The Notorious Captain John Stone

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John Stone

Birthplace: Bretherton, Leyland, Lancashire, England
Death: Died in (Near present New London), (Present Connecticut), (Present USA)
Cause of death: Killed by West Niantic warriors at the mouth of the Connecticut River
Place of Burial: Accomack, Virginia, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of John Stone and Jennett Stone
Brother of Andrew Stone; Hugh Stones; Jenet Stones; Roger Stone; James Stone and 3 others
Half brother of Catherine Stone; Bridgett Doughty; Matthew Stone; John Jr. Stone and Nicholas Stone

Occupation: Ship captain, trader, slaver
Managed by: Ben M. Angel, still catching up
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About The Notorious Captain John Stone

The most authoritative biography on John Stone is perhaps compiled by the Stone Family Association:

The Notorious Captain John Stone

John Stone was the son of another John Stone of Bretherton, Lancashire. John Stone, Sr. was the son of Richard and Isabel (Girdler) Stone of the same place.

(For more information on this family use “Google” search on the home page for Bretherton and or Croston Stones. Links will be found on the UK Stones page of the Stone Family Association as well).

John Stone, Jr. was a merchant/mariner along with his uncle Thomas and brothers Andrew, Richard and Gov. William Stone, (third) Governor of Maryland. He is noted as "well connected" in London yet often referred to as barbarous, scurrilous, disreputable; John Stone is an interesting dichotomy.

John Stone is often identified as Captain John Stone. Stone is best remembered for his bad behavior and death, (murdered by the Pequot Indians along the Connecticut River).

Captain John Stone shipped goods and commodities between the West Indies, Virginia, New England and London. In New England he developed a reputation amongst the Puritans as "a drunkard, lecher, braggart, bully, and blasphemer." He was called a smuggler, a privateer, even a pirate and it was reported by deVries that he had engaged in cannibalism while shipwrecked on St. Christophers.

Stone was in continual legal trouble with both Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay, and was finally banished on penalty of death. Shortly there after he met his own at the hands of the Pequot Indians.


John’s involvement with trade is documented through many primary sources. In “Voyages from Holland to America” David deVries records (after his having met Capt. John Stone in St.Christopher):

“He (John Stone) was well connected. He was very well received by the Governor. He was from London, from the Great House”. (deVries59)

Sir Thomas WARNER, Thomas COMBES, Thomas STONE, and Robert WILDING for the purpose of establishing a Plantation at St. Kitt's for the tobacco and provisioning trade; 1626-1628. [A.P.C. Col. 1613-1680, p. 22; PRO, C. 2/Ch. I/T.24/64; Bodleian Library, Rawlinson MSS C. 94, fols. 8-9]


And records from Virginia State Library: From Privy Council records 1625/26: Survey report 4754ff.264ro&vo

30 March 1626 An open warrant with general directions. John Stone, gentleman, is employed for the King's Service in Virginia. He needs 30 servants who are now being taken away by service to the Low Countries and for service at sea. Order all commanders, captains and officers both on land and sea not to take away any of John Stone's servants

John Stoner- VSLA Survey Report # 00629- page 3, 29.Sept.1634 -sent by King to Virginia re: tobacco and staple commodities.

John Stoner- VSLASurvey Report # 00629-page 4, 27.Jan. 1634(/5) -Newes Mr. Stoner died on the voyage to Virginia.


From the Complete Works of Captain John Smith (1580-1631) by Barbour:

“Never the lesse he is gone against this present yeare 1629, with a ship of about 300 tunnes, and very neere 200 people, with Sir William Tuffton, Governor for the Barbados, and divers gentlemen, and all manner of commodities fit for a plantation.

“ Captaine Prinne, Caotaine Stone and divers others came in about Christmas; so that this last yeare there hath beene about thirtie saile of English French, and Ditch ships, and all the Indians forced out the Ils (sic islands)…”


From Winthrop’s Journal (pg 62)

3 September 1633: "Mr. John Barcrofte doeth acknowledge to owe unto our Sovereign, the King, the sum of £xl (60 pounds), & Mr. Samuel Maverick the sum of £xx (20 pounds), &c. The condition of this recognizance is, that Jane Barcrofte, wife of the said John, shall be of good behavior towards all persons" [MBCR 1:108]. (Jane's offense was to be "found upon the bed in the night" with Capt. JOHN STONE [WJ 1:132].)

“January 21,1634: “ News came from Plymouth that Captain Stone, who this last summer went out of the Bay, putting in at the mouth of Connecticut on his return to Virginia, where the Pequins inhabitate, was there cut off by them with all his company, being (10 or 12).

"The manner was thus: 3 of his men being gone ashore to kill fowle, were cut off. Then the satchem with some of his men, coming aboard, and stayed with Captain Stone in his cabin (being alone with him) fell on sleep. Then he knocked him on the head, and the the rest of the English being in the cook room, the indians took such pieces as they found there ready charge, and bent them at the English. Whereupon one took a firestick __piece and a __by accident_gave fire to the powder, which blew up the deck. But most of the Indian’s perceiving what they went about, shifted overboard, and after they returned, and killed such as remained and burned the pinnacle.

"We agreed to write to the governor of Virginia (because Stone was of that colony) to move him to revenge it, and upon his answer to take further counsel.”


Mentioned by Roger Clapp:

There was also one Capt. (John) Stone, about the year 1633 or 1634, who carried himself very proudly and spoke contemptuously of our magistrates, and carried it lewdly in his conversation. For his misdemeanor, his ship was stayed, but he fled and would not obey authority.

And there came warrants to Dorchester to take him dead or alive. So all our soldiers were in arms, and sentinels were set in divers places, and at length he was found in a great cornfield where we took him and carried him to Boston. But for want of one witness when he came to his trial, he escaped with his life. He was said to be a man of great relation, and had great favor in England, and he gave out threatening speeches.

Though he escaped with his life, not being hanged for adultery, there being but one witness, yet for other crimes he was fined, and paid it. And being dismissed, he went toward Virginia. But by the way putting into the Pequot country to trade with them, the Pequots cut off both him and his men, took his goods, and burnt his ship. Some of the Indians reported that they roasted him alive.

Thus did God destroy him that so proudly threatened to ruin us by complaining against us when he came to England.

Thus God destroyed him, and delivered us at that time also.” (Roger Clapp; The Memoir of Capt. Roger Clapp of Dorchester 1630-1680)


In the Maryland archives a letter to Gov. (then Capt) William Stone dated Maryland 3rd Jan. 1644, signed by Thomas Weston and written to William Stone, Weston mentions a parcel of tobacco “which your brother Mr. John Stone had of me many past”.

(Archives of MD, Vol. 4, pp. 375-378)

John Stones death has been discussed in many publications. Often times it is theorized to be one of the incidents that instigated the Pequot War.


From Plymouh Plantation : Living Breathing History:


Spring 1634

Captain John Stone, West Indian trader and pirate, is killed in retaliation for the death of Tatobem. The Pequots are blamed although West Niantics were involved. The English consider this act the beginning of the war.

October and November 1634

The Pequots negotiate for peace with Massachusetts Bay. They sign a treaty agreeing to hand over Stone’s killers and “yield up Connecticut,” but it is never ratified by Pequot leaders.

To date, research has not turned up a wife or children for John Stone.

From Melissa Thompson Alexander's page on Captain John Stone:

•ID: I42798

•Name: John * STONE

•Sex: M

•Title: Capt

•Birth: BET 1572 AND 1578 in Croston, Lancashire, England

•Death: 8 AUG 1606 in CT

•Religion: Puritan



JOHN STONE, #11,264 on my lineage chart, son of Richard Stone and Isabel Girdier, was born ca. 1575 in Parrish of Croston, Lancashire, England during the reign of good Queen Bess. Except for the religious strife, Elizabeth was extremely popular with her subjects. She chose able and wise advisors.

Religion was her initial problem as queen. She reverted to Protestantism after the death of Queen Mary I. Her first Parliament had Protestant majority. Parliament passed between 1559 and 1563 religious legislation that became the doctrinal basis for the Church of England. Catholics and Puritans were persecuted throughout her reign.

National confidence being restored, England was able to develop industrially and economically on a national scale. She grew into a great maritime power after the defeat of the Spanish Armada. Foreign trade was encouraged.

In the eyes of England "Elizabeth was England", known as the "Virgin Queen". With the aid of the Roman Catholics, Elizabeth's cousin, Mary Queen of Scots, who she had befriended, plotted to gain the throne from Elizabeth. The plot was discovered. Mary,Queen of Scots was executed in 1585 when Richard Stone was 10 years old.

Elizabeth's popularity waned at the end of her reign because of her heavy expenditures and her abuse of royal power. Her policies had become weaker.

Her reign was disturbed by a revolt in Ireland led by Hugh O'Neill, the second earl of Essex. He was executed in 1601.

Elizabeth died on March 23, 1603 in London.


(Ben M. Angel notes: The writer became confused between John Stone the fishmongerer father and John Stone the pirate son. The following is data more appropriate to John Stone the fishmongerer.)

John Stone married Joan at the turn of the 16th & 17th century. They were Puritans. They raised 6 children in England.

James I, son of Mary Queen of Scots succeeded Elizabeth I to the English throne in 1603. She was the last ruler from the House of Tudor. James I was the first English ruler from the House of Stuart.

From the very first, James I alienated the Puritans. However, he did have the Bible translated into the English language. The strict Puritans were growing and disturbing England's religious peace. They were making a commitment to stricter morality.

James I was very harsh with them. The Puritans had grown greatly dissatisfied whit the Church of England which they felt were still too close to the Roman Catholics. Religious unrest reached its height when William Laud became Archbishop[ of Canterbury in the 1630s (this was after King James' time - under King Charles I, who appointed him in this capacity in 1633).

A Roman Catholic conspiracy, "the Gunpowder Plot" to blow up Parliament in 1605 confirmed the English's fear of Rome.

In 1607, England began planting colonies in America. Some of the Puritans were fleeing to Holland and then to Plymouth, New England in 1620.

James I died in 1625 and was succeeded by Charles I. During the wars that followed, Charles I was defeated and beheaded. Oliver Cromwell,a staunch Puritan became the ruler of England. Cromwell had a difficult task of holding England in a Puritan course.

I am inclined to believe that John Stone and his family were staunch Puritans (Ben M. Angel notes: John Stone the father was). John Stone migrated to Virginia with 3 of his sons, William, John and Matthew in 1648.

John and Joan Stone's, son, WILLIAM STONE,II who married VERLINDA COTTON and became Governor of Maryland is my 11th great grandfather.

(written by Mildred R. Jenkins, Williamstown, Ky on Mar. 9,2000)


From "Pillars of Maryland" by Francis Sims McGrath: p. 111:

(Ben M. Angel notes: Another author confuses the two John Stones. This explanation is more appropriate to John Stone, the pirate son of John the fishmongerer and brother of Governor William Stone.)

" Gov. Stone was important in his day in Virginia as well as Maryland, but his father, Captain John Stone, was a more amusing member of the family. The carousals of this gentleman with Gov. Van Twiller of Manhattan have gained a place in history. On one of these cheerful occasions his prank was to seize a New England ship and force the crew to steer for Virginia.

When followed and brought back, Van Twiller saved him from punishment in Manhattan, but New England brooded over the insult. His folly having taken him to Massachusetts Bay, Miles Standish traveled from Plymouth to prosecute him for piracy. He was also charged with adultery, and a few other offences of the kind, all of which he staved off until he referred to Justice Lodlow, the trial judge as "Just Ass Lodlow", a brutal play on the word justice. His other crimes were forgiven but for those words of ridicule he was heavily fined.

Proceeding to Plymouth, he threatened Gov. Bradford with a dagger before sailing into the Connecticut River to make the last mistake of his life.

(Ben M. Angel notes that Governor Bradford was voted out of office on May 14 Julian Calendar, 1634, indicating that he left Boston for the last time before that date.)

He quarreled with the Pequot Indians, who listened for a time to his sharp tongue and then silently killed him.

This led to the Pequot War which caused the death of many innocent people, so one mischief led to another and all stemming from revelries in Manhattan, as many mischiefs do to this day."

courtesy Larry R Alexander


Ben's notes on the death of Captain John Stone:

August 18 (August 8 Julian Calendar, Friday), 1634, at the mouth of the Connecticut River (near present New London), West Niantic warriors capture English Captain John Stone, a West Indies trader, slaver, and pirate, who had been raiding the tribe’s women and children to sell as slaves in Virginia Colony. His body and those of seven of his men are delivered to the Dutch dead. When the English find out about the murder, they regard it as an act of war (even though Captain Stone had been banished from Boston on charges of malfeasance).

November 1634, in the Connecticut River valley, men of Dorchester in the Massachusetts Bay Colony who have joined with the new Plymouth Colony trading post at Matianuck (present Windsor, set up by William Holmes) hold talks with the Pequot to express the anger of the English over the slaying of their trader Captain John Stone. Representatives of Sachem Sassacus of the Pequot agree to a settlement with the English to hand over Captain Stone’s killers, pay a large indemnity (400 fathoms of wampum, 40 beaver skins, and 30 otter skins), and “yield up the Connecticut River” to English traders, but the tribal chiefs under Sassacus never ratify the agreement (the actual text of the treaty is later lost).

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The Notorious Captain John Stone's Timeline

Bretherton, Leyland, Lancashire, England
August 8, 1634
Age 54
(Near present New London), (Present Connecticut), (Present USA)
Accomack, Virginia, United States