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Mary Morrill

Mary Morrill (Morrel/Morrell/Morrills/Morill) Foulger (circa 1620 – 1704) was the maternal grandmother of Benjamin Franklin, American printer, journalist, publisher, author, philanthropist, abolitionist, public servant, scientist, librarian, diplomat, statesman and inventor.

Mary immigrated to Massachusetts Bay Colony as an indentured servant probably belonging to Hugh Peters. Mary married Peter Foulger in 1644. He had been one of the few white men in Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket, Massachusetts (as an agent of Thomas Mayhew), and who was a teacher and translator for the Wampanoag Indians. Peter Folger paid Hugh Peters the sum of 20 shillings to pay off Mary's servitude, which he declared was the best appropriation of money he had ever made. Their daughter, Abiah Folger (Benjamin Franklin's mother), was born on August 15, 1667 in Nantucket. (For their other children and notable descendents, see Peter Foulger.) Mary was mentioned by name as a historical figure in Herman Melville's fictional Moby-Dick in chapter 24 which is entitled The Advocate. This chapter is a defense of Nantucket's whaling industry. In it, Melville sets up a series of objections to that industry, one of which is "No good blood in their veins?" His response to this objection is: "They have something better than royal blood there. The grandmother of Benjamin Franklin was Mary Morrel; afterwards, by marriage, Mary Folger, one of the old settlers of Nantucket, and the ancestress to a long line of Folgers and harpooneers—all kith and kin to noble Benjamin—this day darting the barbed iron from one side of the world to the other."

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