Peter Folger (Nantucket settler)
|Died||1690 (aged 72–73)|
|Resting place||Founders Burial Ground, Nantucket|
|Occupation||Poet and Interpreter|
|Spouse(s)||Mary Morrell Folger|
|Parent(s)||John Folger Jr.|
|Relatives||Benjamin Franklin (grandson)|
Peter Folger or Foulger (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 maternal grandfather of Benjamin Franklin.
A Baptist missionary, teacher, and surveyor, his dealings with the native population promoted harmony between the Native Americans and European settlers.
Peter Folger was born in 1617 in England, the son of John Folger Jr. (b. c. 1594) and Meribah Gibbs. He came to America in 1635, settling initially in Watertown, Massachusetts, and later moving to Martha's Vineyard, where he worked as a teacher and surveyor. In 1644, he married Mary Morrell, whom he met on the voyage from England.
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.
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, who referred to him fondly in his autobiography.
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