Archive:The Descendants of John Whitney, page 19

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The Descendants of John Whitney, Who Came from London, England, to Watertown, Massachusetts, in 1635, by Frederick Clifton Pierce (Chicago: 1895)

Transcribed by the Whitney Research Group, 1999.


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WHITNEY GENEALOGY. 19

THE FAMILY IN AMERICA. The Whitney family is very numerous in America; not only in New England are they abundant, but in nearly every state and territory in the United States. A very large share of those who bear the name are the descendants of John and Elinor Whitney of Watertown, in the Massachusetts colony. No relationship is traced between this family and that of Henry Whitney of Norwalk, Conn., who located there in 1665, and the genealogy of whose descendants, both male and female lines, has been published by S. Whitney Phoenix, being the most exhaustive and expensive work of this kind ever published in America.* John Whitney was born in England in 1589, and dwelt in the Parish of Isleworth- on-the-Thames, opposite Richmond, nine miles from London, from May, 1619, to January, 1623-4. The record "of persons permitted to embark at the port of Lon- don after Christmas, 1634," manuscript folio page 35 in Rolls office, Chancery Lane, gives the following names and ages: John Whitney 35, Elinor Whitney 30, John 11, Richard 9, Nathaniel 8, Thomas 6, Jonathan 1. The record reads as follows: The Elizabeth and Ann, Roger Cooper Mr., April, 1635. These p'ties hereunder expressed are to be imbarqued for New England, having taken the oaths of Allegeance and Supremacie and likewise brought Certificate both from the Ministers and Justices when their abidings were latlie, of their conformitie to the Discipline and order of the Church of England, and yet they are no Subsedy Men. Jo. Whitney, 35; Jo. Whitney, 11; Richard Whitney, 9; Nathaniel Whitney, 8; Tho. Whitney, 6; Jonathan Whitney, 1; Ellen Whitney, 30. The ages of John Whitney and his five sons, as thus given, were all too young. The parish resister of Isleworth contains the following entries: 1621, Sept. 14, John Whitne and Ellin had John their son baptized. 1623-4, Jan. 6, John Whitne and Elinor his wife had their son Richard baptized. It is suggested that the non-conformity acts might have had some influence in mak- ing the ages of the several members of the family younger than they were. They settled in Watertown, in the Massachusetts colony, in June, 1635, where his son Joshua was born the 15th of July following, he being the first of this line born in America. John Whitney was admitted freeman 3d of March, 1636, and the following year was for the first time elected by his associates as one of the Select Men of the town. He held the office for many years afterward, until 1655, at which time he was elected town clerk. June 1, 1641, he was appointed constable at Watertown by the General Court at their quarter session held in Boston. At that time constables were appointed by the General Court, and, besides the duties attached to the office in latter times, they were required to collect the taxes of the town and the levies by the General Court; to pay the debts of the colony due to individuals in their respective towns; to supply the town with sealed weights and measures; to set or order in those towns where no captain dwelt, and to inflict the punishments ordered by judicial authority, "where there was not another appointed to do it within his own town, unless he can get another to do it." As a badge of his office a constable was required to carry a black staff five or five and a half feet long, with a tip or head five or six inches long. His very early admission as a freeman and his election as a Select Man show that he held a respectable social position in the community. He was grantee of eight lots in Watertown and purchaser of 16 acres, his home- stall lot, where he continued to reside. This latter property was granted to John Strickland,+ and was bounded east and south by William Jennison, west by Mar- tin Underwood, north by Isaac Mixer. His eight lots amounted to 212 acres, to which he subsequently made additions, as shown by the Registry of Deeds. Later the homestall became the property of his son, Joshua, of Groton, who sold it to Dea. Nathan Fiske, Oct. 29, 1697. The death of John Whitney is registered in the church record of Watertown, 1673, thus: "John Whetny, Widdower, Deceased first of June, aged abought eighty- -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- *Whitney. 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. By S. Whitney Phoenix. 3 very thick vols. 4to. Bound by Matthews in half morocco. Edition of 510 copies, privately printed, all for presentation. N.Y., 1878. $50.00 + He was dismissed from the Watertown church May 29, 1635, and was one of the Watertown colony that planted Wethersfield, Conn., the oldest town on the Connecticut river.

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