Robert Wheaton “DEVON MAN?”
Thanks to Susan and Ben about their comments on Robert’s literacy and for Susan’s comment about Roger le Wheaton being a Devon man. Having never been to Devon or lived there I am at a bit of a disadvantage—-however if this means a stubborn stick-to-it-ness, a principled man. I can see that to this day most affectionately with my own Wheatons. More on Robert’s character in a bit
As to the records in Bristol County. The records are all transcribed in the hand of the then clerk. When a person has signed a document he writes out the name and when the person has used a “mark” it says so. For instance in the distribution of Robert’s estate Jeremiah, Obadiah, John, and Benjamin Wheaton have signed as well as John Butterworth and Mary M Mann. It lists the Mark of Bethiah Wheaton. In both his will and an agreement he reached late in life with his neighbor Robert Fuller Robert Wheaton’s mark is listed. Please note that Robert Fuller’s daughter Alice married Robert Wheaton’s son Benjamin. Rehoboth Town Meetings Book II:
An agreement made the 28th of (torn) 1679 Betwixt Robat Wheaton and Robert ffuller, both of Rehoboth in order to make the ending of a contriversie that hath ben longe between them Respecting Bounds of thire home lott, the said Robat Wheton ingaeing in the personne of Mr. James Browne and other neighbors; that betwist this day and winter sets in he would pluk up his fence and set in it in the bounds where the thre stakes stands, and they both agreeing that those stakes shall be the bounds betwixt them: witness my hand the day and year written.
The marke of
This was acknowledged before me
James Browne Assistant
This is a rue copey of the agreement betwixt Robert ffuller and Robert Wheaton Transcribed out of the original By me.
The very first record we have of Robert Wheaton in America is that in the Salem Town Meeting 6 Nov. 1636 Where it simply states:
Robert Wheato. refused to be Inhabitant.
Later added in the margin in Governor John Endecott’s hand:
We have made a show of making him Inhabitant
Here’s some important tidbits. Gov. Endecott was himself a “Devon Man” having been of the Endecott’s of Chagford, Devon. There is some disagreemet as to whether he was born in Dorchester, Chagford, or on a farm near North Bovey or at Middlecot (between North Bovey and Chagford). In any event Gov. Endecott would have been a contemporary of Robert and may well have been acquainted with him back in England. The land that was granted to Robert in Salem was in the part of Salem known as “Danvers” “at the foot of the hill, near the pear-tree said to have been set out by Gov. Endecott on his farm.” It is also known that Gov. Endecott was a Baptist sympathizer and gave shelter to Roger Williams. Gov. Endecott was known for his “pious zeal, genial manners and hot head.” For some reason this strikes true to Robert Wheaton as well. [Chagford coincidentally is the home of the Whiddon family although no DNA match exists with this group.]
Robert was earlier granted land at Marblehead, where not too surprisingly, we find that Roger Williams had tried to establish a church and had been denied. Roger Williams goes on to move to what becomes Rehoboth and then further across the River to establish the colony of Rhode Island.
In the most extensive of any written genealogies about Robert Wheaton; “The Family Record pf Deacon’s James W. Converse and Elisha S. Converse” by William G. Hill 1887 he writes:
That Robert Wheaton came from the pure, unmixed, native Welsh or rather Cumry race…..
It is believed that his wife Alice (Elce, Alce) Bowen was of Welsh origins but to date their is no proof of Robert having been Welsh and unless we are talking way, way back such as in Roger’s father or grandfather this is not likely to be true. But perhaps a long standing Celtic origin could be interpreted nearly 200 years after his death as Welsh. An original document from 1775 in the archives in Rhode Island states Robert came from England.
The records of Robert’s life are quite scant and much of what we “know” of him is a reading of tea leaves. That does not deter me from trying to do so. I collected information not only on Wheatons in Devon but any Rehoboth inhabitants with possible Devon connections. Which keeps leading me round and round like a dog chasing her tail…..