William Whitaker D.D.

William Whitaker D.D. (1548 - 1595)

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Reverend William Whitaker D.D.
Born in Holme, Lancashire, Englandmap
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married 1580 in North Woods, Lancashire, Englandmap
Husband of — married 8 Apr 1591 in St Mary, Stratford Bow, Middlesex, Englandmap
Descendants descendants
Died in Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, Englandmap
Profile last modified 13 Oct 2019 | Created 31 Aug 2014 | Last significant change: 13 Oct 2019
13:00: Michael Cayley edited the Biography for William Whitaker D.D. (1548-1595). [Thank Michael for this | 1 thank-you received]
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William Whitaker is a descendant of a Magna Carta surety baron.
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Reverend William Whitaker is in a trail badged by the Magna Carta Project to surety baron Robert de Ros (see text below).



Birth and Parentage

William Whitaker was born at Holme, Lancashire in 1548, the son of Thomas Whitaker and Elizabeth Nowell.[1][2]


William was educated at St Paul’s School, London, and from 1564 at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he was appointed a fellow in 1569.[1][2]

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.[3] That marriage probably did not take place until 1580 (see Research Notes), and because in 1580 he became a canon of Norwich Cathedral.[2]

In 1580 William was appointed Regius Professor of Divinity at the University of Cambridge, and Chancellor of St Paul’s Cathedral, London.[2] 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.[2]

William was a noted theologian with Calvinist leanings, wrote extensively on religious matters, and engaged actively in the religious debates of his day.[2]

Marriages and Children

First Marriage

William Whitaker married, likely in 1580, Susan Culverwell, widow of Cuthbert Fuller, a London merchant.[2] Douglas Richardson states that William and Susan had five children: two sons and three daughters[1]:

William’s first wife Susan died before 31 Aug 1589.[1][3]

Second Marriage

On 8 April 1591 William married Joan Taylor, widow of Dudley Fenner, a Puritan minister.[1][2] They had a son Jabez Whitaker, born on 6 Dec 1595, two days after William’s death.[1][2]


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.[1][2]

Research Notes

First marriage

The date of his first marriage is uncertain. Douglas Richardson states that it took place in 1577[1], and Porter’s article on his son Alexander confirms 1577[3]. 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.[2]

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.[2][4]

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[5]. 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[6].


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 Douglas Richardson. Magna Carta Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families, 4 vols, ed. Kimball G. Everingham, 2nd edition (Salt Lake City: the author, 2011), volume IV, pp. 331-332 WHITAKER 14
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 2004, revised online 2008: William Whitaker
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Harry Culverwell Porter. Alexander Whitaker: Cambridge Apostle to Virginia, The William and Mary Quarterly, Vol. 14, No. 3 (July 1957), pp. 317-43
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Will of Elizabethe Culverwell, Widow of London, 5 February 1590, UK National Archives, ref. PROB 11/75/87, accessed 13 April 2019
  5. Ralph Churton. The Life of Alexander Nowell, Dean of St Paul's, Oxford University Press 1809, p. 332
  6. 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
See also:
  • 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
  • Wikipedia: William Whitaker
  • Chalmers, Alexander. The General Biographical Dictionary, J Nichols and Son, 1812-1817, Vol. 31, pp. 383-388: William Whitaker, Ancestry.com


Magna Carta Project

William Whitaker, father of Gateway Ancestors Alexander Whitaker and Jabez Whitaker, is a descendant of Magna Carta Surety Baron Robert de Ros.
This profile has been developed in accordance with project standards (by Michael Cayley) as part of the trail between Gateway Ancestor Jabez Whitaker and Magna Carta Surety Baron Robert de Ros. It was reviewed and approved on 23 Sep 2019 by Gordon Warder Jr.
See Base Camp for more information about Magna Carta trails. - Michael Cayley, 6 July 2019
Magna Carta Trail
  1. Jabez Whitaker, and Alexander Whitaker, sons of William Whitaker
  2. William Whitaker, son of Elizabeth Nowell
  3. Elizabeth Nowell, daughter of John Nowell
  4. John Nowell, son of Grace Towneley
  5. Grace Towneley, daughter of Isabel Sherburne
  6. Isabel Sherburne, daughter of Richard Sherburne
  7. Richard Sherburne, son of Richard Sherburne
  8. Richard Sherburne, son of Margaret de Sherborne
  9. Margaret de Sherburne, daughter of Alice Plumpton
  10. Alice Plumpton, daughter of William de Plumpton
  11. William de Plumpton, son of Lucy de Ros
  12. Lucy de Ros, daughter of William de Ros
  13. William de Ros, son of William de Ros
  14. William de Ros, son of Surety Baron Robert de Ros
  15. Robert de Ros

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On 19 Sep 2019 at 20:00 GMT Gordon Warder Jr wrote:

This profile is under review as part of a trail identified by the Magna Carta Project, from Jabez Whitaker (Whitaker-966) to Robert Ros de Roos (Ros-162). Gordon Warder Jr (Warder-49)

On 12 Sep 2019 at 15:46 GMT Michael Cayley wrote:

On 9 Apr 2019 at 12:54 GMT Michael Cayley wrote:

I plan soon to do some work on this profile as part of my development of the Magna Carta trail from Jabez Whitaker, and Alexander Whitaker to Surety Baron Robert de Ros

On 11 Feb 2018 at 03:25 GMT Anonymous (Holland) Carroll wrote:

Richardson, Douglas. Royal Ancestry: A Study In Colonial And Medieval Families, in 5 vols. (Salt Lake City, Utah, 2013), Vol. V. page 359.

Thank you!

On 6 Feb 2018 at 04:48 GMT RJ Horace wrote:

Foster, Joseph: Lancashre Pedigrees, 1873, Whitaker.

On 9 Oct 2017 at 14:47 GMT C. Mackinnon wrote:

ODNB suggests date of about 1580 for his marriage to Susan Cumberwell

On 10 Nov 2015 at 17:12 GMT Anonymous Read wrote:

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

Rejected matches › William Whitaker (1847-)

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