Category Archives: 17th Century


Recently, my brother, John Moreland Whitelaw, Jr., had his DNA analyzed by the genetic testing company, 23 and Me. I wrote earlier about one finding  concerning our Neanderthal heritage (click here).

The three men are John Moreland Whitelaw (1911-1974), his father John Whitelaw, Jr. (1870-1961), and John Moreland Whitelaw, Jr. (1939-).   All three carry the Whitelaw y-chromosome DNA. In front is John Whitelaw Rieke, whose mother is a Whitelaw. He does not carry the y-chromosome DNA because it only passes from father to son, but, like all the Whitelaw family, he has inherited Whitelaw genes in other parts of his DNA.

The three men are John Moreland Whitelaw (1911-1974), his father John Whitelaw, Jr. (1870-1961), and John Moreland Whitelaw, Jr. (1939-). All three carry the Whitelaw Y-chromosome DNA. In front is John Whitelaw Rieke (1953-), whose mother was a Whitelaw. He does not carry the Y-chromosome DNA because it only passes from father to son, but, like all the Whitelaw family, he has inherited Whitelaw genes in other parts of his DNA. Picture taken in Portland, Oregon, 1955.

The analysis also revealed our family’s deep past through examination of John’s Y-chromosome DNA.   Y-chromosome DNA is passed down from father to son over generations. The analysis places our family in a “haplogroup,” which, according to the 23 and Me website:

“is a family of y-chromosomes that all trace back to a single mutation at a specific place and time. By looking at the geographic distribution of these related lineages, we learn how our ancient male ancestors migrated throughout the world. “

This DNA information supplements and extends the information we have from family records. In this article, I will first trace our Whitelaw family back in time using written records, and then explore how the DNA analysis allows us to go back further to place the Whitelaws in history and even pre-history.


Our History from Written Records

James Whitelaw, Glasgow, Scotland

James Whitelaw, Glasgow, Scotland

Our written records on the Whitelaw family extend back to James Whitelaw.  From his death certificate we know that he was born in 1784-85, in Ayrshire, Scotland, and died in 1866 in Glasgow. He was a cotton weaver by trade. He and his wife, Jane Turnbull, had two daughters and five sons, including our direct ancestor, William Whitelaw, who immigrated to the U.S. in 1856.

The written record takes us back a little further. From James Whitelaw’s death certificate we know that his father’s name was William Whitelaw. We can assume that William was born sometime around 1750, since he had a son born in 1785.



Robert Whitelaw, Portage, Wisconsin

Robert Whitelaw, Portage, Wisconsin

We can even go back a little further.   One of James’s two sons who immigrated to the U.S. was Robert Whitelaw (1819-1918), brother to our direct ancestor, William Whitelaw (1807-1887).   In a newspaper interview Robert said that he could:

“trace his ancestry to the time of the covenanters in Scotland when all but one of the four Whitelaw brothers were killed at Bothwell Bridge and the estates confiscated by the crown.” (Milestone, 1916.)




A banner commemorating the execution of Covenanter prisoners in Edinburgh.

A banner commemorating the execution of Covenanter prisoners in Edinburgh.

The Covenanters were Scots Presbyterians who fought the Scottish government and the English crown over religion. The Battle of Bothwell Bridge, near Glasgow, occurred in 1679. The Covenanters lost the battle to Scottish royalist forces, and many were killed or taken prisoner. If Robert Whitelaw’s memory of ancestral involvement in the Battle of Bothwell Bridge is substantially correct, we can place Whitelaw ancestors in the Ayrshire and Lanarkshire regions of Scotland as far back as the seventeenth century.

An interesting side note: one notable person in this battle was a John Whitelaw, known as the Monklands Martyr. He was taken prisoner, tried and hanged along with other Covenenters at the Grassmarket area of Edinburgh. A transcript of his trial still exists.


Map of Scotland. The Ayrshire-Lanarkshire region is dark blue. This area was historically called Strathclyde.

Map of Scotland. The Ayrshire-Lanarkshire region is dark blue. This area was historically called Strathclyde.

The Whitelaw surname is found mainly in the central and southern regions of Scotland and in northern England. The name means “White hill” and was probably adopted by various families who resided near a hilly area. So the name by itself does not necessarily imply a family connection, and so far I have not found a family link to the Monklands Martyr.

In summary, the written record places the Whitelaws in southwestern Scotland, in the regions of Lanarkshire and Ayrshire, from as far back as the 1600s.  This area was historically called Strathclyde, and is shown as the dark blue region on the map at right.


Our Scottish DNA

Map showing the major haplogroups of Europe. The red areas, which include Western Europe and the British Isles, are dominated by R1b.

Map showing the major haplogroups of Europe. The red areas, which include Western Europe and the British Isles, are dominated by R1b.

 John’s y-chromosome DNA analysis reveals the major “haplogroup” to which we belong and also a series of ever smaller sub-haplogroups created over millenia by a subsequent, intermittent process of gene mutation. At a general level, John’s DNA places us in the haplogroup R1b, the most common haplogroup in Western Europe today.   R1b had its origins in southwestern Asia and spread to Europe in pre-historic times.  Science has not yet been able to definitively determine the timing and process by which people of this haplogroup settled Europe.  (Busby, 2011).





Map showing distribution of L-21. It shows that over 60% of men in the western areas of the British Isles carry this genetic marker.

Map showing distribution of L-21. It shows that over 60% of men in the western areas of the British Isles carry this genetic marker.

The Whitelaws are also part of a smaller sub-haplogroup L21 (also known as S145 and M529), created by a series of gene mutations subsequent to the creation of R1b. This sub-group is very common in the British Isles, particularly in the western areas, including Ireland, Wales, and the west of Scotland. According to Scottish geneticists Alistair Moffat and James F. Wilson, the L21 marker:

“probably originated in southern France and northern Iberia [Spain] and people carrying it came to Ireland and western Scotland. This was not a wave of migration but a series of small movements over time, probably in the millennium between 2,500 BC and 1,500 BC.” (p. 89).


The combination of the written record and the DNA evidence supports the conclusion that the Whitelaw family’s origins are in Scotland. They may have arrived in the British Isles around 4,000 years before the present time. At some point they settled in the southern area of Scotland historically known as Strathclyde, probably living as small homesteaders, sheep herders, and weavers.  There we find them when the written record of their existence begins in the 17th century.

We Are Celts

Thanks to Jeff Whitelaw for sending this image of a Celtic Whitelaw hoodie.

Thanks to Jeff Whitelaw for sending this image of a Celtic Whitelaw hoodie.

The Whitelaw DNA places us squarely in the ethnic, linguistic, and cultural grouping known as Celts. According to Moffat and Wilson (p. 158), scientists have characterized the S145 marker (also known as L21) as the quintessential marker of Celtic language speakers on both sides of the Irish Sea, including Ireland, western England and Wales, and western Scotland.

Celtic people are generally thought to include members of clans and tribes who inhabited Europe in ancient times.  These people had a distinctive, highly decorative style of art, characterized by flowing, sinuous lines, and stylized animals and human faces. Their religion was Druidism. They lived as small

The Gathering of the Whitelaw Clan, Oysterville, Washington, 2006.  Everyone in the picture was descended from James (1784/5-1866) and Jane Turnbull, of Ayrshire and Glasgow, Scotland.

The Gathering of the Whitelaw Clan, Oysterville, Washington, 2006. Everyone in the picture was descended from John (1835-1913) and Mary Neill Whitelaw.  The t-shirt colors signify descent from three of their children.

homestead farmers and herders in family groups. Both men and women adorned their bodies with tattoos. They were fierce and brave warriors, but, after a long series of battles around 2,000 years ago, they were finally defeated by the Roman army’s superior organization and engineering skills. Today, Celtic traditions live on in the survival of Celtic languages in Ireland, Scotland and Wales, and in popular culture, such as music, handicrafts, spirituality that connects to nature and the seasons, and Renaissance fairs.



Thanks John, for having your Whitelaw DNA analyzed.

John Whitelaw, Celt,wearing plaid and playing golf in Ireland, 2004.


Busby, George B.J. et al.  (2012)  The peopling of Europe and the cautionary tale of Y chromosome lineage R-M269.”  Proceedings of the Royal Society B. , 279, 884-892.  First published online 24 August 2011.

 James, Simon. (1993) The World of the Celts. London: Thames & Hudson.

Moffat, Alistair, and James F. Wilson. (2011). The Scots: A genetic journey. Edinburgh: Berlinn Limited.

“Milestone of Life: The Remarkable Vitality Shown by Robert Whitelaw”, published in 1916. No name of the newspaper on the clipping I have, but it was probably the local Portage, Wisconsin paper.)

Sykes, Bryan.  (2006)  Blood of the Isles. London:  Random House.

Wikipedia. Haplogroup R1b (Y-DNA).

For More Information

Click here for a complete copy of:  The Life of John Whitelaw (1835-1913), A Documentary Biography with an Appendix of Whitelaw Family Documents, by Susan Love Whitelaw, 2006.

Click here for a complete copy of:  The Life of Mary Neill Whitelaw (1840-1925), A Documentary Biography with an Appendix of Neill Family Documents, by Susan Love Whitelaw, 2004.  Note:  Mary does not carry the Whitelaw DNA, but was married to John Whitelaw and is an ancestor of many Whitelaws living today.




The world into which our ancestors, William Bradford and Alice Carpenter, were born in 1590 was dynamic and unstable. It was a time of the Renaissance flowering of literary and artistic genius. William Shakespeare was currently at the peak of his writing career. Queen Elizabeth I had just led her small, upstart nation to victory over the invading Spanish Armada, an event that changed the power balance of Europe.

Galileo, a near contemporary of the Bradfords. He was an astronomer and a pioneer of the scientific revolution.

Galileo, a near contemporary of the Bradfords. He was an astronomer and a pioneer of the scientific revolution.

The Protestant Reformation and advances in astronomy, mathematics, and physics had thrown old religious certainties into confusion. A century of ocean exploration had opened Europeans’ minds to possibilities of leaving behind the problems of their home countries and starting new communities in previously unknown lands.

 Joining the Separatists

William Bradford’s family were prosperous farmers in the northern English county of York, but his childhood years were marked by separation, loss, and instability. His parents both died when he was young, and he was passed around to various relatives. He was a sickly, bookish child; unable to help much with farm work, he spent his time reading, especially the Bible, and teaching himself Greek and Latin.

William Bradford’s birthplace, Austerfield, England

William Bradford’s birthplace, Austerfield, England

He became involved with a new and controversial religious sect in the nearby town of Scrooby. The members were called Separatists because they believed in the total separation of their own, small, community of like-minded believers, from the Church of England, which they saw as corrupted by power, and weighed down with meaningless ritual. Because of their refusal to adhere to the official state religion, they were considered to be a subversive element and were persecuted.

Persecution increased when King James I inherited the throne in 1603.  Bradford recorded in his journal, Of Plymouth Plantation, that church members:

“were hunted and persecuted on every side, so as their former affliction were as flea-bitings in comparison with these that now came upon them. For some were taken and clapt up in prison, others had their houses beset and watcht night and day, and hardly escaped their hands; and the most were faine to flie and leave their howses and habitations, and the means of their livelihood.”

In 1608, when William Bradford was 18, he and other members of the Scrooby congregation decided to escape persecution by immigrating to Holland, which was tolerant of religious diversity. The congregation lived in Holland for twelve years. During that time William turned twenty-one and inherited all the English property of his parents, which he immediately sold. In Holland he met his future wife, Alice Carpenter, whose family were also English Separatists.  Alice and William did not marry at that time; each married instead another member of the congregation. William at age twenty three married Dorothy May, then sixteen, and Alice married Edward Southworth.

Life in Holland had drawbacks. As non-citizens, the English Separatists were barred from the more lucrative areas of Dutch economic life. William supported Dorothy and son John with a low-paying job in the textile industry. Children were assimilating into Dutch culture and attenuating their allegiance to Separatist values. Catholic Spain was threatening an invasion of the Netherlands.   In the midst of these hardships, reports were coming in of vast unclaimed lands across the Atlantic Ocean in North America. For the bold and adventurous, this new land offered tantalizing possibilities for religious and economic freedom.

By 1620, the Scrooby congregation was planning to immigrate to North America.  Bradford explained in his journal:

 “all great & honourable actions are accompanied with great difficulties, and must be both enterprised and overcome with answerable courages. It was granted ye dangers were great, but not desperate; the difficulties were many, but not invincible. For though their were many of them likely, yet they were not cartaine; it might be sundrie of ye things feared might never befale; others by providente care & ye use of good means, might in a great measure be prevented; and all of them, through ye help of God, by fortitude and patience, might either be borne, or overcome. “

The Mayflower Voyage

1609 Map of New England, by John Smith, the founder of Jamestown colony in Virginia. The pilgrims almost certainly had this map on the Mayflower.)

1609 Map of New England, by John Smith, the founder of Jamestown colony in Virginia. The pilgrims almost certainly had this map on the Mayflower.

William Bradford was 30 years old when he crossed the ocean on the Mayflower, and his wife, Dorothy, was about 23. They left their young son John in the care of friends in Holland, planning that he would come over with a later contingent of immigrants.

Along with a crew of about thirty men and boys, the Mayflower had one hundred and two passengers.   Only eighteen were adult women; all of these were married and three were pregnant.   We are used to hearing about the “Pilgrim Fathers” so it may be a surprise to learn that that the passengers were quite young. The adults were mainly in their twenties and thirties. Over forty of the passengers were children, a large proportion of whom were teenagers, both boys and girls. Most of the passengers were in family groups, but a significant number, especially among the adolescents of both sexes, were servants connected to a family through legal indentures.

The Mayflower during one of the many squalls it endured. The crew had to lower the sails to keep the wind from breaking the masts, so the ship was simply tossed around on the sea, soaking the terrified passengers.

The Mayflower during one of the many squalls it endured. The crew had to lower the sails to keep the wind from breaking the masts, so the ship was simply tossed around on the sea, soaking the terrified passengers.

Only about thirty of the passengers were from the Separatist congregation in Holland. The rest were residents of England; most of these were also Separatists or at least sympathetic to their religious convictions. A few may have been strictly economic immigrants. Also on board were many animals: farm animals such as chickens, pigs, and sheep, and cats to keep down the rodent population. Two dogs came along as pets, a mastiff and a springer spaniel.

The two-month trip across the ocean was a terrible ordeal; only one person died, a member of the crew, but all were sick and dirty the whole way over. They were cramped and crowded, often wet and in great danger from ocean storms, and didn’t have enough decent food.

Beginning of Democracy in America

King James had given the Mayflower passengers permission to form a settlement in what is now New York, but the ship ended up, probably due to bad weather, north of there, on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  The King had not yet claimed the right to rule this area, so the legal auspices under which the new settlement was to manage itself were unclear.

Some passengers suggested that they did not need to submit to any government and each person could go off on their own. However, it was obvious to most that if they were to survive the winter, they needed to work together, and so the adult men on the ship formed and signed the Mayflower Compact.

Artist’s rendering of the signing of the Mayflower Compact on board the ship.

Artist’s rendering of the signing of the Mayflower Compact on board the ship.

Each signer voluntarily agreed to submit to a democratically elected governing structure, consisting of a governor and a group of “assistants.” This document has been celebrated as the beginning of democracy on American shores. William Bradford was one of the architects of the document and among the first signers.

When the Mayflower arrived off the shore of Cape Cod, William Bradford was among the small group of men who first set foot on shore. It was now November, and they had to work quickly to find a suitable place for a settlement. They urgently wanted to make contact with the local inhabitants to trade for food and seed grain, and to establish friendly relations.  Indians appeared from afar, but disappeared into the woods when the pilgrims tried to approach. The pilgrims came upon an Indian settlement that had been deserted, due to an outbreak of small pox brought by earlier European explorers. They also found baskets of Indian corn buried in the sand, which they dug up and took with them. They desperately needed provisions, and hoped to offer trade goods to the Indians in compensation. Possibly in retaliation for this theft, a group of Indians attacked the exploring party one night, but were successfully fended off. Later on, after the Indians and pilgrims became acquainted, the pilgrims paid the Indians for the corn they had taken.

The first winter was horrendous. Half of the pilgrims died, mainly from infectious diseases. The women were particularly hard hit: all but four of the eighteen women died. The women remained on the Mayflower all winter, in close, damp, dirty quarters. The men were mainly on land, hunting, fishing, and building rough shelters for the families to inhabit in the spring. They endured great hardship, but were in healthier surroundings than the women, and had access to fresh water. If they were sick, they returned to the Mayflower, inadvertently further infecting those quarters. Dorothy Bradford was among the first casualties; she died not from sickness but by falling overboard while her husband was on one of the early scouting parties. William himself got very ill during that terrible winter and almost died.

 The First Thanksgiving

By spring of that first year, it began to seem possible that the colony might survive. There were no more deaths. The pilgrims learned from the Indians how to plant such native foods as corn and squash, and how to fish the local waters. The Mayflower sailed back to England, and families established themselves in the newly-built houses.

After the first elected governor of the colony died during the winter, William Bradford was elected as the new governor, a position to which he was re-elected nearly every year until his death in 1657.

Artist's rendering of the first Thanksgiving, 1621. William Bradford, seated at the table, is presiding over the feast in his role as governor.

Artist’s rendering of the first Thanksgiving, 1621. William Bradford, seated at the table, is presiding over the feast in his role as governor.

During the autumn, the settlers were able to harvest enough food to last through the winter. In celebration, they organized a feast that went on for several days. Ninety of their Indian neighbors brought newly killed deer and joined the party. The four adult women who had survived the winter must have been strained to the utmost to organize the cooking for this large crowd of about 140 people.

Alice Carpenter Southworth

In 1623, when she was thirty-three years old, Alice Carpenter Southworth, along with other Separatists from Holland and England, came to Plymouth on the ship Anne. Her husband, Robert Southworth, had recently died, leaving her with two young sons. Probably by prearrangement, within a month of landing in Plymouth she married her old friend, the widowed William Bradford. In the following years, three of her sisters also came to Plymouth; they formed an influential nucleus of the community of women in the colony, and among them left many Carpenter descendants. Plymouth records note that Alice was much loved in the colony.

The wedding of the colony’s governor and Alice, both of whom were well known, was the occasion for a major celebration. The Native American leader, Massasoit, attended with his wife and a retinue of over 100 men. The party feasted on venison and the increasingly bountiful supplies of the pilgrim colony.

A pilgrim cradle, brought on the Mayflower, now at the Plymouth Historical Museum.

A pilgrim cradle, brought on the Mayflower, now at the Plymouth Historical Museum.

Over the years the Bradfords raised a number of children. William’s son, John, and Alice’s two sons, Thomas and Constant, came to the Bradford home from Europe. The Bradfords had three children of their own. Our family descends from William and Alice through their first son, William Jr. They also fostered other children of the colony.

Governor Bradford

William Bradford was governor of the Plymouth Colony, with only a few breaks, from its beginning until his death in 1657. One of his main tasks was to put the colony on a sound financial footing. The original voyage was financed by a group of investors in England. They needed to be paid off through the profit making ventures of the colonists, which consisted mainly of sending beaver furs, lumber, and smoked fish back to English markets. Vagaries of weather, shipwrecks, and other perils interfered with this transatlantic trade, but the colony was able, after several years, to free itself of debt. Thereafter, Bradford led the colony in a transition from a communal economy, where everything was owned in common, to one of individual ownership.

Squanto, an early benefactor of the pilgrims, teaching them how to plant corn using fish as fertilizer. Squanto had learned English from earlier explorers and had travelled to Europe. He was a key intermediary for the pilgrims in establishing good relations with the local inhabitants of Cape Cod.)

Squanto, an early benefactor of the pilgrims, teaching them how to plant corn using fish as fertilizer. Squanto had learned English from earlier explorers and had travelled to Europe. He was a key intermediary for the pilgrims in establishing good relations with the local inhabitants of Cape Cod.

Another major task was to maintain good relationships with their Native American neighbors. The pilgrims traded with the Indians for beaver pelts, a major source of income for the colony. When the pilgrims set up outposts in Connecticut and Maine for trapping and logging, they needed the good will and the expertise of the Indians. It seems very unlikely that the Plymouth colony could have survived without the active help and support of the surrounding Native Americans.

Beyond the practical considerations, the religious values of the Separatists led them to policies of toleration and mutual respect. They practiced these values with the Native Americans, and also with religious dissenters such as the Quakers. They accepted the presence of economic immigrants to their colony, some of whom were rough, noisy, and caused trouble with the Indians. As part of this policy of respect for diversity, the Plymouth colony established the principle separation of church and state. In this way, they could accommodate non-Separatists in their midst, as long as they obeyed the civil governmental structure of the colony.

In their practice of gentle toleration, the pilgrims of Plymouth colony were very different from the mighty Massachusetts Bay colony growing on their border. The English Puritans who settled there were high-handed in their dealings with others, and intolerant of religious dissent.  The painful history of European settlers’ treatment of the Indians began early, and it is extremely unfortunate that the model for working with local populations established by the Plymouth colony was not followed.

William Bradford’s chair, now in the Plymouth Historical Museum

William Bradford’s chair, now in the Plymouth Historical Museum

Another of Bradford’s responsibilities as Governor was to maintain order and stability within the diverse Plymouth community. The following excerpt from his journal, On Plymouth Plantation, shows the respectful but firm leadership he exercised. The Separatists did not celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday, but some newcomers to the colony, who were there only for economic gain, wanted to celebrate the holiday in traditional English fashion. Bradford wrote in his journal:

 “And herewith I shall end this year. Only I shall remember one passage more, rather of mirth then of waight. On ye day called Christmas day, ye Govr [William Bradford] caled them out to worke, (as was used,) but ye most of this new company excused them selves and said it wente against their consciences to work on yt day. So ye Govr tould them that if they made it mater of conscience, he would spare them till they were better informed. So he led away ye rest and left them; but when they came home at noone from their worke, he found them in ye streete at play, openly; some pitching ye barr, & some at stoole ball, and shuch like sports. So he went to them, and tooke away their implements, and tould them that was against his conscience, that they should play & others worke. If they made ye keeping of it mater of devotion, let them kepe their houses, but ther should be no gameing or revelling in ye streets. Since which time nothing hath been atempted that way, at least openly.”

Statue of Willaim Bradford, Plymouth, MA

Statue of William Bradford, Plymouth, MA

William Bradford died in 1657. He left his children and his widow, Alice, a sizable estate, including a library of over 100 books. Alice survived until 1670, when she was eighty years old. Their son William became a leader of the colony and in the military.

The Mayflower Society, an organization of the descendants of the Mayflower, estimates that there are about ten million descendants living today of the original passengers on the Mayflower; some unknown number of these descend from William and Alice Bradford. (MacGunnigle, 2015).

In a larger sense, all of us in America today are the beneficiaries of Bradford’s legacy. Through the Mayflower Compact, he was a pioneer in establishing democratic government as a viable alternative to monarchy. He had the vision and leadership to promote the immigration of a small community of religious dissenters to a new and unknown land across a dangerous ocean. His good judgement and dedication guided the colony in its early years of near extinction and made it a model of good governance that still informs our national aspiration to become a true beacon of democracy.

Bradford himself articulated what he hoped would be the legacy of the pilgrims of Plymouth colony. It is helpful to remember that his understanding of the “kingdom of Christ” meant living out the values of toleration, community, respect, mercy, caring, humility, and the obligation of each person for self-governance.

 “Lastly (and which was not least) a great hope, & inward zeal they had of laying some good foundation (or at least to make some way thereunto) for ye propagating & advancing ye gospel of ye kingdom of Christ in those remote parts of ye world, yea, though they should be but even as stepping stones unto others for ye performing of so great a work.”

How You Are Related to William and Alice Bradford

On your individual fan chart, find Eunice Waldo in the outermost arc. Then click here to trace Eunice Waldo’s ancestry back to the Bradfords.  This line of descent from William and Alice Bradford to our family has been approved by the Mayflower Society and the documentation of it is stored in their permanent records.


Anderson, Robert Charles. The Pilgrim Migration: Immigrants to Plymouth Colony, 1620-1633. Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society. 2004.

Bradford, William. Of Plymouth Plantation (1620-1647). New York: The Modern Library. 1981.

Heath, David B. (Editor) Mourt’s Relation: A Journal of the Pilgrims at Plymouth. Bedford, MA: Applewood Books. 1963.

Johnson, Caleb H. The Mayflower and Her Passengers. USA: Xlibris Corporation. 2006.

MacGunnigle, Bruce C.  From Fifty to Ten Million:  A Sample of the Families on the Mayflower.  The Mayflower Quarterly.  March, 2015.  Vol.81, No. 1.  pp.  36-44.

Stratton, Eugene Aubrey. Plymouth Colony: Its History & People, 1620-1691. Provo, Utah: Ancestry Publishing. 1986.

Williams, Mrs. Harold Four-Footed Pilgrims. The Mayflower Quarterly. Feb. 1975, Vol. 41, No. 1.




THEOPHILUS (or possibly ROBERT) WHALEY (1616-1720)


According to family historian William DeLoss Love, “The name of Theophilus Whaley is familiar to every reader of early New England history. He is one of its most mysterious characters.” (p. 129) His biography is deeply connected to the events of the English Civil War, particularly the trial and execution of Charles I in 1649 by William Cromwell and his Puritan constituency in Parliament.

Trial of Charles I

Trial of Charles I

The Whaley family (also spelled Whalley or Whale) was on the side of Parliament, and were cousins of Oliver Cromwell, the leader of the Parliamentary rebels. One prominent member of this family was Edward Whaley. He was among the fifty-nine judges who condemned Charles I to death. After his execution, Cromwell and the Puritans ruled England until 1660, when Charles, son of the executed king, was invited back from exile to become King Charles II. From then on, the judges who signed his father’s death warrant were in danger, and many fled the country. Some, including Edward Whaley, came to the American colonies, where citizens hid them from the arm of English law. In the colonies there was an atmosphere of mystery and confusion surrounding these fugitive and hidden judges who were supposedly living among them. People speculated on whether a newcomer or stranger was possibly one of the fugitives.

Theophilus Whaley entered this scene in 1679, when he came to Rhode Island from Virginia with his wife and children. The family settled in a modest cabin on Pettaquamscutt Pond in what is now North Kingstown. Several things about him seemed mysterious, most prominently that he never gave a full account of his background, and that he had arrived in Rhode Island in the same year that Edward Whaley supposedly died while in hiding, and that he shared the same name as Edward Whaley. In the community there was speculation bordering on conviction that he was in fact Edward Whaley. The mystery of Theophilus’s true identity was still unsolved at the time of his death in about 1720. (Pictured: the Judges Cave near New Haven, CT where Edward Whaley lived in hiding at various times.)

The Judges Cave

The Judges Cave near New Haven, CT where Edward Whaley lived in hiding at various times. Painting by George Henry Durrie

In 1755, thirty five years after Theophilus’s death, Dr. Ezra Stiles, President of Yale University, began a study of judges who had been sequestered in New England. He was able to interview children and close neighbors of the judges, and to examine documents. He published a book on his extensive study in 1794, and, as the cover indicates (pictured at left), the book contained “An Account of Mr. Theophilus Whale, of Narragansett, Supposed to have been also one of the Judges.”

Dr. Stiles learned that Theophilus Whaley was born in England in about 1616-22, and that he was of good descent and education. Whaley said that when he was young “he was brought up delicately and that till he was eighteen years old, he knew not what it was to want a servant to attend him with a silver ewer and knapkin whenever he wanted to wash his hands.” (Stiles, p. 351) When he was about 18 years old, in 1637, he came over to Virginia, and went as an officer into the Indian wars. Then he returned to England and became “an officer in the parliament wars, and through the Protectorate, “ or the reign of William Cromwell (Stiles, p. 355).

After the Restoration of the monarchy in 1660, Whaley returned to Virginia, “having by some action or other rendered himself obnoxious to the royalists.” (Stiles, p. 355) He never said how he was involved in the events of the English Civil War, but he considered himself “a man of blood” who might be in danger from the royalists. Once back in Virginia, he married in about 1670, when he was about fifty years old. His wife, Elizabeth Mills, was a Virginian. They lived there for about ten years. Virginia records show that he was a man of some wealth and property. We don’t know why the family left Virginia; possibly he began to fear that he was being pursued by English authorities there. Or they may have run into some religious difficulty; the Church of England was dominant in Virginia, and Whaley was a Baptist.

A History of Three of the Judges of King Charles I

A History of Three of the Judges of King Charles I, by Dr. Ezra Stiles

In 1679-80 the family moved to Rhode Island, and rented property on Pettaquamscutt Pond, where they built a modest cabin. There Theophilus lived a simple and retired life, supporting himself and his family largely by fishing and weaving. His neighbors soon learned that he was a man of learning, proficient in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew, and called upon him for writing documents and other such work. He was given much to study and reflection.

Dr. Stiles reported incidents that deepened the neighbors’ suspicions that Theo. Whaley was perhaps one of the judges. A delegation of distinguished Bostonians visited him about once a year. The visitors “embraced him with great ardor and affection, and expressed great joy at seeing him, and treated him with great friendship and respect.” These men also supplied him with means, possibly money coming from relatives in England. The neighbors who observed these visits concluded that the Bostonians knew his true identity and had known him in Boston as Edward Whaley. Another time, a British warship under the command of an officer named Whaley anchored at Naragansett Bay. The captain came ashore and visited Theophilus. The neighbors saw them greet each other warmly; it was clear that they had known each other before. The captain invited Theophilus back to his ship, but Theophilus declined. The neighbors concluded that he feared he might be betrayed by someone on the ship and deported to England for trial.

Charles I, Oliver Cromwell, Charles II

Charles I, Oliver Cromwell, Charles II

Although Theophilus’s children and neighbors were all certain that he was Edward Whaley, in the end Stiles was unconvinced. He had fairly strong documentary evidence that Edward Whaley had in fact died in 1679 while in hiding, and that therefore Theophilus could not be the same man. He also pointed out that it did not make sense that Theophilus would have chosen to retain his last name and only change his first name, if he were truly trying to hide from the English authorities.

However, the mystery of his true identity still remained, and it was clear that he was hiding from something in his past. The most likely possibility that Stiles considered was that Theophilus was actually Robert Whaley, a younger brother of Edward Whaley. Robert had served during the Civil War in the regiment of Commander Hacker, who was the commanding officer at the execution of King Charles I. Presumably, Robert participated in this event as a member of the regiment. At the time of the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, Hacker was executed in retribution for his role in the regicide, so it was reasonable that others in the regiment would be fearful of arrest. Robert’s name disappears from English records at about the time of the restoration, and this is also the time when Theophilus appears in Virginia. So it has seemed quite possible to Stiles and to subsequent historians that Theophilus may have been Robert (Whaley, 1901). If he was involved in Charles I’s execution, he may have come to regret it later. His reference to himself as a “man of blood” who “ought to mortify himself” may suggest his participation and subsequent change of heart. Other participants in the regicide are known to have lived with this haunting sense of guilt that shadowed the rest of their lives.

Whatever Theophilus’s true identity, he was considered a good and pious person by his neighbors and children. Stiles (p. 352) referred to him as that “singular, good old man.”  He and his wife Elizabeth raised five children to adulthood, including Samuel, our direct ancestor. Theophilus spent the last years of his life “in solitude and without labor; yet his body and mind were sound to the last.” After the death of his wife, about 1715, he went to live with his daughter Martha in West Greenwich. He died between 1719 and 1722, probably in the latter year, at the remarkable age of 103 years. He was buried near the home on Hopkins Hill, it is said with military honors.

The graveyard on Hopkins Hill still exists. When William DeLoss Love visited it in the early 20th century, he reported that Whaley’s grave was “known but unmarked.” In 1992, a local historian, Howard Goldman (p. 32), reported that the cemetery was small and overgrown, surrounded by the remains of a stone wall, and contained ancient, rough cut stones on which the inscriptions had worn off. Goldman also noted the appearance of a commemorative stone to Whaley, of modern origin. This stone must have been placed somewhere between the early 20th century, when W. D. Love visited, and the early 1990s. There are no records showing who was responsible for placing the memorial there.

Theophilus Whale memorial stone

Theophilus Whale memorial stone

The memorial stone reads:

“Here was buried
Theophilus Whale
The singular good old man
Born in England about 1616
Died on this hill about 1720.

And his wife
Elizabeth Mills
Of Virginia

Their descendents endure
Even unto this day”

And so, fittingly, the Theophilus Whaley story ends with another mystery. Who placed this stone and why did they do it? It seems to be a testimony to our continuing fascination with this “singular, good old man.”


Map showing the Whaley home site and grave site near Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island

Map showing the Whaley home site and grave site near Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island. (Stiles, p. 344a.)

Theophilus’s wife, Elizabeth, was born about 1645, probably in Virginia. We know nothing about her early life. In later years she signed legal documents with her mark, often a sign that the person could not write, so she may not have received much education as a girl. She married Theophilus in about 1670, in Virginia, when she was in her mid 20s. He was much older, being nearly 50. So far as we know, this was a first marriage for both of them. They had two daughters, and possibly two more children, while in Virginia, but in 1679-80 they moved to Rhode Island, where they raised a total of five children to adulthood. They lived very modestly. According to Dr. Stiles, Theophilus lived in “poverty and obscurity, and built himself a little under-ground hut in a high bank, or side hill, at the north end or head of the pond.” (p. 342).

Dr. Stiles, in interviews with descendants and acquaintances of the Whaleys, learned something of Elizabeth’s character. Judge Hopkins, a grandson, remembered his grandmother as a “smart tight little woman, a mighty doctress” [a woman with medical skills] (Stiles, p. 346.) Judge Hopkins also remembered that when the couple became old, Elizabeth used to “make long visits to her daughters. . . and leave the old man to shift for himself” (p. 348). One reason she might have done this comes from an anecdote from a neighbor who knew them well.

“The wife was a notable woman, a woman of high spirits, and often chastised her husband for his inattention to domestic concerns, and spending so much of his time in religion and contemplation, neglecting to repair and cover his house, which was worn out and become leaky and let in rain in heavy storms, which used to set her a storming at him. He used to endeavor to sooth her with placid mildness, and to calm her by observing in a storm, while the rain was beating in upon them, that then was not a time to repair it, and that they should learn to be contented, as it was better than sinners deserved, with other religious reflexions; and when the storm was over, and she urged him, he would calmly and humorously reply, it is now fair weather, and when it did not rain they did not want a better house.” (Stiles, p. 351)

Perhaps she stayed in the homes of her daughters because she wanted to be in a dry house. Elizabeth died in about 1715 and was buried near the church in Kingston, RI.

The Whaleys’ youngest child and only son was Samuel Whaley. Samuel’s granddaughter, Sarah Blanchard, married Sgt. Robert Love, the son of Adam and Mary Love, who were the subject of my last family report. From Sarah and Robert Love descended a series of male children, culminating in Olin Love, my grandfather.

Colonel Whalley's Residence

The Whaley home on Pettaquamscutt Pond (Updike, p. 352)

How you are related to Theophilus and Elizabeth Whaley

On your personal Ancestor Fan, go to the outermost ring and find Levi Love.  Then click here to open the Levi Love Ancestor FanTheophilus and Elizabeth Whaley are in the green section, fifth ring out.

Goldman, Howard A. “That Good Old Man – Whoever He Was.” Old Rhode Island, vol. 2, Issue 6. July, 1992. pp. 32-40.
Love, William De Loss. Love Family History. Unpublished Manuscript. New Haven, CT, 1918. P. 129.
Stiles, Ezra. A History of Three of the Judges of King Charles I. Major-General Whalley, Major-General Goffe, and Colonel Dixwell: Who at the Restoration of 1660, Fled to America; and were Secreted and Concealed, in Massachusetts and Connecticut, for Near Thirty Years. Hartford, CT: Printed by Elisha Babcock, 1794.
Updike, Wilkins. History of the Episcopal Church in Narragansett, RI. New York: H.M. Onderdonk, 1847. Picture of the Whaley home, p. 352.
Whaley, Rev. Samuel. English Record of the Whaley Family and Its Branches in America. Ithaca, N.Y: Andrus & Church, 1901).

THOMAS LEWIS (1628-1684)

Our Dutch ancestor, Thomas Lewis, was actually Scotch-Irish! He was born in Belfast but spent most of his life in New Amsterdam, a Dutch colony that later became New York City. He lived there during a turbulent period when the Dutch contested the territory with the Indians and the English. The Dutch founded New Amsterdam in 1626 when they purchased Manhattan Island from the Indians for 60 guilders, at about the same time that the Pilgrims were settling in Plymouth, Massachusetts. The Dutch colony grew and by the late 1650s encompassed western Long Island as well. New Amsterdam was a thriving mercantile town with strong shipping and trading interests. The population consisted of immigrants from all over Europe, particularly Holland and Great Britain, and was known for its religious tolerance. In 1664 the English captured the Dutch colony in a surprise naval attack. The Dutch recaptured the colony in 1673, but in 1674 the English re-took the area, permanently naming it New York City.

New Amsterdam

New Amsterdam as it would have been viewed by Thomas Lewis, arriving from Holland on the Blue Dove, 1656.

17th century Dutch tile

a 17th century Dutch tile with a blue dove pattern.

Thomas Lewis was born in Belfast, Ireland, about 1628. He immigrated to Holland with two of his sisters to avoid Cromwell’s wars in Ireland. The sisters died in Holland while still young women, after which Thomas departed for New Amsterdam. He sailed in 1656, on a ship called the Blue Dove, owned by the Dutch West India Company. On the ship’s register, he is listed as a carpenter; the company paid his passage in exchange for which Thomas agreed to stay in New Amsterdam for at least three years and work as a carpenter.

Lewis thrived in New Amsterdam and is mentioned in many early records, where his last name is written in Dutch form as Lodowycksen or Lievens. He went first to Albany, where he served out his term as a carpenter. After working off his obligation to the Dutch West India Company, he left carpentry to become a mariner. He married Geesje Barnets, a descendant of Dutch immigrants, in about 1661, and in 1663 he moved to New Amsterdam with his wife and one child. It is through Geesje, and Dutch brides of subsequent male Lewis descendants, that we trace our Dutch ancestry.


Pictured: a sloop, developed by the Dutch in Bermuda, displaying its typical triangular sails. 17th c. woodcut.

Also in 1663, Thomas Lewis served in the second Esopus Indian War, a conflict between Dutch farmers in Ulster County, up the Hudson River from New Amsterdam, and the Esopus Indians. By now he owned a boat, called a sloop, with which he transported troops to the battle site. Governor Peter Stuyvesant also used the sloop as his headquarters during the war.

Thomas Lewis prospered in the shipping business. He travelled around the New York coast, and went at least as far south as Virginia, to bring tobacco back to New York. He seems to have lived a colorful and event-filled life New Amsterdam, which at the time was essentially a frontier town. Court records of 1665 that mention him (usually as Thomas Lodowycx) give a flavor of life at that time.

    • Lewis “states that he brought with him from the Virginias two hogsheads of tobacco for Mr. Petrus Stuyvesant, and that he will not receive them.” Lewis requested “that Mr. Stuyvesant’s wife shall be ordered to receive the same.”
Peter Stuyvesant

Current statue of Peter Stuyvesant, Governor of New Amsterdam, in New York City.

  • Lewis testified in court that “as he was proceeding with Abel Hardenbroeck and some women folk towards the Bouwery, he saw the defendant, Denys Isaacksen, draw the knife on the plaintiff, whom he pursued with many abusive and threatening words.”
  • He was called into court for having been “out playing on the 13th of the month, being Sunday, contrary to the Placard.” He admitted he had been, but as he was not aware of any ordinance to the contrary, he was excused.
  • On another court appearance that same day, “’Thomas Lodowycx, boatman’ stated that ‘when he went last to the South River he took an anker of brandy on freight from Capt Backer to deliver to Pieter de Rangiere.’ De Rangiere sent it back two hours later, saying it was half water. ‘He was thus obliged to bring the same back here, which he did and brought it back to said Backer, who refused to receive it, as he said, it was good brandy, which he himself brought on board. He requests therefore that the Court would order that he should do with it, inasmuch as he and all his crew will make oath, that the same was not adulterated by them.’” The court ordered him to pay Capt. Backer four beavers and costs for the brandy.
  • He sued Hendricx Coustrie for freight to the South River, some of which Coustrie accused him of “’recklessly throwing overboard.’ On Nov. 21st he accused Coustrie ‘of being a liar and a rogue, and undertook to prove it. . . The aforesaid Lodowyx was fined for his abusive words.’ On Dec. 12th he ‘says it occurred through haste: declares he knows nothing of the plaintiff but what is honourable and virtuous.’ But he was fined 25 florins nevertheless.”

These court records reflect the frontier atmosphere of commercial transactions at the time.  As the years went on, New York society became more stable and law-abiding.  In 1668 Thomas and Geesje Lewis bought a house on William Street, adjoining Hanover Square, where they lived for the rest of Thomas’s life. They joined the Dutch Reformed Church, where all their children were baptized, except the first, who had been born in Albany.

By the early 1670s, Lewis was becoming a prominent and well-established citizen. On a list of “’the best and most affluent inhabitants of this city’ appears the name Thomas Lewis, whose property is valued at 6,000 florins. Only 16 other inhabitants of the city rank higher in the list. This shows that Thomas Lewis, from a humble beginning as a carpenter, was able by his trade as ‘mariner’ to amass a considerable fortune. . . .He was appointed Alderman of NY City by Gov. Andros Oct. 17, 1675, and was re-appointed in 1680 and 1682. In 1675-76 he was appointed chairman of a committee to survey vacant land, and to have casting vote in case of tie, ‘wee having conceived a good opinion of the fitnesse and ability of Mr. Thomas Lewis, Alderman.’”

Although Thomas Lewis never returned to Belfast, he maintained contact with relatives there, and his oldest son, Lodowick, spent time there as a young man.

Thomas Lewis died Sept. 28, 1684. He left his widow, Geesje, and five children, Lodowick, Barent, Leonard (our ancestor), Catharine, and Thomas. After his death, his widow became a baker and lived with her daughter, Catharine. The exact date of her death is not known, but it was somewhere between 1720 and 1725. At the time of her death, all her children were also deceased except for our direct ancestor, Leonard.

Map of New Amsterdam, about 1660

Map of New Amsterdam, about 1660

We know quite a bit about our earliest Lewis ancestor to come to the New World, mainly from two journals: the New York Genealogical and Biological Record (Vol. LX, No. 2, New York, April, 1929), the source of all quoted material included here; and Lewisiana or the Lewis Letter, published in New York in the early 20th century.

Two mariners on a Bermuda sloop.  Dutch 17th c. tile.

Two mariners on a Bermuda sloop. Dutch 17th c. tile.

How you are related to Thomas and Geesje Lewis

On your personal Ancestor Fan, go to Adonijah Lewis, in the outermost ring.  Then, click here to open the Adonijah Lewis Ancestor Fan.  Thomas and Geesje Lewis are in the outermost ring.  Below is a brief biography of each person in the line of descent from Thomas and Geesje Lewis to present day Whitelaws.

Line of Descent – Thomas Lewis to Present Day Whitelaws

Thomas Lewis (b. 1628 Belfast, Ireland, d. 1684, New York City.) See above.

Col. Leonard Lewis (b. New Amsterdam, d. 1730, Poughkeepsie, New York). He followed his father’s footsteps as a merchant and community leader. In 1692 he served in an expedition against the French in Mohawk country. In 1696 he was elected alderman from the East Ward in New York City and served several terms. He was a member of the Colonial Assembly from New York County from 1699 to 1701. He became a large property owner, buying into the Hardenburg Patent that included parts of several counties in New York and was owned by his descendants for several generations. In 1710 he moved to Poughkeepsie, and represented Dutchess County in the Colonial Assembly from 1713-1726. He was a judge of the Court of Common Pleas. He married Elizabeth Hardenbergh (b. about 1668, Albany, NY), of Dutch descent, in 1688 in Albany. They had eleven children.

Leonard Lewis (b. about 1707, Poughkeepsie, NY, d. about 1759). He married Rachel Swarthout, of Dutch descent, in 1747, with whom he had three children. He died before his mother, and therefore did not inherit any of the property left by his wealthy father, and was unable to leave an inheritance for his children.

Corporal Leonard Lewis (b. about 1748, in NY, d. in 1817). He resided in Lewisburgh, Ulster County, across the Hudson from Poughkeepsie. He enlisted in the Revolutionary army in 1778, and served with General Washington at Valley Forge and elsewhere. He served for nine months and was promoted to Corporal. His service record and line of descent to us is verified in the records of the Daughters of the American Revolution. He married Hannah (surname unknown) in 1766, in Lewisburgh. They had four children.

Adonijah Lewis (b. about 1780, Lewisburgh, NY, d. 1839, Plattekill, NY.) He was a farmer. He married Huldah Nye (B. 1781, Mass., d. after 1850, Hartland, Livingston, MI) in 1803 in New York. The couple had ten children. Huldah descended from the Nyes of Sandwich, Massachusetts, about whom I have written in an earlier post. Adonijah wrote an extensive will, listing all his household and farm equipment, which still exists in Ulster County Probate Court records. After his death, his widow, Huldah, moved to Michigan with her younger children, where she joined her older children who had moved there earlier.

Adna Lewis (b. 1820, New York, d. 1884, Burlington, Calhoun, MI). Adna, a farmer, married Rachel Freer (b. 1823, New Paltz, NY, d. 1920, Athens, Calhoun, MI). They immigrated to Michigan in 1850, living first on a farm near Lansing and then to Burlington, in south western Michigan. The couple had six children.

Hanna Lewis Love (b. 1854, Hartland Township, MI, d. 1946, Los Angeles, CA.) Hannah spent her childhood on her father’s farm in Burlington, Michigan. She married George Love (b. 1850, MI, d. 1918, Turlock, CA) in 1874, in Calhoun County, Michigan, where they ran a farm. They immigrated to Woodburn, Oregon in about 1905 with four of their five children, all adults. In about 1912 the family immigrated to Livingston, California. After George’s death in 1918, Hannah lived near her children in Los Angeles and Livingston.

Olin Love (b. 1886, Burlington, MI, d. 1930, Portland, OR). He was raised in Michigan and moved to Woodburn as a young man. He married Mabel Goulet (b. 1889, Woodburn, OR, d. 1963, Portland, OR) in 1910 in Woodburn, and they had one child. He worked mainly as a travelling salesman in Oregon, Washington, and California for a stock feed company. He died unexpectedly from complications resulting from ulcer surgery.

Alvis Love Whitelaw (b 1911, Woodburn, OR, d. 1997, Royal Oak, MI.) She married John Whitelaw (b. 1911, Lawrence, KS, d. 1974, Portland, OR) in 1938 in Salem, Oregon. She lived most of her life in Portland, Oregon, and worked as a social worker in Portland. Before marriage and again when in her 60s she worked for the state public welfare department as an administrator and consultant to counties all over the state. She and John had three children. In her later retirement years, she moved to Michigan to be near her daughters.

John (b. 1939, Portland, OR), Susan (b. 1942, Portland, OR), and Nancy (b. 1947, Portland, OR) Whitelaw


The Dillingham, Wing, Tupper, and Nye Families

Ten Men of Saugus

Ten Men of Saugus

Sandwich, Massachusetts was the first town in Cape Cod. The “Ten Men of Saugus,” as they were called, founded Sandwich, Mass., in 1637, by the authority of the Plymouth Colony:

“It is also agreed by the Court that those tenn men of Saugust . . . shall have liberty to view a place to sitt down & have sufficient lands for three score famylies, upon the conditions propounded to them by the Governor and Mr. Winslowe.” (1)

Sixty people walked together 100 miles from Saugus (now Lynn, Mass.) to an area in the wilderness where they would create Sandwich.

We have ancestral links to its founding. Two of our ancestors, Edward Dillingham and Thomas Tupper, are among the “ten men of Saugus,” and two others, Deborah Wing and Benjamin Nye, were among the original 60 families. Evidence of their habitation there still exists and can be viewed by visitors to Cape Cod.

Although the main purpose of the new town was to create economic opportunity through farming and fishing, the town also became an arena where religious differences were fought out.

Sandwhich, Ma

Sandwich, Massachusetts

The Quakers

The Quakers started arriving in New England in the 1640s and were severely persecuted by the authorities, who objected to tenets of their religion and also their refusal to pay church taxes. Quakers risked public whippings, imprisonment, banishment, steep fines, and some possibility of execution for practicing their religion, even though they had come to New England for the same reason that the Puritans had – to live in a place free of English oppression. The leaders of the Bay Colony also punished citizens who in any way aided the Quakers, and prohibited people from listening to them preach.

Sandwich from its founding was less rigid in religious matters than other New England towns. When the Quakers started to arrive, they found people in Sandwich who were sympathetic and interested. However, the toleration for Quakers did not extend to officials of the town or of the Colony of which they were a part. Individuals who sympathized with or aided the Quakers were subject to stiff fines and imprisonment.

Eventually, the Quakers won over many of the citizens of Sandwich. James Cudworth, a Puritan, wrote in a letter of 1658: “They have many meetings and many adherents; almost the whole town of Sandwich is adhering towards them. . . The Sandwich men may not go to the Bay [Boston colony], lest they be taken up for Quakers.” (2)

The first Quaker meeting in America was established in Sandwich in 1658, with a congregation of 17 families. It was not allowed to meet in town, but met covertly in a wilderness about a mile away, now called ‘Christopher Hollow.’ This area still exists and is open to tourists.

Christopher’s Hollow

Christopher Hollow

The Dillingham and Wing Families

The Dillingham and Wing families are a part of the Quaker history of Sandwich. Edward and Ursula Dillingham, both born in Cottesbach, Leicestershire, England, came to America in about 1635 with three children, settling first at Saugus, and then becoming a founding family of Sandwich. Edward Dillingham was a farmer, and served on many juries, commissions and boards until his death in about 1667. He was part of the climate of opinion in Sandwich which was open to the ideas of the Quakers, and in 1657 he came into conflict with the civil authorities of the town: “he was arrested and admonished for showing sympathy with the Quakers, and for ‘speaking approbriesly to the cunstables deputie of Sandwich was admonished and cleared.’” The Dillinghams became Quakers themselves, and were early members of the Quaker meeting in Sandwich. Their descendants were active in this meeting for many years.

One of the Dillingham daughters, Oseath, married Stephen Wing, also a Sandwich resident. Stephen’s mother, Deborah Batchiler Wing, was the widow of a Puritan minister, John Wing. After her husband died in England, she came to New England with her four sons. She was among the 60 people who walked 100 miles from Saugus, Mass. to the wilderness which would become Sandwich in 1637.

Deborah’s father, Stephen Bachiler, was a noted individualist in New England. He was a Puritan minister who was in constant trouble with the authorities. According to historian Robert Charles Anderson, “Among many remarkable lives lived by early New Englanders, Bachiler’s is the most remarkable. From 1593, when he was cited before Star Chamber, until 1654, when he last makes a mark on New England Records, this man lived a completely independent and vigorous life, never acceding to any authority when he thought he was correct.” (4)

Perhaps Stephen Bachiler’s daughter Deborah had some of his spirit and imbued it in her sons, because two of them, Daniel and Stephen, became strong public advocates for toleration of the Quakers and suffered punishments as a result. They refused to take the Oath of Fidelity to the government because the Oath required that they cooperate in the persecution of Quakers, and were fined heavily. They both joined the Sandwich Quaker meeting in the early days of its founding. (5)


Wing family home

Stephen and Oseah Dillingham Wing, our direct ancestors, lived in the Wing family home. This house, pictured at left, was built in 1641 and was occupied continuously by Wing descendants until it was taken over by the Wing Family Association. It is the oldest house in New England owned and occupied continuously by the same family for over three centuries. It has been restored and is open to the public. (6)

The Tuppers and Nyes

Our Sandwich ancestors the Tuppers and Nyes did not become Quakers. Thomas and Anne Tupper were among the original settlers of Sandwich, arriving from Saugus in 1637. Born in Sussex, England, Thomas made several voyages to America in the 1620s, working as a ship’s carpenter. He was one of the original ten founders of Sandwich, settling there with his third wife, Anne, and two children by a previous marriage. Sandwich was without a settled minister for many years, and Thomas acted as a lay minister for the church. He also served on various juries, boards, and commissions, and was involved in missionary work with the Indians. He accrued large landholdings and was a wealthy citizen by the time he died in 1676.

“The painting shown here is from a photograph taken about 1890 of the Thomas and Anne Tupper homestead on Tupper Road in Sandwich, Mass. The house was built by them in 1637 and stood for almost three hundred years before it was destroyed by fire in 1921.” (7)

Nye house

Nye house

Benjamin Nye, born in 1620 in the County of Kent, England, came to America in 1635 as a young man. He was one of the first settlers of Sandwich and served the town as a constable, jury man, and supervisor of highways. In 1640 he married Katherine Tupper, the daughter of town founder Thomas Tupper, and they raised eight children. They were farmers and also built a town mill on a nearby creek. The Nye house is still standing, and is now the Benjamin Nye Homestead & Museum. The house has been restored in colonial style, and is open to the public. (8)

Interior Views of the Nye Homestead and Museum
The museum shows how day to day life was lived in early colonial times. These photos show an important occupation of colonial women – weaving and spinning. Other photos of the interior of this house are available at the Nye family association website,



Spinning wheel

Spinning wheel

These Sandwich families are of interest to us because they are among our earliest ancestors in America. Their history reveals a Quaker strain that runs through our ancestry, and also shows a family tradition of religious toleration.  It is intriguing that two of the homes of our ancestors are still standing in Sandwich, along with street names, markers, cemeteries, and other places, which were part of the lives of these early American relatives. It is still possible today to visit Cape Cod and get in closer touch with these ancestors.

How you are related to our ancestors in Sandwich, Massachusetts

On your personal Ancestor Fan, go to Hulda Nye on the outermost rim.  Then, click here to open the Hulda Nye Ancestor Fan.

1. R.A. Lovell, Jr. Sandwich, A Cape Cod Town, citing the Plymouth Colony Records of 3 April 1637
2. John H. Dillingham, The Society of Friends in Barnstable County, Massachusetts, New York. H.W. Blake & Co., 1891, p. 1.
3. John H. Dillingham, The Society of Friends in Barnstable County, Massachusetts, New York. H.W. Blake & Co., 1891, p. 12 and following. Edward Dillingham: One of the Ten Men of Saugus.
4. Robert Charles Anderson, The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England 1620-1633, Volumes I-III (Online database:, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2002.
5. Conway P. Wing, A Historical and Genealogical Register of John Wing, of Sandwich, Mass. New York: The De Vinne Press, 1888. Pp. 37-47; 53-55.
6. See the Wing Family Association website,
7. See the Tupper Family Association website,
8. See the Nye Family Association website,



As the series on John Adams, second President of the United States, begins tomorrow on HBO, I thought you would be interested to know that we are – distantly and collaterally – related to this prominent historical figure.

henry-adams-markerWe share with John Adams the ancestors Henry Adams and his wife, Edith Squire, puritans who immigrated to the United States in 1638, during the “Great Migration” of puritans from England to New England. Henry Adams was born in about 1583 in Barton St. David, Somersetshire, England, to a family of yeoman farmers. President Adams claimed that Henry Adams “took flight from the dragon persecution in England” but there is no record of any action taken against him (Bartlett, p. 65). The family immigrated with eight of their nine children, settling in Braintree, Massachusetts, now Quincy. A memorial plaque to Henry Adams, as the ancestor of two American Presidents, John Adams and John Quincy Adams, is on the wall of the nave of the Church of Barton David.

One of their sons, Joseph (1626-1694), was the great-grandfather of President John Adams.  Another son, Samuel Adams, is our direct ancestor.

How you are related to Samuel Adams

On your personal Ancestor Fan, find Eunice Waldo, on the outermost ring.  Click here to open the Eunice Waldo Ancestor Fan.  Samuel Adams is on the outermost ring, in the blue section.  In case you were wondering about all those Waldo ancestors – yes, we are also distantly related to Ralph Waldo Emerson.


J. Gardner Bartlett, (1927) Henry Adams of Somersetshire, England and Braintree, Mass. Privately Printed, New York.
Waldo Lincoln (1901) Genealogy of the Waldo Family. Press of Charles Hamilton: Worcester, Mass.



Ministers’ Monument, in Hopkinton, Rhode Island, commemorates the founders of the Baptist Church in America. Two of the pastors  and one pastor’s wife named on the monument, John Maxson, Mary Maxson, and John Maxson, Jr.,  are our direct ancestors.  Other pastors listed, of the Burdick and Clarke families, were relatives of our ancestors.   These first immigrants to America were pioneer settlers in Rhode Island and helped in its founding.

Into the Wilderness with Roger Williams

Roger Williams's exile from Massachusetts colony to Rhode Island 1635

Roger Williams’s exile from Massachusetts colony to Rhode Island 1635

After being evicted from the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1636 for unorthodox religious beliefs, the Puritan preacher Roger Williams walked into the wilderness to an area he named Providence Plantation, now part of Rhode Island. The first principles of the new Colony were separation of religious and civil authority and absolute freedom of religion, which Williams called “soul-liberty.” Thus, from the beginning, Rhode Island was intended to be very different from its sister colonies, Massachusetts and Connecticut, where rigid religious oligarchies held sway. Because of its religious toleration, Rhode Island became a haven for Quakers, Jews, Huguenots, and other dissenters. Several of our ancestors followed Roger Williams to Rhode Island, and helped him found there the Baptist Church in America.

Tase Cooper and Samuel Hubbard

Rhode Island pioneers were hardy people who were prepared to organize their lives around their religious convictions. Among them were our double-ancestors (ancestors through two lines) Tase Cooper and Samuel Hubbard, an early “power couple” in the Colony and the Baptist Church.

Tase Cooper came to America in the 1630s, apparently as a single woman. In the hard winter of 1635 she was one of a hundred people who walked from the Massachusetts Bay Colony to become the first settlers in Connecticut. There she married Samuel Hubbard, another member of the group. A Baptist herself, she persuaded her husband to also become a Baptist, and they suffered persecution for it in Connecticut and Massachusetts. According to Samuel Hubbard’s diary:

“She was mostly struck at and answered two times publicly, where I was also said to be as bad as she and sore threatened with imprisonment at Hartford jail.” (1)

On this account the Hubbards moved to Newport, Rhode Island in 1648, and lived there the rest of their lives. They were pillars of the Sabbatarian Baptist Church, an offshoot of the Baptist Church whose adherents celebrated the Sabbath on Saturday. William Clarke Whitford, a historian of the Sabbatarian Baptist Church, wrote that Tase Cooper Hubbard was:

“A woman of superior discernment and moral courage, the first convert to the Sabbath in America, truly a sainted mother in our Israel, and the ancestress of all the Burdicks, the Langworthys, nearly all the Clarkes, and their posterity, who have ever been received into our churches.” (2)

Her husband, Samuel Hubbard, came from a long line of Protestant dissenters in England. His grandfather had been burned at the stake during the reign of Queen Mary (Bloody Mary) for refusing to recant his Protestantism. After he and Tase moved to Rhode Island, he became one of the most active and influential members of the Baptist Church in Newport. He was also a prominent figure in the Colony, and was appointed deputy Solicitor General. According to family historian William DeLoss Love,

“Samuel Hubbard was made a freeman of the Colony in 1655. He had a large interest in its welfare. His friendship for Roger Williams, formed at Salem, continued through his life. Other distinguished men of Rhode Island held him in esteem. Though somewhat ready to engage in religious controversy he was a man of amiable disposition, devout spirit, unblemished character, and kindly disposed to all mankind.” (3)

“Rogue Islanders”

Massachusetts Bay map

Massachusetts Bay map

The theocratic leadership of Connecticut and Massachusetts was deeply suspicious of the freedom of religious conscience in Rhode Island. They referred to Rhode Island inhabitants as “Rogue Islanders,” “fanatics,” turbulent inhabitants,” “living in imbecile condition,” and “guilty of outrageous practices.” They determined to attack the Colony by claiming a large portion of land that Rhode Island also claimed for itself, notably most of the area west of Narragansett Bay, called Westerly (see map). The stakes were high in this land dispute, because if Rhode Island lost Westerly, the colony would be reduced to two towns along the Bay and would probably lose its standing as an independent political entity in New England. (4) In order to strengthen the claim of Rhode Island to this disputed land, in 1661, our ancestors, Ruth, daughter of Tase and Samuel Hubbard, her husband Robert Burdick, Joseph Clarke, Jr. (later to marry Ruth’s sister, Bethiah) along with a few others, moved into this largely uninhabited territory.

Robert Burdick, Joseph Clarke, and a third pioneer, Tobias Saunders, were promptly arrested by an agent of the Massachusetts Bay Colony for illegally settling in the area, and brought to trial in Boston. The “Rogue Islanders” were defiant, and disputed the jurisdiction of the Massachusetts Court to hear the matter. They refused to pay the fine the court imposed, and were therefore imprisoned for two years in Boston. Their imprisonment ended when Rhode Island seized two Massachusetts agents, and there was a prisoner exchange. (5) Eventually, the dispute was resolved in England, which divided the land between Connecticut and Rhode Island. Meanwhile, Massachusetts put constant pressure on the Rhode Island settlers, threatening them with imprisonment and fines if they refused to leave. The settlers chose to remain, however. Demeaned as ‘intractable backwoodsmen,’ the firmness of the people of Westerly, according to historian William Clarke Whitford, preserved Rhode Island as an independent colony, and thereby also was instrumental in keeping alive the principles of religious freedom and the separation of church and state in New England. (6)

Exhausting Toils in Westerly

Sabbatarian Baptist Meeting House in Westerly

The Sabbatarian Baptist Meeting House in Westerly.

Samuel and Tase Hubbard’s daughter, Ruth, was the first child of European immigrants born in Springfield, Massachusetts, in 1640. She was raised in Newport, in the Baptist Church her parents founded there. At the age of fifteen she married Robert Burdick, and when she was 21 she moved with him to the Westerly area of Rhode Island. She may have stayed in Westerly during his two year imprisonment in Massachusetts, and they certainly made their home there after his release.

(7) William Clarke Whitford presented a picture of life in the Westerly Baptist community. It could be a description of the Burdick’s life, somewhat idealized:

“As you enter the only room in one of these rude dwellings, you see the few families . . . gathered there for an evening visit. The group form a half-circle in front of the wide fireplace, in which the blazing logs or faggots light up the serious faces of the older members, giving them a glow of cheerfulness, and revealing to you also the rough, home-made furniture. They are earnestly talking about . . . their trials and adventures while on the way to this purchase . . . their exhausting toils in subduing the ground and in providing sufficient food and home-spun clothing for themselves . . . They calmly and understandingly discuss the immutable claims of God’s weekly Sabbath upon their consciences, an obligation recently first apprehended by them. The conversation is interrupted as nutritious nuts, collected in the woods about them, cracked and ready for eating, are passed to each one in the company.” (8)

The Great Swamp Fight

Pioneer life was interrupted by serious Indian trouble. Roger Williams had maintained good relations with the Indians, but the encroachment of white settlement over the next forty years, coupled with Indian-settler clashes in the other colonies, created a volatile situation. The threat of an Indian uprising was always in the background among the Westerly pioneers. In 1666, Ruth Hubbard Burdick wrote to her parents in Newport, Samuel and Tase Hubbard:

“My longing desire is to hear from you, how your hearts are borne up above these troubles which are come upon us and are coming as we fear; for we have the rumors of war, and that almost every day. Even now we have heard from your Island by some Indians, who declared unto us that the French have done some mischief upon the coast, and we have heard that 1200 Frenchmen have joined with the Mohawks to clear the land both of English and of Indians. But I trust in the Lord, if such a thing be intended, that he will not suffer such a thing to be.” (9)

Great swap fight

Great Swamp fFght

In spite of her hopes, New England erupted in a terrible conflict known as King Phillip’s war. Soldiers from neighboring colonies invaded Kingston, R.I., and slaughtered local Indians, who until then had been neutral in the war. This event, known as The Great Swamp Fight of 1675, brought Rhode Island into the conflict. In his diary, Samuel Hubbard reported how he evacuated his daughters Ruth and Bethiah from Westerly.

“In the midst of these troubles of the war Lieut. Joseph Torrey, Elder of Mr. Clarke’s Church, having one daughter living at Squamicut and his wife being there, he said unto me `Come, let us send a boat to Squamicut, my all is there, and part of yours.’ We sent a boat, and his wife, his daughter and son in law and all their children and my two daughters, and their children (one had eight, the other three, with an apprentice boy) all came. …My son Clarke came afterwards before winter, and my other daughter’s husband in the spring, and they have all been at my house to this day.” (10)

In 1676 the War ended, and Rhode Island, except for the burning of Providence, was generally spared massive destruction.

100 Years Later

About a hundred years after her ancestors came to Rhode Island to establish the Sabbatarian Church, our ancestor, Susanna Burdick, great great-granddaughter of Tase and Samuel Hubbard, and great-granddaughter of Ruth Hubbard and Robert Burdick, was born, in 1736. She grew up in the church in Hopkinton, R.I. where her relatives had been leaders for generations. In 1759 she married Benjamin Austin, who was not a Baptist, and may have been of Quaker background. Compared to the staid Burdicks, the Austins were a more contentious family. Benjamin’s grandmother had made a public complaint that she could not live peaceably with her son-in-law, Benjamin’s father. After his father died, Benjamin probably left home to learn a trade, and his mother took two of her remaining sons to court, complaining that they refused to work for her or anyone else to earn their keep. (11)

The records on the family do not indicate that Susanna’s marriage caused a breach with her family. Her father sold land to the young couple near his own farm, which was a standard way for parents to help their children get a start in life. However, two years after their marriage, Susanna and Benjamin Austin left the family home in Hopkinton, and moved to Preston, Connecticut, fifteen miles way. There Benjamin probably followed the trade that he had learned in his apprenticeship. (11)

Levi Hart

Levi Hart

In Preston, the couple fell under the influence of a prominent local Congregational minister, the Rev. Levi Hart, (pictured) and they both became regular attendees of his church. Levi Hart is best known today for a 23 page letter he wrote advocating the abolition of slavery, which became a foundational document of the abolitionist movement. Susanna Burdick Austin became a member of the Congregational Church in 1768. She also brought her six children to be baptized.

One of the children, Susanna Austin, celebrated her second birthday on the day of the family baptism. She grew up to marry Robert Love, another member of Levi Hart’s congregation. This couple were so influenced by this preacher that they named their oldest son after him, our ancestor Levi Love. (11)

Susanna Burdick Austin’s decision to have her children baptized was remarkable. A key tenet of the Baptist faith of her forbearers, and a reason for their break with other Puritans, was that baptism should be reserved for adults, who could make a reasoned choice, and not be imposed on children too young to think for themselves. Thus, in having her children baptized, some of whom were infants, she emphatically ended the family connection with the Baptist Church.

The story of these early Baptist pioneers in Rhode Island is an important part of our Love family history. Their lives reflect their deep religious convictions, which had been the reason that they had come  to America, and guided their lives while they were here. They hoped to create a society following the mandates they saw in the Bible. Their religious faith sustained them during the difficult trials of settling the wilderness, the unrelenting labor, isolation, early deaths, and the constant threat of Indian attacks. Their Baptist beliefs led them to the principles of the separation of church and state and religious toleration, which they fought to preserve in Rhode Island. They helped to make Rhode Island a standard bearer for liberty.

A hundred years later, by the middle of the eighteenth century, the wilderness had been largely won in New England. Many people found the religious controversies of the previous century “deeply boring.” New immigrants came to America for economic opportunity. Benjamin and Susan Burdick Austin’s descendants, our Love ancestors, turned their energies to fighting in the Revolutionary War and to economic betterment. They were interested in religion that would help make life better and resolve social problems, such as slavery, and the old religious controversies no longer seemed so important.

The Congregational Church in Preston, Connecticut

The Congregational Church in Preston, Connecticut

How you are related to our Baptist ancestors in early Rhode Island

On your personal ancestor fan, find Levi Love on the outermost ring.  Then, click here to open the Levi Love Ancestor Fan, and find his mother, Susanna Austin.  All of the Rhode Island ancestors mentioned in the post extend back from her, in the yellow section of the Fan.


1. William DeLoss Love, Love Family History. Unpublished manuscript, Hartford CT. p. 169.
2. William Clarke Whitford, Address, Dedication of Ministers’ Monument, Aug. 28, 1899. First Hopkinton Cemetery Association, Hopkinton, R.I. Printed by the American Sabbath Tract Society, Plainfield, N.J., 1899 p. 19.
3. Love, p. 170.
4. Whitford, pp. 15-16.
5. Nellie Willard Johnson, The Descendants of Robert Burdick of Rhode Island. Syracuse, N.Y. The Syracuse Typesetting Co., Inc. 1937, pp. 1-6.
6. Whitford, pp. 16-17.
7. Johnson, pp. 1-6.
8. Whitford, p. 12.
9. Johnson, p. 1-6.
10. Online:
11. Love, pp. 75-76, 95. Dorothy Love McKillop, Love Family History, Unpublished manuscript, Seattle, WA, 1992, p. 01.


Roger Williams deals with the Indians