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on the part borne by Machias on sea and land during
the Revolution.

Votes of thanks were passed for the papers read at
both sessions, and copies requested for the Archives.








Read before the Maine Historical Society, May 10, 1895.

Gen. William Whipple was born in Kittery, Maine,
on the fourteenth day of January, 1730, in the "-Gar-
rison House " previously the home of his maternal
grandfather and great-grandfather, Robert Cutt, first
and second, and at that date the residence of his
father, Capt. William Whipple. This house in its
reconstructed form is now the lesidence of Mr. Har-
rison J. Philbrick, and is at the base of a point of land
on the northeasterly branch of the Piscataqua in rear
of the United States Navy Yard, north of which is a
cove called " Whipple's Cove."

His father, Capt, William Whipple, was born in
Ipswich, Massachusetts, January 28, 1695-96, and was
a maltster. He married Mary, the eldest daughter of
Robert Cutt 2d, and granddaughter of Robert Cutt 1st,
May 14, 1722. After coming to Kittery he followed
the sea for about fifteen years. Upon the death of his
father-in-law he became a farmer, cultivating the farm
devised to his wife during her life by her father, and
reassuming the business to which he was bred, that of
maltster, in connection therewith.

He died in Kittery, August 7, 1751, at the age of

fifty-six years. His grave is suitably marked in the

First Parish Cemetery at Kittery Point, Maine ; that

of his wife is in the North Cemetery, Portsmouth, New

Vol. VI. 23


Hampshire, near that of her distinguished son. She
died February 28, 1783, aged eighty-four years. Gen.
Whipple was the fifth in line from Matthew Whipple
of Booking, Essex County, England.

Eld. John Whipple, his great-great-grandfather, re-
sided in that part of Ipswich, now Hamilton, Massachu-
setts, and was deacon and ruling elder of the First
Church. He and his brother Matthew sustained various
offices of trust in "their time. He was the owner of
a large grant of land in 1639, was deputy to the
General Court in 1640-42, 1646, 1650, 1653. (See
Felt's Ipswich, page 159.)

It is said that the Virginia branch of the family can
trace their history from the time of Col. John Whipple
of Prince Rupert's division of the Cavaliers, who
emigrated to Virginia in 1662, from manuscripts
deposited in the ancient library at Birmingham,
England. This history relates, it is said, that the
Whipple family originated with Henri de V. Hippie, a
gentleman of Normandy, of the Vale de Suera (or
Vale de Suede). For his gallantry he was granted
the manorial estates of Wraxall. Richard de V.
Hippie was knighted on the battle-field of Agincourt
and given the motto Fidele et Brave. Leaving Wrax-
all on account of persecution, he resumed the name
of De V. Hippie, which in the time of Henry VII.
(1485-89) was anglicized into Whipple. There is
ample evidence that the ancestors of Whipple were
not only highly respectable and intelligent, but that
they were not lacking in gallantry and those qualities
which distinguished so many of the early settlers of
this country.


The maternal grandmother of Whipple was Dorcas
Hammond,' the daughter of Maj. Joseph Hammond,
whose father, having been an adherent of Oliver Crom-
well, left England on the death of the Protector, came
to this country and settled in Kittery, a family of
sterling worth and representing offices of trust in
colonial days. Robert Cutt, sr., the great-grandfather
on his maternal side, was the brother of John Cutt,
president of New Hampshire. By referring to the
genealogy of his family in both lines we find his ances-
tors to be persons of merit and distinction, and that
those of them living in this vicinity in his day were
united in marriage with persons of wealth and influ-
ence. The home of Whipple, at the time of his birth
and during his boyhood, was the scene of great com-
mercial activity. At this point Robert Cutt, sr. estab-
lished a ship-building plant as early as 1652, which
was continued in active operation by that family about
a century. "William Pepperrell & Son" were at the
height of their commercial prosperity on the Pis-
cataqua ; and at that date ' had no formidable rival,
even at Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Capt. Whipple,
the father of the general, was contemporary with Sir
William Pepperrell, of nearly the same age, and both
serving in the capacity of moderator of a town meet-
ing or surveyor of highways at their townsmen's

The reader who may wish to learn more of Whip-
ple's family is referred to Felt's Ipswich, Cambridge,
1734, a Brief Genealogy of the Whipple Family,
Lowell, Massachusetts, 1857, and the New England


Historical and Genealogical Register. He was edu-
cated in the schools of his native town. Kitterj earl}^
supported a grammar school. Among the teachers
from 1741 to 1755 were John Rogers, son of Rev.
John Rogers, Andrew Higginson, John Wheelright,
John Parry and Robert Eliot Gerrish. The latter
graduated at Harvard College in 1730, was a kinsman
of Whipple's and doubtless was of much assistance
to him in his early training, being a resident of Kittery.

At that day intercourse between the families of
Kittery and those of Boston, Cambridge and other
intermediate places was more intimate than it has been
since for reasons which are incident to the settle-
ment of any new country by people related by family
ties and business interests. The families of means in
the Province of Maine were in constant touch with
those of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay, and the
opportunities of private instruction were available to
such as had the means and enterprise to seek it.

Sanderson, in his biography of the signers of the
Declaration of Independence, has so elegantly and
truthfully portrayed the chief incidents in the life of
Gen. Whipple, and has gleaned the field so thoroughly,
that it would be more acceptable to the seeker after
historical and biographical truth that I should quote
him freely rather than attempt to narrate the same
facts in a different style, which I cannot hope to
imp rove: —

The instruction he received was such as was usually given to
youths of respectable families, destined to make their fortunes
by commercial pursuits, and though not of that general and


extended kind which is now bestowed, certainly was not so
limited or deficient as has been supposed. He displayed through-
out his whole life the marks of early attention and good elemen-
tary education. On leaving school he embarked immediately on
board of a merchant vessel, the constant and customary mode of
commencing a commercial life at that period, but not as has
been intimated with the intention of adopting a sea-faring life,
strictly so to speak, as his future occupation.

He had command of a vessel before he was twenty-
one years of age. He engaged in European, West
Indian and African trade, and in the course of the
latter trade brought into this country, as was then
customary, negro slaves. His commercial life proved
successful, and during the decade that he had com-
mand he amassed a respectable fortune.

His brother Joseph was educated in the counting-
room of Nathaniel Carter, a merchant of Newbury-
port, and was well equipped and desirous to engage
in business for himself at the age of twenty-three.
The capital accumulated by William in his successful
career as shipmaster afforded an opportunity for the
brothers to unite their energies in mercantile life in
the principal seaport of New Hampshire. This was
doubtless more agreeable to William than the rough
sea-faring life of those days.

In the year 1759 he abandoned the sea, then, being
in the twenty-ninth year of his age, and entered into
business in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, with his
brother, under the firm name of William & Joseph
Whipple. This business connection was continued
until about two years previous to the Revolution.

General Whipple married his cousin, Catharine


Moffat, and immediately went to reside at the house
of her father, John Moffat, on Market Street in that
town. This house. No. 70 Market Street, is now the
residence of Alexander H. Ladd, Esq., and was built
about 1760 by Mr. Moffat for his son Samuel, who had
married a daughter of Col. John Tufton Mason. John
Moffat was a merchant of large means for the times,
and married a great grand-daughter of President John
Cutt. He was born in England in 1672, and lived to
the age of ninety-four. Samuel, his son, having failed
in business his father moved into the house himself,
and Whipple resided in the family of his father-in-law
from the time of his marriage until his death, which
occurred about two months before that of his father-

There are many associations which cluster about this
grand old house, which was the home of this distin-
guished man during all the days of his married life,
and from whose western window he beheld for the last
time the rays of the setting sun. It is said to have
been the first three-story house built in New Hamp-
shire. It is a plain, spacious edifice, well preserved,
with a hall of unusual elegance, and its walls are hung
with many family portraits. Those of John Moffat,
his wife Catharine (Cutt) Moffat and that of Catharine
the wife of the general are mentioned in Brewster's
Rambles about Portsmouth as having been exhibited
at Portsmouth, in 1823, during the celebration of the
two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the settlement
of New Hampshire. The two former still remain ; but
the latter was given by Madam Whipple to her niece


and namesake Catherine Whipple Roberts, who mar-
ried the distinguished Unitarian divine, Andrew P.
Peabody, D. D., formerly a preacher in Portsmouth, and
more recently of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Mr. Ladd
also possesses a valuable portrait of General Whipple
painted by U. D. Tenney, the artist, from the original
portrait by Trumbull in his celebrated picture, The
Declaration of Independence, which hangs in the
art gallery of Yale College. All the figures in the
picture are very carefully painted likenesses of the
men, painted from sittings, and this painting is the
original, not a copy like the one in Washington. It is
supposed that the little head painted by Trumbull is
the only likeness of Whipple in existence which was
done from life. It is also said that Trumbull was not
excelled in painting small likenesses of this sort.

It is believed by those well qualified to judge
that the portrait in Independence Hall, Philadelphia,
claimed to be that of Gen. Whipple, is really that of his
brother Col. Joseph Whipple a picture of whom is also
in possession of Mr. Ladd. The magnificent horse-
chestnut tree still standing in the yard south of the
house was planted by his hand, it is said, in honor of
the Declaration of Independence. It is doubtless the
largest of its kind in New England as well as the

Many interesting incidents of Gen. Whipple's life
are related in Portsmouth Annals and Rambles
about Portsmouth. In the latter is dramatically told
the story of his proposed marriage to his cousin,
Mehitable Odiorne, who changed her mind on the


wedding evening. He had two slaves, Prince and
Cuffee, who were almost as well known in Portsmouth
as their master. After his death they lived in a small
house on High Street, on land given them by Madam
Whipple at the foot of her garden. The widow of
Prince resided here until 1832. These slaves were
brought from Africa when boys, and it is said were
sons of an African prince sent here to be educated.
It seems that in all but freedom they enjoyed as
much of life as the average wage earner of the times ;
and when the question of liberty or death was forced
upon the master, and to prevent the latter* he must
fight for the former, he was ready to accord the same
privilege to his slaves that he claimed for himself.

His refusal to assist Washington to recover his slave,
Ona Stains, the waiting woman of his wife, who had
left her mistress and taken refuge in Stratham, New
Hampshire, does not indicate that he would have voted
for the fugitive slave law of the nineteenth century had
he been a member of Congress at the time of its passage.
Prince accompanied his master on his travels as body
servant, as stated in the Rambles, " A large, well pro-
portioned and fine looking man of gentlemanly manners
and deportment." Upon Whipple's starting for Sara-
toga as general. Prince was ordered to get the horse
ready for the march. He was dilatory and Gen.
Whipple upraiding him, he replied thus : " Master,
you are going to fight for your liberty but I have none
to fight for." " Prince," said the General, " behave
like a man and do your duty and from this hoar you
shall be free." Prince did his duty, accompanied his


master in his expedition and was a freeman. (New
Hampshire Adjt. Gen. Report, 1886.)

Gen. Whipple attended the old North Church in Ports-
mouth, occupying the wall pew next to the pulpit on
the south side. Washington sat in this pew when he
visited Portsmouth, in 1789. After his death his widow,
Madam Whipple, resided at the homestead on Market
Street for many years, but not until her death which
occurred in 1823. She reached the age of one hun-
dred years. The house afterwards passed to her niece,
wife of Dr. N. A. Haven, and thence to Dr. Haven's
daughter who married Alexander Ladd, father of the
present owner. Madam Whipple found a sepulchre
in the tomb of Gov. Langdon in the North Cemetery,
Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Although Gen. Whipple
is chiefly remembered as a signer of the Declaration of
Independence, yet it should not be forgotten that the
people of his blood, who have taken part in the affairs
of life from the first settlement of the Colonies until
now, include some of the most illustrious in peace, as
well as in war. That Whipple was possessed of those
traits of character which commend one to the confi-
dence of the public when important duties are to be
performed is evident not only from his own apprehen-
sions of his duties, but from his success in performing

It was during the period of the Revolution that he
became conspicuous. " At an early period of the con-
test he took a decided part in favor of the colonists in
opposition to the claims of Great Britain, and his
townsmen, placing the highest confidence in his patri-


otism and integrity, frequently elected him to offices
which required the greatest firmness and moderation.
In January, 1775, he was chosen one of the represen-
tatives of Portsmouth to the Provincial Congress, held
at Exeter for the purpose of choosing delegates to the
General Congress, which was to meet at Philadelphia
on the tenth of May following.

" When the disputes between the two countries were
approaching a crisis, the provincial committee of
safety of New Hampshire recommended that a Pro-
vincial Congress should be formed, for the purpose of
directing and managing the public affairs of the state
during the term of six months. The delegates from
the town of Portsmouth were five in number, among
whom was Capt. Whipple. He accordingly attended
the Congress which convened at Exeter, in the begin-
ing of May, 1775, and was elected by that body one of
the provincial committee of safety, who were to regu-
late the affairs of the government during the war.
In the early part of the same year he was also chosen
one of the committee of safety for the town of Ports-

"At the close of the year 1775, the people of New
Hampshire assumed a form of government, consisting
of a house of representatives and a council of twelve,
the president of which was the chief executive officer.
Mr. Whipple was chosen one of the council on the
sixth of January, 1776, and on the twenty-third of
the same month, a delegate to the General Congress ;
he took his seat on the twenty-ninth of February
following. He continued to be reelected to that dis-


tingiiished position in the years 1777, 1778 and 1779,
and applied himself with diligence and ability to the
discharge of his duties when the military services
which he rendered during that period permitted him
to be an active member of the New Hampshire

"In the middle of September, 1779, he finally retired
from Congress, after having attended, without the
least intermission, at his post of duty, from the pre-
ceding month of November. While in Congress he
was considered a very useful member and discharged
the duties of his office in a manner alike honorable to
himself and satisfactory to his constituents. In the
current committed business of the house, he displayed
equal perseverance, ability and application. His early
pursuits rendered him particularly useful as a member
of the committees of marine and of commerce ; and
as one of the superintendents of the commissary's and
quartermaster's departments he labored with much
assiduity to correct the abuses which had prevailed,
and to place those establishments upon such a footing
as might best conduce to the public service. When
the depreciation of the Continental currency became
excessive, he strongly opposed new emissions of paper
as tending to the utter destruction of public confidence.

" Soon after Mr. Whipple's return to New Hampshire
(in 1777), he was called on to exercise his patriotism
in scenes and modes yet untried. He had bujBfeted
the waves as a seaman ; he had pursued the peaceful
occupation of a merchant, and he had distinguished
himself as a legislator and a statesman ; but he was


now called upon to undergo the severe personal duties
and to gather the more conspicuous laurels of a soldier.
The overwhelming force of Burgoyne having compelled
the American troops to evacuate their strong post at
Ticonderoga, universal alarm prevailed at the North.
The committee of the ' New Hampshire Grants,'
which had now formed themselves into a separate state,
wrote in the most pressing terms to the committee of
safety at Exeter for assistance. The assembly of New
Hampshire was immediately convened and adopted
the most effectual and decisive measures for the
defense of the country. They formed the whole
militia of the state into two brigades, giving the com-
mand of the first to William Whipple, and of the
second to Gen. Stark. Gen. Stark was immediately
ordered to march ' to stop the progress of the enemy
on our western frontiers,' with one-fourth of his
brigade and one-fourth of three regiments belonging to
the brigade of Gen. Whipple. Burgoyne presuming
that no more effectual opposition would be made, flat-
tered himself that he might advance without much
annoyance. To the accomplishments and experience
of his of&cers was added a formidable train of artillery
with all the apparatus, stores and equipments, which
the nature of the service required. His army was
principally composed of veteran corps of the best
troops of Britain and Germany, and American loyalists
furnished it with spies, scouts and rangers; a numerous
body of savages in their own dress and with their own
weapons and characteristic ferocity, increased the ter-
rors of its approach.


" Flushed by a confidence in his superior force and
deceived in his opinion of the number of friendly
loyalists, the British general dispatched Lieut. Col.
Baum from Fort Edward, with about fifteen hundred
of his German troops and a body of Indians, to over-
run the " Grants " as far as the Connecticut River, for
the purpose of collecting horses to mount the dragoons,
and cattle, both for labor and provisions. He was
encountered at Bennington by the intrepid Stark, who
carried by assault, the works which he had constructed
and killed or captured the greater part of his detach-
ment; only a few escaped into the woods and saved
themselves by flight. This victory gave a severe
check to the hopes of the enemy and revived the
spirits of the people after a long depression. Their
courage increased with their reputation, and they
found that neither British nor German regulars were
invincible. Burgoyne was weakened and disheartened
by the event, and beginning to perceive the danger
of his situation, he now considered the men of New
Hampshire and the Green Mountains, whom he had
viewed with contempt, as dangerous enemies.

" The northern army was now reinforced by the
militia of all the neighboring states. Brig. Gen.
Whipple marched with a great part of his brigade,
and volunteers from all parts of New Hampshire
hastened to join the standard of Gen. Gates. In the
desperate battles of Stillwater and Saratoga, the troops
of New Hampshire gained a large share of the honor
due to the American army. The consequence of
these engagements was the surrender of Gen. Bur-


goyne. When the British army capitulated, he was
appointed, with Col. Wilkinson, as the representative
of Gen. Gates, to meet two officers from Gen. Bur-
goyne, for the purpose of propounding, discussing and
settling several subordinate articles and regulations
springing from the preliminary proposals of the
British general, and which required explanation and
precision before the definitive treaty could be pro-
perly executed. By concert with Maj. Kingston, a
tent was pitched between the advance guards of the
two armies, where they met Lieut. Col. Suther-
land, and Capt. Craig of the forty-seventh regiment,
on the afternoon of the sixteenth of October, 1777.
Having produced and exchanged credentials, they
proceeded to discuss the objects of their appohitment,
and in the evening signed the articles of capitulation.

"After the attainment of this grand object. Gen.
Whipple was selected as one of the officers under
whose command the British troops were conducted
to their destined encampment on Winter Hill, near
Boston. Nor was the expedition against Burgoyne
the only military affair that Mr. Whipple was engaged
in during his absence from Congress.

" It may be recollected that in the latter part of this
summer (1778), when Count d' Estaing had aban-
doned his project of attacking the British fleet at New
York, a plan was formed for his cooperation with Gen.
Sullivan in retaking Rhode Island from the British.
To aid in this measure the militia of the adjoining
states were called out, and the detachment of New
Hampshire was placed under the command of Gen.


Whipple. The scheme, owing to some accident, or tlie
neglect of a proper understanding, proved unsuccessful
and Gen. Sullivan was only able to save his army by a
judicious retreat. During this brief campaign, it is re-
corded that one morning (the twenty-ninth of Au-
gust, 1778), while a number of officers were at breakfast
at the general's quarters, at the position on the north
end of the island (on which Newport is situated), the
British advanced to an eminence about three quarters
of a mile distant ; perceiving horses and a guard
before the door, they discharged a lield-piece, which
killed one of the horses, and the ball penetrating the
side of the house, passed under the table where the
officers were sitting, and shattered the leg of the
brigade major of Gen. Whipple in such a manner that
amputation was necessary. This officer was Maj. John
Samuel Sherburne, of Portsmouth, N. H., nephew of
Gen. Whipple's wife, and brother of Gov. Langdon's
who was subsequently a member of Congress (1793-
1796), and judge of the United States Court for the
district of New Hampshire. He was irreverently
called ' Cork-leg Sherburne ' by the boys of long ago,
and afterwards resided in the house on Court Street
next west of the Court House.

"The design for which the militia were called out
having thus proved abortive, many of them were dis-
charged, and Gen. Whipple with those under his com-
mand returned to New Hampshire. According to the
pay-roll for the staff of his division of volunteers, it
appears that he took command on the twenty-sixth of
July and returned on the fifth of September, 1778.


" The consideration in which his services were held
by Congress did not cease to accompany Mr. Whipple
in his retirement. In the beginning of the year 1780

Online LibraryMaine Historical SocietyCollections of the Maine historical society (Volume 1) → online text (page 24 of 34)