October Blog – Current Research of Rev Ralph Wheelock searching for the facts Part 3
I have returned to my research on Ralph Wheelock the Puritan who migrated to the United Stated in the mid 1600’s. as of yet still cannot find where he was born or his parents.
Information already established:
Ralph Wheelock born c1600 was part of the ‘The Great Migration’ to New England, sailing in 1637i. He attended Clare College Cambridge University in 1623ii. He is known to have worked as a curate at Eccles Church, Norfolk from 1629 until 1636iii, after being ordained in Peterborough in 1629iv. He is probably the brother of Abraham Wheelock a linguist and librarian at Cambridge University. He and his brother are recorded as being born in Shropshire in the Alumni Cantabrigienses v and Abraham is recorded in The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography vi as being born in Whitchurch, Shropshire and growing up in Loppington, Shropshire. Chalmers in his General Biographical Dictionary vii notes that Abraham was born in Loppington.
Unsourced statements in a number of American publications state that his parents were John/Joseph Wheelock and Elizabeth Rogersviii.
Whitchurch Paris Registers books 1 & 2
Whitchurch Parish Registers Book 3 starts in 1627 (P303/A1/1) but Books 1 & 2 are not held in the Shropshire Archives and the archivist believes they have not survived.
Bishop’s Transcripts are not available until 1674.
Some Parish chest material is available from 1619 including Church Wardens
Accounts from 1619, Overseers Accounts from 1656 and Apprentice Records from 1735. However, these all date to the period after which Abraham (Ralph’s probable brother) was thought to be living in Whitchurch, Shropshire according to Chalmers General Biographical Dictionary 1812ix.
A document titled the ‘Account of the Seats or Pews in the Parish of Whitchurch’ (6000/13745) has survived but no mention of Wheelock, Whitlock or similar were found in this record.
Dodington at this time was part of the parish of Whitchurch.
St Alkmunds Church, Whitchurch to look for any memorials but it was totally rebuilt in 1712 after the tower of the medieval church collapsed.
The Whitchurch Parish Register Index Transcript (WS 28424/1) from 1627-1902 does list some Wheelock’s, Whillock’s but their dates of birth are towards the end of the seventeenth century. They may be descendants of some wing of the family of Wheelock’s we are researching but this is not clear from the evidence available.
The last possible documentation to search in the Whitchurch area are the manorial records. The archives have one document relating to the manorial records of Whitchurch this is titled ‘Copy of court Roll for Whitchurch X523/15 c1600’. no record of the Wheelocks or similar mentioned within it.
Great Ness Parish Chest Material
Elizabeth Rogers is thought to have come from Nesse Strenger which is now known as Great Ness, she is thought to be the mother of Ralph Wheelock. Still not convinced she was born there.
Baptisms Registers have survived for Great Ness from 1589. I have had another check through these and did find and Elyzabethe Rogers who died in 1598, she died before Ralph’s birth so could not be her mother but there is the possibility she could have been a grandmother with her daughter named after her. There was also a John Roger who died in
1596 who was the son of Richard. There was an undated document entitled ‘The Inhabitants of Great Ness (6000/6187) but no relevant individuals were listed. There was no other
Parish Chest material of relevance located.
Loppington Parish Material
Parish registers begin: 1654
Bishop’s Transcripts begin: 1558 these are held in the Lichfield Records Office and have not been viewed
Church Warden Accounts from 1793
Vestry minutes for 1913
Bastardy Examinations 1730
Apprentice Records form 1711
Therefore all the parish chest material for Loppington post-dates when Ralph and Abraham may have been living there.
Loppington Manorial Records:
o ‘Survey of the Manor of Wem 1631 Ref.972/7/11/49/1-9 No.6’. The parish of Wem abuts Loppington parish. This is a wonderful map which has the outline of fields and the names of tenants recorded on it for 1631. There was no mention of any Wheelock of Whitlocks on this map, but it only covered a small part of Loppington. I was hoping it might provide evidence of Ralphs parents still living in Loppington at this time.
o ‘Loppington manor bundle LA X103/1/4/1/1’. This document consisted of a number of separate pages sewn together, mostly recorded in Latin. I scrutinised the document for any mention of Wheelock’s or similar and was unable to find any.
o ‘Court Baron of Queen Elizabeth by reason of the attainder of Phillip late Earl of Arundel who held Loppington Manor’ (6000/3988). This was in Latin but there was no mention of a Wheelock or Whitlock.
A number of individuals were identified in the IRI (International Genealogist Index) with the surname Willock/Whillock from Loppington, Shropshire:
Hugh Willock married Ann Fox in 1569
Elizabeth Willock married David Eavans 1565
Ann Willock married Roger Ratcliff in 1575
Margaret Whillock was born to Hgh Willock in 1575
Katharen Willock was born to Ralph Willock in 1681
George Whillock was born to Ralph Whillock in 1588
As yet no link had been made between these individuals and the Wheelock family we are researching. I presume these have been obtained from the Bishops Transcripts held at Lichfield Diocesan Archives. I have not seen these documents so do not know how legible they are.
A further visit is required to Lichfield Diocese Archive to research for Wheelock in the Parish Transcripts from 1569 to 1650 to see if the baptism of Ralph could be found and any mention of Abraham, John/Joseph and Elizabeth Wheelock (Rogers).
The Wynbunbury Parish register survives from 1558 and the baptism of a William Wheelocke was located in it on the 25th March 1621 whose father was Ralphe Wheelocke. There was not time to examine this register in detail for this project. but is on my list of research points.
To conclude the theory posed in my last blog suggests that Abraham was born in Whitchurch and grew up in Loppington, Shropshire. Two visits to the Shropshire Archives has confirmed that very little documentation has survived for this period for either parish, either in the form of the parish chest records or the manorial records. We seem to have reached an end of possible material to examine for Whitchurch and the last source to examine for Loppington is the Bishop’s Transcripts which are held in the Lichfield Diocesan Archive.
The theory has not therefore been proved correct but neither has it been proved inaccurate, I do therefore believe that this is still the most likely situation with Abraham being born in Dodington, Whitchurch and the family moving to Loppington. Ralph could have been born in either place.
Additional Research – Heather Dawson – AGRA
i McClure .d. (1811) Memoirs of the Rev. Eleazar Wheelock. Newburyport: Norris & Co
ii Alumni Cantabrigienses www.ancestry.co.uk
iii Clarke, C.G (2021) Mr Wheelock’s Cure. American Ancestors New England Historical and Genealogical Research Vol.152
iv The Clergy of the Church of England Database http://theclergydatabse.org.uk
v Ven. Alumni Cantabrigienses www.ancestry.co.uk
vi Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
vii Chalmers. A. the General biographical dictionary 1812
viii Daughters of the American Revolution Vol. LVI No.1 (1922)
ix Chalmers. A. the General biographical dictionary 1812