John Crandall

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John Crandall
Personal details
Born 1618
Westerleigh, Gloucestershire, England
Died 1676
Newport, Rhode Island
Spouse(s) (Mary Opp) (7 children)
Hannah Gaylord (2 children - 2)
John Crandall
James Crandall
Jane Crandall
Sarah Crandall
Peter Crandall
Reverend Joseph Crandall
Samuel Crandall
Jeremiah Crandall
Eber Crandall

Elder John Crandall (1618-1676) was a Baptist minister from England and one of the founding settlers of Westerly, Rhode Island.


English roots[edit]

Crandall was born in 1618 (baptized February 15, 1617/8) in Westerleigh, Gloucestershire, England to James Crandall, a yeoman of Kendleshire in that parish, and his first wife Eleanor. The name was probably taken from Crundelend in Abberley, Worcestershire, where people bearing the name were concentrated in the 16th century. Crandall's great-grandfather Nicholas Crundall (died 1589) of Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire came to south Gloucestershire in 1572 as the vicar of the parish of Winterbourne. Nothing else is known of John Crandall's life in England prior to his emigration to America, except that his relatives started spelling the name "Crandall" around 1610.[1]

In America[edit]

While the exact date of Crandall's arrival is not known, it is believed to be 1637 when he arrived in Providence, Rhode Island, then a new settlement and a refuge for dissident Puritans from the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

From Providence he came to Newport, Rhode Island, as early as 1651. (The first actual documentation for Elder John Crandall in American is in 1643 when he appears as a grand jury member in Newport.) He became a prominent member of the First Baptist Church in Newport there, subsequently the first elder of the denomination at Westerly, Rhode Island. With John Clarke and Obadiah Holmes he went to Lynn, Massachusetts, to hold services for the Baptists, was arrested there July 21, 1651, and sent to prison in Boston. Ten days later he was convicted of breaking the law by holding services and fined five pounds, in default of which he was to be publicly whipped. Upon his promise to appear at the next term of court he was released.

In 1655, he was a freeman of Rhode Island; in 1658-59, 1662–63, he was a commissioner.

With eight others he signed a letter to the court of commissioners of Rhode Island, dated August 27, 1661, in relation to a tract of land at Westerly, where they and others desired to settle.

He was a deputy to the general assembly in 1687[1667?], and in the fall of that year was living at Westerly. He and Joseph Torrey were appointed commissioners to treat with Connecticut as to jurisdiction over disputed territory, May 14, 1669, and he was supplied with thirty-five shillings by the colony of Rhode Island to pay his expenses to Connecticut.

On November 18, 1669, he received a letter from the governor and assistants of Connecticut, complaining that he and others had appropriated a large tract of land belonging to Stonington, Connecticut. He and Tobias Saunders answered the complaint for the Westerly people. He was conservator of the peace at Westerly in 1670, and deputy to the general assembly again in 1670-71.

He was arrested by the Connecticut authorities, May 2, 1671, and was advised by the Rhode Island government to decline to give bond. The Rhode Island colony promised to pay his expenses and defend him.

The name of his first wife (by whom he had at least seven children)is not known, but it was not Mary Opp as was previously thought and is widely mentioned. He married, as his second wife, Hannah Gaylord (born 1647), daughter of William Gaylord and Ann (Porter), of Windsor, Connecticut. She died in 1678. He died at Newport, where he had moved because of King Philip's War, in 1676.[2]


Crandall's children were: John, James, Jane who married Job Babcock, Sarah who married Josiah Witter, Peter whose wife's name was Mary, Joseph who married Deborah Burdick, Samuel who married Sarah Colby (or Celbey), Jeremiah, and Eber.[3]

Crandall is the ancestor of a number of prominent and noteworthy Americans, including Charles Henry Crandall, James Otis Crandall, Jesse Armour Crandall, Lucien Stephen Crandall, Orson Leon Crandall, Prudence Crandall, Reed Crandall, Robert Crandall and Roland Crandall. Others include Lucille Ball, Katharine Hepburn, Julia Child, Ruth Benedict, Garrison Keillor and Frances Folsom Cleveland, wife of the President.

Note that there is no record of the name of Elder John's wife in any Rhode Island records nor has a record of the marriage ever been found. Based on the approximate dates of birth of their children (with the eldest, John, born ca. 1649 based on the date he appears as a freeman in Westerly) it would appear likely that Elder John married his first wife in the latter part of the 1640s. It also would seem to indicate that he probably married her in America. Since she is referred to as a "Sabbath keeper" in communications from Samuel Hubbard, it is likely that she was of the Seventh Day Baptist faith, and perhaps she was a daughter of one of the SDB families in Rhode Island at the time.


  1. ^ Paul M. Gifford, "The Probable Origins and Ancestry of John Crandall, of Westerly, Rhode Island (1618-1676)," Rhode Island Roots 32, no. 4 (Dec. 2006): 165-86
  2. ^ John Cortland Crandall, Elder John Crandall and His Descendants (New Woodstock, N.Y.: The Author, 1949). passim.
  3. ^ J.H. Beers & Company, Representative Men and Old Families of Rhode Island: Genealogical Records and Historical Sketches of Prominent and Representative Citizens and of Many of the Old Families Rhode Island, 1908
  • John Cortland Crandall. Elder John Crandall and His Descendants. New Woodstock, N.Y.: The Author, 1949.