Saturday, November 8, 2014

Surname Saturday ~ POPE of Salem, Massachusetts

The Pope Chest, dated 1679
At the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts


The English origins of Joseph Pope, my 8th great grandfather,  are unknown, but the records in Salem are full of stories about him and his family.  He arrived in Massachusetts in 1634 aboard the ship Mary and John and settled in Salem, Massachusetts.  He joined the First Church (Puritan) in 1636, but he was also in the first group of early Quakers in Salem.  There is a long list of fines levied against him in the court records, for absence from church until they were finally excommunicated.  Many other Quakers in Salem were whipped and jailed.

The Quaker persecution in Salem ended when Samuel Shattuck went to London in 1661 to deliver a plea to King Charles II, who sent a mandamus to Massachusetts and ended the Quaker persecutions.  It is unknown whether or not Shattuck is related to Joseph Pope.  Joseph named “my bothers George and Richard and Joseph Gardner and cousin Samuell Shatok the elder to be overseers”  of his last will and testament.  All these families were Quaker.  In a TAG article in 1954 the author was unable to find a genealogical relationship between these families [The American Genealogist, Volume 30: 164-66]

Joseph Pope, Jr. is my 7th great grandfather.  He was the constable for Salem Village (now the town of Danvers) in 1683, and was one of the more wealthy citizens according to a tax list.  He ran a saw mill with his brother, Benjamin, and brother-in-law, Joshua Buffum.  The Buffums were also a Salem Quaker family (another sister, Hannah Pope, married Joshua’s brother, Caleb Buffum).   I descend from Joshua’s sister, Deborah Buffum, who married Robert Wilson (my 9th great grandparents) and was whipped for appearing  “naked” in the Puritan church to protest these persecutions of the Quakers (she was also probably suffering from some sort of mental illness).   Click HERE for that story.

Joseph Pope, Jr. and his bride, Bethshua Folger, were married in 1679.  This year, and their initials, was carved into a valuables chest attributed to the Symonds furniture shop of Salem.   This chest was passed on in the family as the “Franklin Chest” because Joseph and Bethshua Pope were the uncle and aunt to Benjamin Franklin (Bethshua’s sister, Abiah, was Benjamin Franklin’s mother).   When the chest was sold at a Christies Auction on 20 January 2000 it was bought by the Peabody Essex Museum for a record breaking $2,422,500.   Now it is on display as the “Pope Chest”.  To read more about this chest, click HERE

The Popes were witnesses against some of their Salem neighbors in the 1692 Salem witch trials.  Perhaps this was payback for  all the earlier the Quaker persecutions?  Besides being connected to the infamous Witch Hysteria, they were also related to founding father Benjamin Franklin.  Bethshua's sister, Abiah Folger, was Franklin's mother.  This branch of my family tree touches a lot of interesting American history! 

For more information on the Pope family:

The Great Migration, by Robert Charles Anderson, NEHGS, 2007, Volume V, pages 487-491.
A History of the Dorchester Pope Family, 1634 – 1888 by Charles Henry Pope, (Boston 1888) pages 299 – 301.

Also see The Records of the First Church in Salem, Massachusetts, 1629 -1736, and The Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, Massachusetts (too many to list here, see the sketch at The Great Migration for details on the volumes and page numbers)

Also, please see last week's "Surname Saturday" post on the FOLGER family at this link:

My POPE genealogy:

Generation 1:  Joseph Pope, born about 1606 in England, died 1667 in Salem, Massachusetts; married first to Damaris Unknown (mother of 8 children); married second to Gertrude Unknown.  She died 27 April 1667 in Salem.

Generation 2:  Joseph Pope, baptized 27 October 1650 in Salem, Massachusetts, died in February 1712 in Salem; married in 1679 in Salem Village (now Danvers), Massachusetts to Bethshua Folger, daughter of Peter Folger and Mary Merrill.  She was born about 1650 on Nantucket.  Nine children.

Generation 3:  Jerusha Pope, born 1 April 1695 in Salem, died 29 June 1781; married on 9 July 1713 to George Flint, son of George Flint and Elizabeth Putnam.  He was born on 1 April 1686 in Reading, Massachusetts. Seven children.

Generation 4:  George Flint m. Hannah Phelps 
Generation 5:  Phebe Flint m. John Flint
Generation 6:  Olive Flint m. Luther Simonds Munroe
Generation 7:  Phebe Cross Munroe m. Robert Wilson Wilkinson
Generation 8: Albert Munroe Wilkinson m. Isabella Lyons Bill
Generation 9: Donald Munroe Wilkinson m. Bertha Louise Roberts (my grandparents)

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Copyright © 2014, Heather Wilkinson Rojo


  1. You know what's interesting? I'm related to Thomas Pope, of Plymouth Plantation, he arrived in the same year and on the same boat as Joseph Pope. I bet they were brothers.