Archive:The Whitney Family of Connecticut, page xv

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The Whitney Family of Connecticut

by S. Whitney Phoenix
(New York: 1878)

Transcribed by Robert L. Ward.

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Of England.
Of the Cheshire branch was he who has done most--if we except an American, Eli Whitney, inventor or the cotton-gin--to make the name of the family known. We refer to Geffrey Whitney, author of A Choice of Emblemes. He was born about 1548, probably near the family manor-house at Coole Pilate, was educated in the grammar-school at Audlem in the same county, spent several years of diligent study at Magdalen College, Cambridge (though he does not appear to have taken a degree), was under-bailiff1 of Great Yarmouth, in Norfolk, from 1580 to 1586, and perhaps earlier, and then passed over (probably in the service of his patron and friend, the Earl of Leicester) into Holland, where on the 4th of May 1586 he penned the preface to his Choice of Emblemes, which was printed in the same year at Leyden.2 He is credited with three other works, but upon this one rests his fame. It consists of two hundred and forty-seven engraved devices, nearly all of which were taken from earlier emblematists; and to each of these is appended an original stanza embodying a sentiment, a moral maxim, or a rule of action. After being neglected and forgotten for nearly three centuries, it was reproduced in fac-simile at London in 1866, with an introductory dissertation, essays literary and biographical, and elaborate explanatory notes by the Rev. Henry Green. Geffrey
He perhaps owed his taste for poetry to the example of his eldest sister, Isabella Whitney, who published in 1573 a book of mediocre verse, entitled "A sweet Nosgay, or pleasant Posye: contayning a hundred and ten Phylosophicall Flowers." This work has become excessively rare; indeed, Mr. Green conjectured that but one copy of it has survived. To her also is attributed by Sir Egerton Brydges3 the following: The copy of a letter lately written in meeter by a yonge Gentilwoman to her vnconstant Lover; with an admomition to al yong Gentilwomen, and to all other Mayds in general to beware of mennes flattery. By Is. W. Newly joyned to a Love letter sent by a Bachelor (a most faithfull Lover) to an unconstant and faithless Mayden. Impr. at London by Rd. Jhones, dwelling in the upper end of Fleet-lane, at the signe of the Spred Egle.
To the Cheshire branch of the family, also, should probably be assigned the "Master John Whitney" who was the companion and beloved friend of the celebrated Roger Ascham, and upon whose untimely death the latter wrote an affecting lamentation.4
By far the greater number of Whitneys in the United States are descended from John Whitney, who, in April 1635, then aged about 45,5 with his wife Elinor and five sons, embarked at London, in the ship "Elizabeth and Ann," Roger Cooper, master, for New England, and, in the following month of June, settled at Watertown, Mass. His ancestry has not been Whitneys
  1 An office similar, in several respects, to that of recorder in the present day.
  2 Mr. Henry Austin Whitney, found his name enrolled in the catalogue of students at the University of Leyden, under date of 1 March 1586.
  3 Restituta, Vol. I, pp. 234-5.
  4 The English Works of Roger Ascham, London, 1815, pp. 255-7.
  5 Whitney's First known use of Whitney as a Surname, p. xvii.
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