Home > 006980. Thomas Pratt, 013960. Macuth "Matthew" Pratt > Mary (Pratt) White of Weymouth, Massachusetts: Further Considerations

Mary (Pratt) White of Weymouth, Massachusetts: Further Considerations

Source: Janet Ireland Delorey and Dean Crawford Smith, “Mary2 (Pratt) White of Weymouth, Massachusetts: Further Considerations,” American Genealogist 68[1993].

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In his discussion of the PRATT family of Weymouth, Massachusetts (TAG 65[1990]:33-43, 89-96), Frederick J. NICHOLSON touched upon the identity of “daughter WHITE,” named in the will of Macuth1 PRATT of Weymouth, dated 25 March 1672. Earlier writers had concluded that she was Mary, wife of Thomas2 WHITE of Weymouth; Thomas2 WHITE was born about 1644 and had children born in the 1670s. NICHOLSON’s discovery that Macuth PRATT had a daughter Mary baptized in Aston Clinton, county Buckingham, England, on 22 October 1620 led him to conclude that “daughter WHITE” was instead the wife of Thomas1 WHITE whose children were evidently born in the late 1630s and 1640s (TAG 65[1990]:36-37). NICHOLSON did, however, acknowledge the possibility that the older Mary had died and that Macuth had a much younger unrecorded daughter of the same name who married Thomas2 WHITE.

The Mary PRATT baptized in 1620 could not have been the wife of Thomas2 WHITE. We disagree, however, with NICHOLSON’s implication that she was the mother of all the children of Thomas2 WHITE.

The evidence to support our conclusion is the list of land grants at Weymouth in 1636, which gave each “complete person” six acres and, to the head of the household, three additional acres for every person under twelve years (George W. Chamberlain, History of Weymouth, Massachusetts, 4 vols. [Boston, 1923], hereafter Chamberlain’s Weymouth, 1:199). Thomas1 WHITE received twenty-one acres of land — a number not divisible by six — thus implying that at least three of those acres were awarded on the basis of a child under the age of twelve within his household. Thus, we conclude that Thomas1 WHITE was already married with at least one child in 1636. The family of Macuth1 PRATT had yet to arrive at Weymouth when the grants of 1636 were awarded.

Unless Mary2 PRATT had married Thomas1 WHITE before he emigrated — and when she was probably fourteen or younger — she could not have been the mother of a child in his household in 1636.

If we assume that she was a subsequent wife of Thomas1 WHITE, the question is at what point in time the marriage occurred. Ebenezer, Thomas1 WHITE’s last child, was born around 1649 (his gravestone states that he died on 24 July 1703 in his 55th year [Weymouth VR, 2:365]). In 1649, Mary PRATT

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was about twenty-nine years old, and, if Ebenezer2 WHITE was her child, she would have ceased bearing children at an unusually young age. It appears more likely that, if Mary PRATT was the wife of Thomas1 WHITE, the marriage was a second marriage for both, made in their later years, and that she was not the mother of any of his children.

The second possibility, mentioned by NICHOLSON, was that the Mary PRATT baptized in 1620 died and that an unrecorded daughter of the same name was born much later and became the wife of Thomas2 WHITE. We believe that there is sufficient evidence to suggest that this is, in fact, what happened.

The major concern has been that there is neither a death or burial record for the 1620 Mary PRATT nor a birth or baptismal record for the assumed second Mary. Records, however, are also lacking for other such events in Weymouth. William2 PRATT, for example, obviously predeceased his father since he is not named in his father’s will, but no death record has been found for him. We also know that at least two of the children of Thomas1 WHITE were born at Weymouth — namely Samuel and Ebenezer — but no birth or baptismal records have been found for either of them. We are obviously faced here with the uncertainties of record keeping and record survival.

The will of Macuth PRATT named his sons in birth order. If he was consistent, he would have named his daughters in order of age and, thus, “daughter CHARD” (Elizabeth, baptized in 1631) was the elder daughter since she was named before “daughter WHITE.” The legacies left by Macuth PRATT to his daughters also suggest that “daughter WHITE” was more recently married. Daughter CHARD was to receive £7 sterling upon the death of her mother, but daughter WHITE was to receive land upon the death of her mother and two ewes at the death of her father. The implication is that Mary WHITE had not yet received her “portion”but that Elizabeth CHARD had — which is unlikely if Mary were older than Elizabeth and had been married for over thirty years.

If there was a later Mary2 PRATT, she was born probably no earlier than 1641 and no later than 1647, based on the birth of the last recorded PRATT child, Joseph, in 1639 and the 1600 birth year of Macuth PRATT’s wife. We have no birth records of the children of Thomas2 WHITE. However, through gravestone inscriptions and the will of Thomas2, it can be assumed that he named his sons in birth order and that Thomas3 WHITE, presumably his eldest son, was born about 1674 (Weymouth VR, 2:368). Thomas2 WHITE’s daughter Mary was a widow in 1699 (Chamberlain’s Weymouth, 3:268) and had evidently been married before since her husband, John HOLBROOK, left a bequest to “her daughter LORING” (Suffolk Probates 14:3). This would mean that Mary should have been married by 1690 to have had a child, been a widow, and then remarried. So if she married around 1690, she was probably born around 1670 or 1672 and her parents married around 1669 or 1671. This, of

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course, does not allow for children who may have predeceased their father. But there can be no argument that, if there was a later Mary PRATT born around 1645, she could certainly have married around 1669.

At this time, the evidence seems to favor the conclusion that Macuth PRATT’s “daughter WHITE” was
the wife of Thomas2 WHITE, not Thomas1 WHITE.1

Mrs. Delorey is a retired office manager of an insurance brokerage firm. She lives at 496 Main St., Shrewsbury MA 01545.

Mr. Smith is the Treasurer of the New England Historic Genealogical Society. His address is 80 Currier Cove, Portsmouth NH 03801.

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1Thomas2 WHITE was a guardian for Abigail PRATT, daughter of Thomas2 PRATT. Like NICHOLSON, we have not been able to find the source for the quotation embedded in Lora Altine Woddbury Underhill’s statement in her Descendants of Edward SMALL of New England, (rev. ed., 3 vols., [Boston, 1934], 2:904) that “‘Brother John PRATT and brother-in-law WHITE’ were appointed guardians” in 1676 for the underage children of Thomas2 PRATT. If the quotation “brother-in-law WHITE” is from a contemporary document, it proves, with the other evidence we have presented, that Macuth PRATT’s “daughter WHITE” was the wife of Thomas2 WHITE. Melinde Sanborn has discovered the guardianship bonds for Thomas2 PRATT’s children in the published Records of the Suffolk County Court (Col. Soc. Mass. Pubs., 29-30 [Boston, 1933], 30:716), but they are not the source of the quotation.

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