Matthew Pryor – Letters to England

Elizabeth Pryor Harper included in her book Twenty-one southern families: Notes and Genealogies the following record that includes a Matthew Pryor as a signer of a British document:

To ye Sheriffs of Middlesex Cy his Deputy– In 1672 and 1673 Gov. Andrus ordered services for the purpose named his proclamation…In 1702 British victories were cause for Thanksgiving…Whitehall Nov. ye 11th 1702. We send you enclosed Her Magisty’s proclamation directing a publick thanksgiving throughout England for the great successes of her Ma’tys arms by sea and land and we do hereby signify–likewise solemnize throughout Virginia and throughout all her plantations in America…Yo’r very loving friends–Robert Cecil, Ph. Meadows, Wm. Blathwayt, John Pollexfen, Mat. Prior.

Hmmm. It sounds like a royal proclamation ordering a holiday to celebrate a British victory. At the time (1672) England was involved in the Anglo-Dutch War (see Wikipedia).

The order to celebrate went out to the colony of Virginia. However, I’m finding no evidence that the men who signed the order lived in Virginia. They were members of the British parliament and lived in England.

John Pollexfen (1636-1715). He was a Member of Parliament involved in the passage of the Tobaccco Act and also a merchant connected with the East India Trade Company.

William Blathwayt (1649-1717). He was a big player in the British government’s organization of trade with the American colonies.

Matthew Prior, from several online sources, was a boy born to simple means (his father was a joiner or carpenter) who on his scholastic merit had an “ivy-league” education. He became a poet and a member of Parliament.

Maybe when the Pryors can get back further in their family trees they’ll re-discover this Pryor on the other side of the the pond.

Vanessa Wood © 2005 - 2014
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Floyd Jackson Pryor to Nathaniel West Pryor and Backward

diggingforrootsI was recently contacted by a Pryor who wanted to know more about their family tree. They found the Find A Grave memorial for Floyd Jackson Pryor b. 1938 Sumner Co., KS, d. 2011 Wichita, Sedgwick  Co., KS (  I took a stab at trying to see how far I could go back with her family tree with just the Internet sources available.

The first clue came out of the Find A Grave memorial; it mentions that Floyd had a brother named Melvin and one named Lloyd and that their father was Nathaniel Pryor. There’s a family with 3 sons by that name on the 1940 Census in Sumner Co., KS.  The father was Nathaniel J Pryor born about 1902.   I didn’t have to go too far online because I found that Nathaniel Pryor also has a memorial on Find A Grave ( Now if this is your line, make note that there’s a Masonic symbol on Nathaniel’s grave maker– you may find newspaper clippings of Mason events that he participated in. The marker also gives his name as “Nathaniel J. Jack Pryor.”

Both the 1940 and 1930 Census state that Nathaniel J. Pryor was born in AR, but I didn’t have any luck finding him by that name on earlier census records. I went back to his memorial on Find A Grave and clicked on the left link to “Find all Pryors in Caldwell City Cemetery.” There’s a few but I thought Winifred Leighton Pryor was of interest because he was close to Nathaniel’s age. I found Winifred on the 1940 census. He was in the military and stated he was living in Perry Co., AR in 1935. Winifred led me to look in Perry County.

1940 Census
Caldwell, Sumner Co., KS
Nathaniel J Pryor 37 AR, Mabel E 30, Charles 11, Dorothy 10, Lloyd D 8, Helen L 7, Rosetta A 5, Katharine M 3, Floyd J 1, Melvin 9/12

1930 Census
Bluff, Sumner Co., KS
Benjamin Builta 45 KS, Rosa E 45, Roy A 22, Mabel Pryor 20, Nathaniel J. 27 AR, Charles L 1, Dorothy 0

When I found the 1910 Census for Perry Co., AR I found a “Jack” Pryor who is the right age to be Nathaniel J, or as his grave marker says, “Jack.” The head of household was John H. Pryor born 1873 in AR. There’s a 1897 marriage for John H. Pryor to Alice Ramey in Conway Co., AR.

1910 Census
Casa, Perry Co., AR
John H Pryor 37 AR, Alice 34, Bertha 10, Jack 7, Mary 4, Theodore 1

1910 Census
Higgins, Conway Co., AR
Marley L Gibson 40, Sallie 35, James B 15, Mantie L 13, Lela11, Lanick  7, Okla A 3, John H Pryor 78 AL father-in-law

In 1910 a daughter Bertha was living in the household of John H. Pryor. She was also in his household of “J. H. Pryor Jr.” on the 1900 Census in Conway County, AR.  John H.’s birth date was recorded as September 1875 rather than 1873 in 1900. Also in the same county was J. H. Pryor born 1837 in AL, living with his daughter Narcissa 26.

John H. Jr. was in household of “J. H. Prior” on the 1880 Census in Conway Co., AR. Another child in the household was Nathen Prior (sic), perhaps the namesake of John H. Pryor’s son Nathaniel Jack.

1880 Census
Conway Co., AR
J H Pryor 46 AL GA AL, N Jane 38 GA SC SC, W Ann 11, M S 10, John H 7, Sallie 6, Nathen 2, Lee Collins Pryor 4mos., Mary Jennings 16 step-daughter

In 1870 John Pryor Sr. and his family can be found in Perry Co., AR.

It was a pretty easy jump to find John H. Pryor as a 14 year old on the 1850 Census. He was living in his father’s household in Lafayette Co., MS. His father was John Pryor b. 1804 in NC (the “C” is exaggerated and looks like a “J” however it matches the “C” in SC on the same page). Also in the same household is a Nathaniel W Pryor b. 1832– this is Nathaniel West Pryor who settled in Iron Co., UT.

I found in my notes, a brother of Nathaniel West Pryor was William Montifort Pryor. The name Montifort may be a family name to be explored: see my post that includes Montiforts (March 2014 post).

Other researchers have uncovered that John Pryor b. 1804 was married to Malinda Gurles and they had lived in Jefferson Co., AL before migrating to Mississippi. I’ve seen that researchers also state John was a son of John Henry Pryor and Elizabeth Stokes of Casewell County, NC. The relationships get a little cloudy that far back, however the common thought is that this John Henry Pryor is son of John Henry Pryor who named him in his 1772 will filed in Orange Co., NC.

The online  resources are great to give you a course to research, but just because someone is found in a county with another Pryor on a census record, you can’t rely that they’re related. Nothing beats good old fashioned paper research: order death records, get copies of marriage records, glean information from military pension files, get your hands on the old deeds, and court cases.

And most import… please share with us what you find!!! There are other researchers from this line who are interested in their Pryor ancestry.

Vanessa Wood © 2005 - 2014
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Richard and Mourning Pryor: Christian County, KY Tie-In

Richard Pryor and Other Pryors Genealogy Chart

I’d like to thank Beverly Watson from the My Jackson Purchase Families website for starting a new conversation on Richard Pryor (husband of Mourning Thomson). She found in the Christian County records on an estate inventory and sale for a John Prior Sr. who died in about 1806/1807.

The Christian County estate sale occurred 25 July 1807 and the list of people who purchased from the estate are as follows (the list was written phonetically and I’ve tried to sub-in some common spellings of names):

Robert Sharrard, Elizabeth PRIOR, John PRYOR, Elizabeth Henkman (or Kirkman), James PRYER, John Burdine, Obadiah Dewhit (DeWhitt), John Bayley (Bailey), Vinson Layston, Jacob Dalmaldson (possibly Donaldson?), Hoxa Boren, James Nunn, Able Crawford, Matthias House, William Dunlop, Peter Simon, John Burdine.

There was a John Pryor on the 1794 Tax list in Logan County. In 1796 John Pryor Sr. and John Pryor Jr. were chain carriers when Richard Pryor‘s land was surveyed in the same county. It’s likely that John Sr. is the John Pryor counted on the 1800 Tax list in Logan County with a James Pryor. And that John Sr. and John Jr were the men (or some of the men) who married in Logan County:

Rebecca Baily married John PRIOR on 11 Jan 1800
Polly Heathman married John PRIOR on 22 May 1800
Elizabeth Crawford married John PRIOR on 12 Mar 1803
Yes, there is a Crawford and a Bailey listed on the estate sale which may support that these families married into the Pryors.

It’s  not that Christian County and Logan County are near each other on a map, as I read through documents I began to see names from Logan County on Christian County documents. For instance, Finis Ewing (founder of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church) is in Wikipedia as a resident of Logan County (no mention of Christian County), yet I found in Christian County (see the estate of James and Ethelred Scoggins, 1809). And if you remember an older post, an Elijah Ewing was often found on records near Richard Pryor and people suspected to be from his line of Pryors (see post).

Beverly also found that a Mrs. Elizabeth Pryor married Absolom Bert (or Best) on 6 August 1808 in Logan County. Perhaps Elizabeth is the widow of John Pryor Sr.– an Elizabeth Pryor purchased his watch from the estate sale and the 1808 marriage is near the time of John Sr.’s death.

The recent DNA testing has only pointed out again just how many John and William Pryors were running around TN and elsewhere. It’s frustrating, however by following the paper trail I think we’re getting a better idea of who is who.

The Chart

So, lets look at the chart. I think there’s certainly some fodder here, some food for thought, some fuel for more record searching.

  1. John Pryor Sr. John was referred to as Sr. on both the Logan Co. survey of Richard Pryor’s land and in his 1807 Estate in Christian Co. There’s a possibility that these Johns were one person.
  2. John Pryor. There’s a John Pryor, not differentiated with Jr. nor Sr., who was “bonded” in Sumner Co., in 1791 in a court case with Howell Tatum. Has anyone ever looked at this document? Howell Tatum. An 1802 indenture, a land record in Smith County [Deed Book B, Pages 94-95], names Mourning White, formerly Mourning Prior, and land described as formerly belonging to Howell Tatum. There’s so many John Pryors, this John and John Sr. may be one man or two, however they both may have had ties to Richard Pryor.
  3. James Pryor. Again we may have one man or two. James B. Pryor b. 1788 in VA and counted in 1850 in Pike Co., IL was the widow of Rebecca Pryor whose obit stated they had lived in Christian County, KY AND Stewart County, TN. Then isn’t it interesting that a James Pryor purchased items from the estate of John Sr. in 1807 also in Christian County? And there’s a James Pryor named on Stewart County documents with the William “of Botetourt County”.
  4. William Pryor and Richard Pryor – As discussed under John and James, William appears to be connected to both of these Pryor names. The survey of Richard’s land in Logan County was witnesses by John Sr and John Jr. William and Richard are associated with the Ewings: Elijah, Robert, James.



Vanessa Wood © 2005 - 2014
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