Welcome! I really enjoy exchanging information with people and love that this blog helps with that. I consider much of my research as a work in progress, so please let me know if you have conflicting information. Some of the surnames I'm researching:

Many old Cape families including Kelley, Eldredge/idge, Howes, Baker, Mayo, Bangs, Snow, Chase, Ryder/Rider, Freeman, Cole, Sears, Wixon, Nickerson.
Many old Plymouth County families including Washburn, Bumpus, Lucas, Cobb, Benson.
Johnson (England to MA)
Corey (Correia?) (Azores to MA)
Booth, Jones, Taylor, Heatherington (N. Ireland to Quebec)
O'Connor (Ireland to MA)
My male Mayflower ancestors (only first two have been submitted/approved by the Mayflower Society):
Francis Cooke, William Brewster, George Soule, Isaac Allerton, John Billington, Richard Warren, Peter Browne, Francis Eaton, Samuel Fuller, James Chilton, John Tilley, Stephen Hopkins, and John Howland.
Female Mayflower ancestors: Mary Norris Allerton, Eleanor Billington, Mary Brewster, Mrs. James Chilton, Sarah Eaton, and Joan Hurst Tilley.
Child Mayflower ancestors: Giles Hopkins, (possibly) Constance Hopkins, Mary Allerton, Francis Billington, Love Brewster, Mary Chilton, Samuel Eaton, and Elizabeth Tilley.

Sunday, April 14, 2024

William Wetherell ca 1602 England to 1684 Scituate, Mass. and his wife Mary Fisher

 William Wetherell was Puritan minister who was born about 1602, likely in Yorkshire England. He was educated at Cambridge, Corpus Christi College, where he was listed as being from York. He received his BA in 1626 and MA in 1627. [The Genealogical Advertiser, 1:21 (March 1898)]  I have yet to find his parents. His surname is sometimes spelled Witherell.

Corpus Christi College at Cambridge

William Wetherell married Mary Fisher on 26 March 1627 at St. Mildred’s, Canterbury, Kent.

"Witherill, William, M.A. of Maidstone, ba[chelor]., about 25, and Mary Fisher, of Boughton, Monchelsea, maiden, about 22, who is now under govt., of her mother, Joan Martin, alias Fisher, now wife of John Martin, s.p. yeom., who consents. At S. Mildred's Cant. March 26, 1627.” (Canterbury Marriage Licences, Second Series, page 1087)

St. Mildred's, Canterbury

Mary Fisher was born 17 April 1604 at Boughton, Monchelsea, Kent, the daughter of Thomas and Joan (Lake) Fisher. William and Mary are my 10th great-grandparents on my grandfather Arthur Washburn Ellis Davis’ side of the family. 

St. Peter's, Monchelsea, Kent

William Wetherell was licensed as a Curer of Souls and teacher (2 March 1625) at Boughton, Monchelsea, County Kent, England, but not given a church. Perhaps he was already giving an indication of his non-conformist beliefs. So instead of joining the clergy, he used his education to teach school at Maidstone, County Kent. [NEHGR 75:219] Note that Boughton is a village in the Burrough of Maidstone, where William was a teacher. It looks like a picture-perfect English village, with large manor homes, lots of green space, and a quaint thatched-roof pub.

Boughton in Kent

In 1633/34 Wetherell was cited by Archbishop Laud with an order to cease teaching the catechisms of William Perkins who was a well-known Puritan theologian whose catechisms were used by the early Pilgrim Church of Plymouth and to adhere to the official church religious creed. If he were to persist in continuing his path, he would have found himself in the Star Chamber as happened to Charles Chauncy who was later to be his rival in Scituate. (Peter Clark, English Provincial Society from the Reformation to the Revolution: Religion, Politics and Society in Kent 1500-1640. Harvester Press, London, pages 199 & 372)

Perhaps this trouble prompted William and Mary to sail for Boston on the Hercules in 1635. William Witherell is noted as a schoolmaster from Maidstone, and he traveled with his wife Mary, their sons Samuel, Daniel and Thomas, and their servant Anne Richards. Other men from Kent, possibly also religious dissenters, were on the ship as well.

He settled first at Newtowne (now Cambridge), where in the 8 February 1635/6 list of “men who have houses in the town [Cambridge] at this present,” Mr. Willia[m] Wetherall” held one house in the West End and also one house “on the south side the river” (annotated “sold to Mr. Benjamin & by him to Edm[ond] Angier”) [CaTR 18, 19]. In March 1635 William Wetherell sold a house and 12 acres on the south side of the Charles River to John Benjamin, and about 1638 he sold a house and four acres on the southwesterly side of Garden Street to Thomas Parish. 

The Wetherell’s didn’t stay long in Cambridge, removing to Charlestown in 1636 where he established the first grammar school there and was considered part of the gentry class. On 3 June 1636 “Mr Wm Wetherell was agreed with to keep a school [at Charlestown] for a twelve-month to begin the 8 of the vi month [August] & to have £40 for this year.” [ChTR 21] On 13 January 1636/7, he was granted land there, selling his other house and he also held two shares of hay ground. [ChTR 24] On 23 April 1638 “Mr Witherall” was granted lots of fifteen and thirty acres on Mystic Side. [ChTr 37] On 12 Dec 1637 “about Mr. Witherell it was referred to Mr. Greene & Mr. Lerned to settle his wages for this year in part & part to come, & they chose Ralph Sprague for a third” [ChTR 34]

In 1639 the family removed to Duxbury in Plymouth Colony where the church’s beliefs were closer to those William had embraced in England. On 24 January 1638[/9?], “Edward Hall of Duxburrow” sold to “Mr. Willm Wetherell…all that dwelling house and garden place with the enclosure thereunto belonging situate in Duxborrow aforesaid containing two acres.”  This lot was between that of Roger Partridge and Nicholas Robbins. [PCR 12:41] 

William was made a freeman at Duxbury on 3 March 1639/40. On 6 April 1640, “Mr. William Wetherell” and seven other men “are granted the lands lying on the northwest side of Northill in Duxborrow…and to have liberty to set corn at Namassacusset, and to mow grass for their cattle there, and to build a house on the south side of the brook there,” of which Wetherell was to have fifty acres. [PCR 1:144, 161] In addition to serving as Duxbury’s minister, he was Deputy to the Plymouth General Court in 1642. [PCR 8:191]

The family next moved to Scituate in 1645 where he was minister of the Second Church and this turned out to be finally be the right fit for William as he stayed there for the rest of his life. Several other “Men of Kent” settled in Scituate as well. I read that his hand-written baptism records have been preserved, something I’d love to see. The citizens of Scituate had been struggling within their church and sought a new minister after the departure of Reverend John Lothrop who left for Barnstable with many of his followers. Some Church members, led by Timothy Hatherly, voted to invite Charles Chauncy to fill that position. Another faction, led by William Vassal, disagreed and proceeded to form a Second Church of Scituate and invited William Wetherell to be the minister. (GNM 5:12:15) Much of the division was because Chauncy and the First Church parishioners believed in adult baptism. 

Samuel Deane wrote that Vassal was about the only man in town who had the same social standing and wealth as Hatherly and that it was as much a power struggle between the two men as it was a theological one. The establishment of two churches in a small town never would have been allowed in Massachusetts Bay; Plymouth Colony was more lenient. 

On 16 April 1644, Vassall wrote to Rev John Cotton of Boston: “We are about to procure a member of their church of Duckesbury to be a pastor to us, his name is Mr. Witherell who sometimes lived at Charlestowne & Cambridg. He is a teacher of grammar by profession, a man of good report here & elsewhere & it may be known to yourselves.” [Scituate Hist 72; ScitTR 3:363] On 2 Sept 1645, after some months of negotiation, William Wetherell was ordained pastor of the Second Church at Scituate. [Scituate Hist 81; ScitTR 3:375] Scituate Town Records show he was paid from 35 pounds to 50 pounds annually, but he also received substantial land grants. 

On 5 April 1672, the town of Scituate “granted to Mr. William Witherell fifty acres of land to him and his heirs with common privileges thereunto belonging when he or they shall build and live thereon to be laid out as convenient for him as the capacity of the town will permit.” [ScitTR 3:170; see also ScitTR 1:320, 323, 334 and PCR 5:104, which may refer to two separate grants of fifty acres made to William Wetherell]

The problem between the two churches continued as in 1671/2 Josiah Palmer was fined 10 shillings for speaking "opprobriously" of William's church, saying it was a church of the devil. [PCR 5:87] Chauncy accepted a position in Boston to act as head of the new Harvard College, a position he held until his death.

The Second Church of Scituate, also called the South Church, was in the part of town that is now Norwell and the site of the current First Parish/Unitarian Universalist Church. William was ordained the Pastor on 2 September 1645 after writing numerous letters defending his position to many of the other ministers and churches of New England. He held this position the rest of his life.

Mary and William had nine children:

i. Samuel baptized 5 December 1628 in Maidstone, Kent; m Isabel (——-) Hiland; died 1683 in Scituate

ii.Daniel born 29 November 1630 at Maidstone, Kent, m. Grace Brewster 4 Aug 1659, daughter of Jonathan Brewster and granddaughter of Mayflower passenger William Brewster; d. 14 April 1719 New London, CT 

iii.Thomas baptized 28 August 1633 in Maidstone, Kent; died bef. 1684 in Plymouth Colony

iv Mary born abt. 1635 in Massachusetts; m. Thomas Oldham 20 Nov 1656 in Scituate; died 12 December 1710 in Scituate 

v.Elizabeth born abt. 1637 in Massachusetts ; m John Bryant 22 Dec 1657 at Scituate; died January 1660/61 in Scituate

vi.John born abt. 1640 in Scituate; m. Hannah Pinson Young by 1675 in Scituate; died 1690 in Quebec, Canada; was a Lieutenant in the militia 

vii.Theophilus born abt. 1642 in Scituate, m. Lydia Parker 9 Nov 1675, Scituate; died bef 6 Jan 1701/2; was a sergeant in the militia

viii.Sarah born 10 February1644[/45] in Scituate; m. Israel Hobart 21 Dec 1668 in Hingham; died 1731

ix.Hannah born 20 February 1646[/47] in Scituate; bp Scituate Second Church 28 Feb 1646/47; no further record

I descend from Elizabeth whom I wrote about here. . 

William witnessed wills of Thomas Lapham of Scituate on 15 Jan 1644 and James Cushman of Scituate on  25 April 1648. On 24 March 1657 William witnessed deeds concerning Scituate land between Thomas Bird and Walter Hatch and on 29 September 1660 a deed between Thomas Robinson and John Otis. 

When Thomas Bird of Scituate wrote his will on 4 February 1663, he left a bequest of 5 pounds to "mr Willam Witherell Pastour of the Church of Christ att Scittuate." He appointed his "trusty and welbeloved frinds" Mr. Willam Witherell and James Torrey overseers of his will. 

On 26 March 1684 “William Wetherell, minister of the gospel in the town of Sittuate” deeded to “my loving son Theophilus Wetherell…all that my fifty acres of land…as it was laid out to me by the committee of Sittuate …& West toward the patent line & is the eight lot of the great lots…also all that my great lot of land containing fifty acres of land & common privileges thereunto belonging which grant was granted to me by the town of Sittuate at a general town meeting the fifth day of April 1672 and I have-not yet taken it up, also all that my marsh or meadow land lying & being in the town of Marshfield being by estimation four acres & eighteen pole or rod;” signed by mark.  [PCLR 5:1:267]

Although Wetherell was well-educated, in 1684 he signed the above deed and his will by mark, rather than signing. Deane noted in his history of Scituate that the records of the Second Church in Scituate were “kept in Mr. Witherell’s hand until 1674, when it appears that some paralytic affliction compelled him to borrow the assistance of another hand.” 

William Wetherell was of Scituate when he wrote his will on 29 March 1684 and mentioned bequests of land and other items to his grandchildren Samuel, Joshua, and Hannah Wetherell, all children of his deceased son Samuel. Samuel was to receive most of the land as the eldest son of the eldest son, but Joshua was to receive seven acres at Hoop Pole Hill and another ten acre lot. His sons John and Theophilus are to equally divide his wearing clothes. He noted that his son Daniel and daughter Sarah Hubbert had already received their portions. His daughter-in-law Isabel Wetherell, widow of Samuel, was made executrix and was to receive the residue of the estate to aid her in raising her children as well as the improvement of his house and orchard and other land until her son Samuel came of age. His daughter Mary Oldham was to receive four pounds. The witnesses were Thomas King Sr., Thomas Clapp and John Cushing Sr.  The will was proved 4 June 1684. (Plymouth Probate Records 4:132) 

Mary Wetherell must have died before 29 March 1684 when she is not mentioned in his will. I have not found her death record. William was also pre-deceased by his sons Samuel and Thomas and his daughter Elizabeth.

William Wetherell died 9 April 1684 at Scituate.  (Scituate Vital Records, page 467)

Not long before his death he baptized his granddaughter and died by the time it was recorded : "Abigail the Daughter of Isreal Hobird March 16th baptized by our late pastor M. William Wetherell.” (NEHGR, “Records of the Second Church of Scituate,” 57:320)

The inventory of “Mr William Wetherell deceased late pastor of the Church of Christ in Scittuate” was taken 21 May 1684 and totaled over 165 pounds of which 123 pounds was real estate. [PCPR 4:2:133] It included over 3 pounds in silver money, books, pewter, two cows, and a steer. 

Sources Not Included Above:

Robert Charles Anderson, The Great Migration Begins, p 318-3 (2011)

Charles Edward Banks, The Planters of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 1620-1640, Boston, 1930, Reprint c. 2006, Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., Baltimore

Torrey's New England Marriages

Barbara Lambert Merrick, Mayflower Families Through Five Generations: Elder William Brewster, Volume 24, Part 1, GSMD, 2014

Mrs. John E. Barclay, William Parker of Scituate, Mass., TAG, Vol 41 (1965)

Lucy Hall Greenlaw, editor, The Genealogical Advertiser, “Rev. William Wittherell, M.A.” 1:21 (1901) page 21 Vol 1, 1901

Samuel Deane, History of Scituate, Massachusetts, from its First Settlement to 1831, Boston 1831; reprint 1975

No comments:

Post a Comment

I'm now moderating comments on this blog. My apologies for any ensuing delays, but the large number of "spam" comments have made this necessary. ~Chris