George Bunker

George was born and baptized in 1621 at Tingrith, Bedfordshire, England. On May 5, 1644 at Maulden, Bedfordshire, England, George married Elizabeth Godfrey in the Parish Church of Maulden, Bedfordshire, some 7 or 8 miles from Tingrith center. She was the daughter of Thomas & Elizabeth (Mead) Godfrey, and was born March 5, 1630. There is some confusion concerning George's wife's name when they arrived in America. In Topsfield she was known as Jane. No information has been found to clarify this apparent inconsistency. Two alternatives appear: first, Elizabeth died just before they left England or more possibly enroute to America, and George married a Jane shortly afterwards so that Elizabeth never reached America and was not buried in Tingrith either. The second possibility is that she was Elizabeth Jane Godfrey and chose to drop the Elizabeth in America where she had no friends to continue her former name. We do know that George and Elizabeth had two children born in Tingrigth, namely Elizabeth in 1646 and William, baptized June 17 1648. George and Jane had 3 children born in Topsfield. The uncertainty involving Jane/Elizabeth has no bearing on William and his Nantucket descendants, as he was definitely the son of Elizabeth (Godfrey) Bunker.

George who is credited with founding the Nantucket branch of the Bunkers never visited Nantucket, only his wife and children made the journey when they settled there in 1659. George is first recorded in Agawam (Ipswich), MA. Whether he arrived there directly from England or via Salem or Boston, is unknown. It is also not known how long George, Jane and their children lived in Ipswich or why they decided to move a few miles west to Topsfield, but by 1652 they were there. George was made a freeman in 1655. Actually Agawam, meaning "wide pleasant meadows," was quite large and apparently encompassed both Ipswich and Topsfield. The early settlers had many problems with the relatively few Indians who still lived there. The Sagamore or Chief of the Agawam Indians was friendly, but the Terrateens to the West raided the early settlements.

John Whittingham, an Ipswich trader-merchant from Lincolnshire, England, acquired by grant or purchase 800 acres of land. In 1648 Whittingham sold this land to Capt. Pendleton. About a year later Capt. Pendleton sold this land to George Bunker who moved his family onto the property from Ipswich. The land extended from what is now Common and Main Street to Perkins Street on the south and was bounded on the west by a nameless brook that enters the river below the Agricultural Fair Grounds and rises the west of the village and flowing under Prospect and South Main Street. There are records in the Registry of Deeds of land transactions involving relatively small parcels of this land for a "way" (now the turnpike) and to neighbors. In 1656, it was "ordered and Granted that there shall be a way foure rod wide from the forde nigh to the House of William Towne, through the land of William Towns, Wm. Howard, Jacob Towne, Edmund Towne, and George Buncker as it is layd out by Francis Peabody, John Redingotn, Edmund Towne and William Howard, at the request of the Towne."

Also in 1656 "Sary" Barnes was presented at court for speaking reproachfully against the minister and people at Wells. Witnesses were the wives of George Bunker, John and Abraham Redington. George Bunker was paid for the time or travel of Jane Bunker to attend this hearing according to certain records.

George died at Topsfield on May 26, 1658, drowned while driving his team through river, presumably swollen by recent rains. His son William, then 10 years old, escaped death with the team. Widow Jane was appointed administratrix on June 29, 1658. The estate was divided among widow, son William age 10, and daughters Elizabeth age 12, Mary age 6, Ann age 4, and Martha age 1 1/2 years. The inventory of George Bunker's estate was appraised at 300, a goodly sum, but his debts totaled 158. His wearing apparel was valued at 3 6s.; bedding, linen, woolen and cotton wool at 8; table, chairs, trays, tubs and barrels were worth 2 3s; brass & pewter 3. His farm stock included working cattle 36; cows, heifers & calves 16; swine 2. His carts, plows, and other implements (tackilng) 3; "cowes pelt skines & wheeles, a Rop and bandalers, gun and sword" 4. The crop of corn upon the ground 9.

His widow Jane married Richard Swain, then of Rowley, on September 15, 1658 and moved to Nantucket in 1659, where Swain became one of the ten original proprietors. In July 1660 the Swains sold the land that was formerly George Bunker's in Topsfield and moved to Nantucket. Jane died there on October 31, 1662, the first death recorded at Nantucket. At the same time, John Redington, who was living nearby, bought 100 acres of the Bunker farm. Others who purchased the remainder of this land were John Wildes, 100 acres; Thomas Browning, 13 acres, Jacob and Edmund Towne, 26 acres. It is probable that George Bunker sold, prior to his death, the balance of the six hundred acres of the original grant which he bought of Capt. Pendleton and the deeds were not recorded.

Bunker Hill was the site of the first of the famous battles of the Revolutionary War. No history of the Bunker family would be complete without mention of this battle, which occurred on June 17, 1775. This battle was a great significance to the American colonists but also recorded the Bunker name for posterity all over the eastern part of the country.

To the best of our current knowledge, no Bunker took part in the battle on either side, but there were no formal American regiments and no rosters of soldiers, only scattered records pieced together from individual sources. In any event, George Bunker's first cousin, another George Bunker5 (George4, Oliver3, William2, Roger1) gave the hill its name, as he and his descendants owned its land many years before the battle. "The land assigned to George Bunker extended from Main Street in the south, over the hill back of it to the north to Mystic River. One lost (pasture land) ran over the summit of Bunker Hill, and hence this name, given by early and common consent to two connected ridges of elevated ground in the peninsula."

George and his descendants had left Charlestown several years before the battle. The American colonists originally expected to fortify Bunker Hill and actually started work, when it was decided to move forward and down to Breed's Hill. There were 11 English light infantry companies in the attacking army. During the battle the city of Charlestown was destroyed by cannon fire from British war ships supporting their troops.

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See lineage of Bunker Family

Read about George's great, great grandfather, Roger Bunker

Read about George's great grandfather, William Bunker

Read about George's grandfather, Oliver Bunker

Read about George's father, Timothy Bunker

Read about George's son, William Bunker

Read about George's grandson, Peleg Bunker

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