John Whitman (Wightman) (1598 - 1663) MP

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Nicknames: "John Whitman"
Birthplace: Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England
Death: Died in Wickford, Ri
Managed by: Christopher Robert Silvers
Last Updated:

About John Whitman (Wightman)

John Wightman was born ca. January 1598/99 in Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England1,2, and died 1669 in Rhode Island Colony3. He was the son of Edward Wightman and Frances Darbye. He married a woman whose name is not known, but was born ca. 1601 in England, and died Bef. 1654 in England.

As a boy, John saw his father burned at the stake for his religious views. He apparently moved to London with his mother after that pivotal event, eventually marrying an unknown woman and raising his family for many years in London, before immigrating to the new world as a middle-aged man, after the death of his wife.

During his life in England, John experienced the reign of Charles I (1625-1649), with all the political and religious upheaval that it brought. This terrible period in English history ended with Charles' beheading and Cromwell's Republic. John immigrated to the new world during the Cromwell era. Oddly, the early years of the Cromwell "Protectorate" were relatively tolerant of religious dissent; Jews were allowed to return to England, Quakerism prospered, and congregations were allowed to choose their own form of worship. Thus the motivation for the Wightman emigration is unclear. John's son Valentine emigrated first, before 1648, perhaps in response to the upheaval under Charles I. His success in the New World may have persuaded the rest of the family to leave troubled England behind. Certainly, the journey of the so-called Pilgrims in 1620, the Puritans in 1628, and John Winthrop's fleet in 1630 had established a sense that flight to America was a possibility for nonconformists and the disadvantaged of England. A possible association between the Wightman family and that of Roger Williams in England may have added a personal connection to the great and free community Williams had by now established in Rhode Island: Williams' sister, Catherine, married Ralph Wightman, merchant of London, in 1606. There have been various claims that this Ralph was a brother or child of John. The latter is impossible, since our John was only a small child in 1606. The former is not supported by the available data, since no child named Ralph is indicated in the will of Edward Wightman of Burton-on-Trent. However, this Ralph Wightman is probably of the House of Wykin, which makes him a probable cousin of John.

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John Whitman's Timeline

1594
December 8, 1594
Burton-upon, Trent, Stafford, Eng
1598
January 7, 1598
Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England
January 7, 1598
of Wickford, Washington, Ri
1624
1624
Age 25
Stafford, England
1627
October 25, 1627
Age 29
1627
Age 28
London, England, United Kingdom
1627
Age 28
England
1628
1628
Age 29
1628
Age 29
of Newport, Newport, Ri
1630
1630
Age 31
of Newport, Newport, Ri