Select Whittaker Miscellany
accounts over the years:
- Whitakers and Whittakers Today
- The Whitacre Family of Warwickshire
- The Whitakers of Holme in Lancashire
- The Whitakers of Hesley Hall in Yorkshire
- The Apostle of Virginia
- James Whittaker in Australia
Whitakers and Whittakers Today
The Whittaker spelling predominates in Lancashire, the Whitaker
spelling in Yorkshire.
The Whitacre Family of Warwickshire
By tradition this family
was descended from Wihtgar, a nephew of Cedric the king of the West
Saxons. It was said that Johias Whitacre
died fighting at the Battle of Hastings on the side of King Harold. Nevertheless this Saxon family was apparently
allowed to keep their lands in Warwickshire after the Norman Conquest.
Simon de Whitacre was recorded as a landowner
in Warwickshire at the time of the Domesday Book in 1086.
The principal seat was at Whitacre Hall, a
medieval fortified manor house in Nether Whitacre.
Jordan de Whitacre appeared to have held the
Whitacre manor in 1203.
Richard Whitacre was
knighted by Edward III in
1327. He later fought
in the King’s
retinue during the English victories at Calais and Crecy in
France. For this
it is believed
that he received lands in Lancashire and some of his
descendants might have migrated there. The
name in Warwickshire does not seem to have lasted beyond the
The Whitakers of Holme in Lancashire
first Whitaker to arrive at The Holme is thought to have been Richard
de Quitacre who came to Cliviger from Padiham in 1340. Thomas
Whitaker was recorded at The Holme in 1431. The Whitaker 40 room
manor house, completed in 1603, rested on the site of an earlier
built of wood, the center and eastern wings were rebuilt in 1603.
The west remained of wood until 1717 and had one or more private
closets for the concealment of priests, the family having continued as
recusants until the end of Elizabeth’s reign if not later.”
The Holme remained in Whitaker family hands until 1959.
Afterwards it served for a time as a nursing or retirement home.
In March 2003 the middle and east wings burned down (the police
suspected arson). Three hundred year old oak beams fell in on the
walnut floor in the living room with its fieldstone fireplace and
mirrored wall. The west wing of the building and the 1859
northeast additions did survive.
The Whitakers of
Hesley Hall in Yorkshire
Whitakers were an old Yorkshire trading family that had moved to Sicily
in the early 1800’s to develop the fortified wine industry at
Marsala. Grown rich, Benjamin Whitaker – the eldest of twelve
children of Joseph and Eliza Whitaker – had returned to England in the
late 1800’s and acquired Hesley Hall near Doncaster.
Hall had one of the largest households in the area in 1901 with an
indoor staff consisting of a chaplain, butler, housekeeper, two
footmen, and six maids. The outdoor staff included a coachman,
groom, gardener, farm bailiff, gamekeeper, and several farm workers.
Whitaker was an important part of the local gentry scene until his
death at the age of 83
in 1922. When his wife Caroline died in 1941 Sir Albert Whitaker
inherited the Hesley estate. Hesley Hall later became a School
for Crippled Children.
Apostle of Virginia
Whitaker was a son of Dr. William Whitaker of Holme,
the noted English divine. In 1611, at
the age of 26, he made his way to the new English colony at Jamestown
Virginia. There he established two
churches and was known as “the Apostle of Virginia” by his
He was a
religious leader with both settlers and natives. In
1613 he was responsible for the baptism
and conversion of Pocahantas. Pocahantas
and her husband John Rolfe stayed with him for a time at his Rock Hall plantation in Henricus.
relative tolerance of the Native American
population that English colonists encountered can be found in his
of which were sent back to England to help win support for the new
famous of these
sermons was Good News from Virginia, in
which he described the native population as “servants
of sin and slaves of the devil,” but also recognized them as “sons of Adam“ who are “a very
understanding generation, quick of
apprehension, sudden in their dispatches, subtle in their dealings,
in their inventions, and industrious in their labor.”
in 1617, at the young age of 32,
he drowned while attempting to cross the James river. He was unmarried
and left no issue.
Whittaker in Australia
James Whittaker was convicted for larceny in London
and sentenced to life transportation to Australia. He
duly arrived in Sydney harbor at the end of
the year on the Royal George.
worked at Parramatta in NSW until he finally
received his pardon in 1845 and he then moved to the mining town of
Kapunda in South
Australia. There he operated a general
and opened a hotel, the Sir John Franklin Hotel. He
became a successful and respected businessman,
and a wealthy one, before retiring in 1854.
despite being ill, he took sail for
Melbourne and the horse races. He was
confident that the ship, the Admella,
was “unsinkable” and tore up his will as a sign of his faith. But the ship hit Carpenters Rocks and 87 lives
were lost including James. Many of the
businessmen offered $100 to anyone who could swim to shore and raise
The captain knew that the ship was about
to sink and yelled for all to get on deck. James,
being so sick, was left behind and
months saw the Whittaker
family travelling to South Australia to claim a share of the legacy he
left. Most of the fortune was in fact lost
lawyers as various family members fought each other for their share. The story that he had a large number of golden
sovereigns in a belt around his waist as he drowned lives on.
Return to Whittaker Main Page
Leave a Reply