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My Follett family tree's early U.S. roots were with the Robert and Persis Follet family in early Salem, Massachusetts Colony.


Robert Follett and Persis Black Follett


           Robert Follett of Salem, Mass. married Persis Black in Salem on November 22, 1655.   (I have also seen the marriage date recorded as July 1655.) He was about 28 years old, she was about 22-24 years of age.  This was a union that bore much fruit over time.  In the present world of the twenty-first century, I have pondered this union with a sense of romantic mystery -   wondering what their world was like in 1655, a time that seems so distant, so different from today's electonically plugged in reality.

           To us present-day humans, the stark simple life of this seventeenth century colonial settlement seems an almost unknowable concept.  Robert and Persis were likely a simple hard-working couple, undoubtedly very much in love, binding themselves together for the future, based upon what was an immediate and present love, respect and trust. Their first daughter Mary was born within a year of their marriage. Nine other children followed.


            Robert was most likely born in Devon, England, about 1625-1627.  Persis was born about 1633 and christened in Mass.  It seems likely that they met in Salem or elsewhere in the Massachusetts Colony.  They had ten children together, and these children spawned a large group of Follett’s that have spread throughout the United States and to other parts.


           The baptismal records of 1627 in Dartmouth noted that Robert was the son of John and grandson of Robert, a merchant of Dartmouth, Devon Co., England. (But there is also other data that shows John’s father may also have been named John.)  The men of the Devon Follets were generally mariners or rope and sail makers.


           I consider it possible that the young Robert Follett came to this country and Salem, Mass. about 1640-1642.  I assume this because his youngest sibling, Edward, was born in England (christened in 1642) and his mother would have been in her 40’s at the time. She may have died as a result of the birth or soon after.  This could have contributed to reasons that John and his son Robert may have decided to come to the colonies.  (Merely an assumption!) Other political and religious considerations, or a mere sense of adventure, may also have contributed to the move. As Brenda Cox wrote me: "They were probably mariners, & Dartmouth was a busy port in olden times. Later generations were merchant mariners mainly in the fishing trade to Newfoundland but also in timber. They were Dissenters which might have meant that Robert felt he wanted to flee England."


           Robert and Persis Follett joined the First Church of Salem in 1686 according to church records. Their children followed at different points in time. My ancestor, John, became a member at age 18.


           In the Salem colony, the family had a farm near the Johnson’s Plain area outside of old Salem and a waterfront section of property near the Point of Rocks, on the Cats Cove area off the Ye Neck peninsula, presently this peninsula is the site of Winter Island Park.


           As far as livelihood, Robert was listed on various public records as a "shoreman" or "farmer" or "husbandman." He owned property: the house on Cat's Cove and the farm of 130 acres. I believe Persis may have died around 1702 or 1703. Because, not long after, Robert first transferred his house and the lot to a grandson, William Herbert (son of Mary) in 1703. And the next year, 1704, he transferred his farm and "all property" - including cattle, horses and sheep - to his sons Isaac and Benjamin.


           Robert William Follett died in Salem in 1708. I have not found records of where he was buried.  I am guessing his wife Persis had died just a few years before, probably around 1702 - 1704. Based on the estimate of his birth date, he would have been in his mid-70's at the time of his death, a good long life for a man of that time.

Sources:  Information on some dates was obtained from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS) website based on their review of the International Genealogical Index and contributed information from LDS members. - Additional information was obtained through the writings of Harry Parker Ward, Folletts (1893) and Charles Henry Pope, The Pioneers of Massachusetts (1900).  Additional information was also provided by Brenda Cox of Bedford, UK.


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