Early Settlers—Watertown, MA—John Whitney

John Whitney is remembered on Founder’s Monument as a founder of Watertown, Massachusetts. [1]

Watertown was first settled in 1630, 10 years after the arrival of the Pilgrims at Plymouth, Massachusetts Bay.

“A party of the adventurous emigrants who came in Winthrop’s fleet, with Sir Richard Saltonstall and Rev. George Phillips at their head, selected a place on the banks of Charles river for their plantation. On the 7th of Sept., 1630, (O. S.) the court of assistants, at Charlestown, ‘ordered that Trimountain be called Boston, Mattapan, Dorchester, and the town on Charles river, Watertown.'” [2]

“In 1632 the residents of Watertown protested against being compelled to pay a tax for the erection of a stockade fort at Cambridge; this was the first protest in America against taxation without representation and led to the establishment of representative democracy in the colony.” [3]

John was born in London, England, on 20 Jul 1588. He married Eleanor NN (Whitney) before 1619. [4] [5]

John, Eleanor (listed as Ellen), and their five children arrived in Massachusetts Bay on 13 Apr 1635 on the ship Elizabeth & Ann, and settled in Watertown. [4]

John was admitted freeman 3 Mar 1636, and elected Selectman of the town in 1637. He held the office for many years, until 1655, when he was elected town clerk. He was appointed constable on 1 Jun 1641 by the General Court. [4]

In Watertown, John purchased his homestall, 16 acres, but also was a grantee of eight lots of 212 acres. It is likely he gifted much of the 212 acres to his sons as their homestalls. [4]

John died on 1 Jun 1673 in Watertown at the age of 84 [4], and is interred there at the Old Burying Place Cemetery. [6]

[Updated 28 Apr 2020] Removed unsourced last name, Arnold, for Eleanor NN (Whitney).

John Whitney I (1588-1673) is 10th great-grandfather of MKS in the Wetherbee branch.

[Updated 21 Dec 2018]
John Whitney I (1588-1673) is also 12th great-grandfather of MKS in the Watne branch.

[1] Founder’s Monument—Watertown, Massachusetts, Life From The Roots blog. The two photos above are from this website.
[2] Historical collections: being a general collection of interesting facts, traditions, biographical sketches, anecdotes, &c., relating to the history and antiquities of every town in Massachusetts, with geographical descriptions, by John Warner Barber, published by Warren Lazell, 1844.
[3] Wikipedia, “Watertown, Massachusetts.”
[4] Whitney. The Descendants of John Whitney, who came from London, England, to Watertown, Massachusetts, in 1635, by Frederick Clifton Pierce, W.B. Conkey Company, 1895.
[5] Genealogies of the Families and Descendants of the Early Settlers of Watertown, Massachusetts …, by Henry Bond, N.E. Historic-Genealogical Society, 1860; Volume I, 427.
[6] FindAGrave, “Old Burying Place.”