Early Family Histories
The Pruett/Pruitt/Prewitt DNA Project has found there are at least six Family Groups or lineages. The project recognizes a Family Group when the two or more men, who have taken a Y-DNA test, have a high probability of having a common ancestor in the period since surnames became common. See our Y-Results and Patriarch pages for more information.
Family Group A
Moderator: John W. Pruett (firstname.lastname@example.org)
William Pruett of Caroline County (formed from King and Queen Co. in 1727) was the earliest Pruett in our DNA Family Group A. He was born in 1651 and died in 1748 in Caroline County. William’s age was based on a court case in 1746, where William was a witness, stating he was 95 at that time.
Although Pruett is spelled 12 different ways in the Caroline County records, the Pruett variant seemed to be preferred in this county. The Pruett family stayed mostly in Caroline between 1700-1800, but William did own a 200 acre farm in Spotsylvania County that his son Daniel apparently managed until William’s death.
The will records of Caroline County and King and Queen County were burned in the Civil War, but William had four children: John, William, Daniel, and Mary. John and William stayed in Caroline, but Daniel moved to Halifax in 1752 and Mary is thought to have married Thomas Shirley and moved to Kentucky.
From the court records it seems the Pruetts were associated with the gentry of Caroline County. The Pruetts were picked for many juries which had wealthy land owners. Some of the Pruett family lived next door to Edmund Pendleton, signer of the Declaration of Independence, who wrote a letter asking about the health of Richard Prewit who was at Valley Forge, PA during the bitter winter of 1778. Richard died of health reasons in the extreme conditions the army experienced.
William’s grandson was John, Jr. who appeared in several court records. John, Jr. , who disappeared from the land tax records in 1787, is thought to be the father of Elijah Pruett (b. ca 1770 d. 1816.) Elijah Pruett had three sons, James, John and William. John and William used the name John repeatedly in their lines in the 1800’s. John named his son John Alexander Pruitt and John Alexander named his son John Constantine Pruitt.
In 1820, John Pruitt decided to leave Caroline County and move to KY and then Missouri. Descendants of John now live in five States, but mostly in the Lake Charles/Sulphur area of Louisiana.
John’s brother William decided to stay in Caroline and his descendants lived there until 1923 and now reside in Richmond, Virginia. Descendants of John and William have very close DNA. The descendants of John (b. 1805) and William (b. 1806) have had their DNA tested to the FT 111 Y-DNA level which shows them at a 5 genetic distance from each other. This matches the paper documentation that proves they are both ggg grandsons of Elijah Pruett.
James Pruett, the third son of Elijah Pruett, married Rody Meadows in 1824 and possibly moved from Caroline County because there were no further records of them.
Reuben Pruett, who was born in 1760 in adjacent King and Queen County, settled in TN after he served in the Revolutionary War. Reuben’s line, which now lives in Tennessee, has close DNA to the other Pruett lines from Caroline County.
Archibald Pruitt, who was born in 1819, has a documented family line which now lives in Tennessee and also has close DNA to the Caroline County Pruetts.
Another line of Pruitts with DNA close to those of the Caroline County lines is Joseph Pruitt of Kentucky. Joseph was the father of Meredith and Redmond Pruitt (b. 1805 in Ky.). This line is well documented from Joseph to the present.
Unfortunately Reuben, Archibald, and Joseph’s origins can’t be linked to specific Caroline County Pruetts except through DNA. The DNA from all members of this group is close and is vastly different from all the other Pruett/Pruitt DNA Family Groups.
This group’s DNA’s haplogroup is R1b1a2a1a2c1* and originally came from the British Isles or Normandy. The FT kits # 185703 (Pruett) and 213752 (Pruitt) are in Family Group A.
There is no evidence at this time for or against any Pruett Family Group being the son of Thomas Prewitt of Charles River County, Virginia (b. 1616). However, it is interesting that in August 2014 there was very close FT Big -Y match between Kit 185703 (Pruett) and members of the Middleton Family. The Middletons are from Somerset, Wiltshire, England, home of Thomas Prewitt.
Family Group F
Moderator: Bill Pruiett (email@example.com)
Our first confirmed Prew-it ancestor was Samuel Pruitt I. Some sources give Samuel Pruitt's birth year as 1684. Most sources, however, indicate that he was born on April 4, 1700 in Prince George's Co., Md. We have not seen a primary record that confirms the date and place of Samuel Pruitt's birth. At this time, the names of the parents of Samuel Pruitt are not known. Many sources indicate his father and mother were John Pruitt who was born in England in 1658 and Sarah Lessene who was born in England in 1662. Some sources indicate that John Pruitt and Sarah Lessene were born in Virginia, even that John Pruitt was born on Tangier Island. The Tangier Island connection is highly doubtful since, by tradition, the first settlement of Tangier Island was by John Crockett and his eight sons in 1686 (there are no records to confirm this); the first confirmed settlement of Tangier Island was by Joseph Crockett and his family in 1778. It appears that the first Pruitt to inhabit Tangier Island arrived in the late 1700s, after Joseph Crockett.
We have no evidence that John Pruitt and Sarah Lessene were Samuel Pruitt's parents. There were several Pruitt families in Virginia in the late 1600s and it is not clear how to sort out the various relationships. It will take more reliable information than we now have to understand the lineages of the various Prew-its. One source suggests that it was actually John Pruitt's presumed father, Thomas Pruitt, who arrived in Charles River County, Va. in 1636 (renamed York County in 1643), married Sarah (unknown), and had four sons, Thomas, John, William and Henry. Henry Pruitt's line is fairly well documented, but his connection to the other three "brothers" and a father named Thomas Pruitt is not documented. This same source indicates that Thomas Pruitt's son John married Sarah Lessene and that their son Samuel Pruitt was born on April 4, 1700. It may be that Samuel Pruitt was descended from John Pruitt, but it is clear, based on DNA evidence from the descendants of both Henry Pruitt and Samuel Pruitt, that Samuel Pruitt was not related to Henry Pruitt. This evidence, however, does not rule out the possibility that either Samuel or Henry was a descendant of Thomas Pruitt, just that both cannot be descended from him.
Just to add one more wrinkle, there is a record of a Samuell Prewtt/Prewitt born in Northumberland Co., Va. to Rosamond Prewtt/Prewitt on Feb. 1, 1700. This is intriguing because of John Hawker's early connection to Northumberland County and subsequent migration across the Potomac River to St. Mary's Co., Md. and then Prince George's Co., Md. It may be that Samuel Pruitt followed that same migratory route, arriving in Prince George's County in the early 1700s where he married John Hawker's granddaughter, Elizabeth Hawker in 1720. This record bears further research and can be added as one more possible scenario for the ancestry of Samuel Pruitt.
Elizabeth Hawker was born on Dec. 14, 1701 in Prince George's Co., Md. She was the daughter of Robert Hocker and Amy Selby.
Prince George's Co., Md., which was created in 1696, encompassed an area that included the present day counties of Montgomery, Frederick and Prince George's and the District of Columbia. In 1748 Frederick County split off from Prince George's County and encompassed all of western Maryland including present day Montgomery County and the northwestern part of the District of Columbia. In 1776 Montgomery County was carved out of the southeastern portion of Frederick County. While the narrative that follows describes events that occurred in both Prince George's County and Frederick County, the actual location of these events was in present day Montgomery County and the northwestern part of the District of Columbia.
Samuel Pruitt and Elizabeth Hawker were married in 1720. There are several variations of the names of the children born to Samuel and Elizabeth Pruitt. This area needs more investigation, but here is one list:
- Priscilla Pruitt, b. 1721 in Prince George's Co., Md., m. William Duvall of Duvall Forrest, Md. on Oct. 20, 1743 in Prince George's Co., Md., d. ~1798.
- Margaret Pruitt, b. 1724 in Prince George's Co., Md., m. Philip Hawker in 1744 in Prince George's Co., Md., d. 1791 in Montgomery Co., Md.
- Sarah Pruitt, b. 1726 in Prince George's Co., Md., m. David Boydston in 1752 in Frederick Co., Md.
- Samuel Pruitt II, b. 1730 in Prince George's Co., Md., m. Lucy Owen in 1754 in Frederick Co., Md., d. 1801 in Pittsylvania Co., Va.
- Zachariah Pruitt, b. 1734 in Prince George's Co., Md.
- John Pruitt, Sr., b. 1736 in Prince George's Co., Md., resided in Pittsylvania Co., Va.
- Mary Pruitt, b. Jan. 21, 1742 in Prince George's Co., Md., m. James Boydston, d. May 22, 1809.
The 1733 List of Taxables taken by Charles Perry, constable for Rock Creek Hundred in Prince George's Co., Md. showed:
Samuel Pruitt 1
Nicholas Hawkes [Hawker] 2
Philip Hawkes [Hawker]
Nicholas Hawker was Elizabeth (Hawker) Pruitt's uncle.
Samuel Pruitt I leased 100 acres of land, including a 20 ft. dwelling and a 50 ft. tobacco barn, from Nathaniel Beall on Sept. 22, 1737. His 100 acres were part of a much larger tract called "Easy Purchase" which was located within the boundaries of Prince George's County at that time. Ned Bayley's book, "Colesville, Maryland, The Development of a Community, Its People and Its Natural Resources, Over a Period of Four Centuries," places "Easy Purchase" just south of present day Colesville in Montgomery County, Md. Other 18th Century tracts around Colesville included Drumeldry, Wolfs Denn, The James and Mary, Beall Christie, Bealls Manor and Addition to Easy Purchase, all owned by members of the Beall family, as well as Snowdens Mill and Snowdens Fourth Addition to his Manor which were owned by Richard Snowden.
Samuel Pruitt wrote his will on April 29, 1760 and died before Jan. 3, 1761, the probable date of probate. The date of probate is not entirely clear since it was designated as Jan. 3, 1760 in the will book. However, it appears immediately after a will that was probated on Jan. 2, 1761, so Jan. 3, 1761 seems the likely date. The will says wife Elizabeth gets all livestock, household furnishings, crops and Henry Doltin [Dalton] for the remainder of his servitude, if any, until age 31. At his mother's death, Samuel Pruitt II was to get Henry for the remainder of his servitude, if any. Daughters Priscilla Davail [Duvall] and Sarah Boilstone [Boydston] were to get the remainder of the estate. Samuel Pruitt appointed his wife as executor. The will was witnessed by Barton Harris and Ann Harris. Margaret (Pruitt) Hawker, Zachariah Pruitt, John Pruitt, and Mary Pruitt were not mentioned in the will.
Not long after Samuel Pruitt's death, his widow Elizabeth married John Riddle, Sr. who was a widower with a large family. On June 5, 1765, Elizabeth recorded the following in Frederick Co., Md.:
I, Elizabeth Pruitt, now Elizabeth Riddle, have delivered all my right and title to the estate of late husband, Pruitt, left me unto husband John Riddle.
John Riddle served as the administrator of Samuel Pruitt's estate. On June 11, 1765, he turned in a detailed inventory. Among the creditors of the estate was John Glassford and Company, a prominent mercantile firm of Glasgow, Scotland engaged in the tobacco trade in Maryland and Virginia. Riddle turned in the final accounting on May 10, 1766. Both John and Elizabeth Riddle lived into their 90s. Elizabeth died shortly after 1795.
Soon after the death of Samuel Pruitt I, his three sons, Samuel II, Zachariah and John, moved to the area of Halifax Co., Va. that later became Pittsylvania Co. Around the same time, members of other local families, including the Hawkers and Butts, also moved to Halifax Co.
Pittsylvania County tax lists for the mid-1760s confirm that Samuel, Zachariah and John Pruitt were living there. There are many other records including marriages and births for Samuel Pruitt, John Pruitt and their children. However, there are few other records for Zachariah Pruitt, son of Samuel Pruitt I. It's not known what happened to Zachariah Pruitt after the 1760s. Records for Samuel Pruitt II's son, also named Zachariah Pruitt, who was born in 1758, began appearing in the 1770s when he came of age.
Samuel Pruitt II, son of Samuel Pruitt I and Elizabeth Hawker, married Lucy Owen in Frederick Co., Md. in 1754. Samuel and Lucy Pruitt had the following children:
- Phillip Pruitt, b. 1756 in Frederick Co., Md., m. Anne Franklin ~1787, d. ~1825 in Calloway Co., Ky.
- Zachariah Pruitt, b. 1758 in Frederick Co., Md., m. Jane Burgess, daughter of Edward Burgess, on Oct. 17, 1785 in Pittsylvania Co., Va.
- Ruth Pruitt, b. 1760 in Frederick Co., Md., m. William Cook.
- Samuel Pruitt III, b. Sept. 10, 1762 in Halifax Co., Va., m1. Levina Walters on Jan. 1, 1789 in Pittsylvania Co., Va., m2. Keziah Stokes Conolly on Nov. 15, 1814 in Pittsylvania Co., Va.
- Elizabeth Pruitt, b. 1763 in Halifax Co., Va., m. Zachariah Butts on April 26, 1794 in Pittsylvania Co., Va.
- Benjamin Pruitt, b. 1765 in Halifax Co., Va., m. Mary Walters.
- Mary (Polly) Pruitt, b. 1767 in Pittsylvania Co., Va., m. Bazel Hawker, son of Ambrose Cook Hawker and Lydia Butts, on March 22, 1794 in Pittsylvania Co., Va.
- Joseph (Japheth) Pruitt, b. 1769 in Pittsylvania Co., Va., m. Mary Elliott, daughter of John Elliot, on March 24, 1790 in Pittsylvania Co., Va., d. Feb. 12, 1805 in Franklin Co., Ga.
- Sally Pruitt, b. 1771 in Pittsylvania Co., Va., m1. Charles Seal on March 3, 1807 in Pittsylvania Co., Va., m2. Henry Stump in 1816 in Pittsylvania Co., Va.
John Pruitt, Sr., son of Samuel Pruitt I and Elizabeth Hawker, had the following children:
- John Pruitt, Jr., b. ~1762.
- William Pruitt, b. ~1766 in Halifax Co., Va.
- Elijah Pruitt, b. ~1770 in Pittsylvania Co., Va., m. Nancy Johnson on Dec. 15, 1795 in Pittsylvania Co., Va.
John Pruitt, Sr. died after 1800, probably in Pittsylvania Co., Va. Most of his descendants remained in Pittsylvania Co., Va. However, his great-great grandson, Asa W. Pruett moved to Cincinnati, Ohio around 1898.
By 1800, Samuel Pruitt III had moved to Georgia. Otherwise, the list of known family members on the tax rolls stayed the same, with the exception of the addition of John Pruitt, Sr.'s youngest son, Elijah. Also, they seem to have made a decision to change the spelling of their name to Prewett. Family members were enumerated by two different Commissioners, noted by the A or B under the column heading List. It's interesting to note that nearly 2300 individuals appeared on the tax lists as Persons Named and that the average tax was around 79 cents. All Prewett family members were significantly below this average except Japheth Prewett.