Family:Whitney, John (1639-a1676)

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John Whitney (Robert, Thomas), son of Robert and Mary (Towers) Whitney,[1] was baptized 10 February 1638/9, St. Peter's Cornhill, London,[2] and died after 1676.[3]

He married, before 23 Oct 1667, Elizabeth -----, of whom we know only that she was mentioned as his wife in his mother's will.

Where they lived is not known.

Robert Whitney's original will was dated 19 January 1661/2 and proved 16 April 1662 (FHL Film #94,280). He gave his loving children John and Mary Whitney 5s. each. He also gave John the great ring he had had from his father.

The original will of Mary Whitney was dated 23 October 1667 and proved 11 February 1667/8 (FHL Film #588,057). She left her son, John Whitney, and his wife, Elizabeth, 5s. each, to be paid within a year and a day after her decease. She gave her loving grandchild, Jane Whitney, one silver gilt spoon.[4]

In 1676, then aged 38 years, he registered his pedigree with the College of Arms, and claimed to be the heir male of the Whitney family of Whitney, Herefordshire.[5] One cannot infer that his claim was denied at the time,[6] even though his given pedigree seems to have been inaccurate. The estates of that family were actually distributed to descendants of Whitney daughters.

Child of John and Elizabeth (-----) Whitney:

i. Jane Whitney, named in her grandmother's will, 23 October 1667.


1.^  Dean Crawford Smith and Melinde Lutz Sanborn, The Ancestry of Eva Belle Kempton, 1878-1908. Part I: The Ancestry of Warren Francis Kempton, 1817-1879 (Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1996), p. 526, citing the parish register of St. Peter's Cornhill, London; also Henry Melville, The Ancestry of John Whitney (New York, NY: The De Vinne Press, 1896), pp. 272, 273.

2.^  ibid.

3.^  Melville, op. cit., p. 273, where it describes him as "aet 38, ano. 1676".

4.^  Paul C. Reed, "Whitney Origins Revisited: John1 Whitney of Watertown, Massachusetts, and Henry1 Whitney of Long Island and Norwalk, Connecticut," The American Genealogist, vol. 69 (1994), p. 11.

5.^  Melville, op. cit., p. 272, it says he "claimeth to be heire male of the whole Family", that is, the Whitney family of Whitney, Herefordshire, from whom he claimed descent.

6.^  Adrian Benjamin Burke, Esq., wrote, "By the end of the seventeenth century, the mood of English common law was beginning to sway against the tradition of entails. What this means is that where, during the Middle Ages, a wealthy gentleman such as the Sir James Whitney of Whitney who left the 1587 will and entail listing ten of his contingent male heirs could in effect dictate by those terms how his family’s land could be owned for decades or even centuries after his death – the whole real estate system would be weighted down by ancient documents and a vast genealogical tree of male descendents trying to keep estates in the same family. It was a result of the modernizing period and general economic prosperity enjoyed during the reign of Elizabeth I and continuing throughout even Cromwell’s dictatorship that the English courts began to devise an instrument to prevent wealthy landowner’s from keeping their lands in the family for ever: it was called the Rule Against Perpetuities – and every American lawyer must learn about it. A testator of a will could only control what happened to his land after death for so long, before the courts would intervene and break the control, allowing the land to be bought and sold freely. This rule was first established in the Duke of Norfolk's Case, 3 Ch. Cas. 1, 22 Eng. Rep. 931 (Ch. 1682), of 1682, only a few years after Sir Thomas’ death [in 1670]. It may be that by the time Sir Thomas died, his ancestor’s list of contingent heirs made almost a hundred years earlier was considered by the courts a relic of England’s Medieval past."

Copyright © 2006, Robert L. Ward and The Whitney Research Group

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