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Melville, Henry, A.M., LL.B., The Ancestry of John Whitney: Who, with His Wife Elinor, and Sons John, Richard, Nathaniel, Thomas, and Jonathan, Emigrated from London, England, in the Year 1635, and Settled in Watertown, Massachusetts; the First of the Name in America, and the One from Whom a Great Majority of the Whitneys Now Living in the United States Are

Descended (New York, NY: The De Vinne Press, 1896).

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                      CHAPTER II


Table of the reigns of the Sovereigns of England. The Testa de Nevill,
1242.  Robert the earliest historic Whitney. John de Wytteneye
overseer of the King's Castle at Bristol, 1252. John de Wytteneye
assassinated in Hereford, 1272. Sir Eustace de Whitney confirms
grant of his ancestors to St. Peter's, about 1280; Lord of Pencombe,
Little Cowarne, and Whitney, 1281; granted Free Warren in Pen-
combe, Whitney, and Caldwell, 1284; summoned to military service
beyond the seas, 1297; tenant of part of the Manor of Huntington,
1299; summoned to Scottish war, 1301.


              Persons.                            Events.
King John  . . . . . . . . 1199-1216  Murder of Prince Arthur . . . . 1201
King Henry III.  . . . . . 1216-1272  Magna Charta  . . . . . . . . . 1215
King Edward I. . . . . . . 1272-1307  First Representative Parlia-
Stephen Langton, . . . . . . d. 1228     ment . . . . . . . . . . . . 1265
Roger Bacon, b. 1214 . . . . d. 1294  Conquest of Wales . . . . . . . 1282
Simon de Montfort  . . . . . d. 1255  "Model" Parliament  . . . . . . 1295
                                      Conquest of Scotland  . .  1296-1307

AS there will be frequent occasion, in subsequent
pages, to speak of events as happening in such
and such a year of the reign of a certain sovereign,
the following table will be convenient as showing in
one place to what dates they correspond in our pres-
ent chronology:


42         The Ancestry of John Whitney

      NORMAN LINE.              HOUSE OF YORK.

William the Conqueror      Edward IV. . . . 1461-1483
                1066-1087  Edward V.  . . . 1483-1483
William Rufus . 1087-1100  Richard III. . . 1488-1485
Henry I.  . . . 1100-1135
Stephen . . . . 1135-1154         HOUSE OF TUDOR.

  HOUSE OF PLANTAGENET.    Henry VII. . . . 1485-1509
                           Henry VIII.  . . 1509-1547
Henry II. . . . 1154-1189  Edward VI. . . . 1547-1553
Richard I.  . . 1189-1199  Mary . . . . . . 1553-1558
John  . . . . . 1199-1216  Elizabeth  . . . 1558-1603
Henry III.  . . 1216-1272
Edward I. . . . 1272-1307        HOUSE OF STUART.
Edward II.  . . 1307-1327
Edward III. . . 1327-1377  James I. . . . . 1603-1625
Richard II. . . 1377-1399  Charles I. . . . 1625-1649
                           The Commonwealth
   HOUSE OF LANCASTER.       and Cromwell . 1649-1660
                           Charles II.  . . 1660-1685
Henry IV. . . . 1399-1413
Henry V.  . . . 1413-1422
Henry VI. . . . 1422-1461

   The earliest mention of the name De Wytteneye,
in any public record so far discovered, is in 1241, and
that of Sir Robert, the father or grandfather of the
Eustace who gave the deed of confirmation to the
monastery of St. Peter. In that year King Henry
III. issued his writ to the sheriff of Herefordshire,
directing him to make a list of knights' fees within
his county. The return is still preserved, called the
"Testa de Nevill" or "Liber Feodorum,"l a docu-

   l Original to be seen in the Record Office, Chancery Lane, London.
The parish of Whitney is not mentioned, because, as has before been
stated, it was outside the sheriff's jurisdiction.

        Whitneys of the Thirteenth Century   43

ment much resembling the "Domesday Book." This
is a translation of a part of the return:

   Hundred of Greytre. In the vill of Etun are contained
two hides and a half where Robert Tregoz holds one hide
by knights service from the Lord the King of the old en-
feoffment of the honor of Ewyas. And Robert de Wytteneye
(holds) one hide from the said Robert Tregoz and Richard
Fuk half a hide from the said Robert Tregoz by knights
service of the same honor and enfeoffment. . . .
   Hundred of Brockes Esse. In Pencumbe 15 hides
whereof John de Wytene holds a moiety from Robert Tre-
goz of the honor of Ewyas of the old enfeoffment by knights
service. And Thomas de Hemegrave holds the other moiety
from Robert de Wytene.l And the said Robert of the same
as before.

   Robert de Wytteneye, or Wytene, was the head of
the family, John quite likely his brother.
   Robert de Tregoz was a relative of the Whitneys
One of Alured de Merleberge's sons took the name
"De Ewias" from the castle. Like many others,
his male line ran out, and Sibella de Ewias, the
eventual heiress, married Robert de Tregoz early
in the thirteenth century. His line in turn ran out
about 1300.2
   The principal reason that there are no earlier rec-
ords, is that practically none were kept.. There was
no well-organized system of government. Not till
more than twenty years later, 1265, did any par-
liament, with popular representation, meet. Then
one was called with two members from each county

   l The difference in spelling is probably accounted for by the fact
that different officers made the returns for the two estates.
   2 Robinson's "Castles of Herefordshire," under "Ewias Harold

44        The Ancestry of John Whitney

and city, and from it originated the present House
of Commons.
   From this time forward probably every owner of
the Whitney estate left "footprints on the sands of
time," which we have the privilege of examining.
   There are two documents which refer to a John de
Wyteneye, or Witteneye, who possibly was the same
John above spoken of as the under-tenant of Robert
   The first is in 1252, as follows:


   Because John de Wyteneye, one of the overseers of the
works of the King's Castle of Bristol, frequently goes into
the parts of Ireland, as the King understands, so that the
works aforesaid are not attended to as they ought to be, it
is commanded to the mayor and bailiffs of Bristol that they
do cause to be elected in the place of the aforesaid John,
one of their trusty and discreet burgesses of Bristol,
who being sworn, &c. Witness as above (17th day of
                                          By the King.l

and this, the other, 1272:


   The King to the Sheriff of Hereford and to the Coroners
of the same county, greeting. Because we have understood
by the inquisition which we have made by you that John
de Oxonia, who lately, for the death of John de Witteneye,
killed in the town of Hereford, withdrew himself, had
not any lands or tenements except of the inheritance of
Edith his wife, and that the goods and chattels of the same

   l Close Roll, 36 Henry III., No. 66, in Record Office, Chancery Lane,

         Whitneys of the Thirteenth Century   45

John are appraised at twenty and two shillings and six-
pence only, and also that the aforesaid John de Oxonia is
not for the death aforesaid, outlawed or convicted by judg-
ment of our court thereof, and you have taken into our
hand by reason of the withdrawal aforesaid the lands and
tenements which are of the inheritance of the aforesaid
Edith, together with the goods and chattels aforesaid, and
the lands and tenements aforesaid of the aforesaid Edith
you do detain as we have understood. We, being willing to
show favor in that behalf to the aforesaid Edith at the in-
stance of her friends, do command you that you do cause
the same Edith to have the goods and chattels aforesaid
taken into our hand by reason of the withdrawal aforesaid,
for her sustenance, and the lands, tenements and rents
which are of the inheritance of the same Edith you do hold
in our hand until the aforesaid John de Oxonia shall come
to our Court or that he be outlawed for that felony by judg-
ment of our Court.
   Given, etc., as above. (25 day of May.)
                                            By the King.l

   Bristol is on the Severn, near the mouth of the
Wye; so that it is not surprising to find a "De Wit-
teneye" there. The "going frequently into the parts
of Ireland" may be significant. There was later
a family of Whitneys in Queens County, Ireland,
of high standing. This John may have been the
founder of it.2
   The town of Hereford was only seventeen miles
from Whitney, so the John killed in the former may
have lived in the latter place.

   l Close Roll, 1 Edward I. (1272), No. 95, in Record Office.
   2 Printed State Papers, vol. lxii, No. 45, makes mention of Robert
Whitney of Sheane, Queens County, and gives him license to convey
certain land (1611).

46         The Ancestry of John Whitney

   From Robert de Wytteneye, of the Testa de Nevill,
we can probably trace the Whitney descent to the
present day with substantial if not absolute accuracy.
   The manors of Whitney and Pencombe passed, ac-
cording to the law of primogeniture, through a line
of eldest sons. Attached to each estate was an ad-
vowson or right to nominate a rector for the parish
church as often as there was a vacancy, and the eccle-
siastical records of the diocese are in existence, show-
ing what patrons from time to time exercised this
right. If we arrange these in chronological order we
are likely to have two lists, each containing the
names of nearly all the successive heads of the
Whitney family. Taking these lists as a foundation,
there are other records with which they can be prof-
itably compared. Lists can also be made out of all
the Whitneys who were sheriffs of Herefordshire or
members of parliament, and we can be certain that
the one who had either of these dignities was he who
at that time owned the property and thus had the in-
come for its support.
   These four lists so supplement each other that from
them alone a fifth, showing the succession, can be
easily made out, and two or more dates fixed in the
lives of each individual. About the only possibility
of mistake is in the fact that there may have been an
instance where the transmission was from an elder to
a younger brother instead of from father to son.
This possibility is, however, reduced to a minimum
by a comparison with other documents, such as the
Inquisitiones post mortem, which, in several instances,
state the date of the death of the old proprietor, and
the name, age, and relationship of the new one. In
addition to these general sources of information there

        Whitneys of the Thirteenth Century   47

are, as will be hereafter seen, others peculiar to each
   Robert, above mentioned, appears to have been
succeeded by the Sir Eustace who, about 1280, gave
the deed of confirmation to the monastery of St.
Peter, and in 1277 nominated John de Chaundos, and
in 1280 Roger de Wytteneye as rectors of Pencombe.
There are no less than five other records relating to
him, all of great interest.
   The first is in a return of the names of lords of
manors and townships for the purpose of making up
the military levies ordered by the Parliament at Lin-
coln, in the ninth year of King Edward I. (1281). He
is there described as "Eustachius de Wyteney, Lord
of Pencumbe, Little Cowarne and Wyteney."l
   The second is a grant of "Free Warren" made in
the twelfth year of Edward I. (1284), and consists of
an abstract of the Royal Patent contained in the
Great Charter Roll preserved in the Record Office. A
photograph of the original is given, which may be
translated as follows:

      Charter Roll 12 Edward I. (1284), No.58.


   THE KING to Archbishops, etc., greeting. Know ye that
we have granted and by this our Charter do confirm to our
dearly beloved & faithful EUSTACE DE WHYTENEYE
that he and his heirs have forever Free Warren in all their
demesne lands of Pencumbe,2 Whyteneye and Caldewell in

   l Harleian Manuscript No. 6281, in British Museum.
   2 Pencombe and Caldewell were in the County of Hereford. Whyte-
neye, and that neighborhood, in the opinion of the Lords Marchers, was
not, and they succeeded in maintaining their views till the statute of
Henry VIII.

48         The Ancestry of John Whitney

the County of Hereford, so that these lands shall not be
within the metes of our forest. Nevertheless none shall enter
these lands to hunt in them or take any beast pertaining to
free warren without license and will of the said Eustace or
his heirs upon pain of forfeiting to us ten pounds.
   Wherefore we will and firmly command that the afore-
said Eustace and his heirs forever have free warren in all
their demesne lands aforesaid, so that these lands shall not
be within the metes of our forest, and no one shall enter
these lands to hunt, etc., without license, etc., of the said
Eustace or his heirs on pain of forfeiture to us of ten
pounds as aforesaid.
   These being witnesses.
   lG. Wygorn, R. Bathen & Wellen, Bishops; Galfrido
de Geynvill, Ottone de Grandisone, Robto Tibetot, Rico de
Brus, Petro de Chaumpuent, Rico de Bosco, Walto de
Everest, and others.
   Given under our hand at Leominster the 8th day of
December in the year of our reign the 12th.

   The third is a summons to him as a knight to per-
form military service in tho King's behalf "in parts
beyond the seas." Muster at London on Sunday
next after the Octave of St. John the Baptist (8th
July, 1297).2 The destination was probably Flan-
ders, where war was then going on.
   The fourth is an inquisition, taken in 1299, giving,
among other things, the names of the free tenants of
the Manor of Huntington, which included the parishes
of Huntington, Kington, and Brilley, in the Marches
of Wales, near Whitney. Eustachius de Wytteneye

   l These names should be rendered in English as: G. Bishop of Wor-
cester, R. Bishop of Bath and Wells, Geoffrey de Geynvill, Otto de
Grandison, Robert Tiptoft (?), Richard Bruce, Peter de Chaumpuent,
Richard Wood, Walter of Eversley.
   2 Parliamentary, etc., writs, 12 Edward I., in Record Office.

Melville p48a.jpg


        Whitneys of the Thirteenth Century   49

is named as holding a, messuage and two hundred
acres of land by the service of "one foot-soldier with
a bow and arrow, at the Castle of Huntington, in
time of war, for forty days at his own expense."
This is an excellent illustration of a military tenure.l
   The fifth and last, for it possibly led to his death,
is a summons to the Scottish war.
   Edward I., who reigned from 1272 to 1307, was
among the greatest of the English Kings. It was he
who first reduced Wales to anything like subjection
by defeating Llewellyn, in 1282, at the fords of the
Wye, above Whitney, in a great battle in which Sir
 Eustace undoubtedly took part, though we can find no
record of who composed the forces engaged. In com-
memoration of this victory the King presented his
infant son to the army as the "Prince of Wales," a
title ever since borne by the heir apparent. Later
he conquered Scotland, in the days of William Wal-
lace, whose exploits form the subject of Jane Porter's
famous novel, "The Scottish Chiefs."
   The following is a translation of the King's Writ,
as served upon De Whitney.

   Close Roll 29, Edward I. (1301), No.123, m13d and


   THE KING to his beloved & trusty EUSTACE DE WYT-
ENEY, greeting. Because we intend to proceed manfully
and mightily, by God's help, against our rebels and traitors
the Scots, notoriously persevering in preconceived malice

   l See Notes on the Early History of the Manor of Huntington, pub-
lished in the "Archaeologia Cambrensis," 3d series, vol. xv, p. 229. The
inquisition was taken on the death of Humphrey de Bohun, Earl of

50         The Ancestry of John Whitney

and knavery of ill will, in order to repress their rebellion
and insolence, after the feast of Pentecost next to come, in
which feast the truce lately granted to the said Scots at the
request of the King of France will be ended, we ask you
that you do be with us at Berwick on Tweed at the feast
of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist next following, de-
cently prepared with horses and arms to depart from thence
with us, at our expense, against the Scots our rebels afore-
said, that, by the help of you and of other our trusty sub-
jects, to whom we have commanded the same thing, the
unbridled pride and obstinate rebellion of the aforesaid
traitors may be suppressed, by such your labors and assist-
ance, that profit and the advantages which we hope for may
come to us and to our kingdom and crown of England with
the establishment of peace and lasting honor.
   Witness the King at Northampton the 12th day of March.

   A reason for supposing that the old knight did not
return home is that we find that a young Sir Eustace
was knighted, at the same time with his neighbors,
De Lacy, Corbet, and Marmyon, in 1306.l The occa-
sion was the receipt of news of the uprising of the
Scotch under Robert Bruce. Preparatory to renew-
ing the conflict, in all two hundred and seventy
men, of the more distinguished families throughout
the kingdom, were given their spurs, among them
the Prince of Wales, who afterward was King Ed-
ward II.
   As the former is the first De Whitney of whom we
have any full information, it is worthy of notice that
he was a man of wealth, holding the whole or parts
of five estates--viz.: Whitney, Pencombe, Little
Cowarne, Caldwell, and Huntington--a liberal bene-
factor of the church, and an active soldier.

   l Duncumb's History or Herefordshire, vol. i, p. 79.

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