Ocean-Born Mary – Henniker, New Hampshire - Atlas Obscura

Ocean-Born Mary

Henniker, New Hampshire

Sites connected to a woman born on a ship and spared by a pirate. 


According to the story, a group of settlers were sailing to the New World from Ireland in 1720. En route, a girl was born to James and Elizabeth Fulton. After the child’s birth, the ship was waylaid by pirates, and upon seeing the newborn, the pirate captain offered to let them all live if the Fultons named the child after his mother, Mary. They agreed, and he gave them a bolt of green silk for a wedding dress for the child.

Everyone has their own opinion on which parts of the story are true and which are yarns being spun. It often gets embellished further with ideas that the pirate was a famous one or that he himself married the girl. But Ocean-Born Mary certainly lived, to the age of 94, in fact. Her grave is located in a cemetery behind the town hall in Henniker, NH. She’s buried under her married name, Mary Wallace. In front of the grave is a metal plaque upon which can be found the name “Ocean-Born Mary.”

In 1917, a man named Louis Roy moved to Henniker, after asking around for a house with some history. He was directed to what had once been the house of Robert Wallace, one of Mary’s sons. He bought the house, and starting calling it the Ocean-Born Mary House, despite the fact that she had never lived there. He started filling it with antiques he claimed were Mary’s, offering tours, dressing his mother in period costumes, conjuring ghost stories, and claiming that pirate gold was buried on the property and selling shovels to tourists to go find it.

The house is still known as the Ocean-Born Mary House. It’s on Bear Road, just outside of town, and bears a marker that reads, “Homestead of Robert Wallace, also known as Ocean Born Mary House, 1784.”

Adapted with Permission from: The New England Grimpendium by J.W. Ocker

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