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Phineas Pratt, Colonial Furniture Maker

December 20, 2013



My 12th great-grandfather was born in London and died in the Massachusetts Colony.  He arrived under dire circumstances and established himself as a joiner, or furniture maker.  He was famous for an act of courage walking 25 miles in the snow to tell Miles Standish his village was in peril of being attacked.

May, 1622 The Sparrow, at Maine from England, sent passengers in a boat to Plymouth, New England.
Fishing vessel, Master Rogers

A boat arrived at the Plymouth Plantation from the Sparrow
(fishing vessel at Maine, hired and sent out by Thomas Weston and
John Beauchamp, salter of London, for their personal profit) with
7 men passengers sent by Weston to work for him in New England.
They remained at Plymouth until the Charity and the Swan
moved them to “Wessagusset” (Weymouth, Massachusetts) where they were
to establish a settlement.

Weston’s settlers, May, 1622 – June 1622

In 1622 Thomas Weston sent a fishing vessel, the Sparrow, to Massachusetts Bay, with a small party of seven men to find the most suitable place for a colony. They were to prepare for the arrival of a large group of single men whom he proposed to send out. Weston was one of the leaders of the London merchant adventurers who sponsored the establishment of Plymouth Colony, but who was now independently setting up his own. The site eventually chosen was at Wessagusset (modern Weymouth, some thirty miles north of Plymouth). The ship anchored at the Damaris Cove Islands off the coast of Maine, and a group of ten, including some crew from the Sparrow, sailed down to Plymouth in a shallop, arriving there on May 31, 1622, just as Massasoit’s men were demanding that Squanto be handed over to them for execution. They brought letters to the Governor from Weston, but no provisions for which the settlement was in desperate need. Phineas Pratt was one of Weston’s settlers, and he and his six companions were given hospitality in Plymouth until the Charity and the Swan arrived with the main party of Weston’s settlers at the end of July or early August 1622.

The two ships, the Charity and the Swan, temporarily added sixty more “lusty men” to the eighty-odd colonists living in Plymouth village. They stayed for the months of July and August. The settlement at Weymouth was a failure, and the men had to be rescued by Capt. Standish and some of his men. Phineas Pratt, on the breakup of the settlement moved to Plymouth, and later married Mary Priest, niece of Isaac Allerton.
Weymouth Settlement Edit

In July 1622, two ships, (Swan and Charitie) arrive at Plymouth with a different group of adventures. They stay a couple of months before moving to establish a nearby at Weymouth (or Wessagusset). This groups is financed by Mr Wesson. They are joined by a 3rd ship (Sparrow). This groups fares badly with the Indians and is forced to abandon their settlement after a rescue by Plymouth militia.

In Sept 1623, the ship Katherine arrives with a group of settlers financed by Sir Ferdinando Gorges. They stop shortly at Plymouth before continuing onwards to the Weymouth Settlment.
One settler from the Sparrow, Phineas Pratt (1590-1680), after the breakup of the first Weymouth settlment, joins the group at Plymouth and marries Mary Priest, a niece of Isaac Allerton (1586-1658).

Phineas Pratt was a member of a company of men sent from England by Thomas Weston. They arrived in New England in 1622 on three ships : the Sparrow, Charity and Swan (Pratt was a passenger on the Sparrow, the first to arrive). The approximately 67 men, many of them ailing, arrived with no provisions. The Pilgrims supported them throughout the summer of 1622.

In the fall of 1622, the Weston men left to colonize an area north of Plymouth called Wessagusset. They soon fell into difficulties through behaving, generally, in a very foolish and improvident fashion. They also severely angered the local Native Americans by stealing their corn.

Massasoit, sachem of the Wampanoags, informed the Plymouth colonists that there was a conspiracy among the Natives of the Wessagusset area to massacre the Weston men. Myles Standish prepared to head north with a small company of Plymouth men to rescue Weston’s men.

The same message was also delivered by one of Weston’s men, who came to Plymouth in March of 1623 “from the Massachusetts with a small pack at his back.”

Phineas Pratt was the man with the backpack. He had secretly snuck out of the Wessagusset settlement, traveling for several days without food through a snowy landscape on his 25-mile journey.

Myles Standish and a small contingent (minus Phineas, who was still recovering from his arduous journey) headed to Wessagusset to recognize Weston’s men. The Plymouth contingent killed several Native Americans in the process (for which, they were roundly scolded by their pastor, John Robinson). Soon afterwards, Weston’s group abandoned Wessagusset. Sometime in late 1623, Phineas joined the Plymouth settlement.

Sometime before May of 1648, when he purchased a house and garden in Charlestown (now a part of Boston), Pratt left Plymouth. In 1662, Pratt presented to the General Court of Massachusetts a narrative entitled “A declaration of the affairs of the English people that first inhabited New England” to support his request for financial assistance. The extraordinary document is Phineas Pratt’s own account of the Wessagusset settlement and its downfall.

Phineas Pratt was by profession a “joiner.” “Joining” was the principle method of furniture construction during the 17th century. “Joiners” were highly skilled craftsmen who specialized in this work; their skills were valued more highly than those of a carpenter.

Phineas Pratt married Mary Priest, daughter of Degory and Sarah Allerton Vincent Priest (the sister of Mayflower passenger Isaac Allerton, Sarah had been married to Jan Vincent and widowed before she married Degory Priest). Degory Priest journeyed to Plymouth on the Mayflower, his wife and two daughters intended to join him later. Priest died during the first winter. Before sailing for America, the widowed Sarah Allerton Vincent Priest married Godbert Godbertson, who became Mary Priest’s stepfather. The family (mother, stepfather and two daughters) were among the passengers of theAnne and Little James, arriving in Plymouth in 1623.

Phineas was probably born about 1593, Mary was probably born about 1612. It seems likely, given the probably age of their oldest child at the time of her death, that they married about 1631 or 1632. Phineas and Mary Pratt had 8 children.

According to his gravestone in the old Phipps Street Cemetery, in the Charlestown area of Boston, “Phinehas Pratt, agd about 90 yrs, decd April ye 19, 1680 & was one of ye first English inhabitants of ye Massachusetts Colony.” (Mayflower Descendant, Vol. 6, p. 1-2).
Mary Pratt outlived her husband; the date of her death is not certain but she did receive stipends from the Town of Charlestown in 1683/4 and 1686/7 (Robert Charles Anderson, The Great Migration Begins, Vol. 3, p. 1516

Phineas PRATT (1590 – 1680)
is my 12th great grandfather
Daniel Pratt (1640 – 1680)
son of Phineas PRATT
Henry Pratt (1658 – 1745)
son of Daniel Pratt
Esther Pratt (1680 – 1740)
daughter of Henry Pratt
Deborah Baynard (1720 – 1791)
daughter of Esther Pratt
Mary Horney (1741 – 1775)
daughter of Deborah Baynard
Esther Harris (1764 – 1838)
daughter of Mary Horney
John H Wright (1803 – 1850)
son of Esther Harris
Mary Wright (1816 – 1873)
daughter of John H Wright
Emiline P Nicholls (1837 – )
daughter of Mary Wright
Harriet Peterson (1856 – 1933)
daughter of Emiline P Nicholls
Sarah Helena Byrne (1878 – 1962)
daughter of Harriet Peterson
Olga Fern Scott (1897 – 1968)
daughter of Sarah Helena Byrne
Richard Arden Morse (1920 – 2004)
son of Olga Fern Scott
Pamela Morse
I am the daughter of Richard Arden Morse

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I love how your personal history keeps bringing people back and forth to populate the colonies


Stevie Wilson (@LAStory)

December 23, 2013

Thanks, Stevie, that is exactly what they did, and I continue to be amazed by all of them.



December 23, 2013

lovely story Pam, Have you ever been over here to see where all your relatvies came from?


December 23, 2013

I have been twice to London, once was just an overnight, but made the most of it by going to Covent Garden and seeing a show. I want to go for a long time and see the whole place.



December 23, 2013

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