Conway Whittle

By Henry H. Mitchell

Conway Whittle

Conway Whittle was the second of nine children of James Whittle II and Mary McNeice of Thistleborough, near Glenavy, County Antrim, on the border of Loch Neagh near Belfast, Ireland. He settled in Norfolk, Virginia, and was followed there and joined in business by his younger brother Fortescue.

Thus Conway Whittle was the uncle of Fortescue Whittle's notable children, including Capt. W. C. Whittle, James M. Whittle, Bishop Francis Whittle, Col. Lewis Neale Whittle, and Lt. Col. Powhatan B. Whittle.

Following is a biographical sketch written around 1920 by Ruth Drewry Whittle, a granddaughter-in-law of Capt. W. C. Whittle.

Conway [Whittle] … came to the United states soon after the Peace of 1783 and settled … first at Petersburg, Virginia and afterwards in Norfolk, Virginia. There he married a widow, Boush, whose maiden name was Frances Munford, and had three children; viz, Mary, married to Lieutenant B. T. Neal of the U. S. Navy, Frances M. who married Capt. Wm. Lewis of the U. S. Navy, and Conway Whittle, for a short time a mid-shipman in the navy, afterwards a lawyer at the Norfolk Bar and for many years Collector of the Port of Norfolk. The husbands of the two daughters were both lost at sea about the close of the war with Tripoli. Conway, the son, married a Miss Tyler and they had three children, Grace, Mary and Chloe. Grace and Mary married two brothers named Sams, and Chloe married J. Newport Greene, a gentleman from Ireland….

[Conway Whittle] seems to have been well established as an exporting and importing merchant when [his brother] Fortescue came to this country about 1800 or 1802. … [The two brothers entered into partnership] and they carried on for a number of years their extensive and lucrative business. They owned a number of merchant vessels and would send them laden with provisions, etc. to France, and would bring back such merchandise as was of ready sale in this country. The profit of these cargoes was immense, owing to the great scarcity and demand for food-stuffs in France at that time, and these gentlemen along with other large exporting merchants, invested their all in the venture. When these vessels were seized and confiscated as contraband of war by the English the result was disastrous. I have been told that they owned five vessels, one returning from France laden with silks was valued at $80,000, while another with a cargo of flour and probably of equal value was taken when just outside the Norfolk Harbor. These reverses necessitated the removal of [Fortescue Whittle] and his young wife and four children [William Conway; James; Fortescue, Jr.; and Conway Davies] to Millbank, Mecklenburg County, Virginia, to an estate owned by Col. William Davies, the father of Mary Anne Davies [wife of Fortescue Whittle].


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