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William is widely stated to have been born about 1665. His mother's first husband James Patch died in 1658 and his grandfather refers to his mother as Mary Haskel in his 1663 will. There is no record of their marriage found to date. William was undoubtedly the man of that name who bought a farm in 1681, and he would only have done so as an adult of at least 21. Also, his widowed mother had young children and was more likely to have married his father not long after James Patch died.

William's house apparently still stands in Beverly at 680 Hale Street. It's also widely stated that it was built on land deeded to him by his father-in-law as part of wife Ruth's dowry. This is incorrect. Deed evidence shows that it was sold to him by Hugh Woodbury just before Hugh and his family moved to Bristol (in what is now Rhode Island) in 1681. This was Hugh's homestead, and he may have built the house shortly after he and his father-in-law bought the property jointly in 1652. Given the style of the house, it's likely William either drastically modified that house or built a new one, but perhaps not until after his marriage in 1688, given how large the house is. The initial purchase may have been not only for a home, but also an investment, since he had the means to do so.
     William is said to have died while travelling on his uncle William's ketch Return.(1)While the ketch may have been owned by his uncle at one time, he died the year before. William was at sea and ill when he wrote his will, which confirms that he was on that vessel.(2) He entrusted fellow crewman Thomas Steel to make sure his belongings were given to Ruth after their return to Boston. He also requested that his father-in-law and Capt. Stephen Sewell of Salem make sure his family wasn't defrauded of their inheritance.

The following is William's will:

Augt the 11th 1694

In the name of God amen, I William Hascoll above design'd being sick and weak in body yet of perfect sense and memory, uncertain how soon it may please the Lord to call mee out of this life do make and appoint this my last will and testament as ffolloweth.

Impr. I give and return my soul to God who gave it mee and appoint my body to be decently buried at the discretion of my executor afernam'd hoping for a glorious resurrection through the merits of my blessed redeemer Jesus Christ and of my worldly estate which God hath given mee doe dispose oas ffollows

2d I give, bequeath and devize unto my wife Ruth Hascol that ffarm I had with her in marriage together wt all the woodland, pasturage, houses, gardens, orchards, dependencies and appurtenances therto belonging.

3 I give and bequeath unto my sd wife Ruth Hascoll all and whole the furniture of my now dwelling house and fifty pounds in money for that consideration that she educat school & bring up the children the Lord hath lent mee untill they come to years of discretion.

4 I give and bequeath unto my eldest William Hascoll my now dwelling house and tract of land thereto belonging wt woods, pastures, orchards, ffences and all other appurtenances and ffifty pounds in money to be deliver'd and ye mo'y to be payed him as soon as he enters the sixteen year of his age as also by a sett or three pair of gold buttons which I now wear to be deliver'd him immediatly after my decease.

5 I give unto my second son
[blank space] Hascoll fourteene pounds in money to be payed him at thge sixteenth year of his age.

I give unto my third son
[blank space] Hascoll ffourteene pounds in money to be pd him at the sixtenth year of his age.

6 I give unto my fourth child (if God hath sent any since my coming to sea) fourteene pounds mo'y to be payed him or her at the sixteenth year of his or her age if none be then the mo'y to be equaly divided among my three sons above nam'd.

I give all other my estate and moveables, debts and summs of money to me belonging or indebted to my beloved wife Ruth Hascoll whom I hereby apoint together with my eldest son executors of this my last will & testament and request my ffather Thomas West of beverly & Captain Stephen Sewel of Salem to see and indeavour that my wife and children be not defrauded or wronged of anything I have given them. In witness...I have hereto inscribed, sealed & declared this to be my last & testament dated at sea the eleventh of August 1694.

Lastly I appoint Thomas Steel to preserve and take care of all and sundry my goods, cloths and money now on board the ketch Return and deliver the whole unto the hands of my executors or others of them after his arrival att Boston In witness wherof I have hereto subscribed and sett my seal, declaring this on both sides to be last will and testament, dated att sea the eleventh day of August 1694.

William Hascoll

signed, sealed and declared in presence of

Anthony Nicholson
Patrick Mcdowgall
James Rankin

A note on this document, difficult to read, appears to confirm Nicholson and Mcdowgall as witnesses and adding Thomas Steele, dated 2 October 1694.

William's estate inventory:

Imprs one dwelling hous a barn and about nine acres of upland and swamp on part of which said hous and orchard standeth aprised at
Item 2 a parcell of land given by Mr Thomas West in mariage with his daughter to William Hascoll bounded as pr deed of guift may apear aprized at
Item cupoards chests tables chairs and some other lumber
Item bedsteds & beds with their woolen furniture
Item sheets his wearimg linen and table linen
Item iron brass pewter earthen ware and glasses
Item his woolen cloaths arms an book
Item A remnant of broadcloath and a table carpet
Item in cash and plate
the above inventory was taken and estate aprised January 22 1694/5 by us

The estate of William Hascoll above named was a second time inspected and found as above aprised exepting that as to the money which was then found to bee two hundred thirty three pounds there is of said sum one hundred
[seventy?] and eight pounds put out to improof the reamainder exepting sixteen pounds twelve shillings since the taking of the above invento expended upon making of a well and other domestick ocasions.

Paul Thorndike
Thomas Woodberey Senyr
John Hill

Then something surprising happened:

Whereas Ruth Hascoll widow & relictt of William Hascoll late of Beverly [deceased] & executrix to ye last will & testament of sd William Hascoll is absconded and left ye sd estate in hazard of being imbezelled and ye children not cared ffor, the Judge of Probate of wills did thereupon constitute & appoint me ye subscriber hereunto guardian to sd children requiring me to take an inventory of ye estate as it was then when ye executrix absented her selfe & to exhibit ye same to ye registers office accordingly. I tooke ye same apprizers yt apprixed ye estate at first as ye inventory first above written who rendered ye inventory as is next above written to it that there remains in money & plate one hundred ninety four pounds 12 [shillings?] & ye rest of ye estate both reale & personall is whole & good & remains as in ye first inventory. So yt ye whole estate amounts to now five hundred thirty five pounds fourteen shillings 535:14:00 [what?] is come to my hande & costody.

Thomas West

     It's highly unlikely William would have specified three sons in his will if he didn't already have them. That he left the names of the two younger ones blank is odd, particularly that of Robert. There is evidence that people waited a bit before naming a child, supposedly to see if they survived infancy, and this could explain why the third son wasn't yet named. This may be particularly true in this family, since Elizabeth and William were baptized 1-2 years after they were born. Given Robert's birth date and that William was at sea by August 1694, the last son was necessarily born in 1694, and early enough in the year that William thought he and his wife could have conceived again before he left. Thomas West was appointed guardian of William and Robert on 20 May 1695, which was likely just after he made the statement above about his daughter absconding. The other and youngest son must have died in infancy.

Ruth ended up in Hampton, New Hampshire, and married Samuel Smith. She may have been unable to cope with the deaths of two of her children and her husband.

children of William and Ruth (West) Haskell (dates from the published Beverly vital records):

i. Elizabeth, b. 22 July 1688, bap. 23 June 1689(3), prob. died by the time William wrote his will.
ii. William, b. 24 May 1690, bap. 5 June 1692
iii. Robert, b. 17 February 1692/3
iv. prob. a son, b. in 1694, d. by 20 May 1695

vital records sources: William's marriage record comes from Vital Records of Beverly, Massachusetts, to the end of the year 1849, vol. 2 (Topsfield, MA: Topsfield Historical Society, 1907), 152, taken from an Essex County Quarterly Court record.

1. Vital Records of Beverly, Massachusetts, to the end of the year 1849, vol. 2 (Topsfield, MA: Topsfield Historical Society, 1907), 152, from a First Parish Unitarian Church record.
2. Essex County probate file 12805.
3. The record says 23rd of the 4th month. The first month of the year before 1752 was March, making the 4th month June.

all text and photographs © 1998-2016 by Doug Sinclair unless where otherwise noted