Benjamin Franklin Papers

[Keziah Folger Coffin?]: Genealogy of the Folger Family, 18 [December] 1763

[Keziah Folger Coffin?]: Genealogy of the Folger Family

AD: Historical Society of Pennsylvania

Franklin’s interest in his family background and connections extended throughout his life. In 1739 he had sought and received from his father information about the family name and his paternal line;5 in England he had visited Ecton, Banbury, and Birmingham and had looked up the records of his ancestors, met as many as possible of his and his wife’s living relatives, and laboriously prepared a genealogical chart of the Franklin family.6 The one branch which he had not carefully investigated was that of his mother’s relatives, the Folger family of the island of Nantucket.

The opportunity apparently came to him during his and Sally’s summer and early autumn stay in Boston, 1763, when he seems to have met one of his Nantucket relatives also visiting there, Mrs. Keziah Folger Coffin, a first cousin once removed.7 In that part of his papers which Franklin left to his grandson William Temple Franklin at his death and are now at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania,8 are two ill-spelled, unsigned sheets containing genealogical information about the Nantucket Folgers, which date from late in 1763. The handwriting looks very much like surviving samples of Keziah Coffin’s, and it seems probable that when Franklin met her he asked that when she reached home she would write out and send him this information.9 The dating, “10 mo.,” in Quaker fashion (Quakers predominated in Nantucket at this time), might mean October or December, but in 1763 the more usual meaning was December.

Nantucket the 10mo. the 18d. 1763

John Foulger the Ancestor of our Family Came out of the City of Norwich in the County of Norfolk. He married Miriba Gibs in Great Britain and Brought Hir and His Son Petor and one Daughter to new england. The Daughter married to a Paine on Longisland and there is a numerous of Spring from Hir but for Perticlars, I know nothing.1 Peter married with Mary Morrils a young woman that Came from England with Hew Petors,2 and had two Sons, John and Eleazer and Seven Daughters namely Johanna married a Coleman Darcas married a Pratt, Barsheba married a Pope, Patiance married Harker, Bethiah married Barnard, Exsperiance married to a Swain, Abiah married Franklin. Bethiah Dyed without Issue.3 The Rest have Children and Grand Children to the forth Generation. John Had Six Sons and Eleazer Had three that all had Children so that there is a Great number of the name heare and until last year there was never one of the name that lived of this Island and than Shubil Foulger and his Son Beniamin Remooved to Cape Sables.4

It is unsertain in what year John Foulger Came out of England or of what Age he or His Son was.5 As for the Lettor that I mentioned to thee it is not to be found.

[On a separate sheet in the same hand:]

John Foulger married to Mirriba Gibs in old England. By hir he had one Sone named Peter and one Daughter that married a Pain on Long Island. Peter married Mary Morrils and Settled on the Island of Nantucket.6 By hir he Had two Sons and Six Daughter the Sons nams John and Eleazer. Of Johns Children in the male Line there is Six named with ther Sons under neath7

Jethro8 who has 2 Sons Trustrum
and Jethro
Eleazers Childrin is3
Peter had 1 Son Daniel4
Jonathan has Reubin and Jonathan Eleazer5 had Urian and
Elipah Charles Stephen
Fredrak and Peleg. They
have many Daughters and are
very numerous
Nathaniel Has Paul
Shubil9 has Seth and Shubil
Richard1 has David Solamon and Elisha
Zaccheus2 has John James and Zaccheus Nathan Had Abisha and Timothy and Peter and Berzilla
[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

5Above, II, 229–32.

6Above, VIII, 114–21, 133–46.

7Keziah Coffin (B. was related to BF through both her mother Abigail Folger (B.1.7.7), BF’s first cousin, and her father Daniel Folger (B., BF’s first cousin once removed. She played a conspicuous part in island affairs during the American Revolution and was accused of being a Tory informer. On the probable meeting of BF and Sally with her in Boston in 1763, see Van Doren, Franklin-Mecom, p. 96.

8Above, I, xxii.

9Many, but not all, of the persons mentioned below are included in the selective genealogy and chart of the Folger family printed above, I, liii-lvi, lxx-lxxi.

1The editors have made no attempt to trace the Paine family of Long Island. So far as is known, BF never made any contact with its members.

2Hugh Peter (often spelled Peters; 1598–1660), dissenting clergyman, came to Mass. in 1635, and was minister at Salem, 1636–41. Sent to England, 1641, as one of the colony’s agents, he served as a chaplain with the Parliamentary army and was a leading clergyman during the Interregnum. Upon the Restoration he was arrested, tried, and executed at Charing Cross. DAB; Raymond P. Stearns, The Strenuous Puritan: Hugh Peter, 1598–1660 (Urbana, 1954). Mary Morrils came to America as his bond servant.

3Bethia Folger (B.1.2) married John Barnard of Nantucket in February 1668; both were drowned a year and a half later.

4That is, all the descendants of John Foulgier in the male lines continued to live on Nantucket until 1762. Then English settlement in the Cape Sable region of Nova Scotia, which drew away numerous families from Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket, brought the first defections among the male Folgers. Before these men left there appear to have been about 27 or 28 males surnamed Folger living on Nantucket, sons and grandsons of John and Eleazer Folger. Probably about as many daughters and granddaughters of these two lived there and an uncounted number of men and women in the same generations but with other surnames, descended from those of Peter Folger’s daughters who had married Nantucket men. If to all of these are added the adults and children of later generations living there in 1762, it is probable that there were between 150 and 200 persons among the 3500 residents of Nantucket whom BF could have called his relatives, provided he could have identified them all.

5John Foulgier (c.1593–1660), progenitor of the American Folger family, arrived in Boston on the Abigail with his wife, son, and daughter, Oct. 6, 1635. He moved to Martha’s Vineyard about 1648. His son Peter was born in Norwich in 1617.

6There are several MS genealogies of the Folger family in the Nantucket Hist. Soc. and Nantucket Atheneum and one has been printed in New-Eng. Hist. and Gen. Reg., XVI (1862), 269–78. While they do not agree with each other in all particulars, they show that the present listing of the sons, grandsons, and great-grandsons in the male lines of BF’s grandfather Peter is not entirely accurate or complete. For example, Peter’s two sons are listed in the wrong order in the next sentence: Eleazer (1648–1716) was older than John (1659–1732) by eleven years, but is given here as if he were the younger.

7The order of birth of John Folger’s sons should be: Jethro, Nathaniel, Jonathan, Richard, Shubael, and Zaccheus. These men, and the sons of Eleazer in the second column, were all BF’s first cousins.

8Jethro (B.1.7.1) had four sons, not two, but Jedidiah had died in 1757 and John had probably also died before this list was compiled.

9The genealogies list three sons of Shubael (B.1.7.6), not two: Seth (d. 1807), Benjamin (1731–1819), and Shubael (1737–1774). The statement in the first sheet of this report that “Shubil and his Son Benjamin Remooved to Cape Sables” and the omission of Benjamin from this listing leave somewhat unclear which members of this branch of the family were the emigrants to Nova Scotia. (Remainder of footnotes for this genealogy on next page)

1Richard (B.1.7.5) had four sons, not three, though the eldest, Sylvanus (b. 1728), probably died young.

2Zaccheus (B.1.7.8) had six sons, not three, including Nathaniel, Andrew, and Reuben, of whom Nathaniel lived until 1777.

3Eleazer (B.1.4) had five sons not three, in the following order: Eleazer, Peter, Daniel, Elisha, and Nathan, but Daniel and Elisha died young.

4Daniel was Keziah Folger Coffin’s father; he had married his first cousin once removed, Abigail, youngest daughter of John Folger, whose sons (but not daughters) are listed in the first column.

5Eleazer (B.1.4.1) had seven sons, not six, in the following order: Gideon, Urian, Elipaz, Charles, Frederick, Stephen, and Peleg. The eldest, Gideon, died unmarried. The names of the “many” daughters (all by his second wife, the former Mary Marshall) were Deborah, Bethiah, Ruth, Margaret, Sophia, and Mary.

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