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A History of William Prichard

of England; Lynn, Ipswich, Brookfield, Massachusetts





William was born about 1618, possibly in Broughton, Denbighsk, Wales. He emigrated aboard the "John and Mary" in 1630. He was a resident of Lynn, Massachusetts until 1646.

In 1647 he loaded his boat with cargo for Barbados in the West Indies. The following year he was reported dead at Barbados, but on 2 March 1649, he was sworn a freeman in Ipswich, Essex, Massachusetts, where he bought in November of 1660 the mortgage on a house and land in Topsfield, with 26 acres. This property became involved in a tax controversy, lying along the boundary of the area that Ipswich had granted to Topsfield.

In 1648 he was a subscriber to the fund to retain Major General Denison in charge of Military Affairs. He had two shares in Plum Island (Ipswich) in 1664.

In the summer of 1660 four men, William Prichard, John Ayres, John Warner and one other (Daniel Hovey) came from Ipswich and chose the hill, today's Foster Hill, as center for the proposed plantation (Quaboag). The first three or four families settled there in 1665, which included Prichard. Steps were taken to buy the land from the Indians, through Lieutenant Thomas Cooper of Springfield. William Prichard paid 4 for his lot on the hill. The size of the grant was 64 acres and William and his "Son" were listed as planters. His plot was located at the East end of the settlement on the hill at the bend in the road just before John Ayre's plot.

In 1667 Captain John Pynchon, with four local men, were appointed by the General Court to direct the affairs of the Plantation.

William was hired by John Pynchon to help build the first mill on the plantation, and he was paid over 11 by Pynchon and made an agreement to be able to use the mill to grind his own corn.

He was a Sergeant in the Ipswich Militia, charged with the conduct of military training and drill. By 1668 William and his family had removed from Ipswich to Quaboag plantation, which by charter became the town of Brookfield in 1673. By then there were 17 settlers living there, he being one of the first settlers.

Quaboag was far removed from the other settlements, being planted among the Indian villages. Prior to 1675 the settlers were confident of its security because of its decades of peaceful coexistence with its native neighbors. Although breakdown in Indian relations were taking place in other parts of Southern New England, the settlement at Quaboag seemed not to have been aware of it. They placed much reliance on their previous good relationships with the local Quaboag Indians, reassuring themselves that they were secure from aggression. Little did they realize that Muttaump, cosigner of the deed of purchase at Quaboag and pretended friend of the settlers, had achieved a position of eminence in the war cabinet of the Nipmucs. He was the leader of the forces responsible for the destruction of Quaboag Plantation.

King Phillip's War


Massasoit, King of the Wampanoag's, had, about the year 1632, assumed the name of Ousamequin. Two of his sons, Wamsutta, the elder, and Pometacom, a younger brother who was known to the settlers as Metacomet, desired about the year 1656, to have English names given them. To accomplish this, they presented themselves before the Court at Plymouth with their request. Wamsutta was given the name of Alexander, and Pometacom received the name of Philip. They departed apparently pleased with their new titles.

The Treaty which had been made at Plymouth by their father, on the 22nd of March 1620-21, and which had been renewed and confirmed by the elder son, Mooanam, (who was subsequently called Wamsutta and finally by the English, Alexander) on the 25th of September 1639, was kept faithfully by both sides during the life of King Massasoit, who for nearly 40 years had been the first and staunchest ally of the Pilgrim settlers of Plymouth, in what is now Massachusetts.

Ousamequin died between 13 September and 13 December 1661, and was succeeded by Alexander, who was not as faithful an ally to the English settlers as his father had been. Although he remained friendly, Alexander was strongly opposed to the introduction of Christianity among his subjects. Shortly after being invested with the power of Sachem, as successor to his father, Alexander was suspected of entertaining hostile designs against the English, and of soliciting the Narragansets to join him in rebellion. Whether this was an accurate account of what was truly going on is not known; however, upon receiving this report of Alexander's position, the new Sachem was summoned to attend the next Court at Plymouth to vindicate himself of these charges. Alexander did not appear on the appointed day, so the Governor and magistrates ordered Major Josiah Winslow to bring him before them. Major Winslow, accompanied by Major William Bradford and eight to ten armed men, proceeded towards Mount Hope, where they expected to find the Chieftain. They came upon him and a party of his followers at breakfast time at a hunting-house, situated midway between Plymouth and Bridgewater, on Munponset Pond, which was on the north side of the town of Halifax. Alexander accompanied the Major to Duxbury, to the house of Mr. William Collier, where he was met by a number of magistrates, and after a conference, Alexander was consigned to the care of Major Winslow, until Governor Prince should arrive from Eastham, where he resided. The Chief became ill at Major Winslow's home in Marshfield. After being sent home to his own residence, he died there within a few days. Alexander's death was ascribed by many, at the time, to the treatment which he received at the hands of the English. Mather says that "Proud Alexander, vexing and fretting in his spirit, such a check was given him, that he suddenly fell sick of a fever." (Hazard's State Papers, (1792-94, p. 449-51)

Whatever the cause, his treatment at the hands of the English was considered a most grievous affront and an indelible stain upon his honor as a Sovereign Prince.

On the death of Alexander, which occurred in the summer of 1662, Philip became Chief Sachem of the Wanpanoag Indians. Philip formally renewed the treaties of his father, which he honored for some years. The colonists, however, made continual encroachments on native lands. In retaliation Philip formed a confederation of tribes and in 1675 led an uprising now known as King Philip's War. They burned towns and killed many of the inhabitants. In return the colonists captured Native American women and children, destroyed crops, and promised impunity to Native American deserters. In December 1675 the colonists won a major victory. During the spring of 1676 the Native Americans held out, but their numbers steadily diminished, and in August, Philip was killed. The war then ended, and resistance to further colonial settlements in southern New England ceased.

For additional reading of the King Phillip's War, read the account written by Captain Thomas Wheeler.

The reason for the assault on Quaboag is directly linked to King Phillip's war, and it was natural that Brookfield (as Quaboag had been renamed) should be selected by the natives for an early assault, since it was the most isolated of all English settlements in the Colony. The attack on Swansea on June 24th, 1675, signaled the beginning of the war. To determine the temper of the surrounding tribes within their jurisdiction, several emissaries had been sent to meet with the Nipmucs and the Quaboags. Captain Edward Hutchinson was assigned an escort consisting of Captain Thomas Wheeler and his mounted troop of about 20 men, Ephraim Curtis, a noted scout, and 3 friendly Indians to serve as interpreters. The party set out at 8:00 a.m. on Sunday, August 1st, 1675. This escort was accompanied by the 3 non-commissioned officers in command of the small detachment at Brookfield, 1st Sgt. John Ayers Sr., 2nd Sgt. William Pritchard, and Corp. Richard Coy. In spite of the warnings by the Indian Scouts, the troop moved along the Bay Path, toward the rendezvous at Mensmeset.

As the small procession approached the swamp it became necessary to travel single file, there being a very rocky hill on the right hand, and a thick swamp on the left, filled with Indians who lay in wait to ambush the unsuspecting troop. When the men advanced about 60-70 rods the Indians attacked. With no alternative but to retreat, the men fled. Capt. Wheeler was wounded and his horse was shot out from under him. His son, Thomas, dropped back to help him and was wounded. Eight of the men were slain:

  1. Zachariah Phillips of Boston,
  2. Timothy Farlow of Billericay,
  3. Edward Coleburn of Chelmsford,
  4. Samuel Smedley of Concord,
  5. Sydrach Hopgood of Sudbury,
  6. Sgt. John Ayers,
  7. Sgt. William Prichard, and
  8. Corp. Richard Coy of Brookfield. Five horses were killed, and five men were wounded.

The retreating party's return to Brookfield startled the inhabitants into the realization that their Indian "friends" must now be considered dangerous and determined enemies. The town's people quickly gathered into Ayers' Tavern, the only place large enough to house them all. Apparently, James Hovey either delayed too long or received the warning too late, for he was killed in or near his home before the attack began on Ayers Tavern.

Capt. Wheeler, who was seriously wounded, turned command over to three of his enlisted men. As the colonists had not expected the attack, they had no time to bring provisions or clothing with them, and were not prepared for a prolonged siege.

After all was secured within the tavern, the next most urgent matter was to send a messenger for help. Ephraim Curtis and Henry Young were dispatched to the Governor's Council in Boston, but got no further than the eastern end of town when they were forced to turn back by the hordes of Indians who were looting the deserted houses. Samuel Prichard was caught outside while attempting to secure supplies from his father's house across the street. He was decapitated and his head "was kicked about like a football" and then set on a pole in front of the Prichard home. During this siege Henry Young was wounded while in the garret of the tavern, and died of his wounds about two days later. The assault continued until 3:00 a.m. when an attempt was made by the Indians to set one corner of the place on fire. Two of the town's men were wounded as they extinguished the blaze, and several Indians were killed.

After another unsuccessful attempt, Ephraim Curtis was able to get by the Indians and fled to Marlborough where a message was sent to Major Simon Willard, who hastened toward Brookfield.

Meanwhile, back at the settlement, on Tuesday, August 3rd, the Indian attack continued throughout the day and night. Several more attempts were made to set the tavern ablaze, which failed, due to the quick actions taken by the men within the building. Thomas Wilson was wounded in the neck and jaw while trying to obtain water from the well in the tavern yard. His wounds were not serious. A stone marker now commemorates the site of this well, which still contains water.

Wednesday, August 4th, dawned at Brookfield with the Indians still in command of the situation. They now fortified themselves in Ayers' barn, and were continuing their attempts to drive the inhabitants from the tavern. About one hour after nightfall, Major Willard and Capt. Parker, along with 46 troops and 5 Indians arrived and headed directly for the fortified house. In the resulting skirmish two men were wounded and one horse was killed. The addition of Willard's troop brought the total number of occupants in Ayers' tavern to 162! (The number of Indians involved has been estimated at 300-500.)

The arrival of Major Willard was the turning point of the battle, and the Indians withdrew in the early hours of the following morning. They set fire to the remaining unoccupied buildings...one barn and dwelling at the east end of town, the house and barn of William Prichard, the meeting house and the Ayers' barn. They also presumably burned the mill which was some distance from the village. At dawn on August 5th, the Indians left, taking their dead and wounded with them. The statistics of the siege shows the startling facts: eight men were killed outright at the ambush, five soldiers in Capt. Wheeler's Troop and three inhabitants, Ayers, Prichard and Coy; and Capt. Hutchinson who died later of wounds received there. Three were killed in the siege: Samuel Prichard, *James Hovey and Henry Young. Total killed...twelve. There were five wounded during the ambush and five during the siege...total wounded was ten. Approximately eighty Indians were killed, and Muttaump, their leader, was executed at Boston the following year, on September 26, 1676.

The inhabitants of Brookfield scattered to many parts of the Colony following the conflict. Suzannah Ayers, widow of John Ayers, returned with her large family to Ipswich, as did Thomas Wilson. Priscilla Hovey, widow of James, with her children Priscilla and James, also returned to that town. Her other son, Daniel, was taken into the household of her Father-in-law, Deacon Daniel in Hadley, where young Daniel was raised and educated. Widow Martha Coy and family went to Boston to live. Thomas Kent returned to Gloucester, James Travis returned to Brookfield as part of the new garrison. The Prichards, Judah Trumble and Samuel Kent purchased property in Suffield. Thomas Parsons moved to Windsor, where he died in 1680. John Warner, the elder, took his family to Hadley where his sons John and Thomas were already living.

After the departure of Major Willard and the few remaining inhabitants who accompanied him back to the Bay settlements, the charred remains of the Quaboag Plantation were to serve only as an assembly point for military expeditions and as a garrison outpost. And so matters were to remain until the advent of Sir Andros' Government in 1686, when Brookfield was again to rise during a period of turmoil, assemble a collection of controversial characters and begin a new settlement in the ashes of the old.

Following William Prichard's death during Brookfield's involvement in King Philip's War, his will was proved in Essex County Probate. In this will William named his eight living children (Samuel was killed the same day as his father). He mentioned a debt "due to my father Denison" and his inventory of 27 March 1677 included a house and 20 acres of upland; 3 1/2 acres of meadow in Topsfield, 6 acres in Ipswich, and land and mills in Brookfield. His son John administered his father's estate, and with his brother Joseph of Amesbury conveyed in November 1690 to their brother William, the estate in Brookfield of their father and brother, Samuel, deceased.

Mention of "father Denison" in the will has given rise to the belief that the surname of his wife, Hannah, may have been Denison, although, as mentioned above, he was a subscriber to keep Major General Denison in charge of Military Affairs for Ipswich, and may have been a close friend. This bears further research.

Sources used for Prichard information include:

  1. The History of Ancient Wethersfield Connecticut: by Judge Sherman W. Adams; vol. I: History; New York; The Grafton Press, MCMIII; p. 276
  2. The American Ancestry and Descendants of Alonzo and Sarah (Weston) Kimball of Green Bay, Wisconsin ; Compiled by William Herbert Hobbs; Privately printed in Madison, Wisconsin, 1902; p. 29
  3. A Genealogical History of the Clark and Worth Families and Other Puritan Settlers in the Massachusetts Bay Colony ; by Carol Clark Johnson; Privately Printed, 1970; Part II, pp. 418-421
  4. The New England Historical and Genealogical Register; "Soldiers in King Philip's War" published in the January issue, 1884; pp. 34-46
  5. The New England Historical and Genealogical Register; "Early History of Brookfield, Massachusetts" published in the October issue, Vol. 35; 1881; pp. 333-340
  6. Documentary History of Suffield in the Colony and Province of the Massachusetts Bay in New England, 1660-1749 ; by Hezekiah Spencer Sheldon; 250 copies printed, Springfield, MA; Printed by the Clark W. Bryan Company, MDCCCLXXIX; p. 35









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Web Author: Dianne Elizabeth, © 1999
To reach me by E-mail: deharley@yahoo.com

Web Site: Dianne Elizabeth's Family History, Created July 17th, 1999
Page Title: William Prichard
Page Created: January 12th, 2008
Revised: September 3rd, 2013
URL: http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~eaglesnest/Histories/prichard.html