First Lady of Monmouth County and Founding Mother of Middletown, N.J.
of the best known chapters of [Monmouth's] early history is the story
of Penelope Stout, believed to be the first white woman to set foot on
[Monmouth,] county, NJ soil.
During the first half of the 17th
century - the exact date is unknown - a ship from Holland was wrecked on
Sandy Hook. Among those aboard was Penelope Van Princis, whose husband
had become ill on the long sea voyage. The passengers and crew reached
shore safely, but hearing of an Indian attack they set out on foot for
New York (New Amsterdam), leaving the sick man and his wife behind.
History of New Jersey, published in 1765, relates that a party of
Indians found the couple and immediately killed the man. They then
mangled the woman, and left her for dead. After hiding for several days
in a hollow tree, Penelope was found by a friendly Indian who nursed her
back to health. A rescue party found her and brought her to New
Amsterdam - now New York - and a short time later she married an
Englishman, Richard Stout.
Penelope and Richard later returned to
New Jersey and had 10 children. The nameless Indian who saved Penelope
Stout's life was a frequent visitor and friend. According to the tale,
he later alerted the community to a potential confrontation with another
band of marauding natives, probably from New York. Most accounts agree
that Penelope lived to be 110 and had some 502 descendants at the time
of her death, in either 1712 or 1732. Many of her descendants still live
in the county.
Penelope's story is told at the Spy House Museum Complex in Port Monmouth, New Jersey.
Stout, a son of John and Elizabeth (Bee or Gee) Stout, was born in
Nottinghamshire, England about 1615. He joined the British Navy and was
discharged at New Amsterdam, now New York, about 1640.
was one of thirty nine people who founded a settlement at Graves End,
Long Island, in 1644. That year, he married Penelope (Kent) Van
Penelope Kent was probably born about 1622 in England.
Her father is believed to have been a Puritan Baptist Separatist who was
banished from his church and who fled to Holland with his family.
Penelope married a man named Van Princin in Amsterdam.
Penelope and her husband took ship with a group of emigrants to America.
The ship was wrecked at Sandy Hook, New Jersey. Many of the
passengers traveled overland to New Amsterdam, but Penelope husband was
ill and could not travel, so they remained near the wreck site.
little encampment was attacked by Indians, who killed Penelope's
husband and left her for dead with a fractured skull, a hacked shoulder
and a gash in her body that allowed her intestines to protrude.
Penelope survived alone for several days until two Indian men came by.
The older of the two carried her to his village and sewed up her wounds
with a fish bone needle and vegetable fibers. Penelope recovered and
lived with the Indians, doing squaw's work and sharing their life.
1644, a group of white men came to the Indian village and offered to
buy the white woman that they had heard of. Penelope's captor asked if
she wished to go with the whites and was permitted to do so.
1664, an Indian came to warn Penelope of a planned Indian attack on the
settlement of Grave's end. The Indians did attack and the forewarned
settlers were able to defend themselves and put the Indians to flight.
Richard Stout walked into the open and demanded a parley.
conference, the whites and Indians agreed to a truce and a two day
ceremonial to celebrate the treaty. The white agreed to buy the lands
they had settled on and were never attacked again. The date of purchase
from the Indians was January 25, 1664.
In 1668, Richard and his family joined with others in forming the first Baptist Church of New Jersey.
will was approved in October 1705 and is on file in the office of the
Secretary of State at Trenton, New Jersey. Penelope died in 1732.
newspaper "The Story of Penelope Stout" copy found at Monmouth County
Historical Association Library, 70 Court Street, Freehold, NJ 07728