Thursday, August 18, 2011

"Prudden shall we call him?, or, Prudent?"

My 5x great-grandmother, Sarah Prudden, was born in 1725 to Joseph Prudden and Joanna Lyon.  She married Benjamin Halsey in 1747 and she died in 1760, leaving behind about six children, all under 12.

Joseph Prudden was born in Milford, CT in 1692 to Rev. John Prudden and Grace (Uknown).  He later moved to New Jersey with his family, where he died in 1776.  He was married to Joanna Lyon of Connecticut.  It appears he had a bit of a checkered relationship with the First Presbyterian Church of Morristown.  I don’t think he was one of the prudent Pruddens.

John Prudden, born in 1645 in Milford, was the son of Rev. Peter Prudden and Joanna Boyse.  He had a successful career in the Presbyterian Church after graduating from Harvard in 1668.  John founded the New Jersey branch of the family.  He died in Newark, NJ in 1725.

Peter was born in England in 1601 and sailed to Boston in 1637.  He led a group who hoped to establish a Christian Commonwealth.  In 1638 the group moved to New Haven, CT, the site they selected for their new community.  At the New Haven, only church members were allowed any official civil role.   Sometime later, Peter led some of the settlers to another location, Milford, CT, where they established a Puritan community.  Eventually they were not able to sustain Milford independently and became part of the New Haven Colony, but not with out raising issues between the two jurisdictions.

According to the 1901 book by Lillian Prudden Peter Prudden--A story of His Life:

…disapproval of their "laxity" caused opposition to their admission because they had "taken in as free burgesses six planters, not in church fellowship."
The difficulty was only adjusted when the Milford deputies promised that these unchurched free burgesses should not at any time be chosen deputies, nor vote at the election of magistrates, and that in future, no one should be admitted to citizenship except "according to the New Haven plan."

Although a Puritan, Peter Prudden seemed to carry some level of tolerance.  That created a level of fondness for him that I lacked for other Puritan ancestors.

From the same book:

When poor Hanna Spencerf is convicted at New Haven, Mr. Prudden is there and pays the fine of ten pounds, perhaps deeming it sufficient punishment for her that she must be present at the whipping post when her lover, William Ellitt, is corrected.

The monotonous life was broken not only by church-going on Sunday and Lecture days, but by corn-husking, house-raisings and house-warmings, spinning bees, gatherings at weddings and funerals, and by training and election days with their sports of cudgel, back-swords, fencing, running, wrestling, nine-pins and quoits. At these times everybody present, including the minister, partook more or less of the liberally provided strong drinks.

Peter died in 1656 and Cotton Mather included a eulogy for Peter in his book Magnalia, in part saying,

(Prudden shall we call him?, or, Prudent?), who besides his other excellent qualities, was noted for a singular faculty to sweeten, compose and qualify exasperated spirits, and stop or heal all contentions.


  1. I'm a descendant of Peter Prudden too. Thanks for your research.

  2. Heather-so looks like were cousins through multiple lines.

  3. Or maybe you're a different Heather...I've had comments from a Heather on some of my other lines.