On October 3, 1632, a fourteen-year-old boy, John Whipple, was ordered to give Israel Stoughton 3 shillings 4 pence for wasteful expenditure of powder and shot. Such is the undistinguished first reference to John Whipple in the New World. It is possible to infer from this record that John was apprenticed to Israel Stoughton in order to obtain passage to America.[ 1 ] The Arnold Papers in the Rhode Island Historical Society state that Israel Stoughton came to America on the ship Mary and John in 1631; thus it is possible that John Whipple sailed with him at that time.[ 2 ]
It is most frequently reported that John Whipple was born in England, probably in Bocking, County Essex. Captain Whipple's head stone states that he "was born in England and died in Providence ... 1685 about 68 years of age." Some evidence supporting Bocking in County Essex as John Whipple's place of origin is that it is from there that Israel Stoughton sailed to America.
Another piece of circumstantial evidence that points toward Bocking, County Essex, as John Whipple's place of origin is that the Ipswich, Massachusetts, branch of the Whipple family, founded by Matthew and his brother John Whipple the Elder, came from Bocking, County Essex, to Ipswich, Massachusetts. Matthew Whipple, Sr., John the Elder and Matthew's father, were residents of Bocking County, England. It has not as of yet been proven that these two John Whipples were cousins, however there is strong suspicion that they were. It is an interesting coincidence that both Johns arrived in the New World about the same time, both received the rank of Captain and both married a woman named Sarah. The Ipswich Whipple House still stands, and that branch of the family claims William Whipple, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, as a descendant. However, John Whipple of Providence, was not without a descendent of so high a distinction; Stephen Hopkins, the signer with "the shakiest hand, but the steadiest heart", was a grandson of Abigail (Whipple) Dexter Hopkins, Captain Whipple's youngest daughter.[ 3 ]
This is the best evidence I would uncover for John Whipple's English origin. I must note that one source mentioned the possibility of "Milford, Wales or England",[ 4 ] although I could not find additional evidence to support the theory of Welsh ancestry.
In 1637, John Whipple received a grant of land at Dorchester Neck, Massachusetts. He married Sarah, at Dorchester about 1639-40, and they united with the church at Dorchester in 1641. The maiden name of his wife is not known, although it was suggested in one source that she was Sarah Darling.[ 5 ] Sarah was born of Pilgrim descent at Dorchester about the year 1624 and died in Providence in 1666, aged about 42 years; thus she could not have been over sixteen years of age when she married.[ 6 ]
John Whipple was a house carpenter by trade and owned a house and forty to fifty acres of land near Neponset Village. Be lived at Dorchester about eighteen years, and during that time, he had six sons and two daughters.
In 1658, John sold his house and land to James Minot. The deed is now in the possession of the Rhode Island Historical Society.
John left Dorchester for Providence town where he increased his family by adding two sons and one daughter, bringing the total to eleven--eight sons and three daughters. On July 27, 1659, John was received as a Purchaser at Providence and received appropriation July 29th the same year. "This day John Whipple is received unto the Town a purchaser to have purchase right of lands."[ 7 ] It is not known why the Whipples left Massachusetts. However, it is known that the children married into families whose views coincided with those of Roger Williams. It is recorded that John Whipple even preached himself. There is a paper in the Rhode Island Historical Society Library which is entitled "John Whipple on the Baptist Church."[ 8 ]
John Whipple lived in Providence in a house probably created by his own hands, as he was a carpenter by trade. The house stood on the east side of the river, a little north of Star Street, between North Main and (what is now) Benefit Street. The house was a two-story structure, having a large stone chimney at one end. On the west side of the house there were steps leading up to it from North Main Street. The house number was 369 North Main Street. In 1676 when Providence was attacked by the Indians, much of the city was put to the torch. However, the John Whipple House was spared, as the Indians revered the structure because Roger Williams and his followers had worshipped there. Thus the John Whipple House, as it was known, was long the oldest house in Providence. Charles H. Whipple reported that it was still standing in 1917.[ 9 ] I have been unsuccessful in locating it, and it appears that a parking lot for a shopping center stands on the house plot today. Thus, I must assume that the Whipple House, one of the oldest structures in America, was sacrificed before the wheel of the urbanized sprawl that Americans of this century call progress.
In 1660 he received a grant of land in Louisquisset. Louisquisset or Louquisset is an Indian name of a place or brook in the town of Smithfield, about four miles from Poutucket and easterly from the line Rock village. This land was divided equally between his sons; Samuel, Elezer and William; with a 60 acre exception which was formerly deeded to his eldest son John Whipple, Jr. He also owned other lands as itemized in his will.[ 10 ] It was "ordered that John Whipple Senr. have his land recorded in the Towne Book the which was laid out to him for his Towne Right, it lieing at, Loquasqussuck."[ 11 ]
Henry C. Dorr, in his work The Proprietors of Providence and Their Controversies with the Freeholders, states that when John Whipple came to Providence "he brought with him a larger property than was commonly possessed by the immigrants of the day." He "soon became a leading citizen and a zealous supporter of Harris and Olney. [Roger] Williams says that he was a constant speaker in town meetings and evidently regarded him as one of his chief opponents. He was licensed to keep an Inn and during many years kept the Principal one in Providence in what is now 'Constitution Hill'. He was a man of ability and influence and his Inn became a political center of the town. It seems probable that Williams addressed his letters to Whipple that they might become more widely known in what was then the chief clubhouse of the village."[ 12 ]
After John Whipple is recorded as one of "the names of such as have paid all of their purchase money and have quittances" he embarked upon a career of public service as would be the case with a presumably ambitious and upward mobile man.
On January 6th, 1660 (or perhaps 1661) John Whipple who at this time was the surveyor, laid out 5 acres of low land for Thomas Clemence. This survey was recorded on January 27th by his eldest son, John Whipple, Jr., who was serving as clerk of the town of Providence.[ 14 ] This seems to have been the first official position that John Whipple held in town government.
At the Town Meeting of March 26th, 1651, at which Thomas Olney Sr. was moderator, it was "ordered that a rate of 35 pounds after peage 8 penney shall be levied upon this towne to pay toward the colony prison." Nine men were chosen to levy the rate upon the town to make sure that no person unfairly burdened and that a majority decision of the committee would be final. One of those chosen to sit on the committee was John Whipple.
This appointment might be taken to mean that John Whipple had become a respected member of the town who would be trusted to see that taxes would be fairly shared. It could also mean that no one else wanted the job.
At a town meeting on June 18th, 1663, John Brown being moderator, the general court orders made at the court of commissioners on May 12th, 1663 were read. As per the orders men were chosen for jury duty to try cases in the town. Among the six chosen was John Whipple Senr.[ 16 ]
In the division of lands at the town meeting of February 19th, 1665, at which time the land on the east side of the seven mile line was distributed, John Whipple Senr. received Lot #45.[ 17 ]
At the town meeting of August 28th, 1666 during which Thomas Olney Sr. served as moderator, John Whipple Senr. was one of four "chosen to serve as Deputyes at the Gennerall Assembly holden at Newport the 4th day of September."[ 18 ]
During this active year Sarah, his wife, died leaving him with several small children, the youngest an infant. She had been living with him only about seven years since they had come to Providence.[ 19 ]
John Whipple held many offices in Rhode Island. Among the offices John held were Deputy to the Rhode Island General Assembly (Representative) 1666-74-6, town treasurer 1668-83, Councillor 1669-81-2, town clerk (1670-2) (1676-7) 1681-1683.[ 20 ]
In 1663 John Whipple deeded a piece of land to his son John Whipple, Jr. then about 23 years of age although the deed was not recorded until May 14, 1667.[ 21 ] This delay can be explained quite easily as John Whipple, Senr. was not in legal possession of the lands until 1666. Benedict Arnold said in a deed to John Whipple Senr. dated 1666 ("tenth day of September in the 18th year of the reign of our sovereign Charles II King of England, Scotland, France and Ireland, etc.") "The said Benedict Arnold having sold the premises about five years ago, and giving then actual possession of the same unit to ye aforementioned John Whipple. He having had lawfull possession and use of the same lands. They were granted to Benedict Arnold 20 years ago." John payed Arnold "9 score" (180) pounds for the property.[ 22 ]
Thus only after Arnold filed his deed could John Whipple, file his for legal claim to the lands.
John Whipple, Jr. lived in the Southernmost of the four home lots that belonged to his father. John Whipple, Jr. married Mary Olney daughter of Thomas Olney a town elder.
He lived with his young bride in the former dwelling place of William Arnold, the father of Benedict.[ 23 ]
The deed John Whipple to John Whipple, Jr. 1663 is beautifully preserved in the library of the Rhode Island Historical Society. It is interesting to note that Thomas Orner, Jr. witnessed the deed.
In 1660 the town at great expense had built at Bridge at Waybossett. The structure has cost 160 pounds. 3 years later a committee was appointed to "goe unto all the inhabetantes of the Towne to see what they will contribute to the mending the Bridge att Waybossett." Enough money was raised to maintain the bridge for 2 more years.[ 24 ]
It is not known what John Whipple's original involvement with this bridge was, however, it is recorded:
At a Towne meeting or Quarter Court January 27th 1664, it was ordered that John Whipple Senr. be sent for to confer with the moderator, Mr. William Field, about mending the Bridge.[ 25 ]
Thus on February 6th, 1664/5 an agreement was made between Thomas Harris Sr. and Valentine Whitman, who were acting on behalf of the Town; and John Whipple, Thomas Roberts, and Resolved Waterman to build and mend the bridge at Providence for the consideration of 14 pounds 10 shillings. This was to be paid in wheat 5 shillings per bushel, "peace" @ 4 shillings per bushel, Indian corn @ 3 shillings per bushel "and what peage is paid to be at 16 per penny white and 8 per penny black.[ 26 ]
This agreement worked for awhile, however, in 1667 five men were "chosen to vew the bridge at Wapwoyset and to consider of the most easy and facill way to repair it so that the passage may not be lost."[ 27 ] Among the committee members were Roger Williams and John Whipple. The committee sat for a year after which time Roger Williams came forward with a proposal.
To offer that if you please. I will (with God's helpe) take this bridge into my care and by that moderate toll of strangers of all sorts ... will maintain it so long that it pleaseth all that I live in this town.[ 28 ]
Williams exempted the townspeople from paying the toll in exchange for one man's days work per year, and those who had "Lessee user half a day." It is not clear whether Williams' bridge was overly profitable or whether he was just too insistent in levying the day's work. However, in [Map Showing Whipple Tavern] March 1672, the town voted that he should not "any longer keepe at the bridge," but was wholly forbid to so do.
At the town council meeting of June 6th, 1670, John Whipple Sr. is paid 10 shillings for holding "the town meeting in his house." The 10 shillings was contributed by 19 men who were to be repaid by the town.[ 29 ] Whipple probably realized that a dollar could be made from "meetings in his house" and perhaps here the idea of the Whipple Inn was born.
Thus in 1674 John Whipple was licensed to keep an "ordinary" (as taverns were called in those days). Many a "publick" meeting was held in the Whipple Inn. According to the 1680 license he was one of the three most competent inn holders of the century. Because of the staid and sober character of the Whipple Inn and its central location it was a favorite meeting place for the Town Council and Court of Probate. Further, town elections were held there. In 1690 the October session of the Rhode Island General Assembly met at the Whipple Inn.[ 30 ]
After his death, his son, John, Jr., also kept a tavern for many years on what is now Mill Street and a younger son, Joseph, also at one time was a licensed inn keeper within the town of Providence.[ 31 ]
Roger Williams believed that he transferred a grant of land he had purchased from the Indians to an association which would hold the land in trust until a future town would succeed to it. Williams saw this plantation as a whole that would be passed down to his successors as a whole, yet instead, the land was divided and subdivided among the individual heirs of the residents of Providence Plantation. Williams received $30 from the town in compensation for his labor and expense in negotiating with the Sachemas Indians in procuring the grant of land. Be always insisted that the $30 fee was only for his labor in procuring the land and that it was not a fee for the land itself. The proprietors, or purchasers, of which John Whipple was one, were to pay 30 shillings each for their have lots (6 acres) and farming lands (100 acres). Williams had no intention of parting with the rest of his purchase.
In Williams' letter to John Whipple August 24th, 1669 Williams' insists that the disposal of the land should he undertaken by the freeholders at large in the town meeting:
"Grant that there have been discourses & agitacions many, about ye lands & purchases, yet is it not reasonable & righteous in all men's eyes. Yt since there are so many purchasers who ordinarily doe not & others yt will not come to ye Towne Meeting, yet their consent should be had, and ye consent of ye majorities should determine ye matters of their purchase, & oblige the minor differing from them? I understand not yet of the damage of a farthing yt any of you have sustained, or are likely to do, from those whom you count your adversaries."
This passage relates to the claim of the Proprietors to an exclusive right to vote in the town meeting upon all matters relating to the proprietary estate.[ 32 ]
In 1669 the town government of Providence faced a crisis. The conflict between the proprietors and the freedmen was coming to a head. The confusion in Providence it was feared might cause forfeiture of the Charter and so the Assembly at Newport on the 27th of October in 1669 tried to resolve the conflict. As it happened, on the last election day, two separate town meetings had been assembled in Providence. It is not surprising to discover that only the meeting that represented the Proprietors is recorded in the Town Book. The Assembly at Newport sent 5 Commissioners to the colony's "oldest town" in order to persuade both the proprietors and freeholders together to elect town officers and town deputies to the Assembly. The well-intended plan of the General Assembly failed. The townspeople of Providence were not in the habit of listening to the deputies from Newport in any case. Thus, with the town unable to hold elections for several months, there was not a town clerk, sergeant or constable. The only authority that remained in Providence was the Town Council and they took possession of the town records, delivering them to John Whipple when he was duly-elected on December 15th, 1669. This election signaled the success of the Proprietors over the freeholders and the General Assembly could do nothing to aid the small freeholders who were the partisans of Roger Williams.[ 33 ]
In November of 1650, Joshua Verin who had left the colony after he had been censured for "violating the liberty of conscience" was being threatened with confiscation of his property in Providence. Many of the townspeople were of the opinion that his land might be forfeited by mere nonresidence even though the taxes on it were paid. Verin sent a letter from Salem on November 21st, 1650 which was read at the town's quarter-day Meeting of April 27th, 1651. Fresh in the minds of certain town members, not greedy for Verin's land, were the forfeitures and confiscations of Olde England. Fearful that this might be the small end of the wedge in New England, William Harris, Thomas Olney and Epenetus Olney and later John Whipple used all of their influence to prevent the appropriation of Verin's estate by the town meeting.[ 34 ]
Later, in the division of land in April 1675 a protest was offered on behalf on Joshua Verin by Thomas Harris, Sr., Thomas Olney, Jr., Epenetus Olney and by John Whipple, asserting Verin's right to a proprietor's share. Again. some of the townspeople wanted Verin's land to be forfeited because of non-residence. However, with the more enlightened views of property now prevailing, Verin was allowed his share.[ 35 ]
In the year 1675, John Whipple was one among twenty-five others who voted at a town meeting to stay at Providence rather than flee to Newport. Most of the inhabitants of the town availed themselves of the offer made them by their friends at Newport, and thus the town was nearly deserted. John Whipple stayed and helped garrison the town against Indian attacks, an action of considerable bravery.
In 1676 the town of Providence was attacked by the Indians. Many houses were burned and much damage done to those who stayed in Providence. As was noted earlier, John Whipple's house was spared, because of the Indian's reverence for the structure where Roger Williams worshipped.
John Whipple was one who, under Captain Roger Williams, defended Providence and "who staid and went not away." It is also reported in Drake's History of Providence that Captain John Whipple of Providence commanded an expedition into Indian territory. Due to his service in King Philip's war he was known from then on as Captain John Whipple.[ 36 ]
On August 14thr 1676 "at a towne meeting lawfully called by Cap. Fenner Magistrate before Thomas Fields house under a tree by ye water side ... A list of 27 names as staid & went not away were presented under whom the Indians should be due." Five men were chosen to dispose of the Indian captives, among them Roger Williams and John Whipple, Jr.[ 37 ]
Then on August 30th, 1676 - "ye Towne (being adjourned) to ye tre before Wm Fields - 7 October Thomas Harris and John Whipple chosen to demand and receive at every Garrison what was taken from the Indians.[ 38 ]
In 1679, John Whipple was appointed by the Rhode Island General Assembly to serve on a committee to give account of the late war with the Indians and make returns to the Assembly.[ 39 ]
Due to his service in King Philip's War the descendents of Captain John Whipple are eligible as members of The Society of Colonial Wars.
Although the loss of life in King Philip's War was not great, the destruction to the town of Providence was extensive. Many of the town's people did not return as a large proportion of the homes were destroyed.[ 40 ]
After King Philip's War as the town tried to settle back into a routine life. Their first thought was for the preservation of their "Towne books and records (saved by God's merciful profidence from fire and water)." It seems that during the Indian raid on the town the building in which the earliest town records were kept was put to the torch and one of the twenty-five that "staid and went not away" rescued the burning records by throwing them in a pond. Thus, in October 1677 the four men who had previously held the position of Towne Clerk were appointed to "view and search the papers, what in wanting or lost, and make report to the Towne." As John Whipple was town clerk of Providence 1670-1672 and 1676-1677 he was one of the four to "make report" to their town clerk, Daniel Abbott.[ 41 ]
John Whipple is last mentioned in the town records three years before his death.
In 1682 the General Assembly considered "Damage in the towne of Providence by persons riding a gallop." This excessive speed was forbidden "in the street lying against the great river between the land of Pardon Tillinghast, and the northerly corner of John Whipple, Senr., where his dwelling-house stands."[ 42 ]
Captain John Whipple lived in Providence about twenty six years. He died May 16, 1685 and he was buried beside his wife, Sarah, in their garden lot near their house. Later their bodies were reinterred at the North Burial Place. This burial ground was established in 1700.[ 43 ] The graves are located in the Whipple Burial Yard on Eastern Avenue. The Whipple plot is found by going out Eastern until the temple monument is reached on the left. The plot is about fifty feet northwest of this monument and the graves of Captain John Whipple and his wife, Sarah, are located on Dahlia Path.[ 44 ] I was able to make a clear grave rubbing of the stones in 1976. They read:
In Memory of
Capt. John Whipple
Who was Born in England and Died in Providence-town
Ye 16th day of May. Anno Dona 1685
About 68 years of age
In Memory of
Mrs. Sarah Whipple
Wife of Capt. John Whipple
She was born in Dorchester, in New England
and died in Providence Anno Dona 1666
Aged About 42 years
George Carroll Whipple III
At the Graves of John and Sarah Whipple
Be it known to all persons to whom this may come, that I, JOHN WHIPPLE, of the town of Providence in the Colony of R.I., and Providence Plantations, in New England (Sen), being in good measure of health, and in perfect memory, upon consideration of mortality, not knowing the day of my death, and having many children, and to prevent difference that otherwise may hereafter arise among them concerning my worldly estate, do see cause to make my will: and do hereby dispose of all my estate in this world, and do make my last Will and Testament.
I having formerly given unto three of my sons, all of my lands and meadows in Louquisset, namely: Samuel, Eleazer, and William, equally to be divided among them three only; excepting thirty acres, which I gave unto my son John, at the North West End.
I give unto my three aforesaid sons, namely: Samuel, Elezer, and William, each of them, a quarter part of one right of Common, for pasturing, chting of timber, and firewood.
I give unto my son Benjamin, a right of land in the late division which is already made out unto him.
I give unto my son David, a right of land in the late division which is already made out unto him.
I give unto my son Jonathan, twenty-five acres, on which he now dwelleth. Also, I give unto my son Jonathan, one division of land which is ordered by the town to be laid out between the "seven-mile line" and the "four-mile line," and papers already drawn for.
I give unto my son Joseph, my dwelling-house, and my three house-lots, and the garden next; also a six-acre lot lying on the southern side of the neck whereupon the town of Providence standeth,. also twenty acres near Thomas Clemons, his dwelling; also I give unto my son Joseph my share of meadow near Solitary Hill, and two six-acre lots, lying on each side of said Hill; also a six-acre lot, near William Wickenden formerly dwelt; also one division lying on the "seven-mile line," which is already ordered by the town and papers drawn for; also I give unto my son Joseph, all other divisions which shall hereafter belong unto two rights throughout.
I give unto my sons, namely: John, Samuel, Elezer, William, Benjamin, David, and Jonathan, these seven, twelve pence every one of them.
I give unto my three daughters, namely: Sarah, Mary, and Abigail, unto every one of them, ten shillings. I give unto my son Joseph, all my right of land in the Narragansett country. I give unto my son Joseph, all my movable goods, of what sort soever, and all my cattle, and all my tools; also I do make my son Joseph my executor; also my will is that my son Joseph do see that I be decently buried: this being the absolute Will and Testament of the John Whipple, Sen., as aforesaid, I do hereunto set my hand and seal, this eighth day of May, in the year one thousand six hundred and eighty-two.
Signed and sealed in the presence of
I, Thomas Arnold, and John Arnold, the 27th day of May, in the year 1685, did upon these solemn engagements declare that they are witnesses unto the above will, and as these names are there written they do own it to be their hand.
Shadrack Manton, the 27th day of May, 1685, in the presence of the Magistrates and the rest of the Council, full and truly declare that he is witness to the above Will, and that he with his own hand wrote his name thereunto, as,
Attest, ARTHUR FENNER, Assistant.
Joseph Whipple did upon the 27th day of May, 1685, in the presence of the Council, as he is Executor to the Testator, upon his solemn engagement testify and declare that this is the last Will and Testament of his deceased father as ever yet perfected as he knoweth of; and that he, when he made it, was of sound mind, and of a good memory.
On the back side of this Will it is endorsed as follows:
Thomas Olney, Town-Clerk of Providence, in the Colony of Rhode Island, and Providence Plantation, in New England, aged 53 years or thereabouts, testifieth that on the sixteenth day of this instant (May), John Whipple [Sen.] of the aforesaid town of Providence, sent for to speak with him.
This deponent saith he immediately went to him. The said John Whipple [Sen.] then showed him this paper, and the writing which on the other side of this paper is written, desiring this deponent to peruse it. This deponent saith he did well peruse it; and having well perused it, he asked the said John Whipple what his mind was concerning the land which he in the said writing had disposed of to his several sons; whether or no he did intend by that writing or Will that the said land should be unto his said sons, their heirs and assigns forever; or only onto his said sons for term of life? He immediately made this answer. That however it was not worded in the said writing, yet his mind and will was that his sons, each one of them, should have said house and rights which he in the said writing unto each one of them had disposed, to be unto them, their heirs and assigns forever, to dispose the same or any part thereof, at any time as they see cause; and that the same was omitted to be inserted. That his son Jonathan should have one of his rights of land and common, on the west side of the "seven-mile line" to be unto him, his heirs, and assigns forever; and that that was his mind when the said Will was written. However, it was omitted in part by the scribe of the said Will. There was an exception made only of thirty acres of land to be his son John's, by him formerly given. That he owned to be a mistake; and that the exception must be of sixty acres, which formerly by deed of gift he had given to his son John Whipple; and all the remainder of his said farm lying about Louisquisse should be divided equally between his said three sons [namely], Samuel, Elezer, and William. This, saith this deponent, is truth; and he took it immediately from the said John Whipple's mouth and worded it down. And also that whereas the said Will expresseth a quarter-part of a right of common to each of his three sons [namely], Samuel Elezer, and William; he said this meaning was and will, that it should be so far westward as the "seven-mile line," and no farther. And that the said John Whipple was then, when he did declare this, of a sound mind and perfect memory.
The Will on the other side of this paper was at our Council Meeting, May 27th, 1685, by us, the Town Council of Providence, examined, and is by us, the said Council, approved;
Signature and Seal on Deed John Whipple
The Roger Mowry Tavern
Later the Whipple House, on Abbott Street, torn down
in 1900. From a wood-cut made about 1860.
(Whipple House, Providence, R.I.)
"Blesed are the Peacemakers"
in the hand of John Whipple or
John Whipple Jr.
© 1999 George Carroll Whipple, III. All rights reserved.