My Ancestors (12) – John Folger – 1617 – 1669

 (1) John Folger (2) Peter Folger, (3) Phoebe (Floger) Marshall (4) Major Elihu Marshall, (5) Elizabeth (Marshall) Guion, (6) Elijah Guion, (7) Elijah Guion II, (8) Alfred Beck Guion, (9) Alfred Duryee Guion, (10) Alfred Peabody Guion, (11) Judith Anne Guion

Benjamin Franklin in the famous “Autobiography”, first chapter, says that the Folger family was originally Flemish and came to England in the time of Queen Elizabeth. The Folgers settled in Norwich, England, where John Folger was born about 1590.

John Folger married an English girl, Meribah or Merrible Gibbs. The date of that marriage isn’t known, but was probably 1616, for in 1617, still at Norwich, their only son, Peter Folger, was born.

The Folgers were Dissenters. It was in 1635 that they joined the “westward movement” and sailed to America, aboard the good ship “Abigaile”. That was five years after Christopher Hussey and Theodate Bachiler had crossed, three years after Stephen Bachiler had joined them, and a year after George Bunker had arrived. Peter, the son, was 17 or 18 at the time.

The Folgers were “freemen” and paid their passages. But aboard the “Abigaile” was a girl named Mary Morrell, from I don’t know where, but evidently traveling alone; Mary came under indenture, meaning that she would have to work out her passage-money by several years of servitude after reaching New England. And aboard the same ship was a fiery and a brilliant young Puritan preacher, Rev. Hugh Peter, the same who was considered for a time as successor to old Stephen Bachiler at Lynn, but who went to Salem instead. Hugh Peter and John Folger became close friends aboard the ship and remained so.

The main incident of the trip was that young Peter Folger, during the eight-weeks passage, fell dead in love with Mary Morrell. But he was too young to marry and she had her indenture to work out, so nothing came of it at the time. The Rev. Hugh Peter liked the girl and, upon arriving in Boston, bought her indenture. She was a friendly “slave” in Hugh Peter’s clerical household for the next nine years.

The Folgers stayed three years in Boston, then, when a group was formed in 1638 to settle Dedham, inland from Boston at the head of the Suffolk marshes, they joined it; John Folger was among Dedham’s original proprietors. They lived six years at Dedham, then moved to Watertown, where they owned 6 acres. They had just come to Watertown, in 1642, when their whole life changed.

They became associated with a very remarkable man, the Rev. Thomas Mayhew, who can only be described as a primitive Christian. Neither Folger nor Mayhew had had any overt trouble with the Puritans — unlike Bachiler, they were non-resistants — but they disliked the banishment of Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson, and in 1642, Mayhew decided quietly to banish himself. On his mind was the thought that the Indians, instead of being slaughtered, should be converted and educated in the Christian faith. Out of this thought came the purchase of the two islands, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, which were thickly settled by the Gayhead branch of Narragansetts at the time, and, being under New York jurisdiction, were out of Puritan reach.

Mayhew bought both islands. He and a small body of followers, including the three Folgers, sailed out to Martha’s Vineyard, the larger island, and founded Edgartown in 1642. It was a dangerous venture — the Pequot War was at its height, Puritan trainbands (including that led by Christopher Hussey) were killing all the Indians they could find at the time, and this Mayhew party went un-armed. They built a rude village of stones, mud and brush, made friends with the islands sachems, and proceeded to make Martha’s Vineyard an island of peace in the midst of the Indian war.

John Folger, the father, cleared land and farmed it, doubtless with Indian aid. Young Peter, now in his mid-20s, and unusually well-educated for that time, soon became the Rev. Mayhew’s right-hand man and chief assistant.

Source: COLONIAL ORIGINS of the CALIFORNIA GUIONS, An Informal Genealogical Study by Ernest Jerome Hopkins, finished in 1952.

Next Sunday we will follow the life of Peter Folger.

Tomorrow, I’ll begin posting letters written in 1943. Lad is in California, Dan is in  Pennsylvania getting further training for overseas, Ced is in Alaska working at an airfield as a mechanic, Dick is in Florida and Dave is still home with Grandpa.

Judy Hardy


4 thoughts on “My Ancestors (12) – John Folger – 1617 – 1669

  1. GP Cox says:

    (Pardon me, Judy, but I have an off-topic question. Please forgive me if I’ve forgotten, but have you ever done a post on Trumbull Field? I happened across this short article….

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