Was Margaret the daughter of Nathaniel Whaley, the son of General Edmund Whaley?


The 300 year old mystery of Whaley - the Regicide

The Regicide is not the name of an English pop band! If it had been, then Oliver Cromwell, the Protector, would have been lead vocal! The Regicide was the jury hand selected by Oliver Cromwell, all supporters from Parliament and generals from the army, that subsequently found King Charles I of England guilty of treason in 1649. Edward Whaley's signature [Whalley] is on that document just after that of his first cousin, Oliver Cromwell. After Charles I was beheaded, Parliament and Cromwell ruled England. This was the only period in England's history that there has not been a King or Queen. When Charles's son, Charles II, was restored to power in 1660, he issued arrest warrants for all living Regicide. One of those may have lived in Whaleyville.

General Edward Whalley (also spelled Whaley and Wale) of Northamptonshire was commissioned at the age of 35 as a Major General for Oliver Cromwell and served him with honor at almost every battle of the English Civil war. Whaley descended twelve generations from William the Conqueror's standard bearer at the Battle of Hastings, Wyamazus Whaley, who also distinguished himself at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. So it was from a long and distinguished lineage from which Whaley descended. (With the name Wyamazus, he probably had to learn how to fight!)

Whally also was the first cousin to Oliver Cromwell who is considered by many to be the most singularly significant person of the entire 1600s. He is best known in his role as Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Ireland, and Scotland; and parliamentary procedure is a Cromwell legacy. Three Regicides, General Edward Whally, his son-in-law General William Goffe, along with General John Dixwell left Gravesend on the ship of Captain Pierce. Parliament restored the son, King Charles II, to power while they were still at sea and Charles issued a warrant for their arrest. They landed near Boston on July 27, 1660. Whaley assumed the name Richardson and Goffe the name Shepardson when they landed and took up residence in Cambridge, Massachusetts. On the night of August 9, 1660, they were met secretly by Major Daniel Gookin who showed them actual papers for their arrest, which had just arrived on a ship from England. Pierce and Gookin were both Virginians, both leaving descendants on the Eastern Shore or Delmarva as we call it today.

By November 30, 1660, the new King was firmly in power and was upset that the citizens of New England were giving these three men such good treatment. They went to Springfield, Massachusetts where they spent a brief time, and then to New Haven, Connecticut. They remained there until October 13,1664 when two men from Boston, Captain Thomas Kellond and Thomas Kirk, took up the search in earnest. Goffe and Whaley at night slipped away to Hadley, Massachusetts. Hadley and Northampton were initially settled in 1653, but the Indians drove out the first settlers. The area was not re-established until the 1660s and even then only the rudiments of an outpost existed in Hadley. Goffe and Whaley were the guests of Reverend John Russell from where they corresponded with their influential friends by mail. Legend has it they remained in seclusion here for 14 to 15 years without being sighted. During a major Indian attack in 1675 in Hadley at a critical moment when the settlers were about to be overrun, an upper class mystery man with military training appeared to organize the men and rebuff the Indians. If it had not been for this man and his military knowledge, the settlers would have all been killed. The mystery man then disappeared as suddenly as he had appeared. Historians agree that this was General Goffe.

Goffe possibly stayed in Hartford for a period of time and continued to communicate by mail with his influential friends. At one point, both Whaley and Goffe heard reports that they had been apprehended and killed in Switzerland, and celebrated hoping this would stop the search. Whaley continued to go by the name Mr. Richardson while Goffe assumed the name Walter Goldsmith. Apparently, Goffe's wife and children remained in England with her Aunt Jane Whaley Hooke in London. New England legend has it that both men died in Hadley and were buried in the basement of the Reverend Russell. The historic road marker in Hadley actually claims this was the town where Whaley and Goffe remained in hiding for ten to fifteen years. Another legend has it that their bodies were removed from Hadley when they died and buried alongside of the other Regicide, John Dixwell (D1689) in New Haven. Goffe's papers and dairy were found when Russell died in 1676 and this is how much of this information was pieced together. On August 5, 1674, Goffe mentioned in a letter to his wife that "your old friend Mr. R is yet living but not expected ...". In other correspondence, wife Francis Goffe wrote to her husband that John Whaley, son of the Regicide, was in the colonies.

New England historians have been debating this subject since 1743 when Governor Hutchinson and Reverend Samuel Hopkins floated the idea that Whaley had survived and moved to Virginia in 1681. Those that support the notion that he came to Virginia claim that he was met by two of his wife's brothers and assumed the name Edward Middleton. He settled at the mouth of the Pocomoke, found this too public, then settled on the Sinepuxtent at GENEZAR (at South Point) purchasing 2,200 acres in 1687 where he lived unto the age of 103.

It is factual that an Edward Whaley was a headright of Colonel Edmund Scarborough in 1664 at Muddy Creek in Accomack County, Virginia very near Maryland. This is the same year that the King's troops were after Whaley. Colonel Scarborough was the most powerful man on the Eastern Shore, was an officer in the Virginia government, was intimate with the Maryland officials, and was a supporter of William Claiborne. He owned a fleet of ships, including the Mayflower. Scarborough's sister was married to General John Custis, the top military commander in Virginia whose family had left England for political reasons earlier. One of Scarborough's daughters was married to the top military man in Whaley's section of Maryland, and the other was married to the daughter of Governor Richard Bennett who had ruled both Maryland and Virginia for Oliver Cromwell along with William Claiborne. Scarborough's father-in-law, Captain Francis Potts, had stood against English tyranny in the colonies, and he and his brother physically apprehended the Virginia governor and took him to see King Charles about his excesses. Another powerful Accomack leader was Obedience Robins who was from Northampton in England and for whom Northampton County is named in Virginia.

If Edward Whaley were hiding anywhere on the Eastern Shore, Scarborough would have known it at least indirectly. I believe that Scarborough would have turned his head. But the question remains, if this was the Regicide, why record it in the land records, as "Whaley" unless Scarborough felt he was so strong and well connected it just didn't matter.

In 1972, Arthur Coussens wrote a book entitled Whaleyville where he advanced the theory that it was Regicide Edward Whaley who came to Maryland to seek refuge. He wrote about a mysterious clan who lived in the swamps near Whaleyville. In those days before irrigation, the water level was higher and the swamps offered a great deal of security. The band of mysterious people grew into a community of about 50 people and 12 houses. Whereas most settlers farmed and lived on open ground, this group lived in seclusion within the swamps. The houses were even constructed differently than surrounding houses on the shore. A sawpit was operated by the first inhabitant, John Anderson, in the swamp and provided the lumber for their homes and a source of revenue.

Was this a different Edward Whaley, or was it the Regicide Edward Whaley who settled GENEZAR? Even in 1680, this would have been much too public and open a location. A small group of men could have easily captured Whaley. As a military man, the Regicide who have found a more defensible area. It may have been his son Edward Whaley, and Edward Whaley's son took possession of the home of the mystery man in the 1740s. Certainly, to buy 2,200 acres, Whaley would have had to be a man of means and influence. It certainly is a compelling story that Whaley first purchased the land under the name Middleton, but the facts are that Edward Wale took possession of GENEZAR in 1687. Most of his children would have been born between 1670 and 1680, the period when the then 60-year of Whaley was thought to have died in New England. His son Edward had already been born while the General lived in England.

In his book, The Voyage of the Paper Canoe in 1874, Nathaniel Bishop claimed that a direct descendant (great grandson) of the Regicide, Thomas Robins III of South Point in 1759, had written some notes which were found at GENEZAR in 1875 and confirmed that the Regicide left Connecticut and traveled to Virginia where he was met by members of his family, and that he traveled to first to the "Pocomoke" River, and finding yt to publick a place he came to Sinepuxent, a neck of land open to ye Atlantic Ocean . . . and called it GENEZAR". Robins was probably a descendant of the previously mentioned Obedience Robins of Northampton, England. It would seem to this writer that the great grandson, less than a hundred years after the death of the Regicide, and owner of the Regicide's property must be given a fair amount of credibility. Perhaps, Whaley did live at South Point but kept a place inland at Whaleyville for more dangerous times. Obviously, there is confusion as to the father and son.

The mystery man in the swamps of Whaleyville argument seems valid. Whaleyville would have offered privacy and protection as the water level then was higher and the area much more swampy. The sawmill would have offered an income, and it is thought that Edward Whaley's son later became involved in the sawmills of North Carolina. John Anderson had been the 1666 headright of Captain Charles Radcliffe who first settled at the mouth of the Pocomoke River. Radcliffe's daughter Elizabeth married Edward Whaley Jr. and patented land in the Sinepuxtent area near GENEZAR in 1675. We know from the records of Somerset County, Md. that Anderson was a key messenger for military leaders Col. Edward Scarborough and his son-in-law Randell Revell.

The house of the mystery man was later in the possession of his would-be grandson, who acquired the house from a Samuel Hopkins. The reader may remember that it was a New Englander, Reverend Samuel Hopkins, who in this same time period was sponsoring the story that General Whaley had escaped to Virginia. Is this just coincidence, or were they cousins?

All of this continues to be speculation. From a pragmatic point of view, two major questions needed to be answered:

  • Could General Edward Whaley have been able to hide in Maryland; and if so, would the locals have supported his residence? Certainly his neighbors and the top military leaders of this period would have been aware of his presence no matter how secluded. Whaleyville was located on the intersection of two old Indian paths. The Indians would have discussed the recluse mystery man with the English traders who would have discussed this man with authorities.
  • Major Daniel Gookin who secretly met Whaley and Goffe at their arrival in Boston in 1660 became a famous Indian trader in New England. He had Virginia roots among the colony of Puritans, many of whom subsequently moved to Maryland at the request of Maryland Governor William Stone. His father was John Gookin who married the widow of Captain Adam Thorogood of Virginia. Daniel Gookin even lived in Providence (Annapolis), a Puritan community in Maryland, before moving to New England. Gookin would have been a resource to Whaley about both the Connecticut River and the political situation in Maryland. In fact, Governor Stone's brother, John Stone, was one of the first Englishmen killed by the Indians in New England when he had led settlers up the Connecticut River. Meanwhile, William Claiborne, a major power in both Maryland and Virginia towards the end of his life, shared common English roots with Adam Thorogood; Claiborne's father being mayor and Thorogood father vicar in Kings Lynn, Norfolk, England. In other words, we have documentation that Whaley was seen in New England, an area settled by the Puritans, and from the moment he arrived, it is documented that he was met by Virginians of the Puritan faith with ties to both the Connecticut River valley and the Eastern Shore.
  • At one-point years earlier, Captain Francis Potts whose daughter married Scarborough, Captain Adam Thorogood, and Captain William Claiborne all lived adjacent to one another at the mouth of the James River. Claiborne was a very well connected man in both Virginia and Maryland and owed a great deal to Oliver Cromwell. William Claiborne and Richard Bennett (whose daughter had married Scarborough's son) had been hand selected by Puritan Oliver Cromwell to take control of both Maryland and Virginia and make them supportive of Parliament. By the time Whaley was supposed to have arrived in Virginia, the citizens were unhappy because the new king's policies were hurting the economy.
  • After 1662, Virginia required all citizens to support the Anglican Church, and there was a general exodus to Maryland's Eastern Shore by Quakers, Presbyterians, Puritans, etc. Therefore, Whaley's neighbors and officials would most likely have accepted him since he had been one of the leaders of the Puritan movement.
  • The second question that needs to be addressed: If it were General Whaley, why would this story remain silent for so long a period? Even though the Eastern Shore was independent, there wasn't ever much support for the King's execution. Therefore, Whaley's role as a Regicide would not have been popular nor the type of story a family would want to romanticize. After all, Whaley was involved in a civil war where family members from both sides had been killed. I'm suggesting that they supported him because of his Puritan roots, but never approved of the murder of the king.

    I believe that the Regicide did come to Virginia and then Maryland. He would have found the silence here that he needed to remain untouched by the King's soldiers. Citizens that enjoyed their independence surrounded Whaley. Meanwhile, as time passed, King Charles II had his own political agenda in Europe on which to focus.

    There are several other tidbits listed in the original Virginia and Maryland documents which stimulate more conjecture:

  • Governor William Stone's uncle was a prominent tobacco merchant and had close association with Maurice Thompson, the most powerful tobacco merchant in North America and a relative of William Claiborne. In addition, Stone was a Puritan and in the same political party as Claiborne. Stone was the third Governor of Maryland and had received Oliver Cromwell's endorsement to continue as Governor. Stone's brother was Captain John Stone who had interests in New England and Virginia and been killed by Indians on the Connecticut River not too far from Hadley. Stone and Gookin highlight the inter-relationships that existed between Maryland and New England in that period.
  • A William Middleton was the headright of a Captain Jonathan West, a descendant of Lord de la Warr, and Charles Scarborough. West's father-in-law was Colonel Scarborough who we just read would have been supportive of Whaley regardless of where he lived in Maryland or Virginia.
  • A William Goffe and Edward Radcliffe were headrights of a Nicholas Spencer in Westmoreland County, Virginia in 1670. Spencer served as a governor of Virginia, was a cousin to Virginia's Governor Lord Culpepper, and his daughter lived at Hack's Neck on the Eastern Shore where our John Anderson [who later started the sawmill in Whaleyville] and Charles Radcliffe [who claimed a headright at the mouth of the Pocomoke for an Edward Whaley], and even a William Wale who had been previously located prior to moving up the Eastern Shore. (This William Wale had a son named Edward, and later moved to an area near Whaleyville, which complicates the theory, just that much more.)
  • General Edward Whaley was from Northamptonshire in England. I find it interesting that he would settle in Hadley which is just across the Connecticut River from Northampton, Massachusetts and which was resettled in 1654 presumably by Englishmen from Northampton in England. The Puritan Governor William Stone of Maryland was also a native of Northamptonshire. English also settled Northampton County on Virginia's Eastern Shore, and many of the Maryland officials at the time when Whaley would have been hiding on Maryland's Eastern Shore would have Northampton, Virginia connections. Whaleyville is in Worcester County, Maryland just off the road to Ocean City. Sawmill operations have been continuous since the 1660s. Stop and visit this village where one of history's most interesting mysteries took place. Most likely you will not see royalty walking around Whaleyville, but you will see descendants of some of America's oldest families! But don't stray too far. Several years ago, when inspecting some old grave stones, a resident fired a shotgun over my head. It didn't alarm me because I knew that it was just old Ed Whaley's genes coming to life at the approach of a stranger. In fact, I had the last laugh. The shotgun blast broke the limb of the shady tree over his head, and it came crashing down around him.