Coming to the New World was not an easy task. Penelope Van Princis’ first experience in the New World was almost her last.
Penelope Van Princis was my 9x-great-grandmother on my dad’s side. For my family reading this, here is how we connect to her: granddad Gafford’s father was Samuel Houston Gafford; his mother was Amanda E. Clifton; her father was Nathaniel Clifton; his father was Ezekial Clifton; his mother was Sarah Blackshear; her mother was Agnes Stout; her father was Benjamin Stout; and his mother was Penelope Van Princis.
Penelope was born around 1622 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands to Baron Van Princis (sometimes seen as Van Prinzen). She first married John Kent around 1640, and not long after, the two set sail for New Amsterdam (present day New York). Towards the end of the voyage, their ship ran aground near what is now Highlands in Monmouth County, New Jersey (source 1).
All of the survivors made it shore, however, Penelope’s husband, John, was seriously ill. In fact, he was too ill to travel with the rest of the group who were headed, on foot, to New Amsterdam. (source 1). So, Penelope made the decision to stay behind with him, thinking that when he was well enough, they would join the group in New Amsterdam. It was not long before they were attacked by hostile Indians. The website, http://www.njfounders.org has this to say about this ordeal:
“John was killed and Penelope, partially scalped, horribly cut and left for dead. She survived for a week before she was found by two friendly Indians. She begged to be put out of her misery and the younger one was willing to oblige but the elder one stopped him. He threw her over his shoulder and took her to their camp. There he sewed her up with fish bone needles and vegetable fiber. She lived with the Indian until she recovered and eventually made it to New Amsterdam.” (source 1).
In 1642, Penelope met Richard Stout, who was from Nottingham, England. Two years later, in 1644, she married Richard Stout. “They settled at Gravesend, Long Island on a plantation, which he had been allowed to purchase from the Dutch. Stout prospered and became a large landowner.” (source 1).
Here is what www.njfounders.org has to say about what happened next
After the English took over the rule of New Amsterdam in 1664, Penelope persuaded her husband and a number of their neighbors at Gravesend to move across the Lower Bay to what is now eastern New Jersey, near the village of the Indian chief who had saved her life. John Stout became one of the original Monmouth Patent purchasers. After their move to Middletown in Monmouth, the elderly Indian who had rescued her was a frequent visitor to the Stout home. Penelope is considered the ‘mother of Middletown.’
It is also said that not only was she saved by an elderly Indian after the first brutal attack, but the same Indian also warned Penelope of an upcoming Indian attack. She was able to thwart the attack.
Penelope became famous for surviving such a brutal attack, but she also became famous for another reason. As you will see in the picture below, she made it into Ripley’s Believe It or Not for having a total of 502 descendants at the time of her death at the age of 110!
There is also a coin commemorating her.
Penelope and Richard went on to have eight children. She lived to the ripe old age of 110. Her and Richard are both buried in Middletown, Monmouth County, New Jersey.