Merrill family history and genealogy to the benefit of all.


Rev. Samuel-Hill Merrill
Gyles Merrill
    His Antecedents
    His Life

Gen. Lewis Merrill

A Merrill Memorial

    Samuel Merrill, 1928, reprint 1983

Three Students of the Family History - Chapter I, pp1-16

Gyles Merrill

   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.”

< image Gyles Merrill signature >

   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. (**) 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. (***)

   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.” (****)

   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, (*****) 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 tax 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 accompanying picture is from a photograph made in 1861. The house was thoroughly reconstructed in 1874.

** The will of Lucy (Wainwright) Dudley, executed in 1756, contains this entry: “Item, I give to my kinswoman, Mrs. Cushing of Haverhill, £13, 6s. 8d.” Ann (Wainwright) Cushing died 12 Feb. 1810, aged 97 years.

*** 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.

**** Allen’s Biographical Dictionary, 1857.

***** Essex County Deeds, book 130, leaf 74

****** In May, 1778, the town of Haverhill voted to borrow money "to enable the officers to raise soldiers" for the war. Thr first name in a long list of those who loaned money for this purpose was that of Rev. Gyles Merrill. The amount of his loan was £75 - Chase's History of Haverhill, p407.


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     © - Updated 1 December, 2009