Of Prescott's wife, we know only the name, but her daughters were sought in marriage by men of whom we know nothing buy what was praise and worthy. Her sons all honored their mother's memory by useful and unblemished lives .
Martha was baptized at Halifax Parish on March 11, 1632. She married John Rugg in 1655. She died November 24, 1656, with twin children.
John Prescott Jr was baptized at Halifax Parish April 1, 1635. He married Sarah Hayward November 11, 1668. He was a farmer and blacksmith and five children. He lived with his father and succeeded him in the mills.
Sarah was baptized at Halifax Parishin 1637. She married Richard Wheeler who was killed in the massacre February 10, 1676. They had eight children. After the death of Wheeler she married Joseph Rice of Marlborough.
Hannah was probably born in Barbadosin 1639. She became the second wife of John Rugg, May 4, 1660. Her sister Martha was his first wife. (She died as above note in 1656) . Hannah had eight children, John Rugg died Jan 1697. Hannah was slain by the Indians in the Massacre, September 11,1697.
Lydia was born in Watertown, Massachusetts, August 15, 1641. She married Jonas Fairbanks, May 28th 1658. He was massacred, as was his son Joshua February 10, 1676. There were seven children in this family. Lydia after the death of her husband married Elias Barron.
Jonathan was probably born in Lancaster, Massachusetts, about 1646. He removed to Concord, Massachusetts after the Massacre when the town was abandoned for a time, and he became a man of note there. He was a blacksmith and a farmer. Jonathan's first wife died in 1674 leaving one son Samuel- the unfortunate sentinal who, on November 6th, 1704, killed by mistake, his neighbor, the beloved ministerd of Lancaster, Reverend Andrew Gardner. Jonathan's second wife was Elizabeth daughter of John Hoar of Concord who died in 1687, leaving six children. His third wife was Rebecca Buclkley, and his fourth the widow of Thomas Brown. He died December 5th,1721. His grandson, John was commander of Massachusetts men in the expedition against Carthagenia, in 1746.
Jonas was born June, 1648 in Lancaster. He married Mary Loker of Sudsbury, in 1672 and was a prominent citizen of Groden. He had 12 children-one was born in Lancaster. He became a Captain, selectman, and Justice of the Peace. He died in Groton December 31, 1723.
Of his illustrious descendants, are many, of whom Col William and the historian William H. are numbered.The sons of John Prescott were blacksmiths, millers and farmers. His grandchildren numbered 50.found on ancestry.comSir John Prescott
Reference: FLW LINE 34. John Prescott was naturalized; Blacksmith - Made his own armor. He Inputs on this line from John UP are found in F.L. Weiss' 'Sixty Colonists who came to America' book. John arrived in the colonies around 1636, settled in Lancaster, Massachusetts about 1640 (listed as 'Founder' for Lancaster). Was first in Watertown, Massachusetts, prior to moving to Lancaster. Possibly was the one who sailed from Sowerby, Yorkshire, England. Another source of information is the book titled 'Prescott Memorial II'. According to some sources, John came from England to Barbados in 1638, 'thence' to Watertown in 1640. Given information on the Sawyer family, it would seem that John and Mary had children in England, prior to coming to the colonies. IF Mary was actually born in Sowerby, this helps to cement the family connection to Ralph and the line back to the Royals.Narrative on John Prescott from the Sawyer Family Website (www.geocities.com/heartland/bluffs/8841/edsawyer.htm):John Prescott, the father of Mary, was the founder of Lancaster, Mass. He was born in Standish, England in 1604. He married Mary Platts at Wygan, Lancashire, January 21, 1629; he died in America in 1683. He left England to avoid persecution. In 1638 he landed at Barbadoes, where he bought land. In 1640 he came to New England and settled in Watertown. In 1643, with Thomas King and others, he purchased 'Nashaway' (a part of which is now Lancaster), and became one of the earliest settlers. Nourse, in his 'Annals of Lancaster' says the town would have been named 'Prescott' had its founder been a freeman; but he had never given public adhesion to the established church covenant, and was therefore incapable of voting or holding office. In 1669, however, he was admitted freeman. He was a farmer, blacksmith and millwright. John Prescott was a heroic figure in the early history of Lancaster and Groton. He brought with him a metallic coat of mail, which he sometimes wore when dealing with the savages; this served to impress them, as his force, capacity and judgment did his white neighbors. Nourse calls him an 'ideal pioneer' a 'true builder of the nation.' He distinquished himself for bravery and leadership in the Indian Wars. He served in the garrison at Lancaster and in the defense of the town against the Indians on August 21, 1675 and February 10, 1676. He had a numerous family of descendants, many of whom have been persons of great ability and distinction. His great-grandson, Colonel William Prescott, was chief in command at the Battle of Bunker Hill. Another descendant was William H. Prescott, the famous historian of the 'Conquest of Mexico,' 'Conquest of Peru.' At the time of his death, in 1683, his family had become one of the wealthiest and most influential in Massachusetts. John and Mary (Platt) Prescott had eight children.The main concern/difference is the marriage date and place of John and Mary... not to mention a death date of two years later.Have also seen mentioned, more information on possible children of John and Mary, posted around the Internet, with the following being a fairly good summary of some of the information I've run across:'It appears that Hannah is the daughter of John Prescott and Mary Gawkroger Platts, and the second wife of John Rugg. He was previously married to Martha Prescott (1632-55), her sister. Apparently, the 21-year old Hannah married her brother-in-law in May of 1660.It appears that John Prescott (1644 - 1681) and Mary Gawkroger/Platts had eight children, five girls and three boys. Apparently, Mary (b. 1629 or 1630), Martha (1631 - 1655), John (b. 1635), and possibly Sarah (b. 1637) were all born in Sowerby, Halifax, England; that Hannah was born in Britain's highly prized colony of Barbados in 1639, and Lydia (b. 1641 in Watertown), Jonathan (b. 1646 in Lancaster), and Jonas (b. 1648 in Lancaster) born in Massachusetts.' He was born in 1604 at Shevington, Lancashire, England. He was the son of Ralph Prescott and Helen _____. John Prescott married Mary (Platts) Gawkroger, daughter of Abraham (James) Gawkroger and Martha Riley, on 11 April 1629 at Sowerby, Halifax, Yorkshire, England. John Prescott died in December 1681. He was buried in December 1681 at Old Settlers Burial Field, Lancaster, Massachusetts?, USA. Children of John Prescott and Mary (Platts) Gawkroger Mary Prescott b. 24 Feb 1629/30, d. 12 Apr 1720Jonas Prescott+ b. Jun 1648found on ancestry.com
John Prescott is named in his father's Will. He m Jan 21 1629, Mary Platts of Wygan in Lancashire. Her family appears to have been subsequently of the Parish of Halifax in Yorkshire, England, some of whom are mentioned in the Will of George Fairbanks of Sowerby. John Prescott sold his lands in Shevrington, parish on Standish, in Lancashire, England to Richard Prescott of Wigan, Lancashire and removed to Yorkshire residing for some time in Sowerby in the parish of Halifax where several of his children were born. From conscientious motives and to avoid persecution, he left his native land, his cherished home in Yorkshire to seek asylum in the wilderness of America. [He was a Puritan] He first landed at Barbadoes in 1638 where he owned lands (a plantation). In 1640 he came to New England, landed at Boston, Mass. and immediately settled in Watertown, Mass. [see Bond's Watertown] where he had large grants of land allotted to him. With others he purchased from Sholan, the Indian Sachem of the Nashaway, a tract of land (which became Lancaster, Mass)SOURCE: Prescott Memorial, pg.34 transcribed by Janice Farnsworthfound on ancestry.comJohn Prescott
Edit Learn about sponsoring this memorial...Birth: 1605Death: Dec., 1681LancasterWorcester CountyMassachusetts, USAJohn Prescott, founder of Lancaster, MA.John Prescott, Sr. was born about 1605 in England and died in Lancaster, MA in 1683. He married Mary Gawkroger (alias Platt) (1607-1718) on April 11, 1629 in Sowerby, Yorkshire, England. The first 5 of their children were born in England except for the fifth child Hannah who was probably born in Barbados, West Indies in 1639. Their children included: Mary (Thomas Sawyer), Martha (John Rugg), John, Jr. (Sarah), Sarah (1 Richard Wheeler, 2 Joseph Rice), Hannah (John Rugg widower of Martha), Lydia (1 Jonas Fairbanks, 2 Elias Barron, Jr.), Capt. Jonathan (1 Dorothy Heald, 2 Elizabeth Hoar, 3 Rebecca Wheeler, 4 Ruth Brown), Joseph (probable that there was no son Joseph and that his existence at all is due to a clerks error in an early history of Concord, MA), Capt. Jonas, Sr. (Mary Loker).John and Mary were in Watertown, MA in 1640 and moved from there to the Nashaway Plantation in 1643 which was later to become Lancaster. Jonas was born here before Lancaster was incorporated so his birth was registered in Groton. There may have been two other children who died in infancy in England. Mary's alias "Platts" appears to come from English lands by that name that passed down through the Gawkroger family.The main source of this information is William Prescott's 1870 "Prescott Memorial."Bio Submitted by:Bob SpeckmanSalem, ORAugust 2008 Family links: Children: Jonas Prescott (1648 - 1723)* Spouse: Mary Platts-Gawkroger Prescott (1612 - 1688) *Point here for explanation Inscription:Original grave marker:JOHNPRESCOTTDECASEDA memorial stone erected a long time after John Prescott's death: HERE WITH HIS CHILDREN ABOUT HIM LIES JOHN PRESCOTT FOUNDER OF LANCASTER AND FIRST SETTLER OF WORCESTER COUNTY BORN AT STANDISH, LANCASHIRE, ENGLAND DIED AT LANCASTER, MASSACHUSETTS, DEC. 1681. INSPIRED BY THE LOVE OF LIBERTY AND THE FEAR OF GOD, THIS STOUT-HEARTED PIONEER FORSAKING THE PLEASANT VALES OF ENGLAND TOOK UP HIS ABODE IN THE UNBROKEN FOREST AND ENCOUNTERED WILD BEAST AND SAVAGE TO SECURE FREEDOM FOR HIMSELF AND HIS POSTERITY HIS FAITH AND VIRTUES HAVE BEEN INHERITED BY MANY DESCENDANTS WHO IN EVERY GENERATION HAVE WELL SERVED THE STATE IN WAR, IN LITERATURE, AT THE BAR, IN THE PULPIT, IN PUBLIC LIFE AND IN CHRISTIAN HOMES Note: Age: Approx 76. Founder of Lancaster. (footstone broken) Burial:Old Settlers Burial Yard LancasterWorcester CountyMassachusetts, USAPlot: Created by: Jim SandersRecord added: Mar 06, 2002 Find A Grave Memorial# 6238510Added by: cap624 Added by: cap624 Added by: dsheindel There is 1 more photo not showing...Click here to view all images...Photos may be scaled.Click on image for full size.from your 9-greats granddaughter- Janneane Veger Added: Sep. 27, 2009 - Kevin Avery Added: Aug. 9, 2009 Without you, we wouldn't be who we are. Thank You, your 11th great grandchild- Susan Durso Added: Aug. 7, 2009found on ancestry.comGenealogical and family history of western New York: a record of ..., Volume 1
Genealogical and family history of western New York: a record of ..., Volume 1
edited by William Richard Cutter
The name of Prescott is of PRESCOTT Saxon origin and is composed by the combination of two Saxon words, priest and cottage, and signifies priest-cottage, or priest's house. It is a name long known in England. Orders of knighthood were conferred upon some branches of the family who were among the nobility of England. A coat of mail and armor, such as worn by ancient knights, was brought to this country by the emigrant, John Prescott, hence it is inferred that some of his ancestors had been warriors, and probably had received the order of knighthood. There is also preserved by his descendants a family coat-of-arms which was conferred upon a remote ancestor and worn by the Prescotts of Theobold's Park, Hertfordshire, Baronets, and by the ancient families of Lancashire and Yorkshire: Sable, a chevron between three owls argent (two in chief, one in base). Crest: A cubit arm couped erect vested, gules cuff, ermine holding in hand a pitchpot (or hand beacon), sable, fired proper.
The Prescotts of America have traced their descent to the times of Queen Elizabeth, and to James Prescott, of Standish, in Lancashire, one of the gentlemen of that shire who were required by an order of Queen Elizabeth, dated August, 1564, to keep in readiness horsemen
and armor. He married a daughter of Roger Standish. Their son James, for bravery and military prowess, was created lord of the manor of Dryby, in Lincolnshire, had new arms granted him, and was afterward known as Sir James Prescott. He married Alice Molineaux, and left an only son John,who married and had a son James, the ancestor of the New Hampshire Prescotts. James Prescott's second son Roger (brother of Sir James) had by his second wife, Ellen Shaw, a son Ralph,
baptized 1571-72. He married Ellen .
Their fifth child, John Prescott, is the American ancestor of the Prescotts herein recorded.
(I) John, son of Ralph Prescott, was baptized at Standish, in Lancashire, England, 160405. He is named in his father's will. He married, January 21, 1629, Mary Platts, at Wygan in Lancashire. He later sold his lands in Standish, and resided for some time in Sowerby, parish of Halifax, Yorkshire. He left his native land to avoid persecution and from motives of conscience, seeking an asylum in America. He first landed at the island of Barbadoes, in 1638, where he was a landowner. In 1640 he came to New England, settling at Watertown, Massachusetts, -where he had large grants of land. In 1643 he associated himself with Thomas King and others for the purpose of purchasing of Sholan, the Indian sachem of the Nashaway tribe, a tract of land which was to be teir miles in length and eight in breadth. He is spoken of in reference to this transaction as "John Prescott, the stalwart blacksmith." He later settled on this tract, first called Nashaway, later Lancaster. He became a leading spirit among the early settlers, his great energy and strict integrity giving him commanding influence. He took the oath of fidelity in 1652, and was admitted a freeman in 1669. He was a farmer, also millwright and blacksmith. He built a corn mill and began grinding May, 1654, following this by the erection of a sawmill. Lancaster suffered greatly from Indian depreilations, and for three years was uninhabited. In 1679 some of the first settlers returned, among them the Prescotts. Mr. Prescott lived to see the town rebuilt and prosperous. He was a man of strong athletic build, and severe, stern countenance. Whenever he had any difficulty with the Indians he would clothe himself in his coat of mail (brought from England), with helmet, cuirass gorget, which gave him a fierce and frightful appearance. Many stories are told of Mr. Prescott and his coat of armor, which seems to have stood him in good stead in several instances. He died in 1683. Children, first four born in Sowerby, England: 1. Mary, married Thomas Sawyer, of Lancaster, Massachusetts. 2. Martha, married John Rugg. 3. John
(2), married Sarah . 4. Sarah, married
Richard Wheeler. 5. Hannah, married, as second wife, John Rugg, whose first wife was her sister Martha. 6. Lydia, married Jonas Fairbanks, who was killed by the Indians when Lancaster was destroyed, 1676; she married (second) Elias Barron. 7. Jonathan, settled in Concord, which town he represented in the general assembly nine years; he was captain of militia, and in 1676 his house was fortified as a garrison house. He married (first) Dorothy , (second) Elizabeth Hoar, (third)
Mrs. Rebecca (Wheeler) Bulkley. 8. Joseph. 9. Jonas, of further mention.
(II) Jonas, ninth child of John Prescott, the emigrant, and Mary (Platts) Prescott, was born at Lancaster, Massachusetts, June, 1646, died December 31, 1723. He was a blacksmith by trade and had a wide reputation. The town of Groton being in need of a smith, invited Jonas Prescottto remove to near the centre of the town to a lot of land which the town voted as an inducement. He accepted, and built a house and shop on the land and removed there in 1675. He also had a corn and saw mill, and became one of the largest land holders of the town. He lived on his farm near Lawrence Academy, where, on a large stone in the wall enclosing the farm of Stuart J. Park, is this inscription:
1784 rebuilt by S: J. Park
The initials "J. P." are for Jonas Prescott, who lived upon the farm, and was grandfather of Colonel William Prescott, the hero of Bunker Hill: "O. P." are those of Oliver Prescott, a brother of Colonel Prescott. Jona s Prescott married, December 14, 1672, Mary, born September 28, 1653, died October 28, 1735, daughter .of John and May (Draper) Loker. Her parents wanted her to marry a lawyer, and violently opposed her marryingPrescott. They resorted to harsh and extreme
measures, but "love found a way," and they were married. They had a large family. Mary lived to be eighty-two years of age, and at that time had one hundred and seventy-five descendants. Children: 1. Mary, married Benjamin Farnsworth. 2. Elizabeth, married Eleazer Green. 3. Jonas (2), of further mention. 4. Nathaniel, died young. 5. Dorothy, married John Varnum. 6. James, died young. 7. Sarah, married John Longley. 8. Abigail, married James Prescott. 9. Martha, married Shuabel Hobert. 10. Susannah, married Colonel William Lawrence. 11. Deborah, married Samuel Parker, brother of James. 12 Benjamin, married Abigail Oliver; an eminent public deputy, justice of the peace, lieutenantcolonel of militia, justice of the superior court, and appointed to represent the colony at the court of Great Britain, but declined. He left three distinguished sons: Hon. James, Colonel William (of Bunker Hill fame), and Dr. Oliver, of Groton.
(III) Jonas (2), son of Jonas (1) Prescott, was born in Groton, Massachusetts, October 26, 1678, died September 12, 1750. He lived at Forge Valley, which since 1730 has been included in the town of Westford. He enlarged and improved the forge and iron works erected by his father, adding additional forges for making iron, as well as for other purposes. The water privilege and works on Stony Brook at Forge Village have ever since their purchase of Andrew, the Indian, been owned, held and occupied by the Prescott family. Jonas (2) was captain of militia, justice of the peace (as his father had been), and deputy to the general court in 1720. He married (first), October 15, 1699, Thankful Wheeler, of Concord, died November 1, 1716; (second), April 30, 1718, Mary Page, born 1687, died July 19, 1781, aged ninety-four years. Children: 1. Ebenezer, of further mention. 2. Jonas (3), married (first) Elizabeth Spalding; (second) Elizabeth Howard; (third) Mrs. Rebecca (Jones) Barrett; was a farmer and justice of the peace. 3. Thankful, married Timothy Spalding. 4. Mary, married Joseph Stone. 5. Sarah, married Deacon Samuel Minot. 6. Dorcas, married (second wife), Deacon Samuel Minot.
(IV) Ebenezer, eldest son of Jonas (2) Prescott, was born in Groton, Massachusetts, July 19, 1700, died December 1, 1771. In 1730 he and his brother Jonas (3) and others petitioned the general court to be set off from Groton to Westford, which petition was
granted that year. He married, May 24, 1721, Hannah Farnsworth. Children: Ebenezer (2), married Elizabeth Sprague; Oliver, of further mention; Sarah, married John Edwards; Joseph, twin of Sarah; David, married Abigail Wright; Hannah; Rebecca, married (first)
James Hiklreth, (second) W'right;
Eunice, married Warren.
(V) Oliver, son of Ebenezer and Hannah (Farnsworth) Prescott.. was born May 5. 1725, died January 1, 1803. He was a farmer of Westford, Massachusetts, where he was for many years deacon of the church. He married, June 8, 1749, Bethia Underwood, born September 27, 1729, died at Haward, Massachusetts, October 1, 1813. Children: 1. Susanna, married Nathaniel Adams. 2. Hannah, married Richard Wait. 3. Colonel Benjamin, of further mention. 4. Betsey, diet! unmarried. 5. Bethia. unmarried. 6. Oliver, settled first in Jaffrey, New Hampshire, then in Whitetown, Oneida county, New York; married Keziah Howard. 7. Polly, died in childhood. 8. Phebe, died unmarried. 9. Lucy, unmarried. 10. Mary, married (first) Eliakim Hutchins: (second) Hezekiah Sprague. 11. Abraham, deacon, captain of militia, selectman, town clerk, overseer of the poor, representative to the general court several terms; could read and discuss topics of the times when in his ninety-fifth year; died aged ninety-seven. 12. Isaac, married Lucy Hinckley.
(VI) Colonel Benjamin Prescott, son of Oliver Prescott, was born March 15, 1754. died 1839. He settled in Jaffrey, New Hampshire, in 1774, when it was yet a wilderness; was a farmer and inn keeper. He acted as a spy for the American general, and the day previous to the battle of Bunker Hill was captured by the British, but made his escape the next day. He was an active, energetic, influential man, highly esteemed for his integrity, uprightness and sound judgment. He represented the town of Jaffrey in the New Hampshire legislature for eleven years, was justice of the peace, and was much employed in public business, being a prominent and leading man in the town. He was an inn keeper for forty years. He was a deacon of the Baptist church, of which he was one of the active founders, from its organization to his death. He died at the age of eighty-five years, "a shock of corn fully ripe for its season." He married, December 5. 1775. Rachel Adams, of Chelmsford, born August 19, 1757. Children, all born
in Jaffrey, New Hampshire: 1. Benjamin (2), died young. 2. Benjamin (3), a farmer and machinist of Jaffrey; married widow Sally Hodge. 3. Oliver, of further mention. 4. Rachel, married James Clay, a farmer of Rindge, New Hampshire. 5. Eldad. married Clarissa Hunt. 6. Nabby, died aged eleven years. 7. John Adams, a farmer and manufacturer of Jaffrey, justice of the peace, and represented Jaffrey in the legislature, 1858-59; married Martha Ryan. 8. Susannah, died aged three years. 9. Bethiah, died aged seven years.
(VII) Colonel Oliver Prescott, son of Colonel Benjamin Prescott, was born in Jaffrey, New Hampshire, February 9, 1781, died November 25, 1850. He was a farmer and inn holder in Jaffrey, colonel of the New Hampshire militia, justice of the peace, and held other town offices. He represented Jaffrey in the New Hampshire legislature, 1822-1826 inclusive. He followed in his father's footsteps in regard to public service and influential position. He married (first). May 23, 1811, Mary, born at Putney. Vermont, March 12, 1782, died March 31, 1839, daughter of James and Betsey W. Clay, of Putney; (second ), January 7, 1841, Mrs. Phebe (Coffin) Brown, born April 14, 1795. died August 11, 1844; (third), March 27, 1845, Mary (Bonner) Stratton, born June 23, 1789. The two last wives were residents of Winchester, New Hampshire. Children of first wife: 1. Oren, died aged three years. 2. Daniel C, of further mention. 3. Elizabeth, died in infancy. 4. Elizabeth (2), born June 20, 1819; married. May 6, 1841. Colonel Rufus. son of Benjamin and Polly Haywood. (See Haywood). She survives her husband, a resident of Fredonia. Newr York .
(VIII) Daniel C, only son of Oliver Prescott and his first wife, Mary Clay, was born July 11, 1815, at Jaffrey, New Hampshire, died in Fitzwilliam, same state, 1864. He was a farmer of Jaffrey, and late in life removed to Fitzwilliam, in March, 1866.
He married, September 12, 1841. Abigail, born July 2, 1814, at Fitzwilliam, died there, 1882, daughter of Benjamin Davidson. Children: 1. Oren D.. born April 29, 1843; en~ listed. September 23, 1862, as private in Company G. Fourteenth Regiment New Hampshire Volunteers; promoted corporal and sergeant; was ordered to Department of Gulf of Mexico, where he contracted the diseases of that climate which kept him in the hospital; he married Ella Boynton; no issue. 2. George O., born February 24, 1845 'i married Electa Lennox; has child, Grace. 3. Mary A., born September 21. 1847; married John Poole, of Jaffrey, and has Aime, and Oliver, who married Mary Goet, and has Susan Prescott. 4. Susan L., born July 25, 1850; married Charles Robbins, of Jaffrey; child, Edward Prescott. 5. Martha Jane, born September 13, 1852 ; now a resident of Fredonia, New York, with her aunt, Mrs. Colonel Rufus Haywood. Miss Prescott is prominent in society, and regent of Benjamin Prescott Chap ter, Daughters of the American Revolution. 6. Marshal Davison, died young. 7. Frederick Henry, died young.found on ancestry.comJOHN PRESCOTT, THE FOUNDER OF LANCASTER.
John Prescott, Lancaster, Worcester, MA ************************************************************************ Copyright. All rights reserved. http://www.usgwarchives.org/copyright.htm ************************************************************************ JOHN PRESCOTT, THE FOUNDER OF LANCASTER. 1603 TO 1682. By HON. HENRY S. NOURSE. The facts that have come down to us whereupon to build a biography of John Prescott are scanty indeed, but enough to prove that he was that rare type of man, the ideal pioneer. Not one of those famous frontiersmen, whose figures stand out so prominently in early American history, was better equipped with the manly qualities that win hero worship in a new country, than was the father of the Nashaway Plantation. Had Prescott like Daniel Boone been fortunate in the favor of contemporary historians, to perpetuate anecdotes of his daily prowess and fertility of resource, or had he had grateful successors withal to keep his memory green, his name and romantic adventures would in like manner adorn Colonial annals. Persecuted for his honest opinions, he went out into the wilderness with his family to found a home, and for forty years thought, fought and wrought to make that home the centre of a prosperous community. Loaded from his first step with discouragements, that soon appalled every other of the original co-partners in the purchase of Nashaway from Showanon, Prescott alone, tenax propositi, held to his purpose, and death found him at his post. His grave is in the old "burial field" at Lancaster, yet not ten citizens can point it out. Over it stands a rude fragment from some ledge of slate rock, faintly incised with characters which few eyes can trace: JOHN PRESCOTT DESASED No date! no comment! That is his only memorial stone; his only epitaph in the town of which, for its first forty years, he was the very heart and soul, and for which he furnished a large share of the brains. This fair township—now divided among nine towns—and all it has been and is and is to be may be justly called his monument. The house of Deputies in 1652 voted it to be rightly his, and marked it by incorporative enactment with his honored and honorable name, Prescott. Unfortunately, however, some years before he had said something that seemed to favor Doctor Robert Child's criticisms of the Provincial system of taxation without representation; criticisms that grew and bore good fruitage when the times were riper for individual freedom; when Samuel Adams and James Otis took up the peoples' cause where Sir Henry Vane and Robert Child had left it. Therefore when, in 1652, what had been known as the Nashaway Plantation was fairly named for its founder in accordance with the petition of its inhabitants, some one of influence, whether magistrate or higher official, perhaps bethought himself that no Governor of the Colony even had been so honored, and that it might be well, before dignifying this busy blacksmith so much as to name a town for him, to see if he could pass examination in the catechism deemed orthodox at that date in Massachusetts Bay. Alas! John Prescott was not a freeman. Having a conscience of his own, he had never given public adhesion to the established church covenant and was therefore debarred from holding any civil office, and even from the privilege of voting for the magistrates. There was a year's delay, and, in 1653, "Prescott" was expunged and Lancaster began its history. As in the broad area of the township various centres of population grew into villages and were one by one excised and made towns, it would be supposed that each of them would have been eager to honor itself by adopting so euphonious and appropriate a name as Prescott. But no! The first candidate for a new designation, in 1732, chose the name of the generous Charlestown clergyman, Harvard, for no appropriate local reason now discoverable. Six years later another body corporate imported the name—Bolton. Two years passed and a third district sought across the ocean for its title Leominster. Then Woonksechocksett forgetful of its benefactors and of the grand Indian names of its hills and waters borrowed the title of a putative Scotch lord, who bravely fought for our Independence, and, in adopting, paid him the poor compliment of misspelling it— Sterling. The next seceder ambitiously chose the name of a Prussian city—Berlin. The sixth perpetuated its early admiration of the great small-pox inoculator, Boylston; and the last was named—for a hotel. None so poor as to do Prescott reverence. But surely, it would be thought, banks and manufactories, halls or at least a fire engine, might with tardy respect have paid cheap tribute to his name by bearing it. Is there any example! Yes, at last a short street having little connection sentimental or real with the pioneer, bears his name—this only in the aspiring town, almost a city, of which John Prescott's old millstone is the visible foundation! Clinton. I have stated that Prescott was an ideal pioneer. Not that there was in him anything of kinship to that race of frontiersmen now deployed along the outer verge of American civilization, like the thread of froth stranded along a beach outlining the extreme advance made by the last wave of the tide. The frontiersmen of to-day, bibulous gamblers, reckless duelists, blasphemous savages of mixed blood, had no prototype in Colonial days, for even the human harvest then gathered to the stocks, the whipping-post and the gallows, was of a far less obtrusive class of offenders against morals and social decency. Prescott was a Puritan soldier, a seeker of liberty not license; fiercely rebellious against tyranny, but no contemner of moral law. It was no accident that put him in the advance guard of Anglo-Saxon civilization, then just starting on its westward march from the shores of Massachusetts Bay. The position had awaited the man. When he set up his anvil and with skilful blows hammered out the first plough-shares to compel the virgin soil of the Nashaway valley to its proper fruitfulness, he was all unwittingly helping to forge the destinies of this great republic;—was in his humble sphere a true builder of the nation. His neighbors and friends, John Tinker, Ralph Houghton, and Major Simon Willard, doubtless excelled him in culture, but no neighbor surpassed him in natural personal force, whether physical, mental or moral. Not only was he of commanding stature, stern of mien and strong of limb, but he had a heart devoid of fear, great physical endurance and an unbending will. These qualities his savage neighbors early recognized and bowed before in deep respect, and because of these no Lancaster enterprise but claimed him as its leader. His manual skill and dexterity must have been great, his mental capacity and business energy remarkable, for we find him not only a farmer, trader, blacksmith and hunter, but a surveyor and builder of roads, bridges and mills. The records of the town show that he was seldom free from the conduct of some public labor. The greatest of his benefactions to his neighbors were: His corn-mill erected in 1654, and his saw-mill in 1659. The arrival of the first millstone in Lancaster must have been an event of matchless interest to every man, woman and child in the plantation. Till that began its tireless turning, the grain for every loaf of bread had to be carried to Watertown mill, or ground laboriously in a hand quern, or parched and brayed in a mortar, Indian fashion. Before the starting of his saw-mill, the rude houses must have been of logs, stone, and clay, for it was an impossibility to bring from the lower towns on the existing "Bay road" and with the primitive tumbril any large amount of sawn lumber. Of Prescott's wife we know only her name: Mary Platts. But her daughters were sought for in marriage by men of whom we learn nothing that is not praiseworthy, and her sons all honored their mother's memory, by useful and unblemished lives. John Prescott was the youngest son of Ralph and Ellen of Shevington, Lancashire, England. He was baptized in the Parish of Standish in 1604-5 and married Mary Platts at Wigan, Lancashire, January 21, 1629. He was a land owner in Shevington, but sold his possessions there and took up his residence in Halifax Parish, Sowerby, in Yorkshire. Leaving England to avoid religions persecutions, his first haven was Barbadoes, where he is found a land owner in 1638. In 1640 he landed in Boston, and immediately selected his home in Watertown, where he became the possessor of six lots of land, aggregating one hundred and twenty-six acres. In 1643, his name is found in association with Thomas King of Watertown, Henry Symonds of Boston, and others, the first proprietors of the Nashaway purchase. His children were eight in number and all were married in due season. They were as follows: 1. Mary, baptized at Halifax Parish February 24, 1630, married Thomas Sawyer in 1648. The young couple selected their home lot adjoining Prescott's in Lancaster and there eleven sons and daughters were born to them. 2. Martha, baptized at Halifax Parish March 11, 1632, married John Rugg in 1655; and these twain began life together in sight of her paternal home in Lancaster. She died with her twin babes in January 1656. 3. John, baptized at Halifax Parish April 1, 1635, married Sarah Hayward at Lancaster, November 11, 1668, and had five children. He was a farmer and blacksmith, lived with his father, and succeeded him at the mills. 4. Sarah, baptized in 1637, at Halifax Parish, married Richard Wheeler at Lancaster, August 2, 1658, and lived in the immediate vicinity of those before named. Wheeler was killed in the massacre of February 10, 1676, and the widowed Sarah married Joseph Rice of Marlborough. By her first husband she had five children. 5. Hannah, was probably born at Barbadoes in 1639. She became the second wife of John Rugg May 4, 1660, and had eight children. She became a widow in 1696, and was slain by the Indians in the massacre of September 11, 1697. 6. Lydia, born at Watertown August 15, 1641, married Jonas Fairbank at Lancaster, May 28, 1658. He owned the lands next south of Prescott's home. Fairbank had seven children. In the massacre of February 10, 1676, he and his son Joshua were victims. The widowed Lydia married Elias Barron. 7. Jonathan—if twenty three years old in 1670, as an unknown authority has noted, or "about 38," November 6, 1683, as stated in a deposition of that date— was probably born in Lancaster between 1645 and 1647. He was a blacksmith and farmer, and married first Dorothy, August 3, 1670, in Lancaster. She died in 1674, leaving a son Samuel, noted in the town history as the unfortunate sentinel who, on November 6, 1704, killed by mistake his neighbor, the beloved minister of Lancaster, Reverend Andrew Gardner. Jonathan Prescott married second, Elizabeth, daughter of John Hoar of Concord, who died in 1687 leaving six children. Jonathan's third wife was Rebecca Bulkeley and his fourth Ruth, widow of Thomas Brown. He did not reside in Lancaster after the massacre of 1676, but became an influential citizen of Concord, which he served as representative for nine years. He died December 5, 1721. 8. Jonas, born June, 1648, in Lancaster, married Mary Loker of Sudbury, December 14, 1672. The marriage took place in Lancaster and here their first child was born, (they had twelve children in all), but later they removed to Groton, where Jonas became Captain, Selectman and Justice. He died in Groton, December 31, 1723. Of his more illustrious descendants were Colonel William, and the historian William H. Prescott. In May 1644, John Winthrop records that "Many of Watertown and other towns joined in a plantation at Nashaway "—and Reverend Timothy Harrington in his Century Sermon states that the organization of this company of planters was due to Thomas King. The immediate and final disappearance of this original proprietor has seemed to previous writers good warrant for charging that King and his partner Henry Symonds were but land speculators, who bought the Indian's inheritance to retail by the acre to adventurers. I believe this an unjust assumption. At the date when Winthrop noted down the inception of the Nashaway Company, Henry Symonds had already been dead seven months. He was that energetic contractor of Boston noted as the leader in the project for establishing tide mills at the Cove, and was no doubt the capitalist of the trading firm of Symonds & King, who set up their "trucking house" as early as 1643 on the sunny slope of George Hill. Symond's widow a few months after his death married Isaac Walker, who in 1645 was prominent among the Nashaway proprietors. If King really sold his share of the Indian purchase, may it not have been therefore because, his senior partner being dead, he had no means to continue the enterprise? He too died before the end of the year 1644, not yet thirty years of age. The inventory of his estate sums but one hundred and fifty-eight pounds, including his house and land in Watertown, his stock in trade, and seventy-three pounds of debts due him from the Indians, John Prescott, and sundry others. King's widow made haste to be consoled, and her second husband, James Cutler, soon appears in the role of a Nashaway proprietor. The direction of the company was at the outset in the hands of men whose names were, or soon became, of some note throughout the Colony. Doctor Robert Child, a scholar who had won the degrees of A.M. and M.D. at Cambridge and Padua, a man of scientific acquirements, but inclined to somewhat sanguine expectations of mineral treasure to be discovered in the New England hills, seems to have been a leading spirit in the adventure; and unfortunately so, since his political views about certain inalienable rights of man, which now live, and are honored in the Constitution of the Commonwealth, seemed vicious republicanism to the ecclesiastical aristocracy then governing the Colony of the Massachusetts Bay; and the odium that drove Child across the ocean, attached also to his companion planters, and perhaps through the prejudice of those in authority unfavorably affected for several years the progress of the settlement on the Nashaway. Certainly such prejudices found expression in all action or record of the government respecting the proprietors and their petitions. The ecclesiastical figure head—without which no body corporate could have grace within the colony— was Nathaniel Norcross. Of him, if we can surmise aught from his early return to England, it may be said, he was not imbued with the martyr's spirit, and his defection was, some time later, more than made good by the accession of the beloved Rowlandson. But far more important to the enterprise than these two graduates from the English University—Child the radical, and Norcross the preacher,—were two mechanics, the restless planners and busy promoters of the company, both workers in iron—Steven Day the locksmith and John Prescott the blacksmith. Steven Day was the first in America, north of Mexico, to set up a printing-press. The Colony had wisely recognized in him a public benefactor, and sealed this recognition by substantial grant of lands. He entered upon the Nashaway scheme with characteristic zeal and energy, if we may believe his own manuscript testimony: but Day's zeal outran his discretion, and his energy devoured his limited means, for in 1644 we find him in jail for debt remonstrating piteously against the injustice of a hard hearted creditor. He parted with all rights at Nashaway before many years and finally delved as a journey man at the press he had founded. John Prescott deserted of all his original co-partners was sufficient for the emergency, a host in himself. He sells his one hundred and twenty six acres and house at Watertown, puts his all into the venture, prepares a rude dwelling in the wilderness, moves thither his cattle, and chattels, and finally, mounting wife and children and his few remaining goods upon horses' backs, bids his old neighbors good bye, and threads the narrow Indian trail through the forest westward. The scorn of men high in authority is to follow him, but now the most formidable enemy in his path is the swollen Sudbury River and its bordering marsh. We find the aristocratic scorn mingling with the story of Prescott's dearly bought victory over this natural obstacle, told in Winthrop's History of New England among what the author classes as remarkable "special providences." "Prescot another favorer of the Petitioners lost a horse and his loading in Sudbury river, and a week after his wife and children being upon another horse were hardly saved from drowning." That the kindly hearted Winthrop could coolly attribute the pitiable disaster of the brave pioneer to the wrath of God towards the political philosophy of Robert Child, pictures vividly the bigotry natural to the age and race, a bigotry which culminated in the horrors of the persecution for witchcraft. This Sudbury swamp was the lion in the path from the bay westward during many a decade. In 1645, an earnest petition went up to the council from Prescott and his associates, complaining that much time and means had been spent in discovering Nashaway and preparing for the settlement there, and that on account of the lack of bridge and causeway at the Sudbury River, the proprietors could not pass to and from the bay towns—"without exposing our persons to perill and our cattell and goods to losse and spoyle; as yo'r petitioners are able to make prooffe of by sad experience of what wee suffered there within these few dayes." The General Court ordered the bridge and way to be made, "passable for loaden horse," and allowed twenty pounds to Sudbury, "so it be donne w'thin a twelve monthe." The twelve month passed and no bridge spanned the stream. That the dangers and difficulties of the crossing were not over-stated by the petitioners is proven by the fact that more than one hundred years afterwards, the bridge and causeway at this place "half a mile long"—were represented to the General Court as dangerous and in time of floods impassable. Between 1759 and 1761, the proceeds of special lotteries amounting to twelve hundred and twenty seven pounds were expended in the improvement of the crossing. John Winthrop, writing of the Nashaway planters, tells us that "he whom they had called to be their minister, [Norcross] left them for their delays," but omits mention of the fact recorded by the planters themselves in their petition, that the chief and sufficient cause of their slow progress was in the inability or unwillingness of the Governor and magistrates to afford effective aid in providing a passable crossing over a small river. Prescott, at least, was chargeable with no delay. By June 1645, he and his family had become permanent residents on the Nashaway. Richard Linton, Lawrence Waters the carpenter, and John Ball the tailor, were his only neighbors; these three men having been sent up to build, plant, and prepare for the coming of other proprietors. But two houses had been built. Linton probably lived with his son-in-law Waters, in his home near the fording place in the North Branch of the Nashaway, contiguous to the lot of intervale land which Harmon Garrett and others of the first proprietors had fenced in to serve as a "night pasture" for their cattle. Ball had left his children and their mother in Watertown; she being at times insane. Prescott's first lot embraced part of the grounds upon which the public buildings in Lancaster now stand, but this he soon parted with, and took up his abode a mile to the south west, on the sunny slope of George Hill, where, beside a little brooklet of pure cool water, which then doubtless came rollicking down over its gravelly bed with twice the flow it has to-day, there had been built, two years at least before, the trucking house of Symonds & King. This trading post was the extreme outpost of civilization; beyond was interminable forest, traversed only by the Indian trails, which were but narrow paths, hard to find and easy to lose, unless the traveller had been bred to the arts of wood-craft. Here passed the united trails from Washacum, Wachusett, Quaboag, and other Indian villages of the west, leading to the wading place of the Nashaway River near the present Atherton Bridge, and so down the "Bay Path" over Wataquadock to Concord. The little plateau half way down the sheltering hill, with fertile fields sloping to the southeast and its never failing springs, was and is an attractive spot; but its material advantages to the pioneer of 1645 were far greater than those apparent to the Lancastrian of this nineteenth century in the changed conditions of life. With the privilege of first choice therefore, it is not strange that Prescott and his sturdy sons-in- law grasped the rich intervales, and warm easily tilled slopes, stretching along the Nashaway south branch from the "meeting of the waters" to "John's jump" on the east, and extending west to the crown of George Hill; lands now covered by the village of South Lancaster. In 1650 John Prescott found himself the only member of the company resident at Nashaway. Of the co-partners Symonds, King, and John Hill were dead; Norcross and Child had gone to England; Cowdall had sold his rights to Prescott; Chandler, Davis, Walker, and others had formally abandoned their claims; Garrett, Shawe, Day, Adams, and perhaps two or three others, retained their claims to allotments, making no improvements, and contributing nothing by their presence or tithes to the growth of the settlement, thus becoming effectual stumbling blocks in the way of progress. Prescott, very reasonably, held this a grievance, and having no other means of redress asked equitable judgment in the matter from the magistrates, in a petition which cannot be found. His answer was the following official snub: "Whereas John Prescot & others, the inhabitants of Nashaway p'ferd a petition to this Courte desiringe power to recover all common charges of all such as had land there, not residinge wth them, for answer whereunto this Court, understandinge that the place before mentioned is not fit to make a plantation, (so a ministry to be erected and mayntayned there,) which if the petitioners, before the end of the next session of this Courte, shall not sufficiently make the sey'd place appeare to be capable to answer the ends above mentioned doth order that the p'ties inhabitinge there shalbe called there hence, & suffered to live without the meanes, as they have done no longer." This dire threat of the closing sentence may have been simply "sound and fury, signifying nothing," or Prescott may have been able to prove to the authorities that Nashaway was fit and waiting for its St. John, but found none willing for the service. In fact, its St. John was then a junior at Harvard College, writing a pasquinade to post upon the Ipswich meeting-house, and Nashaway was "suffered to live without the meanes," waiting for him until 1654. John Prescott retained possession of his early home,—the site of the "trucking house," which he had purchased of John Cowdall,—as long as he lived, but did not reside there many years. No sooner had the plantation attained the dignity of a township under the classic name of Lancaster, than its founder bent all his energies towards those enterprises best calculated to promote the comfort and prosperity of its then inhabitants, and to attract by material advantages, a desirable and permanent immigration. His practical eye had doubtless long before marked the best site for a mill in all the region round about, and on the slope, scarce a gun shot away, he set up a new home, afterwards well known to friend and savage foe as Prescott's Garrison. Those who remain of the generation familiar with this region before the invention of the power loom made such towns as Clinton possible, remember the depression that told where Prescott dug his cellar. The oldest water mill in New England was scarce twenty years old when Prescott contracted to grind the com of the Nashaway planters. His "Covenant to build a Corne mill" has been preserved through a copy made by Ralph Houghton, Lancaster's first Clerk of the Writs, and is as follows: "Know all men by these presents that I John Prescott blackssmith, hath Covenanted and bargained with Jno. ffounell of Charlestowne for the building of a Corne mill, within the said Towne of Lanchaster. This witnesseth that wee the Inhabitants of Lanchaster for his encouragement in so good a worke for the behoofe of our Towne, vpon condition that the said intended worke by him or his assignes be finished, do freely and fully giue, grant, enfeoffe, & confirme vnto the said John Prescott, thirty acres of intervale Land lying on the north riuer, lying north west of Henry Kerly, and ten acres of Land adjoyneing to the mill; and forty acres of Land on the south east of the mill brooke, lying between the mill brooke and Nashaway Riuer in such place as the said John Prescott shall choose with all the priuiledges and appurtenances thereto apperteyneing. To haue and to hold the said land and eurie parcell thereof to the said John Prescott his heyeres & assignes for euer, to his and their only propper vse and behoofe. Also wee do covenant & promise to lend the said John Prescott fiue pounds in current money one yeare for the buying of Irons for the mill. And also wee do covenant and grant to and with the said John Prescott his heyres and assignes that the said mill, with all the aboue named Land thereto apperteyneing shall be freed from all com'on charges for seauen yeares next ensueing, after the first finishing and setting the said mill to worke. In witnes whereof wee haue herevnto put our hands this 20th day of the 9mo. In the yeare of our Lord God one thousand six hundred fifty and three. THOMAS JAMES WILLM KERLY SENR LAWRENCE WATERS JNO PRESCOTT EDMUND PARKER JNO WHITE RICHARD LINTON RALPH HOUGHTON RICHARD SMITH JNO LEWIS JAMES ATHERTON JACOB FARRER WILLM KERLY JUNR In six months from that date the mill was done, and Prescott "began to grind corne the 23d day of the 3 mo, 1654." The commissioners, appointed by the General Court to oversee the prudential management of the town, met at John Prescott's in 1657 and confirmed "the imunityes provided for" in the above covenant specifying that they "should continue and remayne to him the said Jno. Prescott his heyres and assignes vntil the 23d of May, in the yeare of our Lord sixteen hundred sixty and two." The corn mill was located a little lower upon the brook than the extensive factory buildings now utilizing its water power. The half used force of the rapid stream, and the giant pines of the virgin forest then shadowed all the region about, were full of reproach to the restless miller. His busy brain was soon planning a new benefaction to his fellow citizens, and when his means grew sufficiently to warrant the enterprise, his busy hands wrought its consummation. As before, a formal agreement preceded the work: "Know all men by these presents that for as much as the Inhabitants of Lanchaster, or the most part of them being gathered together on a trayneing day, the 15th of the 9th mo, 1658, a motion was made by Jno. Prescott blackesmith of the same towne, about the setting vp of a saw mill for the good of the Towne, and yt he the said Jno Prescott, would by the help of God set vp the saw mill, and to supply the said Inhabitants with boords and other sawne worke, as is afforded at other saw mills in the countrey. In case the Towne would giue, grant, and confirms vnto the said John Prescott, a certeine tract of Land, lying Eastward of his water mill, be it more or less, bounded by the riuer east, the mill west the stake of the mill land and the east end of a ledge of Iron Stone Rocks southards, and forty acres of his owne land north, the said land to be to him his heyres and assignes for euer, and all the said land and eurie part thereof to be rate free vntill it be improued, or any pt of it, and that his saws, & saw mill should be free from any rates by the Towne, therefore know ye that the ptyes abouesaid did mutually agree and consent each with other concerning the aforementioned propositions as followeth: The towne on their part did giue, grant & confirme, vnto the said John Prescott his heyres and assignes for euer, all the aforementioned tract of land butted & bounded as aforesaid, to be to him his heyres and asssignes for euer with all the priuiledges and appurtenances thereon, and therevnto belonging to be to his and their owne propper vse and behoofe as aforesaid, and the land and eurie part of it to be free from all rates vntil it or any pt of it be improued, and also his saw, sawes, and saw-mill to be free from all town rates, or ministers rates, prouided the aforementioned worke be finished & compleated as abouesaid for the good of the towne, in some convenient time after this present contract covenant and agremt. And the said John Prescott did and doth by these prsents bynd himself, his heyres and assignes to set vp a saw-mill as aforesaid within the bounds of the aforesaid Towne, and to supply the Towne with boords and other sawne worke as aforesaid and truly and faithfully to performe, fullfill, & accomplish, all the aforementioned p'misses for the good of the Towne as aforesaid. Therefore the Selectmen conceiving this saw-mill to be of great vse to the Towne, and the after good of the place, Haue and do hereby act to rattifie and confirme all the aforemencconed acts, covenants, gifts, grants, & im'unityes, in respect of rates, and what euer is aforementioned, on their owne pt, and in behalfe of the Towne, and to the true performance hereof, both partyes haue and do bynd themselves by subscribing their hands, this twenty-fifth day of February, one thousand six hundred and fifty nine. JOHN PRESCOTT. The worke above mencconed was finished according to this covenant as witnesseth. Signed & Delivr'd In presence of, RALPH HOUGHTON. THOMAS WILDER THOMAS SAWYER RALPH HOUGHTON Monday, the seventeenth of February, 1659, "the Company granted him to fall pines on the Com'ons to supply his saw-mill." In April 1659, Ensign Noyes came to make accurate survey of the eighty square miles granted to the town, and John Prescott was deputed by the townsmen at their March meeting to aid in the survey and "mark the bounds." Among his varied accomplishments, natural and acquired, Prescott seems to have had some practical skill in surveying, the laying out of highways and the construction of bridges. In 1648 John Winthrop records: "This year a new way was found out to Connecticut by Nashua which avoided much of the hilly way." As appears by a later petition Prescott was the pioneer of this new path. In 1657 he was appointed by the government a member of a committee upon the building of bridges "at Billirriky and Misticke." In 1658 he with his son-in-law Jonas Fairbank was appointed to survey a farm of six hundred and fifty acres for Captain Richard Davenport, upon which farm the chief part of West Boylston now stands. To the General Court which met October 18, 1659, the following petition was presented: "The humble petition of John Prescot of Lancaster humblye Sheweth, That whereas yr petitioner about nine or ten yeares since, was desired by the late hon'red Governour Mr. Winthrop, wth other Magistrates, as also by Mr. Wilson of Boston, Mr. Shephard of Cambridge with many others, did lay & marke out a way at ye north side of the great pond & soe by Lancaster, which then was taken by Mr. Hopkins & many others to bee of great vse; This I did meerly vpon the request of these honored gentlemen, to my great detrimt, by being vpon it part of two summers not only myselfe but hiring others alsoe to helpe mee, whereby my family suffered much: I doe not question but many of ye Court remember the same, as alsoe that this hath not laine dead all this while, but I haue formerly mentioned it, but yet haue noe recompence for the same; the charge whereof came at 2s p day to about 10l; it is therefore the desire of yr petitioner yt you would bee pleased to grant him a farme in some place vndisposed of which will engage him to you and encourage him and others in publique occasions & y'r petitioner shall pray etc." One hundred acres of land were granted him, and speedily laid out near the Washacum ponds, where now stand the railroad buildings at Sterling Junction. We get very few glimpses of Prescott from the meagre records of succeeding years, but those serve to indicate that he was busy, prosperous and annually honored by his neighbors with the public duties for which his sturdy integrity, shrewd business tact, and wisely directed energy peculiarly fitted him. He had taken the oath of fidelity in 1652. Such owning of allegiance was by law prerequisite to the holding of real estate. Refusing such oath he might better have been a Nipmuck so far as civil rights or privileges were concerned. He was not yet a member of the recognized church however, and therefore lacked the political dignities of a freeman; although his intimate relations with Master Joseph Rowlandson, and his personal connection with the earlier cases of church discipline in Lancaster, sufficiently attest the austerity of his puritanism. Doubtless Governor John Winthrop in his hasty and harsh dictum respecting the Nashaway planters, classed John Prescott among those "corrupt in judgment." But it must be remembered that in Winthrop's visionary commonwealth there was no room for liberty of conscience. All were esteemed corrupt in judgment or even profane whose religious beliefs, when tested all about by the ecclesiastic callipers, proved not to have been cast in the doctrinal mould prescribed by the self-sanctified founders of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. No known fact in any way warrants even the conjecture that Prescott was not a sincere Christian earnestly pursuing his own convictions of duty, without fear and without reproach. Prescott's mechanical skill and business ability had more than a local reputation. In 1667, we find him contracting with the authorities of Groton, to erect "a good and sufficient corne mill or mills, and the same to finish so as may be fitting to grind the corne of the said Towne." ... For the fulfillment of this agreement he received five hundred and twenty acres of land, and mill and lands were exempted from taxation for twenty years. Assistance towards the building of the mill were also promised to the amount of "two days worke of a man for every house lott or family within the limitts of the said Towne, and at such time or times to be done or performed, as the said John Prescott shall see meete to call for the same, vpon reasonable notice given." The covenant was fulfilled by the completion of a mill at Nonacoiacus, then in the southern part of Groton. The mill site is now in Harvard. Prescott's youngest son, Jonas, was the first miller. The history of the old mill is obscured by the shadows of two hundred years, but a bright gleam of romantic tradition concerning the first miller is warm with human interest now. Perhaps at points the romantic may infringe upon the historic, but: Se non e vero, E ben trovato. Down by the green meadows of Sudbury there dwelt a bewitchingly fair maiden, the musical dissyllables of whose name were often upon the lips of the young men in all the country round about, and whose smile could awaken voiceless poetry in the heart of the most prosaic Puritan swain. There is little of aristocratic sound in Mary Loker's name, but her parents sat on Sunday at the meeting house in a "dignified" pew, and were rich in fields and cattle. Whether pushed by pride of land or pride of birth, in their plans and aspirations, this daughter was predestinated to enhance the family dignity by an aristocratic alliance. In Colonial days a maiden who added a handsome prospective dowry to her personal witchery was rare indeed, and Mary Loker had, coming from far and near, inflammable suitors perpetually burning at her shrine. From among these the father and mother soon made their choice upon strictly business principles, and shortly announced to Mary that a certain ambitious gentleman of the legal profession had furnished the most satisfactory credentials, and that nothing remained but for her to name the day. Now the fourth commandment was very far from being the dead letter in 1670 that it is in 1885, and it was matter for grave surprise to the elders that their usually obedient daughter, when the lawyer proceeded to plead, refused to hear, and peremptorily adjourned his cause without day. Maternal expostulation and paternal threats availed nothing. The because of Mary's contumacy was not far to seek. A stalwart Vulcan in the guise of an Antinous, known as Jonas Prescott, had wandered from his father's forge in Lancaster down the Bay Path to Sudbury. Mary and he had met, and the lingering of their parting boded ill for any predestination not stamped with their joint seal of consent. With that lack of astuteness proverbially exhibited by parents disappointed in match-making designs upon their children, the vexed father and mother began a course of vigorous repression, and thereby riveted more firmly than ever the chains which the errant young blacksmith and his apprentice Cupid had forged. In due time, they perforce learned that love's flame burns the brighter fed upon a bread and water diet; and that confinement to an attic may be quite endurable when Cupid's messages fly in and out of its lattice at pleasure. Finally Mary was secretly sent to an out-of-the-way neighborhood in the vain hope that the chill of absence might hinder what home rule had only served to help. But one day Jonas on a hunting excursion made the acquaintance of some youth, who, among other chitchat, happened to break into ecstatic praise of the graces of a certain fair damsel who had recently come to live in a farm-house near their home. Of course the anvil missed Jonas for the next day, and the next, and the next, while he experienced the hospitalities of his new-found friends—and their neighbors. It was time for a recognition of the inevitable by all concerned, but when, and with what grace Mary's stubborn parents yielded, if at all, is not recorded. But what mattered that? Old John Prescott installed Jonas at the Nonacoicus Mill, and endowed him with all his Groton lands, and in Lancaster, December 14, 1672, Jonas and Mary were married. For over fifty years fortunes railed upon their union. Four sons and eight daughters graced their fireside, and the father was trusted and clothed with local dignities. In after time the memory of Jonas and Mary has been honored by many worthy descendants, and especially by the gallant services of Colonel William Prescott at Bunker Hill, and the literary renown of William Hickling Prescott, the historian. In 1669, John Prescott was proclaimed a Freeman. He may have been long a Church member, or may not even at this date have yielded the conscientious scruples that had a quarter of a century earlier subjected him to the reproach of an ecclesiastical oligarchy. The laws concerning Freemen, in reluctant obedience to the letter of Charles II., were so changed in 1665 that those not Church members could become Freemen, if freeholders of a sufficient estate, and guaranteed by the local minister "to be Orthodox and not vicious in their lives." Prescott had the true Englishman's love of landed possessions, and about this time added a large tract to his acreage by purchase from his Indian neighbors. This transaction gave cause for the following petition: To the honorable the Govr the Deputy Govr magtr & Deputy es assembled in the genrall Court: The Petition of Jno Prescott of Lanchaster, In most humble wise sheweth. Whereas ye Petitionr hath purchased an Indian right to a small parcell of Land, occasioned and circumstanced for quantity & quality according to the deed of sale herevnto annexed and a pt. thereof not being legally setled vpon piee vnlesse I may obteyne the favor of this Court for the Confirmation thereof, These are humbly to request the Court's favor for that end, the Lord hauing dealt graciously with mee in giueing mee many children I account it my duty to endeauor their provission & setling and do hope that this may be of some vse in yt kind. I know not any claime made to the said land by any towne, or any legall right yt any other persons haue therein, and therefore are free for mee to occupy & subdue as any other, may I obteyne the Court's approbation. I shall not vse further motiues, my condition in other respecks & wt my trouble & expenses haue been according to my poor ability in my place being not altogether vnknowne to some of ye Court. That ye Lord's prsence may be with & his blessing accompany all yor psons, Counsells, & endeauors for his honor & ye weale of his poor people is ye prayr of Yor supplliant JOHN PRESCOTT SENr. This request was referred to a special committee, composed of Edward Tyng, George Corwin and Humphrey Davie, who reported as follows: "In Reference to this Petition the Comittee being well informed that the Petr is an ancient Planter and hath bin a vseful helpfull and publique spirited man doinge many good offices ffor the Country, Relatinge to the Road to Conecticott, marking trees, directinge of Passengers &c, and that the Land Petitioned for beinge but about 107 Acres & Lyinge not very Convenient for any other Plantation, and only accomoclable for the Petr, we judge it reasonable to Confirme the Indian Grant to him & his heyers if ye honored Court see meete." This report was approved. James Wiser alias Quanapaug, the Christian Nashaway Chief, who appears as grantor of the land, was a warrior whose bravery had been tested in the contest between the Nipmucks and the Mohawks; and was so firm a friend of his white neighbors at Lancaster, that when Philip persuaded the tribe with its Sagamore Sam, to go upon the war path, James refused to join them. He even served as a spy and betrayed Philip's plans to the English at imminent risk of his life, doing his utmost to save Lancaster from destruction. General Daniel Gookin acknowledged that Quanapaug's information would have averted the horrible massacre of February 10, 1676, had it been duly heeded. The fact of the friendly relations existing between Prescott and the tribe whose fortified residence stood between the two Washacum ponds is interesting and confirms tradition. It is related that at his first coming he speedily won the respect of the savages, not only by his fearlessness and great physical strength, but by the power of his eye and his dignity of mien. They soon learned to stand in awe of his long musket and unerring skill as a marksman. He had brought with him from England a suit of mail, helmet and cuirass such as were worn by the soldiers of Cromwell. Clothed with these, his stately figure seemed to the sons of the forest something almost supernatural. One day some Indians, having taken away a horse of his, he put on his armor, pursued them alone, and soon overtook them. The chief of the party seeing him approach unsupported, advanced menacingly with uplifted tomahawk. Prescott dared him to strike, and was immediately taken at his word, but the rude weapon glanced harmless from the helmet, to the amazement of the red men. Naturally the Indian desired to try upon his own head so wonderful a hat, and the owner obligingly gratified him claiming the privilege, however, of using the tomahawk in return. The helmet proving a scant fit, or its wearer neglecting to bring it down to its proper bearings, Prescott's vengeful blow not only astounded him but left very little cuticle on either side of his head, and nearly deprived him of ears. Prescott was permitted to jog home in peace upon his horse. After hostilities began, it is said that at one time the savages set fire to his barn, but fled when he sallied out clad in armor with his dreaded gun; and thus he was enabled to save his stock, though the building was consumed. More than once attempts were made to destroy the mill, but a sight of the man in mail with the far reaching gun was enough to send them to a safe distance and rescue the property. Many stories have been told of Prescott's prowess, but some bear so close a resemblance to those credibly historic in other localities and of other heroes, that there attaches to them some suspicions of adaptation at least. Such perhaps is the story that in an assault upon the town "he had several muskets but no one in the house save his wife to assist him. She loaded the guns and he discharged them with fatal effect. The contest continued for nearly half an hour, Mr. Prescott all the while giving orders as if to soldiers, so loud that 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 and wounded." In 1673 Prescott had nearly attained the age of three score and ten. The weight of years that had been full of exposure, anxiety and toil rested heavily upon even his rugged frame, and some sharp touch of bodily ailment warning him of his mortality, he made his will. It is signed with "his mark," although he evidently tried to force his unwilling hand to its accustomed work, his peculiar J being plainly written and followed by characters meant for the remaining letters of his first name. To earlier documents he was wont to affix a simple neat signature, and although not a clerkly penman like his friends John Tinker, Master Joseph Rowlandson and Ralph Houghton, his writing is superior to that of Major Simon Willard. JOHN PRESCOTT'S WILL. Theis presents witneseth that John Prescott of Lancaster in the Countie of Midlesex in New England Blaksmith being vnder the sencible decayes of nature and infirmities of old age and at present vnder a great deale of anguish and paine but of a good and sound memorie at the writing hereof being moved vpon considerations aforesaid togather with advis of Christian friends to set his house in order in Reference to the dispose of those outward good things the lord in mercie hath betrusted him with, theirfore the said John Prescott doth hereby declare his last will and testament to be as followeth, first and cheifly Comiting and Contending his soule to almightie god that gaue it him and his bodie to the comon burying place here in Lancaster, and after his bodie being orderly and decently buryed and the Charge theirof defrayed togather with all due debts discharged, the Rest of his Lands and estate to be disposed of as followeth: first in Reference to the Comfortable being of his louing wife during the time of her naturall Life, it is his will that his said wife haue that end of the house where he and shee now dwelleth togather with halfe the pasture and halfe the fruit of the aple trees and all the goods in the house, togather with two cowes which shee shall Chuse and medow sufisiant for wintering of them, out of the medowes where she shall Chuse, the said winter pvision for the two cowes to be equaly and seasonably pvided by his two sons John and Jonathan. And what this may fall short in Reference to convenient food and cloathing and other nesesaries for her comfort in sicknes and in health, to be equaly pvided by the aforesaid John and Jonathan out of the estate. And at the death of his aforesaid louing wife it is his will that the said cowes and household goods be equally deuided betwene his two sons aforesaid, and the other part of the dwelling house, out housing, pasture and orchard togather with the term acres of house lott lying on Georges hill which was purchased of daniell gains to be equaly deuided betwene the said John and Jonathan and alsoe that part of the house and outhousing what is Convenient for the two Cowes and their winter pvision pasture and orchard willed to his louing wife during her life, at her death to be equaly deuided alsoe betwene the said John and Jonathan. And furthermore it is his will that John Prescott his eldest son haue the Intervaile land at John's Jumpe, the lower Mille and the land belonging to it and halfe the saw mille and halfe the land belonging to it and all the house and barne theire erected, and alsoe the house and farme at Washacomb pond, and all the land their purchased from the indians and halfe the medowes in all deuisions in the towne acept sum litle part at bar hill wh. is after willed to James Sawyer and one halfe of the Comon Right in the towne, and in Reference to second deuision land, that part of it which lyeth at danforths farme both vpland and interuaile is willed to Jonathan and sixtie acres of that part at Washacom litle pond to James Sawyer and halfe of sum brushie land Capable of being made medow at the side of the great pine plain to be within the said James Sawyers sixtie acres and all the Rest of the second deuision land both vpland and Interuaile to be equaly deuided betwene John Prescott and Jonathan aformentioned. And Jonathan Prescott his second son to haue the Ryefeild and all the interuaile lott at Nashaway Riuer that part which he hath in posesion and the other part joyneing to the highway and alsoe his part of second deuision land aforementioned and alsoe one halfe of all the medowes in all deuisions in the towne not willed to John Prescott and James Sawyer aformentioned, and alsoe the other halfe of the saw mille and land belonging to it, and it is to be vnderstood that all timber on the land belonging to both Corne Mille and Saw Mille be Comon to the vse of the Saw Mille. And in Reference to his third son Jonas Prescott it is herby declared that he hath Received a full childs portion at nonecoicus in a Corne mille and Lands and other goods. And James Sawyer his granchild and Servant it is his will that he haue the sixtie acres of vpland aformentioned and the two peices of medow at bare hill one being part of his second deuision the upermost peic on the brook and the other being part of his third deuision lying vpon Nashaway River purchased of goodman Allin. Prouided the Said James Sawyer carie it beter then he did to his said granfather in his time and carie so as becoms an aprentic & vntil he be one and twentie years of age vnto the executors of this will namly John Prescott and Jonathan Prescott who are alsoe herby engaged to pforme vnto the said James what was pmised by his said granfather, which was to endeuor to learne him the art and trade of a blaksmith. And in Case the said James doe not pforme on his part as is afor expresed to the satisfaction of the overseers of this will, or otherwise, If he doe not acept of the land aformentioned, then the said land and medow to be equaly deuided betwene the aforsaid John and Jonathan. And in Reference to his three daughters, namly Marie, Sara and Lydia they to haue and Receive eurie of them fiue pounds to be paid to them by the executors to eurie of them fiftie shillings by the yeare two years after the death of theire father to be paid out of the mouables and Martha Ruge his granchild to haue a cow at the choic of her granmother. And it is the express will and charge of the testator to his wife and all his Children that they labor and endeuor to prescrue loue and unitie among themselves and the vpholding of Church and Comonwealth. And to the end that this his last will and testament may be truly pformed in all the parts of it, the said testator hath and herby doth constitut and apoynt his two sons namly John Prescott and Jonathan Prescott Joynt executors of this his last will. And for the preuention of after trouble among those that suruiue about the dispose of the estate acording to this his will he hath hereby Chosen desired and apoynted the Reuerend Mr. Joseph Rowlandson, deacon Sumner and Ralph Houghton overseers of this his will; vnto whom all the parties concerned in this his will in all dificult Cases are to Repaire, and that nothing be done without their Consent and aprobation. And furthermore in Reference to the mouables it is his will that his son John have his anvill and after the debts and legacies aformentioned be truly paid and fully discharged by the executors and the speciall trust pformed vnto my wife during her life and at her death, in Respect of, sicknes funerall expences, the Remainder of the movables to be equaly deuided betwene my two sons John and Jonathan aforementioned. And for a further and fuller declaration and confirmation of this will to be the last will and testament of the afornamed John Prescott he hath herevnto put his hand and seale this 8 of 2 month one thousand six hundred seaventie three. JOHN PRESCOTT, his John mark. Sealed signed owned to be the Last will and testament of the testator afornamed In the presence of JOSEPH ROWLANDSON, ROGER SUMNER, RALPH HOUGHTON. April 4: 82. ROGER SUMNER, } RALPH HOUGHTON, } Appearing in Court made oath to the above sd will, JONATHAN REMINGTON, Cleric." But John Prescott's pilgrimage was far from ended, and severer chastenings than any yet experienced awaited him. He had survived to see the settlement that called him father, struggle upward from discouraging beginnings, to become a thriving and happy community of over fifty families. Where at his coming all had been pathless woods, now fenced fields and orchards yielded annually their golden and ruddy harvests; gardens bloomed; mechanic's plied their various crafts; herds wandered in lush meadows; bridges spanned the rivers, and roads wound through the landscape from cottage to cottage and away to neighboring towns. All this fair scene of industry and rural content, of which he might in modest truth say "Magna pars fui," he lived to see in a single day made more desolate than the howling wilderness from which it had been laboriously conquered. He was spared to see dear neighbors and kindred massacred in every method of revolting atrocity, and their wives and children carried into loathsome captivity by foes more relentlessly cruel than wolves. When now weighed down with age and bodily infirmities, the rest he had thought won was to be denied him, and he and his were driven from the ashes of pleasant homes—about which clustered the memories of thirty years' joys and sorrows—to beg shelter from the charity of strangers. For more than three years his enforced banishment endured. In October 1679, John Prescott with his sons John and Jonathan, his sons-in-law Thomas Sawyer and John Rugg, his grand-son Thomas Sawyer, Jr. and his neighbor's John Moore, Thomas Wilder, and Josiah White, petitioned the Middlesex Court for permission to resettle the town, and their prayer was granted. Soon most of the inhabitants who had survived the massacre and exile, were busily building new homes, some upon the cinders of the old, others upon their second division lands east of the rivers where they were less exposed to the stealthy incursions of their savage enemies. The two John Prescotts rebuilt the mills and dwelt there. Whether the pioneer's life long helpmate died before their settlement, in exile, or shortly after the return, has not been ascertained, but it would seem that he survived her. Jonathan having married a second wife remained in Concord. For two years the old man lived with his eldest son, seeing the Nashaway Valley blooming with the fruits of civilized labor; seeing new families filling the woeful gaps made in the old by Philip's warriors; seeing children and grandchildren grasping the implements that had fallen from the nerveless hold of the earliest bread-winners, with hopeful and pertinacious purpose to extend the paternal domain; seeing too, may we not trust, from the Pisgah height of prophetic vision the glorious promise awaiting this his Canaan; these softly rounded hills and broad valleys dotted with the winsome homes of thousands of freemen; churches and schools, shops of artisans, and busy marts of trade clustered about his mill site; and, above all, seeing the assertion of political freedom and liberty of conscience which Governor John Winthrop had reproached him for favoring in the petition of Robert Child, become the corner stone of a giant republic. No record of John Prescott's death is found; but when upon his death bed, feeling that the changed condition of his own and his son Jonathan's affairs required some modification of the will made in 1673, he summoned two of his townsmen to hear his nuncupative codicil to that document. From the affidavit, here appended, it is certain that his death occurred about the middle of December, 1681. "The Deposition of Thos: Wilder aged 37 years sworn say'th that being with Jno: Prescott Sen'r About six hours before he died he ye s'd Jno. Prescott gaue to his eldest sonn Jno: Presscott his house lott with all belonging to ye same & ye two mills, corn mill & saw mill with ye land belonging thereto & three scor Acors of land nere South medow and fourty Acors of land nere Wonchesix & a pece of enteruile caled Johns Jump & Bridge medow on both sids ye Brook. Cyprian Steevens Testifieth to all ye truth Aboue writen. DECEM. 20. 81. Sworn in Court. J.R.C." Though two or more years short of fourscore at the time of his death he was Lancaster's oldest inhabitant. His fellow pioneer, Lawrence Waters, who was the elder by perhaps a years, till survived, though blind and helpless; but he dwelt with a son in Charlestown, after the destruction of his home, and never returned to Lancaster. John and Ralph Houghton, much younger men, were now the veterans of the town. End Source: Project Gutenberg Etext-Bay State Monthly Magazine February, 1885. http://snowy.arsc.alaska.edu/gutenbert/1/4/1/3/14132/14132-h/14132-h.htm.toc_8found on ancestry.comLancaster Founder: John Prescott
Lancaster boasts being the official "mothertown" to all of central Massachusetts. Towns such as Harvard, Stow, Bolton, Hudson, Marlborough, Leominster, Clinton, Berlin and Boylston were all once considered part of Lancaster.
Supporters of Lancaster's founder, John Prescott (1604–1681), wished to name the new settlement Prescottville, but the Massachusetts General Court considered such a request from a common freeman presumptuous, given that at that time, not even a governor had held the honor of naming a town after himself. Instead, they decided to use Lancaster, the name of his home town in England.Lancaster is home to the Mary Rowlandson (c 1637-1711) attack in 1675 and 1676. During King Philip's War, which was fought partially in Lancaster, a tribe of Indians pillaged the entire town of Lancaster.found on ancestry.com