The Whitney family of New Bedford, of which the late Amasa Whitney, one of the well known citizens of that place, was a worthy member, is one of the oldest and best known of the early families of America. Its members in every generation here from the Colonial ancestor have been noted for high attainments, vigorous intellect and the qualities which make for influential citizenship. Notable among the descendants of John Whitney, the emigrant ancestor, are Eli Whitney, whose fame as the inventor of the cotton gin and no less in other lines has won a place in the hall of fame; the late William Collins Whitney, lawyer and politician, famous as corporation counsel of New York City and secretary of war, 1885-89; and Henry M. Whitney, of Boston – illustrious names Which have added to the glory of their country as well as to the fame of an honored race.

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The surname Whitney was originally a place name. The parish from which the family takes its name is situated in the County of Hereford, England, on the extreme western border adjoining Wales, and is traversed by the lovely Wye river. The name of the place doubtless comes from the appearance of the river, meaning in Saxon white water, from hwit, white, and ey, water.

John Whitney, born in England in 1589, son of Thomas Whitney, and grandson of Robert Whitney, whose pedigree is traced back eleven generations to Sir Robert de Whitney (who was living in 1242), received a good education for his day in the Westminster school, now St. Peter’s College. At fourteen he was apprenticed by his father to William Pring, of the Old Bailey, London, a freeman of the Merchant Tailors’ Company, then the most famous and prosperous of all the great trade guilds, numbering in its membership distinguished men of all professions, many of the nobility and the Prince of Wales. At the age of twenty-one John Whitney became a full-fledged member and his apprenticeship expired. He made his home at Isleworth-on-Thames, eight miles from Westminster, and there three of his children were born. There, too, his father apprenticed to him his younger brother, Robert, who also served his seven years. Soon afterward John Whitney left Isleworth and doubtless returned to London and lived in Bow Lane, near Bow church, where his son Thomas was born. In September, 1631, he placed his eldest son, John, Jr., in the Merchant Tailors’ School, where according to the register he remained as long as the family was in England. Early in April, 1635, John Whitney registered with his wife Elinor and sons, John, Richard, Nathaniel, Thomas and Jonathan, as passengers of the ship “Elizabeth and Ann,” landing a few weeks later in New England. He settled in Watertown in June and bought the sixteen-acre homestead of John Strickland, at what is now Belmont and East Common streets. This homestead descended to his son Joshua Whitney, of Groton, who sold it Oct. 29, 1697, to Nathan Fiske. Mr. Whitney was admitted a freeman March 3, 1635-36, and was appointed constable June 1, 1641; was selectman, 1638 to 1655, inclusive, and town clerk in 1655. He was one of the foremost citizens for many years. He was grantee of eight lots in Watertown. His first wife, Elinor, whom he married in England, was born in 1599, and died May 11, 1659, in Watertown, and he married (second) Sept. 29, 1659, Judith Clement; she died before her husband. He died June 1, 1673, the father of children as follows:

  1. Mary Whitney, baptized in England May 23, 1619, who died young
  2. John Whitney, baptized at Isleworth, England, Sept. 14, 1621
  3. Richard Whitney, baptized in Isleworth Jan. 6, 1623-24
  4. Nathaniel Whitney, baptized in 1627
  5. Thomas Whitney, born in England in 1629
  6. Jonathan Whitney, born in England in 1634
  7. Joshua Whitney, born in Watertown July 5, 1635
  8. Caleb Whitney, born in Watertown July 12, 1640, who died in that same year
  9. Benjamin Whitney, born June 6, 1643, in Watertown

Thomas Whitney, son of John and Elinor Whitney, born in England in 1629, married Jan. 11, 1654-55, Mary, daughter of Thomas Kettell, who had six pieces of common land granted to him in 1642. Mr. Whitney lived in Watertown, was made a freeman there in 1690, and also lived in Stow. He died Sept. 20, 1719. Children:

  1. Thomas Whitney, born Aug. 24, 1656
  2. John Whitney, May 9, 1659 (died in that year)
  3. John Whitney(2), Aug. 22, 1660 (died in that year)
  4. Eleazer Whitney, Sept. 2, 1662
  5. Elnathan Whitney(twin), Sept. 2, 1662 (died March 8, 1727)
  6. Mary Whitney, Dec. 22, 1663 (died young)
  7. Bezaleel Whitney, Sept. 16, 1665
  8. Sarah Whitney, March 23, 1667
  9. Mary Whitney, Aug 6, 1668 (died Sept. 6, 1669)
  10. Isaiah Whitney, Sept. 16, 1671
  11. Martha Whitney, Jan. 30, 1673

Isaiah Whitney, son of Thomas and Mary (Kettell) Whitney, born Sept. 16, 1671, in Watertown, married probably in 1695 Mrs. Sarah (Woodward) Eddy, born Oct. 3, 1675, daughter of George Woodward and widow of Jonathan Eddy. They lived in Lexington and Cambridge, Mass. He died Jan. 7, 1712. Children:

  1. John Whitney
  2. Isaiah Whitney, born June 1, 1700
  3. John Whitney (2), born Dec. 6, 1698, in Cambridge
  4. Nathaniel Whitney
  5. Elijah Whitney, born Aug. 2, 1707
  6. Sarah Whitney, baptized July 22, 1703
  7. Jonas Whitney, born Nov. 27, 1711
  8. Abraham Whitney, baptized Feb. 19, 1710
  9. Mary Whitney, baptized May 4, 1696

Abraham Whitney, son of Isaiah and Sarah (Woodward-Eddy) Whitney, baptized Feb. 19, 1710, in Lexington, Mass., married Jan. 18, 1737, Sarah Whitney, of Lancaster, born Oct. 2, 1716, daughter of John and Elizabeth (Lee) Whitney, and they lived in what became Harvard, Mass., he a farmer. He died May 19, 1784. Children:

  1. Elizabeth Whitney, born March 22, 1739, who died in that same year
  2. Sarah Whitney, born May 16, 1740, who died in 1746
  3. Elizabeth Whitney, born April 16, 1742
  4. Mary Whitney, born Sept. 16, 1744
  5. John Whitney, born Oct. 3, ‘l746
  6. Abraham Whitney, born Dec. 20, 1748
  7. Isaiah Whitney, born Oct. 6, 1751
  8. Elijah Whitney, born Feb. 15, 1754
  9. Ann Whitney, born May 2, 1760

Elijah Whitney, son of Abraham and Sarah (Whitney) Whitney, born Feb. 15, 1754, in Harvard, Mass., married in Bolton April 14, 1772, Sarah Stearnes, born in 1753, in Bolton. Mr. Whitney was a farmer, living in Bolton and Lancaster, Mass. He bought a farm in Bolton in 1779 and settled upon it, and there his wife died in October, 1812. He died in Lancaster Jan. 17, 1834. Their children were born as follows:

  1. Elijah Whitney, July 13, 1774
  2. Dinah Whitney, Sept. 23, 1776
  3. Samuel Whitney, Sept. 10, 1778
  4. Elijah Whitney(2), Feb. 25, 1781
  5. Daniel Whitney, Feb. 10, 1783
  6. Abraham Whitney, April 17, 1785
  7. Alice Whitney, Sept. 1, 1787
  8. Sophia Whitney, Nov. 20, 1789
  9. Nancy Whitney, Aug. 4, 1792
  10. Elizabeth Whitney, Aug. 26, 1795

Samuel Whitney, son of Elijah and Sarah (Stearnes) Whitney, born Sept. 10, 1778, in Bolton, Mass., married in Acton, Mass., in October, 1807, Lucy Handley, born Oct. 4, 1788, and they lived in Bolton, he a cooper by trade, though he followed farming most of his life. He died July 29, 1868, and she died Nov. 15, 1874. Children:

  1. Daniel Whitney
  2. Samuel Ivory Whitney, born May 13, 1809
  3. Franklin Whitney, born Sept. 19, 1811
  4. Amasa Whitney, born Jan. 13, 1813
  5. Sidney S. Whitney, born Feb. 25, 1815
  6. Urania Whitney, born Jan. 6, 1817, married to George Cannon
  7. Almira Whitney, born Sept. 21, 1822, married to Isaiah Potter, of New Bedford
  8. Lucy Whitney, born June 10, 1825, who died in New Bedford Dec. 5, 1907
  9. Alonzo Whitney, born Nov. 29, 1826.
Amasa Whitney

Amasa Whitney

Amasa Whitney, son of Samuel and Lucy (Handley) Whitney, was born in the town of Bolton, Mass., Jan. 13, 1813, and there obtained his education and learned the trade of cooper with his father. In about 1840 he came to New Bedford, Mass., where with his brother Samuel I. Whitney he followed his trade, the brothers being associated in the cooperage business. Later he continued the business for himself quite extensively and was engaged in it for a period of forty years in all. He was very successful in his undertakings, noted for his industry and thrift, and took no active part in public life, being quite domestic in his tastes. He was a self-made man, possessed, of much native shrewdness and business acumen, and commanded the high esteem of all who knew him. Mr. Whitney died at his home March 29, 1884, at the age of seventy-one years, and was buried in the rural cemetery at New Bedford. His first wife, Susan Cannon, born July 4, 1814, bore him one child, Lucy M., who married Joshua Baxter, of West Falmouth, Mass.; she had one child, Amasa Whitney Baxter. His second marriage was to Maria T. Snow, of Truro, Mass., by whom he had three children:

  1. Henry Snow Whitney, who resides in New York City, married Bessie Turner, and they had one child, Beatrice. He later married (second) Ada L. Edwards, and to them have been born four children
    1. William Lamont Whitney
    2. Henry Snow Whitney, Jr.
    3. George Whitney
    4. Mildred Whitney
  2. Nellie (Ellen) Whitney died at the age of five years.
  3. Emma Maria Whitney. After the death of his second wife Amasa Whitney married (third) Mrs. Nancy S. (Barrett) Stone, widow of Oliver Stone. She died in West Townsend, Mass. and was buried there.

Miss Emma Maria Whitney, only living daughter of Amasa and Maria T. (Snow) Whitney, was born in New Bedford and educated in the public schools, taking the high school course. She has always made her home in New Bedford, and after the death of her mother lived with her aunt, Miss Lucy Whitney. She is a woman of intelligent mind and cultivated tastes, and finds keen enjoyment in the products of art and literature.