February Blog: Current Research of Rev Ralph Wheelock searching for the facts
Over the last several months I have been researching the following, that the Rev. Ralph Wheelock ancestor of one of the American Wheelock lines since the 1630’s who was allegedly born in Dorrington, Shropshire to a John/Joseph Wheelock and Elizabeth Rogers on 14th May 1600 sailed to the Colonies, However no evidence has been found to link this Ralph to the Ralph that sailed to Massachusetts in 1637. This has been a fascinating research working alongside with a local researcher to verify some of data researched by myself and we found thus far that:
The current Information that is known comes through multiple sources, primarily from the US thus far without provenance or identifiable sources:
Putting into context, what has been published in different sources is as follows:
Ralph Wheelock was born in Dorrington, Shropshire on 14th May 1600.
His parents were to John or Joseph Wheelock and Elizabeth Rogers who married at Dorrington on 3rd May 1595. (Written in multiple American History Books but without sources).
Elizabeth Rogers was born in Nesse Strenger, Shropshire
There is the possibility that a Ralph Wheelock married Rebecca Wilkinson on 17th June 1631.
Rev. Ralph Wheelock married Rebecca Clark in 17th of May 1630
Abraham Wheelock who also studied at Cambridge around the same time is a relative.
Dorrington is in the Parish of Condover, Shropshire.
The parish registers for Condover, Shropshire were searched for the period 1599-1601. No mention of the birth of Ralph Wheelock was identified. There is no mention of a John/Joseph Wheelock or Elizabeth Rogers were made between 1594 and 1596 in the Condover Parish Records.
Further, 1592 to 1594 in the Condover Parish Registers was also searched for mention of baptism of an Abraham Wheelock but was not identified or record found.
Elizabeth Rogers was thought to be born in the village of Nesse Strenge This is the ancient name for the Parish of Great Ness. (www.shropshirearchives.org.uk , www.parishmouse.co.uk)
The Parish Records for Great Ness were searched from 1589 to 1598. The register are in a very poor condition but there did not appear to be a reference to the marriage of Elisabeth Rogers.
The register did not go far enough back to look for her birth. It is usual for Church marriages to take place in the home church of the bride.
There was no record in either of the two Parish Records searched; Condover and Great Ness, for a marriage between a Ralph Wheelock and Rebecca Wilkinson in 1631. it seems the ‘Alumni Cantabrigiensis’ would appear to be the only major source used to establish Ralph Wheelock’s early English History. Further this record states that Ralph Wheelock was born in Shropshire in 1600. He entered Clare College Cambridge in 1623 and was ordained as a Deacon at Peterborough in 1629. In 1637 he went to New England. (Ancestry.co.uk)
Further research reveals in The Clergy of the Church of England Database confirms this data. (https://theclergydatabase.org.uk)
Both records suggest a possible brother Abraham Wheelock. He is mentioned as being born in Loppington, Shropshire and in another record suggests he was born in Whitchurch Shropshire and then grew up in Loppington, Shropshire (Chalmers’ General Biographical Dictionary Vol.31. / Dictionary of National Biography). His birth date of 1593 would make him the older brother of Ralph. Therefore, there is a possibility that Ralph’s baptism is listed in either the Whitchurch or Loppington Parish Registers.
These could possibly be the next records to explore. An Probate Inventory was found for a Ralph Wheelock who died in Loppington in 1610. Although this is not the individual we are looking for it does indicate that Wheelock’s were living in Loppington at this time. Before 1782 executors were required to make an inventory of a deceased’s property and present it to the court
Below is the original Marriage Register in the Parish Records of Wramplingham and this is the couple as confirmed by the New England Historical and Genealogical register of January 1998 having landed in Massachusetts in 1637.
Transcription: Ralph Wheelock and Rebecca Clarke were married May 17 1630
The ‘Alumni Cantabrigiensis’ records show that; both Ralph and Abraham Wheelock were born in Shropshire. Various American history books and reports identify Loppington and Whitchurch as places where Abraham lived, Dorrington and Donnington as places Ralph lived and Nesse Strenger where Elizabeth lived. None of the references so far located are linked to any original source.
Dorrington is in the parish of Condover and Nesse Strenger was identified as the ancient name for Great Ness. None of the people were identified in the Registers of Condover or Great Ness: Ralph Abraham, John Joseph Wheelock, Elizabeth Rogers Wilkinson or any other variation.
The Probate Inventory for a Ralph Wheelock who died in Loppington in 1610 was found, indicates that Wheelock’s were living near Loppington at this time.
Further Research currently underway when COVID reopens everything:
Access to the Shropshire Archive Chests is required but it is not possible at this time due to the COVID-19 Lockdown. It is possible other miscellaneous material from the relevant Parish boxes may provide more information.
Locate the Loppington and Whitchurch Parish Registers for the appropriate period and check for baptism records for Abraham and Ralph Wheelock to identify if they share the same parent
Check the Parish Chest records held for Great Ness, Loppington and Condover, held at the Shropshire Archives, for other parish records with references to Wheelocks between 1565 and 1602 .
Check Dorrington Parish Registers for the family, as this is mentioned in some references to Ralph Wheelock.
Drawing thanks to Heather Dawson – AGRA
Additional Research – Heather Dawson – AGRA
Chalmers. A. The General Biographical Dictionary 1812
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography