Archive:Henry Whitney's English Ancestry

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Whitney Family Groups > Henry Whitney Family > Henry Whitney's English Ancestry

Henry1 Whitney's English Ancestry

by Robert L. Ward

In S. Whitney Phoenix, The Whitney family of Connecticut, and its affiliations; being an attempt to trace the descendants, as well in the female as the male lines, of Henry Whitney, from 1649 to 1878; to which is prefixed some account of the Whitneys of England. (New York : Priv. Print. [Bradford Press] 1878), 3 volumes, there is given considerable information about the origins of Henry, and his ancestry connecting him to various famous personages. That information is false. It is the result of a fraud perpetrated by Mrs. Harriet A. (Bainbridge) DeSalis, an unscrupulous genealogist. There are two items documenting this fraud, a report and an article.

His parentage, date and place of birth, date and ship of immigration, first wife's name, and date and place of first marriage, are all unknown at this time.

He may have arrived before 1637, because of the following item, contributed by Norris Taylor:

(Most info here from Wesley L. Baker, Study of the Reeve family of Southold, Long Island, N. Y., and Southold descendants of the Southampton, L. I. Reeves family : and genealogy of said families up to 1800, 1970). The Osman Deposition was reportedly "discovered" in a private collection of papers of the Southold, LI, settler, Barnabas HORTON, and was (first?) published in the 1638-1939 Southold Commemorative Book (not as a photo-copy, I understand, but a typed abstract). These papers apparently belonged to an heir and have disappeared. The original deposition has not been located. I get the impression, not explicitly stated, that not even a photo-copy, (so that handwriting can be evaluated) exists. Mr. Baker talks about a 1969 study of the Deposition by himself and Dr. Arthur C. Downs and I got the impression that a person could not be found that said they had seen the original, or where it was when they saw it (but I haven't seen that study). He further says, "we concluded that while it was not impossible for the men to be in Chowan as early as 1636-7 . . . it is unlikely they were there until a year or two later." I have been told by a long-time Long Island researcher that at least several other long-time Long Island researchers view the validity of the Osman Deposition with apprehension. Of course, this is on the heels of the multiple frauds in 19th century genealogies that have been discovered, particularly [Gustave] Anjou. It would be interesting to see if Anjou, or others known to have "created" fraudulent documents, used the Osman deposition in any way, say before 1939, when it was apparently first published. Here is the Deposition:
"March ye 18th, 1658 Swearinge be Ye Holy Evangelists that he with his now father-in-law William PURRIER, and his brother in law, James REEVE did go adventuring in ye Chowan Country for sperrits resin in ye yeare 1636 and there did meet William SALMON, Thomas REEVE, Thomas TERRILL, Thomas BENEDICT, Henery WHITNEY and others who had come hither from ye Summer Isles and ye said adventure failinge through ye overplus of adventurers, who had come hither prior to their coeing. They did set sale with one SUNDERLAND to a country the said SUNDERLAND had from his master one James FFARRETT by letters patent from ye Earle of Starlinge. And ye said OSMAN does farther depose that ye said company with others whose names he has forgotten did set downe on ye necke called Hashammomack and did ingage in distillinge sperrits resin from ye trees in ye greate swampe and further SUNDERLAND, SALMON, WHITNEY, and BENEDICT did from ye beginning owne ye said necke in equal shares and did so from our first sittingse down in year 1636-7. Signed: Thomas OSMAN in ye presence of: Barnabas HORTON
Thomas MOOR"

I answered:

"Something really new which I had not realized before is that it says that the group of five including Henry WHITNEY had come to the Chowan Country from "the Summer Isles". This I take to mean the Somer Islands, that is, Bermuda. We do know that other WHITNEY individuals were living there very early, from whom the southern branch of the WHITNEY family stem. This raises the possibility that Henry1 WHITNEY could have been a brother to or other relative of Samuel1 WHITNEY of Bermuda. This would be a wonderful and amazing connection, hitherto unsuspected! One could try to verify that the BENEDICT, REEVE, SALMON, and TERRILL families were present in Bermuda before 1636. That could lend credence to the document if true, and give some discredit to it if false.

Norris replied:

According to Baker, who cites "English emigration records" (Hotten's referred to earlier in his work, so probably there), the following sailed for St. Christopher from London in 1635:
Thomas REEVE, 24
William SALMON, 25
Thomas TERRILL, 18
By the way, William PURRIER, father-in-law of whichever REEVE it was that married his daughter, came over with family in the preceding month to New England. Note also a TERRILL married a PURRIER granddaughter later, too. SALMON was another early Long Islander. The above Thomas REEVE had been thought to be William PURRIER's son-in-law since forever . . . as he was the only REEVE in the area, died before PURRIER (PURRIER referred to his daughter as if a widow), and had a wife with the same first name as she. Until . . . this affidavit, which says a James REEVE was the brother-in-law of Thomas OSMAN, and thus the REEVE husband of "Mary REEVE" in William PURRIER's will. This is the only reference to him. No other reference to a James REEVE in early Long Island that cannot be attributed to the second generation James REEVE.

If this deposition can be believed, this would indicate that Henry1 WHITNEY's first wife and mother of his only known child John2 WHITNEY (b. ca. 1642) may have been from one of the earliest families of Southold, possibly a daughter or sister of one of the abovementioned expeditionaries. His second wife was a sister of the above William SALMON.


According to the following website, "William Salmon age 25, left England 21 May 1635 in the Matahew of London" ... "William was the member of a group from the Summer Isles (Bermuda) who went adventuring in 1636 to the Chowan (Indian) country (North Carolina) for spirits resin (turpentine). There they met ... Matthew Sinderland, a Mariner from boston Massachusetts. Salmon and some of his associates threw in with Sinderland and returned with him to Long Island". Additional details here.

The passenger list of the Matthew can be found here. Reeve, Salmon, and Terrill are all listed, but there is no Whitney listed. The Matthew departed May 21, 1635 from London for St. Christopher (now Saint Kitts).


See Carolana and the Incomparable Roanoke: Explorations and Attempted Settlements, 1620-1663 which states:

"An interesting deposition, the original of which cannot now be located, has been printed and otherwise duplicated by the Southold (New York) Free Library. Dated 18 March 1658, it was made by Thomas Osman who “with his now father-in-law, William Purrier, and his brother in ye law, James Reeve did go adventuringe in ye Chowan country for sperrits resin in ye yeare 1636 and there did meet William Salmon, Thomas Reeve, Thomas Terrill, Thomas Benedict, Henery Whiteney and others who had come hither from ye Summer Islaes and ye said adventure failinge through ye overplus of adventurers, who had come thither prior to their co[m]eing ....” From Chowan, Osman and others went to Long Island, where they settled."

See http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~benedictnews/newsletters/Vol3_no1.htm This page mentions that the deposition was printed in a tercentenary celebration book, "Southold Town - 1636-1939- The Oldest English Town in the State of New York" and that the original deposition was said to have been in the possession of Lester D. Mapes.

Lester D. Mapes was listed on the 1920 and 1930 Censuses in Brooklyn, NY. He was born about 1866 in New York and was married to Edith (probably Smith). Their children were Gerard S. Mapes, b. ca. 1900, Burce A. Mapes, b. ca. 1902, and Donald L. Mapes, b. ca. 1915. If the original deposition was in the hands of Lester D. Mapes, it may have passed down to one of his descendants when he passed away.

According to this page, Lester D. Mapes appears to have been a genealogist, having written at least one article for The Record, and having deposited at least one record with the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society.

Some records related to this family are contained in the Donald and Robert M. Dodge Collection of Mary Mapes Dodge in the Manuscripts Division, Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Princeton University Library

According to the SSDI on Rootsweb, Gerard Mapes, b. 6 Feb 1899, SS# issued in NY, died Jan 1984, last residing in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. A Donald Mapes, b. 5 Jul 1914, d. Jan 1987 last residing in Queens, NY.

According to A post on the Mapes Family Genealogy Forum, Lester Dunbar Mapes was an active genealogist in the 1940's. He is descended from the Whitneys as follows: Lester Dunbar Mapes (Daniel Smith Mapes, Sophia Slason, Hannah Whitney). Hannah Whitney m. Capt. Nathaniel Slason. According to various databases on Rootsweb's WorldConnect, Hannah Whitney was b. 21 Jan 1760 in Fairfield, CT, daughter of Eliasaph and Mary (Bishop) Whitney. Eliasaph Whitney was b. 1716 Ridgefield, CT, son of Nathan Whitney and Sarah Platt. Nathan b. 1690 Norwalk, CT, son of John Whitney and grandson of Henry Whitney.


Copyright © 1999, 2002, 2006, Robert L. Ward and the Whitney Research Group

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