John Wightman, of London & RI

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John Wightman

Also Known As: "John Whitman"
Birthdate: (65)
Birthplace: Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England
Death: November 13, 1663 (65)
Wickford, Washington County, Rhode Island
Immediate Family:

Son of Rev. Edward Wightman and Frances Wightman
Husband of John Wightman's 1st wife and 2nd wife of John Wightman
Father of Reverend George W. Wightman; Captain Valentine Whitman, I; Reverend Daniel Wightman; Abraham Wightman and Hannah Sampson
Brother of Priscilla Wightman; Maria Wightman; Anna Wightman; Samuel Wightman; Karia Wightman and 1 other

Managed by: Delton Doyle Yada
Last Updated:

About John Wightman, of London & RI

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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Notes

John Wightman, the immigrant, with four of his five sons, his wife having died in England, reached Newport in Rhode Island in 1654. They made their way to Richard Smith's trading post at Wickford in the Narrangansett country, where Valentine Wightman, eldest son of John, had been employed for six years as an interpreter to the Indians. He was also a member of the General Assembly. All of the Wightmans apparently arrived in the New World with considerable wealth, so it would seem that it was not for material gain that they came to Rhode Island. The time of their immigration was during the Cromwell Protectorate, and perhaps the disturbed condition of political and religious affairs in England had something to do with leaving England.

   (Some info from )

careful: mixup with John Whitman of Weymouth

1 2

  • Immigration: 1654 Newport, Newport, RI U. S. A. 1 2
  • Death: 13 NOV 1692 in Weymouth, Norfolk, MA U. S. A. 3 2
  • Residence: Weymouth, Norfolk, MA U. S. A. 3
  • Residence: Abington, Plymouth MA U. S. A. 3
  • Residence: Bridgewater, Plymouth, MA U. S. A. 3
  • Father: Edward WIGHTMAN b: 20 DEC 1566 in Burton Upon Trent, Staffordshire, England, UK
  • Mother: Frances DARBYE

Marriage

  1. 1 Ruth REED Married: BEF 1629 in England, UK
from TORREY:

WHITMAN, John (-1692, ae 90) & ?Mary/?Ruth _____ (-1662); in Eng, by 1629; Weymouth/Abington/Bridgewater {NYGBR 69:364; Weymouth 4:753; Bridgewater 335; Winthrop-Babcock 553; Whitman (1889); Chute ccxli; Caldwell Anc. 13; Kimball Anc. 78-79; Robinson (#7) 15; Avery Anc. (1925) 126}

   3 4 5 1 6 2 7 8

Children

  1. Has Children Valentine WHITMAN b: 1626 in England, UK
  2. Has No Children Thomas WHITMAN
  3. Has No Children John WHITMAN
  4. Has No Children Sarah WHITMAN
  5. Has No Children Mary WHITMAN
  6. Has No Children Zechariah WHITMAN
  7. Has Children Abiah WHITMAN b: ABT 1645
  8. Has Children Hannah WHITMAN
  9. Has No Children Judith WHITMAN
  10. Has Children Elizabeth WHITMAN

Sources:

   Abbrev: Weymouth, MA History & Genealogy
   Title:
   The History of Weymouth, Massachusetts
   George Walter Chamberlain, The History of Weymouth, Massachusetts, 4 vols. [republished as Genealogies of the Early Families of Weymouth, Massachusetts] (Boston, MA: Wright & Potter Company, 1923 [reprinted Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1984])
   Repository:
       Name: New England Historic Genealogical Society
       Boston, MA 02116
       U. S. A.
   Page: Vol. 4, p. 753
   Abbrev: Wightman Heritage
   Title: Wade C. Wightman, The Wightman Heritage (Baltimore, MD: Gateway Press, 1990)
   Repository:
       Name: New England Historic Genealogical Society
       Boston, MA 02116
       U. S. A.
   Abbrev: Torrey's New England Marriages
   Title:
   New England Marriages Prior To 1700
   Clarence Almon Torrey, New England Marriages Prior To 1700 (Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Company, Inc., 1985)
   Repository:
       Name: New England Historic Genealogical Society
       Boston, MA 02116
       U. S. A.
   Repository:
       Name: Patrick McDonald Personal Library
       Dural, NSW 2158
       AUSTRALIA
   Abbrev: NYGBR
   Title:
   The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record,
   The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, vols. 1+ (NY: NYGBS, 1870+)
   The NYGBR is one of the leading genealogical publications in North America.
   New York Genealogical and Biographical Society
   36 West 44th Street, 7th floor
   New York, NY 10036-8105
   U. S. A.
   http://www.newyorkfamilyhistory.org
   editor@nygbs.org
   publications@nygbs.org
   membership@nygbs.org
   +1 (212) 626-6856.
   Repository:
       Name: New England Historic Genealogical Society
       Boston, MA 02116
       U. S. A.
   Page: Vol. 69, p. 364
   Abbrev: Bridgewater, MA History
   Title: Nahum Mitchell, History of the Early Settlement of Bridgewater, in Plymouth County, Massachusetts (Boston: Kidder & Wright, Boston, 1840 [reprint by Heritage Books, Inc., 1983])
   Repository:
       Name: New England Historic Genealogical Society
       Boston, MA 02116
       U. S. A.
   Page: p. 335
   Abbrev: Kimball (1897)
   Title:
   History of the Kimball Family in America from 1634 to 1897
   Leonard Allison Morrison, A. M. and Stephen Paschall Sharples, S. B., History of the Kimball Family in America from 1634 to 1897 and of its Ancestors The Kemballs or Kemboldes of England with an Account of the Kembles of Boston, Massachusetts (Boston, MA: Damrell & Upham, 1897)
   Repository:
       Name: New England Historic Genealogical Society
       Boston, MA 02116
       U. S. A.
   Repository:
       Name: Patrick McDonald Personal Library
       Dural, NSW 2158
       AUSTRALIA
   Page: pp. 78-9
   Abbrev: Caldwell Anc. (1906)
   Title: Caldwell, Charles T., A Branch of the Caldwell Family Tree: Being a Record of Thompson Baxter Caldwell and His Wife, Mary Ann (Ames) Caldwell of West Bridgewater, Mass., Their Ancestors and Descendants Washington, DC: The Olympia, 1906)
   Repository:
       Name: New England Historic Genealogical Society
       Boston, MA 02116
       U. S. A.
   Page: p. 13
   Abbrev: NEHGR
   Title:
   The New England Historical and Genealogical Register
   New England Historical and Genealogical Register (Boston, MA: New England Historical and Genealogical Society)
   The NEHGR or "Register" is the oldest and best known genealogical publication in North America. It focuses primarily on the genealogy of New England and the northeastern United States.
   New England Historic Genealogical Society
   101 Newbury Street
   Boston, MA 02116
   U. S. A.
   http://www.newenglandancestors.org
   Telephone: +1 (617) 536-5740 and +1 (888) 296-3447
   Fax: +1 (617) 536-7307
   membership@nehgs.org
   Repository:
       Name: New England Historic Genealogical Society
       Boston, MA 02116
       U. S. A.
   Page: Vol. 119, pp. 6-14 "Descendants of Andrew Ford of Weymouth, MA" by Elizabeth Cobb Stewart 

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.

A John Wightman entered Jesus College of Cambridge University in 1634. There is no evidence that identifies this John Wightman as ours (and there were many other Wightman's in the London area), but it is possible.

John arrived at Newport in 1654 (almost certainly via Boston) and then moved on with his son George (at least) to Richard Smith's trading post in Wickford, RI, across the Narragansett Bay. Little is known about John's time in Rhode Island; he was already 55 when he arrived. Presumably, he lived in the household of one of his sons until his death.

Some sources claim that John died on November 13, 1692 in Weymouth, Massachusetts Bay colony. This is another John Wightman (Whitman), probably a child of Zechariah Wightman (relationship unknown), who came to Massachusetts in 1635. Furthermore, this would require our John (son of Edward the heretic) to have lived to the very ripe age of 94 (not impossible, but unlikely). The Wightman/Whitman's of Weymouth were from Norfolk Co., England, making any connection to the Burbage Wightman's likely to be indirect. This has not stopped sloppy genealogists from conflating the two men, but as shown here and by the careful research of Mary Ross Whitman, the John Wightman of Weymouth was not closely related to John, son of Edward of Burton-on-Trent.

In the interest of establishing what is certain, it is important to note that there is no written record of our presumed John Wightman in Rhode Island. His name, existence, and date of death are based on family tradition and speculation. The tradition that George's father's name was John and that he was the son of Edward of Burton-on-Trent is solidly represented in 19th century American writings, particularly those of Baptist history and genealogy. The first statement to this effect has been dated back to 1771, in an early Baptist history. It is clear from the written record that Edward of Burton-on-Trent had two children named John, and if the second John survived it would make perfect sense for him to be the father of George of Quidnessett.

We know virtually nothing about John's wife. Various, unsubstantiated claims suggest that her name was Ruth or Mary or perhaps Mary Ruth. However, some of these same sources claim she was born in 1601 in Rhode Island, which would be impossible since there were no European settlements in New England at that time, and their children were definitely born in England, most likely in London. I have taken the 1601 birth year as reasonable. Whatever her name, she clearly died young, perhaps after giving birth to her last child in 1634, when George's ancestor George was only a toddler.

Children of John Wightman are:

Valentine Whitman, born 1627 in London, England4; died January 26, 1700/01 in Providence, RI colony5. He married Mary _____ 1651 in Providence, RI Colony; born 1630 probably in England4; died May 3, 1718 in RI Colony. Valentine was the first Wightman of George R.'s family to arrive in the New World, likely around 1648, probably settling at Providence initially (although some sources hold that he was in Warwick this early). He was preceded only by Zechariah Wightman and his family (relationship to ours unknown) who came to Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1635, and established the extended Wightman family of the Boston area. Valentine mastered the difficult Native American languages relatively easily. Thus he was employed as an Interpreter for various commercial and government interests. In particular, like Roger Williams, Valentine was one of the few European men who could communicate freely with the Narragansett tribe. He was also employed by George R.'s ancestors Richard Smith and Roger Williams as an envoy and interpreter to the Narragansett tribe. His skills did not go unnoticed by the Massachusetts Bay Colony either. He witnessed an agreement on August 18, 1654 between Governor John Winthrop of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and the Pequot sachem Ninigret, which led to the release of some Pequot captives during the Pequot War. In 1660, he served as a primary witness between Chief Ninigret and the United Colonies (Mass., Plymouth, Conn., New Haven, Hartford).

Like almost all settlers, Valentine was actively involved in land purchasing and speculation. On January 28, 1655, he purchased a meadow and 25 acres of upland from Robert Coles in the Providence area.

On April 27, 1657, he purchased land in Warwick, RI located between that of William Harris and Edward Manton and moved his family down the Narragansett Bay, perhaps due to the arrival of his father and brothers in this area. He was made freeman of Warwick on May 18, 1658. During this time, Valentine served as a witness to the Atherton Company's purchase of Quidnessett and other land on the western shore of the Narragansett Bay. In 1660, Valentine himself purchased over one hundred acres of prime land in the northernmost portion of Quidnessett, adjacent to the Bay, establishing the Wightman Homestead, which would be handed down intact through the Wightman line for over 200 years. He would eventually sell this land to his brother, George's ancestor George Wightman. Valentine's relocation to Warwick did not last long, and Valentine moved back to Providence in 1661, finally settling in the part of Providence called Smithfield.

Valentine remained active in political affairs. He was appointed to a petit jury in Providence by Roger Williams in 1661, engaged in land trading during the 1660's (including an April 27, 1655 purchase of Warwick land from Robert Coles), was elected constable of Providence in 1671, and served as a member of the early RI colonial general assembly as a Deputy in 1675. On May 31, 1666, Valentine took an oath of allegiance to King Charles II.

He was among the few who stayed in Providence during King Philip's War between colonists and the Wampanoag, Narragansett and Nipmuck tribes (1675-1676). Thus, Valentine likely witnessed his own town being burned to the ground, almost certainly including his own home, by the very same tribe he had negotiated with years before.

In 1676, Valentine was elected Town Treasurer of Providence and in 1685 appointed to a general court at Newport.

One source (US International Marriage Records, 1340-1980) lists Valentine's wife Mary's surname as Wightman and her birth location as Rhode Island. Since there were no Europeans in Rhode Island in 1630, this seems unlikely.

Daniel Wightman, born 1628. Daniel settled in Newport, after arriving in Rhode Island at Richard Smith's trading post in Wickford with his father and brothers. In the absence of Dr. John Clarke, the first minister of the First Baptist Church of Newport, a theological schism between members of the church occurred in 1656. Daniel was among the dissenters who broke away and formed the Second Baptist Church in that year. Another of George's ancestors, Rev. Obadiah Holmes, was the pastor of the First Baptist Church at that time, and presumably on the opposite side of the issue. Daniel served as an assistant pastor of the Second Baptist Church.

There is some confusion and debate over Daniel's existence. Mary Ross Whitman argues that some of the dating on the relevant documentary data is questionable. If indeed the dates are wrong, the association of this "brother Daniel" of George might be incorrect. The Daniel Wightman of the record could be Rev. Daniel Wightman, the son of George, who is known to have come to Newport in 1694. The Daniel I describe here might not have existed. On the other hand, John Wightman of London supposedly had five sons who immigrated to Rhode Island. Accounting for these "five sons" would lead one to reasonably expect a Daniel Wightman in this generation.

Abraham Wightman, born 1630. George Wightman, born June 4, 1632 in London, England; died January 7, 1721/22 in Quidnessett, Washington Co., RI colony2. He married Elizabeth Updyke 1663 in Kingstown, RI Colony; born July 27, 1644 in New Amsterdam, New Netherlands colony; died April 26, 1716 in Quidnessett, Washington Co., RI colony. ______ Wightman, born 1634.


John with four of his five sons, his wife probably having died in England, reached Newport in Rhode Island in 1654 and made their way to Richard Smith's trading post at Wickford in the Narragansett country, where Valentine Whiteman, eldest son of John, had been employed for six years as an interpreter to the Indians. In the Quidnesset section, shortly North of Wickford, he, along with his youngest son George, purchased land from Richard Smith and setted on a farm tract there.

view all 18

John Wightman, of London & RI'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
1627
1627
Age 28
London, Middlesex, England
1628
1628
Age 29
Burton upon Trent, Staffordshire, England
1630
1630
Age 31
of Newport, Newport, Ri
1632
November 4, 1632
Age 34
Burton upon Trent, Staffordshire, England
1641
August 24, 1641
Age 43
Berkeley, Bristol County, Massachusetts
1663
November 13, 1663
Age 65
Wickford, Washington County, Rhode Island