July 7

There are no less than seven men with the last name of Wightman listed in Cathcart’s Encyclopedia. As I made a quick survey, I wasn’t surprised to see that they were all related – sons, grandsons, great-grandsons. When a family is so closely linked together in the work of God, it is certainly due in part to the mothers and grandmothers of those men.

In 1612 Edward Wightman was burnt at an English gibbet for his Baptist “heresies.” Five of his sons then moved to the new world – two were preachers, two were deacons and the other was a faithful church member. Valentine Wightman was a grandson of the martyr Edward. He was born in Rhode Island in 1681.

Valentine was saved by grace, called and ordained into the gospel ministry, after which he started the first Baptist church in Connecticut. For 42 years he pastored that assembly in the city of Groton. When he died, he was followed by his son Timothy. Under the son’s ministry the church grew so surprisingly that it voluntarily divided, beginning a second church in town. Like his father, Timothy served that same Groton church for 42 years, including the period of the Revolutionary War.

To Timothy Wightman and his wife was born a son whom they named John Gano, in honor of the pastor of the First Baptist Church in New York. John was saved and ordained to the ministry, eventually accepting a call from the same church as his father and grandfather. On this day in 1817 he married Bridget Allyn who stood by his side during a period of at least ten seasons of great revival in the church.

John Gano Wightman died on July 13, 1841 concluding a period of 125 straight years of Wightman pastors. Interestingly, 23 years later John’s grandson was ordained pastor of that church.