Source:Whipple, Blaine. History and Genealogy of "Elder" John Whipple of Ipswich, Massachusetts

Source History and genealogy of "Elder" John Whipple of Ipswich, Massachusetts
his English ancestors and American descendants
Author Whipple, Blaine
Place Ipswich, Essex, Massachusetts, United States
Surname Adams, Andrews, Bacon, Baker, Ball, Barraford, Basford, Billings, Blanchard, Brown, Bucknam, Cannon, Chapman, Clawson, Crocker, Decker, Eaton, Ellsworth, Estey, Foster, French, Gaber, Gates, Goddard, Goodhue, Haine, Hale, Hanners, Hastings, Heise, Hill, Howe, Jardine, Jenne, Kimball, Knowlton, Lane, Mecham, Miller, Munsch, Norton, Pearson, Pillsbury, Powers, Pratt, Rich, Richardson, Rogers, Starr, Whipple
Subject Family tree
Publication information
Type Book
Publisher Trafford Publishing
Date issued 2003
Place issued Victoria, British Columbia
Whipple, Blaine. History and genealogy of "Elder" John Whipple of Ipswich, Massachusetts: his English ancestors and American descendants. (Victoria, British Columbia: Trafford Publishing, 2003).
Family History Library
Google Books website


Comments has had a Preview on this book which has allowed me to refer to it frequently while trying to straighten out WeRelate pages on the Whipple Family. It has been invaluable as so much of the genealogy of this family is completely messed up (for example, compare this book to the Hammatt Papers). Clearly, this book and the companion one on Matthew Whipple seem to be indispensable sources for researching the Whipple family.

That said, this book has some very frustrating tendencies that suggest there is room for an even better work in the future.


This book belongs in the 1800's. Then, its style of asserting facts without specifying how they are known would be right in style. But it was published 2004, and as such, the level of scholarship is simply not up to modern standards. The only super-scripted numbers to be seen are generation numbers.

An example: Person:Mary Whipple (31). In her family, Mary is the only child who birth date was not recorded in the Ipswich VRs. Yet, in the book, her birth is presented looking exactly like the birth dates of all the others, as if it were recorded fact. A reader who is aware that her birth is not recorded is left wondering where this date comes from. It appears it was calculated from the age at death on her gravestone. But if so, ironically, it appears a math error was made in this calculation. So now the reader is left wondering if that actually was the methodology used. For all the reader knows, it could have been found in town records, it could be a baptism date or a family Bible entry, or who knows what. Net result after reading this book, instead of having an defensible answer, the reader must do their own exhaustive search just to try and find out if this assertion is justifiable, or an error.

Primary vs. Secondary Sources

When data is unsure, the author does not seem to feel it is necessary to add qualifiers such as about or probably or perhaps For example, Person:Susanna Whipple (1), mentioned below, was "born in 1661", not about 1661, even though the calculated range based on her age at death includes significant spans outside of calendar 1661. The only way a reader becomes occasionally aware of any uncertainty is when the author presents very short surveys of secondary sources giving alternate values. The apparent high level of respect given to secondary sources, and infrequent reference to primary sources, is somewhat disconcerting. Especially given the confusion about these families in the past, it would seem all the more important to trace each fact back to its primary source. For example, to show the Ipswich VRs were wrong about a marriage date (see Family talk:John Lane and Susanna Whipple (1)), the book was citing secondary sources and ignored an alternate primary source. With one exception these secondary sources gave no evidence to support their assertions, and hence should have carried no weight (and worse, some were misquoted). All this makes a critical reader question the author's judgment. (And thanks to the above-noted lack of sources, it is difficult to review the original sources, in order to make one's own judgment.)

Age at Death

This author has an annoying habit of calculating ages at death based entirely on his assumed or estimated dates, even when gravestones provide a different age of death.

The worst example is page G11, Susanna Whipple, whom he reports is born in 1661 and d. 4 Aug 1713 "at 52 years of age". However, Billerica VRs reports the gravestone actually gives her age at death as "aged about 51" (also, Find-A-Grave)! There is no recorded birth, and as near as can be ascertained from this book, the birth date of 1661 is entirely based on the age at death. So, it would seem particularly important to report it accurately. A similar error with Person:Mary Whipple (31) appears to have led to a miscalculation of her birthdate. The book says that Person:Joseph Whipple (16) died at age one year, which would really be helpful trying to figure out if his birth on 6 Mar 1664 is supposed to be 6 Mar 1663/64 or 6 Mar 1664/65. However, the reader must assume the age of one year is the author's calculation, not an independent fact, so it tells us nothing new.

Are these errors in reporting age at death a result of poor bookkeeping, and if so, is this endemic throughout the book? Or does this signal difficulty in recognizing fact vs. assumption? If reported correctly, ages at death can be useful confirmations, but when they are calculated from assumed dates, they are merely useless clutter, since most readers are perfectly capable of calculating the age at death, when dates are given. What is needed to straighten out this tangled genealogy is a simple presentation of what is known and clear indication of what is assumed.

Double Dating

As shown in the example above, the author does not use the double dating format for dates between 1 Jan and 24 Mar. This inherently adds ambiguity to the presented information, where the author probably didn't think there was any. The consistent lack of recognition of this issue, even when it is highly relevant, can't help but make a reader wonder if the author appreciates this issue in all its subtlety? It was a cause of confusion in trying to analyze the author's presentation of the above-mentioned marriage date of John Lane and Susannah Whipple.

--Jrich 00:29, 15 August 2011 (EDT)

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