Pilgrims who wanted nothing to do with it.), in a sense making it more pure. Although there is no sufficient evidence of William being part of the Puritan segment, it is the most certain explanation. Certainly, he also could have been the adventurous son, the one who had set out to make it on his own in the New World, or as a traveller who had heard the tales of the Jamestown settlement that had come several years before him. Whatever the reason for his journey, he was the only member of the Hulbert family that arrived that day – he was not married, and no other extended family members came with him on this ship.
Unfortunately there is not an existing passenger list available for the ship, Mary and John, although attempts at an accurate list of the individuals that would have been able to sail on the ship have been made. In 1930, Charles Banks created the first synthetic list in his work Planters of the Commonwealth, followed by Maude Pinney Kuhns, Mary and John, in 1943. The problem is that the first work listed 138 names, and the second only 136. Between the two of them there were 195 different passenger listed as being aboard a ship that would have only held 140 at the most. Using these two resources, as well as the History of the Town of Dorchester, and additional knowledge of the individuals, a more complete list was made available from Burton Spears with his Mary and John Clearing House. It is in this resource that we find our William Hulbert (showing as Hulbird) as being a “probable” passenger aboard the ship.
According to the Mary and John Clearing House, the ship left Plymouth, England on 20 March 1630, with 140 passengers. “These families and passengers were recruited by the Reverend John White of Dorchester, Dorset. Nearly all of the Mary and John 1630 passengers came from the West Country counties of Somerset, Dorset, and Devon and the West Country towns of Dorchester, Bridport, Crewkerne, and Exeter.” (http://www.maryandjohn1630.com/clearinghouse.html, accessed April 2, 2013) Seventy days later, the ship landed at what is now known as Dorchester, Massachusetts on the 30th of May – two weeks before the arrival of the Winthrop Fleet.
Earliest records tell us that our ancestor, William, was one of the first settlers in Dorchester about 1630, was a freeman, and therefore a landowner as of 3 April 1632 (when he was admitted into the Dorchester Church). He was granted 16 acres of land on 16 January 1632/33, an eight acre lot in 1634, and six acres in the meadows beyond the Naponset River.
Few other details of William’s life show that he left Dorchester, and made his way to Connecticut, where he is considered to be one of the founders of Windsor. He lived on “Backer Row”, until the Pequot War of 1637, when he, for consideration of his safety, moved into the “public palisado”, and land was apportioned to him in 1640.
Torrey’s New England Marriages Prior to 1700 shows William Hurlbut and Ann Allen (the widow of Samuel Allen) being married after 28 April 1648, and William also shows up in the Collections of the Connecticut Historical Society:
May 1648 – Land in Harttford vp on the Riuer of Coneckticott belonging to william Hullberd & to his hayers for euer. viz One pfell on which his dwelling houfe Now Standeth & another Tenymentt & yerdes thare in being & was Sumtyme pfell of the Meetting houfe yerd Contain by Eftma Two Roodes be it More or Les Abutting on the hyway Leding fro the Mill to the Meeting houfe on the weft & on Mr Clementt Chaplins Land on the South & on the Meeting houfe yerd on the Eaft & on the North.
Sometime later, William and family made their way to Northampton, and in 1662, he is listed among the names of inhabitants, eight years after the settlement. He remained there for the remainder of his life until 17 April 1694 when he died.