Archive:The First Known Use of Whitney as a Surname

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Henry Austin Whitney, The First Known Use of Whitney as a Surname: Its Probable Signification, and Other Data (Boston, MA: Henry Austin Whitney, 1875).

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Henry Austin Whitney

As the language used in some portions of the following pages may not be understood hereafter, it is well to state that Mr. STEPHEN WHITNEY PHOENIX, of New York, is about to print a genealogical account of the descendants of HENRY WHITNEY of Norwalk, Connecticut, his lineal maternal ancestor, and that, during the last spring, he expressed a wish to include. in his volume some part of my scattered notes and data, collected many years ago.
As the manuscript was in various handwritings, and in inconvenient shape for one not familiar with it to arrange for the press, these selections have been printed in quarto, as uniform with other memoranda heretofore printed, and as enabling Mr. PHOENIX to readily make such extracts as he may think desirable.
                                HENRY AUSTIN WHITNEY.

October 6, 1875.


WHITNEY, as a surname, dates back to about the time of the Norman Conquest of England, in 1066. The name itself is supposed to be of Anglo-Saxon origin; yet those who first assumed it as a cognomen seem to have been of Flemish descent.* There are two towns or parishes of the name in England; and, although now spelled differently, they were for many centuries spelled in the same various ways, and are, possibly, identical in their signification. Witney, in Oxfordshire, we find written Witney (the present use), Wittney, Witenie, Witeney, Witteneye, Wytney, Wyttney, Wyteney, Wytteneye, Whiteneye, Whitteneye, Whitney; and the parish of Whitney, in Herefordshire, whence the surname, we also find written Whitney (the present use), Whiteney, Whyteneye, Witenie, &c.

The Rev. Dr. Giles, in his history of Witney and the neighboring parishes, in Oxfordshire, published in London, in 1852, thus refers to the signification of the name: "But, if Witney received any fresh peculiarity of character from the Saxons, it certainly takes its name from the occupation of that busy and plodding race of men. The Witan-eye, or, as it is also written in the Anglo-Saxon or old English dialect, Witan-ige, evidently signifies the island of the wise men or of the Parliament; it is well known that the Saxons -- far more respectful, in that particular, toward their senate than we their descendants, -- always attributed wisdom as the chief, and, in fact, necessary virtue of their representatives. Thus the word Witney means, etymologically, Parliament Isle, though no record has been handed down to us to tell for what reason such a name was given. There is a large house still named Parliament House, at the corner of the Crofts Lane, which, to the minds of some, conveys a tradition concerning the etymology of the name Witney; but other persons, perhaps too much given to matter of fact, and insensible to the delusions of fancy, reject the notion, altogether."
* See page viii, and note.

Such is the view of Dr. Giles, but it is known that the place of assembling of the Anglo-Saxon Parliament, or Witena-gemot as it was termed, was not fixed; and in Turner's "History of the Anglo-Saxons"* numerous places of meeting are mentioned, and the author adds, "Perhaps the place of their meeting depended on the King's residence at the time, and was fixed by his convenience." The word gemot was only properly used to designate the great national council, but the witan, or wise-men of the folc or shire, were sometimes assembled and received this designation; and from such a witena-gemot, if not from a national council there held, Whitney in Herefordshire and Witney in Oxfordshire may have received their name, -- Witena, the Anglo-Saxon genitive of Witan, signifying "of the wisdom, or of the wise men," giving the name of itself, without reference to the compound derivation suggested by Dr. Giles.
This possible derivation of the name was mentioned to the late Mr. H. G. Somerby, who, under date of December 2, 1859, wrote from London as follows: "Mr. Watts, an officer in the British Museum, and the great linguist there, fully coincides with your views in regard to the signification of the word Whitney." The following note† from Thomas Wright, the eminent Anglo-Saxon scholar, makes other suggestions: "I think Dr. Giles's derivation of Witney in Oxfordshire a very probable one. Some meeting of the Witan, or leading men of the district, had probably been held there, and the island had been named from it, like what is now called Magna charta Island in the Thames. But the great difficulty in fixing the derivation and meaning of these local names arises from the circumstance that the name is in far the majority of cases derived from that of a Saxon possessor of the land. I should think Whitney is not the same thing as Witney: it has either something to do with White; or it perhaps contains a man's name, as Hwitenes-ege, the island belonging to Hwitene. One would get some help in the derivation, if we found the spelling of the name in some very early deed, or in Domesday,‡ before it had become so much corrupted."
There is certainly no improbability in supposing that ige or ege, signifying island, was the termination of the Herefordshire Whitney, situated as it was on the river Wye, and at times overflowed by it. Indeed, the old church was entirely washed away by the mountain torrents previous to 1740.
As our knowledge of the use of Whitney, as the name of a family, is derived from Domesday-book, and as that most remarkable record is constantly referred to in English history, the following brief account of it is extracted from Hume's History of England:§ --
  * Sixth edition. London, 1836. Vol. III. p.212.

  † Dated Feb. 1, 1860.
  ‡ In Domesday, Whitney of Herefordshire is spelled Witenie.

  § Vol. I., Chap. IV. pp. 229-30. Longman's ed. London, 1848.

In 1081, six years before the death of the Conqueror, "the state of. affairs, gave, William leisure to begin and finish an undertaking, which proves his extensive genius and does honor to his memory: it was a general survey of all the lands in the kingdom, their extent in each district, their proprietors, tenures, value; the quantity of meadow, pasture, wood, and arable land, which they contained; and in some counties the number of tenants, cottagers, and slaves of all denominations, who lived upon them. He appointed commissioners for this purpose, who entered every particular in their register by the verdict of juries; and, after a labor of six years (for the work was so long in finishing), brought him an exact account of all the landed property of his kingdom. This monument, called Doomsday-book, the most valuable piece of antiquity possessed by any nation, is still preserved .in the Exchequer; and, though only some extracts of it have hitherto been published, it serves to illustrate to us, in many particulars, the ancient state of England." Hume wrote in 1760; and the book remained in manuscript for seven centuries,* a fee being exacted for the privilege of making extracts from it. It may now be found in print in most large libraries.
In 1804-12 the Rev. John Duncumb published, in two quarto volumes, "Collections towards the History and Antiquities of the County of Hereford." Not receiving sufficient encouragement, he did not complete the second volume; and the collections for the hundred of Grimsworth, in which Whitney was included, were never printed. Under the head of the "Parish of Pencomb," however we find an extract from Domesday-book, with other data relating to those of the name which are here given.
PENCOMB† is bounded on the north by Grendon, on the east by Bromyard, on the south by Ullingswick, and on the west by part of Bodenham. Pencomb, being situated at the upper end of a valley, derives its name from the British Pen, "a head," or upper end, and Cwm, "a valley."
"After the conflicts between Edmund Ironside and Canute, England being to be divided between them, Ronig was made sheriff of Herefordshire, and by force took Pencofan from the church of Worcester.‡ [A.D. 1017.]
Pencomb was held soon after the Conquest by Agnes, widow of Turstinus Flandrensis, who was one of the landholders in this county, and thus noticed in the Survey of Domesday: --
  * Domesday-book was published by order of Parliament, Volumes I. and II. in 1783; Volume III. in 1811, and volume IV. in 1816.   † Vol. II., pp. 149, 150-51.

  ‡ Mon. Aug. Note p. 133; ibid., 118.

"Agnes, relicta Turstini Flandrens is, et Eustacius Miles, filius ejus, do minus, de Whiteney, dederunt ecclesiae Sancti Petri Glocest: unam hidam terre in Pencomb Sudenhalle, liberam ab omni re, tempore Reginaldi Abbatis."*
Eustace, son of Agnes, assumed the name of Whitney from his possessions, and thus established a family of that name, which was long situated at Whitney in the hundred of Grimsworth, and which, with their pedigree, will be particularly noticed in the collections for that parish.†
In the reign of Henry III. Pencombe was stated to consist of fifteen hides of land, one moiety of which was held by John de Whytene, of Robert Tregoz, and the other moiety by Thomas de Hemeganes, of Robert de Whytene, by military service, and both of the honour of Ewias: --
"In Pencombe continentur 15 hideae, und Johannes de Whytene, tenet medietatem de Roberto Tregoz, de honore de Ewias, de veteri feoffamento, per serv. militare, et Thomas de Hemegane alteram medietatem, de Roberto de Whytene, et idem Robertus de eodem, &c., ut supra."‡
AD. 1277 Eustacius de Whytene presented John de Chaundos to the church of Pencombe, and had also free warren granted him here 12 Edward I.
Afterwards Robert de Whytene presented Baldwyn de Whytene to the church of Pencomb.§
In the time of John (Gilbert) Bishop of Hereford, license was granted by him to John, rector of Pencomb, to celebrate mass in his "Oratorium," as often as he pleased.||
The name of "Robertus Whiteney, Chivaler," was returned in the list of gentry, &c., in this county, made by commissioners 12 Henry VI. Robert Whitney was also sheriff of Herefordshire 1 Richard II., and, many others of this family, as will be particularised hereafter, held that and other provincial offices of trust in the subsequent reigns.
The lords of the manor of Pencomb claimed by ancient custom a pair of gilt spurs, as an heriot, from every mayor of the city of Hereford who dies in that office.
  * Agnes, the widow of Turstin the Fleming, and Sir Eustace her son, Lord of Whiteney, gave to the Church of St. Peter, at Gloucester, one hide [120 acres English measure] of land in Pencomb Sudenhalle, free from all tax, in the time of the Abbot Reginald.

  This Turstin was the son of Rolf and held lands in Hampshire, Dorsetshire, Berkshire, Somersetshire, Devonshire, Gloucestershire, Buckinghamshire, and Wiltshire, besides his possessions in Herefordshire. Vide "Domesday Book," illustrated by Robert Kelham. London 1788, pp. 43, 50, 54, 58, 62, 66, 79, 89, 92.
  There is a pedigree of the early Lords of Whitney, tracing their descent for five or six generations through a line of Welshmen with unpronounceable names, one

of whom, Sir Piedge Exrog, was a "Knight of ye Round Table. To King Arthyrs time he lived att his Castle at Cordmore in Cardiganshire." This is to be found in a manuscript book of pedigrees called the "Golden Grove," belonging to the Earl of Cawdor and now (1875) in the custody of the Public Record office, Chancery Lane. It was compiled, about 1703, by Owen Thomas, Deputy Assistant to Garter King-at-Arms, from papers and correspondence furnished by living representatives. This pedigree is obviously mythical for many generations.           † Never published as noticed.

  ‡ Leb. Feod. H. III.       § Reg. Trilleck.
  || Reg. Gilbert.


In the reign of Elizabeth the manor continued in the Whitney family, and was held as before by military service, of the honour of Ewias: -- "Manerium de Pencomb tenetur de honore de Ewyas per servitium militare."*

In the beginning of the eighteenth century, it was sold, with the patronage of the church, by Sir Robert Whitney, knt., to Sir Thomas Coningsby, knt., of Hampton court, in this county, from whom it descended to the present Earl of Essex, who sold it to Richard Arkwright, esq.,† with the several manors, &c., as already traced in this hundred.‡ [NOTE: Since Sir Thomas Coningsby died in 1625, this must have happened at the beginning of the seventeenth century. --RLW]
The patronage of the church of Pencomb was enjoyed by the successive lords of the manor, as will appear by the following list of patrons and incumbents: --
Eustacius de Whitney 1277 John de Chaundos.
----- de Whitney 1280 Roger de Whitney.
----- 12-- -----.
(No Patron mentioned) 1342 W. D. de Witenie.
Robert de Whitney 1353 Baldwin de Whitney.
Baldwin de Whitney 1357 Richard de Hurtesleigh.
----- 1378 John -----.
----- ---- Eustacius Whitney.
Robert Whitney, knt. 1419 Robert Burleston.
The same 1428 Roger Brown.
----- ---- William Duckett.
Robert Whitney 1539 John Burghill.
The Crown (Robert Whitney being a minor) ---- Robert Keyson.
Robert Whitney, knt. 1567 Thomas Waiwyn.
The same 1567 Thomas Morse.
James Whitney, knt. 159- Walter Winston.

In 1393 John Whitney was a portionary or prebend in Broxash Hundred.||

  * Bibl. Harl. 762.

  † Richard Arkwright was a son of Sir Richard Arkwright, knt. (born 1732, died 1792), by whose mechanical genius and laudable perseverance the cotton manufactures of Great Britain have been carried to a wonderful degree of excellence. It is a somewhat curious coincidence that a son of Sir Richard Arkwright should come into the possession of a manor which had been in the Whitney family since the time the name had been used as a surname, six hundred years, from a branch of which may have descended Eli Whitney, the inventor of the cotton-gin, a native of Massachusetts, and a descendant in the fifth generation from John and Elinor Whitney, who settled in Watertown in 1635.
  It was the remark of Fulton that Arkwright, Watt,

and Whitney were the three men who did most for mankind of any of their contemporaries; and Macaulay, in speaking of the cotton manufactures as existing in England in 1685, says: "The whole annual import of cotton did not amount to two million of pounds, a quantity which would now hardly supply the demand of forty-eight hours. . . . Whitney had not yet taught how the raw material might be furnished in quantities almost fabulous; Arkwright had not yet taught how it might be worked up with a speed and precision which seem magical." -- History of England, Vol. I.

  ‡ For later ownership, see Green's reprint of "Whitney's Emblems," Introductory Dissertation, pp. xxxvi-ix. Manchester and London, 1866.
  § Vol. II. p. 153.       || Vol. II. p. 81.

Reign of Richard II. cir. 1377 Robert Whitney.
  "       "   Henry V.   "   1413     "           "
  "       "   Henry VI.   "   1422 Robert Whitney, knt.
  "       "   Edward IV.   "   1464 Robert Whitney.
  "       "   Elizabeth.   "   1558 James Whitney, knt.
  "       "         "   "     " Eustace Whitney.
  "       "   Charles I.   "   1625 Robert Whitney, knt.

Reign of Edward II. cir. 1307 Eustace de Whitney.
  "       "         "     III.   "   1358 Eustace de Whiteney.
  "       "         "     III.   "   1375 Robert Whitteney.
  "       "   Richard II.   "   1378 Robert Whitteney, knt.
  "       "         "     II.   "   1380     "             "           "
  "       "         "     II.   "   1395 Robert Whitteney.
  "       "   Henry V.   "   1417 "         knt.]]
  "       "         "   VI.   "   1422     "             "
  "       "   Edward IV.   "   1461 Eustace Whitney.
  "       "   Elizabeth   "   1558 Robert Whitney, knt.
Eustacius de Whiteneye was knighted cir. 1306. ‡
Eustace Whitney, reign of Elizabeth, one 'of the commissioners of the peace.§
In list of principal Gentry of the ,county during reign of Charles II., we find the name of Thomas Whitney, of Whitney, esq.||
IN 1586, Geffrey Whitney, son of a father of the same name, a native of Nantwich, Cheshire, printed at Leyden his curious book of Emblems. Copies of the original edition are now very scarce; but, in 1866, the Rev. Henry Green** of Knuts-
  * Duncumb's "History of Hereford," Vol. I. pp.143, 4, 6, 7.

  † Vol. I. pp. 150-52, 53, 54, 55. ‡ Vol. I. p. 79.
  § Vol., I. p.102. || Vol. I. p. 115.
  ** The Rev. Henry Green was educated, it is believed, at the University of Glasgow, from which University he received the degree of Master of Arts. He died at Knutsford, England, August 9, 1873, in the seventy-third year of his age. Previous to the reprint of "Whitney's Emblems," he had published "Knutsford: its Traditions and History," "Six Books of Euclid for the use of Schools," "The Song of a Cat" (a

political squib), and a paper on "Whitney's Emblems," read before the Archaeological and Historical Society of Chester. In 1870 he published "Shakespeare and the Emblem Writers," followed in 1872 by a biographical and bibliographical study, entitled "Andrea Alciati, and his Book of Emblems;" and he edited six of the Holbein Society's fac-simile reprints.

  His attention was first called to the quaint emblem literature by the fact that Whitney, the emblem writer, was a native of his adopted county of Chester, in the archaeology of which he took a great interest. To this accident are we indebted for the most satisfactory ac-


ford, England, reprinted Whitney's "Choice of Emblems," in fac-simile, with an introductory dissertation, essays; literary and biographical, and explanatory notes.

In the introductory dissertation and the, postscript thereto may be found much that is of interest relating to the author, his sister Isabel who in 1573 published some poems entitled a "Sweet Nosegay," and to the Whitneys of Herefordshire, Cheshire and other counties.
It was the privilege of the writer to be able to furnish Mr. Green with the will of Geffrey Whitney, which had escaped his researches, and which is to be found in the reprint. It is but proper to add, that in his "Postscript," Mr. Green made some kindly assumptions in regard to the New England Whitneys, not altogether warranted by the documents placed in his hands.
In the introductory dissertation to the reprint, on page xxxi, some stanzas may be found, taken from a manuscript in Major Egerton Leigh's copy of the original edition, wherein they were apparently written by some contemporary friend. As it does not seem to have been noticed by Major Leigh nor by Mr. Green that these stanzas form an incomplete acrostic, they are here given:


"Geffry thy name subscribed with thy pen,
Extractinge honor from the noblest men;
ffor by thy Emblems thou dost moralize
ffram'd Poems, fitted for all human eyes.
Reflectinge on the naturall state of man,
Enviinge at none, assistinge whome he cann,
Yealdinge such frutfull rarityes that all
Which Whitney knew may wittely him call
Honor'd of men; what can theare more be said
In givinge due, wheare due ought to be paid."

Whearfore like momus 'gainst him do not cry,
Though Whitney's dedd His name shall never dye.

Sic cecinit Joh'es Allen.

The following extracts may be of some interest, as relating to individuals of the name: --


And now take heed lest your scholar do not better in some point than you yourself, except you have been diligently exercised in these kinds of translating thereof.
count to be found, of a class of literature which was so popular in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries in Italy, France, Holland, and Germany, and to a less degree in England.

  Mr. Green entered upon these labors late in life, not only with, great enthusiasm, hut with an inbred spirit of thoroughness and exactness seldom surpassed. His zeal, industry, and erudition enabled him to accom-

plish a vast amount of literary work in a brief period. The materials for prosecuting his researches were not of ordinary acquirement, and the peculiarly courteous manner in which public and private collections were thrown open to his use, was a well-merited compliment to this scholarly and charming gentleman.

  * The English Works of Roger Ascham, pp.255-57. London, 1815.

I had once a proof hereof, tried by good experience, by a dear friend of mine, when I came first from Cambridge [1548] to serve the Queen's Majesty, then Lady Elizabeth, lying at worthy Sir Antony Deny's in Cheston. John Whitney, a young gentleman, was my bed-fellow; who, willing by good nature, and provoked by mine advice, began to learn the Latin tongue after the order declared in this book. We began after Christmas; I read unto him Tully de Amicitia, which he did every day twice translate, out of Latin into English, and out of English into Latin again. About St. Laurence tide after, [August 10] to prove how he profited, I did choose out Torquatus' talk de Amicitia, in the latter end of the first book de Finibus; because that place was the same in matter, like in words and phrases, nigh to the form and fashion of sentences, as he had learned before in de Amicitia. I did translate it myself into plain English, and gave it him to turn into Latin; which he did so choicely, so orderly, so without any great miss in the hardest points of grammar, that some in seven year in grammar schools, yea, and some in the university too, cannot do half so well. This worthy young gentleman, to my greatest grief, to the great lamentation of that whole house, and especially to that most noble lady, now Queen Elizabeth* herself, departed within few days out of this world.
And if in any cause a man may without offence of God speak somewhat ungodly, surely it was some grief unto me to see him hie so hastily to God as he did. A court full of such young gentlemen, were rather a paradise than a court upon earth. And though I had never poetical head to make any verse in any tongue, yet either love, or sorrow, or both, did ring out of me then certain careful thoughts of my good will towards him; which, in my mourning for him, fell forth more by chance than either by skill or use, into this kind of misorderly metre:† --

Mine own John Whitney, now farewell,
Now death doth part us twain:
No death, but parting for a while,
Whom life shall join again.

Therefore, my heart, cease sighs and sobs,
Cease sorrow's seed to sow;
Whereof no gain, but greater grief
And hurtful care may grow.

Yet when I think upon such gifts
Of grace, as God him lent;
My loss, his gain, I must awhile,
With joyful tears lament.

  Roger Ascham was born in 1515. A.B., Cambridge, 1534; A.M., 1536. He was thirty-three years old in 1548, when called as tutor to the "Lady Elizabeth." He died in 1568.   * So that John Whitney died about August, 1549, when the "Lady Elizabeth". was thirteen years of age.

  † The alliteration in some of these lines is curious.


Young years to yield such fruit in court,
Where seed of vice is sown,
Is sometime read, in some place seen,
Amongst us seldom-known.

His life he lead, Christ's lore to learn,
With will to work the same;
He read to know, and knew to live,
And liv'd to praise his name.

So fast a friend, so foe to few,
So good to every wight,
I may well wish, but scarcely hope,
Again to have in sight.

The greater joy his life to me,
His death the greater pain:
His life in Christ so surely set,
Doth glad my heart again.

His life so good, his death better,
Do mingle mirth with care,
My spirit with joy, my flesh with grief;
So dear a friend to spare.

Thus God the good, while they be good,
Doth take, and leave us ill;
That we should mend our sinful life,
In life to tarry still.

Thus we well left, he better reft,
In heaven to take his place,
That by like life and death, at last,
We may obtain like grace.

Mine own John Whitney, again farewell,
A while thus part in twain;
Whom pain doth part in earth, in heaven
Great joy shall join again.



He had been Fellow of Brazen-nose College in Oxford, was sequestered about the year 1643 or 1644, by the Committee of Salisbury; after which, he was, with his Wife, supported by charity until the Restoration, when he was repossessed of his Living. His successor, on the sequestration, was one Legg, who was the son of a
  * Walker's "Sufferings of the Clergy," folio, 1714. Part II. p. 408, under the head of "Wiltshire."   † James Whitney, Bachelor of Divinity, married Mary, widow of John Button of Dunhead. He died 1667.--H. A. W.


Butcher, and had been a Servitor at Magdalen College in Oxford. His name is at this day, and is like to be for a great while, remembered in the Parish by an usual saying of Mr. Whitney's (who could as it seems make himself merry under his misfortunes): for when he was ask'd, "How he did," he would often say, "Very well, I thank God, only I am troubled with a bad Legg," and that Legg was very bad indeed, if all be true that is said of him; for besides that he had the character of a Turbulent, Haughty, Ill-natured Fellow, and that he refused to pay Mr. Whitney the Fifths, it is affirmed "that he treated the old butcher, his Father, in a barbarous and inhumane manner; that he was ashamed to own him, and for that reason kept him confined in his house, when the poor old man, in a dark little hole, either hanged himself, as the son said; or, as the neighbours say, was hanged by the son or his order." Mr. Whitney was a Learned, Sober, and Charitable Man.*



1541. Robert Whitney, of Iccombe, in the County of Worcester, Esq. Will dated May 10 33d H. 8., proved January 11, 1541. Wife, Margaret. Sons, Robert, James, Richard, John, Charles, George, and William; the latter four under twenty-four years of age. Daughters, Blanche and Mary. Provides for his two illegitimate sons, Anthony and Charles.

1544. THOMAS WHITNEY, of Hay, in Brecon. Will dated May 16, 1544; proved February 18, 1544-45. Being about to go to war. Wife, Elizabeth. Son, and heir apparent, William. Son, James. Daughters, Alice and Elizabeth. Father-in-law, William David.

1544. JAMES WHITNEY, of Troy, in the County of Monmouth. Will dated May 23, 1544; proved July 5, 1544. Gives every thing to his brothers, Charles and Thomas Herbert, of Troy, and appoints them executors.

1545. JAMES WHITNEY. [No place named.] Will dated August 9, 1545; proved August 14, 1545. To his wife (not named), if she be alive, 20s., and his nag. Mentions his sister Ellen Whitney, of Cheshire. Appoints his sister Agnes Whitney, now married in Smithfield, executrix.
    [The name of the place in Cheshire, where his sister Ellen resided, is mentioned and begins with B., but it is impossible to make it out.]

1558. THOMAS WHITNEY, Clerk; sometime Abbot to the late Monastery of Delewrais [?] in the County of Stafford, suppressed. Will dated August 3, 1558; proved August 13, 1558. Desires to be buried in the monastery at Westminster. Mentions his brother John Whitney, cousins Peter and Francis Whitney, and his niece Anne Whitney. Bequeaths to his nephew Nicholas Whitney his house in Mylne Street, Leek, County Stafford.

*Communicated by George W. Napier, Esq., of Alderley Edge, near Manchester, England.


1558. WILLIAM WHITNEY, of Abergeoir in Brecon. Will dated July 1, 1558; proved May 3, 1563. About going to war towards New Haven. Son, William. Brothers, James and John. Sisters, Eleanor, Margaret, and Elizabeth. Father-in-law, William Vaughan. Speaks of a bond given by him to James Whitney, of Clifford, and Richard Whitney, of Hardwick.

1587. JAMES WHITNEY, of Whitney, Knt. Will dated May 28, 1587; proved June 16, 1587. Desires to be buried in the church at Whitney among his ancestors. Entails his property on his brother Eustace, and in default of male issue to the following, successively: Uncle George Whitney, Thomas Whitney, of Castleton. Brother Richard Whitney, James Whitney, of Clifford, and Francis Whitney of London, gent. Mentions his sister Blanche, wife of Robert Grevile. Kinswoman, Blanche Whitney, of Clifford. Julian, wife of Uncle George Whitney. Uncle, William Whitney. Legacy to William Whitney, base son of Sir Robert Whitney.

1590. ROBERT WHITNEY, of Thetford, County Norfolk, gent. Will dated August 17, 1590. Desires to be buried in the church of St. Peter at Thetford. Wife, Jane. Sons, Francis and George, not twenty-one. Daughter, Anne. To his brothers, Henry, Thomas the elder, Thomas the younger, and George, 40s. each to buy them rings for a remembrance. To his brother-in-law, Mr. Thomas Stuteville and his wife, testator's sister, 40s. each for rings. To Mr. John Sheringe and Edward Eaden, 20s. each for rings. Proved December 17, 1590.

1596. JOHN WHITNEY, of London, Gentleman. Will dated May 21, 39th Elizabeth; proved in the Prerogative Court, May 26, 1596 or 1597. Bequeaths to the Archbishop of Canterbury his ring of gold set with turquoise, in token of his good will towards his grace. To his nephew Eustace Whitney, of Clifford, County Hereford, Esq., £40, and his case of pistols with a touch box of latten, a horn flask and a mould for pellets. To his cousin, James Whitney, son of the said Eustace, £40, and his chain of gold weighing nine ounces, lacking threepence weight, and containing by estimation 397 links of French crown gold, also his lease of the Rectory of Clifford. To his friend Henry Maylord, his feather bed, bolster, pillows, two Spanish blankets and two Cadowes. To Elizabeth Dick, his chest. To Joan Newman, his cupboard. To Richard Wright, 40s. To cousin Thomas Whitney, of Clifford, 30s. to buy him a cloak. To Mrs. Ellen King, £21, in recompense of such money and duty as he owes her. Appoints the aforesaid James Whitney executor, and makes him residuary legatee.*

JEFFREY WHITNEY, of London, Citizen, and Merchant Tailor. Will dated October 20, 1602; proved February 8, 1602-3. Sister, Katharine, wife of John Cartwright, of Drayton-in-Hales, in Shropshire, and their children, Jeffrey, John, Jane, and Mary. Brother-in-law, Edward Mauncell. Brother-in-law, William Yeadley. Sister Yeadley. Late partner; Master William Webbe, Citizen, and Merchant Tailor, of London.

This Jeffrey was mentioned by Geffrey the Emblem-Writer in his will (proved 1601). Having bequeathed to Gefferie his nephew, son of his brother Brooke, his "Liberarie of Books," on certain conditions, he adds: "Item, I bequeath to him a
* Book Cobham, folio 46.


trunck with Lynnen and apparrell together with my plate remaininge in the safe custodie of my Cosen Jefferie Whitney of Draiton. Later he gives "my seale Ringe to my Cosen Geffery Whitney."


WALTER WHITNEY, Citizen, and Plasterer, of London. Will dated July 25, 1608 ; proved August 11, 1608. Desires to be buried in the church of St. Bridget, alias St. Brides, where he is a parishioner. Bequeaths to the poor of St Brides, 40s. To his mother, Jane Grinsell, the now wife of John Grinsell, £6 13s. 4d. To his brother Thomas Whitney, dwelling at York, £6 13s. 4d., and one jewel of gold that was given to testator by his cousin Jeffrey Whitney. To his brother Thomas Grinsell, of London, Ironmonger, £6 13s. 4d., and his best cloak or a mourning doak, at his choice, and his best Flanders hose. To the company of Plasterers, 40s. for a repast or supper after his burial. To his cousin Arundel, a book; and to cousin Elizabeth Arundel, his wife, a book of Emblems; and to their six children, each 5s. in gold. To Elizabeth Whitney, 5s. Several bequests of apparel and household stuff; and a musical instrument called a gittern. Appoints his wife Margaret executrix.*

This Walter, also mentioned by Geffrey the Emblem-Writer in his will,† married Margaret Stoks, January 19, 1571-72, in the parish of St. Andrews, Holborn, London. His mother Jane married for her second husband John Grinsell, and had by him son Thomas Grinsell.


No connection has been traced between Henry Whitney, who was of Norwalk, Connecticut, as early as 1655, and Thomas (wife Winifred, who died 23 July, 1660) and Jeremiah Whitney, who are named as capable of bearing arms in Plymouth, in 1643,‡ nor between any of the above-named emigrants and John Whitney, who in April, 1635, with his wife Elinor and five sons, embarked at London, in the ship "Elizabeth and Ann," for New England, and who in the following month of June settled in Watertown, Mass.
As those interested in the New England families of the name will naturally refer for information to the pages of Mr. Phoenix, he has kindly permitted the insertion
  * Vol. 21, folio 54.

  † "And my Brooche to my cosen Walter Whitney." -- Will of Geffrey Whitney.

  ‡ Genealogical Register, Vol. IV. p. 256.


this note, in order to state the only definite trace, aside from the custom-house record of embarkation, that has been found in England, relating to John and Elinor.

The record of embarkation, April, 1635, gave the names and ages of the family as follows :* --
John Whitney [the father] 35 Nathaniel 8
Elinor Whitney [the mother] 30 Thomas 6
John 11 Jonathan 1
Richard 9

Other sons were born in Watertown, Joshua, Caleb (who died in 1640), and Benjamin.

Shortly after preparing (in 1857) for the Genealogical Register, a more complete account of the earlier generations of the descendants of John and Elinor Whitney than was given in Bond's History and Genealogies of Watertown, I was convinced that at least the ages of the father and the two older sons, as given in the custom-house list, were understated. That these lists were not always exact, and were sometimes purposely incorrect, we have many examples ; and, in this instance, the ages were doubtless given too young through design, either to avoid some clause in the subsidy act, or some of the many embarrassments thrown in the way of emigrants.
My belief was based upon data which escaped the critical and searching eye of Dr. Bond, the historian of Watertown, and which are as follows:--

FIRST. The death of John Whitney is thus registered in the church records of Watertown: 1673. "John Whetny, widdower, deceased first of June, aged abought eighty-four years," so that, in 1635, he would have been about forty-five instead of thirty-five years of age.

SECOND. His eldest son John, whose age was given as eleven in the list of 1635, was married in 1642, when he would have been but eighteen or nineteen years old.
THIRD. Richard, the second son, said to be nine years of age in 1635, was excused from military training by the Court in 1691, as being "seventy years of age," when he could not have been over sixty-five by the record of embarkation.
These facts were made known to the late Mr. James Savage, which led to the following cautious language in his " Genealogical Dictionary," published in 1862. After giving the custom-house ages, he adds, "But a slight reason may be seen for
  * To be found in a "manuscript volume in folio, containing the names of persons permitted to embark at the port of London, after Christmas, 1634, to the same period in the following year." This volume is now in the Rolls Office, Chancery Lane, London, the entry referred to being on page 35.   See, also, same record in Vol. III. of the Third Series, Mass. Hist. Collections ; Vol. XIV. Genealogical Register ; and in Drake's "Founders of New England," Boston, 1860 and 1865.


thinking one of these ages too low; as, in the record of Watertown, the father is called at his death, 1 June, 1673, eighty-four years old, and Richard was released from training in 1691, 'being seventy years of age,' when he could only be sixty-five, if the custom-house report be accepted."*

At the time, the reasons given for thinking the custom-house report incorrect seemed far from slight; but, in 1871, my theory was confirmed by the discovery of the dates of baptism of the two older sons, together with that of a daughter Mary, of whom we know nothing, and who probably died previous to the emigration, at which time, if living, she would have been sixteen or seventeen years old.
The late Mr. H. G. Somerby wrote to me from London, under date of January 11, 1871, that the previous day he had occasion to search the parish register of Isleworth; about nine miles from London on the banks of the Thames, opposite Richmond, and that he had there accidentally found the registry of baptism of three of John and Elinor Whitney's children, namely : Mary, May 23, 1619; John, September 14, 1621; and Richard, January 6, 1623-24.
It will be noticed that John the eldest son was fourteen years old or more in 1635; instead of eleven, and twenty-one years old when married in 1642; and that Richard was twelve years or more in 1635, instead of nine, and in 1691 was at least in his sixty-eighth year when excused from "training." It is probable that John and Elinor left Isleworth shortly after the baptism of Richard in 1624; as no further trace of them is to be found there. No kinship has been discovered between them and the other Whitneys whose names appear in the Isleworth registry, the following abstract from which was furnished by Mr. Somerby, who wrote under date of April 10, 1871: "I have been to Isleworth again, and carefully searched the registers from their beginning down to 1650, extracting every name of Whitney. There were several courts for the probate of Wills in the County of Middlesex, among them the Archdeaconry of Middlesex, which embraced the parish of Isleworth; but the wills anterior to 1660 have not been preserved."
The parish registers of Isleworth begin in 1566:--
1574. July 5. Nicholas Whitneye, the sonne of Willyam Whitney.
1575-76. February 26. Wyllyam Whitneye, the sonne of Willyam Whitneye.
1579. September 27. Roger Whitneye, the sonne of Willyam Whitneye.
1581. November 26. Lawrence Whitneye, the sonne of Willyam Whitneye.
1583-84. January 4. Robert Whitneye, the sonne of Willyam Whitneye.
1586. August 3. Elizabeth Whitneye, the dawghter of Willyam Whitneye.
1590. July 12. Gedeon Whitney, the sonne of Willyam Whitney.
* Savage's Gen. Dict., Vol. IV. page 529.

1619. May 23. John Whitne, Ellen his wife, had there daughter Mary baptiz.
1621. September 14. John Whitne, & Ellin his wife, had John there son baptized.
1623-24. January 6. John Whitne, & Elinor his wife, had the[re] sone Richard baptized.
1573. September 17. Willyam Whitneye and Elizabeth Smyth.
1573. July 24. Johan Whitneye, the wife of Willyam Whitneye.
1591. October 28. Willyam Whitneye.
1604-5. January 12. Margaret ye daughter of Thomas Whitneye.
1614-15. January 9. Robert Whitney.

Under burials, as a matter of eccentricity as to name:--

1645. October 8. Leviathan, the daughter of Doctor Dickes.

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