A Merrill Memorial

The following is the text from Samuel Merrill’s “A Merrill Memorial” Finished in 1928, A Merrill Memorial is the most thorough Merrill Genealogy ever published. I am in the process of editing it, correcting some of the errors in it and adding to it information that I have received from Merrill across the country. The footnotes are Samuel Merrill’s. The endnotes are mine. JHM   

Above is a original Letter sent out by General Lewis Merrill. His hand writing is up in the upper left hand corner. I have been fortunate to receive a box of letters that belonged to General Merrill. From What I can tell his research was not over. I have found additional names and dates that are not in "AMM". As I find interesting letters I will post them.





CAMBRIDGE, MA 1917-1928  


LODI, CA 1992-2001


WITH regard to this work I entertain no illusions. It is incomplete, but it will save from possible oblivion the records of early generations, which could not again be easily gathered, and it will assist many to determine their own lines of descent. Furthermore, I make no confession of failure.  Intermittently for many years, as I have had leisure, I have studied the family history, but at no time have I undertaken the compilation of a genealogy more complete than that herewith presented.

This work was multigraphed as follows: Pages 159 to 289 in 1917; pages 1 to 152 in 1921-22; pages 291 to 412 in 1925; pages 413 to 644 in 1927. In May 1917, I gave partial copies of this work, comprising the record of the first four generations of the family in America (pages 159 to 289), to the library of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, the New York Public Library, the Newberry Library of Chicago and the library of the California Genealogical Society. In each case I requested readers to send corrections and additions to me. The fact that in ten years no material errors or omissions have been brought to my notice is evidence of the substantial completeness of that portion of this work.

For the faults of this work I can offer few excuses. I have done the typewriting, illustrating and printing as best I could, without assistance, also without instruction in drawing, and without even an apprentice’s training in a printing office. The standard of accuracy, however, is probably higher than it would have been if I had sought the clerical and mechanical assistance of persons unfamiliar with the subject matter.

Many books of family history published within the past thirty years are disintegrating on the library shelves owing to the presence of an excessive amount of wood pulp in the paper on which they are printed. In some such books aniline inks have been employed, and the text is fading owing to action of sunlight.  In this book the best linen record paper has been used, and the ink after six months’ uninterrupted exposure to sun and rain has shown no loss of color.

No copies of this book have been sold, and none will be sold. Copies, for public use, will be given to about twenty libraries, including the following:

In the copies deposited in the library of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and the New York Public Library I shall probably make corrections and additions not entered in other copies.

Cambridge, Mass.

1 Feb. 1928.



Tree Students of Family History                                               

Merrill: the Name and Its Variations.  .   .  .  .  .  .  .  . .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . .  17

English Origin of the Merrill Family.  .   .  .  .  .  .  .  . .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .   28

The Wills of Three John Merrells.  .   .  .  .  .  .  .  . .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  32  

Wherstead, a Parish in Suffolk.  .   .  .  .  .  .  .  . .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .   .  .    48

Newbury in the Seventeenth Century.  .   .  .  .  .  .  .  . .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .   .  55

Nathaniel(1) of Newbury and His Sons.  .   .  .  .  .  .  .  . .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . .  66

Nathaniel(2).  .   .  .  .  .  .  .  . .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .   .  . .  .  .   .  74         

John(2).  .   .  .  .  .  .  .  . .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .   .  .   .  . .   .  .  .  .  .  78     

Abraham(2).  .   .  .  .  .  .  .  . .  .  .  .  . .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .   .  . .  .  .  . .  .   .  85 

Nathaniel(2).  .   .  .  .  .  .  .  . .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .   .   .  .  .  .  . 91

Abel(2).  .   .  .  .  .  .  .  . .   .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .   .  . .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .   97                                       

John1 Merrill of Newbury.  .   .  .  .  .  .  .  . .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  102

A Few Questions of Heraldry.  .   .  .  .  .  .  .  . .  .  .  .    .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . . .   107

Merrill as a Place-Name.  .   .  .  .  .  .  .  . .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .   .   .  117

Some Eighteenth Century Migrations.  .   .  .  .  .  .  .  . .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .   .   .  125          

Some Unconnected Lines.  .   .  .  .  .  .  .  . .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .   .  . .  .     163

The Prudence Merills Document


Three Students of the Family History


To Rev. Samuel-Hill Merrill, more than to any other individual, is due credit for the collection and preservation of data relating to the early generations of the Merrill family in this country. His interest and industry saved from oblivion many facts which otherwise would have been lost, and the work which he performed, incomplete as it was, has been the foundation on which all later students have sought to build.

Mr. Merrill’s son wrote that his father began his genealogical work in 1850.  Pastorates in various places in northern New England gave him opportunity for much research in town and church records, and this in his later years he supplemented by correspondence with persons in more distant places.

Not long after Rev. Mr. Merrill’s death, Gyles Merrill of Haverhill, Mass. chanced to be in Portland, and called upon the widow to make inquiries with regard to the clergyman’s genealogical papers. It appeared that members of the family were little interested in the work which Mr. Merrill had done in this field, and an arrangement was easily made by which all the books and papers relating to the family history came into the possession of Mr. Merrill of Haverhill. These papers, now in the possession of the compiler of this Memorial, have been freely used in the present work.

Rev. Mr. Merrill was a painstaking student, and later research has brought to light few serious errors in the written records which he compiled. He seems not to have made much effort to trace the history of the family in England, and had made comparatively little progress in gathering data regarding the later generations in this country, but his tabulation of the descendants of Nathaniel(2), Abraham(2), Daniel(2) and Abel2, for the first three or four generations, has been of great value to those who have succeeded him in the work. To the descendants of John2 of Hartford he paid little attention.

Biographical Samuel-Hill Merrill was in the eighth generation of the American Merrill’s. He descended from Daniel(2) through John3, Thomas4, Samuel5, Humphrey6 and James7, and was born 12 May, 1805, in Buxton, Me.

After preparatory studies in Troy and Albany, N.Y., he pursued a theological course, from 1827 to 1830, with Rev. Jacob Cummings, a Congregational clergyman of Stratham, N.H. He was ordained 23 Feb.  1831, in Barrington, N.H., where he remained as pastor about four years. In 1834 he went to Indiana as agent of the American Tract Society, and in 1836 became colleague with Dr. Lyman Beecher, pastor of the Second Presbyterian Church of Cincinnati. He preached at Center Harbor, N H., as stated supply, in 1838-40, and was pastor at Amesbury Mills, Mass., from 1840 to 1844. After supplying pulpits at Kennebunkport and Old Town, Me., he was installed as pastor of the Old Town church, remaining there from 1846 to 1854. Later he held pastorates at Bluehill and East Machias, Me. In 1856 he took charge of the Bethel Church for Seamen in Portland, and remained there until 1864, when he resigned to fill a chaplaincy in the army.

Mr. Merrill was commissioned chaplain of the First District of Columbia Cavalry 19 Feb. 1864. He served with this organization until it was merged with the First Maine Cavalry, and then served as chaplain of the First Maine until it was mustered out, 1 Aug. 1865. After the war he wrote “Campaigns of the First Maine and First District of Columbia Cavalry,” which was published in Portland in 1866.  [1]

In July, 1866, Mr. Merrill was appointed agent of the American Bible Society for New England, and held this position three years. At the time of his death he had been supplying the pulpit of the Congregational church in Scarboro, Me., for more than two years. He was stricken by paralysis while in his pulpit, 31 Aug. 1873. There had been recent deaths in the parish, and for this reason he took for his text I Samuel, xx, 3: “There is but a step between me and death.” Shortly after beginning his sermon he paused, and seated himself on the sofa. He was carried to his room, but his work was ended. He died in Scarboro 18 Sept. 1873, aged 68.

A reunion of his regiment was being held in Bangor at the time of his death.  When the telegraph announced that his life was over Rev. Dr. Teft, a former chaplain, said of him, addressing the assembled veter ans:

“He was as good and faithful a chaplain as ever held the office. Both in camp and on the battle-field he closely imitated his Master; for he, like Him, ‘went about doing good: Other men in his position would think it enough to do what was set before them; but he waited for no man to point out the ways of usefulness. He sought and found them for himself; and yet nothing, as you all know, ever did him so great a pleasure as to be informed where he could be of service to his suffering comrades and to his country’s cause. To bless the soldier, to encourage him in the hour of danger, to impart to him the consolations of religion when stricken down, was more than his meat and drink. But I need not enlarge; you know it all. His memory is sacred to every one of you; it will remain with you till your own dying day.”

Mr. Merrill married Hannah Prentice, daughter of Rev. Josiah Prentice of Northwood, N.H., 9 Nov. 1832. His children were:

Edward-Payson9 Merrill, born 7 Nov. 1834; a 1st Lieutenant in Co. D, First Maine Cavalry, while his father was chaplain, and later a commission merchant in Portland. (He was still living there in 1920.)

Susan-Frentice9, born 6 April, 1840; married 12 Mar. 1873, Thomas Brackett Reed, for twenty-two years a member of Congress from Maine, and for six years Speaker of the House. (Mrs. Reed died 28 May, 1914, at her home in Portland. She left an estate of more than $600,000. Of this $100,000 was given to her brother Edward, and most of the remainder to her only child Katherine, wife of Arthur Ballantine of San Diego, Cal.)  

Marion-Calista9, born 10 Jan. 1842; married Rev. Charles Dana Barrows, D.D., a Congregational clergyman who held pastorates in San Francisco and in Lowell, Mass.

Some years ago a veteran of the First Maine Cavalry told me of Chaplain Merrill and the high esteem in which he was held by the men of the regiment.  On one occasion, he said, a portion of the regiment was on a transport floating down one of the Virginia rivers. It was a Sunday, but, to pass the time away, some of the men, idling on the deck of the steamer, began a game of cards. Soon the chaplain chanced that way. He looked sadly at the card-players, and slowly passed on, but said nothing.

“We knew that the chaplain didn’t like it,” said the narrator. “He didn’t say anything, but he looked grieved, and none of us wanted to hurt his feelings.  It was surprising how quickly we lost interest in that game! So the cards were put away, and the game ended.”

David Norton, author of “Sketches of the Town of Old Town,” (published 1881, page 101), describes Mr. Merrill as “a man of distinguished ability, personally attractive, of the greatest suavity of manner and address, winning his way into the good graces and opinions of all classes of society. . . . He was of that kind of temperament which required a good deal of exercise, and he was fond of getting away into the forest and spending a week or so in hunting and fishing. . . . He was very fond of children, and the parson was ever ready to unbend himself and ‘become a boy again,’ and was as much interested as they were in a game of romp or hide and seek.”


Commenting on the service performed by Gyles Merrill of Haverhill, Mass., in respect to the family genealogy, Gen. Lewis Merrill wrote: “To his zealous and intelligent gathering of data and information, and his laborious and critical examination of every puzzling question referred to him, and to his deep interest in and sympathy with the labor undertaken in compiling this record, the writer is very deeply indebted, as are all who have any interest in the subject.”

Gyles Merrill’s interest in the history of his family began when he was a young man, and continued until his death. At no time, however, had he any thought of preparing a history for publication. His work was simply an agreeable employment, aimed at satisfying his own curiosity, and it was done in the scant leisure which the activities of a busy life afforded. His research involved a study of many closely related lines of his own ancestors, the families of Putnam, Cushing, Wainwright, Bradbury, True, and a number of others, engaging his attention in an equal degree.

After obtaining possession of the Merrill records gathered by Rev. Samuel H. Merrill Gyles Merrill’s research extended over a wider field, but still he formed no plan for continuing the work which the clergyman had undertaken. He entered heartily into the spirit of Gen. Lewis Merrill’s genealogical project, however, and assisted in every way in his power, and he keenly regretted that Gen. Merrill was forced to discontinue his work, the genealogy still far from finished. 

At his death in 1894 Gyles Merrill left to the compiler of this Memorial all his genealogical books and papers. It is as a personal tribute to his memory, and with a view to preserving this material, and the large amount of additional matter which has been gathered since his death, and making it accessible to those who are interested in the subject, that this book is now given to the public.

His Antecedents Gyles Merrill was born and died in the house where his father spent his life, and where his grandfather, Rev. Gyles Merrill, and his great-grandfather, Rev. James Cushing, lived during the seventy years covered by their two ministries. The same house, three miles from the center of population of Haverhill, is now the home of his eldest surviving son.

Rev. James4 Cushing was a descendant from Matthew1 Cushing (1589-1660), emigrant, through

John2 (1627-1708) of Scituate, colonel of the Plymouth regiment, Deputy and Assistant of the

Plymouth Colony, and Rev. Caleb3 (1673-1752) of Salisbury. He was great-grandson of Rev. John

Cotton, who held pastorates in Boston, England, and Boston, Mass., and grandson of Rev. John Cotton of Plymouth, the Indian scholar. Rev. James4 Cushing was born 15 June, 1705, in Salisbury,  graduated at Harvard in 1725, and was ordained as the first minister of the North Parish Church in Haverhill 2 Dec. 1730. He died 13 May, 1764. 

Rev. James Cushing’s wife was Ann Wainwright, whose grandfather, Capt. Simon Wainwright, was killed by the Indians in Haverhill in 1708. Her father, Capt. John Wainwright, was drowned in 1721, when Ann was only eight years old. John Wainwright’s cousin, Lucy Wainwright of Ipswich, had married Judge Paul Dudley of Roxbury, son of Gov. Joseph Dudley. Judge Dudley’s six children having all died in infancy, his wife’s young cousin was given a home in the Judge’s household, and it was there that James Cushing married her, 15 Oct. 1735. [2]  Mehitable Wainwright, sister of Ann, was the wife of Meshech Weare, President of New Hampshire during the Revolution.

From the Dudley homestead in Roxbury a number of cuttings of apple trees were taken to Haverhill, about the time of Ann Wainwright’s marriage, and grafted on trees on the parsonage grounds. They were of a variety called “snoutings,” and the original stock was brought from England. Currant bushes and an asparagus bed were also set out at the parsonage, the plants coming from the Dudley estate. It used to be said that for many decades this was the only asparagus bed in Haverhill. Both the asparagus bed and the apple trees were still in existence, and in bearing condition, at the time of Gyles7 Merrill’s death in 1894, though the trees showed evidence of extreme old age.

Of Rev. James4 Cushing’s children, James5 was a surgeon in the British Navy, and died, 2 June, 1764, at Madras, India, and John5 was a surgeon in the American service in the Revolution, was captured by the British, and confined in the Mill Prison, Plymouth, England. His daughter Lucy5 was born 1 Aug. 1747, and died 7 Aug. 1798. She married Rev. Gyles Merrill 13 Oct. 1767.

The pallbearers at the funeral of Rev. James Cushing were eight clergymen, and, following a custom of the time, each in turn supplied the North Parish pulpit for one Sunday following Mr. Cushing’s death. Rev. Gyles Merrill thereafter occupied the vacant pulpit, and was ordained some months later. [3]

Rev. Gyles5 Merrill was born 12 March, 1739, in Salisbury, his father being Moses4 (Moses3, Daniel2). He was named for Dr. Samuel Gyles of Newburyport, who had married his mother’s sister. He graduated at Harvard College in 1759, and then studied theology with his uncle, Rev.  John True of Hampstead, N.H. He died 27 Apr. 1801.

Writing in 1860 the author of Chase’s “History of Haverhill” said: “The Rev. Mr. Merrill had a peaceful ministry, and was greatly respected and beloved by his people. As a preacher he was orthodox in faith, of sound learning, and was justly and highly esteemed. The simplicity, kindness and dignity of his manners are even yet remembered by many, with the greatest respect and veneration. He had the welfare of his people constantly at heart, and those who survive him testify to his amiable disposition, and his devoutness as a Christian.”

Rev. Gyles Merrill has been described as being tall, with dark eyes and hair, and of fine personal appearance. He had positive convictions, but was tactful in meeting opposition, and was often called upon, when friction arose in neighboring parishes, to act as arbiter, seldom failing to bring the warring factions into accord. “He was a sound scholar and learned divine, simple and earnest.”  [4]  

College-preparatory schools were few in his time, and a number of young men were prepared for college under his instruction, boarding in his household while pursuing their studies. In respect to worldly possessions he was more prosperous than most of his calling. Aug. 12, 1771, he purchased from the Parish the parsonage house and three and a half acres in connection with it,[5] and by subsequent purchases aquired fifty-nine acres of farm land near the parsonage, besides twelve acres in Plaistow and 12 ½ acres of woodland in Londonderry, N.H. The inventory of his estate shows that this farm was well stocked and equipped. At his death he had a horse, a pair of oxen and seven cows, besides seven other cattle and thirteen sheep and lambs. He seems to have been looked upon by the people of his parish and neighborhood as a man of means and a friend in time of need, for at his death he held about twenty promissory notes, ranging in amount from $2 up to $255. The total of the inventory was $4742.37. 

At the desk at which, in his later years, Rev. Gyles Merrill wrote his sermons, much of the work of compiling this history has been performed, and seated there I finished, with pen and ink, this picture of the desk itself.  “June 8, 1792. Moses Cushing brought home my desk and book case.” This entry in the diary of Rev. Gyles Merrill records the advent of the fine old article of furniture in the Merrill household. Since then, for a century and a quarter, it has faithfully served a succession of the clergyman’s descendants.  The cabinet maker was an older brother of Lucy Cushing, and he lived about a mile south of the parsonage, on the road to Haverhill. 

Rev. Gyles Merrill had five sons and four daughters. His two youngest sons, James-Cushing6 and Samuel6, graduated at Harvard College in 1807. Both were noted for their scholarship in the classics, both became lawyers, and both served in the Massachusetts Senate. James-Cushing6 Merrill was for seventeen years one of the judges of the Boston Police Court, and Samuel6 Merrill was president of the Merrimack Mutual Fire Insurance Company, of Andover, Mass. Another son, Moses6 Merrill, lived on the homestead place in Haverhill, and died there in 1864 at the age of 88 years. From 1819 until his death he was a justice of the peace, and was widely known as ‘Squire Merrill. He was for many years collector of Haverhill. Moses6 Merrill’s youngest son was Gyles7 Merrill, the genealogist.

His Life The old parsonage house of the North Parish was the birthplace of Gyles7 Merrill, as it had been of his father and his father’s mother. He was born there 13 March, 1816, and died there, of pneumonia, 23 Jan. 1894.  The house was built by the Parish about 1731, and remained practically without change until 1863. It has never been unoccupied, and many of the original timbers lend strength to the larger house which now occupies the site.

Gyles7 Merrill received the usual common school education, supplemented by courses at Atkinson Academy and in private schools, under the tuition of his cousin Gyles-Merrill Kimball, grandson of Rev. Gyles5 Merrill through Lucy6 Merrill, and of another kinsman, John Kelly, whose uncle Jacob had married Mary6 Merrill, Lucy’s sister. Gyles7 Merrill taught school each winter for six years, beginning when he was nineteen years of age, and worked on his father’s farm, and as a surveyor, the rest of the year. (The silhouette, made in his youth, was the work of a Putnam cousin.)

Early in 1840 the Boston & Maine Railroad was under construction through New Hampshire, and he became a bookkeeper and paymaster for the contractors, leaving this position to assume the superintendency of a screw factory at Rotterdam, N.Y. Wishing to live nearer his old home he resigned this position in 1847, and entered the employ of the Norfolk Lead Company of Roxbury (now Boston). Within a year he became superintendent. He devoted himself to the manufacture of white lead and kindred products until 1852, when the company sold its business to the Boston Lead Company.  He next took a position with the Sullivan Railroad Company, shortly becoming superintendent, and lived in Charlestown, N.H., in this capacity, from 1852 to 1859.             

In 1859 the Vermont Central and Vermont & Canada Railroads leased the Sullivan road, and he became superintendent of the combined system, with offices first in Northfield, Vt., and, after 1860, in St. Albans. Ill health forced him in 1873, to resign, his position then being that of general superintendent of the Central Vermont system. The company had added to its mileage by construction and lease, and when he left the management it was operating a network of fifteen railroads in Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York and Canada. The aggregate length of the system was nearly eight hundred miles.

Mr. Merrill returned to Haverhill in 1874, and occupied again the old homestead, where he spent the remaining years of his life. He made a tour of Europe in 1878, and travelled in the Western and Southern States, but most of his later years were spent quietly at his home. He was deeply interested in all public questions, but never held public office, except for a single term, in 1858, as a member of the New Hampshire Legislature. Although renominated, he declined a reelection. He was an active member of the church with which his family had been for many years associated. Singularly modest and unassuming in character, he was distinguished for strict integrity and broad benevolence, and died without having ever made an enemy.

Gyles Merrill married, 28 Nov. 1849, in Roxbury, Eliza Watson Newbury, daughter of Leonard and Grace (Watson) Newbury. She was born 26 Jan, 1816, in Mickleover, Derbyshire, England, and came to the United States with her family in 1832, and settled in Lockport, N.Y. She was a teacher in Roxbury prior to her marriage. For twenty years she was a vicepresident of the Woman’s Board of Missions of the Congregational Church. She died 24 June, 1890.

Gyles7 Merrill had four children:

Gyles8, born 6 Oct. 1850; died 3 Aug. 1880; B.S., Dartmouth College, 1872; chemist.

Moses-Putnam8, born 27 Jan. 1852; died 13 April, 1878.

James-Cushing8, born 9 Sept. 1853; now living at the Haverhill homestead.

(Died 12 Sept. 1927.)

Samuel8, born 1 Jan. 1855; compiler of this Memorial.

Of Gyles7 Merrill’s grandchildren, Gyles9 (Samuel8), born 2 Nov. 1891, was a first lieutenant in the 77th Field Artillery (United States Regulars) in France in 1918-19. Wainwright9 (Samuel8), born 26 May, 1898, was killed in action at Ypres 6 Nov. 1917, and is buried in the Ypres Reservoir Nurch Cemetery.

Wainwright9 Merrill was a sophomore in Harvard College when, in November, 1916, five months before the tardy declaration of war by the United States, he left college and enlisted in the Canadian Artillery. A volume of his letters, written from English training camps and from the front to members of his family and others, and edited by one of his college instructors, was published in 1918 by George H. Doran Company of New York under the title, “A College Man in Khaki.” The degree of bachelor of arts, “for honorable service in the war,” was conferred by Harvard College on Wainwright Merrill as of the class of 1919.


The third in the group of students of the family history to whom especial credit should be given in this place is Gen. Lewis Merrill of Philadelphia. In the ‘80s of the last century he became physically incapacitated for active military service. Thereafter he devoted much time, for two years or more, to the more sedentary employment of genealogical research, and conducted wide correspondence to gather data. Gyles Merrill of Haverhill placed at his disposal all his own genealogical papers, as well as the papers of Rev.  Samuel H. Merrill. Gen. Merrill retained these books and papers for a considerable time, adding greatly to his own records from these sources.

Gen. Merrill never visited Newbury, Haverhill, and the other places in that vicinity where the earlier generations of the family lived, but when it was necessary to solve any knotty question, or supply missing facts, he had the ready assistance of Gyles Merrill, in whose judgment he had the greatest confidence. In Gen. Merrill’s later years failing eyesight made even genealogical work impracticable, and his task was far from finished at his death.

In 1892, having undertaken to prepare for publication, from the papers in Gyles Merrill’s possession, a brief account of the first five generations of the family in America, I submitted my manuscript to Gen. Merrill. He had kindly agreed to make such additions to my records as he could, and did so, but these additions were not carried beyond the fifth generation. His records of the sixth and subsequent generations were quite extensive, and these remained in the hands of his son after his death.

See “American Ancestry,” vol. iii. (1888), p. 89.

Gen. Lewis8 Merrill was born 24 Oct. 1834, at New Berlin, Pa. His father, James7 Merrill (1790-1841), a native of Peacham, Vt., was a prominent lawyer in New Berlin, and a member of the State Constitutional Convention in 1838. The General’s grandfather and great-grandfather, Jesse6 and Samuel?? Merrill, both served in the Revolution, the younger of the two, as a boy of 15, being a member of the company of which his father was captain at the surrender of Burgoyne. Samuel5 Merrill was a son of Samuel4 (Nathaniel3,2), and lived in the West Parish of Haverhill, Mass.

Three brothers of Gen. Merrill, Charles8, George8 and Jesse8, served with distinction in the War of the Rebellion. George8 was a major. Jesse8 held the rank of General, and served on the staff of Gen. Rosecrans. Charles and Jesse were lawyers, the latter being a resident of Lockhaven, Pa.

Gen. Merrill’s wife was Anna Rhoda Houston, a descendant of Dr. John Houston, a surgeon in the Revolution. She died in 1882. He was survived by a son and two daughters. His son, John-Houston9 Merrill, is a lawyer in Philadelphia, editor of the American and English Encyclopedia of Law, and author of “Memoranda Relating to the Mifflin Family,” published in 1890.

Gen. Merrill graduated at the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1855, and for some time thereafter served in the First Dragoons on the Western frontier. The Civil War having broken out he became, in August, 1861, colonel and chief of cavalry on the staff of Gen. Fr’mont. Soon after this he organized a regiment of Missouri volunteer cavalry, which was known as Merrill’s Horse, and was appointed colonel of the regiment. In 1862 he undertook operations against the guerrillas of western and northern Missouri, and from 1863 to the close of the war commanded brigades of cavalry in Arkansas, Missouri, Georgia and Alabama. March 13, 1865, he was brevetted brigadier-general of volunteers for “gallant and meritorious service during the war.” In 1866 he was appointed inspector-general of the Department of the Platte, and later judge-advocate of that department. He commanded a military district in South Carolina, where he had to deal with the Ku-Klux outlaws, (about 1871), and for this service received the thanks of the War Department and of the Legislature of  South Carolina. In 1875-6 he performed similar duty in the Red River district of Louisiana.

During the Indian troubles in the Northwest, at the time when the Northern Pacific Railroad was under construction, Gen. Merrill was assigned to duty there, in command of the Seventh Cavalry. In his honor a station on the Northern Pacific Railroad in Montana was named Merrill. (See page 121.)

He was promoted major in the Regular Army in 1868. The service which he had performed in South Carolina, however, breaking up the Ku-Klux conspiracy and supporting the so-called “carpet-bag” government, was considered by certain interests in Washington as political, and for this reason his further promotion was delayed. He was retired from active service in 1885 for disability from wounds received in battle, and in 1891 was given the rank of lieutenant-colonel on the the retired list of the Regular Army.  Following his retirement Gen. Merrill made his home in Philadelphia. He was a member of the Loyal Legion, the Grand Army of the Republic and the Masonic order. He was of a genial disposition, and very popular in his club, the Union League, where much of his leisure in his later years was spent.

Gen. Merrill had suffered from nephritis, or inflammation of the kidneys, for some years. His death, from this cause, was quite sudden, however, and he breathed his last on the morning of 27 Feb. 1896, at the Presbyterian Hospital in Philadelphia.

Gen. Merrill was a thorough soldier, and uncompromising in the discharge of his duties. An episode of his cadet life at West Point was related to me, many years ago, by Maj.-Gen. George L. Andrews, who, at the time of the narration, was professor of modern languages at the Military Academy. As a young man Gen. Andrews was an instructor at West Point, he said. There was more or less trouble in the Academy from hazing at the time, and finally a cadet named Gordon was taken to the post hospital as a consequence.  After his discharge from the hospital a court martial was convened. The fact was brought out that Cadet Gordon in the course of a hazing escapade was challenged by Cadet Merrill, who was on sentry duty, and refusing to halt when ordered received a flesh wound from a thrust of the sentry’s bayonet.

Cadet Gordon was disciplined for his misdemeanor,  while Cadet Merrill was commended by the court for the correct performance of his duty.

Merrill: the Name and Its Variations

Origin of Surnames.  Surnames were not common in England before the eleventh century. When they came into use some were derived from places, some from baptismal names, some from trades or offices, and others from miscellaneous sources, these latter being in their origin largely nicknames based upon personal characteristics or upon the names of animals, birds or other things. To which of these classes our family name may be assigned, I regret that I am unable to say.

Battle Abbey Roll. The search for the origin of the Merrill name has led many to inspect the Roll of Battle Abbey—the list of Norman knights who survived the battle of Hastings, and who were rewarded for their military service by grants of English land from the Norman Conquerer. As General Merrill wrote, “There are among the names on Battle Roll three which may have become Merrill in after years.” But the true Roll “has not come down to our times, and the various lists we possess are of subsequent date, and more or less apocryphal in their character.”[6] Many names are said to have been inserted in after years by the monks of the abbey, for mercenary considerations, and the Roll is now considered of little or no historic value.

Is the Name Anglo-Saxon? In a little book entitled “Surnames as a Science,” published in London in 1883, Robert Ferguson, M.P., seeks to derive “Merrill” from a German origin through the Anglo-Saxon. Few of us will thank him for his efforts. “Marlingen,” he says, is a Bavarian family name, and it appears in the Anglo-Saxon as “Merlingas.” The “ing” in this name “is a patronymic, as in Bruning, son of Br–n.” The ending “ingas” is of the nominative plural, Merlingas thus denoting sons or descendants of Merl.  According to this theory, some family among the Saxon hordes which invaded England in the fifth and sixth centuries may have been under the patriarchal leadership of a man named Merl, and all the individuals in the group accordingly took the name Merlingas, or sons or followers of Merl.

But Mr. Ferguson wastes his efforts in etymological abstractions, and gives no evidence whatever to show that the English surname Merrill has anything in common with Marl and Marling, all of which names he undertakes to derive from the same Anglo-Saxon source. A little phonetic similarity is insufficient to prove community of origin.

The Huguenot Theory. Another theory, which has found many supporters, is that the family is descended from Huguenots who migrated to England after the bloody events which marked St. Bartholomew’s day in Paris in 1572. To quote again from General Merrill:

“I have no doubt, and have everything short of full proof, that we come of the English Merrill family who fled from France after the massacre of St.  Bartholomew. They belonged to the DuMerle family of Auvergne, and the DeMerle family of Dauphiny. The evidence of the coat-of-arms is to my mind conclusive, taken with all the other facts.”

Bishop Stephen-M. Merrill and his brother, James-Warren Merrill, in their little book, “Joshua Merrill and Family” (1899), arrived at a similar conclusion. They say, “The name Merrill, according to the best information now in reach, originated in the French-speaking Cantons in Switzerland several hundred years ago. . . . The original form of the name, and that still prevalent in Switzerland, was Merle. The Rev. J. H. Merle, D.D., the learned author of the ‘History of the Reformation,’ (D’Aubign”s history), is an example.” 

Merle is a French common noun meaning blackbird, and it is an old English name for birds of the same species. The French also use the word, in a figurative sense, to denote a crafty, swaggering fellow, and Lor’dan Larchey,  in his “Dictionnaire des Noms,” (Paris, 1880), intimates that Merle as a surname was presumably first applied to some quarrelsome person. 

But the theory that the English name “Merrill” is derived from the French “Merle” seems to depend altogether on phonetic resemblance for support. It ignores the fact that the Merrill name was found in England long before the sixteenth century. [7]

Miriel, Meriel, Meurrill, Meverell, six centuries ago. The Duchess of Cleveland in “The Battle Abbey Roll” (vol. II, page 245), mentions “John and Richard Miriel, Norfolk; Adam de Miriel, Suffolk; and Matilda de Miriel, with her daughter Margaret, Kent, in the time of Edward I [1272-1307]. Nicholas de Meriel was of Yorkshire at the same date.”

In Bray’s “Sketch of a Tour into Derbyshire and Yorkshire,” (published 1777), the village of Tidswell (now spelled Tideswell) in Derbyshire is described. In the chancel of the large parish church, the writer says, “there is also a raised tomb (on which bread is given away every Sunday) for Sampson Meurrill, with a date of 1388.” This was probably the year of Sampson Meurrill’s birth, for Guillim, in “A Display of Heraldry” (6th edit., 1724, page 266), tells of “Sir Sampson Meverell, Kt. who dy’d Anno 1462, and was buried in the Church of Tydeswall in the County of Derby.”

The pedigree of Sir Sampson is given by Guill im thro’ a line of seven Meverell ancestors, together with a line of descent to Francis Meverell, four generations later. Francis Meverell, like most of the others mentioned in the pedigree, was of Throwley, in the neighboring county of Stafford. His arms were: “Argent, a Griffon rampant with Wings display’d Sable, beak’d and leg’d Gules, arm’d Or.” Sampson Meverell, eldest son of Francis, was living in 1569. 

Whether these Meverells or Meurrills of Staffordshire were related to the Merrells of Suffolk is not known; but their presence in England through all the centuries covered by the thirteen generations enumerated in the “Display of Heraldry” increases the difficulty of convincing a sceptic that the Merrills are of Huguenot extraction. Other instances also might be cited to show that the name, with some variation in spelling, was present in England at a very early date. It is much more likely that the American Merrills are descended from some one of these Miriels, Meriels, Meurrills or Meverells than that their ancestors were Merles in France in the sixteenth century. Nathaniel1 Merrill of Newbury was probably a native of Suffolk, and “Adam de Miriel, Suffolk,” cotemporary and subject of Edward Longshanks, may easily have been his kinsman. No one in this day, however, can hope to trace the connecting links through the three intervening centuries. 

Light Complexion, or Dark?  Again quoting the same letter from General Merrill (dated 2 Sept. 1884): “The Huguenot family from which we come, if I am right in my belief, were from Westphalia originally, and belonged to a light-haired people. They were not Latins, but Teutons, and the name is, I think, very clearly traceable to the Old High German M„r, which meant ‘illustrious.’ The Westphalian form of the name still exists, M„hrle.”

Marell, Märell and Mährle are given as German family names by Prof.  Albert Heintze in “Die deutschen Familiennamen,” (Halle, 1903). These are all diminutive forms of Mar, and Mar has been employed in the formation of the names of persons, according to Heintze, since the first century. The word is derived from the Gothic mˆrs, Old High German mƒri, Middle High German maere, meaning renowned.

This German derivation becomes unimportant, of course, if we dismiss the Huguenot theory as untenable.

Mark Antony Lower, author of “Patronymica Britannica, a Dictionary of the Family Names of the United Kingdom,” (London, 1860), ignores Merrill, Morrill and Morrell as family names, but mentions Merrell as “probably the same as Murrell, Morell.” These two latter he considers variants of the same name. Merle also he gives as “perhaps the same as Murrell.” Mr. Lower ascribes French Huguenot ancestry to certain of the Morells of England, but he adds: “There were other and earlier importations of this name into England, the first on record being that of one Morel, who is mentioned in the Domesday of Norfolk [1086]. The word is a diminutive of the Old French more, a Moor, and refers to darkness of complexion.” [8] 

Another English writer, Charles Wareing Bardsley, in a posthumous work entitled “A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames” (London, 1901), groups Morel, Morell, Morrall, Morrell and Morrill together as having a common origin, and says they were used originally as nicknames, being derived from morel, meaning dark-complexioned. As between the theory that the earliest members of the family belonged to a light-haired race, and the belief that the family name is derived from a word meaning dark-complexioned, there is no occasion to make a choice. A lady of another family name, who took pride in a strain of Merrill blood, and sought my aid in tracing her Merrill ancestors, assured me that “all Merrills have light hair and eyes, and are below the average in hight.” Inasmuch as my father and three brothers all had dark eyes and hair, and averaged nearly six feet in hight, I had to disagree with her. And a correspondent once assured me that “all Merrills are very musical people,” a statement which any of my friends, who ever heard me attempt to sing, would dispute, probably with sarcastic comments.

Such generalizations are never trustworthy. If a certain Nathaniel8 Merrill were descended from a line of ancestors among whom there had been no intermarriage of relatives, only 1-128th part of his blood could be considered to be derived from Nathaniel1 Merrill. In equal degree he would have inherited the blood of 127 ancestors in other families, 64 of the total being male and 64 female. A descendant in the direct male line inherits no more of the blood of Nathaniel1 Merrill than a descendant of a daughter of Nathaniel’s daughter, where the descent in every case follows a female line, with a change of name in every generation.

Muriel Bardsley, in his “Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames,” explains Merrill, Merrall, Merrell, Murrell and Murrells as originally a baptismal name, signifying “the son of Muriel.” He adds: “From an early there was a disposition to pronounce this name [Muriel] Meriel or Merrell.” A little book devoted to the subject of baptismal names of girls—I have forgotten the title—explains Muriel as derived from the Greek mupov, meaning myrrh. 

Merrill and Morrill. General Merrill was convinced that the Morrills had been a distinct family since the Conquest, “they coming probably from Hugo de Moruile (Battle Abbey Roll).” On the other hand, community of blood between the Merrill, Morrill and Murrill families in England is perhaps indicated by the fact that a similar coat of arms is described under the several names in works on heraldry. (See pages 110-111.)

Some confusion has been caused by a peculiarity of medieval script, e being often written Q, and o being  written O. Thus, might easily be mistaken for Morrill, when in reality it should be read Merrill. Abraham Morrill was an early settler of Salisbury, Mass., but few instances of serious error, so far as I am aware, can be attributed to the names of his descendants being mistaken for the names of Merrills in the records of Newbury and Salisbury.

The writers whom I have quoted in respect to the origin of the name are quite dogmatic in stating what they assume to be facts—but disagree radically in their conclusions. There was an old English and French game played by boys, called merils (pronounced as the plural of Merrill), or merels. The game was sometimes called nine-men’s morris, or five-penny morris. According to Webster the name is derived from a Latin word marella, from madaris, a Celtic javelin or pike. It would be quite as reasonable to trace the family name to this source as to some of the other sources from which writers have, without seeming doubt or hesitation, assumed to derive it. . . .

I am forced to dismiss this subject with the admission with which I began, and say that the origin of our family name is unknown. 

VARIATIONS IN SPELLING.  If we accept Merrill as the normal spelling of the family name in America, it is worthy of remark that the only departures from this standard which have been widespread and persistent have been among the descendants of John2 Merrill of Hartford. His descendants generally for a time added a final s to the name, and for many years the name was commonly written Merrills or Merrells by a large proportion of the Connecticut branch of the family. Furthermore, the change of the i in the last syllable to e or a became very common in Connecticut in the first half of the eighteenth century, but for many years there has been a constant tendency to accept Merrill as the preferred spelling. I cannot recall an instance where any correspondent spelling his name Merrell, Merrall or Merrills has proved to be a descendant of any one of Nathaniel1 Merrill’s sons who remained in the vicinity of Newbury: these spellings are prima facie evidences of descent from John2 of Hartford. [9]

Some years ago in a bookshop I found, and purchased, a copy of Hume’s History of England, on the inside of the cover of each volume of which, in a rather boyish hand, is written Selah Merrell. The book was printed in 1854. I have always assumed that it was a textbook of young Merrell of Canton, Conn., when a student at Yale College. In 1892 Rev. Dr. Selah Merrill, the archaeologist, wrote me from the American consulate at Jerusalem: “When I was a child our name was spelled Merrell. It is only since I went to college that the change was made.”

Indifference to uniformity in spelling has in many ways complicated the problems of the genealogist. Many instances are found in the earlier years where individuals have spelled their own names in two or more ways, and more frequent still are the cases where recording officers have resorted to various phonetic expedients, and have introduced many eccentricities in spelling, throwing doubt in some cases on the identity of individuals. The published records of births, marriages and deaths in Newbury show eight spellings of the family name: Merrill, Marril, Merel, Meril, Merrell, Merril, Merryl and Mirril. (Vital Statistics, published in Salem, 1911.) 

GEOGRAPHICAL DISTRIBUTION. The figures given in the accompanying table show the relative frequency of the name in this country, under its various modes of spelling. The figures are taken from the directories of the several cities, none of which are of earlier date than 1916.  No directories include the names of all the inhabitants, and in most such books the names of some non-residents are included. No better way can be easily found, however, for ascertaining, in general terms, the numerical strength of the family in various sections.

Included in the suburbs of Boston in the table are Brookline, Cambridge, Chelsea, Everett, Malden, Medford, Newton, Quincy and Somerville.  These eight cities and Brookline (“the richest town in America”), are all within eight miles of Boston Common. They had in 1915 an aggregate population of 473,513, and no one of the nine places has less than 30,000 inhabitants.

The figures for New York include only the boroughs of Manhattan and the Bronx. In a Brooklyn directory for 1912 Merrill appeared 41 times, Merrell 6 times and Merrall once.

In the forty-five directories represented in the table Merle appears 60 times, Merl 8 times, Morrall 12 times, Morrell and Morrel, (including some of Italian origin), 431 times, Morrill 617 times, and Murrell (Murrel and Murrill) 148 times. The Morrills are relatively much more numerous in New England than in any other section. Only seven Murrells (Murrels and Murrills) are found in the New England directories. Twenty-six persons bearing this name in some form are listed in Louisville, of whom 10 are marked with a small c, to indicate that they have African blood. Meril, Merilh and Merriall appear once each in these directories, but these may be typographical errors. 

Numerical Strength.  It would be interesting to know how many persons in the United States today bear the name Merrill, or some of its variations, but it would be very difficult to make even a good estimate of the number. In general terms, the numerical strength of a family in a given city is indicated by the number of persons bearing the family name listed in the city directory. If the number of persons in a city bearing the name Merrill, or some of its variants, bears the same ratio to the entire population of the city that the number of Merrills (Merrells, etc.,) who are listed in the directory bears to the total number of names given in the book, it is easy to estimate the numerical strength of the family in that city. If, again, we select certain cities, representing both the sections where the family is numerically strong and those where its numbers are relatively few, we may obtain certain figures which, compared with the census figures for the entire country, will give a rough estimate of the number of persons, now living in the United States, who have inherited Nathaniel Merrill’s family name.

For this purpose I have assumed that Boston, Philadelphia, Cincinnati and San Francisco represent, in the aggregate, the average for the country with respect to distribution of the family name. If this assumption is correct, the number of persons now living in the country bearing the family name is about 25,000, or a little more than one in every 4000. [10]

Merrills now in England. The London Postoffice Directory for 1917, a book of more than 2500 pages, includes only commercial and professional entries. Many classes of individuals, whose names would be included in an American directory, but who are of minor importance from a business standpoint, are omitted. In this directory Merrill appears 5 times, Merrell twice and Merralls once. Four of the five Merrills are marble masons. Merle is found twice in this directory, Morrall 3 times, Morrell 35 times, Morrill 4 times and Murrell 20 times.

Henry Brougham Guppy, in “Homes of Family Names in Great Britain” (London, 1890), mentions Merrell as a family name represented by 18 individuals in every 10,000 among the farmers of Worcestershire, and Merrills as represented by 16 in every 10,000 in Kottinghamshire. In the other counties of Great Britain Mr. Guppy found the relative frequency of these or similar names to be less than 8 in every 10,000 of the farmers in the respective counties. Merrill is not given in his list, and hence presumably fell below the ratio of 8 in 10,000.


English Origin of the Merrill Family

It does not appear by Rev. Samuel-H. Merrill’s papers that in his researches of fifty years ago he paid much attention to the question of the English origin of the family. “As to the European origin of the Merrill family I have no certain information,” he wrote, in a letter to Gyles Merrill of Haverhill, dated 12 April, 1869. To this he added: “Your information is correct that the two brothers, John and Nathaniel, came from Salisbury, England. That they were of French descent is highly probable.”

(See page 100.) But the reasons which Rev. Mr. Merrill assigned for belief in the theory of French descent are very unconvincing. The family temperament, he argued, is generally mercurial, and this is a French characteristic. The ending -lle, furthermore, is very common in French proper names, but not in English names, he said. Finally, “there were none of the name in England in 1520, but there were Merrills in France at that date.” If these reasons were based on accurate statements of fact they would be entitled to considerable weight, but Mr. Merrill is not in accord with General Merrill with respect to family temperament, and in the previous chapter it has appeared that similar family names were known in England at a much earlier date than 1520.

Salisbury, in Wilts Gyles7 Merrill, like Rev. Samuel-H. Merrill, felt a strong conviction that the Merrill s of Newbury came from Salisbury, in Wiltshire, in the South of England. This belief was based solely on tradition. Nathaniel1 Merrill was presumably more than 50 years of age at his death in 1655. His son Daniel2 lived in Salisbury, Mass., six or eight miles from his father’s homestead,  and died at the age of 74. Daniel’s son Moses3 spent his life in Salisbury, and died at the age of 72. Moses4, of the next generation, spent most of his life in Salisbury, and in Haverhill, less than fifteen miles away, and died at the age of 87. Rev. Gyles5 Merrill lived in Haverhill, within a quarter of a mile of the homestead occupied in his later years by his father, Moses4, and died at 62. Moses6 Merrill lived in the house which had been the parsonage of his father, and died when 88 years of age. Here were six generations, with no long migrations to distant parts, and without the consequent interruption of frequent communication, the grandsons in most cases presumably hearing reminiscences and stories of olden time from the lips of their grandfathers.  Under such circumstances a tradition is entitled to a maximum of credence.  In this line of the family tradition pointed strongly to Salisbury as the English home of the Newbury Merrills.

But traditions at best are uncertain. Other settlers in the neighborhood had come from Salisbury and Amesbury in Wiltshire, and had given the names to the towns of Salisbury and Amesbury in Massachusetts. It is quite possible that, a generation or two after the death of Nathaniel1 and his brother, the impression may have been created that Nathaniel too was from the Wiltshire city, and this impression may easily in later years have crystallized into an assertion of fact. A chain is no stronger than its weakest link, however, and a chain of tradition is no stronger than the memory of that one in the chain of those who have handed down the tradition whose memory is least to be depended on. Nevertheless, if no records or other evidence pointing in some other direction had been found, the Salisbury tradition might still carry considerable weight.

A somewhat superficial search of the church records of Salisbury, England, yielded negative results. No reference to Nathaniel1 Merrill or his brother was found, but the records of many churches in that vicinity have not been examined. [11]

Other Theories Among other places which have been considered the possible English home of the Newbury Merrills are Cheshire, Grafton Flyford in Worcestershire, and Somersetshire, but each theory has lacked the necessary evidence to substantiate it. A correspondent in New Hampshire wrote me some years ago, quoting his father as saying that the family name was originally McMerrill, and that he was a descendant of Robert McMerrill, a soldier in the army of Robert Bruce. Inasmuch as my correspondent was not sure of his grandfather’s christian name, I made no effort to trace, with his assistance, the connection with the Scottish soldier of six hundred years ago. 

The Merrells of Suffolk Evidence stronger than tradition, bearing on the question of the English origin of the family, is to be found in Hartford, Conn., and in English records brought to light in following the clue furnished by the records in Hartford,  (See pages 82-3.) John2 Merrill, a son of the emigrant, left Newbury soon after the death of his father, and is supposed to have been adopted by Gregory Wolterton of Hartford. In his will, dated 17 July, 1674, Gregory Wolterton named John Merrill as residuary legatee, and also gave “unto James wolterton the son of mathew wolterton that liue in Ipsage in sufolke in owld Ingland ten pound if he be liuing if not to his Childeren eaquelly deuided.” 

In Gregory Wolterton’s will few words were wasted. He did not tell the relationship that may have existed between James Wolterton and himself; and he did not refer to any relationship as the reason why he made John2 Merrill the chief beneficiary of his will. But following the clue furnished by this will the records of Ipswich, England, and some of the neighboring parishes were searched, and they seem to have yielded evidence that the English home of the Merrills was in southern Suffolk, rather than in Wiltshire. 

The Calendar of Wills at Ipswich between 1444 and 1600 shows twenty-three entries under the various spellings Merrell, Morrell, Murrell, Murell, Meryell, Morriell and Moriell. Whether these individuals were representatives of different branches of the same family  it is not necessary to discuss at this time: it is sufficient to note that certain of them may have been in the direct family line of Nathaniel Merrill of Newbury. In the same Calendar there are also references, in the fifteenth century, to the wills of Thomas Woolverston of Freston and John Waterden of Bramford, and in the early sixteenth century to the wills of John Watterden of Needham Market and John Waterden of Needham. Whether these latter names are variants of Wolterton I am unable to say, but, in view of the wide latitude which recording officers in those days permitted themselves in writing family names, it may easily be that some of these men were lineal forbears of the prosperous tanner of Hartford.


Before we make up our minds, however, that the English home of the family was in southern Suffolk, it will of course be necessary to find more direct and positive evidence than is contained in the will of Gregory Wolterton, or in the Calendar of Wills just quoted.

To this subject I shall devote the following chapter.


The Wills of Three John Merrells

The originals of the sixteenth century Suffolk wills, in the Probate Registry office at Ipswich, England, are preserved with a lack of care and system which would be severely criticised in most New England recording offices.  All the probate papers of a year are rolled up loosely in a bundle, without regard to order, and tied with a cord. The smaller papers are exposed to danger of loss, and the larger ones are naturally badly worn by reason of loose prejecting edges. Each bundle is supposed to contain the papers of a single year, but many of the bundles are unmarked, and the search for any particular paper is a most discouraging undertaking. The bundles are stored in a vault, in a confused mass.

The officials look upon the original wills with comparative indifference. In their judgment the recorded copies are evidently of greater importance.  Indeed, they said that no one in these days looks beyond the record books, and my persistence in trying to find the original instruments was, they said, very unusual. The copies are indexed, but there is no index to show whether the original wills are still in existence.

The wills of three John Merrells, probated respectively in 1600, 1552 and 1529, are recorded in old parchment-covered books, and these copies are easily found. The bindings are worm-eaten, and falling apart by reason of broken stitches, but the paper has well withstood the test of time, and the brownish-black ink shows no signs of fading. These copies were evidently made at the time when the wills were proved. Dictionaries were practically unknown, and orthography for this reason was not standardized. As a result the copies show many minor differences in spelling—differences from the originals, and inconsistencies with themselves. But in all essentials the phraseology is faithfully preserved.

In my copies I have followed literally, line for line, the transcripts in the record books. In the case of the two earlier wills the originals could not be found. In the case of the will of 1600 I was so fortunate as to find the original, but it was so much less legible than the recorded copy that the exact tenor of the instrument is better shown in a copy taken from the pages of the old book of record.

Will of John Merrell 1600 The original will of 1600 fills three large sheets of handsome deckle-edged paper, 10 ¾ by 14 ½ inches in size. The sheets are attached together at the top by a narrow strip of parchment, the ends of this parchment ribbon being bound by red sealing wax. The margins are ample, and the lines wide apart, but the writer used a coarsepointed quill, and crowded the writing in such a way that in our time one unaccustomed to ancient manuscripts would find much difficulty in deciphering it.

The testator affixed his signature in a shaking hand, with an indifferent pen, spelling his name Merell. But he was “sicke in bodie”—his will was admitted to probate nine days later—and we must not criticise his chirography, or his spelling of the family name. A facsimile of his autograph is given herewith. At the end of the third sheet, near the signature, a few drops of sealing wax were placed, and a corner of the paper was folded over the hot wax.  Against this a seal was pressed, the seal showing clearly a crude device resembling a spider.

The ancient copyist contented himself with preserving the phraseology of the instrument, literal precision in matters of spelling, and in the use of capitals, evidently being considered quite unimportant. He spelled “paid” in three different ways, and “Wherstead,” which appears six times, has five different spellings, the name of the place in each case beginning with a small letter.

The copy of the will of John Merrell (1600) is in the records of the Archdeaconry of Suffolk, book xxxviii, folio 242. For comparison the first line of the original instrument may be quoted:

In the name of Godd Amen the seconde daye of [illegible] yn the thre & ffourtyth yere of the Ragn of our Sovrayn lady

In the more legible handwriting of the recording officer these twenty-four words are given more than two lines.

In the name of god Amen the second day of December in the three and ffourtith yeere of the Raigne of our Sovaigne Ladie Elizabeth by the grace of god of Englaund and Irelaund Queene Defender of the ffaith &c. I John Merrell the elder of whersteade in the Countie of Suff: Yeoman being sicke in bodie and yet of pfect memorie praised be almightie god remembring that all mankind is mortall and the time of death is uncertaine for the satisfaccon of my mind and the quiet of my wife and children & a remembraunce of some other have and doe hereby make and declare my last will & testament in manner & fforme as hereafter ensueth that is to say ffirst and most principallie in most humble manner I comend my Soule into the hands of almightie god my maker redeemer and Sanctifier trusting by and through the merrits and obedyence of my lord and Saviour Jesus Christ that my soul shall possesse and enioy eternall life & salvacon And as for my bodie I bequeath to the earth to be buried by the discretion of my executors. Itm I will and bequeath to the poore people in wherstead aforesaid fourtie shillings to be distributed among them wthin one quarter of a yeere next after my decease. Itm I give and bequeath to Prudence my wife in pte of recompence of hir dower my parlor and larther howse pcell of my dwelling howses wth. the bedding and furniture in the same and the pasture and stover somer and winter for a Cowe upon my lands in litle belsted and whested aforesaid from time to time to have and to hold to hir the said Prudence for terme of hir natural life keeping hir sole and unmarried. Itm I give and bequeath to hir the said Prudence in further recompence of hir dower one anuitie or yeerlie rent of five pounds of lawfull englishe mony to be going out of all my lands and Tennemts in little Belsted wherested and Sprowtonne to have and to hold to my said wife for terme of hir life at two termes in the yeeres usuall that is to say at the ffeast of thaunncacon of the blessed virgin Saint Marie and Saint michaell tharchaungell by even porcons the ffirst payment to begin at such of the said ffeasts as shall happen next after my decease and yf yt shall happen the said yeerelie Rent to be behind unpayed in pte or in all over or after any of the said ffeast dayes in wch the same ought to be paid that then and at all times after yt shalbe lawfull to and for the said prudence into the said lands and Tennements or any pcell thereof to enter and Distraine and the Distresse or Distresses there fownd to lead drive carrie away and Detaine untill the said Prudence of the said yeerelie rent wth. the arrearages thereof shalbe fullie satisfied and paid. Itm I will geve & bequeath to John my sonne the moytie of my dwelling howses & the moytie of all my launds Tennemts. and heriditamts. as well free as bond  scituate lying and being in wherstead litle Belsted and Sprowton aforsaid or any of them to have and to hold to the said John my Sonne his his heires and Assynes forev Itm I will give and bequeath to Michaell my Sonne thother moytie of my said dwelling howses and of all the said lands Tennements and heriditamts. as well free as bond to have and to hold to the said michall my Sonne his heires and assynes fforev. Itm I will and bequeath Itm I will and bequeath to Nathaniell merrell my Sonne ffourtie pounds of lawfull english mony to be paid to him in fforme ffollowinge vizt.  wthin one yeere next after my decease xiijli. vjs viijd. And wthin two yeeres next after my decease other thirteene pounds six shillings and eight pence and wthin three yeeres next after my decease other thirteene pounds six shillings and eight pence in full paymt of the said ffourtie pounds. Itm I will and bequeath to Thomas my Sonne thirtie pounds of lawfull english mony to be paid to him in fforme ffollowing vixt. wthin one yeere next after my decease tenne pounds and wthin two yeeres next after my decease other tenne pounds and wthin three yeeres next after my decease other tenne pounds in full payment of the said thirtie pounds Itm I will and bequeath to the said Thomas my lease and terme of yeres of and in the messuage called Ampsons in wherstede aforesaid & of & in the lands thereunto belonging.  Itm I will and bequeath to Marie Merrell daughter to the said Nathaniell tenne pounds to be paid to hir at hir age of eighteene yeeres. Itm I will and bequeath to Martha merrell one other of the daughters of the said Nathaniell other tenne pounds to be paid to hir at hir age of eighteene yeeres. Itm I. will and bequeath to John Merrell Sonne to the said Nathaniell tenne pounds to be payed to him at his age of one and twentie yeeres And yff any of the said children of the said Nathaniell shall Dept this life before such time as he or she is to receive the said porcon bequeathed by this my will, then I will that the pte and porcon of him or hir so Deceasing shalbe Distributed to and among the survivors of them. Itm I will and bequeath to Thoms merrell Sonne of Thoms Merrell my Sonne tenne pounds to be paied to him at his age of one and twentie yeeres. Itm I will and bequeath to Anne Merrell daughter to the said Thoms my Sonne other tenne pounds to be paied to hir at hir age of eightene yeeres, And yff eyther of those two children shall depte this life before he or shee shall receive the said porcons bequeathed then I will that the pte & porcon of him or hir so Deceasing shall remaine to the ??vivour of them. Itm I will and bequeath to Willm Smyth my ??vaunt twentie shillings & to Thomas Smyth his brother tenne shillings Itm I will and bequeath to Edward Kettle of ffreston Clerke xxs, Itm I will and bequeath to eytch of my said sonnes Nathaniell and Thoms all such goods of mine as they have in thier sevall custodies And I remytte and forgive and eyther of them all such Debts as they or eyther of them doth owe unto me All the Residue of my debts goods and Cattals whatsoev my Debts payed my legacies pformed and my funrall expences discharged I will and bequeath to my said Sohnes John and Michaell, whome I ordaine name and costitute my Executors of this my last will & Testament, And I appoint my loving friend Cristopher Wright supraviser of the same nevthelesse my will and meaning is that yff anie Default shalbe made in the payment of any legacie before bequeathed to any of my Sonnes or anie of thier Children that then the ptie from whome anie such legacie shalbe wtholden shall enter into have and hold all my said lands and Tennemets.  and the same occupy and enioy untill such legacie shalbe satisfied and paid.  Itm I will & bequeath to the said Thomas my Sonne my brasse pott sometime sharpes and a hundreth of bourd, And thus Revoking and renowcing all formr wills and Testamts by me made I ratifie and Confirme this and in Testimonie thereof have hereunto put my hand & Seale in the psence of Raulffe Scrivner and Cristopher wright michaell Raynold and John Raynold. By me John merrell

This will was proved 11 Dec. 1600.

Line 2 et seq. ff as an initial is the equivalent of capital F

3, 6, 8, etc. Little flourishes were commonly used at that time to mark certain abbreviations. These are described in Wright’s “Court-Hand Restored,” and other books relating to ancient manuscripts, and detailed explanations are not needed in this place.

 6, Yeoman: a freeholder of land of the value of 40s. a year.

Line 23. “Parlor and larther howse pcell:” probably reference is made to the portion of the house which included the parlor and larder, or pantry.

25, stover: fodder for cattle.

26, litle belsted: now called Belstead, a parish adjoining Wherstead on the west.

29, sole: unmarried.

30-31.  In 1600, when this will was written, the purchasing power of money was about ten times greater than it was three centuries later.

33. Sproughton is three miles northwest from Wherstead.

35, ffeast of thaunncacon: feast of the Annunciation,

(25 March).

Line 60, xiijli.: thirteen pounds.

72, messuage: dwelling house.

95, ??vivour: survivor.

99, Freston adjoins Wherstead on the southeast.

99, Clerke: clergyman.

104, Cattals: chattels.

Search of the Wherstead and Belstead registers discloses the following entries:  [12]


                 1593/4 Jan.21. ….. Merrell, dau. of Nath! Merrell & his wife was buried.

     1594/5 Feb.23. Mary Merrell, dau. of Nath! Merrell & Mary  his wife was baptised.

1596.  Sep.21. Matthew Merrell dau. of Matthew Merrell & Mary his wife was baptised. (Sic.) 1598. (      ) Francis Merrell dau. of (???) Merrell & Mary his wife was baptised.

1599. Aug. 16. John Merrell son of Nath! Merrell & Mary his wife was baptised.

1601. May 4. Nathanaell Merrell son of Nath! Merrell & Mary his wife was baptised.

1602. Aug. 23. Rose Merrill dau. of Thomas Merrill & his wife was baptised. 

1603. Apr. 3. Mychell Merrell, son of Nathaniel Merrell & his wife was baptised. 

1605. Mar. 29. Elizabeth Merrell dau. of Thomas Merrell & his wife was baptised.

1628/9 Jan. 24. John Merrill & Anis Bishope married.

1595/6 Jul. 15. Thomas Merrill & Rose Pearson married.

1598.     Aug. 1.  Fraunces Merrell, dau. of Nath! Merrell & Mary his wife buried.

1626/7 Mar. 17. Nathaniel Merrill buried.

1602.     Oct. 10. Mary dau. of John & Susan Merrill baptised.  


1603.     Apr. 9.  Elizabeth dau. of Nichaelis Merrill & Margaret his wife.

1604.     Aug. 4.  Francis Merrill, dau. of Michael Merrill & Margaret.

1607.     Apr. 19. Michael son of Michael Merrill & Margaret. 

1608/9 Feb. 19. John son of Michael Merrill & Margaret.

1610/1 Mar. 10. William son of Michael Merrill and Margaret.

1615.     Sep. 10. Anna Merrill dau. of Michael Merrill & Margaret.

(Baptisms and burials, hiatus to 1653.)

1583.     Sep. 15. Robert Andrew & Joane Morrell married.

1592/3 Feb. 27. Nathanaell Merrill & Mary Blacksoll married.

1601.     Dec. 29. John Merrill & Susan Plumley married.

1602/3 Mar. 7.  Michael Merrill & Margaret Scrivener married.

1637.     Jul. 3.  William Merrill & An. Bond married.

1608.     Dec. 22. Prudence Merrill buried.

1609.     1616.  Aug. 20. Michael Merrill buried.

  (Hiatus to 1622.)

In the light of this record of baptisms marriages and burials, aided by the evidence of relationship contained in the will given at pages 34-38, we may construct the above pedigree.

John and Nathaniel Merrell, who were baptised at Wherstead 16 Aug. 1599, and 4 May, 1601, respectively, and whose names are underscored in red in the pedigree, seem to be the John and Nathaniel Merrill who settled in Newbury, Massachusetts. Their dates of baptism are quite consistent with this theory, and they disappear from the records of Wherstead and vicinity at the time when John and Nathaniel appear in the records of Ipswich and Newbury in New England. John was mentioned in his grand father’s will:

Nathaniel was unborn when the grandfather died. Such search as has been made, however, fails to disclose marriage records, or ships’ lists, or references in wills to kindred beyond the sea, to prove that the John and Nathaniel of Wherstead migrated to New England. [i] 

Will of “John Meryell” 1551 The second of the Ipswich wills to claim our attention is that of “John Meryell of Wherstead” (1551). (Archdeaconry of Suffolk, book xvi, folio 22 9b.) Like many wills of that period, this instrument bore no signature.

In Dei Nom Amen. The xiijth. day of Decembre in the yere of or. lorde god a m??ccccclj I John Meryell beyng of the towne of Whersted of hole mynde and good memory make and orden thys my last wyll ffyrst I bequethe my sowle to Almyghtye god, and my body to be buryed at the churche of Whersted before named Itm I bequethe unto my eldeste son John my howse wyth all my londe that there unto parteyneth bothe free and copye, & notwythstandyng I wyll that Kateryne my wyef shall have her dwellyng in the sayde howse wyth my sone John before named and also to have the occupyeng of the one halfe of the aforsayde londe so long as she kepeth her a wedowe beryng the one halfe of all maner of coste and charges for the sayde tyme, but and yf she chaunce to mary, then I wyll that my sone John before named shall have the sayde howse and the londe before named into hys howne hands payeng to Kateryne my wyef xls. yerely enduryng her lyef. forthermore I wyll that Kateryne my wyef shall have all my howsholde stuffe Itm I geve unto these my chyldren Wyllyam Myghell Thomas and John my yongest sone Mary Margett, Alyce Katheryn and Agnes to every of them xxs. The resydue of my goods not bequethed nor geven moveable or onmoveable I geve to Kateryne my wyef and to my eldest sone John and all suche dettyes as be atteynyng unto me to be equally devyded betwyxte them dyschargyng and fulfyllyng my legacyes and bequests whome I also make myne executours and Wyllyam Meryell and Myghell my sones supvysours upon the same/ In wytnes herof be these here folowyng Rycharde Clarke Jarome Alderman Nycholas Wales Thomas Cason Symon Blosse wyth dyvers other/ 

Line 1.  In Dei Nom: In Dei Nomine, in the name of God.

9.    free and copye: freehold and copyhold estates.

14.     beryng: bearing. 

23. Myghell: Michael.

28. atteynyng: due.

This will was proved 28 Jan. 1551/2.

In this will the wife Katherine and five sons and five daughters are named, as follows: John (I), William, Michael, Thomas, John (II), Mary, Margaret, Alice, Katherine, Agnes.

Of these sons John (I), William, Michael and John (II) were evidently grown up, for the first-named was appointed one of the executors, and the other three were named as supervisors of the will. It would be interesting to know if either of the sons whom we will call John (I) and John (II) were the John Merrell who made his will in 1600. Either may have been the testator of 1600; or, for aught the records tell us, John Merrell, who died in 1600, may have been a grandson of the John Meryell who died about fifty years earlier.  This question of relationship must remain for the present unsettled.

Will of John Meryell 1528 The third will in which we are interested is that of another John Merrell of Wherstead, its record reference being Archdeaconry of Suffolk, book x, folio 40. This also appears to have been unsigned, though regularly admitted to probate. In it the family name is written Meryell and Moryell indiscriminately.

This interesting old document is entered in the record book under the caption “Testam Johnis Moryell.” Copied carefully, line for line, it reads as follows:

In the name of god Amen, the iij daye of Decemb in the yere of our lord god mlcccccxxviij I John Moryell of Wherstede wthin the Countye of Suff husbondman beyng seck and ffebill of bodye hooll and pfyght of rememberaunce make this my psent testament and last will under this maner of of fourme and condicion folowyng Inprimis I bequeth my soule to allmyghtie god to our blessed Ladye saynt Marie and to all the glorious company of hevyn my bodie to be buried wthin the cherch yerde of Wherstede aforesaid unto the which highe Aulter for my tythes and oblacons forgoton & unpaid I bequeth iijs. ii ijd. Item I bequeth likewise unto the highe Aulter of Belstede cherch iijs. iiijd. Item I geue un to Syr John ffulchehm my gostlie ffather and vicar of Wherstede xs. for a trentall to syng it where it shall please hym for my soule and all Crystyn soulys Item I geve and bequeth unto John meryell my oldest son my tenement in Belstede wt all my londes wt in the said towne both fre and bonde in fee symple upon this condicion that the said John my son shall paye or cause to be paid unto Anne my wiff Im mediatlie aftr my decease the yerelie ferme of the said tenement and londes the space of ij yerys and also to pay or cause to be paide unto John meryell his brother xxs. out of the said tent and londes as the said John shall nede it to his fynding to lernyng And ovyrthat I will the said John my oldest son shall kepe or cause to be kepte an obite wtin the cherch of Whersted the terme and space of v yerys next folewyng aftr my decease and evy obite to be kept to the valewe of viijs. starling money Item I geve and bequeth unto the said John my oldest son all my bargayn and pte of Goodylsforde woode and also my Cartys plowys and tomberellys wt. all the utensells to them belongyng Except horsys and Oxsen) payeng unto his brother John vjs. viijd. to receyve them att the fest of Saynt mychaell next aftr my decease Item I will yf the said John my yongest son depte the worlde or he have receyved the foresaid xxs. of myn tenement and londes before specified that than the said xxs. to be paide to Anne my wiff un to the which Anne I geve and bequeth all my stuffs and utensills of houshold. Item I geve and bequeth unto Julyan and Elyn my doughters un to evy of them xxs. starling mony to be paid att the daye of the mariage of eyther of them And yf eyther of my said doughters depte the worlde or they com to mariage than I will the survyv of eyther of them shall haue other parte and if they both departe the worlde or the com to marriage than I will the said xls. be don in dedys of charite by the discrecion of myn executors for my soule and all cristen soulys Item I geve unto Johan meryell my sonnys doughter a combe of barly The Residue of all my gooddes not be quethed this my will pformyd and dettys paid I geve and bequeth un to Anne my wyff Item I will that myn executors shall occupie my parte of my ferme that I dwelle in un to the most profight for the pformaunce of this my last will and testament whom I ordeyn and make John moryell my oldest son and Thomas Belchm my brother in lawe they to receyve my detts and pay my detts and pforme this my psent testament and last will unto the which Thomas for his labor and payn I bequeth vjs. viijd. These beyng wittnesses John Goldynghm priest Syr John ffulchehm, Vicar of Wherstede Edmunde Wyng of Belstede wt other.

  This will was proved 12 March, 1528/9.

  Line 15. gostlie: spiritual.

       16. trentall: trental; a service of thirty masses.

    23. ferme: farm, revenue.

    26. tent: tenement.

    28. fynding to lernyng: expense of education.

    28. ovyrthat: moreover.

   30.    obite: obit; a memorial service on the anniversary of one’s death. 

   34.    bargayn and pte: share.

   35.    tomberellys: tumbrels, dump-carts.

   41, 49, 52. or: before.

   56.  combe: four bushels.

In this will his wife Anne is mentioned, and children John (I), John (II), Julian and Eleanor. John (I) was of age; he was named as one of the executors, and he had a daughter Johan, to whom was given in the will a “combe” of barley. John (II) was probably a minor, receiving an education. Was either of these sons the “John Meryell” whose will was proved in 1551/2?

Only one child of John (I) is mentioned in the will. If John (I) had no other child in 1528, he could hardly have been the John who made his will 1551, for the latter John had ten children in 1551, four of whom, at least, were grown up. But John, whose will we are considering, was under no obligation to make bequests to his grandchildren. The fact that the bequest to Johan was four bushels of barley would indicate that Johan was not a young child, and this would strengthen the theory that John (I) may have had other children in 1528, making quite plausible the assumption that “John Meryell,” who made his will in 1551, was son of the John whose will was dated 1528. 

The Reformation In the pious phrases of these wills may be read something of the history of the Reformation. In 1528, when John Meryell of Wherstead made his will, England was a Catholic country. Henry VIII was at the beginning of his long controversy with Rome over the question of his divorce from Catherine of Aragon, but the king was then, and to the end of his days, a Catholic in all doctrinal matters. Even the excommunication of Henry in 1534 did not cause him to give up the belief that private masses ought to be continued and auricular confession retained, and these and other Catholic dogmas were endorsed by Parliament in the bill of the Six Articles in 1539. The king merely repudiated papal authority. It was thus quite natural that John Meryell should bequeath his soul to “our blessed Ladye saynt Marie,” make bequests to the high altar of the church, and provide for masses for his soul.

Henry VIII died in 1547, and under Edward VI (1547-1553) the Reformation made rapid progress, especially in London and the eastern counties. The Six Articles were repealed, a Book of Common Prayer and Liturgy replaced the missal and breviary, and in 1552 the Forty-two Articles of Religion (later reduced to thirty-nine) were introduced.

It was at this time (13 Dec. 1551) that another John Meryell of Wherstead made his will. The Reformation had seemingly prevailed, but the heir presumptive to the throne was Mary Tudor, a Catholic, destined to be an object of execration through all time under the name of “Bloody Mary.” Under these circumstances it is not strange that the testator of 1551 should omit the churchly phrases which might be out of place, or unpopular, or something worse, when the will should ultimately be offered for probate.  With worldly wisdom which does his memory credit he drafted a will which would meet any theological situation which might arise.

Mary succeeded to the throne in 1553, and soon after the Catholic church was reestablished. Many were imprisoned, and others burned alive, in Suffolk and elsewhere, for their Protestant faith. But this did not long continue. Elizabeth assumed the scepter in 1558, and soon brought about a return to Protestant forms and ceremonies. At the very beginning of her reign Parliament voted to abolish the mass and to reestablish the liturgy of Edward VI. The will of John Merrell of Wherstead, executed in 1600, shows no evidence of Romish sentiment, and among its many bequests are none for superstitious uses. The annuity given the widow was payable, to be sure, at the feast of the Annunciation of “the blessed virgin Saint Marie” and the feast of St, Michael the Archangel, but these were merely the “two termes in the yeeres usuall,” and had legal rather than religious significance. The Reformation had been accomplished.


Wherstead, a Parish in Suffolk

Ipswich, in England, is about seventy miles northeast from London. It is situated at the head of the estuary of the Orwell, just as Ipswich, in New England, stands at the head of tide water on the Ipswich River. The Massachusetts town in three hundred years has grown to a population of 6272, while the population of the English town in the same period has increased from about 6000 to 75,000.

Wherstead village lies three miles south of Ipswich. It is an ancient settlement, and from its soil the plow has brought to light many evidences of occupation by Romans and by early Britons. In Doomsday Book the place is described under the names Querstede and Wervesteda. The name of the village and parish is in our day generally pronounced Wersted or Warsted by the residents, the a in the latter case having the sound of a in father.

A short ride by electric railway through Ipswich streets carries one to Bourne bridge, which marks the boundary of Wherstead parish. Near the bridge, on the Wherstead side, stands the Ostrich Inn, as it stood at the time of the New England migration. In those days, however, oysters were still found in Orwell waters, and the name “Oyster Ridge” had not been corrupted to the name of the exotic bird whose effigy now adorns the swinging signboard of the roadside tavern.

A walk of fifteen minutes from Bourne bridge, along the macadamized highway leading southwest to Manningtree and London, brings one to the village. The road is shaded much of the way by oaks and other trees. High untrimmed hedges or bank walls often hide the fields.

The fields, when in view—as I saw them shaded by the threatening clouds of a gloomy day in June, 1910--showed deep shades of green, brightened sometimes in the foreground by the hectic flush of wild poppies. The soil is light loam: the chief crops wheat, barley and roots. 

Wherstead village is a scattered array of cottages lining a crooked lane which branches off from the high road on the east. The village is devoid of stores or public house, and the only industry, aside from agriculture, is carried on in a modest smithy The Church The Wherstead church is not seen from the high road, nor generally from the village. It stands apart, near Wherstead Park and “the Mansion,” where the owners of many of the broad acres of the parish have lived. The church shows a mixture of Norman and Gothic architecture, and is believed to date, in some of its parts, from about 1100. It is built of small stone, mostly of a flinty character, with gray sandstone trimmings, and has a red tile roof. The square tower, ivy-grown, dating from about 1400, contains three bells, one of which is about five centuries old. The newest bears the date 1675. The church is small, seating only 122 people. 

I was looking through some old engravings in a book shop in Ipswich, in search of nothing in particular, when I came upon the picture of Wherstead Church which is reproduced on the previous page. Extensive restoration and repairs were made in the old edifice in 1863, but without changing its character in any material respect. As represented here the building must have been familiar to all who knew Wherstead in the time when the foundations were laid for the New England beyond the sea. The churchyard, attractive and well kept, is entered by a stile. In the center is the church, while around about—

“Each in his narrow cell forever laid

The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep.” 

Nobility and gentry, clergy and humble rustics, many in graves now unmarked, lie in the same soil, social distinctions effaced at last.

The site of the church is 150 feet above the Orwell. The view from this point, up and down the stream, is called one of the finest in the Eastern Counties. Its picturesqueness is enhanced in no small degree by the little spots of color furnished by the red and brown sails of the “straightie barges”—freight-carrying vessels of moderate size engaged in coastwise traffic. The picture on the opposite page is taken from Zincke’s book on Wherstead parish. The tower, in the distance at the right, is in the parish of Freston. It has been a conspicuous landmark since before the time of the Newbury settlement.

Rev. F. B. Zincke Wherstead parish was fortunate in having a talented vicar, who, as curate and vicar, served the parish from 1841 until his death in 1893, and who became its historian. Rev. Foster Barham Zincke, chaplain to the Queen, was a gentleman of studious tastes, possessing industry, imagination, and genial good-nature, and he produced a history whioh is instructive and readable as few such works have ever been. Most historians would have recited the facts which, in the aggregate, would have constituted the history of the humble parish, and would have considered their work finished. But Mr. Zincke always goes a step farther, and seeks to ascertain the reason why. Why are the birds and animals in the parish less numerous than in earlier times? Why has the number of land owners decreased in such marked degree? These and many other questions relating to the territory of the parish, the church and its vicars, the customs and language of the people, he answers in an interesting way. 

Under the title “Some Materials for the History of Wherstead,” Mr. Zincke reprinted, in 1887, a series of articles which he had written, and which had first appeared in an Ipswich newspaper. Much enlarged, especially by a number of chapters on “Wherstead in Domesday,” this work appeared in a second edition in the year of its author’s death. It tells much of the causes which gradually  brought about the changes which                                                  

have taken place in the rural life of England, and its perusal would nterest anyone of studious tastes, even though a stranger to Wherstead and its affairs. A copy of the second edition of this work may be found in the Boston Public Library.

Land Ownership in Wherstead At the time of the great migration, in which the foundations of New England were laid by the sturdy and enterprising colonists from Old England, Samuel Sames was vicar of Wherstead. Like many other clergy and laymen of his time and neighborhood he was a Puritan in his beliefs and practices. He died in 1657, after fifty-four years’ service in the parish.

“We can imagine the old man,” says Mr. Zincke in his history, “for he must have lived to beyond eighty, sunning himself in the warm vicarage grounds. . . . In whatever direction, north, south, east or west, he had looked in those days, he would have seen the houses of substantial land-owning neighbors, for they were around him on every side. But now there is no representative among us of any one of them. Their descendants, one after another, were bought out; and where may be the descendants of those who sold the inheritance of their fathers, or whether indeed they have any descendants at all, no man knows.” [13]

It would be vain to look to Wherstead today for representatives of the families of the seventeenth century. The parish contains 2264 acres, and with the exception of the glebe—a small tract belonging to the church—and a half-acre belonging to a certain farmer, the entire parish was, in 1893, according to Mr. Zincke, a part of a single still larger estate. “It is a significant illustration of the action of our land system that at this day there is not one householder of any class in this parish who is residing in the house in which he was born, and that of all our resident householders only two are natives of the place.

A century and a quarter after the first settlement of Newbury, Massachusetts, there were ten or more landed properties in the parish of Wherstead, the owners in a number of cases being people of some social distinction. Less than a century later, according to Mr. Zincke, these families had djsappeared so completely that even “tradition is dumb as to where in the parish they respectively lived.” In view of this fact it would obviously be futile, at this late day, to seek the site of any Merrell homestead occupied three hundred years ago. 

The Founders of New England The earliest settlers of New England were chiefly from the great middle class of the English rural population. Few were of the aristocracy. Secure in their property rights and social privileges, and close adherents of the established church, the aristocracy had every reason to remain where the continued enjoyment of these rights and privileges was best assured. On the other hand, few were of the lower strata of the social structure. Some pecuniary means, and an even greater measure of enterprise and ambition, were needed to induce families to leave the assured conditions of an established community for the uncertainties of a wilderness, in which even the beginnings of a commonwealth were yet to be laid.

We are wont to think of the early settlers of New England as victims of hardship, giving up comfortable homes in the mother country to subject themselves to the privations incident to life in a forest. To a certain extent this was true, but it was less so in the case of those coming from rural England than in the case of those from the large towns.

Zincke, 1st ed. p. 52 2d ed. p. 67 Populous tracts in Suffolk, England, of considerable extent, were inaccessible to wheeled vehicles for more than a hundred years after Newbury was founded, and such roads for wheel traffic as there were were of a primitive character, deeply rutted, and the many places where mud made passage difficult were mended with faggots, if mended at all. 

The England of today, a land of hard broad highways, over which motor vehicles race in competition with the steam-drawn trains of the railways, is very different from the England which Nathaniel and John Merrill left, to build their homes among the Indians beside the River Parker. For generations after Nathaniel Merrill’s time the guards of English mail coaches carried blunderbusses and pistols to protect the passengers under their care from the lawless men who infested the country roads throughout the kingdom. The Indians of Massachusetts ceased to be a source of danger to travelers long before the Dick Turpins of England were forced to retire from the sinister profession of highway robbery.


Newbury in the Seventeenth Century

Quascacunquen Newbury was settled by a company of Englishmen largely from Wiltshire, who arrived in Boston on the ship Mary and John in May, 1634. The party, numbering about one hundred, at once removed to Ipswich, then called Agawam, where they remained through the following Winter. Ipswich had been settled the previous year. Perhaps it already seemed crowded. At all events, in the Spring of 1635 the General Court granted liberty to the new-comers to remove to Quascacunquen, and their settlement was given the name Newberry.

Quascacunquen, or Wessacucon, was the Indian name for the waterfall on the Parker River, in the Byfield parish of Newbury, and the same name was often applied to the river itself. Shortly after receiving authority to remove to Quascacunquen the migration took place. The party made the journey of seven or eight miles from Ipswich to Newbury by boats, landing on the north shore of Parker River, about a quarter of a mile below the present bridge at the Lower Green. The landing place has been marked, in recent years, by a boulder, suitably inscribed.

This boulder, shown in the illustration, is flanked on either hand by modest Summer cottages, which line the river bank. These cottages are owned for the most part by people in Newburyport, the city being only three miles distant. On the Lower Green a more pretentious monument, erected in 1905, capped by a representation in bronze of an ancient ship, commemorates the first settlers of the town, and bronze tablets give the names of the first American ancestors of many old New England families.

The first settlement in Newbury was at Oldtown, on the Parker River. Newbury originally included Newburyport and West Newbury. Salisbury originally included Amesbury and Merrimac; also Seabrook and South Hampton, N.H. Haverhill originally included Plaistow and other territory now in New Hampshire. Rowley originally included Georgetown, Groveland, Bradford and Boxford.

The settlers of Newbury included artisans from some of the Wiltshire towns, and husbandmen from various rural communities in the South of England.  There were weavers, tanners, shoemakers, mariners, besides two ministers and a physician. How many families settled in Newbury in 1635 is not known, but it is certain that John and Nathaniel Merrill were not among those who arrived that year. The date when the brothers came to New England is a matter of conjecture. John Meriall was a settler in Ipswich as early as 1636, but while it is probable that Nathaniel came to America with him, no record is found of Nathaniel’s residence in that town.

The earliest grants of land to John and Nathaniel Merrill in Newbury were on the “Neck,” south of the Parker River. The Neck is a piece of upland, of moderate extent, bordering on the river, but surrounded by salt-marsh on the other sides. In the Proprietors’ Records, folio 38, a grant appears: “To John Merrill an House-Lott of four acres on the neck over the Great River be it more or less & is Bounded by John Pemberton on the east John Caley on the west the River on the north & the way on the south.” Under date of 23 July, 1638” There is granted to John Merrill’s brother four acres in the neck for an house lott next his brother Jno. Merrill.” Here no doubt were the earliest homestead sites of the two men in the town.

Primitive Conditions One who has visited the backwoods settlements of our least populous States can picture to himself the scattered log cabins which sheltered the colonists during the first years of the Newbury settlement, each cabin surrounded by its little clearing, with garden, and modest shelter for the few animals which they were able to provide. Highways were mere trails through the woods, often too narrow to permit the passage of a cart, and ferries were the only means of crossing the tidal streams which must be passed in journeying north or south. It was more than a century before a bridge was built by which the traveler could cross the Parker River near the Lower Green, and until 1792 no bridge connected Newbury with the towns on the north bank of the Merrimack.

But the log cabins of the early settlers very soon gave place to more comfortable and commodious frame houses, for saw mills soon followed grist mills as public utilities. The roads were improved, fields were cleared of timber, the number of cattle was increased, and industry commanded prosperity, as industry always will. The fare was simple, but on tables abundantly supplied. Potatoes were unknown in Newbury until 1719, and tea was first brewed there in 1720. Coffee, too, was an untasted luxury until after the seventeenth century had reached its end. The daily dishes of that [14] time were fish, pork and game, turnips, bean porridge, hasty pudding, and a limited variety of other meats, vegetables and grains, with plenty of cider and homebrewed beer.

The Indian Peril Some of the hazards incident to life in those days are suggested by the fact that, in 1635, the circulation of brass farthings was forbidden by the General Court, and musket balls were to be used as currency instead. It was not stated who were to be the ultimate recipients of these leaden farthings. They might be needed for defence against the wolves which prowled in the woods; and it was always possible that the Indians would become a source of trouble, in which case a little small change of the sort approved by the General Court might be the price of peace. It is significant that the estates of the Merrills in the early generations, as inventoried, always show the possession of muskets, and generally of swords. 

It has been estimated that at no time after the English settled in Newbury was the number of Indians living in the town more than a dozen. A small number lived at the Falls of the Quascacunquen, depending chiefly on fish caught there for subsistence, and in Summer a larger number came down from the North to fish and hunt at the mouth of the Merrimack. These Indians were generally tractable and friendly. 

Before the first generation of settlers had passed from the scene, however, the colonists became engaged in wars with the Indians. While Newbury was forced to contribute men to aid in the defence of the Colony in these conflicts, the town itself was not the scene of serious fighting.

Apprehension of Indian raids led the town in 1690 to cause the house of Abraham2 Merrill to be fortified for use as a garrison house, to which, in the event of alarm, the inhabitants in the western part of the town, near the Merrimack, might flee for safety. No attack by the Redskins was experienced in Newbury, however, until 7 Oct. 1695, when five Indians plundered the house of John Brown, two miles south of Abraham Merrill’s garrison house, in the absence of most of the men, and captured nine persons. In consequence of this raid the following order was issued 14 Oct.  1695:

“To Abraham Merrill of Newbury. [15]

“These Are In his Majesty’s name to will and Requier you to take the Cear to seat the watch of five men A night Bogining att Samuel Poores and Job Pilsburyes and all Sayer’s Lean [lane] to Edward Poores and soe Runing by ye Roed to Hartichoak river and soe Notherly Except the Boundars. You Are Likewise Required to Ordar two of said watchmen upon Dewty to walke Dowen to Daniel Merrill’s and two more to John Ordways att thaier returen Always keeping out a Sentinell upon dewty. You are also to Make return of all defacts unto the Capten to whom they belong forthwith. It is also desiered that you demand and require ye fien for each man’s defeact and upon their refusall to make return as aforesaid.”

Nearly all of the captured settlers were retaken, and thereafter Newbury was spared the bloody raids from which other towns, farther north and west, occasionally suffered.

Removal to the Merrimack The banks of Parker River proved an unfavorable site for the new settlement. The amount of good tillage land in that vicinity was insufficient, and many of the settlers urged a removal of their homes to the bank of the Merrimack, three miles distant. In 1642 commissioners were chosen to lay out and assign lots of land, at the edge of the present city of Newburyport, to the freeholders. John Merrill, Richard Knight, Anthony Short and John Emery were appointed a committee to make an inventory and appraisal of the land, improvements and stock of the several inhabitants. It was ordered that “eury house lott shall be ffoure acres,” and four years were allowed for building new habitations and vacating the premises occupied at Parker River.

Certain of the inhabitants vigorously opposed the projected removal, and appeal was made to the General Court, but differences were finally adjusted, and in 1646 and the following year the work of building, and clearing land for cultivation, was prosecuted with great zeal. The various homestead lots in the vicinity of Parker River thus reverted to the town. [16]

A Question of Church Government The men who migrated from England, and made the long voyage to seek homes in the New England wilderness, were the more active and independent spirits in the communities from which they came. The law of inertia kept the less enterprising men at home. The same independence, in the new communities which they established on this side of the ocean, made them jealous of their rights, and ready to defend them if they fancied that these rights were being disregarded. They were dissenters in England, and were equally ready to express dissent in this country if they felt that their individual rights, or right in the abstract, was encroached upon. This quality of combativeness led to several long-continued contests among the settlers of Newbury, concerning both civil and ecclesiastical affairs. 

Rev. Thomas Parker, a native of Wiltshire, had been a teacher in Newbury, in Berkshire, England, before coming to New England. He was pastor of the church in Newbury, Massachusetts, from 1635 until, having become blind, he relinquished the pulpit in 1675. In his honor both Parker River and the town of Newbury received their names. From 1663 until 1672 Mr. Parker was assisted by his nephew, Rev. John  Woodbridge. Serious dissension had arisen in the church, a large element disputing certain doctrines taught by the pastor and his colleague regarding church government. The charge was made that the minister assumed greater authority in parish affairs than he had a right to exercise. An issue was framed and presented to the County Court in 1669, but an appeal was taken to the Court of Assistants. Later in the same year a counoil of churches was held, but its advice was soon disregarded, and a second council had to be called. After a long hearing an agreement, which it was hoped would end the controversy, was signed by the leaders of both parties.  

John1 Merrill and Deacon Abraham2 Merrill were among those who sought to secure a larger measure of influence for the church members in ecclesiastical matters, and to curb the somewhat arbitrary power claimed by the pastor. In 1671 the case again reached the County Court, and fines ranging from one to twenty nobles were imposed on about forty of Rev. Mr. Parker’s opponents. John1 Merrill was fined a mark and Abraham2 was fined a noble. [17]

A New Parish Formed Newbury in the Colonial period had a large area, comprising the territory now included in Newbury, West Newbury and Newburyport. The residents in the western part of the town fihally became so numerous that, in 1685, they asked for separate public worship, claiming that the long journey to the existing meeting house made attendance at religious services unduly burdensome. This was the beginning of a contest which disturbed the affairs of the town for a quarter of a century, and involved repeated appeals to the General Court of the Colony. In this controversy Deacon Abraham2 Merrill was a leading figure. 

The petition for separate public worship not being granted, sixteen individuals in the western part of the town, about 1689, erected a small meeting house at “the Plains” at their own expense. This house was about 30 feet square, and it stood on land adjoining the Sawyer’s Hill burying ground.  The contest next centered in a question whether services should be conducted by a clergyman chosen by the west-end residents, or by one chosen by the town. Abraham Merrill supported the claims of a pastor who had been chosen without authority of the town, and in consequence he and four others were, in 1694, “bound over and admonished for opposing their ordained minister, Mr. John Richardson.”

In January, 1695, the town decided to divide the town into two parishes, and Abraham Merrill was a member of the committee to establish the dividing line. But with this vote a new cause of discord arose. The town voted in 1695, and again in 1706, that the West Parish meeting house should be erected at Pipestave Hill, some two miles west of the Sawyer’s Hill church. But a strong party, in which Abraham Merrill was very influential, opposed the proposed site, determined to repair the building at Sawyer’s Hill, and continue worship there. In 1709, however, the erection of the meeting house at Pipestave Hill was begun.

Abraham Merrill and fifty-four others thereupon 4 Feb. 1709/10 presented a petition to the General Court, reciting that the parish had levied taxes to defray the cost of a meeting house at Pipestave Hill, and seized the property of some who refused to pay the amounts assessed. They asked “yt if no beter method may be found out for our relief yt we may be Set of so far as may agree wth righteousness & Religion to maintain our minister & ministry amongst our Selves the charge whereof we chuse abundantly rather to undergo then to haue our good ends, designs and Endeuaers above sd frustrated and mad voide.” [18] A few months later the General Court ordered that the taxes which had been levied by the parish should be refunded.

Opposition to the Pipestave Hill site on the part of the people at the Plains led, in 1711, to a nocturnal raid by a disorderly company of men and boys, recruited, no doubt, in the Pipestave Hill section, and the Sawyer’s Hill meeting house was torn down. Those who had erected the meeting house at Sawyer’s Hill twenty years before thereupon began the erection of a meeting house on the dividing line between the two parishes. Again appeal was made to the General Court, and work was ordered stopped.

Queen Anne’s Chapel This was the situation when Deacon Abraham2 Merrill and many others in the West Parish—about forty-five families—who opposed the Pipestave Hill site for a meeting house, determined to go over to the Church of England. A petition was sent to the Bishop of London asking for a minister, and another petition, signed by Abraham Merrill and twenty-one others, was presented to Gov. Dudley protesting against being “forced to contribute to the support of the tolerated dissenting Teachers.”

Gov. Dudley took the part of the petitioners in the controversy. The building which had been begun was finished in 1712 and was called Queen Anne’s Chapel. It was fifty by thirty feet in size, and was used for religious services until 1766. This was the second Episcopal Church in Massachusetts.  Abraham2 Merrill was chosen one of the first wardens, 30 March, 1714.

John3 Merrill, son of Abraham2, was an active partisan of his father, and was imprisoned in 1712 for non-payment of a rate assessed by the West Parish. The long controversy may be considered to have reached its end in 1714, when the West Parish voted not to levy rates upon Episcopalians to pay for maintenance of the ministry.

Cape Merrill Cape Merrill is the point of land on the north side of Parker River formed by the confluence of the Parker and Plum Island Rivers. It is marshland, occasionally flooded by the tide, and its crop of salt hay for many years past has been left uncut. East of Plum Island River lies Plum Island, eight miles long, its bare sand dunes extending from the mouth of the Merrimack south to the mouth of Ipswich River.

Twelve acres, at the end of the Cape, was granted by the town to John1 Merrill in 1646. Receiving his name it has been known as Merrill’s Point, or Cape Merrill, to the present day. Six acres of this land he conveyed to his son-in-law, Stephen Swett, and three acres to his brother Nathaniel1 Merrill. By a paper recorded 25 Nov. 1671, it appears that he sold “the rest of the poynt of marsh,” at the extremity of the Cape, to Abraham2 Merrill for forty shillings. (Proprietors1 Records, fol. 38, 64.)

Deacon Abraham Merrill acquired other marshland adjoining, and held it until 8 May, 1686, when he conveyed to Jonathan Emery of Newbury twelve acres “at a place Comly Called Merrills point bounded by Newbury river Southerly Plumb Island river Easterly & on ye Northerly & Westerly Side by ye marsh of Nathaniel Merrill Deced & Joseph King.” Deacon Merrill received in exchange twelve acres “in ye. Great Marsh below pine Island.”

The acknowledgements of these mutual deeds were not taken until August, 1719, and they were recorded with Essex Deeds, book 35, leaf 246, and book 36, leaf 244, respectively. Of the subsequent history of this land, for more than a century, I have no knowledge.

It was formerly the practice of farmers to cut the salt hay, and feed it to their stock, and early in the last century the farmers in some parts of the interior would go to the seashore in companies to get hay from the marshes. These parties would camp on the spot while the hay was cut and dried, and loaded on the great flat-bottomed boats, called “gundelows” (a corruption of  gondolas [19]), to be freighted to points near home as wind, and the tide in the streams, favored. The cost of labor for a generation past, however, has resulted in most of the salt marshes being left uncut. It’s cheaper for the farmers to buy salt for their cattle by the bushel. 

In these journeys after salt hay Moses6 Merrill (Gyles5, Moses4,3, Daniel2) of Haverhill worked in conjunction with his neighbor, True Kimball of Plaintow, N.H. They bought in common a number of adjoining parcels of marsh at Cape Merrill, their holdings extending more than a quarter of a mile on Plum Island River, and about thirty-two rods on Oldtown, or Parker, River. The men and boys of the two households would go down the Merrimack and into Plum Island River with gundelows, and, after harvesting their crop, would return home and divide the hay for the Winter’s use. 

The land at the extremity of Cape Merrill was purchased by them from Jonathan Ela of Haverhill, the purchase price being $35. The deed, dated 16 June, 1831, and recorded in the Essex Deeds, at Salem, in book 262, leaf 146, thus describes the land: “A certain parcel of saltmarsh situate in Newbury . . . at a place called Cape Merrill Point and is bounded Southwesterly on old Town River thirty-two rods, Westerly on land of Daniel Plummer eight rods, Northerly on my own land about thirty rods and Easterly on Plumb Island River twenty-five rods containing about three acres and one half.”

The three and a half acres at the extremity of the Cape was held in common until 18 Feb. 1858, when it was purchased by Gyles7 Merrill, son of Moses6, and it has since been kept in the family for the sake of the name. At the death of Gyles7 Merrill, in 1894, it came into the possession of his son, the compiler of this Memorial, who retains it as an interesting heirloom, paying annually to the Town of Newbury on account of it a tax of about sixty cents.

The scene at Cape Merrill has changed very little in the two and three-quarters centuries since John Merrill cut salt hay there. On the farther edge of the Plum Island marsh, half a mile away, a few modest shooting boxes can be seen, but beyond this the landscape in our day tells nothing of the changes which have transformed the New England wilderness of the middle seventeenth century into a populous land throbbing with the activities of industry and trade. In most landscapes time works great changes. At the mouth of Parker River, looking eastward, it seems almost as if the world had stood still while century after century has come and gone.


Nathaniel(1) of Newbury and His Sons

It is not known in what ship John and Nathaniel Merrill came to New England. There are, indeed, few ships’ lists for that period in existence. Rev. Samuel-H. Merrill wrote, in 1858, that they came, with about one hundred others, in the ship Hector in 1633, but evidence that they did so is lacking.  The statement is doubtless based on an interpolation, by an unknown hand, in an entry in the Newbury records under the date of 1752, Coffin, in his History of Newbury (pages 9 and 10), gives reasons for disregarding this tradition.

The Merrill brothers made a brief stay in Ipswich before taking up their residence in Newbury. John received a grant of a house lot in Ipswich as early as 1636, but surrendered it on removing from the town. John, and probably Nathaniel, was a freeholder, or proprietor, in Newbury as early as 1638.

The exact spot in Newbury where Nathaniel1 Merrill lived is unknown—but the same may be said of the homesteads of most of the first settlers. Nathaniel and his brother John were granted homestead lots adjoining each other on the Neck, on the south bank of the Parker River. It is probable that they built houses and lived there several years, but when the exodus was made to the “newe Town,” they removed northward with most of the others. Those living on the Neck resisted the proposed transfer of the settlement to the shore of the Merrimack, but in December, 1643, it was recorded that “the necke men have consented to yeld to the remoueing of the towne, and accordingly have received satisfaction at the new towne in land, for their land on the necke, and therefore have yelded up their land in the necke to the Towne.” [20]                                                                

William7 Merrill (Henry6,5,4, John3, Abraham2), who was born in 1817, was much interested in questions relating to the family history. He was very familiar with Newbury and West Newbury places, having passed his life in the territory comprised within the boundaries of Old Newbury. It was his belief that Nathaniel1 Merrill spent the last years of his life on part of the farm which his son Abraham2 occupied, just below the mouth of Artichoke River. Mr. Merrill wrote me, when he was long past 80 years of age, that he had eaten pears from two trees which grew on the farm, the trees, according to tradition, having been standing in the time of Nathariel the emigrant. The house of Nathaniel1 is supposed to have stood a quarter of a mile from the road, toward the river. But the belief that Nathaniel1 Merrill lived on this farm is based only on tradition, unsupported, so far as the present writer is aware, by any more tangible evidence.

The inventory of Nathaniel1 Merrill’s estate, made shortly after his death, mentions “ten akers of vpland and thre akers of marsh with the preuiledge of afrehold or Comonage,” but it includes no other real estate. The value placed on this land and right of commonage was only œ 20. Following the inventory is the entry, “his debts for Rent due to mr Cutting - - 5-0-0,” and in the absence of any definite mention of buildings in the will or in the inventory we may surmise that Nathaniel1 Merrill at his death occupied under a lease a house belonging to another.

John Cutting, shipmaster, made many voyages between England and America. He was in Watertown in 1636, and later in Charlestown, and as early as 1642 was in Newbury, where he died 20 Nov. 1659. Prior to 1645 he was granted a farm of two hundred acres on the north bank of the Falls River, in what was later the Byfield Parish. About the same time he was granted “an house lot at the new town joyning Hill Street.” [21]John Cutting owned  land also on the shore of the Merrimack, near the old Salisbury ferry landing, and just below Ram Island. This land was bounded by the present High Street on the west, by Woodland Street on the north, and by the river on the east.

If Nathaniel1 Merrill held his dwelling house under a lease from John Cutting, it is not likely that the house stood on the farm on the Falls River which had been granted to Cutting, for the inhabitants of the Colony were discouraged, so far as possible, by legal enactment and otherwise, from living at any considerable distance from the meeting house, the civic center of each community. This policy was dictated less by a wish to encourage promptness and regularity in attendance at divine worship, than by a desire to insure mutual protection.

It seems probable that Captain Cutting himself lived on the homestead lot granted him on Hill Street, and we may surmise that Nathaniel Merrill owed the œ 5 for rent of a house on the Woodland Street land near the river. This section is now a very respectable residential neighborhood.  [22]

It would be interesting to know something of the personality of Nathaniel Merrill, and the circumstances of his daily life. He was no doubt much like the other farmers of his time, and met the hardships of a pioneer without a murmur in an age when newspapers were unknown, letter writing infrequent, and when no thought was given to the preservation of materials for such a history as this, for the benefit of a generation of descendants who would not come into the world until two centuries or more had elapsed. After all it is not strange that so little has survived the succeeding ages of indifference to family history.

The “freeholders” or “proprietors” of Newbury were those who were entitled to share in the common and undivided lands. John1 Merrill was a freeholder in 1642. At what time Nathaniel1 acquired freehold rights we cannot tell. He had, however, acquired such rights by purchase prior to 1 March, 1651. (Currier, History of Newbury, pages 84, 93.)

The Will of Nathaniel1 Merrill The will and inventory of Nathaniel1 Merrill are preserved in the Essex County Court Papers, vol. III, leaf 10, in the office of the Clerk of Courts at Salem. Both papers are in the handwriting of Anthony Somerby. The will was executed 8 March, 1654/5; Nathaniel Merrill died 16 March, 1654/5; the will was proved 27 March, 1655.

Anthony Somerby was educated at Cambridge, England. He came to New England in 1639, and was the first schoolmaster of Newbury. He was town clerk nearly forty years, and his handwriting is very familiar to those who have devoted much attention to early Newbury records. Richard Knight, another witness of the will, came to New England in 1635, having previously learned the tailoring trade. He was one of the first selectmen of the town.

The accompanying facsimile of the will I traced carefully with a pen on tracing cloth, devoting several hours to the task. By the same means I copied most of the autographs which are used in later pages of this book. A majority of the autographs are from wills, and many of these instruments were executed at times of great bodily infirmity. They are not models of chirography: it may, nevertheless, be fairly said that the penmanship of our earlier ancestors was usually better than their pens. In the mark by which Nathaniel Merrill signed his will we can see the effort of a man on his deathbed to make the initials N M. There is no reason whatever to assume that he lacked the usual common-school education of his time.


Witnes by these psents that J Nathaniell Merrill of Newbury in the Countie of Essex being ficke of body but through gods mercy of perfect memory do here make my last will and testament, J first bequeath my soule into the hands of my blessed Redeemer with an assured hope of a ioyfull resurection, and my body when it shall please the lord to take me out of this fraile life to bee buryed in the burying place of Newbury, and for my worldly goods J giue and dispose of as followeth Jmpr J giue and bequeath unto Susanna my wife fiue akers of plowable land lying next my Brother John land and halfe the marsh dureing her naturall life and a cow and three beifers and all my household goods, And out of this estat so giuen to my wife J giue and bequeath unto my daughter Susanna fiue pounds when she shalbe at the age of twenty yeares then J giue and bequeath unto my son Nathaniell (whom J appoint as my true and lawfull heire) all my land and freehold after my wiues decease, and all the working tooles & Jmplements of husbandry and all the cattell and stocke besids And out of this stocke J appoint that my son Nathaniell shall pay theise legacyes as followeth, that is J giue unto my son John when be shalbee of the age of two and twenty yeers the summe of fiue pounds, And also J giue and bequeath unto my son Abraham at the age of two and twenty yeare fiue pounds, And J giue and bequeath unto my sonne Daniell also at the age of one and twenty years fiue pound and J giue and bequeath to my son Abell fiue pounds also at the age of one and twenty years, And J appoint my son Nathaniell to be my sole executor and all my debts & funerall rites being discharged J appoint him to baue all the rest of my goods & chattels undisposed and J desire my brother John merill and Anthony Somerby to be the ouerseers of this my last will & testament.

Jn witnesse wherof J baue set my hand. march the eight in the yeare one

thousand six hundred fifty foure The NM marke of Nathaniell Merrill

upon ye estate

but if gods p’uidence should by losses & crosses upon ye estate more then

ordinary: then proporlionably to be abated in the legacyes

Wittnes        Richard Knight

Anthony Somerby            pued in court held at ypswich 

the 27 of (1) 55 by the oath of John

merrill & Anthony Sumerby

John Merrell                                 p me Robt. Lord cleric’



An Inuentory of the lands goods and Chattells of Nathaniell merrill of Newbury who deceased march 16 1654/55

Impr ten akers of vpland and thre akers of marsh with the preuiledge of afrehold or Comonage vallued at                                                                                     20- 0-0
It one cow and acalfe                                           4-15-0
It three heifers of three yeare old and 2 calues vallued at    12-10-0
It two steers of two yeare old & two heifers vallued at        11- 0-0
It three yearelings vallued at                                  4- 0-0
It one old cart & wheels and sled and an old harcw              1- 0-0
It 2 spades a mattock a beetle 4 wedges a crosscut 
saw & a hand saw & 4 axes and 4 hooes wth other small tooles    2- 0-0
It 3 old tubs a fanne an Iron staple & ring & 2 prongs & 
shouell                                                         0-10-0
It his weareing apparel                                         2- 0-0

It ten bushells of malt & barly 5 bushells of wheate & nine 

bushels of rye & about 35 bushells of Indian corne                                   10-16-0

It two muskets and 2 swords with match & powder & other 
appurtenances therto belonging                                   2-0-0                                                                                                                           
It in oats & pease                                              0-10-0
It sixe small swine                                             3- 0-0
It 2 flock beds & bolsters & 2 small feather pillows & two 
couerlets & old blankets & 2 paire of sheets old                4- 0-0
It 2 old Ketles 2 skillets & a smal braspot & Iron pot          1-10-
It an old warming pan fireshouell gridIron tongs & other 
small Iron things & a spit                                      0-12-0
It 4 small pewter dishes & askimmer dishes & spoones            0-12-0
It a truckle bedsted 2 buckets and a pre of 
cottrells & other small things                                  0-10-0
It a small cart rope & halfe bushell & a pecke                  0- 5-0 
It a small cubbord & 2 chests                                   0-16-0
It one drinke vessels 2 wheels one powdring tub: 
ten milke trayes & 3 cheesfats & other lumber                   2- 0-0
                                                   Sum is      84- 6-0
his debts for Rent due to mr Cutting                            5- 0-0
and besids in small debts                                       2- 0-0
A true Inuentory taken march 23th 1654:55
                      by vs                  Daniell P Thurstons marke
                                             Richard Knight
                                             Nicholaus Woodman

This inventory is that of a man in very modest circumstances. In the next generation the Merrills were all much more prosperous—and in the increasing prosperity as the generations succeeded one another one may find reason for satisfaction. If the fortunes of a family are on a rising plane it is surely more creditable than to be the humble descendants of an illustrious ancestor in whose abilities and material possessions his descendants have no share.

A glimpse into the domestic life of rural New England in the early Colonial period is afforded by the list of articles enumerated in this inventory. The names of some of these things are no longer familiar, even on the farms. The “fanne,” mentioned in the eighth item, was an implement for winnowing grain.  “Prongs,” in the same item, were hay forks. “Flock beds,” referred to in the fourteenth item, were beds filled with wool waste. The “truckle bedsted,” in item 18, was a low bed, on casters, to be pushed under a high bedstead when not in use; a trundle-bed. Cotterels (“cottrells,” item 18) were hooks from which pots were hung over a fire. The “powdering tub” (item 21) was a tub in which meat was corned. Cheese-vats (called “cheesfats” in item 21) were cases in which cheeses were pressed.

If Nathaniel Merrill who died in Newbury in 1655 is identical with the Nathaniel whose baptism in 1601 is recorded in the parish of Wherstead, he was about fifty-four years old at his death. We know little of his personality or of the events of his life. His life may seem to us, indeed, to have been commonplace. It ended before it had reached the three-sccre years allotted by Scripture, but no one’s life can be thought to have been in vain if he has given to the world five stalwart sons, trained to habits of industry and thrift, and in the wider activities and greater prosperity of these sons the father’s life may, in a sense, be considered to have continued.


It is assumed that Nathaniel2 Merrill was the eldest son Nathaniel1. All persons in the Colony more than sixteen years of age were, in 1678, required to take the oath of allegiance. The oath was administered in Newbury in September of that year, and the list for that town is on file at Salem with the Essex County court papers, vol. 30, leaf 56. In this list appear the names of Abraham Merrill, age 41; “Nathaneel,” age 40; Daniel, age 34; and Abel, age 32. There is no apparent reason why accuracy in stating the precise ages of the men who took the oath should have been considered much more important than accuracy in spelling their names.

(See page 163) Nathaniel1 Merrill, in making his will in 1655, named Nathaniel2 as executor. From this fact it may be inferred that Nathaniel2 had then attained his majority, in which case he was born prior to 1635. If this assumption is correct, he was at least forty-four years of age when he took the oath in 1678. In other instances also, in the same list, the ages of men seem to have been incorrectly stated.

Little is to be learned, from the town records of Newbury, or from other sources, to show that Nathaniel2 Merrill was prominent in town affairs. He died before reaching the age of fifty years, but was prosperous, and amassed a comfortable property by the standards of his time. 

Norfolk Records, book 3, leaf 124 A deed is recorded in Salem by which Nathaniel Merrill of Nubery bought an acre of meadow in Haverhill from Daniel Lad, paying therefor “œ 3 & a flitch of Bacon.” The date of this deed, on the record, is 19 April, 1628, an error which is seemingly copied from the instrumont itself. The conveyancer’s added statement, “annoque Renni Regis Caroly secundi xxx,” would place the date about half a century later than 1628. Another purchace of Haverhill real estate by Nathaniel Merrill is shown by the deeds of Peter Green and Thomas Duston, the latter deed bearing the date 15 March, 1677/78. The land in question comprised fifty acres, and it is to be presumed that this is the same property which, in the inventory of Nathaniel Merrill’s estate, in 1682, was appraised at œ 120. (Korfolk Records, book 3, leaves 76 and 124.) 

Nathaniel2 Merrill’s Will The will of Nathaniel2 Merrill was executed just a month before his death. This instrument, and the inventory of his estate, were in the handwriting of Tristram Coffin, and both disclose some original ideas in phonetic spelling. In the copy given below I have indicated by a diagonal line / the end of each line in the will as originally written.

Inthe name of god amen: I Nathanuel Marrill of newbury / in masathusith:

newingland: being sensabel of my owne mortallity and / haveing att this time my Rationall undarstanding and memory dou / make this as my last will and testament: commiting my sole to god / and my body to the dust: in hopes of a Joyfull Resarection: and as for my / worldly goods I despose of them as folloeth: I giue to my belovid wife / gone: all my dwelling howsing and barne with all my upland and me/ddow: and marshlands that I haue with in the township of newbury/ and my fre howld: and priuilidgis in all commans et: as allso all my / stok of cattell and shep: and swine: and howssald goods: with all: / other mowfabels: all which to be for the benefet of my wife duoring / her widdohowd: but if my wife marry again: then: she shall have no / Right to all aboue said gieuen her: but onely har thards as the law / douth a low: or thre pound ayear to be peaid har as by this my will / appoyentid: Item: Igeve to my son John marrill: my dwelling / howssing and barne and orchard: and all my lands: bouth meddows and / upland: with my fre howld: and Rights and priuilidgis: in all comon / lands liing and being with in the township of newbury: to him and / his lawfull eares of his owen boddy lawfully begotten: to be the lawful / in herytance of my son John and to be posesid of it at his mothars / death: or at the day of har marriage: if she marry again: and then / my will is that my son John peay to his mothar yearly: thre pound / a year duaring har life: prouidid my wife Renowns har thards / Item Igeve to my othar tow sons: nathanuel and petar: all my land / and meddow and priuilidgis thar unto belongin: the which: is / and lieth with in the town and bownds of hauerhill: equally / to be deuided betwen them: Itam I geve to my tow daftars twenty pound / a peces to be paide by my son John marrill within fieue yeares aftar / he douth in hearrit his portion geuin him by this my will: all soo / I geve my tow daftars the one halfe of my howsald goods: at the deth / of my wife: or when my wife shall marry again: and the othar half / of my howsald goods: I leue with my wife for she to despose of to / to my children as she shall se mete allsoo I dow appoyent / my wife: gone marrill to be the executor of this my will: to pay all / my debtes and Reseue all my debtes: and to tak care that this my will/ be parformid: soo far as it can be duering har life all so my / will is that if ethar of my tow daftars dy be fore thear portion is due to har / as by this my will geuen: then the othar which saruiee shall haue the hoal / geuen to boath of them: allso if my son John dy without Isshue: that then that/ by this my will geuen to him: shall be the in heritance of my sons that saruiee / and I dou hear by declear this to be my last will and testament as witnis / my hand and seail: this furst day of desembar 1682  

witnisis to the sining and seailing the mark ul hear of  of nathan maril

Tristram Coffin

Aquila Chase 

This will was sealed with a device suggesting a bunoh of grapes. It was proved in court at Ipswich 10 April, 1683. The christian name of the testator’s wife is spelled “gone” in the seventh and thirty-fourth lines of the instrument. This indicates the monosyllabic pronunciation of Joan.

Deacon Tristram Coffin, tailor, was born in England in 1632, and died in Newbury in 1704. He was several times a representative to the General Court. The house in which he lived was occupied for many generations by his descendants, one of whom, Joshua Coffin, was living in it when he compiled his “History of Newbury,” which was published in 1845. Sergt.  Aquila Chase, born 1652, died 1720, was a farmer in Newbury. He was brother-in-law of Abel2 Merrill, and father-in-law of Daniel3 Merrill (Daniel2).

The Inventory The inventory of the estate was filed in court at Ipswich by “Joane merrill Relict & executrix to the last will of Nathaniell merrill,” 30 April, 1683. It begins as follows:

Inuintory of the estate of nathanuel marril latate of newbury taken this 18: dy of Jeneary: 1682 by us the subscribars


                                                                                                                               lb                s             d

to 21 akars of upland and housing and frehould                                                 100                00           0

to 12 akars of marsh: 72: to ten shep: 3-10s-0d- to a mare:

and 7 swine                                                                                                          080               10           0

to 2 oken and fowar cowes and tow steares: 34:

to 3 cattell and a calf                                                                                           042                00           0

to pork 40s: to land and orchard at hauerhil 120-0s-0d                                      122                00           0


Among the other articles enumerated are: 2 guns, 40s; “a sward and bulits and powdar,” 9s; “a parsel of wowlling cloth,” 40s; “yearne,” 40s; a warming pan, 13s; “a sas pan and a cettell,” 5s; “12 pare of shetes and 8 napkins,” 13lb 2s; “13 pillocasis,” 4s8d; “3 towils,” 3s; “2 blinkets,” 25s; “a fathar bead,” 6lb; “2 pillos,” 12s; “waring aparrill,” 51b; “carpendars tules and a ax,” 18s; “barly and indean corne,” 16lb; “a saddell and Pillion and Pillion cloth,” 21b 5s.

The total of the inventory was œ 520.7s. The debts chargeable to the estate amounted to œ 46.9s.8d.


It is to be regretted that when we inquire into the motives for John2 Merrill’s removal to Hartford, Conn., and into the circumstances surrounding his migration, we are forced to base our conclusions on conjecture.

He made the journey in 1657, or perhaps a little earlier. Hartford had been settled for about twenty years. Gregory Wolterton (or Wilterton, sometimes also written Walterton, Woolterton and Winterton), who seems to have been a kinsman, had lived in Hartford, of which town he was one of the original proprietors, since 1637. Wolterton was thrice married, but died without issue. It is thought that John was received into his household on his arrival in Hartford. John Merrill is said, indeed, to have been adopted by Gregory Wolterton, [23] out no reference to this fact appears in Gregory Wolterton’s will, and I know no early documentary evidence to support the statement. John Merrill learned the tanning business from his bensfactor, and lived at the homestead granted to Wolterton on the south side of what is new Elm Street, close to Little River. [24]

As a very young man John Merrill was admitted a freeman (1658), and he filled the humble office of chimney viewer in 1664 and 1673. He was a townsman, or selectman, in 1684, 1694 and 1700.

Means of travel were very deficient in those days, and it is quite likely that no visits were ever exchanged between John Merrill of Hartford and his Newbury brothers and their families. But John2 Merrill named his sons after his brothers in Massachusetts until the list was exhausted, besides remembering in a similar way his wife, his mother, and his benefactor, Gregory Wolterton. (See pages 165-6.)


The dates of birth and death of Sarah Watson, wife of John Merrill, are not known. In 1650 her father, John Watson, made his will, in which he provided that his wife should pay to his daughters Sarah and Mary œ 5 each when they reached the age of eighteen years. By this it would appear that Sarah (Watson) Merrill was born subsequent to 1632. In 1683 Margaret Watson, widow of John Watson, died, and by a nuncupative will “She bequeathd to her daughter Sarah Merrells her red cloth Petticoat. . . . She did desire that her daughters, Sarah Merrells & Mary Seamor, should have œ 5 paid to each of them, that was bequeathed to them by their Father’s Will.”

John2 Merrill acquired a large amount of land in West Hartford. In 1673 certain undivided lands “at the west end of the town” were allotted to the proprietors. Gregory Wolterton’s allotment of forty-two acres was fourteen rods wide and a mile and a half long, reaching to the Farmington line. The lots were laid out in 1674, but, an Gregory Wolterton had died earlier in the same year, this land came into the possession of John Merrill.

“The first purchase with a view to settlement in West Hartford was made by Thomas Hosmer, for his son Stephen, in 1679, about half a mile north of the meeting house. John Merrill began his purchases in the same vicinity in 1683.  The purchase had reference to a mill, immediately erected, where the present mill stands, at the expense of Mr. Hosmer, though probably Mr.  Merrill was actively engaged in the work from the first. Mr. Hosmer deeded Mr. Merrill one-third of the sawmill and sixty acres of land in 1685.” Between this time and 1730 the Hosmers and Merrills purchased six hundred acres in that section.  [25]

John2 Merrill’s Will

The will of John2 Merrill is preserved with the Colonial records of Connecticut in the State Library at Hartford. The paper is badly worn at the folds, and the ink has penetrated through the paper more than in most contemporary documents. In many of the lines in his signature the ink has indeed eaten the paper away, so that, when the document is held up to the light, one can look through as through the lines of a stencil. With careless handling the instrument would now quickly go to pieces. Only the signature is in John Merrill’s own handwriting. Am inaccurate copy of this will is given in Manwaring’s Digest of the Early Connecticut Probate Records, I, 486-7.

John(2) Merrill made his will 11 April, 1684. He was then in his prime, a “townsman,” and actively engaged in his business as a tanner. Nathaniel3, the eldest of his eight sons, was a boy of seventeen at this time, and Jacob3, the youngest, was yet unborn. But John2 Merrill lived twenty-eight years after making his will. In the interval Nathaniel3 had become insane, and in other respects circumstances had changed.

The instrument is quite long, and it begins with something more than the usual solemnity of phraseology.

“Jn the Name & fear of the Eternall God ffather sonn & Holy spirit to Him Be Given all Glory now and for ever more: Amen.

“J John Merrills of Hartford In New England Being now through the Graticuss providence of God towards mee In good Health of Body: And Haveing the Right use of my understanding & Reason; And J Calling to mind the Certainty of Death & the uncertainty of the time thereof: Thought Good to manifest to those whome it may Conserne what my mind & will is Conserning the Dispose of those

things that God Hath (with subordination to his Holy will Given mee Liberty to Dispose off  “Jmprimis I Commit my soule into the Hands of my most Gratiouss god & mercyfull Redemer: my Body after my

Decease J Recommend to Comely & Christian Like Bury all according to the wise Discression of my Excecutrix & over seers; Hopeing for & expecting a Gloriouss Reserection when my soule & Body shall Bee Reunited and Live Eternally to the Glorifying of God my Redemer and Conserning

Those worldly goods that it Hath pleased God Jn mercy to Bestow on mee: my will is that my Just Debts Bee payd out of my Estate; Farther my will is That my Loveing wife shold Have Half my Dweling House with Half my Home Lott & the privilidges thereunto BeLonging so Long as shee shall Remaine a widdow. . . . “


After providing further for the widow, he stipulated that the residue should be divided into a number of parts equal to the number of surviving children, with one additional equal part. He gave a share to each of the sons on reaching the age of twenty-one years, and to his daughter Sarah at eighteen years of age. He gave to Nathaniel3, provided he should “Learn the Trade off a Taner and is Likely to Improve the sayd Trade well; that Hee the sd Nathaniell shall Have twoo parts of my Estate it Being Devided as abovesayd. . . . “

The will then continues:

“Also my will is that my sonn Nathaniell Attending the Conditions abovesayd so that he Reseaves a Double portion; that Hee shold Have half my Homestead & half the Tann yard with all the Apurtinances thereunto Belonging as part of His portion. . . . Also my will is that iff eaither

of my other sonns will learn my Trade of a taner & is Likely to Jmprove it well; that that sonn that so Doth shold Have the other Half of the Tanyard with half the fats [vats] & houseing and other Conveniences thereunto BeLonging; as also the other half off my Homestead which

is Left with my wife Dureing hir widdowhood. . . . Also my will is that None of my Lands nor Tanyards that J shall Dye possessed off shall Bee Allienated to any other pson that is not of my possterytie; for ever.”


John(2) Merrill died 18 July, 1712. The will was filed for probate, but by an agreement dated 1 Dec. 1712, the heirs waived its provisions, stipulating that the widow should have her “thirds” during her life, and the children should share equally in the residue, except that Nathaniel should have a double portion, “if he shall Live to spend it, or Come to the right use of his reason.”

The Inventory The “Inventor of Decon John merills Late of Hartford Deceased” disclosed real and personal estate amounting in the aggregate to œ505.4s.6d. Among the items were: “Half the Homstead & Housing,” œ 50;

“Two Acres of upland Abuting upon Isaac merills his home Lott,” œ 17;

“half That Lott that John merills And Abraham Lives upon 25 acres At 20s pr Acre,” œ 25; “The Tanyard with the Land Adioining & the Building That wear formerly upon Jt,” œ 50; also seven other parcels of land, aggregating 104 acres, œ 251.

Other items in the inventory were: Two cows, œ 6; “the half of thre thre year olds,” œ 3.15s.; “The half of a Two year old,” 16s.; “The half of A yearling,” 7s.; a yoke of oxen, œ8.10s.; “Two mare.” œ 5; “The half a mare Colt,” 6s.;

“The half of 5 swine,” œ 4.10s.; eighteen sheep, œ 6.6s.; “Twenty Bushells of Endian Corn,” œ 2; about forty pounds of “puter” at 3s. a pound, and four “muskits at 10s 0 pr muskit.”

Gregory Wolterton Gregory Wolterton was made “townsman” at the first election held in Hartford, and later on several occasions was chosen to the same office. Under the name “Goodm Winterton” he appears to have been a member of a jury which convicted Nathaniel Greensmith of witchcraft, 30 Dec. 1662, for which offsnce Greensmith was executed 25 Jan. 1663. The psychology of these witchcraft trials will always be a mystery to those of us who are mentally normal. Rebecca Greensmith, wife of the unfortunate wizard of Hartford, was convicted at the same time as her husband, having confessed her guilt. [26]

The will of Gregory Wolterton was dated 17 July, 1674, and it was filed in the Probate Court less than six weeks later--26 Aug. 1674.  [27](**) It is entirely in the handwriting of the testator, and is less easily read than many of the writings of that period. With few preliminaries, and generally without waste of words, he made such provision as a business man, realizing that death was near, might make of his estate. The instrument begine thus:

“I Gregory wolterton of hartford upon the Riuer of Conictiticote doe make this my last will and testimement wherein I giue unto my wife Jane wolterton the some of twenty pound to be payd in mouebel goods as is prised prouided that it be in such as she desire I doe also giue unto Jane my wife

her dweling and liberty and use of the nue roome which was last bilt which is next to the garden but not for to let it away to any but for to use it for her owne use during the time of her life and for to use some part of the seller and the quene for her Conuenienty and liberty for to set her fire wood in the yard I doe also giue unto her six pound to be payd to her euery yeare by my excecktor during the time of her life I doe also giue unto James wolterton the son of mathew wolterton that liue in Ipsage in sufolke in owld Ingland ten pound if he be liuing if not to his Childeren eaquelly deuided . . . “

Here follow gifts to more than twenty-five individuals, mostly in sums of money ranging from 20s. to œ 10, besides two parcels of land, of four and six acres respectively, the latter for the benefit of the church. The concluding provisions are as follows:

“moreover I giue unto John mirels and his Ayers for euer booth my howsing & tanyard & all that I haue and all my land that Is undesposed whome I ordayne and apoint sole excetor to this my last will will & testement”


It is inferred that Gregory Wolterton was related to John Merrill, his residuary legatee. Perhaps he was a brother of Susanna Merrill of Newbury, and therefore was John Merrill’s uncle, but no mention of relationship appears in the will. Failure to refer to relationship proves nothing, however. Gregory Wolterton in his will gave four acres of land to “John shepeard sener the son of Edward shepard,” without mentioning relationship of any sort to himself, but the following receipt shows that John Shepherd was his nephew: [28]

Receaved by me, John Shepherd, of my loving Unkel, Gregory Winterton, thirty-four pounds wch he receaved of my Brother Thomas Greenhill for Lands I sold him, for wch I made my Unkel a letter of Attorney. I say receaved by me. August 4th, 1654.


The amount of Gregory Wolterton’s estate, including real and personal, according to the inventory was œ 585. 16s. This included “the house Barne & Home lott,” œ 90; “the Tanyard with what belongs to it,” œ 50; five other parcels of land aggregating thirty-eight acres; “Seuerall hides in the Tanyard,” œ 10; “debts many of them being uncertain valued at œ 100.”


Abraham2 Merrill was admitted a freeman 30 Sept. 1662. [29] Throughout his long life he was active in many ways in the town’s affairs. He held the office of selectman in 1684 and subsequently; he served in 1686 on a committee to lay out certain pastures to be held and used by the townspeople in common; in 1695 he was a member of a committee to divide the town into two parishes, and the same year he served on a committee to determine the place for a ferry over the Merrimack.

In 1677 the General Court ordered that a tithing-man be appointed for every ten families. They were a sort of Sunday police. It was their duty to apprehend Sabbath-breakers and those absent from church, and other such lawless characters, and in 1679 Deacon Abraham was chosen by the selectmen as one of fifteen tithing-men for the town. Under his jurisdiction were three Bartlett families, two Chase families and four other households.  Several times in later years he filled the same office.

Like most of the early settlers he added a trade to his work as a farmer, and as a weaver contributed toward supplying the material needs of the community. But his farm was productive and well stocked, the tax list of   Newbury in 1688 showing that he owned two houses, that he had twelve acres of land under tillage, besides four acres of meadow, and he had two horses, a yoke of oxen, five cows, two two-year-olds, twenty sheep and four swine. (New England Historical and Genealogical Register, xxxii, 161.)


His Homestead (See pages 167, 189) Abraham2 Merrill lived near the mouth of Artichoke River, on the road leading toward the east, in what is now Newburyport. He bought land there as early as 1661, and before his death his farm extended nearly a mile along the bank of the Merrimack. This farm remained in the hands of the family for several generations, being owned and occupied successively by Abraham2, John3, Henry4, Henry5 and Samuel6. After the death of Samuel6 in 1882 it came into the possession of his daughter, [30]  Martha-Ann7 Merrill, who married Joshua P.  Chase, and her children sold it to Fred S. Moseley, a Boston broker. The new owner removed all trace of the original buildings, in the late 90s of the last century, erecting a fine summer residence, and laying out the grounds as a private park, with beautiful driveways through the pine woods. The old well remains, but, with elaborate stone curbing and covered by an ornamental roof, it is unrecognizable.

The house of Abraham(2) Merrill was evidently of good size and well built, for, when danger of attack by the Indians was impending, in March, 1690, it was ordered that “The committee of Newbury appoint the house of Mr.  Abraham Merrill to be a garrison house and request him with all convenient speed to fortity his house.”  [31]

Abraham Merrill was a leader in carrying out the measures taken for the protection of the town from Indian raids, and he was a leader in his neighborhood in the long-continued contest over the establishment of an independent religions society in the western part of the town. He was a member of the committee appointed in 1695 to divide the town into two parishes, and nineteen years later he became one of the first church wardens when the Episcopal church was established on the border line between the two parishes. His Grave The graves of Abraham2 Merrill and many of his descendants are in the cemetery at Sawyer’s Hill, half a mile southeast from the old homestead. The earliest family gravestone is that of Abigail Webster, first wife of Abraham2. It is described as a rather thick piece of finegrained stone, and apparently waterworn. It seems as if it may have been used as a mortar for pounding corn to make hominy, for the back is hollowed like a dish. The inscription, which is rudely cut, reads:




This is perhaps the earliest Merrill tombstone in the country. Few earlier gravestones are found in New England cemeteries. A grave beside this one, marked by two rough pieces of granite at head and foot, may be that of Deacon Abraham.

Reminiscences of William7 Merrill William7 Merrill (Henry6,5,4, John3, Abraham2), whose family lived on this farm for four generations, wrote me at some length about it in March, 1901. Mr. Merrill was then 83 years old.  He had spent his life in Newburyport and West Newbury, and was better versed in matters relating to the family than anyone else in that section. Mr.  Merrill said that Abraham2 doubtless built the first house on the premises. It stood about half way from the road to the river. Prior to 1729 a second house was built not far away, and the positions of both of these are shown on an old plan of the West Parish of Newbury, made in that year, which is reproduced in Currier’s “Ould Newbury,” page 348.

The older house was occupied by John3 Merrill (Abraham2) and the newer one by his brother David3. Finally John3 acquired the whole farm, and lived in the newer house, and here his descendants spent their lives until comparatively recent years.

“The second house I remember well,” wrote Mr. Merrill. “It faced the south, was two stories high in front and one story in the rear. The barn was nearly a hundred feet in length. . . . The skins of animals killed on the place were tanned and made into shoes on the farm; flax was raised and spun; sheep were kept, and the wool spun and woven. .  . . About 1850 the house was taken down.

“Nothing remains except the old milldam. There was a grist mill on a brook which ran through the farm. . . The banks of the brook rise considerably, and near the top a ledge crops out. In this ledge there is a vein softer than the rest, and the weather has worn this away so that it looks like the track of a wheel through mud nearly dry. This was called ‘the devil’s wheelbarrow track,’ that he made when wheeling a grist to mill. My father, Henry6, told me that when he was a small boy, and left alone in the mill, he would look out of the window in terror lest another such grist should be brought to mill.  The singular vein and the old dam, which has been repaired, are the only things which remain on the place unchanged.”

Settlement of the Estate Abraham2 Merrill died intestate, and no record of administration of his estate is to be found in the Probate Office at Salem.  The reason is to be found in the Registry of Deeds. Under date of 1 Feb.  1706/7, he conveyed to his son, Abraham3, part of two freehold lots, numbered 74 and 75, in Newbury, thirty acres; also a rate lot, twenty acres, and an undivided half of his salt marsh “below grate pine Island.” Possession was to be given “Imediatly after mine and my wife Abigall Decease.” The consideration for this conveyance was stated as follows:

“for and in consideration of my Eldest son Abraham Merrill paying to my son John Merrill six pounds thirteen shillings and four pence and to my son Daived merrill the sum of six pounds thirteen shillings and four pence to be all paid in good pay as money to my two sonns their heires or order within one year after mine and my wife Abigalls Decease and in consideration of my said son Abraham merrill Dwelling with me untill he was of the age of about thirty years and did help me to carrey on and

manage my buisness faithfully.”


The acknowledgment of this deed was not taken until 7 April, 1712. It was recorded the following month, in book 23, leaf 270, of Essex deeds.

March 3, 1706/7, Abraham Merrill gave a deed to his son David3 covering “all the westerly end of my home living containing by Estimation fifteen acres,” this being described as bounded on one side by the Merrimack River; also twenty acres on “Artechoake River,” an undivided quarter of his salt marsh below Great Pine Island, a half of his meadow land in Salisbury, a half of his freehold and common rights and rate rights in Newbury, a half of his wood lots, and a half of his household goods.  Possession, as before, was contingent on the death of the grantor and his wife, but the grantee should have immediate possession in case he delivered to the grantor for life, and to his widow after his decease, one-quarter part of all the grain, indian corn and hay raised on the premises. This deed was made “in consideration of my son David Merrill paying the sum of thirty one pounds in Good pay as money to be paid to my three daughters within three years after mine & my wives Abigails decease viz to my daughter Abigail Ordway ten pounds and thirteen Shillings and to my daughter Hannah Long ten Pounds & Eighteen Shillings & to my daughter Sarah Morss nine pounds & nine Shillings in Consideration that my son David Merrill hath dwelt with me and did help me to carry on my business in the management of my living untill he was of the age of twenty nine years and also other Good & Lawfull Considerations me thereunto moving.”

This deed was acknowledged 7 April, 1712, and recorded the following October, in book 26, leaf 75.

Finally Abraham2 Merrill gave to his son John3 the easterly end of his “home living,” containing about thirty acres, on the bank of the Merrimack; also a share equal to that conveyed to David in his salt marsh and meadow land, in his freehold, common and rate rights, in his wood lots, and in his household goods. This deed was dated 7 April, 1707, and it was conditioned on the grantee “Paying the Sum of Thirty one Pounds in Good pay as money to be paid to my Son Jonathan Merrill and my daughter Mary Thurloes children & my daughter Eliza Emery and to my daughter Prudence Bartlett within three years after mine and my wives Abigails decease,” the œ 31 being apportioned as follows: to Jonathan œ 9, to Mary Thurlow’s children œ 10, to Elizabeth œ 8, to Prudence œ 4. It was further recited that the grantee had dwelt with the grantor, and assisted him in his business, until he was thirty-three years old.

As in the case of the deed to David, immediate possession was contingent on John3 Merrill delivering to his father annually one-quarter of the crops.

The acknowledgment of this deed was dated 7 April, 1712, and it was recorded 2 Oct. 1712, in book 26, leaf 76.

Abraham Merrill’s signature, shown in the margin, is copied from a petition to the Governor and Council and the General Court, dated February, 1709, regarding the erection of a new meeting house. This petition is on file in the State archives in Boston.


Daniel(2) Merrill was born 20 Aug. 1642, in Newbury. He was a carpenter as well as a farmer. The site of his homestead is not now known.

The Colonial charter required that the inhabitants take the oath of allegiance to the King. Political disorders under the Commonwealth and after the Restoration had resulted in the requirement remaining for a time in abeyance, but, in a modified form, some of the inhabitants were ultimately called upon to take the oath. It is recorded that “Daniell Merrill” of “Newberie” took “ye oath of ffidelitie vnto this gouerment ye 25 of february sixty eight,” and again in 1678 he took the oath of allegiance, his age being given at that time as thirty-four years. In 1677 he was chosen fence viewer, and in 1689 he was one of four “way wardens.”

His Military Service In a list of “Soldiars under ye command of Capt Tho Noyes,” in 1688, is the name of Daniell Merell. He was then forty-five years old. He is called Sergt. Merrill in papers of that time. In the General Register of the Society of Colonial Wars for 1899-1902 (page 709) it is stated that he was “in Lieut.-Col. Thomas Noyes’ company of Snowshoe Men, 1706.” But in 1706 Daniel2 Merrill was living in Salisbury. Furthermore, at sixty-three years of age he would hardly have been rated as an effective campaigner on snowshoes. The snowshoe-man of 1706 was his son, Daniel3 Merrill of Newbury, then thirty-four years old. The snowshoe men were “apointed to keep snow shous & moggensons,” in addition to the muskets which all inhabitants were required to have ready for use in any emergency. (Currier, History of Newbury, pp. 528, 540, 541.)

An Old Heirloom A silver teaspoon which is supposed to have belonged to Daniel2 Merrill was handed down in the line of William-Patten7 Merrill of Topsham, Maine. It is now in the possession of his daughters. On the back of the handle are engraved the initials of Daniel Merrill and Sarah Clough, with the date of their marriage, and the initials of John(3), John(4), John(5), Abel(6) and William-Patten(7) Merrill, which were added in later years. The bowl of the spoon shows a number of dents, probably the teeth-marks of youthful Merrills of many generationg ago. My drawing is from a photograph which was given me by Mary-Jang7 Merrill, sister of William-Patten7, when she was eighty-seven years of age. To her friendly interest I am indebted for many facts about her line in the family.


At the Registry of Deeds in Salem may be found the record of fifteen conveyances under which Daniel2 Merrill acquired title to various lots of land in Newbury, Salisbury and Haverhill. The earliest of these was dated 5 May, 1668, and the latest 27 Feb. 1706/7. Some of the earlier ones were not recorded until after his death.

In 1668, for œ 55, he bought sixteen acres, with buildings, “near the great pine swamp,” (in the southern part of Newbury, not far from Parker River).  In 1673, jointly with his brother Abel, he bought fifty-six acres in Haverhill, the purchase price being œ 52. The following year the two bought twenty acres adjoining their previous purchase, this being described as situated at “Hogghill” in Haverhill (in the present town of Atkinson, N.H.) The consideration for this second purchase was “a Cow and a Yoke of Oxen and ffive pounds in cloathing in hand payd.”

John Clough, senior, of Salisbury, in 1686, in consideration of love and good will, gave a deed to “my sone Daniell Merrill & Sarah his wyfe of Nubury,” conveying one-half of all the grantor’s land in Haverhill, together with rights of commonage. It was stipulated in the deed that “John Merrill ye sone of Sarah Merrill shalbe considered & allowed some prehemenency in ye abovesd lands abov ye rest of ye sd Sarahs children.”

Daniel Merrill began buying land in Salisbury in 1682, his purchases including two tracts in the “Barbary meadows,” œ 46.5s.; six acres in the “Higglede Pigglede lotts,” œ 20; two tracts in the Goodale Swamp Division, œ 20; besides upland at the Great Plain and at Munday’s Hill, and other land now not easily identified.

The tax list of 1688 showed that Daniel Merrill owned two houses, with twelve acres of arable land, in Newbury, and his farm was stocked with two horses, a yoke of oxen, five cows, four three-year-old. heifers and four yearlings, [32] besides thirty sheep and six hogs. The absence of pasture in the enumeration is explained by the practice of pasturing cattle on land held in common.

At what time he removed to Salisbury is not known. He is described as of Newbury when, 28 Jan. 1696/7, he purchased, from Richard Hubbard of Boston, a forty-acre tract in Salisbury, bounded easterly by Daniel Moody, northerly by Nathaniel Brown, westerly by “the highway,” and southerly by “a way.” Five years later, 31 Jan. 1701/2, he bought land at the Birchen Meadow, near Turkey Hill, in Newbury, being then described as of Salisbury. He evidently acquired other land also in Salisbury and Haverhill, by deeds which were not recorded, or otherwise, for he made several conveyances of other property, which are recorded with the Essex deeds.

His Salisbury Homestead Daniel(2) Merrill continued to own a homestead in Newbury, which descended to his eldest son under his will, besides the Salisbury homestead, which fell to his youngest son. This Salisbury homestead at the “Great Plain” was probably near the ancient cemetery which lies a mile and a half north from East Salisbury village, where the road leading west to Amesbury and South Hampton branches off from the road north to Seabrook. Moses3 Merrill, son of Daniel2, is known to have lived across the road from this cemetery, toward the northwest. This re ighborhood was variously known as the Great Plain and Pitch Pine Plain. [33]

Daniel2 Merrill was admitted a freeman by the General Court, and took the freeman’s oath 7 Feb. 1682/3. (See p. 85.)

His Will The will of Daniel2 Merrill is in the fair clerkly handwriting of Jacob Bradbury. The following copy conforms to the original, line for line, as closely as may  be by means of printed letters. The “long s” (f) was used generally by the writer of the will, except at the end of a word, but I have not found it practicable to attempt to indicate this by means of my typewriter.

Jn ye. Name of God amen

J Daniel Merrill of ye: town of salisbury in ye: County of Essex in ye: Province of ye: Massachusetts bay in new eng land Carpenter this tenth day of May 1717 being weak in body but of perfeot mind & memory. thanks be given to God. therefore caling to ming the mortality of my body & knowing that it is appointed for all men once to die do make & ordain this my last will & testament that is to say principally & first of all J give & recommend my soul into the hands of God yt: gaue it & my body J re comend to the earth to be buryed in decent christian burial at ye: discretion of my executor nothing doubting but at ye: general resurrection J shall receive ye: same a gain by the mighty power of God. & as touching such worly estate wherewth: it has pleased God to bless me in this life J give demise & dispose of ye: same in ye: follow ing manner & form.(???) Jmprimis J give & beqveath unto Daniel my oldest sone all my homested housing & land in newberry as also all my salt marsh my rate lot & wood lot so called & birchin meadow in sd. newberry aforesd he paying out legacys as followeth to my daughter Sarah Morse fourty shillings also to my son in lay Onesiphorus Page sixteen pounds wch: my desire is that he would devide eqvally amongst ye. four ohilldr en wch: he had by my daughter Ruth when they come of ago also sixteen pounds to my daughter Martha True all wch: to be paid in or as money wth: in five years after my decease (???) 2ly. J giue & bequeath unto John my second son two thirds of my hoge hill lot so called in Haverhill wch: was given 30 me by my father Clough as also ye: Barbary meadow yt was my father Cloughs (???) 3ly: J give & bequeath unto my third son Moses Merrill— the other third of my hoghill lot to gether wth: all my right to ye: other lands & meadow wch: is between my Cousin Thomas Merrill & J in Haverhill aforesd. as also ye: Pilsbury lot of salt marsh so caled lying in ye: barbary Meadows in salisbury 4ll. J give & beqveath unto my youngest son stephen Merrill Whom J likewise make constitute & ordain my sole Executor of this my last will & testament, all my homested buildings & appertenances together wth: my land on ye: Great plain ajoyning to it as also my pasture & meadow Ground in Goodale swamp so called containing about thirty acres as also two lots in ye: salt Marsh at ye: Barbary the one known by the name of ye: Downer & the other ye: Bayly lot as also all my stock & moueables also my will is yt: my sd: sone stephen do take Care of my beloved Wife Sarah Merrill after my decease that is to say to find her a convenient fire room in my now dwelling house with necessary & convenient privelidges & to maintain her two Cows winter & summer (she finding ye: Cows) also to find her ten load of convenient fire wood at her aforesd. dwell ing place & to pay her five pounds per annum in money or good provision pay at money price & all this as a yearly an nuity according to a covenant made between me & my wife before marriage & J do hereby utterly disalow revoke & dissanul all & every other former testaments wills legacys & beqvests and executors by me in any ways before named willed & bequeathed Ratifying & confirm ing this & no other to be my last will & testement in witness whereof J haue hereunto set my hand & seal the day & year aboue written (???)

signed sealed published pronounced & declared by the sd. Danll: Merrill as his last will & testament in presents of us ye: subscribers

Jsrael ShaparD

moses clouf

Jacob Bradbury


This will was sealed with a few drops of red wax, now broken. The seal shows no impress, save a fingerprint of some hand which has long since returned to dust. No inventory of the estate is to be found in the probate files in Salem. The will was proved 12 July, 1717.

“My cousin Thomas Merrill,” in the thirty-fifth line, refers to the testator’s nephew, Thomas3 (Abel2) Merrill. The word “cousin” was used in the old general sense of kinsman.

?? See infra, page 169. See also Currier’s History of Newbury, pp. 103, 116, 177, 181, 208, 528, 659.


Abel2 Merrill was the youngest in the second generation of Newbury Merrills, and, dying at forty-five years of age, his was the shortest life. His descendants, however, are more numerous, and more widely seattered, than those of most of his brothers. At the doath of his father he was only eleven years of age. In 1668 he took the “oath of ffidelitie” to the government, and in September, 1678, he took the oath of allegiance, his age being then recorded as thirty-two years, although it would appear that he was at that time two years older. (See page 171.)

The settlement of the estates of Stephen Jordan, who died 8 Feb. 1669/70, and of his wife, Susanna Jordan, who died 15 Jan. 1672/3, indicates that Abel2 Merrill lived in close relationship with them in their later years. The inventory of the estate of Stephen Jordan, his stepfather, mentions:

his debts which he oweth To Abell merrill for dayes works done for mowing & makeing hay & planting & hilling & cutting wood dr                                                                                           3-13-0

besids attendance vpon him both night & day for theis 3 last years which if it be made vp ten pounds he would be a looser. Due to Daniel Merrill                                                                                1-16-0

To Nathaniell Merrill                                                                                                                   2-10-0

Abel2 was administrator of the estate of his mother, Susanna Jordan. In the papers on file in the Probate Office, showing the settlement of the estate, appear these entries:


Due to Abell merrill for wintering two cowes 3 winters & 2 calues vntill

they were three yer Old                                                                                                                 7-4-0                             

for cutting & makeing 3 load & halfe of hay                                                                              0-18-0



His Marriage Priscilla Chase, whom Abel Merrill married, was a daughter of Aquila Chase, who had come from Cornwall, England, and settled in Hampton, New Hampshire, about 1639. Aquila Chase possessed some skill as a mariner, and for this reason he was induced by the inhabitants of Newbury, by a grant of land, to join the settlement at the mouth of the Merrimack in 1646. This grant was made “on condition that he do goe to sea and do service in the towne with a boate for four years.” His service was probably confined to short coastwise and fishing cruises. Through ten of his eleven children, who grew up and married, Aquila Chase is ancestor of a very numerous family.

In 1682 a Baptist church was formed in Newbury, and Abel Merrill was one of the original members. (Coffin, History of Newbury, p. 135.) Under the name of “Abil Merell” he appears to have been a soldier in the company of Capt. Thomas Noyes in 1688.

inventory page 92) The tax list of 1688 shows that Abel2 Merrill was in that year assessed on one house, five acres of “Plow Lands” in Newbury, one horse, five cows, six young cattle, ten sheep and four swine. At his death he was an owner of land in Haverhill, his interest being appraised at œ35. This was no doubt his undivided share in land which he and his brother Daniel purchased in 1673 and 1674. He died intestate.

An Inuentory of ye Estate of Abell Merrill Late of newbury who Deseased october the 28th in ye yeare of our Lord 1689: taken this 22d of nouember 1689                                                                                                              

                                                                                                                                                   ll    s  D

To a Dwelling house and Barne and out houseing & eight acres of land & orchard            0120-00-00

to a Rate Lott about 12 acres in ye upper Comon                                                                 0012-00-00

to Land att hauerhill                                                                                                            00035-00-00

to two oxen and 5 Cows                                                                                                        0029-00-00

to 4: Cattel coming 3 years old                                                                                             0012-00-00

to 2 yearlins & 5 Calues                                                                                                        0008-00-00

to one horse one mare & a young Colt                                                                                 0009-00-00

to thirtey 5 sheep                                                                                                                00014-00-00

to nine small swine                                                                                                               0002-14-00

to one plough one chene 14s and 4 axes 16s and 5 hows 10s                                              0002-00-00

to one saw 3 augurs one square and 3 Chissels and other small tools                                  0001-10-00

to two siths 2 Bitle Rings and 3 wedges                                                                               0000-10-00

to one gun and one sword and one pike                                                                               0002-00-00

to one feather Bed & 3 Couerlids and two blankets and bolstar pillow Curtins                      10-00-00

to one small feather bed & 3 Douerlids                                                                                0003-00-00

to one flock bed 2 Couerlids and two blankits one bolster one pillow                                   004-00-00

to one old flock bed one pillow and 5 payr of sheets                                                           0006-00-00

to table linin and napkins                                                                                                      0001-00-00

to his wearing Clothes                                                                                                         00010-00-00

to one Bible and other small books                                                                                                    0000-16-00

to brass and peuter and Iron which is household goods                                                                    0007-00-00

to andirons and tongs and spitt and fiar shouel                                                                    0001-00-00

to one Cobord 2 Chests and boxes and one table                                                                       0003-10-00

to Chears and Cradle and trays and other wooden ware                                                        0001-03-00

to one Loome and seauen slays and six harness                                                                  0006-00-00

to earthen ware and Glasses                                                                                                 0000-12-00

to money 12s and 68 pound of wooll and 20 pound of hops                                                 0006-12-00

to Corn inglish and Indian                                                                                                                     00015-00-00

to barrels and tobs and hemp and flax and sadle and pillian                                                     00003-10-00

to prouitions beeffe porke Cheese and butter                                                                     00010-00-00

to thirtey pound of tobacco                                                                                                 00000-10-00

to three spining wheels                                                                                                                    00000-15-00

to yarne                                                                                                                                                                 00003-00-00

Debts Due to ye Estate                                                                                                                  00005-16-00




                                                                                                                                                                     ll    s  D

Debts Due from ye Estate                                                                                                              4- 7-10

Edward woodman

Benjamin Morss   Who were ye prizers


In the twelfth item, “Bitle Rings” refer to the iron rings used to bind the head of a beetle, or heavy mallet. “Slays,” in the twenty-fifth item, are the reeds of a loom, used in weaving; “harness” is a part of the loom mechanism.

English corn, in the twenty-eighth item, means wheat, rye, barley and oats, in distinction from Indian corn, or maize.

Distribution of the Estate: The eight children of Abel2 Merrill were all minors at his death, the youngest, James3, being less than a year old. Priscilla Merrill, the widow, filed her account as administratrix in the Probate Court 1 November, 1697. The charges against the estate included the following entries: 

It keeping 4 children 8 yrs. Each 35-00- 0

It keeping 1 ditto @ 5 yrs


It allowd. ye Admx. for her Trouble 5-00-00 



Distribution of the estate was ordered as follows:

The Balla. of the psonall Estate as aboue being 135.8.2 & the Real Estate as aboue being 167.0.0 is Diuided as Followth. viz

It the Widow 1/3 of the Real During life & after her decease to revert to the

Children of the decd. as the law directs & to the sd. Widow 1/3 of the psonall Estate for Euer 

Widow 1/3                55-13- 4                  45: 2- 9

Abell Merrill                24-14- 9                  20- 1- 4

Nathan                   12- 7- 5                   10- 0- 7

Thomas                  12- 7- 5                   10- 0- 7

Joseph                   12- 7- 5                   10- 0- 7

Nathll                     12- 7- 5                   10- 0- 7

James                     12- 7- 5                   10- 0- 7

Susanah                 12- 7- 5                   10- 0- 7

Priscilla                  12- 7- 5                   10- 0- 7

                                167- 0- 0                135- 8- 2


Gen. Merrill Quoted Gen. Lewis Merrill, writing, 2 Sept. 1884, to Rev.  Samuel-Lewis7 Merrill (Andrew6, Bildad5, Eliakim4, Isaac3, John2) of Springfield, Mass., said:

“The persistence of family traits in character and appearance is very striking in the Merrill stock. I have never found one of whom I was ashamed, and have known very few in whom I could not detect the facial and gestural marks of the race. They have uniformly, in my experience, been a sober-minded, honest and capable people, a little too much disposed to introspection and self-criticism, but never content to be unlearned; not enough push and ‘cheek,’ by which they often allow inferior men to take the places in which they belong. I think the family shows a larger proportion of well-educated men than any of the old New England stock of which I know.  In all my extended correspondence with them the rarest thing is to find one who does not show in his letters that he has fair literary culture.”

In another letter, written 10 Sept. 1884, referring to Nathaniel1 Merrill, he said: “I know of no parallel in the number of desoemdants from a single individual.”

John1 Merrill of Newbury

John1 Merrill, brother of our ancestor Nathaniel1, had an only child, a daughter. None of us have inherited from him the family name, but nevertheless we naturally feel a great interest in him, and in the part which he played in the little Newbury commonwealth.

Coffin, in his History of Newbury (p. 287), gives the names of “the most wealthy of the grantees” of the town, as measured by the number of acres of land given them. This measure was in general correct, for the grants from the town were based upon the property brought by the several settlers from England. John1 Merrill’s name was the thirteenth on this list, and he received ninety-six acres. Some settlers received as little as ten acres. The grants were chiefly of arable land and meadow, the pastures being held by the town for use of the inhabitants in common. The privileges of these common lands were carofully apportioned. In the “stint of the ox and cow common,” 12 March, 1641/2, John Merrill was given a right to the pasturage of four cattle. (Currier, History of Newbury, p. 54.)

On “this .... of ye 7th mo 1666” Richard Currier of Salisbury sold to John Merrill of “Nubery,” husbandman, for œ6, three acres of salt-marsh in Salisbury. This land was “in ye 2d division of ye higgledee pigledee lotts being ye 44th in number . . . butting wth one ende uppon Merimack River.” Early in the previous year John Merrill had purchased from Richard Currier another three-acre parcel, being the twenty-fourth lot in the same higgledy-piggledy division of salt-marsh. Both conveyances are recorded with the Norfolk Deeds (at Salem), book 2, leaf 110. Whether John Merrill was a party to other conveyances, either as grantor or grantee, we cannot say. Many deeds in the time of the earlier generations in this country were never placed on record.

His Civic Activitios John Merrill was a freeholder in Newbury in 1638, and was admitted a freeman of the Colony in 1640. Some of his activities in the affairs of the community are indicated by entries in the town records. At the time when the removal of the settlement from Parker River northward to the present site of Newburyport was under consideration, John Merrill was the first-named of a committee of four appointed to make an inventory and appraisal of all the  [34]stock, land, houses and other improvements of the inhabitants. In 1649 he was appointed a member of a committee to present to the General Court the town’s claims to jurisdiction over the whole of Plum Island. He was chosen a selectman in 1665; the following year he was a member of a committee to lay out a road to connect with the Salisbury ferry, and in 1668 he was chosen one of the surveyors of highways.

(See page 61) In 1670 John Merrill joined the Newbury church, and he was somewhat active in the controversy of that time over questions of church discipline. He made his will in the same year, and seems soon after to have withdrawn from some of the activities of a husbandman. In his will he describes himself as “being but weake in body,” and the entries in the inventory of his estate mentioning certain live stock as leased to his grandson, John Swett, confirm the impression that his health was seriously impaired. He died 12 Sept. 1673. If he was the John Merrill who was baptised in Wherstead in 1599, he must have been seventy-four years old at his death. (See pages 38, 41.)

His Marriage John1 Merrill was doubtless married in England. His wife’s christian name was Elizabeth, but her family name is not known. She was admitted a member of the Newbury church in 1674. She died 14 July, 1682, in Newbury. Her will was dated 7 Dec. 1680. All her property was given to her grandchild Elizabeth Swett and her son-in-law Stephen Swett, her grandson John Swett, “whoome I have formerly donne well for,” being named as executor.

The only child of John1 and Elizabeth Merrill was Hannah, who was born in England, and died 4 (or 14?) April, 1662, in Newbury. She married, 24 May, 1647, Stephen Swett of Newbury, who was born in 1620. Stephen Swett kept an ordinary, later known as the Blue Anchor Tavern, near the training green, 1653-67. (Currier, “Ould Newbury,” pp. 90, 109, 176.)

The children of Stephen and Hannah Swett were:

John, b. 20 Oct. 1648; living in 1670.

Stephen, b. 20 Aug. 1650; d. young.

Hannah, b. 7 Oct. 1651; m. 20 June, 1685, Joseph


Stephen, b. 28 Jan. 1653/4; living in 1670.

Elizabeth, b. 17 Jan. 1655/6.

Joseph, b. 28 Nov. 1657; living in 1670.

A daughter, b. 25 Apr. 1660.

His Will The will of John1 Merrill is reproduced herewith, line for line as in the original.

Wittnes by these prsents yt I Jno merrill of Newbury in ye County of Essex in New England, being but weake in body, yet of sound and perfect memory. for divers causes and considerations me there vnto mooving, doo make this my Last will and testamt, and deo aispose of my Lands goods and

Cattle as followeth: first I bequeath my soule into ye Hands of my blessed saviour and Redemer Jesus Christ, in an assured hope of a resurection, and my body to bee buried, when it shall please ye Lord to call mee hence: To my well beloved wife Elizabeth J give and bequeath my house barne and

Orchard and all my Lands both Errable marsh meadoe grounds and Pasture Lands, Lijng and being in the bounds of ye towne of Newbury afore said wth all ye privilidges there vnto belonging: as Allsoe a peice of marsh meadoc ground about six Acrees bee it more or Lesse Lijng and being wthin

ye bounds of ye towne of Salsbury in ye County of Norfolke in New England: To geather with all my goods and Chattles both within dore and without. All ye houseing Orchard meadoe ground Errable Land and Pasture Land aboue mentioned, J doe give it vnto my well beloved wife during her

naturall Life, at ye end whereof my will is yt my grand Child Jno Swett shall peaceably & quiettly enjoy all ye said house & barne; if preserved from danger togeather wth all my Land before mentioned to him and his heires for Ever & if ye sd Jno Swett die with out Lawfull Heires begotten of his owne

body ye sd Land is to returne vnto ye next Heire: Except my my wife haue neede to sell a small prcell of Land either uppLand or meadoe, then my will is that shee shall haue Liberty soe to doe: Allsoe my will is yt my grand child Jno Swett shall pay vnto his two brothers and two sisters tenn pound a peice

in one yeare after my wifes decease in case ye children bee of age, ffurther my will is yt my well beloved wife Elizabeth shall haue ye sole dispose of my goods and chattells as shee seeth good, and J doe Appoint my wife to be ye sole Executrix of this my last will and testamt: and J doe Appoint mr Henry Sewall and Archelaus Woodman to bee ye overseers of this my last will and testamt: Jn wittnes wherof J ye sd Jno merrill haue herevnto sett my hand and seale ye eight day of September one thousand six hundred & seaventy Wittnes Henry Sewall: and Will, Chandler

This will was proved at Ipswich 30 Sept. 1673.

Line 1: The y in yt, like the y in ye, is the survival of the Anglo-Saxon character ??, and should be pronounced as th.

Lines 12, 20: Errable: arable.

Line 18: Norfolke: a county which comprised several towns now included in Essex County, Massachusetts, and Rockingham County, New Hampshire.  This county of Norfolk was in existence, as such, from 1643 to 1680.

Line 36: ff was used, as an initial, for the capital F.

The signature of John Merrill in this will, as given here in facsimile, was crowded in the original for lack of room.

Henry Sewall, named as one of the overseers, or executors, of this will, and also a witness to John Merrill’s signature, was one of the founders of the Newbury settlement, and a man of some prominence. He was father of Judge Samuel Sewall, the noted diarist.

Archelaus Woodman came from England in 1635, and spent his life in Newbury. He was deputy to the General Court, and filled other town offices. In the list of passengers on the ship by which he came he is called Hercules Woodman. Savage, in his “Genealogical Dictionary,” questions which name is correct, remarking that “both are equally heathenish.”

William Chandler was a freeholder in Newbury as early as 1651, and was a selectman at the time when this will was executed. He died in 1701, at the age of eighty-four.


The Inventory his housing and lands of all sorts with his freehold and Comonages                230-00-00

two oxen six cows: one heifer as rented to John Swett                                                               40-00-00

one mare six pound: two swine 30s                                                                                               7-10-00

14 sheep at 10s a peece; two lambs at 7s a peece also leased to John Swett                                 7-14-00


Then follow various household utensils and supplies. The inventory showed an estate aggregating œ 379.12s.

A Few Questions of Heraldry

Thomas3 of South Hampton Thomas3 Merrill (Abel2) lived in that part of Salisbury, Mass., which in 1741 became South Hampton, N.H. In 1726 he gave to one Enoch Little of Newbury a deed of an undivided twelfth of a certain large tract of land in Saco, Maine. In this deed he is described as a “cordwinder,” no doubt meaning a cordwainer, or shoemaker.

The deed bears evidence that one trained in the law had drawn it up. The writer supplied in ample measure the usual redundant phraseology of the period, declaring that “the said Thomas Merril hath given granted bargained sould Aliened Enfeoffed and made over, and Doth by these presants, fulley freely, clearely and absolutly, give, grant, bargain sell aliene Enfeoffe and make over and confirme unto the said Enoch Little,” etc.—the premises in question.

This deed was sealed with wax, in which was impressed a coat of arms, the principal charges of which may be described as three peacocks’ heads, erased, one and two. The crest was a peacock’s head, erased, proper. [35]


The first person in modern times who took notice of this coat of arms, so far as the present writer is aware, was the late William M. Sargent of Portland. Mr. Sargent was a lawyer, a descendant from Priscilla3 Merrill, sister of Thomas3 of Salisbury and South Hampton. Under date of 13 Jan. 1880, he wrote to Gyles Merrill of Haverhill, saying that the deed was in his possession, and seeking information concerning the Thomas Merrill who executed it. Two photographs of this deed, made at different times, and an enlarged photograph of the seal, are now in the author’s possession.


Mr. Sargent considered that the use of this seal by Thomas3 Merrill was conclusive evidence that the device which it bore was a Merrill coat of arms, rightfully used by the family or which Thomas3 was a member. The same view was taken by Gen. Lewis Merrill, and it has been taken by others. The present writer, furthermore, is not in a position to deny that it may have been a Merrill coat of arms received by Thomas Merrill of Salisbury by inheritance from his grandfather, and belonging by equal right to all descendants of Nathaniel1 Merrill of Newbury.

Bar or Barrulet Vol. 3, (1886) p. 178 Mr. Sargent sent a sketch of the coat of arms to Gyles Merrill, with the comment: “The seal is defaced in part, and I have never been able to tell if the parallel lines were a division of the shield or not. . . This seal does not, of course, give the ‘tinctures’ or colors.” Subsequently, in the Maine Historical and Genealogical Recorder, to which he was a frequent contributor, he gave an illustration of these arms, with this description: “Or, a barrulet between three peacocks heads, erased, proper.” The horizontal lines on the barrulet in his illustration would indicate that the tincture was azure. [36]

In “America Heraldica,” by Edward de V. Vermont, (New York, 1837), this coat of arms, citing Thomas Merrill’s deed as authority, is represented as shown herewith. It is thus described: “Argent, a bar azure, between three peacocks’ heads, erased, proper.” The bar in heraldry is a horizontal stripe occupying about one fifth of the field. But the space between the lower peacocks’ heads and the upper one, in the seal, is insufficient to admit a bar. The barrulet is the heraldic diminutive of the bar, and is generally one fourth the width of the bar. In the photograph of the seal the lines across the middle of the shield certainly represent nothing broader than a barrulet.


Mr. Sargent and Mr. Vermont agree that the crest is a peacock’s head, erased, proper. The same crest accompanies the fleurde-lis arms described in Burke’s “General Armory” under the name Merrill. (See page 113.) This fact may be cited as evidence—though certainly very inconclusive—that the arms used by Thomas Merrill were those of a branch of the Merrill family.

Will of Thomas3 A skeptic, who is inclined to dispute the right of Nathaniel1 Merrill’s descendants to bear these arms, may argue that the seal which Thomas3 Merrill employed was not used by his father or his grandfather; it is not known to have been used by Thomas Merrill’s immediate descendants; it was not used by Thomas Merrill himself when he made his will, 1 Feb. 1749. The seal on Thomas Merrill’s will is a drop or two of red wax on which Thomas or some one else left merely the impress of a finger.

Whatever the law may have been regarding the unauthorized use of coat-armor, in practice seals were used somewhat indiscriminately in the colonial period. The notary who drew up the deed may have dropped some melted wax on the paper, and impressed in it a seal which he kept on his desk for the purpose, just as attorneys nowadays affix a paper seal and indicate to a grantor where he shall sign his name, when a deed of land is being executed. Such unauthorized use of seals bearing coats of arms was not infrequent at the time when Thomas Merrill “granted bargained sould Aliened,” etc., his interest in the Saco property for “fifty pounds of good and currant money of Newengland.” In other words, employment of the seal is not proof that the arms were ever granted to Thomas Merrill, or to his ancestor.

Similar Arms of Other Families Three peacocks1 heads, erased, appear as the arms of certain Ridgeway families, as described in Burke’s “General Armory,” but in every case the arms differ in other important respects from those used on Thomas Merrill’s seal. In no case is the crest the same.

Arms much more closely resembling those on the seal are ascribed to a Patters family—Argent, three peacocks’ heads, erased, gules; to Beconthorp and Oxley families—Azure, three peacocks’ heads, erased, or; and to a Waring family—Sable, three peacocks’ heads, erased, argent. Mr. Sargent in 1880 was in doubt with regard to the colors indicated in Thomas Merrill’s seal. He was in doubt, too, whether there was a barrulet or other horizontal division of the shield. In the photograph the “parallel lines” noted by Mr.  Sargent appear to connect with a broken surface of the shield on the dexter side, to which Mr. Sargent refers, and it seems quite possible that they have no heraldic significance. In other words, the description of some of these other arms may correctly describe the arms on Thomas Merrill’s seal.

The crests in the case of the Patters and Oxley arms, however, are quite different from the one shown in Thomas Merrill’s deed; in the case of the Beconthorp and Waring arms no crest is described in such published works on heraldry as I have been able to find.

If Thomas Merrill, or his attorney, had casually come into possession of a seal which had been made for the use of some other person or family, the identity of the original owner remains yet to be discovered.

Merrill-Morrill Arms A gentleman of my acquaintance named Morrill, a descendant from the early Morrills of New England, wears a ring in the chaton of which is cut a coat of arms which may be described: Or, a bend gules, in base a cross crosslet of the last. This is given by Burke as a Morrell and also as a Murrill coat of arms. In both cases, according to Burke, the crest is a demi-lion rampant, but with variations.

Mr. Morrill has for years made a study of heraldry. In 1899 he had a search made of the records of the Heralds’ College in London, and was informed that this coat of arms was borne by various individuals of the names Merell, Merrell and Morrell in England in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. He was convinced that these names, as well as Murrell and Meverell, and the same names with i instead of e in the last syllable, are all derived from the same source.


Burke gives as a Merill coat of arms: Or, on a bend gules, a crescent argent, in base a cross crosslet of the second. Burke in this case gives no crest or motto. This latter coat of arms is identical with the Morrell and Murrill arms just mentioned, save for the crescent blazoned on the bend.

The Crescent of Cadency The crescent is a mark of cadency, denoting a second son. Mr. Morrill explained the Merill arms by the assumption that the bearer, being a second son, had assumed the crescent as a mark of difference in his coat-armor, and that he had also seen fit to modify the spelling of the family name. But the crescent as a mark of cadency should be placed in the “center chief point” (in the upper part of the shield, just under the helmet.) It is not impossible that, as often happened, a branch of the family added the crescent as a charge, not as a mark of cadency, to distinguish it from other branches.

On the walls of the Newbury Historical Society’s rooms in Newburyport twenty-five or thirty years ago I saw among other coats of arms of old Newbury families one ascribed to the Merrills. I made a copy, which is reproduced herewith. This, so far as the blazonings on the shield are concerned, is identical with the Merill arms described by Burke.

Moses7 of Newburyport My inquiries elicited the information that Miss Susan-E. Merrill of Newburyport had furnished the copy which was in the Historical Society’s possession. She was a descendant of Thomas3 Merrill (Abel2) whose deed in 1726 was sealed with wax in which was impressed the coat of arms given on page 107. Her line was through Thomas4, Nathan5, Orlando-Bagley6, and Moses7. The latter (her father) was born 23 May, 1798, and died 13 April, 1843.

Miss Merrill told me that the copy of the coat of arms which was in the Historical Society’s rooms was made her sister from one which had belonged to her father. Of the origin of her father’s copy she knew nothing. She showed me the latter: the only differences between that and the one here reproduced were that the scroll was without a motto in the earlier copy, and the shield was surmounted by the crest without the helmet. The bird figured in the crest seems to be a martin. In the Historical Society’s copy its color is gray, like the helmet, and the twig held in its bill is green.

John Coles, Jr. William-Patten7 Merrill (1827-1900) writing in 1896 said, referring to the Merrill coat of arms: [37]

“We have an old copy which grandfather passed down to us. This copy is very old. Grandfather brought it to Topsham with him in 1760. In heraldry it reads thus: ‘He beareth Or, a chevron Azure, between two leopards’ faces in chief Gules, and a dagger in base of the second, by the name of Merrill.

On the back is pasted a paper which says, ‘Granted anno Do. 1641 to Sir Peter Merrill of Sumersetshire Bart. and descended to the family of Merrills.’”


This coat of arms accordingly is traced back to John5 Merrill (1734-1828), grandfather of William-Patten7 Merrill of Topsham and Brunswick, Maine.  But it bears strong internal evidence of spuriousness.

John Coles, and his son John, Jr., both of Boston, were industrious painters of coat-armor in New England in the last quarter of the eighteenth century and in the early nineteenth. Their work was generally ?? from ?? “Display of Heraldry,” a folio published in several editions in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Neither Coles, seemingly, made any effort to ascertain if there were any genealogical connection between a client and the grantee of the arms which Guillim described, and the work of both men is discredited by all students of heraldry.

The coat of arms which William Patten Merrill described was examined and photographed by the author of this Memorial in Brunswick in 1905. It bears unmistakable earmarks of the younger Coles’ handiwork. The shape of the shield, the helmet surmounting it, the scroll, the fanciful mantling and other decorative dotails are identical in character with known examples of Coles’ work. It may be dismissed as unworthy of serious consideration. [38]

The heraldic artist seems to have been in doubt with regard to the identity of the creature whose head serves as a crest for the mythical Sir Peter’s coat of arms. At any rate, he neglects to define or describe it. Perhaps the crest was a lion’s head, erased, contourn’.

Gen. Lewis Merrill wrote, 16 Jan. 1885: “The Heralds’ College says there never was a Sir Peter Merrill, Bart., in Somersetshire or elsewhere.” Diligent search in Papworth and Morant’s “Ordinary of British Armorials” fails to disclose a coat of arms answering the description of the one supposed to have been granted to Sir Peter.

Some Family Mottoes In the “General Armory” Burke gives as a Merrill coat of arms—Or, a pale engrailed gules, voided of the field, between two fleurs-de-lis azure; crest—A peacock’s head, erased, proper. These arms have, I think, received little attention in this country.

I have an impression in wax of a beautifully cut seal showing these arms, the seal having been made thirty-five or forty years ago for Dr. Frederick Augustus.

Merrill of Boston. Under the shield is shown a ribbon with the motto, “Vincit qui patitur.” This phrase (meaning “He conquers who endures”) appears to be the motto of fourteen English families, (among which Merrill is not included,) according to Elvin’s “Handbook of Mottoes” (London, 1860).

The same arms were described in the Historical Bulletin of Washington, 1 Sept. 1904, as belonging to Merrills of America, but with the motto, “Vivons … la v’rit’” (“Live for the truth.”) And a correspondent sent me a tracing of the same arms, but with the motto “Forti et fideli nihil dificile” (“To the brave and faithful nothing is difficult.”) He said that the arms were sent him from Canada, and were copied from a book brought from England. It should be borne in mind that a motto and a coat of arms are in a measure independent of each other. One is quite free to discard the motto of his family, and adopt a motto of his own choice, without discarding the arms themselves.

A poet of the family, inspired by the motto “Vincit qui patitur,” and the heraldic representation accompanying it, has given us some clever verses, of which this is the first stanza:

“He conquers who endures:”

Stern words on my proud crest—

Crest set with fleurs-de-lis,

With peacock’s head and breast;

Crest borne long years ago

By fearless kin of mine,

Where oleanders flame

On hills of Palestine. [39]

With the freedom which is granted to those who write in verse, the poet was of course privileged to fancy her ancestors as crusaders, fighting against the infidel with shield and crest as here depicted. Those of us, however, to whom no form of expression has been vouchsafed save practical commonplaoe prose, must seek tangible evidence that the claim to the arms is warranted by the rules of heraldry, and that the family line back to the time of the crusades can be properly traced. Such evidence is lacking.

In a newspaper article some years ago the use of peacock’s head in the Merrill arms was explained. The writer of the article credited the arms having the two fleurs-de-lis, with the peacock’s-head crest, to the de Merles of Auvergne. He related how, a few centuries ago, a number of lawless men planned to pillage the de Merle estate one night, and murder the members of the family. A number of peacocks were kept on the premises, however, and these birds, frightened by the unwonted presence of nocturnal visitors, and emulating the immortal flock of poultry which saved the city on the Tiber, set up a strident clamor. As a result the family and servants were aroused, and the wicked design of the outlaws was frustrated.  The service performed by the faithful peacocks was ill-requited by wringing their necks and using their heads, thus erased, as heraldic emblems.


The writer of the article did not cite any authority for this story, and it may without impropriety be given a place in the family mythology. A careful search in French works on heraldry fails to show that either the peacock or his head has been used in coat-armor by any French family bearing the name of Merle.


The Merles of France. Efforts have been made to find in heraldry evidence of relationship between the Merrills of England and the Merles of France, but the search has ylelded negative results. French books of heraldry give the armorial bearings of the Merle family of Auvergne as Sable, three merles (blackbirds)  [40]argent, and other families of the same name on the Continent bear merles and merlettes in various numbers and colors, as the chief charges on their shields.

A correspondent expressed to me the belief that the three blackbirds used in coat-armor on one side of the English Channel, and three peacocks’ heads used on the other, indicated a possible community of blood—but the idea seems too fanciful to be taken seriously.

In Conclusion In some genealogical papers which were submitted to me for examination, the statement was made that the coat of arms with the cross crosslet was used by Merrill families in England as early as 1588. The arms with the fleurs-de-lis were said to have been “used by the Merrill families of Essex and Sussex.” The arms with three peacocks’ heads “are the same as used by the family of Ridgeway of England.” Only the first and third of these forms, it was said, were used by persons of the Merrill name at an early date in America. Gen. Lewis Merrill was cited as authority for these statements, but in the somewhat voluminous correspondence between General Merrill and Gyles Merrill, and between General Merrill and the present writer, such statements are not to be found. The writer has instituted no search of the authorities in England on this subject, either at the Heralds’ College or elsewhere.

Perhaps the reader has looked here for a coat of arms which all American Merrills are entitled by the rules of heraldry to emblazon on their stationery; and perhaps he is disappointed and confused because, to relieve the monotony of these typewritten pages, the author has pictured here so many heraldic achievements. But the reader, if so inclined, may make his choice, all are free for use if one in inclined to assume them.

The right to coat-armor based upon assumption, and not upon grant, is ably defended by Henry Stoddard Ruggles in an article in the New York Genealogical and Biographical Record for October, 1903. According to the authorities which he cites, and they are from English sources, members of the Merrill family may justly use any coat of arms here displayed, and whether the first use of the arms by a Merrill was based upon grant or upon assumption is immaterial. It would be equally immaterial, he insists, if the user were a British subject.


Merrill as a Place-Name

Many places in the United States bearing in some form the Merrill name are evidence of the spirit of enterprise which has led members of the family to seek homes or business careers in newly-settled territory. I have gathered such facts as I can of the origin of these names. In some cases I have failed to discover in what way the one in whose honor the name was given was related to the early settler of Newbury, but in more cases I have succeeded.  The task of finding these facts will become no easier as time goes on. If, meanwhile, however, I am assisting some future compiler of a town history to record the family antecedents of one whose name will survive as a geographical designation, my work will not have been wasted.

Alabama Merrellton is a small village, with post-office, on the Tallahatchee River in Calhoun County, Alabama. It is a junction point of the Seaboard Airline and Southern Railroads, and has a population of about eighty. The village is in a farming section which is rich in various minerals.

The name was given to the post-office in 1883 in honor of Merrill Day Frank, then only two years of age. Joseph Frank of Birmingham, Ala., wrote me some years ago that he was a chief clerk in the railway mail service at the time when the post-office was established, and chose the name in honor of his daughter. The little girl, following a custom which is not uncommon in the South, had received a family name at her christening, instead of one of the names which are supposed to be especially reserved for girls, being named for her grandfather, Merrill Thomas Castlebury. The latter was named for Merrill Collier of Gwinnett County, Georgia. My efforts to follow the name to its source elicited a letter from Judge John Collier of Atlanta, who told me that Merrill Collier was named for one of a family of Merrills in Carrollton, Carroll County, Georgia. W.-W. Merrill, and his sons George and Henry, were, he said, successful lawyers in Carrollton many years ago. Of their ancestry I have no information.

Arkansas In some cases where places which seem to have been named for Merrills are found on State maps, closer investigation yields negative results.  On a certain map of Arkansas appears Merrell, in Clay County. The postmaster of a neighboring town, answering a letter of inquiry, said:

In Reply To Your Letter I Will Say There Is Not, Any Place Here By The Name Menchened In Your, Letter But There Is Some People Living In This, Vioinity By The Name Of Merrell. . . .

I pursued my inquiries no further.

California Merrillville, Cal., is a village, with post-office, in Lassen County, in the northeastern part of the State. The population is 142. It was named in 1874, in honor of Capt. Charles-Alfred9 Merrill (Henry8, Samuel7, Thomas6,5, John4,3, Nathaniel2), president of the Lassen County Land and Cattle Company, who formulated the project of tapping Eagle Lake and conducting the water by a tunnel and flume to a desert area thirty miles distant for the purpose of irrigation. The undertaking became involved in litigation, and was never completed. Merrillville is four miles below Eagle Lake, in a territory rich in timber. The nearest railroad station is at Susanville, on the Southern Pacific Railroad, fifteen miles distant.

A map of northern California shows Merrill, in Sierra County, near the Nevada line. A postmaster in the vicinity writes that this Merrill is a lumber camp, long deserted, and that the source of the name is unknown.

Georgia Merrillville is a township in a farming section of Thomas County, southern Georgia, with a post-office and a station of the Atlanta, Birmingham & Atlantic Railroad. The population, according to the census of 1920, was 1204. Of these none bear the name Merrill. The township was given its name in 1900, in honor of Joseph-Hansell9 Merrill of Thomasville, Ga., attorney for the railroad company, who was instrumental in securing the building of the railroad, and the establishment of a station at this point.  Joseph-Hansell9 Merrill is a son of Joseph-Styles8 Merrill (Lemuel7, Joseph6, Stevens5, Abel4,3,2).

There was formerly a village known as Merrell in Greene County, northern Georgia. Henry7 Merrell (Andrew6, Bildad5, Eliakim4, Isaac3, John2) settled there about 1850, organized a cotton manufacturing company, and erected mills. Owing to business difficulties incident to the Civil War the factory was abandoned in 1863, and the village has ceased to exist. The place is now known as Long Shoals. Henry7 Merrell was born 8 Dec.  1816, in Utica, N.Y., and died 28 Jan. 1883, in Camden, Ark.

Indiana Merrillville, Ind., is a village in Ross township, Lake County, about twenty-five miles from Chicago. The population of the village in 1916 was estimated at 209. William and Dudley Merrill settled there in 1837, and were joined later by their brothers John-F. and Lewis-B., and by their father Oliver Merrill. They are said to have come from Corinth, Vt. From them the village received its name. Some of their descendants were living recently in the village. The land in the vicinity is valuable for farming purposes. There is a station of the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad of Indiana at this point.

Iowa Merrill, Iowa, is a village, with post-office, in Plymouth township and Plymouth County, eighteen miles north of Sioux City. The population in 1916 was estimated at 620, the people being interested in grain and dairy industries. At this point there is a station of the Illinois Central, the Great Northern and the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha Railroads. The name was given to the place in honor of Sherburne-Sanborn7 Merrill (Moses6, Jonathan5, John4,3, Nathaniel2) of Milwaukee. Mr. Merrill was a prominent railroad manager in the Northwest for twenty years prior to his death in 1885.

Maine Merrill, in Aroostook County, Maine, received its name from Capt.  William6 Merrill (Levi5, Israel4, James3, Abel2) of Portland, who purchased the southeast quarter of Township No. 6, Range 4, 7 June, 1842, for $1932. The township received the name of Merrill Plantation at its organization in 1876, and was incorporated as a town in 1911. Its population in 1920 was 361. William-George7 and Edward-Thomas7 Merrill, sons of Captain Merrill, settled on the land which he purchased, and some of their descendants now live in that vicinity. Lumbering and potato-raising are the chief industries.

Merrill’s Corner is a village in Brownfield, Oxford County, Maine. It received its name about 1810 from Nathaniel6 Merrill (Nathaniel5, John4,3, Nathaniel2), a farmer who lived there. None of his descendants have lived in the village in recent years.

Merrill Hill in Auburn, Maine, received its name from Elias5 Merrill (Daniel4, Moses3, Daniel2), who, in 1791, bought five hundred acres of land there from various settlers. Elias5 Merrill’s sons, Elia6 Jabez6, Daniel6, and Marshfield6 all occupied portions of this land.

Maryland Merrill is a small village in a farming section on the Savage River, a tributary of the Potomac. It is in the eastern part of Garrett County, the westernmost county in Maryland. The region is mountainous, Big Savage Mountain of the Alleghany Range casting its shadow at daybreak over the quiet settlement. A post-office was established at this point about 1900. The place was given its name in honor of Elias Merrill, who was born in 1838 in Garrett County, Md., and died 28 Aug. 1909. He was a farmer, and lived in Merrill. His father, John Merrill, was born in 1814 in Frostburg, Md., and died in 1860. Andrew-Jackson Merrill of Piedmont, West Virginia, a brother of Elias, writes that he thinks John Merrill’s father was Nicholas, and that Nicholas was a native of Massachusetts. Most of this branch of the family are members of the Church of the Brethren, commonly known as Dunkards, and two brothers of Elias Merrill were ministers of that church.

Michigan Merrill, Saginaw County, Mich., is a village of 505 inhabitants in Jonesfield township, on the Pere Marquette Railroad, twenty miles west of Saginaw. The occupation of the inhabitants is chiefly farming and lumbering. The name was given to the place about 1880 in honor of Nathan-Weston8 Merrill, at that time superintendent of the railroad upon which it is situated. Mr. Merrill was a native of St. Albans, Maine, a son of James-Levi7 Merrill (Levi6, James5, Joseph4, Daniel3,2). He died 18 April, 1903, at his home in Saginaw, aged 67.


Mississippi Merrill is a village of 328 inhabitants in George County, southern Mississippi. It is a station of the Gulf, Mobile & Northern Railroad, at the point where the road crosses the Pascagoula River. The place was given the name in 1898 in honor of Frank-Babson Merrill, who built the Mobile, Jackson & Kansas City Railroad (now the Gulf, Mobile & Northern), and became its president. Lumbering, farming and stock-raising are the chief industries. Mr. Merrill now operates a sawmill at this point, but makes his home in Mobile, Alabama, fifty miles distant.

Mr. Merrill wrote that he is a son of Joshua-Babcock Merrill (1811-1894) of Barnstead, N.H., and grandson of Samuel Merrill (1788-1827) of Amesbury, Mass. Samuel6 Merrill (Isaac5,4, Abraham3,2) was born 28 Jan. 1782, and lived in Amesbury, and he had a brother Joshua. Mr. Merrill wrote that his father was named for an uncle Joshua. He was inclined to the belief that his father was a son of this Samuel6, an error with regard to the date of Samuel Merrill’s birth having in soms way found its way into his family papers.

Montana Merrill, Stillwater County, Montana, is a station on the Northern Pacific Railroad fifty miles west of Billings. It is on the Yellowstone River, about sixty miles from the northeastern corner of the Yellowstone National Park. It is a shipping point for Montana range cattle. The place was named in honor of Gen. Lewis8 Merrill, who was in command of the Seventh U.S.  Cavalry, stationed in the Yellowstone Valley in 1877, protecting the men engaged in the construction of the road. (See pages 13-16.)

New Hampshire Merrill’s Corner is a village in Farmington, Strafford County, N.H. Isaac7 Merrill (Joseph6, Jacob5, Isaac4, Abraham3,2), a native of Amesbury, Mass., settled there about 1830 and established a country store, and this fact gave the name to the neighborhood. The post-office formerly maintained there has been discontinued, mail being delivered by rural carrier from Rochester.


New York Merrill, N.Y., is in Clinton County, in the northern Adirondacks.  It is a small village in the southern part of the town of Ellenburgh. It is chiefly known as a Summer resort, but some farming and lumbering is done by the inhabitants. Two brothers, Enoch6 and Paul6 Merrill (Paul5, Enoch4, Joseph3, Abel2), natives of Gilmanton, N.H., settled in Belmont, Franklin County, N.Y., early in the nineteenth century and engaged in farming. Paul’s son, Darius-Warren7 Merrill, went up Chateaugay Lake eight miles to the site of the present village of Merrill about 1858, and built a log cabin on the shore of the lake. Here he entertained sportsmen from the cities, and gradually increased his accomodations until, at his death in 1887, his house would accomodate sixty guests. The family name in recent years has been common in Belmont and Merrill village. The village of Merrill is four miles from Lyon Mountain station on the Delaware & Hudson Railroad.

Besides the village of Merrill there are in the State of New York two places known as Merrillsville. In the town and County of Franklin, twenty miles south from the village of Merrill, is Merrillsville, a farming village in the Adirondacks. John7 Merrill (John6,5,4,3, Nathaniel2) removed in 1835 from Chelsea, Vt., with his four grown-up sons, and made the first clearing in the forest in that vicinity. In 1838 he caused a post-office to be established there under the name of Merrillsville, and it remained more than forty years, when it was removed to Loon Lake, a Summer resort two miles distant. John7 Merrill was a native of Concord, N.H. He died at Merrillsville 19 Oct. 1872, aged 89. The village is six miles from Loon Lake station on the Delaware & Hudson Railroad. A number of the descendants of John7 Merrill now live in the town of Franklin.

In Madison County, N.Y., 135 miles southwest of Merrillsville in Franklin County, is another village of the same name, in the town of Lenox. The inhabitants of this Merrillsville, who in 1916 numbered about 105, have been chiefly interested in hop-growing and farming. The name was given to the place half a century ago or more by Gerrit Smith, the noted Abolitionist, who lived in Peterboro in the same County, in honor of Solomon Merrill, who, before 1830, was one of the first settlers there, and who lived there more than thirty years. Solomon Merrill went West with his brother Allen, and died in Wisconsin. A post-office called Merrillsville was established in 1891, but it has been discentinued, mail being delivered by a rural carrier from Oneida. 


Oregon Merrill, Oregon, is a town of four hundred inhabitants in Klamath County, at the extreme southern edge of the State. The nearest railroad station is Klamath Falls, twenty-two miles distant. Farming and sheep and cattle raising are the chief industries. The village was laid out in 1894 by Nathan-Smith Merrill, and was named in his honor. In 1919 Mr. Merrill wrote that he lived in Merrill, and was a farmer. He was born 22 Aug.  1836, near Hillsboro, N.H. He was a son of Nathan Merrill, who was born 8 Jan. 1806, in Nashua, N.H., and grandson of Capt. Nathan Merrill of Hollis, N.H., a drover.


Texas Merrelltown is a small village in Travis County, Tex., sixteen miles north of Austin. It has borne the name since about 1850. Nelson7 Merrell settled on Brushy Creek in what is now Williamson County, Texas, in 1837.  He was born in Connecticut in 1810, the son of Erastus6 Merrell (Stephen5, Benjamin4, John3,2). The family had migrated to Concord, Ohio, in 1818.  In 1839 Nelson Merrell raised a company of “rangers” for the protection of the infant city of Austin, which had just been selected as the capital of the Republic of Texas, and he was chosen captain of the company. Hostile Indians still roamed the woods in the immediate vicinity. Nelson Merrell moved to Walnut Creek, in Travis County, in 1846. A post-office was established at this point, and he was appointed postmaster, the place being given the name Merrelltown. After the Civil War he moved to Brushy Creek, and his descendants now live at Round Rock, in the same vicinity.  The post-office at Merrelltown has been discontinued, a rural delivery route from Round Rock serving the community in its stead.

Utah Merrill’s Spur, Cache County, Utah, is a station on the Oregon Short Line Railroad and on the Ogden, Logan & Idaho Electric Railway, at the northern edge of the State. Its mail service is through the office at Richmond, one mile distant. The station was named for Marriner-Wood Merrill in the last decade of the last century.

Wisconsin Merrill, the County seat of Lincoln County, Wis., is a thriving city having, according to the census of 1920, a population of 8068. Merrill town has an additional population of 909. The chief industry of the place is the manufacture of lumber, which is shipped in large quantities. It is on the Wisconsin River, and a lumber boom at this point has a capacity for 100,000,000 feet of logs. An abundance of hardwood timber grows in the vicinity. Two newspapers are published in the city. The town was originally named Jenny, but this name was changed to Merrill in 1880 in honor of Sherburne-S.7 Merrill of Milwaukee, general manager of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway. The Wisconsin Valley Division of this road passes through the city. It was said a few years ago that there were no persons named Merrill living in the city.

Merrillan, Wis., is a village in Jackson County, at the junction of the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha and the Green Bay & Western Railroads. Its population in 1920 was 628. It is devoted to lumber interests, and is the center of a good farming section. Leander-Gage7 Merrill and his brother Benjamin-Hammond7 Merrill, sons of Humphrey6 (Nathaniel5, Humphrey4, James3, Abel2), went to Wisconsin in 1849, and settled in 1871 upon some pine land which they had purchased in the present town of Merrillan. They built a saw-mill and invested heavily in other improvements.  The name of the town is derived from the fact that there were many copartnerships in which the senior member was a Merrill—“Merrill & Loomis,” “Merrill & Ice,” etc.—and the repetitions of “Merrill and” suggested “Merrillan” as a name.

Merrill Park is a station on the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway in the city of Milwaukee. It is two miles from the union station of the company in that city, and within a few rods of the late residence of Sherburne-S.7 Merrill, formerly gemeral manager of the company, in whose honor it was named.


Some Eighteenth Century Migrations

In the seventeenth century, after the great migration which brought Nathaniel Merrill and his elder brother from Old England to the infant New England colony, few extended journeys were undertaken by any of the Merrill kin.  The chief migration in that time was the journey of John2 Merrill to Hartford, which has already been referred to at some length in this Memorial. (See pages 78-94.)

In the eighteenth century, however, the foundations of many towns were laid, especially in New Hampshire and Maine, by younger sons, or other adventurous spirits, who sought homes where primeval conditions lent attraction. The descendants of Nathaniel1 Merrill among these pioneers in many cases established branches of the family which have preserved a certain measure of individuality to the present day. It is the purpose of this chapter to tell the part which was played in these communities, in their earliest years, by Merrills who descended from the original Newbury stock.

Many interesting stories might be told of the era of exploration and settlement in the Great West, but the available data concerning migrations of Merrills into that region are meager, and such facts relate generally to individuals of later generations than those whose lives form the chief subject of this book.

This chapter, long as it is, is very incomplete. I have been strongly tempted to omit it altogether, but it may serve a useful purpose in aiding someone to connect his own line with the earlier generations of the Merrills in America, and for this reason I give it a place in this Memorial.

Concord, N.H. Among the 119 signers of a petition, in 1721, for the grant of a township on the Merrimack River at a place known by the Indians as Penacook was John Merrill. This John4 Merrill (John3, Nathaniel2) was a native of Newbury, Mass. He lived for a time at York, Me., and then removed to Haverhill, Mass., where he married and settled down. (See page 213.)

Four years elapsed before the petition was granted by the government of the Massachusetts Bay Province, and no effective effort was made to begin settlement of the new plantation until 1727. In the early Spring of that year a party of the proprietors and their servants, forty-five or fifty persons in all, arrived, and set about the work of laying out roads, clearing land and building log cabins. John4 Merrill was among the number. Thereafter John Merrill made improvements from time to time, and in June, 1730, his wife and four young children arrived, prepared to spend their lives in the backwoods settlement thus established.

Under date of 31 March, 1730, the Proprietors(???)

“Voted, That John Merrill shall have the ferry at Penny Cook, and that said Merrill shall have twenty acres of land near the ferry of said town. . . . The said Merrill shall have four pence for a horse, two pence for a man, four pence for a beast . . .”

A modern iron bridge, on the road leading from Concord to Pembroke, marks the site of the ancient ferry. John Merrill’s homestead was on the hillside, not far from the ferry, near the junction of what in later years were Turnpike and Water Streets, north of the gas works of the present day.

On the organization of the church in Penacook, in December, 1730, John Merrill was chosen the first deacon. A plantation or town government was not regularly established until January, 1732/3, and at that time Deacon Merrill was chosen a member of the first board of selectmen, and also one of the assessors. Aside from such facts as these, which were duly entered in the formal records of the church and the town, no account has come down to us of events in the life of the community in those earliest years. Many of the events may have seemed of considerable moment at the time, but their fate has been oblivion.


The children of Deacon Merrill, and those of the other settlers, were in need of schooling. In 1735 he was given authority by the town to engage a teacher, and seven years later he was appointed a member of a committee to erect the first schoolhouse in town. The first meeting house in the town was a rude log structure, and no doubt the schoolhouse was architecturally similar.

The “Plantation of Penacook” became the “Town of Rumford” in 1734, and Rumford became Concord in 1765.

In his later years Deacon John4 Merrill was the stormcenter of a noted lawsuit. In November, 1750, the Proprietors of the common lands in the town of Bow, a township adjoining Concord on the south, brought an action of ejectment against John Merrill, the question at issue being the validity of a certain grant by the government of New Hampshire. The inhabitants of Rumford claimed that the original Proprietors of Bow had forfoited their rights, not having complied with the conditions of the grant, and that the land in question was included in the original grant by the Province of Massachusetts Bay to the Proprietors of Penacook. The controversy involved an old dispute regarding the boundary between the two Provinces.  The suit against John Merrill was a test case, and the Proprietors of Rumford voted to defray the cost of the defence.

The case was heard, in the first instance, in the courts of New Hampshire, and it is not surprising that the judgment favored the plaintiffs. Thereupon, in 1753, the Rumford Proprietors sent agents to England to present the case before the King in Council. The General Court of Massachusetts Bay was urged to defend the rights of those claiming under the Penacook grant, and at once voted to do so, twice granting money toward the expense of carrying the appeal to England.

The services of Lord Mansfield, the most eminent lawyer of his day in England, were secured to present the case of John Merrill before the King in Council, and he entered upon the task with zeal. Further delays intervened, however, but in June, 1755, the case was finally decided in favor of the Rumford farmers, and John Merrill remained in possession of his home and farm to the end of his days.

Deacon John4 Merrill of Concord was the progenitor of a numerous family.

His sons and grandsons were pioneers in other communities, and his descendants in later generations have attained distinction in Maine and California, and in many States which lie between these geographical extremes.

Conway, N.H. Thomas5 Merrill, son of Deacon John of Concord, was one of three men who, with their families, began, in 1766, a settlement in North Conway, N.H. He was a native of Haverhill, Mass.; lived in Concord, N.H., and vicinity for a number of years; served as a lieutenant in the French and Indian war, and passed the later years of his life as a farmer and country squire under the shadow of the White Mountains. (See page 294.)

The charter of Conway was dated 1 Oct. 1765. It named more than sixty grantees, Thomas3 Merrill being included in the number. Thomas Merrill took up his residence in the town the following year, but settlers did not increase rapidly in numbers, and it was not until March, 1770, that a town meeting was held to effect a permanent organization. Possessing a better education than most of his fellow-townsmen, Thomas Merrill was chosen the first town clerk, and a member of the first board of selectmen, and he was many times reelected to both offices.

In 1769 the inhabitants of Conway and adjacent towns felt the need of having a justice of the peace near at hand. They accordingly petitioned Governor Wentworth as follows: “We would humbly beg liberty to let your Excellency know that we should be glad and rejoice if your Excellency Should appoint to that office Lieut. Thomas Merrill of said Conway.” The Governor’s Council recommended him as a “Suteable person to be in the Commition for ye Peace,” and he was duly appointed.

Thomas3 Merrill’s home was on the intervale, on the south side of the Saco River. He owned large tracts of land on both sides of the stream, and in 1771 his sons Thomas6, William6 and Amos6 took possession of adjoining farms along the river. Enoch6, and later Jonathan6, also took up farms in the same neighborhood. Their descendants a generation or two later were to be found in various places in western Maine.

In 1775 a census of Conway showed 273 white inhabitants and two Negro slaves. The remoteness of the settlement from the more populous sections of the Colony is shown by the fact that in the same year an arrangement was made by which a messenger once each month should carry the mail to the little backwoods community. Thomas3 Merrill died 2 July, 1788, and was buried in the ancient cemetery near the center of the town. Plymouth, N.H. The charter of Plymouth, N.H., was granted in 1763. On the original copy are engrossed the names of sixty-two grantees, including Moses Merrell and Thomas Merrell.

Thomas5 Merrill (John4,3, Nathaniel2) was described as of Pembroke, N.H., at the time of the grant. He sold his rights under the charter in 1765, and settled in Conway, N.H.

Moses4 Merrill (Moses3, Daniel2) was born in Salisbury, Mass., and lived at different times in Haverhill, Mass., and New Gloucester, Me. He also disposed of his right, without becoming a resident of Plymouth.

Jacob3 Merrill, son of Moses4, was born in Salisbury, Mass., and lived as a young man in Newbury. (See page 360.) Both towns lay at the mouth of the Merrimack, and, as was quite natural, young Jacob for a time followed the sea. But to his young wife the unknown hazards of life with her husband in the great northern wilderness were less terrible than the perils of the ocean, and he was persuaded to undertake the life of a backwoods farmer. He lacked experience in husbandry, and he and his growing family suffered many privations through the first years of their agricultural experiment.

In 1764 and 1765 settlers had been arriving in Plymouth, and early in 1766 Jacob Merrill joined the colony. It is said that his third child (and eldest daughter) Elizabeth was born there, 15 April, 1766. His homestead was beautifully situated in the northern part of the town, on the northern shore of Baker River, a mile above the point where Baker River flows into the Pemigewasset.

In July, 1766, the first town government was organized. Little is known of the life of Jacob Merrill as a pioneer. In 1768 he was a member of a committee of the town charged with the duty of building a meeting house, and in 1778 he was chosen a member of the board of selectmen. The same year he was appointed a member of the Committee of Safety the perils of the Revolutionary period making such a committee necessary. For many years he held a commission as a justice of the peace, and was known as ‘Squire Merrill when such a title carried weight in the community.


“Jacob Merrill of Newburyport” bought an “original right” of Dr. John Brown in 1766, and by subsequent purchases he extended his landed possessions up Beech Hill, and northward into Campton. This land furnished farms for several of his children. In 1903 five of these farms, in Plymouth and Campton, were occupied by his descendants, the home farm of Jacob5 being owned by Deacon Alfred Cook, a great-grandson.

Twelve of Jacob5 Merrill’s thirteen children married and left descendants, the number of his grandchildren bearing the Merrill name being sixty-two.  The family has been noted for its musical ability, and the members in succeeding generations were prominent in church choirs and as instrumentalists in Plymouth and vicinity.  [41]

Warren, N.H. Warren, N.H., is a mountainous little town in Grafton County, its northern boundary crossing the foothills of mighty Moosilauke. The first permanent white settler of the town was Joseph Patch, who, in 1767, as a youth of less than twenty-one years, gratified his love for the woods by building a hunting camp beside Hurricane Brook and settling down to an easy life of hunting, trapping and fishing. Moose, deer, bear and wolves abounded, while beaver, otter, sable, mink and other fur-bearing animals fell easy victims to his skill as a trapper.

A hundred and forty years before the word “pacifist” found a place in a dictionary of the English language, Stevens3 Merrill was an outspoken opponent of war. He did not lack personal courage, but he was out of

accord with the trend of political events, and in 1775 was violently opposed to the war in which the colonists engaged. He was a native of Newbury, Mass., a son of Abel4 Merrill (Abel3,2).


As a young man Stevens Merrill moved to what is now Atkinson, N.H., and he was living there when young Joseph Patch came that way on one of his trips down-country to barter furs for supplies which the forest could not furnish. Stevens Merrill’s daughter Anna, a spirited blackeyed girl with rosy cheeks, attracted the young woodsman, and she was still a girl in her ‘teens when he won her promise to share his simple home in the far northern wilderness.

With the departure of the youthful brids the country of the White Hills did not seem so remote or forbidding to those who dwelt in the more populous surroundings of Atkinson. Soon Stevens Merrill, with his numerous family, made the long journey toward the north, and in 1775 bought land and built a log cabin beside the Asquamchumauke (or Baker) River, not far from the farm of his son-in-law.

Stevens5 Merrill is described by his great-grandson, William Little, author of the “History of Warren,” as “a straight, medium-sized man, with a lean face, a thin straight nose and blue eyes. . . . He was stern of aspect and slow in speech, and the children were afraid of him. He was inflexible, had a mind and will of his own, and could not be bent from his purpose,” Warren was incorporated in 1779. In 1780 there were twenty-five taxpayers in the town, and Stevens Merrill paid much the largest amount of all.

‘Squire Jonathan6 Merrill, son of Stevens5, “was six feet tall, of a lordly mien, straight as an arrow, and had an eye like a hawk. . . . Like his father, he was a Quaker of the strictest sect; wore a broad-brimmed hat, and a long drab coat ornamented with great wooden buttons.” He was a man of ability, and had considerable influence in the growing community. He had married before leaving the Atkinson home, and after reaching Warren made his home for a time in the cabin of his brother-in-law, where Stevens7 Merrill, later the richest man in the town, was born in 1776.

A younger brother of Stevens5 Merrill, Joshua5 of Hampstead and Sandown, N.H., followed shortly after to Warren, and built his habitation of logs in the southwest part of the town. He was a farmer and a tailor as well. “He was small-sized, straight, lithe and agile, and withal was an excellent horseman. ‘As straight as Uncle Joshua,’ was a speech common among the settlers.”

When dressed to make calls on his neighbors Joshua5 Merrill “wore a very short-waisted coat of dark color, with short tail-flaps, a wide-rimmed hat(???)rim full ten inches wide(???)hip breeches fastened at the knee with buckles, color dark; long stockings, blue and white, and fastened by a loop to one of the breeches buttons, and buskins of wool or leather, tied with sheep-skin strings over his thick, double-soled ox-hide shoes. His jacket was of the same material as his coat and breeches, with large flaps over the pockets, and for cold weather he had a great coat with very long cape and no waist, buttoned with four or five ‘matheman buttons.’ The sleeves had very wide cuffs, eight or ten inches at least, and two great buttons on each.  When he had this suit on, and was mounted on his great black stallion which he used to ride, he would dash through the woods along the stony bridle-path like a wild Arab. He was known all over the country round, and everybody would say, ‘There goes Farmer Joshua, the politest and best-dressed man in the State.” [42]

It is related that on the 17th of June, 1775, Stevens Merrill, Joseph Patch and others in Warren heard the sound of cannonading far away in the south.  A week later the few settlers in the town were electrified at hearing from a traveler the story of the Battle of Bunker Hill, fought on that fateful 17th of June 120 miles away.

A backwoods cabin is a fitting retreat for the pacifist. But the mountain hamlet to which Stevens Merrill had gone was not far enough away to escape the sounds of military activity, for the patriots in town outnumbered the loyalists two to one. Excitement was at fever heat, and preparations for defence were hastened with zealous enthusiasm. Arnold’s expedition to Canada failed, and there was general apprehension that the King’s troops would attempt an invasion from the north. At this juncture muskets were purchased by the Committee of Safety for distribution among the settlers, but Stevens Merrill, Quaker, refused to accept one.


Stevens Merrill, while a pacifist, was not altogether passive. Loyal to the flag under which he was born, and learning that a British detachment would be at a certain point beyond the Connecticut River seeking supplies, he and his son Jonathan bought all the cattle they could find in the community and drove the herd to the appointed place, traveling by night. Four days later the two Quakers were back in Warren counting the British gold which their adventure had earned. It was years before their neighbors learned what had become of the herd of cattle.

An episode related by the historian of Warren gives a side-light on the conditions of life which surrounded the early settlers. Clearing land to make it suitable for farming purposes involved great labor, and the work of building fences added not a little to the task. As a result, cattle were allowed to seek pasturage in the woods. One day the cattle of Stevens5 Merrill were lost, but after a long search he found all except one ox and a heifer. Finally he heard the ox lowing at some distance in the woods, and he knew there was trouble.

He hurried to Joseph Patch’s and secured a pitchfork, and thus armed he went at top speed in the direction of the sound of distress. In the meadow near Patch Brook he found the ox, which was bravely seeking to protect the heifer from the attack of a bear, but the heifer was bleeding from severe wounds inflicted by the bear’s teeth and claws. The doughty pacifist at once took part in the fray, and after a hard fight, in which, the historian assures us, the ox willingly assisted, the bear was driven from the field in defeat. Stevens Merrill said it was the largest bear he ever saw.

Others of the family connection made homes for themselves in Warren before the first settlers had passed from the scene. Abel6 Merrill (John5) and Amos Little had married sisters in Plaistow, N.H., and jointly took up a tract of land on Beech Hill, in the southwestern part of Warren. Abel6 Merrill was a nephew of Stevens5. (See page 567)

The road which the early settlers in the “Coos country” had cut from Boscawen to Haverhill, N.H., was still, in 1789, little better than a bridle path in many places. The trail became more faint as it approached Warren, and at last the traveler’s only aids in finding the way were “spots” on the trees, made by earlier travelers with their axes to mark the road. The brothers-in-law made the long northward journey in that year. Their wives rode on horseback. Tamar Merrill carried her personal effects and two children, aged five and three years respectively, fastened behind her on the horse, and in her arms carried a child a year old.

Arriving at their destination the two young men built a log cabin on the line which should mark the boundary between their farms. Stone chimneys at opposite ends of the house gave each sister her own fireplace. A large flat stone, over which they had built, served for a floor. Abel Merrill had taken with him two sides of leather, and his first use for these was to cover a portion of the roof of his part of the cabin. In due time he built a good frame house.

Abel Merrill prospered, and was able to give his children a good education.  Two of his sons were educated at Dartmouth. He gave to seven of his sons $500 apiece on attaining their majority, and to his four daughters who grew up he gave $250 each on coming of age, besides all the flax and wool which they wished to spin and weave for their wedding portions. Eight of his thirteen children survived him, with more than fifty grandchildren. [43]

Other early settlers in Warren were Nathaniel6 and Samuel6 Merrill, sons of Rev. Nathaniel5, and nephews of Stevens5 and Joshua5. (See pages 570, 571) All left numerous descendants, and many times in later years a majority of the members of the board of selectmen bore the Merrill name. Patch Brook flows into Hurricane Brook near the site of Joseph Patch’s first camp in Warren, while Patch Hill and Merrill Brook, in the northern part of the town, aid in perpetuating the memory of some of the early settlers.

Corinth, Vt. The foot-trails, marked by “blazed” trees, which served the earliest settlers on their journeys into the wilderness, were succeeded by bridle-paths, and these in time became cart-paths. The march of improvement had reached this stage when Joshua6 Merrill (John5, Abel4,3,2) moved from Kingston, N.H., to Corinth, Vt. (See page 569) In February, 1795, his wife and infant child took their places on the ox sled, wrapped warmly in blankets, no doubt, the sled being covered with canvas, after the fashion of the “prairie schooners” of more recent times, and the long journey began. Room was found on the sled for a goodly store of household effects.

It was more than eighty miles, as the crow flies, to Warren, where Joshua’s brother Abel lived. But the journey was not so direct, nor so rapid, as the flight of the crow, and the travelers found a visit of a fortnight with the Warren relatives a welcome change from the monotony of their slow progress over the snow-covered road.

Corinth had been settled in 1777, and since 1780 had had an organized government. Joshua had bought a farm in the eastern part of the town, and upon it stood a log cabin which was awaiting its new tenants.

After a welcome rest in Warren the migrant family resumed their places on the ox sled for the remaining twenty-five miles of their journey. The log cabin was their home until 1806, when they took poesession of a large and convenient frame house. Joshua became a justice of the peace, selectman and lister, and, with his family of sixteen children, contributed his full share to the prosperity of the town. A century after his arrival in Corinth his great-grandson, Rodney-E.9 Merrill, was living on the farm which Joshua had purchased. [44]

Kennebunkport, (Arundel), Me. Between Wells and Biddeford, in York County, Maine, the coast region was successively known as Cape Porpoise, Arundel and Kennebunkport. It was first settled by white men in 1629, but owing to its exposed situation suffered much from attacks by Indians, and the white man’s occupation was not continuous. The town was first incorporated, as “Cape Porpoise,” in 1653. It was reincorporated, as “Arundel,” in 1717, and received its present name in 1821. [45]

About 1725 Abel4 and John4 Merrill (John3, Daniel2) settled in Arundel. Their sisters Ruth4 (Whitten), Nancy4 (Carr), and Mary4 (Burnham), with their husbands, also lived in the town. Abel4 Merrill in a

short time removed to Wells, but John4 was living in Arundel in 1728, when he was granted one hundred acres “on the Country Road in Arundel, as it is laid from Wells Township to Saco across Bedeford the uper way.” It was stipulated that he, and others who received grants at the same time, should “settle on said Land according to the Commetys Directions in a Defencable manner, and give bond to Preform the same.” [46]

John Merrill built a homestead, and made it “Defencable,” for the Kennebunkport history states that he maintained a garrison house near Goff’s mill. Such defences were greatly needed, for the Indian wars continued for many years after his advent in the town.

A spoon mould which belonged to John4 Merrill, or to his son John5 of Arundel and Topsham, was in possession of Mary-Jane7 Merrill (1817-1906) of Brunswick, Me., at her death. (See page 92.) Miss Merrill kindly let me take it in 1905 in order that I might cast in it some pewter spoons. “J. Merrill” is cut in the mould, in such a way that each spoon bears the name in raised letters in the handle. A spoon cast in this mould is seven and a half inches long, and weighs two and a half ounces. I have eaten many a plate of bean porridge with one of these spoons, in true old New England style. (See page 58.) [47]

Topsham, Me. John5 Merrill, son of John4, was born in Arundel 29 Jan. 1733/4. (See page 357.) As a young man he had little opportunity for education, but managed to learn something of surveying, and was employed by Sir William Pepperell of Kittery, and later by Governor Bowdoin of Massachusetts, to survey their lands in the District of Maine. In his capacity as surveyor John Merrill had seen much of the unoccupied lands of Maine, and finally he concluded to settle in Topsham. He built a log house there in

1760, and this served as his home until 1785, when he built a commodious homestead near the site of the log cabin. This second dwelling was occupied by his descendants for more than a century.


A plan of Topsham in 1768 shows that at that time John Merrill owned four lots, aggregating about three hundred acres. In that year he purchased also an island in the Androscoggin River at Topsham, which has since been known as Merrill’s Island.

When the town was incorporated, in 1764, John Merrill was chosen a member of the first board of selectmen, and he was many times reelected.  He was a member of the Committee of Correspondence and Safety in 1775, and served several times as a justice of the Court of General Sessions. As a member of the General Court of Mass achusetts, before the separation of Maine, he visited Boston on horseback, and returned with a square-topped chaise. This was a strange conveyance in those days for use on the primitive roads which the settlers laid out through the pine-tree forests, and people from all around came to see it.

John Merrill was studious, and sought to correct the deficiencies of his earlier schooling by reading. He sent to Boston for many books, including what was said to be the first encyclopedia ever owned in the District of Maine. For many years he was the principal surveyor in Lincoln County. He died at the age of ninety-four. “The ‘old squire’ settled all disputes, drew the deeds, married the young, counselled the old, and in his declining years witnessed in his son, Col. Abel Merrill, all these qualities in a more extended sphere.”

Miss Mary-Jane7 Merrill, granddaughter of John5 Merrill, wrote, 17 May, 1905: “I remember very distinctly hearing Dr. McKeen, son of the first President of Bowdoin College, say, ‘Your grandfather was the man of both Brunswick and Topsham.’ . . . The farm was one of the loveliest in town, to me the loveliest(???)my childhood’s home a paradise. After brother Obed’s death it passed into brother William’s hands, and he sold it, much to my sorrow. I have never seen it since, nor do I wish to. I have never recovered from the shock.” Miss Merrill died in 1906 at the age of eighty-nine years. She spent the last years of her life in Brunswick, two miles from the old homestead. 


Falmouth, Me. (Portland) In the fourth and fifth decades of the eighteenth century a number of the Merrills of Newbury migrated eastward, and settled in Falmouth and North Yarmouth, Maine. In both towns those bearing the family name became relatively more numerous, before the end of the century, than persons bearing the name have ever been in any other towns in the country. [48]  In these towns the Merrills were not pioneers, however.

Falmouth had been the site of various settlements in 1632, and intermittently through the remainder of the seventeenth century. But wars with the Indians and the French repeatedly proved disastrous, and resulted in the extinction of the remote settlements on Casco Bay. The territory of Falmouth remained practically uninhabited after the destruction of the town by the French and Indians in 1690, until about 1716, when settlers began to return. In 1719 the town was regularly organized, and thereafter its growth was slow but constant.

John4 Merrill (Nathan3, Abel2) moved to Falmouth about 1732, followed soon after by his brother Richard4. (See pages 272, 276.) James3 (Abel2) moved to New Casco, a village in the eastern part of Falmouth, in 1738, and his six sons left numerous descendants in the town. (See page 209.) Edmond4 Merrill (Daniel3,2) also joined the Falmouth colony not many years later, living in the western part of the town. (See page 258.) At this time the town included the territory now known as Portland, Cape Elizabeth and Westbrook, as well as that of the modern Falmouth.

The descendants of these Merrills in Old Falmouth were very numerous. A story used to be told of a traveler who was driving into town, and meeting a man on the road he asked, “Where does Mr. Merrill live?”  “Merrill?” asked the wayfarer in surprise, “why, they’re all M-Merrills in this t-t-town, except m-me, and m-my name’s M-Merrill Noyes!” Perhaps Merrill Noyes was addicted to exaggeration, as well as to stammering.


An old newspaper clipping in my possession mentions “The Musical Society in Falmouth,” which was organized in 1807, and which was the earliest organization of the kind in what is now Portland. The seventeen original members included Moses Merrill, Jr., Ephraim Merrill, Jr., Ebenezer Merrill, Jeremiah Merrill, Humphrey Merrill, Sr., Jacob Merrill, Jr., and Giles Merrill.

In many States of the Union Merrills are living today who trace their descent through one or another of these Falmouth branches of the family.

North Yarmouth, Me. North Yarmouth, like Falmouth, had its troubles with the Indians and their French allies. It was twice settled and abandoned, but about 1721, after more than forty years’ absence, the heirs of the former English occupants began to take possession again, and since that time the occupation has been uninterrupted, though the Indians continued to be troublesome until after 1756.

Samuel4 Merrill (Moses3, Daniel2) settled in North Yarmouth in June, 1737, removing thither from Salisbury, Mass.  He was probably the first bearing the family name to live in the town. John4 Merrill (Nathan3, Abel2) is supposed to have moved to North Yarmouth from Falmouth, and his sons Stephen and Enoch are said to have been born there. (See page 272.) His sons Benjamin, John, Abel, and Jacob all lived in North Yarmouth, and left many descendants.

Merrill Road was in the part of North Yarmouth which by successive town incorporations became Freeport in 1789 and Pownal in 1808. The road took its name from Josiah6 Merrill (Jacob5, John4, Nathan3, Abel2), who was the first settler who improved land in that section. (See page 581) He had previously lived in the part of North Yarmouth which is now Cumberland. He bought his farm, consisting of fifty acres on the west side of Merrill Road, half a mile from the Freeport line, in 1788. He was unmarried, but at once set about clearing his land, and built a log house near the western edge of the property. In 1790 he married Eunice Merrill of Falmouth.


The log house was their home for fifteen years, and there six of their children were born. But Josiah Merrill had built at the wrong end of his farm. The highway bounded his farm on the east, and in 1805 he built a large one-story frame house on Merrill Road, and thither removed his family. He was a quiet substantial citizen, and his wife was an industrious woman, of high standing in the church and the community. In later years his son Daniel7 managed the farm.

Josiah6 Merrill’s children were all singers. A writer in “Old Times in North Yarmouth” (page 592) relates that it was no unusual thing, about 1835, “to see the family of nine children seated in the singing-gallery, with the oldest son the leader and the youngest son as the performer on the bass-viol. Four of these sat in the church choir for more than half a century.”

William6 Merrill, a younger brother, settled near Josian6 about 1805, and here raised a family of ten children. [49] 

The territory which was given the name North Yarmouth in 1680 has been repeatedly subdivided, Harpswell being set off in 1758, Freeport in 1789, Pownal in 1808, Cumberland in 1821, and Yarmouth in 1849. Ezekiel7 Merrill (Ezekiel6.5, Moses4.3, Daniel2) was born in 1796 in Hebron, Me., but lived on a Yarmouth farm. (See page 544) His son Joseph-Edward8 Merrill of Newton, Mass., in 1904 erected in Yarmouth a beautiful “Merrill Memorial Library” in honor of his parents.


New Gloucester, Me. A grant of a township was made in 1736 by the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Province to sixty inhabitants of Gloucester, Mass., and the territory thus granted later became known as New Gloucester, Me. In 1737 a road was out from North Yarmouth leading into the new town, but actual settlement was slow. The proprietors repeatedly offered money, in sums ranging from œ10 to œ30, to induce settlers to make their homes on the tract, but the fear of Indian raids discouraged home-building.

It was not until 1742 that an attempt was made at permanent occupancy of any of the granted farms, and this effort was soon abandoned because of trouble with the Indians, the military authorities ordering the settlers to vacate the territory. The beginning of the French and Indian War ended the colonization project for the time. The houses were burned and all improvements lapsed, and for a number of years the tract remained deserted.

In the Winter of 1753-4 a block-house was erected by the proprietors, and armed with two swivel guns. Here for six years a handful of settlers lived, secure in the protection of the thick timber walls, and with an armed garrison constantly on duty. There were occasional Indian raids in the neighborhood, and in 1755 the crafty Redmen attacked the block-house, captured two men and killed another. In 1760, however, when the French and Indian War was drawing to a close, the settlers began building new log houses on their scattered farms, and thereafter the white men remained in undisputed possession of the fertile acres of New Gloucester.

The proprietors’ meetings had hitherto been held in Gloucester on Cape Ann, but in 1763 (Nov. 22) a meeting was held at the block-house in New Gloucester to organize a township. Such organization often preceded by some years the incorporation of the town by the General Court. Samuel4 Merrill (Moses3, Daniel2) was chosen moderator and treasurer of the new town, and Daniel4 Merrill, his brother, was chosen a member of the prudential committee and board of assessors. (See pages 263, 264.) Samuel4 had lived in Salisbury, Mass., and in North Yarmouth, Me., before removing to New Gloucester. A third brother, Moses4 Merrill (See page 262), settled in New Gloucester about 1763, and remained there twenty years or more, but spent the last years of his life in Haverhill, Mass., where his son, Rev. Gyles5 Merrill, was pastor of the North Parish Church.

Ezekiel5 and Moses5 Merrill, sons of Moses4 (Moses3, Daniel2), also settled in New Gloucester in the earliest years of the town (see pages 361, 363.), and their older brother Jacob5 was a pioneer in the settlement of Plymouth, N.H. (See page 129.) Ezekiel5 Merrill later removed to Shepardsfield, now known as Hebron, Maine, where he was one of the earliest white residents. His four sons, Jabez6, Gyles6, Ezekiel6, and Moses6, lived in Hebron, and left descendants. (See pages)

Others of the family who settled in New Gloucester in the first decade or two after the organization of its government were James4 Merrill (Nathan3, Abel2), with his six children (see page 274), and Peter5 and John5 Merrill, sons of John4 (John3, Abraham2). (See pages 245, 340.)

New Gloucester was incorporated in 1774. The first  town election  [50] was held at the meeting house 12 Sept. 1774, and Moses and Samuel Merrill, with Simon Noyes, were chosen selectmen and assessors, Moses Merrill, Jr., tithingman, and Deacon Daniel Merrill sealer of weights and measures.

For a century and a quarter a community of Shakers has occupied a village and large tract of farm land in West New Gloucester, near Sabbath Day Lake. In 1782 Shaker evangelists visited the town, seeking converts, and soon Nathan5, James5 and Edmond5 Merrill (James4, Nathan3, Abel2) joined the society. (See pages)

In the Summer of 1784 a party of twenty-five Shakers from Gorham and New Gloucester chartered a vessel of twenty-eight tons to make a pilgrimage to visit Ann Lee, the founder of the sect, at her home near Albany, N.Y. “James Merrill, Sen., Nathan Merrill, Molly Merrill and Raichael Merrill” were members of the party. The vessel in which the journey was made was called the Shark, and it belonged to Greenfield Pote of Portland. (See page 288.) She sailed to New York, and thence up the Hudson.

“It is stated that Mother Ann saw them in vision before they arrived at Niskenna [Watervliet], and told the

little family there to prepare for them, which they did, and when the party arrived they were met at the door with the words, ‘Welcome here; we were expecting you. Mother saw you some days ago, and told us to prepare for you.’” [51] Ann Lee died a few days after this visit. Returning, the vessel reached Portland early one Sunday morning, and the entire company went to the house of Edmund Merrill in Falmouth, three miles distant, for breakfast.

The formal organization of the New Gloucester society of Shakers was in 1794, and Nathan5 Merrill was appointed one of the first trustees.

Lewiston, Me. The first white settler of Lewiston, Me., was Paul Hildreth, a native of Dracut, Mass. After a brief residence in New Gloucester he settled, with his wife and infant child, on the east bank of the Androscoggin, near Twenty-Mile Falls, Lewiston, in the Summer of 1770. His wife was Hannah6 Merrill (Daniel5, Samuel4, Abel3,2). (See page 373.) The destruction of their cabin by fire three or four months later compelled these pioneers to return for the Winter to New Gloucester, but the following Spring found them again in Lewiston. The life of Hannah Hildreth during the first year of her residence on the Androscoggin was sufficiently exciting. She and her child faced the perils of wild animals and wilder Indians, and on one occasion they were alone, without food, for four days, fifteen miles from the nearest white settlement. Her reward was fifty acres of land. This gift—the first grant of land made within the borders of the town—was in recognition of the fact that she was the first white woman to make her home there. But it was not long before they had many neighbors in a growing community. Paul Hildreth established the first ferry in Lewiston. He removed to Gardiner about 1802.

Buxton, Me. The Narraganset War was a brief episode of the war against King Philip, chief of the Wampanoags, and it was fought in 1675. The Massachusetts soldiers who took part in the campaign were promised, in the event of success, grants of land in addition to their usual service pay, but for many years the terms of the promise were not complied with. At last, in 1734, a grant of land on the east side of the Saco River in Maine, some ten miles above its mouth, was made to 120 proprietors, the proprietors being soldiers of the Narraganset War, or their representatives. The township was given the name Narraganset No. 1, [52]  and by this name it was known until, at its incorporation in 1772, it received the name Buxton.

Settlement was begun in 1742, but little progress in this direction had been made when, in 1744, war between England and France broke out, and the few settlers were forced to abandon their farms and take refuge in the more easily defended towns along the coast. In 1750, the war having ended, some of the settlers returned, and thereafter nothing happened to cause them to desert their homes.

Capt. Thomas Bradbury of Biddeford was one of the proprietors of Narraganset No. 1. He was a native of Salisbury, Mass., and married Sarah4 Merrill (Moses3, Daniel2). (See page 197.) His daughter Elizabeth married Samuel5 Merrill of Salisbury, a great-grandson of Daniel2 Merrill through John3 and Thomas4. (See page 359.) Capt. Bradbury was noted as an Indian fighter, and in 1748 and 1749 had command of a block-house on Saco River, opposite the southern extremity of the present town of Buxton.  But Capt. Bradbury did not become a resident of Narraganset No. 1 until about 1763.

Samuel5 Merrill had been a soldier at the block-house, under his father-in-law’s command, in 1748. He was living in Narraganset No. 1 on the 17th of May, 1751, for on that day he was one of the signers of a

petition for a meeting of the proprietors of the Plantation. Capt. Bradbury had purchased two lots of land in the Narraganset township, paying for them œ600, old tenor. One was described as Lot 1, Range D, 1st Division, and the deed recites that a dwelling house stood upon it. This “was probably the first dwelling house in the town worthy of the name.”[53](**) Capt. Bradbury gave a deed of this farm to his son-in-law, under date of 22 Nov. 1753, and here


Samuel5 Merrill spent the remainder of his long life, dying in 1822 at the age of ninety-three years. The homestead was near Salmon Falls, and in 1872 a portion of the farm was in possession of Ansel9 Merrill, greatgreat-grandson of Samuel5 Merrill.

In 1754 Samuel Merrill was a second time a petitioner for a proprietors’ meeting, this time the fear of attack by the Indians impelling the proprietors to provide for the erection of a fort, the structure “to be forty feet square bilt with Pillasaders or Stockades three feet & one half in the ground & ten feet above the Ground & Said Stockades to be Sett Double & a Good flanker or watch box at two opposite Corners of Said fort.” By good fortune no attack was made by the Indians in the course of the seven years’ war, from 1754 to 1761. Once Indians were seen in the vicinity, and all the inhabitants hastened to the garrison, “who were aided and assisted on this occasion by the coolness and decision of Lieut. Samuel Merrill.” [54](*)

Samuel5 Merrill was a man of prominence in the community. In 1761 at a meeting of the proprietors it was “Voted that the proprietors give to Samuel Merrill the old meeting house for said props meeting in Said merrills dwelling house on Lords days heretofore.” He was repeatedly chosen surveyor of roads, and after the incorporation of the town he was frequently elected selectman. His military service continued as late as the Revolution, and he served as a lieutenant at the battle of Bunker Hill, in the company commanded by Capt. Jeremiah Hill. (**) Ten of his children lived to grow up; and they left many descendants in Buxton. His name was handed down in the successive generations, Rev. Samuel-Hill Merrill, the genealogist (see pages 1-4), and Governor Merrill of Iowa (see page 534), among others, receiving the name Samuel as part of their inheritance.

Greene, Me. The first permanent settler of Greene, Maine, was Benjamin5 Merrill (Samuel4, Moses3, Daniel2) he having removed thither from North Yarmouth in 1775. (See pages 364-5.) Benjamin Ellingwood, a squatter, had been in the territory now known as Greene for a year or two when Benjamin Merrill came and determined to make his home there. On the first of November, 1775, Ellingwood sold his house and improvements to the new-comer for œ168,15s. Of the purchase price œ77,14s. was paid in cash, various notes and other articles making up the balance, the last article mentioned in the account being a quart of rum, which was valued at six shillings.

Benjamin Merrill at once took his wife and five children to Greene, a yoke of oxen transporting his household effects, and a cow accompanying the party on their journey of twenty miles or more. For eleven years the log cabin built by Ellingwood served for a habitation, but in 1786 a frame house succeeded it. Greene was incorporated in 1788. Benjamin5 Merrill was a member of the first board of selectmen and an assessor, and his son Benjamin6 was the first town clerk. (See the History of Androscoggin County, of which Georgia-Drew Merrill was editor, [Boston, 1891], page 500.)

Fryeburg, Me. Gen. Joseph Frye was a brave officer of the French and Indian War. In 1762, in recognition of his military service, the General Court of Massachusetts granted him a township six miles square, the territory to be selected by him on either side of Saco River, in the District of Maine.  General Frye promptly made choice of the tract now known as Fryeburg.

The Indians of this neighborhood had been pacified nearly forty years earlier as a result of the battle known as “Lovewell’s fight” (8 May, 1725). In this engagement, fought near the site of Fryeburg village, thirty-four Massachusetts rangers were pitted against eighty warriors of the Pequawket tribe. Each party suffered a loss, in killed and wounded, amounting to two-thirds or more of its fighting strength, and both leaders, Captain John Lovewell and Paugus, the Indian sachem, were killed. It was a severe reverse for the white men, but it ended for all time the military power of the Pequawkets.

In the Summer of 1762 pioneers arrived from Concord, N.H., eighty miles distant, and set about clearing land and building log houses on the present site of Fryeburg village. Their families remained at

their former homes, awaiting the completion of cabins and other conveniences of a permanent settlement. In the Fall most of the pioneers returned to Concord, but Nathaniel5 Merrill (John4,3, Nathaniel2), being unmarried, remained through the Winter, with John Stevens and a negro known as Limbo, to continue preparations for a settlement, and to care for the cattle which had been taken to the valley of the Saco. An abundant stock of hay for the cattle was secured from the intervales beside the river.

The families of the settlers began to arrive in the Summer of 1763. Nathaniel Merrill was one of the owners of the “Seven Lots” at Fryeburg village. He was a farmer and a skilled surveyor, and lived on the lot opposite the modern site of the academy. Fryeburg Academy, it may be mentioned, in 1802 enjoyed the distinction, then not duly appreciated, of having for its preceptor Daniel Webster. The great Expounder of the Constitution had received his college diploma a few months before.

Nathaniel Merrill had been one of Rogers’ Rangers in the French and Indian War, and had received a wound in the head from a musket ball while in the service of the Colony. He married, in 1764, Ann Walker of Concord, and raised a sturdy family of seven sons and seven daughters, the sons being men of consequence in Brownfield, Conway and Portland. The average age attained by the parents and their fourteen children was sixty-nine years.

Fryeburg received its act of incorporation in 1777, and on the 31st of March in that year the first town meeting was held. At this meeting Nathaniel Merrill was chosen a member of the board of selectmen. He was known as “Squire” Merrill, and was often intrusted with public duties. In 1786 he was a delegate to a convention held in Portland to seek the separation of Maine from the jurisdiction of Massachusetts; in 1787 he was a member of a committee to draft a plan for the first meeting house in the town.

Brownfield, Me. Nathaniel Merrill spent the last years of his life in Brownfield, Maine, a town which adjoins Fryeburg on the south. He became one of the owners of the mills on Shepherds Brook, at Brownfield Center, and his descendants were numerous in the community for many years. Merrill’s Corner is in the southwest part of the town. “The Merrills have long been gone, but the Corner still bears the name.” (“Reminiscences of Brownfield,” by Mrs. E.A.G. Stickney, 1901.)

Andover, Me. When the country-side was aroused, as by an electric shock, by the Lexington alarm, Ezekiel5 Merrill (Roger4, Nathaniel3, Abel2), of West Newbury, responded, and served for a few days as a corporal in the Newbury company of minute-men. (See page 399.) After this brief service he removed his young family for safety’s sake to Pelham, N.H., and again enlisted as corporal, taking part in the Saratoga campaign which ended with Burgoyne’s surrender.

War in those days, for the hardy yeomen of New England, was not a business requiring many months of intensive training, as it has become in these later times. Like most of the “embattled farmers” of the Continental army Ezekiel Merrill was by turns soldier and tiller of the soil, serving four brief enlistments in the field, in the Revolution, alternating with seasons of agricultural labor.

After the war many veterans of the conflict were loth to settle down in ease in the commonplace surroundings of their former homes. The spirit of adventure was not fully satisfied. Like many others Ezekiel Merrill looked to the backwoods for a congenial home. He was a cheerful, generous-hearted man, fair-haired, with handsome face and ruddy complexion, athletic and self-reliant. He had only a smile for all the hardships and all the dangers of military campaigns, and he was ready with the same smile to meet whatever might befall in the lonely life of the pioneer.

Gen. Joseph Frye had founded, on the Saco River, the town now known as Fryeburg. This place was for a time the last outpost of civilization, and thither, in 1785, Ezekiel Merrill took his family. Gen. Frye had explored the country farther north, and he told in glowing terms of the fertile intervales of the Ellis River, a small tributary of the Androscoggin. A company was accordingly formed to lay out a town on the Ellis River, and Ezekiel Merrill was one of the number.

With his brother-in-law, Michael Emery, he spent much time clearing land and building the necessary log structures for the beginnings of a farm, and in March, 1787, his family and household effects were taken over the rough woods road, heavy with the Winter’s snow, as far as Bethel. Sixteen hand sledges, drawn by the men and the larger boys, carried the younger children and the necessary supplies and utensils for beginning housekeeping anew.

Bethel was about thirty miles north of Fryeburg, but it was still many miles short of their ultimate destination. The family remained in Bethel a year, while the father and his older sons made further preparations for establishing their home in Andover.

Finally, 18 April, 1788, the last stage of the journey was undertaken. Seven birch canoes, with stalwart Indians of the Pequawket tribe handling the paddles, glided down the Androscoggin, bearing all the members of the family and such supplies and other articles as they would need in their new home. The little fleet went with the current as far as the mouth of the Ellis River, where they camped for the night. The next day they paddled up the latter stream, the entire distance traversed by canoe being thirty miles.

Their new home was on the east side of the west branch of the Ellis River.  Their nearest neighbors, aside from the Indians, were at Bethel, but Bethel lacked most of the advantages afforded by country villages. The nearest church, school, doctor and lawyer were at Fryeburg, nearly sixty miles away.

The cabin which received the family had a log floor and pole partitions, a stone fireplace and a log chimney plastered with clay. Lacking glass, small openings in the walls admitted light, the openings being closed with shutters when necessary to exclude the cold. With a few of the simplest tools various articles of furniture were construoted, but nails were lacking, and wooden pins were made to take their place. Cedar splits furnished roofing, and material for doors.

Some game was secured for food, the first season, and many fish. For lack of a mill for grinding corn, mortars were made by hollowing out the stumps of trees, and excellent hominy was produced by pounding the corn with wooden pestles. The Indians were friendly, and the squaws taught the farmer’s wife many primitive arts, especially those relating to preparing food from the roots and herbs which abounded in the woods and beside the streams. Potatoes, corn and beans were planted soon after their arrival, and in the Fall Roger, the oldest son, now fourteen years old, carried a load of corn by canoe to Bethel, where a small mill had been built, and returned with the meal, thus securing the Winter store of grain before ice made navigation of the river impossible.

The splendor of a military uniform appealed to the Indian fancy, and Corporal Merrill bartered his disused regimentals for a large stock of furs.  With these he went to Bethel by canoe, and to Fryeburg with a hired horse, obtaining there, by exchange, groceries, cloth and other needed articles.  Mrs. Merrill learned from the Indians how to make moccasins, and these served instead of shoes.

Ezekiel Merrill seems to have lacked time, or taste, for hunting, and little meat was secured for food the first Winter in Andover except crossbills.  These little birds were trapped or shared in considerable numbers in the Indian manner, and furnished many a welcome meal.

Metalluk, an Indian of the St. Francis tribe of Canada, was living in the neighborhood, far from his tribal associates, and between him and Roger a close friendship sprang up. Roger was a hardy and energetic boy, eager to master the arts of hunting and woodcraft, and Metalluk was an able teacher.  When the snow was deep and crusted the two would go forth on snowshoes after moose. As soon as they found some of the great animals in their Winter “yards” it was easy work to kill enough to provide a year’s supply of meat. The meat was easily cured by drying and smoking, by methods commonly practised by the Indians.

For many years all the clothing of the family was home-made. Home-tanned deer- and moose-skin at first furnished an excellent substitute for cloth: later homespun wool and linen took the place of the skins of animals. Even the buttons, in the early years in Andover, were of domestic manufacture, little disks of leather proving a good substitute for harder materials.

The first Winter Ezekiel Merrill “swamped” a rough road to Bethel, over which a handsled might be drawn. He made snowshoes, sleds, and the various articles needed in sugar-making, cleared land and cut firewood, and made preparations for building a barn. He brought three large iron kettles over his new road from Bethel, and in the Spring was able to make a large store of highly-prized maple sugar.

Two of Ezekiel Merrill’s eight children were born in Newbury and five in Pelham. The youngest, Susan6, born 13 July, 1790, was the first white child born in Andover.

Two friendly women of the Pequawkets were the only attendants upon the mother in her confinement. School advantages for the growing family were, of course, entirely lacking. To meet this need Ezekiel Merrill took his eldest daughter in his canoe, with a bale of valuable pelts, and paddled down to Bethel. Securing a horse on which the young girl could ride, together with the peltry, he walked from Bethel to Fryeburg. Arriving in Fryeburg arrangements were made for Sarah Merrill to attend school, and the furs were given in payment of her living expenses. Sarah in turn, on returning home, was to teach the younger children. Later, when the season’s work was done, Roger joined his sister at school, making the journey alone, on foot.

Several other settlers arrived in 1790, but the town was not incorporated until 1804, when it received the name East Andover. “East” was prefixed to avoid confusion with Andover, in Essex County, Massachusetts, but in 1820 the prefix was dropped.

In 1791 the first frame house in Andover was built by Ezekiel Merrill. It occupied a beautiful location, and was still standing, in a good state of preservation, in quite recent years, being still known as “Merrill House.” It was the square two-story farm house of familiar type, with large chimney in the center. The nails used in its construction were made by hand in Bethel by Peregrine Bartlett, Ezekiel Merrill’s son-in-law.  The house in the early years was always open to travelers, without charge.  “The great hall was often full of Indians, sleeping all across the floor, with their heads to the fire, as is their custom, while white visitors were lodged in the guest-chambers.”  [55] 


Andover’s population has remained small, numbering 767 in 1920. In recent years few descendants of its first settler, bearing the Merrill name, have been residents of the place. The traveler may reach the town by a stage ride of sixteen miles from Rumford, on the Maine Central Railroad.




Numerical Strength NATHANIEL1 MERRILL’s descendants, now living in the United States and bearing in some form the family name, according to my estimate number about 24,000. This estimate is based on the ratio of Merrills (Merrells, etc.) to persons bearing other names in recent directories of Boston, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, San Francisco and New Orleans.  Assuming that the same ratio is maintained throughout the United States an estimate of the number of Merrills in the entire country is easily made.

A wide correspondence with Merrills everywhere whose addresses have been gathered from very miscellaneous sources leads me to assume that ninety-three percent of the American Merrills are of the Newbury stock.  Subtracting, therefore, seven percent from the total number of Merrills in the country, the approximate number of living Merrills (Merrells, etc.) descended from Nathaniel1 is ascertained. This result is of course inexact, but it would be difficult to make a more precise computation.  [56]

In the following pages I have aimed to bring the record of Nathaniel Merrill’s descendants in the male line down to about 1820. In many lines the data in hand are very incomplete(???)in many they are entirely lacking: nevertheless the records here given will in many cases solve the problems of those whose knowledge of their ancestors ends with a few facts about a grandfather or great-grandfather.

The biographical sketches in these pages of Merrills who have been active and prominent in recent years are extremely brief, and for many purposes are inadequate. The correspondent who “condensed” for my use a biographical sketch of a certain Merrill of his acquaintance into about five hundred words, will be surprised, and perhaps offended, to see that I have reduced his “condensed” sketch to thirty-five words. These sketches aim to do little more than to identify the individuals in question, and to give the connecting links by which their relationship to Nathaniel1 of Newbury is shown.

System of tabulation The arrangement in the following pages is what is known as the “Register system,” a system adopted many years ago for use in the New England Historical and Genealogical Register. In enumerating the children in each family group as far as the sixth generation the name of each son who is known to have left descendants is preceded by a serial number above and below which is a horizontal line (e.g. 721). Each of these serial numbers refers forward to a corresponding number in the middle of the line where the individual appears as the head of a family. Similarly a serial number at the head of a family group refers back to a corresponding number at the left in the record of the previous generation.

In all cases where superior figures are used to denote generation numbers, the first generation is understood to be represented by Nathaniel1 Merrill of Newbury. Thus, Daniel5 Merrill (John4, Nathan3, Abel2) signifies that this Daniel Merrill was descended from Nathaniel1 Merrill through his son Abel2, his grandson Nathan3, etc.

In the case of double dates, such as “7 Feb. 1682/3”, the reader should bear in mind that the later of the two years conforms to present-day usage. These dates are all prior to 1752, and double dating applied only to days between Jan. 1 and March 25 in each year.  [57]


Errors in dates cannot in some cases be avoided. Such errors in the earlier years are due occasionally to the practice of double dating; in other cases dates of birth and baptism are confounded; in still others dates of publishment and marriage lead to confusion.

Spelling of Names In the Newbury records Merrill is spelled in ten or a dozen different ways: in “Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors of the Revolutionary War” the family name appears under twenty-two different forms. Enoch4 Merrill (Joseph3, Abel2) signed his name Merril in 1750 and Merriel in 1786 (see page 282). What other modes of spelling he may have followed at other times I cannot say. It would obviously be futile to attempt in a work of this kind to write the family name in each case as it was spelled by the individual himself: accordingly I have spelled the name Merrill in all cases in these pages, except when, in the later generations, there is known to have been a definite and uniform practice of spelling it otherwise. 

In spelling christian names I have endeavored to conform to individual usage, even when Eleazar has been spelled “Eleazer,” Barzillai “Barzilla” or “Barzille” and Ernest “Earnest.” Christian names of women offer greater difficulty. A girl may be Elizabeth at her baptism, Betty at her marriage, and Betsey in the record of her death. Similarly Mary may appear as Molly or Polly, Sarah as Sally, Susanna as Susan, Hannah as Anna or Nancy, Margaret as Peggy, Martha as Patty, etc.

Five Branches of the Family Five sons of Nathaniel1 Merrill gave the family a vigorous start in the second generation; twenty-four young men in the third generation, all leaving descendants, added impetus and multiplied the branches of the family tree. In the fourth generation eighty-four heads of families are known to have left children, and thus the Merrill name has increased numerically and spread to all parts of the country.

Abraham2, the only one of Nathaniel1 Merrill’s sons who lived to be an octogenarian, had more children than any of his brothers, but he is represented today by much the smallest number of Merrill descendants.  Abel2, on the other hand, died at the age of forty-five—a younger man than any of the others at the time of death—but his known descendants are much more numerous than those of either of the other sons of the pioneer.

Wide disparity in the number of present-day descendants in the five branches of the family, as indicated by the number of heads of families in the sixth generation, is shown below:

The short line in the case of the Abraham2 branch is believed to represent fairly the relative number of descendants, for this section of the family has produced its full proportion of interested students of the family history, and they have freely contributed material for the present work.

The number of descendants of Nathaniel1 Merrill in the seventh generation, male and female, who bore the Merrill name and whose names are given in these pages, is 2414. It is to be understood, however, that my record of the seventh generation is by no means complete. These are divided among the five branches of the family as follows:

Seventh Generation


         Descendants of Nathaniel2                                              337

         Descendants of John2                                                      547

         Descendants of Abraham2                                              138

         Descendants of Daniel2                                                  514

         Descendants of Abel2                                                     878

         Total                                                                              2414



An excess of males over females among the children born to Merrill fathers in the second, third and fourth generations is quite noticeable.

                                       Males                                                  Females

         Second generation         5                                                  1

         Third generation          25                                                18

         Fourth generation      114                                                82

         Fifth generation         358                                              327



In the fifth generation the predominance of males over females among the births is very little in excess of the proportion prevailing at the present day throughout the United States. In the third and fourth generations, however, the excess of males above the present normal ratio is about twenty-seven percent. This fact is reflected in the strong numerical foothold which the family early gained in New England.

First Generation


NATHANIEL1 MERRILL was one of the earliest settlers of Newbury, Mass., in 1635. He was the ancestor of a vast majority of those who now bear the Merrill name in this country: it is believed, indeed, that less than one percent. of the Merrills in America can trace their pedigree to any other emigrant ancestor.

Nathaniel1 Merrill and his older brother John were born in England. The registers of Wherstead, a parish lying three miles south of Ipswich, in Suffolk County, England, contain the following entries:

1599, Aug. 16.  John Merrell son of Nath?? Merrell & Mary

his wife was baptised.

1601, May 4.    Nathanaell Merrell son of Nath?? Merrell & Mary his wife was baptised.

There are reasons for believing that these entries are the record of baptism of John and Nathaniel1 Merrill of Newbury. These reasons will be given at length in another place.

Nathaniel1 Merrill and his brother John settled in Newbury in the Spring of 1635, having passed a year or two at Ipswich, Mass., (then called Agawam) with most of the Newbury settlers. In 1638 Nathaniel1 became one of the “proprietors” of Newbury.

It is supposed that Nathaniel1 Merrill was married before leaving England.  No record is found of his marriage in America. If the marriage took place here it was probably at Ipswich, in the short time before the settlement in Newbury. His wife’s name was Susanna. Savage, in the “Genealogical Dictionary of New England” (published in 1861), says that Nathaniel1 Merrill married Susanna Jordan. In this he was no doubt following Coffin’s “History of Newbury” (published in 1845), and the statement has been frequently copied.

After the death of Nathaniel1 Merrill his widow married Stephen Jordan (or Jourdain). Nathaniel2 Merrill, son of Nathaniel1 and Susanna Merrill, gave a deed, under date of 16 Aug. 1661, to Peter Godfrey of Newbury, in which the phrase occurs, “after the decease of my mother Susanna Jordan,” and out of this fact the error regarding the maiden name of Nathaniel’s wife grew.

Stephen Jordan came to America in March, 1633/4, in the ship Mary and John, and settled in Ipswich. He removed after 1649 to Newbury. The date of his removal was probably about 1653, in which year he sold land in Ipswich. He died in Newbury 8 Feb. 1669/70. Susanna Jordan died 15 Jan.  1672/3, in Newbury, administration on her estate being granted to her son Abel2 Merrill. Stephen Jordan had two daughters by a prior marriage. They had married, in Ipswich, Robert Cross and John Andrews respectively. It is supposed that no children were born to Stephen and Susanna Jordan, none being mentioned in the settlement of the estate of either.

The conjecture has been advanced, and it has even been stated as a fact, that the wife of Nathaniel1 Merrill was Susanna Wilterton (or Wolterton.)

John2 Merrill, one of the older sons of Nathaniel1, went to Hartford, Conn., before 1657, while still a minor, and it is said was adopted by Gregory Wilterton. Savage, in his “Genealogical Dictionary,” said that Gregory Wilterton “had good estate, large tan works, and no children.” Gregory Wilterton made his will 17 July, 1674, and died soon after, leaving legacies to a number of persons, including relatives in Ipswich, England. Savage adds: “Most of his estate was given to John Merrills, because he had adopted him.” The same statement of adoption is repeated in the “Memorial History of Hartford County.”

These facts lend plausibility to the theory that Gregory Wilterton was a brother of Susanna Merrill. It was a long journey from Newbury to Hartford; means of communication were meagre, and both communities were in their infancy. It seems unlikely that John2, as a very young man, would have made such a journey, separating himself for a lifetime from home and kin, unless to make a home with other kin in the place where he went to live.

Gregory Wilterton of Hartford was childless: Susanna Merrill of Newbury was a widow with five sons and a daughter, most of them in their minority. It would have been natural for Gregory Wilterton under these circumstances to write to his kinswoman in the Massachusetts Bay Colony and offer a home and modest fortune to one of the boys. But Gregory Wilterton may have been a more distant relative, or merely a friend. Until other evidence is brought forward the conscientious genealogist must say that the maiden name of Nathaniel’s wife is unknown.

Nathaniel1 Merrill died 16 March, 1654/5. His will was dated 8 March, 1654/5, and was probated 27 March, 1655. It is not to be assumed from the fact that the testator signed with his mark that he had not learned to write. He lay on his deathbed, and died eight days after executing the instrument. John Merrill, his brother, signed the will as a witness, and there is no reason to doubt that Nathaniel had enjoyed equal advantages of schooling.

Children of Nathaniel1 and Susanna Merrill, the last five of whom were born in Newbury:

2        i.   Nathaniel2, b. prob. 1633/4; d. 1 Jan. 1682/3.

3        ii.  John2, b. about 1635; d. 18 July, 1712.

4            iii. Abraham2, b. 1636 or 1637; d. 28 Nov. 1722.

5            iv.  Susanna2, b. 1640; d. 10 Oct. 1690, in Suffield, Conn.; lived in Bradford (now Haverhill),

Mass., in 1667, in Haverhill from 1668 to 1674, then in Suffield; m. 15 Oct. 1663, in Newbury, John Burbank, son of John and Ann Burbank of Rowley, Mass.; he m. (2) Sarah , who d. 19 Aug. 1691, and (3) Mehitable           ; he d.1 June, 1709.

Children: Mary, bap. 24 June, 1666, in Rowley. (Burbank)

Timothy, bap. 30 May, 1668, in Haverhill; mentioned in the will of his grandfather,

John Burbank, in 1681, as living with Capt. Saltonstall.

John, b. Aug. 1670, in Haverhilll; d. 25 Mar. 1729; m. 21 Dec. 1699, Mary Granger.

Ebenezer, b. 21 Mar. 1673/4, in Haverhill; lived in Suffield; m. 9 Oct. 1698 (or 1699), Rebecca Pritchard (widow).

6         v.   Daniel2, b. 20 Aug. 1642; d. 27 June, 1717.

7         vi.  Abel2, b. 20 Feb. 1643/4; d. 28 Oct. 1689.


Some Unconnected Lines


Merrells of Staten Island Richard Merrell (1642-1727) and his wife Sarah (Wells) Merrell (1649-1722) came from Warwickshire, England, about 1675, and settled in Northfield, Staten Island, New York. There is no known relationship of blood between Richard of Staten Island and Nathaniel of Newbury. Richard and Sarah Merrell had five children:

William; “went West.”

Richard, b.6 July, 1682; d.6 Sept.1760; m.Elsje (Elsie) Dorlandt. 




Descendants of Richard and Sarah Merrell have continued to live on Staten Island to the present time. Their son Richard (1682-1760) was a member of the Colonial Assembly and judge of the County Court. An account of his life and his family in later generations is given in “Records of the Dorland Family

in America” (Washington, 1898), pages 219-231. Others of the emigrant’s sons also left descendants. (See Clute’s “Annals of Staten Island” [New York, 1877], pages 405-407.)  Descendants of Richard Merrell with whom I have had correspondence have known nothing of the later history of William who “went West.”


It is my belief that William Merrell’s western journey extended no farther than Hopewell, N.J., which is thirty-five or forty miles from the Staten Island home. At the beginning of the eighteenth century the western frontier was at no point far from the coast, and going “West” had not come to mean what it has meant in later years. The territory of Hopewell, indeed, was not purchased from the Indians until 1688.

A tax list of Hopewell shows that William Merrell, senior, William junior, Thomas and Benjamin Merrell were there in 1722. William senior was assessed for three hundred acres of land, twenty-four cattle and horses, twenty sheep and two servants or slaves. (See Hale’s “History of the First Presbyterian Church of Hopewell” [Philadelphia, 1876], pages 13-15.) William Merrell of Hopewell made his will 23 Feb.1724, and in it mentioned his wife Grace and sons Joseph, Benjamin and William. It seems likely that the elder of this name was the William of Staten Island. (See page 641.)

William-Dayton Merrell (born 21 Aug.1869), professor of biology in the University of Rochester, is a descendant of Thomas Merrell of Hopewell (born 19 Apr.1732) through William (born 1769), John-Carr (born 1802) and Rev.Jonathan-Dayton Merrell (born 1830). Other descendants of the Hopewell Merrells have lived in Flemington, N.J., Amsterdam, N.Y., and Geneseo, N.Y. It is said also that Merrells from Hopewell, N.J., settled in and around Snow Hill, Princess Anne and Hopewell, in southeastern Maryland, but I have little information concerning them.

Benj-Merrill of No. Carolina The battle of the Alamance, 16 May, 1771, ended what was known as the War of the Regulation in North Carolina.  This war, a prelude of the Revolution, began as an armed protest against corrupt courts, excessive taxes and extortionate fees demanded by officials holding their places under the British Government. Among the leaders of the so-called Regulators was Benjamin Merrill, who had been a captain of militia in Rowan County, N. C.

Gov.Tryon of North Carolina, who in the early years of the Revolution was the detested royal Governor of New York, led his force of more than 1000 regulars against the poorly-armed Colonists, with the inevitable result.  Benjamin Merrill was captured, convicted of treason, and sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered. The sentence was carried out 19 June, 1771.  (See Bancroft’s History of the United States, vol.6, pages 390-397.) Five years later victims of similar oppression in the more northern British Colonies, who undertook armed resistance and lost their lives in battle, were honored as patriots and martyrs.

Albert-Herve9 Merrill, now of Portland, Oregon, son of Asa8 (1824-1868) (see page 443), was in 1898 an expert maker of violins in Atlanta, Ga. He sent me two letters at that time which he had received in 1888 from John-W. Merrell of Cedartown, Ga., telling of the descendants of Capt. Benjamin Merrill, the defeated leader in the Regulation movement. John-W. Merrell was a Confederate veteran, and was born in Alabama in 1843.

According to this account Capt. Benjamin Merrill married Sarah Smith, and had moved to North Carolina from Maryland. He had eight children. The seven sons, John, Andrew, William, Charles, Benjamin, Jonathan and Elijah, all served in the Revolution. John, the eldest, left a large family, including Benjamin-Smith Merrill of Franklin County, Ga. Benjamin-Smith Merrill was the father of William-W. of Carrollton, Ga. (see page 118), and of Henry-F. Merrill, a lawyer in the same city. John-W. Merrell, the writer of the letters, was a son of Henry-F.

Abigail-Yarborough Irish of Iowa City, Iowa, prepared a paper on the life and public service of Capt. Merrill which was published in 1912. She stated that Capt. Merrill is supposed to have gone to North Carolina with a party of colonists from New Jersey about 1750, forming the “Jersey Settlement.”

According to Mrs. Irish Capt. Benjamin Merrill’s wife was Jemima Stout of Stoutsburg, N.J., and he had a son Azariah. Jemima Merrill, daughter of Azariah, married Thomas Yarborough of Lexington, N.C., and was the greatgrandmother of Abigail-Yarborough Irish.

The seeming discrepancies between the statements which have come from Georgia and from Iowa are easily reconciled. Many of the settlers in western North Carolina came from Maryland, or from New Jersey by way of Maryland. The sentence of confiscation of Benjamin Merrill’s estate was remitted in favor of his widow, “Jemima Merrill,” and his children. Sarah (Smith) Merrill had doubtless died, and a second marriage to Jemima Stout would explain the remaining differences between the two accounts.

Capt. Benjamin Merrill was a deacon of the Jersey Settlement Baptist Church, and was highly esteemed in the community. He lived two miles east of the Jersey church, and four miles south of Lexington, N.C. He was a farmer and gun maker. [58] Descendants of Capt. Benjamin Merrill are found in Kentucky, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Texas and Utah, and doubtless in other Southern and Western States.


James-Andrew Merrill, LL.D. (born 1861), geologist, and president of the State Normal School in Superior, Wis., writes that his grandfather, Nicholas Merrill, married Ida Cobb, lived in Kentucky, and had four sons. The eldest of these, James-William-Simpson Merrill, was a colonel in the Confederate army. J.-W.-S. Merrill had a son Cassius-Exum Merrill of Lexington, Ky., born 7 Oct.1838, who was a major in the Confederate army, a lawyer and journalist. Andrew-Hanson Merrill, father of Dr. James-Andrew Merrill, was a Northern sympathizer at the time of the Rebellion, and for this reason was compelled to leave Kentucky. He lived subsequently in Illinois and Missouri.

Dr. Merrill’s knowledge of Nicholas Merrill’s antecedents is largely based on tradition. Members of the family served in the Revolution and in the War of 1812, he says, and some of them were engaged later in trade between Kentucky and the New Orleans market. About the time of the Revolution, according to the tradition, one of his Merrill ancestors was “hanged for disloyalty by the Tories.” This fact points to the North Carolina martyr as an ancestor, perhaps through his son Andrew, the latter name having survived in succeeding generations.

What were the antecedents of this pre-Revolutionary revolutionist?

Moses3 Merrill (Daniel2) (see page 197) made his will 30 Jan. 1755, and it was proved 16 Feb.1756. In it he directed his eldest son, Moses4 Merrill, to pay to a younger son, Benjamin4 Merrill, œ5 “if he be alive and come again.” This Benjamin4 Merrill was born 16 Feb. 1720/21. Of his later history nothing is known. He may perhaps have taken part in one of the military expeditions which were somewhat numerous late in the first half of that century, and have been reported missing; or he may have shipped on a long ocean voyage and ended his life in foreign parts. Gen. Lewis Merrill suggested that Benjamin4 Merrill perhaps joined the colony which about 1669 had settled the town of Woodbridge, N.J. Younger sons, realizing that their older brothers would inherit the farms of their fathers, often migrated to places where the outlook for independence seemed promising. A large share of the Woodbridge pioneers were people from Newbury and Salisbury, Mass., and the town was named in honor of Rev. John Woodbridge of Newbury. Gen. Merrill remarked further that farmers from Woodbridge are known to have settled in Hopewell, Mercer County, N.J., and that the “Jersey Settlement” in North Carolina was recruited from Hopewell and vicinity. Accordingly he believed it quite likely that Capt. Benjamin Merrill the Regulator was none other than Benjamin4 Merrill of Salisbury.

But a Hopewell tax list of 1722 contains the names of Benjamin Merel (son of William), also “William Merel Sener,” “William Merrel Juner” and Thomas Merel. Stoutsburg, the home of Jemima Stout, wife of the unhappy Regulator, is an adjoining town. Few of the Hopewell settlers were New Englanders, and Benjamin4 Merrill of Salisbury was much too young to be a taxpayer there in 1722.

It seems probable, therefore, that William Merrell, who was born on Staten Island and “went West,” was the taxpayer of Hopewell. (See pages 637-638.) This William had sons William, Joseph and Benjamin. The latter, if my theory is correct, was the brave soldier who met an honorable death on the scaffold after the defeat on the Alamance.

Hebron, Conn. and Pittsfield Mass. Another line which seems not to be connected with the Merrills of eastern Massachusetts is that of John Merrill of Hebron, Conn. John Merrill is believed by his descendants to have been born in England, and to have been a brother of the ancestor of the eastern Massachusetts Merrills. The year of his arrival in Connecticut is not known.  He died 6 May, 1757, and of course was of a later generation than John and Nathaniel Merrill of Newbury. He married, 14 Apr. 1731, Esther Stricklin, (or Stuoklin), and had children, born in Hebron:

Elizabeth, b.3 Mar.1732; d.unm.

Gad (1733-1786); m.Mary Skinner.

Asher, b.26 Feb.1735; m.Delight Sawyer.

John, b.29 Sept.1738; m.Sarah Culver.


Gad Merrill removed to the new town of Pittsfield, Mass., in 1775. He had eight children, including Hosea (1761-1853), who was a soldier in the Revolution, and afterward a lumber dealer and builder in Pittsfield.

Ayres-Phillips Merrill (1798-1873), the eighth of Hosea Merrill’s ten children, was an assistant surgeon in the United States Army as a young man, but settled in Natchez, Miss., in 1823 in the practice of medicine. He removed to Memphis, Tenn., in 1850, and was active in organizing the medical college there, in which he was a professor. After the Civil War he practiced in New York. He wrote treatises on yellow fever and other subjects. His son Ayres-Phillips Merrill (A.B., Harvard, 1845) was a lawyer, a Southern planter, and a New York commission merchant. He was appointed United States Minister to Belgium in 1876.

Lieutenant-Commander Aaron-Stanton Merrill, U.S.N., is a grandson of the second Ayres-Phillips Merrill through the late Dunbar-Surget Merrill.

Thomas of Kennebunkport A grant of one hundred acres of land was made to Thomas Merrill by the town of Kennebunkport, Me., in 1681 for killing an Indian who had shown hostility to the settlers. This Thomas Merrill had married Mary Barrett several years before. He lived in the town at the time of the grant, but removed to Portsmouth, and disappears from all known records. It has been assumed by some that this Thomas Merrill was a son or grandson of Nathaniel of Newbury, but there is no evidence to support the claim. It is more likely that he came to America independently of the Newbury settlers, and returned to England with his family after a few years’ residence in Kennebunkport and Portsmouth.

Juba Merrill .Juba Merrill enlisted in the Revolutionary army in 1781 for a term of three years. He lived in Newbury, Mass. He died 2 April, 1782, at West Point of fever, at the age of 45. Juba was a negro, and presumably had been a slave. Slaves were commonly supposed to have no family name. “My negro man Juba” would have been a sufficient description in a bill of sale or other writing. They frequently assumed the family names of their owners, and changed the names as they changed owners. Little is known of Juba’s antecedents or descendants. He married Hannah Holland, negress, of Exeter, N.H., in 1777, and had a son Mark, born in 1780. The inventory of his estate mentioned land in two towns in New Hampshire.

Rev.Wm. Morrell. Rev. William Morrell came to America in 1623, and remained about a year. His name has sometimes been spelled Merrell or Merrill in modern historical works. He was a clergyman of the Church of England, and was expected to exercise oversight in religious matters in the Plymouth Colony, but spent his time in studying the Indians, and in natural history research.

Jeremiah of Boston Savage, in his Genealogical Dictionary of New England, mentions Jeremiah Merrill of Boston who by his wife Sarah had children Jeremiah and Sarah born in 1652 and 1655 respeotively. Under the heading Morrill Mr. Savage gives Jeremiah and Sarah Morrill of Boston as parents of six children, including Jeremiah born in 1652 and Sarah born in 1655. It is fair to assume that the true name was Morrill, and that the entry of Jeremiah Merrill and his family in the Dictionary was an error.

Unidentified Connecticut Merrills Among the entries in early record books of Hartford, Conn., are the folowing: “Francis Barnard was maryed to hanna Meruell on August the fifteneth one thousand six hundreth forty & fower.” “Thomas Merrells son of Thomas Meeriels was baptised Novr the first one thousand six hundreth forty and six.” Nothing is known of the antecedents of these Merrills, or of their later history. Their conneotion with Nathaniel’ of Newbury, if any, no doubt antedates the migration to America.

Daniel Merrill of Killingworth (now Clinton), Conn., had a son Benjamin, born 1736, and other descendants. Samuel Merrill (1749-1833) also lived in Clinton and had nine children. Nothing is known of their parentage.

Other Unconnected Lines Richard Merrall was born 28 July, 1788, in Sandwich, County of Kent, England. He came to America about 1833 and settled in New York. His son William-John Merrall (1831-1907) was one of the founders of the large grocery house of Acker, Merrall & Condit in New York. Walter-H. Merrall, son of William-John Merrall, was in 1925 treasurer of the company. Edward Merrall, another son of Richard, lived in Sag Harbor, N. Y.


Samuel and Jane (Wallace) Merrill lived in Artemisia, Grey County, Ontario, for some years, but moved to Painesville, Ohio, in 1875. He was a native of England and his wife of Scotland. Some of the family went to Nebraska, but his son Samuel-J. (1864-1920) remained in Painesville, where he was active in business.

Marriner-Wood Merrill (1832-1906) of Richmond, Utah, an apostle of the Mormon church, was the son of Nathan Merrill, who was born 25 Sept. 1792, in Fort Cumberland, Nova Scotia. Nathan was a son of Thomas-Hazen and Hannah (Read) Merrill. Thomas-Hazen Merrill is supposed to have been a native of Maine. He died in November, 1826.

For many years Marriner-Wood Merrill sought to learn more about his ancestry, but his connection, if any, with the Newbury family has not been ascertained. [ii] He was born in Sackville, N.B., went to Utah in 1853, and became a farmer, stock raiser and railroad contractor. His son Joseph-Francis Merrill, Ph.D., is professor of physics and electrical engineering in the University of Utah, and a younger son, Melvin-Clarence Merrill, Ph.D., is chief of publications in the Department of Agriculture, Washington.

The catalogues of some of the libraries contain the titles of books, mostly in French, by Stuart Merrill (???) “Pastels in Prose” (New York, 1890), “Les Gammes,” “Les Fastes,” “Petits PoŠmes d ‘Automne,” etc.

Stuart Merrill (1863-1915), poet and revolutionary socialist, was born in Hempstead, Long Island, but spent most of his life in France. His father, George Merrill, lived in Newport, R.I., and in Paris, was a lawyer, and wrote a book on Comparative Jurisprudence (Boston, 1886). Rev.  George-Grenville Merrill of Stockbridge, Mass., is a younger brother of Stuart Merrill. George Merrill was not a descendant of Nathaniel’ of Newbury. He was an adopted son of Nathaniel-Wilson7 Merrill (Othniel6, Nicholas5, Israel4, James3, Abel2) of New York. (See page 284.) He was a nephew of Nathaniel-Wilson7 Merrill’s wife, his name originally being George Tibbetts.


By John H. Merrill

When I made a trip to Wherstead in 1996 I was browsing through some book on the Manors or England. I found a court case concerning a Prudence Merrell Johnson. Her second Thomas had died and she was trying to get property rights to her husbands land. This could have been land that once belonged to her husband, John Merrell of Wherstead. It was after this time that the Merrills disappeared from Suffolk Co. records. They were found in neighboring Essex County in Lawford. The following is the Prudence Document.


To the right honorable Sir Thomas Egerton Knight lord Keeper of the great Seale of England

In most humble wise complainige sheweth unto your lordshipe yo’r daylie orator Xpofer Alderman of Ipswich in the County of Suff dyer that whereas one Thomas Johnson was about fiftie yeres now last past lawfully seazed in his demesne as of f[torn] (probably fee) of & in three acres of land [torn]

Sparwallow sutuate and lieng & being in Whersted in the said County of Suff holden by coppie of Court rolls of Barthill’ Hall gentelleman as of his manner of Bornehall in Whersted aforesaid & alsoe of & in twenty fower acres of land & pasture late Thomas Strowde in Whersted aforesaid whereof one p[torn]

Sparrewallow conteneth one acre one pece called Soreforest with a medowe to the same belonging conteineth fower acres one pcell of land called Maggesdelenton contenige one acre & a halfe one pcel of of land called Persbines contenige one acre & one pcell of land contenige three[torn]

upon the land called Leges al’s Ffoxholefenne & Newcroft, contene pcells of land called Wolin’scrofte with a medowe to the same adjacent contenige sixe acres one pece contenige three acres lieng at a place called Lampettes w’th one one pece of land nere there contenige [torn]acres

one pece of land lieng at Pillscrofte garden contenig halfe an acre and one pcell of land abutting uppon a place called Knavellwell contenig one acre all w’th the last recited p’misses are holden by coppie of Court Rolles of Sir Phillippe Parker Knight as of his m[torn]n[torn]r o[torn] (probably manner of)

Erwarton in the said Countie of Suff and haveinge issue Thomas Johnson the onely sonne, died of all and singular the p’misses seazed by & after whose decesse the said Thomas Johnson entered into all & singular the said landes and tenemetes & was [torn and folded over]

sev’all Courts holden for the said sev’all mannors admitted ten’nte to have & to hould to him & his heirs according to the sev’all custome of the said mannors as sonne & next heire of the said Thomas Johnson his father w’th said Thomas Johnson haveing likewise issue one Willm

Johnson about fortie yeres now past died of the said p’misses likewise seazed with said Willm Johnson was at the sev’all mannors whereof the said landes & tenements then likewise admitted ten’nte acc rding to the anncient custome of the said mannors of the said p’misses by [ ] in proofe [wrinkled]

the said Willm Johnson entered & was of & in the said landes & tenemtes w’th the app’rte’nnces seazed in his demissne as of fee and the said Willm Johnson being of the said landes & tenenntes with the app’ertines seazed did for and in consideracone of the sume of twoe hundred & fiftie poundes of [wrinkled]

money of England before hand by yo’r said orator to him payd at the sev’all Courtes holden for the said manner lawfuly surrendered the said landes & tenemtes w’th the app’t’nnces to yo’r said orator to have & to hould the same to yo’r said orator & to his heirs fo[ ]e[ ] Now soe it is if it may ples[wrinkled](probably plese)

yo’r Lordshipp that one Prudence Johnson wife of Thomas Johnson father of the said Willm & late the wife of [blank] (we know this to be John) Merills decessed haveing gotten into hir handes the Coppies of the said landes as alsoe all coppies of the Court Rolles as well of the said manner of Bornehall as of the said manner of Erwarton did by culler of haveing of them immediately after the decesse of the said Thomas Johnson her husband the said Willm being then an Infante about the age of seaven yeres did make & contrive or consent to make & contrive unto hirselfe secret & fraudilent estates of the said landes & tenentes and doth now affirme & chalenge that the land of the said manner of Bornehall by his Steward at a Court holden for the said mannor on munday next after the fest of St Luke the Evangelist in the first yere of hir highnes raigne did graunt the said three acres of land called Sparwallow to the said Thomas Johnson & the said Prudence his wife & to the heires of the said Thomas & that the said Thomas Johnson hir husband at a Court holden for the said manner of Erwarton on Friday next after the fest of St Luke the Evangelist in the third yere of hir highnes raigne by the then Steward of the said manner of Ewarton did surrender all the said landes & tenemtes holden of the said manner of Erwarton into the hands of the then lord of the said manner to the intent that the said lord of said manner would vouchsafe to regraunt the sonne of

Thomas & Prudence & the heires of the said Thomas accordingly & that they the said Thomas and Prudence were admitted when as in truthe the said Thomas Johnson father of the said Willm being the onely sonne & next heire of Thomas his father was immediately after the death of the said Thomas the grandfather admitted in fee simple acording to the anncient custome of the said manner of Bornehall soe it is the lord of the said manner of Bornehall could not himselfe or by his Steward graunte the said three acres of land and pasture to the said Thomas the sonne & Prudence his wife and the heires of the saied Thoms as is aforesaied neither did the saied Thomas the sonne at the saied Courte holden for the saied mannor of Erwarton ~/~ at any time make any such Surrender whereby the said Prudence was to have any estate at all in the saied landes & tenementes holden of the saied mannor of Erwarton neither are there any such Courte Rolles belonginge to the saied sev’all mannors ~/~/~/~/~/~/~/~/~/ to warrante any such copies to be made whereby it appeareth that the said copies were by her consent or some other by hir privily contrived & made after the deceasse of the saied Thomas her husband on purpose to gainne unto hir an estate for life ~/~/~/~/~/~/~/ by reson of with saied copies soe most falsely and untruely made and contrived as aforesaid she the saied Prudence immediately after the death of the saied Thomas hir husband in to all & singular the said Landes & tenementes entered en [ ] at the death of the saied Thomas hir husband ~/~/~/~/~/~/~/~/~/~/~/ doth clame to hould the same from the saied William untill the surrender of the saied landes & tenements unto your saied Orator & [ ] the said [ ] soe mad as aforesaid unto yo’r said orator she the saied Prudence doth withholden the said landes and tenementes & the xsiles thereof from yo’r said orator contrarie to all right equitie & good consience to the gret impovi’shment & hinderance of your said orator, whereas she knoweth that in lawe she hath no good title or right there unto, In tender consideration whereof & for as much as the said copies of Courte Roll be neither in bagg sealed or chest locked neither doe your saied orator knowe the cearten date or number of them whereby your saied orator may bringe his action at the comon lawe for the same and for that your saied orator doubteth not but yf the said Prudence may be compelled to confesse the truthe uppon hir corporall othe in due forme of lawe to be taken she will confesse alle the saied p’misses to be true in such s[orte ?] manner & forme as your saied orator before herein hath alledged may it therefore please your Lordshippe there mi[wrinkled]es considered to graunte unto your said orator hir highnes most gracious writt of suprema [sic] to be directed unto the said Prudence Merells comanding hir thereby at a certen day & under a certen paine therein to be limited psonallie to appere before your Lordshipp in her highnes most honorable Courte of Chauncery then & there to awnser for the p’misses & to sett downe upon hir othe whither the said Thomas Johnson father of the said Thomas did not die of the saied p’misses seazed & after his decesse that the said Thomas his sonne was found to be his onlie sonne & next heire & that he was accordingly admitted tenente as well to the said three acres [spot] holden of the said mannor of Bornehall as to alle the residue of the said landes and tenements holden of the said mannor of Erwarton & what ys become of the said coppies and alsoe hir highnes most gracious writt of Suppena with a duces tecum to injoyne the saied Prudence to bringe into the said Courte the said copies to the ende the same may be safelie kept & deliv’ed unto your said orator and your said orator shall praie to allmightie god for the p’sperous estate of your Lordshipp in honor and happie estate longe to cont[ ] (possibly continue?)                  

                                   R. Hitcham' (?)


[1] An episode which occurred before Petersburg in the winter of 1864-5 is related by Chaplain Merrill at Pages 310-314. It is a vivid account of a visit which he paid during a heavy bombardment to a fort in which was stationed the Twentieth Michigan Volunteer Infantry, Lieut.-Col. Grant commanding. Some twenty-five years ago I met Judge Claudius B. Grant of Lansing, Mich., a justice of the Supreme Court of the State, and he told me that he was the Lieut.-Col. Grant mentioned in the narrative. Judge Grant was a native of Maine, the son of Joseph and Mary-A.7 (Merrill) Grant, and grandson of Nathaniel6 Merrill (Nathaniel5, John4,3, Nathaniel2) of Brownfield, Me.

A portrait of Chaplain Merrill, in military uniform, is given in Tobie’s “History of the First Maine Cavalry”

(1887), page 320.


[2] The will of Lucy (Wainwright) Dudley, executed in 1756, contains this entry: “Item, I give to my kinswoman, Mrs. Cushing of Haverhill, œ13, 6s. 8d.” Ann (Wainwright) Cushing died 12 Feb. 1810, aged 97 years.


[3] In the Library of the British Museum I found a printed sermon “Preached at the Ordination of the Rev. Mr. Gyles Merrill, to the Pastoral Care of the Church and Congregation in Plastow, and the North Part of Haverhill, March 6, 1765,” by Rev. Edward Barnard of Haverhill. The text was from Luke xii, 42-46

[4] Allen’s Biographical Dictionary, 1857.

[5] Essex County Deeds, book 130, leaf 74


[6] Mark Antony Lower, quoted by the Duchess of  Cleveland in “The Battle Abbey Roll, with Some Account of the Norman Lineages,” (London, 1889), vol. I, p. v, note.

[7] A correspondent wrote to me of a Merrel, a member of the French Senate some thirty years ago, who said his family had lived in Bordeaux for two or three generations at least. The Senator wrote that, so far as he was aware, none of his family had ever removed to England.

[8] Lower tells of Morells living in England in recent years whose ancestor was a Huguenot refugee from Champagne. But the migration in this case followed the revocation of the Edict of Nantes (1685), many years after the Merrills became established in America.

[9] In the first volume of Manwaring’s “Digest of the Early Connecticut Probate Records,” covering the years 1635 to 1700, the Index shows 21 references to entries where the name is spelled Merrells, and none to the name spelled in other ways. In the second volume (1700-1729) there are 68 Index references where the spelling is Merrells and two where it is Merrill. The third volume (1729-1750) shows Merrells 66 times, Merrell 36 times, and Merells, Merrels and Merrill once each.

[10] My own impression is that this estimate is a little too high. Perhaps sufficient notice is not taken of

the fact that the name is relatively infrequent in the South; and the large families of children in certain non-Anglosaxon races are represented in census figures without equal representation in the directories of the cities. But these ifs leave much to be desired by one who wishes to be accurate in matters where statistical data are concerned. The number, large as it is, is very small, however, when compared with the entire number of those, bearing many family names, who, by reason of intermarriages, have inherited the blood of Nathaniel Merrill of Newbury.

[11] In the register of St. Edmund’s Church, Salisbury, between 1596 and 1617, twenty-six baptisms of

children named Myrhell or Mirhell were recorded. They seem to represent seven family groups.

[12] These registers were searched, and the entries copied, by Stokes & Cox of London, record agents, in



[13] The most distinguished man who ever made his home in Wherstead was Lord Chief Justice Coke. He

was a contemporary of Nathaniel Merrill.

[14] The art of making bean porridge should not be lost to the world. It is an excellent dish, though unfamiliar to most people in the twentieth century. It may be made as follows: Soak three cups of beans over night in two quarts of cold water. In the morning add one medium slice of salt pork, and boil all together, slowly, several hours, until the beans are soft. Boil a beef knuckle and about 1 ½ pounds of beef cut into small pieces in two quarts of water until the meat is thoroughly cooked. Cook the beans and beef together, slowly, all day, being careful not to burn. Salt to taste. Corned beef, if not too salt, was often used instead of fresh beef.

[15] See Coffin’s History of Newbury, pages 161-163.


[16] On the opposite page the site of the original Newbury settlement and its neighborhood is shown. A

poet’s picture of Newbury is given by Whittier in his rhythmical verses, “The Prophecy of Samuel Sewall.”

        Whittier’s earliest American ancestors lived for a time in Newbury.

[17] A noble was 6s.8d. A mark equaled two nobles.

[18] Massachusetts Archives, XI, 306. Currier, History of Newbury, p. 353.

[19] My father used to tell of these “haying” trips, to Cape Merrill, in which he participated, in the ‘30s

of the last century. They were, he said, the most keenly-enjoyed holidays which came into the lives of the farmers’ boys who took part in them. S.M.

[20] Currier, History of Newbury, p. 92.


[21] Hill Street retains the same name in modern Newburyport. See Currier, History of Newbury, pages 64,

89, 90, note.


[22] The foot of Woodland Street is a quarter of a mile below the site of the shipyard occupied by Jonathan, Nathan and Orlando-Bagley Merrill. (See Currier, “Ould Newbury,” p. 281.) This shipyard was opposite Ram Island. It is now grass-grown. The few rotting wharf-timbers which remain furnish scant material to enable a layman to construct a mental picture of the old-time flourishing industry. The industry in Newburyport was too dead to be revived, even when war necessities recently called for rapid construction of fighting and freighting vessels. 

Parallel with Woodland Street, a quarter of a mile southeast, is Merrill Street. This, as Merrill’s Lane,

was opened about 1750. It was accepted by the town in 1774, and was then given the name Merrill Street. The original lane included what later was known as Russia Street, and it ran southwest from Merrimack Street. On Merrill Street lived Moses and Thomas-P. Merrill, as well as a number of shipmasters who were aotive in the thriving foreign commerce of early Newburyport. A gambrel-roofed house on this street was occupied for many years by Dr. David-Jackman Merrill (1806-1891). Another Merrill’s Lane, in what is now West Newbury, ran northwesterly from Indian Hill to Indian River. (“Ould Newbury,” p. 348.) On this road stood the house of Nathaniel3 Merrill (Abel2)


[23] See Memorial History of Hartford County (1886), I, 274; Savage, Genealogical Dictionary of New England (1862), IV, 590. The memorial History of Hartford incorrectly states the John Merrills was the sone of Abraham Merrills of Newtown. JHM

[24] On this lot lived, in 1902, Sarah-Butler Johnson  (b. 1821), daughter of Gen. Nathan and Sarah-Butler6

(Merrill) Johnson. Her brother, Charles-William Johnson (b. 1831), lived in an adjoining house. Sarah-Butler6 Merrill was a daughter of Hezekiah5 Merrill (Hezekiah4, Daniel3, John2). She married Gen. Johnson in 1818. --(Letter from Joseph-Warren Merrill, Collinsville, Conn., 12 March, 1902

[25] “Historical Notices of Connecticut,” June, 1842.

[26] Manwaring, Digest of the Early Connecticut Probate Records, I, 121-2.

[27] The original of this will is preserved, with contemporary papers, in the vaults of the State Library

at Hartford. An ancient copy, differing in many unimportant details of spelling, etc., is preserved in the

office of the Secretary of State, in the Connecticut Colonial Probate Records, vol. 3, p. 127. An imperfect copy is given in Manwaring’s Digest, vol. 1, pp. 259-260, and a much better copy, with photo-engraved facsimile, is given in Manwaring, vol. 3, following p. xx

[28] Manwaring’s Digest, I, 121.

[29] The Massachusetts Bay Colony was organized under a charter granted to “The Governor and Company of the Massachusetts Bay in New England.” “Freemen” were those who, having been duly chosen by the General Court, and having taken the freeman’s oath, were entitled to vote for Governor, Assistants and Deputies to the General Court. They were, in effect, members of the Company, and they alone had a voice in its affairs. The election of freemen ended in 1684 with the abrogation of the charter of the Colony. “Freeholders,” or “proprietors,” were those who, by grant, purchase or inheritance, were entitled to share in the common lands. All adult male inhabitants, including those who were neither freemen nor freeholders, might vote for town officers and on questions of taxation.

[30] Joshua P. Chase was a son of John Chase, whose father, Amos Chase of Amesbury, married Eunice6 Merrill (Richard5, Nathan4.3, Abel2.)

[31] Coffin, History of Newbury, p. 153.

[32] (*) Currier, History of Newbury, p. 205; New England Historical and Genealogical Register, xxxii, 161.


[33] When I was a young man my father pointed out to me a depression in the earth at this point, which, he said, without doubt marked the site of Moses Merrill’s cellar. S.M.

[34] Currier, History of Newbury, p. 85.

[35] “Erased,” in the language of heraldry, signifies torn off, in distinction from couped, which would mean cut off by a straight line. “Proper” means in the natural color.

[36] In drawing these arms, as shown on the previous page, I have followed Mr. Sargent’s illustration, departing from it, however, in some minor respects where the photograph of the seal indicated clearly that changes were warranted. The shape of the shield in heraldry is an immaterial detail left to the discretion of the artist. Similarly, the helmet under the crest may be represented or not at will, and the use of mantling with the helmet is equally a matter of personal choice.

[37] The author has endeavored to reproduce this coat of arms, as well as may be with pen ard ink, without impairment or intentional improvement. The somewhat bizarre outburst of flourishes at either side of the helmet is the mantling, and is supposed to be a heraldic representation of the frayed and tattered trappings of a knight who has returned from the wars.

[38] The author has endeavored to reproduce this coat of arms, as well as may be with pen ard ink, without impairment or intentional improvement. The somewhat bizarre outburst of flourishes at either side of the helmet is the mantling, and is supposed to be a heraldic representation of the frayed and tattered trappings of a knight who has returned from the wars.

[39] From “Where Bugles Blow,” (Boston, 1914), by the late Elizabeth Powers Merrill. Mrs. Merrill was the widow of J. Palmer Merrill of Skowhegan, Maine.

[40] “De sa. … trois merles d’arg.”—“Armorial. G’n’ral,”

by J. B. Rietstap, vol. 2, p. 205.

[41] Stevens7 Merrill (Joseph6, Stevens5, Abel4,3,2) was born in Warren, N.H., in 1790, but removed to Plymouth  in 1813, where his eleven children were born. He was a lumber merchant, and lived at different times in Boston, in California, and in Burlington, Iowa, where he died in 1863.

Many facts concerning the Merrills of Plymouth and Campton are given in Stearns’ excellent “History of Plymouth,” (1906), vol. II, pp. 442-457.

[42] The quotations are from Little’s very unconventional “History of Warren,” (Manchester, 1870.)



[43] Authority: Letter from Rev. John-Leverett Merrill, 20 July, 1904.


[44] Authorities: Letter from Rev. John-Leverett Merrill, 27 July, 1904; Child’s Orange County Gazetteer. A few years after Joshua6 Merrill settled in Corinth, Peter6 Merrill (Peter5,4,3, Nathaniel2) moved there from Windham, N.H., and kept a store, and his sons lived there, with their families. (See page 444)

[45] The reader should bear in mind that Maine was a part of Massachusetts until 1820


[46] Bradbury’s History of Kennebunkport (1837), pp. 128-9.

[47] A mould for spoons of the same size and pattern is now in the possession of my cousin Clarence-Erskine Kelley of the Harvard College faculty. Mr. Kelley’s father, Giles-Merrill Kelly of Haverhill, was a grandson of Rev. Gyles5 Merrill. (See page 8.) In a Kelly genealogy which was written by Giles-Merrill Kelly, and published in 1886, it is related (at page 25) how the Kelly mould was made by Samuel Kelly about the middle of the eighteenth century, from fifty copper pennies. Samuel Kelly was a great-grandson of John Kelly, a contemporary of Nathaniel1 Merrill in Newbury. S.M.

[48] The numerical strength of the Merrills in Maine is indicated by the fact that the General Catalogue of Bowdoin College published in 1916 contains the names of 82 Merrills who have been connected with the institution since its foundation. No other name but Smith is represented in the catalogue by so large a number of individuals.

[49] Authority: “Old Times in North Yarmouth” (published 1880-1884), pages 589-592, 1135-1138. At page 992 a writer gives the “Muster Roll of Capt. Peter Merrill’s Company of Foot,” 28 August, 1804, of which company Peter Merrill was captain and Reuben Merrill ensign. Twenty-one of the ninety-four enlisted men were also Merrills.

[50] The uses made of the New Gloucester meeting house were not altogether ecclesiastical. At the outbreak of the Revolution two casks of gunpowder, three hundred flints and two hundred pounds of bullets were purchased by the town, and concealed behind the great sounding board in the sacred edifice.

[51]  “Portland in the Past,” by William Gould, (Portland, 1886), pp. 330-331.

[52]  There were seven “Narraganset” townships. No. 2 is now Westminster, Mass.; No. 3, Amherst, N.H.; No. 4, Goffstown, N.H.; No. 5, Bedford, N.H.; No. 6, Templeton, Mass.; No. 7, Gorham, Me.


[53] “Buxton Centennial,” (Portland, 1874), p. 236.

[54] “Buxton Centennial,” pp. 163, 272. His son Samuel6 was a member of the same company.

[55] (*) Most of the facts here given relating to the settlement of Andover, Me., are from a paper written by the late Miss Agnes Blake Poor of Brookline, Mass., to be read before Hannah Goddard chapter, D.A.R., 9 Dec. 1897.  Miss Poor was a great-granddaughter of Ezekiel5 Merrill. She said that many of the particulars were taken from the papers of her uncle, Silvanus Poor, Jr., “a local antiquarian

of great diligence and ability.” Miss Poor died 28 Feb. 1922, aged seventy-nine. The illustration on

the previous page is drawn from a water-color in the possession of the Poor family.

[56] (*) The “Twentieth Century Biographical Dictionary of Notable Americans,” published in 1904, contains sketches of thirteen Merrills and one Merrell. Data contained in this Memorial show that these fourteen men all trace their ancestry to the Newbury pioneer. Descendants of other emigrant ancestors bearing the same family name, it is true, are active in American affairs today, and some

have attained distinction, but they are in a small minority.


[57] (*) If the reader wishes to pursue further the subject of Old Style and New Style dating he will find it

discussed at length in “The Mayflower Descendant,” vol. 1, pages 17-23.


[58] (*) A small stream near his home furnished power for his shop. It is said that at night he would place a gun barrel in position and set the crude machinery in motion, and that in the morning the barrel would be found bored and ready for finishing.


[i] Further research in 1996 showed that Nathaniel’s(1) first four children we baptized in Lawford, Essex Co. This could have something to do with Prudence Merills attempt to get property rights to her deceased second husband’s, Thomas Johnson, land. Because of this the family may have left Wherstead and moved to Lawford before coming to America.

[ii] Further DNA Research done by Gary Merrill and The Merrill DNA project shows that Marriner Wood Merrill was not descended from Nathaniel (1) Merrill. He may have been the son of Mariner Wood who was born in Westmorland, Co., New Brunswick in 1808 and was adopted by Nathan Merrill who was living there at the time. JHM