Mary Morrell Folger

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Mary Folger
Born Mary Morrell (Morrel / Morrill / Morrills / Morill)
England
Died British America
Residence Nantucket, Massachusetts
Known for Grandmother of Benjamin Franklin and being noted in Herman Melville's fictional Moby-Dick
Spouse(s) Peter Folger
Children Nine children, including Abiah, wife of Josiah Franklin
Relatives Grandson, Founding Father Benjamin Franklin

Mary Morrell Folger (c. 1620–1704) was the maternal grandmother of Benjamin Franklin, a Founding Father of the United States.[1] In Moby Dick she was cited as ancestor of the Folger whalers.

Personal life[edit]

Folger immigrated to Massachusetts Bay Colony from Norwich, England in 1635[2] with Rev. Hugh Peters and his family. She was an indentured servant, working for the family as a maid.[3][4] On the same ship as Peter Folger and his parents.[2] 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.[5][4]

She married Peter Folger in 1644.[3] They lived in Watertown, Massachusetts before moving in 1660 to Martha's Vineyard, where he was acquainted with the Mayhews. He was a strict teacher, surveyor, and translator for the Wampanoag people.[2]

They had nine children. Eight of their children were born on Martha's Vineyard.[6] In 1763, they moved to the Nantucket,[2] where they were among the few people of European heritage.[3] Their youngest daughter, Abiah (1667–1752) was born there. She married Boston candle-maker Josiah Franklin and they had a son, Benjamin Franklin.[1][7]

Her husband died in 1690[2] and was buried at the Founders Burial Ground on Nantucket.[8] She died in 1704.[3]

Legacy[edit]

Folger was referenced in defense of the whaling industry in Herman Melville's fictional Moby-Dick.[9] In it, Melville sets up a series of objections to that industry, one of which is "No good blood in their veins?" The response 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.

— Herman Melville, Moby-Dick[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Phil Wallace Payne (September 30, 2011). Writes of Passage: Threads in the Fabric of Our Times. Xlibris Corporation. p. 20. ISBN 978-1-4653-4861-6. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Robert Alexander Douglas-Lithgow (1914). Nantucket: A History. G.P. Putnam's Sons. p. 63–64. 
  3. ^ a b c d Jared Sparks (1844). The Works of Benjamin Franklin: Containing Several Political and Historical Tracts Not Included in Any Former Edition, and Many Letters, Official and Private, Not Hitherto Published; with Notes and a Life of the Author. C. Tappan. p. 543. 
  4. ^ a b Eva Celine Grear Folger (1911). The Glacier's Gift: With Fourteen Illustrations. Tuttle, Morehouse & Taylor Company. p. 20. 
  5. ^ Memorial Biographies of the New England Historic Genealogical Society. The Society. 1882. p. 321. 
  6. ^ Robert Alexander Douglas-Lithgow (1914). Nantucket: A History. G.P. Putnam's Sons. pp. 225–226. 
  7. ^ Robert Alexander Douglas-Lithgow (1914). Nantucket: A History. G.P. Putnam's Sons. p. 366. 
  8. ^ "Nantucket Founders Burial Ground Information". Nantucket Historical Association. Retrieved February 14, 2017. 
  9. ^ a b Herman Melville (1892). Moby Dick. St. Botolph Society. p. 107.