The ship Hercules


The ship Hercules was owned in partnership by:

John Witherley, Captain of the ship

Nathaniel Tilden, Yeoman of Tenterden, Kent

William Hatch, had moved to Sandwich from Tenterden area

Comfort Starr, Surgeon from Cranbrook (9 miles from Tenterden)

Mr. Osborne (a brother in law of Tilden)

Other heads of families from Tenterden joining Nathaniel Tilden were Jonas Austen, Samuel Hinkley and John Lewis. Jonas Austen’s aunt Johan married Henry Harris of Staplehurst. Evidence shows An(drew) Harris was their second son born in 1585. Staplehurst is 9 miles from Tenterden.

Nathaniel’s wife Lydia Huckstep was a cousin of William Hatch. In preparation for his journey to the colonies, William Hatch moved his family to Sandwich sometime before 1634. Other heads of families from Sandwich of interest were Thomas Besbeech (Bisbee) whose mother was an Austin.

Others from Ashford (near Tenterden) accompanying Comfort Starr were Fannett and Thomas Champion. Dr. Starr (45) a distinguished surgeon and a warden of St. Mary’s in Ashford prior to sailing, was later one of the Earliest Benefactors of Harvard (first college in America).


More on the Connections of the Men of Kent


Passengers on Hercules (1634) who settled in Scituate:

Nathaniel Tilden

Henry Ewell

William Hatch

Samuel Hinckley

John Lewis


Hercules owners: Tilden, Hatch, Hinkley, Starr, Osborne and Capt. Witherly


The Men of Kent Cemetary in Scituate, MA

NATHANIEL TILDEN, Tenterden (Yeoman, wife was a Hatch)

    "Nathaniel Tilden was among the earliest of the 'Men of Kent' who established plantations at Scituate before 1628, others being Anthony Annable, Thomas Bird, Edward Foster, William Gillson, Henry Merritt, Henry Rowley, Nathaniel Tilden, and Deane says, 'perhaps others.'"7

    Nathaniel was a Magistrate in Tenterden, and elected to the office of Mayor.7 7. L. Vernon Briggs, History and Genealogy of the Briggs Family, 1254-1937, 1938, Three volumes.

Tilden was of the gentry and addressed as “Mr.”   Deane's "History of Scituate" says; " The inventory of his estate in the Colony records show that he belonged to the wealthiest class of early settlers." The will of Nathaniel Tilden shows, at the time of his death, in 1641, he still owned his stone house, with lands in Tenterden. He brought with him seven servants."[10]

Thomas Tilden who came to New England in the "Ann" in 1623, was probably the oldest brother of Nathaniel Tilden, but whether he returned to England, or what became of him is unknown. Thomas was another merchant adventurer. He must be considered as the founder of Scituate.     

Nathaniel's brother,  Joseph, two years younger than himself, was one of the merchant adventurers of London, who associated themselves, and fitted out the "Mayflower", and furnished capital to maintain the infant settlement at Plymouth.

 Joseph Tilden.  Was of an old family in Kent, "a citizen and girdler of London,"

as his will declares, his brother (Nathaniel) later coming to New England and settling near Hatherly at Scituate.  Nathaniel's son Joseph--named for his uncle--was made his executor and heir. 

Nathaniel Tilden was witness to 1625 will of William Robinson of Tenterden.

William Robinson’s widow Constance married Jonas Austin in 1626 in Tenterden.  She was probably Robinson’s second wife.

Was William Robinson related to Isaac Robinson who settled in Scituate (son of founder John Robinson from Leyden?)  (he had a brother with that name)?

Jonas’ aunt was Joanne Austin who married Henry Harris.

Nathaniel arrived in New England in 1634 in the ship Hercules, from Dover, with his wife and seven children.

The Will of Thomas Tylden (Father of Nathaniel Tilden) of the parish of Wye in the County of Kent, 14 March 1616-17. Abstract: I make my son Joseph Tilden my executor. My wife. To my son Thomas Tylden, Nathaniell my sonne,  To my sons Joseph and Hopestill. If Freegift die before the age of one and twenty years, reversion to sons Nathaniel and {signed} Thomas Tilden. Witnesses: Suretonhie Nicholes, Robert Hall, and Willyam Avsten. Proved 20 June 1617 by Joseph Tilden, son and executor named in the will.

(The will was contested 23 September 1617, the widow Alice Tilden and sons Nathaniel Tilden of Tenterden, Hopestill Tilden of the town of Sandwich, and Thomas Tilden and Freegift Tilden of Wye bringing suit against the Executor Joseph Tilden. 27 March 1618 sentence was given for the confirmation of the will, the judgment being that the testator was sane at the time the will was made. (Consistory Court of Canterbury, Original will, bundle for 1617.) (English Origins of New England Families, published by NEGHS)

There is a Tilden connection in Sandwich

Will of John Tilden (son of Hopestill, brother to Nathaniel Tilden) “Administration on the estate of John Tilden of Sandwich in the County of Kent was granted 16 February 1637-8 to Hopestill Tilden, father and creditor of the deceased, during the minority of Elizabeth, daughter of the deceased. (P.C.C. Act Book 1638, fo.149) 29 May 1638 the former grant lapsed owing to the death of said Elizabeth (P.C.C. Act Book 149, fo. 179) (English Origins of New England Families, published by NEGHS)

The Will of Hopestill Tilden, one of the jurats of the Town and Port of Sandwich in the county of Kent, 19 Nov 1661. I give and bequeath unto and amongst the children sons and daughters of my brother Nathaniel Tilden late of Tenterden in the said County, Kent.,. Proved 9 February 1661-2 by Robert Smith and John Smith, the executors named in the will. (Archdeaconry of Canterbury, Vol. 71, fo.194) (English Origins of New England Families, published by NEGHS)

Lydia (Huckstep) (Tilden) Hatherly was a cousin of William and Thomas Hatch, q.v., who also came to New England in the Hercules and settled at Scituate.



William Hatch was brother of Elizabeth Soane (1638 Scituate) and Thomas Hatch 1638, Scituate). William returned to England and sailed again on Castle in 1638 at which time he brought back his brother Thomas Hatch and sister Elizabeth Soane.

Will of John Hatch of Tenterden 1628. Mentions Brother William Hatch. Mentions Liddia Telden wife of Nathaniel Tilden as his sisters youngest daughter.  Chittendens (see Scituate), Money given to Mr. Warren of Sandwich),  the late lecturer of Benenden.  And also mentions Mr. Lotropp (Lathrop) late minister of Egerton. This reference proves the close association of the Hatch, Tilden and Osborne families with John Lathrop and his church and a network of individuals their dissenting views.

Thomas Warren listed above was Rector of St. Peters Sandwich and signed the certificate of allegiance for Thos Boney, Edwd Ewell, Isaac Cole and  Thomas Besbeech. He had associations in Benenden.

Thomas Besbege (Besbeech) of Ashford, Kent was given a Certificate of Conformity ( a document needed to allow a person to legally leave to go to New England) in March 1635 by Thomas Warren of Sandwich and Thomas Harmon, Vicar of Headcorn. This “paperwork” was part of the preparation needed for sailing to New England on the ship Hercules, John Witherly, Master

Nathaniel Tilden was witness to John Huckstepp the elder of Tenterden. 1624.  Mentions Lydia Tilden, wife of Nathaniel as kinswomen.

John Hatch will of 1628 Abstract:

Brother William Hatch children:

              Thomas Hatch (Scituate)

              William Hatch (Scituate)

              Elizabeth Soan (Scituate)

              Judith Osborne (Husband was part owner of Hercules)

              (Also other children: Margarett Wood, Marry Shusall, Anne Hatch)

Sister Winnfrithe Huckstepp children:

Lidia Tilden (wife of Nathaniel Tilden) (Scituate)

(also other children: Thomas, Joane, Anne Snatte, Susan Ramkyn)

Sister Ellynor Chittenden children:

              Thomas Chittenden (Cohasset (Scituate) partner in 1646,  Son Isaac is shown as on of the men of Kent) (Scituate)

              (Also other children: John, William, Nathaniel Chittenden)


Thomas and William Hatch were born in co. Kent, England about 1596 and 1598 respectively. They were the second and third sons of William Hatche (1563) and Anne Tilden. They were named in the will of their uncle John Hatche of Tenterden dated 23 March 1628/1629.(3) John Hatche of Tenderden did not have any children and left his property to his brothers and sisters and their children. Thomas is named as the second son and William was called the "now youngest" son of William Hatche. Thomas and William, immigrated to Plymouth Colony in the 1630s and their oldest brother, John (born about 1590) moved to Mayfield, East Sussex, England and was living there in 1628/1629 Pope made an interesting comment when he wrote, "John Hatch, yeoman, of Scituate, endorsed a bond Jan. 3, 1636."(6) Possibly he was the older brother of Thomas and William. Pope did not name a source for his information and unless more information is found, John cannot be identified. John could have he died soon after his arrival in Scituate or he could have returned to England. The only other reference to a John Hatch around 1636 is John, son of William who was about twelve years old and too young to be called a yeoman or to have signed a bond.

Elder William Hatch

William was living in Ashford when he married Jane Young of Thannington is a short distance southwest of Canterbury. The marriage record states, "William Hatch of Ashford, woolen draper,(8) bachelor, about 25, and Jane Young of Thannington, maiden. Jane was probably his second wife since William's oldest son, Walter, was born about 1623. By 1625 William was living at Wye where several children were born.

In preparation for his journey to the colonies, William Hatch moved his family to Sandwich(10) sometime before 1634. Sandwich is on the seacoast, directly east of Canterbury. He set sail from Sandwich on the Hercules with his wife Jane, five children, and six servants, his cousin, Lydia Huckstep Tilden and her husband, Nathaniel Tilden, and their children along with Dr. Comfort Starr and his family.(11) William, Nathaniel Tilden, and Dr. Comfort Starr were co-owners of the Hercules.


Samuel Hinckley b. Harrietsham, Kent. m. Sarah Soole 1617 in Hawkhurst, Kent then moved to Tenterden by 1622. Had many children!

Part owner of Hercules. Connected to early Leyden.



John Lewis  The name preceding Parnel on the ship Hercules.

Born ca 1606 at England. Baptized on 1 Nov 1606 at Brenchley, Kent. Occupation: butcher.

John and Sarah, with their daughter Sarah, sailed on the Hercules in 1635.

On 1 Mar 1631/2 John first married Sarah Mead, daughter of James Mead, at Tenterden, Kent.81 Born ca 1612 at England. Baptized on 29 Nov 1612 at Tenterden, Kent.

On 22 Nov 1659 John second married Alice Mattock, daughter of James Mattock, at Boston, MA.81   


Thomas Besbeech baptized at Biddenden 1589, the younger son of John Besbeech, testator of 1609 married 1618 to Anne Baseden. They resided Frittenden, had 3 children then wife died in 1634. Later he lived at Headcom (next to Staplehurst) and then Sandwich. Emigrated on Hercules, lived at Scituate. Uncle to Hopestill Foster (half blooded).


His mother Dorothy Austen Besbeech, the testator of 1619 was daughter of Henry Austen of Biddenden and sister of Wacher/Walter Austin of Bethersden, the testator of 1600. She was married first to Thomas Foster of Biddenden, by whom she had a son Richard Foster, who married Patience Biggs, the latter, with her son Hopestill Foster, went to New England in 1635, settled at Dorchester. Hopestill Foster was thus nephew by the half-blood of Thomas Besbeech.




ASSOCIATIONS: The wife of EDWARD FOSTER was daughter of Eglin (Hatherley) (Downe) (Hanford) Sillis, wife finally of Richard Sillis of Scituate, and sister of TIMOTHY HATHERLEY [Stevens-Miller Anc 485-89]. The three sisters of Lettice (Hanford) Foster were Susanna (Hanford) Whiston, whose first husband was JOHN WHISTON of Scituate, Margaret (Hanford) Robinson, wife of ISAAC ROBINSON of Barnstable, and Elizabeth (Hanford) Wade, wife of Nicholas Wade of Scituate, and the brother of these sisters was Thomas Hanford of Norwalk, Connecticut.  


John Bigg (of Maidstone) Will:

Rachel Bigg mother of John Bigg was aunt to Hopestill Foster

Patience Bigg was sister to Rachel




Sister of Timothy Hatherly an influential land owner.  Eglin (Hatherly) Handford (46) came to in April 1634 with two children, Margaret and Elizabeth on the ship Planter.

All five children came to New England. She joined Lothrop’s church Nov. 1635.


5 Hanford children:

Susannah married John Whiston and then William Brooks both in Scituate.

Lettice married Edward foster 1635 performed by Miles Standish.

Margaret married Isaac Robinson 1636

Elizabeth d. 1708 in MA

Thomas Hanford d. Norwalk, CT 1693



Timothy Hatherly,  (friend of Nathaniel Tilden) who first came to New England with Nathaniel Tilden's brother, Thomas. After Nathaniel Tilden's death, Hatherly m. the widow. having no children of his own, Deane's "History of Scituate" says; "He made a bountiful provision for the children of Nathaniel Tilden before his decease, by deeds of gifts. He left the residue of his estate to Deacon Joseph Tilden, the eldest son of Nathaniel Tilden, in 1666, and died that same year."


Was one of the Merchant Adventurers of London who financed the colony at Plymouth, MA after obtaining a patent from King James covering all of the Atlantic coast of America from the grant to the Virginia company on the south, to and including Newfoundland. Hatherly was one of the few Adventurers to actually settle in America. He arrived 1623 on the ship Ann, then returned to England in 1625. IN 1632, he came back to Plymouth and in 1637 was one of the recipients of a tract of land at Scituate. Before 1646, Hatherly had bought out the others and had formed a stock company, called the “Conishasset Partners. Scituate was part of the Plymouth Colony, it was first mentioned in William Bradford’s writings about 1634.


TIMOTHY HATHERLY b. 1588 Winkleigh, Devonshire,

Very wealthy Land owner and feltmaker merchant of London. Made annual  trips to MA after first arriving in 1623. Reverend Lothrop listed “Mr. Hatherley’s” house first among the nine that were already built when Lothrop arrived at Scituate the end of Sept. 1634.


His second wife was Lydia Tilden (widow of Nathaniel Tilden after 1641)


In the reorganization of Plymouth Colony’s financial affairs in 1627, Timothy Hatherly become one of the four London Associates, and in the years ensuing figures frequently in colony business. First interested in trade than settlement but after settling in Scituate, withdrew from positions. Joined church at Scituate Jan. 1635


Timothy was one of the London Adventurers, a felt maker of St Olaves, Southwark, Surrey. He visited Plymouth in 1623, but came as a settler in 1632 on the William and Mary, residing at Scituate, where the General Court had given him large land allotments.199


Timothy's will, dated 12 Dec 1664, proved 30 Oct 1666, named his wife Lydia; Edward Jenkins, his wife and children; Nicholas Wade, his wife and children ; Susanna, wife of William Brooks, and children; Timothy and Elizabeth Foster; Thomas Hanford; Fear, the wife of Samuel Baker, and the other three children of Isaac Robinson, John, Isaac, and Mercy; Lydia Garrett, his wife's daughter, and her four children; George Sutton, his wife and children; the wife of William Bassett, his wife's daughter; widow Preble, his wife's daughter, Lydia Lapham; Thomas Lapham; Stephen Tilden; Nicholas Baker, "my man Thomas Savory"; and Lydia Hatch, daughter of William Hatch; with his friend Joseph Tilden as executor (Mayflower Descendant 16:158).


"my cousin Hope Foster son which is named Hopestill Foster Junior £10 & Elizabeth & Mercy have 10s. to buy them a Bible"; to "my cousin Joseph Alsop Junior" one-eighth of the ketch Speedwell ; to "Daniell Preston Junior" one-eighth of the ketch Speedwell; to "Hopestill Foster my cousin Junior" one -eighth of the ketch Speedwell; to "my cousin Samuel Britts" 40s. that is "in my Brother James Brett his father's hand" and the rest of the debts to "Elizabeth & to her sister Mercy my will is that they shall have no more than is in their father's hand"; to "my cousin John Foster" a dram cup



List of the Merchant Adventurers TheCompany of Merchant Adventurers usually refers to the Company of (Merchant Adventurers of London, founded in 1407 and London's leading guild of overseas merchants.) Robert Allden, Thomas Fletcher, Emanuel Altham, Thomas Goffe, RichardAndrews, Peter Gudburn, Thomas Andrews, William Greene, Lawrence Anthony,Timothy Hatherly, Edward Bass, Thomas Heath, John Beauchamp, WilliamHobson, Thomas Brewer, Robert Holland, Henry Browning, Thomas Hudson,William Collier, Robert Keayne, Thomas Coventry, Eliza Knight,John Knight, John Revell, Miles Knowles, Newman Rookes, John Ling, SamuelSharpe, Christopher Martin(Treasurer pro tem.), James Shirley(Treasurer), Thomas Millsop, William Thomas, Thomas Mott, John ThornellWilliam Mullens, Fria Newbald, Matthew Thornell William Pennington,William Penrin.  Joseph Tilden, Edward Pickering, Thomas Ward, JohnPierce, John White, John Pocock, John Wincob, Daniel Poynton, ThomasWeston, William Quarles, Richard Wright. Of the Adventurers, Collier, Hatherly, Keayne, Mullens, Revell, Pierce,Sharpe, Thomas, and Weston, probably Wright and White, possibly others,came to America for longer or shorter periods.  Several of them were backand forth more than once.  The records show that Andrews, Goffe, Pocock,Revell, Sharpe, and White were subsequently members of the Massachusetts(Winthrop's) Company. Of their number, Collier, Hatherly, Martin, Mullens, Thomas, and(possibly) Wright were Plymouth colonists Martin and Mullens, as noted,being MAY-FLOWER Pilgrims.  Nathaniel Tilden, a brother of Joseph Tildenof the Adventurers, came, as previously mentioned, to the Colony fromKent, settling at Scituate.  Joseph, being apparently unmarried, made hisnephew, Joseph of Scituate, his residuary legatee, and his propertymostly came over to the Colony. Collier, Hatherly, and Thomas all located within a few miles of oneanother, were all wealthy and prominent men in the government of theColony, were intimate friends,--the first and last especially,--and lentnot a little dignity and character to this new dependency of King James

the First.


Isaac Robinson (son of John Robinson)

Born I 1610 in Leyden. Migrated in 1631. Married Scituate 26 September 1636 Margaret Hanford, daughter of Eglin (Hatherly) (Downe) Hanford and niece of TIMOTHY HATHERLY


MARRIAGE: (1) Scituate 26 September 1636 Margaret Hanford, daughter of Eglin (Hatherly) (Downe) Hanford and niece of TIMOTHY HATHERLY ("Isaac Robinsonn and Margaret Handford


John Carver: His wife Catherine (White) was sister to Isaac Robinson’s wife Bridget. History of Leyden Group: The decision to relocate was made early in 1619, when Deacon John Carver and Robert Cushman, who had business experience, were sent to London to negotiate with the London Company. They carried with them articles of belief, written by Robinson and Brewster, as evidence of their loyalty and orthodoxy.

John Carver (1576-1621), Pilgrim leader and the first governor of Plymouth Colony, born probably in Nottinghamshire, England. Carver was a wealthy London merchant, but he left England and went to Leiden, Netherlands, in 1607 or 1608 because of religious persecution. In 1617 he became the agent for the Pilgrims in securing a charter and financial support for the establishment of a colony in America. He chartered the Mayflower and, with 101 other colonists, set sail from Plymouth, England, in September 1620.

Robert Cushman (1578-1625) was one of the Pilgrims. He was born in the village of Rolvenden in Kent, England, and was baptized in the parish church there on February 9, 1578. He spent part of his early life in Canterbury. He was one of a group of Pilgrims who fled to Holland because of differences with the official church over their practice of religion. From there, he later returned to England and arranged the leasing of the Mayflower for the Pilgrims to use on their voyage to America.


John Lothropp:

John Lothropp (Lathrop) was admitted as the perpetual curate in charge of the Egerton Church in Kent, a parish four miles east of Eastwell and forty-eight miles southeast of London (see map, p.23). On 10 October 1610, while curate of Egerton Church, John was wed in the neighboring parish of Eastwell to Hannah Howse, the daughter of John and Alice Howse. John Howse was rector of Eastwell, the church to which Egerton was curacy. John had, coincidentally, been the curate at Egerton previously.


In 1623, at the age of thirty-nine, with five children to support -- a sixth died in infancy -- John left the Church of England and subscribed to the teachings of the Independent Church, often called the Separatist or Congregational Church. This nonconformist denomination was founded secretly in Southwark, Surrey in 1616.


In 1624, John Lothropp was called to succeed the Reverend Henry Jacob, the first minister of the Independent Church, who had resigned his position of eight years in London to leave for Virginia. The congregation of Jacob and Lothropp was often violently assailed by the Anglicans, and its meetings were interrupted, but the congregation remained steadfast.


The Griffin and another ship now arriving with about 200 passengers; Mr. Lothrop and Mr. Sims, two godly ministers, coming in the same ship On 27 September 1634, with thirty-four families from Kent, he settled in Scituate, Massachusetts. Scituate was a small village at the time, having but nine small palisade houses standing upon their arrival.


Comfort Starr

On February 11, 1634/5, the eve of the departure of the Hercules, Dr. Comfort Starr of Ashford, a surgeon aged 45, made the deposition that about the latter end of November 1633/1634, John Witherley of Sandwich, mariner, bought a Flemish built ship at Dunkirk called the St. Peter for £340. Dr. Starr said he was not a seaman and could not be specific about the ship, but guessed it to be about twelve feet broad above the hatches, fourscore feet long, and sixteen feet deep and is of the burthen of 200 tonnes. That he and William Hatch, John Witherley, Nathaniel Tilden and Mr. Osborne had purchased the ship and named it the Hercules.


    Modern Scituate, MA looking toward original village loation and Kent Street.


Much of this information is found online or available at the New England Historical and Genealogical Library