Benajah Pratt was born about 1630 in Plymouth, the son of Joshua and Bathsheba Pratt. Joshua came to Plymouth in 1623 on board the ship Anne. Benajah is my eighth great-grandfather on my grandfather Arthur Washburn Davis’ side of the family.
Benajah married Persis Dunham in Plymouth on 29 November 1655 (Plymouth VR). She was born about 1635, the daughter of John Dunham and Abigail Barlow.
Benajah and Persis had up to 11 children. Mehitable and Hannah are considered probable daughters and Mary a possible daughter.
1. Joshua born about 1656
2. Abigail born 21 November 1657 (Plymouth VR)
3. John born about 1659
4. Benjah born about 1663
5. Joseph born February 1664/65, died young
6. Mehitable born about 1667
7. Hannah born about 1670
8. Eleazer born about 1672
9. Joseph born about 1676
10. Daniel born about 1680
11. Mary born about 1682
I descend from Daniel who married Martha Lazell. I wrote about that couple here.
Benajah was involved in multiple land transactions.
On 20 January 1657, Benajah Pratt of Plymouth, planter, bought from John Churchill of Plymouth a house and eight acres of land lying next to the land of John Dunham Sr., running from the well to Dunham’s land.
On 26 December 1657 Benajah Pratt of Plymouth sold for 35 shillings to John Dunham Jr. of Plymouth 12 acres near Plain Dealing Brooke in Plymouth, northeast from the Cedar Swamp and downwards to the sea.
From what I have read, the Plain Dealing area is currently Cordage Park.
|Plymouth Cordage Company Tower|
On that same day, Benajah sold to William Spooner for consideration of a cow one half of his part and portion of the land called Purchase Land lying between Coaksett (Westport) and Acoakus.
On 12 April 1661, Benajah Prat of Plymouth, Planter, sold for 10 pounds already paid to him by Robert Ransome land at Acushenah (Acushnet?) and Coaksett (original name of Westport). The land included upland and meadow, a home lot of 20 acres lying between the home lot of William Spooner and the home lot of Samuel Cutbert.
Benajah served on the Jury of a murder trial at Plymouth in 1661:
"Att this Court* likewise three Indians Named Timothy Jacked allies Canjuncke and Nassamaquat and Pompacanshe were Indited for murdering John Knowles John Tisdall senir and Samuell Attkins; The said Indian prisoners Did put them selves likewise on the tryall of God and the Country according to the manor of the English; and had Due processe in law according to the English manor by a Jury of twelve men whose Names ffollow; Mr Thomas Huckens John Wadsworth John Howland Abraham Jackson Benajah Pratt John Blacke Marke Snow Joseph Bartlett Samuell Jenings Arther Howland Samuell West Seth Pope
"The verdict of the Jury followeth
"Concerning Timothy Jacked allies Conjuncke and Nassamaquate; wee find they are very suspicious of the murder Charged on them
"And in Reference unto Pompacanshe wee find Nothing against him;
"There not appeering further evidence against them to Cleare up the Case the Centance of the Court was that the two former were to be sent out of the Country speedily and the other likewise as hee is prisoner taken in warr"
* 6 March, 1676.
Benajah’s death is recorded in Plymouth vital records: "Benajah Prat, March, 17: in his s(worn)" (PChR 249), entered in a place that would make the day 17 March 1682/3. This might mean he was sixty years old or more, which would place his birth about 1622. Were this true, he would be a full decade older than his siblings and he should be accounted for in the 1627 Plymouth division of cattle. The more likely explanation is that the worn entry has been misread and the word that has been read as beginning with "s" actually begins with "f" for some age in the 50s.
Inventory of Benajah’s estate includes "five acres of meddow att the South Meddows" (Plymouth Probate Vol IV (2) p. 12). Division of his lands (Doc. Set No. 536) dated 2 June 1682 names his sons Joshua, John, Benajah, Eleazer, Joseph and Daniel and wife Persis. I have not seen his probate records myself, but doing so is on my ever-growing list of things to do!
After Benajah’s death, Persis married Jonathan Shaw on 2 August 1683. Jonathan and Persis had a prenuptial agreement, witnessed by Joseph Dunham and Eleazer Dunham, Jonathan agreed to bring up "her two youngest children namely Joseph and Daniel Pratt" and do for them in all respects "as if they were his owne Naturall Children." "Jonathan Shaw Senr" signed and "Percis Prat" made her "P." mark. Jonathan further agreed that if he were to die first, Persis would have the right to occupy his house and his twenty-acre lot until her death. Persis died, probably in Plymouth County, after 1 Oct 1702, when she and her stepson, Jonathan Shaw Jr., were to render an account of their administration of Jonathan Shaw's estate.
On 5 Oct 1697 Jonathan and Persis Shaw were among those who by their own request were dismissed from the First Church with a few other members, apparently for the purpose of forming another church (See p 184-6 of Plymouth Church Records, Vol. 1). Their death records are not found, but Persis died after 30 July 1701 when Jonathan Shaw’s inventory was presented with Persis as his administratrix.
Sources Not Listed Above:
Robert Charles Anderson, The Great Migration Begins, Immigrants to New England 1620-1633, Volume III, 1992.
Jayne Pratt Lovelace, The Pratt Directory, Millennium Edition
Jonathan A. Shaw, NEHGR vol 161 (July 1997), John Shaw of Plymouth Colony, Purchaser and Canal Builder