Need to clear up confusion on Rebecca Prence/Prince, Salem, MA 1627-1704

+5 votes

I have been trying to determine the correct parentage of my ancestor, Rebecca Prince or Prence. There seems to be contradicting information on her parentage. I cannot find any definitive evidence either way. The information that has been entered on WikiTree says that she is the daughter of James Prince, but the citation does not show any connection between and a daughter, Rebecca. The only written evidence of her parentage is on the Find-a-Grave site, but it does not state where that information is from.  Rebecca Prence aka Prince was the daughter of Gov. Thomas Prence of the Plymouth Colony. In my research I found this explanation, posted 28 Mar 2011 by A_Hodgkins: 

"According to Thomas Knowlton, Genealogist of the Plymouth Colony:  'There has been a question on the lineage of Rebecca Prince, wife of John Putnam, but not the daughter of Governor Thomas Prence.  Recently genealogists suggest there were actually two Rebecca Princes' born about the same time and living at the Plymouth colony.



  1. There were no dictionaries in the 1600's and names were routinely spelled phonetically and  differently,
  2. Most genealogy recorded histories, and the LDS records, which are usually very reliable, list them as the same person,
  3. There is no evidence as to the parents of Rebecca Prence other than Governor Thomas Prence and Patience Brewster,
  4. Sarah Putnam, daughter of Rebecca and John Putnam, married the notable John Hutchinson, both families of record,
  5. The age is the same, and the birth and marriage date of daughter Sarah and siblings is plausible and reasonable,
  6. John Putnam's father, Lt John Putnam was an influential leader of the Plymouth Colony.
  7. John Hutchinson's father, Colonel John Hutchinson, was an influential leader and founder of the Plymouth Colony,
  8. It would be unlikely that either John Putnam or John Hutchinson would marry someone with absolutely no record of ancestry, and
  9. Accurate records kept by William Bradford for more than fifty years, do NOT dispute the marriage.

It is possible, though unlikely, they are the same person. So who was Rebecca Prince who married John Putnam?  I suspect the reason some early genealogists record two Rebecca's, is an attempt to distance the Bradford and Brewster families from the Salem witchcraft trials fiasco.' ”

I would appreciate any help or extra insight on this.

in Genealogy Help by Lori Dillon G2G1 (1.7k points)
retagged by Ellen Smith

Have you already used the references provided by Torrey Lori?  I see his New England Marriages Prior to 1700 referenced in her bio, but the linked version doesn't give the sources.  I can share the specifics with you if that helps.

2 Answers

+5 votes
Best answer

There is a very recent 2016 article in NEHGR: Vol 170: 2016: 196 - 

Prince, Robert A.  Katherine [Franklin] [Prince] [Clarke] Gedney of Rotherhithe, Surrey, and Salem, Massachusetts, and the English Origins of Robert Prince of Salem  dealing with the Prince/Clarke/Gedney line showing:

Katherine Franklin, married first James Prince, who died 1634/5; married second William Clarke; married 3rd John Gedney.

Rebecca is noted as daughter of James and Katherine (Franklin) Prince of Rotherhite, Surrey, England, baptized at Rotherhithe March 3 1632/3 married John Putnam Sept. 3, 1652, Salem.  

James Prince and descendants starts p. 202 (Requires subscription)

by Chris Hoyt G2G6 Pilot (890k points)
selected by Cheryl Skordahl
This was my belief, but I greatly appreciate the information that it was written up in NEHGR.  To me, the quotation about her being named in the will as stepdaughter of Gedney (I believe he actually wrote daughter-in-law) is evidence that he was not stepfather of Robert (from whom my name comes) and Bethiah, although they worked for him.
Robert Prince b. 1627/8, married Sarah Warren at Salem is Rebecca's brother - same article.
+2 votes
Putnam genealogy gives this: John Putnam, bp. Aston Abbotts, England, 27 May 1627; died at Salem Village, 7Apr, 1710; married at Salem, 3-7-1652 Rebecca Prince, "step-daughter of John Gedney", and perhaps sister of Robert Prince, a near neighbor.

It lists their ten children, but does not give any further info on Rebecca.

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