Mailing List:1997-08-22 04, The State of our English Whitney Research, by Allan E. Green
Mailing List Archives > 1997-08-22 04, The State of our English Whitney Research, by Allan E. Green
From: <ALLAGREEN -at- aol.com> Subject: The State of our English Whitney Research Date: Fri, 22 Aug 1997 23:26:17 -0400 (EDT) Greetings to the WRG: Jon Aston forward to me an inquiry about where we stand in the search for an ancestral line connection for Thomas Whitney of Westminster, John-1 Whitney's father. In preparing a response to that lady's inquiry, I decided that I had better send it to the list as a whole, on the thought that there are probably others who have joined us recently who might benefit from the same information. To the lady who sent the query to Jon, I'm sorry, I didn't copy your name down before I deleted the message that he forwarded to me - my memory says Rosemary, but I may be in error. He sent it to me because I seem to be the one most involved with trying to do exactly what you are asking about. The problem is primarily that virtually all of the researchers that want to work on the matter are here and all the records that are needed to try and find the answers are there. And, they are not on-line. Another difficulty is that we are getting right into the time period in which the parish registers were just getting started. The keeping of Parish Registers, which were to list christenings, marriages and deaths/funerals, first began in 1538 at the order of Thomas Cromwell, a minister to the Crown, if my memory serves me well. Supposedly 1500 parishes did begin at that time to keep these records, but it was by no means uniformly done, and there may now be only half of that number whose records from the first 30 to 50 years of the process are available. My Phillmore Parish Register Atlas and Index would show how many IF I wanted to go through all the counties of England and Wales and count them. Since we are dealing with a man born ca 1560/62, it clearly is going to be difficult to trace the line back much further using that record source. Thomas Whitney, "gentleman", who married Mary Bray at St. Margaret Westminster on 12 May 1583 (the father of John Whitney of Watertown), is given in the license to marry as "of Lambeth Marsh" - which is the area just south across the river Thames from Westminster Abbey, upon whose grounds the parish church of St. Margaret Westminster is located. In 1560 the only parish in Lambeth was St. Mary, whose parish register begins in 1539! The problem with that is that this is one of the registers that has never been transcribed, and the original register is deposited in the Greater London Record Office. Supposedly it has been inspected by Paul Reed, the man who wrote the recent article in The American Genealogist about the Thomas Whitney - Robert Whitney connection not being tenable. He does not mention having searched this record in the article, which I have just re-read. One of our members who lives in Salt Lake City has spoken with Mr. Reed and believes he remembers that Mr. Reed said he had looked in that register with no result. I am extremely chagrined that I learned of the Reed article and its "disconnection" of Thomas Whitney from his previously reported father, Robert, after I had returned from England in July of 1996 instead of before. I had thought I might go to the Greater London Record Office one of the days I was in London working on research, to see if I could find details of Thomas' birth in that source (the Lambuth St. Mary parish register). Unfortunately, the Office is located in a place that is not very easy to get to by tube and so I passed this side trip up in favor of spending the same hours in the Library at the Society of Genealogists searching for a record of the marriage of John and Elinor (again, with no luck). I can't rule out the possibility that there might be information in that source until I have such a result directly from a person who has "been there, done that". At the present we only have two WRG members in England (that I know of) , neither of whom is in a position to make such a search/trip easily, due to their location and their work load. Mr. Reed has suggested a few possibilities for searching for the records of Thomas' birth, but again, the records are there and we are here. I don't know when I will get back to England next, but it will not be for at least three years, during which time I will be retiring and changing location. When I settle in over in either northeastern VA or the Eastern Shore of MD and am only a couple of hours drive away from the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, I will have the time and access to at least some data sources that can be explored further, to try and find an alternate location and set of parents for Thomas. There is probably more that I could say on this matter, but I hope that this is sufficient to let you have a sense of where we stand on this matter. I have good hope that we will eventually solve the problem, but probably in years rather than in months. Until that great day, Happy Hunting:-) Allan E. Green <allagreen -at- aol.com> "Despite the high cost of living, have you noticed how it remains so popular?"
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