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Peter Foulger

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Title: Peter Foulger  
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Subject: Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Mayhew, Associators, Agnes Irwin, Ben Franklin effect
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Peter Foulger

Peter Foulger
Born 1617
Norfolk, England
Died 1690
Nantucket, Massachusetts, British America
Ethnicity English
Spouse(s) Mary Morrill Foulger
Parent(s) John Folger
Relatives Grandson, Founding Father Benjamin Franklin

Peter Foulger (His surname is often spelled "Folger," which was the form used by his descendants; 1617–1690) was a poet and an interpreter of the American Indian language for the first settlers of Nantucket. He was instrumental in the colonization of Nantucket Island in the Massachusetts colony. He was the grandfather of Benjamin Franklin.[1]

Peter Folger was born in Norfolk, England, son of John Folger, in 1617. He came to America in 1635 with his father, settling initially in Watertown, Massachusetts, and later moving to Martha's Vineyard,[2] where he worked as a teacher and surveyor. In 1644 he married Mary Morrill, whom he met on the voyage from England.[3] At the Vineyard Folger supported himself by teaching school and surveying land. He was hired by Governor Thomas Mayhew and his son Thomas Mayhew Jr. to convert the native American population to Christianity, during which time he learned to speak the native language. He was a Baptist in faith, and as such was told not to visit with the Puritans on the mainland. Rev. Experience Mayhew, in a letter to John Gardner, Esquire, dated 1694, states that when Thomas Mayhew, Jr. left for England in 1657, he left the care of his church and mission to Peter Folger.[4]

From time to time between 1659 and 1662, Folger journeyed to Nantucket in order to survey it for the proprietors. In 1663 Folger moved to Nantucket full-time, having been granted a half a share of land by the proprietors, where he was a surveyor, an Indian interpreter, and clerk in the courts. Shortly thereafter, Folger's daughter, Abiah, was born, later to become the mother of Benjamin Franklin.[5]

A Baptist missionary, teacher, and surveyor, his dealings with the native population promoted harmony between the Native Americans and European settlers. His grandson, Founding Father Benjamin Franklin, son of Peter's daughter Abiah, referred to him fondly in his autobiography.

Folger died at Nantucket, Massachusetts, in 1690. His wife Mary Morrill Foulger lived until 1704.


with Mary Morrill Foulger

  1. Joanna Folger Coleman
  2. Bethia Folger Barnard
    • B. 1646 in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts Bay Colony
    • M. John Barnard on February 26, 1668
    • D. June 6, 1669 (both drowned in a boating accident)
  3. Dorcas Folger Pratt
    • B. 1647 in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts Bay Colony
    • M. Joseph Pratt on February 12 1675
    • D. December 24, 1712 in Charlestown, Boston, Province of Massachusetts Bay
  4. Eleazer Folger
    • B. 1648 in Edgartown, Massachusetts Bay Colony
    • M. Sara Gardner in 1671
    • D. December 19, 1716 Nantucket, Province of Massachusetts Bay
  5. Bathsheba Folger Pope
    • B. 1652 in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts Bay Colony
    • M. Joseph Pope in 1676
    • D. 1726 in Salem, Province of Massachusetts Bay
  6. Patience Folger Harker Gardner
    • B. 1656 in Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts Bay Colony
    • M1. John Harker in 1680
    • M2. James Gardner in 1696
    • D. January 18, 1717 in Nantucket, Province of Massachusetts Bay
  7. John Folger
    • B. 1659 in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts Bay Colony
    • M. Mary Barnard in 1688
    • D. August 23, 1732 in Nantucket, Province of Massachusetts Bay
  8. Abiah Folger Franklin
  9. Experience Folger Swain
    • B. 1668 in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts Bay Colony
    • M. John Swain in 1687
    • D. June 4, 1739 in Nantucket, Province of Massachusetts Bay

List of notable descendants


  • A Looking Glass for the Times, or the Former Spirit of New England Revived in this Generation (1675)
  • A Denunciation of War


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  • The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, Volume 16. By New England Historic Genealogical Society
  • American Marriages Before 1699 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 1997. Original data: Clemens, William Montgomery. American Marriage Records Before 1699. Pompton Lakes, NJ, USA: Biblio Co., 1926.

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