gc M. L.
REYNOLD* 2 HISTORICAL
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GOV. HENRY BULL
AND HIS DESCENDANTS
Extract from the Rhode Island
Historical Magazine, July ,1884,
v. 5, p. 12-17
Photo-offset copy of volume
GOV. HENRY BULL AND HIS DESCENDANTS.
/|^f\R. John O. Austin, in his interesting contribution
vWto the Genealogical Notes of the Newport Historical
Magazine, Jan. 1S84, vol. 4, p. 185, makes known the fact
that Gov. Henry Bull married a second wife in Sandwich,
Mass., in 1664, and draws the inference that Henry Bull,
Jr. (son of the Governor, and father of the third Henry
Bull, afterwards Attorney General of the colony) was a
son of this second wife, and not of the first wife, as com-
monly supposed. This supposition would, as Mr. Austin
remarks, remove the improbability of the common belief
that Gov. Bull's two sons, Jireth and Henry, were born
of the same wife twenty years apart ; but it encounters
still greater difficulties, as can easily be shown by a little
attention to dates. As I have for some time suspected
that this second son of the Governor never in fact existed,
I will give my reasons for departing from the common ac-
count, sustained as it is by the high authority of the late
Major Henry Bull in his family memoirs.
First, then, as to the date of the second marriage. Mr.
Austin calls attention to the discrepancy between the -date
given for this by the Sandwich Records, "fourteenth day
of 12th mo. 1664," and that of the first wife's death in
the Portsmouth Records, "first day of the eighth month,
1665." Magazine, p. 134). One or the other of these
dates is clearly wrong. Mr. Austin suspects the latter ;
but as he shows that Esther Allen, the second wife, was
Gov. Henry Bull and his Descendants. 13
bom Dec. 8, 161S (Mag. p. 135), and would therefore be
just sixteen years old in Dec. 1664, it seems more proba-
ble that the mistake is in the latter date, and that the mar-
riage took place in 1665 or 1666. Even then the bride
was young enough to form a marked contrast to her hus-
band, who was then about fifty-five or fifty-six years of age.
But, after all, the date is immaterial to the present in-
quiry, since no authority or even surmise, fixes the death
of Elizabeth, the first wife, earlier than 1663. But Henry
Bull, the father of the Attorney General, died in 1690,
aged about 32 years, and must therefore have been born
about 1658. If he was the son of Governor Bull he must
have been also the first wife's son ; indeed the second
wife, Esther Allan, was, by Mr. Austin's own showing,
only about ten years his senior. The age of Elizabeth
Bull, the first wife, is nowhere given, so far as I know,
but her son Jireth (afterward the famous Captain Bull of
King's Province, or Narragansett) was born in 1637, and
there is no trustworthy evidence that she ever had an-
other child, unless this Henry Bull, Jr., or Henry Bull of
Kingston, born about 1658, was such. This of course, is
in the nature of things, possible, though improbable. The
late Major Bull, in his family memoirs, states it as a fact,
and undoubtedly believed him to be a younger son of the
Governor; at the same time he expresses regret at
having been able to learn so little of "this interesting
member" of the family. Why did not the title which he
himself gives him, Henry Bull of Kingston, lead him to
suspect that he was a son of Jireth and not of Jireth's
father? Why was he not struck with the curious fact
that both the sons of Governor Bull should have left
Newport in their father's life time, and while he was still
an important and influential member of the community,
and established themselves in the King's Province ? From
an examination of his original manuscript, I am inclined
14 G-ov. Henry Bull and his Descendants.
to think that these questions did occur to him, and that at
one time he supposed Henry to be the son of Jireth, but
afterwards changed his mind, for reasons that must always
remain buried, with so much else of valuable information
as to the early history of Rhode Island, in his honored
My reasons for supposing that his first impressions on
this subject were correct, and that Jireth Bull was, in fact,
the Governor's only son, are drawn in part from materials
not known in Major Bull's lifetime. I will not attempt,
however, to discriminate them here, but state as briefly as
possible the facts that are now established, and then my
inferences from them.
(1.) It is clearly proved by deeds and other family
papers that Jireth Bui] (son of Governor Bull, born 2637,
died before 1685) had four sons, Jireth, Henry, Ephraim
and Ezekiel, all living at their father's death, and when
Jireth, Jr., by deed dated Dec. 6, 16S5, released to his
three brothers his interest in their father's lands in King's
Province, "provided that I or my heirs enjoy my Grand-
father's, Henry Bull's Farme, after his decease, adjoining
to my farme in Newport." I am not able, where I now
am writing, to determine positively what was then the
rule of inheritance to land in Rhode Island, but it is no-
table that this Jireth, Jr., as oldest son of an oldest (if
not only) son, was the Governor's heir-at-law by the com-
mon law of England. The Governor, however, was still
Of these four sous of Jireth Bull, three — Jireth, Jr.,
Ezekiel and Ephraim — appear often in deeds, &c, after
1690, but Henry never after that date. Whether there is
any positive record of, or reference to, his death, I cannot
from recollection say ; (viz., whether any that identifies
him as the son of Jireth) but I am confident that there is
no trace of him as living later than 1690.
A C * °
Gov. Henry Bull and his Descendants. 15
(2.) Henry Bull, third of the name, born 1687,
died 1774, Attorney General of the colony in 1727, was
one of the best known members of the family, and we
have facts well established in regard to him from which
we may reason safely. He was the son of a Henry Bull
who died in 1690, aged about 32 years. He was brought
up in Newport under the charge of an aunt, Mary Cog--
geshall, and in 1700 his mother, the widow (of Henry)
Ann Bull, wrote from Kingston to this aunt about him a
letter which is still preserved, and which is addressed to
sister Coggeshall. This Mary (Bull) Coggeshall and her
brother Henry appear in the modem genealogies as chil-
dren of Governor Bull. That Henry was the Attorney
General's father as above stated, is beyond all controversy.
But I know of no direct proof that he was the son, rather
than the grandson, of Governor Henry Bull; and so far
as I know, there is no contemporary record, proof, or allu-
sion of any kind showing the existence of such a son of
Gov. Bull, except the mere inference that this father of
the Attorney General was one. But when we compare
dates, and notice the remarkable coincidence in every re-
corded fact handed down to us in relation to the two sup-
posed lives, the more probable inference seems to be that
the two are merely duplicates, and that Henry Bull, of
Gov. Henry, is a mere myth, produced by severing the
^father of the Attorney General, from the son of Jireth,
when both were, in fact, one and the same person.
(3.) The will of Governor Bull (d. Feb. 22, 1693-4) is
unfortunately not extant, or it would no doubt have saved
all controversy on this point. We have, however, the
overseer's account of the estate, rendered in 1706. No
child of the Governor is mentioned in it ; the grandchil-
dren named in one item as living are Jireth, Ezekiel, and
Ephraim, and the children of Henry, dec'd. By another
entry we learn that the children of Henry Bull of Narra-
16 Gov. Henry Bull and his Descendants.
gansett take one-fifth of the money in the overseer's hands,
£81, while ,£124 is charged in one sum to Jireh, Ephraim,
and Ezekiel Bull and Mary Coggeshall. It will be seen
that these four take four-fifths, one-fifth each, while the
children of Henry take one-fifth between them. We
know from other sources that there were two, if not three,
children of Henry then living. Had they been grand-
children of the Governor, by a son Henry, they would
have taken among them one-half, while the ^children of
Jireth above named would have taken the other half. The
distribution actually made seems conclusive of the fact
that the only Henry Bull known among the Governor's
children or grandchildren was one of the latter class, and
that his share was that of a grandchild, divided among
Lis children, he himself being dead. It will be noticed
also that this account fixes the position of Mar} 1 - Cogge-
shall as a grandchild and not a daughter of the Governor.
She must, therefore, have been the daughter either of Ji-
reth or of (the mythical) Henry 2d ; but if the latter,
she would be sister to Henry, 3d, the Attorney General,
whereas we know that she was his aunt.
The foregoing statement of the case has been made al-
most entirely from memory, at a distance of more than a
thousand miles from all the original documents, and with
only a few hasty memoranda of my own, made long ago,
to refer to ; still I believe it to be substantially correct.
In a matter of this kind, conclusive proof is not easy. It
is with great diffidence that I depart from the accepted
belief in such a matter. The evidence is almost entirely
circumstantial. One single, well authenticated fact,
showing the existence of a son of Gov. Bull named Henry,
would overthrow it all. But until such a fact appears, I
cannot but think the singular coincidence of all the cir-
cumstances now known, warrants us in doubting it, and
Gov. Henr]) Bull and his Descendants.
in stating the genealogy in the shape in which, for greater
clearness, I append it here :
Gov. Henry Bull*=Elizabeth-
b- England, 1010, I married 1636 (?)
came to R. I., 1637.
Jireh Bull =
b. 1637, d. |
before 16S5. |
Ezekiel. Ephraim. Mary=
*His 2d wife, probably Esther, mar. 1665-6. 3d wife, Ann, mar. 1677.
St. Louis, Mo. March 30, 1884. W. G. H.
At the beginning and during the war of 1812, Capt. W.
C. Greene, of Newport, commanded gunboat No. 48,
which constituted a portion of our navy at that time. The
following abstract from his log-book shows the date when
the first capture of a British armed vessel was made, or
rather when that captured vessel was brought into New-
"Newport, K. I., Monday, Dec. 7, 1812. Fresh breeze and
flying clouds. At 2 P. M., arrived His Majesty's ship Macedonian,
38 guns, prize to the U. S. Ship United States."
• <> ■ i ♦♦ —
The office of Attorney General for the colony of Rhode
Island was created May, 1650, when William Dyre was
elected to fill the office.
NEWPORT TOWN RECORDS.
CONTRIBUTED BY H. E. TURNER, M. D., NEWPORT, R. I.
Continued from page 257, "So. 4, Vol. 4, Ne^vport Historical Magazine.
May 13, 1709.
Jan. IT, 1712.
Dec. 23, 1715.
Oct. 24, 1711.
Dec. — , 1713.
Oct. 22, 1710.
Feb. 19, 1715.
■Sept. 19, 1719.
Sept. 24, 1721.
Aug. 4, 1723.
Aug. 27, 1725.
June 8, 1727.
April 14, 1729.
— , 1730.
Dec. [27, 1732]?
June 6, 1735.
March 1, 1712.
Oct. 3, 1713.
March 1, 1716.
Wright, Elizabeth of John & Abigail
Gideon ) , • „
Tabitha l twmS>
Ward, Thomas of Richard and Mary
Weaver, Elizabeth of John and Alice