John Prescott

b. 1604, d. 1 December 1681
ChartsAncestors of William Jerome Pierce
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John Prescott, whose parents are not known (or not traced), was born at England, in 1604.1 He died, age 77 at Lancaster, Middlesex Co., Massachusetts, 1 December 16811,2, and was buried the Old Burial Field, Lancaster, Middlesex Co., Massachusetts.3

John married Mary Gawkroger, daughter of Abram Gawkroger and Martha Riley, at Sowerby, Halifax, Yorkshire, England, 11 April 1629.1,4


John Prescott
Born: 1604-1605, Standish, Lancashire, England
Marriage: Mary Gawkroger (Platt) on 24 Jan 1629 in Wigan, Lancastershire, or Lancaster Parish, Yorkshire
Died: 20 Dec 1681, Lancaster, Massachusetts at age 76

General Notes:

A blacksmith from Lancaster came 1640 with his wife. Mary Gawkroger (Platt) a Yorkshire girl, JOhn born Lancashire but lived at Sowerby in Halifax inW.

to Ralph Prescott, son of James Prescott m Elizabeth Standish, b 1510 Standish, Lancashire, Roger Standish, son of Ralph Standish and Alice Harrington, to De Bold, Harrington, Radcliffe; of royal blood.

The identity of John as son of Rasph of Shevington is still challenged. Se TAG 34: 180 and elsewhere. Whilse evidence is not conclusive, the alternatives are not conclusive, either.

The deposition of Mary Prescott of Lancaster dated 1678, when she was 66, NEHGR 95:8) id's John Prescott of Lancaster, Massachusetts w Halfax, Yorkshire, where his children were baptized, while the will of his reputed father Raloph does not id him w the Presctott and STandish families of STanish Parish in co Lancaster, Engl (Prescott Memorial 187- 32-40, Ancestry of John Barber White 107-8, etc.

He must have been something of a character; he came with a much prized gun that was well used and handed down to sons three or four times before being turined over to a local historical society, and a full suit of armor.

He with a Thomas King (there were two of them, one is my ancestor, the other lived in Watertown) founded Lancaster,Massachusetts.


From: > Subject: FAIRBANKS SURNAME ~ PRESCOTT Marriages Massachusetts Date: Tue, 1 Jun 1999 17:45:25 EDT
Fairbanks Eng to Massachusetts (Lawson pages - excellent)

Subject: John Prescott - Lancaster, Massachusetts - and Indian attacks. Sources: Early Records of Lancaster, Massachusetts p.32 Prescott Memorial p.37
"John Prescott was a man of strict integrity and great energy and perseverance. He took an active part in all measures calculated to improve and enhance the interest and prosperity of Lancaster. He took the oath of fidelity in 1652 and admitted freeman in l669.

By occupation he was an agriculturist, blacksmith and millwright.

In Nov. l653 he received a grant of land on condition he build a corn mill. He built the mill in season to commence grinding on the 23d of May l654. The erection of a saw mill soon followed. The town voted that if he would erect one he should have the grant of certain privileges and a large tract of land lying near his mill for him and his posterity forever and to be more exactly recorded when exactly known. In consideration of these provisions, Goodman Prescott forthwith erected his mill." Its location was on the spot where Lancaster Mfg. Co. have extensive works. The people from eighboring towns came to Prescott's gristmill. The stone of this mill was brought from England and now lies in fragments in the vicinity of the factory" - Early Records of Lancaster, Massachusetts p.32 Lancaster, in common with other frontier towns suffered greatly by Indian depredations whenever there was a war between the mother country and France. On the 22nd of August, l675 eight persons were killed at Lancaster. On the l0th of Feb., old style, l676, early in the morning a body of fifteen hundred Indians attacked the town in five distinct squadrons, completely investing it. There were at that time more than fifty families in town. Of this little band, fifty persons, if not more, were killed or taken prisoners. Among them were: Richard Wheeler Jonas Fairbanks, sons-in-law of John Prescott, and Joshua Fairbanks and Ephraim Sawyer, his grandsons. The three former were killed at Wheeler's garrison and the latter at Prescott's which stood about thirty rods southeast of Messrs Poignard and Plant's factory. The inhabitants (after the destruction of all but two houses) left the place under the protection of Capt. Wadsworth's company of soldiers. The alarm of the people was so great that the return of peace on the death of the Indian, King Philip, August, l676, did not restore courage and confidence. For more than three years, Lancaster remained uninhabited. In l679 some of the first planters (among them were the Prescotts, Houghtons, Sawyers and Wilders) returned and the Carters came in soon after. John Prescott lived to see the town rebuilt and in a fair way to a prosperous condition. He died in l683. But, subsequently to this, the town suffered severely at sundry times from the incursion of hostile Indians. In l702 the war between England and France was renewed, and l704 was a period of great distress and suffering from Indian depredations. They made an attack on Lancaster in July l704 and after defeating the soldiers and driving them into their garrisons, they burned the church and six houses and destroyed much live stock and other property. In l705 Thomas Sawyer, Jr. and his son Elias (grandson and great grandson of John Prescott), together with John Biglo (now written Bigelow), were taken prisoners and carried to Canada. Thomas Sawyer, on arrival of the party at Montreal, offered to build a saw mill on the Chamblee River, provided the French government would obtain a release of the captives. This he promised, if possible, to do. The son Elias and Biglo were ransomed but the Indians determined to put the father to death by a lingering torture. His deliverance was finally effected by the timely appearance of a friar who told the Indians that he held the keys of purgatory in his hand and that unless they immediately released their prisoner he would unlock the gates and cast them in headlong. Their superstitious fears prevailed. They unbound Sawyer from the stake and delivered him to the Governor. Sawyer finished the mill in a year and was sent home. Whitney says this was the first saw mill erected in Canada. _____________________________________________________

From Butler's History of Groton. John. . . was born in Lancashire, England, and married Mary Platts, if Yorkshire, by whom he had three sons and foru daughters. On leaving England, he first went to Barbadoes, where he was a proprietor of lands, in 1638. About the year 1640, he came to Massachusetts, first stopped at Watertown, but soon settled at Nashua, afterwards incorporated and called Lancaster, probably from his native county in old Enlgand. He was a blacksmith by occupation, and was also a builder of mills. He had in his possession, brought from England,[ a caot of mail armour [a long footnote appearing here is reproduced below], and habilimients complete, such as were worn by field officers of that day; whence it had been supposed, that he or some of his ancesotrs were warriors, and some one of them might have received teh order of knighthood.

John Prescott haed three sons, John, Jonathan and Jonas.

On p 286 Butler includes this footnote:

"Of this armour and its owner the following anecdotes are told: -- "'John was a sturdy, strong man of a stern countenance, and whenever he had any difficulty with the Indians, he would clothe himself with his coat of mail, helmet, curiass, and gorget, which gave him a fierce and frightful appearance. They having once stolen from him a horse, he put on his armour and pursued them; and in a short time overtook the party. They were surprised to see him alone, and a chief approached him with uplifted tomahawk. John told him to strike, which he did, and finding the blow made no impression on his cap, he was much astonished, and asked John to let him put it on, and then strike his head, as he had done to John's. The helmet being too small for the chief's head, the stroke settled it down to his ears, scraping off the skin on both sides of his head. They gave him up his horse, thinking him to be a supernatural being. "'At another time, the Indians set fire to his barn. Old John put on his armour, rushed out, drove them off, and let out his cattle and horses from the burning stable.' 'Again, the Indians set fire to his saw-mill. The old man, armed cap-a-pie, as before, drove them off and extinguished the fire.' 'Once more, they attacked John's house. He had several muskets in the house, which his wife loaded, and he discharged upon them with fatal effect. The contest continued nearly half an hour, John all the while giving orders, as if to soldiers, so loud the Indians could hear him, to load their muskets, though he had no soldiers but his wife. At length they withdrew, carrying off several of their dead or wounded.'" The Prescotts Unlimited newsletter (19(3):29, September 1998) gives the following update on the ancestry of John Prescott: "Evidences on hand do not support that this John is the son of Ralph Prescott of Shevington as published in 1870 by Dr. William Prescott and as published in 1959-61 by Dr. Frederick L. Weis. The evidence that John, son of Ralph, died in Shevington in 1651 was presented in detail in Prescotts Unlimited, June 1992, under the heading 'The Ancient Prescotts of Shevington.' Additional information about John's sojourn in Sowerby, Halifax Parish, Yorkshire, has surfaced; however, his parentage and his Lancashire connection remain illusive [sic]." He married Mary PLATTS-GAWKROGER85 ,86 , 8G Grandmother, on 11 Apr 1629 in Halifax Parish, Yorkshire, England.


Below is from an article in The American Genealogist:

In his Ancestral Roots of Sixty New England Colonists, Dr. F. L. Weis, under Line 170, sought to show that John Prescott, early settelr of Lancaster, Massachusetts, descended via Alice STandish from Alfred the Great. Unfortunately no evidence was presented by Dr. Weis showing that Alice Standish had any issue by James Prescott, the husband assigned to her, or even that the said Jaems had any children. A review in this quarterly (supra, 37: 117-19) discusses some of hte weaknesses of Dr. Weis's attempts to prove his thesis in a more recent publication. The numerous descenants of John Prescott, the blacksmith, of Lancaster Massachusetts will include some who will be interested in...

Robert Prescote was living about 1350 in Lancashire; he married by 1316 Isabel Nevill, daughter of Sir Edumnd de Nevill by his wife Isolda de Flamboro of Liversedge, Yorks. Robert adn Isabel Prescote had atleast two sons, Edmund and Thomas, and probably a third son John. The aforesaid Edmund de Prescote had a son James Prescote whose descent from Edmund de Nevile is proved when in 1445 he claimed a messuage in Coppul, Lancs. He was aseemingly either a lineal or collateral ancestor of Richard Prescott who died in 1631 holding land in Coppul. The last-named Prescott thus seems to have descended from the above Edmund de Nevill, whose ancestry will be discussed below.

This Richard Prescott of Coppul died testate, his will being in print in abstract form (pp 79-80, Dr. weis's The Parentage of John Prescott of Lancaster, Mass, 1645 (1959)]. Richard seesm to have been the son of William Prescott of Coppul (see p 73, op cit].

Dr. Weis asserted that this Wm Prescott of Coppul was the son of James Prescott adn Alice his wife, said James being son of William, son of Richard, son of Thomas, son of Robert de Prescote who in 1350 with Thomas his son held lands in Shevingotn of Robert de Nevill of Hornby Castle (see p 46 of Dr. Weis's work last cited). WHile we have seen no evidence that James Prescott aforesaid and Alice his wife had any children, it does seem highly probable that very many of the Prescott families, numerous in STandish and surrounding parishes in teh 16th and 17th centuries, did descend from the aforesaid Robert Prescote (living 1350). Two of his sons, and perhaps a third, were his children by Isabel de Nevill.

This lady descended from Alfred the Great via her grandfather, Geoffrey de Nevill of Hornby Castle, whose ancestry is set forth in brief in Line 247, Supplement, Ancestral Roots of Sixty New England Colonists, by Dr. Weisss. See also pp 104, 105, col 46, pulibcations of the Record Society for Publication of Origional deomuments Relating to the History of Lancashier and Cheshire (1902), entitled Lancashire Fines, Part II, 1308-1377; idem., vol. 88, p 232, no 1328; and Victoria County History of Lancashire, VI: 224, no., and 218, n.


From, 6/2/99; Weis' 7th ed of "Ancestral Roots of Certain American Colonists". "The identification of John Prescott of Lanceaster Massachusetts with the son, John, of Ralph of Shevington is still challenged. See TAG 34:180 and elsewhere. "

43.JOHN PRESCOTT, founder of Lancaster, Mass, 1645,; made his own will, 1673, pro. 4 Apr 1682., d. Lancaster Mass Dec 1681; perh. the one who m. Halifax County York, 11 Apr 1629, Mary Platts, bp. Sowerby Parish, Halifax, co. York, 15 Mar 1607; d. Lancaster, Mass, aft 1678, dau. of Abraham and Martha (Riley) Gawkroger -Platts. The deposition of Mary Prescott of Lancaster, Mass dated 8, when she was 66 or thereabouts (NEHGR 95:8, in Middlesex files) identifies John Prescott of Lancaster, Mass., with Halifax, Yorkshire, where his children were bapt., while the will of his reputed father Ralph (no 42) does not identify him with the Prescott and Standish families of Standish Parish on co. Lancaster, Eng. ("Prescott Memorial" [1870], 32-40; "Ancestry of John Barber White" [1913], 107-28, pedigrees of Fleming and Harington, 107-112, Standish and Prescott, 102-104, 122-128, are based upon the research of Mr. Holding, but the other pedigrees in this section of "Ancestry of John Barber White" are dubious or defective. For fullest details and authorities now available see: Weis, "The Families of Standish of Standish and Prescott of Standish Parish, Lancashire, England", ms, types, 203 pp., 1948, cf. 43-49, 53-4, 58-60, 67-68, 78-79, 84-88. . . ...." [p 39, ARCAC]


Date: Wed, 2 Jun 1999 15:33:40 -0400 From: "ROBERT E. BOWMAN" To: Message-ID: <> Subject: Re: Gawkroger/Platts & Prescott Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1 Content-Disposition: inline Content-Transfer-Encoding: 8bit Hi, Muffy, It's been some time since we corresponded, hasn't it ? Frederick L. Weiss, author of the pamplets I have, as well as the earlier editions of Ancestral Roots, and his wife were both descended from John Prescott and his wife Mary Gawkroger als. Platts. Weiss was determined to prove that Prescott, a blacksmith, was descended from the gentry family of Prescott and thereby, in turn, from Royalty. None of the "biggie" genealogists (FASG's and the like) have really accepted Weis's arguments for royal descent as likely or even probable. Gary Boyd Roberts told me at a luncheon a year and a half ago that the Prescott family association had recently sponsored a genealogical research effort to prove Weis' contention. This effort, to the contrary, proved that John Prescott was not the son , or had the descent that Weiss had insisted was likely. I have not been in touch with that association. This loss of royal descent has infuriated some of the Prescott descendants. On of them in particular has had what I would call "fits" on other fora about this, claiming that since it is in "books" the royal descent has been demonstrated. Such people cannot be reasoned with and are best avoided in my opinion. I have not seen the ms. in the library up in Massachusetts on Standish/Prescott etc. I asked Claudia Cridland to look at it if she went that way, but she replied that that town had such horrid traffic that it was to be avoided. I purchased from Tuttle a few year's ago Weis's "The parentage of John Prescott of Lancaster Massachusetts and of James Prescott of Hampton and Kingston, New Hampshire. (1959) In this he sets forth the arguments for saying that Mary (G-Platt) was the daughter of James Prescott and his wife Martha Ainsworth (James 6 ; James 5; Richard 4;-3 and 2; John 1) Bound in with this pamphlett was an addendumwritten by Torrey ahowing that the Mary daughter of James and Martha could not be the wife of John---she married someone else and died before Mary (G-P)Prescott did. He said that Mary was daughter of Abram/Abraham and Martha Riley

John married Mary Gawkroger (Platt) on 24 Jan 1629 in Wigan, Lancastershire, or Lancaster Parish, Yorkshire. (Mary Gawkroger (Platt) was born on 15 May 1607 in Halifax, Yorkshire, christened on 7 Feb 1612-7 Feb 1613 and died in 1674 in Lancaster, Massachusetts.).
He left a will dated 8 October 1673 and proved 4 April 1682. The published vital records for Lancaster erroneously indicate it was a nuncupative will, proved 20 December 1681.5,3


Mary Gawkroger b. 7 Feb 1612/13, d. aft. 1678


  1. [S762] Joan S. Guilford, The Ancestry of Dr. J. P. Guilford: Volume I (Orange, California: Sheridan Psychological Services, 1990), 629-648. Hereafter cited as Guilford, Guilford: Vol I.
  2. [S907] Henry Stedman Nourse, The Birth, Marriage, and Death Register, Church Records and Epitaphs of Lancaster, Massachusetts, 1643-1850, two vols. (Clinton, Massachusetts: W. J. Cooper, Printer, 1890), 1:20. Hereafter cited as Nourse, Vital Records of Lancaster.
  3. [S907] Nourse, Vital Records of Lancaster, 2:420.
  4. [S1872] Clarence Almon Torrey, New England Marriages Prior to 1700, 3 vols. (Boston, Massachusetts: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2011), 1229. Hereafter cited as Torrey, New England Marriages (2011).
  5. [S16] Mary L. Holman, Ancestry of Colonel John Harrington Stevens and His Wife Francis Helen Miller (Concord, New Hampshire: Rumsford Press, 1948), 54-60. Hereafter cited as Holman, Stevens-Miller Genealogy.