William was educated at St Paul’s School, London, and from 1564 at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he was appointed a fellow in 1569.
William was ordained a priest in 1576. He resigned his Fellowship in 1577, possibly in consequence of his first marriage, since fellows then had to be single. That marriage probably did not take place until 1580 (see Research Notes), and because in 1580 he became a canon of Norwich Cathedral.
In 1580 William was appointed Regius Professor of Divinity at the University of Cambridge, and Chancellor of St Paul’s Cathedral, London. In 1587 he became Master of St John’s College, Cambridge and a Fellow of Eton College, giving up the Chancellorship of St Paul’s Cathedral.
William was a noted theologian with Calvinist leanings, wrote extensively on religious matters, and engaged actively in the religious debates of his day.
Marriages and Children
William Whitaker married, likely in 1580, Susan Culverwell, widow of Cuthbert Fuller, a London merchant. Douglas Richardson states that William and Susan had five children: two sons and three daughters:
William Whitaker was taken ill while returning from a meeting of religious divines at Lambeth. He died at Cambridge on 4 December 1595, and was buried at St John’s College, Cambridge on 9 December 1595.
The date of his first marriage is uncertain. Douglas Richardson states that it took place in 1577, and Porter’s article on his son Alexander confirms 1577. The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, however, states that Susan Culverwell’s first husband did not die until 1579, and that her marriage to William Whitaker may have taken place in 1580.
Death and burial place
Some family trees from other less reliable sources, place death and burial in Lancashire, without source citations.
Possible additional children
An earlier version of this profile listed another child by his first marriage, a daughter called Frances. If Frances existed, she almost certainly died before 1589, as she is not one of the daughters mentioned in the 1589 will of William Whitaker's mother-in-law.
There may have been another son, Richard, a bookseller, who dedicated an edition of the Greek New Testament to Archbishop Laud, and whom Ralph Churton, biographer of Alexander Nowell (Dean of St Paul's), believed to be a brother of William Whitaker's son Alexander Whitaker. Richard was a printer and bookseller who had a London business from 1619 to 1648. Richard, In his last years, was in partnership with Thomas Whitaker, possibly his son who died on 5 February 1647/8.
↑ Ralph Churton. The Life of Alexander Nowell, Dean of St Paul's, Oxford University Press 1809, p. 332
↑ Henry R Plomer, A Dictionary of the Booksellers and Printers who Were at Work in England, Scotland and Ireland from 1641 to 1667, The Bibliographical Society, 1907: entry for Richard Whitaker can be viewed at Wikisource, accessed 12 April 2019
Richardson, Douglas. Magna Carta Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families, 4 vols, ed. Kimball G. Everingham. 2nd edition. Salt Lake City: the author, 2011. See also WikiTree's source page for Magna Carta Ancestry.
C. S. Knighton, ‘Whitaker, William (1547/8–1595)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2008, accessed 9 Oct 2017 and 10 April 2019, viewable online via some libraries
Venn, J A, Alumni Cantabigienses, Cambridge University Press 1922-1954, Ancestry.co.uk
Porter, Harry Culverwell. Alexander Whitaker: Cambridge Apostle to Virginia, The William and Mary Quarterly, Vol. 14, No. 3 (July 1957), pp. 317-43, viewable at JSTOR, (free) account signup required
Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 1921-1922, Vol. 21, pp.21-23: William Whitaker, Ancestry.co.uk
I would like to get in touch with the Profile manager about the Whitaker line of the Holme. I deleled the A that follows his first name William because I have never seen any source where it was included Bill Read