James Whittaker

Male, Deceased Person

1751 – 1787


Who was James Whittaker?

James Whittaker was the second leader of the Shakers.

Whittaker was born in Oldham, England and became a weaver and a member of the artisan and merchant class. He came to colonial America with Mother Ann Lee, who was one of his relatives and raised him. Father Jaems Whittaker, Father William Lee, and Mother Ann Lee had lived in Manchester, England and were known as the First Parents of the Shaker sect. Whittaker was a powerful orator who drew many people to the Shaker sect.

He became leader following the death of Mother Ann Lee in September 1784. Under Whittaker’s lead, Shaker communities were formed in New England beginning in 1784 and the meetinghouse was built at Mount Lebanon, which became the center for all other Shaker communes.

Whittaker had suffered from physical abuse and traveled a great deal for the sect. Having a premonition of his death, he chose to died at Enfield, Connecticut Shaker community. After James Whittaker’s death in 1787, American Joseph Meacham, with whom he had a power struggle, became the next leader of the Shakers.


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Feb 28, 1751
Jul 20, 1787

on July 23, 2013