John/1 Prescott

M, #5460, (1604/5 - December 1681)
Father*Ralph/a Prescott b. c 16 Jun 1569, d. 24 Jan 1609
Last Edited:19 Aug 2017

Children with Mary Platts:

John/1 Prescott, a blacksmith, was reportedly baptised in 1604/5 at Shevington, Standish Parish, Lancashire.1 Mentioned in his father's will, dated 7 Nov 1608 at Shevington1, he married, 21 Jan 1628/29 at Wigan, Lancashire, Mary Platts of Wygan.1
     Drake reports that John and Mary Prescott first emigrated circa 1638 to Barbados.1 In 1640 they sailed to Boston, and initially setled at Watertown.1 Circa 1643 they removed to the Nashaway purchase, which became Lancaster, thus becoming the first white settlers of both Lancaster and the future Worcester County.2,1
     John Prescott "brought to the new world with him a helmet and coat of chain mail. Caleb Butler, in his History of Groton gives this story: John was a sturdy, strong man of stern countenance, and whenever he had any difficulty with the Indians, he would clothe himself with his coat of mail, helmet, cuirass, 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 on his head, as he had done on John's. The helmet being too small for the chief's head, the stroke settled it down to his ears, scraping off the skin of both sides of his head. They gave him up his horse, thinking him to be a supernatural being.1"
     John Prescott took the oath of fidelity in 1652.1 That same year, he agreed with the town of Lancaster to build a gristmill, which was completed and ground its first grain on 23 Mar 1653/54. In 1657, he built a sawmill above his gristmill.1 In 1667, he contracted with the town of Groton to build a gristmill there in exchange for 520 acres of land. The site is now within the town of Harvard. He placed his son Jonas in charge of the project, and later deeded the lands and mill to him.1 Admitted a freeman by the General Court 19 May 1669, though not being present for the oath, he " tooke it not" on that day.3
     After the destruction of Lancaster during Philip's War, John Prescott moved his family to the safety of Concord in 1676.1 A "Humble Petition of the distressed people of Lancaster" to the Government for assistance in this emergency, dated March 11, 1675-6, was signed by 19 Lancaster inhabitants, among them Jacob ffarrar, John Houghton, sen., John Moor, John Whitcomb, John Prescott, John Houghton, jun., Thomas Sawyer, and Thomas Wilder.4 After the war's conclusion, John Prescott returned to Lancaster in 16791, and died there in Dec 1681.1
     On the 250th anniversary of Lancaster's founding, a memorial stone was erected at his gravesite, which reads as follows:

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
And encountered [sic] 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.1

Local Notes:

Elected3 Feb 1667, Lancaster, MASelectman.1

Source Citations/Notes:

  1. [S1545] Robert (Rob) Roy, "Ancestry of Robert Roy and Family,"
  2. [S203] Records of Littleton, Massachusetts, 462, Prescott.
  3. [S222] Lucius R. Paige, "Massachusetts Freemen," 16, 19 May 1669, Jno. Prescott.
  4. [S106] NEHGS Register, "Memoir of the Farrar Family" (Oct 1852), 6:320.
  5. [S182] Lemuel Shattuck, History of the Town of Concord, 381–83, Prescott genealogy.
  6. [S130] Henry S. Nourse, Lancaster Records, 4, 452.