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The Narragansett Historical Register,
A magazine devoted to the antiquities, genealogy and historical matter illustrating the History of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. James N. Arnold, Ed.
Narragansett Historical Publishing Co., Hamilton, R. I.
E. L. Freeman & Co., Printers, Central Falls, R. I.
p. 267 - 275
Edward Wightman, of Burton-upon-Trent, who had the distinction of being the last martyr by fire condemned for heresy on English soil, was convicted Dec. 14, 1611, before the Bishop of Litchfield and Coventry, and, being delivered to the secular power, was burned at Litchfield, April 11th, 1612. He was the last who suffered death in this way, though others have since died from the severity of persecutions in prisons, etc. * (*See Iviney's History of the English Baptists, p. 123; and Sprague's Annals of the American Baptist Pulpit.) Benj. Brook, in his 'Lives of the Puritans', (vol. i., p. 66), gives an account of the charges brought against him - eleven distinct heresies, among which are 'those of the Evionites, Cerinthians, Arians, and Anabaptists, and other heretical and unheard-of opinions.' 'If', says Crosby, 'Wightman really held all the opinions laid to his charge, he must have been either an idiot or a madman, and ought to have had the prayers of his persecutors rather than have been put to a cruel death.' Another besides Wightman had suffered death by fire in the previous month, and both met their fate with heroic endurance and constancy. Neal, in his 'History of the Puritans', says that 'there was another condemned to the fire for the same heresies [as Wightman], but the constancy of the above-mentioned sufferers moving pity in the spectators, it was thought better to suffer him to linger in Newgate than to awaken too far the compassion of the people. It seems to be a well authenticated tradition in various branches of the Wightman family of Rhode Island that the first settlers of this name in the State were descended from this Edward Wightman. Rev. David Benedict, who gives, in his 'History of the Baptists', several sketches of the various ministers of this name sprung from the Rhode Island stock, mentions this family tradition. It is also spoken of in a 'History of the Baptists in R. I.', (published in R. I. Hist. Collections, vol. vi., p. 338), this narrative being prepared in the last century.
George and Valentine Wightman might have been grandsons or great-grandsons of this Edward Wightman.
First Generation - Earliest settlers in Rhode Island.
1. A DANIEL WIGHTMAN is believed to have settled in Newport, and it is thought that he was one of the twenty-one persons who broke off from the First Baptist Church in that place, and established the Second in 1656. There is no record of his descendants. He is believed to have been a brother to George Wightman of Kings Towne and Valentine Whitman of Providence, the same names being variously spelled by different town clerks - Weightman, Wightman, Whiteman, and Whitman.
Morgan Edwards gives the names of the supposed seceders of 1656 to the number of twenty-one, but there were in reality only a few persons who went off, and the names he gives were those of the parties to a deed received from John Clark, Jan. 23, 1707, which Edwards copied in their exact order, evidently by mistake. These names were of the church members of a date about fifty years after the secession took place, and include that of Daniel Wightman then pastor of the church. There is no evidence of any other Daniel of an earlier period.
2. VALENTINE WIGHTMAN (generally spelled on Providence records as Whitman) settled first in Warwick, where he was made a freeman, 18th May, 1658, but afterwards removed to Providence and represented that town in the General Court in 1675. His wife was Mary -----, her maiden name not being known. He died January 26th, 1701. She died May 31st, 1718. His will of Jany. 13, 1700, mentions all his children.
3. GEORGE WIGHTMAN, (generally spelled Weightman in early Kings Towne records), the other brother, was born in 1632. He came from England and settled in Narragansett, (now North Kingstown), R. I. He was made freeman of that town, May 6, 1673, but had been in the country at least ten years before. He was for several years a member of the town council of Kings Towne. He was also a valuable member of the Baptist Church, and probably a Deacon, as in his will he left 'twenty shillings to buy wine for the congregation to celebrate [the Lord's] Supper.' The name of his wife does not appear in his Bible record or in his will, which last was made near the time of his death, the last of January, 1722. From a record in the old family Bible which he bequeathed to his grandson George (son of Daniel, of Newport), it appears that he was 83 years old in 1715, and was therefore born in 1632, fourth month (June). This Bible is still in existence, though in a dilapidated condition.
Children of Valentine and Mary Whitman:
4. i. Mary, b. Nov. 16, 1652; m. John Inman.
5. ii. Elizabeth, b. July 3, 1655. She was unmarried, being spoken of in her father's will as 'weakly of body.' She died Nov. 19, 1727, in her will giving her whole property to her sister Hannah Whitman and Esther Steere.
6. iii. Susannah, b. Feb. 28, 1657-8; m. James Ballou, son of Maturin and Hannah (Pike) Ballou.
7. iv. Deborah, b. ---- ; m. Joseph Smith
8. v. Alice.
9. vi. Hannah, unmarried.
10. vii. Esther, m. John Steere, son of John and Hannah (Wickenden) Steere.
11. viii. Grace.
12. ix. Valentine (Capt.), b. Aug. 25, 1668; m. Dec. 12, 1694, Sarah Bartlett.
Children of George Wightman, Senior, (from the town record, family Bible and his will):
13. i. Elizabeth, b. Jan. 26, 16-- (probably 1664); m. Alexander
14. ii. Aylle (or Alice), b. Dec. 9, 16-- (about 1666); m. ------- Wright.
15. iii. Daniel, b. Jan. 2, 1668. Pastor of Second Baptist Church, Newport.
16. iv. Sarah, b. Feb. 24, 1671; m. (prob.) (1) Apr., 1697, Wm. Collins, (2) ----- Peterson.
17. v. George., b. Jan. 8, 1673; m. Elizabeth ------ , and removed to Warwick.
18. vi. John, b. Apr. 16, 1674; m. May 23, 1705, Jane Bently (perhaps second wife).
19. vii. Samuel, b. Jan. 9, 167-- ; prob. m. Sarah Briggs.
20. viii. Valentine (Rev.), b. Apr. 16, 1681; m. Feb. 1703, Susannah Holmes.
The will of George Wightman, Senior, was among the mass of town records partially destroyed by fire, but from the fragments remaining a full list of the children may be made out and some of the bequests. To his son Valentine he gives all the land he bought of Joseph Dol[liver], to his son Daniel part of the land upon Great Plain, to his son George 'the farm on which said George now dwells with houses,' etc., entailing it upon his posterity; to his son John the 300 acres where he [now dwells] with the house, etc.; to his son Samuel [ ] pounds in money. His three daughters, Elizabeth Huling, Aylie Wright and Sarah Peterson, were all remembered. To his grandson George, son to Daniel, he bequeathed £10 in money, his gun, and all his wearing clothes, [ ] linen, his chest which he brought from England, and his great Bible; to the two children of his son Daniel, viz., Daniel and [George] Wightman, fifty shillings a year. His 'Desire is that all my deare Children named to be contented for what I have given [and to] take all things according to the True [intent] and meaning herein and my desire is [that] all would Indeavour to Live in the [fear] of God and to live in peace among your [selves] the God of peace will be with you.' His two sons Daniel and Valentine Wightman were appointed executors to this will. A codicil bequeathed further property to his son Daniel, and the will was proved 12th day of ---- , 1722. He left a considerable property.
12. CAPT. VALENTINE WIGHTMAN, son of Valentine2, b. Aug. 25, 1668; m. Dec. 12, 1694, Sarah Bartlett. He lived in the part of the town afterwards included in Smithfield, R. I. At his house the first meeting to organize a separate town (that of Smithfield) was held, Mar. 17, 1730. He died at Smithfield, Aug. 26, 1750, aged 82. Children:
21. i. Sarah, b. Jan. 26, 1696; m. Feb. 19, 1716, Joseph
22. ii. John, b. Feb. 20, 1698; m. April 16, 1720, Sarah Sprague.
23. iii. Henry, b. Jan. 16, 1700.
24. iv. Abijah, b. Jan. 4, 1708; m. June 17, 1728, Joseph Browne.
25. v. Robert, b. May 2, 1712.
26. vi. Benjamin, b. July 22, 1715.
27. vii. Noah, b. Dec. 31, 1717, and probably [sic]
28. viii. Thomas, who m. Mary Lyon, 1746.
29. ix. Ebenezer, who m. Dec. 11, 1760, Rebekah Paine.
15. REV. DANIEL WIGHTMAN, son of George, Sen.,3, of Kingstown, born Jan. 2, 1668. He was pastor of the Second Baptist Church of Newport, Rhode Island. He was ordained in 1701, as colleague of Rev. James Clark, the 4th pastor of the church. He became the 5th pastor in the succession of the ministry, after the death of Mr. Clark (Dec. 1, 1736.) Benedict and Backus, in their respective histories of the Baptist denomination, speak of him as a man of excellent character. His colleague and successor was Nicholas Eyres. Mr. Wightman continued in office 1701-1750. By the scanty records that have been saved from the destruction that fell upon most of the Newport archives in the Revolutionary War, and on examination of tombstones, etc., we find that he married three times: (1) Catherine, daughter of Jonathan and Sarah (Borden) Holmes, who was born 1671, and died Sept. 8, 1699, aged 28; (2) Mary ----- , who was born 1669 and died Nov. 4, 1732, aged 63; Katherine, widow of Joseph Gardiner, born 1673, whose husband died in 1736. She was daughter of John Holmes (son of Rev. Obadiah), and died Oct. 28, 1758, aged 85. Rev. D. Wightman died Aug. 31, 1750. The following inscription is upon his tombstone:
In Memory of the Reverend Mr. Daniel Wightman
Pastor of the Baptist Church in Newport, holding the six principals [sic] as it is written in Hebrews the sixth, for almost fifty years, who departed this life August 31st Anno. 1750, in the Eighty Second year of his age.
Children of Rev. Daniel Wightman:
30. George, b. about 1703; m. Mary Clark.
31. Elizabeth, b. about 1705; m. Jan. 16, 1723, Stephen Hookey, Jr.
32. Daniel, b. 1707; d. Oct. 12, 1728, aged 21.
17. GEORGE WIGHTMAN, son of George, Sen.,3 of Kingstown, b. Jan. 8, 1673, in Kingstown, R. I., m. (1) Elizabeth ------ . He lived first in Kingstown. On the South Kingstown records we find a deed from Geo. Wightman, Jr., and his wife Elizabeth, Feb. 10, 1712, of a tract of land called Boston Neck, some 27 1/2 acres, to Wm. Gardiner of Kingstown for £103. [South Kingstown records, vol. 2, p. 185.] In Dec., 1712, he sold 150 acres to George Hassard for £350. Like most of the men of means in his day, he bought property in various localities. Dec. 22nd, 1719, he bought 150 acres within the jurisdiction of East Greenwich. He was living in Kingstown as late as 1722, where his father died, leaving his son George the farm, upon which the latter then dwelt, and entailing the property in his line. He may have secured an act of legislature to dispose of this property, at any rate he removed to Warwick soon after the death of his first wife, and there married (2) Aug. 13, 1738, Sarah Ladd, of Providence. He died Jan. 1761. In his will of Sept. 1, 1759, and codicil March 1, 1760, he mentions his wife Sarah, his children (as in the list given below) and the three sons of his son George, viv: Reuben, Stephen and David, also the four sons of his son Samuel, dec'd, viz: Samuel, Benjamin, George and Asa, and his son's widow, Margaret. Children:
34. John, b. about 1701; m. June 14, 1722, Phebe Havens, dau. of Thomas.
35. Samuel, m. Nov. 11, 1724, Margaret Gorton.
36. Elizabeth, m. ------ Havens.
37. Phebe, m. Nov. 10, 1724, Jonathan Weaver.
38. Deborah, m. May 27, 1713, Malachi Rhodes.3
18. JOHN WIGHTMAN, son of George, Sen.,3 b. April 16, 1674. He married, Jan. 6, 1700, Jane Bentley, dau. William. He lived on the 'Great Plain', says J. W. Gardiner, in what is now Exeter, and his wife and himself are there buried on a farm since owned by the descendants of Ezekiel and Zebulon Gardiner, and lately owned by John T. Gardiner, about a mile northwest of Slocumville. George Wightman (doubtless father of John) purchased this land of Samuel Wilbur or heirs, it being a part of lot No. 5 of a Pettaquamscutt division, which extended from the headline of the purchase, or Queen's river, on the west, to the 'Wolf Hill' on the east. He died in 1754. His will was made Dec. 3, 1746, and approved May 8, 1754. His wife survived him:
39. Alice, b. Oct. 16, 1702; m. June 8, 1722, Job Harrington.
40. Sarah, b. Jan. 23, ; m. ----- , 1723, Joseph Whitford.
41. John, b. ----- ; prob. m. June 4, 1729, ------ -------, of Newport.
42. James, b. Feb. 17, ------- ; m. Sept. 5, 1734, Bridget Sweet, dau. of Samuel.
43. Jane, b. ----- 20, ----- ; m. Benjamin Spink.
44. Valentine, mentioned in will.
45. Mary, m. Samuel Boone, Jr.
46. Deborah, m. --- --- , 1739, John Reynolds.
The other dates in this record were burned off. In his will John Wightman also speaks of his granddaughter Lydia, wife of Abraham Wilcox.
19. SAMUEL WIGHTMAN, son of George, Sen.,3 b. Jan. 9, 167- ; prob. m. Dec. 9, 1708, Sarah Briggs. He may have had children as follows, but the Kingstown records are uncertain as to whom these children belong:
20. REV. VALENTINE WIGHTMAN, son of George, Sen.,3 b. Apr. 16, 1681, in North Kingstown, R. I. He m. Feb. 10, 1703, Susannah Holmes. In 1705, at the invitation of an association of individuals calling themselves 'Dissenters', he moved to Groton, Conn., and the same year organized the first Baptist Church in that State. The Fort Hill Church upon the other side of the river was organized about 1720, when Philip Tabor and Samuel Westcott removed from North Kingstown, R. I., and settled in that neighborhood. That church invited Valentine Wightman to preach in that vicinity. Wm. Stark, at whose house the Dissenters held their meeting, presented to Mr. Wightman, on his removal to Groton, a house and twenty acres of land. For sketch of Rev. V. Wightman's life, see Benedict's and Backus' Histories, Mrs. Calkins' History of New London (which place before 1705 included in its boundaries, Groton), Knight's History of the Six-Principle Baptists, Hollister's History of Connecticut, &c. He died in 1747. Children of Rev. Valentine Wightman, of Groton:
50. Mary, m. J. Rathbone. Her sons Valentine and John were
55. Timothy (Rev.), m. (1) Jane Fish, (2) Mary Stoddard.
57. John (Rev.), m. Mary Stoddard.
22. JOHN WHITMAN, son of Capt. Valentine, 1 2 b. Feb. 20, 1698; m. Apr. 18, 1720, Sarah Sprague. He was a resident of Providence. Children:
55. Valentine, b. Mar. 11, 1722.
56. John, b. Oct. 6, 1723.
57. Freelove, b. Sept. 3, 1725.
58. Sarah, b. June 22, 1727.
59. Abigail, b. Nov. 24, 1728.
A John Whitman, of Providence, died Sept. 16, 1730, leaving wife Phebe and several children.
The Newport County Reading Room Index More Biographies & History .