Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Revised 18 Feb 2022

1.0 - Where Did the Whipples Come From?

2.0 - Questions about the First Whipples in America

3.0 - Questions about the Whipple Coat of Arms and Motto

4.0 - Legends, Folklore & Unsubstantiated Rumors

5.0 - Questions about Whipples in Medicine

7.0 - Other Questions

1.0 - Where Did the Whipples Come From?

1.1 - What is the origin of the Whipple Name?

The Dictionary of American Names, page 232, states that a Whipple was originally "one who came from Whimple (white stream) in Devonshire [England]."

According to The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Place Names, Whimple is from the Welsh "gwyn" (white) and "pwll" or "poll" (pool, stream). Variant forms of the name include Winple, Wimpoll, and Wympol.

The oldest record of the name is in the Domesday Book (A.D. 1086), where it is spelled "Winple."

The Whimple History Society (from Whimple, Old England) presents a compelling argument that the name Whipple means other than "white stream". The Society asserts that Whipple probably should have been interpreted as "fair" or "fine" stream. [Submitted by Charles M. Whipple, Jr.]

1.2 - Was Henri De V. Hipple the first Whipple?

Probably not. He was likely introduced into family history in late nineteenth-century America.

The first known written reference to someone named Henri De V : Hipple was on page 29 (left column) of The Presentation of the Portraits of General William Whipple, Signer of the Declaration of Independence and of David Glasgow Farragut, Admiral, United States Navy, published in November 1891 in Portsmouth, NH. (A copy of the document is available on the Whipple Website. (Note: Much of the Whipple information in that document is of questionable authenticity.)

The late Blaine Whipple alludes to that publication in the overview of his research project.

Dr. Charles M. Whipple discusses Henri De V. Hipple in his article entitled Further Research on Two Whipple Coats of Arms and Henri de V. Hipple.

The legendary Henri De V. Hipple is probably Henry Whipple of Dickleburgh, who was awarded the Whipple Coat of Arms in 1563 and 1576. Henry's awards are mentioned on page 309 of The Visitacion of Norfolk by William Hervey. (The entire book is available digitally at the Internet Archive.) The awards are recorded in Harley Manuscript 1552 in London's British Library (previously known as the British Museum).

Henry of Dickleburgh wasn't the first Whipple. Thomas Whipple, for example, was born about 1475, before Henry. (Thomas is an ancestor of the Whipples of Bocking, England, who migrated to Ipswich, Massachusetts, in 1638.)

1.3 - Did all American Whipples come from England?

No. The Whipples of Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana (for example), are descendants of George Whipple of Baden-Baden, on the western foothills of the Black Forest in the present-day German state of Baden-Württemberg. The 1900 census of Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana, shows George's son, Charles Frederick Whipple, as a head of household. Charles was born 20 Feb 1841 in Baden-Baden; he immigrated to the U.S. in 1844 (according to the same 1900 census).

The Margraviate of Baden was a historical territory of the Holy Roman Empire from 1112 until 1803, generally spread along the east side of the Upper Rhine River. Baden-Baden was the capital of Baden beginning in 1112. In 1815 Baden joined the German Confederation, and in 1871 it joined the German Empire. Today Baden-Baden is a German spa town in the state of Baden-Württemberg in southwest Germany.

The surname Wippel is more common in Baden than in the other parts of Germany, according to historical records. Louisiana's Charles Frederick might have been known as Karl Friedrich Wippel in Baden-Baden? More research is needed in the origins of the Baden-Baden Whipples.

2.0 - Questions about the First Whipples in America

2.1 - Who Were the First Whipples in America?

The first Whipple in America was John Whipple, who arrived in Dorchester (now part of Boston), Massachusetts, on 16 Sep 1632 as a teenager. (In 1658 he moved to Providence, R.I., and later became "Captain" John Whipple.) Research in the late 20th century suggested that John might have been baptized on 13 Dec 1618 at St. Mary and St. Lawrence Church, Great Waltham, Essex, County, England. (The baptism register spells his name Whaples.) However, research in late 2021 showed that the John baptized in 1618 was still living in Great Waltham in 1634 when he was mentioned in his grandmother's will.

The second group of Whipples to arrive were the brothers Matthew and John Whipple, who arrived in Ipswich, Massachusetts, in 1638, together with their children. Both Matthew and John were born in Bocking, Essex County, England. This John is generally referred to as "Elder" John Whipple (to differentiate him from the teenage John who had arrived six years earlier and eventually became known at "Captain" John of Rhode Island. Note: Several John Whipples have been referred to as "Captain". See the blog post "Captain Who?" for a few others known as Captain John Whipple.

In the fall, 2006, William Wyman Fiske published an article entitled "The Whipple Family of Bishops Stortford, Hertfordshire: Proposed Ancestral Origin of Matthew Whipple of Bocking, Essex, and a Whipple Ancestral Line for Arthur Gary of Roxbury, Massachusetts" in The Genealogist (Vol. 20, no. 2, pp. 191-217. ISSN: 0197-1468). He convincingly concludes that Matthew Whipple (the "Elder")--father of brothers Matthew and John who immigrated to Ipswich, Massachusetts in 1638--is the son of Thomas Whipple of Braintree and Newport, Essex, England, whose father is Thomas Whipple of Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire, England.

One published genealogy claims (without documentation) that a Marion Whipple--wife of Richard Rathbone and grandparents of John Rathbone who died in Block Island, Rhode Island in 1702--is an aunt of Matthew and John of Ipswich. Marion and Richard are "believed to have sailed from England [to New England] in the Ship Speedwell about 1621. W.W. Fiske (see above) did find a Richard Rathbone who is the uncle of Matthew and John Whipple of Ipswich. (See pp. 192 and 203 of his article.) However, this second Richard Rathbone was married to Margaret (not Marion) Whipple. Margaret (Whipple) Rathbone--aunt of the brothers Matthew and John Whipple of Ipswich, Massachusetts--was buried in Bocking on 19 Jan 1627/8. According to Fiske, "there appears to be no basis in fact" for the assertion that the Marion Whipple and Richard Rathbone who migrated to America in 1621 (if they existed at all) are the aunt and uncle of the brothers Matthew and John Whipple of Ipswich, Massachusetts.

See Blaine Whipple's answer to this question.

2.2 - Are the Rhode Island and the Ipswich, Mass., Whipples Related?

Whipple research has been unable to establish any relationship between Captain John Whipple (who settled in Providence, R.I., after living in Dorchester for 26 years) and the Ipswich brothers, Matthew and John. However, researchers continue to look for a connection. Blaine Whipple has a more interesting answer to this question.

Note: William Wyman Fiske (see FAQ 2.1 above) is aware of the absence of information regarding the parentage of Captain John Whipple of Rhode Island. In his fall 2006 article on the ancestry of the Ipswich Whipples, he alludes to that fact in his discussion of John Whipple (John, Thomas), b. abt 1535, of Bishops Stortford, England. (This newly documented John Whipple would be a first cousin once removed of the brothers Matthew and John of Ipswich, Massachusetts. This John is not the Captain John Whipple of Providence, R.I., by the way!). Here is Fiske's reference to Captain John:

The family of John is included here on the chance that a future connection might be made with the English origin of Capt. John Whipple of Providence, who is believed to have been born say 1610. Both men chose to name their second sons Samuel; as trivial a coincidence as this might seem, it does provide at least one avenue for further inquiry into Capt. John Whipple's origin, which to date remains unknown.

2.21 - Where is Bishop's Stortford, England?

The Google Maps web site shows Bishop's Stortford 21.8 miles west of Bocking, on highway A120. (Click here for a map and driving directions.) Bishop's Stortford is located opposite London Stansted Airport on the M11 expressway (the main highway from London to Cambridge).

2.3 - Are you certain that Captain John Whipple of Providence, R.I., is not the same person as John Whipple, "The Elder," who lived in Ipswich, Massachusetts?


Before Captain John of Providence settled in Rhode Island, he lived in Dorchester, Massachusetts (not all that far from Ipswich). Both Johns had a wife named Sarah (according to some sources). It would be easy to conclude that they are the same person. (In fact, the L.D.S. Church's FamilySearch site has periodically [incorrectly] merged the two.)

However, the 19th-century writer, John Osborne Austin, wrote (at least) two different books about families in New England. In the first book of interest, Genealogical Dictionary of Rhode Island (Albany, 1887; reprinted Baltimore: Genealogical Pub. Co., 1978), Austin gives information on the Whipples (including Captain John) who settled in Rhode Island. His second book, One Hundred and Sixty Allied Families (Salem, Mass., 1893; reprinted Baltimore: Genealogical Pub. Co., 1977), gives information about the Ipswich Whipples (including John). Reading the two books side by side, it is clear that there were two different Whipples named John, each with separate occupations and friends, and each figuring prominently in his community.

Another common error is the merger of Captain John of Providence (born about 1617) with the son of Elder John of Ipswich, Massachusetts. That son, often referred to as Captain John Whipple, was born 21 Dec 1625 in Bocking, England, and came with his father and uncle to Ipswich, Massachusetts as a 12-year-old. He was known as both a Captain and a "Cornet"

2.4 - What about Remember Patience Whipple? Didn't she sail on the Mayflower?

Remember Patience Whipple, whose Diary of Remember Patience Whipple is available in bookstores, is a fictional person--her diary is historical fiction. No Whipples sailed to America aboard the Mayflower in 1620.

Although no Whipples sailed aboard the Mayflower, Elizabeth Sprague, who married William Whipple and had 17 children, was a descendent of Richard Warren who not only sailed on the Mayflower but also survived that first winter (which claimed the lives of more than half of those that sailed on the Mayflower). Richard also signed the Mayflower Compact. Therefore, all who are descendants of William and Elizabeth have a Mayflower connection.

2.5 - Was Captain John (of R.I.) born in Bocking, Eng., or in Wales?

I don't know. For a few years preceding January 2022, it was thought that he might have been baptized 13 Dec 1618 at the St. Mary and St. Lawrence Church in Great Waltham, Essex, England. That hypothesis has now been retracted.

2.6 - Is the John Whipple House still standing?

This question is answered in the Whipple Blog post "John Whipple Houses".

2.7 - Where is Dorchester, Massachusetts, and when was it founded?

Dorchester is in present-day Boston. (It was annexed by Boston in 1869.) Dorchester was founded on June 6, 1630, by a colony of 140 persons who sailed from Plymouth, England, aboard the ship Mary & John. Dorchester was the first settlement in present-day Suffolk County (Boston's county).

Captain John Whipple lived in Dorchester before settling in Providence, R.I. (and before becoming "Captain"). Many of his children were born in Dorchester.

The gravestone of Captain John Whipple's wife, Sarah (in the North Burial Ground, Providence, R.I.), indicates that she was born in Dorchester in about 1624. (It reads: "She was born in Dorchester, in New England; and died in / Providence, Anno Dona, 1666 / aged about 42 years.") According to Thayne Whipple, "there are numerous histories of the area that indicate European settlers there prior to 1630 and the official founding of the city. It is presumed that they left when the 'chartered' colonists came, but it will take a lot of work to really prove anything one way or the other."

2.8 - Which John Whipple came to America on the ship Lyon?

A Whipple Website Weblog post of October 27, 2009, gives a good summary. We quote it here:

It was the young John Whipple who later became known as Captain John Whipple and died in Providence, Rhode Island. It was not the John who came to New England with his brother Matthew six years later in 1638.

Whipple genealogical researcher and publisher Blaine Whipple recently responded to that question as follows:

There are records supporting my position that brothers Matthew and John Whipple settled in Ipswich, Mass. in 1638 and were not passengers on the Lyon's 1632 voyage to Boston.
  • Matthew's son Lt. John Whipple was born in Bocking, Essex Co., England 6 Sept. 1632. The Lyon docked in Boston Harbor 16 Sept. 1632 after a journey of 12 weeks.
  • Matthew's son Matthew was born in Bocking ca 1635.
  • John's daughter Anna was born in Bocking 2 June 1633.
  • His daughter Mary was born there 20 Feb. 1634.
  • His daughter Judith was born there in August 1636.
  • His son Matthew was born there 17 February and died 30 March 1638. His death date also gives credence to the parent's land grants in Ipswich 1 Sept. 1638.
The source of this information is from the Parish Records of Bocking's St. Mary's Church available from the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, film 1471886 Items 12 and 13.

I have presented this information to a number of Whipple researchers who after confirming the information agreed that, despite various sources to the contrary, the Whipple brothers were not passengers on the Lyon.

(See two versions of the Lyon passenger list on this site.)

2.9 - Why was Capt. John Whipple called Captain?

It isn't entirely clear exactly what John did militarily to merit the designation "Captain." It seems related to King Phillip's War, however. "King Phillip" was a Wampanoag Indian chief who tried to drive the white settlers out of Providence. In the year 1675, John and about 25 others met in a Providence town meeting to decide whether to flee to Newport in order to avoid King Phillip. Most of the residents of Providence accepted the offer and fled to Newport, leaving Providence nearly deserted. John was one of a small number who "staid and went not away" to Newport, choosing instead to remain and defend Providence. In 1676, King Phillip attacked Providence, burning many houses and injuring those who had remained in Providence. John Whipple's house survived the attack.

It appears that the Rhode Island General Assembly must have given John the designation "Captain," in 1679. That was the year the General Assembly appointed John to a committee to report on King Phillip's War. From that time onward, John was called Captain John.

(Sources: A Brief Genealogy of the Whipple Families Who Settled in Rhode Island, by Henry E. Whipple (Providence: A. Crawford Greene, 1873), p. 8; Sons and Daughters of Jesse: A 360 Year History of the Whipple Family, by Charles M. Whipple (Oklahoma City: Southwestern Press, 1976), p. 11; Whipple Family Tree, by Dwane V. Norris (Jackson, Mich., 1996), p.81)

3.0 - Questions about the Whipple Coat of Arms and Motto

Before reading these questions, visit the page of Henry of Dickleborough on this site. It gives more definitive information about the Whipple Coat[s] of Arms.

3.1 - Do the Whipples have a Coat of Arms?

Henry Whipple of Dickleborough (known today as Dickleburgh), Norfolk, England was granted two (yes, two!) coats of arms, in 1563 and 1576. Visit Henry's page to learn more.

3.2 - Sometimes the Whipple Coat of Arms appears with an elephant on top. Why is that?

The elephant crest appears in the original Harley Manuscript 1552 that granted the two versions of the Coat of Arms to Henry Whipple of Dickleborough. See Henry's page for more information.

3.3 - What Is the Whipple motto?

"Fidèle et brave." [Google translation: Faithful and brave.]

Debrett Research suspects "that the motto was introduced to family history in late nineteenth-century America, along with 'Henri de V. Hipple.'"

4.0 - Legends, Folklore & Unsubstantiated Rumors

4.1 - "I am a descendant of William Whipple who signed the Declaration of Independence. (My grandmother told me so!)"

None of William's children survived past infancy. Some sources indicate that he might have had as many as seven children, but we know of only one for certain. Unfortunately, no one alive today is a descendant of William Whipple, the signer of the Declaration of Independence. (See William Whipple, Signer of the Declaration of Independence, on this site.)

4.2 - Do relatives of General William Whipple (signer of the Declaration of Independence) get to attend college free?

Donna Wilson ( originally asked:

I heard that if a person is related to the Whipple that signed the Declaration of Independence, they and their children or grandchildren could attend college free. Do you know anything about that? A person in the Genealogical Society I belong to said she read it in a Readers Digest.

What does it mean to "be related" to someone? William and his wife Katharine (Moffat) Whipple had one known child--who died in infancy. Thus, contrary to many popular rumors heard today, no one alive today is a descendant of General William Whipple!

At least one other Whipple descendant who signed the Declaration of Independence: Stephen Hopkins. He was a colonial governor of Rhode Island.

5.0 - Questions about Whipples in Medicine

5.1 - What is Whipple's Disease?

Whipple's disease is a multisystem disorder caused by chronic infection with a bacterium, Tropheryma whippelii. Many patients have malabsorption, which means an impairment of the body's ability to absorb certain nutrients. The disease frequently causes weight loss, irregular breakdown of carbohydrates and fats, resistance to insulin. Most patients have dysfunctions of the immune system. When recognized and treated, Whipple's disease can be cured. Untreated, the disease is usually fatal.

Whipple's disease was named after George Hoyt Whipple, who first observed the disease in 1907 at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. Whipple was a staff member there from 1905 until 1914. He won the 1934 Nobel Prize in physiology and medicine. (See Blaine Whipple's article on this site and George Hoyt Whipple's ancestry in the Whipple Database.)

5.2 - What is the Whipple Procedure?

The Whipple Procedure is a pancreaticoduodenectomy, first performed by Dr. Allen Oldfather Whipple in 1934, when he was a Professor of Surgery at Columbia University in New York City. Dr. Whipple performed 37 of the procedures during his career.

6.0 - Other Questions

6.1 - How is the USS Whipple related to your family?

The three United States Ships (USS) named Whipple (see were named after Abraham Whipple (1733-1819), Commodore in the U.S. Navy during the American Revolution. (See his genealogy in the Whipple Database. See also The Commodore's Page on this site.) Commodore Whipple led the Colonies' first armed opposition to the British forces when they burned the ship Gaspee on June 10, 1772.

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