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William's signature from his will. "Hascoll" was a common way of spelling the name in the 17th and early 18th centuries

There isn't a birth record for William, but he was certainly born by 29 July 1660. He bought Hugh Woodberry's homestead in Beverly on 29 July 1681, and would have been an adult by then.1 Referred to as a mariner, he shouldn't be confused with a cousin with the same name. He is referred to as a "seaman" in a 1679 deed.2 It's very unlikely these deeds involve the same William. It would put the birth of William, son of Mark, before his mother's first husband'd death. Also, cousin William was about fifteen years older, lived in the vicinity of the lot of land sold to him in 1679 and when he sold it in 1685,3 was the grantee's brother-in-law.
     Hannah was the executor of the will of her first husband James Patch. The last known document in his probate case is dated 2 November 1658 ("2d 9th mo 1658" on the Julian Calendar).4 If William was born in, say, July 1660, he was conceived about October of 1659, putting his mother's marriage to Mark Haskell most likely in that year.
     Although there is a homestead mentioned in Mark Haskell's estate inventory valued at £120, it seems to disappear from records. No record of it was found being distributed among heirs or being sold. There was, however, a distribution of Hannah's real property dower in James Patch's estate after she died. William and Mark didn't have a guardian appointed, which was customary if minors inherited real estate. A distribution of monetary value is given in the probate records, and given the evidence, it was likely just money. William got a double portion as the oldest, which amounted to about £133.5 Mark is named as the younger son. Considering this, it isn't unreasonable to find William having the means to buy a substantial property not long after he came of age. The property included a half-right to a "swamp," surely a salt marsh, since it bordered on the water of Salem Harbor, co-owned by Hugh Woodberry's father-in-law Capt. William Dixie. Dixie sold his interest to William Haskell on 12 Oct 1683.6
     William is said to have had the house built at what is now 680 Hale Street in 1688. Historical evidence shows this isn't true. The land there was given to William and Ruth as a dowry by Ruth's father Thomas West in 1690.7 It was part of his very large homestead farm lot. In all the documents that refer to this property up to 1713, only one suggests there was a house there. The rest only speak of land and improvements associated with agriculture. In William's will, the wording reflects deed terminology, which lists all the possible aspects of a property to be sure there can be no future confusion or liability: "that ffarm I had with her in marriage together wt all the woodland, pasturage, houses, gardens, orchards, dependencies and appurtenances therto belonging." William was a mariner and made the will while at sea. Were there actually "houses" on the farm, or was he covering his bases? If there was a house there, it can't have been substantial, being referred to that way. Houses were usually the first thing mentioned when a piece of real estate was being described at that time and into the 18th century. For instance, his will and estate inventory, in contrast, also refer to his dwelling house on homestead land, and that was definitely the former Woodberry home in the village of Beverly on what is now Bartlett Street. William, Jr., inherited that property. Nothing has been found about him as an adult other than his having died by the time his estate went to probate in 1715.8 An inventory includes "a house and land." His brother Robert sold it to Benjamin Ober in 1721.9
     Thomas West ended up with the title to the dower farm and sold it to his grandson Robert in 1713, when he was just beginning his family.10 This deed is the last one that refers only to land. It's far more plausible to place the construction of the northwestern half of the house at 680 Hale Street to 1713-1720, perhaps using parts of or replacing an older building, but by appearance, it probably isn't older than that. Older photos of the house show that the southeastern half was added later, it having larger windows. It has since been overly restored, removing those windows, which probably dated to the late 18th century or early 19th century, and making them match the older part.
     William died while travelling on the ketch Return. It was supposedly owned by his uncle William, but he died the year before, and no vessel appears in his estate inventory. It's certain William was at sea and ill when he wrote his will:11

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 sent 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. This strongly points to the will being in probate court, putting William's death between then and the previous 11 August.

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 £130
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 £130
Item cupoards chests tables chairs and some other lumber £9 9 [shillings]
Item bedsteds & beds with their woolen furniture £20
Item sheets his wearimg linen and table linen £11 8 [shillings]
Item iron brass pewter earthen ware and glasses £14 5 [shillings]
Item his woolen cloaths arms an book £12 10 [shillings]
Item A remnant of broadcloath and a table carpet £3
Item in cash and plate £233

sum total is £574 2 [shillings] 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.

dated 1 May 1695

Paul Thorndike
Thomas Woodberey Senyr
John Hill

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

Thomas made oath at court to confirm his statement on 10 June 1695.

     It's 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. If he went to sea before Robert was baptized, he did so before early April 1693, meaning the ketch was at sea doing coastal fishing and/or trading for least seven months. There isn't a record of the birth or baptism of the third son. There aren't any First Church burial records from that time.
     It was highly unusual to reassess an existing inventory. Problems arising with Ruth's absence, including her being the only adult executor of the estate, may have caused this, since Thomas West made a third assessment with the statement that she was gone. The description of £178 pounds "put out to improof the remainder" is cryptic. The total of cash and "plate" when Thomas West made his assessment in June was the same as it was in May if you add the £16 used for the well and household necessities. That may be a coincidence, but it appears Ruth leaving didn't affect the estate itself.
     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. She was only 16 when she married and 22 when William died, but she then remarried and had two more children, leaving her father to look after William's probate and to "educate, school & bring up the children." Thomas West became "cum testamento annexo," an administrator who acted on behalf of those appointed administrators in a will who can't do it. No probate document was found for this, but it may have been considered legal since he was already William, Jr., and Robert's guardian. That appointment happened on 20 May 1695. On 12 May 1701, West had reason to sign a bond to present an inventory of the parts of the estate "that have not been duly administered on already, dureing ye minority of Wm. Hascoll, Junr., one of ye executors to ye said will." The inventory was made, showing the original 2 parcels in the 1695 inventory were still part of the estate and much of the cash on hand. Ruth (West) Haskell Smith died in Hampton in January 1700, and it appears this was the instigation. At least part of her reversion of dower must have gone to Samuel Smith, and after 12 years, he claimed at least half the property. In July 1713, West bought half a right in the "tenement," as he called it, from Smith, although the deed for it hasn't been found and may have been recorded in New Hampshire. As it was said earlier, West then sold it to his grandson Robert the following August. His half-brothers Samuel and Stephen Smith sold him the other half in 1736.12

children of William Hascoll and Ruth West:13

i. Elizabeth, b. 22 July 1688, bap. 23 June 1689, 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, when Thomas West was appointed guardian to his brothers.

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. Essex County deed, 9:186.
2. Ibid, 5:152.
3. Ibid, 11:230.
4. The Probate Records of Essex County, 1:270.
5. Essex County probate file 12770.
6. Essex County deed, 9:185.
7. Ibid, 9:188.
8. Essex County probate file 12808.
9. Essex County deed, 38:214.
10. Essex County deed, 32:40.
11. Essex County probate file 12805.
12. Essex County deed, 72:67.
13. Vital Records of Beverly, Massachusetts, to the end of the year 1849, vol. 1 (Topsfield, MA: Topsfield Historical Society, 1906), 166, 170.

all text and photographs © 1998-2020 by Doug Sinclair unless where otherwise noted