The Whitman Family

An Interactive Internet Family Tree

by P. D. Crowe


{whitman herald }
Since the 1600's, the Whitman family tree has branched and grown from its earliest roots in England.. Beginning in America with the arrival of Zachariah, Elizabeth, Valentine and John Whitman at the first settlements of Massachusetts.
The family grew and flourished along the eastern seaboard in New York, Rhode Island, Connecticutt, and Pennsylvania. Whitman pioneers blazed westward with Marcus Whitman; Planter John "Deacon" Whitman sailed from Boston in 1761 to populate the shores of Nova Scotia.
Wherever they settled, they brought a tradition of reverence and faith and hard work. They were blessed and persecuted, and their descendants have multiplied and prospered.


In the New England colonies, there was a Robert Whitman who settled at Ipswich... He was possibly a brother, some other relation, or perhaps no relation to John Whitman of Weymouth. However, Robert Whitman did arrive in America at about the same time at the same place and settled nearby in the same colony. Charles Henry Farnam, who wrote an extensive genealogical study on John Whitman of Weymouth in 1889 through Yale University, states that this Robert Whitman was an illiterate while members of the John Whitman family were well educated. Just this fact makes it doubtful that Robert was of the immediate family. (Robert Whitman arrived in America on the ship "Albion" which was smallpox infested. Could it be that he was illiterate as a result of this disease?)
Additionally, there is no lingering trace of any children or estates left by Robert Whitman, though there are conveyances on record to and from him and his wife Susan. In 1679 Robert Whitman was listed as a proprietor of the community land at Ipswich, and his name appears there on various documents.

There was another man named Francis Whitman who was a shipwright of Boston, who died in 1708 at the age of 50. He may have been Robert Whitman's son. He was not related to John Whitman of Weymouth, according to Farnam. His children were Francis, Mary and Sarah. His wife Mary outlived him and owned land on Essex Street in Boston in 1718. Francis, the son of this Francis Whitman, is also listed as being a shipwright, and was Captain of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company in Boston in 1755. It is believed that the Elizabeth Whitman who made her will in Boston in 1760 was the widow of Francis Whitman (2). In her will, she mentions her son Francis (3), who was possibly the only child of Francis Whitman (2). Farnam's study believes that the descendants of Frances Whitman ended with this son.

In Providence, Rhode Island, there is mentioned a Valentine Whitman... Ancient documents named him as an interpreter to the Indians. It is not surely known what ever became of him or his posterity. Some Whitman families of Providence are not related to him, though in Warwick, Rhode Island, there are families probably descended from him. I have been in contact with descendants of Valentine WIGHTMAN, which is another spelling of the Whitman name in many old documents. On my Whitmania website,there is an article concerning the Valentine Whitman family lines and links to them. (Whitman/Wightman Family in America)

I have just received some copies of a farm lease from 1781 which was signed by Valentine Wightman in Bristol, Massachusetts. This leads me to believe there is much more information to be learned about this branch!

John, Zechariah, Robert and Valentine are (according to Farnam,1889) the only Whitmans who came from Europe to New England. Because they emigrated at about the same time, I believe it is entirely possible they were at least relatives of some sort. John and Zechariah are known to have been brothers, but what relation any other Whitman arrivals on American soil during this period of time may have been is not known. It would seem if there was a close relation, it would have been documented within the many personal and official papers left by John and Zechariah, as was the case of John and Zachariah's apparent sister, Elizabeth.
Farnam does not mention Elizabeth, perhaps because she is not a male Whitman, and so neither her marriage in England to Thomas Streame in England nor her marriage in Weymouth to General John Otis produced male Whitmans. Her son John Streame was, however, mentioned in Zachariah Whitman's will in 1666. It is reported that the marriage record of Elizabeth Whitman and Thomas Streame mention that her father's name was Richard Whitman. The descendants of Valentine Whitman say that this Richard was the father of Valentine, so perhaps Elizabeth was a cousin brought to New England. Many persons claim to be descendants of Joseph Whitman who was puportedly an estranged son of Zechariah Whitman (and that's why he was not mentioned in his father's will... or perhaps because he set out westward early in life he received his portion of his father's estate early..?) These are points still open to research.
According to Charles Farnam, "It is therefore believed that most every Whitman family originating in the United States from the New England area of this period is descended from the relatives of John Whitman of Weymouth." The descendants of Valentine beg to differ! Some points, I suppose, we will never know, because history has closed its arms over the facts and shrouded them forever within the cloak of mystery.
I have a belief that with improved research and communication that is available today (compared to the limited re sources of Farnam's time) we may find the"American" Whitmans to be descended from many other relatives of John Whitman as well.


My interest in tracing the family tree began as I was going through the old photographs left in my grandfather's trunk.
Aubrey S. Whitman was a fifth generation descendant of John "Deacon" Whitman. John "Deacon" left New England and sailed to Annapolis, NovaScotia, in 1761 on the "Charming Molly" to settle his land grant there. John died shortly after his arrival, but his wife Mercy and their eleven children continued the endeavor, becoming the origin of the many Whitman and related families living in Nova Scotia today.
My grandfather Aubrey descended through the lines of John "Deacon's" son, Jacob Whitman, and was born in Canso in 1888. Aubrey died before I was born. He was a professional photographer and left us an enduring treasure of time and history in his photographs. If not for his photographic records, the key to my Whitman origins may have been lost.
I had a difficult time researching the standard genealogy books in search of my grandfather's links, but with the help of many Rootswebbers became enlightened to the resources which helped me to finally connect Aubrey to the family of John "Deacon" Whitman. Had I not done this research, the inaccurate and incomplete records available would have made it even more difficult for future generations to find the path to their Whitman and connect to this rich heritage full of persons from so many walks of life: privileged gentry, politicians, devout missionaries, ministers, merchants, teachers, soldiers,businessmen, pioneers, doctors, inventors, farmers, writers, sea captains, fishermen and cobblers.

This tree encompasses many of the families mentioned above and then reaches back into the times of the royal families.

I take those connections with a grain of salt... !

Hopefully, I have pruned out the personal information of any living persons who might be included as a descendant. I will be updating it again soon, upon adding more individuals to the various branches. Hopefully, the availability of this online Whitman resource will encourage other Whitman descendants to contribute to this store of information. To date, my research has opened up a new world of communication with cousins all related through the Whitman lines. This is a wonderful thing!

The tree was compiled from various sources of information and I do not represent that it is *entirely* correct, as it is a compilation of many sources of information, and it covers hundreds of years of information. Besides the Charles Farnam book, I have attempted to utilize historically concurring sources when possible. Much information was contributed by various family members and their personal research. If you are researching your family, please be sure to document and make notes on your sources... if you are Whitman-related, please help me to share the information at this website. I will post any lines that are documented.

If you should find errors in this tree please notify me and I will work to research and correct them. My aim is to have as much correct Whitman information online in one place as possible, and I welcome and will post your contributions to this effort.

Please note that these files have been updated as of 11-28-04 and now include"PERSON SHEETS" for each entry. Inside the person sheets you will find any notes I have on the person. This is a new feature I hope you will enjoy!





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Copyright 4 November 1999, 6 January2000, 28 July 2001, 29 Nov 2004;P.D. Crowe

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Updated: 20 May 2021

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