History Saved by the Bees

beehiveStephen Bachiler’s honey bees were in a tizz.

Their hive had been invaded by bees from a foreign stall, one that Bachiler had promised to deliver to John Winthrop, Jr. in Ipswich. It was a gift from Winthrop’s father in law, presumably Reverend Hugh Peters of Salem, the stepfather of Winthrop’s second wife Elizabeth Reade.

Suffering from a dearth of nectar, the “thievish” Winthrop bees “hath robbed & spoiled” Bachiler’s beehive. The raid delayed the delivery, and prompted Bachiler to write a letter to Winthrop to report the problem.

In the same letter, dated October 9, 1638, he advised Winthrop that he had found a “reasonable meet place” at Winnacunnet plantation and intended to begin its settlement the following week. “Our hope and desire,” he continued, “is to have your help & our christian friend Mr. [Simon] Bradstreet…that we may lay some foundation.”

Had it not been for the rogue bees, “as the manner of bees is,” Bachiler would have delivered them to Winthrop, and in so doing would have relayed his plans for settlement in person, depriving Hampton of some of the details of its founding.

(excerpt from my upcoming book, The Mark of Goody Cole.)

A beautiful, photographic replica of Stephen Bachiler’s letter to John Winthrop, Jr. can be viewed at the museum as part of the “Founding Hampton” exhibit.

-Cheryl Lassiter, 2013

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