Prence or Prince, Thomas, 1600–1673, American colonial governor, b. England. His Puritan family joined the Pilgrim community in Leiden in Thomas's youth. In 1621 he went to Plymouth Colony, where he gained prominence and was one of eight colonial "undertakers" who assumed (1627) the colony's debt to the London merchants who had backed the establishment of the colony. He held various offices, including the governorship (1634–35, 1638, 1657–73). Prence supervised (1641) the building of the first bark constructed in the colony and established (1650) the Cape Cod fisheries. As governor he served with credit through a period of Indian wars and internal religious troubles and was noted for his successful effort to secure public revenues in support of schools.
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