Archive:The Whitney Family of Connecticut, page x

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Archives > Archive:Extracts > Archive:The Whitney Family of Connecticut > The Whitney Family of Connecticut, page x

The Whitney Family of Connecticut

by S. Whitney Phoenix
(New York: 1878)

Transcribed by Robert L. Ward.

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x
The Whitneys
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."

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 and rectory were entirely washed away by the mountain torrents in 1730.

Whitneys of Whitney. There seems to be no record of Whitney, in Herefordshire, prior to Domesday Book,1 which places it in the hundred of Elsedune and spells the name Witenie.2 In the general distribution of land among the followers of The Conqueror, it fell to the lot of Turstin the Fleming (Turstinus Flandrensis), the son of Rolf who, besides his possessions in Herefordshire, held lands in Hampshire, Dorsetshire, Berkshire, Somersetshire, Devonshire, Gloucestershire, Buckinghamshire and Wiltshire.3 Nothing further is known of him, except that his wife was named Agnes and that his son, Sir Eustace (Eustacius miles), was called, from the Herefordshire hamlet, Lord of Whitney (dominus de Whiteney), and so founded the family of De Whitney. The particle was gradually dropped from the name, in some cases as early as the twelfth century; and it has long since entirely disappeared.

The parish church of Whitney is about four miles from The Hay in Brecon, Wales, and seventeen miles from Hereford. The parish contains nearly 1500 acres, the chief owners being Tomkyns Dew, Esq., and the Rev. Spenser Phillips. In the old time it was a portion of the long-stretching debatable ground, within which were one hundred and forty-one little lordships, often at war with each other, and "amenable only to their several feudal chiefs." It was not included in any of the three adjoining counties, until in 1535--by act of parliament for the incorporation of England and Wales--Huntington, Clifford, Winforton, Eardesley, and Whitney were united into the hundred of Huntington. The castle of Whitney, the family stronghold, stood on the north bank of the Wye, and is now represented by a group of mounds and also by Whitney-court, the residence of the present proprietors.

  1 This was compiled, we need hardly say, between the years 1081 and 1087, by order of William the Conqueror, and contains "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." Hume's History of England, Chapt. IV.
  2 Robinson's Mansions and Manors of Herefordshire, p. 301.
  3 Domesday Book, illustrated by Robert Kelham, London, 1788, pp. 43, 50, 54, 58, 62, 66, 79, 89, 92.
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