My Ancestors (8) – Stephen Hussey – 1630-1718

(1) Stephen Hussey, (2) Abigaill (Hussey) Marshall, (3) Major Elihu Marshall, (4) Elizabeth (Marshall) Guion, (5) Elijah Guion, (6) Elijah Guion II, (7) Alfred Beck Guion, (8) Alfred Duryee Guion, (9) Alfred Peabody Guion, (10) Judith Anne Guion

The Nantucket period of our story can be said to begin with young Stephen Hussey, our first American-born ancestor, son of Christopher and Theodate, whom Stephen Bachiler, his grandfather, had christened at Lynn. Young Stephen was born in October of 1630, and had grown up at Lynn, Newbury and Hampton. When his father, Christopher Hussey, and Robert Pike, bought a share in the Nantucket company in 1659, Stephen was commissioned to go to Nantucket and operate their holding. He went to the island in 1660, with the very first settlers and was among Nantucket’s leading men for more than a half-century after that — in fact, until his death in 1718.

The Longer Story

A group of battling independents from various towns, men who had tangled with the Puritan authorities and were tired of it, pooled their savings in 1659 and sought to purchase Nantucket Island, owned by the Rev. Thomas Mayhew. Mayhew, a humble Christian, who never had had anything to do with the Boston crowd, had gone out to a large island, Martha’s Vineyard, some years before to live with, convert and teach the Narragansett Indians. Mayhew had a young assistant, Peter Folger, who worked with him and helped him translate the Bible into the Indian tongue. Mayhew owned Nantucket, a smaller island east from Martha’s Vineyard and excepting for a few fishing Indians, Nantucket was vacant.

Capt. Robert Pike of Newbury got Christopher Hussey interested in the deal. There were 10 original shareholders and half-shareholders who put up capital for the purchase. In 1659 these men made their way to Martha’s Vineyard to interview the Rev. Mayhew and inspect Nantucket. At this time they first met Peter Folger, who went along to show them the island. The purchase was completed, and in 1660 the first settlers seceded finally from the mainland and its tyrannical preacher-government and moved out to the beautiful but barren little isle

Neither Christopher Hussey nor Robert Pike were personally among those settlers. Tristan Coffin was head man, with Peter Folger hired away from Mayhew to be a sort of general manager. What happened was that young Stephen Hussey, Theodate’s oldest child, now grown to the age of 30, was entrusted to operate the Pike-Hussey holding. Stephen thus was a Nantucketer from the start. After all, he had lived in small seaports on the north-of-Boston coast all his days, and probably was as familiar with tide rips and ocean currents as his seafaring father himself.

Stephen was 30 and unmarried when Nantucket was founded. Not for 16 busy years thereafter did he marry, and when he did he married a young girl, Martha Bunker, less than half his age. Martha’s father, George Bunker, came to America in 1634 and settled at Charlestown, just north of Boston. He was unmarried at the time, but nevertheless he acquired a farm.

Sometime in the latter 1640s he married a Jane Godfrey. George and Jane (Godfrey) Bunker moved first to Raleigh, then to Tapsfield (could be a typo, this might be  Topsfield), where the acquired another farm. They had five children, four of them girls. Martha, their youngest, was born at Tapsfield, November 1, 1656, four years after Nantucket was founded. On May 26, 1658, George Bunker died. Over in Rowley, a man named Richard Swaine had just lost his wife; he had children, too. The colonists were practical about these matters, and the year of 1658 had not ended when Jane became Mrs. Richard Swaine.

Nantucket in 1660 was offering employment for farmworkers and fishermen, and Swaine took his combined family to the island when Martha was a child of three or four.

Stephen must have seen Martha while she was growing up. The years passed and when Martha was 19 and Stephen Hussey was 46, they were married on Nantucket on October 8, 1676.

They were a notable couple, having 42 years of married life together and founding a considerable family of Hussey’s.  It was also a highly successful marriage. Stephen Hussey had done extremely well; he had just inherited the half-share of his father Christopher, who had died in a ship wreck earlier that same year of 1676, and he must have received the Robert Pike half-share as well, for he was now a full share owner. The sea was in Stephen’s blood and in his earlier experience; he became a ship-builder and sea captain, sailing far and wide as one of the earliest Nantucketers to make long voyages. In the course of his wanderings he acquired a sugar plantation on Barbados, in the West Indies, and put in his shore time both there and on Nantucket.

Stephen also was a leader in Nantucket’s community life; he is mentioned repeatedly in the island’s early history, and he served as its representative to the Massachusetts Bay General Counsel. In his 70s, in 1708, Stephen Hussey became a Quaker, his leadership playing a considerable part in the general conversion of the Nantucketers to Quakerism at that time. It was one of his sons, named Christopher Hussey after Stephen’s father, who harpooned the first sperm whale off Nantucket in 1712, and this was a milestone for the island’s development as center of America’s great whaling industry for the next 150 years. Another son went to Philadelphia and founded the important Quaker family of Husseys there.

While Stephen Hussey was thus active, Martha (Bunker) Hussey stayed home and reared her family of eight children. Their second child was Abigaill Hussey, who, as we shall see, married Joseph Marshall and brought the name of “Marshall” into our family. Stephen Hussey lived to the age of 88; he died on Nantucket on February 2, 1718. Martha (Bunker) Hussey outlived him by 26 years, herself dying at 88, on September 21, 1744.

Source: COLONIAL ORIGINS of the CALIFORNIA GUIONS, An Informal Genealogical Study by Ernest Jerome Hopkins, finished in 1952.

Next Sunday, I will continue the story of how our ancestors settled Nantucket Island.

Tomorrow, I’ll begin a week of letters written in 1946, when Lad and Marian, and Dick and Jean are out of the service and living in the Trumbull House. Dan, Paulette and little Danielle are still in France waiting until Mom and baby are able to travel, Ced is still in Alaska and Dave has just arrived home from Manila after b eing discharged from his service to Uncle Sam.

Judy Guion

10 thoughts on “My Ancestors (8) – Stephen Hussey – 1630-1718

  1. Mrs. P says:

    So, your family has always owned their own little island! :D :D

    • Judy Guion says:

      Mrs. P. – My Grandfather bought the Island in 1945. Because the Island was owned by Rusty Huerlin’s family, they started visiting the Island in the mid-20’s after Rusty was introduced to the family. when my father, the oldest, was a teenager. At this point six generations have had the pleasure of going to the Island.

      • Mrs. P says:

        Yes, I know that history. My comment was in reference to your ancestors in this post also living on an island. 😁

        • Judy Guion says:

          Mrs. P. – The Ancestors I’m writing about right now were some of the first group of settlers who moved to Nantucket Island, MA in 1660, after their purchase in 1659. As you will see, I am descended from about a dozen of the earliest settlers, those who came to the Island between 1660 – 1700. Two in the original group of settlers are Christopher Hussey and Peter Folger.

  2. Janet McKee says:

    Reblogged this on Janet's Thread 2 and commented:
    A lot of familiar names here.

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