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John Prentice of Libberton, Scotland

John Prentice of Libberton, Scotland
By Linus Joseph Dewald Jr., Editor
Spring 2000 and Revised 12 May 2008

Update of 15 Jul 2001:   By emails of 14 and 21 Jul 2001, Ann Logan had provided additional information from the Libberton Parish Register which idenfies the ancestry and descendants of John Prentice, the owner of Muirlea Farm in Libberton. We have revised the article to include that additional information.
In our Winter 1999 issue, we published an article about James Peter Prentice of Lanarkshire who immigrated to America with John Shiels who was called "a cousin." From the material compiled by Dan and Judy Shiels and sent to Rosey Sutherland who, in turn, forwarded it to us by E-mail of 9 Jan 2000, it appears that James is called the brother of Elizabeth (below) who married Thomas Shiels.

It appears safe, therefore, to conclude that John Prentice of Libberton is the father of both James Prentice and Elizabeth Prentice, discussed in this article.


1. James Prentice was b. c. 1743 and d. 10 May 1815, age 72. He m. Ellen Pennycook, b. c. 1752 and d. 4 Jun 1786, age 34. Both are buried in the churchyard of Walston, Lanark, Scotland where james is called a late tenant of Muirlea, Libberton. They had 1 or more children, including:
  1. James Prentice, bap. 29 Jan 1775, Walston.
  2. Alexander Prentice, bap. 5 Oct 1777, Walston
  3. John Prentice, bap. 11 Sep 1780, Walston. . . . . . . . . [2]

2. John Prentice, bap. 11 Sep 1780, Walston and d. 28 Mar 1854, age 73. He was a farmer and m. Jane Hogg, b. c. 1781 and d. 12 Oct 1853 or 18555, age 74. Both are buried in the churchyard of Walston, Lanark, Scotland where John is called a late tenant of Muirlea, Libberton. Children:

  1. Mary prentice, b. 16 Aug 1810, Muirlea, Libberton. She may be the Mary Prentice who m. John Irving on 5 Jun 1846, Libberton.
  2. Helen Prentice, b. 26 Apr 1815 Muirlea, Libberton. . . . . [3]
  3. Elizabeth Barbara Prentice, b. 16 Feb 1817, Libberton, Muirlea. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . [4]
  4. William Prentice, b. 27 April 1819, Muirlea, Libberton.
  5. (probably) Alex/Alexander Prentice, b. c. (1825?) and d. 15 Feb (1831?), age 5.
  6. (probably) John Prentice, b. c. 1826. He m. Isabella Ballantyne on 29 Dec. 1854, Libberton. He is presumed to be the son of John Prentice and Jean Hogg because in the marriage register it says that he is of Muirlea (as it also says for the marriage records of his probable sisters Elizabeth and Helen). There is no baptismal record found for him as yet. Children:
    1. Jane Hogg Prentice, b. 16 Oct 1855, Libberton, Lanark, Scotland
    2. John Prentice, b. 5 Sep 1860, Walston, Lanark, Scotland. He m. Isabella Ballantyne on 29 Dec 1854, Libberton.
    3. Margaret Williamson Prentice, b. 30 Aug 1862 Walston, Lanark, Scotland
    4. Bertram Prentice, b. 15 Oct 1865, Edinburgh Parish, Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland.
    5. Bertram Prentice, b. 30 Sep 1867, Edinburgh Parish, Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland.
  7. James Peter Prentice, b. 4 Jul 1812, Libberton

3. Helen Prentice, b. 26 Apr 1815, Muirlea and d. 9 Mar 1882, age 66. She married John Brown, clothier, in Biggar, Lanarkshire. 10 Apr 1840. He was b. c. 1816 and d. 22 Dec 1866, age 50. Both are buried in the Biggar's St. Mary's churchyard. Childen:

  1. John Brown, b. c. 1843 and d. 24 Jul 1859, age 16.
  2. Jane Brown, b. c. 1845 and d. 5 Jul 1870, age 25. She m. Simon Reid.
  3. Helen Brown, b. c. 1850 and d. 23 Dec 1872, age 22.
  4. James Brown, b. c. Dec. 1852 and d. 20 Apr 1857, age 4 years and 5 mos.

4. Elizabeth Barbara Prentice, b. 16 Feb 1817, Muirlea. She died in Fort Ransom, North Dakota, 12 Sept. 1891. Elizabeth was well educated as she was from a good family.

Elizabeth married Thomas Shiels at Libberton 30 April 1841. Thomas was born July 12, 1819 near Biggar, Lanarkshire, Scotland. He was the oldest son of Thomas and Barbara Jean (Cranston) Shiels (for more on the Shiels genealogy, see Shiels Family History Homepage . Thomas (the son) worked for the Prentice family at Muirlea as a coachman and groom.

They left Scotland in 1852 and emigrated to the United States, settling in Quincy, Illinois. While on route, the youngest child, John died and was buried at sea. Thomas was quite sick with Malaria when they were in >Illinois and Elizabeth taught school and took in sewing to support the family. Elizabeth is noted as having a very strong character and being very religious. No one was allowed to do anything, not even cook a meal, on Sunday.

Elizabeth and Thomas's son, Robert Shiels, worked for [James'] uncle, James Peter Prentice, and later married James' daughter, and Robert's first cousin, Elizabeth Prentice.

In 1860, Elizabeth, Thomas and their son, Thomas Prentice Shiels, moved to Canada. They lived within one mile of Thomas's brothers, John and George Shiels. Thomas bought lot 16 in the 15th Concession of Grey Township in Ontario from his brother John. The two oldest children, Robert and Jane, remained in Illinois and both married there. This land turned out to be rather poor so Thomas resorted to some of his groom experience from Scotland and became the local Vet. He was very good with animals and also had a reputation as a well driller and "witcher" for locating underground water.

When their son Thomas Prentice Shiels was married he received half of his Dad's farm as a wedding present. Thomas Prentice Shiels remained there till 1881 when he heard of homesteads being offered in the Dakota Territory. Thomas Prentice Shiels, his wife, Margaret, and family decided to move to Fort Ransom, North Dakota.

Thomas and Elizabeth continued to farm until 1886. Then, along with their youngest children, Elizabeth, John and James, they moved to Fort Ransom, North Dakota where their son Thomas Prentice Shiels had gone earlier. Theystarted farming in the area just at the west side of Sheyenne Valley and continued to do so for a number of years.

Elizabeth was a very religious woman being a strict Presbyterian. She had a fine head of black hair with hardly any grey, even at the age of 76 when she died in 1891. She had a strong Scottish accent all her life. She always wore a little bonnet when she went out and a sunbonnet in the yard or garden. Sunday was always strictly observed in the Presbyterian way, going to church, read only the Bible, meals prepared the day before, and every one were required to sit quietly all day on the Sabbath. She was obviously a very strong character, but Thomas was equal to the challenge. He would go over to his son's place on Sunday to read the newspaper which came only once a week and his wife was never able to break him of this "terrible" habit.

An incident which reveals much about the times in which they lived tells of Thomas and a neighbour by the name of Barch getting into an argument about a fence line. Barch struck Thomas on the head with a sturdy stick causing some serious damage and profuse bleeding. He got to the house and his wife patched him up. By this time, some of the neighbours had arrived at the house and were relieved to see he was still on his feet. The neighbours became very indignant and dismayed, no doubt voicing their anger and inflaming the already angry Thomas. Thomas took his muzzle-loading shotgun off the wall and loaded it, intending that he and his neighbours should go after the offending Barch. As he was going through the kitchen to join the "posse" at the back door, he bumped the gun against something and it discharged, the bullet striking him in the head. It was just a graze but there was more blood for Elizabeth to attend to and he carried the scar for the rest of his life. Thus closed the incident of the nearest thing to a feud or at least a shoot-out in our family.

Thomas had a full set of teeth when he died and he never had a cavity or lost a tooth in his entire life. He did not smoke but he chewed tobacco as it was very popular at the time. After Elizabeth had died in 1891, helived in a little place in the valley. He never put anything of Elizabeth's away after she was gone, even her sunbonnet remained hanging on the wall. Later he moved out onto the prairie to Englevale where his youngest daughter, Elizabeth and James Tracy Logan lived.

While Thomas was living with Elizabeth and James, something happened that reveals a good deal about his character. Elizabeth was pregnant with her fourth child and was about to give birth. James went to fetch a neighbour lady to help with the delivery. Events happened quickly however and before James got back, his new daughter had been delivered. Thomas had taken over, going into the bedroom and shut the door. He delivered the baby, using his pocket knife to cut the cord, tied it off, wrapped the wee mite in a blanket and had it ready for the midwife's attention. Thomas died there on May 30, 1897.

Children of Thomas and Elizabeth:

  • Robert Shiels, b. 1839, Scotland . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . [5]
  • Jane Shiels, b. 1841, Scotland. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .[6]
  • Thomas Prentice Shiels, b. 1845, perhaps Libberton, Scotland.
  • John Shiels, b. 1851, perhaps Libberton, Scotland. Died in 1852 and buried at sea.
  • Infant Shiels, b. IL and d. in infancy.
  • William Shiels, b. 1854, IL and lived only four months. He was buried in the Prentice family cemetery and there is a marker there for John also, who was buried at sea. This is a private cemetery on the farm of James Prentice (Elizabeth's brother) at Greenup, Illinois.
  • Elizabeth Shiels, b. 1861. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . [7]
  • John Shiels, b. 1862 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . [8]
  • James Grant (adopted), b. 1876. James Grant's mother had died when he was very young. When his oldest sister left home, the father could no longer look after the children so he peddled them off around the area to neighbours who could take them. James was the only one to be officially adopted.

5. Robert Shiels, b. 29 Jul 1839 at Libberton, Scotland and d. 1893. He was the oldest of seven children to Thomas and Elizabeth Prentice Shiels. He emigrated to the United States with his parents in 1852. Robert was quite young (12 or 13) when they moved to Quincy, Illinois. He took a job on a pig ranch for his uncle James Prentice. He eventually fell in love with the boss's daughter. Robert went to Canada with his parents but found he did not like it and returned to Illinois. After his marriage, he took over the family farm.

Robert m. Elizabeth J. Prentice, dau. of James Peter Prentice. Children:

  • Lincoln Shiels.
  • Lottie Shiels.
  • (baby) Shiels. Died in 1885.

After Elizabeth had died, Robert Shiels married Hattie Dooley (a widow from Greenup). They also had three children, Carrie, Oliver and Bennie. Robert died in 1893.

6. Jane Shiels was born September 25, 1841 at Libberton, Scotland and emigrated to the United States with her parents. Jane married William Reynalds and remained in Illinois when her parents moved to Canada in 1860. Jane and William lived around Greenup, Illinois. Jane and William raised a large family however little is known of this branch. Jane died in 1891.

7. Elizabeth Barbara Shiels was the third child of Thomas and Elizabeth (Prentice) Shiels. She was born February 4, 1861 at Cranbrook, Ontario. Died 1926. Her parents had emigrated from Scotland to the United States earlier and moved from Quincy, Illinois to Canada in early 1860. In 1886 she moved with the family to Fort Ransom, North Dakota. Elizabeth married James L. Logan in 1886 shortly after moving to North Dakota. They had seven children:

  • David Logan (1887). David married Emily Church and had three sons and a daughter. The oldest son William David married Marion and they had a son Bill who married a girl Anne and at the time of recording were living in Toronto.
  • Mabel Logan,
  • Abigail Logan,
  • Tracy J. Logan,
  • Grace Logan,
  • Clara Logan,
  • William Logan.

8. John Shiels (1862 - 1913) was the third son of Thomas and Elizabeth (Prentice) Shiels. He was born in Canada and in 1886 he moved with the family to Fort Ransom, North Dakota. John legally changed his name to Shields. We are assuming he just got tired of fighting the uphill battle of saying "no D" when people spelled his name.

John married Lizzie Logan. John and Lizzie moved to Minot as William was born there in 1888. John died in 1913 at the age of 51. Children

  • Thomas Shiels. Thomas was a fireman in Minot. He was married and had two children.
  • William L. Shiels, b. 1888. William also lived in Minot. He was married to Marie Lochthowe and they had four children:
    • John Shiels. He was married, had 2 children, and lived in Milwaukie.
    • Lauren Shiels. She m. Mr. Bach.
    • Lorraine Shiels
    • Arthur Shiels. He was adopted and went by the name Arthur Williams. He was married and had 8 children.

If you can provide us with more information about any of the folks mentioned above, please contact us at dewald@prenticenet.com

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