John Prout, 1648-1719.

John Prout Center Church Crypt New HavenIn 1691 John requested liberty to transport some pipe staves. He was refused but four years later a similar request was granted. He must have trafficked considerably in staves (for barrels which were used extensively) because in 1698 he asked for liberty “to ship off to sea about 20,000 hogshead staves.” This was granted. He and his son John (1689-1776) acquired a considerable amount of land. Capt. John was made a freeman in 1685, a proprietor in 1706 and the proprietor’s clerk in 1716.

Capt. John was born in Plymouth Colony, the son of a Boston sea captain. He became the master of the ship America in 1669. Two years earlier he asked permission to keep a “house of publike entertainment for the retailing of all sorts of strong drink.” He married Mary Rutherford Hall, Daniel Hall’s widow. Their children were: Sarah, John, Jr. and Mary. The latter married the son of John Dixwell, the regicide. These Dixwells settled in Boston.

My more recent records search turns up some very interesting conflicting information.  One source (1901) lists a Captain John Prout entering the port at New London, CT on his ship “America” with the claim of being “of” Plymouth, Devonshire (UK), not the Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts, as reported above by our church historian in 2001.  

He sold the ship and its contents and settled in New Haven; an 1897 source reports that “about 1670, Captain John Prout came to New Haven from Devonshire, and there married Mrs. Mary Hall, daughter of Henry and Sarah Rutherford,” and a New Haven publication dating 1800 also asserts that John Prout was “From Devonshire, Eng.; came hither about 1670.”  

However, the 1901 source also claims “He was certainly the John, son of Capt. Timothy Prout, who was baptized at the First Church in Boston.” There is indeed a John Prout — son of a Timothy Prout — who is listed as baptized at First Church in Boston in 1648 by the Boston Registry Department.  Leo Collins, the current archivist at First Church, kindly verified this for me in a recent email:  “John, the son of Timothy Proute (Prout) was a member of the First Church in Boston.  You will find them and others of the family in the name index [Page 1211] of Vol. 41 of the ‘Publications of The Colonial Society of Massachusetts,’ under ‘Collections……Records of the First Church in Boston III’  [Volume III].”

Even though Capt. Timothy Prout, Sr. was in fact born in Devonshire, UK, why would a son born and baptized in Massachusetts (with no record of the family’s return to the UK I can find at this point–and Mr. Collins at First Church Boston can recall no records of membership transfer back to England) show up in Connecticut with the claim (or misunderstanding) that he was an immigrant from England?  Research is ongoing.

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