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Indian Prentices Descended from King Philip

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Indian Prentices Descended from King Philip
By Linus Joseph Dewald Jr., Editor
Fall 2007 and Revised 13 Aug 2017


In reviewing the early history of New England, and particularly the events surrounding "King Philip's War," we found 2 of King Philip's daughters who married into early colonial families. We thought their genealogy would be of interest to our viewers. The following material was posted by Jana Countryman at Ancestry.com :

"King Philip," also known as Metacom, was b. 1639 in or near Pokanoket, Bristol Township, Bristol County, RI. and d. 12 Aug 1676 near Pokanoket

Metacom's name was changed at the Plymouth Colony Court on June 13, 1660 at the request of his brother Wamsutta:

    "Att the ernest request of Wansitta desiring that in record his father is lately deceased, and hee being disirouse . . . to change his name, that the Court would confer an English name of Allexander Pokanokett; and desireing the same in behalf of his brother, they have named him Philip."

Philip became a great Sachem for the Wampanoag Indians following the 1662 death of his brother Wamsutta (Alexander). He caused the brutal Indian war, King Philip's War, between the Algonquin Indians and the New England settlers. King Philip's War was the bloodiest war in per capita terms - New England at the time had a total population, Indians and Colonists, of 80 thousand of which 6 thousand Indians and 3 thousand Colonists were killed, Thousands of settlers became wards of the colonies and refugees on public relief. Other thousands of Indians were enslaved. Indian leaders were killed in battle or executed after King Philip's War. Indian land was usurped and the Wampanoag nation was destroyed. King Philip's War constituted a massive and tragic breakdown of colonial civilization. New England stood still for 100 years.

While still young the authorities, to gain family favor, voted to give Metacom and his older brother, Wamsutta, Christian names - Philip (referred to as such in the following notes) and Alexander respectively. Philip, in his early days, was noted as a Prince Philip who was well known for his friendship with the Colonists. Later, Philip's princely presence brought him the title "King Philip".

Philip, with his dazzling figure of physical strength, was a show-off. It was simple for him to incite envy or speculation as he strode the streets of Massachusetts Bay with his followers or hangers-on. The historian Samuel Morison complained that Philip "ran up bills" in Boston. He was considered royalty.

Philip was accused of the death of John Sassamon (or Sausaman), a Christian Indian. Philip killed John becasue John alarmed Josiah Winslow, one time governor, with the news Philip was preparing his forces for a large scale attack on Swanse (Swansea, Bristol County, Massachusetts). Sassamon was a well established Indian working both sides between the Indians and the Colonists. He had retired between Pokanoket, Bristol, formerly Mt. Hope, Bristol County, Rhode Island and Plymouth, Plymouth County, Massachusetts and spent his time fishing and exchanging intelligence with passersby. He was found lodged beneath the ice with his neck broken after failing to return from his last fishing trip, apparently having gossiped once too often.

Philip was charged with Sassamon's death but released from further action as the trial was recognized by English authorities as a lynching party. Two witnesses had been hanged and a third shot. The authorities were concerned the reaction of the Indians would be disastrous. Even so, the process was infuriating to Philip and, with 40 warriors, when attending an invited meeting with the authorities in Providence to settle wrongs, he let it be known that he would be trouble in the near future ending a speech with "I am determined not to live until I have no country".

King Philip's War began during the Summer of 1675 - the end of a long period of peace formed by his father, Massasoit. Swanse was the first settlement attacked by Philip who had created a formidable force of more than one thousand warriors from six tribes. The town of 40 new homes was burned to the ground. There were murders, rapes, torture and looting. Brookfield, Lancaster, and Worcester in Worcester County; Medfield, in Norfolk County; and Chelmsford and Groton, in Middlesex County, Massachusetts attacks soon followed. Some Colonists were flayed alive, some impaled on sharp stakes, or roasted alive over slow fires. The Indian's atrocities were ferocious as they vent their rage.

King Philip's War was coming to and end by the Summer of 1676. Benjamin Church, an English officer new to the War, soon caught-up with Philp and his sister-in-law Weetamoo. His brother had been killed, his wife and nine year old son captured and sent to the West Indies. Weetamoo drowned during a skirmish. Philip's mood was then such that he killed one of his counselors with his bare hands when the counselor suggested peace. Alderman, brother of the killed counselor, offered to take Church directly to Philip's hideout near Mt. Hope.

Philip was killed near Mt. Hope when guided there by Alderman whose gun misfired when Philip was confronted. He was shot in the heart by an Englishman. Indian tradition called for a man of Philip's stature to be beheaded by an Indian which was done. English tradition called for Philip to be cut into four pieces which was also done. Philip's head and one hand were saved while the four body sections were put in trees for the turkey vultures to feast on because a burial was forbidden to make sure Philip was not venerated.

Alderman was given Philip's hand who, for years, proudly displayed to those willing to pay his price, mostly in drinks. Philip's lower jaw bone was considered a trophy in Boston where it was displayed. His head was mounted on a post and kept in Plymouth for many years.


1. Wampanoag Sachem (aka King Philip), b. 1639 in near Pokanoket, Bristol Township, Bristol Co. RI, and d. 12 Aug 1676 in near Pokanoket from a gunshot during King Philip's War

He m. Wootonckuaske in 1660, in or near Pokanoket. She was b. c. 1639, dau. of Corbitant. She and her son were captured by English soldiers and deported to the West Indies in 1676 where she may have later died. Children:

  1. Anne Philip, b. 1655 in or near Pokanoket. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . [2]
  2. son of Metacom, b. c. 1668, in or near Pokanoket
  3. Miss Prentice, b. c. 1672 in or near Pokanoket. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . [3]

2. Anne Philip (aka Ann Woodbury Phillips), b. 1655 in or near Pokanoket, Bristol Twp., Bristol Co., RI, and d. bef. 11Jul 1727 in Preston, New London Co., CT. Bristol Township was formerly known as Mt. Hope.

She m. John Starkweather in Preston, New London Co., CT. Children per Ancestry.com where additional information about descendants can also be found:

  1. Thomas Starkweather, b 1677
  2. John Starkweather, b 16 SEP 1680 in Ipswich, Essex Co. MA, and d. 11 Nov 1720 in Preston.
  3. Timothy Starkweather, b 1681
  4. Robert Starkweather, b 12 NOV 1684 in of Stonington, New London Co., CT
  5. Richard Starkweather, b 25 DEC 1686 in Ipswich, Essex Co., MA
  6. Mary Starkweather, b 1689 in Preston
  7. Lydia Starkweather, b 1691 in Ipswich

3. Miss Prentice, b. c. 1672 in or near Pokanoket. She is believed to be a grand daughter of Massasoit, the Wampanoag Indian sachem who furnished five deer to the first Thanksgiving in Plymouth Colony in 1621. She is also believed to be a daughter of Metacom (King Philip) and sister to Anne, #2 above.

She was admitted to the Road Church in March, 1683. Long held family tradition believes she was held captive by the Indian fighter, Captain Thomas Prentice, and finally given her freedom with the Prentice surname. There were no laws against intermarriage although it was discouraged. Englishmen were forbidden to take up the Indian culture of their wives. Punishment included three years in a house of correction. In this case and the case of Anne, above, the women joined the Road Church and adopted the white man's culture.

She m. Joseph Stanton bef. 21 Mar 1645/46 in Hartford, Hartford Co. CT.

Larry Chesebro' research relates that the records of the Stonington Church list the admission of the wife of Joseph Stanton on 16 Mar 1683. She may have been a third wife. She seems to have died childless. But Thomas had three children after 1690, and both Dr. Savage and Hon. John D. Baldwin think the children were issue by a wife named ___ Prentice. Baldwin "conjectures" "Miss Prentice" was a fourth wife. Savage thinks she was the third wife.

    Note: By email of 12 Aug 2016, a correspondent brings to our attention possible inaccurate information in our article as follows: "Sourcing this information to Ancestry trees is problematic and the Chesbrough family blog doesn't even state a source. Plus there is an error in the dates provided in number 3 in the article. This article has been copy and pasted all over the internet and saved to people's trees on Ancestry --- with no reliable sources. What evidence-based research has been done to provide truth to this story?"

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.

Caution: If you don't use the above email link, your email to us may be deleted as spam by our email filter.

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