John Pruddo

M, #648, (c 1700 - c 1761)



RelationshipEnd-of-Line Ancestor
John Pruddo was born about 1700. He died about 1761 in Georgia.1

John Pruddo was also known as John Prothough. He resided in Bladen County, North Carolina, about 1740.1

Quaker Ancestor.

Almost ten years ago I had the good fortune coming into contact with a distant cousin on my maternal grandfather's side of the family who was gracious enough to share with me the research that she and her aunt had done over the course of many years as it related to ancestors of my grandfather; the two main branches being the Dobbs family of Georgia and the Prothro family of South Carolina. The information provided to me by this cousin traced the family of my great-great grandmother, Martha Josephine Prothro (1836-1928), back to one Evan Prothro, a Welsh Quaker, who settled in Pennsylvania in the late 17th century. Much of the information regarding Evan Prothro and descendants who later settled in South Carolina in the 1730's appeared to be well documented and based on my research there never was any doubt that Evan Prothro existed nor that what was stated as fact regarding his sons and grandsons and their eventual settlement in South Carolina was incorrect in any way. Although I did note there appeared to be some confusion in the various accounts as to when and why the son of Evan Prothro left Pennsylvania and settled in South Carolina, there appeared to be, as I call it, a "consensus" regarding the history of my Prothro line from the late 17th century down to mid-to-late 18th century. That is until February of 2008 when I received an email from George Prothro Coulter, a genealogical writer-speaker-consultant, who had been researching his and my Prothro line for nearly 50 years.

Mr. Coulter, who as it turns out is a third cousin once removed, wrote to me not only to explain why Evan Prothro of Pennsylvania cannot be the progenitor of the South Carolina Prothro's, but also to explain to me how that mistake came about in the first place. In one email, he provided a brief list of the main sources for the "consensus" that I spoke of:

"You speak of your Prothro information as the consensus. Unfortunately, the consensus springs from one or more of three sources, all of them unreliable: 1) an unproven and doubtful oral family tradition that had been corrupted in the retelling over a period of about five generations; 2) an ambitious but unfortunately error-laden monograph written in the mid-twentieth century by the late Pearl Walker Pumphrey; and 3) correspondence exchanges between me and other family history buffs during the years before ca. 1995."

Mr. Coulter then went on to provide details of how the Prothro oral family tradition came to be "badly garbled over the years". The bottom line being that a number of mistakes and assumptions were made regarding information that came from "unreliable and undocumented sources". Mr. Coulter informed me that he is in the process of editing a book on this topic and was kind enough to share with me some excerpts from his work. Rather than try to retell his story here, the main point is not so much how the mistakes were made, where the facts became separated from the fiction or, perhaps, where the fiction crept into the facts, but what are the facts.
One paragraph in the notes provided to me by Mr. Coulter, I think sums this up concisely:

"The weakest link of the chain of the American-line oral tradition is John E., who is reputed to have been the elder of two sons of the Quaker, Evan Prothero(e) of William Penn's colony in America. Nowhere in the records in America do we find evidence to support the proposition that Evan had any son. The name of John Prothero(e) does not appear in America during Evan's time. If Evan Prothero had a son, that son could have been called Prothero, but under the patronymic system, he could have been known instead as Evan, or Evans, or Bevan."

Not only is there no evidence whatsoever that Evan of Pennsylvania had any sons, but there is evidence that 19th century Prothro's "invented" their connection to the Quaker immigrant and to Welsh Prothro's who resided at Dolwilym.
In another part of his notes, Mr. Coulter explains how the misinterpretation of a manuscript fragment acquired by Prothro family members in the early 19th century lead to the invention of a line of Prothro's that never existed. Although I may be over simplifying things, at some point in time someone came to the conclusion the manuscript fragment was to be read that there was a man, an ancestor, named "Evan Protheroe" who had two sons named "John E." and "Lewis". That same person or perhaps someone else later on discovered "the Quaker" Evan Protheroe of Pennsylvania and here the "invention" grew into what we have today. By connecting the Prothero's of South Carolina to the Quaker Evan, and then he to Welsh squires of Dolwilym the fabrication became complete and the "tradition" was passed down from generation to generation.

I, however, did not grow up with any tradition regarding my Prothro ancestors. My last ancestor who bore the name Prothro died nearly eighty years ago on same day that her great grand-daughter (my mother) was born. Her grandson (my grandfather) died when I was less than a year old. Regardless of not having grown up with the tradition, I did not take lightly the task of revising what I had recorded and published previously. In a way I felt like Winston Smith, the protagonist of Orwell's 1984. In the book, Winston is a clerk for the Ministry of Truth, where his job is to rewrite historical documents so that they match the current party line, which changes daily. This involved retyping and reprinting newspaper articles and retouching photographs - mostly to remove individuals who had become "unpersons" - the original was then dropped into a "memory hole".

But I know historical facts must take precedence over family tradition, no matter how harsh it might seem to debunk a tradition that was previously considered being the "truth".

In the 1740’s, a John Prothero and wife Margaret appear on a deed found in the courthouse in Elizabethtown, Bladen County, North Carolina, by which John and Margaret Protheroh sold 250 acres of land on July 13, 1748. Bladen Precinct North Carolina was established in 1731, later called Bladen County in 1734. According to Mr. Coulter, The deed referred to is dated 13 July 1748, and deals with land which John Prothough or Protlow acquired by royal grant on 5 September 1735, based on a survey dated 24 July 1735. (The survey shows his name spelled as Prothrough. In the original Council minutes affirming the patent, it is spelled as Protlow, although the printed version made by the North Carolina Secretary of State in the 19th century shows it under the ludicrous spelling of Pohlton.) Apparently, John made his land entry during the term of the first royal governor of the province, got a warrant at about the time that Bladen County was established, had the survey done pursuant to the warrant some months later, and applied for his patent early in the term of the new governor.

John Prothro was born sometime in the 1690’s. Mr. Coulter informs me that John Pruddo, who was also known as John Prothough, appears in the records under several other variant spellings as well, inasmuch as all proper names were spelled phonetically in his time. He signed the 1748 deed as Pruddro, but the surname is spelled several other ways in the body of the deed, and his (then) wife signed under an anglicized version (Prothoro) of the patronymic surname. This John's name does not appear in any official record as Prothero until after his death.

He lived at Bladen County, North Carolina, in the 1730’s and 1740’s. John apparently removed to Georgia with his wife and his youngest son (Solomon) not long after the date of the 1748 North Carolina deed, since he was in Georgia early enough to make a land entry and survey there before he applied for and received a Georgia land patent in 1750. He died circa 1761 at Georgia.

According to Coulter: "Evan Prothero of Pennsylvania was not a son of any male of the main line of the family seat of Dolwilym. He almost certainly was born 1646/47, the posthumous son of Philip ap Rhydderch of Llanfallteg, a collateral of the Dolwilym family, but not of the principal line that resided there. Evan of PA and his wife, Elizabeth (not Elizabeth Morgan, by the way -- Elizabeth Morgan was the wife of Evan Prothro of South Carolina, a man who lived three generations later), died, four days apart, in January 1709/10, apparently without surviving male issue. Although there was no John E. Proth(e)ro, there was a John Pruddro or Prothero (various spellings) who was the father of James Proth(e)ro of the colony of South Carolina, and grandfather of Evan Prothro of old Cheraws District, SC. John Pruddro, who probably was an immigrant himself, obtained a royal grant of lands on Bladen Co., SC in 1735, within a year after that county was created. John of Bladen County had at least three sons, and more likely, five or more, all but the youngest of whom probably were born in Wales -- or at least, not in the Carolinas. The youngest son, Solomon, accompanied his parents when they migrated to what is now Effingham County, Georgia. The others, including James (the Prothro ancestor), all remained behind. Birth years for all of the sons of John Pruddro, aside from Solomon, are uncertain. John must have had two or more wives. Margaret probably was the mother of Solomon, but at least three older sons more likely were born to a different mother. On 22 May 1755, James and Jeremiah witnessed the NC will of Catherine Edwards, whom Pearl Pumphrey calls their "sister," but Pearl's identification (and yours) of her as a child of John E. Prothro is wrong. Catherine had no blood ties to the Prothros, she was simply their "sister" in the church.". Catherine was a daughter of William and Elizabeth Tyler of Salem County, New Jersey, a member of the Cohansey Baptist congregation there, who married 1) John Hollingsworth, 1706, at New Castle, PA (now DE), and 2) Robert (?) Edwards, after 1722, in PA, and removed with her second husband to the Cape Fear Region in NC some years after their marriage. A son of Catherine's first marriage was a noted "fire and brimstone" Baptist preacher in the Carolina colonies.2