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John Prentice of Witham, Essex, England and New York City, USA

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John Prentice of Witham, Essex, England and New York City, USA
By Linus Joseph Dewald Jr., Editor
Spring 2006 and Revised 4 Oct 2006

Introduction: The information in this article originally appeared in C. J. F. Binney's 1883 PRENTICE book at page 355.

1. John Prentice was b. c. 1730 at an unknown location, perhaps England, Scotland or Ireland, and d. at Witham, Essex about 1818 in his 88th year. Witham lies about 8 miles NE of Chelmsford. For an interesting history of Whitham which goes back to 1066, see Domesday: Whitham by Janet Gyford.

At the time of his marriage, about 1771, he rented a portion of the "Model Farm" at Witham, Essex, England which had been established by the then celebrated manufacturer, Mechie, of Leadenhall St., London.

John m. Sarah Bartlett c. 1771, probably in Witham, Essex. Children of John and Sarah:

  1. John Prentice Jr., b. 11 Apr 1772, Witham, Essex. He m. Martha Mount c. 1779. About 1808 became clerk of the coaching company at the Saracen’s Head, London where he remained until his death on 2 Jan 1835 in his 63rd year. Children:
    1. James Prentice, b. 2 Jan 1812; went to NY, USA. . . . . . . . [2]
    2. Sarah Prentice.
    3. Eliza Prentice.
    4. (12 more children) Prentice. Binney, pg. 355, relates that they d. by age 7.

  2. (7 more children) Prentice, probably b. c. 1774 to 1800 or so.

  3. (perhaps) Edmund Prentice, b. c. 1811. He appears in the 1841 Witham, Essex, census with his wife, Sarah, b. c. 1806. Not in 1851 and later census. Children per 1841 census:
    1. Thurban Prentice, b. c. 1836, Essex. At home in Witham, Essex, in 1841. Not in 1851 census and not in US census.
    2. Levinia Prentice, b. c. 1839. At home in Witham, Essex, in 1841.

2. James Prentice, b. 2 Jan 1812; emigrated to America 18 Sep 1842 and in that year established himself in NY in the manufacture of mathematical and surveying instruments, etc., which he continued in 1882 at 176 Broadway, NY. He appears in the 1850 census in Brooklyn, NY, as an Instrument Maker with his wife. He appears by himself, age 58, in the 1870 NYC census as an Optician in New York Ward 15, Dist. 10, New York, New York. He does not appear in the 1880 census.

He m. 1st Rosa, b. c. 1824?, Germany. She appears in the 1850 census.

He m. 2nd(?). Henrietta, b. c. 1829, Baden (Germany?) It is unclear whether she is the same person as Rosa, above. Children:

  1. Charles Frederick Prentice, b. 24 Jun 1854, NY, NY. . . . . . . . . [3]
  2. (7 more children) Prentice; all died before 1882, and probably before the 1850 census..

3. Charles Frederick Prentice, b. 24 Jun 1854, NY, NY. He does not appear in the 1860 census. In the 1870 NY census, a "Chas. F. Prentice", unmarried, occupation: "Man. Ast. Instrum.", is shown as a lodger. Not in 1900 census.

Binney's 1883 book says that he married, but gives an impossible date of 20 Apr 1820 (perhaps 1880 or 1882?) and no wife's name is provided. Binney's footnote on pg. 287 references a letter from Charles dated 23 Mar 1882. In 1907 Charles published a book entitled "Ophthalmic lenses, dioptric formulae for combined cylindrical lenses : the prism-dioptry, and other optical papers".

Who are John Prentice's Parents?

We do not presently know the identity of John's parents, but we do do have some clues:

  1. In our Summer 2005 about Alexander Prentice of Witham, Essex we show Alexander as b. Sep. Q, 1852 in Witham and show him as the grandson of William and Mary Thompson of Witham. It seems likely that Alexander is a grandson or great grandson of John Prentice of Witham.

  2. The 1861 Witham census shows a William Prentice, age 8 and b. c. 1853, Witham, Essex. He, too, is called a grandson of William and Mary Thompson of Witham and may also be a grandson or great grandson of John Prentice of Witham.

  3. Samuel Prentis married Grace Mitchell in 1744 in Witham. If he were b. c. 1724-34 in Withim, he might be a brother to John Prentice who was b. there c. 1730. For his roots, see our Fall 1999 article on the Prentices of the Colnes.

  4. the St. Catherine's Index provides the following list of names of other children born in Witham. It seems likely that at least some of them are siblings of each other and/or descendants of John Prentice, b. c. 1772 in Witham.
       	1. Sep Q., 1838, Lavinia Prentice, Witham.  Dau. of Edmund and Sarah, above.
       	2. Jun Q., 1840, Thirza Prentice, Witham.  Not in 1841 or 1851 census.
       	3. Sep Q., 1840, Mary Ann Prentice, Witham.  Probably dau. of Henry and Rose, 1841 census.  Not in 1851 census.
       	4. Jun Q., 1844, William Prentice, Witham.  Not in 1851 census.
      	5. Jun Q., 1847, Henry William Prentice, Witham.  Not in 1851 census.
       	6. Jun Q., 1849, Rachel Mary Prentice, Witham.  Not in 1851 census.
       	7. Mar Q., 1850, John Prentice, Witham.  Not in 1851 census.
       	8. Dec Q, 1851, William Prentice, Witham.  Not in 1851 census.
       	9. Mar Q,, 1854, (female) Prentice, Witham.  Not in 1851 census. 
    	

  5. Rivenhall lies only about 2-3 miles NNE of Witham. A search of our earlier article on "Chelmsford, Essex Co., Wills: 1400-1720" discloses the following Prentices in Rivenhall:
    	1.  1588 William Prentice, Blacksmith, Rivenhall
    	3.  1692 Nicholas Prentice, yeo., Rivenhall
    	2.  1709 John Prentice, yeo., Rivenhall
    	

If you have any information about the folks mentioned in this article, please send your information to us at the Prentice Newsletter. Be sure to give the full title and date of this article in the Subject line of the email.

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