Nielsen Hayden genealogy

Theophilus Whaley

Male 1616 - Bef 1720  (< 103 years)

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  • Name Theophilus Whaley 
    Born 1616  England Find all individuals with events at this location  [1, 2
    Gender Male 
    Died Bef 1720  West Greenwich, Kent, Rhode Island Find all individuals with events at this location  [3
    Person ID I9306  Ancestry of PNH, TNH, and others | Ancestor of TNH
    Last Modified 14 Feb 2016 

    Family Elizabeth Mills,   b. Abt 1645, Virginia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Abt 1715, Rhode Island Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 70 years) 
    Married 1670  [1
    +1. Theodosia Whaley
     2. Martha Whaley
    Last Modified 8 Aug 2015 
    Family ID F5900  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Notes 
    • The mysterious Theophilus Whale[y]:

      From The Genealogical Dictionary of First Settlers of New England by James Savage, volume IV:

      Theophilus Whale, Kingston, R. I., came from Virginia with wife Elizabeth about 1676, had Joan, Ann, Theodosia, Elizabeth, Martha, Lydia, and Samuel; but it is thought that if not more, the eldest two were born in Virginia. Great uncertainty attaches to almost everything he said or did, as is found often in regard to those who emigrated from a distant country and lived to great age. Potter says he knew Hebrew, Greek, etc. and died about 1719/20, aged about 104. It would have been strange if more than one myth had not sprung out of his grave. My first exercise of caution would be to examine the means of reducing his years by 20 or near, for his only son, it is said, died about 1782, and it is quite improbable that when he was born the father was much beyond 70. Beside that his wife died 8 or 10 yrs. before her husband. Dr. Stiles in the exuberance of his conjecture that was requisite to sustain his credulity supposes he may have been one of the regicides. But we know the names of all who acted in that tragedy, as well as of those who were nominated and declined to act or withdrew as did several after participating some hours in the mockery of trial before its end, among all of whom is not that of Theophilus Whale. Some of those misguided men would have resorted to any other part of the world, sooner than Virginia. Samuel Whale, only son of Theophilus, had two wives, first a Hopkins, then a Harrington, as Potter reports; and that his children were seven: Thomas, Samuel, Theophilus, James or Jeremy, John and two daughters, and that he died about 1782.

      From Barnum Family Genealogy, 1350 to the Present, a little more willing to credit various legends and suppositions:

      Theophilus Whalley/Whaley came to Rhode Island from Rappahannock County, Virginia, where he sold his plantation in 1665. He was university-educated and born of wealthy parents, waited upon hand and foot by servants until the age of 18, by his own reported testimony. He was in Virginia before he was 21, and served there as a military officer. He returned to England to serve in the Parliamentary army under Oliver Cromwell, who may have been a close relative. If his real identity has been deduced correctly (see below), his regiment took part in the execution of Charles I in 1649, and its commander, an officer named Hacker, was later executed. Some sources suggest that Theophilus was actually Robert Whalley--brother of Edward Whalley, one of the two regicide judges who fled England and were concealed for some time in--among other places--Hadley, Massachusetts. If this is true, "Theophilus" was an assumed name, designed to cover his past after the ascension of Charles II to the throne in 1660.

      About that time, "Theophilus" returned to VA and bought land there, where he married Elizabeth Mills (1645-1715) and where two or three of their children were born. Sometime between 1665 and 1680 he came to Rhode Island, settling at the head of Pettaquamscutt Pond in Narragansett. He never spoke of his past while living in Rhode Island and made his living there by fishing, weaving, and teaching (he knew Greek, Latin and Hebrew). He seems to have avoided public notice and public office, though he sometimes penned deeds and other legal documents for less literate neighbors. Mysterious visits to his home by distinguished men from Boston and elsewhere enriched the humble life he had chosen to lead. During Queen Anne's War, a warship dropped anchor in Narragansett Bay and its captain, a kinsman of Theophilus Whaley bearing the same surname, sent a boat to Whaley's landing to invite him aboard for dinner. Whaley at first accepted, but changed his mind and did not go, explaining to a friend afterward that he feared a trap had been laid to take him back to England. This story seemed to confirm the suspicions of his contemporaries that he was himself one of the regicide judges--a suspicion that inexplicably persisted long after the movements of fugitive judges Goffe and Edward Whalley had become well known.

      He was on the tax rolls of Kingstown in 1687 and on 6 September of that year he was taxed 35s 11d. He acquired 120 acres at East Greenwich on 30 Jan 1710, conveyed to him from the proprietors of the tract of land now comprising West Greenwich. On 20 Feb 1711 he and his wife Elizabeth deeded to their only son Samuel for love, etc., that same 120 acres. He moved, in the latter part of his life, to the house of his son-in-law Joseph Hawkins.He was buried with military honors near the home of that son-in-law in West Greenwich.

      Theophilus Whaley's children were Joan, Ann, Theodosia, Elizabeth, Martha (b. 1680), Lydia, and Samuel. Only Martha's birth date is known for certain, but all the children were born after his return to Virginia about 1660.

      From the site of the Jamestowne Society:

      Oct 17, 2012 NOTE: In years past, Mr. Whalley was accepted as a Qualifying Ancestor for the Jamestowne Society. However, evidence of his residency/service does not meet current standards of proof. Therefore, ancestry from Mr. Whalley is no longer sufficient for membership in the Society.

      The story here of the early years (before 1680) of Theophilus Whaley (Whalley, Whale), who died around 1720, is based to a large extent on information gathered by Reverend Ezra Stiles, later president of Yale College, in interviews with persons who had known him in their youth. This narrative was included in a volume listed below published in 1794. A particular cause of this inquiry was the fact that one of the judges or regicides who condemned King Charles I was named Edward Whalley, and the possibility that Edward and Theophilus might be the same person fueled much speculation.

      The assembled recollections gathered indicated that Theophilus Whalley had been born in England to a wealthy family in 1616, received a university education, arrived in Virginia before 1637 and served as an officer in the Indian Wars, returned to England during the Civil War and was an officer in the Parliamentary Army in a regiment that was present at the execution of Charles I. (A book entitled The Army List of the Roundheads and Cavaliers, 1642, published in 1863 lists a Theophilus Willey as an ensign in the regiment of Sir William Fairfax of the Parliamentary Army.)

      At the time of the Restoration he returned to Virginia, married Elizabeth Mills and had children, and around February 1680 left Virginia and subsequently settled for the rest of his life in the Narragansett area of Rhode Island. His stated reason for this move was the pressure of religious differences as he was a Baptist in an Anglican colony.

      Notations in the records of Old Rappahannock County relevant to the search for Whaley's Virginia years include (1) the will of John Mills in 1665 bequeathing a cow to his daughter Elizabeth; (2) a March 30, 1674 sale by Theophilus and Elizabeth Whale of a parcel of land that they had been granted by Governor Berkeley; and (3) a September 1674 grant by Governor Berkeley to Theophilus Whale and another person of 400 acres of land, which was then sold January 2, 1675. The will of Richard Clark in January 1677 made Theophilus Whale his executor, gave Whale his "woodland ground" and gave his goddaughter, Elizabeth Whale, a cow calf. Further, Whale was involved in two land transfers in January 1680, and finally in the following month he conveyed to Robert Beverley all of his land in Rappahannock County including the place where he had been living, and appointed an attorney to confirm the same, signing the action "Theophilus Wealle".

      After arriving in Rhode Island in 1680, the records show in 1710 a grant of 120 acres of land in East Greenwich, Rhode Island, where Whale died and was buried shortly before 1720. With regard to his possibly being the regicide Edward Whalley, that issue appeared to have been put to rest at the time of the American Revolution when Thomas Hutchinson, the last royal governor, stated that Edward Whalley had died and was buried in Hadley, Massachusetts.


      "Theophilus Whaley of Virginia and Rhode Island", by G. Andrews Moriarty; Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Vol 66, pages 76-79.

      History of Three of the Judges of Charles I, Major General Whaley, Major General Goffe, and Colonel Dixwell and with an account of Mr. Theophilus Whaley of Narragansett by Reverend Ezra Stiles, 1794.

  • Sources 
    1. [S491] Genealogical and Family History of Western New York: A Record of the Achievements of Her People in the Making of a Commonwealth and the Building of a Nation, edited by William Richard Cutter. New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1912.

    2. [S2203] New England Marriages Prior to 1700 by Clarence A. Torrey. Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2015.

    3. [S2203] New England Marriages Prior to 1700 by Clarence A. Torrey. Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2015., date only.