Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Tombstone Tuesday ~ Rev. and Hon. Gershom Bulkely (1636 - 1713) Wethersfield, Connecticut

This tombstone was photographed at the Village Cemetery in Wethersfield, Connecticut, behind the First Church of Christ on Main Street.

Rev. and
Died Dec. 2nd 1713 aged 77.
He was honorable in his descent.
Of rare abilities, excellent in learning,
Master of many languages,
Exquisite in his skill in
Divinity, physic and law
And a most exemplary
Christian life.
In certam spem beatae resurrectionis repositus.
GERSHOM BULKLEY [upside down]

This tombstone is odd to me for several reasons.  First of all, I had never seen red, sandstone tombstones until we visited Wethersfield.  It is a very soft, crumbly stone, and many of the grave markers in this cemetery were in poor condition.  Gershom’s grave marker is a ledger style table, which was very worn and difficult to read.  Also, it is very odd that the family crest is so poorly carved, almost cartoonish.  And his name is upside down on the bottom?

Gershom Bulkeley, son of Rev. Peter Bulkeley (my 10th great grandfather) and Grace Chetwood, was born in January 1636 in Concord, Massachusetts, and died 2 December 1713 in Glastonbury, Connecticut.  He married Sarah Chauncy, daughter of Charles Chauncy (2nd president of Harvard College) and Catherine Eyre, on 26 October 1659 in Concord.  They had six children, and son John also became a minister (third generation). 

Gershom graduated Harvard College in 1655.  He served as a minister in New London and Wethersfield.  He was also a trained doctor and served as a surgeon during King Philip’s War where he was wounded near Mount Wachusett.  He was a deputy to the Connecticut General Court, and a Justice of the Peace.

Peter and Grace Bulkeley took their voyage to the New World in the 1630s.  During the voyage it appeared that Grace “apparently died and 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 and yet another day.” [Families of Ancient Wethersfield, Connecticut, by Henry R. Stiles, 2009] On the third day she stirred, and recovered. She gave birth some months later in Concord, Massachusetts and named the child “Gershom”, a biblical name which means “exile”.  It is supposed that part of this story is myth since the Bulkeley family came from England in separate ships to throw off the authorities that Rev. Peter Bulkeley was leaving England as a “non-conformist”. 

Gershom Bulkley's tombstone is next to
his son's, Charles Bulkley.  You can read a post
about Charles' tombstone HERE.  

For more information on the Wethersfield Ancient Burying Ground and Village Cemetery, see this website for photos, transcriptions and GPS coordinates of each stone:


Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Tombstone Tuesday ~ Rev. and Hon. Gershom Bulkely (1626 - 1713) Wethersfield, Connecticut", Nutfield Genealogy, posted May 31, 2016,  (  http://nutfieldgenealogy.blogspot.com/2016/05/tombstone-tuesday-rev-and-hon-gershom.html: accessed [access date]).


  1. Hi Heather, Hope that you are aware of 2 "typos"(if Gershom's birth date is correct 1636), or 1 if his age is incorrect (at 77). Best, Bill

  2. Hi Heather, Hope you are aware of 2 "typos",(if Gershom's birth date is correct as 1636), or only 1 if his age is incorrect (at 77).

    1. Yes, that was a typo in the blog post title. Thanks for letting me know! I've corrected it.

  3. We share the same ancestor of Peter Bulkeley. Rev. Charles Chauncy was my 10x maternal great grandfather.