||John Crandall is currently protected by the Puritan Great Migration Project for reasons described in the narrative.|
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Two early works on John Crandal and his descendants are rife with misinformation. The 1888 work by A.P. Crandall, Genealogy of Elder John Crandall and his Descendants, contains an introductory section (among others) which is now proved to be unfounded, and the second is the 1949 work by John Cortland Crandall, Elder John Crandall of Rhode Island and His Descendants, which seems largely to have been based on the mistakes of the first. These works make many statements without citing sources, and when later researchers sought documentation, they found either no evidence, or suggestion that our John Crandall was confused with a John Cranwell/Craniwell of Boston (see Cranwell's profile in Anderson's Great Migration Begins. Vol 1 (A-F) pages 492-493).
One of the fictitious claims is that John arrived in Boston in 1634/5. Actually, there is no evidence of his presence in British America prior to 8 September 1643, when he was a member of the Newport, Rhode Island Grand Jury. Many researchers have searched for any evidence of his presence in Boston or Salem and have found none. John Cortland Crandall contends that John was in Providence by 1637 and explains the lack of records with, "Many of the early Providence records were early destroyed." According to researcher, Jerry Huggins, "This is just simply not true - the early Providence records are very complete." Another unsupported claim is that John went to England in 1663 with a group of men to to obtain the Rhode Island Charter.
John was probably born in 1618 at the parish of Westerleigh, Gloucestershire, England and was baptized there on 15 February 1617/8. There is good circumstantial evidence that John was the son of James Crandall and his first wife, Eleanor (Unknown) Crandall. John had a half-sister named Anne, daughter of James and his second wife, Joan, who was baptized 30 December 1621.
By 1603, the Crundall family, which included generations of priests, had been displaced from their home, the Winterbourne church, by a powerful parishioner, Robert Bradston. As a result, not all the children's births were recorded in the usual manner and some of the family's relationships had to be deduced indirectly.
There is some Welsh connection in the family's past, although it seems John was born in England. Family tradition, as evidenced by the book by A.P. Crandall, contends that the family had Welsh origins.
The date and place of John's arrival in New England and the ship on which he sailed are unknown, but he is first found in New England in Newport, Rhode Island in 1643. He is listed in Newport records as a grand juror on 8 September 1643 and is found again named in a case against Thomas Gennings in December 1643.
He was on a list of freeman at Newport in 1655 and was named as a commissioner there on 2 November 1658, 17 May 1659, 22 May 1662, 17 June 1662 and 12 May 1663.
In a deed dated 29 June 1660, five Newport investors purchased the tract known as Misquamicuck or Misquamicut from Sosoa, an Indian Captain of Narragensett. Some of those original investors sold their portions and never settled there. John Crandall, together with six others and two of the original purchasers (William Vaughan and Hugh Mosher), on 27 August 1661, petitioned the Rhode Island General Assembly for permission to settle on the newly purchased Misquamicut (aka Askomicutt).
Gifford, author of The Probable Origins and Ancestry of John Crandall ..., called John Crandall "one of the settlement's leaders"; in fact, Gifford believes that John may have been influential in the naming of Westerly, because his birth place was probably the parish of Westerleigh, Gloucestershire, England.
In May 1669, after many years of boundary and jurisdiction disputes, the town of Westerly was incorporated by the colony's assembly. John Crandall's is the first name on the list of freeholders in the town of Westerly on 18 May 1669,
On 21 May 1669, the Governor and Council of Rhode Island appointed six men as Conservators of the Peace for the Colony. The men were assigned to geographic areas in pairs, the first of the pair to also act as coroner for their area. John Crandal and Tobias Saunders were appointed as justices at Misquamicut, with John likely acting as cornoner. John is also listed as a deputy representative of Westerly in the General Assembly in both 1670 and 1671.
From the time Rhode Island was founded, disputes over jurisdictions arose and contunued with Massachusetts and, particularly with Connecticut. These disputes sometimes resulted a property seizures, arrests and imprisonments. John Crandall was the subject of a complaint dated 30 October 1667, in which he was accused of "intrusions" into Stonington, Connecticut, for laying out a square mile of land for his son within the town limits. A copy of a letter to the Governor, dated 11 Mar 1669, from John Crandall and Tobias Sanders regarding such a dispute, can be seen in John Cortland Crandall's 1949 book. John was sent to present a letter dated 15 Oct 1670 from the General Assembly to the Connecticut court. In 1671, John Crandall was arrested and imprisoned at the Hartford, Connecticut jail and tried in New Haven on 2 May 1671. The Rhode Island General Court addressed this matter on 3 May 1671, advising that John should not to post bond and stating that the colony would bear John's charges.
It is thought that John temporarily removed to Newport in 1676 as Westerly had become too dangerous during King Philips War.
John was a Baptist and then later, a Seventh Day Baptist. It is unknown whether he was a baptist in England or if he converted in Rhode Island. Gifford contends there was baptist activity in Bristol, England in the 1630's, and that Seventh-Day Baptists were in Gloucestershire by 1620. John Crandall was to become the first Elder of the Baptist Society of Westerly.
In July 1651, John, with Rev. John Clarke and Obadiah Holmes, were arrested for preaching in Lynn, Massachusetts and jailed in Boston until their trail, the following week. At the trail they were charged with being anabaptists and fined, Clark £20, Holmes £30 and John £5 and were "to be well whipped" if they did not pay their fines. They refused to pay the fines and were imprisoned. Rev. Clarke and John were later sent home on bail, but Holmes was severely whipped.
John Crandall was persecuted for his religious beliefs. John was called "Grendall of Narragansett" after participating in a 14 April 1668 religious debate in Boston.
Possibly injured in Great Swamp Fight of 19 Dec 1675 at Westerly.
John died in 1676 at Newport, Rhode Island, as evidenced in a letter from Samuel Hubbard dated Nov 1676. John is buried in a famly cemetery located west of the Crandall homestead. He is buried with both of his wives, his son John Jr. and his wife, in Rhode Island Historical Cemetery #15, where a monument to the family was erected in 1994.
No will has been found for Elder John Crandall but, in a document dated 3 Oct 1670, he signed over all his goods, chattels, debts., etc. to his son, John Crandall Jr.
In a document dated 13 May 1678, John Crandall's house and 200 acres of land in Westerly were turned over by John Crandall Jr. to his brothers Jeremiah and Hebe of Newport who were "in the tuition of their mother Hannah Crandall".
In The Early History of Narragansett ..., among the listing of Indian and Other Names of Places: "Quequatnck or Qneqiiathanic or Queqvatage - About twenty miles up Pawcatuc river, near where Crandal's mill stood on said river in 1681." This property was named in a 1699 lawsuit.
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