Sunday, April 17, 2016

Possible Leads on the Ancestry of Captain John Whipple of Rhode Island?

Two weeks ago I received an email from Dr. Charles M. Whipple, fellow descendant of Captain John Whipple. Charles has published a number of books on his Whipple ancestry, most recently A History of Captain John and Sarah Whipple of Dorchester, Massachusetts and Providence: Rhode Island: A Multigenerational Study of the First Whipple Family in America. (The book is mentioned at the Whipple Books website; it is still available for purchase at the publisher's web site. Charles has his own page on the Whipple Website, at

It was Charles' 1976 publication of Sons and Daughters of Jesse: A 360 Year History of the Whipple Family--which I stumbled across in the late 1970s or early 1980s--that first motivated my interest in Whipple genealogy. Later, his publications played a major part in the "eureka moment" I experienced in 1997, when I realized that my ancestor, Captain John, was not the same person as the John Whipple of Bocking, England that came to America in 1638--six years after the arrival of teenage John (the future Captain John of Rhode Island).

In his email, Charles stated that "It has puzzled me for sometime as to why the Ipswich family and the Rhode Island family are so dissimilar [speaking of Y-DNA haplogroups]." Charles continued by referencing the 2006 article by William Fisk that extended the Ipswich Whipple line two generations, to Thomas Whipple of Bishops Stortford, England. (See William Wyman Fisk, "The Whipple Family of Bishops Stortford, Hertfordshire: Proposed Ancestral Origin of Matthew Whipple of Bocking, Essex ..." The Genealogist 20 (Fall 2006): 191-217.) 

From Charles' email:
The William Fiske article (pg 203) lists Robert Whaple(s) as a possible grandson of Thomas Whipple (1475), Thomas Whipple (1510), Robert Whaple (d. 1631). Robert is ... in the database [at A note at the bottom of his page in the Whipple Genweb reads] "Robert Whaple, clothier of
Braintree, may fit into this kindred...."

In my books on the Whipples on page 2 it states, "It is assumed that John was born around the year 1617. Debrett uncovered the name of only one individual whose christening was close to that date. His name was John Whaple, baptized 13 December 1618..."

Debrett sent me that information in 1990 long before the Fiske article appeared.  Perhaps Fiske's guess was wrong, and the two families are not  related [based on Y-DNA differences?]. John Whaple could have spelled his name Whiple at one point in his life? [which might make him a relative of Robert Whaple, mentioned above?] As you are aware, even the educated spelled their names in a variety of ways. Or as was typical [later] at Ellis Island, the immigration authorities could have misspelled the name. Obviously mine is just as much of a guess as Fiske's. But I have wondered!!
So ... if John Whaple (baptized 13 December 1618) were to turn out to be the teenage John Whipple that settled in Dorchester, Massachusetts in 1632 and moved to Providence in 1658, who would his father be? Charles' Captain John and Sarah Whipple (referenced earlier) tells us on page 2:
Only one individual whose christening was close to that date was discovered. His name was John Whaple, baptized 13 December 1618 at Great Waltham, Essex, [about 15 miles south of Bocking]  the son of John Whaple and Mary Collett. As yet, "no firm evidence has emerged which proves beyond doubt that the John baptized in 1618 was either the ancestor or related to the Bocking Whipple family."
We know:

1. Robert Whaple, d. after 12 March 1631/1632, of Braintree, Essex, England

A Robert Whaple was still living in Braintree, Essex, England on 12 March 1631/1632. (Note: The date 12 March 1631/1632 is an exact date. Read my "Making Sense of Dates in Colonial America [and England also]" to understand how that works.) William Wyman Fiske (p. 203) lists him as a possible brother of Matthew Whipple (father of the brothers Matthew and John who went to Ipswich, Massachusetts in 1638). If Fiske's guess is correct, Robert would be an uncle of the Ipswich, Massachusetts Matthew and John. From Fiske's article we read:
Robert Whaple, clothier of Braintree, ... was Churchwarden of Braintree in 1622. Thomas Trotter of London, in his will written 30 Nov. 1631, proved 12 March 1631[/2], names his cousin, Robert Whaple's wife, as well as a legacy to the poor of Bocking to be distributed under the supervision of Matthew Whipple, Lawrence Arthur (Matthew's son-in-law, see below), Isaac Ansell, and John Keightlye. This is presumably the same Robert Whaples of Braintree, clothier, who is named as joint executor in the 1627 will of William Barnard of Braintree, who held land in both Braintree and Bocking. The 1612 Essex Feet of Fines contains the "agreement made between Robert Whaples, plaintiff, and Robert Myerris and Barbara, his wife, deforciants, of one messuage in Braintree, in the county of Essex. The said Robert Myerris and Barbara have acknowledged the said messuage to be the right of the said Robert Whaples as those which he has by their gift and those which they had remised and quitclaimed from themselves and their heirs to the said Robert Whaples and his heirs for ever [in consideration of £41].
Of note:

  • The Whipples of Bocking (father Matthew and his sons Matthew and John) were clothiers there. The brothers were over forty years of age when they arrived in Ipswich, Massachusetts, in 1638.
  • Present-day Bocking is an area of Braintree, Essex, just north of central Braintree.

2. John Whaple, baptized 13 December 1618 at Great Waltham, Essex, England

From Google Maps and Charles M. Whipple's Captain John and Sarah Whipple, p. 2, we know that:
  • Present-day Great Waltham is about 10.5 miles SSW of Braintree on the A131 highway.
  • Assuming that John was baptized within a year of his birth, he could fit as a candidate for being the young John Whipple (later Captain John) who went to America in 1632 and is the ancestor of present-day Rhode Island Whipples
  • John Whaple's parents were John Whaple and Mary Collett.
John's father's name also being John eliminates the possibility of young John being a son of Robert Whaple above. (... but might Robert be young John's grandfather?)

3. John Whipple, b. before 24 November 1579, d. before 5 February 1624/1625, of Bishops Stortford, Hertfordshire, England

I really don't have much to say about this John Whipple--a great grandson of Thomas Whipple, the earliest known Ipswich Whipple ancestor. He appears on pp. 205-207 of the Fiske article.
  • His father and grandfather were both named John.
  • He had a [younger?] brother named Samuel, who is buried in London, and who had a son named John (born before February 1605-1606 and died before 29 July 1626.
It is within the realm of possibility that this John could be the father of teen-age John (later Captain John of Providence). In fact, his nephew John (son of brother Samuel) might also be the father of teen-age John.

It is worth noting that the Rhode Island Captain John's first son was named John; his second son was named Samuel

What Does This Mean for the Whipple Genweb?

Well, nothing (for now).

However, Charles' suggestion that researchers might want to consider the Whaple spelling variant might prove fruitful in the not-too-distant future.

Please let me know if you make any breakthroughs!

Weldon Whipple, Webmaster

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Weldon, I like your thought that young John Whaple, the son of John Whaple and Mary Collett, christened 12 December 1618, could be our Providence John. But why did he change his name to Whipple? Perhaps he would’ve chosen to use the Whipple name when applying for the Stoughton apprenticeship and for passage on the Lyon because of the family’s better standing in the community of Bocking. That’s all speculation, of course, plus the information that the Whaples of Braintree seemed to be good people, too.
Also, some have speculated that young John was from Wales. Does the Whaple story shoot down that speculation?
Another thing: Has there ever been any discussion of an apparent disparity in our John’s reported age of 17 at the time he took ship to Dorchester in 1632 and his birth year, given as “about 1617.” That would put him at 15 years of age, not 17. I have a 6-1, 15 year old grandson who could pass for 17, so I guess anything’s possible. Maybe we should begin using 15, not 17, as the age of young John when he left England.
Weldon, my friend, we have a bunch of conundrums hee, so would you please keep on working to unraveling them? It makes for good reading.