Sunday, May 10, 2020

Sarah Theyer, Wife of Captain John Whipple

By Charles M. Whipple, Ph.D., Ed.D.

It is the assertion of this abstract that the maiden name of Captain John Whipple’s wife, Sarah, is Theyer. This is based on the following observations.  The information supplied by her tombstone states that she was born in Dorchester, New England, and died in Providence, Rhode Island Anno Dom 1666, age 42 years—placing her date of birth in 1624.  This has been consensually validated to be erroneous in that Dorchester was not settled until 1630. As shown in several treaties, including my own, The History of Captain John and Sarah Whipple of Dorchester, Massachusetts and Providence Rhode Island, etc., the maiden name commonly identified as belonging to her has been: They, Darling, or Hutchinson. Though the name They is at least tangential to Dorchester records of the time, Thayer/Theyer is abundantly present.

I have researched this issue on and off for over 50 years, recently arriving at a possibly clearer understanding of this 400-year-old conundrum with assistance from the book, The Thayer Family of Brockworth: According to the Researches of Reverend Canon William Bazeley, by Luis Thayer Ojeda, 1907.  This book lists (pg. 33) the baptism of a Sarah Theyer, daughter of John Theyer, as January 8, 1624-5, in the parish of Churchdown, Brockworth, Gloucestershire, UK. The Reverend Bazeley was secretary to the Archaeological Society of Gloucester. The original recorder of the parishes of Gloucestershire, for over a period covering the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries was J. Herbert Seabrook, Vicar of Brockworth. Luis Thayer Ojeda (1874-1942) was an internationally respected historian, genealogist, and author whose several Thayer ancestors migrated to South America from England throughout the seventeenth and later centuries.

With perhaps one exception, an older individual who married in 1630, the 1624 Sarah is the preeminent listed by that name. This source forcefully shows that removing to the new world by Gloucester citizens was a common occurrence in the early sixteen hundreds. Sarah was born one year before King James the First died, eventuating in the turbulent conflict between his son and parliament, which ultimately led to the beheading of the new king. It would seem that Sarah’s family took the side of the reformers, thus an untenable existence forced many to leave England.

Conclusions are not as robust as preferred, but at least are a step in the right direction. I ask fellow antiquarian researchers to join in sharing findings as to a specific presence of Sarah Theyer in America. In that regard, my particular research has profited from such sources as: Memorial of the Thayer name, from the Massachusetts colony of Weymouth and Braintree, embracing genealogical and biographical sketches of Richard and Thomas Thayer, and their Descendants from 1636 to 1894, by Bezaleel Thayer, as well as, Catálogo Biográfico de la Casa de Thayer de Braintree, by Luis Thayer Ojeda.  A plethora of Thayer/Theyer family lines are presented therein. Hopefully a conclusion to this enigma will be soon forthcoming.

Furthermore, the posited Sarah Hutchinson has been shown to be misaligned with the Rhode Island family line.  She is known to have entered into the Ipswich family by marrying Joseph, a descendant of Mathew Whipple. Unimpeachable bibliographic raw data and thus unassailable evidence to the effect that she was born in Dorchester, Old England, and is of a royal blood line, etc., has not been widely accepted. Several sites in Whipple cyberspace have accordingly removed her from consideration.  Likewise, I have been as yet unable to find corroborating raw data on an unchallenged Darling line in colonial Massachusetts; she has likewise been recently deleted from more than one site. Antiquarian researchers may, in time, uncover other possible claimants. Moreover, a record of over three hundred years of determined pursuits has, until now, not provided a reasonably impeccable alternative.

The primary source cited above disclosed that Sarah Theyer was born in January of 1624. Research professors at my university, and other colleagues, aver that the Null hypothesis should be rejected; emphasizing that there accordingly would be less than 50 chances in 100 that she was not the wife of Captain John Whipple. Comments are solicited.

Charles Whipple, Ph.D., Ed.D.
Emeritus Professor
University of Central Oklahoma

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