Who was the father of Joseph Merrill (c.1773-1844)?
Deane W. MERRILL Jr.
10 November 2007
This document is maintained at
There is uncertainty regarding the father of Joseph MERRILL (born c.1773, m.
Lucinda WHITNEY 3 July 1794,
Daniel MERRILL (born 2 Jun 1729,
Lt. Nathaniel MERRILL (born 26 Feb 1731/32,
Both Daniel and Nathaniel are sons of John MERRILL (born 12 Feb 1706/07,
My late father, Deane W. Merrill Sr., (ref. c) preferred Daniel, while Peggy Dillon Lewis (ref. d) and Roger D. Joslyn (ref. e) prefer Nathaniel. Refs. d and e were not available to my father. Howard and Jean Merrill (refs. n,o) are undecided on the question, but leaning toward Daniel.
Despite earlier communications to the contrary, I still prefer Daniel.
My father, Deane W. Merrill Sr.c reasoned as follows:
From the Shelburne death records, the Joseph MERRILL who died in 1844 was
born March 25, 1773. This is corroborated by the inscription on Joseph's
gravestone. From the Shelburne birth records, a Joseph MERRILL was born in
Peggy Dillon Lewis'sd arguments must be disregarded, as no references are provided.
Roger D. Joslyn'se purpose is to discuss the descendants of
Nathaniel's son Benjamin (1767-1854), and relatively little attention is given
to Joseph. Joslyn cites the evidence that Nathaniel had a son Joseph, born in
Samuel Merrill in the 1928 "Merrill Memorial" lists Joseph, b.17
July 1769 in Pelham (probably erroneous) as the son of Nathaniel, but he
does not provide a death date, nor does he list Lucinda WHITNEY as Joseph's
wife. The Merrill Memorial makes no mention of Joseph born in
a. Deane Whitney MERRILL (1908-1987); "The Ancestors and Descendants of Deane Whitney MERRILL (1908-1987) and Harriet Mary RAY (1909-1978);" 1975, 1976, 1977.
b. Deane Whitney MERRILL (1908-1987), pages 2-6 REVISED 17 July 1976, "Updating of Facts on the MERRILL Family." Enclosed with Ref. c. To correct the 1975 version of Ref. a.
"Samuel8 MERRILL reveals that Newbury was settled by a
company of Englishmen, largely from Wiltshire, who arrived on the ship
"Mary and John" in May, 1634. It is not certain that John1
and Nathaniel1 were among this particular group; but they did show
up when the group of about 100 moved to Ipswich, then shortly thereafter to
Newbury, Mass., which was settled officially in 1635. Most of the group were
artisans, such as tanners, weavers, shoemakers, and mariners, plus two
ministers and a physician. There is evidence of grants of land to John MERRILL
and "John MERRILL's Brother" on "The Neck," south of the
"John1 had only one child, a daughter, so produced no offspring of the name MERRILL. However, Nathaniel1 had five sons and a daughter; so that after three generations there were 30 male MERRILLs descending from Nathaniel1, and after four generations there were 126. Samuel8 estimates that by the time he compiled his work, before 1930, there were more than 24,000 male descendants of Nathaniel1, all but about 1% of those being named MERRILL."
"The book starts right with the first generation, with the five sons, Nathaniel2, John2, Abraham2, Daniel2, and Abel2, giving almost complete data on their offspring, with registry numbers being assigned to males who had certain, confirmed offspring. The superior numerals are for identification by generations. Thus, Daniel5 MERRILL (John4, Nathaniel3, Abel2) would signify that this Daniel was descended from Nathaniel1 through his son Abel2, his grandson Nathaniel3, and his great-grandson John4."
"My purpose in going to all this trouble with the "Merrill
Memorial" was to try to connect up our family's recent generations with
the earlier generations. My father, Charles Arthur MERRILL (1875-1968), had
information of true credibility back only through his father, Cordeanio
(Cordeanio Harley MERRILL 1840-1908), his grandfather, Moses Whitney (Moses
Whitney MERRILL 1817-1859) and his great-grandfather, Joseph (Joseph MERRILL
c.1773-1844)." In his notes, later in this booklet (page 2), Charles says
that "in a newspaper interview about 1905, his father (Cordeanio H.
Merrill) was quoted as saying that his great-grandfather Nathaniel was a
soldier in the American Revolution and took part in the fighting at Ticonderoga
and Bunker Hill. The Vital Records of the Town of
"I have carefully examined this "Merrill Memorial" for a confirmation of such a Nathaniel, who had a son Joseph, born in 1773. But I have been unable to fit the facts."
"I made trips to
"From the Cemetery I went to the Town Office, and talked to a Mrs.
Eleanor B. Shippee, who, it turned out, had bought one of the family houses,
"In the "Vital Records of Shelburne," under
"births," is shown "MERRILL, Joseph, born at
[note by Deane W. MERRILL Jr. 11/11/98: in the paragraph above, the words "son of Daniel" were an addition by Deane W. Merrill Sr. and are not in the Vital Records of Shelburne.
"Finding no information on Daniel MERRILL, Joseph's father, I then made
a trip to
"Proceeding on to the Memorial Library in
"There was no pertinent information under MERRILL on page 199 of Savage's "Genealogical Dictionary of New England."
"In Sheldon's "History of Deerfield," Vol. II, page 239, I found "MERRILL, Daniel, taxed 1773, son Joseph baptised Oct. 10, 1773."
"This, then, was the sum and substance of my inquiry: One Daniel
MERRILL, parents and wife unknown, lived in
"I again searched the "MERRILL Memorial" for possible background on Daniel, to try to tie him into the line of descent, and I believe I have a very good prospect (page 300, Vol.1):"
[Citations from the MERRILL Memorial follow, verbatim.]
"Page 300, Vol. 1 -  DANIEL5 MERRILL (John4,
Nathaniel3, Nathaniel2) was born 2 June, 1729 in
"Note -- A question, not yet satisfactorily answered, has arisen regarding
three Daniel5 MERRILLs. Daniel5  MERRILL of
Haverhill, Mass., is believed to have married Abigail CARLETON and to have had
three children (see Page 291). Daniel5 MERRILL  a native of
"Page 291 -  DANIEL5 MERRILL (Nathaniel4,
John3, Nathaniel2) was born 13 Jan. 1720/1 in
(see notes at Page 300, 373)"
"Page 373 -  DANIEL5 MERRILL (Samuel4, Abel3,
Abel2) was born 3 July 1722 in
i.-xiv. Children enumerated.
Note -- It has been asserted that the Daniel MERRILL who was the father of the last ten children her enumerated was Daniel5 (Nathaniel4, John3, Nathaniel2). (See p. 291). All the known facts, including the meager data furnished by the published histories of Hudson and Hollis, influence me to leave the matter in the shape which it here appears."
[end of citations from MERRILL Memorial.]
"Despite the fact that there appears to be no child named Joseph born
to Daniel5 , the fact remains that apparently the only Daniel
MERRILL taxed in Deerfield in 1773 was this one who presented a son, Joseph, for
baptism in October of that year. We can presume that Daniel and Eunice had a
son born in
"The "great-grandfather Nathaniel" mentioned by Cordeanio in his newspaper interview about 1905 must therefore be considered as his great-grandfather Daniel. Nathaniel5 , a younger brother of Daniel5 , does not appear to qualify. "
"With this new material, and with the firm "supposition" that we have found the parent of Joseph6, I will set up the complete line of descent on the following pages."
John MERYELL (MERYELL and MORYELL in will) of Wherstead. Will proved 12 March 1528/9, record reference Archdeaconry of Suffolk, boox x, folio 40. Wife Anne and several children mentioned in will, among them:
John MERYELL, of Wherstead. Will proved 28 Jan. 1551/2, record reference Archdeaconry of Suffolk, book xvi, folio 229b. Wife Katherine, five sons and five daughters mentioned in well, among them:
John MERRELL, of Wherstead, yeoman, will proved 11 Dec., 1600, record reference Archdeaconry of Suffolk, book xxxviii, folio 242. Wife Prudence. Will mentions her, sons John Michael, Nathaniel and Thomas, also two grandsons, John (son of Nathaniel) and Thomas (son of Thomas).
Nathaniel MERRELL. Married at Blestead 27 Feb. 1592/3 to Mary BLACKSOLL (as Nathanaell MERRILL). Four daughters and 3 sons. Buried at Wherstead 17 Mar. 1626/7. 5th child, 1st son, John, and 6th child, 2nd son, Nathaniel (Nathanaell).
(Older brother of Nathaniel1, John1, baptised Wherstead 16 Aug., 1599)
 Nathaniel1 MERRILL, baptised Wherstead 4 May 1601. Died
Newbury, Mass. 16 March 1654/5, will proved 27 March, 1655. Married Susannah,
presumably before leaving
 Nathaniel2 MERRILL, born probably 1633/4, either in
 Nathaniel3 MERRILL, born 8 Feb. 1664/5,
 John4 MERRILL, born 12 Feb. 1706/7 in
 Daniel5 MERRILL, born 2 June 1729,
Joseph6 MERRILL, born
Mosesl7 Whitney MERRILL. Born 1 June 1817, died Feb. 1859.
Married Abigail E. Coleman in 1839. Five children, all in
Cordeanio8 Harley MERRILL, born 24 Oct. 1840, died 18 Nov. 1908.
Married Helen Maude HOWARD (a Barnard family descendant, see chart in Ref. a)
25 June 1859 in
Charles9 Arthur MERRILL, born 15 Dec. 1875, Shelburne Falls,
Mass. Married 18 Feb. 1905 to Eleanore Edwards GOUCHER, who died 31 May 1950.
One son. Lived in
(signed) Deane W. Merrill,
[The following information was updated November 1998 by Deane11 Whitney MERRILL, Jr. Information about living persons is omitted except for name, gender and relationship.]
c. Deane Whitney MERRILL (1908-1987), excerpt from letter of 20 July 1976 to Deane (Dennie) Whitney MERRILL Jr. (1938-), describing Ref. b:
In a July 20, 1976 letter to his son Dennie, Deane Whitney MERRILL
(1908-1978) wrote: "I have been working on the genealogy, bringing it up to
date, insofar as possible. I found one big error - namely that Joseph6
was the son of Daniel (Daniel MERRILL 1729-), not Nathaniel (Lt. Nathaniel
MERRILL 1731/2-), and he was born in
"I have rewritten Pages 2 thru 6 of the UP-DATING pages, and enclose them herewith. Also enclosed are two charts, or family trees, working forward and back. I believe they are accurate except for your wives' birthdates, neither of which I am sure of. Jon tells me I am wrong, so I probably am. I have plenty more copies, so if you want more, let me know."
"Have had more fun doing this, since I've been in touch with cousins I haven't seen for 50 or 60 years. And look at all the offspring!"
"Please, in order to keep this book [Ref. a] straight (the blue covered one), take out the old Pages 2 thru 6 and insert the new REVISED pages 2 thru 6 and the two charts. I have cut the pages as well as I can, and have punched note book holes to make it easy."
"So now the following have copies: Dennie, Charlie, me, my cousin
d. Peggy Dillon Lewis, letter dated 15 April 1992 to Howard and Jean Merrill.
As a son of Nathaniel MERRILL (b. 26 Feb. 1731/2 in
e. Roger D. Joslyn, C.G., F.A.S.G.; The Children and Grandchildren of Nathaniel MERRILL and his son Benjamin MERRILL; prepared for Ted D. Merrill, Chaparral, N.M.; 3 March 1990.
As a son of Nathaniel5 MERRILL (b. 26 Feb. 1731/2 in Haverhill,
Mass.), Mr. Joslyn lists Joseph MERRILL (b.17 July 1769 in Westminster, Mass.k,
d. of dropsy in Shelburne 29 Sep.1844, aged "71y 6m 4df,g,
" m.(1) in Rowe 26 Nov. 1789 Polly DENTON/DENSONh, m.(2) in
Shelburne 3 July 1794 Lucinda WHITNEYi who was living in 1843j.
The sources cited are Refs. f through j, given below. Joslyn cites Refs. k,l,m
as evidence that Nathaniel's children Anna, John, Benjamin, Joseph and
(possibly) Mary were born in
f. Vital Records of Shelburne
"MERRILL, Joseph, m., tavern keeper, b. Deerfield, general dropsy, bur. Shelburne Falls, d. Sept. 29, 1844, a. 71 y. 6 m. 4 d." The citation is on page 171, not 117.
g. W.O. Taylor, "Inscriptions from
I have not seen this source, but Joseph's gravestone reads: "Joseph Merrill, died Sept. 29, 1844, AE 71. Lucinda Whitney, his wife, died Jan. 29, 1857, AE 82."
h. Rowe Vital Records, 3:24.
I have not seen this source.
i. Vital Records of Shelburne
Marriages: Joseph, and Lucinda Whitney [both of S., July 3. c.r.1], 1794.
Intention not recorded. [c.r.1 means Church record, Congregational Church,
j. Franklin Co. [
I have not seen this source.
k. Samuel Merrill, A Merrill Memorial, 2 vols. (Cambridge, Mass., 1917-28), 301.
The Merrill Memorial lists Joseph as being born 17 July 1769 in
l. Vital Records of
MERRILL, Ana, Feb. 4, 1760.
MERRILL, Benjamin, s. Nathaniel and Anna, Aug. 2, 1767 [duplicate].
MERRILL, John, s. Nathaniel and Anna, Sept. 12, 1763 [duplicate].
MERRILL, Joseph, s. Nathaniel and Anna, July 17, 1769 [duplicate].
m. William Sweetzer Heywood, History of
I have not seen this source. A land purchase record probably does not provide information about the birthdate or birthplace of Joseph. Possibly there is a typographical error in the citation as given by Joslyn.
n. Howard and Jean Merrill, email to Deane Merrill on 11/30/98:
"The whole controversy hinges on the sale 1795 Jan 22 by Nathaniel(5) of Rowe, of 40 acres of land in Rowe [the east part of his home lot including house and barn] to Joseph Merrill of Rowe, housewright. On March 2 1795 Nathaniel sold the rest of his home lot [125 acres] to Thaddeus [his son] of Rowe. On June 10 1795 Joseph, of Shelburne and his wife Lucinda sold this same 40 acre lot to Joseph Lazell. On that same date Thaddeus also sold his lot to Lazell and Thaddeus joined his brother Benjamin in selling additional lots to Lazell. Were it not for the fact that Lucinda joined Joseph in selling this 40 acre lot, it would be easy to conclude that Joseph of Rowe was Nathaniel's son and Joseph of Shelburne [and Lucinda] belonged to Daniel.
"Certainly there is lots of data indicating that Joseph [and Lucinda]
being the son of Daniel(5) and Eunice Fellows. The birthdate from the Deerfield
VR corresponds with the age at death from the gravestone. The Shelburne VR
identify that Joseph, tavern keeper, who d. 1844 Sept 29 was b.
"It is hard to argue with the dates and
"We really don't know the answer. We sure would like to know what happened to Nathaniel's son Joseph and his wife Polly Denton. Are there any records, gravestones or whatever in Rowe that indicates that they died there 1791-1795? Perhaps they moved on to NY or points west. There is a Joseph in Otsego Co NY in 1800 who is about the right age and about which we know nothing. That would be the easy way out, but without data to support it we can't even suggest it.
"As the King would say "t'is a puzzlement."
"howard and jean"
o. Howard and Jean Merrill, email to Deane Merrill on 7/13/99:
"We like the way you have presented both sides of the Joseph question. We tend to prefer your interpretation, which was our original interpretation, but the deeds do remain as a nagging question."