L'histoire de ma famille

Ralph Wheelock

Birth: abt. 1600
Marriage: ????
Death: Jan 11 1682/83; Medfield, Norfolk, MA

I will be presenting Ralph Wheelock's biography according to two sources: “The Wheelock Family in America” by Walter T. Wheelock and “History of the Town of Medfield, Massachusetts” by William S. Tilden.

Wheelock Family

Within here I will refer to Walter. T. Wheelock as WTW.

WTW puts Ralph’s birth date at 1600 in Shropshire, England. He says that Ralph graduated from Clare Hall, Cambridge University in 1626. In 1637 Ralph, his wife, and son Gershom left for America. He first arrived in Watertown, MA, but settled and was a founder of the town of Dedham. He is on record for having signed the “Dedham Covenant” which functioned as a constitution for the settlement. He helped map out the town, and in 1642 became the General Court clerk (a position that held the ability of officiating marriages). A few years later Ralph became a teacher at the first free school in Dedham (and supposedly the first of all Massachusetts). In 1651 he moved to the town of Medfield “where he also taught school”. WTW proposes that Ralph may have taught in Medfield for about eight years.

History of Medfield

Tilden refers to Ralph as “the founder of Medfield”. According to Tilden—though no other source mentions this—Ralph was a preacher in England and he fled to America due to persecution. Tilden also specifies that his position of clerk for the General Court did not allow him to “solemnize marriages” until 1645.

His house in Medfield was built in late 1651 and early 1652. In Medfield he served as a selectman for four years beginning in 1651. Tilden refers to Ralph’s tenure of “schoolmaster” as beginning in 1655 in the town of Medfield.