My Thanks to Liz Davidson for the following information on her side of the Whiteway's family
I’ve been actively researching my family history for nearly 20 years. I had been aware from childhood that there were maritime links as the family was from Teignmouth. My mother’s maiden name was Whiteway and I had a basic family tree with my grandfather and all his siblings plus their parents. I did nothing with the knowledge for years but one day, prompted by a question relating to another side of the family, I began to search.
As I searched the parish registers to take the family line further back it became very noticeable that even back to the 1750s when a form of register was introduced requiring the couple and their witnesses to sign, although most people were making their mark, all the Whiteways, women included, and all except one of the new wives could sign their own names. As a teacher I was aware that this was at least a century before universal education, in the days when in many circles it wasn’t considered to be necessary or even proper to educate the girls of the family.
I soon found one great-uncle was in the Royal Navy and that there were 3 generations of Trinity House pilot. Men had to be experienced master mariners and pass an examination of their skill before they were licenced as pilots and I haven’t yet discovered where these 3 got their experience to become master mariners – I haven’t found RN records for them and haven’t yet found Merchant Navy records for them either but it could be that they were largely involved in local fishing and coastal work. I’m told that g-grandfather John (1850-1910) was a master mariner & deep-sea diver & that’s another trail to follow.
It wasn’t long before I discovered that most of the earlier men were involved in the Newfoundland trade, as mariners, master mariners, ships’ captains, ship owners and merchants, often listed with differing descriptions at different times. A few are listed as part owners of ships with others from the local area including Abraham Hingston, John Row, Nicholas Mudge and William Boden. Elizabeth Whiteway (1777-1845) was also holding shares in ships both before her marriage and afterwards as Elizabeth Mortimer. I was vaguely aware of the existence of the Newfoundland trade and knew it was something to do with cod so I set about finding more detail.
Many of the surnames that are found as business partners also occur amongst the spouses of the Whiteways.
When I read about Keith Matthews’ research at the university in St John’s I began using that source and requested some of the ‘name files’. He summarised every reference he could find for each name in all the records available including parish registers, newspapers, crew lists, shipping registers and court records.
The earliest of my direct ancestors that I think I’ve found is my 5g-grandfather Mark who was leasing a plantation in Petty Harbour just to the south of St John’s in the 1750s & 60s. He seems to have been involved as arbitrator in a land dispute there. He and at least one William appear to have encountered privateers on occasions.
I found mention of a William Whiteway, almost certainly son of Mark & Elizabeth and husband of Sarah Hingston, as captain of ships including the Betsey, the Endeavour, the Success and the Diligent and gaining land on the south side at St John’s, regularly from 1770 into the 1800s. His name is often in partnership with Abraham Hingston, Sarah’s brother. This William, I think, is the one who died at home in Ringmore in 1811.
Another William, I think the one married to Loveday Smith, (see family tree) is mentioned in association with a succession of ships ending with the Commerce which sailed to Brigus in 1831. He and another man drowned while heading to Brigus from Port de Grave in a yawl in July 1831. William was buried in Brigus leaving a wife and 5 children in Ringmore.
The multiple Williams pose a problem. I have found no birth/baptism record for the William who married Loveday Smith in 1798 – there is a gap in the Ringmore baptism register. He fits among the children of John Whiteway & Grace Wood but could also fit as the eldest child of William Whiteway & Sarah Hingston. I have copies of the wills of both John (died 1813) and William (died 1811) but neither mention a son called William – John only specifically names his wife Grace and his daughters Mary & Grace with goods to be divided equally between his children; William names his wife Sarah, makes provision for the support of his daughter Mary (unmarried, was she an invalid?) and divides things equally between daughters Sarah & Elizabeth and son Joseph with no mention of the other children.
Here lies another interesting problem: the fact that particularly in the earlier generations I’ve found baptisms for several males but no further details, I can’t find them anywhere in marriage or burial registers in Devon so did they also sail to Newfoundland and possibly stay there?
I think my 3g-grandfather John (1768-1829) and also his father, another John (1737-1813), were involved in the trade but there are so many Johns listed with Newfoundland links that it’s difficult to be certain. A John Whiteway is listed on the Mary of Teign, captained by Mark Whiteway in 1800. I imagine this is Mark born 1745 son of Mark & Elizabeth, but which John is it?
Then there was Henry, John jnr’s younger brother. Henry is first mentioned in 1801 as mate on the Success then in subsequent years as mate on the Argo, the Weinholt and the Snow. In 1807 he was captain of the Ceres sailing to Newfoundland in August but the ship was wrecked in Conception Bay and Henry and 2 others were drowned. Henry was buried in Harbour Grace.
Joseph, cousin to John jnr, may have gone to sea initially but seems to have concentrated on acting as a merchant and ship owner, a business he was first involved in by the time he was 24. He obviously did quite well but only had one daughter and his will was full of clauses to ensure that she inherited and no husband of hers could ever get his hands on the goods or money!
As I’ve already hinted, a big problem came when trying to sort out references to the various ship’s captains and merchants in the ‘name files’, the crew lists and shipping registers as all the Whiteway families seem to have favoured names like William and John above all others so if I found mention of William as captain of a ship was it William from the Teign valley or the Dart valley, the older generation or the younger? Eventually, after wrestling for some time with multiple Williams, Johns, Josephs and Marks plus, to a lesser extent, Henrys, Roberts and Charles, I decided the only way to sort them out was to collect all mentions of all Whiteways that I could find and sort them into family trees myself with the help of parish registers in an attempt to make sense of them all. So here began a one-name study which should keep me from boredom for many years to come!