Bulkley, Peter (DNB00)

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BULKLEY, PETER (1583–1659), divine, came of a branch of the old Cheshire family of that name, their immediate ancestors having been seated at Woore in Shropshire. He was the second son of the Rev. Edward Bulkley, D.D., prebendary of Lichfield and rector of Odell in Bedfordshire, by his wife Olyff Irby, a daughter of the ennobled house of Irby in the county of Lincoln (W. M. Harvey, History of Willey Hundred, pp. 364-6 ; Hinman, Early Puritan Settlers of the Colony of Connecticut, p. 379). Born at Odell on 31 Jan. 1582-3, he matriculated, when about sixteen years of age, at St. John's College, Cambridge, of which society he became a fellow. He took his M.A. degree in 1608, and is said, but on doubtful authority, to have proceeded B.D. In January 1619-20, by the death of his father, he succeeded to the living of Odell, in addition to a considerable estate, and under the liberal rule of Lord-keeper Williams, then bishop of Lincoln, and his diocesan, remained unmolested for fifteen years, although he was well known to have inherited his father's distaste to a too rigid observance of ceremonial. When Laud became primate, Bulkley was immediately informed against and as promptly silenced by the vicar-general Sir Nathaniel Brent. Perceiving little prospect of ever being allowed to resume the duties of his ministry here, Bulkley sold his estate, and in the summer of 1635 embarked with three of his sons for New England. For the more perfect deception of the government spies he had sent on his wife and the rest of his children some weeks before (Savage, Genealogical Dictionary; i. 290-2). After a brief stay at Cambridge, Massachusetts, Bulkley, taking with him some trusted planters, moved up further into the woods, and in 1636 founded a settlement to which he gave the name of Concord. Here, on 5 July of the same year, he formed the twelfth church which had been established in the colony, and in April 1637 was appointed one of the moderators of the synod, the other being the still more celebrated Thomas Hooker.

Bulkley died at Concord on 9 March 1658-9. An exact copy of his very curious will is to be found in vol. x. of the 'New England Historical and Genealogical Register,' pp. 167-70.

He married, firstly, Jane, daughter of Thomas Allen of Goldington in Bedfordshire, and by her, who died at Odell in 1626, had nine sons and two daughters. One son, John, graduated at Harvard as M.A. in 1642, and, returning to England, was instituted by the parliamentary committee to the rectory of Fordham, Essex. He is Walker's ' certain Independent of New England ' (Sufferings of the Clergy, pt. ii. p. 330). Being ejected in 1662, he removed to Wapping, where he practised physic with success for several years. He died at St. Katherine's, near the Tower, in 1689 (Calamy, Nonconf. Memorial, ed. S. Palmer, 1802, ii. 200). After remaining a widower for eight years, Bulkley took for his second wife Grace, a daughter of Sir Richard Chetwode, knight, of Odell (G. Baker, Northamptonshire, i. 740), who brought him a family of three sons and one daughter. After Bulkley's death his widow removed to New London, where she died on 21 April 1669. Cotton Mather has given a pleasing sketch of Bulkley's life (Magnolia Christi Americana, bk. iii. pp. 96-8). His only publication is entitled 'The Gospel-Covenant, or the Covenant of Grace Opened,' 4to, London, 1646, pp. 383 (second and enlarged edition, 4to, London, 1651, pp. 432. Third edition, 4to, London, 1674). This work is composed of sermons preached at Concord upon Zechariah ix. 11, 'the blood of thy covenant,' and obtained an extensive popularity. It is dedicated in affectionate terms to Oliver St. John, then solicitor-general, and afterwards chief justice of the common pleas, of whose kindness and bounty Bulkley makes grateful mention in his will, 'his liberality having been a great help and support unto me in these my later times, & many Straytes.' Cotton Mather also prints some of Bulkley's Latin verses, but they do not give us any favourable idea of his classical attainments.

[W. Allen's American Biog. Dict., 3rd edit., pp. 159-60; S. F. Drake's Dict. of American Biography, pp. 139-40; Brook's Lives of the Puritans, iii. 318-19; Neal's Hist. of the Puritans (1822), ii. 239.]

G. G.