Monday, March 13, 2017

Misinterpreting Deeds & Probate: Three Generations of Pralls - Arent's will

1. Arent Jansen Prall  made his will in 1721. It had long been assumed that all of his children were by his 1st wife, Marie Billiou. The birth order of the children has varied from one source to another over the years. A reexamination of the wording of the will has led to questioning whether one child, Johannes belong to Marie or Arent's 2nd wife, Tryntje/Catherine.

There was a female adult, Tryntje Prall in the 1706 Staten Island Census. It is likely that this Tryntje was Tryntje Barents Blom Christoffels, widow of Hans Christoffelsz and mother of Maria Christopher Prall, Arent's daughter-in-law.

In his will, Arent left 200 pounds for the care of his son John. Son Arent, son-in-law Oreck Hopper and Stoffel Christopher were named to look after John's well-fare. [John has suffered some crippling injury or was born mentally handicapped.] It would make sense to name a son and son-in-law to care for the young man, they were immediate family. Why Stoffel Christopher who was related only by the marriage of his sister to Pieter Prall?

If he was John Prall's half-brother, then having him help care for John would make sense. Three additional factors come into play as well. (1) Pierre Billiou, in his 1699 will, mentioned the seven children of his late daughter Marie. Arent Jansen Prall was the father of eight children. (2) Hans Christopher left five pounds to Hans Prall. Hans Christopher was the brother of Maria and Stoffel Christopher. (3) If Tryntje Christopher and Arent Jansen Prall did marry, it would have been about 1690-1693, when Tryntje was well into her 40s. Having a child that late in life during colonial times would have been risky at best. The child could have been born with physical or mental disabilities.

So, we have a new interpretation of the will. Arent left his son John to be cared for by one of his sons [Arent], a son-in-law [Hopper] and a step-son and John's half-brother [Stoffel Christopher]. 

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