First meetinghouse at Isles of Shoals was 45 years before Star Island’s chapel

I started this blog as a way to share interesting reference questions and their answers.  I responded to one today that may surprise some of you.  Many folks may not know that there was a brick meetinghouse on Smuttynose Island in 1640, 45 years before we had our first meetinghouse built on Star Island in 1685.  Lots of folks know about Rev. John Tucke and all of his contributions, but there was many clergy who predate him, about 100 years of various visitors to Shoals pulpits before Tucke.  So to get to the question I received:

According to the book, “The Hull Family in America”, Rev
Joseph Hull was minister of Accomenticus in 1643. The Isle of Shoals was under his jurisdiction.  He served there until 1653 when he left for England.  He again returned to the Isle of Shoals and died there in 1665.

Another source from the Internet states that Rev Hull built a church on the Isle of Shoals.  Unfortunately, we do not know which island.  If you possibly know what island was settled as early as 1643 we would appreciate it.  Most of the  references say he was in Oyster River (York, Maine).

My response:

Rev. Joseph Hull preached on Smuttynose Island- right across the harbor from Star Island.  That is where the first church at the Isles of Shoals was.  The population center was first on Appledore (then called Hog Island) then moved to Star Island around 1680.
Probably inhabitants would have gone to Smuttynose for services from Hog or wherever on the nine islands folks were- the islands are closely clustered.
from the book The Isles of Shoals in Lore and Legend by Lyman V. Rutledge on p.39 :
The first of these [clergymen at Smuttynose] was the Reverend William Tompson, who came from England and was settled at Accominticus (York) for two years.  His pastoral duties included occcasional services at the Shoals.
Reverend Joseph Hull followed Tompson.  Hull was a man of exceptional ability who came with his family to the Bay Colony and settled at Wissagusset (Weymouth).  There he gathered a church and served as pastor until his liberal views were known.  He hoped to bridge the gap between Anglicans and Puritans, but was dismissed by the congregation he had gathered and after some wandering went to the Isles of Shoals, where he served around the year 1640.  In 1643 he accepted a call to York, but he had become so much attached to the islands that he went back often to conduct services.  About 1650 he was granted a living at St. Burian in Cornwall, where he stayed about twelve years.  He came back to the old friends at Oyster River (Dover, N.H.) and the Isles of Shoals, where he died in 1665, leaving an estate of L52, 5s.5d., which included a claim against the Shoals for L20 for pastoral services.
from the book Religion at the Isles of Shoals: Anglicans, Puritans, Missionaries, UUs (Unitarian Universalists) and UCCs (United Church of Christ) by Lois Williams
p.10-11:
Williamson called the brick meetinghouse built about 1640 on Smuttynose Island “possibly the first in the province;” the brick would have come from England as ship ballast.  Early histories differ on whether there was also a church on Hog Island, home to the largest group of Shoalers.
Although there was no resident clergyman at the Shoals, the Anglican concept of parish included all within its boundaries, and mainland clergy reached out to fishermen on the Isles of Shoals.  The Reverend Joseph Hull, an early Church of England clergyman at York, before 1640 occasionally visited the islands where he “preached and administered the Holy Sacraments” Jenness wrote, “In this Hull ran little risk of being disciplined, for he lived in the province of Maine which stoutly supported Episcopalian and royalist friends.
p. 17:
The Reverend Joseph Hull moved to the islands in 1663 to follow the Reverend Brock.  Hull died in 1665 without receiving his expected payment of twenty pounds from the Sholaers.  Jenness credited the Reverend Hull with trying to find common ground with both Anglicans and Puritans, and the Shoalers seem to have welcomed his more tolerant approach.
The brick meetinghouse on Smuttynose had a bell that was later attempted to be reused at Star Island’s chapel, without luck, as its owner would not consent.  As Shoalers gathered to discuss taxation there in 1677, p.19:
Henry Joslyn climbed up to the belfry of the meetinghouse and rang the alarm; people ran together in the church…
Because the state line runs through the middle of the Isles of Shoals archipelago and taxation was vastly different between the jurisdictions, to avoid paying higher taxes, the population center moved from Hog (Appledore) to Star Island and the Smuttynose meetinghouse went into disrepair.  p.20:
Maine still had jurisdiction over the sparsely populated Hog Island, however, as well as over Smuttynose, with its deteriorating brick church.  In 1685, Maine Shoalers were called before the York County Court “for the neglect in not maintaining a sufficient meeting house for the worship of God,” but Shoalers ignored the summons.
1685 is the year that is cited for the first chapel being built on Star Island.  Our current chapel on Star Island is the third to stand on that location.

Let me know if anyone has more information on the subject!

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3 thoughts on “First meetinghouse at Isles of Shoals was 45 years before Star Island’s chapel

  1. In his deed of 13 July 1661 Edmund Pickeard (spelling from the deed) mentions that his flakeroom is “against the Meeting house, at ye Ysland of Smuttinose” (York Deeds Vol. III, Folio 58). This doesn’t add much to your article, which I like, but is a nice little piece of information to note.

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