MERIAM, Joseph Sr. - I27345

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Merriam Family Crest

This family is an ancient one, for as early as the year 1295 there is record of a Laurence de Meryham, who, at Isenhurst, Sussex, England, paid taxes to Edward I. The name has suffered many variations in spelling from the early days, Meryham, Merryham, Meriham, Mirriam, etc. The original meaning of the name is derived from ham, home, and signifies a merry or happy house, or home.

There was, in the sixteenth century, a manor bearing the name Meriham, in Pembrokshire, in the southeast of Wales. It is said the name is not common in England today, though in America it is fairly numerous, and is found, in the early records, spelled in a great variety of ways: Merriam, Meriam, Meriham, Merriham, Merrihem, Merryam, Miriam, Mirian, Mirriam, Myriam, Myrriam, etc.[1]

It is conceded that the three brothers of the name who are early found in the records of Concord, Boston, and Lynn, were the sons of William Merriam, a clothier of Hadlowe, County Kent, England, whose will was proved 27 November 1635.[2] From the will mentioned, and others which have been copied and analyzed by genealogists, as well as by comparisons with early vital records of New England in the localities mentioned, the following history of the family has been deduced. Of the three brothers mentioned who settled at Concord in 1638, Robert died without issue; George left but one son, so Joseph is evidently the founder of the larger portion of the families of the name in this country.[3].

I. Joseph MERRIAM was born at Hadlowe, County Kent, about 1600. Like his father, he was a clothier, which in those days was quite an important and profitable business, and involved the making of cloth as well as its manufacture into clothing and its sale thereafter. According to the data contained in his father's will, he was living at Tewdly (Tudeley) in 1635, in which town, as well as in Goodherst, Yalding, and Hadlowe, his father owned property- all small villages near Tunbridge.

He married about 1623, Sarah, daughter of John and Frances GOLDSTONE, and when he came to America in 1638, brought six children with him. He was considered a man of means upon setting out upon this adventure, for with others he chartered a vessel for the voyage hither. He settled in Concord, and was soon admitted to church, and made a freeman 14 March 1639, but before three years had passed away he died on 1 January 1640.[4] A copy of his will, written the 29 December 1640, is found in New England Historical and Genealogical Register 2: 184 5. His widow married (2) Lieutenant Joseph WHEELER, and died 12 March 1670.[5] Concord Register of Births and Burials between 1639 1644, contains the following items of interest here:

Ephraim, son of Joseph Wheeler, born 14 April 1640; buried 19 July 1642.
Joseph, son of Joseph Wheeler, born 1 January 1641/2; buried 18 July 1642.
Mary, daughter of Joseph Wheeler, born 1 January 1641; buried 18 July 1642.
Elizabeth, wife of Joseph Wheeler, buried 19 July 1643.

What epidemic of childish disease had thus devastated the home of Joseph Wheeler in the summer of 1642, may not be known, nor to what privations or suffering the mother of these babies also succumbed the following year. Concord records give also the item of birth of at least one child to Joseph Wheeler and his second wife, Sarah (Goldstone) Merriam: "Rebecca, daughter of Joseph and Sarah Wheeler, born 6 September 1645."

CHILDREN of Joseph and Sarah (Goldstone) Merriam, all but the youngest, born in England:

  1. William; married (1) Sarah; (2) Elizabeth; (3) Ann Jones.
  2. Sarah.
  3. Joseph, born about 1629. Lived in Cambridge, at least a part of his life. Married at Concord, 12 July 1653, Sarah, daughter of Deacon Gregory Stone. He died 20 April 1677, and his widow on 5 April 1704, He was buried at Concord, and his gravestone in the ancient "Hill Burying Ground" there, is said to be the oldest now standing. There were five daughters and four sons.
  4. Thomas
  5. Elizabeth; married Thomas Henchman.
  6. Hannah
  7. John, born 9 July 1641, posthumous. He was a freeman in 1677. Married in 1663, Mary, daughter of John Cooper of Cambridge, who was a step-son of Deacon Gregory Stone. He lived at Concord or Lexington, 1679.[6] He died 27 February 1724, and his widow 5 March 1731. There were four sons, and a number of daughters.


II. William MERRIAM, born about 1624 in England, came with his father's family to New England in 1638, where a home was established in Concord, Massachusetts, soon desolated, however, by the death of the father. William was raised to manhood in that settlement, where his widowed mother became the second wife of Lieutenant Joseph Wheeler.

Soon after reaching his majority, on 2 May 1649, William was made a freeman.[7] Mr. Savage (3: 167) thinks be may have lived a while at Boston, but in a short time removed to Lynn. He seems to think there were two William Merriams there, one the father of the other. It seems more likely that there was but one, and that be had married several times, for the William born to Joseph Merriam in England about 1624 could hardly have been the grandfather of the Elizabeth born in 1654 at Lynn to the William whom Savage assumes was the son of the immigrant. Early pioneer conditions took an especially heavy toll from among the ranks of young wives and mothers. Comfort and proper medical care were not usually available, and it was a common thing for women to die soon after the birth of children.

William Merriam wrote his name Miriam. He was a soldier in King Philip's War, serving under Captain Curwin and Prentice.[8] He married (1) Sarah ????; and (2) Elizabeth ???? who became the mother of seven children born at Lynn. He married (3) 11 October 1676, Ann Jones (also spelled Joanes in one early record).[9] She died the next year, on 29 July. William died in 1689.

CHILDREN of William and Sarah:

  1. Joseph; married 19 August 1675, Sarah, called Jenkins by Savage, she was the daughter of Joel and Sarah Jenks, of Braintree and Malden.[10] Joseph was freeman in 1691, and lived at Lynn; was the father of four sons and three daughters and died 21 October 1702.
  2. William
  3. John

These two are mentioned by Savage, but either died young or were the two of the same name born at Lynn to wife Elizabeth.

CHILDREN of William and Elizabeth:

  1. Elizabeth, born 8 November 1654, (Did she marry 11 August 1675, Samuel Edmonds? See Ibid. 5: 96,)
  2. John, born 13 September 1657; died young.
  3. Sarah, born 3 June 1660; died next year.
  4. Rebecca, born 21 October 1662; married (1) Samuel Fitch; married (2) Joseph DUTTON.
  5. Sarah, again, born 14 September 1665.
  6. William, born 8 March 1668. Was probably the freeman of 1691.
  7. John, again, born 25 April 1671. He and his brother William just older, removed to Connecticut in 1716, settling near Meriden.[11]

See DUTTON sketch for the biography and continuation of this family line.

  SOURCE:  The Ancestry & Posterity of Joseph Smith and Emma Hale by Audentia Smith Anderson (1926)


  1. (New Hampshire Genealogies, Stearns, 4: 1927.)
  2. (New England Historical and Genealogical Register 50: 506.)
  3. (Ibid. 22:160; 24:164; 81:192; Hudson and Mohawk Valleys Genealogy, Reynolds, 4:1623)
  4. (Genealogical Dictionary of New England, Savage, 3: 167.)
  5. (New Hampshire Genealogies, Stearns, 4: 1927.)
  6. (Genealogical Dictionary of New England, Savage, 3:167)
  7. (New England Historical and Genealogical Register 3: 192.)
  8. (New England Historical and Genealogical Register 37: 281.)
  9. (1hid. 5: 339.)
  10. (Ibid. 66: 269.)
  11. (A Century of Meriden, Gillespie and Curtes, 1906, 82)