Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
and Company, 1887-1889 and 1999. Virtualology.com warns that these 19th Century
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FOLGER, Peter, colonist, born in England in 1617; died in Nantucket, Massachusetts, in 1690. He left Norwich, England, in 1635, with his father, settled in Watertown, Massachusetts, and removed to Martha's Vineyard in 1641, where he taught, surveyed land, and assisted Thomas Mayhew, the missionary, in his labors among the Indians. He afterward became a Baptist minister, and in 1663 he removed to Nantucket, having been offered by the proprietors a half share of land if he would serve there as surveyor and interpreter. He was one of five commissioners to lay out land; it was voted that, "whatever shall be done by them, or any three of them, Peter Folger being one, shall be accounted legal and valid." He was also a clerk of the courts for a time. Cotton Mather, in his "Ecclesiastical History of the Province in New England," refers to Folder as pious and learned.
He was familiar with the scriptures, taught them to the youths, and occasionally preached. Among other lesser pieces, he published a poem entitled "A Looking Glass for the Times; or, The Former Spirit of New England revived in this Generation" (1675; 2d ed., 1763). Of it Benjamin Franklin, in his autobiography, says: "The poem, in familiar verse, appeared to be written with a manly freedom and a pleasing simplicity, agreeably to the tastes of the times and the country. The author addresses himself to the governors of the colonies, speaks for liberty of conscience, and in favor of the toleration of sects, among them the Quakers and Anabaptists, who had suffered persecution.
"His daughter, Abiah, born in Nantucket, 15 August 1667, married Josiah Franklin, and became the mother of Benjamin Franklin.
His great-grandson, Peleg, sailor, born in Nantucket, Massachusetts, 13 October 1733; died there, 26 May 1789. His life was passed on a farm until he was twenty-one years old, when he changed from land to sea, and for several years was engaged in the cod and whale fisheries. He kept a journal of his voyages, which is written in a much more scholarly manner than could be expected from his limited education. Some of the verses that he introduced into his journal were quoted in Macy's "History of Nantucket," and seem to be those of a scholar rather than a sailor. On his retirement from the sea, his counsel was much sought by his neighbors. He was a member of the Society of Friends.
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