Aug 20

52 Ancestors, Week #33: John Prescott of Yorkshire, England, Barbados, Watertown, & Lancaster

John Prescott, one of my eightth great grandfathers, immigrated to the Massachusetts Bay Colony about 1640 from Halifax, Yorkshire, England, by way of Barbados.[1] John resided a short time in Watertown before becoming one of the earliest settlers of what became known as Lancaster.

Lancaster was originally8

John Prescott. Probably born in Lancashire, England. He married, 11 April 1629, in Halifax Parish of Yorkshire, England, Mary Platts of Yorkshire.[2] John died in Lancaster in 1681 (nuncupative will proved 20 December 1681).[3] Weis states that John Prescott “was name in his father’s [Ralph Prescott] will, 1608; made his own will 1673, proved 4 April 1682; died at Lancaster, Massachusetts, December 1681, and was buried in the Old Settlers’ Burial Field there.”[4]

John Prescott and Mary Platts had eight known children.[5]

i.      Mary Prescott. Baptized 24 February 1630 at Sowerby in the parish of Halifax in Yorkshire, England; married 1648, Thomas Sawyer of Lancaster, Worcester County, Massachusetts.

ii.      Martha Prescott. Baptized 11 March 1632 at Sowerby; married, 1654,  John Rugg;[6] and died 24 January 1656 in Lancaster. John married, second, Martha’s sister, Hannah Prescott.

iii.      John Prescott. Baptized 1 April 1635 at Sowerby; and married, in Lancaster, 11 November 1668, a woman named Sarah [probably Sarah Heyward];

iv.      Sarah Prescott. Baptized 1637 at Sowerby; and married, first, 2nd day of the 6th month, 1658 Richard Wheeler of Lancaster; [7] and married, second Mr. Rice.

v.      Hannah Prescott. Baptized 1639; married, first, 2 August 1658, Richard Wheeler; married 2nd, 4 May 1660, John Rugg widower of her sister, Martha Prescott; and Hannah died during the massacre of 11 September 1697. [8]

vi.      Lydia Prescott. Born 15 August 1641 at Watertown, Massachusetts Bay Colony; married, first, 28 May 1658, Jonas Fairbanks of Lancaster; and married, second, Elias Barron following the death of Jonas (killed by Indians during the massacre in February 1676).

vii.      Jonathan Prescott. Born about 1643, perhaps in Barbados; married four times; died 5 December 1721. See blog 52 Ancestors, Week 32: Jonathan Prescott.

viii.      Jonas Prescott; Born in June 1648 at Lancaster; and married 14 December 1672, Mary Loker. Jonas settled and raised his family in Groton. Jonas and Mary had twelve known children: Mary, Elizabeth, Jonas, Nathaniel, Dorothy, James, Sarah, Abigail, Martha, Susannah, Deborah, and Benjamin.

Future Research

Study the deeds of Middlesex County, Massachusetts, to study land ownership of the Prescott families. It should be noted that the town of Lancaster, Massachusetts, was “Settled 1643. In 1653 the General Court ordered that Nashaway be called Prescott, that it be called West Towne, and finally that it be called Lancaster.”[9] Lancaster is currently in Worcester County, but was originally part of Middlesex County. Lancaster has several daughter towns: Berlin, Bolton, Clinton, Harvard, Lancaster, Leominster, Shrewsbury, and Sterling.[10]

Since Weis states, “John Prescott “was named in his father’s [Ralph Prescott] will, 1608; made his own will 1673, proved 4 April 1682; died at Lancaster, Massachusetts, December 1681, and was buried in the Old Settlers’ Burial Field there,”[11] it would be prudent to search for copies of those particular documents.

Study Middlesex County Probate Records to locate additional family evidence.

© Linda Woodward Geiger.


[1] William Prescott, The Prescott Memorial: Or a Genealogical Memoir of the Prescott Families in America (Boston: Henry W. Dutton & Son, 1870), 41–44 (hereinafter cited as The Prescott Memorial).

[2] Frederick Lewis Weis, Eight Lines of Descent of John Prescott, Founder of Lancaster, Massachusetts, 1645, From Alfred the Great, King of England, 871901 (Dublin, New Hampshire: n.p., 1957), 28 (hereinafter cited as Eight Lines of Descent of John Prescott).

[3] Henry S. Nourse, Birth, Marriage and Death Register, Church Records and Epitaphs of Lancaster, Massachusetts, 1643-1850 (Lancaster, Massachusetts: n.p., 1890), 20.

[4] Eight Lines of Descent of John Prescott, 28.

[5] The Prescott Memorial, 46. John and Mary may have had a son called Joseph about 1846/6, but according to William Prescott, Joseph has not be convincingly documented.

[6] Henry S. Nourse, editor, The Early Records of Lancaster, Massachusetts, 1643–1725 (1884 Reprint, Bowie, Maryland: Heritage Books, Inc., 1993), 320 (hereinafter cited as Early Records of Lancaster).

[7] Early Records of Lancaster, 320.

[8] Early Records of Lancaster, 326.

[9] New England Historic Genealogical Society, Genealogist’s Handbook for New England Research, 5th edition edited by Michael J. Leclerc (Boston: The Society, 2012), 211 (hereinafter cited as Genealogist’s Handbook for New England Research).

[10] Genealogist’s Handbook for New England Research, 211.

[11] Eight Lines of Descent of John Prescott, 28.

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