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.
You may have already have this, But when I was researching my genealogy, I too tried to find out about Robert Wheaton. I haven’t done any DNA testing, but did do some historical society research. It has been a while since I made these notes, but I do notice one note at the end after information regarding his will, stating that he was the son of Robert Wheaton and Margaret Bastine. As I said it has been years since I found that information, but I never caught that before. Anyway, I don’t know if this helps, but here is all the notes I have;
He was a tanner
He is said to have emigrated from Swansea, Wales, to Salem, Mass., about 1630. They moved from Salem, to the Rehoboth area before 1647.
John, Mary and Andrew were not listed in the origional Rehoboth records.
Birth: 1606 in Swansea, Wales
Immigration: 1636 from England to Salem, Massachusetts
Lived in: 1636
Place: Salem, Massachusetts
Details: “The 16th of the 11th month 1636 (i.e.16 January on modern calendar) Robt WHEATO(N) refused to be an Inhabitant of Salem (i.e. rejected as an inhabitant); but he briefly settled there anyway. Robert was a very strong Baptist, and it was because he would not or did not agree with the Puritan way that he was considered a rebel. He had landed in Salem, where “his independence of thought and speech made him enemies who finally drove him from the town as a “pestilential fellow.”
Note: 26 SEP 1638
Details: At the Salem Town Meeting, Robert Wheaton was granted 10 acres of land laid out at Marblehead.
Birth of Son: ABT 1639
Name: Joseph Wheaton
Birth of Son: ABT 1641
Name: Samuel Wheaton
Moved to: BEF 1642
Place: Weymouth, Massachusetts
Details: He apparently had differences of religious opinion with Puritans in the area and made his way to Weymouth sometime prior to 1642
Birth of Son: ABT 1643
Name: Jeremiah Wheaton
Details: Perhaps Robert knew that he was going to have to leave Salem. He therefore made sure that in 1643 he was involved with the group of people planning to leave Weymouth for Seconnet or Seekonk as Rehoboth was then known. At the same time he was making sure, that if he did not have to leave Salem, there would be land for him there. This would explain why, in 1644 he was granted land in Salem on a provisional basis, and why he went to Weymouth after leaving Salem.
Note: It is said that from Salem, Robert made his way to Weymouth and from there perhaps even to Boston where once again he was turned out of the settlement. However, it is agreed that “Soon afterwards he came, with Elder Samuel NEWMAN, and his people from Weymouth, to Seconnet or Seekonk” an area which had been granted to the people of HIGHAM. Some believe that Robert also met up with Odadiah HOLMES with whom Robert was in active sympathy, as he was with Roger WILLIAMS. The real founder of the original town of Rehoboth was the Rev. Samuel NEWMAN, who settled there in 1644. He renamed it Rehoboth, because, he said, “the Lord hath made room for us”.
Religion: Thomas COOPER and Robert WHEATON were the two deacons of Elder NEWMAN’s church in Newman’s Colony. “Robert and his sons helped build the first Baptist Church in Massachusetts, USA”
Land Rec: 01 APR 1644
Details: Robert WHEADEN “desirteth some ground at ye great lotts” and was granted 20 acres of land “neere to the marsh at Mr BISHOPP’s farme to be layde out by the towne conditionallie that if hee depte (depart) from the towne before he improve it, it returne to the towne. (This suggests hisdeparture from Salem was expected).
Note: Robert was among the founders of the town of Rehoboth. He drew land in various divisions of the town. (The first land was purchased of Massasoit in 1641, the second purchase in was called Wannomoiset, and the third purchase (about 1668) was known as the “North Purchase”. Through time the land was split up into different areas, some staying in Massachusetts and some going to Rhode Island. Robert WHEATON held a great deal of land in all three purchases. One of the areas split off from Rehoboth was Swansea.”)
Religion: Thomas Cooper and Robert Wheaton were deacons of Elder Newman’s Baptist church
Details: “Thee 58 men (founders of Rehoboth) considered themselves independent of any jurisdiction but their own, though they were afterwards claimed by both Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay Company. In 1645 these men submitted themselves to the jurisdiction of the Plymouth Court, or rather were assigned to that by the Commissioners of the United Colonies, and were incorporated by the scripture name of Rehoboth.
Land Rec: 1646
Details: “10th day of December 1646 at a meeting of town it was agreed to draw lots for new meadow, and to be divided according to person and estate. Robert WHEATON drew #24 and William CARPENTER drew #42”
Birth of Son: 20 JAN 1646/47
Name: Obadiah Wheaton
Birth of Son: 20 Apr 1650
Name: John Wheaton
Place: Rehoboth, MA
Birth of Daughter: 20 MAY 1652
Name: Bethia Wheaton
Details: “Plymouth Colony deed show that Robert WHEATON was one of the inhabitants of Rehoboth who petitioned Governor BRADFORD in 1653 for a settlement in a land dispute with Captain Miles STANDISH of Mayflower fame.
Birth of Daughter: 18 SEP 1654
Name: Hannah Wheaton
Birth of Daughter: 04 NOV 1656
Name: Mary Wheaton
Details: “Robert WHEATON took the “oath of fidelity” Plymouth Colony Records. This is the oath he would not take in Salem)
Details: Robert WHEATON and two other men were fined five shillings each for cutting three loads of grass contrary to an order of the town.
Details: Robert WHEATON served on a coroner’s jury that invegtigated the cause of death of Nathaniel West of Rhode Island who fell through the ice and drowned.
Birth of Son: 20 OCT 1659
Name: Ephraim Wheaton
Birth of Son: FEB 1660/61
Name: Benjamin Wheaton
Details: Robert WHEATON served on a coroner’s jury that investing the cause of death of Robert ALLIN, who was found ded on his bed by his brother John ALLIN of Rehoboth. The verdict: Hee came by his death by laying violent hands upon himselfe.
Land Rec: 1666
Details: Robert WHEATON was a purchaser of one share in the Rehoboth North Purchase (now ATTLEBORO)
Land Rec: 1668
Details: “A Quite-Claim Deed from King Phillip (Indian Chief) on the 20th March 1668 King Phillip, who had succeeded his brother, Alexander as Sachem of the Wampanoages or Pokanokets, as they are sometimes called, confirmed to the town the purchase of the “Ten Mile Square” made of Massasoit or Ossamequin, his father in 1641, and relinquished all claim and title to the land by giving the town Quit-Claim warrantee deed. Among the names on the deed are Robert, Jeremiah and Ephraim WHEATON”
Details: “King Phillip’s War – the first attack by the Indians was on Rehoboth. This attack was on a Sunday. The Indians surrounded original 1667 Church and six inside were killed and church burned. During King Philip’s war, he (Robert) and other settlers had to abandon their homes, but he eventually returned
Details: Robert on list of Rehoboth men who advanced money to the town to help defray the cost of King Philip’s War. Robert advanced £2. 04s. 10d.
Land Rec: 1683
Details: “18 August – Robert WHEATON gave deed of land in North Purchase, now town of Attleboro to his son Benjamin”
Will: 02 OCT 1687
Details: “Bristol County Probate Records”, NEHGR Vol. 63, p. 83-84. Will of Robert Wheaten of Rehoboth, he “being weake & ages”, dated Oct. 2,1687. To eldest son Joseph twenty acres last laid out on the east side of Palmers River, a parcel of salt marsh at the hundred acres, and ten pounds estate of Commons in Rehoboth. If Joseph die without issue, all said land given him (allowing the thirds to his wife for her lifetime) sahll descend to my son Samuel’s children. To son Jerimiah my lot last laid out in wachaumoket Neck, my meadow at Bushy meadow and ten pounds estate of Commons in Rehoboth. To son John ten pounds estate of Commons in Rehoboth. To son Obadiah the rest of my lands in the North purchased lands which I have not given to my sons Ephraim and Benjamin by deed. To son Ephraim twnety acres at Palmers River, a piece of meadow at same place joing to Rice Leonard’s, a third part of the undivided land on the North Side, and ten pounds of Commons in Rehoboth, all which I have given him by deed of gift. To son Benjamin one half my fifty acre lot and my share of meadow on the North Side and one third of my undivided lands in the North Purchase, all which I have given him by deed of gift. To my son Samuel’s children ten pounds estate of Commons in Rehoboth. To my three daughters, Bethiah, Hannah and Mary, twelve pence each. To my beloved wife Alice, my house, lands and meadows, household goods and stock not otherwise disposed of, she to be sole executrix. If my wife decease before me, what estate I have given her shall be equally divided among all my children, son Joseph to have my house lot and home lot upon an indifferent appraisal, and to pay the value above his share to his brothers and sisters. Witnessed by John Peck, William Carpenter and John Butterworth at Rehoboth, Feb. 24,1695/6. Recorded Mar. 2,1695/6.
Inventory of estate: taken Jan. 11,1695/6 by William Carpenter and Samuel Millard and sworn to by Alice, widow and executrix on Feb. 24,1695. Entered Mar. 2,1695/6.
Death: 11 Jan 1695/96 in Rehoboth, MA
Burial: Buried “ancient burying ground near homestead farm near grave of son Ephraim”
Parents are Robert Wheaton and Margaret Bastine
Birth: 1616 in Swansea, Glamorgan, Wales
Immigration: ABT 1640
Note: She arrived in America with her father and siblings
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