Conjectures on the Origins
The attached article is an original piece of research I did on the WHEATON and Bowen Family origins. If you would like to quote this information you may do so for personal purposes, but I request you cite me as author in published works. This work is copyrighted. Recent DNA results have not confirmed a connection between Robert Wheaton of Rehoboth and any known Devon WHEATON. I now believe it more likely that Robert WHEATON is dscended from the WHEDDONs of North Somerset.
An earlier article, I wrote, again speculative in nature, that I have seen quoted as fact without attribution is Robert Wheaton’s English Origins.
Note: the information that I wrote years ago on the possibility that Robert Wheaton’s parents could possibly be Robert Wheaton and Margaret Bastine has become oft repeated on the web as fact. This is NOT proven and may turn out to be as far from the truth, as is, the widely reported birthplace of Robert Wheaton as Swansea, Wales. Robert Wheaton was likely born in Devon, England and it is believed his roots lie there. It is our hope that DNA Testing will provide some answers.
Summary of Earliest Wheatons (updated):
In England the earliest recorded Wheaton that I have located is of a Roger le Whetene recorded at the Exeter Guildhall (Devon, England), in the year 1298. There he witnessed two deeds as a steward and bailiff. Records in Exeter show Roger Whetene was Mayor of Exeter for 5 years between 1303-1320. Also in Exeter a Gilbert le Whetene is mentioned in records in 1323 and a John le Whetene in 1346 becoming freemen. The next record is of a John Whetene in the Dartmouth Archives (Devon, England) in 1353 then John Wetene in 1367 as Mayor of Dartmouth. Then a John Whetene in 1409 and 1411, as a landowner mentioned in two deeds. By the year 1524 the Devon Subsidy Rolls lists 23 Whetons (Whetton) in Exeter and surrounding parishes. And in 1569 the Devon Muster Roll mentions fifteen Wheatons. In a period of 370 years the name le Whetene changed to Whetene, Wheton, and then to its present day Wheaton.
Originally written in the 1970’s. Revised 2011 Additional Revision 2012 & 2013
Due to recent DNA results Robert Wheatons origins in Devon appear to be confirmed. However the match is with different surname. We are still looking for a DNA match with a Wheaton with ties to Devon. It appears that there may be as many as 5 or 6 Wheaton surname DNA lines in Devon!!!!
Records of Robert Wheaton’s birth, christening or departure from England have not been located. Several printed genealogies have referred to Robert as “from Swansea, Wales.” This led many to believe Robert was a Welshman. There are several possible explanations for this confusion including the arrival of John Myles from Swansea, Wales and his settling in what became Swansea, MA, where Robert’s son Ephraim was the third minister. The earliest record that we have is a genealogy of Robert Wheaton written by Nathaniel Wheaton his great-grandson and recorded at Providence, RI: 31 August 1775. Ten years later Nathaniel writes a letter to his cousin Isaac in New Jersey stating that Robert was from the “westerly part of England” or “probable from Swansey, Wales.”
During my correspondence with a historian from the Swansea area it become clear that Robert Wheaton’s wife, Alice Bowen was more likely a candidate for coming from Wales but she and her father Richard Bowen’s origins are as mysterious as Robert’s. This led me back to Devonshire, England as the most likely birthplace for Robert. Our only DNA match is from South Molton, Devon but surnamed Hancock. In other articles on this website I go into more detail about the origin of the surname. After very lengthy research I believe we must broaden the scope of Robert’s origins to include the counties of Monmouth and Glamorgan in Southern Wales and the parishes along the north coastlines of Devon from about Barnstaple, Devon to Bristol, Somerset.
Unfortunately many have taken my earlier speculation and made it fact in the parish of Ottery St. Mary, Devon:”>Robert Wheaton married to Margaret Bastine, 25 October 1602
There is no evidence they had a son Robert and even if they did, it is unlikely based on DNA evidence to date, that he would be our missing Robert. A better guess would be
Robert Whiddon christened 28 Mar 1605 in Sandford, Devon England to Thomas Whiddon.
But again this DNA evidence suggests that this is not the right Robert either. Our best opportunities to locate Robert’s origins will be through further DNA testing and matches.