The “Missing” John Follett

There are early historical reports about members of the Follett family, Nicholas, William, and John, who emigrated to New England. While there have been speculation and suggestions about their relationships to one another, nothing concrete has been found.

William and John were in Dover and Oyster River, New Hampshire in 1640. Nicholas first appears on the record in 1652, when he purchased a house and land in Oyster River of Thomas Johnson.

A presumption has been made that he was the son of either William or John.

He was, in fact, the slightly younger brother. No records of the Follett brothers’ departures from England or arrivals in New England have been found. We can assume that the two older brothers, William and John, came around 1640 and that Nicholas came a while later — or it is possible all three came at the same time. Nicholas had reached his majority around 1639.

As there are no reports that any of them came as servants, we have to assume that they paid their own passage.

The “missing” John Follett quickly appears in Dover around 1640 but soon vanishes from the record. There is an explanation for that, which comes a bit later.

First of all, John was the oldest of the three brothers, baptized July 17, 1614, in Colyton, Devonshire. William was the second oldest, baptized there March 10, 1616. Nicholas was the youngest of the three, baptized April 13, 1617, in Colyton.

The brothers were from at least the fourth generation of the Follett family born and raised in Colyton. Their parents, interestingly, were both members of the Follett family — which is abundantly represented in Colyton.

Their father, Charles Follett, baptized September 27, 1584, in Colyton, was the son of William and Unknown Follett.

Their mother, Ebbott Follett, baptized September 29, 1588, in Colyton, was the daughter of John and Unknown Follett.

FH BDM Follett, Ebbott d_o John Follett

“Ebbott Follett daughter of John Follett of Coylton” baptized September 29, 1588, Devon Baptisms (

Between 1640 and 1684, William Follett left behind marriage, tax, and land records in both Dover and Oyster River. His occupation is unknown but he was likely a fisherman. He left behind no male heir and his nephew, Nicholas Follett Jr., was the recipient of his estate.

The records for Nicholas, who was a mariner, which began around 1652, are much the same. The date of his death is uncertain; it was obviously prior to his widow Abigail’s marriage in 1706 to Richard Nason of Kittery.

He owned substantial property, including a wharf and a landing place for his boats “just where Stony Brook broadens into Stevenson’s Creek.”

Customs-house returns noted in September 1692 that The Friends Endeavor of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Nicholas Follett, commander, had arrived from Barbados with sugar, molasses, and salt.

John, the “missing” Follett, slips into and quickly out of the historical record.

John was at Piscataqua in 1640, when he signed the Dover Combination and petition against Dover (then called “Northam”) coming under the jurisdiction of Massachusetts in March 1640.

Early New England marriage records show John and an unknown bride married around 1640 in Dover.

Other records show John Follett with a house on Low Street in Dover between 1640 and 1649, at which time his brother William Follett was at that location. However, there is no proof that John resided there the whole time.

The probability, then, was that he either died or left New Hampshire.

The latter is the most likely. The brothers’ parents both died in 1645-6. Charles Follett was buried December 28, 1645; Ebbott Follett was buried January 29, 1645/6.

Charles Follett’s will was probated in 1646 in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury. Administration of the estate was granted to his eldest son, John.

The mystery of the “missing” John Follett is resolved. It is most likely that John, possibly accompanied by a wife, returned to England.

This entry was posted in Follett, Immigrant Ancestor, New Hampshire and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The “Missing” John Follett

  1. Brenda J. Elliott says:

    I have not heard of this. This may be another John Follett.


  2. Jimmy Valentine says:

    Hi Brenda!
    I’m looking for more information on John Follett as he may have a tie to one of my ancestors, Claesen (Claessen) Valentyn (Valentine). I found an expert in a book “Revised History of Harlem” by James Riker that references my ancestor seeking permission to go on a voyage to Isle of Providence, Curacao and Jamaica in the West Indies – aboard the ketch “Zebulon” (I believe William Tuttle’s ship) where John Follett was commander. The request was apparently made December 11th, 1671.

    Heave you heard of this voyage before?

    Jimmy Valentine


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s