Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

1.0 - Where Did the Whipples Come From?

2.0 - Questions about the First Whipples in America

3.0 - Questions about the Whipple Coat of Arms and Motto

4.0 - Legends, Folklore & Unsubstantiated Rumors

5.0 - Questions about Whipples in Medicine

6.0 - Questions about the Whipple Genweb

7.0 - Other Questions


1.0 - Where Did the Whipples Come From?

1.1 - What is the origin of the Whipple Name?

The Dictionary of American Names, page 232, states that a Whipple was originally "one who came from Whimple (white stream) in Devonshire [England]."

According to The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Place Names, Whimple is from the Welsh "gwyn" (white) and "pwll" or "poll" (pool, stream). Variant forms of the name include Winple, Wimpoll, and Wympol.

The oldest record of the name is in the Domesday Book (A.D. 1086), where it is spelled "Winple."

The Whimple History Society (http://www.whimple.org, from Whimple, Old England) presents a compelling argument that the name Whipple means other than "white stream". Under archives-Placenames Background, it asserts that Whipple probably should have been interpreted as "fair" or "fine" stream. [Submitted by Charles M. Whipple, Jr.]

1.2 - Was Henri De V. Hipple the first Whipple?

Although published books claim that Henry De V. Hipple was the first Whipple, none of them provide supporting documentation. Blaine Whipple has written a more complete answer.

1.3 - Did all American Whipples come from England?

No. A notable example is the Whipples of Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana--descendants of George Whipple of Baden-Baden, on the western foothills of the Black Forest in the present-day German state of Baden-Württemberg. The 1900 census of Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana, shows George's son, Charles Frederick Whipple, as a head of household. Charles was born 20 Feb 1841 in Baden-Baden; he immigrated to the U.S. in 1844 (according to the same 1900 census).

(Additional research is needed to determine which German surname became the anglicized Whipple surname. Might Charles Frederick have been named Karl Friedrich in Baden-Baden? Was his father named Georg--without the final "e"? If you have insight, please share it with us!)


2.0 - Questions about the First Whipples in America

2.1 - Who Were the First Whipples in America?

The first Whipple in America was John Whipple, who arrived in Dorchester (now part of Boston), Massachusetts in about 1632 as a teenager. (In 1658 he moved to Providence, R.I., and later became "Captain" John Whipple.)

Brothers Matthew and John Whipple arrived in Ipswich, Massachusetts, in 1638. Both were born in Bocking, Essex County, England. This John is generally referred to as "Elder" John Whipple (to differentiate him from the "Captain" John who settled in Rhode Island. Note: Several John Whipples have been referred to as "Captain"; it is a good idea to use additional modifiers when referring to anyone named "Captain" John Whipple.)

In the fall, 2006, William Wyman Fiske published an article entitled "The Whipple Family of Bishops Stortford, Hertfordshire: Proposed Ancestral Origin of Matthew Whipple of Bocking, Essex, and a Whipple Ancestral Line for Arthur Gary of Roxbury, Massachusetts" in The Genealogist (Vol. 20, no. 2, pp. 191-217. ISSN: 0197-1468). He convincingly concludes that Matthew Whipple (the "Elder")--father of brothers Matthew and John who immigrated to Ipswich, Massachusetts in 1638--is the son of Thomas Whipple of Braintree and Newport, Essex, England, whose father is Thomas Whipple of Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire, England.

One published genealogy claims (without documentation) that a Marion Whipple--wife of Richard Rathbone and grandparents of John Rathbone who died in Block Island, Rhode Island in 1702--is an aunt of Matthew and John of Ipswich. Marion and Richard are "believed to have sailed from England [to New England] in the Ship Speedwell about 1621. W.W. Fiske (see above) did find a Richard Rathbone who is the uncle of Matthew and John Whipple of Ipswich. (See pp. 192 and 203 of his article.) However, this second Richard Rathbone was married to Margaret (not Marion) Whipple. Margaret (Whipple) Rathbone--aunt of the brothers Matthew and John Whipple of Ipswich, Massachusetts--was buried in Bocking on 19 Jan 1627/8. According to Fiske, "there appears to be no basis in fact" for the assertion that the Marion Whipple and Richard Rathbone who migrated to America in 1621 (if they existed at all) are the aunt and uncle of the brothers Matthew and John Whipple of Ipswich, Massachusetts.

See Blaine Whipple's answer to this question.

2.2 - Are the Rhode Island and the Ipswich, Mass., Whipples Related?

Whipple research has been unable to establish any relationship between Captain John Whipple (who settled in Providence, R.I., after living in Dorchester for 26 years) and the Ipswich brothers, Matthew and John. However, researchers continue to look for a connection. Blaine Whipple has a more interesting answer to this question.

Note: William Wyman Fiske (see FAQ 2.1 above) is aware of the absence of information regarding the parentage of Captain John Whipple of Rhode Island. In his fall 2006 article on the ancestry of the Ipswich Whipples, he alludes to that fact in his discussion of John Whipple (John, Thomas), b. abt 1535, of Bishops Stortford, England. (This newly documented John Whipple would be a first cousin once removed of the brothers Matthew and John of Ipswich, Massachusetts. This John is not the Captain John Whipple of Providence, R.I., by the way!). Here is Fiske's reference to Captain John:

The family of John is included here on the chance that a future connection might be made with the English origin of Capt. John Whipple of Providence, who is believed to have been born say 1610. Both men chose to name their second sons Samuel; as trivial a coincidence as this might seem, it does provide at least one avenue for further inquiry into Capt. John Whipple's origin, which to date remains unknown.

2.21 - Where is Bishop's Stortford, England?

The Google Maps web site shows Bishop's Stortford 21.8 miles west of Bocking, on highway A120. (Click here for a map and driving directions.) Bishop's Stortford is located opposite London Stansted Airport on the M11 expressway (the main highway from London to Cambridge).

2.3 - Are you certain that Captain John Whipple of Providence, R.I., is not the same person as John Whipple, "The Elder," who lived in Ipswich, Massachusetts?

Absolutely.

Before Captain John of Providence settled in Rhode Island, he lived in Dorchester, Massachusetts (not all that far from Ipswich). Both Johns had a wife named Sarah (according to some sources). It would be easy to conclude that they are the same person. (In fact, the L.D.S. Church's Ancestral File has [incorrectly] merged the two.)

However, the 19th-century writer, John Osborne Austin, wrote (at least) two different books about families in New England. In the first book of interest, Genealogical Dictionary of Rhode Island (Albany, 1887; reprinted Baltimore: Genealogical Pub. Co., 1978), Austin gives information on the Whipples (including Captain John) who settled in Rhode Island. His second book, One Hundred and Sixty Allied Families (Salem, Mass., 1893; reprinted Baltimore: Genealogical Pub. Co., 1977), gives information about the Ipswich Whipples (including John). Reading the two books side by side, it is clear that there were two different Whipples named John, each with separate occupations and friends, and each figuring prominently in his community.

2.4 - What about Remember Patience Whipple? Didn't she sail on the Mayflower?

Remember Patience Whipple, whose Diary of Remember Patience Whipple is available in bookstores, is a fictional person--her diary is historical fiction. No Whipples sailed to America aboard the Mayflower in 1620.

Although no Whipples sailed aboard the Mayflower, Elizabeth Sprague, who married William Whipple and had 17 children, was a descendent of Richard Warren who not only sailed on the Mayflower but also survived that first winter (which claimed the lives of more than half of those that sailed on the Mayflower). Richard also signed the Mayflower Compact. Therefore, all who are descendants of William and Elizabeth have a Mayflower connection.

2.5 - Was Captain John (of R.I.) born in Bocking, Eng., or in Wales?

We are not sure where Captain John was born, other than somewhere in Great Britain. (Various authors give different places of origin, but none are documented adequately. See Blaine Whipple's research on this topic.)

2.6 - Is the John Whipple House still standing?

This question has at least three answers: Yes, No and Maybe

  1. "Yes." The John Whipple House in Ipswich, Massachusetts, is still standing, owned and maintained by the Ipswich Historical Society.
  2. "No." As recently as 1917, Charles H. Whipple wrote:
    The oldest dwelling in [Providence, R.I.] is the Whipple house, North Main St., No. 369. It dates back more than two centuries. When the town of Providence was burned by the Indians this building was spared, as the Indians revered the structure because Roger Williams and his followers had worshiped there. (Source: Genealogy of the Whipple, Wright, Wager, Ward, Pell, McLean, Burnet Families, p. 13.)

    However, a recent (1999) email message from the Webmaster for the City of Providence reports:

    After a check in our register of Historic Places (a complete inventory of existing buildings) and a drive of North Main Street without finding the house, I contacted the RI Historical Preservation Commission. There, I was informed that the building is no longer standing and that images of the building are probably on file at the RI Historical Society Library.

    I hope this information is of use to you, although I was looking for a "happy ending" with the building still standing.

    Sincerely,
    Richard Weinberg
    Systems Administrator / Webmaster
    City of Providence
    (Email forwarded to the Whipple Website by Carla (CA206@home.com), February 23, 1999)

    In a still more recent (April 6, 1999) note to the Whipple Website, Whipple genealogist Joanne Lahr-Kreischer writes that "the Whipple house in Providence, RI (built by Capt. John) was torn down to make way for a road expansion."

  3. Although the Providence, R.I., house of Captain John is no longer standing, there are reports of the existence of two houses that he may have built in Dorchester, before migrating to Providence. Both claims now seem to be untrue, but here they are (for your information):
    1. "Housewright John Whipple" reportedly built a house in Dorchester in about 1650 for Mr. Robert Pierce. Its current address is 24 Oakton Avenue. (Read about the Pierce house here.) The estimated date of the Pierce Home is now given as c. 1683. It appears that Captain John Whipple probably didn't build the house, as he moved with his family to Providence 25 years earlier.
    2. John was also thought to have built the Capen House on 523 Washington Street, Dorchester, MA. (Mark Whipple of Milton, MA, reports that the house was moved to Milton in 1909. More recently, the owner of the property sold the house to Mark Landry for $1, and then Mr. Landry disassembled the house and put it in storage, hoping to sell the house to someone for $80,000.) A 2007 Boston Globe article reported that studies by Historic New England in 2003 suggest "that the house was built in 1675 rather than 1638." If the studies are true, it is unlikely that Captain John would have assisted in its construction.

2.7 - Where is Dorchester, Massachusetts, and when was it founded?

Dorchester is in present-day Boston. (It was annexed by Boston in 1869.) Dorchester was founded on June 6, 1630, by a colony of 140 persons who sailed from Plymouth, England, aboard the ship Mary & John. Dorchester was the first settlement in present-day Suffolk County (Boston's county).

Captain John Whipple lived in Dorchester before settling in Providence, R.I. (and before becoming "Captain"). Many of his children were born in Dorchester.

The gravestone of Captain John Whipple's wife, Sarah (in the North Burial Ground, Providence, R.I.), indicates that she was born in Dorchester in about 1624. (It reads: "She was born in Dorchester, in New England; and died in / Providence, Anno Dona, 1666 / aged about 42 years.") According to Thayne Whipple, "there are numerous histories of the area that indicate European settlers there prior to 1630 and the official founding of the city. It is presumed that they left when the 'chartered' colonists came, but it will take a lot of work to really prove anything one way or the other."

2.8 - Which John Whipple came to America on the ship Lyon?

A Whipple Website Weblog post of October 27, 2009, gives a good summary. We quote it here:


It was the young John Whipple who later became known as Captain John Whipple and died in Providence, Rhode Island. It was not the John who came to New England with his brother Matthew six years later in 1638.

Whipple genealogical researcher and publisher Blaine Whipple recently responded to that question as follows:

There are records supporting my position that brothers Matthew and John Whipple settled in Ipswich, Mass. in 1638 and were not passengers on the Lyon's 1632 voyage to Boston.
  • Matthew's son Lt. John Whipple was born in Bocking, Essex Co., England 6 Sept. 1632. The Lyon docked in Boston Harbor 16 Sept. 1632 after a journey of 12 weeks.
  • Matthew's son Matthew was born in Bocking ca 1635.
  • John's daughter Anna was born in Bocking 2 June 1633.
  • His daughter Mary was born there 20 Feb. 1634.
  • His daughter Judith was born there in August 1636.
  • His son Matthew was born there 17 February and died 30 March 1638. His death date also gives credence to the parent's land grants in Ipswich 1 Sept. 1638.
The source of this information is from the Parish Records of Bocking's St. Mary's Church available from the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, film 1471886 Items 12 and 13.

I have presented this information to a number of Whipple researchers who after confirming the information agreed that, despite various sources to the contrary, the Whipple brothers were not passengers on the Lyon.

(See two versions of the Lyon passenger list on this site.)

2.9 - Why was Capt. John Whipple called Captain?

It isn't entirely clear exactly what John did militarily to merit the designation "Captain." It seems related to King Phillip's War, however. "King Phillip" was a Wampanoag Indian chief who tried to drive the white settlers out of Providence. In the year 1675, John and about 25 others met in a Providence town meeting to decide whether to flee to Newport in order to avoid King Phillip. Most of the residents of Providence accepted the offer and fled to Newport, leaving Providence nearly deserted. John was one of a small number who "staid and went not away" to Newport, choosing instead to remain and defend Providence. In 1676, King Phillip attacked Providence, burning many houses and injuring those who had remained in Providence. John Whipple's house survived the attack.

It appears that the Rhode Island General Assembly must have given John the designation "Captain," in 1679. That was the year the General Assembly appointed John to a committee to report on King Phillip's War. From that time onward, John was called Captain John.

(Sources: A Brief Genealogy of the Whipple Families Who Settled in Rhode Island, by Henry E. Whipple (Providence: A. Crawford Greene, 1873), p. 8; Sons and Daughters of Jesse: A 360 Year History of the Whipple Family, by Charles M. Whipple (Oklahoma City: Southwestern Press, 1976), p. 11; Whipple Family Tree, by Dwane V. Norris (Jackson, Mich., 1996), p.81)


3.0 - Questions about the Whipple Coat of Arms and Motto

3.1 - Do the Whipples have a Coat of Arms?

Apparently someone named Whipple received a Coat of Arms in the past. (Check out our large graphic of the coat of arms.) We are unaware of any Whipples who can actually claim (and prove) to be descendants of whoever received it. It is described on page 1100 of Bernard Burke's General Armory of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales (London: Harrison,1884) as follows:

Whipley, or Whipple (co. Norfolk). Sa[ble] on a chev[ron] betw[een] three swans' heads erased ar[gent] as many crescents of the field.

Earlier in the book, the author defines some of the terms in the above description:

sable
Black--depicted by cross lines, horizontal and perpendicular.
chevron
(Supposed by some writers to have been adopted from the bow of a war saddle, which rose high in front.) Formed by two parallel lines drawn from the dexter [right] base, meeting pyramidically, about the fess point [horizontal line in the middle of the shield], two other parallel lines drawn from the sinister [left] base.
swan
Signifies "A lover of poetry and harmony." (Source: W. Cecil Wade, The Symbolisms of Heraldry or A Treatise on the Meanings and Derivations of Armorial Bearings (London, 1898).
erased
Forcibly torn from the body; a head, limb, or other object erased, has its severed parts jagged. [In our case, "erased" refers to the jagged lines at the swans' necks.]
argent
Silver or white.
crescent
A half-moon. [Guy Cadogan Rothery's Concise Encyclopedia of Heraldry (London: Senate, 1994) states that "The crescent is the mark of difference used by the second son and his house."]
field
The whole surface of the escutcheon, or shield, upon which the charges, or bearings, are depicted.

3.2 - Sometimes the Whipple Coat of Arms appears with an elephant on top. Why is that?

Charles H. Whipple's Genealogy of the Whipple, Wright, Wager, Ward, Pell, McLean, Burnett Families (1917) includes a drawing of the Whipple coat of arms on page 9. Above (and separate from) the shield is a drawing of an elephant. Charles quotes the 1878 edition of Burke's General Armory, as follows:

Sable on a Chevron between Three Swan's Heads erased argent, as many crescents of the field.
Crest, an elephant passant ermine.

The 1878 description is identical to the 1884 description except for the addition of "Crest, an elephant passant ermine." Rothery's Concise Encyclopedia of Heraldry gives the following definitions:

crest
A figure placed on a helmet; and in later practice on a crest-wreath.
passant
A beast walking past, its dexter [right] paw elevated.
ermine
A fur, argent [silver or white] with sable [black] spots.

Based on these definitions, it seems that the elephant crest is not part of the coat of arms per se, but is rather a figure placed on the helmet. A knight might carry a shield bearing the coat of arms and wear a helmet that has a figure of an elephant? (Please share your insight with the webmaster [webmaster@whipple.org].)

3.3 - What Is the Whipple motto?

"Fidele et Brave."


4.0 - Legends, Folklore & Unsubstantiated Rumors

4.1 - "I am a descendant of William Whipple who signed the Declaration of Independence. (My grandmother told me so!)"

None of William's children survived past infancy. Some sources indicate that he might have had as many as seven children, but we know of only one for certain. Unfortunately, no one alive today is a descendant of William Whipple, the signer of the Declaration of Independence. (See William Whipple, Signer of the Declaration of Independence, on this site.)

4.2 - Do relatives of General William Whipple (signer of the Declaration of Independence) get to attend college free?

Donna Wilson (DWilson33@aol.com) originally asked:

I heard that if a person is related to the Whipple that signed the Declaration of Independence, they and their children or grandchildren could attend college free. Do you know anything about that? A person in the Genealogical Society I belong to said she read it in a Readers Digest.

What does it mean to "be related" to someone? William and his wife Katharine (Moffat) Whipple had one known child--who died in infancy. Thus, contrary to many popular rumors heard today, no one alive today is a descendant of General William Whipple!

At least one other Whipple descendant who signed the Declaration of Independence: Stephen Hopkins. He was a colonial governor of Rhode Island.


5.0 - Questions about Whipples in Medicine

5.1 - What is Whipple's Disease?

Whipple's disease is a multisystem disorder caused by chronic infection with a bacterium, Tropheryma whippelii. Many patients have malabsorption, which means an impairment of the body's ability to absorb certain nutrients. The disease frequently causes weight loss, irregular breakdown of carbohydrates and fats, resistance to insulin. Most patients have dysfunctions of the immune system. When recognized and treated, Whipple's disease can be cured. Untreated, the disease is usually fatal. Read more at the National Digestive Diseases Clearing House or at Whipple's Disease Online.

Whipple's disease was named after George Hoyt Whipple, who first observed the disease in 1907 at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. Whipple was a staff member there from 1905 until 1914. He won the 1934 Nobel Prize in physiology and medicine. (See Blaine Whipple's article on this site and George Hoyt Whipple's ancestry in the Whipple Genweb.)

(This question was answered with the help of Dr. med. Axel von Herbay, Privatdozent für Pathologie, Pathologisches Institut, Universitätsklinikum, Im Neuenheimer Feld 220, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany. Dr. von Herbay can be reached by email at Axel_von_Herbay@med.uni-heidelberg.de, on the Web at www.WhipplesDisease.net, by telephone at +49 6221 562675, or by fax at +49 6221 562675.)

5.2 - What is the Whipple Procedure?

The Whipple Procedure is a pancreaticoduodenectomy, first performed by Dr. Allen Oldfather Whipple in 1934, when he was a Professor of Surgery at Columbia University in New York City. Dr. Whipple performed 37 of the procedures during his career.


6.0 - Questions about the Whipple Genweb

6.1 - How did you generate the genealogical web pages?

The primary program is called GED2HTML (GEDCOM to HTML). It converts files in the GEDCOM (Genealogical Data Communication) format to the HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) format used on the World Wide Web. GED2HTML was originally available for download from www.gendex.com. (It is now a dental imaging site.)

From time to time the webmaster adds a new program or feature to the Whipple Genweb. Here are a few additions:

  • A script called cleanged preprocesses the GEDCOM file (before GED2HTML is called). It removes dates, places, and other private information about living individuals from the GEDCOM file.
  • GED2HTML's user-modifiable script is changed to add searchable "META" tags to each HTML file.
  • After the HTML pages are generated, a soundex program (first written in "C", but now in the perl programming language) reads the searchable META tags (mentioned above) and generates additional soundex META tags to allow soundex searches.

Prior to 2003 the page generation process took place exclusively on Windows. The process required constant attention. In late 2003, the webmaster converted the generation process to run on the FreeBSD operating system. Since that time the entire process of generating the Whipple Genweb is automatic, requiring invocation of a perl script called gengenweb

.

Now the only step of the Whipple Genweb generation process that occurs on Windows is the entry of information into Personal Ancestral File, and the export of the information to a GEDCOM file.

6.2 - How often do you update the Whipple Genweb?

Prior to the conversion of the update process from Windows to FreeBSD, updates occurred every month or so. With the move to FreeBSD, regeneration requires (perhaps) five minutes to export a GEDCOM file, transfer it from Windows to FreeBSD, and invoke a program called gengenweb ("generate genealogical web"). Recently (May 2003) updates have been occurring every week, generally on Sunday afternoon or evening (October 2004).

6.3 - What is the focus of the Whipple Genweb? Do you accept any names?

See "Scope of This Site" to read about the focus and what names we accept.

6.4 - How can I submit information to the Whipple Genweb?

Instructions are posted on the "About This Site" page.

6.5 - Will you ever have an online method of submitting genealogical information?

It has been under consideration for several years. It make take several years to take place--if it is implemented.

6.6 - I don't have genealogy software. Do you have (paper) forms for submitting information?

You might want to try printing copies of a blank pedigree chart and family group sheet. (If your browser can't display them properly, try downloading--for free--the Adobe Acrobat Reader)

6.7 - How do you deal with approximate dates?

We generally modify indicate that dates are approximate by using modifiers "Abt," "Aft," "Bef" and "Bet":

"Abt"
Abbreviation for about. When "Abt" precedes a date, it generally means that the event likely occurred within a year or two of that date.

This is common when censuses give an age but no birth year--we just subtract the age from the census year and use "Abt [year]" as the birth date. When we find actual vital records, we generally update the dates to be more exact.

"Aft"
Abbreviation for after. It can sometimes mean "a long time after." It probably appears most often when we don't know a death date, but found the individual listed in a census. We will use "Aft [year]", where "[year]" is the year of the census that lists the individual.

To illustrate: If a person mentioned in a 1910 census, but additional research remains, we record the death date as "Aft 1910" (even though the person might have actually lived much longer--until, for example, 1950 or 1960).

This also occurs when an obituary lists survivors: the survivors' death date (if otherwise unknown) is recorded as the date of the person who died (preceded by "Aft").

"Bef" and "Bet"
Abbreviations for "Before" and "Between". These (like "Aft") can be very inexact. (See above)

Summary

In just about every case, "Abt" dates are the closest to the actual date. Other dates can be far from the actual dates.

7.0 - Other Questions

7.1 - How is the USS Whipple related to your family?

The three United States Ships (USS) named Whipple (see uss.whipple.org) were named after Abraham Whipple (1733-1819), Commodore in the U.S. Navy during the American Revolution. (See his genealogy in the Whipple Genweb. See also The Commodore's Page on this site.) Commodore Whipple led the Colonies' first armed opposition to the British forces when they burned the ship Gaspee on June 10, 1772.

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