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Thomas Prence Jr. (abt. 1610 - 1673)

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Governor Thomas Prence Jr. aka Prince [uncertain]
Born about in Lechdale, Gloucestershire, Englandmap
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married 5 Aug 1624 (to 12 Dec 1634) in Plymouth Colonymap
Husband of — married 1 Apr 1636 (to about 1644) in Plymouth Colonymap
Husband of — married 1645 (to before 1 Aug 1668) in Plymouth Colonymap
Husband of — married 1 Aug 1668 (to 29 Mar 1673) in Plymouth Colonymap
Descendants descendants
Died in Plymouth Colony, New Englandmap
Profile last modified 21 Nov 2019 | Created 14 Apr 2010 | Last significant change: 21 Nov 2019
09:25: Michael Dunn edited the data for Thomas Prence Jr. (abt.1610-1673). (Merged Prince-1582 into Prence-1: Same person) [Thank Michael for this]
This page has been accessed 9,151 times.
The Puritan Great Migration.
Thomas Prence Jr. migrated to New England during the Puritan Great Migration (1620-1640).
Join: Puritan Great Migration Project
Discuss: pgm
Preceded by
3rd Governor
Edward Winslow

7th Governor
William Bradford

11th Governor
William Bradford
Thomas Prence
4th Governor
of Plymouth Colony

1634 —1635
Plymouth Colony Seal
8th Governor
12th Governor
Succeeded by
5th Governor
William Bradford

9th Governor
William Bradford

13th Governor
Josiah Winslow



Thomas Prence Jr. is Notable.

Thomas, the son of Thomas Prence, a carriage maker and his wife Elizabeth Tolderby, the daughter of Reverend John- was born in Lechlade, a village in Gloucestershire, England, about 1600, during the last years of the reign of Elizabeth Tudor.[1] During the first years of young Thomas's life, the English suffered horrible calamities. The bubonic plague scorched across the country in 1603 and 1604, emptying whole villages. In 1606 and 1607, floods, that like of which the people had never known before, swept the coast and the waters ran to Gloucestershire and Somerset, laying waste to the lands in an unrelenting, unstoppable destruction. Young Thomas and his family survived.

In 1621, during the reign of James, the first Stuart, Thomas, with many adventurous Puritans, left England. With hopes for a wonderful future, they came to America, Thomas aboard the ship Fortune, reaching Plymouth, Massachusetts in November. [2] They hadn't brought enough supplies and as the harsh New England winter continued, the young colonists knew hunger and hardship. Some didn't survive. Thomas did.

In the summer of 1624 [Anderson, without citing a source claims 5 August 1624], Thomas married Patience Brewster, the daughter of William and had four children- Rebecca, Thomas (who returned to England, married there and died young), Hannah and Mercy. Patience died of a fever in the winter of 1634.[3] The following Spring, Thomas, now governor, wed Mary Collier, the daughter of William.[4]

On August 15, 1635, in the midst of a heatwave that withered the leaves on the trees, the Great Hurricane struck Massachusetts. It twisted and turned around Plymouth for nine days. The colonists had never known such storms and the thing shredded homes, ripped away crops. Many lives were lost. Thomas and his family survived and with their friends and neighbors, began to rebuild, knowing, with the crops gone, the winter would be another of hunger. Thomas left the office of governor before his daughter, Jane was born but gained re-election for the birth of his daughter, Mary, serving another year.

Thomas prospered through the years, fur-trading and buying and selling land. 1644 brought more changes to his life. His wife died. He moved again. With Edward Bangs, John Smalley, John Doane, Nicholas Snow, Richard Higgins and Josiah Cook, he founded the new town of Eastham. Thomas married again. His third wife, Apphia Quick, the daughter of William, is said to have divorced her first husband, Samuel Freeman. Thomas had three more daughters- Judith, Elizabeth, and Sarah. He was re-elected governor in 1657 and remained in office.

Though he was one of the richest and most powerful men in the community of Puritans, these weren't tranquil years for him. Thomas was a dedicated Puritan and intolerant of those who didn't share his religious and political agenda. His third term as governor was a savage and constant battle to suppress the Quaker religion. He fined the members of the sect. He imprisoned them. He exiled them. Thomas, the man who built schools and paid some of the colony's debt to English merchants, out of his own pocket, proudly led the persecution of innocent Quaker families.

And then a young Quaker came courting his daughter. Thomas fined the boy, threatened him with dire punishments, but the young man persisted and true love won. Elizabeth Prence married Arthur Howland. About the same time, Thomas wed his fourth wife. Mary Burr, the widow of Thomas Howes, was a companion and comfort in his last years.

Throughout his years, public and private, Thomas sought to maintain friendships with the Native Americans living nearby. In time, he earned their trust and respect. They knew that from Governor Prence, they would have just and fair treatment. This agenda, of peaceful coexistence, wasn't emulated by Thomas's successor in office. Thomas died March 29, 1673 and within two years, the horror that would become King Philip's War had begun.

He was particularly remembered for his interest in establishing a public school system of education which resulted in the passage of a law requiring each township of fifty families to maintain a teacher of reading and writing, while each of a hundred families was called upon to establish a grammar school.

Additional Information

The Inventory of Thomas Prence's Estate[5][6]



  • Religion (1600) Separatist (Puritian) England & Maryland
  • Christening (1600) England
  • Occupation (1621) Carriage maker
  • Land (1621) Large land owner Massachusetts Bay Colony, British Colonial America
  • Immigration (Nov 1621) on the ship Fortune Plymouth Colony
  • Arrival (November 1621) Ship - Fortune Plymouth, Massachusetts
  • First Marriage (5 August 1624) Patience and Thomas were the ninth marriage recorded at Plymouth, Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA Plymouth Colony, Massachusetts Bay Colony
  • Residence (22 May 1627) Plymouth,Plymouth,Massachusetts
  • Removed (1632) Duxbury, Plymouth, Massachusetts, United States
  • Occupation (from 1634 to 1635) Governor Plymouth, British Colonial America
  • Married Second (1 APR 1635) In Plymouth,MA,Mary Collier,b. Feb 18, 1614, Surry, Eng.; d. Bef. Dec 1662, Plymouth, MA.
  • Occupation (1635) Governor Massachusetts
  • Occupation (from 1638 to 1639) Governor Plymouth, British Colonial America
  • Residence (from 1635 to 1644) Duxbury, Plymouth, Massachusetts Bay Colony, British Colonial America
  • Residence (Aug 1643) Plymouth,Plymouth,Massachusetts
  • Married Third (about 1644)
  • Religion (1644) Puritan
  • Removed (1644) Eastham, Barnstable, Massachusetts
  • Residence (22 May 1655) Eastham, Barnstable, Massachusetts
  • Removed (1663) Plymouth, Plymouth, Massachusetts
  • Occupation (from 1657 to 1673) Governor Plymouth, British Colonial America
  • Will (13 March 1673) Massachusetts Bay Colony, British Colonial America
  • Burial (8 April 1673) Old Burial Ground, Plymouth, Plymouth, Massachusetts
  • Will proved (5 June 1673)
  • Age at Death 73


  1. Robert Charles Anderson, Great Migration...," Boston, NEHGS (Year), (which volume? what page numbers?): "In his will, dated 31 July 1630 and proved 14 August 1630, Thomas Prence, carriage-maker, of Lechdale, Gloucestershire, left a legacy to his son Thomas Prence "now remaining in New England in the parts beyond the seas" [ EIHC 7:103-04, citing PCC 70 Scroope]."
  3. Robert Charles Anderson, Great Migration...," Boston, NEHGS (Year), (which volume? what page numbers?): "she died late in 1634 (in a letter to his son John Winthrop Jr. dated 12 December 1634, John Winthrop reported that 'the pestilent fever hath taken away some at Plimouth, among others Mr. Prence the governor his wife...' [WP 3:177]"
  4. Robert Charles Anderson, Great Migration...," Boston, NEHGS (Year), (which volume? what page numbers?): "2) Plymouth 1 April 1635 Mary Collier [ PCR 1:34], daughter of WILLIAM COLLIER ; she died perhaps by 1644."
  5. William T. Davis, ed., Bradford's History of Plymouth Plantation: 1606-1646 (New York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1908). ( accessed 2016).
  6. (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: accessed Aug 2016). University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Historical Archaeology and Public Engagement, Dept. of Anthropology. Last updated: March 28, 2015.

See also:

  • "Massachusetts Births and Christenings, 1639-1915," database, FamilySearch ( : 4 December 2014), Thomas Prence in entry for Thomas Prence, 24 Dec 1650; citing GLOUCESTER,ESSEX,MASSACHUSETTS, ; FHL microfilm 823,641, 823,642.
  • "Massachusetts Marriages, 1695-1910," database, FamilySearch ( : 4 December 2014), Thomas Prence in entry for Mark Snow and Jane Prince, 09 Jan 1666; citing reference ; FHL microfilm 778,357, 905,406.
  • "Massachusetts Marriages, 1695-1910," database, FamilySearch ( : 4 December 2014), Thomas Prence in entry for Mark Snow and Jane Prince, 09 Jan 1666; citing reference ; FHL microfilm 778,357, 905,406.
  • "Connecticut Deaths and Burials, 1772-1934," database, FamilySearch ( : 3 December 2014), Thomas Prince in entry for Mercy Prince, 28 Sep 1711; citing , reference 20; FHL microfilm 3,319.

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On 4 Nov 2019 at 12:16 GMT Tim Prince wrote:

Prince-1582 and Prence-1 appear to represent the same person because: apparentlly same spouse (checking for merge proposal), birth date unsourced, spelling variation is a common one.

On 10 Oct 2019 at 03:08 GMT Cheryl (Aldrich) Skordahl wrote:

Sorry to hear that, Michael... probably a lot of physical therapy which can be painful. Take care and get back into the swing of things when you are able.

On 9 Oct 2019 at 15:25 GMT Michael Warner wrote:

I've been recovering from bilateral knee replacements, so have not been doing much in monitoring things here.

On 9 Oct 2019 at 14:21 GMT Jillaine Smith wrote:

Very few of the current profile managers have been active on wikitree the last six months. :-(

On 9 Oct 2019 at 12:42 GMT Cheryl (Aldrich) Skordahl wrote:

There’s a powerful lot of PMs for this profile, maybe one or more of you could pitch in and give this biography some help...

On 9 Oct 2019 at 10:23 GMT Anne B wrote:

I agree and done

On 9 Oct 2019 at 02:27 GMT Bobbie (Madison) Hall wrote:

I believe the recently added portrait is of a different Thomas Prince, b. 1687. See New England Historical Society. The image should be attached to the other profile.

On 15 Feb 2019 at 10:39 GMT Jillaine Smith wrote:

The see also section needs cleanup. Still many dupes. Ideally these are converted to inline citations and placed appropriately in the narrative.

On 6 Jun 2018 at 17:11 GMT Mindy Silva wrote:

I removed the extra Bio and Sources headings. There is a lot of 'additional info' that came from the second bio that needs to be incorporated into the biography, or removed if already there.

On 6 Jun 2018 at 17:08 GMT Jillaine Smith wrote:

It's because there are still two sets of Bio and Sources headings

more comments

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