........ Conjecture, noun, the formation of judgments or opinions on the basis of incomplete or inconclusive information. Source: Encarta Dictionary

Sunday, June 2, 2013

The 1648 Slander Trial

Someone reminded me that I have never posted the details of the 1648 slander trial where the name Penelope Prince is written. That is a critical document in searching for the true Penelope because it is one of the few documents (or perhaps the only one) containing her name and created during her lifetime.

John Tilton, town clerk for Gravesend and long-time resident, recorded the village's transactions in English for many years in a ledger that has survived for over 350 years. I have never seen the actual book and can't locate it although I think it's buried deep in the New York library system. There is a microfilm copy in the NY library system and a transcript exists at the Brooklyn Historical Society,
128 Pierrepont Street, Brooklyn, NY, 11201 (718-222-4111  library@brooklynhistory.org ) The BHS description is "3.0 items, in 3 folders. Transcriptions of early town records of Gravesend, dated 1646 to 1670, and a 100-page historical sketch of Gravesend. The transcribed records and the historical sketch were prepared by Works Progress Administration researchers of the Historical Records Survey, Service Division, New York, NY, in March of 1942. The transcribed records include town meeting minutes, dated 1646 to 1653, as well as property deeds and leases, dated 1653 to 1670.with call phrase 1977.308 box A0061."

An Internet entry ( http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com/th/read/Dutch-Colonies/2002-11/1038519631 ) provides an index in which Penelope Prince is mentioned on page 24 and Richard Stout in 19 places:  pp. 4, 10, 12, 13, 14, 15, 18, 19, 20, 38, 41, 43, 45, 46, 68, 69, 99, 103, 114. (No Van Princis listed.)

The slander trial has been posted on the Internet in several places. Do a Google search on the misspellings Penellopey Aplegate. Here's one from an Applegate site: http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com/th/read/APPLEGATE/2007-12/1197518311

12 Sep 1648:Ambrose London plaintive agt:ye wife of Tho: Aplegate defent in an action of slander for saying his wife did milke her Cowe.

The defent saith yt shee said noe otherwise but as Penellopey Prince tould her yt Ambrose his wife did milke her Cowe.
Rodger Scotte being deposed saith yt being in ye house of Tho: Aplegate hee did heare Pennellopy Prince saye yt ye wife of Ambrose London did milke ye Cowe of Tho: Aplegate.
Tho: Greedye being deposed saith yt Pennellope Prince being att his house hee did heare her saye yt shee and Aplegates Daughter must com as witnesses agat: Ambrose his wife milking Aplegates Coew.
Pennellope Prince being questationed adknowled her faulte in soe speaking and being sorrie her words she spake gave sattisfaction on both sides.

Here is a very clear summary from Ken Sajdak at http://this.ismyfamily.info/PhpGedView/note.php?nid=N60&ged=Sajdak : September 12, 1648. "Deposition was given by [Thomas] Applegate’s wife that Penelope Prince had stated in her presence that Ambrose London’s wife had milked Applegate’s cow. Rodger Scott also deposed that he had heard the same. Thomas Greedye further testified that Penelope Prince had stated while at his home that she and Thomas Applegate’s daughter would be summoned as witnesses against Ambrose London’s wife. Upon questioning, Penelope Prince acknowledged her error in speaking and 'gave satisfaction' on both sides."

Ken Sadjak further comments: " The appearance of Penelope’s surname as Prince in this record has caused many researchers to question the traditional belief that her surname was Van Princes. It might indeed suggest an attempt to give a Dutch appearance to her otherwise English surname in the traditional accounts. The fact that she was not at this time referred to by her married name of Stout may also imply that her marriage to Richard Stout did not take place until after this event in 1648."