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Catharine Moffat Whipple

Wife of William Whipple

Captain William Whipple, the second of the New Hampshire delegation to the Continental Congress of 1776, like his confrere, Dr. Josiah Bartlett, married his own cousin. The family records are barren in detail of this union between Catharine Moffat, daughter of Hon. John and Catharine Cutt Moffat, and William Whipple, son of Captain William and Mary Cutt Whipple, but as their mutual ancestors, the Cutts, were among the wealthiest and most prominent people of the Province, and her father had held high position in the Provincial government, she was of good birth and breeding and must have been of high social standing.

William Whipple, born in 1730, had followed the sea from the time he shipped as a cabin boy in his fourteenth year until he retired, in 1759, in order to enter the mercantile business in Portsmouth with his brother. William Whipple had come to command his own ship, while fol-lowing the sea, and had amassed a considerable fortune in the West India trade. The mercantile venture at Portsmouth was also pros-perous and Captain Whipple continued it until 1775, when he closed out all his business interests in order to devote himself entirely to public affairs.

Mrs. Whipple and her husband lived in Portsmouth between the years of their marriage and the Revolution, but we know little of their private life. Her portrait was painted by Copley during this period and is now in posses-sion of Rev. Dr. A. P. Peabody of Cambridge. One child was born to Captain and Mrs. Whipple, a daughter who died in infancy.* After the death of this daughter, in the early sixties, Mrs. Whipple adopted a niece, Mary Tufton Moffat, who lived with her uncle and aunt until she grew up and married Nathaniel Appleton Haven.

Captain Whipple was elected to the Continental Congress of 1775, and again in 1776; was made Brigadier General of New Hampshire troops at Saratoga; co-operated with General Sullivan at the siege of Newport in 1778; returned to Congress again in 1778 and 1779; was financial receiver of New Hampshire in 1782 and 1783, and Judge of the Superior Court in 1784, and until his death in 1785. Mrs. Whipple survived him many years.

Source: Wives of the Signers: The Women Behind the Declaration of Independence, by Harry Clinton Green and Mary Wolcott Green, A.B. (Aledo, TX: Wallbuilder Press, 1997). Orignaly Published in 1912 as volume 3 of The Pioneer Mothers of America: A Record of the More Notable Women of the Early Days of the Country, and Particularly of the Colonial and Revolutionary Periods (New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons). Pages 14-16. (Some spelling changes may have been made.)

* According to The Signers of the Declaration of Independence: A Biographical and Genealogical Reference, by Della Gray Barthelmas, the Whipples had two children that died in infancy, an unnamed child in 1751 and William Whipple, Jr. in 1772.

Editor's Note: This biographical sketch originally spelled Mrs. Whipple's name "Katharine," however after consulting The Signers of the Declaration of Independence: A Biographical and Genealogical Reference, by Della Gray Barthelmas, we changed the spelling to "Catharine."


Designed and Edited by John Vinci
Last modified January 5, 2004