Peter Folger
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Peter Folger (abt. 1617 - 1690)

Peter Folger
Born about in Norwich, Norfolk, Englandmap
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married 1644 in Nantucket, Nantucket, Massachusettsmap
Descendants descendants
Died at about age 72 in Nantucket, Nantucket, Massachusetts Bay Colonymap
Profile last modified | Created 3 Jul 2008
This page has been accessed 18,106 times.
The Puritan Great Migration.
Peter Folger migrated to New England during the Puritan Great Migration (1621-1640).
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Peter Folger (1617-1690), interpreter and public official in America, was born in Norwich, the son of John Folger and Meriba Gibbs. Little is known of Folger until 1635, when he and his widowed father immigrated to Massachusetts. They sailed on the ship Abigail.[citation needed]

NOTE: Anderson says only that he arrived by 1638, and names no ship.[1]

During the voyage, Folger met Mary Morrill, an indentured servant, and apparently fell in love, for he spent the next nine years of his life working as a weaver, miller, surveyor, and shoemaker to raise the £20 to buy out her contract and marry her in 1644. Mary had to obtain release from the indenture that bound her by the payment of 20 English pounds, a very large sum in those days. It took all Peter Folger had saved in nine years in the New World, plus all that he could borrow from his father, to secure the liberty of Mary. Throughout his life Peter Folger always boasted that the purchase of his Mary's indenture was the best bargain he had ever obtained.[2]

The couple had nine children that survived infancy. (See below.) During the 1640s, the family moved to Martha's Vineyard, an island settlement that was effectively ruled by the senior and junior Thomas Mayhew. There Folger began a long and prosperous career as an interpreter and cultural intermediary with the American Indian population. At the Mayhews' puritan mission he evangelized the native inhabitants and mastered Algonquian, a major Amerindian language family that would have enabled communication with the vast majority of American Indians in New England. About 1648 the younger Thomas Mayhew extended the mission to nearby Nantucket Island, part of the Mayhew proprietorship, which was home to several thousand American Indians. In 1659 Folger, who was by then familiar with the island through his missionary work, aided a group of white settlers who had purchased the island from the younger Thomas Mayhew in surveying Nantucket.

In a letter dated 1694, it is stated that when Mayhew went to England in 1657 he left his Mission in the hands of Peter Folger.[citation needed]

In 1659, Folger also publicly declared himself a Baptist at a Martha's Vineyard town meeting, which undoubtedly agitated the puritan Mayhews and prompted Folger to move to the more tolerant colony of Rhode Island.

In 1663 Folger returned to Nantucket at the request of the island's proprietors in order to soothe worsening tensions with the native population that had arisen mainly from the interference of the white settlement's cattle with Amerindian crops. As an enticement he was awarded a half share in the proprietorship (full shares were reserved for families of original white settlers).

His house lot is identified by a fountain erected to the honor of his daughter Abiah, the mother of Benjamin Franklin. It is on the extension of Main Street, nearly two miles west from the Upper Square and bank.

Nantucket was something of an anomaly in the puritan New England context in that established religion did not gain a substantial foothold among the whites until the eighteenth century. The only churches on the island in Folger's time, therefore, were found among the American Indians. In such tolerance, Folger comfortably settled his family, acted as an intermediary with the American Indians, and continued his highly successful evangelizing efforts. He also worked as a teacher, surveyor, miller, and farmer, and even served as the clerk of courts.[citation needed]

Folger's greatest triumph as chief diplomat to the American Indians came in 1665, when Metacom 'King Philip', arrived with a number of his warriors in pursuit of John Gibbs. Gibbs, an Amerindian from Nantucket who had recently finished his studies at Harvard, had insulted the powerful Pokanoket sachem by publicly speaking his father's name, Massasoit, which was an offence punishable by death. Gibbs was most likely a close friend of Folger, who had baptized the American Indian and given him the Christian name John Gibbs, which was the name of Folger's maternal grandfather. Neither the Amerindian nor the white population (about 100 people) was in a position to thwart Metacom through force, but Folger intervened to save Gibbs, offering his pursuer a ransom in exchange for Gibbs's life. Metacom agreed, but the people of Nantucket were only able to raise £11-significantly less than he wanted. An angry Metacom threatened to destroy the settlement, but the islanders called his bluff, threatening to attack him unless he departed, which he promptly did. A decade later Metacom led a coalition of Amerindians against New England in what became known as King Philip's War. The brutal fighting saw extensive slaughter and murder on both sides, but did not touch Nantucket.[citation needed]

Folger died on Nantucket Island in 1690.[3] He was survived by a substantial family that would produce a number of prominent American scientists, merchants, and politicians, the most famous of whom was Benjamin Franklin, Folger's grandson.


He married Mary Morrill 23 JUN 1642/3 Martha's Vineyard, Dukes Co., Massachusetts, by whom he had the following children:[3][4]

  1. Joanna Folger married John Coleman
  2. Bethia Folger married John Barnard
  3. Dorcas Folger married Joseph Pratt
  4. Eleazer Folger married Sarah Gardner
  5. Bathsheba Folger married Joseph "John" Pope
  6. John Folger married Mary Barnard
  7. Experience Folger married John Swain.
  8. Patience Folger married James Gardner.
  9. Abiah Lee Folger married Josiah Franklin.


  1. The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England, 1620-1633, Volume 3, by Robert Charles Anderson
  3. 3.0 3.1 Vital Records of Nantucket
  4. Grover

See also:

  • The Nantucket Way by Robert F. Mooney and André R Sigourney, publ. 1931
  • Vital Records of Nantucket, Massachusetts to the Year 1850 (NEHGS, Boston, Mass., 1925-1928) P.R. 38: citing "William C. Folger genealogical records in possession of the Nantucket Historical Association." Peter Folger, s. John, "came from the city of Norwich in England in 1638", "Came to Nant. in 1663."

Memories: 1
Enter a personal reminiscence or story.
Birth: 1617

Norfolk, England Death: 1690 Nantucket County Massachusetts, USA

Maternal grandfather of Benjamin Franklin.

I think Peter deserves a "Famous" for writing "A Looking Glass For the Times."

Family links: Spouse: Mary Morrill Folger (1620 - 1703)*

Children: Eleazer Folger (1648 - 1716)* Patience Folger Harker Gardner (1656 - 1717)* John Folger (1659 - 1732)* Abiah Folger Franklin (1667 - 1752)*

  • Calculated relationship

Burial: Founders Burial Ground Nantucket Nantucket County Massachusetts, USA

Maintained by: Randy Eutsler Originally Created by: Greg Derylo Record added: May 02, 2005 Find A Grave Memorial# 10904442

posted 18 Feb 2012 by Lois Hirsch   [thank Lois]
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Comments: 9

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Folger-614 and Folger-2 appear to represent the same person because: same basic information and family
posted by Robin Lee
Hi Susie, when you create pre-1700 profiles you need to use a reliable source at the time of creation. Unsourced family tree is not a reliable source. Cheers, Elizabeth co-leader England Project.
posted on Folger-614 (merged) by Elizabeth (Greet) Viney
Anna Maria (Albrecht) Strauf 1828-1887 should be removed as a spouse for Peter Folger 1617-1690
posted by David Manley
You are absolutely right. While we were fixing the PGM activity feed on our Discord server I was testing to make sure edits to PGM profiles were coming across. I meant to connect and disconnect her quickly just to test that activity feed and obviously I forgot to disconnect her. Thanks for noticing!
posted by Brad Stauf
Folger-2 and Folger-130 appear to represent the same person because: Same parents, spouse
posted on Folger-130 (merged) by M Cole
Profile managers, this profile is a "5-star" wikitree profile, indicating it is frequently visited. As such, we are trying to make it the best it can be. There is much in this profile that needs source citations. Can you help improve this profile? Thanks!
posted by Jillaine Smith
Anderson's GM Directory shows him emigrating from Norfolk by 1638, but does not name a ship. That should be the default data for a PGM profile (unless some more recent research can be cited).
posted by Christopher Childs
I added the ship category becuase the bio says he sailed on the Abigail in 1635, but now I don't see his or his father's name on the rolls. Which is correct?
posted by Marcel Muise
Peter Folger has the Quaker Project template but everything in his bio indicates he was first a Puritan and than declared himself a Baptist. Was the template placed in error?
posted by Debi (McGee) Hoag

This week's featured connections are Baseball Legends: Peter is 28 degrees from Willie Mays, 20 degrees from Ernie Banks, 14 degrees from Ty Cobb, 17 degrees from Bob Feller, 19 degrees from Lou Gehrig, 29 degrees from Josh Gibson, 14 degrees from Joe Jackson, 20 degrees from Ferguson Jenkins, 20 degrees from Mamie Livingston, 15 degrees from Mickey Mantle, 16 degrees from Tris Speaker and 16 degrees from Helen St. Aubin on our single family tree. Login to see how you relate to 33 million family members.