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Real Life In The World of RICHARD STOUT

Richard Stout B. about 1615; D.1705

Richard Stout’s Life Influenced By Broader Affairs

  • Richard Stout’s life is woven into the fabric of the history of his times. He served in the English Royal Navy while it was fighting battles on several fronts.
  • Purposefully or not, he used the Navy to transport him to New Amsterdam in the New World. When he got off the ship in Manhattan, he stayed.
  • There he became a mercenary, fighting for the Dutch, enemies of his homeland, England. Because of this service fighting Indians, he became a Dutch citizen and presumably spoke Dutch.
  • His service with the Dutch included fighting against the native peoples who were trying to fend off the encroachment of Europeans. This early exposure to the indigenous peoples apparently helped him bargain with them later.
  • Because of his resistance to someone dictating his religious beliefs, he joined the Anabaptists in the settlement of Gravesend in Long Island. There he became a farmer and raised a crop that was tremendously important to the European money-men who funded the settlements–tobacco.
  • Emphasizing the dangers of crossing the Atlantic, a Dutch ship wrecked on the New Jersey coast, and resulted in Richard marrying the widow Penelope Stout. Penelope’s legend illustrates a popular story from those times, of European people kidnapped by Indians.
  • After twenty-three years in Gravesend, raising a family and accumulating wealth, he found the competition for space to be stifling. Reflecting a concern we see operating over and over among the colonists on the east coast, he moved with a group of likeminded people across a small stretch of water to the new territory that would become New Jersey.
  • Because of the fighting between England and Holland, the first attempt to move was stopped by the Dutch. They needed all the settlers they could get to keep their colony strong. However, when the English won one of the many wars with the Dutch, Richard and a group of friends made their move.
  • While he had turned his back on the sea, he had sons and grandsons who became traders and ship’s captains, making the run to Bermuda and other Caribbean ports.
  • Despite being illiterate, Richard Stout served in many civic positions, including representative to the local Assembly. [Note: I previously said he was a member of the New Jersey Assembly, however that was an error.] He continued to amass land after moving to New Jersey and was able to distribute large tracts to his children.
  • Neither Richard nor Penelope lived to see the beginning of the American Revolution. However, they would have experienced plenty of the unrest that led to the break with England.

Using a Timeline

I find it easiest to picture the life of an ancestor by constructing a timeline that includes both events in his/her life and larger historic events. The historic events happening around and involving Richard and Penelope Stout and their children are not the colonial history that we learn in school. While the Pilgrims were building New England villages and struggling with events like King Phillip’s War, The New York/New Jersey area flipped from Dutch to English and a war in far off Europe affected the every day life of colonists here. The Pilgrims were not the only ones seeking religious freedom.

The Roots of Conflict Between Nations

1497: Englishman John Cabot sailed along the New York coast, giving the British cause to claim that they got there first, although he did not go inland, and settlers did not follow behind.

1609: Dutch-funded English explorer Henry Hudson, on his third voyage to the New World, sailed up the river that would be named for him–the Hudson River. Dutch traders followed after him and established trading posts that grew into Dutch settlements.

These two expeditons kicked off a long-running argument between England and the Netherlands about who owned what we now think of as the mid-Atlantic.

1613: The British Governor of Virginia claimed that the Dutch did not own New Amsterdam–it was all under the British crown and was part of Virginia.

Summer of 1613: Sir Samuel Argall of Virginia, under the direction of the Governor of Virginia (which covered everything in northeastern America up to the Massachusetts Colony), sailed to Mt. Desert (now Maine) and killed a shipload of French Jesuits. He was on a mission to drive out the French who ruled what is now Nova Scotia,parts of Canada and Maine. (Argall had previously discovered a shorter route from England to Jamestown and had made many trips across the Atlantic.) On one of his many voyages, Argall also stopped off in Manhattan and warned the traders there that they must cease trading because the land belonged to the English.

Trying to Calculate Richard Stout’s Birth Year

1610-1615: General birth year of Richard Stout in England. (Apparently in Burton Joyce Parish, Nottinghamshire to John Stout and Elizabeth Bee. Marriage license in church records for John and Elizabeth dated 13 Nov 1609.The fact that Richard’s oldest son is John lends credence to his father being named John.)

Nathan Stout’s book says Richard was born in 1615 and Penelope in 1622.

Richard’s birthdate can be roughly calculated by looking at the story of his arrival in North America. Richard Stout allegedly quarreled with his father over a young woman he wanted to marry. He left home and joined the British Navy. Or, in an alternative version, he was impressed into the British Navy. Presumably he would have been around 18-20 years old when that happened, and he was said to serve seven years with the British Navy, before hiring on with the Dutch. He would have arrived in the new world on a ship belonging to the British Navy, but stayed in Manhattan, part of New Amsterdam. There we have a record that the helped the Dutch fight against the Indians recorded on March 25, 1643 and April 22, 1643. An Immigration index, which is not proof, tells us that he arrived in 1643.

Let us assume that he was a mercenary for one year, beginning in 1643. That would put his British Navy service starting about 1636. If he were twenty years old, he would have been born in 1616, close to the assumed date in family histories that say he was born in 1615. However, we also have the story that he was forty years old when he married Penelope, and that happened in 1644 or 1645, which would mean he was born in 1604 or 1605.

Back to the Richard Stout Timeline

For sixty years, the English left the Dutch alone in New Amsterdam (including New Jersey), however…

June 1634: The British Grant of New Albion, which included New Jersey, Long Island, parts of Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware gave 44 grantees the right to bring 3,000 men to the area. This action was taken by King Charles II despite the fact that the land was occupied by Dutch. Nothing came of it except a very small enclave in Delaware. Governor Kieft of New Amsterdam took some of that small group prisoner and sent the rest packing.

1643: An Important Year in the Life of Richard Stout

Richard Stout arrived in New Amsterdam, fought Indians for the Dutch, joined Lady Moody’s settlement in Gravesend, and possibly met Penelope.

1643: Richard’s arrival in Long Island, New Amsterdam (U. S. and Canada Passenger and Immigration List Index 1500s-1900s, pg. 278) Employed by Dutch at Ft. Amsterdam in Spring of 1643.

1643: Richard owned Plantation #18 at Gravesend. Richard Stout spoke Dutch because of his previous service and helped the English settlers deal with the Dutch.

1643: Penelope shipwrecked. They probably met and married very close to this time.

Life at Gravesend, Long Island, New Amsterdam

When the Puritans kicked out the wealthy Lady Deborah Moody from Massachusetts for opposing baptism of infants, she moved south to Long Island and started the English settlement of Gravesend in the middle of Dutch territory. Her partner in this settlement,William Bowne whose family later intermarried with Stouts) who had left England for religious freedom and did not find that freedom in Massachusetts Colony. They had fled New England because of differences with the Puritans over baptism of Infants, in a sect called Anabaptists. They fled to the Dutch, who were more tolerant and her group of English settlers became an English enclave inside New Amsterdam. Indigenous villages surrounded the new settlement and in September that year, Indians attacked in an action known as Keift’s War for the Dutch Governor.

The location of Gravesend would be roughly where Techkenis is shown in this map from 1639. Observe Conye Eyland (Coney Island) on the upper left. This is a detail of a map of Manhattan, that you can see at https://www.werelate.org/wiki/Settlement_of_Gravesend%2C_Long_Island.

October 1643: A report to Holland about New Amsterdam said that Long Island was destitute except for one place–apparently Gravesend. The Dutch tolerated an English-speaking settlement because they needed to increase the population of New Amsterdam.

1644: The residents of Long Island/Gravesend took shelter at Ft. Amsterdam against continuing attacks.

August 30, 1645: They signed a peace treaty with the Indians.

The Richard Stout Family Grows in Gravesend

1645: Probable marriage date for Richard and Penelope.

Richard had settled in the more liberal (religiously speaking) Dutch colony of New Amsterdam before he joined with Lady Moody. He joined the English settling Gravesend, where he and Penelope were married. There his children were born and his family lived for more than twenty years. There is no question that religion was an important part of their lives.

1645: Birth of oldest son, John, in Gravesend

December 19, 1645: A belated patent issued to the Gravesend group by Dutch Governor Keift.

1646 (about): Birth of Richard (Jr.) in Gravesend

1648: Dutch slaughtered Indians including children at a place then called Pavonia.

1648: A Pennelope Prince testifies in a trial at Gravesend.

1648: An unproven possible date of the marriage of Richard and Penelope, although there is an extract of marriage records (U. S. and International Marriage Records 1560-1900) that says 1644. There is also a mention in another record that they married in 1663, which seems unlikely given the probable age of children. (The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record (quarterly) 1932, Selective Extracts, pg. 220.)

About this time (1648), a group from Gravesend started on a journey to New Jersey to buy land from Indians. The Dutch soldiers turned back the party.

1650 (about): Mary, first daughter born in Gravesend.

1652 : Alice, second daughter born in Gravesend.

1652-1654: The First Dutch-Anglo War raged in European waters.

1654: Third son, Peter born in Gravesend.

1655 or 1658: Fourth son James born in Gravesend.

1655: Indians, retaliating for earlier attacks, massacred all the European inhabitants of Povonia. Povonia now bears the name Hudson County, New York. The Indians destroyed all the houses on Staten Island. In three days, they killed 100 Dutch and took 150 prisoner.

1655-1667: 2nd Anglo-Dutch War

1656: Sarah, third daughter born in Gravesend.

The Move to Middletown

January 25, 1664: The group from Gravesend, including Richard Stout, purchased land from the Nevesink people in a legal deed. Sachem Popomona and his brother Misharoing signed the deed giving 118 fathoms of land and 50 additional fathoms in twelve months.[I question whether fathom is the correct translation here, as a fathom equals 6 feet square of land, which would make this a very small amount] The purchase price included 5 coats, 1 gun, 1 clout capp (cloth cap), 1 shirt, 12 pounds of tobacco and 1 anker (equal to 10 gallons) of wine.

I can only assume that the Dutch were too busy fighting the English to interfere with this second attempt by the Gravesend group.

September 1664: Dutch at New Amsterdam surrendered to the English, who called the territory New York. Probably, the Stouts and a couple other families moved to Middletown at this time.

April 8, 1665: The Navesink representatives appeared before the new English Governor with the buyers. English Governor Nicolls issued the Monmouth Patent, specifying details of the settlement of Middletown, including freedom of religion.

1665-1667: The Second Dutch-Anglo War. At the beginning of that war, the British took over New Amsterdam. By 1667, they lost the war and the American territory back to the Dutch.

1665: Richard Stout and others from Gravesend settle in Middletown. It is possible that he and Penelope moved with only his two older sons, John and Richard (Jr.) in 1664, before the Governor issued a Patent. If that is the case, the younger children who did not get immediate grants of land in the land division of 1667–  James, Peter, Mary, Alice and Sarah— apparently stayed in Gravesend for a couple of years. [Jonathan, Benjamin and David were not yet born.)

1665: Son Jonathan born.

Richard Stout Life in Middletown

1667: David Stout is born probably this year in Middletown. Younger children join Richard and Penelope and older children in Middletown.

December, 1667: Land division of Middletown. Richard Stout was appointed as one of three surveyors. Richard Stout held lot #6 in Middletown.

1668: With son John, Richard is a founder of the first Baptist Church of Middletown. They met in homes for 20 years until they built a log church.

1669 (about): Benjamin, youngest child of Penelope and Richard, is born in Middletown. Richard is named an Overseer.

1671: Richard elected to first New Jersey General Assembly representing Middletown.

1672-1674: The British lost to the Dutch once again in the Third Anglo-Dutch war. These wars took place in Europe, but affected the people who had emigrated to America. The winner changed the Governor, the courts, etc.

Richard Accumulates Land, Gives Land to Children, and Serves His Community

1675: Richard deeds 1800 acres to heirs naming “wife”, John, Richard (Jr.), James, Peter, Mary Bowne, Alice Throckmorton and Sarah. He is serving as Indian Commissioner for the New Jersey General Assembly.

1677: Richard received 745 more acres by patent.

1682: April 10, Deed for selling 40 acres “bought from Richard Stout and wife Penelope.

1685: He is a witness to a will

The End of Richard Stout’s Story

1686: Gets abatement on taxes because he is “very old.”

1687: In January deeds land to son Jonathan.

1689: Deeds land to Benjamin Stout for joynture of wife Penelope.

1696: Gave land to his son David on the Hop River in Monmouth County.

1703: Son Peter dies.

9 June 1703: Richard writes will

1705: Richard Stout Dies

23 October 1705: Richard will proved, naming ten children. Peter died before 1705, so the will mentions his wife and children. Richard was illiterate, despite his facility with languages and role as a leader, and signed with an “x”. His wife received the orchard and “the rooms of the house she lives in with the cellar and all the land. ” She gets all horses except one mare and colt. Benjamin gets land in exchange for having kept Richard’s cattle last year; John, Richard, James, Jonathan, David and Benjamin get one shilling each. Daughter in law Mary ( and her son John one shilling each. Kinswoman Mary Stout, daughter of former Peter Stout, one cow. The remainder of the estate goes to his wife. His sons John and Jonathan are executors.

Note: The will mentions three Marys. Richard’s daughter Mary; ‘Kinswoman Mary Stout’ who was the wife of the late Peter Stout; and “daughter-in-law Mary” and her son John. At that period, daughter-in-law did not mean wife of my son. Otherewise, the “Kinswoman Mary Stout” would have been a daughter-in-law. It generally meant the child of a former marriage of the present spouse–in this case that would be Penelope’s daughter. However, we have no other mention of Penelope having a daughter. If her survival story is true it seems doubtful that she had a child with her. So the identity of this Mary remains a mystery.

1732: Penelope dies (probable date).

Aftermath

1775/1776: As we saw in the story of Benjamin Merrill, the husband of a Stout woman, the first battle happened in 1771 in North Carolina. However, The Battles of Concord and Lexington go into the history books as the ones that kicked off the Revolution. At any rate, people had been choosing up sides long before the guns began to fire in either place. In my next entry, I will tell you the story of some Stout brothers who raised a ruckus in a courtroom.

1780-1784: The Fourth Dutch-Anglo War. Partly because the Dutch had helped Americans who fought against the British in the American Revolution, ill feelings continued. This war resulted in the British regaining a firm hold on the central Atlantic coast.

Notes on Research

“Settlement of Gravesend” This website provides a detailed history of the beginning of Gravesend, with numerous resources listed. Unfortunately, I could not find the name of the author. https://www.werelate.org/wiki/Settlement_of_Gravesend%2C_Long_Island Read in May, 2021.

“The Dutch English and Proprietory Rule in New Jersey to 1674.” Chapter 3 historyfiles.co.uk/kinglistsAmericas/ColoniesDutch.htm Consulted in May, 2021. Unfortunately, sources of information is not specified. The About page says the material mixes printed sources with submitted sources by people with interest or expertise. In other words, a Wiki, with additional sources besides public submissions.

History : Genealogical and biographical of the Eaton Families, found at Ancestry.com: North America, Family Histories, 1500-2000

New Jersey, Abstract of Wills, 1670-1817, Available on Ancestry.com

New York City, Marriages, 1600s-1800s,Genealogical Research Library, comp Available on Ancestry.com

Colket, Meredith. Founders of Early American Families: Emigrants from Europe, 1607-1657. Cleveland: General Court of the Order of Founders and Patriots of America, 1975. Consulted at Ancestry.com

Edwards, Morgan. Materials Towards A History of the Baptists in Jersey, Vol. II. 1792. Philadelphia: Thomas Dobson, Printer. Available at archive.org

Ellis, Franklin. History of Monmouth County, New Jersey. 1885. Philadelphia: R. T. Peck & Co.  Available on line at archive.org

Mellick, Andrew D. Jr.  The Story of An Old Farm, or Life in New Jersey in the Eighteenth Century.1889 Somerville, N.J.: The Unionist Gazette. Available on line at archive.org

Opdyke,Charles W.; Leonard E. Opdycke; and William S. Opdyke. The Op Dyck genealogy, containing the Opdyck-Opdycke-Opdyke-Updike American descendants of the Wesel and Holland families 1880 Consulted at Ancestry, but also available at Google Books. https://books.google.com/books/about/The_Op_Dyck_Genealogy.html?id=GISFnQEACAAJ

Reynolds, Cuyler. Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs, Vol. II New York: Lewis Historical Publishing: 1911 Available at Ancestry.com

Salter, Edwin. A History of Monmouth and Ocean Counties. 1890. Bayonne NJ: E. Gardner & Son Publisher. Available on line at archive.org

Smith, Samuel. The History of the Colony of New Caesaria, or New Jersey, Samuel Smith, 1765; reprint, 1811, Wm. S. Sharp, stereotyper and publisher: New Jersey. Available on GoogleBooks. ( Amusing note explains that the typesetters were not familiar with the term gaol for jail and changed it to goal throughout.)

Stillwell, John. Historical and Genealogical Miscellany: Data Relating to the Settling and Settlers of New York and New Jersey, Vol.2 and Vol. 4 ( 1909/1916) New York: NY. Available on line at archive.org

Stout, Claude D. Richard and Penelope Stout: A Critical Anlysis of an Important Period in American History. 1974. Palmyra WI printer. Available digitally on Ancestors.com. I read a digital copy purchased on line.

Stout, Herald. The Staudt-Stoudt-Stout family of Ohio and their ancestors at home and abroad Self published 1903

Stout, Herald. Stout and Allied Families. 1951. Dover Ohio: Eagle Press. Available on line at archive.org

Stout, Nathan. The History of the Stout Family First settling in Middletown, Monmouth, New Jersey.1823 (First printing). Also 1878, 1906, 1929. The first printing, complete with many errors corrected by others in later printings, can be read here. See the 1906 edition at Family Search.

  Streets, Thomas Hale. The Stout Family of Delaware with the story of Penelope.1903. Available on line at ancestry.com or for purchase.

Verkus, Frederick.  Immigrant Ancestors: A List of 2,500 Immigrants to America before 1750.. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1964. 75p. Repr. 1986. Consulted at Ancestry.com

Part II: Penelope Stout, The Mother of Middletown

Commemorative coin showing Penelope being rescued by the friendly Lenape.

NOTE: To read the legend of Penelope, see Penelope Stout, Wonder Woman. And don’t miss Part I of my search for Penelope’s truth.

Where Was Penelope Born?

A biograph of my great-uncle, John Franklin Stout states that his father’s line descends from a Dutch woman. So my ancestors believed in the Dutch descent of Penelope.

As I mentioned above, other sources say either that she was born in England, or that her father, a clergyman, fled to Holland and she was born in Holland, but not a Dutch citizen. Whichever country of origin proves to be true, Penelope and Richard developed strong ties to the Dutch, but lived among English in Dutch territory (New Netherlands) in America.

Gravesend where Penelope met Richard Stout, married and lived for a time, was an English pocket inside New Netherlands, populated mostly by English people who spoke their own language.  English families from Gravesend settled Middletown New Jersey, where the Stouts were considered founders.

None of this proves anything about Penelope.  Sold as a servant by the Indians she could have been Dutch or English.  If she used her maiden name in court, she could have used Dutch customs, but raised in Holland from birth, she could have felt more Dutch than English.  Richard Stout presumably spoke both languages, so communication between them would not be a problem.

The Stout Children

The birth dates of the Stout children should help sort things out. It might tell us when Richard and Penelope married, and give us a general idea of her age. But we do not have primary records and must consider that Richard might have wed before and his older children might have been from that union, we are once more left to speculate.

 Richard lists  ten children in his will written in 1705. (One of those mentioned, Peter. had died the year before Richard, so the will refers to Peter’s wife and children.) In my list of his children, I follow the order in the will, although Nathan Stout reverses the order of David and Benjamin.

A division of land in Monmouth County in 1665 lists the two oldest, John and Richard, Jr. as “of age”.   “Of Age” for these purpose would have been 21 according to English Common Law.

Items for his sons and daughters yt are come voyge since the year 1667, namely James, Peter, Mary, Alice and Sarah, each 60 acres: total 300 acres.

from 1675 “Rights of Lands due, according to the Concessions” under Richard Stout.

I had been assuming that the five others listed in the division of land as “sons and daughters of age since 1667″ meant that those five would have turned 21 by 1667. All the sources I had read gave the language of the document that way.  Then I read the document reproduced in Historic and Genealogical Miscellany by John Stillwell.  He says that the original document uses the word “voyge” which should be transcribed as voyage rather than of age. Grammatically it makes more sense.

Logically, Richard, Penelope and the two oldest sons might have settled in Monmouth first (1665 or earlier) and left their five younger children in Gravesend to come over the bay when the Stouts had built a house to accommodate everyone. (Three more would be born in Middletown.) 

Three things worry me. I have not seen the actual document, so cannot judge whether Stillwell’s transcription is correct.  And second, Stillwell assumes that the language of the document spelling out amounts of land to each settler includes children in his definition of servants.  That seems a stretch to me, but the amounts of land listed equal those designated for servants.

The thing I find puzzling: Why the ten year gap between the birth of Sarah and the birth of Jonathan?

Lacking original documents, generally accepted birth and death dates of the offspring come from Nathan Stout’s The History of the Stout Family (1823) ; Thomas Hale Streets, who corrected some of Nathan’s errors, Stout Family of Delaware(1915); and Herold Stout’s Stouts and Allied Families (1951). See research notes at end for each of these. Other clues comes from the division of land in Monmouth, when the children married, and their birth order in Richard’s will.

  • John Stout About 1645-1724 (DOB from an indexed marriage record; Before 1646 per land records) Married by April 1665
  • Richard Stout, Jr. 1646-1717 (DOB from indexed marriage records; Before 1646 per land records. Married at time of land division in 1665.)
  • James Stout  1655-58 (DOB unproven, but per land records after 1646)
  • Mary Penelope Stout About 1650-1675 (After 1646 per land records; Herold Stout says 1650. She married by April 1665)
  • Alice Stout 1652-1709 (DOB: After 1646 per land records; 1652-indexed marriage record, Find a Grave and Stillwell’s Historical and Genealogical Miscellany. Married by April 1665.)
  • Peter Stout 1654-1704 (After 1646 per land records, 1654 per indexed marriage records)
  • Sarah Elizabeth Stout 1656-1714 (After 1646 per land records, 1654 per one marriage record.)
  • Johnathan Stout About 1665-1722 (1660 in Harold Stout’s Stout and Allied Families and index of marriage records. Not sure where the 1665 used in some books came from.) Johnathan, David and Benjamin were not mentioned in Land Claim of 1675 with children who came [of age or voyage] since 1667, so presumably born after 1665.
  • David Stout Abt.1667-1732 (My ancestor) (Marriage index and Find a Grave give 1667 as birth year, with no original source. Born “it is said” in 1669, according to Historical and Genealogical Miscellany, presumably based on Nathan Stout’s history which says the same thing. However, Richard’s will lists Benjamin after David, meaning he would be younger.)
  • Benjamin Stout Sr. 1669-1734   Thomas Hale Streets, who is a descendant of Benjamin, in The Stout Family of Delaware says “probably about 1671”   Nathan Stout says “I have no knowledge of any of his family”  and gives no details on Benjamin. However, he reverses the birth order of Nathan and Benjamin.  One of Benjamin’s two marriage records (indexed) indicates a birth date of 1650 (probably a transcription error) and the other 1669. Find a Grave says 1669 with no proof. 

When Did She Marry Richard Stout?

Again conjecture reigns, with various sources pegging the marriage at 1644 or 1648, using the birth dates of the children as their main source of calculation. However, if Penelope wrecked on the ship Kath, as I believe is most likely, she had not yet arrived in 1644.

Unlike the other conjectures of dates in this story, however, there is a kind-or sort-of official record. This secondary source, printed as “New York City Marriages 1600s-1800s” in the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society journal, Volume 63, page 220, as referenced at Ancestry.com, says Richard Stout married Penelope Van Princess, widow, in 1663.

Things get very interesting should we consider this marriage index correct. IF Penelope was 20 when she married Richard, we now calculate her birth year as 1643. IF Richard was 40 when he married Penelope, he was born in 1623. IF they married in 1663, Richard had a first wife for which we have no record, and not even a peep in the stories passed down about him. That wife would have been the mother of his first seven children.

Penelope could not very well have arrived on a ship in 1647 with a husband. And is it likely she would have remained single for 16 years? However, the one thing this marriage date does–it solves the mystery of why the ten year gap between the first group of children and the final three.

Because I do not have access to the original of that journal article with the marriage index, or its source, I cannot guarantee the marriage took place in 1663. In fact, I currently assume the date is incorrect.

My Conclusion on Penelope’s Story

The Shipwreck

The shipwreck and attack by Indians in the legend probably are basically true.  The earliest writers on the subject, according to Stillwell, were Samuel Smith’s History of the Colony of Nova Caesaria or New Jersey and  Morgan Edwards’  Materials Towards  A History of the Baptists in Jersey. Smith’s book was first printed in 1765, thirty-three  years after Penelope’s assumed date of death in 1732. That means he could have been talking to people who knew Penelope during her lifetime.  Later versions of the story became laden with vivid and sometimes gruesome details compared to Smith’s  version. It is easy to see which writers of the many who told Penelope’s legend, copied from Smith or Edwards. (See Notes on Sources for the Stillwell reference where you can read what these two wrote.)

Remarkable age?

The part of the legend that says she had around 500 descendants when she died is quite possible.  As for whether she lived to 110, that seems doubtful.  Since there is no concrete record of either her birth or death, everyone is free to speculate.  Perhaps she lived to 100 or 101, which would be remarkable, and could grow to 110 during the retelling of the tale. If the New York City marriage license is correct, she would have been about 90 if she died at the usually accepted 1732.

She might have not known her own birth year.  In researching older ancestors, I frequently find one who seems to be putting down random numbers in census reports, etc.  And since we do not even have census reports for Penelope, who knows how old she was?

I have to agree with Nick Sheedy who says: “Well, these various traditions may help to narrow the possibilities but offer no definite facts.” Given that their youngest son, David, was supposedly born in 1669, we can safely assume that Penelope was not born before 1620; and it seems near certain that she was born no later than 1629.” [NOTE: Back to that pesky marriage record from New York City–if she was born in 1643, she would have only reached 26 when David was born. ]

Life in Middletown

As for her life in Middletown, we know the couple still had six children at home when she and Richard settled in New Jersey. Four had married. 

Her name appears in a couple of the legal records of land transactions, although mostly the reference reads “Richard Stout and wife.” 

We know that her son Jonathan was key to founding the Baptist church, and most of the family apparently worshipped there.  One humanizing story survives from a great-great grand daughter who recalls that Penelope told the woman’s father to put his hand on the wound in her abdomen, so that the story would not be forgotten.

Salute to a Woman of Mystery

Penelope remains, enticingly, a woman of mystery.  A woman we can shape in our own imagination, accepting whatever crumbs of truth we choose to believe. Given the time and place in which she lived, I see her as hard-working, devout, brave and bold. Surely no one would earn such a long-lasting legend without deserving the praise she received with the title of Mother of Middleton.

My Connection to Penelope Stout

  • Vera Marie Kaser Badertscher is the daughter of
  • Harriette Anderson Kaser, the daughter of
  • Vera Anderson Stout, the daughter of
  • William Cochran Stout, the son of
  • Isaiah Stout, the son of
  • Isaac Stout, the son of
  • Isaiah Stout, the son of
  • Isaac Stout, the son of
  • Freegift Stout, the son of
  • David Stout, the son of
  • Penelope ____ wife of Richard Stout

Note: For Notes on Sources, See previous post.

Part I: Penelope Stout, Mother of Middletown

Note:  If you have not read Penelope’s legend, I recommend you read my last post before digging into this research quagmire.

http://ushistoryimages.com/new-jersey-colony.shtm Arrival of British New Jersey Gov. Cartaret in about 1665. He succeeded Gov. Nicholls who signed the Monmouth Compact in 1664/65

What Do We Know?

Was she indeed a wonder woman?  Counting only facts that can be documented, rather than assumptions that seem likely, we do not have the most basic genealogical building blocks of information about Penelope Stout.

Full name, parents, place of birth, date of birth, (1st) marriage date and place, name of (1st) husband.  All these are mysteries.

We know that she married Richard Stout in Gravesend, New York and they were early settlers of Middletown, Monmouth County, New Jersey.

New Jersey and New Netherlands in The pink area is Long Island and Gravesend would be located on the western most portion. The red underline in the water points to Sandy Hook where the legend takes place and the red arrow on the green land points to the location of Middletown.

We know the couple raised ten children who lived to adult age.  Her husband amassed a great deal of land, buying from the Navesink group of the Lenapi people, and earning land by the right of an original settler under the Monmouth Compact in 1664 (1665 by our new calendar). The Navesink would have been the people who captured Penelope and befriended her in the legend.

The settlers sought religious freedom and asked the Governor to include a guarantee of freedom in the Compact establishing their first settlement.  The Stout family played an important role in founding the Baptist church in New Jersey.

Challenges

Penelope lived during a turbulent time in New Jersey, as the Dutch and English engaged in a European war that spilled over into the colonies. The small group of English settlers from Gravesend New York remained loyal to the English. Their main settlement came a few months before the Dutch surrendered to the English in August 1664.

The unrest returned in July 1673 when the Dutch regained control for about seven months, but the English returned.  However, the return of the English rule did not end the unrest, as the colonies began to chafe over their treatment by the far-off rulers.  I will talk in more detail about that phase of the life of the Stouts when I turn to Richard Stout, and my ancestor, David Stout.

Although Penelope’s story is awesome, amazing, inspiring, and indeed legendary, she only “exists” in a genealogical sense after she marries Richard. Yeah, I know, that is the fate of women in our society, but here I refer to the scarcity of documented facts. It would be nice to have birth, marriage, or immigration records. Instead we have one whale of a legend.

The Development of a Legend

In an essay analyzing the legend, Virginia Adane points out that the very first published version of a woman’s shipwreck and survival of capture by Indians, published in1765,  does not mention the name of the victim. (Essay in de Halve Maen, the journal of the Holland Society of New York, reference below). 

That would be The History of the Colony of New Caesaria or New Jersey by Smith.  He precedes the story of the woman from a shipwreck off Sandy Hook with a disclaimer that he is not sure of the truth of the tale, but feels it is possible.  In his telling, the woman marries a man named Stout.

Adane traces the development of Penelope’s story in the general trend of stories about women captured by Indians. Later, as people became interested in documenting the history of the region and the genealogy of the Stout family, the story tellers identified Penelope and added more (frequently contradictory) details. 

It is my belief that family legends always bear some crumb of truth, but for more than 200 years, various researchers have been trying to reverse engineer the story of Penelope and find the facts behind it.  For the most part, their efforts have been unsuccessful.   

What was Penelope’s Name?

Penelope’s maiden name might have been Kent or Lent. It might have been some version of Prince, but many assign that name to her first husband.

The account by Nick Sheedy, The Story of “The Brave” Penelope Stout (about 1622-1732) goes into detail about the possibilities posed by the various names. At different times, the story includes the English name Prince, or Princin or Prinzen. Sheedy asserts that the suffix “in” would sometimes be added to a married woman’s name, so that if she married someone named Prince or Prins her married name would become Princin.

The Van (a prefix meaning “from”) could have been added to make the name sound Dutch, or the name might have been Dutch.  Sheedy searched in vain for a place called Prins to justify a Van something-like-Prinsen.

A British Baptist minister named Kent fled England for Holland about the time Penelope would have been born, and one theory holds that was her father.  Another assigns Kent as the first name of her husband, Kent Van Princin. Which of course does not make sense if the in is added to denote a married woman. However, A History of Monmouth and Ocean Counties (1880) states that Richard married a Dutch woman whose MAIDEN name was Penelope Vanprinces. 

As you probably know, no one paid much attention to spelling in the 17th century, so we will not worry about the various forms of the name, but it would be nice to know what her maiden name really was.

Penelope and the Cow

The first time we see her name in a record, Penellopy Prince testifies in a court case in Gravesend (New Netherlands) 1648.  Since this date is after the generally assumed time she was married to Richard Stout, the use of a former name might be puzzling.  However, it was common in New Netherlands for married women to use their maiden names, particularly in legal matters. Which makes one more argument for her maiden name as opposed to her first married name, being some form of Prince.

Even the court case throws sand in our eyes when it comes to dates.  Sheedy found a Gravesend Long Island Town Book record of the “cow case” that took place in 1648.  However many printed histories of Penelope refer to a 1951 case, which Sheedy could not locate.  It seems probable that early writers were playing fast and loose with dates just as with spelling.

The Court Record of the Cow Case

The following is the account of the case of the cow (transcribed from microfilm located at New York Public Library, by Nick Sheedy, from the Gravesend, Long Island, (Town Book, Vol. 1; Sept 12, 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.”

In other words, Penelope allegedly accused a woman of milking a cow that did not belong to her but when the case went to court, she said, “Never mind.  Sorry.”

Was There a Shipwreck?

Nick Sheedy has researched sailings from Holland and shipwrecks off the New Jersey coast in order to try to determine the timeline of Penelope’s story.  In fact, he finds only one ship that fits the bill, named Kath. This corresponds to the story as told in A History of Monmouth and Ocean Counties. The wreck of the ship, reported to Holland in 1648, establishes the beginning of Penelope’s story as taking place in 1647 or 1648.  [If she was indeed a passenger on that ship.] Sheedy and people he quotes who searched in Dutch records, could find no other evidence of a ship from Holland to the new world that wrecked in that region in the 1700s.  We also cannot get any help from a passenger list, because ships were not required to keep passenger lists.

To Be Continued

In the next post, Part II, Penelope Stout, Mother of Middletown, I will look at the question of where Penelope was born, and how her children’s ages might (or might not) help us determine her own age.

Note on Sources

Adane, Virginie. “The Penelope Stout Story: Evolution of a New Netherland Narrative.” De Halve Maen, 2009. Journal is on line.

Edwards, Morgan. Materials Towards A History of the Baptists in Jersey, Vol. II. 1792. Philadelphia: Thomas Dobson, Printer. Available at archive.org

Ellis, Franklin. History of Monmouth County, New Jersey. 1885. Philadelphia: R. T. Peck & Co.  Available on line at archive.org

Mellick, Andrew D. Jr.  The Story of An Old Farm, or Life in New Jersey in the Eighteenth Century.1889 Somerville, N.J.: The Unionist Gazette. Available on line at archive.org

Salter, Edwin. A History of Monmouth and Ocean Counties. 1890. Bayonne NJ: E. Gardner & Son Publisher. Available on line at archive.org

Smith, Samuel. The History of the Colony of New Caesaria, or New Jersey, Samuel Smith, 1765; reprint, 1811, Wm. S. Sharp, stereotyper and publisher: New Jersey. Available on GoogleBooks. ( Amusing note explains that the typesetters were not familiar with the term gaol for jail and changed it to goal throughout.)

Stillwell, John. Historical and Genealogical Miscellany: Data Relating to the Settling and Settlers of New York and New Jersey, Vol.2 and Vol. 4 ( 1909/1916) New York: NY. Available on line at archive.org

Stout, Claude D. Richard and Penelope Stout: A Critical Anlysis of an Important Period in American History. 1974. Palmyra WI printer. Available digitally on Ancestors.com.I read a digital copy, purchased on line.

Stout, Herald. Stout and Allied Families. 1951. Dover Ohio: Eagle Press. Available on line at archive.org

Stout, Nathan. The History of the Stout Family First settling in Middletown, Monmouth, New Jersey.1823 (First printing). Also 1878, 1906, 1929. The first printing, complete with many errors corrected by others in later printings, can be read here. See the 1906 edition at Family Search.

  Streets, Thomas Hale. The Stout Family of Delaware with the story of Penelope.1903. Available on line at ancestry.com or for purchase.