Tag Archives: Middletown

David Stout Attacks Court Officers

David Stout, 1667 (?) – 1732

As I have written about the descendants of Richard Stout, I have indicated what generation they belong to, and just published an index of my Stout family articles. I am now doubling back to look at my final direct ancestor, David Stout, from Generation Two.

At first glance, my seven x great-grandfather seems to have lived a pretty ordinary farmer’s life in New Jersey. His farm stood near brothers and sisters on land deeded to them by their father. However, David Stout and other relatives lived through what was known as the Provincial Revolt. That period of unrest reached its peak between 1667 and 1700. We know that frustration drew David into at least one incident that pushed him to unlawful acts.

Once again, thanks to studying the lives of ancestors, I learned about an obscure piece of American history. But first, the everyday life of David Stout.

David Stout, 5th Son of Richard

Listed next to last on Richard’s will and other legal papers, it seems probable that David Stout was the next to last child of Richard and Penelope Stout. Like his older brother Jonathan and younger brother Benjamin, David was born after the family had settled in Middletown New Jersey. The first seven brothers and sisters had been born in Long Island.

We know that these three younger children were born after the distribution of land of the Monmouth Patent in 1665, as they are not mentioned in that document.

Marries and Starts a Family

According to the early genealogy of the Stout Family by Nathan Stout, David married Rebecca Ashton in 1688 when he was 21 and she was 16. (Their birth dates exist in the U.S. and International Marriage Records Index found at Ancestry.com)

Rebecca and David, with several other Stout family members, were active in the Middletown Baptist Church. Rebecca’s father served as the first minister in that church largely founded by members of the Stout family.

On Rebecca’s mother’s side, she descended from a distinguished lineage that traces back to the Plantagenent Age in England. Although I have few details about Rebecca’s own life, I will be writing about her grandparents, John and Rebecca Ferrand Throckmorton, my 9th great-grandparents. Their family life parallels David Stout’s family life in a surprising way.

Like his father, Richard Sr., David amassed farmland in New Jersey. Unlike his father, he did not seem to hold many public offices. However, he did, we shall learn, take part in civic activities.

The birth pattern of Rebecca and David’s seven children follows a familiar pattern to other Colonial families we have looked at. Babies came along every two years at first. The exception–a 4 year gap between James and Joseph and a six year gap before the youngest, Benjamin, was born.

  • Sarah 1689- ?
  • Rebecca 1691-1772
  • *Freegift 1693-1768
  • James Sr. 1694-1730
  • David Jr. 1695-1778
  • Joseph 1698-1770
  • Deliverance 1701- ?
  • Benjamin 1707-1789

*My 6 x great grandfather.

David moved from Middletown to farmland near Amwell in Hunterdon County either “after both his daughter Rebecca and son James had married” (about 1714), or “about 1725.” The notation in Historical and Genealogical Miscellany contains contradictory statements. However, he spent the rest of his life on that farm, and was buried there in 1732.

Riotous Assembly

At any rate, David Stout was presumably still living in Middletown in the summer of 1700, when he got into a spot of trouble. The story that follows illustrates that life was not all peaceful and bucolic in the “English” part of New Jersey, known at that time as East Jersey. David and his brothers and several sisters and their husbands lived around Middletown and Shrewsbury in East Jersey.

Court Records from Monmouth County dated 27 August 1700, show that the Grand Jury called forth Richard Salter, John Bray, James Stout, David Stout, Benjamin Stout [my emphasis], Cornelius Compton, William Boune (Bowne), Thomas Taylor, Thomas Hankison, Jacob Vindorne, Ariam Bennett, Thomas Sharp, Benjamin Cook, Robert Innes, Thomas Estel and Samuel, a servant to Salter.

The charge: “Riotously assembly on the 17th day of July and assaulting John Stewart, high Sherriff and Henry Leonard on the path near the house of Alexander Adam, beat and grievously wounded the said persons, took their swords from them, carry’d them away and Kept them to the value of five pounds money of this province.”

The Causes

What on earth could possess these pious, hard-working farmers to become a mob? Why did they attack court officials by torchlight on the dirt side streets of Middletown? Why would David, already a father of five children, ranging from two to eleven years, old risk his life? I can hear Rebecca’s pleas to him to not put their family at risk this way.

I will lay the groundwork by explaining more about the Provincial Revolt in my next post. It touches on the ownership of land in the colony, on governance by those purporting to be the King’s representatives. It joins a long string of actions and counter-actions between two factions. The people of Middletown and Shrewsbury, the Monmouth Patent area, refused to swear allegiance to English lords who now claimed the right to collect rent from the colonists.

The Governor’s Council sent officers of the court to force the residents of the two towns to swear allegiance and pay rent. David Stout and two brothers who lived nearby, James and Benjamin, plus his nephew William Bowne, joined ringleaders Richard Salter and John Bray and others to run the rent collectors out of town. Then they beat them, took their swords and ransomed them for five pounds.

Prejudice against Scots, and particular hatred of the present Governor , Col. Andrew Hamilton (a Scot ) no doubt helped rouse the townfolk. Their town had voted not to cooperate. The situation had become so serious that the Governor himself led a troop into Middletown two days after the attack on the officers of the court. The townspeople saw that group of armed men under Col. Hamilton as a mob endangering the safety of the locals. They gathered with sticks, swords and guns. The governor gave up and withdrew.

The Struggle for Independence

The author of The History of Monmouth County draws an interesting conclusion. The people of Middletown and Shrewsbury actually gained independence more than fifty years before the American Revolution. The King’s men gave up trying to get them to comply with imposed rents on their property. They were technically free of obligation to the King’s officers.

I read the account of the trial of the Middletown Sixteen (my own coinage), but I never did learn the outcome. As you will see in my next post, this was neither the first nor the last incidence of violence during the Provincial Revolt. The rebellion against authority went so far as to defend a pirate.

I can see now that David and Rebecca had more to worry about than the effect of the weather on their farm. Perhaps David withdrew from active protests after this incident, because although his brothers show up in other court papers, he does not.

How I Am Related

  • Vera Marie Badertscher is the daughter of
  • Harriette Anderson Kaser, who is the daughter of
  • Vera Stout Anderson, who is the daughter of
  • William Cochran (Doc) Stout, who is the son of
  • Isaiah Stout (1822), who is the son of
  • Isaac Stout (1800), who is the son of
  • Isaiah Stout (1773) who is the son of
  • Isaac Stout (1740) who is the son of
  • Freegift Stout , who is the son of
  • David Stout.

Notes on Research

History of Monmouth County, Franklin Ellis, Philadelphia PA: R T Peck and Company, 1885. Entire text is available at archive.org This book contains detailed court records including the story above.

Historic and Genealogical Miscellany : Data Relating to the Settlement and Settlers of New York and New Jersey, Vol. IV , John Stillwell, M.D. New York, NY: Self-published, 1903. This entire text is available at archive.org The book contains family trees as well as legal documents from New Jersey covering a multitude of information.

The History of the Stout Family; First Settling in Middleton, Monmouth, New Jersey, by Nathan Stout, self published 1823. Accessed at Family Search.org

Stout and Allied Families, Herald Stout. San Diego, CA: Self Published, 1968. Filmed by Archive.org

U. S. Find a Grave, David Stout, 1667-1732

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. ) [See comment below. Some readers of the old English records believe her name was Gee or Kee. Changing alphabets are just one of the many challenges in tracing the real life of Richard Stout!] 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).


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

Penelope Stout–Wonder Woman

Penelope ___ Stout, Legendary 8th Great Grandmother

PENELOPE VAN PRINCIS: 1622 (?)-1732 (?)

A medal commemorating Penelope Stout as Mother of Middletown New Jersey.

A medal commemorating Penelope Stout as Mother of Middletown New Jersey.

The matriarch of the Stout line in America, Penelope Van Princes Stout, provides our family with a legendary woman in the most literal sense of the word.  Penelope married my 8th great-grandfather, Richard Stout, an adventurer and perhaps part-time pirate. My mother’s maternal grandfather “Doc” Stout traced his ancestry back to Richard and Penelope Stout. 

Penelope’s personal story includes a shipwreck, a deadly injury overcome,  capture and rescue from death by Indians, and becoming the “Mother of Middletown New Jersey.”  If you want to see the evolution of the legend, you can read the several versions of the embellished story about the miraculous Stouts on this web page.  However, I found a summary, which I have used below to unfold Penelope’s story by Nick Sheedy of John Day, Oregon. (He calls it notes and conjecture, so do not confuse this story with proof unless documents are cited.)

The Story of Penelope Princis Stout

The condensed version of the dramatic tale starts when Penelope and her first husband, whose last name was something like Van Princes, sailed from Holland for America in 1647. [Alternatively, stories say that her maiden name was Van Princes and her husband’s name was Kent or Lent.  Some other sources reverse the order to the maiden name and the married name.]  Their ship wrecked on a sand bar on the coast of New Jersey, and the survivors all fled, except for Penelope who stayed with her injured husband. 

When her husband died,  the unfortunate woman was discovered by Indians.  Those indigenous people, determined to keep the European settlers away from their land, took a hatchet to her and wounded her on the head and gashed her abdomen.  When they left her for dead, she rallied and holding her intestines into her body, she dragged herself to a hiding place inside a hollow tree. There she survived for several days on fungus and berries until a friendlier Indian appeared on the scene and dressing her wounds and her body, took her to his village.  After some time, either he took her north and sold her as a servant or gave her the opportunity to leave and find her own people.  

However much of this marvelous story is true, a woman named Penelope does show up up in Gravesend, New York. This colony of English-speaking people existed in the midst of Dutch territory. The first scrap of proof of Penelope’s existence appears in a prosaic 1648 court case in Long Island regarding the milking of a neighbor’s cow.

In Gravesend, Penelope met The adventurous older Richard Stout, perhaps 18 years her senior.  They were married some time between 1648 and 1664, and sailed across the bay to New Jersey. There they settled Middletown (perhaps at the suggestion of her friendly Indian savior who continued to visit her throughout his life.)  She and Richard raised many children and Penelope told her children and grandchildren the story of her miraculous survival and showed them the scars on her abdomen.  They say that the “Mother of Middletown” died at 110 years old and left behind 500 descendants.

What Do We Really Know About Penelope?

Although estimates of her birth year range between 1622 and 1626, her marriage to Richard Stout is tracked although there is no specific record of the event. We know about his will, and that she was still alive in 1705. Unfortunately, despite much speculation, no one has discovered proof of her birth year or the place, or even the name of her parents. 

Many of the stories written about her say she lived to 110 years (1622-1732). Although the first such report was published in 1765,  it still does not constitute proof, coming more than 100 years after the events of her early life.

Alas. If you love the legend, you may want to skip the next few entries on Ancestors in Aprons. Sorry to be a spoil-sport, but I am diving into the murky waters of legend and attempting to come up with some facts.

While no solid proof exists for the most dramatic parts of Penelope’s story, records do document the impact of the life of Richard and Penelope Stout and their offspring. They were influential people–ancestors worth knowing. 

Next time we meet, I will share the thoughts of Nick Sheedy who has done exhaustive research on the story of Richard and Penelope.   And I will take a look at another amateur historian who contradicts just about every commonly accepted piece of information about my legendary foremother.

If you would like to learn more about the elusive Penelope Stout, see Part I: Penelope Stout, The Mother of Middletown and Part II: Penelope Stout, The Mother of Middletown