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William Whitby

Member From: 1642 - 1655

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  • Birth Date: Unknown Birth Place:
  • Death Date: Sometime between March and October 1655
  • Gender: Male Race: Caucasian
  • Spouse: Katherine Gorsuch, daughter of royalist John Gorsuch
  • Children:
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  • Additional Info: Attended March 1644 session but was not present when the Assembly reconvened in October 1644.
  • Bio: WILLIAM WHITBY was elected Speaker of the House of the Burgesses in July 1653 after Walter Chiles had resigned. Whitby had represented Warwick County in the assemblies of 1642 and 1644 (although he had not been present at the October 1644 session). During the 1640s he was a justice of the Warwick County Court, but he did not again represent Warwick in the assembly until after Virginia's surrender to Parliament, whereupon he served as a burgess in every assembly from April 1652 to his death between March and October 1655. As Speaker in 1653 Whitby signed the bill of sale for the Leopoldus of Dunkirk to Walter Chiles, and received £30 out of Chiles's payment; he had been named to join Governor Richard Bennett and others sent to settle the peace in Northampton, but had not been present at any of the hearings for which records survive.
    Speaker Whitby owned 1,300 acres in Warwick County, and another 1,800 acres, acquired the day after he signed the Leopoldus of Dunkirk bill of sale, on the Potomac River in Northumberland County. Before 1646 he and George Ludlow, a member of Governor Sir William Berkeley's Council, purchased 4,000 acres north of the York River, some of which they sold during the next few years, and in November 1652 he also acquired 500 acres near Mobjack Bay.
    Whitby's political attitude is not clear. His wife, Katherine Gorsuch, was a daughter of royalist John Gorsuch, who was rector of Walkhorn, Herefordshire, from 1633 to 1642; on the other hand, several Virginia members of the Gorsuch family were Quakers who left the colony to settle in Maryland. Whitby was involved in property transactions with several prominent royalists, including Berkeley, Richard Lee, and Lady Elizabeth, the widow of cavalier officer Sir Thomas Lunsford, but he also was absent from the assembly from 1644 until after Virginia's surrender to Parliament. Possibly the burgesses recognized Whitby as a political moderate and elected him Speaker instead of Governor Bennett's friend and neighbor Edward Major. Speaker Whitby represented Warwick County in the assembly of 1654-1655 and died before October 1655.
  • Other Notable Service and/or Elected Offices: Justice, Warwick County Court
    Speaker of the House of Burgesses: 1653
Session District District Number Party Leadership Committees
1642 Warwick River
1644 Warwick
1652 Apr Warwick
1652 Nov Warwick
1653 Warwick Speaker of the House
1654-1655 Warwick Private Causes

*The information within this interactive and searchable application has been researched extensively by the House Clerk’s Office. As with any historical records of this age and breadth, there may be discrepancies and/or inconsistencies within records obtained from a variety of credible sources. Any feedback is encouraged at history@house.virginia.gov.

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