It has long been established that Thomas Skidmore, who emigrated to New England in the 1630s, had a wife named Ellen. For many years, researchers sought evidence that would identify her maiden surname. Some thought it might be Whitehead. Since at least 1998, various researchers have suggested she might have been born a Prigg or Prigge. Some member of the Latter Day Saints has submitted information to this effect to the International Genealogical Index, and it has also been spread to the Pedigree Resource Files (all at www.familysearch.org). In addition, on World Connect (www.rootsweb.com), one can find various trees suggesting she was born in the "Wayne Valley" or "Wyne Valley" of Herefordshire. No such place exists, however, although the River Wye does run through part of Herefordshire and thus gives its name to the Wye Valley. But that is likely all irrelevant, because there is no evidence to connect Thomas Skidmore's wife, Ellen Prigg (or Prigge) to Herefordshire. There is, however, evidence of a Prigg (or Prigge) family in Westerleigh, where Thomas Skidmore originated.
The information below comes from the extensive research of one Warren Skidmore. Mr. Skidmore has expressed a possible theory that Ellen Prigg might have been the daughter of a William Prigg of Westerleigh.
William Prigg (a/k/a Prigge) was likely born about 1578 in/near Westerleigh to Thomas Prigg (who died testate in 1599). Thomas Prigg's widow was Margaret (maiden name unknown) and, IF she was the one and only wife of Thomas and so mother of all of his children, then she would have been the mother of William. William had at least a brother Thomas and a sister who married Henry Allsop (a/k/a Alesopp).
The likely date of William's birth is calculated based on a militia muster in Westerleigh in September 1608 in which William was classified as "about 40" under a classification system that had only three categories as follows: "about 20", "about 40", and "between 50 and 60". By inference, the natural dividing line between those who were "about 20" and those who were "about 40" would fall at age 30. In other words, the "about 40" category would have included all men between the ages of 30 and 50. The 1608 muster also included two men both named Thomas Prigge, both listed as "about 20". One of them was likely the younger brother of William.
William Prigg was married twice. His first wife was Eleanor (maiden name unknown) and together they had at least the following children:
Samuel, b. 1601-1616
Some daughters, b. 1601-1616
Thomas, baptized January 4, 1618 (new style)
William, baptized July 4, 1621
Richard, baptized February 22, 1624 (new style)
Because Eleanor's last known child (Richard) was likely born in 1624, and if Eleanor was no older than 40 at the time, then she was born in/after 1584. If Eleanor married as early as age 16 (about 1600), she could have had her first child in 1601.
Eleanor was buried on July 24, 1628. William remarried, sometime between 1629 and 1634, to an Elizabeth (maiden name unknown). William and Elizabeth had at least the following children:
Mary, b. 1629-1635
Elizabeth, baptized May 24, 1637
Hannah, baptized August 2, 1640
In about 1623, William Prigg and Thomas Stock were nominated as overseers of the Will of Jacob Hollister of Westerleigh. Sometime between 1620 and 1625, William "Prigge" was included on a lay subsidy list for Pucklechurch Hundred, which included the parish of Westerleigh.
In 1640, Thomas Scudamore (a/k/a Skidmore) hired attorney Thomas Letchworth in Boston, Massachusetts Bay Colony, to prepare a document (a power of attorney) authorizing a Bristol mariner named Henry Hazzard and one William "Prigge of Westerley" to sell Skidmore's rights in a lease (for three lives or 99 years) of a certain property in Westerleigh, and to transport Skidmore's wife, Ellen, and his children, to Massachusetts. William Prigg himself acquired this leasehold, as shown explicitly in his Will, written three years later.
In 1643, William Prigg wrote his Will, mentioning by name the children listed above. He referred to Mary, Elizabeth and Hannah as "my three younger daughters", which permits a reasonable inference that there were older daughters, names unknown, and quite likely married by 1643. The Will was proved in February 1646 (new style).
The information above supports a reasonable THEORY that William Prigg had a daughter Eleanor (nicknamed "Ellen") born between about 1605 and 1608 in Westerleigh, and who married Thomas Skidmore there in about 1625, and who migrated to Massachusetts sometime between 1640 and 1642. This daughter would have been named for her mother, and would logically have been excluded from William's Will in 1643 because she was across the Atlantic and could not easily receive any bequest (or possibly had received a marital settlement already, or perhaps William considered his acquisition of the Skidmore leasehold as a "gift").
No one has (yet) found a marriage record for Thomas Skidmore and Ellen, but the circumstantial evidence is fairly persuasive. There was geographic proximity of Thomas Skidmore and this Prigg family in the 1620s, when Thomas would have married. It would not have been uncommon under the customs of that time and place for a woman (e.g., Eleanor MNU Prigg) to name one of her daughters after herself (thus, Eleanor Prigg "junior"). Ellen is a widely recognized nickname for Eleanor. Furthermore, when Thomas Skidmore executed a power of attorney in 1640, he chose William Prigg (and under the customs of that time and place, he was likely to have relied on a relative, by blood or marriage). It would have been completely reasonable for Thomas Skidmore to authorize his father-in-law to handle the disposition of this leasehold, AND to shepherd Ellen and the Skidmore children from Westerleigh to the port of Bristol for transport to America. Finally, it was William Prigg who acquired the Skidmore leasehold, perhaps as a way to "help out" his daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren.
Does anyone have any additional information about Ellen, possibly Prigg/Prigge, wife of Thomas Skidmore, or about this Prigg family of Westerleigh? If so, please share.
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