Friday, January 2, 2009

John Whipple, Housewright?

In July 1999, I attended a "Whipple Weekend" (family reunion) at the John Whipple House in Ipswich, Massachusetts. (The Whipple Website includes a few photos I took at that event—it was lots of fun!)

I expected the reunion to focus mainly on the Ipswich Whipples, but was pleasantly surprised to find presentations about both major American Whipple families. It was at that time that I first heard that my 8th great grandfather—the John Whipple who later moved to Providence and eventually received the title "Captain"—was a housewright in Dorchester (part of present-day Boston).

The presenter at that session mentioned two houses that John had helped build: the Robert Pierce home and the Capen House, both in Dorchester. When I returned from the reunion, I added a "frequently asked question" (FAQ) about those houses. (See item 3 under FAQ 2.6, which has been revised several times.)

I located a copy of Ellery Bicknell Crane's book entitled Historic Homes and Institutions and Genealogical and Personal Memoris of Worcester County, Massachusetts: With a History of Worcester Society of Antiquity (Lewis Pub. Co., 1907). An entry about Horace P. Whipple beginning on page 64 tells about Horace's ancestor, John Whipple, born in England in 1617. It refers to him as a housewright employed by Mr. Stoughton in Dorchester.
Note: Unfortunately, the book contains numerous inaccuracies, including statements that this John removed to Ipswich in 1638 and became a proprietor with his brother Matthew in 1638—known today to be entirely false. Many writings dating from that period have similar misstatements about early Whipples in America.
During the 8+ years since 1999, I have had to revise FAQ 2.6 several times. First, I had to report that research of the Robert Pierce home has placed its construction in about 1683—twenty-five years after young John moved from Dorchester to Providence.

Then—within the past week—I received e-mail from Mark Whipple of Milton, Massachusetts, reporting that the Capen House (which was moved to Milton in 1909, then recently dissembled and placed in storage in the hopes that a buyer will purchase it and rebuild it elsewhere) was likely built in about 1675 instead of 1638.

The question now is this: Was young John Whipple actually a housewright in Dorchester? My guess is "yes"—he probably was. In spite of confusion about who John was, there apparently was someone named John Whipple who built houses in Dorchester during that period. That person had to be John (the person who later moved to Providence and became Captain John). The other John ("Elder" John) and his brother Matthew came from Bocking, England, to Ipswich, Massachusetts in 1838. They sailed directly to Ipswich—without coming through Boston. (Records show them still in Bocking until 1638, at which time Ipswich documents began mentioning both of them.)

If you are aware of other information regarding John as a housewright, please reply!

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