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NameElder John CRANDALL 10,138
Birthbef 15 Feb 1617/1618, Westerleigh, Gloucestershire, England
Death29 Nov 1676, Newport, Newport Co., Rhode Island
BurialElder John Crandall Homestead, Westerly, Washington Co., Rhode Island
ReligionSeventh-Day Baptist
FatherJames CRANDELL (~1590-)
MotherEleanor (~1595-)
Birthabt 1625, England
Death20 Aug 1669, Westerly, Kings Co., Rhode Island
BurialElder John Crandall Homestead, Westerly, Washington Co., Rhode Island
Marriageabt 1648, Newport Co., Rhode Island
ChildrenJohn (1649-1704)
 James (~1651->1682)
 Jane (~1653-<1715)
 Sarah (~1654-)
 Peter (~1655-1734)
 Joseph (1661-1737)
 Samuel (1663-1736)
Birth30 Jan 1645/46, Winsdsor, Hartford Co., Connecticut
DeathWesterly, Kings Co., RI
Marriage1671/1672, Windsor, Hartford Co., Connecticut158
ChildrenJeremiah (1673-1718)
 Eber (1676-1727)
Notes for Elder John CRANDALL
Christening: 15 FEB 1617/1618 Westerleigh, Gloucestershire, England

Tradition states that he first appears in Salem, MA in 1634/35 amd removes to Providence with Roger Williams about 1636. However the first real documentation of Elder John is as a grand juror in Newport, RI 8 Sep 1643.

He is one of the six purchasers of Misquamicutt (Westerly), RI in 1661, and builds his homestead there on Pound Road circa 1665.

He was perhaps the first Baptist Elder in the U.S. (according to tradition), later converting to the Seventh Day Baptist faith, holding meetings at his home in Westerly, RI.

He removed to Newport because of the dangers of the King Philip Wars in 1676, and, while there, he died.
He is buried in the family burial ground on the Homestead (Historical Cemetery #15). His monument was erected by CRANDALL FAMILY ASSOCIATION 27 MAY 1991.

The Crandall land is still occupied by Irving Crandall where he has collected some (removable) old equipment and auto parts. The farm buildings are in poor repair, and do need considerable rehab. It is about 2 miles "behind" the
nearest Wal-Mart.
But the land is a wonderful piece of property with natural rolling hills, open meadows, wetlands, and old cedars. It is a paradise for birds and wild flowers. The property contains a little cemetery of the early Crandalls. Irving and Arlene Crandall have maintained and protected this cemetery for most of their lives and credit is due them for their assertive protection of the land against development, an act that would have made them wealthy.
Memorials have been set in the historic cemetery in 1991 to Elder John Crandall and the others who are mentioned in the history, "Westerly and It's Witnesses" and, just this year, to Earl P. Crandall who died in 2001 and who founded the current Crandall Family Association.
The Crandall Family Association is alive and well. Our mission is to encourage interest in family history, genealogy, traditions and customs relating to the descendants of Elder John Crandall. We promote scholarship and preservation of records, mementos, and significant structures and properties relating to the Crandall family. We have a reunion/membership meeting every two years in the Westerly area and are looking foreword to the next in July 2004. We endeavor to answer Crandall questions directed to us and from a number of online
query sites. We publish a membership newsletter and maintain a website which contains some of the most accurate Crandall information available.
Submitted by:
Judith Crandall Harbold, President
Crandall Family Association
Box 1472
Westerly, R.I. 02891

“Elder John Crandall in Colonial America” by Earl P. Crandall, CFA #1, Crandall Family Association Genealogist(1994-2002)

In 1888 A.P. Crandall wrote what appears to be the earliest account of the early Crandall family in America, Genealogy of Elder John Crandall and his Descendants (privately published). This brief account was primarily for the descendants in his own branch of the Crandall family.

In that brief account we can find the beginnings of what I believe are the many myths relating to the early years of Elder John in New England. Much of what is stated in the introductory pages are undocumented, but this is lack of documentation is consistent with other genealogies written in that time frame.

In 1949 John Cortland Crandall published what has become the Bible of many Crandall researchers, Elder John Crandall of Rhode Island and His Descendants. He used A.P. Crandall and his 1888 work as a springboard for his own 1949 work, and by so doing has perpetuated many of those myths. Again much is said about Elder John’s early years in New England with absolutely no documentation. Sadly, even by 1949 documentation wasn’t that much of a prerequisite in genealogies published in the mid-20th century.

Today, genealogical research has elevated to a science, and we are finding out that much of what was written in the past concerning many early families in New England was in error.

The Crandall Family Association is dedicated to genuine research and has been actively engaged in trying to find out the exact truth regarding its immigrant ancestor. The research began in the spirit of trying to prove John Cortland Crandall’s statements about Elder John. However, it was soon obvious that there were some significant problems with much of the material written in the introductory pages (pp i - xx) of his 1949 book.

The Crandall coat-of-arms displayed on p iv is quickly found to be false. John Cortland Crandall, to his credit, almost said that in his explanation of that coat-of-arms on the preceding page, iii. Unfortunately, many members of the Crandall family have a copy of this coat-of-arms hanging in their homes and are not happy with the thoughts that it is bogus. It is also unfortunate that many companies, such as Halbert’s (in Bath, OH), continue to promote false heraldry, including that of the Crandall family.

When trying to find proof that Elder John Crandall arrived in Boston and moved to Salem, MA in 1634 or 1635, there are more problems.

The biggest problem is that Elder John cannot be found in any early Boston or Salem records, and the records of those two localities are quite complete for that time frame. If not in the civil records, then in the church records. Microfilms of those two locations were searched more than once! Elder John is not in those records.

Other nearby locations were also searched, especially those with known Baptists, as Elder John was a member of that faith in Rhode Island. Lynn, Rehoboth, Seekonk — no trace of Elder John!

This author believes (but cannot prove) that A.P. Crandall confused our John Crandall with a John Cranwell/Craniwell of Boston, MA, who was in Massachusetts as early as 1634, but who had died by 1644 when he is referred to as deceased in a Suffolk Co. deed that year. (Suffolk Deeds, Lib.I, 51.)

That same error may have been made by John Cortland Crandall who further mentions that Elder John was in Providence, RI by 1637 with Roger Williams. He later states on p 1 that, "Many of the early Providence records were early destroyed." This is just simply not true — the early Providence records are very complete. They just don’t happen to mention Elder John in 1637.

If Elder John was involved with either Roger Williams or Samuel Gorton in early Rhode Island, one would think that his name would certainly be in the records. If not in the records, then perhaps in the writings of Williams or Gorton, many of which have been published in the past 10-15 years or so. Again, Elder John is not mentioned.

John Cortland Crandall further states on p xvii in Appendix ii that Elder John went to England in 1663 with John Clarke, Roger Williams, and Obadiah Holmes in order to obtain the charter for Rhode Island. There is no evidence to support this claim at all.

Following is an abbreviated chronology of Elder John in the historical records of Rhode Island. It should be used along with the chronology offered in the 1949 Crandall genealogy on pp viii & xx.

The very earliest mention of Elder John Crandall seems to be in Newport, Rhode Island as a grand juror on 8 Sep 1643. He was also mentioned in a case against Thomas Gennings in Newport 3 Dec 1643{1}.

Elder John is owed £0, 04s, 06d from the estate of Henry Sandyes of Boston, MA in his inventory dated 7 Feb 1651{2}. [This is from the account books of Sandyes and many individuals are mentioned.]

The next mention of Elder John is the account of his journey to Lynn, MA from Newport on Baptist church business to visit William Witter, referred to as "an aged member" in July 1651. He traveled with Rev. John Clarke (pastor of the first Baptist Church in Newport) and Obadiah Holmes2. They were subsequently arrested for being anabaptists and were all fined — Clarke, £20; Holmes, £30; and Elder John £5. In default of the fines, each was "to be well whipped." Elder John was finally allowed to go home on bail{3}.

Elder John first appears as a freeman in the township of Newport in 1655{4}.

He is listed as a Commissioner for the town of Newport 2 Nov 1658{5}.

In that same year, Elder John, along with Thomas Olney, Samuel Gorton, and John Tripp, was "chosen and authorized to draw up a letter to be sent to Mr. John Clarke in England, to be presented to his Highness and Councell ..."{6}

He was appointed as a Commissioner from Newport again on 17 May 1659{7}.

Elder John was chosen in 1659, along with Arthur Fenner, Thomas Cooke, and Robert Westcott, "... to marke out the westward bounds of our collony ... "{8}

Listed 27 Aug 1661 as one of the original petitioners for the settlement of Askomicutt [Westerly, RI]. The other eight listed are: Josoph Torrey, John Cranston, William Vaughan, John Coggeshall, Hugh Mosier, James Barker, Caleb Carr, James Rogers [spellings as in original document]{9}.

Elder John was listed again as Commissioner for the town of Newport 22 May 1662{10}.

Listed as a committeeman from Newport regarding legislation on the same date{11}.

Listed again as a Commissioner from Newport 17 June 1662{12}.

Listed as a quasi tax collector in Newport in 1662{13}.

Listed as a Commissioner from Newport 12 May 1663{14}.

He is mentioned again in Rhode Island history in relationship to his "intrusions" into Stonington, CT. The complaint is dated 30 Oct 1667, mentioning that he had "laid out a mile square of land for his son [John, Jr.] within the limits of their town."{15}

On 14 Apr 1668 he participated in a religious debate in Boston, MA. He is called "Grendall of Narragansett."{16}

Elder John signs over "all ... my goods, Chattels, Debts, household stuf ... and ... have putt my ... sonn in ... posession of all ... promisses by the delivery unto him of one shilling in silver currant mony ... of England ..." This is a document dated 3 Oct 1670 and involved his son, John, Jr.{17}

Elder John, as a Rhode Island "officer", was seized and taken to New London, CT for trial on 2 May 1671{18}.

His "mantion house", containing 200 acres, "... lyeing ... in ... Westerly alias Squomacutt ... " is turned over by John Crandall, son of John, deceased, to brothers Jeremiah and Heber, "now residents in Newport ... and in the tuition of their mother Hannah Crandall ... ", document dated 13 May 1678{19}.

There are other items documented on pp i - xx in the 1949 genealogy. The reader is reminded that only the documented sources should be given any credence.

And so?? I believe that our ancestor, Elder John Crandall, came to New England sometime in the early 1640's and not earlier as can be found in print in many places.

1 Howard Chapin: Documentary History of Rhode Island [1641-1646]; Preston & Rounds, Providence, 1919. pp 145-149.

2 Suffolk Co. Wills: Genealogical Publishing Co., Baltimore, 1994. pp 110-111.

3 James N. Arnold: History of the State of Rhode Island, Vol. I [1636-1700]; Preston & Rounds, Providence, 1899. pp 234-236.

4 John Russell Bartlett: Records of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations in New England, Vol. I [1636-1663]: Crawford & Greene & Bros., Providence, 1856. p 301.

5 ibid., p 394.

6 ibid., pp 395-396.

7 ibid., p 409.

8 ibid., p 417.

9 ibid., pp 449-450.

10 ibid., p 468.

11 ibid., pp 469-473.

12 ibid., p 480.

13 ibid., p 482.

14 ibid., p 501.

15 Arnold, p 333.

16 Edwin S. Gaustad [Ed.]: Colonial Baptists: Massachusetts and Rhode Island: Arno Press, New York, 1980. p 119.

17 Rhode Island Land Evidence, Abstracts 1648-1696: Rhode Island Historical Society, Providence, 1961. pp 69-70.

18 Arnold, pp 350-351.

19 ibid., pp 115-116.

"The Probable Origins and Ancestry of Elder John Crandall..."
Crandall Family Assn member Paul Gifford has written an article on the origins and ancestry of Elder John Crandall which was published in the Dec 2006 issue of RI Roots, which is the journal of the RI Genealogical Society.
The article is long and very well documented and contains the results of research done by Paul and others on the origins of Elder John and his ancestry.
Anyone still clinging to the myth that Elizabeth Drake was Elder John's mother needs to read this! Paul documents Elder John's baptism on 15 Feb 1616/7 in Gloucestershire, Englandto James and Eleanor Crandall and also gives info on several prior generations of Crandalls. He follows Elder John to his first appearance here in America when he was a juror in Newport in 1643 (he was not associated with Roger Williams, despite many secondary sources that make this claim, and EJC was NOT in Salem in 1628). There is info given on Elder John 's life in Westerly, RI as well.
The point is that we now have published and documented research which shows the real story of Elder John and it is time to put an end to the Elizabeth Drake myth. Paul's information is overwhelmingly take from primary records so it is as reliable as it can be without having Elder John himself here to tell us the truth!
Notes for Mary (Spouse 1)
1949 Crandall genealogy by John C. Crandall, page 3.
Mildred Small of Etna, PA states that she found in the records in Washington, D.C. that the first wife of Elder John was Mary Opp who died 20 Aug. 1669.
Last Modified 22 May 2008Created 17 Jan 2012 using Reunion for Macintosh