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This petty estate would not have sufficed for their subsistence, had they not added the trade of blacksmith, which was perpetuated in the family down to my uncle's time, the eldest son having been uniformly brought up to this employment: a custom which both he and my father observed with respect to their eldest sons.
In the researches I made at Eaton, I found no account of their births, marriages, and deaths, earlier than the year 1555; the parish register not extending farther back than that period. This register informed me, that I was the youngest son of the youngest branch of the family, counting five generations. My grandfather, Thomas, who was born in 1598, lived at Eaton till he was too old to continue his trade, when he retired to Banbury, in Oxfordshire, where his son John, who was a dyer, resided, and with whom my father was apprenticed. He died, and was buried there: we saw his monument in 1758. His eldest son lived in the family house at Eaton, which he bequeathed, with the land belonging to it, to his only daughter; who, in concert with her husband, Mr. Fisher, of Well. ingborough, afterwards sold it to Mr. Estead, the present proprietor.
My grandfather had four surviving sons, Thomas, John, Benjamin, and Josias. I shall give you such particulars of them as my memory will furnish, not having my papers here, in which you will find a more minute account, if they are not lost during my absence.
Thomas had learned the trade of a blacksmith under his father; but, possessing a good natural understanding, he improved it by study, at the solicitation of a gentle. man of the name of Palmer, who was at that time the principal inhabitant of the village, and who encouraged, in like manner, all my uncles to cultivate their minds. Thomas thus rendered himself competent to the functions of a country attorney; soon became an essential personage in the affairs of the village; and was one of the chief movers of every public enterprise, as well relative to the county as the town of Northampton. A variety of remark. able incidents were told us of him at Eaton. After enjoying the esteem and patronage of Lord Halifax, he died, January 6, 1702, precisely four years before I was born. The recital that was made us of his life and character, by some aged persons of the village, struck you, I remember, as extraordinary, fronı its analogy to what you knew of myself. “Had he died,» said you, just four years Iater, one might have supposed a transmigration of souls..
John, to the best of my belief, was brought up to the trade of a wool-dyer.
Benjamin served his apprenticeship in London, to a silko dyer. He was an industrious man: I remember him well; for while I was a child, he joined niy father at Boston, and lived for some years in the house with us. A parti. cular affection had always subsisted between my father and him; and I was his godson. He arrived to a great
age. He left behind him two quarto volumes of poems in manuscript, consisting of little fugitive pieces addressed to his friends. He had invented a short hand, which he tanght me; but having never made use of it, I have now forgotten it. He was a man of piety, and a constant atten. dant on the best preachers, whose sermons he took a pleasare in writing down according to the expeditory me. thod he had devised. Many volumies were thus collected by him. He was also extremely fond of politics, too much só, perhaps, for his situation. I lately found in London
collection which he had made of all the principal pam. phlets relative to public affairs, from the year 1641 to 1717. Many volumes are wanting, as appears by the series of numbers; but there still remain eight in folio, and twentyfour in quarto and oetavo. The collection had fallen into the hand of a second-hand bookseller, who, knowing me by having sold me some books, brought it to me. My nncle, it seems, had left it behind him on his departure for America, about fifty years ago. I found various notes of his writing in the inargins. His grandson, Samuel, is now living at Boston.
Our humble family had early embraced the Reformation. They remained faithfully attached during the reign of Queen Mary, when they were in danger of being molested on account of their zeal against popery. They had an Eng. lish bible, and, to conceal it the more securely, they conceived the project of fastening it, open, with pack-threads across the leaves, on the inside of the lid of the close. stool. When my great grandfather wished to read to his family, he reversed the lid of the close - stool upon his kness, and passed the leaves from one side to the other, which were held down on each by the packthread. One of the children was stationed at the door, to give notice if he saw the proctor (an officer of the spiritual court) make his appearance: in that case, the lid was restored to its place, with the Bible concealed under it as before. I had this anecdote from my uncle Benjamin.
The whole family preserved its attachmeni to the Church of England till towards the close of the reign of Charles II. when certain ministers, who had been ejected as non. conformists, having held conventicles in Northamptonshire, they were joined by Benjamin and Josias, who adhered to them ever after. The rest of the family continued in the episcopal church.
My father, Josias, married early in life. He went, with his wife and three children, to New England, about the year 1682. Conventicles being at that time prohibited by law, and freqnently disturbed, some considerable persons of his acquaintance determined to go to America, where they hoped to enjoy the free exercise of their reli. gion, and my father was prevailed on to accompany them.
My father had also, by the same wife, four children born in America, and then others by a second wife, making in all seventeen. I remember to have seen thirteen
seated together at his table, who all arrived to years of maturity, and were married. I was the last of the sons, and the youngest child, excepting two daughters. I was born at Boston, in New England. My mother, the second wife, was Abiah Folger, daughter of Peter Folger, oue of the first colonists of New England, of whom Cotton Mather makes honourable mention, in his Ecclesiastical History of that province, as “a pious and learned English. man,
if I rightly recollect his expressions. I bave been told of his having written a variety of little pieces; but there appears to be only one in print, which I met with many years ago. It was published in the year 1675, and is in familiar verse, agreeably to the taste of the times and the country. The author addresses himself to the governors for the time being, speaks for liberty of conscience, and in favour of the anabaptists, quakers, and other sectaries, who had suffered persecution. To this persecution he attributes the war with the natives, and other calamities which afflicted the country, regarding them as the judgments of God in punishment of so odious an offence, and he exhorts the government to the repeal of laws so contrary to charity. The poem appeared to be written with a manly freedom and a pleasing simplicity. I recollect the six concluding lines, though I have forgotten the order of words of the two first; the sense of which was, that his censures were dictated by benevolence, and that, of consequence, he wished to be known as the allthor; because, said he, I hate froin my very soul dissi. mulation :
Prom Sherborn *), where I dwell,
I therefore put my name,
PETER FOLGER. My brothers were all put apprentices to different trades. With respect to myuelf, I was sent, at the age of eight years, to a grammar school. My father destined me for the church, and already regarded me as the chaplain of the family. The promptitude with which from my infancy I had learned to read, for I do not remeniber to have been ever without this acquirement, and the encouragement of his friends, who assured him that I should one day certainly become a man of letters, confirmed him in this design. My uncle Benjamin approved also of the scheme, and promised to give me all his volumes of sermons, written, as I have said, in the short hand of his invention, if I would take the pains to learn it.
I remained, however, scarcely a year at the grammar-school, although, in this short int?rval, I had risen from the middle to the head of my class, from thence to the class immediately above, and was to pass, at the end of the year, to the one next in order. But my father,
) Town in the island of Nantucket.
burdened with a nimerous family, found that he was incapable, without subjecting himself to difficulties, of providing for the expences of a collegiate education; and considering besides, as I heard him say to his friends, that persons so educated were often poorly provided for, he renounced his first intentions, took me from the grammar. school, and sent nie to a school for writing and arithmetic, kept by a Mr. George Brownwell, who was a skilful ma. ster, aud succeeded very well in his profession by employ. ing gentle means only, and such as were calculated to encourage his scholars. Under him I soon acquired an ex. cellent hand; but I failed in arithmetic, and made therein no sort of progress.
At ten years of age, I was called home to assist my father in his occupation, which was that of a soap.boiler and tallow.chandler; a business to which he had served no apprenticeship, but which he embraced on his arrival in New England, because he found his own, that of dyer, in too little request to enable him to maintain his family.
was accordingly employed in cutting the wicks filling the moulds, taking care of the shop, carrying messages, etc.
This business displeased me, and I felt a strong incli. nation for a sea life; but my father set his face against it. The vicinity of the water, however, gave me frequent opportunities of venturing niyself both upon and within it, and I soon acquired the art of swimming, and of managing a boat. When embarked with other children, the helm was commonly deputed to me, particularly on difficult occasions; and, in every other project, I was almost always the leader of the troop, whom I sometimes involved in embarrassments. I shall give an instance of this, which demonstrates an early disposition of mind for public en. terprises, though the one in question was not conducted by justice.
The mill.pond was terminated on one side by a marsh, upon the borders of which we were accustomed to take our stand, at high water, to angle for small fish. By dint of walking, we had converted the place into a perfect quagmire. My proposal was to erect a wharf that should afford us firm footing; and I pointed out to my companions a large heap of stones, intended for the building a new house near the marsh, and which were well adapted for our purpose. Accordingly, when the workmen retired in the evening, I assembled a number of my play-fellows, and by labouring diligently, like ants, sometimes four of is uniting our strength to carry a single stone, moved them all, and constructed our little quay. The workmen were surprised the next morning at not finding their stones; which had been conveyed to our warf. En. quiries were made respecting the anthors of this convey. ance; we were discovered; complaints were exhibited against us; and many of us underwent correction on the part of our parents; and though I strenuously defended the utility of the work, my father at length convinced
ine, that nothing which was not strictly honest could be useful.
It will not, perhaps, be uninteresting to you to know what. a sort of man my father was. He had an excellent constitution, was of a middle size, but well made and strong, and extremely active in whatever he undertook. He designed with a degree of neatness, and knew a little of music. His voice was sonorous and agreeable; so that when he sung a psalm or hymn, with the accompaniment of his violin, as was his frequent practice in an evening, when the labours of the day were finished, it was truly delightful to hear him He was versed also in mechanics, and could, upon occasion, use the tools of a variety of trades. But his greatest excellence was a sound under. standing and solid judgment, in matters of prudence, both in public and private life. In the former, indeed, he never engaged, because his numerous family, and the mediocrity of his fortune, kept him unremittingly, employed in the duties of his profession. But I will remember, that the leading men of the place used frequently to come and ask his advice respecting the affairs of the town, or of the church to which he belonged, and that they paid much deference to his opinion. Individuals were also in the habit of consulting him in their private affairs, and he was often chosen arbiter between contending parties.
He was fond of having at his table, as often as possi. ble, some friends or well informed neighbours, capable of rational conversation, and he was always careful to intro. duce useful or ingenious topics of discourse, which might tend to form the minds of his children. By this means he early attracted our attention to what was just, prudent, and beneficial in the conduct of life. He never talked of the meats which appeared upon the table, never discussed whether they were well or ill dressed, of a good or bad flavour, high-seasoned or otherwise; preferable or inferior to this or that dish of a similar kind. Thus accustomed, from my infancy, to the utmost inattention as to these objects, I have been perfectly regardless of what kind of food was before me; and I pay so little attentiou to it even now, that it would be a hard matter for me to re. collect, a few hours after I had dined, of what my dinner had consisted. When travelling, I have particularly expe. rienced the advantage of this habit; for it has often happened to me to be in company with persons, who, having a more delicate, because a more exercised, taste, have suffer. ed in many cases considerable inconvenience; while, as to myself, I have had nothing to desire.
My mother was likewise possessed of an excellent constitution. She suckled all her ten children, and I never heard either her or my father complain of any other dis. order than that of which they died : my father at the age of eighty seven, and my mother at eighty-five. They are buried together at Boston, where, a few years ago, I pla. ced a marble over their grave, with this inscription :