- John was ordained priest by the Bishop of Peterborough on 20 Dec. 1619. He may have been a minister first at Belleau, but later moved to Bilsby, where he married the Vicar’s daughter Marie Storre. He became Vicar himself in 1623.
Marie died and about a year later, John married Mary Hutchinson. They had three children in England and four more in Massachusetts.
John held the Vicarage of Bilsby until January 1632/33, when he was suspended for nonconformity. Eventually, he joined his in-laws in planning to migrate to New England. The Hutchinson emigration seems to have been spurred by the charges brought against their friend the Rev. John Cotton. John Wheelwright later followed Cotton’s beliefs and he, his wife, children and his mother-in-law (a widow) and landed in Boston on 26 May 1636.
John and his wife were admitted to the Boston church on 12 June 1636 and John became preacher to the people of the Mount Wollaston (now Braintree) area.
By the end of 1636, however, trouble arose for John Wheelwright, as he was accused of sharing the teachings and beliefs of his sister-in-law Anne Marbury Hutchinson. Anne’s beliefs were viewed as heretical. Anne and her family were banished and left for Rhode Island. John Wheelwright volunteered to be banished and left with his family to establish the town of Exeter, now in NH.
In 1643, the town of Exeter had swelled in size and the majority of settlers were no longer followers of John Wheelwright. The town voted to accept the protection of Massachusetts and John Wheelwright moved on. He and his family settled in Wells, Maine, where he built a saw-mill and established a new church.
By 1647, John had made sufficient gestures towards Massachusetts, that he was allowed once again to reside within it protected area. He moved to Hampton, NH, where he was given a salary of £40 a year (£50 in 1650), a house and a more comfortable style of living. By 1656, he was cleared of the charges that had been laid against him, although the Colony never admitted to having wronged him.
About 1656, he sought dismissal from the Hampton church and he traveled back to England, where his friend and college class-mate Oliver Cromwell had been in power since the execution of Charles I in 1649. John remained for about 6 years, but after Cromwell died, life for a Puritan in England again became difficult.
He settled in Salisbury, Mass., by 9 Dec. 1662. Never one to shirk controversy, he took on Captain (later Major) Robert Pike, a leading citizen in Salisbury (John’s grandson Jacob Bradbury married Pike’s granddaughter Sarah Stockman and are ancestors of Catharen Buxton Webster). Pike was 22 years younger than John Wheelwright (who was 70 in 1662), had been a founding member of Salisbury and had served the town extensively since that time. Pike and his family were known to be ornery, but were generally well respected in the town. (Pike and his sons supported Mary Perkins Bradbury in her witchcraft trial - John Wheelwright’s daughter Rebecca married Mary’s son William and were the parents of Jacob Bradbury mentioned above.)
The argument revolved around Pike’s religious views. John made potentially libelous statements about Pike and eventually excommunicated him from the church. In return, Pike had John summoned to appear in court. Eventually the general court decided that both men were to blame and forced the two to shake hands – which managed to end the entire matter.
John remained in Salisbury until his death, naming his son as his chief legatee.
Savage says: JOHN, Braintree, bred at Sydney Coll. Cambr. where he had his degr. 1614 and 18, was min. at Belleau, near Alford in Co. Lincoln, whence with his w. Mary, sis. prob. of William Hutchinson, and of his ch. certain. Thomas, Catharine, and prob. Samuel, perhaps all exc. John, he came to Boston in the same ship with Rev. Samuel, Whiting, arr. at Boston, 26 May 1636, and on 12 June foll. he, his w. and the wid. Susanna Hutchinson, her mo. as I judge, unit. with Boston ch. and on 25 June 1637, his d. Mary was bapt. But the long troubles of the antinom. controv. had begun, and being banish. with his [] princip. friends and adherents in 1638, he rem. to Exeter, of wh. he is justly call. the founder, being the first signer of the civil combinat. on Friday, 4 Oct. 1639; there prob. had Rebecca and Hannah, and at his next home, prob. Elizabeth and Sarah. When the N. H. planta. came under rule of Mass. in 1642, he rem. to Wells, but aft. reconcil. with Winthrop and the rest of the governm. went 1647 to be collea. in the serv. of the ch. with Dalton at Hampton, in 1657 was in Eng. and had favor with Oliver Cromwell, wh. had been intimate with him at the Univ. but he came back soon aft. the restorat. and was sett. min. 9 Dec. 1662, at Salisbury, there d. 15 Nov. 1679, aged above 80 yrs. Of his s. John it may be presum. that he was oldest ch. and never came to our side of the Atlantic, but was a scholar, perhaps a preach. in Eng. wh. publish. at London, a vindicat. of his f. in Nov. 1645, against the bitter aspersions of Thomas Welde, and very likely may have thot. it useful to display equal sprit. I can have no doubt that he was d. bef. the will of his f. His will of 25 May preced. pro. 26 Nov. foll. names s. Samuel, but not Thomas, wh. prob. was d. s.-in-law, Edward Rishworth, and gr. ch. Edward Lyde, wh. was to pay something to his mo. Mary, then w. of the first Theodore Atkinson, Mary White, d. of Edward Rishworth, Mary Maverick, and William, Thomas, and Jacob Bradbury. In Lincolnsh. and in Maine he had est. to bestow in beq. to heirs, but he thot. very little of any in N. H. Several of these seem here not to be represent. but prob. they had been provid. for at earlier days, or were d. without heirs. We must look for fuller aco. to the will (made twelve yrs. bef.) of his bach. br. Samuel Hutchinson. Of the six ds. with considerable confidence, I assign. hs. to all: Sarah, the youngest, m. 1671, as his sec. w. Richard Crispe (to her, for her portion, the f. call. hims. late of Belleau, Co. Linc. gave, 22 Oct. 1677, his messuage, with appurtenanc. at Mawthorpe in the parish of Willoughby, Co. Line. to be enj. aft. d. of donor); Elizabeth m. George Parsons, Person, or Pearson; Rebecca m. 4 Dec. 1660, Samuel Maverick, and next, 12 Jan. or more prob. Mar. 1672, William Bradbury; Mary m. 4 Dec. 1660, Edward Lyde, and next, Oct. 1667, Theodore Atkinson; Hannah m. Anthony Checkley; and Catharine m. Robert Nanny, and next, Edward Naylor. [1, 2]