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

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



English rootsEdit

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 AmericaEdit

The exact date of Crandall's arrival is not known, although it is believed[by whom?] that he arrived in Providence Plantations in 1637, then a new settlement and a refuge for dissident Puritans from the Massachusetts Bay Colony. From Providence he came to the Newport settlement on Rhode Island as early as 1651.

The first documentation for Elder John Crandall in America 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, and subsequently the first elder of the denomination at Westerly, Rhode Island. He went to Lynn, Massachusetts with John Clarke and Obadiah Holmes to hold services for the Baptists; he was arrested there on 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. He was released upon his promise to appear at the next term of court.

In 1655, he was a freeman of Rhode Island; he was a commissioner in 1658-59 and 1662–63. He signed a letter with eight others 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 and Joseph Torrey were appointed commissioners on May 14, 1669 to treat with Connecticut concerning the jurisdiction of disputed territory, and he was supplied with 35 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 on behalf of 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 on 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.

He had at least seven children by his first wife. His second wife was Hannah Gaylord (born 1647), daughter of William and Ann (Porter) Gaylord of Windsor, Connecticut. She died in 1678. He died at Newport, where he had moved in 1676 because of King Philip's War.[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] He is the ancestor of a number of prominent 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 President Grover Cleveland.


  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