Captain John Wheatley
Portrait Opposite: Phillis Wheatley, Servant to
Capt. and Mrs. Wheatley
This month's feature continues with 18 pages from
Genealogy of the Wheatley or
Wheatleigh Family by Hannibal P. Wheatley, M.D., (1902). To see
previous pages, click here.
Capt. Wheatley is related to both Bliss and
Wheatley lines. Here's how:
Frank Wheatley (spouse of Mary Fienes) is
the 3rd great-grand uncle of Capt. John Wheatley.
Dorothy Wheatley (spouse of Thomas Blisse of Preston Parva and Rehoboth)
is the first cousin, four times removed of Capt. John Wheatley.
Vinal Bliss (spouse of Nathaniel Wheatley)
is the daughter-in-law of Capt. John Wheatley. Vinal's parents are
Azariah Bliss and Mary Tilden)
Phillis Wheatley, the black poetess, was
brought to Boston in 1761 and bought by Capt. and Mrs. John Wheatley (Submitt
Peck), who educated her along with their own children. Phillis
Wheatley received notice from Gen. George Washington for poems she wrote
concerning many of his acts in public life. For more information on
Capt. John is also the 4th great-grandson
of Sir Hugh Willoughby, explorer, who led the first expedition of
the Company of Merchant Adventurers in 1553.
ABBREVIATIONS AND EXPLANATIONS.
b. for born; d. for died; m. for
married; bapt. for baptized; res. for residence.
The three numerals over a sketch of an
individual are explained as follows:
The first figure indicates the
person’s number. The Roman characters show in what generation he is, and
the figure to the right is the number of the parent.
Captain John Wheatley.
Father of the New England Branch of the
Wheatley Family in America.
John Wheatley was born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1718; died
N. H., July 3O, 1786. He and his widow were buried in an early
selected burying ground, on a hill southeast of the present village of
West Lebanon, N. H. A Bible given him by his mother in 1732—at which
time he was 14 years of age—is now in existence. His father was a surgeon
in the British navy, where he died in 1731. His mother and a younger
sister resided in Dublin, where he was kept in school until 14 years old,
when, as his mother intended him for the navy, he was bound to the
commander of a vessel for the term of seven years, thus fitting him to be
a mariner. The commander agreed to take him to Dublin to see his mother
once each year.
They sailed directly to America, landing at New London or
Norwich, Conn. The captain perfidiously sold his indentures to a farmer in
that vicinity, with whom John was bound to remain until he attained his
majority. Here, at first, he suffered much hardship, not being accustomed
to physical labor. However, it is believed that be remained with this
farmer until the expiration of the indenture, and that he received as kind
treatment as could be expected. It is related that on sending him to
school the teacher returned word that he could not instruct a pupil so
THE WHEATLEY GENEALOGY 21
John soon began teaching school himself,
and followed the sea during intervals between terms. He intended sailing
to England to visit his relatives, but never found it convenient, Finally
business associations and family ties completely weaned him from his old
home. In 1742 he married Submit Peck Cooke, widow of Aaron Cooke, daughter
of Benjamin Peck, a wealthy resident of Franklin, Conn. Her brother, Capt.
Bela Peck, was father of Harriet Peck Williams, who gave the Peck Memorial
Library to Norwich, Conn. Judge A. Huntington said of Capt John Wheatley:
"He was of plain manners and of incorruptible integrity. His few words
were always those of good sense and truth. The weight of his influence was
given to the best interests of society. He was an able and courageous
soldier." He commanded a company in the French war during the campaign at
the North in 1759, when Ticonderoga, Crown Point and other forts in that
vicinity were captured by the English.
A powder horn, curiously wrought, presented
to him by an Indian chief, is now among the family relics. This
horn is seventeen inches long and ten inches in circumference at the
largest point Engraved around the lower end of it are the words, "Capt
John Wheatley, Crown Point, October ye 3d, 1759," in well formed letters
surrounded by an ornamental border, Immediately above this is represented
New York bay’ with Hudson river emptying into it, with its course winding
around nearly the whole length of the horn. East of the mouth of the
Hudson river, and between it and Long Island and the Sound, stands the
city of New York, finely executed, and embracing about forty houses with
several church spires rising from their midst, some surmounted with the
figure of a cock and others with a cross. Upon the west of the river, a
little lower down, stands another city, smaller yet equally well built,
marked "Amboy." South of New York city is marked "Rhode Island," now known
as Staten Island. Along the Hudson are scattered farm houses until a
collection is designated as "Greenbush." Near the mouth of the Mohawk we
find the city of Albany, constructed like that of New York On the right
bank of the Mohawk are two buildings marked "H. M."—half
moon. A little further north is a fort
marked "Stillwater,’ where his son Luther died eighteen years later, after
being wounded in the battle of Bemis Heights. On a small stream tributary
to the Hudson from the west, stands Fort Saratoga; north of this is a fort
marked "F. E "—Fort Edward. Directly west is seen Lake George, containing
many small islands and a sloop under full sail. Lake Champlain is but
partly shown, merely enough to designate the situation of two forts: one
marked ‘Crown Point" and the other "Ticonderoga." South of Crown Point is
a large fort unnamed, probably meant for Fort Ann. We turn to the Mohawk
valley and find first the city of Schenectady.
containing some fifteen houses. Upon the opposite bank, a little to the
west, stands Fort Johnson, while opposite this is Fort Hunter. Forts
Edward and Crown Point have the English flag spread to the breeze, and
within the walls we have a birds-eye view of the barracks for the
soldiers, houses, and all the internal defences of such a place. Upon the
upper part of the horn is an animal represented with the head of a unicorn
and the body of a lion, with one hind leg chained to the collar about its
neck. This was probably taken from the family coat of-arms. The letters
"J. ‘W," tastefully wrought in scrolls, occupy the rest of this curious
relic of fine Indian work.
During the French war Spain had become an
ally of France. and in 1761 an English force of ten thousand men was sent
to capture Havana, Cuba. A Spanish force of twenty-seven thousand soldiers
and a large squadron in the harbor withstood the attack.
From military orders and state papers of
Massachusetts and Connecticut we find that Capt. John Wheatley, with a
company of marines from Connecticut, joined the expedition against Havana,
commanded by Gen. Phineas Lyman, with Lieutenant-Colonel Israel Putnam of
Danvers, Mass., in charge of marines from Connecticut. He was Capt.
Wheatley’s immediate superior officer. Before the expedition returned
Capt. Wheatley became paymaster of the Colonial troops. His family, except
John Wheatley 2d, who accompanied him to Cuba, lived in Boston during
their absence, (from 1760 to 1762).
THE WHEATLEY GENEALOGY. 23
The troops from Massachusetts, Connecticut,
New York and New Jersey, to the number of twenty-three hundred, sailed
from New York about the middle of May in fourteen transports. They joined
the English forces before Havana July 20, and entered into the thick of
the fight, which resulted in the fall of the city August 14, 1762. But
disease had worked greater havoc than Spanish bullets, and there were
scarcely fifty Colonial troops left. All came back on one ship. The prize
money resulting from the capture, and divided among the soldiers and
sailors, amounted to over $7,000,000. Capt. Wheatley drew $1185.24. Some
of the English officers pocketed over $600,000 apiece.
His family lived in Boston, Mass., and
Norwich, Conn., until after the close of the French war, 1763, when in the
spring of 1765 they moved, except Mary and John Wheatley 2d, to Lebanon,
N. H. On this journey he cut a hickory cane, which has been preserved,
headed and marked "L. W.," and remains in the possession of the
descendants of Luther Wheatley.
Captain Wheatley was the first man to fix
his habitation amidst the lofty pines on the plains where since has risen
the pleasant and flourishing village of Lebanon Centre. He was moderator
of the first town meeting held there, Sept 12, 1765; the first town clerk,
which office he held for nearly twenty years; the first civil magistrate,
the first schoolmaster, of whom many anecdotes are told showing his
fertile originality in developing the best qualities of his pupils; the
first representative of Lebanon in the New Hampshire Legislature, and the
first and only representative of Lebanon in the ‘Vermont Legislature, at
the time the sixteen border towns gave allegiance to Vermont. He was clerk
of a company of proprietors of Lebanon in 1765; and in 1786 drew up a
petition to the New Hampshire Legislature, asking for a new charter to
replace their first one, that had been partially destroyed by mice. He
acted as chairman of the legislative committee on boundaries, October 3,
1768; was appointed justice of the pence for Grafton county, September 5,
1774. and reappointed April 2, 1779, and October 5, 1785. He
24 THE WHEATLEY GENEALOGY.
served as a member of the Vermont
Legislature in 1777, but withdrew October 22, 1778. At a convention of
committees from the several towns on the grants east of the Connecticut
river, held June 24, 1778, John Wheatley was chairman of a committee
selected to receive and adjust claims for services done in preparing and
completing the union with the State of Vermont. His name was signed to
several documents relative to the dispute concerning the jurisdiction over
the New Hampshire grants east of the Connecticut river, during the year
1782. A petition was drawn up and circulated by Capt John Wheatley, dated
June 10, 1782, in regard to the establishing of a boundary between Lebanon
In a Thanksgiving sermon preached by Rev. Phineas Cooke,
the pastor of Lebanon Congregational Church, November 3O,1840, giving a
civil and ecclesiastical history of the town, he says: "Were I to single
out a man to whom this town, in its early days, was especially indebted
for his exertions in its behalf, I would name John Wheatley, Esq."
He did not serve in the revolutionary army, but sent his
four sons. Two, John and Luther, were killed fighting for the independence
of their country. He died at Lebanon, N. H., in 1786, of a violent fever,
being 67 years of age. His widow survived him several years.
To all his acknowledged qualifications for public or
private life was added piety and such religious gifts as made him a
suitable person to lead in the meetings of the church in the absence of
the minister. True to a prominent Wheatley characteristic, he put spirit,
energy and perseverance into every enterprise with which he was connected.
Seven Children Born in Norwich, CT.
1. Mary Wheatley, b 1743, d Norwich, Conn., 1778.
2. John Wheatley, b 1748. Killed in battle near
Brooklyn, N.Y. 16th September, 1776.
THE WHEATLEY GENEALOGY.
3. Andrew Wheatley, b. 10th
August, 1750; d Hardwick, VT, 7th July 1836.
4. Nathaniel Wheatley, b 21st May,
1752; d Brookfield, Vt, 26th July, 1824.
5. Lucinda Wheatley, 1, December, 1755;
Lebanon, N. H., 9th May, 1839.
6. Lydia Wheatley, b 27th January,
1758; Lebanon, N. H.
7. Luther Wheatley, b Boston, 1760; d
Stillwater, N. Y, 30th September, 1777.
In the American Encyclopedia is the
"Phillis Wheatley, a negro poetess,
born in Africa in 1755, died in Boston, Mass., December 5,
1794. She was brought to Boston in 1761, and bought by Mrs. John
Wheatley, who, noting remarkable exhibitions of intellectual powers
and a thirst for books in her servant, set to work to educate her. At
the age of 19 Miss Phillis visited England, where she published a work
under the following title: ‘Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and
Moral, by Phillis Wheatley, negro servant of Mrs. John Wheatley of
Boston, New England.’ She received marked notice from Gen. George
Washington for poems she wrote of many of his acts in public life."
There seems to be no doubt that Miss Phillis’ mistress was
the wife of Capt. John Wheatley.
2 II 1
Mary Wheatley was married in 1771, at her
brother John’s home in Norwich, Conn,, to Rev. John Lothrop; b, at
Norwich, Conn., in 1739; d in Boston, 9th of April, 1776, and was buried
in the Old Granary Graveyard, Boston. On his headstone is the following:
"Here lies ye body of John Lothrop, aged about 40 years. Died April ye
9th, 1776." He graduated from Princeton College in 1763, and was pastor of
the Second, or Old North Church, Boston, Mass., from 1768 until his death.
Mary, his widow, died two years later in Norwich, Conn, without offspring.
He was probably an actor in the drama that led to
THE WHEATLEY GENEALOGY.
Paul Revere's ride. After Captain
Wheatley’s family moved to New Hampshire, Phillis, the negress whom Mrs.
Wheatley had purchased and began to educate, lived in the Lothrop family.
This gave the dusky poetess the advantages of higher education, under the
eye of a college graduate.
Lieut. John Wheatley accompanied his
father on the expedition against Havana, Cuba, in 1762, and drew about
($17.50) seventeen and a half dollars of prize money. In 1766 be married
Jane Cooke of Bozrah, Conn., at which place they lived for a while. Two
years later they were living at a place called "Conse," and in 1770 were
living east of the Green at Norwich. By old issues of the Packet we find
he had a boot and shoe shop near the Packet office, where he made the best
of goods, "good work and quick dispatch being the cardinal points of his
compass." The next year he moved into the Peck Tavern, across the Green.
In the big elm, known as the "Liberty Tree," front of the tavern, was
arranged a bower among the branches, supplied with tables and seats for
dinner parties and speech-making to the people on the Green. This was
connected with an upper window of the tavern by a plank walk. "Here
Landlord Wheat-1ev entertained General Washington at dinner when en route
to Boston, thus winning a point over his rival, Joseph Peck, who kept the
Lothrop Inn across the Green."
June 20, 1776, he was commissioned
second lieutenant of Capt. Joshua Huntington’s company, in Col. Samuel
Selden’s Connecticut regiment He was wounded and taken prisoner (reported
"killed or taken") in a battle with the British troops at Harlem Heights,
N. 1, September 15, 1776, and died a few days later.
His estate was settled by his widow Jane
and brother Andrew, the tavern being run with the assistance of Deodat
Little. According to the Norwich Packet they offered also "brown sugar and
molasses for sale." His widow and daughter Lucinda moved to Lebanon, N. H.
Mrs. Wheatley married a Mr. Bliss, Colonel Bliss, son-in-law of General
Taylor, on whose staff be served during the Mexican war, was their
grandson. [Note: See
information on W.S.S. Bliss]