Merrill family history and genealogy to the benefit of all.


Primitive Conditions
The Indian Peril
Removal to the Merrimack
Church Government
A New Parish Formed
Queen Anne's Chapel
Cape Merrill

View of Oldtown Newbury


Back to A Merrill Memorial
    Samuel Merrill, 1928, reprint 1983

Newbury in the Seventeenth Century - Chapter VI, pp55-65


   Newbury was settled by a company of Englishmen largely from Wiltshire, who arrived in Boston on the ship Mary and John in May, 1634. The party, numbering about one hundred, at once removed to Ipswich, then called Agawam, where they remained through the following Winter. Ipswich had been settled the previous year. Perhaps it already seemed crowded. At all events, in the Spring of 1635 the General Court granted liberty to the new-comers to remove to Quascacunquen, and their settlement was given the name Newberry.

   Quascacunquen, or Wessacucon, was the Indian name for the waterfall on the Parker River, in the Byfield parish of Newbury, and the same name was often applied to the river itself. Shortly after receiving authority to remove to Quascacunquen the migration took place. The party made the journey of seven or eight miles from Ipswich to Newbury by boats, landing on the north shore of Parker River, about a quarter of a mile below the present bridge at the Lower Green. The landing place has been marked, in recent years, by a boulder, suitably inscribed.


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The first settlement in Newbury was at Oldtown, on the Parker River. Newbury originally included Newburyport and West Newbury.
Salisbury originally included Amesbury and Merrimac; also Seabrook and South Hampton, N.H.
Haverhill originally included Plaistow and other territory now in New Hampshire.
Rowley originally included Georgetown, Groveland, Bradford and Boxford.

   This boulder, shown in the illustration, is flanked on either hand by modest Summer cottages, which line the river bank. These cottages are owned for the most part by people in Newburyport, the city being only three miles distant. On the Lower Green a more pretentious monument, erected in 1905, capped by a representation in bronze of an ancient ship, commemorates the first settlers of the town, and bronze tablets give the names of the first American ancestors of many old New England families.

   The settlers of Newbury included artisans from some of the Wiltshire towns, and husbandmen from various rural communities in the South of England. There were weavers, tanners, shoemakers, mariners, besides two ministers and a physician. How many families settled in Newbury in 1635 is not known, but it is certain that John and Nathaniel Merrill were not among those who arrived that year. The date when the brothers came to New England is a matter of conjecture. John Meriall was a settler in Ipswich as early as 1636, but while it is probable that Nathaniel came to America with him, no record is found of Nathaniel's residence in that town.

   The earliest grants of land to John and Nathaniel Merrill in Newbury were on the "Neck," south of the Parker River. The Neck is a piece of upland, of moderate extent, bordering on the river, but surrounded by salt-marsh on the other sides. In the Proprietors' Records, folio 38, a grant appears: "To John Merrill an House-Lott of four acres on the neck over the Great River be it more or less & is Bounded by John Pemberton on the east John Caley on the west the River on the north and the way on the south." Under date of 23 July, 1638---"There is granted to John Merrill's brother four acres in the neck for an house lott next his brother Jno. Merrill." Here no doubt were the earliest homestead sites of the two men in the town.


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     © - Updated 8 July, 2002