Do I unlink Elizabeth Carpenter and John Wheaton as spouses?

+3 votes

Many secondary sources indicate that John Wheaton (b. 1650 at Bristol County, Massachusetts Bay Colony) married Elizabeth Carpenter, e.g.,


Maylower Families Through Five Generations, Soule volume 3, page 22

But in the probate record of John Thurber, one John Wheaton is named as his son-in-law -- here's a link but it requires subscription to American Ancestors:

Torrey lists John Wheaton's wife as Elizabeth [Carpenter]/Thurber (doubtful, no evidence)

which I assume is referring only to the Carpenter surname.

But, it is possible that Elizabeth Carpenter was the wife, and that she died and that John remarried to Elizabeth Wheaton by the 1706 probate of John Thurber.  Or it is possible that there were two John Wheatons around at this time.

So my question is, is it better to unlink John Wheaton and Elizabeth Carpenter as spouses and then add inter-profile links near the tops of the bios with a warning?  Or are these secondary sources opening the possibility wide enough that I should leave them connected as husband/wife?


WikiTree profile: John Wheaton
in Genealogy Help by Barry Smith G2G6 Pilot (136k points)

I came across this later marriage record for John Wheaton and Elizabeth Carpenter.  I wonder if an error was introduced through some generational confusion.

"Rhode Island Town Marriages Index, 1639-1916," database, FamilySearch( : accessed 30 July 2019), John Wheaton and Elizabeth Carpenter, 31 May 1744; citing Barrington, Bristol, Rhode Island, United States, town halls, Rhode Island, and Rhode Island Historical Society, Providence; FHL microfilm 22,366.

1 Answer

+3 votes
Primary evidence always trumps secondary.
by Deb Durham G2G Astronaut (1m points)
So I will keep the link to Elizabeth Thurber.  But is this secondary evidence enough to support the possibility that he had two wives?  Considering the sources mentioning Carpenter make no mention of Thurber, I would say "no".  But I'm asking here in case I'm missing something about Wikitree norms.
Without some evidence there even was an Elizabeth Carpenter, I would be reluctant to maintain the relationship. However, there is always the possibility that Elizabeth Thurber and Elizabeth Carpenter are the same person. She is the one who could have been married before. The problem is there is just no evidence that he married someone named Elizabeth Carpenter. What are the primary sources for this relationship in the secondary sources? If there are none, I would be very reluctant to accept these sources as proof of anything.

You could disconnect Carpenter and provide a link to her profile in a disputed relationships section explaining that the sources that name her as a wife are not verifiable.
John Thurber was probably a carpenter, as he gave son James his carpenter's tools in his will.  So there's that.

Do you think it would be reasonable to put the "uncertain existence" template on her profile?

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