Since the seventeenth century the Whidden family has contributed their part in the development of this country and since 1854 has been prominent in the area that is now Hardee County, Florida.
Herewith follows an overview of the family, which is often confusing.
The American progenitor of the Whidden clan of this region was Augustine Whiddon. On February 17, 1678, John Whiddon of Norfolk County, Virginia was issued a certificate for transporting William Whiddon, Augustine Whiddon, Edward Pedley, and Ann Freind or Fendford .(1)
Augustine lived in Lower Norfolk County, Virginia where he was a carpenter. He married Sarah Cherry, daughter of John Cherry, who had come to Lower Norfolk County in October 1637.(2)
The will of Augustine Whiddon, dated September 13, 1690, was proved May 16, 1693. In it he bequeathed to his wife, Sarah Whiddon, "my houses and plantation I now live, to her during her natural life." Augustine further willed to his eldest son, John Whiddon, "after the decease of my Wife, the plantation including One hundred acres of Land next adjoining to it; and the other hundred to bee Equally divided between my other sons Augustine and William...all three of my Sons Shall Bee free & of Age at Eighteen yeares of age." (3)
Sarah Cherry Whiddons will, dated May 12, 1693, Norfolk, was proved on May 16, 1693. It , too, mentioned the three minor children, John, Augustine, and William. (4)
William Whiddon , son of Augustine, was born circa 1675 in Lower Norfolk County. There he and his wife, whose name is unknown, reared a son, William.
William's will was dated February 18, 1720. The main clause devised "unto my son William Whiddon my plantation where on I now live, and a hundred and fifty Ackers of land Called by the name of Little ragg the sd. lands the whole Containing two hundred Ackers."
William Whiddon, Jr., son of William Whiddon, Sr. was born about 1700 in Lower Norfolk County. After selling his land to his cousin, Capt. John Whiddon, William moved to Edgecombe County, North Carolina where he was residing by March 1763. In 1777 Nash County was formed from Edgecombe County, and William, thereafter, lived in Nash County until his death about 1780.
William Whiddon, Jr. and his wife (identity unknown) had four sons, John, Noah, Lott, and William.
Lott Whiddon, son of William Whiddon, Jr., was born circa 1729 in Lower Norfolk County and moved with the family to North Carolina. Lott, a farmer, served as a Revolutionary War soldier.
Lott was married twice. He and his first wife, name unknown, had three known children, William, Lott, Jr. and Benjamin. He and his second wife's, whose given name was Sarah, had three children, Maxwell, Elizabeth, and James.
The will of Lott Whiddon of Nash County was dated December 28, 1784 and was proven in February 1785. In it he named his wife Sarah Whiddon, who was to receive "during her life or Widowhood all my household goods of every kind... and all my Stock of Horses Cattle Hogs & Sheep...and at her Death or Marriage when either happen I Give and bequeath all my estate as above Mentioned to my Three Children to wit, Maxwell, Elizabeth & James Whiddon." William Whiddon, his son by his first wife, was appointed co-executor of the estate.
James Whiddon, son of Lott Whiddon, was born about 1770, probably in Edgecombe County, North Carolina. By 1798 he was living in Montgomery County, Georgia. Later he removed to Appling County, then Camden County where he was listed in the 1820 census, and finally Ware County, Georgia where he died circa 1845.
James Whiddon and his wife, name unknown, had known issue: William, James W., Lydia, Maxfield, Mary, Willoughby, Elizabeth.
Willoughby Whidden, son of James Whidden, was born about 1799 in Montgomery County, Georgia. The family surname variously was spelled as Whiddon, Whitten, Whiton, and Whidden, with the latter becoming the accepted form during Willoughby's life.
By 1833 Willoughby and his wife, Eliza Pennington, were living in Columbia County, Florida, but later returned to Georgia before homesteading in Hillsborough County, Florida in 1843. In 1854 the family resettled northeast of present-day Wauchula. Willoughby died May 27, 1861.
Most of the Whidden clan in Hardee County are descended from the children of Willoughby and Eliza Whidden.
Acknowledgment: This article is adapted from an untitled genealogical notebook compiled by Don Whidden and Laura E. Tully. Laura Tully (P. O. Box 69, Grandin, FL 32138) compiled and published Whiddons From England to America, a 30-page family history, most of which was researched by David Trubert Whiddon (1916-1992) and Norris Farnell, both of Jacksonville, FL. David Trubert Whiddon was descended from William Whiddon, presumed to be a brother of Augustine Whiddon. Whiddons... conflicts somewhat from the notebook.
(1) Laura Tully, et al, Whiddons From England to America, 1998, page 1.
(2) Tully, page 1, assumes William and Augustine Whiddon were minors when transported to Virginia, but this is only speculation. I have not been able to determine when Augustine was born. Tully places the marriage of Augustine and Sarah Cherry, daughter of John Cherry and Rebecca Maund, as about 1684; another source has Sarahs mother as Elizabeth Faithful.
(3) Tully, page 1, dates the birth of John, Augustine, and William Whiddon as between 1685 and 1693. Augustines 1690 will proves his three sons were minors; however, this means only they were under eighteen, which would give a range for their respective births from 1672 to 1690. I would guess they were older than Tully indicates.
(4) Tully, page 1.
Jacquie Bell on November 21, 2002 added the following family history by Edward L. Whiddon:
"None of this information is chiseled in stone but I will share with you what I have as a result of my own research and what I have obtained from the book Whiddon written by my first cousin, Hazel Bennett Martin, and which I published for her last year. Her work was already in existence before I even knew she was into genealogy and when I did discover what she had written, it just had to get published.
"From my research I found:
"John Whitton (Whiddon) was 16 in 1635 when he embarqued in the 'Transport of London' to be transported to Va. (Hotten 101). Reference: Lower Norfolk County Virginia Family Ties by Mrs. Alice Granberry Walter, Publisher (LDS Pedigree File No. 1202)."
"The following is extracted from Hazel's book and I can quote it as she has released her copyright to me.
Five centuries before Martin Luther mailed 95 Theses to the door of the Schlosskirche, Wittenberg, the capital of the little duchy of Saxe-Wittenberg, was the home of the Wittens. It is probably that the prestige of this family led to the area's name. In the ninth century members of the Witten family left their homeland and emigrated to England. Some of them settled in Yorkshire; others moved down into Devonshire and made their homes by the sea.
Even in England the family is considered of ancient origin and is mentioned in the Mabinogion, a Welsh manuscript of the 14th century, the Red Book of Hergest. The English have spelled the name in various ways: Witten, Whitten, Whyddon, Whiddon, and even Whydn.
Chagford, which is in Devonshire, is in the heart of the moors. Before the conquest in 1066, Chagford was held by Dodo the Saxon. The manor belonged to Hugh of Chagford, but in the time of Queen Mary (1533-1555) it became the property of Sir John Whiddon and remained in the family for several descents. During this period the Whiddons, other than Sir John, occupied their property, Whiddon Park, situated about a mile from town.
The house is in Chagford, but the Park is in Moreton Hampstead. This interesting and fine old seat has preserved the memory of the Whiddon family, which has been extinct in Chagford for two hundred years. Polwhele, in his 1797 History of Devonshire, states, "It is truly a romantic spot. The situation of the house, like that of many other old buildings in this country, was very judiciously chosen. In the front of it the prospect bears nothing remarkable, yet, behind the house we are presented, at a little distance, with a view of rock and wood, the most beautiful I have yet observed in the vicinity of the Teigne River. It may be called a cliff that seems divided into bare and solid rock, and wood of deep rich foliage. By the side of the mill behind the house, the scenery is viewed to great advantage. The Park and many other parts of the estate were overshadowed by noble trees that were consigned to the axe. Venerable beech and ash were already prostrate, and the few solitary deer that yet remained appeared to speak the approaching ruin of this dismantled place."
According to a description written by Helen H. Whiddon after a visit in 1937, the Park has been restored. She describes Whiddon Park as exquisitely beautiful and mentions that the fine old house is in excellent condition and preservation. The house, belonging now to a Mrs. Drew who lives in a large and recently built castle overlooking Whiddon Park, is rented to an army officer, Major Ryan. The entrance gate bears the one word, "WHIDDON."
Another house in the town itself holds memories of the family. The Three Crowns Inn, exactly opposite the Parish Church, was the home of the Whiddons and apparently was built by them. It is an extremely old house and has a known history since 1260 A.D. It has been taken over by the Ministry of Works as an historical monument."
Eliza Pennington Whidden
This is adapted from the authors article, which was published in The Herald-Advocate (Wauchula, Fla.) of February 16, 1995. Posted on August 21, 2001 & address on January 9, 2002.
"Annis Whidden Thomas & husband Joseph Roland Thomas & her father, Graham Whidden.
Graham was the son of Jacob Jehu Whidden of Hardee. Annis was born in Gardener, Desoto. Joe Thomas was born in Homeland, Polk Co. The photo depicts several rows of coon pelts, which the family sold to make money to pay for sugar, salt, cloth & coffee. A turkey is also shown, which was probably eaten by the family, there being no way to preserve and sell the wild turkeys. The three coon dogs in the photo were an invaluable help in making ends meet. They would "bay" the coon, allowing the hunters to find and bring them down. As my grandfather said "money was so scarce you didn't dare waste a shot!" Every shot counted, which accounts for why they were such good shots. It wasn't a hobby, it was a matter of economics from childhood. "Don't waste a single bullet!" - Beverly K. Mott, January 16, 2006