The current open call on immigration presents an opportunity to show in words from 362 years back in time and onward the story of my ancestor, Henry Whitney, who came to America in the mid 1600s. I am related to Henry through my maternal grandmother and over the course of many decades have come across many others who share this same ancestor, including a direct descendant of Eli Whitney, one of the most famous members of the family (not a direct ancestor of moi, however). While I don't have the figures on how many Americans are related to this one ancestor I know in general terms that the number is huge given how many generations back in time we are looking at.
From the online version of the 1878 edition of The Whitneys of Connecticut I have placed below the story from Volume I* that discusses Henry, who landed on Long Island, but eventually made his way to Norwalk, CT where he lived until his passing in 1673.
Lots of interesting spelling in these old texts that were combined into one chapter, naturally, written with a quill pen back at the time! In addition, there's much legalese mixed in here highlighting disputes and other various and sundry actions of the times--even his final will and household possessions at the time of his death!
*There are three volumes that make up this family genealogy. I first looked at the volumes at the New York Public Library when I was a senior in high school and then years later discovered that my local library in the country also had the 1878 three volume edition.
Henry Whitney, the earliest of this family whom we can trace in America, was born in England, probably about the year 1620. No record of him has been found prior to 8 Oct. 1649, when he was associated with Edward Tredwell and Thomas Benedict in buying three fourths of William Salmon's land and Hashamommock, in Southold, Long Island. These four men made the following agreement, which is recorded in the town records of Southold, Vol. I, p. 89.
"Wee whos names are are vnder written inhabiting vppon the neck of land commonly called Hashamommock considering that our Cumfort and quiett setlement would consist et stand in the inioyment of good neigbourhood did make this agreement at our first sitting doune that what man soever should desire to remoue and to endeauor to make sale of his accomodacons should put in such a neighbour as the other Inhabitanc liveinge with him should approve of.
Entred the 17th of May 1660.
p me WILLM WELLS.
WILLIAM SALMON. [Mark]
HENRY WHITNEY. [Mark]
EDWARD TREDWELL. [Mark]
New Haven Colonial Records, Vol. II, p. 349-50, show that
Anthony Waters, attorney for John Concklin, Tho Osman & Tho Rider, inhabitants on the land called Hashamommock, plainteifs, entred an action of the case agains John Budd, Senior, for breach of an ancient order made for ye preservation of good neighbourhood, wch order or agreemt is as followeth. John Budd junior appeared to answere the sute, May 28, 1660.
Thomas Rider had bought the right of Thomas Benedict; and Lieut. John Budd that of Edward Tredwell, both assignments being made on the record book without date, while Concklin and Osman must have obtained their rights from Henry Whitney, though the formal evidence of the transfer was not made till 1670, as follows:
I Henry Whitney Doe assine over vnto John Bud Juner, all my righte titel and interest in the within specified Deed only excepting what I sould vnto Thoomas Osman, as Wittness my hand the 24 May 1670.
The mark of [Mark] HENRY WHITNY.
John Budd Junr, doth hereby assign as abovesaid all his right title and interest unto John Conckelyne Senior the day and year abovesaid.
Entered upon Record the 24th of May anno 1670, by me Richard Terry Recordr. --- (See Town Records of Southold, L. I., Vol. I, fol. 86.)
Charles B. Moore, Esq., of New York, who has carefully studied the history of Hashamommock, thinks that Henry Whitney, while residing there, lived in the same house with Thomas Benedict.
As before stated, the date of his transfer of those lands gives no clue to the time of his removal, but the Town Records of Huntington, L. I., show that he was an inhabitant of that place, 17 Aug. 1658, when he bought of Wyandance, sachem of Pammanake, "three whole necks of meshepeake Land," -- "ffor the vse of the whole Towne of Huntington."
The following is a copy of the deed, endorsed "a deed for 3 Westward necks of Meadow," and "an Indian Deed for 3 necks westward of the six necks."
Bee it knowne vnto all men by this writing that I, Wyandance, sachem of Pammanake or by the English called Long Iland, doe by these acknowledg to haue sould to Henery Whitne of Hvntington ffor the vse of the whole towne of Hvntington, I say I haue sould to him for them three whole necks of meshepeake Land, I say I for myselfe and my heirs for ever have sould as aboue meconed, and haue sent my agent Cheaconoe to deliver upon Condicions as followeth; ffirst they shall pay or cause to be paid to me or my assigns these ffollowing good punctually, that is first twelfe Coats, ech coate being too yards of Trucking Cloth, twenty pounds of powder, twenty dutch hatchets, twenty dutch howes, twenty dutch knives, Ten shirts, too hundred of mixes, fiue paire of handson stockings, one good dutch hatt, and a great faire Looking glas; and for Checanoe for his wages and going to marke out the Lands shall have for himselfe one coat fower pownd of povdar, six pound of led, one dutch hatchet as alsoe seventeen shillings in Wampum, they must send by Checanoe which being punctually paid then shall I delivar this deed which shall be for the ffree and qviet possession of them and their heaires for ever and In the mene time it shall remaine in the hands of Lyon Gardon in witness where of we have hereunto seet our hands the day above written.
Huntington. Receaued this 23 of May 1659 from the Inhabitants of Huntington fful satisfaction and payment for the medow I sould Last to them which my man Chachenow marked out for them which Joynes to that neecke that Belongs to Mr. Stickland and Jonas wood and soe goes Westward soe ffar as Chakenew hath marked being purchesed In Agust Last which was 1658.
While at Huntington, he build a grist mill, or "corne mmill," for Rev. William Leverich, of that place, which led to some disagreement; Leverich asserting that the mill was not finished in season, nor in the way that the contract required, and Whitney that his pay had been unjustly withheld form him. He seems also to have been a leader in the movement which resulted in the dismissal of Mr. Leverich, as minister of Huntington; and these causes led to several suits between the parties. Not much of the testimony is recorded; but before leaving the town, Mr. Leverich obtained permission of the court to put on record three long depositions signed by himself, his wife, and his son, giving their version of the causes which led to his dismissal. Some persons who have read these depositions, have inferred that Henry Whitney had preached for the people of Huntington, before Mr. Leverich was employed, and some of the testimony seems to harmonize with this supposition. The evidence shows that he was a frank outspoken man -- once fined for speaking his mind too freely before the Court -- but when a charge was true, he would acknowledge it, without waiting for proof from his opponent. His differences with Mr. Leverich were finally settled, as appears by the following receipt, a copy of which was furnished by Mr. James Riker, of Waverly, N. Y., from the original, yet preserved by one of the descendants of Mr. Leverich:
November: 1: 1660:
These presents witnes that "I henery whitne of huntington doe acknowledg that I haue receued of mr william leuerich forty pounds for the building of his mill and doe by these presents fully acquit and discharge the aboue named mr leuerich his eyers exceketors and assignes from all debts dues and demands that euer haue bin betwixt him and me, from the begining of the world to his prsent day Witnes my hand
HENERY WHITNEY [Mark] his mark
Witnes John STIKLIN [Mark] his mark
The first allusion to his wife is found in the following extract from the Huntington Court Records, p. 23, from which it seems that he married a widow Ketcham; possibly Sarah, the widow of Edward Ketcham, of Stratford, Conn., who died about 1655.
Jeune the 11. 
The complaint of henary Whitne to the court agaynst Josef Whitmor for steling of his daftars afections contray to her mothars mind and using unlafull menes to obtayne he aftars Loue.
The deposition of Eadward Frenshom; good cechom coming to us when I was at Milford he hauing some discors about the bisnes he gaue Joseph Whitmor his consent to haue his dafter prouided he ware in a seteled way of Leueng to mayntayne a wife.
The testimony of Samuell blackman; thes dep. sayth being in company Joseph Whitmor and som othars he herd good Cechum say ioseph wase a good Lad and shuld have his daftar.
The court agreed that the atar apering so dark that thay can not se cas to prosed to giue in thare aprehenciones without Sara Cechum do apear to give the cort to undarstand what she can say in the case to giue them furthar Light.
He was defendent in two suits at Huntington, 25 Oct. 1660, both brought by William Ludlum, who had succeeded Mr. Leverich in the ownership of the mill, one of which was "an acsion of trespas for breking the mill and grinding seueral times with out his leue to his greate damage."
The defendant deny the breking of the mill but confesed he opened the dore, and went and groune his corne, his family being all scik, none abell to beate, he went to inquier for the kei but coulde not her of it for he was gone to the south, and his family with himselue veing like to famish he was constrayned to doe it: yet notwithstanding he gaue the miller his just towle. The vardit of the courte in this acsion is that they find the defendant was necessitated to yt he did and the plaintiff sufered no damage.
His last appearance in the records of Huntington was 25 Jan. 1661 (? 1661-2), as witness, with Edward ffrencham, to the will of Henry Scudder, of Huntington.
Soon after this he removed to Jamaica, Long Island, where, as we learn incidentally, he bought a home lot of Richard Harker; which he afterward sold to William Smith and his son Joseph Smith. His name appears several times on the records of Jamaica; 9 Aug. 1662, as committee to buy boards and lime for the minister's house, and to hire a mason, if need require; 12 Dec. 1662, as committee to lay out the south meadows; 20 Dec. 1662, as grantee of an acre of land at the rear of his home lot; 2 March 1663 (stylo novo) as one of twenty-four who signed the deed of gift for a house and home lot, to Rev. Mr. Walker; and again, 5 Feb. (1663-4), as committee to lay out meadows.
December ye 13th 1664. The town have chosen Henry Whitney, Beniamin Coe, Thomas Smith, Joseph Thurstone, & Samuel Mathews to be Townsmen for ye year ensuing & to order & cary on ye affaires of ye Town of publike concernment during the year, except giving off lands & taking in off habitants.
Another record, without date, of a vote of the town to lay out to others, "yt lott of medow which was formerly Henry Whtineys," closes the history of his residence in Jamaica. He next appears at Norwalk, Conn., in the following record.
At a towne meeitinge heild the 24th of July, 65. * * * * Also at the sayed meeiting -- whereas Henry Whitney hath agreed and incaged with the towne to make, build, and erect a goode and sufficient grounde corne mill, and that at the mouth of norwake River by the falles, and that upon certaine conditiones which conditiones are to be fully drawen up by Tho. ffitch Leiftenant Olmsted, mistr ffenn in wrighting to be confiremede and signed by the Towne oir those they shalle depute in their behalfe which conditiones weare fully agree upon at the sayed meeitinge betweene the Towne and Henry Whitney, and to be signeded and confirmed by the sayed Henry Whitneye which sayed wrightings doe fullie expresse the tearmes and conditiones of Both parties.
Allso at the sayed meeitinge the Towne voted and grantede unto the sayed Henry Whitney a home Lott consistinge of twoe acres the sayed Lott to be Layed out upon the mill plaine upon the right hande of the path Leadinge downe to the ould mill, being over the Run Lett 2 or three rodd from the sayed Run Lett and allso from the cart way, and so the grant of the other Lott is relinquisheded.
This lot lay near the mill, on the north side of Norwalk River, and was the first lot west of Mill Brook.
Norwalk Land Records, Vo. IV, folios 51 and 52, set forth the fact that the agreement between the town of Norwalk and Henry Whitney "being comprehended in one pair of Indentures of a like tennure not being recorded, one of them not to be found, and the other damnified by some unknown means, and not in a suteable capacity for a Record," the town voted, 24 Oct. 1706, that a new draft be made of the former agreement, and covenant made by James Olmsted, Samuel Smith, and Joseph Platt, the town's committee, and John Whitney, Senr. This was recorded 16 July 1709, and shows that "whereas the planters aforesaid hath given and granted unto ye said Henry Whitney the Old Mill House, with the Mill Stones and what Irons and other things belongeth thereunto," etc., the said Henry Whitney engaged " to make, Maintaine, Keep, and uphold a good sufficient ground corne Mill, and that at ye proper cost and charge of ye said Henry Whitney, his heirs, and assigns, and that upon the mouth of Norwalk Rivder by ye Falls, and also a good sufficient Mill House over ye same with also a good sufficient Damn to ye said Mill, The said Plainters by these presents allowing ye Ground to ye said Mill where it stands and also sufficient ground across ye River for ye said Damn and also ye use of ye stream of Norwalk River to ye said mill and also liberty to ye said Henry, his heirs and assigns, at all time and times to take from off the common land sufficient of timber for the said Mill and Damn," and he engaged "To Grind the Corne of ye aforesaid planters, their heirs and assignes and Inhabitants of said Town, well and sufficiently at all times hereafter, making good and well conditioned meal provided water may be obtained with the use of means, and to Take butt and no more than the sixteenth part for Tole of all sorts of Grain that shall be ground." The town also granted him several pieces of land.
At a Towne Meeitinge November the 9th 65, ordred and voted that Waltar Haite and Math Marvin see to lay out the home Lotyt granted unto Henry Whitney, and allso to place out that peice of Land with the town granted to Henry Whitney upon building and mainteining a good sufficient corne mill.
At a Towne meeiting Des 13 [13 Dec 1665] voted and ordered that Henry Whitney and Mathe Marvin [ ] finishe the [meeting] house, or cause the same to be done according as the towne [ma]nifested themselfs about the finishinge the same and for --- --- of the same the decons to descharge the same in currant pay.
His name appears in the rate, or tax list of 19 Feb. 1665 [1665-66]. The following entry appears in the records of "A Generall Assembly, held at Hartford, October 10th, 1667,"
This Court upon the petition of Wm. Haugh, have considered that case depending between him & Henry Whitney, and doe order that there shall be payd unto the sayd Henry Whitney fower pownds out of the publique Trasury, and this to be an issue of the case depending between the sd Haugh & Whitney about seizing of rumme. The Treasurer is desired to order him his pay at Norwalke. -- (Trumbull's Public Records of the Colony of Connecticut, from 1665 to 1678, p. 73.)
At a Towne meting in Norwalk, Aprill 15th 1669, henery Whitne and Ralph Keeler was voted and chosen by the towne to vew the pound which John Gregory Junr and Tho Bennydicke Junr. did agree to make, and the sayd men did take a vew of it at the same time & found it to be finished according to bargin and accordingly made their report to the towne.
Also at the same meting it was voted and agreed that henery Whtine shall have libberty to make a fence vpon the bank of the other side of the Riuer aboue the Lower cart waye for the weruing of his land.
At a Towne meting in Norwalk, May the 5th 69 . . . .
Also at the same meting it was agree on that the grant that was formerly given to henery Whitney touching commonage should be Recorded, namely that he is to have a Right in the comons and liberty for Keping cattell horses swine with all other priviliges for fensing, or building, or Any other nesesaries he stand in need of, onely it is to be vnderstood that it is to stand & Remaine to the mill as the other lands doe yt Are apropriated to the Euse.
He was one of thirty-three, named in "A true and perfect List of all the Freemen appertaininged vnto the plantation of Norwake. Taken this 11th of October, 1669, and to be presented unto the Honnored Court assembled."
At a towne meting in Norwalk, Febraury 20th, 1672 [1672-73], . . . . . At this fore sayd meting it was voted and agreed on that all the land lying between Samuel hayes his homlott & Goodman Whitnes running along by the creek side, shall lye comon for euer & is never to be given out to Any man.
At the afore sayd meting it was voted and Agreed on that the pond that lies on the other side of the field, with the meddow aboute it from . . . . . to Matthias Sention his lott shall belong to henery Whitney & his eyers to be layd to the mill as his other lands are that are appropriated for that use: And this is to be for him to Improue as afore sayd, so longh as the afore sayd henery Whitney and his eyers doe maintaine a good suffitient gate into ye aforesayd field, to be well hanged so as it may open and shutt conueniantly.
This was his last appearance on the records of the town. He was one of the petitioners, 9 May 1672, for liberty to begin a new "plantation neare the back side of Nrowalke." This was Danbury. Leave was granted, and the plantation was begun in 1684, but he did not live to take part in it.
He probably died in the autumn of 1673; but a careful search has failed to show the date; nor has anything been found to show any facts in the history of either of his wives, except, that the second was a Widow Ketcham, and she was probably the same who survived him.
The Last Will and Testament of Mr. Hen. Whitne of Norwocke, made the 5th of June Anno 1672, Revoking all former wills.
I, Henery Whitnee being weake and crazy in body, but throwe mercy perfect in memory and vnderstanding; doe bequeath my body to the dust, and to be decently Interred; my Immortal Soul into the hands of my mercifull redeemer, with an assured hope of a Joyfull Resurrection vnto a blessed eternal life; being purchased by the pretios Blood and merrits of my dear Saueour.
And for that worldly estate that the Lord of his bounty hath bestowed vpon me, I doe will and bequeath as followeth,
It. -- That all my Just debts be faythfully payd and discharged.
It. -- I will and bequeath vunto my Sonn John Whitnee, the Mill and all the Lands belonging to the same; and that according to the terms and Conditions that I receiued and obtayned the same of the towne of Norwocke.
It. -- I will and bequeath vnto my said son John all my waring apparell; and alsoe all my working tooles.
It. -- I will and bequeth unto my belued wife, my homelot, with the dwelling house standing vpon the same During the time of her widowhood, or the sum of ten pounds to be payd vnto her by my sonn John; shee being at her liberty either to take and accept of the said home lot and house during her widowhood, or the sayd Ten pounds, yf shee shall accept of the sayd Ten pounds, then the said homelot and house to remayne vnto my sayd sonn John; prouided my sayd wiue's acceptance is to be declared and made knowne vnto my overseers or the major part of them, and alsoe to my sonn John, within one year after my decease.
It. -- I will and bequeath vnto my beloued wife, all her waring Apparell and Linning.
It. -- I will and bequeath vnto my beloued wife, and my sonn John, whatever cattle, swine, moueables shall remayne: my just debts being payd out as aboue said ordered; and what moueablees are not bequeathed, the aforesaid cattle, swine, moueables to be equally deuided by my ouerseers vnto my said wife and sonn, prouided I doe give liberty vnto my sayd wife to haue and receiue in part of her half, the fetherbed, fether boulster, pillow ruggs, two blankets, vallents & curtains, all being and appertayning to the great bedstdle, with the said bedstedle, alsoe the strawebed and two blankets lying and being upon the trundle bed, with the said trundle bedsteadle; all the said bedding & bedstedle to be apprized and set out by my ouerseers or the maior part of them, and that in an equall way and rate.
It. -- I will and bequeth vnot my sayd wife, Ten bushels of wheat & alsoe Ten bushels of Indian corn; the same to be payd by my sonn yearly during the term of seven years, prouided my said wife shall live so long and continnue a widowe, and alsoe that my said sonn shall keep, continnue and enioy hte mill.
It. -- I do desire, order, ordayne and constetute Thomas Benedict, Senr., Walther Hoit, and Thomas ffitch, Sen. my beloved brethren and friends, overseers of this my last will & testament, and doe by these prsents signe and confirm the same, the day and year aboue written as witness my hand.
In the prsence of his
RICHARD OLMSTEAD HENRY [Mark] WHITNE
THOMAS FFITCH, Sen. mark
An Inuentory of the estate of Henr Whitne Late of Norwock, Deceased, and apprized by Marke Sention, John Bouton, John Platt, being desired and appointed thereunto by the select men of the towne of Norwocke.
Imprimis, in a Rugg, blankets and bedding - - - - 14 11 00
It. In Curtayns & Vallents - - - - - - - - - 01 07 00
It. In Bedstedles - - - - - - - - - - - - 04 06 00
It. In Sheets and other Linnin - - - - - - - 05 12 00
It. In Brass and Pewter - - - - - - - - - - 04 06 06
It. In Waring Apparel - - - - - - - - - - 10 06 06
It. In Iron pots & other Iron Moueables - - - - 02 11 00
It. In husbandry Moueables & tooles - - - - - 09 10 06
It. In Bookes - - - - - - - - - - - - - 00 13 00
It. In Ammunition - - - - - - - - - - - - 00 14 00
It. In Two oxen five cowes - - - - - - - - - 30 00 00
It. In a yearling and three calues - - - - - - 03 05 00
It. In a old horse - - - - - - - - - - - 02 10 00
It. In swine smal & great - - - - - - - - - 12 10 00
It. In the dwelling house, yards and home lot - - 45 00 00
It. In timber prepared for a barn - - - - - - 02 00 00
It. In the mill and upland and Meadowe belonging to
the same as they are conditioned from the towne 60 00 00
It. In one parcel of Meadow conditioned from the
towne - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 07 00 00
It. In carpenters tooles - - - - - - - - - 07 00 00
It. In debts due to the estate - - - - - - - 23 15 00
It. In Old Iron - - - - - - - - - - - - 00 12 00
It. In siluer more - - - - - - - - - - - 00 07 00
55 13 00
The estate indebted unto Mr. Hyat & Mr. Hudson
about - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 10 00 00
In small debts - - - - - - - - - - - - - 00 17 00
To the apprisers - - - - - - - - - - - - 00 10 00
Substract 11 07 00
Total - - - - - - - - - - - 244 06 00
Taken and apprised by
vs MARKE SENTION