Category Archives: Military

6 or 7 Men Named John Pryor in Revolutionary War Service

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Goochland Pryor Charts
I spread out my John Pryor chart again and added some notes about their Revolutionary War service, so I’m sharing.

1. “Major” John Pryor of Richmond

All the documents are pretty clear that Maj. John Pryor of Richmond [see post] served as a Capt. Lt. during the Revolutionary War. He has the most records by far. He served in the 1st Artillery Regiment, Continental Troops. Rank Capt. Lieut’n’t | Capt. Lieutenant. His pension file (filed by his widow with sworn statements from people who knew him) states he became William Alexander, Lord Stirling’s Aide de Camp.  The following notes are from his service records– where the records go “thin” there are letters I’m marked with ** that indicate where he was and what he was doing

Commissioned Jan 13. 1777
Oct 21, 1777
May 1778 / June 3, 1778 Valley Forge (Pennsylvania)
June 1778 / July 25, 1778 White Plains (New York) “Sick near camp
July 1778 / Aug 8, 1778 White Plains
Aug 1778 / Sept 6 1778 White Plains “Sick near camp
Sept. 1778 / Sept 9/1778 “Sick in the country
Oct. 1, 1778 Fredericksburg “Sick near camp” (Virginia)
Nov. 3, 1778 Fredericksburg “Sick near camp
Dec. 21, 1778 Camp Pluckamin Inn (a little Googling shows that there was a “Pluckemin” Inn in Bedminster, Somerset Co., NJ)
Jan. 16, 1779 Pluckimin
Feb 1779
Mar. 4, 1779 Pluckimin
Mar & April 1779, Apr. 30, 1779 Camp Pluckamin
May 1779 / June 3, 1779 Pluck/n “On command Lord Sterling”, additional note “Aid to Maj. Gen. Lord Sterling.”
July 9, 1779 Camp near Chester (Pennsylvania) “Aid to Maj. Genl Lord Sterling.”
Aug 14, 1779, Park of Art’y near Chester, Comd. Light Corps.
Sept. 17, 1779. Light Camp, “Aid to Maj. Gen. Lord Sterling”
Oct. 11, 1779. Light Infantry Camp, Kakialt “Aid to Maj. Gen Lord Sterling”
Nov 9, 1779 Art’y Park near Chester “A. D. Camp L’d Sterling”
Dec. 1, 1779 Light Infantry Camp, near Newark (New Jersey). Aid to Maj. Gen.Lord Sterling
Jan 24, 1780 Park of Arty Morris Town (New Jersey)..
Mar 7, 1780 Park of Arty Morris Town. “Furlough
Apr. 13, 1780 Park of Arty Morris Town. “Furlough
** Oct. 10th 1781 letter from Richmond to Col. Davies
Feb. 5, 1782 Receipt for pay
** Feb. 23, 1782 Pryor was a groomsman at marriage of Capt. John Dandridge (Dandridge’s pension application)
** May 18, 1782 letter to Col. Davies re money for materials for drums and fifes.
** July 13, 1782 letter to Col. Davies
** Oct. 26, 1782 letter to Col. Davies re cannon
Jany. 29, 1783 Receipt for pay
Appears on list of “showing Arrangement of the Virginia Line 1st January 1783 – “officer who wishes to retire
Jany 10, 1786 payment
Issued warrant 10 Aug 1789

2. John Henry Prior – NC

Pension application for David Barnett of NC states in 1781 “that he and three others hired a substitute for the eighteen months and paid him and got a discharge fora six months tour. The substitute was named John Henry Prior.

3. John Prior from VA, later GA

Pension application states in 1775 he was in the 10th VA regiment commanded by Col. Wood, then in the 8th VA Regiment commanded by Col. Posey. Signed his application in Burke Co., GA. Stated he had one boy and two girls. Marched to Charleston, SC. Private in Swearingen’s company in Col. Wood’s 12th VA Regiment. Taken prisoner at Charleston.

4. John Pryor, GA Service

Served in Georgia battalion of Continental Troops. Col. Robert Rae. April 1 to November 1, 1779.  This is the John Pryor thought to be from Wilkes County, GA, son of Edward Pryor. John died in Pike Co., GA.

5. John Prior or Pryor of Amherst County

pryor-mckeeJohn Prior of VA
Rank: Private
By whom received Wm McKee
Day when Oct 20 1787
Sum 33.6.8

The War ended in 1783– payment wasn’t received until 4 years later?

6. John Pryor the Spy

Paid by Gen. George Rogers Clark for spying in Illinois in 1783. Payment was issued out of Richmond, VA. I haven’t found any rosters that include this Pryor in Clarke’s regiments. I know I’ve read the speculation that he as a paid civilian scout. I know some researchers have melded John #5 with John #6 so we may be talking about one man or two. The same John Pryor who battled Indians in Kentucky (see post)? What do you think?

7. John Pryer of South Carolina

4th South Carolina, Artillery Regiment. Enlisted 28 April 1777. This Regiment was formed in Charleston in November 1775 and saw their first battle and saw their first battle in June 1776. Throughout 1779 into 1780 they were involved in skirmishes in GA and SC. An interesting note about this regiment is that they were captured May 12, 1780 by the British. The Regiment disbanded in 1781 before the end of the War.

Captain Pryor Among the Wabash Indians?

In reading through the Founding Fathers’ papers on the National Archives website I found in”Minutes of a Conference with the Illinois and Wabash Indians, [1–4 February 1793]“. There are several references to a Captain Pryor.

Old crooked legs sends you this pipe (here he presented it) and he prays you to send him Capt. Pryor for his father, for he is old & you ought to do this for him.”

Now, father, I address you for our young people. but there remains not much to say; for I spoke to you through Genl Putnam, and you have what I said on paper. I have buried the hatchet for ever; so must your children. I speak the truth & you must believe me. we all pray you to send capt. Pryor to us, because he has been so very kind to us all.”

father, we gave to our friend (Pryor) who came with us, our name of Wiatonon, and he gave us his name of American. we are now Americans. give him then to us for a father. he has loved us & taken care of us. he had pity on our women & children & fed them. do not forget to grant us this request. You told us to live in quiet and to do right. we will do what you desire. then do you what we desire, & let Pryor come to us.”

I pray you all who are present to say, as one man, that our peace is firm, & to let it be firm. listen to us if you love us. We live on the river; on one side, & shall be happy to see capt. Pryor on the other, and to have a lasting peace.”

I found further documents on the War Department website. Check out this document: It’s a 1792 letter from General Knox, the Secretary of War. It mentions the Indians in the Wabash. It mentions Brigadier General Putnam and also mentions Lieutenant Pryor.

A letter written 26 December 1794 by Edward Carrington to Alexander Hamilton (see the National Archives Founding Fathers site Yes, the same Hamilton who’s on the $10 bill– he was the Secretary of the Treasury in 1794. The subject was paying troops for putting down an Indian rebellion and it references an October 12th letter Carrington had sent to Major Pryor. It’s like the old card game “Concentration”– we’ve met Edward Carrington and Major Pryor before! This Major Pryor was a Capt. Lt. in the American Revolution and is the Major John Pryor of Richmond.

I suspect that Major John Pryor is the Captain Pryor who became involved with the Wabash Indians. This is a much more interesting picture of him and his involvement in history than the over-weight, gout ridden, ex army officer who serially married much younger women who was jilted by Anne Beverly Whiting.

Major John Pryor of Richmond, b. 1750

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Musket Smoke

I’ve pulled together everything I can find on the life of Major John Pryor. You’ll see below it’s suggested that he’s connected to the line of Gen. Roger A Pryor and Col. William Pryor and perhaps also John Pryor and Mary New of Goochland County, VA. Any ideas?

1777 – Captain-Lieutenant 1st Continental Artillery, 13th February, 1777 [Richmond During the War of 1812 ,  The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 7, No. 4 (Apr., 1900), pp. 406-418] Note: the 1777 date matches the 1807 sworn statement for Pryor’s Revolutionary War land bounty warrant.

1779-1783 – Major Aid-de-Camp to General Alexander, 9th June, 1779, to 14th January, 1783

1782 – Major Pryor’s mother was still living in 1782? Capt. Pryor’s letter to Col. Davies asking leave to visit his mother “in great distress with the probability of losing her husband, who is my Father in Law (his step father?) by sickness, and wishes much to see me.”  On Oct  10 1782 from Richmond.  [Calendar of Virginia State papers and other manuscripts …, Volume 3  By Virginia, Henry W. Flournoy]

1796 – John Pryor married Anne Beverly Whiting in Richmond.

After Revolution –  Secretary of the Jockey Club. Owned Haymarket, a pleasure park in Richmond, VA

1800 – A Comprehensive Catalogue of the Correspondence and Papers of James Monroe, Volume 1,  By Daniel Preston. John Pryor was the subject of allegations of misconduct during the Revolution: alleged he did not examine arms thoroughly. Pryor sent a letter on 5 Feb 1800 from Haymarket stating he would refute the charges.  William Preston mentioned in 28 Jan 1800 correspondence. (Is this the William Preston who lead Preston’s Rangers? — See Botetourt County records)

1802 – Samuel Coleman (society’s treasurer) and John Pryor were recorded at a meeting of the Society of Cincinnati in Richmond, VA on 13 Dec 1802 [The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Volume 1,  By Philip Alexander Bruce, Virginia Historical Society, William Glover Stanard] – Note: Samuel Coleman provided a sworn statement in 1807 for John Pryor’s Bounty Warrant. An online family tree shows that Samuel Coleman was married to Nancy Ann Wright a daughter of John Wright and Ann Pryor of Goochland Co., VA– Ann Pryor was the daughter of John Pryor born abt 1689 and Mary New of Goochland Co.

1804 – Board of Hampden Sydney College

1807 – I do certify that John PRYOR was c—  (commissioned?) in a Captain Lieutenant in the first Regiment of Artillery on Continental  the 13th of January 1777 – in the service until the end of the war. Given under my hand this 29th day of June 1807. Samuel Coleman. [from Revolution Bounty Warrants, Library of Virginia  online Catalog.  The back side of this document states that Captain Pryor was given 4000 acres. ]

1812 – “I see Major Pryor* frequently; he is now very fat, and still active as military agent.
(Footnote on the same page) John Pryor, Captain-Lieutenant 1st Continental Artillery, 13th February, 1777; Major Aid-de-Camp to General Alexander, 9th June, 1779, to 14th January, 1783; retired on last-named date. After the war Major Pryor resided in Richmond, and was for a time military agent of the State. Like many retired officeers, he was in reduced circumstances, and for a time kept apleasure resort called Pryor’s Garden, situated on the river side near the present Byrd street station. While residing here his wife separated from him, and soon after became the wife of Mons. Fremont, dancing master, and the mother of John C. Fremont. Author John Bigelow, in a campaign life of Fremont, published in 1856, makes a very pretty story of youth and beauty chained in unbearable union to age and decripitude, of separation by mutual consent and a happy second marriage; but the real story, as told by documentary evidence, is of a very different sort.” Richmond During the War of 1812 ,  The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 7, No. 4 (Apr., 1900), pp. 406-418

1815 – John Pryor married  a second time to Elizabeth Quarles Graves (per her statement in Revolutionary War pension application).

1823 – Death notice was in the Richmond Enquirer on 23 Mar 1823.

1823 – John Pryor’s heirs are first listed in an 1800 will that was drawn up while he was still married to Anne Beverly Whiting.  [The Great Catastrophe of My Life: Divorce in the Old Dominion, by Thomas E. Buckley]

“…bequests to two living sisters, Elizabeth Hankins and Mary Quarles, and to the children of his deceased sister, Sally Taylor” (Note: this same book states Robert Quarles of Richmond, VA was married to John Pryor’s sister.  I found a publication Boulder Genealogical Society, Virginia Genealogical Society, published 1977 states that Robert Quarles widow completed a Revolutionary War Pension Application stating that Robert was the son of James Quarles and Mary Pryor. I have reviewed the Pension Application #W9868 and note his mother only recorded as Mary, however their James and Mary’s first born was named Pryor Quarles.  The Pension Application contains information from the Quarles family Bible, stating Mary died 1 December 1816 in her 73rd year – born 1743. Mary would be a contemporary of Maj John Pryor and that agrees with her being the named sister in the will. In Sketches of Prominent Tennesseans by William S. Speer, published 1888— page 163, “…James Quarles, was the great-grandfather of the subject of this sketch. He married a Miss Pryor, of the Pryor family of Virginia, from whom Gen. Roger A Pryor, the brilliant criminal lawyer, now of New York, is descended.” Family trees on place Mary Pryor Quarles as a daughter of Col. William Pryor and Sarah Wood—They are probably not aware that she is the sister of Maj Pryor and other known siblings Elizabeth and Sally/Susan )

After his death in 1823, his final will was filed in Pulaski Co., KY – is that because he owned property there?

“PRYOR, John (of the City of Richmond). Will proved there March 1823. Names wife, Elizabeth Graves; nieces, Dorcas Bryan, Elizabeth Taylor, Rebecca Taylor, Charlotte Morrison (of Williamsburg, Va.), Elizabeth Hazelwood; nephews, Thomas Pryor and Archer, William, Romert, John, and Pryor Hankins. Friend, Lewis Burwell. First wife was named Ann. “ []
(Note: I found Pryor and Archer Hankins on the 1800 Tax list of James City, VA and  census records in the same county).

1856 – His widow, Elizabeth Quarles Graves files for a pension from his service during the Revolution.  Pryors ex-sister in law (Susan Lowery, sister of Anne Beverly Whiting) filed an affidavit stating:

  • He was an aid to General Lord Sterling (Note: Stirling was stationed in NJ and NY during the war and was in charge of Washington’s Army in the North and died in Albany in 1783.)
  • He received a “considerable” land bounty for his war service.
  • He had no children – only nieces and nephews in Charles City and James City by the name of Hawkins or Hankins. [see Rev. War application of Edmund Beadles

Surprising Find in the Pryors of the War of 1812

I’ve been looking at Pryors in the Colonial/Revolutionary Period for about a week. Enough! I had to take a break and take a step backwards.  I decided to go through what’s available on the Pryor men who served in the War of 1812.

The switch the War of 1812 was about as fruitful as Pryor genealogy gets—I found some new information on one of men in my own known family line!  It looks like William G. Pryor who served from Tennessee is the William Pryor who was married to Spicy Taylor. I’m fairly certain it’s the same William as William G served in Joel Parrish’s Company and my William had a deed witnessed  by Joel Parrish in 1829 and both Parrish and William Pryor were counted on the same page of the 1830 Census living in Overton County, TN.

Other than finding out that William Pryor served in the military, this piece of information provided more insight into the story of my Pryors. I now know that William had a middle name. I’ve learned that he was in Tennessee earlier than when his family arrived in the late 1820’s from Virginia (that’s also frustrating because it also means some of the early Pryor documents may be attributed to this William!).  I also have an explanation of why his wife had a gap in having children—he may have been away from Campbell County, VA with the military.

The excepts of the 1812 Records are now online. (go to page) I’ve grouped them where I can show relationships between men or relationships based upon the location from which they served. Click the title of the article to open up comments—always happy to share your observations!