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The First Prentices in America

The following text is an excerpt from "History and Genealogy of the Prentice, or Prentiss Family in New England, etc., from 1631 to 1883," By C. J. F. Binney, Second Edition, Boston, Published by the Editor 1883.


This in an old English name. Rymer's "Foedera," Vol. III., p. 730, mentions Thomas Prentiz, A. D. 1318, An. 12, Edward II. See also English Branches for William de Prentice de Leak, England, 1341. Pelkinton's "Derbyshire," London, 1789, Vol. II., speaks of Peter Prentiz, member of the House of Commons from Derby, 34 and 35 Edward III., about 1361-2, and John Prentiz, a member from Derby, An. 6, Henry IV., and of Elizabeth Prentice,[a] who m. the Earl of Ferran, A. D. 1778, and Richard Prentiz, Vol. VIII, p. 294, A. D. 1403, An. 4, Henry IV. John Prentys was Rector of Winterborn, Bradston, Aug. 22, 1713, and Prebendary of York, North Newbold, which he resigned Aug. 22, 1723. A few other early names are in the Great Britain branches.

The name in America is believed to have been originally spelled Prentice.[b] Some branches since spell it Prentiss, and some Prentis. In the following pages the names of the different branches are spelled as found, or written by themselves, when known; otherwise written Prentice. Capt. Thomas Prentice, of Newton, Mass., wrote tice, as did Henry the Planter, of Cambridge, Mass. Some branches in Great Britain yet spell Prentis and Prentiss; the most of them spell Prentice. Many of the younger American branches have changed the name from tis to tiss or tice, or vice versa; and it is often necessary in tracing one to look at the index spelled each way.

The first one of the name yet found recorded in America was Valentine Prentice, who came over from Nazing, Essex County, Eng, with the apostle "Eliot," in 1631, with his wife, Alice, and son, John Prentice (another child died on the passage), and settled in Roxbury, Mass. It is supposed that Valentine, of Roxbury, Robert, of Roxbury, Henry, of Cambridge, and capt. Thomas, of Cambridge and Newton, were in some way connected. The descendants of Valentine, Henry and Capt. Thomas will be given in the following pages, and Robert and descendants further on.

[a] Variously spelled.
[b] On old records In New England, names of Individuals were often written by town clerks, etc., from their mode of spelling, from the sound of a name. The original Roxbury and Cambridge branches spelled Prentice. Valentine of Roxbury, name was spelled there on the records tice; but after his son, John the "smith," went to New London, Ct., that name there is spelled Prentis, and is so continued in that branch, though some of the subsequent families of it have since spelled tiss and tice.
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