Family Card - Person Sheet
Family Card - Person Sheet

Birth Date1606
Birth PlaceHalifax Parish, Yorkshire, England
Immigr Date?
Misc. Notes
From: (Kay Allen AG)
Newsgroups: soc.genealogy.medieval
Subject: Gawkrogers/Platts
Date: 27 Sep 1999 11:29:08 -0700

Last February, I attended a NEHGS conference on the development of
surnames. The lecturerer was George Redmonds. He has a book, Surnames
and Genealogy: A New Approach. Since he is from Yorkshire, the book has
Yorkshire examples.

P.78, "The term by-name has come into general use in recent years,
almost as a technical word, to define a non-hereditary surname. It is
usually associated, therefore, with the earliest centuries of surname
evolution, and so far it has been employed in that sense in the text.
However, the same word has been commonly used in the north of England, if
not elsewhere, to describe a kind of nickname which occurred in some
social and regional groups at a much later period."

P.228. "GAUKROGER (sic)
For a long time this was considered to be a derogatory nickname, but
early references in the court rolls of Wakefield manor prove that it
derived from a Sowerby place name. Locally, 'rocher' was a crag or rock,
and the element is found in several minor place names... The change to
'roger' as a suffix took place very early and seems likely to have been
an intentional play on the word." Then it gives some examples which date
back as early as 1402.

P.83. "Local 'by-names'
The unusual surname Gaukroger derived from a minor locality in Sowerby
(Halifaz), probably c.1400, and it is still well established there. In
the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the family ramified, but
persisted with the traditional Christian names, and a number of aliases
were used, e.g.

1569 John Goukroger alias Plates, Sowerby
1610 Joseph Gawkroger alias Barker, Halifax
1651 John Gawkroger alias Brigge, Sowerby

The origin and use of the alias 'Platts' is quite well documented,
and it can be seen to derive from property called Platts held by the
Gaukrogers from c.1465. Initially this family was said to be 'of
Platts,' but from c.1540 they were more usually 'alias Platts.' At that
time different branches of the family were acquiring interests in a
number of Sowerby properties, some of which were sub-divided and
occupied by tenants...

It is not yet known just when the family acquired this property,
and Platts may have been a by-name over the generations. More probably
it came into their possession in the late 1400s and the alias served to
identify one branch of the rapidly expanding family. The 'byname' Platts
was then inherited along with the property."
Birth Date1604
Birth PlaceStandish Parish, Lancashire, England
Death DateDec 1681
Death PlaceLancaster, Massachusetts
Immigr Date?
Misc. Notes
According to Butler’s History of Groton560, “The name of Prescott deservedly holds a conspicuous place in the annals of Groton. John, the first of whom we have any precise and authentic account, was born in Lancashire, England, and married Mary Platts, of Yorkshire, by whom he had three sons and four daughters. On leaving England, he first went to Barbadoes, where he was a proprietor of lands, in 1638. About the year 1640, he came to Massachusetts, first stopped at Watertown, but soon settled at Nashua, afterwards incorporated and [p. 286] called Lancaster, probably from his native county in old England. He was a blacksmith by occupation, and was also a builder of mills. He had in his possession, brought from England, a coat of mail armour [a long footnote appearing here is reproduced below], and habiliments complete, such as were worn by field officers of that day; whence it had been supposed, that he or some of his ancestors were warriors, and some one of them might have received the order of knighthood.

“John Prescott had three sons, John, Jonathan, and Jonas.” Butler’s account of Jonas may be found under his entry.

On p. 286 Butler includes the following long footnote on John Prescott’s armor:

“Of this armour and its owner the following anecdotes are told: --

“‘John was a sturdy, strong man of a stern countenance, and whenever he had any difficulty with the Indians, he would clothe himself with his coat of mail, helmet, curiass, and gorget, which gave him a fierce and frightful appearance. They having once stolen from him a horse, he put on his armour and pursued them; and in a short time overtook the party. They were surprised to see him alone, and a chief approached him with uplifted tomahawk. John told him to strike, which he did, and finding the blow made no impression on his cap, he was much astonished, and asked John to let him put it on, and then strike his head, as he had done to John’s. The helmet being too small for the chief’s head, the stroke settled it down to his ears, scraping off the skin on both sides of his head. They gave him up his horse, thinking him to be a supernatural being.

“‘At another time, the Indians set fire to his barn. Old John put on his armour, rushed out, drove them off, and let out his cattle and horses from the burning stable.’ ‘Again, the Indians set fire to his saw-mill. The old man, armed cap-a-pie, as before, drove them off and extinguished the fire.’ ‘Once more, they attacked John’s house. He had several muskets in the house, which his wife loaded, and he discharged upon them with fatal effect. The contest continued nearly half an hour, John all the while giving orders, as if to soldiers, so loud the Indians could hear him, to load their muskets, though he had no soldiers but his wife. At length they withdrew, carrying off several of their dead or wounded.’”

The Prescotts Unlimited newsletter (19(3):29, September 1998) gives the following update on the ancestry of John Prescott: “Evidences on hand do not support that this John is the son of Ralph Prescott of Shevington as published in 1870 by Dr. William Prescott and as published in 1959-61 by Dr. Frederick L. Weis. The evidence that John, son of Ralph, died in Shevington in 1651 was presented in detail in Prescotts Unlimited, June 1992, under the heading ‘The Ancient Prescotts of Shevington.’ Additional information about John’s sojourn in Sowerby, Halifax Parish, Yorkshire, has surfaced; however, his parentage and his Lancashire connection remain illusive [sic].”

Memorial stone in Lancaster:
Marr Date11 Apr 1629
Marr PlaceHalifax Parish, Yorkshire, England
 Jonas (1648-1723)
 Hannah (-1697)
 Martha (-~1655)
Last Modified 2 Jan 2000Created 1 Dec 2017 using Reunion for Macintosh
New England genealogy files of Robert J. O’Hara, automatically output by Reunion for Macintosh. For additional genealogical data in other formats, including specialized lists of immigrant ancestors and notable kin, please visit my main genealogy page: For information about many of the localities mentioned here please visit