Family:Whitney, Joshua (1635-1719)

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Joshua Whitney's gravestone in the Old Cemetery, Groton, MA
©1997, Allan Gilbertson

Joshua2 Whitney (John1), son of John1 and Elinor (-----) Whitney,[1] was born 15 Jul 1635, Watertown, Massachusetts,[2] and died 7 Aug 1719, aged 83 years, Groton, Massachusetts.[3]

He married firstly, 20 Nov 1664, Charlestown, Massachusetts,[4], Mary (-----) Buckminster, parentage and birth unknown, widow of Thomas Buckminster, Jr. She died 17 Mar 1671/2, Watertown, Massachusetts.[5].

He married secondly, 30 Sep 1672, Watertown, Massachusetts,[6] Abigail Tarbell, daughter of Thomas and Mary (-----) Tarbell.[7] No birth or death record have been found for her. She was still living in Groton on 6 Oct 1719, when she posted bond as executrix of her husband's estate.[8] It is likely she was the Abigall Whitney (Spalding) who died 29 Nov 1743 or 1748, Lebanon, CT, aged 91, or in her 91st year.[9] If so, she married secondly, ----- Spalding. The probable identity of this husband is Joseph2 Spalding, son of Edward1 and Grizzell (Fletcher) Spalding, born 25 Oct 1646, Braintree, MA, and died 3 Apr 1740, Plainfield, CT. He had married, 9 Dec 1670, Chelmsford, MA, Mercy Jewell, born 14 Apr 1653, Braintree, MA, and died 17 Aug 1728, Plainfield, CT. If this identification is correct, then the marriage would have occurred between 1728 and 1740.

For a discussion of his wives and children see an essay on that subject.

"Joshua WHITNEY was the first of the family who was born in America. He was one of the earliest settlers, a deacon and original proprietor at Groton, Mass, and dwelt there probably until it was burnt by the Indians, during King Philip's war, in the spring of 1676. He returned to Watertown for a few years and died in 1719. His will is dated Apr. 17, 1713, and proved Oct. 5, 1719. It mentions several children whose births are not recorded. He was buried in the old burying ground in Groton. He served as a soldier in King Philip's war with his son, Joshua, Jr, in 1691-2. [sic--They served (see below) but King Philip's War had ended in 1676.--RLW]
"From the various works on Groton, compiled by that able historian, Hon. Samuel A. GREEN, of Boston, I glean the following relating to Dea. WHITNEY:
"In 1681, 83, 84 and 87, he was elected one of the selectmen. In 1690 he was selected one of the board to arrange matters pertaining to the meeting house; 1684 Joshuey WHITNEY elected constibel; 1690 Joshua WHITNEY elected a tithing-man; 1685 Joshiway WHITNEY selected at the town meeting as a news newers: 1693 elected overseer of highway; 1701 was chairman of the committee to heat the meeting house; 1702 was again elected selectman.
"Groton, Apr. 22, 1715, at a church meeting.
'WHEREAS, Deacon WHITNEY is old, and desirous of the choice of another to officiate in his place, and whereas dea. John FARNSWORTH is desirous of a new choice, unless he were more unanimously confirmed, the church did thereupon unanimously elect, or make choice of Simon STONE and Thomas TARBELE, to officiate as deacons in the church of Groton.
"Joshuay WHITNY have payd for his land which he did purchis of the Town Comity in the yer 1683, the and inst sum of twellve shillins for twelve ackrs of land. I say payd for acording too ordr for the us of the Town. By JONATHAN MORS, Clerk.
"He d. Aug. 7, 1719*. Res. Watertown, Groton and Watertown, Mass."[10]

On 9 Mar 1670/71, his brother Benjamin Whitney sold to Dea. Joshua Whitney with the consent of his father, for £40, all right to his father's homestead, house, barn and about 17 acres land in Watertown, bounded N. by John Sherman, E. and S. by William Bond, W. by M. Underwood, obtained 5 Apr 1670. After the decease of his father Joshua returned to Groton, and on the 29th Oct., 1697, sold this ancient homestead to Dea. Nathan Fiske."[11]

On 3 Apr 1673 he was mentioned in the will of his father, of which he was co-executor with his brother John. "I give unto my son Joshua Whitney: twenty acres of my land called devedend: and a cubard and a little table and a cheste and a great kittle and a warming pan and a skillit."[12]

on 17 Mar 1691/92 he and his son Joshua Whitney, Jr., recorded as "Joshua Whitting" and "Joshua Whitting Junr.," were members of the garrison in the West Regiment of Middlesex.[13]

In Nov 1711, a list of frontier garrisons reviewed by order of the governor, in Groton, includes "Deacon Whitney", 4 families, 8 inhabitants, 0 soldiers, and 32 souls. Reference is made to Mass. Archives, v. 71, p. 874.[14]

His will was dated 17 Apr 1713. Deacon Joshua Whitney of Grotton, "aged about seventy six years"; Abigail, my now n[ ]ed wife; son William Whitney, all housing and lands in Grotton; his mother above [i.e. Abigail] and he to be executors; son Joshua Whitney, £30; son Cornelous Whitney; son David Whitney; my five daughters now living, Mary Peirce, Elenor Shepard, Sarah Juell, Martha Williams, and Elisabeth Farnworth; eldest daughter Hutchins's children, her eldest son John Hutchins (under 21), and the rest of her children (under 21); her three daughters; eldest daughter, wife of Thomas Woods, having received her portion; witnesses, Jonathan Bowen, Abraham Moores, Samll. Cummings.[15]

On 6 Oct 1719 at Groton, his will was proved, and bond was posted by widow Abigail Whitney and William Whitney, yeoman, both of Groton, as executors.[16]

Children of Joshua2 and Mary (-----)(Buckminster) Whitney:

i. Joshua3 Whitney, b. 14 Jun 1665, Groton, MA;[17] m.(1) Mary -----; m.(2) Sarah (-----)(Warren) Fellowes.
ii. Sarah Whitney, b. 10 Oct 1668, Groton, MA,[18] d. young.
iii. Hannah Whitney, b. say 1670; m. Thomas Woods.

Children of Joshua2 and Abigail (Tarbell) Whitney:

iv. Abigail3 Whitney, b. about 1673; m. John Hutchins.
v. Mary Whitney, b. 1 Jul 1675, Groton, MA;[19] m. Ephraim Peirce.
vi. William Whitney, b. 28 Feb 1677/8, Watertown, MA;[20] m.(1) Lydia Perham; m.(2) Margaret Mirick.
vii. Cornelius Whitney, b. about 1680; m. Sarah [?Shepard?].
viii. David Whitney, b. 1682; m.(1) Elizabeth Warren; m.(2) Prudence (Merrills) Sedgwick.
ix. Eleanor Whitney, b. say 1684; m. Samuel Shepard.
x. Sarah Whitney, b. say 1686; m. Nathaniel Jewell.
xi. Martha Whitney, b. say 1688; m. Isaac Williams.
xii. Elizabeth Whitney, b. say 1689; m. Ebenezer Farnsworth.


The allegation that Alice, wife of Nathaniel Woods, was his daughter is precluded by the terms of his will. See "Joshua2 Whitney's Wives and Children" for a fuller discussion.


1.^  His parentage is proven by his birth record, land records, and his mention in his father's will.

2.^  "Joshua Whetny, s. John & Elinor Whetny, b. 15 5m 1635," according to Watertown Records, Comprising the First and Second Book of Town Proceedings, with the Land Grants and Possessions. Also, the Proprietors' Book, and the First Book of and Supplement of Births, Deaths, and Marriages (Watertown, MA: Historical Society, 1894), vol. 1, p. 4.

3.^  "Joshua [Whetney], Dea., [died] Aug. 1, 1719 [a. 83y., G.R.2]," according to Vital Records of Groton, Massachusetts, to the End of the Year 1849 (Salem, MA: Essex Institute, 1926-1927), p. 278-279.

4.^  "Joseph Widney & Marie Buckmaster, m. by Mr. Richard Russell, Magist., about 20 9 mo. 1664," according to Roger D. Joslyn, F.A.S.G., comp. and ed., Vital Records of Charlestown, Massachusetts to the Year 1850 (Boston, MA: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1984), vol. 1, part 1, p. 50. That this was, in fact, Joshua Whitney, and not Joseph Widney, is deduced by the fact that no Joseph Whitney of the proper age is known, and that Joshua had a wife Mary by 1666.

5.^  "p. 35: Mary Whetny, w. Jofhuah Whetny, d. 17 Mar 1671" i.e. 1671/2, according to Watertown Records, p. 35.

6.^  "Jofhuah Whetny & Abigall Tarball, m. last of Sept 1672," according to Watertown Records, p. 36. See also William Montgomery Clemens, American Marriage Records Before 1699.

7.^  Charles Henry Wight, "Thomas Tarbell and Some of His Descendants," NEHGR, vol. LXI (1907), pp. 70-75, 165-172.

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

9.^  "Abigall (Spalding) [Whitney], [d.] 29 Nov 1743 ae 91," according to the Lebanon, CT, Goshen Cemetery sexton's records, 1:138. Also, "SPAULDING, SPALDEN, Abigail, d. Dec. 5, 1748, in the 91st y. of her age," according to the Barbour Collection of Connecticut Vital Records, Lebanon 1:289.

10.^  Frederick C. Pierce, The Descendants of John Whitney, Who Came from London, England, to Watertown, Massachusetts, in 1635 (Chicago, IL: The Author, 1895), pp. 24-25.

11.^  Henry Austin Whitney, "The Descendants of John and Elinor Whitney, of Watertown, Mass.," NEHGR, vol. XI (1857), p. 117.

12.^  Middlesex County, Massachusetts, probate file #24,680.

13.^  ibid.

14.^  Samuel A. Green, M.D. "Materials for the History of Groton, Mass.", NEHGR, vol. X, (1856), pp. 243-249, p. 247.

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

16.^  ibid.

17.^  "Joshua [Whitney], s. Joshua, [born] June 14, 1665," according to Vital Records of Groton, Massachusetts, to the End of the Year 1849 (Salem, MA: Essex Institute, 1926-1927).

18.^  "Sarah [Whitney], d. Joshua, [born] Oct. 10, 1668," according to Groton Vital Records.

19.^  "Mary [Whitney], d. Joshua, [born] 1:5:[16]75," according to Groton Vital Records.

20.^  "Willyam Whetny, s. Joshuah & Abigall, b. last of Feb 1677," according to Watertown Records, p. 43.

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