Family:Whitney, Francis (c1587-1619)

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Capt. Francis Whitney's Locations

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Capt. Francis1 Whitney, Gent. (RobertA, NicholasB), son of Robert and Jane (-----) Whitney, was born about 1587, England, and died about November, 1619, St. George, Bermuda.

He attended Caius College, Cambridge University, entered 1606, Adm. pens. (age 18) at Caius, Aug. 12, 1605. S. of Robert, gent., of Thetford, Norfolk. Schools, Thetford, Peterborough and Boston. Scholar, 1605-11; Matric. 1606; B.A. 1608-9; M.A. from Clare, 1612. Adm. at Lincoln's Inn, Feb. 10, 1609-10. (Venn, I. 190.)[1]

On 10 Mar 1609/10, Francis Whitney, son of Robert Whitney of Thetford, Norfolk, armiger, was admitted to Lincoln's Inn.[2]

Sometime between 7 Jun and 8 Nov 1619 he wrote an undated will in which he calls himself "Francis Whitney of Thetford in the county of Sufk. gent, being about to passe the Seas unto the West Indies for the furtherance of the plantaton and service of my countrey in those parts." In this will he describes the agreement he has made with his mother in which she is to receive the interest on moneys he obtained via the sale of land in Kenford for the remainder of her life, after which he divides up the money between various relatives. He also gives a small amount, as well as any value from "my adventure" to his mother, the local minister, and a friend.[3]

In June 1619, the ship Garland, under the direction of the Virginia Company of London and led by William Wye, left London intending to transport 130 passengers to the 'Somer Islands' (Bermuda) and then to continue on to "John Ferrar's plantation" (perhaps Jamestown) in Virginia to transport an additional 40 to 45 passengers "for the preparinge and makinge reddy of buisines against the Springe" and for "settinge vp of Iron Workes". The principal commander of these passengers was "Captain Francis Whitney". The ship ended up taking 17 weeks to reach the Somer Islands, far longer than it should have. When it arrived on 30 Oct 1619, several passengers had already died and many of the others were sick. The passengers were brought ashore where they were housed. Francis Whitney died shortly thereafter at St. George, Bermuda.

The ship stayed in the harbor 20 days before it could be unloaded because of the lack of available boats and because of poor weather. On 19 Nov 1619 a large hurricane hit the islands and another ship which had just delivered the new governor of the Island sank. The Garland was able to be saved when its main mast was cut overboard. It was decided that instead of continuing on to Virginia, the Garland would be loaded with all of the tobacco then on the islands and return to England. On 15 Jan 1620 the governor wrote a note to that effect and the Garland returned to England, and it it was mentioned in the court records of the Virginia Company of London on 20 Mar 1620.

In 1619 he purchased two shares in the Virginia Company

Shareholders in the Virginia Company from 1615 to 1623...
7 June 1619 - John Hodgson to Fra: Whitner, two shares, wch he passed to Mr Nicho Ferrar................................. 02 shares[4]

On June 7, 1619 the following was recorded in the court records of the Virginia Company of London[5]

The Auditors made allowance of Twelue single shares of Twelue poundes
ten shillings apeece belonging to sundry Adventurers, all of them being
passed ouer to the parties herevnto named
Iohn Hodgson -- 25 [pounds] passed to Francis Whitney Esqr
Iohn Tauernor -- 37 [pounds] -- 10 [shillings] to Thomas Shepherd Mercht
Martine Earle -- 12 -- 10 to Nicho: Buckeridge Mercht

In 1619 he was placed in charge of the passengers on the voyage of the Garland.

17 June 1619 - Treasurer and Council for Virginia. A Commission to William Wye...
Whereas wee the Treasurer Counsell and company for Virginia ... have furnished out one good shipp called the Garland of London of the burden of two hundred and fifty Tunnes... to passe...vnto the Colonies... Willm. Wye being ordeyned Mr and captaine thereof... the passengers as are shipped for the Somer ilands to be landed there in voyage outward being one hundred and thirty persons as alsoe such others as are putt abord to be transported for a particuler plantation intended in Virginia... and the rest being forty persons to land them in Virginia... disposing first of Willm Ferrar Esquire... if otherwise to the charge of Captaine Francis Whitney Esquire now imbarqued for the voyage...[6]

Sometime about the first week in July, 1619, the Garland left London bound for Bermuda and then to Virginia.[7]

Trinity Term 1620 - 6 item. That the said letter was from the said Treasurer, Counsell and Company for Virginia, and in their name delivered vnto one Captaine Francis Whitney who went in the said shipp for the said voyage to Virginia to be delivered by him to the said Sir George Yardly Knight. Et ponit vt supra.

7 item. That the said Captain Whitney died in the same voyage towards the somer Islands or after the arrivall of the said shipp the Garland thither, and that after his death the said letter of the tenot of the second schedule herevnto annexed came to the hands of the said Willm Wye...[8]

In 1882, John Henry Lefroy wrote:

The Voyage of the "Garland", 1619.
Wee, the Gouernor and Counsell for the Sommer Islands, do giue vnder our hands that vpon the thirtieth of October 1619 the ship called the Garland, Wm. Wye, master, arriued here in the harbour of the Kings-Castle, hauing hadd a long and tedious voiag from England to these parts. And brought hither diuers passingers safe and well, with certen goods consigned to these Ilands, of which passengers sixe are said to haue died by the waie and two in the harbour. And of which goods, notwithstanding the clamour of losse and damage by diuerse passingers, he and his company affirmeth to haue all sett ashore as farre as he or they knowe, having taken noe further charg vpon them but the conduction of the shipp only. As also that he brough in the said shipp diuers passingers bound for Virginia, whereof at seas died fowre, Captaine Whitney, their principall Commander, dieing here on shore at St. George. After which arriuall, he haueing staied twenty daies here in harbour before his shipp could be vnloaded, by reason of the scarcity of boats and the tediousnes of the wether, althoughe he had all the assistance that possible could be given him from vs, there arose, the 19th of November in this place, a verie sore and tedious storme, in which storme the foresaid shipp was likely to haue perished, with all suche men and goods as were then in her. And by reason of which storme, the Master, for the saftie of the said shipp, was constrained to cutt ouer board the maine mast of the said shipp, being muche damnified in his cables, by which distres, not being able to performe his voiag to Virginia without his said mast.[9]

In 1895, the following account was published:

The next moneth [Nov 1619], came in the Garland, sent from England six or seuen weekes before him; so that being seuenteene weeks in her voyage, it was so tedious and grieuous to diuers of the Fresh-water Passengers, that such a sicknesse bred amongst them, many died as well Sailers as Passengers. Hauing taken the best order he could for their releefe, [he] passed through all the Tribes, and held his first Assise in Captaine Tuckars house [p. 665] at the ouer-plus [i.e. on the spare land not yet appropriated to any particular share].
Towards the last of this moneth of Nouember [1619] there arose a most terrible storme or Hericano, that blew _____y great trees by the roots: the Warwick that brought ther Gouernor was cast away, but the Garland [that] rid by her, saued her selfe by cutting downe her Masts; and not long after a second storme, no lesse violent then the first, wherein the Mount (which was a frame of wood built by Master More for a Watch-tower to looke out to Sea) was blowne vp by the roots, and all that Winter crop of corne blasted. And thus the new Gouernor welcomed.
With the beginning of the new yeere [1620] he bagan his first peece of fortification, vpon a Rocke which flankers the Kings Castle, and finding the ship called the Treasurer starke and rotten and vnseruiceable, hee tooke nine peeces of Ordinances from her to serue other vses. The Garland for want of meanes, could not make her voiage to Virginia as she was appointed; wherefore he entertained her to returne to England, with all the Tabacco they had in the Ile. It was Ianuary [1620] before she departed, in which time, she failed not much to haue beene twice cast away.[10]

In 1898, Alexander Brown wrote:

The Garland, of 25 tons, was sent in June, 1619, for Mr. John Ferrar's plantation, with 45 persons; but it went to the Bermuda Islands, where it was detained, and never reached Virginia.[11]

The website Bermuda's History from 1500 to 1699 states:

1619. The ship Garland left London bound for Virginia but ended up in Bermuda - then the Somer's Islands - where she was seized.[12]

The website Ships of Bermuda - 1600's states:

The "Garland" , master William Wye, arrived in November of 1619, a ship of 25 tons (burthen 250 tons), sent in June of 1619 from London, with 45 passengers for Mr John Farrar's plantation in Virginia. Unable to proceed, she returned to England in January 1620. (see also "court actions" for details and "passenger lists" for some of the crew and passengers).[13]

Unknown sources state:

He was in command of the ship Garland out of London going to Virginia Colony when he died from injuries suffered in a storm off of Bermuda in 1619.
Francis Whitney died in Bermuda in 1619 from injuries when the mast of his ship broke in a storm. Supposedly Capt. Francis was an army captain and not a sea captain. It's thought the ship "Garland" was transporting prisoners to Virginia and he was on board to take charge of them. He held two shares in the Virginia Company for the trip so it's quite likely he had his family with him and was going to stay in Virginia.

On March 20, 1620, an Extrordinary Court was held and recorded in The Virginia Company of London Court Books[14]:


It is likely that the Garland carried women and potentially children as well. At that time, the Virginia Company was desperately trying to solidify the settlement at Jamestown. "Also in 1619, the Virginia Company sent 90 single women as potential wives for the male colonists to help populate the settlement."[15]

There are no known records to indicate that Francis Whitney had a wife or any children. Some have suggested that this was a possibility in that a Samuel Whitney was later listed in the records in Bermuda, starting in 1645. This Samuel appears to have been born about 1615 and had a grandson named Francis. Because of this, it is thought that perhaps he had brought a wife and young child with him on the voyage, and that this son survived him and remained on Bermuda. This is, however, unlikely.


1. ^  Alumni Cantabrigensis.

2. ^  The Records of the Honorable Society of Lincoln's Inn: Register 1420-1893 (London: Lincoln's Inn; printed by H. S. Cartwright, 1896). Volume I: Admissions from A. D. 1420 to A. D. 1799, page 153.

3. ^  Prerogative Court of Canterbury, PROB 11/165, [1-64] Seager.

4. ^  Kingsbury, The Records of the Virginia Company of London, Vol. III, pp. 58-59.

5. ^  The Thomas Jefferson Papers Series 8. Virginia Records Manuscripts. 1606-1737. Virginia Company of London, 1619-22, Court Book Part A, p. 9 (image 585 of 1322), located in the Library of Congress.

6. ^  Ibid., pp. 145-146.

7. ^  Edward Arber, ed., Capt. John Smith: of Willoughby by Alfoed, Lincolnshire; president of Virginia, and admiral of New England, Works 1608-1631 (London:Archibald Constable and Co., 1895), p. 669-670 mentions that the voyage arrived in Bermuda after 17 weeks, and John Henry Lefroy, The Historye of the Bermudaes Or Summer Islands (London: The Hakluyt society, 1882), p. 313-314 mentions that it arrived 30 Oct 1619.

8. ^  The Thomas Jefferson Papers Series 8. Virginia Records Manuscripts. 1606-1737. Virginia Company of London, 1619-22, Court Book Part A, p. 281-282 (image XXX of 1322), located in the Library of Congress.

9. ^  John Henry Lefroy, The Historye of the Bermudaes Or Summer Islands (London: The Hakluyt society, 1882), p. 313-314.

10. ^  Edward Arber, ed., Capt. John Smith: of Willoughby by Alfoed, Lincolnshire; president of Virginia, and admiral of New England, Works 1608-1631 (London:Archibald Constable and Co., 1895), p. 669-670

11. ^  Alexander Brown, The First Republic in America: An Account of the Origin of this Nation, Written from the Records then (1624) Concealed by the Council, Rather than from the Histories then Licensed by the Crown (Boston and New York:Houghton, Mifflin, 1898), p. 341

12. ^  Bermuda's History from 1500 to 1699

13. ^  Ships of Bermuda - 1600's

14. ^  The Thomas Jefferson Papers Series 8. Virginia Records Manuscripts. 1606-1737. Virginia Company of London, 1619-22, Court Book Part A, p. 90 (image 664] of 1322), located in the Library of Congress. Printed transcription here

15. ^  Wikipedia, History of Virginia, (as of Dec. 6, 2006).


Copyright © 2006, Tim Doyle and the Whitney Research Group

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