08 October 2012

A Rhode Island Governor Named Henry Bull

Governor Henry Bull's daughter, Amy, married Edward Richmond, son of the original immigrant, John Richmond, as his second wife.  I'm a (presumed) descendant of Edward Richmond and his first wife, Abigail Davis.

Genealogical Notes contains more information about Henry Bull and his wives.  There's also more here in "New England Families."

From The American quarterly register, Volumes 13-14, an article* about Henry Bull, Governor of Rhode Island.  Some notes from the article (complete transcript below):

Henry Bull was born in South Wales in 1609
He moved to New England ca 1636 and settled in Boston
Moved to Rhode Island -- religious differences that resulted in legal troubles
Formed a plantation in 1639 (Newport, Rhode Island)
1672 Chosen Deputy Governor
1685 Chosen Governor and again in 1689
1693 Died at Newport

*HENRY BULL Governor of Rhode Island

Henry Bull, a native of South Wales, was born in 1609 and removed to New England among the early colonists in 1636.  He settled at Boston where he was admitted a freeman in 1637. This was a period when the Wheelwright controversy was at its height and the little commonwealth of the Puritans was almost rent asunder by religious dissensions. Mr. Bull, with many of the settlers who had recently arrived, joined the party of those who were advocates of the most liberal tolerance in matters of religious faith. He became a constant attendant upon the ministrations of Wheelwright and an admirer of the eloquent and enthusiastic Anne Hutchinson.

When the general court of Massachusetts published its anathema against the heresies of Wheelwright in 1637, Mr. Bull was one of those who subscribed the petition in his favor and his name was consequently included in the famous order of the court for disarming fifty-eight of the citizens of Boston on the charge of promoting sedition. Indignant at this act of intolerance on the part of the Puritans who had themselves fled from persecution in the fatherland, Mr. Bull resolved to seek an asylum elsewhere and joined the little company of Dr. John Clarke who purchased Rhode Island of the Narraghansetts. He was one of the eighteen whose names appear in the voluntary compact of government subscribed by the purchasers of Aquetneck.

Early in the spring of 1638, Mr. Bull erected a dwelling house at Pocassett, where he remained until April of the following year, when he entered into a written agreement with eight other citizens to propagate a plantation in the midst of the island or elsewhere. They formed their plantation at the southerly end of the island and on the 16th May, 1639, it was named Newport.

Providence smiled upon the infant settlement and it grew apace. Mr Bull took an active part in all the early proceedings of the little colony, and although a man of unambitious spirit, during the forty years that succeeded he sustained at different times, various responsible offices.

In 1672, he was chosen deputy governor. In 1685, he was elected governor of the colony, much against his own inclination, which he had repeatedly declared to be for the quiet and repose of private life. For these reasons, and on account of his advancing age, in the following year he declined a reelection, with the view of retiring from public employments altogether.  After the deposition of Governor Andros, by the people of Massachusetts, the freemen of Rhode Island, assembling at Newport on the first of May, 1689, determined to follow the example of the sister colony and to resume their former charter and government abrogated by Andros.

The office of governor was tendered to one and another of he principal citizens and declined. No one could be found who had sufficient nerve to accept the post of danger and responsibility until the name of the venerable Governor Bull, then four score years of age, was mentioned.

He was applied to, and at once accepted, the station serving until the next election, about six months. He was then again elected but declined any further service. The danger he remarked which had deterred others from serving the colony had passed and younger men could now be found who would be willing to accept the office.

Governor Bull died at Newport in 1693, at the age of 84. His remains were interred in the Coddington burial place, where a plain, unostentatious slab points out to the passing traveller the spot where repose the ashes of this bold and fearless patriot.

His house, built of stone, was recently standing in Newport and the patrimonial estate is still in possession of a lineal descendant of the governor. Governor Bull was twice married. His first wife, Elizabeth, died in 1665. His second was Anne, widow of Governor Easton; she died in 1707. He had four children, two sons and two daughters.  His elder brother, Thomas Bull, was an officer in The Pequot war of 1637, and afterwards commanded the militia of Hartford and Saybrook, and became somewhat distinguished in the Connecticut colony for his successful resistance of the invasion of Sir Edmund Andros, governor of New York in 1675.

 Governor Bull was a member of the Society of Friends or Quakers as were most of the governors and other magistrates of Rhode Island for nearly a century following 1660. He outlived all the other seventeen original associated settlers of Rhode Island.

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