Peter Bulkley

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Peter Bulkley
PeterBulkley.jpg
Born (1583-01-31)31 January 1583
Died 9 March 1659(1659-03-09) (aged 76)
Nationality British
Other names Bulkeley
Occupation Puritan
Known for founder of Concord, Massachusetts

Peter Bulkley or Bulkeley (January 31, 1583 – March 9, 1659) was an influential early Puritan preacher who left England for greater religious freedom in the American colony of Massachusetts. He was a founder of Concord,[1] and was named by descendant Ralph Waldo Emerson in his poem about Concord, Hamatreya.[2]

Early life[edit]

According to the 8th edition of Ancestral Roots of Certain American Colonists, Bulkley is a descendant of the Plantagenets,[1] and was born at Odell, Bedfordshire, England. He was admitted to St. John's College at Cambridge University at the age of sixteen, where he received several degrees. At one point he was even a Fellow of St. John's.[3][4] After finishing his education, Bulkley succeeded his father as rector of Odell, 1610-1635.[5] During this time Bulkley followed in his father's footsteps as a non-conformist. Finally in the 1630s there were increasing complaints about his preaching, and he was silenced by the archbishop for his unwillingness to conform with the requirements of the Anglican Church.

In 1633, Charles I reissued the Declaration of Sports, an ecclesiastical limitation on allowed recreational activities, with the stipulation that any minister unwilling to read from the pulpit should be removed, and Bulkley's sentiments, along with others in the Puritan movement, were against it. In 1634, Bulkley refused to wear a surplice or use the Sign of the Cross at a visitation for Archbishop William Laud. For this infraction he was ejected from the parish, at least temporarily.[6][7]

Career in America[edit]

Within the year he emigrated to New England, coming aboard the Susan and Ellen in 1635. He was ordained at Cambridge, Massachusetts, in April 1637, and "having carried a good number of planters with him into the woods",[4] became the first minister in Musketaquid, later named Concord. He was "noted even among Puritans for the superlative stiffness of his Puritanism".[4] In March 1638 during the Antinomian Controversy, he was one of the ministers who sat during the church trial of Anne Hutchinson, which resulted in her excommunication from the Boston church.[8]

In 1635, a group of settlers from Britain led by Rev. Peter Bulkley and Major Simon Willard negotiated a land purchase with the remnants of the local tribe. Bulkley was an influential religious leader who "carried a good number of planters with him into the woods";[6] Willard was a canny trader who spoke the Algonquian language and had gained the trust of Native Americans.[7] Their six-square-mile purchase formed the basis of the new town, which was called "Concord" in appreciation of the peaceful acquisition.

He was known for his facility in Latin with both epigrams and poetry, with Cotton Mather praising the latter.[4] As a writer, his book of Puritan sermons titled The Gospel Covenant, or the Covenant of Grace Opened, published in London in 1646, in which he appealed to "the people of New England," that they might "labor to shine forth in holiness above all other people", and evoked the City upon a Hill of John Winthrop. To historian Moses Coit Tyler, the "monumental book ... stands for the intellectual robustness of New England in the first age."[4] It is considered one of the first books published in New England.[9]

Bulkley served as moderator at a 1637 synod called in Cambridge due to what Emerson called the "errors" of Anne Hutchinson.[10] According to "tradition", a council of Indians considering attacking the town of Concord held off because "Bulkley is there, the man of the big pray!"[10] (This occurred during King Philip's War in 1675-6, after Peter was dead, and refers instead to his son Rev. Edward Bulkley.)[11]

In 1643, he was the author and the first signer of a petition sent to Governor John Endecott in favor of Ambrose Martin, who was fined for speaking negatively towards the Puritan church and consequently met significant financial hardship.[12]

Bulkley died in Concord.

Personal life[edit]

Bulkley's first wife, Jane Allen, died in 1626.[13] They had twelve children:[14]:38

  • Edward, born June 17, 1614, at Odell, England
  • Mary, baptized August 24, 1615; died in a few months
  • Thomas, born April 11, 1617
  • Nathaniel, born November 29, 1618; died at the age of 9
  • John, born February 17, 1620
  • Mary, born Nov. 1, 1621; died at the age of 3
  • George, born May 17, 1623
  • Daniel, born August 28, 1625
  • Jabez, born December 20, 1626; died before the age of 3
  • Joseph
  • William
  • Richard

After eight years as a widower, he married Grace Chetwood (or Chitwood); they had four more children:[14]:38

  • Gershom, born December 6, 1636
  • Eliezer, probably born 1638
  • Dorothy, born August 16, 1640
  • Peter, born June 12, 1643

His second wife and sons John, Benjamin, and Daniel accompanied him to America.[13] His son Gershom graduated Harvard in 1655 and married Sarah Chauncey, daughter of the president of Harvard, October 26, 1659.[14]:78 Son Peter married Rebecca Wheeler ca. 1667, was a Fellow of Harvard University, a Massachusetts Freeman (franchised voter), and a Commissioner of the United Colonies, in addition to a career as a preacher.[13]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Frank Preston Stearns (1896). Sketches from Concord and Appledore. G. P. Putnam's Sons. 
  2. ^ Ralph Waldo Emerson. "Hamatreya". American Transcendalism Web. 
  3. ^ "Bulkeley or Buckley, Peter (BLKY604P)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Moses Coit Tyler (1883). A History of American Literature. G. P. Putnam's Sons. 
  5. ^ According to Huish, the church remained virtually unchanged three centuries later.
  6. ^ Marcus Bourne Huish (1907). The American Pilgrim's Way in England. London Fine Art Society. 
  7. ^ Huish notes that Laud himself may not have been present, but rather his Vicar-General, Nathaniel Brent.
  8. ^ Battis, Emery (1962). Saints and Sectaries: Anne Hutchinson and the Antinomian Controversy in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. pp. 232–248. 
  9. ^ Robert Watt (1824). Bibliotheca Britannica. Edinburgh: Archibald Constable & Co. ISBN 0-415-13706-3. 
  10. ^ a b Ralph Waldo Emerson (1834). Life of Rev. Joseph Emerson. New York City: Crocker & Brewster. 
  11. ^ Lemuel Shattock (1835). A History of the town of Concord. Boston: Russell, Odiorne, and Company. 
  12. ^ Arthur Bernon Tourtellot, Lexington and Concord: The Beginning of the War of the American Revolution, 1959, "[1]", January 11, 2011.
  13. ^ a b c John Langdon Sibley (1881). Biographical Sketches of Graduates of Harvard University. Charles William Sever. 
  14. ^ a b c Chapman, F.W. The Bulkeley Family; or the Descendants of Rev. Peter Bulkeley, who settled at Concord, Mass., in 1636, 1875.

References[edit]

  • Chapman, Rev. F. W. The Bulkeley Family; or the Descendants of Rev. Peter Bulkeley, who settled at Concord, Mass., in 1636. The Case, Lockwood & Brainard Co., Printers. 1875. Hartford.
  • The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England 1620-1633. 2 vols. Boston: New England Genealogical Society, 1935.
  • Ancestral Roots of Certain American Colonists Who Came to America before 1700, Frederick Lewis Weis, 2008, Eighth edition.
  • Jacobus, Donald Lines. Rev. Peter Bulkeley. New Haven: Tuttle, Morehouse & Taylor Co., 1933.
  •  Goodwin, Gordon (1887). "Bulkley, Peter". In Stephen, Leslie. Dictionary of National Biography 11. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 


External links[edit]