Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Nathaniel MERRILL/MERRELL, 1601-1654/55 Early NE Settler

Nathaniel MERRILL is my 9th great-grandfather, tracing down through the PETTYGROVES to KUHN, in the Terwilliger-Kuhn lines.  

He was apparently the sixth of either 7 or 9 children of Nathaniel & Mary MERRILL. Two children are often added in 1609 and 1611, but they were born in a different place, and it seems quite unlikely. I'm assuming he was the sixth of 7 children.  It is thought Mary's surname is Blacksoll, but this has not been proven.

A book by Samuel Merrill titled "A Merrill memorial" may be found on Internet Archiveon pp 40-41, a 5 generation descendant chart can be seen, partially supported by baptisms, marriages, burials, as well as family details in wills.

Nathaniel was baptised on May 3rd, 1601, in St. Mary church [seen on the right], Wherstead, Suffolk, England, and likely was born a few weeks or less prior to this date. Two different databases indicate his baptism date as May 4th or May 1st. Original documents need to be found, if possible. St. Mary was founded in 1590, parts of the church date earlier, and parts from later in 1600s. Looking at the gravestones, I wish I could walk around there! 

At the age of 31, Nathaniel married Susannah [unproven surname] on September 23, 1633, in St. Mary, Wherstead. Wherstead is a very small village on the south-western outskirts of Ipswich, Suffolk, by the River Orwell. Shortly after their marriage, the couple apparently moved to an even smaller village: Lawford, in Essex county, about 9 miles away, in the northeast corner of Essex.

Somewhere between 1637-1639, Nathaniel, Susannah, and their four children, immigrated to Massachusetts, several of the first settlers in Newbury, Essex, MA. Nathaniel and his brother John, had immigrated in 1635 on the ship Hector, going to Newbury.  Although Nathaniel apparently came with John, he then returned to England and brought his wife and children back with him, likely by spring of 1639. It is known that in 23 Jul 1638, John Merrill held an adjoining homesite of four acres for his brother, who was still back in England at that time.

Children of Nathaniel and Susannah, first 4 born in Lawford, Essex, Eng; more research is needed to expand the children's marriages and descendents:
  1.  Nathaniel [ancestor], bap 25 May 1634, d. abt 1 Jan 1682/83 in Newbury MA; m. 15 Oct 1661 to Joanne NINIAN, Newbury MA; 2 known boys: John and Nathaniel
  2.  John [Deacon], bap 13 Feb 1635/36, d. 18 Jul 1712 Hartford CT; marriage/children not researched
  3.  Abraham [Deacon], bap 9 Apr 1637, d. 28 Nov 1722 Newbury MA; m. 18 Jan 1660/61 in Newbury MA to Abigail Webster; children, not researched
  4.  Susannah, bap 12 Dec 1638, d. 10 Oct 1690, Suffield CT; m. 15 Oct 1663 to John Burbank 
  5.  Daniel[l], b. 20 Aug 1642 Newbury MA; d. 27 Jun 1717 Salisbury MA
  6.  Abel[l], bap 20 Feb 1643/44, d. 28 Oct 1689; m. 10 Feb 1670/71 to Priscilla Chase
  7.  Thomas, b. abt 1648; no other information known.

It is believed that Nathaniel was a farmer, although little more is known about him. His will is transcribed into the Probate Records book of Essex County [Massachusett]. Although not dated in the transcription, it was likely written shortly before he died on 16 Mar 1654/55.  It was proved, 27 Mar 1655 by John Merrill [his brother] and Anthony Somerby.

In his will he names his wife Susanna, giving her "5 acres of plowable land lying next my brother Johns land, [as well as other lands,] cow, heifers and all my household goods." He appointed his son Nathaniell to pay his legacies, as sole executor. Sons John, Abraham, Daniell, Abell, were each given five pounds as soon as they became either 22 or 21 years. I am not clear why there was this  distinction. He did not name his daughter Susannah at all, who did not marry until Oct 1663, therefore staying at home with her widowed mother. An extensive inventory of absolutely everything of value in the house, as well as descriptions of all the lands and animals, amounted to a total of 37 li (pounds) 14s. 11d. The inventory was taken by Daniell Thurston, Richard Knight and Archelaus Woodman.

His widow Susannah married a second time to Stephen Jordan [Jourdain] on 16 Aug 1661. Stephen died in 1670 in Newbury, aged 81, leaving Susannah a widow a second time.  She died 25 Jan 1672/73 in Newbury, aged 58.

It is considered that a vast majority of "Merrill" descendants (sometimes spelled Merrell) in America, came from the children of Nathaniel and Susannah.

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If you have more information or corrections to offer, please contact me [at bottom of page]. I am always happy to hear from other 'cousins' no matter how far away.

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Family, friends, and others - I hope you enjoy these pages about our ancestors and their lives. Genealogy has become somewhat of an obsession, more than a hobby, and definitely a wonderful mystery to dig into and discover. Enjoy my writing, and contact me at celia.winky at gmail dot com if you have anything to add to the stories. ... Celia Lewis