The Whitman/Wightman Family in America

The following article is being extracted from Robert and Catherine Barnes’ Genealogies of Rhode Island Families: From Rhode Island Periodicals, Volume II, published in Baltimore by the Genealogical Publishing Company in 1983.

Most of the Whitmans or Wightmans of Rhode Island and their descendants are the progeny of one of five Baptist brothers (Farnam 1890) to have traveled from England to Rhode Island during the mid-seventeenth century. Of these supposed five brothers, Rhode Island genealogists have established three in particular as definitely being related and descended from the same root stock in England. These brothers would be Daniel Wightman, George Wightman, and Valentine Wightman (Valentine’s surname is most often found spelled Whitman).

These three brothers are the grandsons, according to information provided by James Pierce Root of Providence, RI, of Edward Wightman of Burton-upon-Trent, Stafford, England. This Edward Wightman is supposedly the son of John Wightman of Leicestershire, Burbage, England born sometime in the mid-sixteenth century. Edward Wightman has the unique distinction of being the last martyr to be burned at the stake on English soil. He was convicted on December 14, 1611 before the Bishop of Litchfield for espousing no less than some sixteen different heretical opinions, such as those of the Ebionites, the Corinthians, the Anabaptists, and the Arians (Brook, “Lives of the Puritans” vol I, p,. 66). In March of 1612, the secular power of Litchfield attempted to execute Edward Wightman by burning him at the stake. The spectacle which unfolded before the populace of Litchfield was so painful that Edward Wightman was rescued from the flames before it could burn him too badly. Finally, on April 11, 1612, Edward Wightman was put to death for his heretical opinions by burning him to ashes at the stake. He was the last in England to suffer such a fate.

1. DANIEL WIGHTMAN is believed to have settled in Newport, Rhode Island and been one of twenty-one persons who broke off from the First Baptist Church to establish a Second Baptist Church in 1656. There is no record of his descendants. Most likely a brother to George Wightman and Valentine Whitman.

2. VALENTINE WHITMAN settled first in Warwick where he was made a freeman on May 18, 1658, but later removed to Providence, RI.. His wife was Mary ----- and he died January 26, 1701. Savage says he was much employed as an Indian interpreter. Children:

Mary, b. Nov. 16, 1652; m. John Inman.

Elizabeth, b. July 3, 1655; unmarried.

Susannah, b. Feb. 28, 1658; m. James Ballou

Deborah, b. -----; m . Joseph Smith.


Hannah, unmarried.

Esther, m. John Steere.


Valentine (Capt.), b. Aug. 25, 1668; m. Dec. 12, 1694 Sarah Bartlett

Only son of Valentine Whitman, Capt. Valentine Whitman and his wife Sarah Bartlett had the following children:

Sarah, b. Jan 26, 1696; m. Feb. 19, 1716, Joseph Williams.

John, b. Feb. 20, 1698; m. Apr. 16, 1720 Sarah Sprague.

Henry, b. Jan. 16, 1700.

Abijah, b. Jan. 4, 1708; m. June 17, 1728 Joseph Browne.

Robert, b. May 2, 1712.

Benjamin, b. July 22, 1715.

Noah, b. Dec. 31, 1717

Thomas, m. Mary Lyon in 1746.

Ebenezer, m. Dec. 11, 1760 Rebekah Paine.

3. GEORGE WIGHTMAN settled in Kings Towne, RI and was made a freeman there in May 6, 1673. We know he was born in 1632 from an old family Bible. He is said to have been a tailor in England but important in the Baptist Church in Rhode Island. His children:

Elizabeth, b. Jan 26, 1664; m. Alexander Huling.

Aylle (or Alice), b. Dec. 9, 1666; m. -----Wright.

Daniel, b. Jan 2, 1668.

Sarah, b. Feb. 24, 1671; m. first William Collins and later ------Peterson.

George, b. Jan. 8, 1673; m. Elizabeth ---, and removed to Warwick. 2nd wife Sarah Ladd.

John, b. Apr. 16, 1674; m. May 23, 1705 Jane Bently.

Samuel, b. Jan. 9., 167-; m. Sarah Briggs.

Valentine (Rev.)., b. Apr. 16, 1681; m. Feb 1703 Susannah Holmes.

(a) Children of Daniel Wightman, b. Jan 2, 1668

Known: George, b. 1703; m. Mary Clark.

Elizabeth, b. 1705; m. Jan. 16, 1723 Stephen Hookey Jr.

Daniel, b. 1707; d. Oct. 12, 1728, age 21.

(b) Children of George Wightman and Elizabeth ----- of Warwick:

George.; m. Mary Ralph and had three sons, Reuben, Stephen, and David.

John, b. 1701; m. June 14, 1722 Phebe Havens.

Samuel, m. Nov. 11, 1724 Margaret Gorton and had Samuel, Benjamin, George, Asa..

Elizabeth, m. -----Havens.

Phebe, m. Nov. 10, 1724 Jonathan Weaver.

Deborah, m. May 27, 1713, Malachi Rhodes.

(c) Children of John Wightman, son of George Sr., and his wife Jane Bently.

Alice.,b. Oct. 16, 1702; m. June 8, 1722 Job Harrington

Sarah, b. Jan. 23, 1704; m. -------, 1723, Joseph Whitford.

John, b. -----;m. June 4, 1729.

James, b. Feb. 17, ---; m. Sept. 5, 1734, Bridget Sweet.

Jane, m. Benjamin Spink.

Valentine, mentioned in will.

Mary, m. Samuel Boone Jr.

Deborah, m. 1739, John Renolds.

(d) Children of Samuel, b. Jan. 9, 167- and wife Sarah Briggs:

Maybe: George.



(e) Children of Rev. Valentine Wightman and wife Susannah Holmes:

Mary, m. J. Rathbone.





Timothy (Rev.); m. first Jane Fish and then Mary Stoddard.


John (rev.); m. Mary Stoddard.


This Reverend Valentine Wightman, son of George Wightman Sr. removed to Groton, Connecticut around 1705 with a group of individuals calling themselves “the Dissenters.” For further information on this Valentine Wightman, consult Benedict and Backus’ Histories, Mrs. Calkins History of New London, Knight’s History of the Six Principle Baptists, and Hollister’s History of Connecticut.

For more information on the Whitmans of Rhode Island, consult Mary Ross Whitman’s book on George Wightman of Quidnessett, RI and Descendants (Chicago, 1939).

Contributed to "WHITMANIA!" by Roy Whitman of Scranton, PA.
Roy's web site "My Brother's Tree" (now offline) details the Whitman family along the lines of Valentine Whitman.
Copyright 1999 Roy Whitman, All Rights Reserved.


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