Who Was John's Wife?

Who Was John's Wife?

© 1998 Blaine Whipple

Use of this material for other than personal genealogical research is strictly prohibited except with written permission from Blaine Whipple, 236 NW Sundown Way, Portland, OR 97229-6575. Phone 503-293-6332 (day), 292-2790 (eve.)


  1. Elder John Whipple of Bocking and Ipswich
  2. Capt. John Whipple of Dorchester, MA-Providence, RI
  3. Sources

1. Elder John Whipple of Bocking and Ipswich

Many genealogies claim John married Sarah Hawkins; others Susanna Stacy or Clark. The parish records at St. Mary's Church in Bocking, Essex Co., England, where John was baptized 29 August 1596, do not record his marriage. Abraham Hammatt (1) refers to her as Sarah and states she died 14 June 1658 in Ipswich. Clarence Torrey (2) refers to her as Susanna Stacy/Clark.

John's first child was a daughter named Susanna, born in Bocking 1 July 1622. (3) His last born child, also a daughter, was named Sarah, born 3 Nov. 1641 in Ipswich. Naming patterns at the time suggest the first born was named after her mother.

Those who contend his wife was Sarah Hawkins are probably relying on John Hawkins, Jr.'s will dated 3 Sept. 1633 (proved 18 October). Hawkins of Braintree, a town on the Blackstone River immediately adjacent to Bocking, mentions sister Whipple, sister Kent, sister Edes, sister Archer, brother Francis. (4)

John's father, John Hawkins, Sr., was married at least twice. His first wife is unknown. He had at least two daughters by her: Eleanor, baptized 6 Mar. 1595, buried in 1610; and Mary, married Wm. Wright 8 Nov. 1610. John, Sr. married Mary Levitt 21 Feb. 1603/4 and had daughters Ann who married Matthew Whipple 7 May 1622 in Bocking (Matthew was the older brother of John) and Sarah who married William Coppin 26 Sept. 1622 in Bocking. (5)

Parish records include the marriages of Ann and Sarah to Matthew and William. This evidence strongly suggests that when John Hawkins, Jr. referred to "my sister Whipple," he meant Ann, wife of Matthew. His will was so specific in other instances he would have distinguished between them if he had two sisters married to a Whipple.

That John's first wife's name was Susanna Stacy or Clark is suggested by the nuncupative will of Elizabeth Stacy. Elizabeth's maiden name was Clerke (sometimes spelled Clark). This will, "as received from her own mouth" by her children Simon, Sarah, and ANN in Ipswich, was proved 29 March 1760. (6) Elizabeth, daughter of Stephen Clerk, yeoman of Theydon Garnon, Essex Co., married Simon Stacy, a clothier from Bocking 6 Nov. 1620. (7)

The Stacys immigrated to New England at the same time as Matthew and John Whipple, and Simon was granted "six acres of planting ground beyond the swamps next to John Whipple" in 1638. (8)

ANN Stacy's will, dated 13 Feb. 1681/2, names her brother Simon, sister Sarah, and appoints "my cuzen John Whipple (son of John of Bocking) senior executor." John, Jr., later presented the inventory of the estate to the court. (9) "Cuzen" meant the children of your aunt or uncle. Additionally, it was generally used to claim kinship or a relationship. (10)

Other Whipple-Stacy relationships are suggested by the fact that seven of the 12 persons named as heirs to Simon Stacy Jr.'s estate sold their rights to Col. Francis Wainwright of Ipswich, husband of Sarah Whipple, daughter of "cuzen John Whipple." (11) Also, Matthew, Jonathan, and James Whipple, grandsons of John, Sr.'s brother Matthew, were in possession of land in 1709 that had belonged to Thomas Stacy, son of Simon Stacy, Sr. (12)

Lacking a primary source for John's first marriage, the above evidence, while not conclusive, strongly suggests that John married Susanna Stacy/Clark and not Sarah Hawkins.

John married (2) in Ipswich after 1662 Jennet Dickinson, widow of Thomas Dickinson of Wenham, MA.

Capt. John Whipple of Dorchester, MA-Providence, RI

Many published genealogies state John Whipple married Sarah They or Darling ca. 1639. (He would have been 22-23, she 15-16.) Torrey, (13) who refers to her only as Sarah (no surname), says the marriage took place in Dorchester, but does not provide a confirming record.

No evidence has been found to confirm that Sarah's maiden name was either They or Darling. Neither appears among early Dorchester surnames; the closest being Thayer. Sarah's tombstone states she was born in Dorchester and died in Providence in 1666, aged about 42 years. If the year and age are correct, she would have been born ca. 1624. Thus, she could not have been born in Dorchester, unless she was a Neponset Indian, since Dorchester wasn't founded until 1630. English settlers didn't marry Indians in those days, so we can presume she was white. With a birth date of 1624, we can be sure that if she was born in New England, it must have been in Plymouth, which was settled in 1620. Travel by a ferry operated by Bray Wilkins at a cost of a penny per person between Dorchester and Plymouth was common in 1638. (14)

John's tombstone in Providence's North Burial Ground states he was born in England and died in Providence Town, 16 May 1685, about 68 years of age. Assuming the information is correct, John was born ca. 1617, and would have been about 15 when he arrived at Dorchester. Some credence can be given to the death date since his will was proved 27 May 1685. (15)

It is obvious that the tombstone information on Sarah is unreliable, and there is no way to know if the information on John is correct. Both were originally buried in a garden near their home. (16)

Apparently they were interred years later at Providence's North Burying Grounds. The Whipple burial yard is on Dahlia path, about 50 feet northwest of the Temple Monument on Eastern Street. The person(s) responsible for the removal of Sarah and John from their original graves, undoubtedly relatives, were probably at least one generation removed, making it unlikely they had personal knowledge of the facts. The North Burial Ground wasn't established until 1700, and no one was buried there until 1711 -- 45 and 26 years after Sarah and John's deaths. Samuel Whipple, their son, was the first person buried there.

The town voted in June 1700 that the lot lying "between Archibald Walker's southward to the brook that cometh out of Samuel Whipple's land, eastward with the highway, and westward and northwestward with Moshassuck River" was to remain common, "for a training field, burying ground, and other public uses." The burying place was to be run by a committee appointed for the purpose. Establishment of this common burial ground did not, in many instances, immediately supersede the use of the family burial plots. (17)

The North Burial Ground is the oldest common burial ground in Providence, and remains from a number of family plots were re-interred there in the 19th century. William McKenzie Woodward of the Rhode Island Historical Preservation Commission says most gravestones in the earliest section of the cemetery face west, "following an 18th century custom based on the belief the sun will rise in the west on the Day of Judgment." Six former governors are buried there, including Stephen Hopkins, a great grandson of Capt. John Whipple and a signer of the Declaration of Independence. (18)

Son Joseph, who inherited the family "dwelling house, three home lots, and the garden next the river" and was executor of John's 1685 will, was buried in the North Burial Ground in 1746. Capt. John's will directed Joseph, then 23, to see that he was "decently buried," and it is possible that John and Sarah were re-interred at the time of Joseph's burial.

In a letter to Blaine Whipple dated 16 June 1992, Rosemarie Polce, an employee of the North Burial Ground, wrote that their records date from March 1848 and "do not tell how or when Sarah and John got here. The stone suggests it is just in memory of them, not that the actual bodies are there." Polce said she was unable to located Samuel's headstone.


1 Abraham Hammatt, The Hammatt Papers. Early Inhabitants of Ipswich, Massachusetts 1633-1700 (Baltimore: Genealogical Pub. Co., 1980), p. 405.

2 Clarence A. Torrey, New England Marriages Prior to 1700 (Baltimore: Genealogical Pub. Co., 1985), p 803. Melinda Lutz Sanborn compiled a Supplement to Torrey's work in 1991 which includes corrections, deletions, new entries, and additional details to the original work. Also published by the Genealogical publishing Co., Inc.

3 Parish Records of St. Mary's Church, Bocking, England. Salt Lake City: Family History Library, film #1471886, items 12 and 13. Original records at the Essex Record Office, Chelmsford.

4 Henry F. Waters, Genealogical Gleanings in England (Baltimore: Genealogical Pub. Co., 1969), pp. 466-7. See also Rev. Philip Morant, The History and Antiquities of the County of Essex, published in two volumes between 1763 and 1768, p. 398.

5 Mary Lovering Holman and George R. Marvin, eds., Abstracts of English Records Gathered Principally in Devonshire and Essex in a Search for the Ancestry of Roger Dearing c. 1624-1676 and Matthew Whipple c. 1560-1618 (Boston: 150 copies privately published, 1929).

6 Essex County, MA, probate files, No. 26069.

7 Joseph Foster, ed., London Marriage Licenses, 1521-1869 (London: Bernard Quaritch, 1887), p. 1273.

8 George A. Schofield, ed. and publisher, The Ancient Records of the Town of Ipswich, vol. I (Ipswich: Chronicle Motor Press, 1899), pages unnumbered.

9 Essex County, MA, probate files, No. 26052.

10 See The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia, vol. II (New York: The Century Co., 1911), p. 1315 for definition of cuzen.

11 Essex County Probate Records, vol. 310:435; Essex County Deeds, vols. 14:26, 28; 16:4-6.

12 Essex County Deeds, vol. 21:88.

13 Torrey, p. 803.

14 T.H. Breen, The Character of the Good Ruler (New York: Norton), p. 592.

15 Wills at Providence were sometimes proved at once upon execution. Irving Berdine Richman, Rhode Island: Its Making and Its Meaning, 1636-1683 (New York: Putnam, 1908), pp. 186-8.

16 Charles M. Whipple, Jr., Sons and Daughters of Jesse: a 360 Year History of the John Whipple Family (Oklahoma City: Southwestern Press, 1976), p. 12.

17 Collections of the Rhode Island Historical Society, vol. 5 (Providence: Knowles and Bose Printers, 1843), p. 184.

18 Donald D. Breed, "North Burial Ground Also Serves City as Recreation Area," Providence Journal-Bulletin, date unknown but probably after 1979.