Facts and Events
He is an immigrant
There is an extensive biography of this man in the book THE HISTORY AND GENEALOGY OF THE WITHERELL/ WETHERELL/ WITHERILL FAMILY OF NEW ENGLAND, by Witherell & Witherell, Gateway Press, Baltimore, 1976
Further research in the area of religious beliefs, by myself, reveals that the Reverend William Wetherell was a Puritan in England adhering to beliefs not supported by the Church of England and Archbishop Laud, who had been appointed by Charles I. William Wetherell had been educated at Cambridge, Corpus Christi College, attaining a BA (1626) and a MA (1627) and was listed as from York. He was licensed as a Cure of Souls, and teacher (March 2, 1625) at Boughton, Monchelsea, county Kent, England, but not given a church, so he used his education to teach school at Maidstone, County Kent. In 1633/34 Wetherell was cited by Archbishop Laud with a cease order to stop teaching the catechisms of William Perkins (a well known Puritan theologian who catechisms were used by the early Pilgrim Church of Plymouth) and following the order of the Sabbatarian Thomas Wilson, who was too Presbyterian in polity. Wetherell was told to adhere to the official church religious creed. If he were to persist in continuing his present path he would have found himself in the Star Chamber as happened to Charles Chauncey who was to be his rival in Scituate. (English Provencial Society from the Reformation to the Revolution: Religion, Politics and Society in Kent 1500-1640. Peter Clark, Harvester Press, London, pages 199 & 372.)
Shortly after being cited, we find Wetherell, his wife, three sons, and a servant, Anne Richards, aboard the ship Hercules, Captain John Witherly, bound for the new world with several other men from Kent, from the same community, possibly even of the same church. He arrived in March 1635 having been licensed to leave from Maidstone, although the ship was of Sandwich.
He settled briefly first at Charlestown and established the first grammar school there, and was considered part of the Oligarchy (gentry class) then moved to Newtowne (Cambridge) before moving on to Duxbury in Plymouth Colony where the churches expressed beliefs closer to those he had embraced in England. He was there by 1638 when he became a proprietor in 1640.
He next moved to Scituate. They had been struggling within their church and had looked for a new minister upon the departure of Rev Lothrup. Some Church members voted to invite Charles Chauncy who was at the center of a controversy at Plymouth to fill that position, but several disagreed with that decision and proceeded to form a 2nd Church of Scituate, then they invited William Wetherell to be their minister. This created a animosity between the two churches that was to continue until Chancey accepted a position in Boston to act as head of the new Harvard University. He remained in that position until his death. The problem between the two churches continued in 1671/2 when a Josiah Palmer was fined for speaking "opprobriously" of William's church.
Wetherell was ordained the Pastor of the 2nd Church September 2, 1645 after writing numerous letters defending his position to many of the other ministers and churches of New England. He was to hold this position the rest of his life, some of these letters are extant in the records of the second Church of Scituate.
Several other "men of Kent" had also settled in the area and so we find him located in the new land, with a group of others of similar beliefs, from a similar area of England. Some of the "men of Kent" may well have been acquainted with him in England as this was a common pattern of immigration to the new world during these early times, and several had came on the same ship.
In March 1635 he sold a house and 12 acres on the south side of the river to John Benjamin, and about 1638 he sold a house and four acres on the southwesterly side of Garden street to Thomas Parish (both of these sites were in Cambridge). "
His death is recorded in church records supposedly by Samuel Deane "Abigail the Daughter of Isreal Hobird March 16th baptized by our late pastor M. William Wetherell (added in Modern hand) "he died Apr 9, 1684 S.D." NEHGR 57:320 "Records of Second Church of Scituate" this was his granddaughter he was baptizing.
d. recorded Scituate VR page 467 M. William "our late pastor" CR2
From The Genealogical Advertiser, Quarterly Magazine of Family History, edited by Lucy Hall Greenlaw, Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc. Baltimore 1974 reprint, page 21 Vol 1, 1901,
Rev. William Witherell, M.A.
communicated by Virginia Hall, of Cambridge
In a list of "emigrants in the Hercules of Sandwich bound for the Plantation called New England in America," is the following record
"Will. Witherell, of Maidstone, schoolmaster, Mary, his wife, three children, and one servant. Certificates from Sam. Marshal mayor of Maidstone, Tho. Swinnuck, Edw. Duke and Rob Barrel, cl. 14 Mar 1634." Drake's Founders of new England page 82
With this clue the marriage licence of William Witherell was found in Canterbury Marriage Licences, Second Series, page 1087.
"Witherill, William, M.A. of Maidstone, ba., about 25, and Mary Fisher, of Boughton, Monchelsea, maiden, about 22, who is now under govt., of her mother, Joan Martin, alias Fisher, now wife of John Martin, s.p. yeom., who consents. At S. Mildred's Cant. March 26, 1627."