Born in England. Arrived in Massachusetts in 1634 and
Born and died in England.
Susanna Wheelwright is the mother of William Hutchinson (1586-1642), who married Anne Marbury (remembered in history as Anne Hutchinson) (1591-1643). At the age of 70, she traveled with William and Anne’s family on board the ship Griffin. The history and lineage of William Hutchinson and Anne Marbury are discussed at length under their own heading.
Susanna’s son-in-law, Rev. John Wheelwright, and the settlement of Maine:
Susanna may be the first English immigrant to die in Maine. She had gone to Maine along with her daughter, Mary Hutchinson and Mary’s husband, Rev. John Wheelwright. While Rev. Wheelwright was vicar at Bilsby in 1636 he was driven from his Anglican church for non-conformity. With his second wife, Mary Hutchinson, and their five children, and accompanied by Augustine Storer, brother of his first wife, he sailed for Boston where they arrived on 12 Jun 1636. Rev. John was well received and became pastor of the Chapel of Ease at Mount Wollaston, Boston (Quincy) for a few months.
All went well for a time, but he, with his sister-in-law Anne Hutchinson, and Henry Vane, Governor of the Colony, were soon in hot controversy with the conservative part—the “Covenant of Grace versus the Covenant of Works.” The party that Wheelwright stoutly defended stood for freedom of speech and opinion, but there was a great deal of political partisanship mixed with these theological disputes, and the controversy between Wheelwright and the conservatives was the principal issue in John Winthrop’s candidacy for governor of the colony against Vane. Winthrop was elected, and Vane returned to England, while Wheelwright was banished from Massachusetts along with Anne Hutchinson and other friends.
Susanna accompanied John Wheelwright after he, with some loyal friends, removed to the Piscataqua region about 50 miles north of Boston and purchased the rights of the Indian sagamore of Wehanownouit and his son and founded the town of Exeter, New Hampshire on 3 Apr 1638. He was the leader in the foundation of the town, where he filled the office of pastor of the church and active citizen. This little republic had a short life however, as the Massachusetts Bay Colony planted a settlement at Hampton, which included Wheelwright’s purchase in its jurisdiction. So he and his associates moved to the coast of Maine, where, by agreement with the agent of Sir Ferdinando Gorges, he was allowed to take up land and organize a church in Wells, Maine in 1641.
(Regarding the so-called “Wheelwright deed of 1629”: In 1707 a deed was found among the ancient files of York County, Maine, near where Wheelwright had brought his flock to settle in Wells. The deed, dated 17 May 1629, showed Wheelwright as being one of several recipients of land from the Indian sagamores of southern New Hampshire, and a signer of the document. The deed thus implied that Wheelwright was present in New England in 1629, even though he was known to be the vicar of Bilsby in Lincolnshire at the time. While many historians declared the deed to be a forgery, Charles H. Bell, in his biography of Wheelwright in 1876, presented the case that the deed could be legitimate. It was known that as the vicar of Bilsby, Wheelwright was required to send a transcript of the parish registers to a central repository once a year, and this was done in March. However, of the several transcripts found with Wheelwright’s signature attached, the one for March 1629 could not be found, leaving the door wide open to the possibility that Wheelwright had come to New England during this time frame and then returned to England. Sometime after Gov. Bell published his book on Wheelwright, the missing transcript was found, proving almost conclusively that Wheelwright had never left England during his ministry at Bilsby, and demonstrating with certainty that the deed of 1629 was a forgery. Sometime before his death, Gov. Bell acknowledged the sequence of events and that the deed was an ingenious fabrication, and stated this in an undated letter to the New England Historical and Genealogical Society).
He purchased 400 acres of land on the Ogunquit River and built a one-story house and sawmill. In 1643, after the murder of Anne Hutchinson by the Indians, Wheelwright wrote Governor Winthrop seeking pardon of the Bay Colony. His sentence was revoked by the general court in 1644, and he was restored to the freedom of the colony.
In 1656 he made a voyage to England where he remained for six years. This was during the period that his old schoolmate, Oliver Cromwell, was Lord Protector of England. Rev. Wheelwright was well received by Cromwell—both having matriculated from that “nursery of Puritans”, Sidney Sussex College Cambridge, in the same period. Cromwell, when he was describing Wheelwright to a group of gentlemen, stated that “he remembered the time when he had been more afraid of meeting him at football than of meeting an army since in the field.” Wheelwright’s relations with Cromwell are generally understood to have proved of service to the colony, and it has been suggested that the existence of his supposed portrait in the State house in Boston is connected with recognition by the Colony of his services at Court.
After his return to New England, he settled at Salisbury, Massachusetts. In October 1677, Wheelwright finally sold his property in Lincolnshire, England, purchased of Francis Levett, gentleman, to Richard Crispe. He died at Salisbury, Massachusetts at the age of 87.