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Stephen Bachiler

Stephen Bachiler (15?? - 1656) was an English clergyman who was an early proponent of the separation of church and state in America.

An early graduate of Oxford (St. John's College, 1581), he was vicar of Wherwell, County Hampshire (1587-1605) when ousted for Puritanical leanings under James I. In 1630 he was a member of the Company of Husbandmen in London and with them, as the Plough Company, obtained a 1,600 sq. mile grant of land in Maine from the Council for New England. The Colony was called "Lygonia" after Cecily Lygon, mother of New England Council president Sir Ferdinando Gorges. Bachiler was to be its minister and leader. Although the settlers sailed to America in 1631, the project was abandoned.

Bachiler reached Boston in 1632, and gathered his followers to establish the First Church of Lynn (then Saugus). He incurred the hostility of the Puritan theocracy in Boston, casting the only dissenting vote among ministers against the expulsion of Roger Williams. Throughout some two decades he pursued settlement and church endeavors, always engaged in controversy and confrontation with Massachusetts Bay Colony leaders. In 1638 he founded the plantation at Winnicunnet, New Hampshire which he named Hampton. Excommunicated by the Church at Boston in 1641 on unfounded charges of "scandal", later reinstated, he went as missionary to Strawberry Bank (now Portsmouth, N.H.) about 1644.

Following continued harassment by Massachusetts authorities, he returned to England about 1653 and died near London about 1656. His descendants include Daniel Webster and presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford.

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