1582 - 1659                        INDEX      PEDIGREE

Rev. Peter Bulkeley


Marriage: April, 1635
Place: England

Birth Date: 31 January 1582
Birth Place: Odell, Bedfordshire, England
Death Date: 9 March, 1659
Burial: Concord, Middlesex, Massachusetts

Edward Bulkeley (1)
John Bulkeley (1)
Joseph Bulkeley (1)
Thomas Bulkeley (1)
Gershom Bulkeley (1)








Founder Concord, MA

There were many letters in the Concord Library Collection from Peter Bulkeley to John Cotton.

John Cotton (1584-1652) was a Puritan minister and author. He was born in Derby, Engalnd. While serving as vicar of St. Botolph's Church in Lincolnshire from 1612 to 1630, Cotton became widely known as a pastor and preacher. In 1633, he fled to America to escape persecution as a Puritan.  While serving with a church in Boston, Cotton became one of the most respected leaders of New England. Many New England children memorized his catechism, Milk for Babes (1646)
     Cotton believed that church and state should be close partneres, and he often advised both about proper government. He opposed unrestrained democracy, in which people ruled themselves. Cotton believed the people should choose their rulers, who should govern according to certain unchanging principles. Cotton became New England's spokesman against the democratic political and religious views of Roger Williams, founder fo Rhode Island Colony.

By Elizabeth Hubbell SCHENCK
Page 358.

The family BUCKLOGH, BULCLOG, or BULKLEY, is descended from Lord BULKLOGH of Bulklogh, and derive their name from a chain of mountains in Ireland. They date as far back as the reign of King John of England in the 12th century. 1 The family coat of arms, found in the house of Rev. Gershom BULKLEY D.D. of Weathersfield, Conn., who was a son of the Rev. Peter BULKLEY of Concord Mass., is described:

Argent a chevron between three bulls heads cabossed -- sable.
The motto under it is,
"Nec temere nec timide;" "neither rashly nor timidly."

This shield with that of CHETWOOD (the second wife of the Rev. Peter BULKLEY) impaling Chetwode quarterly,

argent & gules, four crosses pattie countercharged,

is quite handsome. 2.
The Rev. Peter BULKLEY, son of Rev. Edward BULKLEY D.D. of the parish of Odell, Bedfordshire, England, was born January 31, 1583, & married 1. Jane daughter of Sir Thomas ALLEN, & by her had twelve children. His second wife was Grace daughter of Sir Richard CHETWODE, by whome he had several other children. He came to Massachusetts in 1635, & soon after was regularly installed teacher of the first church of Conbcord, Mass., (with the Rev. John JONES as pastor), where he died March 9, 1659, aged 76.

1Shattuck's Hist. Concord p. 157

2Elements of Heraldry, by William A. WHITMORE pp. 57, 58)

Compilied By
Donald Lines JACOBUS, M.A.

All accounts of the Rev. Peter BULKELEY are based chiefly on Cotton MATHER's quaint, yet informative, biography in Magnalia Christi Americana which is quoted in full if you click on the title of this work.

While grateful for so much of interest,. one nevertheless wishes that Mr. MATHER, who possessed such unrivalled opportunities to obtain informationk had chosen to preserve mor particulars and anecdoted concerning Mr. BULKELEY andthe members of his family. From other sources, the following facts are gleaned.

He received the degree of B.A. from St. John's Cambridge, 1604/5; M.A., 1608; ordained deacon and priest, June 1608; Canon of Litchfield, 1609; and University preacher, 1610.

Peter BULKELEY bagan his ministry at Odell somewhat earlier than some historians assert. It is true that he succeeded his father as Rector, but usually it has been assumed that he succeeded him after his father's death in 1620; indeed, even the Victoria History of Bedfordshire1 states that he bacame Rector in 1620. The fact is, that Peter became rector over ten years before Edward BULKELEY died. He was instituted 12 Jan 1609/10, and compounded 9 May 1610, as we learn from the Bishops' Certificates of the Diocese of Canterbury.2

The term "compounded" as used in this connection refers to the payment of one years salary to the Bishop. At that period, this was the general practice, and accepted as such by most ministers of the Church of England, though the Puritans objected to it because of its venality. No details have been preserved concerning the ministry of Mr. BULKELEY at Odell, beyond the observations made in MATHER's biography; but there can be no doubt that he performed his duties conscientiously, and that he became more and more attracted to puritan ideals.

The English Church at that period was, in the opinion of the Puritans, too much concerned with ritual and ceremonials, and not sufficiently concerned with the inner religious needs of the common man. In brief, the ideal of the Puritan was to get away from formalism, to elininate the trimmings and trappings, to appeal to the conscience of the individual, and to make the Bible (rather than the church doctrine) the basic guide and authority for the religious life.

To too many ministers of BULKELEY's generation, the ministry was merely a convenient and genteel way of obtaining a livelihood. We can easily understand how Puritanism with its earnestness and its definite program of reform, should appeal to many sincere and devout clergymen. We must believe that these were the motives which led Peter BULKELEY to adopt Puritanism. For a long period his official superiors were satisfied to overlook his lack of strict conformity with the practrices of the English Church. The situation changed when Archbishop LAUD came into power, for he was determined to red the church of non-conformist ministers.

The crisis came in 1634, when Mr. BULKELEY was suspended for non-attendance at the visitation of Sir Nathaniel BRENT, Vicar-General. Afterwards he cae and confessed that he never used the surplice notr the cross in baptism, "accounting them ceremonies, superstitions and dissentaneous to the holy Word of God."1 & 3 This of course ment that unless he admitted his error and showed a willingness to yield to the openions of his ecclesiastic superiors, sooner or later he would lose his encumbency. Feeling a call to continue the preaching of the gospel, he decided to come to New England where he would be secure from the persecutions of Archbishop LAUD. His case was apparently allowed to drag, and it is possible that he secured delays through the influence of some of his highly-placed connections. At any rate, his successor at Odell, Henry LEVIT, S.T.B., was not instituted as Rector until 1 July 1635,2 over a month after Mr. BULKELEY had left the shores of England.

Mr. BUKELEY's eldest son Edward, cameto New England in advance of the rest of the family, perhapsbringing with him some of the family property, and with instructions to prepare for the advent of his relatives. Edward was at that time barely twenty-one years old, He joined the curch in Boston, Mass., 22 March 1535, and was made a freeman on 6 May following.

Careful preparation had to be made for the exodus of the rest of the family from England. A non-conformist minister, if recognized, would not have been permitted to leave the country. furthermore, the law required those who were leaving the country to present crtificates from a minister and Justices of the Peace of their conformity to the orders of discipline of the Church of England, and that they were not subsidy men. The subsidy was a special tax to which certain individuals were liable, and the government did not wish to have its revenue from this source reduced by the departure of men who were liable to the tax. There were venal ministers who made a specialty of providing non-conformists with certificates of conformity.

The difficulties encountered in obtaining trnsportation were therefore not insuperable, though great precautions had to be taken, as the government employed spies to prevent the departure of those whose presence in England was desired. Most of the shipping lists have not been found or preserved, but frotunately those for the year 1635 are fairly complete. It is interesting to obserfe that on 13 April 1635, the name "Jo BAKLEY" aged 15 was entered in the list of those accepted for sailing on the Susan & Ellen Five days later, "Ben; BUCKLEY" aged 11 and "Daniell BUCKEY" aged 9 were accepted as passengers to sail on the same ship. These were undoubtedly Mr. BULKELEY's three sons, John, Joseph and Daniel, whose ages correspond very closely with those given. It will be noticed that no care was tken to the correct spelling of the surname, and that ewven the Christian name of Joseph was incorrectly entered as Benjamin. It is to pe presumedthat Puritan friends or acquaintances of Mr. BULKELEY took these boys separately to the shipping officeand gave the impression that they were members of theior won household, and they may have been garbed like apprentice boys rather thean as sons of a well-to-do clergyman.

About the time the BULKELEY boys were accepted as passengers to sail on theSusan & Ellen, Mr. BULKELEY, now a widdower for eight years, was married to his second wife Grace CHETWOOD, This is revealed in a letter written to William MORTON by John BLACKSTON on 22 May 1635, in which he referred to several who had recently departed for New England. Mr. BLACKSTON, wrote: "mr BUCKLEY is gone wth his wife mrs Grace CHETWOOD whom he married a month agoe." If we suppose that a month ago means about five weeks, the marriage occured not far from 15 April 1635, at just the trime when the sailing arrangements were in progress. Doubtless the wedding was very quiet, since the authorities, if they learned of it, would instruct the shiping clerks to be on the watch for Mr. BULKELEY and his bride. To run no unneccessary risk of discovery, we find that on 8 May1635 "Grace BULKLEY" aged 33 was entered as a passenger on the Elizabeth & Ann, while on the following day "Peter BULKLEY" aged 50 was enteredas a passenger on the Susan & Ellen.

These two ships were expected to sail about the same time, but it is not credible that Mr. BULKELEY's bride was allowed to sail alone on a different ship. It is not difficuot to guess the true story. Some woman who was sailing on the other ship and who was not too different from Mrs BULKELEY in age and appearance was asked to undergo the preliminary examination at the shipping office and to be accepted as a passenger on the Susan & Ellen. Mrs BULKELEY took the other woman's place in being entered as a passenger intending to sail on the Elizabeth & Ann. There would have been great risk of discovery if Mrs. BULKELEY had presented herself with her husband long before their ship sailed. By adopting this method, there was nothing to connect Mr. BULKELEY and his wife in the eyes of the shipping clerks, and at the last moment Mrs. BULKELEY embarked with her husband, while the other woman embarked in the other ship as had been her intention.

By the methods described, Mr. BULKELEY, his wife, and the three boys found themselves together on the same ship. Since Edward had already crossed to New England, this accounts for all the surviving BULKELEY children except the son Thomas, who was then about eighteen years old. Unless Thomas had come with Edward, it is probable that he came on the same ship with his father; but if he did his name was so disguised that we cannot recognize it in the shipping list.4

Although every legitimate device was employed to avoid recognition, which would have meant detention in England, it is not to be supposed that a minister as conscientious as Mr. BULKELEY told any deliberate falsehoods to the shipping clerks. It is to be noted that both he and his wife gave their correct names at the shipping office, although it was a common practice for Puritans of prominence to sail under assumed names. Quite evidently, Mr. BULKELEY preferred the risk of recognition to the telling of a lie.

If tradition is to be believed, the voage to New England was not without event. The story is to the effect that while n shipboard, Mrs. Grace BULKELEY "apparently died, and that her husband, supposing land to be near and unwilling to consign the beloved form to a watery grave, urgently entreated the Captain that the body might be kept one day more and yet another day, to which, as no signs of decay appeared, he consented. On the third day, symptoms of vitality were observed, and before land was reached, animation so long suspended was restored, and though carried from the ship an invalid, she recovered and lived to old age."5

Such trances are not unknown to medical history, and some claim that they are most likely to occur when women are in the early stages of a first pregnancy. While the tradition cannot be verified by strictly contemporary evidence, and may not be exactly true in every detail, it seems very probable that in broad outlines it preserves the memory of an actual occurrence.

The BULKELEY's landed at Boston in midsummer, 1635.6 When the first child of Grace was born some months later, the name of Gershom was bestowed on him. This was not a family name on either side, but was chosen from the Bible to commemorate the fact that the child was born far from home;---for quite naturally England was still looked upon as home. Gershom means 'an exile'; "I have been a stranger in a strange land."7

Mr. BULKELEY's son Edward had doubtless made arrangements for the reception ofhis familyt, and temporarily they sojourned in Cambridge, Mass. In addition to several relatives of Mr. BULKELEY, there were a few of his former tenants and parishioners who had come or were planning to come, to join him in the settlement of the wilderness. In the autumn of 1635, a tract of land at Musketaquid, six miles square, was purchased from the Indians. The hardships which the founding of Concord entailed have been thus narrated:

"They make their way through unknown woods, through watery swamps, through thickets their hands must tear open that their bodies may pass. They come to scorching plains where their feet and legs are torn by ragged bushes, until the blood trickles down at every step. After such toilsomedays, they rest on the rocks shen night takes them, having no repast but a pittance of bread. Finally they reach the desired haven, and here they burrow in the earth and under hillside and build some sort of temporary shelter for their wives and little ones."8

The wealthy settlers like Mr. BULKELEY, who brought £6000, and Mr Thomas FLINT, who brought £4000, not only shared the privation of the early years of the colonization, but greatly impaired their fortunes. The soil of the uplands was poor; there were floods that destroyed the corps prodcedon the meadows; and there were heavy lossed of livestock. Cotton MATHER has told us of Mr. BULKELEY's generosity to his servants and dependents, which in addition to the losses suffered by all must have depleted his resources.

Sad to relate, relitious dissensions had already broken out in the youthful colony, which could not but involve the new settlement of Concord. In 1636 mr. BULKELEY, and Mr. John JONES organized the church and in April 1637 they were ordained at Cambridge, the former as teacher and the latter as pastor, of the church at Concord. The colonial ministry was divided at the time in their attitude towardsthe teachings of Mr. WHEELWRIGHT and Mrs. Anne HUTCHINSON. Mr. BULKELEY belonged to the party known as Legalists, while Mr. COTTON and others were more liberal. Mr. BULKELEY was unsparing in his condemnation of Mrs. HUTCHINSON, and called her "that Jezabell whomthe Devill sent over thither to poison these American Churches with her depths of Satan, which she has learned in the schools of the Familists."

These religious differences seem remote to us to-day, but were very real and important to the participants. It is pleasing to record that Mr. BULDELEY and Mr. COTTON, despite their differences of view, remained personally good friends. Mr. COTTON complained of the want of brotherly love he had experienced, and Mr. BULKELEY replied in his letter: I doe confesse I have found as little towards myself as ever I did in any place God brought me into. It is the place I have desired to show love unto for His sake, who has set his name here, and yet i have found so many strangenesses, alienations, and so much neglect from some who would formerly have visited me, yet will they pass by my dore as if I were a man they had not knowne, that I have sometimes wondered what the cause of the change could be, whether in myself or in them Remembering myne own love and respect unto yourself, I hartily desire you to lay aside all jealousy concerning the same, assuring you before Him, who knoweth our hearts, that my soule is knit with you as it hath been (in some measure) ever since God brought me in acquaintance with you, though in some things I have difference in apprehension and of judgement."

A great Ecclesiastrical council was called at Cambridge, 30 August 1637, to deliberate upon the differences of opinionwhichn had wroughtall the tumult. Mr. BULKELEY and Mr. HOOKER of Hartfordwere chosen Moderators, and after long discussion, certain opinions (eighty-two in all) were declared heretical, and Mr. COTTON succeeded in convincing the Council of his substantial orthodoxy.

The Covenant adopted by the Concord Church contains no statement of doctrine, but is a simple binding of the members to one another "to walke henceforth as becometh the people of God." Mr. BULKELEY devoted himself to the needs of his parishioners in Concord, but at times was concerned about the evils of his day. In a letter he wrote, "I am persuaded that except there be some means used to change the course of things....our churches will grow more corrupt day by day, and tumult will arise hardly to be settled." Early stirrings of the feminist spirit also troubled him, for women were beginning to claim their rights in Concord. He inquired of Mr. COTTON "how to act when a sistertakes offence against a brother," whether she has the same liberty as a brother to deal with the offending brother. He feared an affirmative decision, "for there being neither male nor female in the Lord," allowing the sister to call a brother in question might end in giving the woman power over man.

The trials and discouragements at Concord continued, and in 1644 Mr. JONES and several families removed to Fairfield, Conn. With them went Mr. BULKELEY's sons, Thomas and Daniel, the former maried to a daughter of Mr. JONES. Mr. BULKELEY remained in his chosen field, and continued to minister to the Concord church, although only thirty families remained after the departure of the JONES contingent. Gradually, difficulties were overcome, and the town begain to prosper. Of the power of Mr. BULKELEY's preaching, and of his scholarship and wide influence, we have already quotedthe testimony of Cotton MATHER. His book, The Gospel Covenant, was the first religious book of importance written in New England, and one of the first American books to be printed; it went through several editions in England.

He died at Concord, 9 March1658/9, in the 77th year of his age. The goodness and strength of his character impressed his conteporaries. Motivated by a geat ideal, he abandoned an assured position and at great personal sacrifice started life anew, at the age of fifty, in an undeveloped country. When the STUART monarchy was overturned, and the Puritans came into power in England, he must have been tempted to return there, as many did; but that would have meant deserting his flock, many of whom he had influenced to risk themselves and their fortunes in the Concord venture, and he chose to remain.

History tells us little of his high-born bride, the second wife whom he married just as he was about to cross the ocean. With Grace CHETWOOD, as with her husband, the religious motive must have been strong, but may we not imagine that in her was also a sence of adventure? What were her feelings, this delicately nurtured woman of slightly over thirty years, when the revered pastor asked her to become his wife and to share with him the perils of the sea and the wilderness? We can only guess; it is sufficient to know that she accepted, that she came with him, and endured all with him. After his death she lived with her son, Rev. Gershom BULKELEY, at whose home in new London, Conn., she died 21 April 1669, aged about sixty-seven years. BRADSTREET recorded her death in his Journal in these words: "Mrs Grade BULKLEY ye widow of Mr Peter BULKLEY sometime Pastour of ye chh of Concord, deceased. She was a woman of great piety and wisdome and dyed in a good old Age. her sickness was long and very afflictive."

The will of Rev. Peter BULKELEY

1 Victoria History of Bedfordshire Vol. 3, p.69.

2 Bedfordshire Historical Record Society Publications, Vol. 8, p. 155.

3 Harvey's Hundred of Willey, p. 365.

4 It should be noted that the name "Tho BULKLEY" aged 32 appears under date of 15 May 1635 in the shipping list of the Plaine Joan. Some have supposed that this refers to Thomas the son of Rev. Peter. Despite the fact that this ship was bound for Virginia and the improbability of a youth of eighteen being able to pass himself off as a man of thirty-two, it is not impossible that another act of "substitution" was arranged, similar to that arranged for Mrs. Grace BULKELEY. The chief difficulty is the date which was just a week after Peter's name was entered in the shipping list of the Susan & Ellen; and it is reasonable to suppose that Peter delayed entering his name until the last possible moment before sailing. Hence the presumption is that Peter and his family had sauked before the name of this Thomas was entered for passage on the Paline Joan. It ought to be remembered in considering this entire subject, that ship owners were in business to make money, and that government detention of prospective passengers was damaging to the interests of the ship owners; hence, they and the shipping clerks would be inclined to wink at evasions, incognitos and substitutions on the part f non-conformists, and subsidy men who desired to obtain passage. The chief risk was from the activities of government spies.

5 Callkins' History of New London; Stiles' History of Wethersfield.

6 No mention has been found of the date of arrival. In 1635 the crossing of the Atlantic required from six to twelve weeks, depending on the ship, the weather encountered, and other factors.

7 Exodus, 2:22.

8 For this description, based on Johnson's Wonder Working Providence, and for statements made in some of our subsequent paragraphs, we are indebted to "Some Accounts of the Life and Times of the Rev. Peter BULKELEY," published by Anna Maria FAY in the New Eng. Hist. and Gen. Register, vol. 31, pp153-159.

9 New England Hist. and Gen. Register, Vol. 10, pp. 167-170.


1. EDWARD bap: 12 Jun 1614; Odell, Bedfordshire, England.
md: ;
Lucian ??.
d: 2 Jan 1695; Chelmsford, Middlesex, Massachusetts.
2. MARY bap: 24 Aug 1615; Odell, Bedfordshire, England.
bur: 13 Jan 1615; Odell, Bedfordshire, England.
3. THOMAS bap: 13 Apr 1617; Odell, Bedfordshire, England.
md: ; Concord, Middlesex, Massachusetts.
Sarah JONES.
d: 1658; Fairfield, Fairfield, Connecticut.
4. NATHANIEL bap: 29 Nov 1619; Odell, Bedfordshire, England.
bur: 11 Feb 1628; Odell, Bedfordshire, England.
5. JOHN bap: 6 Feb 1619; Odell, Bedfordshire, England.
6. MARY bap: 1 Nov 1621; Odell, Bedfordshire, England.
7. JOSEPH bap: 4 May 1623; Odell, Bedfordshire, England.
8. DANIEL bap: 28 Aug 1625; Odell, Bedfordshire, England.
d: Abt 1645; Fairfield, Fairfield, Connecticut.
9. JABEZ bap: 24 Dec 1626; Odell, Bedfordshire, England.
bur: 2 Dec 1629; Odell, Bedfordshire, England.


10. GERSHOM b: 6 Dec 1636; Concord. Middlesex, Massachusetts.
md: 28 Oct 1659; Concord, Middlesex, Massachusetts.
d: 2 Dec 1713; Wethersfield, Hartford, Connecticut.
11. ELIEZER b: 1638; Concord, Middlesex, Massachusetts.
d: Abt 1658; , , .
12. DOROTHY b: 2 Aug 1640; Concord, Middlesex. Massachusetts.
md: 9 Dec 1660; Ipswich, Essex, Massachusetts.
Jonathan WADE
d: 2 Dec 1713; Wethersfield, Hartford, Connecticut.
+ 13. PETER b: 12 Jun 1643; Concord, Middlesex, Massachusetts.
md: Abt 1670; Fairfield, Fairfield, Connecticut.
Margaret ??.
d: 1691; Fairfield, Fairfield, Connecticut.