William, Jr. and Abigail White
William White, Jr. was the oldest child of William and Elizabeth White. He is believed to have been born about 1708, in Dartmouth. William White, Jr. married Abigail Thurston (daughter of Jonathan and Sarah Thurston) on October 2, 1729.52 They married in Abigail’s town of Little Compton, Rhode Island. William would have been approximately twenty-one years old and Abigail twenty-nine years old.53 William and Abigail had five children that survived past infancy, one boy, and four girls:
- Sarah (b. About 1730)
- Hannah ( b. About 1731, d. 1819)
- Jonathan (b. About 1732, d. November 21, 1804)
- Elizabeth ( b. About 1734)
- Abigail (b. About 1736)54
William, Jr., like his father, was a blacksmith by trade and farmed as well. He inherited the Handy house along with all its land and associated buildings from his grandfather, George Cadman. George Cadman’s will stated,
“my loving daughter Elizabeth White & to her Husband William White all the upland & meadow that is laid out where they now live with two acres & fifty Rods of Sedg flat Lying in acoxset river at the Shiprock flat & one hundred & five acres of land in the four hundred acre devition as it is laid out & quallified & one quarter of an acre of Seder Swomp all the ab[ovesd] land meadow & Ceder Swomp is … within the Township of [Dart]mouth afre Sd [Farther I Give … to] my Sd daughter Elisabeth & her Husband William White the one half of my last dev[i]tion of land the above Sd land meadow & Ceder Swomp given to my Sd daughter Elisabeth White & her Husband William White to be & remain to them during … their naturall Lives and after their deceas the Homested farm where the Sd William White now liveth I Give to my Granson William White.” 55 [Italics added by author]
Although William was bequeathed the Handy house and associated land, he may not have actually lived there as an adult. In 1744, William purchased a farm from James Tripp’s family. This property was located on the river, north of the Handy house.56 This farm remained in the White family until it was sold by William White, Jr.’s grandson, Jonathan White, in 1816. So it is entirely possible that while William held the deed to the Handy house, he did not actually dwell there. Considering the size of the family William came from, and that he was the oldest (there was an age difference of approximately twenty two years between himself and Thomas, his youngest sibling,) it may be that at the time William started his family, the Handy house was still occupied by his parents and siblings.
The Massachusetts Tax Valuation List of 1771 lists entries for William White, Jr. and an Elizabeth White. Each are living independently of each other on farms. As William’s mother Elizabeth (Cadman) White died in 1768, this is likely his sister Elizabeth, who would have been approximately thirty seven years old at this time. While the entry for William lists two polls ratable (males sixteen years or older), Elizabeth lists none. Both farms are relatively close in value with William’s listed at £9 10s. and Elizabeth’s at £7 10s. and sharing similar amounts of acreage of pasture, tillage, and mowing land. While further research is necessary, this may suggest that while William and his family were living on the farm purchased in 1744, Elizabeth, and possibly her sisters, remained living in the house they were born and raised in, the Handy house.
Understanding William White, Jr. was not living at the Handy house at the time he wrote his will, February 17, 1777, is critical in order to correctly interpret this document. He addresses this subject in the second item of his will. In it he states:
“To “my Son Jonathan White all my wareing appariel”
To “my Son Jonathan White … all my homestead farm with my now Dwelling House with all the buildings there on Standing & other Priviledges there unto belonging; also … all that my farm which my Honoured Grand father George Cadman gave me after the Decease of my honoured father & mother; with all the Housing & building thereon Standing” [Italics added by author] also “all the Rest … of my Real Estate which I have not here in before given him” also “all my Live Stock Except what I Shall herein after Give to my Three Daughters also I Give him my sd son all my Farming Utencels als all my Blacksmith Tools also all my Carpenders Tools”
To “my Eldest Daughter Hannah Kirby” 115 pounds “in Silver or Gould”; also 25 pounds “in Paper Currency also one Cow & one more neat kind Two year old … to be her full Part & Portion in my Estate with what she hath all ready had and the one Third Part of my houshold goods which I do hereby give her”
To “my Second Daughter Elisabeth Peckham” 115 pounds “in Silver or Gould”; also 25 pounds “in Paper Currency also … one Cow & one more neet
kind Two years old also the one third Part of all my house hold goods & these gifts with what she hath all ready had to be her full Part & Portion in my Estate”
To “my youngest Daughter Abigail White” 115 pounds “in Silver or Gould”; also 25 pounds “in Paper Currency also … one Cow & one more neet kind Two years old also … the one third Part of all my household goods & these Gifts with what she hath allready had to be her full Part & Portion in my Estate”
“debts funeral Charges & Just Expences of all Sorts together with the Settleing of my Estate” are to be paid “by my Executor herein after named out of that Part of my Parsonal Estate … given him”“all the Rest & Reasudue of my Estate … I give the same to my son Jonathan the better to Enable him Pay Lagacies & to discharge debts & Charges”
“my son Jonathan White” was appointed sole executor.”57
William White, Jr. died sometime before October 3, 1780, when his will was proved. The cause of his death is not known. The date of Abigail’s death is not known. No records documenting her death have been located to date.
It should be addressed to correct the record that William White, Jr. has been incorrectly identified as having served during the American Revolution. This grows out of an inaccurate genealogy identified on an application to The California Society of the Sons of the American Revolution, completed by Charles J. Creller, dated 1931.58
Creller claims to be a descendant of William White [Jr.] and identifies his ancestry as far back as William White, Sr. Creller cites an entry in The Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors of the Revolutionary War where an entry for a William White of Dartmouth was paid wages during the war. The entry reads:
“White, William, Dartmouth. Capt. Manasseh Kempton’s co. Col Thomas Carpenter’s regt.; pay abstract for mileage from camp at Rhode Island home to Dartmouth Sept. 1, 1777; mileage for 40 miles allowed said White; also Matross; pay roll for wages of men enlisted at Dartmouth in Capt. Perez Cushing’s co., made up to Sept. 22, 1778, excluding the month of August, and endorsed “Collo Crafts’ Regiment;” enlisted July 6 1778; service, I mo. 16 days.”59
This would have made William nearly seventy years old, and at a period in his life when he is believed to have died: an unlikely time for someone to serve in a war. The William White identified in these documents is undoubtedly someone else and may very well have been a close relative. William had two nephews named William, one by his brother George and the other by his brother Christopher. Both of these Williams were both born about 1742; however, Christopher’s son William is believed to have died in Newport in 1770, so it may be George’s son William who served during the Revolution.
52 Moriarty, p. 194.
53 Abigail’s age is based on a May 7, 1700 date of birth identified by Randall J. Seaver in the document, Family Group Sheet, William White, RIJr., Abigail Thurston, prepared by Randall J. Sever. July 31, 2011. Archives of the Westport Historical Society. He cites the source of this date as Benjamin Franklin Wilbur, Little Compton Families (Little Compton, RI: Little Compton Historical Society, 1967).
54 Seaver, Family Group Sheet, William White, Jr. – Abigail Thurston. Westport Historical Society archives. Westport, Massachusetts.
55 Will of George Cadman, Dated November 24, 1718, proved January 6, 1719, Bristol County, Massachusetts, Will Book 3, Page 500.
56 This property is presently known as the James Tripp house, located at 670 Drift Road. It has been inventoried as part of the Massachusetts Historical Commission’s documentation process. Its inventory number is WSP.173.
57 Will of William White, Jr., Dated February 17, 1777, probated October 3, 1780, Bristol County, Massachusetts, Will Book 26, Page 282.
58 Membership application of Charles J. Creller on William White [Jr.] (c. 1708 – 1780, Massachusetts), The California Society of the Sons of the American Revolution. Examined and approved, October 2, 1931.
59 Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors of the Revolutionary War. A Compilation From the Archives, Prepared and Published by the Secretary of the Commonwealth. Volume 17. In Accordance with Chapter 100, Resolves of 1891. Boston: Wright & Potter Printing Co., State Printers. 1908.
Eric Gradoia, Architectural History and Conservation. Copyright 2014