Here begins "Whitmania", with ten generations of the Whitman
family, from the "Martyr" of Ostend to John "Deacon"
Whitman who first settled in Nova Scotia at Annapolis Royal.
This group of families spanned not only two centuries, but in crossing the
Atlantic Ocean to establish themselves in the American colonies, they were the
essence of the transition to the New World.
In this segment of the Whitman family history, I want to begin with the
individuals who led up to the time of the family's settlement in the American
colonies after leaving Europe, and follow them to about the Revolutionary War
period. Another page will cover the Whitman branch through which I am
descended, which is John "Deacon" Whitman, a Loyalist, who emigrated
to Annapolis, Nova Scotia in 1761.
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. 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 name him as an interpreter to the Indians. It is not surely known
what ever became of him or his posterity. The Whitman families of Providence
are not related to him, though in Warwick, Rhode Island, there are families
probably descended from him.
John, Zechariah, Robert and Valentine are, according to Farnam, the only
Whitmans who came from Europe to New England. Because they emigrated at about
the same time, 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 did not produce 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. This is a point still open to
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.