Archive:Joshua Whitney's Wives and Children

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Who Were the Daughters of Joshua2 Whitney?

by Vickie (Elam) White

Mary Manroe wrote:

... my Alice WHITNEY, married to Nathaniel WOODS, was not listed as the child of Joshua, the son of John and Elinor. Is there a problem?

Robert L. Ward wrote:

The analysis is an interesting exercise. Joshua2 WHITNEY named in his will, among others, "my five daughters now living, Mary PEIRCE, Elenor SHEPARD, Sarah JUELL, Martha WILLIAMS, and Elizabeth FARNWORTH"; eldest daughter HUTCHINS's children; and eldest daughter, wife of Thomas WOODS, having received her portion. Alice, wife of Nathaniel WOODS was living at the date of this will, 17 Apr 1713. It seems impossible that she was a daughter of Joshua WHITNEY. No other credible evidence either in favor or against this identification has been found so far, as far as I know. I conclude that Alice (-----) WOODS is very unlikely to be a daughter of Joshua WHITNEY, although Nathaniel's brother Thomas WOODS did marry Hannah WHITNEY, daughter of Joshua.

Jeanne Muse wrote:

Joshua Whitney's will may have been dated in 1713, but he didn't die until 1719.
Joshua Whitney's gravestone indicates that he died August 7th, 1719. Here is an actual photograph of his grave from Allan Gilbertson (another fellow researcher):
Since we have Alice's death date as 10 Jan 1717/1718, she WAS alive at the time Joshua wrote his will AND when he actually died.
Documents not yet found which might assist:
The Will of Nathaniel Woods
The Will of Alice (Whitney?) Woods
The Will of Sarah (Brown) Woods
The Will of Mary (Blanchard) Woods
The Will of Jabez Brown (Sarah's father) if it is dated during the time Alice was married to Nathaniel Woods.
The Will of John Blanchard (Mary's father) if it is dated during the time Alice was married to Nathaniel Woods.
I say this is not closed until some other documentation is found. Anyone else have ideas?

Joshua WHITNEY's will plainly said he had 5 living daughters in 1713.

The following is quite long, and I apologize. I am attempting to work on the Alice (WHITNEY?) WOODS problem, but also on the other known daughters of Joshua WHITNEY.

If the transcript I have of Joshua's will is correct, it is confusing because he called both Hannah (WHITNEY) WOODS [wife of Thomas WOODS] and Abigail (WHITNEY) HUTCHINS his eldest daughter. I have since found out that Abigail died in 1705/6 and Hannah was not among the named living daughters so must have been dead by 1713.

Torrey and Savage give no birthdates for Abigail and Hannah WHITNEY. It seems to be generally accepted that Hannah was the older of the two, but I don't really know what proof is offered. Hannah was supposedly Joshua's daughter by his first wife, Lydia -----, whom he married by 1666. Joshua was born in 1635, and men were usually in their mid-to-late twenties when they married in those days. So I wouldn't be surprised if he had married about 1662. His son Joshua Jr. was born in 1665, and daughter Sarah was born in 1668. Joshua's second wife Mary died on 17 Mar 1672. Unfortunately we don't know when Joshua and Mary were married, just that it was between 1668 and 1672. So, Hannah could have been born before 1665 or after 1668. Not too precise, huh? <G> We could do a bit of speculation, though. Hannah had married Thomas WOODS by 1697 (based on the birth of their daughter Esther). However, they had a daughter named Abigail whose birthdate is unknown but which was probably about 1693 - 1695 because she got married in 1713. So, if Hannah and Thomas married about 1692 - 1694, a birthdate of 1670 - 1672 for Hannah would not be out of line. I wonder if Joshua's first wife Lydia died while giving birth to Hannah? Or if Hannah was actually Mary's daughter, not Lydia's?

Ah, speculation is fun isn't it? <G>

Supposedly, Joshua's daughter Abigail was born about 1673, probably his first child by third wife Abigail TARBELL. I believe the source for this date was Burke's Prominent Families of the United States of America, pg. 330. But I could be wrong about that. I'd really like to nail down their birthdates a bit, but I don't have access to the Watertown VRs and their births aren't recorded in the Groton VRs. This was a period of tremendous upheaval in the Groton area, with Indian raids necessitating the removal of citizens to cities further east. It's no wonder that some events never made it into the town records. <G>

NEHGR XI (1857), pp. 116-117, "The Descendants of John and Elinor Whitney, of Watertown, Mass" by H.A.Whitney says:

JOSHUA WHITNEY, of 1 Groton, 2 Watertown. Wives:--
  1. 1. LYDIA,
  2. 2. MARY, who died March 17, 1671-2;
  3. 3. ABIGAIL TARBALL, Sept. 30, 1672, in Watertown.
His will made April 17, 1713; proved Oct. 6, 1719.
  1. I. Hannah, m. Thos. Woods of Groton. (4 chn.)
  2. II. Joshua, b. June 14, 1666, in Groton, by wife Lydia.
  3. III. Sarah, b. Oct. 10, 1668, in Groton; m. ----- Juell.
  4. IV. Abigail, m. John Hutchins. (5 chn.)
  5. V. Mary, b. July 1, 1675, in Groton; m. Ephraim Pierce. (9 chn.)
  6. VI. William, b. Feb. 28, 1678.
  7. VII. Cornelius.
  8. VIII, David.
  9. IX. Martha, m. Isaac Williams, Jr., of Newton. (8 chn.)
  10. X. Elizabeth, m. Eben Farnsworth. (8 chn.)
  11. XI. Eleanor, m. ----- Shepherd.

Plus, I found a little additional info from some lineages contained in the back of the Littleton MA vital records book. I didn't get a look at the actual Littleton VRs, though. Who knows where the author got his facts for these lineages, but they are certainly worth investigating. I have found, when checking them against other records during my own research, that many of them were quite accurate, so you never know... <G>

According to the Littleton MA book, Sarah WHITNEY married Nathaniel JEWELL in Groton on 11 Jul 1704. However, the Groton VRs don't show this marriage. Now, that would have made her about 36 years old at the time of her first marriage. That is rather unusual for that era. I still wonder if it was actually her second marriage. Anyway, it looks as though they moved to Plainfield CT, near her brother Joshua Jr. Several folks seemed to assume that she remarried to someone named TAYLOR because Joshua Jr.'s 1753 will mentions a Sarah TAYLOR. But I believe there are no relationships stated in the will, so it isn't safe to assume that she was his sister.

And Elenor WHITNEY supposedly married Samuel SHEPARD, who was Nathaniel JEWELL's half-brother. Samuel was born between 1667 (the year his parents married) and 1676 (the year his father died). But I haven't been able to find a record of his birthdate or of his marriage to Elenor. No date for Elenor's birth, either. As mentioned above, it is assumed that Abigail was born ca 1673. According to the Groton VRs, Mary was born in 1675. And William was born in Watertown in 1678. Then the VRs don't record any more births so we need to start guestimating. It looks like most researchers list Cornelius' birthdate as 1680, David's as 1682, Martha's as 1684, and Elizabeth's as 1686. Where would Elenor fit in?

Which brings me to the main reason for my interest in Joshua WHITNEY's daughters. Lots of researchers say that Nathaniel WOODS married an Eleanor, then an Alice WHITNEY (daughter of Joshua), who died on 10 Jan 1717/8 in her 45th year, then two other women. This would mean she was born ca. 1673. I have some reason to suspect that Eleanor and Alice were the same person. But was she really a WHITNEY?

I haven't seen any evidence that Joshua WHITNEY had a daughter named Alice, but he obviously did have a daughter named Elenor. Could Samuel SHEPARD have died after 1713 (the date of Joshua WHITNEY's will) and Elenor remarry to Nathaniel WOODS? The two families were acquainted, both because they both lived in Groton and because Elenor's sister Hannah married Nathaniel's brother Thomas WOODS.

Big problem with that, though. And if she did remarry to Nathaniel WOODS sometime after 1713, then she wasn't the mother of his children. I believe there is strong evidence that the same woman was the mother of all of Nathaniel WOODS' children, born between 1694 and 1715. All of the Groton civil records say that the mother of Nathaniel WOODS' children was "Alles." Out of 12 children, the only mentions of an Eleanor as the mother were four baptismal records in 1707, 1708, 1709, and 1711. The children born/baptized before and after these four were listed as the children of Alles. I strongly suspect this is a clerical error. Perhaps further investigation of the original church records for 1707-1711 would show that there was a different person recording names? <G>

Also, there is no death record in Groton for an Eleanor WOODS, wife of Nathaniel. The only one is for Alice. And Savage never mentions a wife Eleanor for Nathaniel WOODS. Surely he examined Bond, so he must have concluded that Bond was wrong.

OK, so why was Alice said to be a WHITNEY? I don't have access to the original Torrey manuscripts, but I suspect that he got the info from Bond's Genealogies of the Families and Descendants of the Early Settlers of Watertown. I haven't seen it personally, but someone sent me an excerpt. On volume 1, page 644 it says "dr. Woods, mentioned in her father's Will; perhaps Alice, wife of Nathaniel Woods, of Groton; 12 chil." Well, this was plainly Hannah WHITNEY, wife of Thomas WOODS. Joshua WHITNEY's will calls her "eldest daughter, wife to Thomas WOODS, who had received her portion." It's confusing, and I wish I could find an original copy of the will so I could see the wording myself. According to the Groton VRs, Thomas WOODS was married to Elizabeth ----- until her death in 1688. His next wife was named Hannah. Ergo, Hannah WHITNEY. <G> I'm really not sure why anyone got the idea that Alice (-----) WOODS was a WHITNEY.

I think all we can really say is that Nathaniel WOODS married Alice ----- as his first wife, that Alice was the mother of all of his children, and that he was married only 3 times rather than 4. And I personally think she was not a daughter of Joshua WHITNEY, mostly because Joshua didn't name her as one of his 5 living daughters in 1713.

It is tough to review these age-old lineages! They have been in print for so long that they've been included in tons of other genealogies. It just goes on and on... <G> I hope other descendants of the WOODS and WHITNEY families will chime in here.

The Wives and Children of Joshua2 WHITNEY

by Robert L. Ward

I have come to consider the problem of the wives and children of Joshua2 WHITNEY, son of John1 and Elinor (-----) WHITNEY.

According to two sources below, Joshua2 WHITNEY m.(1) Lydia -----, m.(2) Mary ----- (d. 17 Mar 1671/2, Watertown, MA [VR]), and m.(3) 30 Sep 1672, Watertown, MA (VR) Abigail TARBALL. The births of his oldest children are Joshua, b. 14 Jun 1665, Groton, MA (VR), and Sarah, b. 10 Oct 1668, Groton, MA (VR). Their birth records do not give the name of their mother. Most of the children were probably by Abigail (TARBALL) WHITNEY, although the births of only two are recorded: Mary, b. 1 Jul 1675, Groton, MA (VR), and William, b. 28 Feb 1678, Watertown, MA (VR). The order of the five living daughters mentioned in Joshua's will was: Mary PEIRCE, Elenor SHEPARD, Sarah JUELL, Martha WILLIAMS, and Elisabeth FARNWORTH. Usually in such lists in wills, the children are named in order of birth. If Mary was the oldest, then Elenor, Sarah, Martha, and Elisabeth (which is consistent with known ages and marriage dates), that means that Sarah, b. 1668, above, must have died young and a second daughter Sarah must have been born. This tallies nicely with the marriage record of Sarah WHITNEY to Nathaniel JEWELL, on 11 Jul 1704 in Groton, MA (but recorded in the Plainfield, CT, vital records, not in the Groton, MA, vitals). A birth date for this Sarah of about 1682-1686 would be appropriate for a 1704 bride. The death of the first Sarah would account for the naming in Joshua's will of "eldest daughter" Hannah, who m. after 1688, Thomas WOODS (b. 9 Mar 1663, Groton), and whose birth I place at about 1670. Surely she was not by Abigail.

Who were Joshua's wives? The only references I have seen for the existence of Lydia ----- are:

  1. Whitney, Henry Austin, "The Descendants of John and Elinor Whitney of Watertown, Mass.," New England Historical and Genealogical Register, vol. XI (1857), pp. 113-121, 225-230; vol. 12 (1858), pp. 215-219.
  2. Bond, Henry, Genealogies of the Families and Descendants of the Early Settlers of Watertown, Massachusetts, Including Waltham and Weston; to Which is Appended the Early History of the Town. With Illustrations, Maps, and Notes. Volume I, Genealogies (2nd ed., 1860), pp. 348, 642-652; Vol. II, Additions, Corrections, and Early History (Boston, MA: Little, Brown & Company, 1855), pp. 964-966.

I do not know what F. C. Pierce says about this subject. It is known that Bond and H. A. Whitney knew each other, and probably they shared information on this family, so they cannot be considered independent sources.

Are there any other sources verifying the existence of the wife Lydia? If not, I propose that Lydia is an error for Lydia (JONES) WHITNEY, wife of Joshua's brother Jonathan2 WHITNEY, who is well documented.

In regards to the wife Mary -----, I have found in the IGI the marriage record of Mary BUCKMINSTER to Joseph WIDNEY on 20 Nov 1664 in Charlestown, MA. Of course "WIDNEY" is one of the variant spellings of WHITNEY. There was no Joseph WHITNEY born early enough to be the groom of this marriage. It seems very likely to me that this is record of the marriage of Joshua2 WHITNEY to his wife Mary -----. Certainly the date tallies perfectly with the birth of the oldest child. If so, all the older children of Joshua would have been by her. The WHITNEY extracts from the Vital Records of Charlestown, MA, do include this event.

Who was this Mary BUCKMINSTER? The immigrant ancestor of the BUCKMINSTER or BUCKMASTER family was Thomas1, of Boston, who was married before 1624 to Joanna -----. They had a daughter Mary2, but she married Henry STEVENS. There was a son, Thomas2 BUCKMINSTER, Jr., b. ca. 1637, who died 1659-1660, Boston, MA, and left a widow Mary (-----) BUCKMINSTER. This is the lady I propose for the wife of Joshua2 WHITNEY. Clarence Almon Torrey's New England Marriages Prior to 1700 does not supply her maiden name, unfortunately! Widow Joanna (-----) BUCKMINSTER remarried in 1661 to Edward GARFIELD of Watertown, where she settled. That could have provided the means for her widowed daughter-in-law, Mary (-----) BUCKMINSTER, to meet and marry Joshua2 WHITNEY of Watertown.

This makes my reconstruction of the family of Joshua2 WHITNEY as follows:

First wife, Mary (-----) BUCKMINSTER, widow of Thomas2, m. 20 Nov 1664, Charlestown, MA, d. 17 Mar 1671/2, Watertown, MA. Second wife, Abigail2 TARBALL, b. ca. 1643, dau. of Thomas1 and Mary (-----) TARBELL, m. 30 Sep 1672, Watertown, MA, d. after 6 Oct 1719 (husband's probate). Children of Joshua and Mary:

  1. Joshua, b. 14 Jun 1665, Groton, m. ca. 1690, Mary -----, d. 1753.
  2. Sarah, b. 10 Oct 1668, Groton, probably d. young.
  3. Hannah, b. say 1670, m. aft. 1688, Thomas WOODS, d. bef. 1713.

Children of Joshua and Abigail:

  1. Abigail, b. ca. 1673, m. 1692, John HUTCHINS, d. 1705.
  2. Mary, b. 1 Jul 1675, Groton, m. ca. 1695, Ephraim PEIRCE.
  3. William, b. 28 Feb 1677/8, Watertown, m.(1) 1700, Lydia PERHAM, m.(2) 1717, Margaret MIRICK, d. aft. 1754
  4. Cornelius, b. say 1680, m. ca. 1714, Sarah SHEPHERD.
  5. David, b. 1682, m.(1) 1713, Elizabeth WARREN, m.(2) 1767, Prudence (MERRILLS) SEDGWICK.
  6. Eleanor, b. say 1684, m. Samuel SHEPHERD.
  7. Sarah, b. say 1686, m. 1704, Nathaniel JEWELL.
  8. Martha, b. say 1688, m. 1709, Isaac WILLIAMS.
  9. Elizabeth, b. say 1689, m. 1707, Ebenezer FARNSWORTH.

I think that this is consistent with all records I have seen on the subject.

Any comments, corrections, additions, and so on, would be most welcome.

The Wife of Nathaniel Woods Identified

A new article has been published.[1] In it, a very persuasive case is made that Alice, first wife of Nathaniel Woods and mother of all his children, was Alice Goble, daughter of Daniel and Hannah (Brewer) Goble. She was not a daughter of Joshua2 Whitney.

1.^  Gilbertson, Allan, "Alice Goble, the First Wife of Nathaniel2 Woods of Groton, Massachusetts", The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, 172 (Spring 2018).

Copyright © 1999, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2018, Vickie Elam White, Robert L. Ward, and The Whitney Research Group.