A Bible, and a possible ancestor, places our family right in the middle of a huge change in British history.
Our 8G Grandmother, at least according to some, Margaret Lisle Whitaker’s family was in the heart of what is called in History, the Glorious Revolution.
The Whitaker Bible itself tells much of the story. Bruce Whitaker explains:
The Whitaker Bible is a Geneva Bible. The Geneva Bible was first published in Geneva (which is now part of Switzerland) in 1558. It is also called the “Breeches Bible” because Genesis 3:7 was translated to read “… and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves breeches.” The Geneva Bible was a revision of the Great Bible which had been issued in the name of King Henry VIII. Many religious reformers fled England during the reign of Queen Mary “called Bloody Mary”. Most of them ended up in Geneva. The reformers such as John Calvin greatly influenced the translation found in the Geneva Bible. The Geneva Bible was famous for its extensive marginal notes, which translated the meaning of certain words or phrases. The new Bible was accepted by Queen Elizabeth I and was very popular among the masses. William Shakespeare, John Bunyan, John Milton, the pilgrims, the puritans and almost everyone else used the Geneva Bible exclusively.
King James became King of England after the death of Queen Elizabeth I. James wasn’t a Christian and practiced a life style that would not be accepted even in the most liberal circles found today. The Geneva Bible hit a little too close to home for King James. He ordered the creation of a new version of the Bible that we now call the King James Bible. He had all the marginal notes taken out of the Bible. This allowed many verses in the Bible to be interpreted in several different ways. King James was able to gradually have the Geneva Bible replaced by his Bible. King James was a very unpopular king and so was his son King Charles. Charles was over thrown and replaced by Oliver Cromwell.
Cromwell is one of the more controversial of British rulers. One quick look at Cromwell is here if you need the background.
Whitaker’s story about the Whitaker Family Bible continues:
Oliver Cromwell’s Lord Chief Justice was Lord John Lisle. Lord John Lisle sentenced King Charles to death. He was beheaded on Lisle’s orders. It has been said the Whitakers descend from Lord John and Lady Alicia Lisle. I do not know if this is true or not; however Lady Alicia Lisle’s will lists a daughter Margaret who married a Mr. Whitaker. Lisle’s daughter Bridget married Leonard Hoar who became president of what is now called Harvard University.
I have found no primary source record indicating that Robert Whitaker and his wife Margaret Lisle had a son named Joshua Whitaker. So, I cannot conclusively confirm the previous information.
Still, the Bible is connected to the family. Whitaker continues:
The Whitakers were Quakers and backed Oliver Cromwell. Even if they don’t descend from Lord John Lisle, they were out of favor when the royal family returned to power. The Whitaker Geneva Bible was published in England in 1606. It was first owned by a Mr. Cock. He either died or got a new Bible. The Whitaker’s bought the Bible from Cock or his estate. This was common even to recent times. People did not have a great deal of money and were forced to buy second hand Bibles.
The earliest known Whitaker ancestors were Joshua Whitaker and his wife, Jane Parker. They were born in the 1670s. They were forced to flee England around 1710 and went to the Isle of Man, which is located between England and Ireland. They almost certainly possessed the Whitaker Geneva Bible at this time. The Geneva Bible was over 100 years old when it left England. The Whitakers were Quakers and Joshua Whitaker was killed in some minor religious skirmish around 1715. Joshua Whitaker’s wife, Jane, and their four children, William, Robert, Catherine, and Peter, fled the Isle of Man and went to Ireland. They and the Bible went first to Timahoe, Ireland. Jane Whitaker and her children lived there several years. They then requested a certificate of removal from the Quaker Church allowing them to move to Dublin, Ireland. William Whitaker, born in 1701, the oldest child of Joshua and Jane Whitaker, requested a certificate of removal in 1719 from the Quaker Church in Dublin to go to Pennsylvania. It is not known exactly when William Whitaker arrived in America, but he presented his certificate of removal to the Newark Monthly Meeting (a short time later called the Kennett Square Monthly meeting) on December 2, 1721. William’s mother Jane, brothers Peter and Robert, and Sister Catherine, as well as the Whitaker Bible soon moved to Chester County, Pennsylvania. William Whitaker married Elizabeth Carleton on February 13, 1722. William Whitaker being the oldest child got the Geneva Bible. William and Elizabeth Whitaker lived in Kennett Square from 1722 – 1734. They then moved to Bradford a few miles from Kennett Square. It was located in Chester County.
William and Elizabeth Whitaker decided to move back to Kennett Square in the winter of 1739. In December 1739 William and Elizabeth were all packed up to move back to Kennett Square when their house was destroyed by a fire. The Whitaker’s lost almost everything they had in the fire, even their seed for next year’s garden. They were able to save the Geneva Bible. You can still see where the fire melted and cracked on the leather outside of the
Bible. The fire damage is also visible on the edges of the Bible’s pages. The Bible shows water damage as well. I do not know if this resulted from the 1739 fire when water was thrown on the Bible to put out the fire or some other event that occurred later. William and Elizabeth Whitaker were never able to recover from the disastrous fire of 1739. They were forced to accept help from the Bradford and Kennett Square Quaker Churches.
William Whitaker requested a certificate of removal from the Bradford Meeting house on July 18, 1751. He then moved his family and the Whitaker Bible to what was then Rowan (now Davidson) County, North Carolina.
- William Whitaker’s daughter, Suzanna, married Hugh McCrary.
- Hugh’s son, Boyd, married Anna Merrell.
- Daughter Phebe McCrary married Thomas Burton.
- Son William Burton married Elizabeth Saunders.
- Son William Burton married Hannah Lloyd.
- Son Thomas married Gertrude Whitbeck.
- Daughter Georgia Burton married Oliver Stiehm.
You can read the travels of the Bible itself in the rest of the article you can see Days Gone By: The Whitaker Bible Returns to Fairview by Bruce Whitaker.
You can find the hand written family records contained in the Bible here.