Friday, December 3, 2010

Thoughts on the Origins of Captain John of Providence, d. 1685

Yesterday I received a CD from William Lyons in my mail box. The CD contained a PDF file of a yellowed typescript entitled Genealogical Notes of the Whipple Lineage of Stephen Bennett Whipple (1833-1915) of Cochran, Georgia, Descended from Massachusetts and Rhode Island Ancestry compiled by William Holliman Whipple of Macon, Ga. The first page of the second chapter has these familiar words:
History states that in 1630 about 1500 persons landed in Boston from England. On "Oct. 3, 1632, [John Whipple] was ordered to pay 3s. 4d. [3 shillings, 4 pence] to his master, Israel Stoughton, for wasteful expenditure of powder and shot." As he was apprenticed to Stoughton, it is only fair to suppose that he came to this country with him.
Israel Stoughton's Voyage to America

As I have many times in the past, I opened my copy of The Planters of the Commonwealth by Charles Edward Banks (Boston, 1930; reprint ed. Baltimore: Genealogical Pub. Co., 1997). Pages 65-85 list the passengers of the Winthrop Fleet of 1630:
"Eleven vessels [that] brought 'the Great Emigration' of this year, viz:
  1. Arbella the flagship
  2. Ambrose
  3. Talbot
  4. Jewel
  5. Charles
  6. Mayflower
  7. William and Francis
  8. Hopewell
  9. Whale
  10. Success
  11. Trial
"The first five ships sailed April 8 from Yarmouth, Isle of Wight, and arrived at Salem June 13 and following days. The other half of the fleet sailed in May and arrived in July at various dates. Altogether they brought about seven hundred passengers of whom the following are presumed to have been on these ships."
Israel Stoughton appears in the Winthrop Fleet passenger list on page 82. He and his wife, Mrs. Elizabeth Stoughton, of Coggeshall, Essex, settled in Dorchester--part of present-day Boston. On the list, Israel and Elizabeth are followed by Thomas Stoughton and Mrs. ...... Stoughton, also of Coggeshall, Essex and bound for Dorchester. John Whipple doesn't appear on the passenger list.

John Whipple's Voyage to America

John traveled to America two years later aboard the Lyon, which sailed from London June 22, 1632, and arrived in Boston September 16. (That passenger list appears on pages 99-102 of Planters; 123 passengers were aboard.) Page 102 lists John Whipple "of Bocking, Essex," bound for Dorchester.
(Many have noted that this John Whipple couldn't have been the same person as the John Whipple who came with his brother Matthew from Bocking in 1638 to settle in nearby Ipswich, Massachusetts. Those two brothers continue to appear in Bocking records until 1638, and appear in Ipswich records thereafter--at the same time as the John who arrived in 1632 continues to appear in Dorchester records until 1658, at which time he appears in Providence records. Since Bocking records make no mention of other Johns living there during the period 1615-1632, most have concluded that Banks' indication of John's being "of Bocking, Essex" must be wrong. I can't dispute that conclusion.)
Banks indicates that John arrived two years later than Stoughton. (Only two weeks and three days separated John's arrival on Sunday, September 16, 1632, and Wednesday, October 3, when he was fined  for wasting ammunition. It sounds like something a teenager might do ...)

Where is Coggeshall, Essex?

Coggeshall is about 6.3 miles from Bocking, a present-day trip of about 14 minutes on the A120 expressway:

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Note: If you drive west from Coggeshall on the A120 for 40 minutes (about 25.1 miles), bypassing Bocking, you'll arrive in Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire, residence of Thomas Whipple--great grandfather of the brothers Matthew and John that settled in Ipswich in 1638:


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I still don't know where Capt. John of Rhode Island originated. ... But I wouldn't be surprised if he didn't live far from Essex County.

More Ramblings (added 12 hours later)

This still doesn't prove anything, but I'll mention it anyway:

Thomas Whipple (the great grandfather of John Whipple of Ipswich--mentioned above) had at least one other son (not a direct ancestor of the Ipswich Whipples, but a great uncle the Ipswich brothers John and Matthew) named John (1), a resident of Bishop's Stortford, born before 1505 and died before 7 Mar 1572/73. (This can't be be our John of Providence; he can't even be the father of John of Providence).

This John of Bishop's Stortford (son of Thomas) had 8 known children--two of them sons who might have passed on the Whipple name. Those two sons (grandchildren of Thomas and first cousins once removed of the Ipswich brothers John and Matthew) are:

  • John (2) Whipple, born about 1535, of Bishop's Stortford
  • William Whipple, born before 20 May 1561, of Bishop's Stortford, died before 1594, of St. Alphage, London, England.
The brothers John and William could have conceivably been ancestors of John of Providence. Available primary records (cited at the bottom of each of their pages in the Whipple Genweb), record only a daughter named Elizabeth, born to William. Our (pure) speculation must therefore end there.

John (2), on the other hand, had two known sons (second cousins of the Ipswich brothers Matthew and John):
  • John (3) Whipple, born before 24 Nov 1579 [and apparently before Samuel, below?], died before 5 Feb 1624/25, when a resident of Bishop's Stortford.
  • Samuel Whipple, born about 1565, buried 20 Feb 1605/6 at St. Katherine Coleman, London, England.
Samuel was buried about a decade before John of Providence would have been born. There is a (purely speculative) possibility that he might be the grandfather of John of Providence. (If this were the case, it would make John of Providence a second cousin twice removed of the Ipswich brothers Matthew and John.)

It is biologically possible that John (3) could (WARNING: pure speculation!!) have fathered John of Providence (making John of Providence a second cousin once removed of the Ipswich brothers Matthew and John). If John (3) were the grandfather of John of Providence, then John of Providence would be a second cousin twice removed of the Ipswich brothers Matthew and John.)

IMPORTANT WARNING AND CAUTION!!: Please don't assume that any of the speculations of the above section are true! There is absolutely no documentation for any of them!!

Further Wild Speculations

If this offends anyone, please stop reading ... but my stream-of-consciousness just won't stop!

Note that John of Providence named his oldest son John, his second son Samuel, and his fourth son William. (I know, that is likely pure coincidence. After all those are all fairly common "standard" boys' names--but they are present in the British descendants of Thomas Whipple of Bishop's Stortford ...)

One final wild speculation:

John of Providence's second daughter Mary married Epenetus Olney, who was born in St. Albans, Hertfordshire, England--about 29 miles from and in the same county as Bishop's Stortford:


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This has all gotten out of hand, so I'll stop ... NOW!

I hope a sufficiently large pool of patrilineal descendants of Ipswich Whipples participate in the Whipple DNA project (see http://dna.whipple.org) to enable us to say, with reasonable certainty, either:

  1. Captain John of Providence and the Ipswich brothers John and Matthew do have a common ancestor, OR
  2. Captain John of Providence and the Ipswich brothers John and Matthew don't have a common ancestor.
That would put this rampant speculation to rest (or possibly fuel it ... :-)

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