Family:Whitney, Cornelius (c1680-a1751)

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Cornelius3 Whitney (Joshua2, John1), son of Joshua2 and Abigail (Tarbell) Whitney,[1] was born about 1680, Groton, MA,[2] and died after 1751, date and place unknown.[3]

He married firstly, about 1713, Sarah (?Shepard?),[4] parentage unknown.[5] She was born say 1690, date and place unknown,[6] and died before 1751, date and place unknown.[7]

He married secondly, 7 Nov 1751, Brooklyn, CT, Zerviah (Church) Cleveland,[8] daughter of Samuel and Rebecca (Shattuck) Church and widow of Edward Cleveland (1663-1746).[9] She was born as "Rebecca," 31 Dec 1672, Watertown, MA,[10] and died after 1752, date and place unknown.[11]

The following records indicate his ownership of land in Middlesex County, MA (probably in Groton), from 1705 to 1742:

Middlesex County, Massachusetts, Land Records, Grantor Index:

Year Date Grantor Grantee Vol. Page 1717 Nov 14 WHITNEY, Cornelius E. PEIRCE 18 566 1720 Mar 18 WHITNEY, Cornelius W. WHITNEY 21 113 1730 Apr 8 WHITNEY, Cornelius & al. C. TROWBRIDGE 31 233 1731 May 20 WHITNEY, Cornelius P. PARKER 32 298 1734 May 14 WHITNEY, Cornelius N. BARTLETT 35 429 1737 Dec 12 WHITNEY, Cornelius S. HAZEN 38 482 1742 Mar 5 WHITNEY, Cornelius M. WILLARD 42 551

Middlesex County, Massachusetts, Land Records, Grantee Index:

Year Date Grantee Grantor Vol. Page 1705 Apr 3 WHITNEY, Cornelius J. REED & al. 13 695 1708 Jan 5 WHITNEY, Cornelius J. PARKER 14 657 1710 May 12 WHITNEY, Cornelius D. RUSSELL 15 248 1725 Nov 18 WHITNEY, Cornelius W. TARBELL 24 504 1725 Nov 18 WHITNEY, Cornelius D. PEIRCE 24 505 1725 Nov 18 WHITNEY, Cornelius D. PEIRCE 24 505

In the History of Groton there is a letter from the town fathers to the governor that discusses the status of the town during some Indian troubles in 1707. This includes two lists -- those who are contemplating leaving town and those who already have. Among those on the list of the having already left are Cornelius and Josiah Whitney. Pierce says, "In 1707 the selectmen of Groton petitioned the governor in relation to the number of people 'either actually removed or are meditating it.' In the list 'of persons gone' are the names of Cornelius and Josiah WHITNEY. Cornelius WHITNEY and his wife, Sarah, were admitted to full communion in the Groton church Aug 21, 1715. If they moved away and had 'gone' from Groton in 1707, they must have returned and resided for a short time before going elsewhere."[12]

"He served in the Queen Anne war of 1707."[13]

On 17 Apr 1713, he was named as a son in the will of his father.[14]

"Groton, Mar 23, 1721. Then we, the subscribers, laid out to a fifteen-acre right, originally Ralph READ's, now claimed by Cornelius Whitney, fifty-five acres of land laying on the southeast side of pine meadow, the northwest corner being a great pine by his own meadow, bounded easterly to John Stone's meadow, the northeast corner an oak, the two southerly corners, pines: all marked for corners. What is above fifteen acres in quantity being added to it to make it equal in quality to fifteen acres of the best land, in our judgement, allowance being made for a highway through the same when needed. Said land being fully to satisfy said right in the new division of the common on the east side of the river. Zachariah Sawtell, Phinehas Parker, and Nathaniel Woods, committee of the proprietors of Groton."[15]

The following records show his ownership of land in Killingly, Windham Co., CT, from 1739 to 1749:

Killingly, Connecticut, Land Record Indices:

Grantee Grantor Vol:Page Type Recorded Date Remarks WHITNEY, Cornelius Daniel WATERS 4:171 War 30 Oct 1740 1739 Grantor Grantee Vol:Page Type Recorded Date Remarks WHITNEY, Cornelius Matthias WHITNEY 5:11 QC 8 Apr 1745 1743/4 5 M R WHITNEY, Cornelius et al. Samuel DANIELSON 5:47 War 7 Apr 1746 1746 WHITNEY, Cornelius Joshua WHITNEY 5:142 War 7 Jul 1749 1747/8

"5:11. 1 Feb. 1743/4. Cornelius Whitney deeds to son Matthias Whitney."[16]

He is mentioned as a brother in the will of Joshua3 Whitney, 15 Oct 1751.[17]

Zerviah was a member of the Breakneck Hill Congregational Church in Killingly. "1752 month not given Zerna [sic: should be 'Zervia'--RLW] Whitney, wife of Cornelius Whitney [admitted] from ch. in Mortlake."[18]

Children of Cornelius3 and Sarah (?Shepard?) Whitney:

i. Sarah4 Whitney, b. 17 Apr 1715, Groton, MA;[19] d. presumably before 1732, when a sister was given her name.
ii. Abigail Whitney, b. 9 Dec 1717, Groton, MA;[20] m. John Robbins.
iii. Matthias Whitney, b. 26 May 1720, Groton, MA;[21] m. Alice Robbins.
iv. Mary Whitney, b. 20 Aug 1722, Groton, MA;[22] m. Nathan McKee.
v. Joshua Whitney, b. 1 Dec 1724, Groton, MA;[23] m. (?Joanna?) -----.
vi. Lydia Whitney, b. 23 Apr 1729, Groton, MA;[24] no further record.
vii. Sarah Whitney, b. 8 Jan 1731/2, Groton, MA;[25] probably m. Zechariah Cutting.[26]
viii. Susanna Whitney, bapt. 12 May 1734, Groton, MA;[27] no further record.


1.^  His parentage is proven by his mention in the wills of his father and his oldest brother.

2.^  His birth date is an estimate, based on the order of mention of the sons in his father's will and the brothers in his brother's will, together with the known or estimated birth dates of his siblings.

3.^  He died after the date of his second marriage, but how much after is not known.

4.^  The date is estimated from the birth of her first child. The surname Shepard or Shepherd is not a maiden name which is supported by primary documentation. Furthermore, there seems to be no place among the Shepard families of New England for her. This suggests that her maiden name might be something else. Henry Bond, citing Caleb Butler, didn't give her surname, nor did Henry Austin Whitney, nor William L. Whitney in 1890. Pierce seems to be the first to supply that surname for her. Note that Cornelius's sister married Samuel Shepard.

5.^  See previous note.

6.^  The date is estimated from the birth of her first child.

7.^  She died before her husband's second marriage.

8.^  "Cornelius Whitney of Killingly & Zerviah Cleaveland, [married] 7 Nov. 1751," according to Frederick W. Bailey, Early Connecticut Marriages (1896), Brooklyn, 1:36.

9.^  Robert M. Search and Helen C. Search, "Garrett Church of Watertown, Mass.," NEHGR, Vol. 123 (1969), p. 189.

10.^  Ibid.; also, "The Records of the Congregational Church in Canterbury, Conn., show that on 23 Jan. 1715 'Before Rebeckah now Zerviah Church was Bap: then called Zerviah' and as Zerviah entered into the Covenant the same day. On 'Janewary 1, 1722 Edward Cleveland Senior and Zerviah Church' were married. ... It is stated in the Cleveland-Cleaveland Genealogy, vol. 1, p. 48, that it may possibly have been Mrs. Zerviah (Church) Cleveland who married Cornelius Whitney or Whiting of Killingly, Conn., in the Brooklyn, Conn., church, 7 Nov. 1751. Frederic W. Bailey, Early Connecticut Marriages, 1896, vol. 1, p. 36, gives the name as Cornelius Whitney. No proof is offered that it was the widow of Edward Cleveland who married Cornelius Whitney. Rebecca3 (or Zerviah) Church (Samuel2, Garrett1) would have been within two months of her ninetieth [sic: eightieth--RLW] birthday at this time." Frederic C. Church, Robert M. Search, and Helen C. Search, "Samuel Church of Stonington, Conn.," NEHGR, Vol. 118 (1964), pp. 270, 274.

11.^  How long she survived after joining the Breakneck Hill Congregational Church in Killingly is not known.

12.^  Frederick Clifton Pierce, The Descendants of John Whitney, Who Came from London, England, to Watertown, Massachusetts, in 1635 (Chicago, IL: The Author, 1895), p. 36.

13.^  Ibid.

14.^  Middlesex County, Massachusetts, probate file #24,703.

15.^  Hayward, Kendall P., "Miscellanea: XXI. Killingly Land Records," The American Genealogist, vol. 26 (1950), p. 160.

16.^  Pierce, op. cit., p. 36.

17.^  Pierce, op. cit., p. 35.

18.^  Talcott, Mary Kingsbury, "Records of Breakneck Hill Congregational Church, Killingly, Conn.," NEHGR, vol. LXVI (1912), p. 337.

19.^  "Sarah [Whitney], d. Curnellus and Sarah, [born] Apr. 17, 1715," according to Vital Records of Groton, Massachusetts, to the End of the Year 1849 (Salem, MA: Essex Institute, 1926-1927).

20.^  "Abigall [Whitney], d. Curnelus and Sarah, [born] Dec. 9, 1717," according to Groton Vital Records.

21.^  "Matthias [Whitney], s. Cornelies and Sarah, [born] May 26, 1720," according to Groton Vital Records.

22.^  "Mary [Whitney], d. Cornelius and Sarah, [born] Aug. 20, 1722," according to Groton Vital Records.

23.^  "Joshua [Whitney], s. Cornelius and Sarah, [born] Dec. 1, 1724," according to Groton Vital Records.

24.^  "Lidia [Whitney], d. Cornelius and Sarah, [born] Apr. 23, 1729," according to Groton Vital Records.

25.^  "Sarah [Whitney], d. Cornelius and Sarah, [born] Jan. 8, 1731/2," according to Groton Vital Records.

26.^  It has been written that this Sarah Whitney was the one who married, 26 Nov 1747, Groton, MA, Benjamin Wilson. I think that this is unlikely, and that it was a different Sarah5 Whitney who contracted that marriage. For a fuller discussion, see some extracts from the mailing list.

27.^  "Susanna [Whitney], d. Cornelius and Sarah, bap. May 12, 1734," according to Groton Vital Records; also "Susannah [Whitney], d. Cornelius and Sarah, bp. May 12, 1734, B.R.," according to Vital Records of Shirley, Massachusetts, to the Year 1850 (Boston, MA: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1918), p. 94.

Copyright © 2006, 2011, Robert L. Ward and the Whitney Research Group.