Few Questions of Heraldry - CHAPTER IX,
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.
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.
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.
Crescent of Cadency
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.
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
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.
Merrill told me that the copy of the coat of arms which
was in the Historical Society's rooms was made by 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.